A Post: Weekly Reads / 02.07.2016

Started and finished The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay this weekend, so look out for a post of mini reviews with my thoughts on it, and The Improbability of Love, later this week.

Started First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women by Susan Swain on Friday and have gotten as far as the 28th-- there were two, Edith, and then Ellen Wilson. It's fascinating and has pushed me to do some more reading featuring American history. C-Span pulled the book together by taking pieces from the televised programs created for each of the first ladies in order to give a basic overview of their personalities and legacies. Pretty excited that I'll have something to watch once I'm finished. Learn more (and watch) here:

Hoping to get into Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson after finally getting it in at the library.

And, of course, the large stack of comics I hope to add between longer reads. (insert smiley emojis)

All and all, I'm thinking it's going to be a promising week in the reading department!

What are you reading?


A Post: Weekly Reads / 02.01.2016

I love taking pictures. I love books. I really love taking pictures of books.

Each Monday I'll be sharing an image of some of the things I'll be reading during the week.

February begins with me continuing  The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild, which I AM LOVING for so many reasons. Art, food, history, and London!?!? Yes! All my favorite things in a cleverly written page turner.

And I'll be celebrating the start of #ComicsFebruary with graphic novel finds from my local library.

Cat Person by Seo Kim and The Great American Documents: Volume 1: 1620-1830 by Ruth Ashby are just two in my very large stack for the month ahead.

Whimsical meets serious historical fun. Can't wait!

What are you reading this week?


My Favorites of 2015

2015 was big for me in so many ways. I celebrated two years of living in the Chicago area. Networked and made many new friends and collaborators. Saw my photography business start to really take off (2016 is going to be even better). And completed 45 books while doing it all. 45!

I'm still riding the high of surpassing my original goal of 40 and thinking back on all those that really stood out. While many have been saying that 2015 was a stellar year, it really was one of my least favorite years in terms of enjoyable reading as I found I started and abandoned more books than ever before.

Even though many of these are probably on every year-end list, I decided to compile my own top ten for 2015 and share... even if it is a couple weeks late.

Top Ten for 2015

1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This should be required reading in every high school in the United States. On the most basic level, Coates demonstrates that discrimination based on race has been, and continues to be, an integral part of America's foundation. Raw and heartbreaking and complete truth. 

2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Dystopian tale based in Toronto forcing readers to contemplate life and death in a sobering light.

3. The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

Connected stories from Stalin's USSR to present day Russia. It takes serious skill to successfully build an entire cast of authentic characters who also keep the story alive and moving. Marra did that and more-- I couldn't put it down.

4. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, does it again with her hilarious documentation of her own battles with mental illness to shed light on this very painful and often overlooked disease. Plus, she talks about wearing granny panties as a leotard, so, really, do I need to say more?

5. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

Condensed family history devolving into individual stories after tragedy strikes. Heartbreaking but so worth it. 

6. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

A record of a very interesting marriage, Groff approaches each narrative separately, showing readers that there are always two sides to every story.

7. Euphoria by Lily King

An exploration of anthropology in its infancy (Euphoria is loosely based on the work of Margaret Mead) and the way in which professionals viewed "primitive" peoples around the world at that time. There's also a bit of a love story for those who love some drama.

8. Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg

A fun, and sometimes sad, story of a New York City movie ticket booth worker during the jazz age, and the people in her life. Read it for the atmosphere and Attenberg's Mazie.

9. Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott

A nonfiction title exploring the role four females spies played during the American Civil War. Readers might be tricked into thinking they're reading fiction with Abbott's gift of engaging prose and the unbelievable tales of daring.

10. The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

A family secret comes to light when a stranger takes residence in their small town and begins documenting its history. 

I'm also taking part in the #24in48 Readathon this weekend! Woot woot.

Here's my stack:

What are you reading?


