Category Archives: Books Make Me Happy

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I Did Not Put This Book Down Until It Was Done.

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I picked up this book at 8pm the other night, got sick and couldn’t sleep, and finished it around midnight. IT WAS THAT GOOD. If I hadn’t been sick I might have put it down to sleep a bit, but I’m certain I would have not started my day the next day until it was done.

Now, you have to have a tolerance for a kinda-angsty teen girl narrator, which I have no problem with. But! A guy friend found it irritating and I didn’t recommend this to my husband for that very reason. If it had been told from the point of view of a teen boy, (I’m thinking like in The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) then it would probably be more relatable because it would be experiences he might be more familiar with. Now, I read the Sherman Alexie book and I’m a girl, so obviously genders can read other perspectives, but I just know my husband’s tolerance and I think he wouldn’t be able to get past the teen girl voice telling the story.

BUT IT IS SO GOOD.

Also? Did I already recommend The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry? I think I did already. At least I know I did in other places like Twitter or Facebook, but just in case I didn’t document it here…READ IT! It’s great. It seems like it’s going places and it doesn’t, which I loved. You feel like you’re seeing predictable plot development paths but that’s not where the book goes and I truly appreciated that. It’s a GREAT book club book.

I also finally got around to reading The Cuckoo’s Calling after my friend told me I’d like it. I had been worried that I’d be disappointed since it’s not Harry Potter, but I really enjoyed it. It took me a little while to get into it, but once I did I was pulled in hook, line, and sinker. I even bought The Silkworm because there’s 8 people in line for it at the library and I couldn’t wait that long to read it.

Next on my list: Landline and then The Land Of Stories (Book 3). What are you reading?

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She’s Going To Become Addicted To Book Signings Now, I Can Feel It.

You guys remember when Nikki wanted to enter a fan art contest for the books “The Land of Stories” by Chris Colfer – but I didn’t realize it was for 18 and over? (Read entry here.) Well, last night was the book signing event that we opted to go to as a consolation prize. And it was such a memorable adventure I just had to document it here, even if it’s probably boring to read about some kid meeting her favorite author.

(If you find that boring, you are in the WRONG PLACE. That’s exciting content around here.)

SO! We actually had a busy weekend. We spent Saturday night in Florence, AL because Donnie had a triathlon yesterday morning. We went to bed late and got up early, and then spent all day in the sun. Afterwards, Nikki and I hitched a ride back home with some friends (THANK GOD, or else we would have had to taken two cars to Florence) so that we could hitch ANOTHER ride with some DIFFERENT friends and head to Atlanta, GA for the book signing. (THANK GOD, or else I would have had to drive which would have NOT GONE WELL AT ALL.)

Nikki and her friend were so good on the drive, just playing with the tablet and talking about books and what not. It was so cool and I’m so glad we ended up finding someone to go with because I think her experiencing all of this with another child fan made the difference between a fun day and the kind of Day She Will Remember Forever.

Anyway! The book store that was holding the event evidently does these things regularly and they have a great system in place. When you buy your ticket (basically the cost of the book plus $5) you get a number and that is your number in line. So we didn’t have to stress about getting there early, because we knew what place we’d be. They set it up so that you could take pictures from a table kinda away from the line/signing table (they didn’t want you to take pictures up close, which I can understand, it would feel very unsettling) and you just went in line and he took time to at least say “Hi” to everyone and even answered questions or spoke if spoken too.

The girls were FREAKING OUT. Nikki the most. She kept wanting to “practice” what she was going to say to him. She also kept saying, “I think I’m going to throw up.” It was SO CUTE. She was a ball of excitement/nerves and it was the most wonderful thing in the world to see. WAAAAAAYYYYY better than a fan art contest.

I made her promise me she would at least say something to him, even if it was just, “I love your books.” When she got to the point where she could see him at the table she turned to me and – red faced – said, “OH MY GOD. I CAN SEE HIM.” And that moment was BEAUTIFUL. So cute and pure and fun and I just loved it.

We realized they had stopped the line after us to give him a 10 minute break and I think that worked out GREAT because when Nikki got up there, she froze. Of course. But he talked to her and I wanted to hug him for that. (They would have arrested me. I’m sure.) He asked her name and then he repeated it back (she has a tricky name, so that impressed me) and he asked her favorite character. I think she did finally say, “I love your books,” but it didn’t matter because they had a conversation and he looked at her like he really and TRULY cared about how she was answering.

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Meeting celebrities is something that is NEVER going to be what you hope it will be, but this was the best I could have wished for her. He was kind. It wasn’t too rushed (I think because we were the end of the first batch) we got pictures and she was in front of him long enough to not completely forget from shock.

