05 March 2015

Book Review: The Duff

I first heard of The DUFF at BEA 2010 during a YA panel including the author, Kody Keplinger. At the time, I didn't buy the book despite the fact I was intrigued. When I saw the trailer for the movie version a week or so ago, I decided to buy and read. I am very glad I did. Not only did I enjoy the book, I'm also rather fascinated in this particular adaptation.

First the book: Bianca Piper makes a spur of the moment decision and kisses Wesley Rush despite her sincere hatred of the entitled man-whore. From there, the sex-based relationship escalates as Bianca uses Wesley as a distraction from her less-than-perfect home life. But as she spends more time with Wesley, she realizes that he may be more than a simple distraction.

Bring on the unapologetic sex. Bianca uses Wesley; Wesley uses Bianca. Both are fully aware of the situation, and both are perfectly a-okay with it.

Even when the relationship becomes more than just sex, the transition is calm. One doesn't fall madly in love with the other and then subjugate him/herself to the other who has not yet realized his/her true feelings. Neither spends any great deal of time hiding their feelings from the other; in other words, we escape the lack of communication dilemma.

Another check in the plus column for me is the complete and utter lack of transformation in the main characters. Bianca doesn't suddenly pull out her pony tail, throw on a tight dress, and become the stereotypical pretty girl. Wesley doesn't hate being popular or feel like he is putting on this big show. And Wesley doesn't try to change Bianca into anything other than what she is, unlike so many other teen romance heroes.

The third point of awesome - there are NO MEAN GIRLS in this book. No perky, tan, thin. blonde, bitch is trying to hold Bianca down. Actually both of Bianca's best friends are attractive; one is even a cheerleader. And they are good, sweet, true friends. I hate mean girls. I don't mean I hate them in real life. I mean I hate the use of them in fiction because I don't believe these girls exist in real life - or if they do, they're only in like 1 in 100 high schools. And I think it's quite possible that they were only in 1 in 1000 before they became so popular in media.

These three reasons I love the book are also the three reasons I will probably hate the movie. I know next to nothing about the film version, but I'm willing to bet that the Bianca-Wesley sex-for-distraction plot line has been removed, and I bet Bianca pretties herself up a bit or at least Wesley suggests it, and I bet there are mean girls in the movie. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

The one problem I had with the book is also more than likely absent in the film. SPOILER ALERT In the book, Bianca's parents are divorcing which causes her father to fall off the wagon (after 18 years). While drunk, he hits Bianca. It only happens once, and he is normally a very sweet man. This event is treated rather superficially in the book, functioning more as a bonding experience for Bianca and Wesley than a look at alcoholism. Let me guess, in the movie Bianca doesn't get hit by her drunk father....END SPOILER

Back to the book. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do - and definitely before watching the movie, if you plan on doing so. Anyone who has seen the movie, let me know if I should watch or not.



03 March 2015

Top 10: Favorites From the Past 3 Years


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the list of future topics click here.

Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years

While I don't read near the amount I used to, I still read enough that narrowing down to 10 is rather difficult; however, I have struggled and wavered and this is what I came up with:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The City and the City by China Mieville

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and the rest of the series...

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

The Martian by Andy Weir

01 March 2015

Mailbox Monday: Bargain Binge

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blogI haven't participated in Mailbox Monday in a very long time, primarily because I try very hard to not have new books coming in to my house. My TBR pile requires adjectives such as excessive, impossible, and shameful.


However - you knew a however was coming, right? - over the weekend, I had the opportunity to raid a Book Warehouse where two special deals caught my eye: Buy 3 Get 1 Free in Audiobooks and in Young Adult Lit. As all of the books were 60-70% off to begin with, I just couldn't help myself. I ended up with 4 of each:

Audiobooks
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (one of my favorite books)
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Help by Kathryn Stockett


YA Books
Landry Dark by Bethany Hagan
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Incantation by Alice Hoffman
Corsets and Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances ed. Trisha Telep

I also bought the following two books for $3 and $1 respectively:

Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk (audiobook)
The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids by Tom Hodgkinson


So I'm thinking about starting with The Help in the car, but which print book should I start reading?

28 February 2015

Goals: February Update

As many of you know, I set quite a handful of goals for myself this year. The full list can be seen here and in my original post.

In the past month, here's how I've fared on my goals:

Books and Blogging
1. Read 50 books: I only read one book in January, but I managed to read 5 in February.

Goals 2-4. Post at least 2x/week, Post about the family at least 2x/month, Post about teaching at least 2x/month: I didn't manage to write any teaching-related posts this month, but I did get up some info about the family.

5. Clear 300 books off the shelves: 157 books off the shelves this month! Hopefully, you have entered in the giveaways I've posted. More giveaways are coming!

6. Reorganize my bookshelves to better see the TBR piles: I'm about halfway there after the massive book elimination, but I'm still not 100% sure exactly how I want to organize. Right now my books are not separated by read/not read, and I'm not sure I separate them that way - but I do need a way to identify those books I haven't read yet....

Food and Drink
1. Cook a "real" meal at least 1x/week: Success! My favorite meal of the month was the Corn and Feta Pasta I made last week. I'll be posting the recipe sometime this month.

Goals 2-4.Freeze at least two meals a month, Cook at least two new recipes per month, Organize my recipes and cookbooks:Yet again, I've failed at these goals; although, I did add more recipes to my unorganized stack.

