Sunday Post | May 17th – May 23rd

In Real Life:.

  • Sorry for the short period of radio silence on the blog this week, but I’ve been busy making the leap to self-hosted! Still planning some tweaks, and hopefully a bit of a re-design, but these things take time (ahem, when you don’t know what you’re doing!)
  • Come follow along @!!!
  • I had this whole past week off from work – not sure how that happened, but I’ll take it! I used this time to get done some administrative-work-related-type tasks, which I never seem to have time for when I’m actually working.
  • Add to that, my hubs took vacation on Friday, to make an extra long holiday weekend, during which we had a little stay-cation in Milwaukee! We lounged about, ate at some yummy restaurants, went to a comedy club, drank craft cocktails at various establishments, saw The Book of Mormon musical, and all in all had a fantastic time!


In Case You Missed It:


Currently Reading:

Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlasby David Mitchell

Oh this old thing again? I’m re-committing, and am hoping to wrap this baby up this week. I seriously don’t know what my problem is with this… it’s like some crazy, voodoo form of mental block… send help.


Currently Listening:

Yes PleaseYes Pleaseby Amy Poehler

Concurrently watching Parks & Rec, so I just HAD to finally give this book a listen. I’m only a little ways in, but so far so good!


Dying to Watch, But Haven’t Yet:

Pitch Perfect 2

If you recall, I recently experienced the first installment, and fell in love. So obviously, this needs to happen. Plus, several Green Pay Packer players make a cameo, so that’s a nice draw to get the hubs to come with me!


How was everyone’s week? Finally starting to feel like spring around here! Anything fun and exciting coming down the pipeline for you this week?


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.


A Don’t Miss Debut! | Girl At War

Girl at War: A Novel   Girl at Warby Sara Nović

The Facts

  • Girl at War is Nović’s debut novel (which leaves me in awe and amazement!), recently released on May 12, 2015. She also has written short stories, one of which you can, and should, read here.
  • Sara Nović has spent time living in Croatia, as well as the United States.
  • She is the founding editor of the blog Redeafined, which provides accurate information and awareness of deaf and hard-of-hearing issues; from education, to media representation, to real life experiences. This post about American Sign Language was super interesting, and discusses how ASL is indeed a “real” language.



Ana is a young girl, living in Croatia in the 1990s, when civil war breaks out, and her life is forever changed. Fast forward to ten years later, where Ana is in college in the United States of America, and an event forces her to think about her past, and the country she left behind.


Non-Spoiler Review:

I’m going to lay it all out there… this book is fantastic! I read it ravenously, and was extremely sad when it was over. It’s one of those books, I KNOW for certain I will read again, and probably in the not too far away future.

Now that I got that out of the way… this story centers around Ana, a young girl living in Croatia at the start of the civil wars across Yugoslavia in the 1990s. What floored me when reading, was the thought “how could I have not known about the extent of this….” as this is an event that occurred in my lifetime, and not really all that long ago.

The story is told in alternating chapters from when Ana is young in Croatia, as well as ten years later when she is a college student living in New York City. She has grown up and gotten out, but try as she may, has not forgotten her experiences and eventual escape from her war-torn home. The back and forth between the chapters had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, and I was equally invested in both the past and the present happenings.

Ana is such a great character, and the way the book is told, it almost reads as a memoir. I really FELT for Ana, and what she was going through. I loved how we as the reader, got to experience the horrifying events of her childhood, as well as her recovery and transition to living in America, all while her memories continued to relentlessly haunt her.

Just read this, all of you! You won’t be sorry.


Rating:     [5/5 stars]


In Case You Want More:

  • Thanks to Monika for the heads up (and Random House), I was able to score an advanced copy of this. She also found it hard to put down!
  • April also discusses her bewilderment at not knowing more about the Yugoslav wars in her review, which I echo completely,


| Girl at War | Random House | 2015 | hardcover | source: publisher |



Readathon | Bout of Books 13.0

Bout of Books






So, luckily I have some time off this week, and have decided to participate in Bout of Books 13.0! This will be my first time, so I’m preeeettty excited.

