Top Ten Tuesday!

It's Top Ten Tuesday again over at the Broke and the Bookish. This week's list is of our Top Ten Heroines. This was a hard one but I did manage to come up with 10.

1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)- what can I say about Hermione? She always worked incredibly hard to be the best, plus she was the female sidekick to the greatest wizard of all time. Even in the first few books when she was so young she was an awesome role model for the rest of us ladies.
2. Gemma Doyle (Gemma Doyle Trilogy)- *possible spoilers* it's been awhile since I've read this series but I remember loving Gemma's character. She was such a strong, young woman. She witnessed her mother's death and is then sent away to boarding school where she has a tough time at first being accepted. She learns she is responsible for rebuilding "the order" and thus kicks off this action packed series.
3. Lisbeth Salander (Millenium Trilogy)- Lisbeth is just a kickass female character. She's been through so much pain in her young life and has learned how to fight back. I don't think I've ever read a book or series with such a strong female lead.
4. Liesel Meminger (The Book Thief)- One of my favorite books. Liesel is a kindhearted young girl with a great love of reading. Her relationships with Max and Rudy make me love her so much more. She's just a very well-written and developed character.
5. Nancy Drew- it's been a long time since I've read any Nancy Drew, and I have to admit, I didn't read very many growing up. I was more of a BSC fan. However, Nancy Drew was a young super-sleuth which is totally cool. What young girl did not want to be like Nancy at some point in their life?
6. Jane Eyre- quite possibly the original heroine. A strong woman from a different social class than the man she loved, Jane managed to become his equal. When she received some disturbing news about him, she denies her heart and leaves him. It takes a strong woman to do something so difficult.
7. Stargirl Caraway (Stargirl)- Stargirl is one of the most fun loving characters of any book I've read. I wish I was more like her growing up. People thought she was weird and still she acted like it didn't bother her.
8. Janice Erlbaum (Have You Found Her)- The only real heroine on my list, Janice's memoir revolves around her time volunteering at the homeless shelter for teens that she spent time in as teen herself. She has beat her drug addiction and was ready to help someone like herself. The story follows her connection with the smart 19 yr old, Sam. It's a roller coaster ride with some unbelievable twists that made me really respect Janice.
9. Stephanie Plum- certainly not a perfect woman, Stephanie Plum is still a hilarious heroine who manages to get herself in some ridiculous situations and still do her job (with a little bit of help). I've only read the first few books of the series but I really love Stephanie so far.
10. Francie Nolan (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)- another book that I haven't read in awhile but it's one of my favorites. Francie was a girl after my own heart. Her love of reading was so refreshing. She grew up in a poor neighborhood and went through some rough times but she managed to come out a lovely young woman.


Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

It's time once again for the Book Blogger Hop! This week's question is:
Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

My answer: Yes I do use a rating system that is somewhat based on the Netflix movie rating system. When rating books I'm reviewing or that I keep track of on Goodreads, I use the star system.
One star = Didn't like it
Two Stars = It was ok
Three Stars = Liked it
Four Stars = Really liked it
Five Stars = Loved it

I also have an excel spreadsheet where I keep track of all the books I've read and what I thought of them. On there I also use the "hated it" rating (although I think I've only had to use that once or twice), which I guess would be the equivalent of 0 stars.


Book Review: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Published: The Viking Press, 1952
Genre: Fiction
Buy it: Amazon

My thoughts:

I've heard a lot of great things about East of Eden over the last few months. This was the first Steinbeck novel I've read and it will certainly not be the last. A group that I belong to over on Goodreads started discussing this book, so I figured why not. I've been hearing enough about it, might as well give it a shot. Since I started doing my 50 books a year challenge back in 2006, I made sure that many of the books I was reading were classics that I'd never gotten around to. There are many that I've been very surprised with as far as how much I enjoyed them, while there have been others that made me want to stab myself in the eye (cough::The Scarlet Letter::cough). When I started East of Eden, I thought it was a decent book but I wasn't sure what it was about the story that I was enjoying. It kept my attention enough to keep me reading about 50 pages a day. About halfway through, I started to really get into it. There wasn't much of anything in it that kept me on the edge of me seat, it was just simply great writing. It was easy to read but I didn't feel like he dumbed anything down either. I felt that the details Steinbeck gave about each character or moment were just right. The book is on the large side at 602 pages but I never found myself feeling overwhelmed by its size.
The story is a more modern day (comparatively, anyway) take on the classic bible stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Good and Evil. I'm not really a religious person, so I was a bit hesitant on reading this when I was first introduced to it. Growing up, I attended church pretty much every Sunday until I made my confirmation in 8th grade. I was forced to go by my parents and I was not really into it much. I tried reading the bible once when I was sick but only got through the first 2 or 3 books. While there were the obvious similarities to bible stories, this was not a book about religion at all. Everything that happened in East of Eden felt very real to me from the characters emotions to their flaws. Each character was so greatly developed, I feel as if I've come to know them. The relationship between Adam Trask and his son Cal just broke my heart. Without giving anything away for those of you who haven't had the privilege of reading this yet, the very last chapter was one of the most powerful passages I've read in quite awhile. I also just loved the Trask family's servant, Lee. He was the wise man who really kept the family together. Overall, a really enjoyable read that got me thinking a lot about my own relationships with my family and friends. It has been awhile since a book really kept me thinking. I almost don't want to go pick up my next book after this. I need a little time to let the beauty of East of Eden sink in.

My rating: 5 stars. Go read this immediately!


Top Ten Tuesday

It's Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week's top ten list features the "Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read". Over the last couple of years, I've been doing my best to knock off a lot of the classics and other books that I feel like most people have read but there are some that I haven't been able to check off yet. So without further ado, here is my list.

The Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

1. Pride and Prejudice- I'm not sure why I never read this. Actually, up until recently, I hadn't even realized that I had not read it. I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies before the original. I am an awful person. I'm sorry, Ms. Austen.
2. Anna Karenina- one of these days I will get to it. There have been multiple opportunities for me to join in a group read on this and I keep chickening out.
3. Lord of the Rings- I will probably never read this series to be honest. Nor will I see the movies. They just don't seem like my thing but everytime I tell someone I haven't read it, they are shocked.
4. The Hunger Games series- I feel like this is especially appropriate today on Mockingjay release day. I have been meaning to read The Hunger Games for awhile now but I keep putting off getting a copy.
5. Gone With the Wind- I haven't seen the movie either, but not for lack of trying. For some reason it's not available on Netflix. Anyway, I've just never gotten my hands on a copy of this and I really should.
6. The Grapes of Wrath - my dad has a really old copy from when he was in college which I almost read once, but there were dead bugs in it and it was falling apart, so yea. I'm reading East of Eden now and really digging Steinbeck's writing though so I'm thinking GoW will have to be acquired asap.
7. Rebecca- I've heard nothing but good things but was never really inspired to read it myself. Maybe someday soon.
8. Little Women- ok so this is not entirely true. I read an abridged version last winter without realizing it, but after finishing I realized, hey! That's not how it's supposed to end. There was a whole chunk missing in my book which was apparently written for young children, so all cleaned up and with a happy ending.
9. Treasure Island- a classic that I just never got around to reading.
10. Mrs. Dalloway (or anything by Virginia Woolf)- another that I'm not sure why I've never read. In high school, I remember a friend of mine reading this and complaining about it being boring. That's the only impression I've ever gotten about Mrs. Dalloway, but the summary sounds interesting to me. I think this is one I'll get around to eventually.

This was actually pretty difficult. It has been one of my goals to read all the books I couldn't believe I hadn't read. If I'd been asked to compile this list two years ago, it would have been much longer.


Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is "How many blogs do you follow?"

My answer: I'm still very new to the book blogging scene, and believe it or not, I just discovered Google Reader this week (so useful!). I've been on the lookout for new blogs but as of now, I'm only following a handful. I'm following 7 book blogs currently. There are a bunch of others that I've been reading for awhile that are not book related.

