New — You’ve Been Gilmored!

Words cannot express how excited I am for the new season of Gilmore Girls, which was announced would be released November 25, 2016. In fact, screaming would be an appropriate reaction.

Just as it was when a cast reunion was announced last year for the ATX Festival.

Just as it was when the show revival was announced.

Just as it was when filming began earlier this year.

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only other Gilmore fan who immerses myself in Stars Hollow’s colorful inhabitants. I dream of eating Thai food from Al’s Pancake World, gossiping with Miss Patty and Babette, sitting in on town meetings listening to Taylor talk about The Happiest Doughnut, and drinking as much coffee as Luke will serve at his diner.

If I could sum it up in a phrase: I want to be where the people are! (#SorryNotSorry for The Little Mermaid reference.)

This idea has been brewing in the back of my mind for at least two years, and I finally have a date to work toward. I’m going to use my binge-watching powers to once again watch Gilmore Girls and share my observations with you.

Let’s start a fast-talking, pop cultured-filled, reference-making conversation. Later this week, be prepared because you’re going to be Gilmored.

Don’t worry: I will still be sharing book reviews and other literary adventures. That part of Literary Distractions will always be there. It is in the name after all. 😉

youve-been-gilmored-v5

Ranking the Harry Potter Book Series

We’re just ONE day away from July 31!

a.k.a Harry Potter’s birthday.

a.k.a. J.K. Rowling’s birthday.

a.k.a. the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book.

You get the idea.

And since we’re celebrating the 19th anniversary (if you’re in the U.K.)/18th anniversary (if you’re in the U.S.) of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone first publication, I thought I’d do a subjective ranking of all seven Harry Potter books. Shout out to Jolien at The Fictional Reader who did this ranking last week.

I’ll be ranking the books from least favorite to favorite. Sorry, not sorry if we don’t share the same opinions. Also, WARNING: I will include some spoilers, so if you still haven’t read Harry Potter, you’ve had 18 years and you can’t blame me for ruining anything.

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I can’t explain it, but I did not like the first installment. Maybe I’m holding on to bitter 10-year-old Mary’s memories when the book first came out and everyone was obsessive over it, and I wanted to feel rebellious (because not reading a popular book made me such a rebel…). I get that the magic happens with this book and sets the story up, but the first chapter dragged on for me when I was 10 and when I recently reread the book earlier this year. There wasn’t much plot movement. Maybe I’m asking too much of a children’s book?

However, I did admire Ron so much more after rereading this book. I forgot how witty he was for a 9 year old.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Talk about another book that didn’t really have much plot movement. I recently reread this book earlier this year as well, and I was desperately waiting for it to end. Okay, so maybe this one is my least favorite and HP1 is second-to-least favorite.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

SIRIUS BLACK DIES AND IT HURTS MY SOUL.

Also, Angsty Harry is hard to swallow. Teenage angst–amiright? Also, I do believe that Harry’s cockiness contributed to Sirius’s death. I don’t doubt Harry’s love for his godfather and only surviving family member–in fact, I think he loved him a lot. But Harry should’ve heeded Snape and Dumbledore’s warning of Voldemort using these “visions” against him.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This was another one where Harry’s cockiness gets the best of him. However, this story was probably the one that really sets the story up for the ending. We learn more about Voldemort’s beginnings in the orphanage, his time at Hogwarts, and his discovery of Horcruxes. What a critical moment in Voldemort’s life and for Harry to get a glimpse of it Harry, Rob, Hermione, the narration and we as readers have matured with the characters.

I also think I can really empathize with Draco Malfoy after this book even though as readers we’ve been conditioned to dislike him for being a greasy little snot in Slytherin House. You realize he’s in over his head in a movement that he’s not sure he wants to be a part of anymore (or at all).

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

14-year-old Harry is just starting to grow into his teenage years with a bit of angst and attitude and a little bit of exhaustion of trying to survive from Lord Voldemort’s efforts to kill him. While this book is practically the length of the first three books combined, I loved that it was longer and revealed more of Voldemort’s history and his resurrection (can we call it that?). He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back in his physical form, and he’ll attack anyone who gets in his way, as was proven when he killed Cedric Diggory.

Also, let’s not forget about Hermione’s efforts with the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W.). It was because of Hermione’s obsession to give the house elves the same rights and freedoms of wizards that Ron remembered them during the Battle of Hogwarts. Also, S.P.E.W. was a catalyst for more of Ron’s witty banter.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I loved this story BECAUSE of Sirius Black. I always imagined Viggo Mortensen playing his part in the movies (maybe because Lord of the Rings fever had gotten the best of me when both sets of movies were released around the same time). But I think what made me love this book the most (besides Sirius Black) are the Weasley Twins. They’re starting to play an integral role in the storyline by giving Harry the Marauder’s Map, which led to the discovery of Sirius being his godfather and Peter Pettigrew still being alive–the sneaky rat!

