Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mini Reviews: Wife of the House by Gudrun Mouw and Mi Abuelo Explicaba muy bien a los Pájaros by Ivan Castro Rodelo

Wife of the House

: Paperback

Pages: 100

Series: NA

Source: LibraryThing EarlyReviewers

: Poetry

Publisher: Raincloud Press

Publication date: April 15, 2014

I asked and received this book through the LybraryThing Early Reviewers program for free. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. Thanks to Chronicles Books for the book.

First impression

It's been a long time since I read poetry. To be honest with you, both poetry and theater are genres that are hard for me to read; I just don't get immersed enough and most of the time I feel like I am forcing myself to continue reading. Unfortunately for me, this was one of these times. Don't get me wrong, the author manages to put a lot of feeling in each of her poems...I just never connected with them.

Final thoughts

I think that Mouw manages to show and share what she feels as a Housewife, her story of a troubled marriage, how she got there and how she got out. Her imagery can be very vivid and sad and this I have to give it to her, I could feel all that. However I was never fully engaged with the poems, and while it is a short read it felt very long, precisely because I had to force me to continue. This is no fault of the author or the writing, as you will probably notice from other reviews. The book just wasn't for me. 

Mi Abuelo Explicaba muy bien a los Pájaros

: Hardcover

Pages: 126

: NA

Source: Own (BookOutlet)

Genres: General fiction, Esoteric

: Grupo Nelson

Publication date: December 1st, 2009.

First Impression

When you look for books in Spanish in BookOutlet, most of what you will get are either bibles or books classified on the self help and religion genres. I am not a fan of either genre, but it is from a Colombian author and I was thinking of my Granpda when I bought it so here we are. This book is somehow categorized as self help and it does have some parts where the main character mentions him finding God, but the story turned out to be more than that, so I did actually enjoyed it. Told in the voice of the grandson, remembering his vacation time spent with his grandfather and the stories he told him, it was quite a beautiful story of love and family.

Final thoughts 
More than anything this is a story about love, represented in the grandparents relationship. The side stories of the grandfather joining the circus, and making his way to success reminded me of my grandpa and his stories of odd jobs he took along the way. The book touched a lot of personal fibers for me, and I do believe I read it in the right moment for me to enjoy it. However, as much as it made me smile while I was reading it, I find it hard to identify who else would I recommended for. It was nice and the writing made me remember zones of my country I haven't visited in years but I don't know if this would be enough for me to revisit the book in the future or to pass it along. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Challenges and goals update: How did I do in March?

Hello to all ! Once again here is my update for the month of March. It was a good reading month, I was surprised how much I manage to read this month.

Diversifying 2015:

Of the 10 books I read on March, 2 of them where by a nonwhite author, and both had POCs as main characters.Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab had a LGBTQ main character and (although I haven't finished it yet) The Perks of Being a Wallflower has at least so far, 2 LGBTQ characters as well. This month, 50% of the books I read were from female authors.

Read Harder:

I finally read some poetry for the RH challenge, the review for Wife of the House will be up soon. I also read Popular by Maya Van Wagenen as a "self help"...I realize this is a bit of an stretch, but it does say "Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek" so...

My goals:

Read at least 1 POC author per month: Done with Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab by Shani Mootoo and Mi Abuelo explicaba muy bien a los Pájaros by Ivan Castro Rodelo

Read at least 1 book in Spanish per month: Done with Mi Abuelo explicaba muy bien a los Pájaros by Ivan Castro Rodelo

Read CanLit book per month: Done with Done with Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab by Shani Mootoo

Read at least 1 book of nonfiction per month: Done with Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Finished series: No series finished this month but I did read the second book in the Southern Trilogy series: Authority

Keeping track of my reading (Country represented, Makomori test, etc): done, but this one I will do a total update at the end of the year.

Read more already owned books: 2 books from the library and 2 Galleys, wich still gave me 6 books that I already owned.

Read the picks of the month for each book club: done!

I feel like, in general I am having a good progression on my reading. I had another DNF this month with The Turnip Princess (galley) but in general I am very happy with what I have read so far.

Reviews wise, I only posted 3 reviews this month in the site with 1 more coming tomorrow. However, thanks to the Bloggiesta Event, my Blog is up to date.

How was your reading this month?