I got my book signed too (of course) and told him I enjoyed them as well. He was just as kind to me as he was to her. It was just a great experience over all. I’m grateful I was forced to do it to satiate a disappointed daughter, I’m grateful we went with friends who made it even MORE exciting, and I’m grateful Chris Colfer was kind and genuine to some of his youngest fans. Fans who think he’s great on Glee and all, but mainly love him because of Alex and Conner and the world he has built for them.

“Best. Day. Ever.”
- N. Holmes

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Making Goodreads Remember The Stuff I Can’t

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 6.04.44 AM I love Goodreads for one HUGE reason – it allows me to keep track of books I want to read. I also rate books I’ve read, sometimes I’ll write a half-assed review if I feel inspired, but mainly I love it as a way to easily add books to a “shelf” that I want to read so that when I go to the library, I can try to find books on that shelf if there’s nothing else I’m wanting to read.

HOWEVER, the downside of this is that the shelf gets HUGE and I forget why I put certain books on the shelf. Did someone recommend it to me? Did I see it on a list somewhere? Did the author get interviewed on The Daily Show? (I get a lot of book recommendations that way!) Did John or Hank Green recommend it? Why is this book on my To Read shelf? I was rolling through that shelf on my phone last night at the library and half of the books I could not remember why they were on the shelf AT ALL. And this kinda makes me not want to read them, honestly. If I can’t even remember why I put them on there!

So, this morning I cleaned off the shelf and removed books if I couldn’t immediately remember why I wanted to read them. Then I pulled up an article I found yesterday about 5 award winning books you should read and started adding those to my To Read shelf. BUT! In order to avoid the problem I had before, I decided to add a “review” to them and see if that helps in the long run with reminding me why they’re on the shelf to begin with. This is what I put in the “review” box for each of the books I added:

(Note to remind me why I put this on my “To Read” shelf – read about it in this article on Huff Po.)

Hopefully that won’t irritate anyone actually looking for a review, and hopefully it will be a quick/easy way to remind me why it’s on my To Read list to begin with. Sometimes I actually am looking for an “Award Winning Book” – usually after I read a “Will Never Win Awards For Anything” book, just to balance things out. So, if linking to that article will help me remember why I added it, maybe I’ll be more likely to read them in the future?

Although my small branch library had NO copies last night. Not even checked out, they were all checked out at the main branch of the library. So! If I want to really read them I’ll need to put them on hold at my library so the main branch will deliver it…alas, I went through that effort for nothing!

But still…I’m hoping this will help in the future because that To Read shelf gets OUT OF CONTROL.

What about you? Do you use Goodreads? Do you use it for the To Read functionality? How do you remember why you wanted to read a book?

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Help Me Obi Wan, You’re My Only Hope

Tnext “The Land of Stories” is coming out next month. If you’ll recall, NikkiZ ADORES those books. I like them, the second one was way better than the first in my opinion. But – anyway – I saw Chris Colfer tweet this this weekend:

We clicked the link together, Nikki and I and found this page which we read from my phone. It says this, if you don’t want to click the link.

ANNOUNCING THE LAND OF STORIES U.S. FAN ART CONTEST!

In celebration of the US publication of The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning, we’re looking for some talented #TLOS artists to share their best work – to be judged by Chris himself!

Have you drawn a ravishing Red Riding Hood? Crafted a clever Conner Bailey? Sketched an evil Enchantress?

If you are a resident of the United States, submit your #TLOS creations below for a chance to have YOUR art featured in New York City as part of the upcoming The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning Book Tour!

The three grand prize winning pieces will be unveiled by Chris at his book signing in New York! Ten first prize winners will receive a full set of The Land of Stories books signed by Chris!

You must follow this tumblr to submit, and your submissions must be 100% made by you. Good luck!

Read official rules and prizing here.

Okay, since we were on my phone I didn’t bother clicking the “rules” link and Nikki IMMEDIATELY went to work. It was ADORABLE. I took this picture about 30 seconds after she read about the contest. She had been in bed but she jumped out ready to work.

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I didn’t stop her because Chris Colfer has submitted pictures of his fan art for those books before and it’s always kid’s stuff because the books are geared towards 8-12 year olds. It NEVER occurred to me that there would be an age limit on the competition. Maybe I’m stupid and naive, but a book aimed at kids, I assumed the contest would be too. She told everyone all weekend about the contest and how she wanted to win the autographed books and she has started her pictures over 100 times and it has CONSUMED her. She is just very focused on making the most perfect picture that he’ll love and it’s been really awesome to watch her get this excited about it.

