Category Archives: Reading

An Elephant, a Leprechaun, and Chad Gibbs Walk Into a Bar

(That is the worst blog post title ever, and it probably just broke every single SEO Google rule but I’M A REBEL, Y’ALL.)

It’s been a rough season for this college football fan. Auburn and I, we have our ups and downs, but I’ll always be a fan. And being a southerner, my loyalty to the SEC trumps even my disdain for Alabama. IT EVEN TRUMPS REALITY. Which means I’ll be pulling for the Tide tonight. (Imagine I just said that and then immediately threw up like Gollum.)

Unfortunately, many of my good friends are Notre Dame fans. So tonight is going to be an extra fun game to watch. AND I’M ABOUT TO MAKE IT FUNNER!

My good friend Chad Gibbs wrote a hilarious and insightful book called Love Thy Rival. I made the mistake of reading it while rocking my daughter to sleep one night and almost passed out trying to hold in my laughter. It’s good, y’all.

And I have TWO autographed copies to give away.

The thing about Chad is, he didn’t just write a book and then sell it to you. He’s also raising money to build a women’s and children’s health clinic in Haiti through Samaritan’s Purse. You can click any of the fancy blue letters in this paragraph to get more information on this worthy cause. So far, sports fans have raised a little over 60% of the total $40,000 goal, and this is the last month to get it done.

Anyway, back to the TWO FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPIES (I asked Chad to write something absolutely, positively ridiculous and he delivered) that I am dying to give away.

IN THE COMMENTS: Post your prediction of the final score of tonight’s game (for example, my prediction is 17-9, Bama, which is probably a terrible prediction, but no matter) and whoever is the closest will win one of the copies. The second copy will go to a randomly drawn winner. One entry for your comment/prediction and extra entries for any amount you donate to Samaritan’s Purse. If you donate $10, you get 10 extra entries. MATH IS FUN!

(PSST. Here is the breakdown of previous fans’ giving. I do not see Notre Dame on this list.)

UPDATE: No one came close to predicting the MAJOR BLOWOUT Alabama was going to give Notre Dame, so I drew two random winners via random.org. Chad Jones & Dan McM. are our winners! I’ll be emailing you for your addresses! 

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Love Thy Rival

My friend Chad Gibbs is dropping a new book today called Love Thy Rival. Somehow, Chad managed to make it his job to attend some of the most heated rivalry games in sports history and then get paid to write a book about it.

I know, right?

Love Thy Rival is a project I’ve been excited to read, and I’m even more excited about what Chad is doing with his book. I mean other than writing it and then selling it.

He has partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to raise $40,000 to build a health clinic in Haiti. He is challenging sports fans to give more generously than their rivals, challenging people with a passion for football or baseball or Ivy League rowing (what?) to channel that passion toward doing something real in the name of God and in the lives of truly beautiful people with a denser need than we can comprehend.

My Roll Todd friend Jamie gave $14 in honor of Alabama’s fourteen national championships. And I naturally gave $15 because that’s what we Auburn fans do.

So check out Chad’s project page here, and then click here to donate money in your team’s name.

And then rub it in your rival’s face.

FOR JESUS.

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Show Me Your Blogs!

I want to know what YOU guys are writing (and/or reading).

What have you written that maybe didn’t get as much traffic as you’d hoped?

What have I missed of yours that is a must-read?

Leave a link in the comments, because…

Show me your blogs!

There might be beads involved. (Spoiler alert: there’s not. Sorry. BUT there is a not-so-clever boob innuendo involved, and we could all use more boob innuendos.)

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Anna Dressed In Blood : Book Review

First of all, I rarely (never, actually) do book reviews, at least on my blog. Mostly because my opinions are very fickle. I do, however, strongly suggest things you should read if you even so much as mention books, reading, words, or even being bored.

But my sister lent me Anna Dressed in Blood (Amazon affiliate link) by Kendare Blake, and I actually stopped in the middle of reading it to text her and let her know how much I loved it so far. (You can stop reading and skip to the comments for a chance to win a copy of this book, if you’re like me and only read reviews as far as the star rating before deciding to impulse buy the book anyway.)

Synopsis: The main character Cas Lowood is a seventeen-year-old boy who travels around the world killing murderous ghosts. The end.

The plot isn’t too terribly unique, especially with all the paranormal stuff out there that is saturating the market, but the writing is superb. It’s what made me stop and sit back and just think, “Wow.”

It’s not particularly eloquent or thought-provoking, but the tone is flawless. It reads like a seventeen-year-old boy (which, ahem, may include some teenage language and/or innuendoes…), which seems to be pretty tough to capture. It really is one of the best written Young Adult novels I’ve read in a long time. (Although, I should disclaim that I don’t read a whole lot of Young Adult.)

