July 31, 2015

July 2015: Recap + On My Shelves


Whew, July passed in a blur! Work was incredibly busy, and I feel like that consumed my month. In my downtime, I barely read anything and didn't feel like blogging. But I finished my Alias re-watch, so that's a win!

1. My Anniversary - On July 2, Nick and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. I was inspired by the occasion to write a post reflecting on our love story, including how we met. It was fun to write something a little more personal than normal! I'm so thankful for Nick, and I love the life we've built together.

2. The Addiction Continues - When I discovered Folio Society, I told Nick that I really wanted the Folio editions of my three favorite classics: Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. "And that's all I want!" I said. Yeah, I was wrong. Nick got me four gorgeous books during their incredible summer sale. I DIE.

3. Atlanta + Ferris Wheel Adventures - One of the biggest things that happened in July was my company's convention in Atlanta. It's an event we've spent all year preparing for, and I'm so glad that it finally happened. I didn't have much free time, but I did get a chance to play tourist and ride the giant ferris wheel!

Read 6 Books | Favorites:
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas *Re-Read

Challenge Progress:
1 Fantasy for Flights of Fantasy Challenge
2 Re-Reads for The Re-Read Challenge
0 Diverse Read for Dive into Diversity
0 Series for Series a Month
“Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago.
It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along.”
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

“She just smiled, said that she loved books more than anything,
and started telling him excitedly what each of the ones in her lap was about.
And Ove realized that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.”
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
[Most Popular]
Overall: Oh Heavenly Day
Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

[Personal Favorite]
Review: These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
1. Literary PSA: So You Want to Read Tamora Pierce by Gillian from Writer of Wrongs - I wasn't a fantasy reader growing up. I didn't read the Harry Potter series until a few years ago, so I've missed years of fantasy favorites! I've been meaning to try Tamora Pierce, but I didn't know where to start. Thankfully, Gillian saved the day with this post... but now I'm itching to drop everything and meet Alanna! (PS: This post was another favorite.)

2. Podcasts I'm Listening To by Jamie from Perpetual Page-Turner - I'd say I'm not a fan of podcasts, but the truth is that I've never tried them. I just started listening to The Katniss Chronicles (an adaptation/dramatization of The Hunger Games series) and am quite enjoying it. So Jamie's post came at the perfect time! I want to explore the world of podcasts, and now I've got a few places to start. (Also, this post is my life right now.)

3. How to Manage Your TBR Like a Boss by Kelly from Belle of the Literati - I've wanted Kelly to write this post for ages, so I had a dance party when she finally did! I've told her numerous times that she's mastered the art of the TBR, and I want her to teach me her ways. She shares her strict system in this post, and I need to adopt it. She's never stressed about how many books she's got to read and rarely lets stuff sit on her shelves for long!

Favorite Song: "What You Don't Do" by Lianne La Havas on Blood
I listened to a lot of the same music in July that I highlighted in my June recap,
but this is one new song on my radar this month. I love the sound and the lyrics - a perfect combo!

The Painted Veil (2006) starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton - This is one of my favorite costume dramas, and I decided to highlight it in my recent Tune in Tonight post. It's such a gorgeous movie with an emotional and memorable story! And it's one of the few cases where I love the movie more than the book that inspired it.


Suffragette Trailer -  I can easily spend several hours watching trailers on YouTube - it's one of the best ways I find new costume dramas! This one caught my eye, and I cannot wait for it to come out. Meryl Streep + Carey Mulligan + Suffragettes = HELL YES. (And I'm obsessed with the cover of Landslide used in the trailer!)

