Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009.4: Passions

Chris from Book-a-rama asks in this week's installment of Weekly Geeks:

What are your other passions?

What fun to let loose with other things, besides reading, that get me excited! I mentioned some of them in my recent Interview Meme, but I'll now elaborate.


My passion for this takes many forms. First, I need it all the time. Sometimes, when I don't happen to have it on when the kids come home from school, they will ask, "Why so quiet? Where's the music?" Often, while in the car, it's my kids telling me to turn the music down! (Mostly so they can hear their own music in their ears.) I love driving alone so I can blast the stereo and totally be sucked into the music.

And I love love love to go to concerts and see the music performed live. A couple of summers ago we saw 11 concerts! I thought it was the best summer ever! A lot of this was due to the fact that we get season tickets to an outdoor theater in our area for a very good deal. They bring in some pretty big name people, along with several Broadway shows, every summer. Some of the concerts I've loved there, and other places too, over the the years have been: Jordin Sparks, Three Dog Night, Tracy Byrd, Rush, Muse, Donny Osmond, Little River Band, America, Collective Soul, Miley Cyrus, and one of the best ones ever, Richard Marx, where, in this video that I took, you can hear us singing with him and see how much fun he was:

Of course, I went to the Josh Groban concert too. The very one that they filmed and put on the DVD. It was... amazing.

I also love Broadway shows. Some of my favorites include: Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Forever Plaid, Cats, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll and Hyde, The Secret Garden, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Oliver, The Music Man, Into the Woods.... oh so many! I'm very excited because I get to see Wicked for the first time coming up in April! I can't wait!

This passion in my life has suffered the most since I started working 12 hours a week. I guess something had to give. But I miss it terribly and hope to figure out how to get it back in my life.

I especially like to quilt and have made many many, particularly one period of time when I made baby quilts for all the new babies in the family. .

Scrapbooking is another thing I've had moments of passion with! But I'm getting so behind these days. However, I've never been the major scrapbooker, I take the lower road.

Making movies, which I mentioned the other day. Check out my YouTube channel for a few of them. Some are still private, and some I've had to take down because the YouTube police have been nabbing people for using songs... so anyway, you can see what's left.


This isn't a huge passion I would say, but a fun family hobby. Here's a few pictures:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Random Thoughts=Pointless Post

25 random thoughts Melissa style:

1. My first thought is to do this meme today since
2. I don't feel like doing a review or anything else substantial
3. Besides comments are so low (where is everyone?) it feels pointless
4. So I might as well do a pointless post!
5. While I listen to Jason Castro sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" which I love,
6. And worry that I should be doing something else entirely
7. Oh that reminds me, I should be watching last night's Lost episode!
8. Which I missed because of F2F Book Club #2 last night,
9. Where we sort of discussed Poisonwood Bible,
10. (Which I couldn't remember much of anyway because I read it 8 years ago,)
11. But mostly talked about life and books in general
12. And ate chocolate of course
13. But only a little bit because, you know,
14. The Wii Fit says I'm obese!
15. But here I sit on the computer instead of Wii Fitting,
16. Because if I don't, I might miss something interesting,
17. Like a comment on my blog!
18. Or an @ Twitter!
19. But as soon as I finish this pointless post,
20. I think I'll go read Inkdeath,
21. Then probably fall asleep instead,
22. Which will be okay because I need energy
23. For Battle of the Bands tonight!
24. Where Moder (nearly 14 year old son) will be doing his debut performance with his band, Slick
25. So wish him luck! Rock on dudes!

Your turn!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Midweek Morsels: Sweet Chex Mix

Kristina is starting a new weekly event at her blog called Midweek Morsels. Does that button look yummy or what? Anyway, I want to participate when I can and so for this first one, Kristina asks for us to share a Superbowl treat.

Well, not being a Superbowl fan at all, I'll just share one of my favorite snacks that I think would work for any TV viewing event of your choice! Let me just say, make at your own risk! Once you start eating this stuff, you can't stop.

Sweet Chex Mix

1 17 1/2- oz. box corn or rice chex
1 small pkg. coconut
1 cup sliced almonds (I'm not much of a nut fan, so I leave these out usually.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups margarine

Combine cereal, coconut, and almonds in a big pan or bowl. In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and margarine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 3 min. over medium heat. Pour over cereal mixture and stir to coat well.

