So Many Books! So Little Time!

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As with many winters in the North, the snow comes… and keeps falling. 

I never mind snow days. I don’t get cabin fever and I also look forward to the amazing conditions on the ski slopes when the roads clear. I can’t ever look at a snow day as bad. 

On Thursday, my work closed due to the 19 inches that fell on the building. My neighborhood got 12 inches, which was enough to stop me from driving anywhere. Also, the governor declared a state of emergency which means you aren’t allowed to drive unless necessary (done to allow emergency vehicles easy access anywhere). 

So, I decided to work on my bedroom and get a head start on spring cleaning. 

I’m not the tidiest of people, but I know that my new job means more books (not complaining). However, my tiny bedroom doesn’t have optimum storage. My greatest shelf in my room is the floor. It holds everything quite nicely, but I don’t think it’s meant as a shelf for a sea of bags, books, clothes, etc. I heard you’re supposed to walk freely around your bedroom. I’m not sure what they’re talking about though. 

In my attempts to organize, I realized that I have A LOT of books that I haven’t read. So, I took inventory. 

I have 116 books that I need to read!

I put together a list of all 116 books

I put together a list of all 116 books in a cute purple portfolio folder. 

My list is open to updates, but I think it might be a good way of tracking what books I still need to read. I think a physical list of what I need to read will help with me NOT buying anything new until the list falls into manageable territory. Then, I cross out books on the list–written in no particular order–whenever I finish them. For me, I enjoy crossing things off a list. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I do. 

What I'm reading right now. On Chapter 6!

What I’m reading now. On Chapter 6!

Now back to reading…

New Job

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This weeks marks my first few days of my new job! I’m now working for one of the major publishing houses in the United States. It’s an entry level job, but it’s my in and I can’t wait to find out all I can learn! Also, it’s a major bonus to be back in the book industry. I was starting to feel a little antsy about that, to be honest. I love working around books and it killed me to be in an office where half the people weren’t big on reading the other half read a very limited amount. On top that, my personal views on books weren’t shared with the office as a whole. It was a little alienating.

Anyway, my new job was blessed with wonderful winter weather my first day. By wonderful, I mean dreaded for native Northerners. As a displaced Northerner, I’m still in my “this is what real snow looks like” phase. A little sad, I know, but I get so excited whenever I see snow fall. Living in the warm south for nine years does that to a person.

What I found to be a blessing was actually a curse for almost the whole office. Everywhere I turned, someone was grumbling about the snow. My trainer groaned about her future drive home in the snow, my future officemate whined that her starting date should’ve been in spring, and the HR lady exclaimed, “You couldn’t have picked a worse day to start!”

I nervously chuckled in response to all the moaning and groaning because, honestly, winter weather driving isn’t the worse driving out there. The worst, in my opinion, is driving after a football game with all the “not drunks” swerving the road on the way to the after-party.

It’s all a matter of perspective, really. What is a blessing to others is a curse to many more…and vice-versa. People’s outlooks on life are relative to past experiences. I think that’s part of the reason I love books so much. I get to jump into someone else’s perspective —both fantastical and realistic– and learn what life is like somewhere else. What’s one of the reasons you like reading books?

Crazy Happenstances Of Life

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Whew! What a crazy couple of weeks it has been!

Have you ever had one of those moments where life is both working out very well and very…not well? I think I’m having one of those moments…

Within these past two weeks, I’ve reunited family members who haven’t seen each other in 12 years, got a new job, resigned from my current one (2 more days left from my two weeks notice), received freelance opportunities, and validated for my career choices. I also saw two people lose their jobs at very inopportune moments, a friend lose her smile, people questioning their life’s choices, and I know that tonight someone in my family will receive some rough news.

I thought that, when I graduated college, life would become a straight forward path. The ups and downs would be predictable and everything will fall into place. I thought I would jump in and know where I’m going from the get-go.