Bought: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Mudbound by Hillary Jordan and Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

UK Lovelies: A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies by Fredrik Backman

eBay Score: Perrault's Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault

Review: Rome in Love by Anita Hughes and Bounce by Noelle August

Gifted: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (in What I Loved)


Kindle Deals: Dreams of gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum and Here's Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane 

July 30, 2015

Burrito Bowl Book Tag


I was talking to Alexa about how I wasn't sure what I wanted to post today, and she suggested doing a tag. Aside from the TBR Tag, I still haven't completed a few of the posts I was tagged to do. But, like the rebel I'm really not, I decided I wanted to do something else instead. I recently came across this tag while reading Lauren from Bookmark Lit's blog, and I've been dying to do it ever since! The Burrito Bowl Tag was created by Cristina from Girl in the Pages and Joey from Thoughts and Afterthoughts. While I wasn't tagged by anyone specifically, that isn't stopping me. Here are the rules to participate:
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you to make your own burrito bowl, linking back to their site.
  2. Answer the tag questions.
  3. Tag 5 others to create their own bowl!
  4. Food coma.
THE INGREDIENTS

RICE | The FoundationThe book that got you into reading

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is the first book I truly remember reading and loving. I slept with books in my crib, had Madeline memorized as a little girl, and was an avid reader from the very beginning. So, I don't know I can really say that this is the book that got me into reading, but I do know that this is the book that solidified my passion for it. I was gifted this whole series for Christmas one year, and I'm pretty sure that I read this book in the second grade. For some reason, I can picture myself reading it in that classroom. Clearly, it made an impression on me! This is the first book I truly remember loving, and it's remained a lifelong favorite to this day.

BEANS | The Filler The book with a whole lot of nothing

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart did not work for me. It seemed like it was all flash but no substance. The writing is lyrical, but it was also so confusing and disjointed. I kept reading because I wanted to know what was going on, what had happened, and why the main character was acting the way she did... and when everything was revealed, I was left in a rage. I ranted about this book to everyone I could get to listen. This is one of those books where I definitely don't understand the hype, and I wish I hadn't bothered to finish.

PROTEIN | The Building Block A book quote to live by

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is one of my all-time favorite books, and I highlighted numerous passages while I was reading. I debated what quote I wanted to highlight for this question, but I felt like this one is something I need to always remind myself. But I'm a huge fan of quotes (Exhibit A and Exhibit B), so there are are many others I could have chosen! It can sometimes forget that everyone has a story and that I can't judge someone based solely on what I see on the outside looking in. 

FAJITAS | The Crunch of Texture – A book with immaculate world-building

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is the start of one of my all-time favorite series, and it's set in a world with such depth and complexity. I wasn't a huge fantasy reader when I dove into Throne of Glass, and here's what I wrote after finishing, "The world and setting felt so real to me! I could imagine each different part of this place, which is something I really appreciated about this book. My biggest problem with most fantasy books is that the world feels so foreign that I become disconnected from the story. Even though this was clearly an imaginary world, I still felt like I 'knew' it, in a way." And that's how I felt about the first book, which isn't even the strongest in the series! PS: Heir of Fire.

SALSA | The Dance of Flavor A book that kept you on your toes

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan was one of the first books that came to mind, and I knew I had to highlight it because it's also one of my very favorite series. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Unspoken, but I certainly didn't know I was about to be HOOKED. There's a wicked villain, a terrible curse, a special town, a gothic mystery, a ton of humor, some major swoon and lots of emotion... I was never sure where Brennan was going with the story, but in the very best way. It definitely kept me on my toes the whole time I was reading, and I felt like NO ONE WAS SAFE. 

CORN | The Explosion of Sweetness A memorable scene with friendship/romance

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is one of the most romantic books I've ever read. The main character can't speak for most of the book (a sacrifice she must make to bring the end to a terrible curse) and yet it's still one of my favorite love stories. And how can I even choose my favorite scene? There's Sorcha and Red's day on the beach (LOVE), but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a scene near the end where Red declares his feelings for Sorcha. HOLY SWOON, Y'ALL. In a book with so much sadness, the romance was a sweet, bright spot of hope. And now I want to re-read...

CHEESE | The Bond of Calcium Two characters from different books you wish could be friends

I have no idea if this would work, but I like to imagine that Sybella from Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers and Quintana from Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta could be friends. They've both experienced trauma, have some darkness inside them and have learned that they are worthy of love. I think they'd be able to understand one another - the good and the bad - and that they'd help each other heal. But I think they'd butt heads and challenge each other, too!