Neil Gaiman, Newbery Award Winner

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interview Meme: Serena's Questions to Me

Lots of interviews of each other going around out there! And there's one that's actually a meme of sorts that I've jumped in on. I saw this over at Serena's blog where she was interviewed by Monica, who was interviewed by Ruth and so on! Now it's my turn to answer Serena's questions:

1. If you aren't reading, what are you doing that is considered "you time?"

Lately, this would probably be watching TV as I am addicted to quite a few shows. Heroes, Lost, American Idol, Amazing Race, Survivor, Friday Night Lights, Chuck all top the list. (And don't I wish I could still list Moonlight in this group.) In the past, the answer would have been quilting and scrap booking, but I haven't done either one of those forever. I would say that blogging and reading blogs is "me" time too.

2. What one career would you die to have and why?

Hmmmm.... well... to work at the library? Kinda of like I'm doing now, only help people with the books. Maybe that's in the future. It would also be really cool to be the buyer of books for the library, or a book store. Or the one that gets the authors to come do signings at a book store, though this would scare me to death since I'm overly shy-ish, but I bet I could get over it.

3. If you could only pick one book and one friend to take along with you to a desert island to discuss that book, who would you take and which book would you take? Why?

Eeek! I don't like this question! I'm not good with these "pick only one" questions!

How about.... I know! I would take Markus Zusak and we would discuss The Book Thief! :)
Would that count? He can be my friend, right? No? Hmmmm.... maybe I would take Twilight...and my friend Jenny down the street who HATES it! That could be fun!

4. Do you have any obsessions/hobbies besides reading? What are they and what do they give you?

Are you hinting at something here? Perhaps the Josh Groban obsession? :) Yes, I'm obsessed with Josh. He gives me much musical joy and happiness! (His latest vlog here if anyone is interested. What a cool guy, no?)

Another fun hobby type thing that I really enjoy is making movies on the computer, but I haven't had time lately for this one either. But when I do it, I love it because it's a wonderful creative outlet for me, and in the end you have a cool way to remember an event.

I'm pretty obsessed with blogging right now too. That gives me a fun creative way to share and discuss books with whoever will listen!

5. If you had $1 million, what would you do with it?

The Mr. and I would take off on a big adventure and travel the world! (After the kids are raised and gone of course! Or maybe we'd just bag school and take them with.)

Fun questions! Thanks Serena!

If you'd like to participate here's the "rules":

Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (along with your email address!)
I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Now, hopefully someone of you will want to be interviewed by me!

Teaser Tuesdays: Bad Day

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

From Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke page 317:

"This was going from bad to worse. What an unlucky day-- and it wasn't over yet."

(That was a hard one to find... every one I came across seemed like a spoiler, which was making me crazy!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Book: Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Genre: YA Romance

Rating: A

For: Fun!

Awhile back, I read a review on Susan's Bloggin 'Bout Books blog for this book, Taken By Storm by Angela Morrison, which will be released in March of this year. It sounded like one I would love, so I followed her directions to request it from the author.

Within in a few weeks, I had the book in hand and it didn't take long for me to move it to the top of the stack. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down and had it read in just a few hours.

This is the love story between Michael and Leesie, told completely through Michael's diary (actually his dive log,) Leesie's poems and Internet chat sessions between Leesie and her friend, and later with Michael too. I loved this unique way of telling their story because we get both their points of view for the same event. It allows us, the readers, to be in both their heads in a big big way.

Because of this, it's a deeply emotional story. Intensely emotional in fact. And you know I love that!

We first meet Michael as a cocky teenager, confident in his amazing SCUBA diving ability and his prowess with the girls. He especially thrives on the adrenaline rush of free diving. What a scary concept! But then, there's a storm and a terrible accident, the details of which I won't go into here. But, he ends up starting a new life with his grandma, which includes going to a new school.

There he meets Leesie, a good conservative Mormon farm girl who has plans to go to BYU after graduation. What follows is the story of Michael's struggle to heal, and Leesie's struggle with her beliefs, and how they both need each other in an intensely passionate way. There's much kissing and "making out" going on in this book! Yet at the same time I'm happy to report that it stays quite clean! Though it is quite a bit more steamy than your typical LDS romance, that's for sure.