There are a few plot points and loose ends that I’d like to contend with (so, you know, it’s not PERFECT), but I’ll save that for book club. (PS, anyone want to start a book club with me?)

To RECAP, I liked it enough to review it on my blog at the risk of sounding over important and pretentious. And since my sister lent it to me and I paid zero dollars to the author, I’d like to give a copy (either in Kindle format or paperback, winner’s choice!) away to one lucky friend.

To enter, comment with what you’ve read recently so I can add it to my list. Look, we both win! Winner will be randomly picked sometime Friday, if I remember. (JUST KIDDING, I’ll remember!)

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I’m Kicking It Old School

So I have a chunk of books I’ve read lately that I haven’t had a chance to vomit all over. Grab a beverage and a barf bag, and let’s get those book covers a-crackin’!

So I finished the Steig Larsson trilogy, and am so excited about the movie coming out in English. (We don’t want none Swiss, please.) And I’m also really glad they didn’t put Natalie Portman in the title role as rumored, because she seems to be quite sweet and adorable, and Lisbeth is kind of badass. Once you read the first one, you can’t really help but finish the rest of them, and they do get progressively better and more interesting. The final installment was basically about Lisbeth’s history, which was pretty intriguing.

Because it was well-reviewed, I bought Amy Bender’s book, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It has a really interesting premise, in that the main character can feel the emotions of the person who prepared any given dish by simply eating it: sadness, betrayal, infidelity, gratitude, etc. It is also unconventionally written, which can be a burden at times, but seems to work with the overall strangeness of the novel. But that’s where all the good stuff ends. What could be a promising mystery with her brother’s disappearances becomes just another, “huh?” moment, and feels too lackadaisical compared to the heavy strangeness of the main character’s “power” and the overall weirdness of her brother throughout the novel. It’s a letdown. And there’s no gratification in finishing the novel – the ending is chopped off, like the author couldn’t really come up with anything else to say, so she just closed up her laptop and called it a day. It was a downer, and probably should have been a library rental instead of the $7 or something Amazon charged me to load it onto my Kindle.

Then I read Marisha Pessl’s novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which debuted to rave reviews. First of all, her prose is eloquent, and her main characters are intriguing. It’s narrated by Blue van Meer, a child genius who travels the country with her father, as he teaches at a different sub-par university each semester, despite his being Harvard-educated. The chunk of the novel is set during Blue’s senior year in high school, and what ensues. There is adequate mystery to keep you interested, but not enough for you to label it a mystery, and when the mystery is solved, you barely see it coming. The big revelation, however, seems really, really, (really) implausible, and given the backstory, incredibly unlikely. Overall, it’s a good read, well-written, and different enough from other stuff out there that it was worth it.

And because it was a free download on the Kindle, and I’m beginning to love all things Jane Austen (I know, I know, I’m a latecomer to her brilliance and romance), I read The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke. And I am ashamed. It was poorly, poorly written, like a really bad romance novel (but to be fair, Harlequin would have stamped it with a big red “X” because it actually had a plot), and it was, in short, ridiculous. A modern day girl, Eliza Knight (the author’s characters are all unabashedly named similarly to characters in Austen’s novels and/or personal life) finds a letter in an old bureau addressed to Jane Austen and signed F. Darcy (Fitzwilliam Darcy being The Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice) and an unopened letter supposedly from Miss Austen herself. The rest of the novel is basically her trying to find out if Mr. Darcy was based on a real person, but then, as par for the course, finds herself falling in love with a modern-day Mr. Darcy within minutes of meeting him (smoldering eyes and all), and living happily ever after.

So to basically wash the bad taste out of my mouth, I started reading the real Pride and Prejudice so I can fall in love with the real (fictional) Mr. Darcy. It’s been awhile since it was required reading (meaning, I just read the Cliffs Notes), so it’s like reading it for the first time. (Okay, I’m exactly reading it for the first time.) But I have read Emma, and watched Clueless probably a hundred times, and saw the movie Becoming Jane on Netflix, so an Austen newbie I am not.

As for future reading, I’m probably going to make a sojourn back to the oldies but goodies, because a). they’re free downloads on my Kindle, and b). I haven’t had so much luck in absolutely loving anything new I’ve read lately. I need to reassure myself that great literature did exist once.

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Third Down

Time for another chunk of literary pick-aparts. I’ve got three under my belt that I’ve read recently, and another one in process. By the way, I heart my Kindle and the public library. Woop woop.