SOUR CREAM | The Tangy Topper The quirkiest character you've ever read (protagonist or supporting)

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins has one of the quirkiest main characters - and love interests! - I've ever read. Lola has an outrageous style and loves costumes. Cricket loves intricate and complicated machines made to perform simple tasks. And, you know, his name is Cricket. If that doesn't qualify him for quirkiest, I don't know what does! Together they're quite the pair, and I love watching their friendship turn into something more. I love that it's set in San Francisco, too, because the setting just adds to the eccentric and cool vibe.

GUACAMOLE | The Cost of Creaminess A book you paid too much for

While I don't regret buying them, you could argue that I've paid too much for my Folio Society editions. But I adore them! My favorite is my gorgeous edition of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which is even prettier in person than it looked online. While I'd buy my Folio books all over again, I can certainly understand why someone might think I'd paid too much for them. They're exquisite - so much attention is paid to the details. From the endpapers to the illustrations, I think they're worth every penny!

LETTUCE | The Handful of CrispnessA refreshing concept/theme in a book

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid was a recent read with the most refreshing concept and theme. It looks at a tiny decision in the main character's life and splits into parallel stories based on what happens in her life as a result. I haven't read many books with this concept, so it felt so unique! And the book keeps coming back to the idea of fate versus free will, which is a theme I find really fascinating. It was the kind of book I wanted to talk about once I was done. What choices led to where you are in life? Do your decisions define you? Read this book and see if it makes you think!

CHIPS | Le Pièce de RésistanceA must-read rec, if you like...

Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer is the book you must read if you love food, family, football and finding your way. I recommend this book every chance I get because it's one of my all-time favorites. I bought it on a whim at Target one day, and I've never been happier with a random purchase. If you love Friday Night Lights, read this book. If you love the South, read this book. If you love contemporary fiction, read this book. If you love books with heart and soul, read this book. Basically, I can think of a million reasons to read this book. (I can't tell you how many copies I've bought as gifts!)

TABASCO | The Kick to the Face Your favorite fight/action sequence

The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas was such an exciting, action-packed book! This book uses an unconventional structure - with portions set in the Sahara desert and others set seven months prior in England. Rather than start in England, it shifts between two time periods with a non-linear narrative. I wanted to know Titus and Iolanthe were in the desert, how they'd gotten there, what had changed between them, etc. There were so many twists I didn't see coming and even more EPIC adventures. I know I didn't name a specific scene, but that's because I think this whole book qualifies!

I'm tagging: 
Alexa from Alexa Loves Books
Cassie from The Casserole
Lindsey from Bring My Books
Lisa and Gaby from Bookish Broads
Morgan from Gone with the Words
And anyone else who wants to participate!

July 29, 2015

There's More to People Than Meets the Eye

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Release Date: July 15, 2014 (US)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Atria Books
Pages: 337 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Add on Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

Thoughts on A Man Called Ove
When a publicist pitched me My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, she mentioned that Backman's debut, A Man Called Ove, had been her favorite read of 2014. I was intrigued enough to accept a copy of his most recent release, and I added his debut to my "Consideration" shelf on Goodreads. If you've been reading my blog, you might know that I was so obsessed with My Grandmother... and that meant I had to read A Man Called Ove, too. I wasn't sure if it would be able to live up to my expectations, but I hoped it would!

Thankfully, I really loved this book! A Man Called Ove is the story of a curmudgeonly man of principles. He likes routines and wants everything to be a certain way. He's short-tempered and more than a little cranky, but there's also a lot hiding beneath his gruff exterior. One day, a young couple and their two daughters move in next door - an event that seems irrelevant but ends up changing everything.

As I mentioned in my review for My Grandmother, Backman is Swedish and his books have been translated into English for their publication in the US. I absolutely love Backman's writing style, but I've also got to praise Henning Koch for the excellent translation. It's sometimes hard for a translation to capture the magic and charm of the original, but it certainly seems like Koch has managed to do it with Backman's books.

To give you a sense for why I love Backman's writing, I want to share one of my favorite passages:
“Loving someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say. "At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake has been made, you weren't actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love the house not so much because of all its perfections, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it's cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home."
I love this analogy - and the way it's expressed! There were so many sentences and moments like that in A Man Called Ove. I highlighted just as many quotes as I did in My Grandmother - eliminating all my fears that this book wouldn't be able to compare. I was intrigued by the story at first, but I wasn't truly hooked until I was a few chapters in. There's not a lot that happens in this book, but it never felt slow or boring to me. It had the perfect amount of funny moments and touching memories!