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Day in the Life as a Science PhD Student

Morning everybody, today's blogger event is organized by the lovely Trish from Love, Laughter and (a touch of) Insanity. As a community, book bloggers are as varied as they come and she gives all amazing reasons to participate, so here I am, telling you about my "normal" week day. So let's start!

Morning view
6h30: The alarm rings. First thing I see is Hoppi (our cat) snuggled with us. Usually A and I woke up around the same time, but ever since he started working (he finished his PhD, just waiting to defend) sometimes he has to go on business trips, and so leaves around 5h30! But if it is a regular day, I will be the first one in the shower (get in around 6h45, it takes me awhile to get out of bed, for real) while he stars breakfast. But today, is one of those days that he is gone, so it's easier to get out of bed..sort of.

7h00: Out of the shower. I start the coffee, and in the mean time get dressed, and make the bed. When the coffee is ready, I finish making my breakfast. Always coffee and orange juice, but the rest will vary according to the day. Today I went with toast, tomato, bocconcini and basil, drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Yum!.  As I eat, and since I'm alone I will check e-mail, Twitter, the news. If A was here we would be discussing our respective days, and then he goes to take his shower. 

7h45: Clean up, brush my teeth, do my makeup, set the dishwasher if necessary, take out whatever meat we are having for dinner, preparing my lunch box. We usually prepare double the portions for dinner, and that way lunch is ready for the next day!. Finally, get ready mentally to go out...it's winter, so this step takes a while, just putting my boots alone!
It was -16C (3.2F) that morning!
8h15: Finally out of the door! later than I wanted, but oh well. Made it right on time for the metro, and the bus I have to take to go to the Institute was boarding! (score) so I made it to the lab a couple of minutes before 9. We only have one car, so sometimes I have it, in that case I can leave the house around 8h30ish. I don't like driving, even though it takes less time to get to work, but I am getting used to it. 

My desk at the student room
9h-17h: Lab. My work will revolve around my cells, and my experiments, but I am also in charge of certain tasks around the lab, such as passing orders for anything we need. This I hate, mostly because a lot of the people in the lab will wait until last minute to tell me (if they tell me) that we need to order stuff, and then is running to get quotes, orders, etc. At least I am now training another student to help me with this, but it's so time consuming.

12h: Lunch! I do my best to have time for lunch with friends, but sometimes my experiments take over. In that case I end up eating my lunch in my desk and in that case I will be browsing around as I do so. Not ideal, but sometimes it's the only way. Either way I try to at least take a 15 min break of experiments, otherwise I feel burnt down at the end of the day.

17h05: Commuting again to go home. I actually like this time, since I can read a bit more!.

18h: I'm finally home. First some cuddles with Hoppi. When Alex is home by this time we will sit for a while in the office and talk about our days. Today he won't be home until dinner time :/. If I don't have anything else to do outside the house, I will change to workout clothes and wash my face. It feels so good!.

Playing Exercising with our WiiFit
18h30: Usually at home A will take care of food and I will take care of other chores, depending on the day. If one of us is out late, then the other one will take over both tasks :). So today I have to start some laundry and prepare dinner...but not before my work out, that way for sure I will be "free" when he gets home. You see, we use to study together and so we grew accustomed to spending almost all of our days together. Now that he is working and I am still at the Institute, we try to take every opportunity we have to get some extra time with each other. 

19h:My workout varies a lot: I sometimes will do some routines with our WiiFit, sometimes I check Blogilates, but either way I try to at least do them 4-5 times a week, specially in winter when I become way sedentary. After exercising and finishing house chores, A is finally home, so we have dinner and talk about our day. We watch a bit of TV (most of the time reruns, unless is Tuesday when he will watch SHIELD with me reading next to him)

20h: We move to the office, where we both work a bit more. E-mails, blog for me. Then a bit more leisure. I sometimes do some cross stitching, but not right now. The other thing we end up doing often is playing on World of Warcraft.

22h: Time to get ready for bed. Brush our teeth, feed the cat. Then we get into bed and we read for about 1 more hour, unless we are very tired (like this time) and start nodding over our books 15min later.

