Thursday, February 26, 2015

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Title: Girl Runner
Author: Carrie Snyder
Publisher: Harper
Released: February 3, 2015

SourceI received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours. See what others had to say: Check out the other tour stops.

Find it on:

104-year-old Aganetha Smart is a former (and fictional) Olympic athlete now alone and forgotten by history. When two young strangers appear and take Aganetha on a spree away from the nursing home, memories of her long life come flooding back.

Girl Runner is part coming of age story, part historical fiction. Much of it takes place in the 1920s and 1930s, centering around the first time female athletes were allowed to run the 800 meters in the Olympics. This coincides with Aganetha's decision to leave her family home in the country to train and find independence in the city. The novel hops around in time, with episodes of Aganetha's past alternating with the present as we grow closer and closer to learning the identities of the two young people ushering her around.

To me, these shifts in time felt a little awkward. I also grew weary of the not-so-subtle hints of things to come. That being said, I was attached to Aganetha's spirited character from the beginning. I loved seeing her buck the social norms of her time at every stage of her life. I also felt her frustration as she fought through confusion and frailty in her old age. I found that I always wanted to hear the rest of her story.

There's a great twist at the end. I know, I know...of course there was! But here's the thing: I knew the twist was coming, I could feel it. But it wasn't at all what I expected it to be, it wasn't out of place, and it wrapped things up so nicely.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Community Happiness

After the book blogger shout-outs yesterday, I was on a roll. There's so much I love about book blogging (which is why I do it!). Once I set aside distractions and started thinking about that, the reasons why kept coming.

We understand each other.
from agirlandhershows, Tumblr

1. You think nobody else can possibly love your favorite author as much as you do...and then you make a bookish friend who names her kitten after him! [via Leah]

2. Dogs aren't much different than children when you're trying to read. [via Shannon]

3. Fellow non-fiction enthusiasts unite! [via Katie W.]

We spread bookish joy.
from bumblebookbees, Tumblr

4. Because of someone's post, you start reading material you'd have never given a second glance to otherwise. And you're sold. [Andi does this to me a lot.]

5. You can share a book you hated with a good friend, just for the laugh. [Thanks, April!]

6. We even celebrate and encourage students who are doing the same. [via Jennine]

We give. We connect.
from Giphy

7. We shower each other with gifts just for the fun of it. [via Amanda]

8. We give when we see a need, too. [via Adam]

9. We like to admire each other's talents. [via Heather]

10. We encourage a sense of peace and calm. [via Bryan, I'm just linking to his entire blog!]

We love to have fun!
from gifsoup

11. By sharing calories. [via Catherine and Jennifer]

12. And meeting up with blogger friends. [via Rebecca]

13. And enjoying tasty beverages. [via Katie K.]

14. And most importantly, by READING! [via Dewey's Read-a-thonBout of Books, and 24in48]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

7 Book Bloggers Who Make Me HAPPY!

Veteran or newbie, who cares? There are plenty of book bloggers who never fail to bring a smile to my face, whether it's through their social media presence, their insightful reviews, or usually, both. To be honest, I think book blogging as a whole is a positive, inspiring, amazing community. Here are seven favorites I offer as proof! In no particular order:

1. Karen at One More Page...
Twitter: Karenmfa
I'm not even sure how to sum this gal up. Go look at any of her tweets or posts. Karen is a sweetheart, and super intelligent!

2. A.M. Blair at The Misfortune Of Knowing
Twitter: Koiviolet
A. M. offers so much insight. Her reviews tend to have an interesting spin and a personal perspective. She pours heart into each of her posts.

Twitter: KristinShafel
Music and books! Need I say more? On Twitter, Kristin shares her mind with grace and a cool head.

4. Katie at Bookish Tendencies
Twitter: KatieMcDermo
Katie is a fellow eclectic reader with infectious enthusiasm! Even when she's reading a genre I tend to avoid, her writing style makes me want to know what she thought of the book.

5. Jessica at Quirky Bookworm
Twitter: QuirkyBookworm
I love that, like me, Jessica covers children's books as well as her own reads. She seems like a lot of fun; the kind of person you want to hang out with. :)

6. Taylor at Something Blooming
Twitter: someoneblooming
Taylor is brand-spankin' new, as in one-post-so-far new. I know her personally (she's my flute student) and she's going to be a blogger to keep an eye on. Very insightful and full of passion about books!

7. Julie at Smiling Shelves
Julie isn't on Twitter, but I've loved her book blog ever since I started my own. She's inspired me to read books I would have otherwise forgotten about, and her thoughts on classic reads are the best.

Who are some book bloggers who bring a smile to your face?

Monday, February 23, 2015

This House Is Not For Sale by E.C. Osondu

Title: This House Is Not For Sale
Author: E.C. Osondu
Publisher: Harper
Released: February 3, 2015

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to be considered for an honest review.

Find it on:

From the Publisher:

A powerful tale of family and community, This House Is Not for Sale brings to life an African neighborhood and one remarkable house, seen through the eyes of a young member of the household. The house lies in a town seemingly lost in time, full of colorful, larger-than-life characters. Osondu’s story captures a place beyond the reach of the outside world, full of superstitions and myths that sustain its people.

My Thoughts:

This little novel (only 192 pages) reads like a connected set of vignettes, each chapter its own parable. At first I was swept away by the characters and Osondu's lovely writing, but after a few chapters I started to feel disinterested. Worse, that feeling persisted through to the end of the novel.