I'm definitely a character reader, and I think that's the reason I've fallen in love with both of Backman's books. He writes these odd, quirky characters who are flawed, and you grow to cherish them for those imperfections. Ove could be hollering at someone in one scene and then selflessly serving his wife in another, and I loved him for it. That charm extends to the secondary characters - the people who intrude on Ove's life, mess up his plans, and disrupt his isolation. Because Ove, for all his gruffness, is lonely. There was something so heart-wrenching about this story, even with all its humor. I felt for Ove, and I was completely engaged in his story.

I could imagine him arguing about iPads at the Apple store, yelling about people's inability to read signs, performing his duties as the self-appointed neighborhood monitor, haggling over "the principle" of the thing... and I could see him advocating for his wife, learning to work with his hands, striving to be just like his father. He felt so real, so alive, to me that it's almost hard for me to believe he was just a character. Backman takes these prickly characters who might seem unlikeable at first, and he makes you root for them!

There's so much warmth and wisdom in A Man Called Ove, but there's plenty of sass and sadness tucked inside, too. It's a story I won't forget reading and a character I won't forget meeting. This quiet book that manages to speak so loudly about sacrifice, hard work, love, community, growing old, and paying attention to the people around you. As with My Grandmother, this book reminded me that everyone has a story - that there's so much more to people than meets the eye. And I loved every second I spent reading it!

So Quotable
“She just smiled, said that she loved books more than anything, and started telling him excitedly what each of the ones in her lap was about. And Ove realized that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.”

July 28, 2015

Talk Nerdy to Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

Top Ten Book Nerd Characters


The Classic Book Nerds

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, 
and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, 
for till that was finished she could find no peace.”
Josephine March in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“What would life be like without her writing? 
Writing filled her life with beauty and mystery, gave it life... and promise.”
Betsy Ray in The Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hard Lovelace

"Oh, I must write, Aunt Elizabeth," said Emily gravely, 
folding her slender, beautiful hands on the table and looking straight into 
Aunt Elizabeth's angry face with the steady, unblinking gaze 
which Aunt Ruth called unchildlike. "You see, it's this way. It is in me. I can't help it. 
And Father said I was always to keep on writing. He said I would be famous some day. 
Wouldn't you like to have a famous niece, Aunt Elizabeth?"
Emily Starr in The Emily Series by L.M. Montgomery

“From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. 
She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. 
Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.
Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

“When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can, 
so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it - or rather, it is like living it. 
It makes reading so much more exciting, but I don't suppose many people try to do it.”
Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


The Current Book Nerds

“I see this land flowing with books, Father. Widespread literacy. 
Books everywhere, as common as they used to be in circulation before the Crossing, 
affordable even for the poor.”
Kelsea Glynn in The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

“I can survive well enough on my own — if given the proper reading material.”
Celaena Sardothien in The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

“I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, 
figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.”
Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan in The Help by Kathryn Stockett

"I have been reading and reading many books.
I know if I ever get word who they might belong to I should give them back
so I am trying to read as much as possible in case that happens soon,
but I would be sad to have to do that.
I must never forget to be grateful for the gift of these books."
Sarah Agnes Prine in These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

"Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. 
It was barely possible to see paintwork. There were all different styles and sizes 
of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-colored books. 
It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen. 
With wonder, she smiled. That such a room existed!"
Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

July 27, 2015

So Obsessed With: The Summer 2015 Edition

Some of my favorite posts are ones where bloggers highlight the products they're loving lately or the things they're currently coveting. Posts like that always put new products on my radar and give me great ideas for gifts. I love this kind of content so much that I decided to start incorporating it into my blog by highlighting my loves and lusts and each season. Rather than give it a creative name, I thought my blog name was more fitting. So, here's what I'm so obsessed with this summer:

1. Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer ($36) - I usually wear foundation, but summer is the one time that I feel like I can get away with wearing less. I think it's because I get a little more color in my skin and don't look quite so pale. I've been using this BB Tinted Primer and love the amount of coverage it provides!

