Sunday, January 31, 2016

Monthly Recap AND Sunday Update - January 31st

This is one of the rare months in 2016 where the last day of the month lines up with a Sunday. It's actually only one of two (what's up, July?), which means that a post like this will only come around twice this year. But I've decided to combine two maintenance posts in one, and give my fine readers a combined Monthly Recap and Sunday Update!

Monthly Recap

We'll start with the positive, fun stuff. This month has been a fantastic start to the third incarnation of Project 84. I've kept up with my reading (I did every review I had planned, and am only a few days behind on the books I'm reading now), I've managed to keep a fast pace, and, most importantly, I've read some great, insightful books that have kept me on my toes.

You can read the reviews for my detailed thoughts (I will include links to all my January posts below), but I was trying to come up with my favorite book I read in January. It's definitely a toss up between Columbine and The Reader, which makes sense because they are two VERY different books. Columbine spoke to a certain thirst for knowledge that I can't seem to get rid of, where The Reader forced me to examine my own thoughts and reactions to the world. Both those reading experiences have their place, which is why I can't quite decide between the two books.

As far as least favorite...I, unfortunately, have to go with Life of Pi. But the fact that such a beautiful, imaginative book was 6th out of 6 really just demonstrates how wonderful this first month of reading was.

These are 6 the reviews you may have missed from January:

Sunday Update

Now I can also get into where I am this week. The answer is: behind. Not horribly behind, but behind. About 350 pages behind. I know that does sound like a lot...but as long as I keep the regular pace for the next two days and spend Wednesday and Thursday (my off days) catching up on the other 350 pages, I should be back on track.

I know, it's asking a lot.

But I'm finally getting into those two books that were slow starts...and I have a classic childrens' book to cleanse the palette this I have nothing but faith in myself that I will get back to where I need to be.

Weekly Discussion Question

I gave everyone an extra week, and yet the comments section still stayed suspiciously quiet this week...but I will not be deterred! The weekly discussion questions will continue, and maybe someone will actually give me an answer this week! Haha

"Last week's" question was: What's your favorite genre of book, and which one could you do without?

For me this is a tough one, as I'm sure it is for many. I think, at the end of the day, the best way to describe my favorite genre is: realistic fiction. I like stories that stay in the present day (meaning present to whenever the book was written), and deal with the issues of that time. It's been no secret on this blog that Bret Easton Ellis is my favorite author, and that's the genre I would put his fiction is. It can be weird, and esoteric, and maybe even a little out there, but I like when I can ground my fiction in reality.

As far as least favorite...this is also tough. I hate making a general statement about a genre, but fantasy and military fiction are probably the two genres I approach tentatively. That doesn't mean I haven't read some great novels in both those areas (Lord of the Rings, anyone?), but I would need a great recommendation to pick one of those two up.

This Week's Discussion Question
Who is your favorite fictional literary character?

(Leave your answer in the comments to start the discussion.
I'll include my answer in next week's Sunday Update)

Happy reading, everyone! I hope you enjoyed a look back at it's time for a look ahead to what's on tap for this week.

Posts to Expect This Week
I have a #ThrowbackThursday post on tap for Thursday, plus two reviews:

Estimated Posting Date: Friday, February 5th

Estimated Posting Date: Saturday, February 6th

Currently Reading

Saturday, January 30, 2016

6. Dangerous Creatures

I didn't get around to doing a Weekly Update post this week. I hope you will forgive me. The truth is, this will be the only review this week (just how the timing worked out!), so it didn't seem that necessary and I ran out of time. I promise to make up for it with a Monthly Recap on the 31st!

I've been a little off with my reading this week. I'm reading two books right now that I don't want to say are not good, but are definitely a little tough to get into. Both require quite a bit of attention, and when I work a 10 hour day and don't get enough sleep, it can be really hard to read them without dozing off. That being said, I'm only about 70 pages into each of them, so there is a chance that my interest level in them improves.

Today's review, however, is about a book that was far from a difficult read. It was a book that's sat on my shelf for a while, and the continuation of one of my favorite series. The sixth book of Project 84 is...

Dangerous Creatures
Dangerous Creatures
By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
To really understand why I picked up this book, I need to bring you back to 2012. I was in the middle of a "no reading" period, where I just couldn't bring myself to read in my free time. I needed something light to get me back into the habit...and I discovered the book Beautiful Creatures.