All the elements that make me want to read more, that propel the novel forward in some way, seemed to be missing here. Or maybe not so much missing as scattered? Yes, this is a character-driven novel, but even those have something about them that keeps you turning the pages. Maybe it was a combination of things for me: I didn't feel centered, the story didn't feel cohesive, I struggled to read on. By the time I got to what would have been a "payoff" at the end, I had spent so long feeling apathetic I felt nothing at all.

This is exactly the kind of novel I go for, so I was disappointed that it didn't work for me. Have any of you read this yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Maybe it just hit me at the wrong time?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Salon

Played // This weekend I accompanied a (large) number of middle and high school band students for Solo & Ensemble Festival. I rehearsed with them all throughout the week, which made for some very long days. I think I'm going to take a break from playing piano at all this week. Wow, my fingers are tired. The kids played so beautifully! The 6th grade flutists from the middle school I play for completely blew me away, especially.

Read // This week I read This House Is Not For Sale by E.C. Osondu (which I felt kind of "meh" about) and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (which I very much enjoyed).

Discussed // Thursday evening was book group. We discussed The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. What a great group of minds these ladies are! Someone brought up that stunning passage that begins: "The second thing that I thought was that I knew everything. Lettie Hemstock’s ocean flowed inside me, and it filled the entire universe from Egg to Rose." That inspired some searching and reading about the world egg. Another person mentioned that Gaiman's descriptiveness reminded her of Maurice Sendak's illustrations. I thought that was such a cool perspective!

Reading // I'm currently reading A Flute in My Refrigerator: Celebrating a Life in Music by Helen Spielman. It's turning out to be a great boost during this hectic, burnout-susceptible time of auditions, competitions, and assessments. I also started next month's pick for book group: Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed by Sonia Choquette.

I feel like my head is finally above water, for a week or two, at least!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Alex + Ada (Issues #1-12)

Title: Alex + Ada
Creators: Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn
Art by: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics

I purchased all available issues of this series.

Find it at your local comic shop or on:

Alex + Ada is a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But when Ada is dropped into his life, will Alex keep her? (Image Comics)

When I first heard about Alex + Ada (thanks to Andi at Estella's Revenge) I was intrigued. I watch a lot of sci-fi, but I've been wanting to read more of it. The setting appealed to me: a tech-savvy future complete with robots and artificial intelligence, but fairly early on, when society is figuring out how to deal with all the changes this new technology brings. Also, I've been wanting to read more in the graphic novel/comics medium. So this series sounded like a good one to take a chance on.

And it was! I would read an issue, purchase the next one, read it, purchase the next one, etc. just to see if I liked the series. After issue #4, I knew I was hopelessly hooked. I had to read every single one, so I bought the rest (there are 12 in all right now) in one go.

These issues aren't packed with a ton of action coming from all sides, which is a characteristic that has always made me feel a little wary about reading comics. Instead, the socio-political climate of a very believable future is slowly revealed. The way people react and interact, how their beliefs are challenged, how their lives are changed — that's what really grabbed me. The thing is, much of this isn't anything new to the sci-fi world: artificial intelligence, cybernetic revolts, technology that is controlled by the mind. It doesn't matter: It's all executed so well here, it felt completely fresh.

Despite the slow unfolding of the storyline, something major does occur in each issue. Be warned: Luna and Vaughn know how to write a cliffhanger. Every time I got to the end, the words "to be continued" caught me off guard. I'd been so absorbed in the story, it was an unwelcome jolt back to reality.

It's killing me to have to wait a month for the next issue!

Okay comics lovers, this series is bringing me into the fold. What other comics (or graphic novels) might I like, especially in the sci-fi realm?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Salon: A Comics Week

Setting // Saturday night, 11:30 p.m. It's currently 53 degrees in my part of Florida. I know, that was unnecessary, wasn't it? We have a teensy tiny chance of snow Tuesday night.

Cookies // Girl Scout cookies arrived this weekend! C and her new troop (which is so wonderful) has a cookie booth later today. I'll try to post the cuteness on Instagram.

Reading // I finished up Hyperbole and a Half in Italian and Free to Learn by Peter Gray. I'm about to start This House Is Not For Sale by E.C. Osondu.

The bulk of my reading this week turned out to be a graphic novel/comics binge. A little bird told me about Comixology. I read An Age of License by Lucy Knisley and felt kind of meh about it. Then I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried (and loved!) some comics: All twelve issues of Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn (review posts tomorrow), an issue of Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, and the first installment of Fugue by Beth Hetland. I think I'm going to re-read the first Lumberjanes and see if C enjoys it (I have a feeling she will) before moving on to the other issues. I loved Fugue so much that I bought the omnibus in print. Can't wait for that to come in so I can read the other two parts. Also, I have to say, all of these looked SO fantastic on my Nook HD+. Just when I was considering giving it up for a simpler e-reader, it reminds me how great it can be.

Happenings // Most of this week I'll be playing at one of the local middle schools, rehearsing with and accompanying their band students in preparation for solo and ensemble festival next weekend. That's on top of accompanying my own private students. I feel like I've been treading water for a month, so I'll be glad for the fun to be over (for a little while, at least). I'm hoping to get back to commenting regularly on blogs starting next Sunday. Please know I've been reading, though!


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