My 17 year old daughter, JJ, also read the book, because it is her favorite genre after all! Here's what she had to say:

I liked this book because it was so deep. You really felt the emotions of the characters, and sympathized with how they were feeling-- All the pressure of doing what's right, but yearning for what you want at the same time. The way it was written, with the dive log, the poetry and the chats made it more interesting, you could see things from different points of view. I also liked hearing Michael's side of things because I haven't read many romances told through the guy's eyes. Also, I really enjoyed the poetry that Leesie wrote, it seemed to capture the hard, emotional things she was going through with only a few words. However, the ending left me hanging and I'm excited to read more.

The author of this fun book is
Angela Morrison. And she says there will be more about Michael and Leesie if things go well with the first book. To sum up her life story, she grew up in Washington State, went to BYU, got married, had four kids then decided it was time to write. After quite the interesting story, this, her first book, was born. To add to the excitement, for the past year or so, she has been living in Switzerland and Singapore where her husband has been teaching.

I was lucky enough to being able to connect with Angela by email and ask her a couple of questions:

** I wondered the whole time why Michael didn't capitalize his I's... just a personality thing? Or some other reason? Or maybe I missed something else.

Michael's small i's are an artsy poet thing. After the storm, he doesn't feel like a whole person . . . the small i's symbolize that. He capitalizes them in his first dive log before the storm and the last dive log when he goes to see Leesie again. I was afraid an editor would make me capitalize all the small i's. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get Word to leave them alone. But I was blessed with an editor who is a poet herself and loved the poetic devises I used.

** I searched your site to see if you talk about going diving, which of course, you do. But, have you done free diving like Michael? If so, my husband says "you're crazy!"
Free diving is so cool, but it is kind of crazy. I'd read about free diving before I wrote TAKEN BY STORM, but never done it--give me that friendly tank of nitrox on my back thank you. When I decided Michael would survive the accident because of his breathholding ability, I realized I needed to find out more about free diving. I talked my husband into taking a certification course in Grand Cayman at DiveTech--where they have huge freediving competitions and people break world records and stuff like that.
I was awful--the giant fins were just too big for me to kick up over my head and I get nervous if I have to hold my breath. My husband, who didn't want to take the course in the first place, was great.
We did all our training and then we swam out to the reef. Our instructor dove first--effortless, a dancer in the water, he elegantly fell to the bottom, hung out a few moments, and then rejoined us on the surface. I made it down 25 feet so I passed the course. My husband, not to be outdone by the young fit instructor with impossibly long, dark eyelashes, dove all the way to the bottom, too. Fifty-five feet deep on his first real free dive. His lips were purple by the time he made it back to the surface! Ah, the things we do for love. At least, I learned enough to get the free diving scenes accurate.

I just heard from a reviewer who was quite upset that I portrayed Michael hyperventilating. She was worried teens would read it and try it and drown. Free diver's don't hyperventilate. It's deep breathing--like yoga. I hope that's clear with how I portrayed it. That is one thing that I really enjoyed about the certification course, learning the deep breathing techniques. I get migraines and use it all the time now to get through an aura without freaking out and . . . hyperventilating. I need to make it clear, though, that free diving is as crazy, dangerous as your husband thinks it is and you can't do it without the proper training and spotters.
** Tell me about Switzerland and Singapore. THAT sounds like an adventure for a book!

Switzerland is SO beautiful. Living there ruined traveling elsewhere in Europe for us. We'd go to London, Paris, Spain, even the Riviera and say, "This isn't as pretty as my drive on the Autoroute to take the kids to school every day." We lived Lausanne, in the French canton of Vaud, along Lake Geneva. I could see the Alps across the lake from my attic studio window. I lived just up the highway from the Chateau du Chillon--my favorite castle in Europe. The biggest challenge for me was speaking French. I can fake it much better now, but it's still faking it. I loved the people, though--especially the church members we really got to know. I didn't find the Swiss cold at all. These people were lovely and warm and took us into their hearts and homes.

Living in Lausanne is literally turning into an adventure for a book. My next novel for Razorbill, SING ME TO SLEEP, is about an ugly duckling singer who gets made over by her choir friends when she lands the solo spot. They go to Lausanne to compete in the Choral Olympics and a mysterious hot guy from another choir puts the moves on her. When she gets home she's torn between this boy whose changed the way she view herself forever and the boy back home who has always loved her. It's a heartbreaker, this one. I've revising it now. It will be out next year about this time.