It's the first of a series, about a love affair between a witch and a mortal. Since that's not the book I'm reviewing, I don't want to get too into those details, but I loved it. It was beautifully written (despite being in the "young adult" genre, which usually isn't my thing), captivating, and the characters were fascinating. I devoured that book, and the other three in the series, and was legitimately disappointed when I finished the series.

Dangerous Creatures came out two years later, and I think I purchased it the week it was released.

And then it sat on my shelf until this week.

I'm not exactly sure what kept me from reading it. Maybe I was just saving it for a time like this, when I was back into "Project 84" mode.

The story is a continuation of the Beautiful Creatures series (known as the Caster Chronicles), but follows the story of two tangential characters from that series: Ridley and Link. Ridley is a dark "caster" (this series' term for witches), who is in a relationship with Link - a mortal who became an incubus in the previous series. The two of them are headed to New York City, where, unbeknownst to Link, Ridley has lost a bet with a shady character that will force Link to become part of his band...

...and will force Ridley to do anything he asks.

It's hard to explain why I love these books. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have found a formula that just works for me. The books are decidedly young adult, but they're still written well. I think that's what I respond to the most. The imagery, the description, the characters are as good as any book I've read this year, even if the subject matter is a bit more out there.

The question of whether I'd recommend this book is a complicated one. I loved this book, but I don't think you can read it without first reading the other four books in the Caster Chronicles. So, in other words...yes, I would recommend this book. I would also recommend you start with Beautiful Creatures (the book, not the movie), and go in order from there. You won't be disappointed.

This was a very short review, I know. But this was a book that needs so much setup (like, four books worth of setup), that explaining what I loved about it wouldn't quite land. Suffice it to say, I liked it, and I'm happy I'm done with my sixth book.

As I mentioned earlier, stay tuned for a Monthly Recap tomorrow. IT will also have all the info about the books I'm currently reading, and what posts to expect this week.

Happy reading, everyone :)

**All page numbers and annotations refer to this version of Dangerous Creatures, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in 2014**

Monday, January 25, 2016

5. The Reader

The rest of the north Eastern world was dealing with a blizzard this weekend. Me? I dealt with about 5 inches of snow. And yet, somehow, it kept me completely distracted from my responsibilities. Most importantly, this blog. So much of today has been spent catching up. I still have 170 pages of reading to do today if I'm really going to be where I should be...but believe me when I say I've been doing a pretty good job of getting back on track with some emotional things going on today.

But, it's time to get to the blogging portion of our evening. The latest addition to the Project 84 family is a book I've been meaning to read for years, ever since I saw the movie. So when I saw it among the pages of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, I knew this would be one of the early ones to make the "to read" list. With that in mind, Book 5 of Project 84 is...

The Reader 
The Reader
By Bernhard Schlink

I'll start this one off on a personal note (I know, what else is new?) - I don't always do so well with Holocaust stories. Now, I know, no one loves stories about that time. It's a devastating, terrifying part of world history that fills us all with horror. But I do read about quite a few horrifying things, and there's something about the Holocaust in fiction that affects my emotions particularly hard. 
Perhaps part of it is hereditary. After all, I come from a family where a large portion of my ancestors on one side perished in concentration camps. I only exist because one man was able to escape, and it's hard to ignore that reality. And when I find a novel or movie that centers around that time, particularly one that's well done, it affects my dreams, my mood, my thoughts, and the rest of my life for longer than it should.
This story is no exception.
For those who don't know it, the story is of a 15-year-old German boy named Michael, who, in 1958, begins an affair with an older German woman named Hanna Schmitz. The affair ends abruptly, with Hanna leaving town unannounced, and the story picks up 6 years later, with Michael as a young law student at University. As a student, Michael observes a war crimes trial of female guards at Auschwitz.
One of those guards is Hanna.
The Reader is a beautiful movie (which is where I first encountered this story), and a wonderfully written novel. It's interesting, because the novel I read was translated from the German original. Oftentimes that can make the wording stilted and rudimentary, but this story was anything but. It was compelling, the characters well rounded and interesting, and I couldn't put it down.
The book is a clear allegory, with Hanna representing the atrocities of the Holocaust, and Michael representing the young generation of Germans trying to come to terms with their dark history. He says as much...though in a way that doesn't take away from the character:
“I wanted simultaneously to understand Hanna’s crime and to condemn it. But it was too terrible for that. When I tried to understand it, I had the feeling I was failing to condemn it as it must be condemned, there was no room for understanding. But even as I wanted to understand Hannah, failing to understand her meant betraying her all over agin. I could not resolve this. I wanted to pose myself both tasks – understanding and condemnation. But it was impossible to do both.” – page 157
But there is so much more to this book than an allegorical tale of Holocaust Germany. It's about love, and forgiveness, and understanding. And there is so much more to it than I'm even getting into here...I haven't even bothered to explain the title, which creates a whole other complicated layer to the story and playing on a theme of personal responsibility.