First up, Jodi Picoult’s Handle With Care. Before I go in-depth with this one, let me just say that I love the way Picoult writes. She is poetic, eloquent, descriptive, and thought-provoking. With that said, I am starting to get mad at her. Her stories are always beautifully crafted and tragically heart-wrenching, but she never gives her characters a happy ending. Like, ever. And there always seems to be a “twist” that is no longer surprising because it happens, oh, every time.

In this particular book, she tells the story of a family with a special needs child, Willow, who is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or “brittle bone disease.” The mother ends up filing a malpractice lawsuit against her OB, a.k.a. her BFF, in order to have the money to fund Willow’s mounting medical costs. The catch is she has to testify before the courts (and her daughter) that she would have terminated the pregnancy, had she known early enough that her daughter would be born with said disease. Yeah, I know. Heart-wrenching in true form.

But Barbara Kingsolver made up for it with Prodigal Summer. I love her writing form as well, and I love how many of her novels are based in our Appalachian backyards. She tells three interlacing stories set in Appalachia, and all three are intricate and real. One involves two feuding geriatric neighbors, one stars a young city girl who went from farmer’s wife to bewildered widow stuck with a fledgling tobacco farm, and the last is my favorite, a mountain ranger on the hot trail of a family of coyotes. Kingsolver is a word-wizard.

Simply put, these two ladies make me want to write gooder.

Then, thanks to my dad’s extensive archive on his Kindle, I registered mine under his email (with permission, haters) and checked out Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, along with the rest of America. It took me awhile to get into it – he’s very (very) descriptive of mundane, irrelevant things, and I thought, I have limited free time to read, do I really want to spend it stuck in this world? I do like a good conspiracy novel, and I’ve been conditioned to try to find clues in the seemingly disjointed details. Impossible with Larsson’s. Just don’t do it. There is literally nothing there in a fairly decent amount of text, other than background information you will never need to know.

But my dad insisted I would enjoy it once I sloughed through (or skipped over) the unrelated blips, and, surprisingly, I did. Once I finished it, I immediately started his second installment, so, you know. I’m a convert. I’ve gotten better at distinguishing the pulp that doesn’t pertain to the story at hand and give it more or a less a half-hearted skim, but the overall juice is good. It’s your basic suspense/financial thriller/unsolved mystery formula starring a kick-ass sleuth who does indeed have a dragon tattoo…but don’t let that fool you. The dragon tattoo has no relevance to the story. That’s like titling the next best-seller, This Guy Has a Head: Right Above His Neck. (Before you get any ideas, I’m copyrighting that title. So boo-yah.)

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“Panties is a Vile Word.”

So I’ve read a few books lately and have wanted to review them, but kind of felt like it was out of place. Then decided, oh, well.

First up, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. I actually had a bunch of girlfriends tell me about this book and urge me to read it, and I finally got around to it. I was a little wary of Christian fiction – nothing against the genre, but sometimes it gets a little…hokey for me (that’s the best I can describe it) – but I decided to take a chance, and purchased this one via my Kindle and got a-crackin’.

I’m in love with Michael Hosea. That is all.

Okay, no it’s not.

Rivers basically retold the book of Hosea, if it took place in California during the gold rush. In the Bible, God tells one of His faithful, Hosea, to marry a prostitute, Gomer (that was just the beginning of this lady’s problems). So he marries her, offers her a better life, and she runs off to nurse her errant ways. Over and over again. Hosea continues to draw her back into a faithful, clean life, a beautiful allegory of the constantly redemptive love of God.

It was sweet without being gooby, unabashedly biblical without being preachy, and a quick but satisfying read.

Then, I read Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon basically because it was a free download on my Kindle. Can’t beat that. You could consider it historical fiction, if history included dragons and their aviators (soldiers who fly them) as another branch of military during the Napoleonic wars. I loved it, and was more than a little pleased to see that this one is just the first of a whole series. I originally thought it was written some few decades ago, because of the style of writing, but found it published in 2007, and the latest one is currently available to pre-order. (But not for free. Bah.)

Lastly, Bug and I took a trip to the library the other day to replenish his (my) reading supply, and I picked up Lauren Weisberger’s Chasing Harry Winston. Hey, they can’t all be works of literary genius! As much as I love Picoult, Vonnegut, Kingsolver, and others who author books with meat on them, nothing says Summer Reading like chick lit.

It was exactly the kind of vacancy I needed to get lost in, what with the sleep deprivation, unbecoming hours, squeezing in a five-minute shower when I can sneak away or Bean is sleeping in Grams’ arms, and basically being stuck in an armchair with a newborn at my chest every 2-4 hours 8 times a day. And I should mention the chapter titles are a kick (hence, the borrowed title above).

Don’t worry, I will redeem myself with the other two I borrowed from the library, aforementioned Picoult’s Handle with Care and Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. Happy reading!

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