Well…obviously you can see where this is going. (SPOILER ALERT: I AM A MORON.) I clicked the rules this morning (Nikki wanted to know her deadline) and BAM! you have to be 18 or older to participate.

I AM SO UPSET.

SHE IS GOING TO BE DEVASTATED.

I decided to pull up his book tour dates and see if we could make it to an as a consolation. He IS coming to the South…BUT…it’s in Georgia on a Sunday night, a night AFTER Donnie has a race in Alabama, AND they’re doing tickets so I’m not even sure if they have any left (I sent an email! I’ll call when they open today!) but I’m betting they don’t. ARGH.

So! If you or anyone you know has the hook-up for ARC’s for this book (Advanced Reader Copy) or know of any way to get her autographed books that won’t cost a vital organ, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Or, if you know how to send fan-art to authors (Do I send it to their publisher?) so I can at least get her picture in some “Fan Art Pile” somewhere where Chris Colfer might see it, LET ME KNOW. Or, if you know how to rewind time to force me to read the “rules” before Nikki got excited about the contest…THAT would be ideal, because I feel like I totally screwed up here.

*sigh*

Being the Mom of a 8-year old Fangirl is hard, yo.

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Why I Love “The Fault In Our Stars”

It’s one of my favorite books! It’s about teenagers with cancer and…

It’s hard to explain to some people how I – a very old lady of 38 – can love a book written for young adults so much that I got words from that book permanently marked on my body. A book about two kids with cancer, one who very openly discusses their “terminal” diagnosis from early on in the book. The second you see the word “terminal” you know this book is going to break your heart. How could I love a book like that so much? Especially as someone who often says she wants to feel happy/joy with her books and movies? I can not count how many times I’ve angrily expressed hatred over a book/movie/tv show by saying something like, “It’s entertainment! It’s supposed to make me happy!”

Yet I’ve sobbed through the book about kids with cancer several times…and still, in a weird and twisted way, claim that it makes me happy.

I guess, in time for the movie, this would be a good week to put my affection for the book into words.

The first reason is obvious to anyone who has been around here for awhile. I love the book because my kid loves the book. I have written many times here how I think a key element to maintaining a strong relationship with your kids as the grow older, is learning to love the things they love. That way, at the end of the day where – maybe, you had to dole out discipline for bad grades or missing curfew – you can still get excited about the release of an album, or a book, or a movie together. That “thing” that I shared with E his whole life has been books. He introduced me to John Green before The Fault In Our Stars even came out, but we both adored it so much that we both inked our bodies with words from it…and that love for the book became a bond for us.

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But the other reason is that the book spoke to me as someone who watched a loved one die from cancer. Sometimes books and movies and TV shows gloss over the dying process. The patient is clean and in bed and everyone cries as the sick family members slowly fades away. But that’s not reality. Death from cancer is messy and these two kids in this book have already had it ruin their quality of life in many physical ways. But they are also open about how it affects them emotionally. There are stories about brain tumors changing the personality of a person, and there are stories about healthy people abandoning sick people when they just get too sick. There are harsh realities to cancer and TFiOS didn’t gloss over those entirely like some stories and movies do. Especially the ugly, sickly, can’t control my bodily functions part…TFiOS gave those moments their truth but also showed the beauty in them in a way I didn’t think was possible. I always wish my Dad had fought harder and would have let me care for him in the ways some people in this book need care. But, Green also does a great job in showing how much the person also hates themselves as their body fades them, and that’s why my Dad didn’t fight. He had lived a long and healthy and full life, he didn’t want to go out watching his body disintegrate even more than it already had.

And the final reason is that sometimes…what you need most in your life…is a damn good cry. And this book somehow gave me that in a way I didn’t realize I even needed. It gave me relief from my grief without breaking me in half. Even in the sadness and the darkness there was always still beauty in the truth, in the life, and in the love that was woven in the pages of this book. I cried for the characters and the moments in this book, but I also cried for my Dad, and for myself, for anyone who has watched anyone in their lives fade and die. I cried for anyone who has died after watching their bodies fail piece by piece. And while all of that was so sad, the cry was rejuvenating, it let me wash all of that away for a time and let go of it all. It helped me grieve in ways I didn’t know I needed to grieve. I’ve read it 4 times cover-to-cover since it came out, most often when I’m needing to let go of the pain again. The book gave me that in a way I never expected.

So, I’ll pack my tissues on Thursday night as E and I go to an early showing of the movie to sob with every other fan in this country simultaneously.

And we’ll love every minute of it.