2. Maybelline Colossal Waterproof Mascara ($6.99) - I like a lot of nice makeup brands, but I always use cheap mascara. I can never tell the difference when I try the expensive kind! I rarely use waterproof, but I always have at least one tube in my makeup drawer for days by the water. Yes, I wear mascara at the beach/pool.

3. Butter London Nail Lacquer in Primrose Hill Picnic ($15) - I bought this Butter London color a year or so ago, but I really fell in love with it this summer. It's such a bright, happy shade of pink! Since I've been wearing sandals a lot this season, it's fun to look down and see this on my toes.

4. Korres Lip Butter ($12) - I think this coral color is so flattering in the summer when I've got a bit of a tan (and a whole lot of freckles). It's got a buttery texture, so the name is a perfect fit. I like that it moisturizes my lips and still has a bit of shine to it! I don't love using my finger to apply it, but it's a minor dislike overall.

5. Bumble & Bumble Surf Infusion ($29) - I've used the original Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray before, and I wasn't a huge fan of it. I always felt like my hair was dry and crunchy, though it did add volume and texture. Surf Infusion gives me the texture I liked with the original formula but adds more softness and shine.

6. Bumble & Bumble Don't Blow It ($30) - I bought the small size of this product to try it out, and I'm really liking it so far! I like to let my hair air dry because it's got some natural wave to it, and this enhances that texture while keeping it from getting too frizzy. I haven't decided if I'll buy the full size, but I'm leaning toward it!

7. J.Crew Geo Clip Jacquard Shell ($79.99) - J.Crew shirts are often too short on me, but I think I'd be willing to take the risk and order this one! I love the color, and I like that it's sleeveless while still being appropriate for my office environment. It just looks so breezy and comfortable! It would be cute with pants or tucked into a skirt.

8. Dogeared Karma Circle Pendant Necklace ($39.90) - I love dainty necklaces, and Dogeared always has so many that fit that bill! This one caught my eye recently, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I love the mix of gold and silver! I've been wearing a rectangular charm necklace lately, so it would be nice to switch it up.

9. Dogeared 'The Lil Zip' Print Pouch ($24) - This pouch made me laugh when I spotted it online! There are several other sassy phrases to pick from, but this one was my favorite. I could see myself potentially carrying it in my purse, but I think it would work better tossed in a beach bag with my phone and Kindle in it.

10. Jack Rogers Whipstitched Flip Flops ($117.95) - I don't own any Jack Rogers sandals, but I have a lot of friends who love them. I've wanted to get a pair for a while, and I know I'll order this color whenever I take the plunge! Most of my friends have had theirs for years and love how they get perfectly broken in.

11. Come Away with Me and The Truth According to Us - I recently read Come Away with Me and really enjoyed it! It wasn't at all what I expected, but in a good way. I definitely recommend this adult fiction debut. And I bought The Truth According to Us when it came out and can't wait to read it. It sounds wonderful!

12. Poldark Season 1 ($22.87) - I've been watching this on PBS every Sunday evening, and I'm in love with it! I haven't read the books that inspired it, but I think I'm going to have to give them a shot. Aidan Turner is excellent as the hero - so handsome and captivating! And I adore the love story in it, too. SWOON.

13. A Little Chaos Movie - I think I missed this one while it was in theaters, so it's at the top of my "to watch" list as soon as it's released on DVD! Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses, and I recently fell in love with Matthias Schoenaerts after seeing him in Far from the Madding Crowd. I love a good costume drama!

14. Trolli Sour Brite Crawler Gummi Candy and Flavor Infuser Water Bottle ($15) - I'm addicted to gummy/chewy candy, and these sour crawlers have been my favorites lately! I keep buying the giant bag and devouring them. I want to drink more water (and less Diet Coke) so this flavor infuser water bottle is on my wishlist!

15. Venus from Joy Williams ($9.99) - This album came out in June, and I've had it on repeat ever since! I loved The Civil Wars and was so sad when they broke up. While this is a very different sound, it's really grown on me. I think my favorites so far are "Not Good Enough," "Until the Levee," and "Till Forever."