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Is it cliché to say the last book is my favorite? I don’t know, maybe it’s because I was excited that Harry, Ron and Hermione have matured significantly, despite the fact they’re only 17 years old, and have the wisdom that most adults twice their age don’t possess. The trio fights for what’s good and what’s right, despite the loss of their second (or only) father-figure Albus Dumbledore. Perhaps it was because of Dumbledore’s passing that they were able to finally take charge of the situation rather than run to him for advice. In fact, I love that everyone at Hogwarts was able to take charge and step up.

Also, Snape’s pensieve memory. Talk about handling all your emotions at once.

Honestly, I remember reading this book only once and crying the three consecutive days it took me to finish it. What an emotional roller-coaster and enjoyable ending to the series.

 

Whew! That was a bit difficult… Too many were close calls. What’s your ranking on the Harry Potter books?

Literary Distractions’ 2016 Biannual Recap

How is it already July 1?! I hope my Canadian friends are having/have had a great Canada Day. To my American friends in the United States, be safe as we prepare to (and actually) celebrate the 4th of July.

Now that we’re officially halfway through the year, I thought it’d be a great time to do a progress check-in on how much I’ve read and my new year’s resolutions (anyone else even remember what yours are?…er…were?).

Books Read

January

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

Nobody’s Cuter Than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1)(Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling

Self-Help by Miranda Sings

Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13) by Sara Shepard

Deadly (Pretty Little Liars #14) by Sara Shepard

Toxic (Pretty Little Liars #15) by Sara Shepard

February

Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories (audiobook) by Joyce Carol Oates

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J.K. Rowling

March

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

April

Oops! Didn’t read anything!

May

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

June

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

daisy-line-break-2

2016 Resolutions Progress Check

  1. Read more books that I own. Of the books I’ve read this year, I own five. And considering I owned 216 unread books at the beginning of the year, but then also having gotten rid of over 100 books (and still purging), I think five is a good start.
  2. Catalog my books more reasonably. This isn’t a thing until I’ve purged enough books to get to the cataloging stage.
  3. Donate books I don’t need. However, I’ve been donating the books I have purged! #progress
  4. Finish reading the Pretty Little Liars series. I’m ONE book away from FINALLY finishing the Pretty Little Liars series. I’m only doing this because I’m not a quitter but Sara Shepard has been pushing her luck with me on this…
  5. Reread the Harry Potter series in full. I was on a roll with rereading one Harry Potter book a month, but then March came along and I wasn’t in the mood to keep reading. Perhaps the latter half of the year will be different.
  6. Read more memoirs. I’ve read three this year. That’s more than other years. So I’d count that as a win.
  7. Read at least 25 books. I’ve read 15 books so far and I’m in the middle of my 16 book (17, if you count an audiobook). According to Goodreads, that’s 60% toward my reading goal for the year!
  8. Blog more regularly. I started strong this year, but then March came along…
  9. De-clutter. A slow task. A daunting task. But I’ve made some progress (see book purge). But seriously though. I’ve sold or donated three bags of clothes, several pairs of shoes and nearly 100 books. That’s definitely progress. There’s so much more I could do though.
  10. Exercise more. This one I’m proud of because since the beginning of the year, I’ve lost 10 lbs (or 4.5 kg). March was a slow reading month because it was when I finally got into a workout routine of 4 nights at the gym. I have a different routine now, but I’m still exercising regularly.

 

How is 2016 fairing for you so far? What’s your progress on your reading goals or new year’s resolutions? 

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

what-we-saw-aaron-hartzler


What We Saw

Aaron Hartzler

Harper Teen; 2015

978-0-06-233874-7

Hardcover; 336 pages

Synopsis

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

From Goodreads.

Review

If you witnessed something that you knew was wrong or illegal, would you report it? Would you say something, even if that means accusing several star players from your local high school basketball (or any sport) team? Especially if they were on their way to win the state championship? What We Saw sheds light on what teenagers and even adults would do to keep the reputation of the “popular kids” in tact, even if there are witnesses who can report the truth.

Continue reading

Review: The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

the-things-we-keep-sally-hepworth-2The Things We Keep

Sally Hepworth

St. Martin’s Press; 2016

978-1-2500-5190-5

Hardcover; 338 pages

 

Synopsis

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

From Goodreads.

Review

Where do I even start?

Fifteen months ago, Anna is escorted by her twin brother Jack to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility, where she is officially checking in as a resident. Though she is only 38 years old, Anna has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. While her motor functions are still unaffected by the disease, her memory has shown signs of decline, and around-the-clock care at Rosalind House was Jack’s preferred facility because of another resident with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Luke.

Continue reading

Why I Got Rid of Almost 100 Books

Words cannot express how happy and relieved I was when I finally bought, built and filled my new bookcase. It was literally a weight off my shoulders. No, seriously–it was heavy to lift on my own, and it’s almost a whole foot taller than I am.

