Yep, something like that…

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Yuuuuup. That’s pretty much how it goes. Still working on getting a new bookcase. Mine seems to have decided it had enough and is tilting in awkward ways. Sooooo all my books are still in moving boxes, pretty much, everywhere.

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What’s To Come For Uncommon Sense In 2015

Photo Cred: etcpb.com

Happy first month of the year (When can we stop saying Happy New Year?)!

With a new year, comes new ideas for this blog…Here’s what I’ve got in the works.

Books

I’m kind of over seeing how many books I can shove in my face during the course of a year, but I still love challenges. This year is going to be a little different. I first found this challenge on Booklikes and then again on Bluchickenninja’s post about challenges..I’m so excited to do this challege set up by PopSugar. This challenge is all about reading books you wouldn’t necessarily have picked up and I’m super stoked to have a reason to branch out. For each book review I do (yes, my dear bibliophile beasties, I’m still going to be reviewing), I’ll tell you which categories (points?) I can check off! However, I know that not every book I read is going to fulfill any of these, and I’m totally ok with that too. I just want to READ ALL THE BOOKS. (Hoping you guys get that reference.)

Fitness

I’m not the most “in-shape” person in the world, but I definitely value being healthy and maintaining a regular fitness routine. I want to incorporate this more into my blog. Whether this means talking about what I eat on a daily basis or what fun new workouts I’ve been trying, I want to keep you guys in the loop and maybe start up a dialogue about what works and what doesn’t.

Beauty

Most of my life I’ve been the grungy, punky, alternative girl. Now that I’m working in an office (Dammit, I’m working for the man!), I need to reserve my ripped jeans and ratty band shirts for the weekends. So, this is going to be more about how I incorporate my personality, but still maintain “business casual”. I’ll also throw in some posts about products I use. (These are not meant to be braggy at all.)

Music

For someone who is so into music, I haven’t really done a whole lot of posts about it lately. I want to try and throw in some album reviews, concert reviews, and what I’ve been listening to posts.

Schedule

I’ll be going back to a two-day or three-day post a week. And mix up the subjects, so I won’t be throwing book reviews at you every day like in December and the beginning of January.

So, that’s what I’ve come up with. If there’s something that you want me to talk about more or want to make other suggestions, the floor is yours! Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow beasties!

My Year In Books: The Ten Minute Activist by The Mission Collective – Book #29

Photo Cred: goodreads
Title: The Ten Minute Activist: Easy Ways to Take Back the Planet
Author: The Mission Collective
Illustrator: Lloyd Dangle
Series: N/A
Release Date: December 29, 2006
Publisher: Nation Books
Medium: Paperback
Finished Reading: June 27, 2014

About: “Our planet is in trouble. Global warming, natural disasters, 9/11, and a war abroad have left many Americans feeling uneasy with the state of our own lives and the security of the planet. We know that life cannot be sustained at the current rate of consumption, yet it is easy to succumb to helplessness and apathy. But if making a difference only required ten minutes of our time a day, how many more people would try?
Illustrated by syndicated cartoonist Lloyd Dangle, The Ten Minute Activist shows how even the busiest person can make a positive change. From buying organic milk and bison to switching from free trade to fair trade, from choosing a Socially Responsible Investing retirement plan to carpooling with colleagues, The Mission Collective has complied the most up-to-date information on energy conservation, global warming, wild-life preservation, community building, spiritual awareness, and political action. The Ten Minute Activist informs and inspires with easy acts that can truly have a positive impact.”

I bought this book for $.50 at a book sale through the local library. It’s been sitting on my floor with the rest of the mountain of books that I just had to have. I needed a book to read coming off of Running Like a Girl. I chose this one. It looked small. I don’t really consider myself to be a tree-hugger or hippie-dippy, but I definitely recycle, use canvas bags when grocery shopping, and donate my old clothes and home goods to Goodwill. (I’ve even been considering composting.) I went in to this book trying to find other cool ways to make the world a better place. (My Miss America speech.)

The format of this book is pretty cool. The longest section is about two pages. The sections are succinct. They tell you a problem and exactly how you can fix it. While some of their solutions seem really low-scale, if everyone did their part, it makes a huge difference. (Every bit counts, right?) For example, one section tells you that you should be eliminating the use of harsh cleaners. And you’re thinking, probably like me, Now, how am I supposed to keep the house clean without using deep-cleaning products?. The Mission Collective throws in simple concoctions to make that do the job just as well as bleach or harsh cleaners. Whenever a website or book is referenced, we are given the website address, the book title, the author, so that we can check it out and get more information. (After all, knowledge is power, amiright?) There are funny, apropos cartoons interrupting the monotony of mini chapters. The art work is really nice and subtly introduces you to liking environmental rights cartoons. (They’re so sneaky that way. I CARE?!)

