I Bet You Were Wondering

Whether or not I was still alive. And I am! I feel like I have been away for months and months but in reality it’s just been two weeks.  I admit the holidays, along with some other stuff, has thrown me into a mini reading slump.  I have read barely anything in the past two weeks.  I had high hopes of reaching my goal of 100 books by the end of the year but now it’s looking like a lost cause.  I’m about halfway through The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, which I’ve already read.  Nothing was catching my interest so I figured this would grab me.  It has, BUT it is still taking me longer than it usually would.

One book that wowed me recently though (and the only other book I’ve been reading recently, for that matter!) is Divergent, by Veronica Roth.  I could not put it down! It made me realize two things.  The first was that I should never have avoided this book.  I am not even sure why I did.  The second was that I am on a roll with YA dystopian fiction.  I read Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, a few weeks ago and was wowed by it.  I just need the sequels to that and Divergent to be released ASAP.

As for Christmas, what a whirlwind! It was a great day spent with family and there was a lot of eating going on, which is one of my favorite parts about any holiday.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any books as gifts but my husband did give me a new Kindle for Christmas! And by that, I mean we bought it together and I wrapped it myself.  But still.  It’s the thought that counts. I actually had a pretty hard time deciding which Kindle to go with.  I opted not to get the Fire right away because I didn’t want a color ereader.  I already have an iPad so if I needed to read something in color for some reason, that’s my go to.  I have subscriptions to US Weekly and OK via my Kindle app on the iPad, but other than that I rarely use it to read.  But I digress.  So anyway, it came down to the Kindle Touch or the regular Kindle.  I initially wanted the touch but the reviews were pretty disappointing.  So then I figured maybe I would just go for the regular Kindle.  I can’t tell you what eventually made me go with a Touch.  I mean, I have had a first generation Kindle for years, so maybe it’s time for a change.  So I decided on the Touch.  Then I had to decide whether I wanted to pay $50 more for the 3G.  That was actually a pretty easy decision.  If money were no object, the 3G would have been all mine, but in the end I couldn’t justify the extra $50.  There may be a time here or there when I will be inconvenienced without the 3G, but I’ll live with it.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday as well!

I’m MIA . . . kinda

I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but I have been a little lax recently when it comes to posting and commenting.  I haven’t looked at my Google Reader in days.  I have been busting my ass this month to put out at least some reviews.  I am admitting defeat now though.  Until the New Year hits, you probably won’t be seeing much of me.  It’s just too hard with all the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  I am working two jobs, which are usually both part time, but due to the holidays, my one part time job has turned into full time for now.  So I am just going to enjoy the time I have off and take a small break from blogging.

We have been so busy that not only did we have to skip our usual tradition of going to cut down our Christmas tree with my family, but I also didn’t even get to pick out the tree! My husband went out to a lot a few days ago and picked one up while I was at work. Our house is really small, so he probably should have gone with a smaller tree, but he did well! I am almost done with the Christmas shopping.  I just have a few smaller things to pick up for my husband, and then I have to finish up the shopping for my stepdaughter.  Everyone else is done though!

Today is my one day off this week, so more than anything I plan to relax.  The only thing I absolutely have to do is go grocery shopping, but I am thinking I may also do some holiday baking.  If I don’t do it today I may not have a chance to do it at all!

If I don’t get a chance to get back on here in the next few weeks, I want to wish all of you a happy and fun filled holiday!

Book Review: Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour

Marti Rulli, with Dennis Davern


390 pages

I knew next to nothing about Natalie Wood just a few weeks ago.  Just the fact that she was an actress and she drowned.  That’s it.  And then I saw that the case dealing with her death was being reopened by law enforcement and I had to know more.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour is the story of that night as told to the author by her longtime friend, Dennis Davern, who was also the captain of Natalie’s boat, Splendour.  Davern was extremely close with Natalie and her husband Robert Wagner and he was present the night Natalie died, along with Christopher Walken.  For years Davern kept his silence, out of allegiance to Wagner, but once Wagner cast him off, his guilt, along with his anger, encouraged him to come clean about what really happened that night Natalie died.

I will be honest; although I knew little about this case before picking up this book, I was already pretty convinced of Wagner’s guilt.  There’s just too many inconsistencies and it doesn’t make sense that someone would just fall off a large yacht and drown.  My viewpoint was only confounded as I read this book.  It just doesn’t make sense, and unfortunately

Wood and Wagner aboard Splendour

Wagner’s celebrity status at the time was enough for the investigators to brush everything under the rug and refuse to look into the matter at all.

I loved that this book was written with the help of an insider.  I believe Davern’s account wholeheartedly, because it makes sense and because it is corroborated by others.  However, I did have some issues with the book.  There were times when it was unbelievably slow.  For one, I have absolutely no interest in the author’s history or Davern’s history.  I’m sorry, but I just want to hear about Natalie and Wagner and that night and what really happened.  There’s absolutely no reason to add anyone else’s biographical account.  I also thought that parts of the book were redundant and that Rulli was attempting to drag it out longer than was necessary.  She would continuously replay the scene of that fateful night, each time adding one or two more tidbits of information, so by the end it had also become a bit anticlimactic.  In general, I felt that it was a poorly written book BUT I was more interested in the story being told, so I was able to overlook that.

