niennie

twenty-something. girly girl. teacher. puppy-enthusiast.


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16++++

I’ve been reading up a storm and not sharing the dirty deets with you all.  My apologies… Sorrynotsorry.

Anyways, some of these I read so. long. ago.  I don’t really remember much.  From that and being lazy I may or may not include anything past the title and author.

16 – The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer

The description likened this book to the Time Traveler’s Wife.  I disagree… it wasn’t as good.  But still good.  Interesting to say the least.

17 – Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

What’s to say?  I love her.  I love her books.  This one was an interesting concept, although unlikely.

18 – The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

A woman who is essentially incapable of doing anything but lying in bed gets a pet snail.  She spends all day observing said snail and reading about snail behavior.  It was more information about snails than I thought it would be.  I personally find snails kind of fascinating so I liked it, but it was a little slow.  And probably very boring to most people.

19 – Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien

I had heard the end was incredibly tragic and I think it was built up too much for me.  By the time I got to the end, it didn’t seem as outrageous as I had expected.  Regardless, I liked the book.

20 – Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Once I got into this book it really wrapped me up and I couldn’t put it down.

21 – Take a Load Off, Mona Jamborski by Joanna Franklin Bell

If you ever watch/like My 600 Pound Life, you will love this book.  I don’t love that show (I find it scary and depressing) but this book was really incredible.  Crazy, yes, but I loved it.

22 – Pam of Babylon by Suzanne Jenkins

This book was very odd.  A man dies unexpectedly and his wife finds out some twists and surprises about her late husband’s life.  I liked the book enough, but the author switched perspectives between 3 characters so abruptly sometimes I’d be halfway into their inner monologue thinking it was someone else.  It was confusing.  Apparently she wrote a ton of sequels to this book, which I am sure was a mistake… and I certainly won’t be reading them.

23 – Slip by David Estes

OH. MY. GOD.  This book was INCREDIBLE!!  In future America, the country is low on resources.  To combat over population, you must apply to the government to have a child.  Only once someone else has died will you be allowed to have a child.  Slips are children who are born illegally and continue to live under the radar.  The story is about the head of Population Control and his son, who is a Slip.  This book was riveting… I couldn’t put it down.  Wouldn’t be surprised if this gets turned into a movie soon.

That’s all for now, folks!

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I read aloud an hour of Story Sisters to my cat and cried while doing it

11 – Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

A single mother is distraught when her only child commits suicide by jumping off the roof of her school.  Until she gets an anonymous message that she didn’t jump…

A very sad but captivating story.  At times there were parts of the school setting/protocol/administrative decisions made that I just didn’t believe could ever be true… but I was easily wrapped up in this story.

12 – The Bucolic Plauge by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

A true story of two NYC men decide to purchase a mansion in the country and become weekend farmers.

I loved this book.  At first I was reluctant to read it, thinking it was going to be kind of meh… It was a recommendation from my boyfriend’s mother.  But I was not disappointed.  One of the more interesting parts, surprisingly enough, was when Josh was recounting the harsh times faced when the economy tanked in the early 2000’s.  I guess I forgot just how bad it was… it depressed me.  I was so glad for the happy ending.

13 – The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski

A magical realist story about a boy who gains incredibly acute hearing capabilities but loses the ability to use his voice.  Bonaventure’s father was murdered before he was born, but the ghost of his father comes to visit and through Bonaventure helps to accomplish his unfinished business.

At times I felt like the story was somewhat oddly written… Not disjointed, but just awkward?  I’m not really sure.  Regardless, I did love the story.  The characters were so interesting, the end was so satisfying (and shocking).  It was just a really excellent story.  Even through the awkwardly written parts.

14 – The Uncanny Valley by Gregory Miller

A compilation of stories about Uncanny Valley, PA, supposedly collected through a radio contest created by NPR.  The prologue states that the 33 entries from this one particular town came in with only the postmark “Uncanny Valley, PA) on them.  Perhaps it was an elaborate hoax, the author states.

I read the stories and I’m not sure what to think.  The prologue had me so intrigued and I couldn’t wait to read the entries.  As I read them I realized this whole thing was completely made up – based on both the content of the stories and the way they were written (the ones supposedly submitted by children: yeah, no.  Kids don’t write like that…).  The stories were short and eerie, but not really scary.  I read this book in a couple of hours, so it was a fast read.  But I don’t know that I would particularly recommend it.