I know it seems like I've disappeared already. I've been reading East of Eden & really enjoying it, so expect a review sometime in the next week :)


Book Review: The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis

Book: The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis
Published: Back Bay Books, 2007
Genre:  Fiction
Buy it: Amazon

My thoughts: 
First off, I really had no idea what this book was about going in. I don't remember where I heard about it or really how I came across it. It's one of those books that seems to magically appear on your bookshelf. I decided to read it because I was looking for something rather short that I could read in just a few days. When I pulled it off my shelf, I realized there was no description of the contents of the story anywhere on the back of the book or the inside cover. I decided that instead of looking it up online, it would be more fun to jump right in without any back story.
I think that The Thin Place has a lot of potential to be a really great book, but the author jumped around so much for a story that was only 275 pages. I found myself having a hard time following the many different story lines. I think part of this is my own fault- I had too many distractions to focus on a book that delved so deep into spirituality and magic. I wanted to know more about Mees and her "abilities", but Davis chose to jump around on who was narrating. We got to see what life was like for the animals and plants of Varennes, which I like the idea of in theory, but I just wasn't feeling it in this case. I often found myself lost, having to go back to read certain chapters to figure out whose point of view we were reading. In the end, I felt like things were rushed to wrap up too quickly. Perhaps if it was a longer book with more of a chance to suss out details mentioned but never covered, I would have been more satisfied.
With all that said, I think readers who enjoy Gabriel Garcia Marquez would enjoy this. I have tried to get into his writing but I just find it's not my style.
Now if you'd like to actually know what it's about before reading-

Synopsis from Publishers Weekly: When three schoolgirls come upon a seemingly dead neighbor, Mr. Banner, prostrate on the beach, he is revived by the uncanny spiritual powers of one of the girls, Mees Kipp, a strange fatherless waif who is also able to communicate with dogs. The narrative's point-of-view jumps among various characters (including a dog) as Davis explores the teeming, deceitful, hidden lives of the small church-going community and teases out its history via the journal of a late 19th-century schoolmarm who harbors a secret passion. (She perished with her pupils in what has become known as the Sunday School Outing Disaster; the 1870s tragedy still haunts the town.) Meanwhile, in the Crockett Home for the Aged, sharp-witted Helen Zeebrugge, at 92, simmers at the stupidity and condescension of her caretakers; her only son, Piet, in his vigorous 60s, is looking for wife number five and is tired of dating the athletic French teacher at the high school. With her eye on Piet, 50-ish divorcée Billie Carpenter, new to town and unattached, possesses the clarity to grasp the larger supernatural realignment that's taking place in Varennes, as evil (or senseless mortality) is replaced by a life-affirming force: love.

My rating: I gave The Thin Place 2 stars. I think this is a book that I might enjoy better after a re-read. There were a lot of details I'm certain I missed the first time around.

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday, which for a lot of book bloggers means it's time for the book blogger hop. I'm going to join in this week for the first time. This was a feature started over at Crazy For Books (great blog, check it out).

The question this week is:

How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf’?

For an avid reader such as myself, I've actually only got about 175 books waiting to be read on my TBR shelf on Goodreads. I would say in addition to that, I've got another 200 on my wishlist on Bookmooch. Compared to some of the responses I've seen, I'd say I'm not such a crazy bookaholic after all! I've been doing really well lately in knocking books off my to read list before I start researching new ones to add to my list, but I've still got a long way to go. On my actual bookshelf, I think I only have about 20 unread books which is really good for me. That means I'll get to go on a book buying spree soon!

Stay tuned for my very first book review. I'll be sharing my thoughts on "The Thin Place" by Kathryn Davis.


In which I blab about bicycles and my indecision

So, I've been trying to decide on a new bike for a few years now, but have recently gotten more serious about it since I sold my beloved Hoffman Rhythm BMX bike this past spring. I figured at 24, I should probably get something a little more grown up/ not so tomboy-ish. Living only about 5 miles from Venice Beach & Santa Monica pier has really put the pressure on me to get something soon. Also not having a car, it'd be nice to have some form of transportation. I had a second interview for a job yesterday that's just about 3.5 miles away. Totally bike-able (although bike safety on my particular route might be an issue). I'm having the hardest time trying to figure out exactly what I want right now. Let's face it, I'm a pretty indecisive person. In the coming weeks I should be doing some car shopping as well, which will most likely prove to be an even harder decision. So, let's see if I can decide on the less important of the two, shall we?