I now know that the opposite happens. I know that life gets harder. Obligations increase. Money gets tighter. Smiles and hugs are  little harder to come by.

That’s not to say that life isn’t still wonderful. I’m still finding the joy out of everything. It’s just weird to realize that I’m still ridiculously young and not ready for the real world. It’s eye-opening to know that I really am powerless to what the universe has in store for me. I just have to take everything as it is. I can’t really get mad at fate for digging out this path for me. There’s no point shouting at a wall and expecting it to be a door.

It’s just weird to grow up.

 

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These are just some thoughts that crossed my mind at 11pm the night before I fill out my new hire paperwork. This is also me following the advice of the lovely Bookaholic and just setting a few minutes to write. If I don’t force myself, I’d probably be wasting time on my Nintendo 3DS. eh heh.

Book Review: The Book Thief

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This week has been crazy and definitely not the week to start New Year’s resolutions. I’ve been running around the great state of Maryland trying to get a ton of errands done and out of the way before I make the trek up to Vermont (going skiing!). 

Before I go though (and by go, I mean I’m already in the car on my way up), I want to make a book review on my latest literary adventure: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. 

After tackling on such an involved book like Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords, I thought I would take it easy with something from the young adult aisle. I heard of the book before and saw the trailers for the upcoming movie. However, I didn’t know how heart-wrenching the whole book would be. 

The novel begins with the morbid tone that will linger throughout the book by having Death narrate the whole story. I think choosing to call him “Death” instead of “Grim Reaper” makes him leap out of the page better. Nowadays, I noticed that the “Grim Reaper” is commonly used for comedic effect (iGermany I.P.D.,” “Dead Like Me,” “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy”) so naming him “Death” already strikes a little terror in the reader’s hearts, which is good for a book like this. 

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Summary: 

So Death is working through one of his busiest times in history: World War II. He’s tired and knows that the war only began a few months ago. There will be more souls to collect. One of these souls is Liesel Meminger’s brother. After seeing Liesel, he notes that he sees her a few more times. The second to last time he sees her, he finds her journal and decides to read her recollections of her life after her mother sends her away. Liesel stays with a foster family who treats her like their own daughter. Adjusting to her new life is only as difficult as Liesel makes it out to be, but she finds her friends and learns how to be a part of her new family. 

Liesel’s life is in Germany where she, like every other kid, enters the Hitler Youth and learns to “Heil Fuhrer” to everyone. Her neighborhood though, is poor. So, most of them support the German government out of necessity rather than national pride. Her foster father was branded a “Jew lover” in the earlier years of Nazi Germany never gets the benefits of being a part of the Nazi party. As a result, Liesel watches her family suffer. 

Things get really interesting when a Jewish man seeks refuse in their home. Liesel then begins to see the world for what it has become because of Hitler’s rise to power. 

Review: 

I really liked this book, but not in the way I wanted to. I originally expected this book to end like a fairy tale. The ending I received felt very real and true to the plot. Nothing written in this book was what the reader might want. This book was written for what the reader needed.

I loved the setting Zusak made for the book. You get a perspective for an area most people write off as “Nazi territory.” Zusak humanizes this small town in Germany, giving you not just one face but an entire community. He also describes the town well, making you imagine the local storefronts and children playing outside. His message is clear that this is a normal German village making due during a dark time.

The characters he writes about are very well developed. Our heroine has some pretty incredible fault including her hobby of stealing books. Her family isn’t the stereotypical heart warming family and both of them make big mistakes. Every character is human. No one is immune to external influences and mistakes are as common as doing the right thing.

Overall, novel is beautiful in its portrayal of humanity during one of its greatest and darkest times. I wish I could put to words what this book truly is. However this book transcends the normal descriptions of great books. It is better read than described. Better reflected on than discussed.

And it is something that you will read over and over again.

Score: 5/5

Finding Time to Write

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I discovered the horrible truth behind balancing a life and being a writer—the amount of time spent writing is maybe 30 minutes/week. It’s awful!