15 – The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

I don’t know how to describe this book because it was so complex, but I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is definitely a tragedy, and perhaps I’m just overly emotional at the moment, but I cried at many points throughout the book.  It was truly heartbreaking at times, surprising at others, and romantic in a very different way than you would expect.  Pete was probably my favorite character, and Mimi is the human form of Kevin Henkes’s Lilly.

Just read that book and you’ll understand what I mean…


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Dystopia and butterflies

9. The Island by Jen Minkman

A dystopian novella about an island where parents send their children away from the village at age 10, not to return until they’ve “grown up” and found a spouse.  No one ever leaves or comes to the island.

On the other half of the island, there is another village of people who believe there is something beyond the water. They are called the Fools by the first group.

I enjoyed this story a lot, although I wish it had been fleshed out more and made into a full novel. The idea is really intriguing.  It just went so fast, and I didn’t want to read sequels… I just wanted more out of the book.

10. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Quite the opposite of the last. Simply put, a group of monarchs winter on a farm in rural Tennessee, setting off a series of events that change the lives of many in the town.

This is the first Kingsolver book I’ve read and all I can say is her writing is dense! The story was excellent. It took me a minute to get into it, but once I did I got really swept up in the story.

Usually I am a fan of truthful, believable endings over happy ones, but I was slightly disappointed by Dellarobia’s decision in the end. It makes perfect sense, of course, but somehow deep down I wished she would’ve found a way to love and accept her husband for the man he was.

I finished this one last night, so technically I read 9 1/2 books in January. Off to a good start!


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Starting the year off with a bang!

3 – Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

This novel tells the story of two high school seniors – a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with OCD.  They become friends as the boy works as a “peer helper” for the girl in effort to try and help her have a more “normal” high school experience.  As time goes on they fall in love.

I loved this story  Absolutely ate it up.  At times the teacher in me was thinking, “NO SCHOOL WOULD ALLOW THIS!  THIS IS RIDICULOUS!” but the story was so good that I ignored that side of me.  A quick and captivating read!

4 – Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

I read this on my boyfriend’s mother’s recommendation but I did not really enjoy it.  It wasn’t an awful book, but I just felt like the story had no point.  It centers around the bubonic plague in England in one small town.  Pretty much half the residents die.  I felt like the story just droned on, and the end sexual encounters between the main character and the pastor just made me mad because I felt like it was cheap and unnecessary.  Not too much of a fan of this one.

5 – The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn

This was an odd book but it definitely kept me interested.  A young man sets out on his own after spending his life taking care of his alcoholic grandmother.  A childhood friend takes him in, and he moves to this wonderful neighborhood feeling like his luck is on the upswing.  The gorgeous cougar next door has taken a vested interest in him.  However there are strange things going on, and little does he know that beautiful lady is a psycho serial killer and her eyes are on him as her next victim!

I was reluctant to start this book because I get scared so easily, but I was still able to sleep at night after reading this.  I enjoyed it but would only recommend to people who enjoy a dark side of literature.

6 – I Grew My Boobs in China by Savannah Grace

A memoir of a girl who as a teenager spent a year backpacking across Asia with her mother and older brother and sister.  It was fascinating to learn about China and Mongolia through this book, especially because they did everything cheaply and went off the beaten path a lot.  However, I can’t imagine anyone doing this to their teenage children, and am so thankful my parents aren’t into that kind of stuff because I would’ve freaked out if that had been my life.

The book became repetitive at times, especially since she made sure to include every detail of long train and bus rides, and how much fucking goat she ate in Mongolia… but it was a quick read.

7 – Unenchanted by Chanda Hahn

A young adult novel about a teenage girl who is a descendant of the Grimm Brothers and has inherited their curse – she must live through every fairy tale, and if she fails, the curse will be passed along to her next relative.

The story was very interesting, but I kind of just got tired of the high school drama… love story and all that.  I also hoped that there would’ve been more tales packed into this book, but there really weren’t too many and even then they were allusions at best.  Needless to say I will not be reading the sequels.