For those who are unfamiliar with this readathon:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team



My goals this week are, basically, to read as much as possible! I’m currently reading A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, so I don’t really want to set a “number of books” goal, since this behemoth novel is around 800 pages! SO, with that being said I’m hoping to:


A Little Life          The Shore          Cloud Atlas          Saga, Volume 2 (Saga #7-12)


  1. Finish A Little Life.
  2. If I have any strength left after all of the crying I will supposedly be doing, I want to read The Shore, by Sara Taylor. Why not read emotionally wrenching (I’ve been told) novels back to back!?!
  3. Make SOME progress in Cloud Atlasby David Mitchell. I’m DETERMINED to finish it this month!
  4. Read some graphic novels for a little break when I need it.



I will be updating this post daily as the week progresses with my reading stats, in terms of pages read, and so on. So check back, and link your progress in the comments below so I can follow along with you as well!

Monday | 0 pages today | 0 pages total | 0 total books read | 15 minutes audio

As I said on Sunday, I work all day/night on Monday, so I won’t really be getting started until Tuesday (after I’ve slept for a bit in the morning when I get home!) So sadly, no reading accomplished on day 1.

Tuesday | 218 pages today | 218 pages total | 1 total book read | 15 minutes audio

I returned home from work this morning, slept a few hours, but was pretty tired for most of the day, and thus will be going to bed early (like now-ish…). Despite that, I managed to read one graphic novel, Saga volume 2as well as make some progress in A Little Life, which is getting so good! I guess I should mention, I’m also currently listening to The Dinner by Herman Koch on audio right now, mostly just while driving.

Wednesday | 110 pages today | 328 pages total | 1 total book read | 75 minutes audio

Today was all about A Little Life. I don’t know really how things can get worse, except I know they do. I find myself near physical illness while reading, and am exhausted from clenching all my muscles so tightly in anguish. But, it’s SO GOOD, and I can’t even deal with it. And P.S. to Shannon, I’ve made it to page 370 with out crying (it was touch and go there for awhile though), so I guess that makes me a magical unicorn. 🙂

Thursday | 0 pages today | 328 pages total | 1 total book read | 15 minutes audio

So, sadly, today I had a work related retreat alllllll day. Although, I don’t really know how you can call something a “retreat” when it’s in a conference room at the hospital I work at… but, oh well. Needless to say, my colleagues and I needed to blow off some steam afterwards, and went out for an adult beverage, or two. I might get some last minute reading in later on, but kind of just want to hang out with my husband for the remainder of the evening. So we’ll call this day a wash.

Friday | 192 pages today | 520 pages total | 1 total book read | 25 minutes audio

Today I binge read A Little Life. I don’t have much else to say on the reading front. I can’t really say I’m “enjoying” the book because the content is so incredibly horrible, but it is definitely a compelling read. I’m ready to get to the end, and for it to be over, so my emotional state can return to its previous baseline. I’m off to watch Parks & Rec the rest of the night!

Saturday | 46 pages today | 566 pages total | 2 total books read | 180 minutes audio

I really only had time to read A Little Life this morning. Much of my day was spent driving, so at least I had a chance to finish listening to my audio book, The Dinner, which I was happy about. Next up, I listened to a few chapters from How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran, which I was already about halfway through. Hoping to finish off A Little Life tomorrow for the last day of #BoutOfBooks!

Sunday | 208 pages today | 774 pages total | 3 total books read | 0 minutes audio

You guys… I finished A Little LifeI’m still letting it all gel, but in the meantime, forged on ahead with The Shore. I’m about a third of the way through already, and find it completely engrossing. As recommended, I’m taking copious notes – not really, but I am jotting down relationships between the different characters as I come across them. I have a feeling I’ll be finishing this up in the next day or so.

I was really hoping I would get though more during Bout of Books, but A Little Life isn’t necessarily the best readathon fodder. I didn’t really want to pause it and read other things though, so it’s all good, and I’m happy I was able to finish it today.


How did Bout of Books 13.0 treat you? Did you get as much reading done as you hoped? Until next time, which rumor has it, will be in August. 🙂




Sunday Post | May 10th – 16th

In Real Life:

  • I ended up having a busy week, with just life stuff in general, so I haven’t made as much reading progress for Bout of Books as I had hoped. BUT, if all goes as planned today, I am desperate to finish off A Little Life!
  • I went through all my “To Be Read” books on Goodreads, and ruthlessly cut out ones I’m no longer interested in. I axed over 200 books, and it feels GREAT!
  • The hubs and I drove up a couple of hours to my home town yesterday to surprise my Dad for his 60th birthday!