A Wrap-UP: The RIP X Challenge with Mini Reviews

My post is a couple days late, but I wanted to share the fact that I failed to meet my goal for the first time in the five years I've participated in this challenge!! Heartbreaking, guys. I'm trying to not be too hard on myself because there were very necessary reasons for not having the time to read as much as I wanted, but I still can't help but be a little sad about missing the mark. I managed to fall one book short of my Peril the First pledge, finishing the challenge out with three spooky reads. I'm currently 75% done with my fourth title, so I've got that at least. 


I took my RIPX TBR list and ripped it into a million shreds and stuck it in a trashcan and lit that thing on fire. I didn't actually do any of those things but when you take a look at my TBR and then what I read it's essentially the same thing. 

I found The Secret History far too much of a commitment to finish (I still plan on reading it someday). I found The Uninvited boring and tossed it. I forgot about Wuthering Heights even though I just ordered a beautiful, vintage Penguin paperback version. I couldn't get The Ghost Hunters because it hasn't been published outside of the UK. I was too lazy to check out The Asylum from the library. And then left The Big Book of Ghost Stories languishing on my coffee table. I was TERRIBLE, people.

So what did I read??

Well, I listened to The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue by Piu Marie Eatwell. I liked it well enough. I didn't think it was the book of the year but it was full of tidbits about Edwardian England and the legal process at this time. I found it a bit lackluster as the motive that put the whole thing in motion was never fleshed out. It's nice for long hours of editing or car rides because the reader for the audio does a great job voicing the many characters. 

I checked out a physical copy of In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, which was pretty underwhelming considering I nailed the bad guy about 20 pages in. I thought the characters were one dimensional and felt their thoughts and feelings didn't really seem accurate for a person of 26 or 28. Honestly, I thought they were like 2 at most?? Anyway, it was a fairly fast paced read that got me one book in a weekend. I'd say go for it if you're looking for some quick entertainment, but not expecting much else.

Finally, I finished The Strangler Vine by M. J. Carter. This was my favorite of all my RIP reads, aside from In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (which I'm finishing now). The novel takes place in the early years of British imperialism in India. The author uses the language from the time period, which I thought was an interesting and authentic touch, in dialogue and in explanations of the atmosphere. The novel, longlisted for the Bailey's Prize, includes passages that immerse the reader in a rich, vivid landscape. There were momentary lulls in action and the dynamic between Avery and Blake, the novel's protagonists, was somewhat cliche. I would recommend for the atmosphere M.J. Carter is able to build alone. It gives an interesting look at greed and corruption during this very muddled time in British and Indian history. 

I'm currently finishing up In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and already know it's a 5-star on Goodreads. So gruesome, yet so beautifully written. I can honestly say I have never been more troubled by a book but also captivated to continue reading. It's definitely produced some WTF moments. Perfect fall spread pictured below--->

Headed over to now to see how others did in their RIPX Challenge!

Just a note:

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a number of writers and speakers while they toured Chicago, so stay tuned for posts on Jenny Lawson, Geraldine Brooks, Gloria Steinem, and Roxane Gay. You're going to love them!! 

What are you currently reading??!


River City Reading's Library Checkout: October

I couldn't resist participating in Shannon at River City Reading's Library Checkout, a monthly feature encouraging readers to share their library haul (or hold addiction), for October because I actually finished a couple (or am so very close to) and needed to celebrate! This was, of course, prior to receiving a notification that every hold I have ever made was ready for me to pick up. AHHHH! At least November is looking a little less hectic than October and I can put a dent in it. Wishful thinking.

Read This Month

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Listened This Month

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (75% finished)

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (35%)

Returned, Unread

Mecca: The Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar

Fairytales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Phillip Pullman

Black Earth: A Journey Through Russia After the Fall by Andrew Meier

An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

**Only one fine (haha) for late return: Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (I didn't even make one dish from this book!! The horror!)

Checked Out/ To Be Read

TOO MANY TO LIST! AHHH. I'm drowning in books. Seriously.

On Hold

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Audio Holds

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Read any of these? Which one should I choose next?! :)

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