July 23, 2015

2015 Resolutions Check-In

1. Read 150 books.
I'm on track to meet this goal! I was in a bit of a reading funk at the beginning of this year, but I made up for it in May and June. I've read 98 books so far this year, so I'll likely hit 150 books in the next few months.

2. Read one non-fiction book - that I already own - per month.
This has been a fail so far! I've only read two non-fiction books, and both were for review. However, I haven't majorly slowed down on buying non-fiction, so I don't feel quite as guilty about being behind on this goal.

3. Finish 12 series.
I'm doing good on this resolution. I've finished five series that I started prior to 2015 (and I count duologies):
  • Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars #2)
  • The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #6)
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity #2)
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (Graceling #3)
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (To All the Boys #2)
I've read four series from start to finish (in 2015):
  • Wildwood Dancing and Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
  • Also Known As and Going Rogue by Robin Benway
  • Scarlet, Lady Thief and Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
  • Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I Can't Forget, Racing Savannah, Breathe, Annie, Breathe and Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally 
And if I let myself count re-reads, I've finished two additional series: 
  • The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilders
Even if I don't count re-reads, I'm definitely good on this goal! I've got at least four more series that I can finish.

4. Request and/or accept no more than 36 review books all year.
Shockingly, I'm actually doing really good with this goal. I've only read 18 books for review in 2015 so far, which is exactly where I wanted to be halfway through the year. I hope to stay on track. (Yay Picky Pledge!)

5. Read at least five debut novels.
I've already met this goal! I can't remember if I meant debuts in general or debuts specifically in 2015, so here are the books I've read from the latter category:
  • The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase
  • If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • Come Away with Me by Karma Brown
6. Re-read 36 books (3 per month).
I'm pretty excited because I've already re-read 33 books this year! I'm so thankful that I made this a priority (and that I'm co-hosting a challenge for it) because it's been the best. Here's what I've re-read:
  • A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
  • Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer
  • I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
  • Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting
  • The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
  • All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
  • The Hunger Games Series (#1-3) by Suzanne Collins
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum
  • Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • The Little House Series (#1-9) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
  • Past Perfect by Leila Sales
  • After You by Julie Buxbaum
7. Host one reading challenge, and participate in at least two!
I'm co-hosting The Re-Read Challenge this year, which has been fantastic. I'm so thankful that I teamed up with Kelly for it! As for participating in challenges, I've joined three: Dive Into Diversity, Flights of Fantasy and Series a Month. I'm on track with nine of 10 diverse reads, 15 of 18 fantasy and nine of twelve series.

8. Write one discussion post per month.
I didn't realize quite how many discussion posts I'd already written this year until I started gathering the links for this post. I broke this down into a few categories. I've written 15 posts that I'd categorize as discussions (though some are more tutorial/organization posts):
And while it wasn't an official resolution at the beginning of the year, I wanted to make an effort to write some posts that I'd consider more "personal." I've never really done that on my blog before, but I knew it was something I wanted to try. I've written three so far: about friendship, about music and memories and about falling in love with my husband. I definitely plan to continue to write more of them!

9. Leave five comments per week on other blogs.
FAIL. I've really struggled to comment on blogs this year, but I think I'm reading more blogs than ever before. I wish I could make more time for this task, but it's the first thing to go when I feel like I've got too much to do.

10. Start a new feature on my blog.
I've actually started two new features of my own: Buy the Book and Tune in Tonight. Both are new favorites for me and have been things I genuinely love working on each month. I've also introduced Mini Editions of my So Obsessed With feature because I wanted to do those more often! I'll retiring my Consider This Classic feature soon - the last post is coming up in August. It's been fun, but I'm not feeling as excited about it anymore. As for features with friends, Cassie and I revamped Favorite Factor and have been loving those changes. And Kelly, Alexa and I introduced a historical fiction feature called Time Travel To.

July 21, 2015

Tune in Tonight: The Painted Veil

I've always loved talking about movies and TV shows on my blog, but it wasn't until I guest posted for Book People Talk Movies (created by Lindsey from Bring My Books) that I even thought about making it a regular thing. But now I can't wait to share my absolute favorites - both old and new - with you every month!