 

I work a 9 to 5 job, have an amazing boyfriend of over 2 years (though I’ve known him longer), a family nearby, friends who want to hang out…the list goes on.

I’m not saying that this is an excuse or anything. I’m talking about this because I want to reflect on the life choices that push me into squeezing time write within the last few minutes of the day.

The clock reads 11:35 pm EST.

Ah! it’s 11:56 pm! What? Stupid phone calls…

So, of course, like many other interruptions, I lose track of what I planned to type in these pages. Now I’m left staring at the computer screen, wondering why I started. I have this voice in the back of my head that tells me that, since I started, I need to finish.

This New Year’s Resolution is a little more difficult than thought. Hmm…time for plan B.

For any readers who stumble upon this blog…any tips on organizing time more efficiently to write/blog?

Happy New Year!!

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great time ringing in the new year! I enjoyed my night with friends, playing card games around the television as the clock got closer to midnight. It was a wonderful time. While I enjoy my nights out drinking, it can also be just as nice to enjoy quiet time with good people.

Normally I celebrate with family, but it is getting harder for my parents to stay awake that long. Old age and all that 😛

Anyway, here are my 2014 resolutions. I thought about this list very carefully.

1. Write more.
2. Have more fun on this blog.
3. Ski black diamonds like they’re greens.
4. Make more time for myself (which, in turn means more writing)

Feel free to post your resolutions in the comments or any tips for executing mine. Finding free time for me is like trying to find the mystical unicorn.

Happy New Year!

A Storm of Swords

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After many weeks and months of struggle, I finally completed Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords.

While this one took me as long to finish at the other two before it, I liked it a lot more than the others. I think George R.R. Martin had a better grasp on the story line in this book than in the two prior. I think it helps that he’s killed off so many characters that he has less stories to work on.
Many good books take a while to build up the plot because the author is trying to set the scene. It’s apparent that Martin has this world of Westeros fully developed in his mind, but I can only imagine how difficult it must be to translate from brain to text. So, it took him a couple of books to set the playing field. Then, I think he allowed himself to really move the characters along.
And he moves fast!
So much happens in the third book that you face shows more emotions than you usually would on a single day. I’ll try not to spoil too much though.

Daenerys Targaryen

The characters also feel better developed so I felt a stronger relationship with all the various Points of View in the book. Like the other two, the book follows various story lines taken from different characters’ perspectives. This time, I feel like he fleshed out their story lines, revealing both a character’s dark side and their goodness. They feel like human beings now wandering through this fantastical world. Their struggles feel real. They aren’t like fairy tale stories with damsels in distress and knights in armor.
For example, an orphaned girl fighting for the throne still hasn’t full coped with all the people she has lost in her family. While their deaths aren’t at the front of her mind, they still float by her when she gets very emotional and it only fuels her rage. Sometimes this spells bad news for her enemies, but it also spells bad news for her friends. Her inability to mourn properly ends up putting her in situations where she makes irrational decisions. For example, she’s holding freed slaves who are hurting her army than helping it and some of these slaves just want to go back to their old ways. She feels helpless to their plight and can do nothing to fix them because she has an army to feed. However, she won’t let them go. While I can say that I’ve never held freed slaves, I could translate her struggles to women who have lost everything and go to desperate measures in the hopes of getting “something” back. Even though they know in their hearts that things can never go to the way things were.
Martin no longer has characters that have a strict sense of right and wrong (Ned Stark) or Greed-Driven (Twyin Lannister). He has characters that feel real and very likable at times.
Which is a bad thing because Martin is as famous for killing characters as Joss Whedon.
The ending leaves you on a cliffhanger, begging you to read the next book. However, I think I will needed to set Westeros down for a little while. It’s not them, it’s me. I need to see other books for a bit before I can delve back into The Game of Thrones.
Score: 9/10