On where I've been for the last month

I hate when I get into these huge reading slumps. I feel off in general when I'm not taking the time to wind down at night with a good book. Growing up, I was a HUGE reader, spending so much of my free time at the library carefully selecting my next stack of reading materials or pouring over the latest Scholastic book club catalog. Around middle school my leisure reading dropped off as I started getting very busy with sports and spending time with my friends. This lasted throughout high school and the first couple years of college. I would buy a book on occasion for some fun reading, but the extent of my reading focused mostly on school related books (many of which I at least enjoyed). When my boyfriend moved away for his internship, I found myself alone in my dorm room many nights, waiting for our nightly phone calls. I turned to books during these times and quickly rekindled my love of reading. Since then, I've never really had such a major reading rut as the one I'd been in for the last couple of months. Usually at this time of year I'd have read double the books.

I've mentioned before my minor OCD habit of having to finish a book once I've started it. I hate giving up on a book because I feel like it sits in the back of my mind, taunting me. I had the hardest time getting through The Devil In The White City, which is why I'm not going to write a proper review for it. I think I've made it pretty clear here and on Twitter that I found it to be dreadfully boring. There is not much good I can say about it. It just wasn't my thing but at least I can say I finished it and I did learn a few things from it. Now that I'm done with that, my plan is to read a bunch of books that I've heard a fun, quick reads in order to get back on track to meet my goal of 50 books this year. I don't like when my reading feels like a chore, and that's exactly how it felt reading that last book. I actually had to schedule myself reading time and set goals, like 10 pages per night.

Sara, Noelle & me at The Bellagio
Sunset in Manhattan Beach while waiting for our dinner reservations
On top of the reading slump, my social life has been exhausting lately (but fun!). Living in Los Angeles, we are finding that we get a lot of visitors, which is great but it's hard to find the time to spend with everyone and continue working full time. I'm also looking for a new job because my place of employment is so chock full of drama, you would think I was back in high school but surrounded by so many more drama queens. It's very hard to find time for reading when I'm having so much fun doing other things. I went to Las Vegas for a weekend a couple of weeks ago and had an absolute blast. It was definitely a great example of how the people you surround yourself with can make things so much better. We came away with plenty of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" stories, that's for sure. I also was able to have dinner with my cousin who lives in Las Vegas and who I haven't seen in about 2 years. Living so far away from where I grew up, it's really nice to see familiar faces once in awhile.

View at the Getty Center
Last week, my boyfriend's family came out for a visit. It was so nice to see them but it was incredibly exhausting! I wasn't able to get time off from work, so they entertained themselves during the days and then at night we took them out to some of our favorite restaurants. It made me a little bit sad that my family hasn't planned a visit out here yet. I loved showing them what our life is like out here on the opposite coast. During the time they were here, a college friend of mine was also out here so I had to find the time to visit with him as well. More college friends will be in town in a couple of weeks. I love my friends but it's really cutting into my reading time! The weather in LA is getting warmer and I'm looking forward to evenings on the roof with a good book. I'm already about half way through my next book so I should have a real review for you all in the next week. Thank you for sticking with me during this reading and blogging dry spell.


Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Book: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010
Genre: YA Pages: 336 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

My thoughts: I put off reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz for quite some time because I was worried it was one of those books that got too much hype. I have to say that while I enjoyed it overall, I really thought this was going to be a 5 star book for me. I enjoyed the way the story was told, jumping between the present and flashbacks to her past with Charlie, with interjections thrown in from her Dad, Charlie from beyond the grave and the architectural anomaly that is the Pagoda. I like books that take awhile to tell the story, giving us a few tidbits at a time because it gives me that extra push to keep reading, even if I have something else I should be doing.

I thought the relationship between Vera and her father was very true to life for a single father/ daughter relationship. Throughout the book, they were struggling to get along with one another but in the end they had a huge breakthrough that was so inspiring. I feel like so many of the books I've read lately are chock full of spunky characters and this was no exception.

The main reason I had trouble with Please Ignore Vera Dietz was the way Charlie was portrayed. Vera was undoubtedly angry with him because of the way he treated her shortly before his death but she also was in love with him. Charlie seemed like a total creep to me and I couldn't get past that. I understand that he had issues at home and he was probably acting out and rebelling because he wanted the intention (at least that's what all of my psychology teachers would have told me) but selling your worn underwear to the neighborhood pedophile is severely messed up. However, I'm so so glad that he got to explain his side of things because it helped me see how Vera could have been in love with him. There was a lot of darkly humorous parts of this book, especially in the ways he would control little things to happen and Vera would know it was him.

I think Please Ignore Vera Dietz is the perfect example of learning from your mistakes and letting things work themselves out in their own time. Vera had to go through a lot of crap to get to where she ended up, but it was all worth it because she was able to clear her best friends name and make peace with him as well as with her Dad. We saw her grow from an overworked teenager who was unable to face her problems to someone who learned how to deal like an adult. There was a lot to take away from this once I was finished which is always a sign of a hype worthy book.

My rating: 3.5 stars