In Case You Missed It:


Currently Reading:

A Little Life, A Little Lifeby Hanya Yanagihara

This is an exceptional book, and also one I’m MORE than ready to finish. I plan on fully reviewing this, so watch out for that. No, really, watch out – this book is a swift, hard kick in the feelings. And then when you’re down, it’ll kick you again. (And again, and again – you get it.).



Currently Listening:

How to Build a GirlHow to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran

If you’ve been following along with my BoB updates, you will know I finished The Dinner (intense), and now am getting back to this. I only have about 25% or so to go, so it shouldn’t take me too long. I’m debating between listening to Spinster or Yes Please next, so give me your vote in the comments to help me decide!



Currently (Still) Watching:

Parks and Recreation (season 2)

Loving it still. The episode where the team goes hunting, and Amy Poehler spouts off all this stereotypical “female” stuff about being “hysterical” and whatnot is priceless.



Gilmore Girls (season 2)

Depending on whether or not the hubs is around, determines which show I watch. He’s not the biggest fan of GG, but to his credit, he’s probably seen all the episodes WAY too many times now, in the years he’s known (and loved!) me. 🙂



Insert here something about the weather, and how I want it to be warm and sunny! What do ya’ll got going on this week? How did your Bout of Books go?


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.


Definitely No Dawson Naiveté Here | The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark  The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, by Anna North (2015)


The Facts:

  • Release date next week, May 19th, 2015!
  • This is Anna North’s second novel, with her first America Pacifica published in 2011.
  • Get it? Dawson?



Sophie is a girl who is a little bit different, and has the intense desire, or need rather, to make movies. This story chronicles her life as she gets her start by making a documentary in which she follows around some dude who goes to her college. The novel continues on for several years after, until the end, of which is given away in the title.


Non-Spoiler Review:

I’m going to be honest here (as always), and tell you I just kept seeing this cover around, everywhere, staring at me. So finally I got curious, as to WHO is this Sophie Stark?

Sophie is a young woman, who is quite different from everyone else, and really seems to just not care – about herself, about her future, about other people, really about anything except making movies. She is utterly and completely herself, to a fault sometimes, and also doesn’t always seem all that in tune with reality. She is certainly one of the more complex, and interesting characters I’ve read about in awhile.

The story is told in various perspectives from people in Sophie’s life, including her brother, a girl in one of her films, or simply a more casual acquaintance for just a brief time. The character of Sophie is fleshed out with all these different versions of her, and who she was to each individual. And yet, we are never given a chapter from Sophie’s own point of view, which actually I kind of liked… I think… sort of.

To be honest, this was just an okay book for me. The writing was good, and it held my interest while reading it, but definitely has not stood the test of time. I finished this not even two weeks ago, and can already hardly remember it. Sophie was a great character, but in the end I didn’t feel very attached to her, and had very little understanding of the motivations and desires driving her decisions. There wasn’t enough depth or emotion to REALLY suck me in, nor leave a lasting impression. I say, read it, or not, and you’ll be fine either way.

I’ll leave you with Anna North’s words about her character, Sophie:

I sort of feel like Sophie is driven less by obsession than by curiosity. Like, she doesn’t totally understand the emotional world that most people live in, and she’s sort of investigating it, and them, through her movies.


Rating:     [3/5 stars]


Looking For More:

  • I can’t seem to find the blog page I’m looking for, so I’ll just link to Amber’s @ Shelf Notes Goodreads review here, where she also admits to being pulled in by the cover to start.
  • For a more glowing review, see Matthew’s here.


Have you read this? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


| The Life and Death of Sophie Stark | Blue Rider Press | 2015 | e-ARC | NetGalley |


Sunday Post | May 3rd – May 9th

In Real Life:

  • Yesterday, my sister and I surprised our mom for Mother’s Day! We went to a quintessential Wisconsin supper club, where we had steak and whisky old fashioned sweets, and it was glorious!
  • Bout of Books officially starts tomorrow! I work a 24-hour shift tomorrow, so my personal kick off “officially” starts on Tuesday.


In Case You Missed It:


Currently Reading:

A Little LifeA Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

Finally catching up with the times and reading this bad boy. I’ve only been able to read in short snippets thus far, but am definitely intrigued. Can’t wait to have some dedicated time this week, and make a bigger dent in this tome.



