“The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling

Image result for the casual vacancy jk rowlingObviously I picked up this book because of my love of Harry Potter. After five months and one failed attempt, I have finally finished. Thank you, audiobooks.

Let me just tell you, this book ain’t Harry Potter. It’s set in a small British town where everybody knows everybody’s business.

The first time I started reading it I got about a quarter of the way in. There were so many characters introduced so quickly that it got a little confusing and I couldn’t keep anyone straight. The second time was easier. I started at the beginning again, but having already read the first part I could remember better who was married to who and so on and so forth.

The gist of it is that Barry Fairbrother drops dead, which leads to a scuffle to take over his seat on the parish council. At the time, there are two sides, one of which wants to cut the ever-colorful “Fields” out of the parish, while the other argues to keep it as is.

We get to see into the lives of the adults connected to the council and Barry, but we also see into their teenage children. Every character has some secret(s), and it seems like they eventually all come to light. Overall, the book is dark and vulgar. It was a sizeable book, but there’s just not much to say about it. Plenty of drama, but none of the characters are particularly likable. I had high expectations because of the genius that is Harry Potter, but I came away a little disappointed.

Now I’m reading a few teeny-bopper books, “Fake Boyfriend” by Kate Brian and “The Princess Diaries” by Meg Cabot.



“Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome” by Ty Tashiro, Ph.D.

Image result for ty tashiro awkwardI started reading this book while I was waiting on the audiobook for “Brisingr” to come to me (because yes, it is taking me this long to make it through that series). Obviously, I was drawn to it because I consider myself an awkward individual and I like to learn about personalities and why we are the way we are.

Ty Tashiro is a psychology professor and he cites plenty of studies into the minds of awkward humans, as well as some personal stories from his own experiences. Really it’s just nice to understand a little better why we feel awkward and know that there are plenty of people in the world who feel the same.

Parts of this book did feel a little tedious because it is clearly written by an educator in a research-driven format, but it was still an interesting topic so it kept my attention pretty well.

Now that I’ve finished this book, I need to finish “Brisingr,” then I’ll start on “Inheritance,” which is the last book in the “Eragon” series. At this point I’ll probably just start over when I get to “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling.

So much to read, so little time,

“A Wind in the Door” by Madeleine L’Engle

Related imageThis is the second book in the “A Wrinkle in Time” series (as far as I can tell because apparently the books are kinda written out of order…?) and it was not as intense as the first book, but still fit into the world of things that we were initially introduced to.

In the first book, we followed Meg, Calvin, and Meg’s super lovable little brother Charles Wallace. This time, Charles Wallace is sick and of course the only ones who can save him are Meg and Calvin. Plus some special friends. It seemed like this second book went by much quicker, but there wasn’t as much action. For example, we don’t even hear about Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. They were enjoyable characters. Still, it is pretty insane the imagination that Madeleine L’Engle has in creating these worlds and these characters. Plus she delivered my favorite line in a book probably ever: “I am having feelings. They hurt.” This should be the human motto or something.

Anyway, we get to see mean old Mr. Jenkins, Meg’s former school principal, again, but we also get to meet some new interesting characters. Hopefully we’ll hear from them again, but for some reason I feel like they’re gone forever now.

I guess we’ll see. I have the rest of the books in this series on hold at my library, but so does everyone else so I am trying to have patience. I’m also working on “Brisingr” by Christopher Paolini and I have made literally zero progress on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling.

In due time,

“Eldest: The Inheritance Cycle, Book 2” by Christopher Paolini

“Eldest” is the sequel to “Eragon” and it’s a little better than the first book, but some of it is more of the same. The story is a little more exciting this time because all the backstories have been established and we get to see Eragon train to become a better Rider. Plus, the story is told from at least three different points of view at times, so we get to see what’s going on outside of Eragon’s small world.