But I figure I would give too much away if I went much further. Suffice it to say, I would recommend this book to just about anyone. It's a quicker read, coming in at just over 200 pages, but it's far from "easy". The complicated emotion and the fascinating characters make this a classic in my eyes, and I would recommend it to anyone that wants a deeper read among the "blizzard books" this Winter.

The Reader was a win. And I'm lucking out that there are a few other good ones that I'm just starting to get into now, so stay tuned!

Expect a "Monday" Update later tonight, to get a better idea of what to expect this week! You can also always keep track on my Goodreads page of where I am in my reading, as I update that almost daily.

Happy reading this week, everyone!!

Next Review: Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Estimated Posting Date: Thursday, January 28th)

**All page numbers and annotations refer to this version of The Reader, published by Vintage Books in 1997**

Thursday, January 21, 2016

#ThrowbackThursday - East of Eden

Hello, friends! So, I've been busy blogging, and reading, and working, and running, and blogging, and reading, see where this is going? This incarnation of Project 84 seems to be much more central in my life than any of my past attempts, which is why, I think, it has been more successful so far! I'm reading two great books, almost finished with my 5th, and I'm excited to fill you guys in on what I've been reading.

But today is Thursday, and we all know what that means! For this #ThrowbackThursday, I want to take you back to 2003. George W. Bush is president, 50 Cent is tearing up the charts, and the world is anxiously awaiting the release of the third Lord of the Rings Movie. I am 16-years-old, sitting in a trailer as our high school gets renovated, and Mr. Sinclair hands out our latest reading assignment: East of Eden.

When I was 16-years-old, I was not much a fan of John Steinbeck. I’m still not, if I’m being completely honest. I was forced to read The Grapes of Wrath the summer before 10th grade, and despite my mother’s insistence that it was one of the most meaningful books ever written, I struggled my way to the final page.

I wasn’t excited to be reading East of Eden. As much as I enjoyed my English classes, I had learned early that if I wanted to get any true, fulfilling reading done, it was going to have to be done outside the classroom. I much preferred the “suggested reading” list than the “required reading” list, though I knew it had to be done.

So I cracked open East of Eden and prepared myself for boredom. Like most 16-year-olds, I had become an expert at completing boring schoolwork, so I knew I could get it done.

Surprising plot twist: I loved this book.

And I wasn’t the only one. I have strong memories of sitting in the trailer with my friend Webhov, gushing over how much we were enjoying this book. We started jokingly referring to each other as character names (I was really cool in high school ;) ), and guessing where the plot would go. When we finally finished, I think we spent a half hour just dissecting the ending of the book.

If you weren’t assigned this book in high school, the plot is simple. It’s the story of Cain and Abel…sort of. It’s really the story of Adam, who is growing old in Salinas, California. We flashback to his childhood in Connecticut, where he, along with his brother, meets the alluring Cathy. Adam and Cathy fall in love, get married, and move to California as Cathy is pregnant with twins (fathered either by Adam or his brother).

With no interest in being a mother, Cathy leaves the twins – Cal and Aron (or Cain and Abel) – with Adam, and enters a life of prostitution. The boys grow up never knowing their mother.

If you’ve read the Bible, you know the basics of where it goes from there. If you haven’t, I won’t ruin it for you.

I can’t quite explain why I love this book so much, but I do think it was the beginning of my love affair with deeply flawed characters. See, I loved Cathy. Seriously. I thought she was the most fascinating, damaged character I’ve ever read. I would talk about her with Webhov, or in the class. I would try to break her down in papers and in my diary (seriously). I think she reminded me of another Cathy I could never quite get out of my head – Cathy Earnshaw (stay tuned for Wuthering Heights in April for #ThrowbackThursday).