That's pretty much it!  What about your day?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Once Upon a Time IX

Every year as spring arrives (or is supposed to arrive, ehem) Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings hosts his Once Upon a Time "challenge". I participated last year, and it's always a lot of fun, so here I am again.The premise is simple enough:
From March 21st up until June 21st you read and share your thoughts about books that fall into the broad categories of Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology (including subgenres off course).
As I did last year, I will participate and will follow the Quest The First: Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

For now, my lineup is as follows

Off to be the wizard by Scott Meyer

Wyrd Sisters by Sir Terry Pratchett

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Siege and Storm by Leigh Berdugo 

Of this, only one comes from the Sword and Laser Book club (Wyrd Sisters). I realize that all of them, once again, fall mostly in the fantasy category, but some have very interesting mythology nuances, like The brides[...] inspired by the Irish mythological creature, the Selkies.

As always I will update the links to the reviews in this post as I make them available.There is a high chance that I read more than this books (there is the Read-a-Thon after all) and if I get to review them, I will add them here.

Are you participating? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya van Wagenen

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 272

Series: NA

Source: Library

Genres: Nonfiction, Advice, Memoir

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House)

Publication date: April 15, 2014

First impression

I got this book last Christmas as a gift from very dear friends. With a line found in the jacket I was hooked:

Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?  
You see, I love pearls.
This was a very sweet read, and it felt like it was indeed written by a 14 year old girl, and I mean that in a good way. Sure, she had editors, but her voice is obviously there, she reminded me of my little cousin (she is 15 now) and her way to see the world. It reminded me of 15yo me and how all I wanted at a certain point is to be one of the “it” girls. I thought I was going to be rolling my eyes often when looks and appearance would be discussed, and I did roll them a couple of times, but not as much as I expected. Maya finishes with a very sweet, endearing tone that made me want to hug her.

Final thoughts

Maya van Wagenen considers herself to be in the lowest rank of popularity in her school, but when she founds Betty Cornell’s teenage popularity guide she decides to try a little experiment: she will follow the books advice (keep in mind this is a book written in the 1950s) and see if that takes her from top to bottom. Going from hair, to posture, to diet, to attitude, Maya sticks to her plan, without telling anyone out if her family. This book is her memoir of that year.

I had my first problem with the book when the first chapter was dedicated to figure problems… remember she was a 14yo at the time she was writing this and thinking of someone that young dieting was not easy to swallow, even if her doctor said she was “borderline obese” (for the record, in the pictures she does NOT look borderline obese). But my anxiety went down knowing that 1. She wasn’t obsessing about the diet 2. The diet, while reducing on fat foods, still kept a fair amount of protein, vegetables and fruits, and most importantly 3. She was doing it with her parent’s supervision and not taking it to extremes. Other problems are probably related with the fact that I am no longer a teenager, so let’s not mull over that for too long.

I enjoyed the little bits of her life thrown in with the experiment, this is what made it feel like a real teen diary. I loved how she took a bit of knowledge of each chapter, of each “challenge” and particularly how, when she started talking to a lot of the different clicks, you can see that she is growing more and more comfortable in her skin. And that is why I would recommend this book to my little cousin…and for everyone looking for a short, endearing book that would make you feel better at the end of it…and walk with a better posture ;)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab by Shani Mootoo

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 312

Series: NA

Source: Library

Genres: Canadian Literature, LGBTQ Literature

Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Penguin Random House)

Publication date: April 22, 2014

Someone who hadn’t tried to make him into who he wasn’t, but rather helped him to become who he already was

First impression

I read this book for the Hello Hemlock book club and I have to say at first I was a bit confused as to why this one fell in the CanLit category, since the author is originally from Trinidad and most of the story takes place in there. However, as I read along it made sense, at least to me. The biggest transformation for Syd takes place in Canada and the whole subject of immigration (to Canada in particular) is a constant in here. It was a beautiful story to read, full of emotion and discovery, not only by Jonathan but for me too. Dealing with being gay and being transgender and how this affect the main character and others around, particularly in a culture as conservative as Trinidad seems to be, the book also touches the subject of family and the feeling of belonging somewhere. And off course, it deals with love; love for our parents and children, love for our friends and love for ourselves.

Of course, the past is never erased, and is even always present

Final thoughts

The story stars with the voice of Sid/Sydney struggling with how to tell his son, Jonathan, all of the things that he couldn’t but wishes he had. Born Sid in Trinidad, he became Sydney with a gender reassignment surgery; as Sid she dated Jonathan’s birth mother, and loved him as her own child, but when things started falling apart in that relationship, Sid left their home. Jonathan did everything he could to find his lost second mom, and when he got a clue that brought him to Trinidad he discover that Sid was now Sydney and with this a whole path of discovery and understanding starts for both men.