5. Try at least 10 new types of wine: I tried four new wines this month: a Cabernet Sauvignon from Beringer, a Moscato by Astoria, a Rioja from Rioja Vega, and a Velvet Red from Illinois Cellars. I was most definitely not a fan of the Cab until I chilled it and mixed it with a bit of Sprite - at which point I found it quite tasty; I'm sure there are those of you reading this in horror right now, so I apologize. The Moscato was excellent, and I downed the whole bottle in like three days, same with the Velvet Red. I was expecting to like the Rioja as I enjoy Merlot, but no such luck. Clearly I'm enjoying the sweet, dessert wines right now.

6. Try at least 5 new types of vegetable: No new veggies; although I've renewed my love of corn and sweet potatoes.

7. Eat fruit at least 3x/week: I would grade myself at a B+ for this one. I am eating fruit, but it's boring...apples and pineapples...and it's only 2 or 3 times per week. I need to up my game on this.

Health and Fitness
1. Lose 50 pounds (back to pre-babies weight): I still have no idea what I weigh...

Goals 2 and 4. Exercise 30 minutes/day, 3x/week (once with the kids), Stretch (separate from exercise) at least 4 days/week:I'm not making the 3 times per week goal, but I have managed to half-ass workout three times this month by running with my daughter. I can make it about 10 minutes before I have to walk...that is both depressing and motivating

3. Take a daily multivitamin: Success!

Home and Organization
1. Get picture albums up-to-date and organized: No progress since January, but it's almost done.

2. Do at least 1 load of laundry during the week instead of saving it all up for Sunday: Having a new baby makes this goal rather easy to accomplish as the random emissions of bodily fluids from said baby tend to get all over everything.

3. Maintain a more detailed, more organized schedule/planner - and check it multiple times per day: Success!

4. Reorganize the kitchen: I only managed to get one cabinet cleared out and organized....oops!

5. Make a family memory book: Nothing accomplished here

Work and Education: No progress here

Family and Fun
1. Write a letter to Madison and Carter at least 1x/month: Success!

Goals 2 through 4: Go on at least four family outings, Attend at least one adult event (concert, play, etc.), Get professional family photos (and make family memory book): No luck here; although I do wonder if my trip to the casino with the hubby can count as an adult event. :)

5. Exercise with Madison (and Carter) at least 1x/week: Running with Madison has been my only exercise, and while it's minimal, it's a start. And she loves it so very, very much. Running is her favorite thing to do - and one of the only things that makes her truly giggle.

27 February 2015

Giveaway: Some of My Favorites

For the final giveaway this week, I have some of my favorite reads up for grabs:
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Inferno by Dante Alighieri
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The Host by Stephanie Meyer
The Iron King, Queen, and Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

The Nuts and Bolts
  • Fill out the form below
  • Winners will be randomly selected
  • Deadline for entry is 11:59pm Saturday March 7
  • International entries welcome
  • Extra entries will be submitted for those who subscribe to the blog and for those who regularly comment on the blog. Comment on this post to let me know if you subscribe.
  • If you don't want every book in the set, please let me know in the comments section. I have no problem splitting up the set.

26 February 2015

Giveaway: Series Starters

This week's giveaway is focused on series starters:
The Dark is Rising: The Complete Sequence by Susan Cooper
No Safety in Numbers and No Easy Way Out by Dayna Lorentz (Books 1 and 2)
Sweep Series Books 1 through 3 by Cate Tiernan
Alex Van Helsing series: Voice of the Undead and Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (Book 1 of the Bartimaeus series)
The Dragon's Eye by Kaza Kingsely (Book 1 of Erec Rex series)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 1) by Jeff Kinney
The Gift by James Patterson (Book 1 of Witch & Wizard series)
Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod)
Chosen and Infidel by Ted Dekker (Books 1 and 2 of The Lost Books Collection)

The Nuts and Bolts
  • Fill out the form below
  • Winners will be randomly selected
  • Deadline for entry is 11:59pm Saturday March 7
  • International entries welcome
  • Extra entries will be submitted for those who subscribe to the blog and for those who regularly comment on the blog. Comment on this post to let me know if you subscribe.
  • If you don't want every book in the set, please let me know in the comments section. I have no problem splitting up the set.

25 February 2015

Giveaway: Sick and Twisted

This giveaway is a collection of the sick, twisted, and hilarious:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Sick City
Permanent Obscurity
Hymie and the Angel
Voodoo in New Orleans
The Devil's Diaries



The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate
Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader
Belly Laughs
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Nerds: M is for Mama's Boy

The Nuts and Bolts
  • Fill out the form below
  • Winners will be randomly selected
  • Deadline for entry is 11:59pm Saturday March 7
  • International entries welcome
  • Extra entries will be submitted for those who subscribe to the blog and for those who regularly comment on the blog. Comment on this post to let me know if you subscribe.
  • If you don't want every book in the set, please let me know in the comments section. I have no problem splitting up the set.

24 February 2015

Giveaway: Author Collections 1

For Giveaway Number 2, we have the following collections:
Stephen King
Salem's Lot, Insomnia, Dolores Claiborne, Desperation, Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Bag of Bones

Agatha Christie
At Bertam's Hotel, A Caribbean Mystery, And Then There Were None, Towards Zero, By the Pricking of My Thumbs, The Moving Finger, The Golden Ball and Other Stories, Postern of Fate, The Mirror Crack'd

Neal Stephenson
Anathem, Cryptonomicon

Ernest J. Gaines
A Gathering of Old Men
A Lesson Before Dying


The Nuts and Bolts
  • Fill out the form below
  • Winners will be randomly selected
  • Deadline for entry is 11:59pm Saturday March 7
  • International entries welcome
  • Extra entries will be submitted for those who subscribe to the blog and for those who regularly comment on the blog. Comment on this post to let me know if you subscribe.
  • If you don't want every book in the set, please let me know in the comments section. I have no problem splitting up the set.