To this day, my favorite books are those with deeply flawed protagonists. It’s what I attribute my Bret Easton Ellis obsession to (or, rather, what I blame it on), and why I’ve never quite been able to get into a truly romantic book. I like my characters with dark pasts…or dark presents. I like them with so many problems that if I met them in real life I would be visceraly opposed to going somewhere private with them.

And I think it all stems from my two Cathys.

If you haven’t read East of Eden, I recommend it. Even if you didn’t like other Steinbeck books, this one is different. The characters are more interesting, the dialogue easier to read, and the story unfolds in a unique way.

Pick it up, give it a try. Or stay tuned for my next #ThrowbackThursday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

4. A Darker Shade of Magic

Friends, Romans, Countrymen! I'm a day late again!

I know, no big surprise...but I think it's a big enough surprise that the posts are so close to when I say I'm going to post them that you should all forgive me for being late. Right? Shouldn't you be reading anyway?

So, yeah, I'm a day late again. Which is because I was a day late finishing the book, and everything got all out of whack. But I did finish it (because I'm determined, dammit!), so it;s time to tell you all about Book 4 of 2016...

A Darker Shade of Magic 
A Darker Shade of Magic
By V.E. Schwab

This post starts with a little personal information, so get ready. A little over four months ago, I purchased my first home (well, condo, but stick with me), which took me to a new town that I love.  This should come as no surprise to my dear, faithful readers...but my first order of business upon moving to my new town was to find a local book club.
My book club is fantastic. We meet monthly, and it's a nice, tight knit group of interesting, thoughtful women. And the best part of the club is that it introduces me to books I might not otherwise gravitate towards.
Which brings us to A Darker Shade of Magic.

I've never been someone who gets easily wrapped up in fantasy novels. I like Lord of the Rings, and the occasional supernatural story (Vampires, anyone?), but there's something about fantasy novels that always loses me. I think it's the "world building", for lack of a better word. When I read realistic fiction, I don't need to spend time figuring out the "rules" of whatever world we're in.

For example, in Darker Shade of Magic, the whole story centers on Kell, who is a "traveler", the last of a dying breed. He is able to use magic to travel between four different Londons, all of which use a different amount of magic. In the course of his travels, Kell comes across a dark stone, an artifact of "Black London", which magic destroyed years ago. He teams up with Lila, a human, to bring the stone back to its home and save the worlds from destruction.

See what I mean?

I wouldn't say that A Darker Shade of Magic cured me of my distaste for fantasy. But being 'forced' to read it (at least if I wanted something to say to my book club) definitely allowed me to get wrapped up in the story. It was a fun, quick read, full of adventure and intrigue. And I didn't find it quite as hard to follow the world as I usually do.

That being said, the story was rather pedestrian. I felt like I'd seen it and read it before in several different incarnations. In fact, the only thing that was unique about the novel was the world itself. Otherwise, it's a basic superhero tale of good vs. evil, and of saving a world that doesn't even know it needs saving.

So the question comes: would I recommend this book? But it's a tough one this week. I ripped through it. It was an easy read, and kept me enthralled, so in that sense I would recommend it. But, at the same time, I didn't find it all that original or unique, and that's a big thing for me with these kind of stories. As a non-fantasy fan, I think it was a nice foray into the genre, and very good for a book club where you're trying to appeal to several different reading personalities. But, at the end of the day, it was what it was. And I'm not sure it was worth my time.

So, not my favorite book...but not a bad book either. It was a nice, easy read (which I needed after the last few), and one that I was able to put in the "read" column.

I still have two posts planned this week, so get ready! A #ThrowbackThursday post tomorrow and a review on Friday or Saturday (whenever I can get this book done!). Until then, happy reading! And I hope you're enjoying these posts :)

Next Review: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (Expected Posting Date: Friday, January 22nd)

**All quotes and annotations refer to this version of A Darker Shade of Magic, published by Tor Books in 2015**

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Update - January 17th

Two posts in one day, who am I?! Well, it's Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! And I have to get reading!

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I'm currently training for a half marathon that takes place five weeks from today. I bring that up not to make you wonder what the hell I'm thinking, but to explain why time is getting away from me so much! That being said, I have the next two days to read, and I plan to do just that.

Before I get to the weekly discussion question, something kind of cool happened this week. As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I tweet out links to every single review. In the Columbine review, I tagged author Dave Cullen, and he responded with a little review of his own:
How cool is that? So kind of him to take the time to read the post, and give me a little Twitter love!