My problem with the book? I only have a couple. One: There are two typos. How this got by the five people part of The Mission Collective and whoever else is part of the publication process, is beyond me. It irks me because their message is so strong and powerful, but simple things like misspellings call into minor question their credibility. However, I overlooked these. The other problem: their solutions are narrowed to a certain group with certain socioeconomic status. I saw this book as geared toward the upper-middle class. While, I’m not complaining, everyone needs to help out, I just wish that they were more assessable by a wider range of social status.

My rating and why: I rated this four stars! I finished reading it and I really enjoyed it. On the same day I finished this book, I recommended it to a friend. I really like some of the ideas in the book. They’re pretty simple adjustments that can be made to everyday activities. I made smiley faces in the margins to all the “yes!” statements I agreed with. Yes, the above talked about spiritual and political change, but it didn’t dive super deep into either, which I was totally A-Okay with. And another cool thing: since the chapters are so small, you can knock out three or more in a ten-minute sitting!

So, what do you think? Are you ready to save the planet? Do you believe small things make big impacts? Do you think this book is full of propaganda? What do you do to help out? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow. New book review to come out every Monday.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: A Tale For The Time Being – Book #27

Photo Cred: A Tale For The Time Being
Title: A Tale For The Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Series: N/A
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Ruth Ozeki
Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2013), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Fiction (2013), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction (2013), The Kitschies for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2013), Paris Review Best of the Best (2013)
Finished Reading: June 18, 2014

About: “In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace – and it will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox – possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and unknown fate and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humor. A Tale For The Time Being is brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.”

I picked up this book, not because I’m super into the Japanese culture but, because it was recommended to me by a friend. I was told I would enjoy this because it has a stream of consciousness feel. Being a fan of Faulkner, Stein, and Morrison, I was all game. I also noticed the ratings on goodreads were pretty high, so why not?! I got this one as an audio because the voice actor is the author. I like when this happens because the author is able to perform her or his own words exactly how she or he imagined them. Excellent (said like Wayne from Wayne’s World).

We have two main characters: Nao and Ruth.
Nao: is a 16 year old living in Japan. She was raised in Sunnyvale California, but had to move to Japan because her father’s business endeavor’s fell through. She is deeply depressed and ready to just stop being, but needs to write everything down first. Sitting in a French maid cafe, she writes in a beat-up looking journal in the hopes that someone will someday find her words and her story.
Ruth: is a one-time novelist and working on her second. She’s up in Canada with her husband and their cat. She is looking for the words to put down, while also trying to find herself and her path. When she finds Nao’s diary, watch, old letters, and lunchbox, she becomes emotionally involved and sucked into Nao’s life.

Pros:

  • Brilliantly dark. Ozeki’s humor is ever-present, even when dealing with tougher topics.
  • Two narrators. This can be either a horrible or genius attempt. Ozeki nailed it. Both characters had completely separate voices and mannerisms.
  • Idea of the past and present communicating. Nao writes questions directly for the reader of her novel. Ruth is invested in Nao’s book and her life and sometimes forgets things have already happened. It’s very Faulkner. The idea of the past not really being dead – ever. Playing around with time as a theme is constant in this book.
  • Stream of consciousness. Nao’s writing is filled with tangents, long sentences, and ramblings much like a 16-year-old would have. Being a fan of this already, I applaud Ozeki for being able to get into the mindset of a teen.
  • Ruth and her husband read the journal together. It’s nice hearing different perspectives on what is going on in Nao’s journal. It gives a basis of realism. They sort of fill in the blanks with their supposing
  • There’s a ton of character growth!
  • There are a lot of different themes being tackled.

Cons:

  • Ozeki lost me toward the second half of part three. I didn’t really understand what was going on. This isn’t a musical – you can’t just throw in a dream sequence and expect me to be A-OK with it.
  • There’s probably a deeper meaning to the end of Nao’s journal, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Not digging this part.
  • Quantum Physics. It was explained for a bit. How there’s alternate worlds and each decision you make splits off into another world. It’s a great concept and very well done in Crichton’s Timeline, but not so much here.

Rating and why: I give it three stars. While I was definitely turned off toward the end of the book, I enjoyed the rest of it. I think the concept is really cool and I could see where Ozeki was going with different aspects, but they just weren’t done as well as previous authors (Crichton, Faulkner, etc).

What do you think? Have you read anything by Ozeki before? What’s your take on different narrators or stream of consciousness? Let me know in the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going! Like. Comment. Follow. A new book review to come out next Monday.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: Son by Lois Lowry – Book #33

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Son
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet (#4)
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Listening Library
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Bernadette Dunne
Finished Reading: July 15, 2014

**Disclaimer: This is the fourth book in a quartet. If you have not read The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger, there will be spoilers.

