Monday Musings

March 19, 2012 Monday Musings 2

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: Would you choose to review a book if its description sounded interesting but the cover was terrible?

I’m honestly not sure about this one, having never been put in that position.  So far, there have only been a few books I’ve been asked to review and the covers have been approximately as appealing as the descriptions.

When I first read this question, I misread the word “review” as “read” and I didn’t think the question made much sense.   In real life, browsing in the library for example, I don’t think I’d ever pick up a book with an unappealing cover.  This means I’d never get a chance to realize I liked the description because the cover drove me off first.  I think this might be one advantage to being asked to review books and reading other bloggers’ book reviews: you might read about an interesting book you would have passed by because of the cover and end up enjoying reading a book you would have missed otherwise.

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.


Bookends About The Vampire Diaries

March 17, 2012 Fiction, Gothic, Young Adult 0

This week, I finished the last book of the original Vampire Diaries quartet and also started watching the corresponding TV show for the Book to Movie challenge hosted by Parajunkee.  The book definitely did not disappoint.  I missed having Elena as narrator – a testament to the character development which took place, given my initial dislike of Elena! And the ending was a little deus ex machina, with an improbable rescue and inadequately explained happy ending.  However, the ending was such a marvelously dramatic showdown, I really couldn’t feel upset about it.  In fact, I think it would make an awesome scene to watch and hope the TV show gets there and does it justice or a movie happens too.  Other than those few complaints, it had all the same strengths as the other books.  There were some plot twists I didn’t anticipate, strong female leads, and the writing was at least acceptable. Read more »


Photography Friday

March 16, 2012 Photography Friday 0

Despite being spring break, this week has been quite busy!  Mostly I’ve been worrying about the news that the professor whose lab I want to join is moving to Cornell and I have to decide if I want to be in his lab badly enough to move to0.  I’m leaning toward yes, so this blog may soon be brought to you from Ithaca, NY.  How exciting!

The picture this week is a touch-up of a picture I took when visiting UC Riverside.  I cleaned up some of the obvious problems, like the picture being taken at an angle, but what I was really going for was a slightly Italian feel to the scene.  To achieve that, I darkened the tree at the back and added some yellow to the walls.  I feel like there’s still room for improvement to take it more in that direction though, so any suggestions would be welcome 🙂  Have a great weekend!


Monday Musings

March 13, 2012 Monday Musings 2

A slightly belated Monday Musing this week, but when I realized I needed to write one last night, it was late enough no one was likely to read it on Monday anyway 🙂  This week the Monday Musings question is the following: What book do you wish you were reading right now? Where would you take it to, if you could go anywhere to read for a while?

I had a tough time with this question because (despite my rapidly growing to-be-read list) I mostly don’t think about books other than those I have checked out already.  But this morning I remembered that I’ve been wanting to read The Wise Man’s Fear for absolutely ages – or at least since it came out about a year ago.  This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind and since I always like to start a series from the beginning when a new book comes out, I wish I were re-reading The Name of the Wind so I could start the sequel next!

I don’t think I could be happier than where I am, getting a chance to visit the boy in Atlanta this week.  I do wish it were a bit sunnier today but I suspect it’s still an improvement over the current weather in Iowa!

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.


YA Bookends

March 11, 2012 Uncategorized 12

As I mentioned in my last post, this week I’ve let myself relax a little by reading some YA fiction.  As part of a goodreads challenge, I read Cinder at the beginning of the week and I’m definitely glad I did!  I’ve also started The Vampire Diaries and am a little way into the fourth book of the original quartet.  I’m liking it enough that I’m worried the TV show will mess with the plot too much, but am not sure if I’ll read any of spin-off series or not.


First of all, I liked it!  It was exactly the sort of read I needed to get me through a busy, school-and-research-filled week.  The author gets major points for coming up with such an original take on the Cinderella story.  Although she has moved the story forward in time and made Cinder an android, that’s just the beginning.  She also added her own secondary plots, with the earth struggling to avoid a war with a country formed from human colonists living on the moon and  a dreadful plague sweeping the country where Cinder lives.  Re-reading the previous sentence, it almost sounds too bizarre to be believe, but the whole plot flows quite logically and plausibly from the author’s excellent world building narrative.  We never learn about the world in a way that feels disconnected from the plot; instead, we constantly learn new information while staying engaged with the current moment. Read more »


Checking In About Checking Out

March 9, 2012 Photography Friday 2

I wish I could tell you this post was brought to you by the Minneapolis/St Paul airport wireless.  Unfortunately, the airport doesn’t have free wireless so this post will actually be brought to you later tonight by my refusal to pay money for wireless internet.  I’m sure I’m just horribly spoiled by being a college student for so long, but I simply believe wireless should be free.  Given that many restaurant chains are now offering free wi-fi, it really seems like a large airport should be able to afford to do the same!