Weekly Discussion Question

Once again, the comments were dangerously discussion-less for last week's question, but that's ok! I'm going to keep posting them, and hopefully they'll start to catch on. If nothing else,  it's a fun way to get some of my own thoughts out there.

Last week's question was: Which author's writing style appeals to you the most?

This wasn't an easy one, as I have many writers I enjoy reading. The obvious answer would be my favorite, Bret Easton Ellis, but I'm going to go a little old school with this one and say Ernest Hemingway for a number of reasons. When I was in high school, we had to read A Farewell to Arms for summer reading. With a week to go until school started, I was convinced I would never actually finish the book. But I picked it up and got through the entire thing in one night.

There's something about the way Hemingway writes - short, staccato sentences, no unnecessary words - that appeals to me. It's what I aim for (and fall short of) in my own writing, and I find that all the contemporary authors that I swoon over seem to have taken a cue or two from him. So, when I think of my "favorite writing style", I've gotta go with Hemingway.

This Week's Discussion Question
Since I'm currently trudging through a fantasy book for my book club...
What's your favorite genre of book, and which one could you do without?

(Leave your answer in the comments to start the discussion.
I'll include my answer in next week's Sunday Update)

Happy reading, everyone! And I hope you enjoy the content I have on tap.

Posts to Expect This Week
I have a #ThrowbackThursday post on tap for this Thursday, plus two reviews:

Estimated Posting Date: Tuesday, January 19th

Estimated Posting Date: Friday, January 22nd

Currently Reading

3. The Virgin Suicides

Oh no! It's my first late post of the year! Only one day late, though, so I hope you'll forgive me. Plus, the reason it was late was because of busyness, not because I didn't finish my reading, so I'm more comfortable with it.

The benefit of waiting a day is that I got to give this book the time and energy it deserves. I loved reading this one, I really fell into it, and I wanted to make sure I "sell" it, for lack of a better word, and make you all understand just why I loved this novel.

With that in mind, book 3 of Project 84 is...

Virgin Suicides 
The Virgin Suicides 
By Jeffrey Eugenides

Every now and then, you read a book and you can't quite figure out why you love it. For all intents and purposes, it shouldn't be much of a book at all. It's short, it's strange, you know the ending from the title...but, for some reason, you can't help but bury yourself in it. It becomes a fast favorite, but you can't quite figure out why.

The Virgin Suicides is one of those books.

I read another Eugenides book, Middlesex, back in the first incarnation of Project 84. (In case you missed it, you can find that review here). I loved Middlesex, so I'm not sure why it took me so by surprise that I also loved this book, but it did. I think it's because I'm usually someone who prefers things plot-driven when it comes to my fiction, and this book most certainly is not.

The plot is almost nonexistent, and, as I mentioned before, you know what the ending will be from the title of the book. But here goes: this book is the story of the Lisbon sisters. Five lovely, blonde teenagers living in Michigan during the 1970s. You know from page 1...these sisters are tragically doomed, and the book plays out accordingly.

What's fascinating about this book is not the plot, though I am a pretty big fan of "unusual". The interesting part of this narrative for me is the way the story is presented. The story of the Lisbon sisters is told from the point of view of a group of boys who lived on their street. The story is told in first person plural (!!!), so no one character can be labeled the 'narrator'.

There's something about the narration approach that I really respond to. In a lot of ways, it reads like a piece of investigative journalism. In fact, the narrators actually refer to certain items in the story as "Exhibit 1" and "Exhibit 15", etc. Reading this book so soon after Columbine, I could connect the writing styles, even though this book is fiction and that was a true tale.

The most interesting part of the narrative to me is the way Eugenides approaches the "motive" of these 5 girls. The narration limits us in how much we can know about why the sisters did what they did. As the narrator puts it:
“We’d like to tell you with authority what it was like inside the Lisbon house, or what the girls felt being imprisoned in it. Sometimes, drained by this investigation, we long for some shred of evidence, some Rosetta stone that would explain the girls at last.” – Page 164
But, somehow, not really knowing the motivations of the girls was one of the things I liked most about this story. The reason is ellusive. The boys don't know, they can't know, what's going on in the girls' heads. And as frustrating that may be when you want a conclusion, it also puts you into the world of the book so much easier. Rather than an omniscient reader, you become entrenched in the town, and realize what their neighbors - and these obsessed boys - were going through.

As should be clear at this point, I would recommend you read this book. It's weird, and cool, and interesting, and the plus side is it's only 250 pages so it's not something you have to invest in the way you would with Middlesex. Read it. You won't regret it.