About: “When the young girl washed up on their shore, no one knew she had been a Vessel. That she had carried a Product. That it had been carved from her belly. Stolen.
Claire had had a son. She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. When he was taken from their community, she knew she had to follow. And so her journey began.
But here in this wind-battered village Claire is welcomed as one of their own. In the security of her new home, she is free and loved. She grows stronger. As tempted as she is by the warmth of more human kindess than she has ever known, she cannot stay. Her son is out there; a young boy now. Claire will stop at nothing to find her child…even if it means trading her own life.
With Son, the two-time Newbery Medal-winning Lois Lowry has spun another mesmerizing tale in this thrilling and long-awaited conclusion the The Giver.”

I read this book because I just had to know the ending. I felt like Gathering Blue and Messenger were interim books for this fourth one. I couldn’t just stop at three and be 75% of the way done with a series. I’ve made it this far – might as well keep going. I’m not exactly sure where to start, so we’ll go with the pros and the cons.

Pros:

  • This book ties in all four books. What seemed to be random happenstance was not for naught. They all tie in during this last one and it’s about time.
  • Claire, the lead, is a strong and independent woman. I’m definitely all for Girl Power and powerful female roles, especially when they don’t necessarily lose their feminine qualities (much like Hermione Granger).
  • Trade Master and Trade Market are explained! One of my complains for Messenger was that I had no idea what was going on with that sub-plot. I even found it distracting from what was going on with the rest of the story. But now that I know it comes into play again in this installment, I’m glad for the early introduction.
  • We are introduced to new characters while there are still old characters that take part in this book. There are mentions of other old characters that do not make an appearance as well.
  • Time passes. We’re not stuck in one time period – there is growth from The Giver to this one.
  • Claire and Jonas are from the same village!

Cons:

  • I’m a little confused as to where the sperm comes from for the birth mothers. It was never explained.
  • I don’t understand why Claire did not get re-evaluated and re-assigned to a job that would fit her rather than finding a convenient opening.
  • The whole color/non-color thing is still a little confusing for me. The village Claire and Jonas are originally from is black and white as previously explained in The Giver. For Claire, when she left the village, did everything just become in color. Was it like Dorothy landing in Oz? Everything was all of a sudden in Technicolor?

I did enjoy this book. I thought it was well planned out and definitely weaved nicely with the other books. Makes me wonder if Lowry knew all along what was going to happen or if she just looked back on her previous works and decided to answer certain questions. (There’s a huge time gap between the four.) While I enjoyed it, I still feel it’s kind of “meh”. This could just be because it’s a Young Adult novel that definitely has Junior Reader appeal. I think I’m not the intended target for this book. While I definitely commend Lowry on her writing and her ability, it just didn’t pack a huge “wow” factor for me. I felt it was predictable. I knew what was going to happen waaay before there was a glimmer of what was going to happen.

My Rating and why: I give it three stars. While I had negative comments above, there are definite saving graces. The messages transcends generations and the story, as a whole, is a great concept. Three stars might be because The Giver was amazing and I want this series to be just as amazing. (Meh.) I’m kind of on the fence for this one. BUUUUUT the bottom line is – I like it.

SO! Are you planning on reading this book? Did you already read it and think my interpretation is totally barbaric and insulting to Lowry? Did you know there was more than one in The Giver series? Let me know in the comments below. Like Comment Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: Messenger by Lois Lowry – Book #32

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Messenger
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet (#3)
Release Date: January 24, 2006
Publisher: Listening Library
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: David Morse
Finished Reading: July 8, 2014

**Disclaimer**This is the third book in the series. If you have not read the first two, there will be spoilers!

About: “Six years earlier, Matty had come to Village as a scrappy and devious little boy. Since that time, Matty had grown almost into a man under the care of Seer, a blind man whose special sight had earned him the name. Now Matty hopes that he will soon be given his true name, and he hopes it will be Messenger. But strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to newcomers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the only people able to safely travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter, Kira, to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest has grown hostile to Matty too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot explain or understand.”

I’m one of those people that need to finish a series once I start. I had to finish the Divergent series even though it just went down hill with each sentence. So, while I was unsure about Gathering Blue, I had to keep going. Also, my knight in shining armor was waiting with bated breath. He urged me to continue with the series. So I did.

I did this one as an audiobook. There are only three discs. How can anything be accurately worded, described, built-up, resolved, in three discs? Lowry, what is this magic?

Matt, from Gathering Blue is now Matty. He has been in Village for several years and has become educated. His accent is gone. He is much calmer – doesn’t steal or panhandle. He passes messages between villages, communities, and from person-to-person. Get it? He’s a MESSENGER. Seer is Kira’s father – we met him in the previous installment. He is blind – ironic much? However, much like Toffe in The Last Air Bender or Úrsula in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, he perceives way more than people with sight. It’s quite awesome.