After the blood, sweat and tears of setting up my bookcase, I was very proud of how I had organized my shelves by genre, size, etc. (Check out my BYOBooks bookcase tour post.) However, after a few months, I was overwhelmed whenever I looked at my bookcase.

I’ve held on to some books since middle and high school. Others from college. Many were from library sales or from The Great Borders Liquidation of 2013. But did I actually want to read some of those? And if I did, do I still feel the same way now? Where did this even come from?

Was Marie Kondo whispering in my ear?

Continue reading

Shakespeare’s First Folio: Live!

This year (in fact, TOMORROW) marks the 400th year of Shakespeare’s death. And what better way to celebrate the life of the Bard and his extraordinary works than visit his First Folio that is touring around the United States?

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., decided to honor Shakespeare by touring his First Folio around all 50 states. And I was able to catch it when it was in Illinois! Now, I would say “Chicago,” but the First Folio never made it to the city. In fact, the Folger Shakespeare Library committee planning the First Folio tour liked the programs and activities planned by the Lake County Discovery Museum out of all the other bids from museums, libraries, and universities as the Illinois host.

Continue reading

Audiobook Review: Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates

black-dahlia-white-rose-jco

Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories

Joyce Carol Oates, author

Paul Michael Garcia, Coleen Marlo, Tavia Gilbert,

narrators

Dreamscape Media; 2012

978-1-6112-0961-7

Audiobook; 7 CDs / 8 hrs. 47 mins.

Synopsis

With an unflinching eye, Oates charts the surprising ways in which the world we think we know can unexpectedly reveal its darker contours. From the title story, which maps the friendship between two beautiful and mysteriously doomed young women in 1940s Los Angeles – Elizabeth Short, known as the ‘Black Dahlia,’ victim of a long-unsolved and particularly brutal murder, and her roommate Norma Jeane Baker, soon to become Marilyn Monroe, to the tale of the wife of a well-to-do businessman who is ravished by, and elopes with, a lover who is a hyena – Black Dahlia & White Rose explores the commingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life, and resonates with Oates’ predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.

From Goodreads.

Review

As the name of the collection and synopsis of the collection suggest, this collection of short stories with tragic endings or frightening scenarios. And there’s no doubt that Joyce Carol Oates is the literary queen of giving her readers heightened fear and anxiety in her stories. The title story Black Dahlia and White Rose is about the true murder and investigation of Elizabeth (Betty) Short in 1947. Joyce Carol Oates writes her story from the points of view of Betty, her roommate was Norma Jeane Baker (soon-to-be Marilyn Monroe), and their photographer K. Keinhardt. Each telling their perception of Betty, her life, her ambitions and even her murder.

Continue reading

#BYOBooks2016 Week 7, 8 & 9 Link-Up (Feb 9-Feb 29)

Looks like I lost track of time! That extra day in February really threw me off!

byobooks-2016-450

How is your #BYOBooks2016 challenge coming along? I’m struggling with committing to the books I have and am finding excuses to go to the library. Either way, I’m reading and that’s a good thing, right? But I’m slowly making progress and that’s what matters.

I’ve read four books this month, finishing the fourth last night, and I have reviews drafted and ready to post soon. What have you read the last three weeks for your #BYOBooks2016 challenge? Share your reviews in the link-up below!

Top TBR Valentine’s Day Reads – Top Ten Tuesday

Greetings and salutations. It’s another week of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is a Valentine’s Day freebie, so I went with Top Valentine’s Day Reads on my TBR…

I’ll also share a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day reads, although I’m not sure if they’re all going to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside… They’ll definitely elicit some emotion.

3910a-toptentuesday

Top TBR Valentine’s Day Reads:

  1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
  2. Us by David Nicholls.
  3. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.
  4. Attachments by Rainbow RowellA double appearance on my TBR list?!
  5. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes.
  6. Me Before You by Jojo MoyesAnother double appearance?!

Top Valentine’s Day Recommendations:

  1. One Day by David Nicholls. Emma and Dexter meet on the night after their graduation and after spending one night with each other, they spend a lifetime thinking about each other. The book revisits Emma and Dexter every day on St. Swithin’s Day, July 15. Dexter, an irresponsible party-animal, and Emma, a lost literary type, are on two different life paths but they keep running into each other. And in the end, I cried for various reasons.
  2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. If you’ve seen the movie (and I’m assuming many have), then you need to read the book. The first few chapters are a little different, but the rest of the text is phenomenal. If you’re looking for a book/movie adaptation that stayed true to the original text, then read this.
  3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Premise of the book: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” If you haven’t read it, add it to your TBR.
  4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Alternating between present day and the late 1920s, Jacob Jankowski recalls his time working as a veterinarian for Benzini Brothers’ traveling circus. Slowly he falls in love with Marlena, the equestrian, but not without  her vicious husband and circus animal trainer being a force to reckon with. Be prepared to cry at this one too.

Okay, in the end it adds up to 10, whew! Have you read any of the books on either of my lists? Would you recommend them to others? Which is your favorite?