There we go! Book 3 in the books, so to speak. Expect a Sunday Update later tonight to let you know what's coming this week, and be sure to follow this blog on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads to see what's coming up.

Happy reading, everyone!

Next Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Expected Posting Date: Tuesday, January 19th)

**All quotes and annotations refer to this version of The Virgin Suicides, published by Picador in 2009**

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2. Columbine

I'm going to start this post with a confession: things have considerably slowed down on the reading front. I was off the last two days, but for some reason I just haven't been up to reading. Things are busy, life is a little overwhelming, and I need to start using reading as an escape, rather than viewing it as a chore. That will be a big ingredient in my recipe for success.

Luckily, I'm not yet behind on the posting front! This blog is right on schedule, and that's important to me. As long as my posting doesn't slow down, I'm doing just fine...

On that note, the second book of Project 84 2016 is...

By Dave Cullen

I was 12-years-old on April 20th, 1999...8 days away from becoming a teenager. I remember vividly the day I learned about the Columbine High School shooting.

I mention that not to be morbid, but to give you an idea of why I found this book so enticing. See, I remember that time. I remember the Trench Coat Mafia, and the anti-bullying rhetoric. I remember the influx of discussions about how to spot trouble amongst your friends. I read She Said Yes, and listened as people villainized Marilyn Manson.

So, when I heard about this book a few years ago (it came out in 2009, but I was apparently out of the loop), I immediately added it to my 'to read' list. I'm a true crime fan to begin with, and to have a case that I remember so vividly be put into a 350 page book was a gift. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to find out where my memories differed from reality.

The answer? Almost everywhere.

Now, it's not my memory's fault. What this book lays out is a systematic issue that created misinformation and misleading facts. From a bumbling Sheriff unprepared to deal with the limelight to a 24-hour news cycle wanting to create a narrative, the way the story plays out in my mind only tangentially relates to what actually happened.

This is how I remember Columbine: two teenage boys, members of a group in their school known as the "Trench Coat Mafia", were bullied terribly and finally snapped. They stole guns from their parents, created pipe bombs from online tutorials, and went into their school to get back at the jocks and popular kids who bullied them. They shot 24 victims (13 died), before finally shooting themselves.

This book reveals a much more complicated story.

I won't give too much away, I really feel like everyone should pick up this book, but the truth is much more sinister, much more global. It deals with sociopathy, parenting, and the red tape of the law. It deals with the half truths in the media, some of which have never been rectified. And it deals with a community desperately trying to heal from the worst day of their life.

The book is written from a journalistic point of view. Dave Cullen covered the Columbine massacre from day 1, and he relies on firsthand accounts, interviews, and police documents to tell his story. He does not allow for conjecture, nor does he soften the details into a "good story". He only writes what he knows, and he sources everything heavily at the end of the book.

What results is a narrative that is believable, but not flowery. A narrative that explains things like motive and what led to the killings without displaying sympathy for the perpetrators. And it's...just excellent. There's nothing else to it.

It goes without saying, but I would recommend anyone picks up this book. Parts of it can be graphic - particularly the descriptions of the shootings and the injuries - but the wonderful writing, combined with thorough and detailed research, creates a fascinating and eye opening narrative. Read it. It's really that simple.


Now, with that out of the way, I'm off to read! I'm still hopeful that you'll see another post in a few days...provided that I can bury myself into my reading for a few nights.

I hope you all are having a good week as well! Happy reading!

Next Review: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (Expected Posting Date: Saturday, January 16th)

***All quotes and annotations refer to this version of Columbine, published by Twelve in 2009***

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Update - January 10th

It’s Sunday and I’m still on track! Guys, this is exciting! We’re 10 days into January, and I’m not behind yet ;)

I know, I know, I still have 356 days and 83 books to go, so I can’t get ahead of self, but this does seem to be the year of Project 84. I have the next two days off from work, and I plan to spend quite a bit of it curled up in my reading chair finishing up a couple books. (And running. 6 weeks from my half marathon…I have to make sure I get running).

Weekly Discussion Questions

That brings us to the weekly discussion question. I confess, it wasn’t so active in the comments last week, but I’ll keep putting questions out there and see who bites. Plus, it gives me an excuse to introduce myself more to my dear readers, and to recommend a few more books.

Last week’s question was: What book inspires/motivates you the most to go for your goals?