Pros:

  • Village and Forest don’t have articles in front of them and are capital. They are very much characters in this story and that’s just plain awesomesauce. Without having a silly name, you aren’t given a bias (ie. Hope Village).
  • Matty has a gift, much like Kira. He doesn’t really understand at first. I mean, who doesn’t want a super power. I’m debating if I want ESP/other sweet mind powers or be like Mystique in X-Men.
  • This book ties together the Giver to second and, ultimately, third. It was a complaint I had for Gathering Blue. It was seemingly unrelated to the first book and I was really disappointed I didn’t find out what happened to Jonas and Gabe.

Cons:

  • Super short. I think this one could have been like a 2.5 book rather than a straight-up third addition. While there are definitely important things that happen, it would suffice to have a sentence or two described in the next one perhaps to fully understand what’s going on.
  • The Trademarket was not completely developed. While we know something fishy is going on, not completely sure what it is. I would have liked more info, or just not have put it in at all
  • The ending was ambiguous to me. I think this might have just been me. I told this to my knight in shining armor and he said that it wasn’t for him. He knew what was going on. Sooooo…. I was probably just being a space cadet there.

My rating and why: I give it three stars. I finished it, and while I’m not 100% sold on this book, there were some cool things going on. I think this book is definitely setting up for the next, and final, book in this series. For this, I give it three stars. There are so many directions Lowry can go from here. I’m hoping she sticks with these characters and that she webs together the books further. So, my hope in the future book is what keeps this rating a three.

What about you? Did you know there were other books in the Giver series? Does this bring you back to elementary school? Are you interested? Are you totally turned off? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow. A new book review to come Monday.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

Book ‘im, Danno: Why I Go To The Library

Photo Cred: Lovesofalibrarian.wordpress.com
I like big books and I cannot lie. I also like checking books out from the library, like, a lot. In fact, I just returned four books and three CDs earlier today. (Actually, yesterday by the time this blog goes up.) There are a ton of book lovers that buy a load of books and make their own library. Just go on Youtube and type in “book haul”; the result will astound you. I’m definitely not hating on any of those, but I cannot afford to get mountains of books at a drop of a hat. A lot of them bargain buy on Amazon, and Book Depository, and others… (wow, brain fart).

I’m here to tell you why I go to the libraries. Not in any particular order, here they are:

1. It’s free. Need I say more? You don’t need to pay for a card. You don’t need to pay for checking anything out. However, be careful of fines, and remember you can re-new.

2. You can renew. While most libraries give you a movie for one week, magazines and CDs and non-fiction movies and TV show DVDs for two weeks, books and audiobooks and playaways for three weeks, you can call or go in and get your material renewed if you know it’s going to be late. It takes minimum effort, and you’ll get double the original time!

3. Wide selection. There’s a huge selection of new books, movies, CDs, audiobooks, and playaways. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m Indie or hipster or whatever and claim the library won’t have what I’m looking for because it’s new and no one’s heard of it and it’s totally not mainstream. Let me tell you something – they have it. They’re on top of it. They got your back hipsters and mainstreamers.

4. Holds. You can go online, call, or even show up in person and put whatever your little heart desires on hold. And they HOLD it for you. If someone has it already checked out, place a hold and hop in line to get it next. The awesome thing is you can place a hold for things that aren’t even out yet! Real life example here: I heard that the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is coming out with a book in 2015. My Sunny-loving self went on my libraries website and placed a hold. Guess what. I’m number one, so when it comes in I’ll be the first kid on my block with the shiny new book.

5. Rating. You can rate the books you read and even write reviews on the website.

6. Reactionary. These libraries know, man. If you start requesting things that they don’t have, they’ll know that whatever you selected must be popular (cuz you’re such a trend-setter) and they’ll probably order a copy or two for the collection. They’ll probably order other things that are similar to what you requested since there is obviously a demand for it.

7. ILL. Let’s say you want something, but the librarian or assistant sees that the library does not have it in the collection. Something super cool that they can do is request the material from surrounding libraries! It’ll be sent to your library, and they’ll call you when it’s in.

8. Book discussions. While you may have noticed that I love to write about books, you might not know that I love to talk about books too. So does the library. They’re not all the books that you see Oprah pick out. They’re not all those light mystery novels you see your grandma read. They do ones like Orange is the New Black and Kill Shakespeare and other awesome books.

9. Helpful. The people working there are all willing to help you find just what you’re looking for even if you aren’t. If you come in with an author you like, or a genre, or even a book that you really enjoyed, they’ll find something that you’ll enjoy based on those minimal requirements.

10. It’s free. Just to re-iterate, if you don’t get fines, everything is absolutely free. Even with fines, a lot of libraries let you get away with under $5.

Boom. Find your local library and become the best patron ever. All you’ll need, at least in my experience, is a photo ID and mail to prove your residency. What are you waiting for? Get out there!

Until next time!