This was a heart wrenching story for me; not just the part of Sydney transitioning and what he had to deal with, with his family and his past, but also because of all the very complicated dynamics taking place around him. His beloved friend Zain and the thing she had to deal with; Jonathan’s feeling of abandonment, disconnect with his mother and his girlfriend, and finally, his own experience as an outsider when he is the one outside of his country.

While I haven’t had a 100% similar journey than Sydney, the feelings Mootoo express to him, about being an immigrant, about feeling there is always something missing…about winter! Those feelings where the first ones to grab my attention, being also an immigrant. And then, captivated as I was, I was able to get into the whole story and perceive all the pain and all the joy that Sydney represented.

The pace of the story might feel a bit slow to some, but I think the rhythm is perfect for all the sorrow and transitions taking place. It is always slow to accept big changes, and it is even slower to tell people about them, for we want to add all of the shades of our feelings. Hence for me, the rhythm Mootoo uses is just ideal. She has a very beautiful, delicate and embracing style that carried me away, making me almost feel the sweet breeze in Trinidad’s shore.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a magnificent book about transitions, might it be gender or immigrant related.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hausfrau: A Novel by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Format: eGalley

Pages: 336

Series: NA

Source: NetGalley

Genres: General Fiction, Contemporary

Publisher: Random House

Publication date: March 24, 2015

I asked and received this book through NetGalley for free. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. Thanks to Random House for the book.

First impression

So many people were talking about this one, so when I saw it on NetGally (and also look at the cover, so gorgeous) I immediately asked for it. Jill Alexander Essbaum has a very captivating style that makes you want to keep reading; makes you want to know what happens next. In that sense, the book was great. The plot was interesting too as well as the setting. But (and you knew there was a but coming) I did not enjoy the main character one bit. I am perfectly ok with unlikable characters, Gone Girl being a perfect example of this, where both Nick and Amy are completely unlikable, but they are enjoyable. I found myself wanting the story to be told from someone else’s perspective, other than Anna’s and that’s what made this a 3/5 book for me.

Final thoughts

Anna Benz is a housewife (a Hausfrau) in Switzerland. She has the “perfect” life, a handsome and successful husband, 3 loving, healthy, beautiful kids, a house…but she is bored. She hasn’t adapted to her new environment, and has fallen in a tedious routine, that she tries to break by going to German classes (suggested by her therapist). But is not good. The only thing that seems to take Anna out of her stupor is lovers: she collects lovers.

The writing in this novel is simple beautiful and enticing. That is what kept me going. The author builds a rhythm that grabs you and takes all along, wanting to know more, walking through the disorganized thoughts of Anna’s head. As you read, you find yourself in the busy days in Zurich, in the train, in her walks. The building of the environment is so well done.

But then I just couldn’t enjoy Anna. Is not that she is unlikable (she is, but that is not the problem) or that she seems sad and selfish most of the time. No, a character doesn’t have to upbeat or even likable for me to enjoy the reading. It was just that, I could not enjoy getting in Anna’s skin. I would found myself jumping to paragraphs where other were being depicted, or even the angle was posed on the situation itself, but no on Anna.

I can definitely see myself reading more by the author, again, she has a wonderful narrative. I would recommend this one to several of my friends actually, there is something beyond Anna that makes me want other people around me to read it so I can discuss it even more. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring 2015 Bloggiesta To-Do List

Boy does this Bloggiesta comes in the right moment for me. I haven't been able to post a lot on this blog lately and I always can use the "pressure" (self imposed, I assure you) of the event to re organize my self and get back in the rhythm! So without further ado, here is my to-do list:

  • Update the review archive, as well as my challenge tabs (this one is always in the list!)
  • Post at least one review. I haven't done much reviewing lately, mostly because I was reading a couple of trilogies and I want to review them a whole. But no more excuses, I shall post A review
  • Have a non-review post
  • Participate in the Twitter party
  • Update my banner to the spring version
  • Visit at least 5 new blogs of the people participating and as many as I can of the ones I already know.
That is it this time. What about you? If you are interested in joining Go HERE to read all about it and sign yourself up. See you guys there. 