I am fairly certain that I want a beach cruiser. They are very popular right now, especially in LA, and there are a ton of super cute styles. I have an idea in my head of what I'm looking for but it doesn't seem to exist. I've found a few that I really like but are over my budget for what I'd like to spend on a bike. I've also had my eye on the custom fixie/single speeds over at Republic Bike/UO. I like the option to design it yourself. They do have a Dutch custom shop, but I'm not a fan of their choices. I've been thinking about it a lot over the last week, and I think I've decided that I'm going to start with a cruiser and then if I have some spare cash in the future, I'll also get the bike at Republic. My boyfriend has been looking at getting a second bike as well, partially so that we have spares for our guests to ride when they visit. Not a bad idea.
Now, here are the cruisers that I've been looking at:

The 26" SixThreeZero. I've read some reviews on this bike and it sounds like you get what you pay for. It's definitely on the cheaper side of cruisers, at about $220. I like the simplicity of it. I'm not crazy for the bikes with all the flowery details. If I choose this bike, I would also get a brown wicker basket to carry all my stuff in easier when I ride around.

Another bike I've had my eye on for the last 3 years or so is the Nadine from Phat Cycles. On the east coast, these bikes are virtually impossible to come by. I don't know why but I'm totally drawn to the argyle pattern. I test rode this bike a couple of weeks ago and was slightly disappointed with the overall look. It actually appeared somewhat cheap for a $440 bike. I'm also not a fan of the glossy paint job. Still, I've been lusting over this one for so long and it rode smoothly, so I've kept it on my list.

The next bike is one I recently fell in love with. Another one from Phat Cycles, but a cheaper option at about $310. I like both the blue and the yellow frames (sensing a pattern in my color choices here?), so I'm not sure which I'd choose in the end. I think the yellow goes better with the green rims.

These last two are way out of my price range if I'm planning to get a second bike eventually, but I'm going to post photos of them anyway because I really love them. One other thing about these is they are 3-speed. I really don't like having gears, I think it looks sloppy, so I've really only been considering single speeds. These are both from Electra Bikes.

And just because, here is the bike I plan on building from Republic Bikes sometime in the future. It's not quite the same- both rims would be yellow on mine, but this is the general idea.
Phew. So as you can see, I have some options. There is not really one in particular that I totally love (except for that second to last one I posted- the Electra. I'm totally digging that one right now. If only it were $200 cheaper and single speed). I love the Republic Bike as well, but I'm not really sure it's my riding style. I can be a lot more relaxed on a cruiser and they are perfect for the beach which is what I'm really looking for at this point. I am forcing myself to make a decision in the next week. I want to have a bike picked out by next Friday at the latest.


Hello, Internets

A brief introduction post for those of you who don't know what I'm all about. First of all, I don't know how I'll possibly keep up with one more website, but I'm going to give it a go. I'm not sure exactly what this will be about yet. I'd really like to crack down on reviewing the books I read and the new music I hear, mainly because I need to brush up on my writing skills. So, my friends over at The Broke and The Bookish have inspired me to create a place where I can do just that. I'm not new to blogging by any means. I've been on Livejournal since 2003, and unlike most people, I still do occasionally write there, although it's really only once every couple months or so now. I'm also an avid Tumblr user. Other than books and music, I'll probably throw in the occasional post about what's going on in my life.

So, about a month ago, I quit my job in Boston and drove across country to Los Angeles with my boyfriend, Tyler. We had a great trip with some fun sightseeing things along the way, made it to LA in 6 days, found the cutest apartment in 2 more, and were moved in after 4 days of being in the city. The next piece of the puzzle that I've been working on is finding myself the perfect job. The perfect job for me at this point would be something in the music industry, which is what I was working in over the last two years. I've mostly been looking at assistant or marketing positions at this point since I'm still considered pretty entry level. A lot of the jobs I've actually been interviewing for are in TV rather than music, but so far nothing has fallen into place on that front yet. Once I land a job, I've got to bust ass to find a car real quick. This past January, my car was stolen back in MA. As bad as it sucked, it was somewhat of a blessing in disguise. I got decent money for the car (although only half what I had paid 4 years prior), I grew accustomed to riding the T, which allowed me so much extra time to read during my commute to and from work each day, and I was able to save a lot of money. It also helped immensely only having one car to drive out here.
So here I am, living in paradise. We'll see where this life takes me.