Read more »


Container Gardening in the 635’s

March 4, 2012 Nature, non-fiction 2

Finally, a book review!  Just for those of you who are new and were beginning to believe I don’t actually do those 😛  In fact, today I have several short book reviews for you, as I spent last week slowly absorbing information from a variety of books on container gardening.

The book I started with was Container Gardening for the Midwest, one of many books at my library which has caused me to be pleasantly surprised by the ability of even a small library to collect lots of region specific books.  This book followed a layout typical of the books I read, starting with general information about container gardening.  This included the benefits of different pot materials, different design elements (color pairing, shape, etc), how to plant your garden, and how to care for your garden.  Following the general care section was a section on specific plants.  Unfortunately, for gardening I think location north/south matters at least as much as what region of the US you’re in, so there was still some generality to this section.  I don’t think it’s fair to blame the book for that though when the only way to improve that would be an even more specific focus.  In fact, the plant specific section in this book was one of my favorites, because it had great pictures for every plant and I prefer to pick plants by appearance before determining whether or not I can really grow them.  I think it was a good book to start with, since it didn’t provide overwhelming details, and the long, picture-filled plant section made it the book I used most to make a to-be-shortened list of plants I might like to include in my own balcony garden. Read more »


Photography Friday

March 3, 2012 Photography Friday 0

My first belated photography Friday.  I suppose it had to happen eventually, but surprisingly it’s not because I didn’t get out and take pictures but because I was out all day.  First, working on my third lab rotation (fighting with other people’s code and not enjoying working with protein structures) and then re-plating some e coli that died to finish up my second lab rotation and finally taking some prospective students out to play pool and drink some beer.  It was a long day!  So when I finally got home around one and finished playing with my cat to make up for being gone all day, I just didn’t have the energy left for a post!  However, today I have for you a picture of the cute snake someone keeps in the plant pathology building as well as a few touched up pictures from a sailing trip with the boy this past summer.


Monday Musings

February 27, 2012 Monday Musings 6

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: Do you read books that are part of a series?  Do you collect all the books in the series before starting? What if the series is brand new, and the only book that’s been published so far is Book one? As subsequent books in the series are published, do you go back and re-read the preceding books?

I read a lot of books that are part of a series, although I honestly don’t pay much attention to whether or not a book is part of a series when I’m first deciding to pick it up.  If a book is in a series and  it’s a book I don’t like, I don’t need to read the rest and if I do like it, so much the better 🙂  But I do always, always, always make sure I have a complete series checked out of the library when I start the first book.  There’s very little I find more frustrating than wanting to start the next book and not being able to get it!  At the same time, if the next book is just not published yet, I’ll still read the first book.  I don’t like it when the book turns out to be a cliff-hanger, but I don’t mind waiting for the next book to come out.  In fact, one of my favorites series to read is The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and I re-read all of the books every time a new one comes out.  The same with the Harry Potter books when I was younger.  It’s just fun to become more familiar with the series, re-meet characters you loved, and get to follow their story a little bit further.

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either in the comments here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.


Really Great Bookends – Part II

February 26, 2012 Fiction, Historical Fiction 13

This week I read two non-project books which were so good, I thought they each deserved their on post.  You can read about the first one here.

Current Fiction Readings

As I’ve spent more time wandering the library, I find more and more books that I’ve heard a lot about and which I can’t believe I haven’t read yet.  The Help was one of these books and based on the waiting list after me, I was lucky to stumble on a copy!  And I must say, along with the Percy Jackson series, this book is a convincing argument in favor of listening to all the hype some books get.  I loved this book.  In fact, my first thought when I finished it was that I just didn’t have words to describe how much I loved this book.  Since then, I’ve been pondering what to say about it and there are two specific features which I think contribute to the success of this book.

First, the author does an incredible job of telling the story from three different perspectives, accents and all.  At different times you almost believe a matronly black woman, a spunky young black woman, or a shy young white woman is sitting down next to you telling her story.  (For those of you who avoided the hype, this is a book about three women trying to enact change in a racist community during the period of Jim Crow laws, so my identification of the women’s races is both pertinent to the plot and important because of the great job the author does capturing the accents of the two black women.)

The second really great thing about this book was the subject, because more than a book about the process of desegregation, this was a book about people.  A book about human nature.  A book about people bravely coming together to do something good.  I’m almost scared to watch the movie, I just have trouble imagining it living up to the book!  I think I might rent it some times this week though (as the waiting list at the library is almost 100 people long!) and I’ll let you know how it goes if I do.


The Help – 5 stars – Awesome!  The characters felt very real and the story was incredibly moving.  Listen to the hype.  Read it.

Other Review:

  • The Mind of Tanitha – “I loved this book. I loved the way it took me to a different country, a different time…”