The kid really does have the “out of sight, out of mind” thing down. He actually forgets about his cousin who he abandoned for weeks at a time. Plus he claims to have mourned a lost friend, yet there is barely any thought of them once the character is gone.

One thing I can say about this book: There was a big plot point that was revealed at the very end that I absolutely saw coming. I’m talking 100,000% predictable. And then, just when you think the big reveal has been made, BOOM. Another huge plot twist! I did not see that coming at all and I absolutely loved the surprise. I wish more books had that kind of big reveal.

Anyway, I’m not going to lie, I actually started reading a different book in the middle of this because it just got so heavy that I wanted something light to break it up. So I started reading the junior novelization of “Thor.” That will probably be my next completed read. Then while I was in the middle of this book and “Thor,” my hold became available on “A Wrinkle in Time,” so obviously I had to start reading that one too. I have made absolutely no progress on “The Casual Vacancy,” though.

I think once I finish these books/series, I’m going to try to slow down and take a little bit of a break. Then again, I say that virtually every time.

We’ll see,

“Someday, Someday, Maybe” by Lauren Graham

Image result for someday, someday, maybeI didn’t realize I would be back so soon, but this book was great and I flew through the end of it yesterday.

Honestly, I didn’t know this book existed until I read Lauren Graham’s memoir, but I’m so glad I read it. It has the same kind of spunky humor that kind of reminds me of Gilmore Girls and I definitely saw in the memoir.

The main character, Franny Banks, has been in New York for two and a half years when we meet her. She is an aspiring actor and has set a self-imposed deadline that she will be successful within three years or she will give up the dream. Franny is hilarious and beautiful, but doesn’t seem to realize it even though people keep telling her that she is both hilarious and beautiful. She gets a couple small jobs, but things can’t seem to pan out. Still, she remains pretty well intact.

There are the obvious love interests and the second guy who is clearly obviously perfect, but I won’t give away any of those details. Except to say that the end lets you leave it to your imagination, which I sort of like, but at the same time, give me something I can just accept so that I can move on with my life and stop thinking about the lives of these fictional characters.

After this book, I found out that Lauren Graham is putting out a third book in April 2018 called “In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It,” so I will most definitely be reading that one too. She’s just got such a great sense of humor and it translates to her writing so well. In a perfect world, Lauren Graham would both be Lorelai Gilmore and she would have already written 237 novels so that we can always get that funny fix when we need it. But three so far is better than none!

Anyway, next up (still) is “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, and then maybe the “Inheritance Cycle” books by Christopher Paolini. I’ve been meaning to get around to those for a while.

Happy almost New Year!


Update: I failed to mention that the book takes place in early 1995! There are lots of things that are different, but I love what it adds to the story. For example, Franny carries around a Filofax with her and some of the pages are in the book. Plus no one has a cell phone and you have to make calls from pay phones. Different times, different times. Not that I really know what that is like, I was a toddler at the time.

Anywho, Franny is in her mid-twenties throughout, and I just really enjoyed getting to see a story about something that you don’t usually read about, especially by such a great actor as Lauren Graham.

“Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris

Image result for neil patrick harris choose your own autobioYes, this is another memoir. This one was quite different than the others, though. Instead of just a normal book, this one is actually set up like one of those books you read as a kid where you got to decide what you wanted to happen next by turning to different pages.

I broke the rules though because I didn’t want to miss anything, so I did a bad and read it straight through. The book pretty much alternates between NPH’s film/TV career, the theatre, having kids, meeting his now-husband David Burtka, and celebrity friends. Also magic and hosting awards shows. There are some nice little sections where NPH dies repeatedly, and you have to make the determination of what’s real and what isn’t.

Overall, I thought it was a really interesting way to build the book and it made it pretty unique. I haven’t read a book like this in years and it was fun to reminisce. I learned a little more about NPH that I didn’t know before thanks to TV and “How I Met Your Mother.”