You’d think I would have an answer ready since it was my first discussion topic, but this was one I had to consider. Do I go with a novel with aspirational characters? Do I go with a self-help book? A diet book? An exercise book?

I went with Bossypants by Tina Fey. I won’t go too far into this book (it may be part of a #ThrowbackThursday in the future), but it’s one of those books I hold up as inspirational. It may not be the typical, aspirational kind of inspiration, but it’s a book that guides me to the type of life I want to live. I want to stand up for myself, and for other women. I want to go after what I want and feel proud to do it. It gave me a great sense of what I want my attitude toward life to be, even if it wasn’t an exact blueprint.

This Week’s Discussion Question
Life of Pi brought this out this week…
Which author’s writing style appeals to you the most?

(Leave your answer in the comments to start the discussion. 
I'll include my answer in next week's Sunday Update!)

Have a great week everyone, and stay tuned for even more content this week!

Posts to Expect this Week
Two reviews are on tap for this week:

Estimated Posting Date: Wednesday, January 13th
Estimated Posting Date: Saturday, January 16th

Currently Reading


Saturday, January 9, 2016

1. Life of Pi

Ohhhh man…I know you guys have just been waiting for this moment. It’s the first OFFICIAL review of 2015 (right on schedule, I might point out… *brushes shoulders off*)!!

The reading is going well, and I’m right on track…but it’s also only day 9 of this schedule, so we’ll see what happens. I have a tendency to let life get the best of me and to get behind, which is why I’ve fallen off in the past. Here’s hoping that this year really will be different, and I’ll hit the 84 I intend to.

So, without further ado, please enjoy my review of Book 1 of Project 84…

Life of Pi
Life of Pi
By Yann Martel

Have you ever read one of those books that you want to fall in love with?

You do. The writing is beautiful. The story is abstract and interesting. The characters are well rounded. The ending is on point. All you want is for this book to become a classic in your mind. All you want is to have found a new favorite that you can read over and over and over.

But then, when you finally make it to the last page…you just can’t feel the love.

Life of Pi was one of those books.

It has all the makings of a book I would enjoy. The writing style is as intriguing as any I've encountered. It’s visual, but not too wordy. It’s conversational, but still literary (this is a talent I’ve never quite mastered in my own writing). The setting was unique, the characters were unique. I should have loved this book, but I just couldn’t quite get into it.

For those reasons, I’m hesitant to say it was a bad book…but it was just boring. The storyline is as follows (without giving too much away): Pi Patel is a teenage Indian boy whose family owns a failing zoo. As the zoo closes down, the family (along with exotic zoo animals they plan to sell) boards a boat to Canada, ready to start a new life.

The boat sinks early in the voyage, and Pi finds himself on a large lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a royal Bengal tiger...with no help, and no hope.

It sounds like a beautiful story, right? And it is a beautiful story. However, so much of the novel takes place on a lifeboat, and pages are written about Pi’s hopelessness and survival instincts. Unique? Absolutely. Entertaining? Eh... His time is monotonous, and so is the story. It goes on like that, with little change, for most of the book, and it becomes too much for me to handle as a reader.

I get the point. I understand why people enjoy this book, and what the author was trying to do. The writing is beautiful, that cannot be emphasized enough. But, for me, the book left something to be desired.

Which brings us to an interesting question: would I recommend this book? Over on Goodreads, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars…and that’s exactly how it feels. Other people would likely enjoy this book more than I did (in fact, I know they do), and others would likely enjoy it less. As far as a recommendation goes…I would recommend giving Life of Pi a shot. I don’t regret picking up this book, and I’m glad I read it, but don’t expect a page turner. The narrative is slow, and you should be prepared for that.


So, book 1 wasn’t a hit, but it wasn’t a clunker either. I got to cross another book off of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and remove another from my “to read” shelf. But, ultimately, it wasn’t the strongest start to the year.

Luckily, the other book I’m reading right now is excellent, so my next review should be more complimentary…and, let’s face it, verbose…so please stay tuned for that!

I’ll give you a better idea of where I am in this journey tomorrow in my Sunday Update, and will have my answer to last week’s discussion question. I encourage you to go put your answer in last Sunday’s comment section to join the discussion!

Next Review: Columbine by Dave Cullen (Estimated posting date: Wednesday, January 13th)

**All quotes and annotations refer to this version of Life of Pi, published by Mariner Books in 2003**