The Stats

The Painted Veil (2006)
Rating: PG-13
Length: 125 minutes
Genre: Drama | Romance
Director: John Curran
Writer: Ron Nyswaner (Screenplay), W. Somerset Maugham (Novel)
Buy on Amazon | Buy on iTunes

The Story

Based on the classic novel by W. Somerset Maugham, "The Painted Veil" is a love story set in the 1920s that tells the story of a young English couple, Walter, a middle class doctor and Kitty, an upper-class woman, who get married for the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai, where she falls in love with someone else. When he uncovers her infidelity, in an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote village in China ravaged by a deadly epidemic, and takes her along. Their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth. +

The Stars


Naomi Watts as Kitty Fane
Edward Norton as Walter Fane
Liev Schreiber as Charlie Townsend

The Sneak Peek


The Sell

Back when Blockbuster still existed, I rented The Painted Veil because it looked like my kind of movie. I hadn't heard anything about it, even though it was a recent release at the time. And once I watched it, I knew I'd found a keeper. If I had to narrow down my movie collection to just five favorites, this would be one of them. 

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1. THE BEAUTY.
First of all, it's a gorgeous movie. Without telling you any of the other reasons I love it, I think it's worth checking this movie out for the costumes, setting and cinematography alone. It was filmed in China - most in Guilin, Guangxi. I loved this aspect of the film because you could tell they were really on location. It didn't look like some generic place standing in for China, which I appreciated. The costumes are understated but still eye-catching - they very much capture the spirit of 1925! And the cinematography brings it all together. The score (which I talk about in the final section) also added to the beauty of the film and acted as perfect complement to what was taking place. All of it together just swept me away!

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2. THE MARRIAGE.
The Painted Veil depicts a marriage in crisis. Walter and Kitty Fane get married for all the wrong reasons - she to escape her family and he because he's fallen in love with an idealized version of her. And, quite honestly, they don't really make sense together. He's serious and quiet; she's vivacious and in search of fun. It appears both have made a mistake in getting married, especially when Walter learns that Kitty has been having an affair. In an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote Chinese village that's being ravaged by cholera and essentially forces her to come with him. I know it doesn't sound romantic, and yet I fell in love with these two.

The movie opens with the couple traveling to Mei-tan-fu and flashes back and forth between that setting and the beginning of their story (their first meeting, Walter's proposal, her infidelity and his discovery of it). It's a decision that allows you to see the distance between them - and just what's led them to this place and this point in their marriage. The first time I watched it, I wasn't sure where the movie was headed. Would they reconcile with each other? Would they recognize how they both contributed to the problems in their relationship? Well, you'll have to watch it to find out for yourself.

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3. THE SCRIPT.
The Painted Veil is based on the novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. I read the book after I watched the movie, and this is one of those rare instances where I greatly prefer the movie over the book. While the book is still an interesting read, the story ends quite differently. The movie still follows the basic story from the book, and I believe it's occasionally quoted (if I remember correctly), but there's so much more romance and hope in it. I'm so happy with the way it was adapted for the screen! 

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4. THE EMOTION.
This is a quiet, understated movie. There's not a lot of action, but there is so much emotion. You can feel Kitty's desperation to escape her family and her desire to be loved and give love. You can see Walter's hurt, his anger, and his coldness to her. There's this huge divide, but there's also longing and hope. I always get a little choked up when I watch this movie, and I know my emotional investment in it is why it's one of my favorites.

The Snippets


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Walter Fane: You used to feel contempt for me. Don't you still?
Kitty Fane: Walter! I can't believe that you, with all your cleverness, should have such little sense of proportion. We humans are more complex than your silly little microbes. We're unpredictable, we make mistakes and we disappoint.
Walter Fane: Yes. We certainly do.
Kitty Fane: I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I'm not the perfect young woman you want me to be. I'm just ordinary. I never tried to pretend that I was anything else.

The Score

This is one of my VERY favorite movie scores! It's composed and conducted by Alexandre Desplat and features "world-renowned piano virtuoso" Lang Lang. The music is so important - beautifully highlighting the emotion of every moment. It's one of the few scores I play on repeat all the time. 

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