8 – Garden on Sunset by Martin Turnbull

A novel of old Hollywood when movies were just starting to have dialogue and sound in them.  The book follows three characters – a wannabe writer, a wannabe reporter, and a wannabe actress who are all friends living at the Hotel on Sunset.  I was immediately drawn into this book and could not put it down.  It was interesting, fun, and well written.  Highly recommend this one!!


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The end of the year and starting again…

Happy 2015!  Hard to believe that a year ago I was sitting at this very same laptop thinking about how I needed to start keeping track of all the books I have read.  Amazingly enough, I stuck with that goal, and will continue with it this year.

In 2014 I read 61 books!  Sounds like a lot, and then not a lot at all.  If it weren’t for Jewel Saga on my phone, or HGTV (dear Scott brothers… I love you!) I probably would’ve read at least 5 more… Grumble stupid friggin game grumble.

60 – The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

This was a recommendation from my boyfriend’s mother, and I will admit in the beginning I was judging this book by the cover a bit.  I didn’t really think it was going to be my style, but I gave it a chance and I’m so glad I did!  It sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down.  It follows a few different characters so the book switches points of view every chapter or so, and in he beginning I was having difficulty figuring out where the story was going.  If you read this one, stick with it, it’ll be worth your while!

61 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of my favorites and one of the ONLY books I will continue to read and read again.  My boyfriend and I were invited to a Gatsby themed party on New Year’s Eve, and it just put me in the mood for this classic.

Now, to kick off the new year the right way (by laying in bed all day and reading books, unhappily counting down the remaining hours of winter break), here are the first two books of 2015.

1 – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Like the previous Moriarty book, this was also a recommendation from my boyfriend’s mother.  I was more excited to read this one, however, since I liked the other.  This book was even better than the last, but I think the subject matter was more relevant to me.  It revolves around a primary school and some severe parent drama, where an anxious and overprotective mother is trying to get a student expelled for allegedly bullying her daughter (did I mention these kids are in kindergarten?).  The book is leading up to a trivia fundraising night and all along you know the event ends with a murder, but you don’t know who… or why.  Excellent story.

2 – Walk Me Home by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I love this author and this book was good.  However I didn’t love it as much as all the others of hers that I have read.  Maybe because most of her other books have moved me to tears, and this one didn’t.  The main characters are Carly and Jen, running away to California after the death of their mother.  They are afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to be separated by CPS when they are put into foster homes.  Being teenagers with no money, they have little choice other than to walk from New Mexico to Cali.

Honestly throughout the first half of the book (maybe more…) I really disliked Carly.  I just kept thinking, you stupid teenager!  But all in all I guess that means she was very human and believable.  I just couldn’t stand her.  There is a reason I teach first grade and not middle/high school…  I ended up reading this book in a day so I guess it held me more than I’d like to admit!


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In which I describe another 5 books read…

Don’t you love how I started out with a blog for blog purposes and now all I use it for is a running record of the books I’ve read?  Yeah, me too…  Sigh.  If only there was more time to actually have fun with it and write for writing’s sake.

Anyway, it has been a while since I have added to the list so here we go:

55 – Chaplin & Company by Mave Fellowes

I wanted so much to love this book, and I want so much to say great things about it.  The unfortunate thing is I can’t do either.  I didn’t hate it or dislike it terribly… it just didn’t sweep me up in the story like the author so obviously wanted it to.  It was artistically written but in a gentle way, not something that was difficult to follow.  The main character, Odeline, is somewhat of a hipster in her own way.  She’s a mime who takes her art very seriously, and thinks herself to be above pretty much everyone she meets.  Over time she learns that you can’t do everything on your own, and she forges some interesting relationships.  I think I like her name more than the story though, and I really was stuck on this book for quite some time.

56 – The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

Reading this book was a really wonderful and strange experience.  I think I may have actually read this book before, several years ago, but I really can’t remember for sure.  The story was so incredibly familiar to me in a way that I felt like I was having deja vu through the whole book – and yet I could not remember or predict any events in the book I hadn’t read yet, so I wasn’t convinced that I had indeed read it once.

Regardless of that, I loved the story.  Magical realism at its finest, the story takes place in a small town in New England over many generations.  Each chapter you get a story about a different character, and it’s lovely to see how the family trees grow and intertwine in the book.  One common thread of the novel is this special garden, which no matter what is planted in it, will come up red.  I highly recommend this book!