Sunday, March 29th update: I did it! I participated in about 2 parties and not only I changed my banner, I changed my whole template! Thank you so much to everyone participating for the great ideas and support!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My Reading Apps

Yes, that's Candy Crush, don't judge me!
 Hello to all,

Today I want to talk to you about reading apps. Well, about the reading related apps that I use and how they have changed my reading life.

Audible has definitely changed my relationship with audio books. At first I thought it just wasn't for me, that I wouldn't be able to concentrate, etc. And then I tried it...almost 2 years later, this little buddy here has increased the amount of books I read, since I can have with me all the time (on my phone). It has also changed the way I share my reading with A, since now we go for 2 credits and can listen to them separately and then discuss at home :D.

Stitcher is not exactly a reading app, but it is true it that I have access to the amazing Riot Media podcasts (Book Riot, Dear Book Nerd, Our Reading Lives and Panels) and the Sword and Laser one.

The Goodreads app has turned out to be one that I use a lot, to scan my new books, to keep track of my reading and others. Some people have complained about the scanning feature, but I guess I've been lucky, because I haven't had a problem so far.

The Kobo app was a surprise for me. I have the Kobo reader, and at first I kept saying I wouldn't read on my phone, blah, blah. But then, one day I was stuck on a waiting room, no book to read (the horror!) and remembered that the books I had purchased with Kobo were there, on my phone too. And presto! I started reading on my phone.

And finally, the OverDrive App. As I'm still on a student budget, getting more than 2 credits can be too much some months, but I do need more audio than that, particularly with big experiments. With access to my library audio books through it, problem solved. Only thing I wish is I could change the speed of the book (like you can do on Audible) because sometimes it feels like it is going soooo slow.

So those are my reading apps, which ones do you have? How have they changed your reading life? Tell me about it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What am I reading this month: March

 Hello everyone! here is what I will be reading this month...or at least what I am planing to be reading.

For my Diversifying 2015 challenge (you can sign up here) and  reading more in Spanish goal: Mi abuelo explicaba muy bien a los Pájaros (My grandfather explained the birds very well) by Colombian author Ivan Castro Rodelo.

For the Sword and Laser Book Club, we will be reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

For my "reading more CanLit" goal, the Hello Hemlock book club will be reading Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab by Shani Mootoo. It also touches LGBTQ subjects, which adds to my reading diversely

On nonfiction, and as a "self-help" book for the Read Harder challenge I will be reading Popular by Maya Van Wagenen. For this challenge, but for poetry, I will also read Wife of the House by Gudrun Mouw

To continue the Southern Trilogy, I also got Authority by Jeff Vandermeer.

Out of those 6 books, I own 4 of them, so I am also working on my "reading more of the books I already own" goal. 

What about your reading for this month? what are you reading? Let me know in the comments and have a nice week.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Challenges and goals update: How did I do in February?


Hello to all ! Once again here is my update for the month of February. Let us start:

Diversifying 2015:

Of the 8 books I read on February 2 of them where by a nonwhite author, and both had POCs as main characters. Lock In had several LGQBT characters, so that was good, but the book itself wasn't either about nor by someone identifying as LGQBT. Only 2 of the books I read were written by male authors, which takes me so far to 65% of my reading coming from female authors.

Read Harder:

This month I didn't read ANY of the books I have in line for the RH challenge, so I will have to work on that.

My goals:

Read at least 1 POC author per month: Done with Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me and Las Hijas de Juarez

Read at least 1 book in Spanish per month: Done with Las Hijas de Juarez

Read CanLit book per month: Done with Oryx and Crate

Read at least 1 book of nonfiction per month: Done with Las Hijas de Juarez

Finished series: No series finished this month...I started 2 though, MaddAddam and The Southern Trilogy

Keeping track of my reading (Country represented, Makomori test, etc): done, but this one I will do a total update at the end of the year.

Read more already owned books: Only 1 of the books read this month wasn't a previously owned book!

Read the picks of the month for each book club: done!

I feel like, in general I am having a good progression on my reading. This month I had my first DNF of the year, but at least I know I gave it a fair try.

Reviews wise, I only posted 5 reviews this month in the site; I did send some short reviews for the books I had from either NetGalley or LybraryThing; I think I might stop doing full reviews for ALL the books I read or maybe start doing a series of short reviews for a couple of them, together, particularly those that I don't have a lot to say.