Also, Neil Patrick Harris is involved in a lot. Plus his kids are absolutely adorable. Basically his whole family. Also I would like to see him on Broadway now.

Anyway, next I plan to read NPH’s new kid’s book “The Magic Misfits” because why not, plus I still need to read “Someday, Someday, Maybe” by Lauren Graham. “The Casual Vacancy” is still on the list but it’s a little farther down the list for now.

Don’t judge,

“The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Image result for the royal we book coverThis book is amazing. Right from the start, I wanted to devour it (Devour is also the name of a sci-fi soap opera frequently referred to in part of the book). It was clever and witty and the characters were so well done that I didn’t want to stop reading it.

The story takes place over several years and is broken up into parts that are separated by about 2 years each time. So it starts in autumn 2007, then goes to summer 2009, etc. up to autumn 2013 and eventually “present day.” Honestly, I really couldn’t tell if “present day” was just a few months after autumn 2013 or another 2 years. Maybe that part should have been clarified.

Anyway, the main character is Rebecca Porter, or Bex, who is an American exchange student studying at Oxford for a year. Surprise, the guy living down the hall from her is Nicholas of Wales, future king of England. She makes fast friends with the rest of the people living on her floor, fun is had by all.

Eventually Bex and Nick get together, some royal stuff happens, a tad bit of drama.

Through it all, the story is peppered with Bex’s twin sister, Lacey, who really likes attention and literally quit med school to move to London just because Bex was there. (There were times when I didn’t care much for Lacey.) Also Freddie, Nick’s younger brother who is all fun, all the time, but, come to find out, actually does have feelings about things.

The dialogue is funny and charming and of course, I imagined lots of things in a British accent. I never wanted this story to end.

One thing is for sure, though, Bex is a lot more patient than most girls I know, including me. This girl let a guy date her in secret for FOUR YEARS, and she was apparently fine with it. I don’t know anyone who would allow their boyfriend to openly flirt with other girls in public for that long just to keep up appearances.

The book does give you a bit of a cliffhanger, but I got the feeling that it was more of a “decide your own story” idea than a “that’s all you get” feel. There was also a bonus chapter from Freddie’s side of the story, which was a nice addition.

Now I want to read other books by these two women. I also started reading “Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris and I’m still working on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. That one is a struggle bus, but I will prevail.

Bye for now,

“Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)” by Lauren Graham

Related imageI’ve been a fan of Gilmore Girls since grade-school, when I used to come home and watch it every day at 4 when it aired on what was then ABC Family. When I found out that Netflix was doing a revival series, I was EXCITED, but I had to make sure to rewatch the entire series first to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I had definitely forgotten things. But I finally got around to watching the original series in its entirety and then I watched “A Year in the Life.”

Not long after “A Year in the Life” was released, I stumbled upon this book through my library. But I knew I couldn’t read it just yet because I hadn’t finished the entire series. So I added it to my to-be-read list and carried on. Not long ago, I rediscovered it and decided to take it for a spin since I knew what happened in the show and there would no longer be any spoilers.

It’s weird for me to think that Lauren Graham is actually named Lauren. When I think of this actress in real life, I either think of Lorelei or I think “LaurenGraham” as all one word. So it took me aback a little to hear LaurenGraham referring to herself as Lauren in this book.

But anyway, in the book, Lauren (it’s still weird) details her road to fame, which included some theater stops and seems to have been propelled by “Gilmore Girls.” Which is fine by all of us. I love seeing Lauren Graham in movies and on TV shows. One of the next shows I want to watch is “Parenthood,” where she plays Mom/Sister in the big ole Braverman family.

I think the best part about this book was hearing all the insider secrets from “Gilmore Girls,” which is probably the biggest reason I picked it up. I also found that Graham had already published a book prior to this memoir, called “Someday, Someday, Maybe.” It has already been added to my list. And apparently she is publishing a new book sometime next year. Lots to look forward to.