Currently Listening:

The DinnerThe Dinner, by Herman Koch

I’m a ways into this, and have to say the narrator is excellent, and really brings the story to life. I’m enjoying it for the most part, and am interested to see how all the clues dropped here and there will come together.



Currently Watching:

Parks and Recreation (Season 2)

I’ve only seen random episodes previously, and the hubs and I decided to watch from the very beginning. SO. FUNNY. Also, it really makes me want to listen to Amy Poehler’s Yes Please on the sooner side of life.



Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! And to all, I hope you have a fantastic week, and Happy Bout of Books! Are you read-a-thoning?


The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.



6 Degrees | Elizabeth Is Missing

6 Degrees of Separation is a meme invented by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. A different book is chosen each month, and then you link six additional books in a chain based on various connections of your choosing. Sounds fun, right?!


Elizabeth Is MissingMay’s chain kicks off with Elizabeth is Missing, which I haven’t read. My extensive research revealed this is Emma Healey’s debut novel. Another debut novel I read and loved last month was Our Endless Numbered Days.




Our Endless Numbered DaysOur Endless Numbered Days  is a stunning debut novel about a young girl, named Penny, who is stolen away by her father to a secluded cabin in the woods where they live for several years, after him telling her every one else in the world has died. Penny has some messed up parents – as does Mac, the fiesty red-head from Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series.



Vision in White (Bride Quartet, #1)Nothing but high-brow literature here, folks! Honestly though, I’ve read nothing else by Nora Roberts, but for some reason this series just does it for me. Each book follows a different member of an all-female friend group, who also run a wedding business together. This group includes a photographer, florist, baker, and planner. What is the one group member missing, you ask? But, a DJ, playing everyone’s favorite songs! (Wow, am I reaching here).


A Little LifeA song that comes to mind (although, can’t say I’ve ever heard it at a wedding) is “Hey, Jude.” Jude, of course, reminds me of the main protagonist of A Little Lifewhich I’m about 100 pages into at this point, so NO SPOILERS! I’ve heard this book is fixing to make me cry… A LOT…



The Time Traveler's WifeI’m not a big crier, in general, but the last book I can remember making me well up a bit is The Time Traveler’s Wife. I have vivid memories of my then-boyfriend-now-husband waiting for me to finish this book before going to a movie, and him being flabbergasted by my tears. Although, now, I can’t remember anything at all about this time travel book….



Outlander (Outlander, #1)Another book revolving around time travel is Outlander, in which honeymooner Claire touches a rock (or something), and gets thrown back in time and falls for Jaime, a Scottish warrior, and has some sexy times.




The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1)Another first-book-in-a-series-that-had-a-lot-of-sex-but-just-didn’t-do-it-for-me, and thus, I won’t be be continuing on with the series anytime soon is The Bronze Horseman. This book involves Tatiana, and her forbidden love for Alexander, set against the backdrop of WWII, in Leningrad, Russia.



Can’t say this is the best chain I’ve ever done, but what can a gal do, sometimes ya just don’t got it. My chain links, as follows: Debut > Messed Up Parents > Songs > Crying > Time Travel > Um, Sexy Times? OR wait, First-In-A-Series-I-Won’t-Continue.


Check out Annabel’s chain here, and Emma’s chain here. Link yours in the comments below, so I can take a looksie!




Top Ten Tuesday | Books I’ll (Probably) Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a book meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday post, and it’s good to be back! This week’s topic is something not often highlighted here in happy-reading-book-land… books I WON’T ever read. This list is a mix of tried and failed, classics, and just because I don’t wannas. Also, I could only come up with 8 books I could fairly confidently say I would *NEVER read. (*Never is quite a long time, and who knows what I’ll want to do with myself when I’m 80!)


A Brief History of Seven Killings   War and Peace   Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2)   The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

The A Brief History of Seven Killings refusal is just about me being bitter regarding its domination in the Tournament of Books earlier this year. I didn’t get to it then, and don’t think I ever really need to make it a priority. War and Peace,  because TOO LONG. I read Outlander awhile ago, and it was good enough, but not so much that I feel the need to read 18 other books (okay, maybe just 9 at this point) about the just so-so characters. I attempted The Lord of the Rings in college, and just couldn’t get into it. That one’s a maybe someday, but not today… or tomorrow… or next year.


Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2)   Ulysses   Shopaholic to the Stars (Shopaholic, #7)   The Complete Wheel of Time

Lair of Dreams, is the sequel (or next in the series, not really sure) to The Diviners, which I really didn’t enjoy very much at all. Ulysses… no thanks. I actually really love Sophie Kinsella’s stand-alones, but never got into her Shopaholic books. Despite that, I’ve read all the previous books in the series, but have since given up on ever discovering any redeeming qualities in the main character, Becky Bloomwood, and will not be reading Shopaholic to the Stars. Lastly, I love me some epic fantasy, but now, and likely nor will I ever, have the desire to commit to a 14 book series. Plus, I’ve heard the Wheel of Time series isn’t even that amazing, so I’ll have to take a pass on this one.


Feel free to show me some hate if you disagree with my choices, and convince me to give it a second look!


A Thought on Hypocrisy | Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus Purple Hibiscusby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


The Facts:

  • Adichie is a Nigerian author, and has written one short story collection and three novels, of which Purple Hibiscus is her first, published in 2003.
  • She also did a widely popular (and AMAZING) Ted Talks, which was later published as a written essay entitled, We Should All Be Feminists. This is something everyone should read, if you haven’t already. It’s very short, but packs a huge punch.
  • I think a lot of people have read her other novels, and less seem to have read this debut novel. Reading an author’s works in order isn’t always something I think about, but for some reason, I just really wanted to read Purple Hibiscus before getting to her other stuff. Definitely glad I did!



Kambili and Jaja are teenaged siblings growing up in Enugu, Nigeria, and are part of a wealthy family. Their father runs a successful newspaper, as well as several prosperous factories, and is well respected in the community. He was converted to Christianity via missionaries as a younger man, and has since turned away from Nigerian culture and custom, deeming all those who don’t believe heretical, including his own father. The novel continues to unfold, as Kambili and Jaja travel outside their home town to stay with their aunt, where they discover a different way of life from the one they are used to.


Non-Spoiler Review:

First off, I would love for Adichie to write a memoir, however I feel like we get snippets of her experiences here and there throughout her books, which can hold me over for now – hint, hint. She clearly takes inspiration from her own life, as much of this story occurs in her home town. Likewise, Americanah is about a girl who moves from Nigeria to the United States to pursue her education, which Adichie also has done.

Purple Hibiscus is simply and beautifully written, and tells the story from Kambili’s point of view. She is a smart, scared, and stifled young woman, tip toeing her way through life, trying not to upset the precarious balance in her household. She, and her brother both, undergo great changes in their outlook on life and their attitudes towards their own family throughout the progression of this story.

Two themes which resonate with me in this book are those of hypocrisy in religion, as well as the idea of leading a double life. You learn early on in reading, that Kambili and Jaja’s father, whom they affectionately refer to as “Papa,” is a bit of a religious zealot, sacrificing just about everything for the sake of his religious beliefs. He is abusive towards his family in a myriad of ways, and tyrannical about upholding religious law and his children being “the best” in all they do. However, his behavior at home is hidden away, and overshadowed by his outpouring of religious speak and the abundant financial support he provides for members within his church community. On one hand, you see the exterior of this picture perfect family, with a successful father, doting wife, and well-disciplined, smart children; while on the other, inside the walls of their home, only resides deep-seeded fear and well-kept secrets.

All I can say is, if this is Adichie’s first novel, I can’t even WAIT to read Americanahwhich I’ll hopefully be getting to later this month to keep up with the ladies over at The Socratic Salon. Adichie is clearly brilliant, and I think provides a unique and important perspective on life in general. Although this story takes place in Nigeria, a place I’ve never been, the themes are so powerful and relatable to my own existence. I feel it’s especially amazing when a book can teach me something external to my life experiences, and yet also affect me on a truly personal level.


Rating:     [4.5/5 stars]


If You Want More:

  • I agree with Max‘s Goodreads review here – and Kambili’s cousin Amaka, was also one of my favorite characters!
  • Curled Up With A Good Book’s review here, is quite a bit more spoilery, so beware of that, but does provide a nice discussion on the abuse of power, and how the political atmosphere of Nigeria at the time reflects that of the family.
  • 1book1review‘s thoughts on the writing and the characters, as well as her conflict over the ending, in her video here.


| Purple Hibiscus | Algonquin Books | 2003 | paperback | purchased |