If you’re interested in what really happened to Natalie Wood, you should consider Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour.  You’ll be heartsick for Natalie and angered at the way the case has been handled.

Other Reviews:

None that I could find.

I purchased this book from Amazon for my kindle.

Book Review: The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil

W Somerset Maugham

Knopf Doubleday

256 pages

Kitty Fane is a character you love to hate.  Spoiled rotten, Kitty is used to getting what she wants, so she is in no hurry to marry.  That is, until her younger sister becomes engaged.  At that point, Kitty feels backed up against a wall, so she accepts the proposal of a bacteriologist named Walter Fane.  Walter is madly in love with Kitty, but she accepts the marriage as one of convenience.  The couple move to Hong Kong, where Kitty takes up with a debonair man by the name of Charles Townsend.

Walter discovers the affair, which delights Kitty because she is convinced that she can now shrug the bonds of her stifling marriage and run off into the sunset with Charles.  Unfortunately, Charles doesn’t have the same fantasy, and he breaks off the affair with Kitty.  Instead, she is forced to go off with her husband to deliver aid in a village suffering from cholera.

I have never read Maugham before, so I highly anticipated picking this one up.  The plot had me captivated from the start, especially because I love entitled brats, of which Kitty definitely was! I was astounded with the development of her character throughout the book.  It was completely realistic, because while Kitty became a responsible, empathetic adult, she still internalized her true feelings towards Walter, which never changed.  While she realized that her treatment of him wasn’t necessarily the nicest, she wasn’t able to love him in the way that he had hoped she would have.

I felt sympathy for Walter too, but not as much as I normally would.  He knew that Kitty was marrying him out of pure convenience, and he accepted her as his wife anyway, so I felt like his expectations of their marriage were a little too high.  If you choose to marry someone knowing that they don’t love you, can you expect a good marriage? Fidelity?

The Painted Veil resonated with me long after I finished it. It is a well constructed novel with believable circumstances and characters.  I am not sure where I’ll go next with Maugham, but I do have a copy of Mrs Craddock, so that one is definitely beckoning to me!

Other Reviews:

Book Journey

Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity

Ready When You Are, CB

It’s All About Books

Rebecca Reads

Lakeside Musing

I purchased this book from Half Price Books.

Book Review: 101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . But Didn’t!

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . But Didn’t!

Tim Maltin, with Eloise Aston


320 pages

I’ll admit, I have a morbid fascination with the Titanic.  The opulence and high society of that era are intriguing, then add to that the devastation and tragedy that occurred that night and it becomes extremely compelling.  So I was thrilled to find this title available on Netgalley.

The format of 101 Things is a chronological grouping of  facts.  Maltin starts off by exposing a common “fact” about the Titanic and then either affirms or discounts it.  He starts off with the building of the ship all the way through to the fateful collision with the iceberg and what happened afterward.  I thought I would share with everyone some of the most shocking and/or interesting tidbits that I discovered through this book.

-Third class passengers were not locked in steerage.  They had just as much of a chance of getting on a lifeboat as the first class passengers, as long as they were children and women of course!

-It probably would not have made much of a difference if there were more lifeboats.  The last lifeboat was released just before the ship was sinking, so it took an entire hour and a half to fill the lifeboats, even at half capacity.

-Bruce Ismay, the president of White Star Lines was vilified for living through the sinking.  However, he only escaped on the very last lifeboat.  Up until that point, he assisted with the evacuation efforts.  He was severely humbled by the tragedy and spent the majority of his life practically in hiding.

-Most of the deaths were actually a result of hypothermia, NOT drowning.  After 15 minutes in such cold water, you would become unconscious and death would usually occur within 45 minutes.

I found 101 Things completely engrossing. With the 100th anniversary of the sinking coming up, I am keeping my fingers grossed for some other great books about the Titanic.

Other Reviews:

None that I could find.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

Monthly Wrap Up: November 2011

We are only one month away from 2012.  ONE MONTH.  That is crazy! I originally thought I would never make my reading goal of 100 books this year after my three month slump at the beginning of the year.  Considering how many books I was able to read in October and November, I am now thinking that I will, indeed, break the 100 mark!

Here are the books I read in November:

Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Election, Tom Perrotta

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides

Delirium, Lauren Oliver

A Watershed Year, Susan Schoenberg

The Raising, Laura Kasischke

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . But Didn’t!, Tim Maltin

The Painted Veil, W Somerset Maugham

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour, Marti Rulli and Dennis Davern

A Train in Winter, Caroline Moorehead

Not as good as the thirteen books that I read last year but still better than my norm, which is about 7-8 books per month.  I read some spectacular books, but if I HAD to choose a favorite, it would have to be Delirium, by Lauren Oliver,  I can’t wait to get my hands on Pandemonium!

My reading plans for December are pretty wide open, which is nice! I don’t even have a clue about which book I’ll pick up next! How was November for you, reading wise?