Next up is Misty Copeland’s memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” and working on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. I also checked out “The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, because LaurenGraham mentioned in her book that she was working on adapting it into a screenplay and I am quite susceptible to books mentioned in other books.

That’s all for now,

“Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling

Image result for why not meThis book is pretty similar to Mindy’s other book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).” The main difference is that her last book was written while she was still an actress and writer for “The Office,” whereas now the show has ended and she is the showrunner for her own show, “The Mindy Project.”

I’ve actually never seen “The Mindy Project,” just know that one of my friends used to watch it in college and that it has since moved to Hulu.

Anyway, the book is more of the same with stories about working in TV and being a comedy writer, but there’s a little more about dating and a little less about her early years.

Overall, Mindy Kaling has gotten to do some really cool things, including meeting President Obama a few times, but her life seems extremely busy and I don’t understand how she functions on so little sleep.

I noticed that the book has some humor, but it’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as a few others that I’ve read. Still has good moments.

This book was a pretty quick read, and it made me add B.J. Novak’s books to my to-be-read list, but there are still quite a few in front of that. I’ve already started “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and “God” by Reza Aslan, and I have a few more lined up after that, so my mindset is I’ll get to it when I get to it.

More on that later,

“My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares

Image result for my name is memory reviewAdmittedly, I did not finish this book as quickly as I would have liked. But alas, here we are. I was so excited to read all the Ann Brashares books after I started on the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” books but I think I just slowed down a little with the other books I was reading or listening to on audiobook. There’s still one more though, so I have to start that one soon.

Anyway, this book is about Daniel, who has the memory, which means that he remembers all the lives his soul has lived, dating back more than 2,000 years. Through it all, he falls in love with the same woman every time, but she doesn’t remember him from one life to the next. Most people don’t, but Daniel has the gift. In this life, it’s 2004 and we’re in Virginia. Daniel’s lady friend is named Lucy, although he refers to her as Sophia since that was the first name he knew her by, and they are seniors in high school. They have a brief interaction before parting ways, and the story doesn’t pick up again for a few more years. Through it all, the chapters are intermixed with Daniel’s point-of-view along different time periods in different places that he has lived.

While the story mostly focuses on Daniel and Lucy, there are a few recurring characters, like Lucy’s best friend and Daniel’s friend Ben who also has the memory and the main antagonist in the story. (Can’t give too much away.)

There’s not a lot of drama or action until the end of the book, but it still keeps you interested throughout. Although, there are a few moments when you just think, “Dang, Lucy is making poor choices.” But I think Daniel makes a few poor choices along the line too.

Upon further research, I discovered that this book is meant to be part of a trilogy, which explains why the ending was TERRIBLE. Without letting too much slip, there are SO MANY unanswered questions. Did the bad guy get taken down? Did they good guy do what he was supposed to do? Did the thing happening at the monastery ever happen? Why are a certain character’s family not concerned?

According to the internet, Ann Brashares’ publisher put a lid on the next two books but as of her Twitter in December of 2015 she is working on getting the rights so that she can continue the story. I would definitely read it once that happens.

One thing that bothers me about this story and these characters is how much Lucy and Daniel are willing to give up for just each other. I mean, their entire lives mean nothing obviously because they are ready to just throw in the towel and start over. No mind to their family or friends or school or jobs. It’s especially selfish of Lucy, whose parents have already been through putting one daughter in the ground.

I digress. I actually just found out this book is written for adults, but other than the discussion of a few *intimate acts,* I would have had no idea. It seems like even when Ann Brashares writes adult books, her characters are still pretty young. The oldest Lucy gets in this book is probably 23 or 24, which is a similar age to the main characters in Brashares’ other adult book, “The Last Summer (of You and Me).”

Next up is “The Whole Thing Together,” which is Brashares’ newest book. At the same time, I started “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and I began the audiobook of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling, and I’m pretty excited about those two.

Until next time,