57 – Tales from the Crib by Jennifer Coburn

Fluffy literature here.  A man asks his wife for a divorce on the very same night she is about to tell him that she is pregnant with his child.  They decide to continue to live together in order to raise the baby, but pretty much lead completely separate lives.  Of course with certain plot twists, things don’t always stay that way… I think it’s kind of a predictable story when it all comes down to it.  I enjoyed it though.

58 – The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

A story about various races of people who live in a carpet, experiencing various natural phenomena such as the vacuum, falling ash, food particles, and the harvesting of varnish off of furniture legs.  I will admit that it was hard for me to get into the book because I didn’t really understand what the hell was going on at first, since everything had such different and creative names.  However, the work was definitely worth it!  Fun, whimsical, and hilarious, this book definitely kept me entertained.  It had drawings too, which is always a nice surprise.

59 – The Story of Awkward by R.K. Ryals

I think I downloaded this book because of the cover illustration and a review that said this author was similar in style to Rainbow Rowell.  However, it is young adult fiction and you can tell at times, because it feels somewhat juvenile.  I enjoyed the book but the second half much moreso than the first half… maybe it was just slow to really grab me.  It is definitely a fairy tale, which I guess I didn’t realize when I started reading it as I was expecting something fiction but not quite so out there and made up.  This is where I shrug and say I guess I haven’t made up my mind on whether or not I think you should read the book…


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50 and beyond

Well it’s taken me a long time to get around to this post.  I did finish book #50 before school started, which made me happy.  But once school started I just never got around to blogging about it.  So here we go!

50 – Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet

A novel about death and the afterlife.  It follows the main character who is a reaper and moves souls to the afterlife of their religion… and then eventually finds out that Grim (the head reaper in charge) has some very specific, important plans for her.

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s complicated to explain, but I loved how Roquet wound all the different beliefs together.  It felt so natural to me, because I like to believe that we can all just get along regardless of our religious and/or spiritual views.  Anyway, that makes it sound like it was something it’s not – which is a religious book.  I don’t tend to read those.

51 – Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson

I’d been wanting to read it before I watched the HBO series because that’s just how I am with books and visual media.  It was actually very interesting.  Being a Jersey girl myself, it felt closer to home, even though I’ve only been a few times.  I learned a lot about Atlantic City though and now I’m even more excited to make the pilgrimage down there for the teacher convention in November 🙂

52 – Where We Belong by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I’ve read a few of her books now and just love them all.  This one is about Angie – a teenager who is helping her sister (who has autism) and her single mother survive homelessness, hunger, and poverty.  While staying with a distant relative the family discovers that the neighbor’s Great Dane is one of the only things that can keep Angie’s sister calm and quiet.  What happens when the neighbor moves to the mountains a few weeks later…?

As I said, I loved this book, and it was the first one to really make me BAWL MY FREAKING EYES OUT!  Unfortunately, dog lovers understand that Great Danes don’t live a long time and this particular dog wasn’t a spring chicken in the book… and let’s just say that her passing hit me very close to home and made me miss my late hound doggie.  Plus the feels of the characters… she is absolutely magic with character development.  All resulting in tears for me… but don’t let that stop you from reading it! ;D

53 – Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Ashley has been bullied mercilessly throughout her high school and middle school life, all along coached by her future self, whom she can see when she looks into a mirror.  The story is told in flashbacks (sort of), which I usually detest in a book, but I’m glad that I stuck with it because it turned out to be different than it seemed in the end.

The book was truly heartbreaking, and for people who don’t believe that bullying is a problem in school, I would recommend reading this book.  It was raw and full of emotion, and reading it helped me to realize that everyone has flaws of their own.  No one is truly perfect, so it’s important that we learn to embrace those flaws in the ones we love and hold dear.

54 – The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This morning my boyfriend said, “let’s go see Maze Runner tonight.”  Never having heard of this movie I looked up the trailer, and then found out the movie was based on a book.  Of course that meant I had to download the book and read it before we went to the movie and I worked on it all afternoon.

The book was a-maze-ing (ha ha).  I was having difficulty focusing on the story at first but once I started getting into it, it was just fantastic.  And (GASP) this is a book where I will read the sequels!

Long story short, we never ended up going to see the movie tonight… but that’s okay… the book was worth it 🙂