Singapore is a big Asian city. If you have to live in a big Asian city, this is the one to choose. It's clean, safe, and green--hot and humid all the time. I have to confess--I'm such an American. We don't have a car here and have to take taxis when we go anywhere. I so miss my Honda. The cheap airlines here are great, though. I've been able to do some travel--Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Phukett, Bangkok--that will make it's way into my next novel about Leesie and Michael, UNBROKEN CONNECTION (if I can convince Razorbill to sign it which will all depend on TAKEN BY STORM sales).

** Did you stick the "Mormon angle" in just because that's what you know? Or because you want to clear up misconceptions? Or tell people about the church? Or no reason at all?
(I found it very fun and refreshing by the way, and not too "in your face." The description of Sacrament meeting was great!)

My inspiration for this novel was all the young women I'd had in my seminary classes over the years who live what Leesie lives in the novel, but LDS readers weren't my first audience. TAKEN BY STORM was my creative thesis for my MFA at Vermont College, so I had to craft a novel anyone could pick up and sink into.

Getting the balance right was tough. That Sacrament Meeting scene is a good example. The first draft I wrote was of the perfect sacrament meeting, not a shirt tail or hair out of place. I read it, thought back to my experience growing up in a branch, and realized I needed to get real. Michael's outsider point of view helped a lot with that.

I ended up writing my critical thesis about how important it is to base your art in belief and how not to let your belief sidetrack your art into propaganda. I learned that the old, "write what you know," adage is true, but needs some revision. I say, write what you know, what you believe, what you need to know, what you've just learned and are jazzed about, what you miss so much it makes you ache.

I didn't set out to write about "the Mormon angle." I didn't even set out to write a young adult novel. I wanted to write for middle grade audience so I didn't have to deal with steamy issues. But this is the story the Lord sent me. I baulked and whined and struggled. It took me forever to get it right and then another forever to find an editor and a publisher who would take a chance on a faithful LDS character. The Lord got His way, though. I should have known. He usually does. I'm grateful to be a tool in His hand. And whether He wants LDS young women to read it and learn from Leesie's troubles or those not of our faith get a glimpse of Mormon realities--I don't know. All I do know is He wouldn't let me give up. He's usually like that, too.

Love those answers! And I love that I was able to read this book and discover yet another new favorite author. Here's to many more books to come!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Sunday Salon: War and Peace All Day

Happy Sunday! Today, I'm going to read.... War and Peace! I know. You don't believe me. But it's true. At least if I find time. It's going to be another one of those family type days. So, unlike last week when I read the entire second half of The Moon Below in one sitting, nearly, I won't be able to do that today.

I finished The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison (for next month's F2F) Saturday morning (or maybe it was Friday night I can't remember) and so I decided before I pick up anything else (yes, even Inkdeath) I have to make some War and Peace progress.

So last night, that's what I read before bed, and as I always say, it was good! Really, I don't know why I avoid it. Seriously, I didn't want to stop and start sleeping! (I am at the peace part though, when I get to more war part, I may have a problem.)

So today, as soon as I can relax, it's going to be War and Peace!

But NEXT it's Inkdeath. Especially after going to see Inkheart, the movie yesterday. Ah, Dustfinger! I have to know what happens to you!

What the family is reading:

The Mr.: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (I'll be curious to see what he thinks.)

Bud: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (Still.)

JJ: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding (For English. Looks good. I'll need a turn!)

Moder: The Hunt for Dark Infinity by James Dashner (See Natasha, I knew he'd snag it!)

Toto: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Yep, movie influence.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009.3: Classics!

The subject of today's Weekly Geek assignment is one of my favorite bookish things: classics. Ali (of Worducopia) has come up with several questions to get a classics discussion going. First, our feelings about the classics and which ones we love . Then a challenge to read a chapter or two of something classical and review it. Then, suggest something we'd consider a future classic. Finally, share what everyone else is saying!

So for the first question: I love the classics! Several years ago, when I decided to step up my reading and embrace the addiction, I started with the classics. Granted, some of them are a little hard, but for the most part, I find them just as reader friendly as the new stuff. Some of my favorites that I would suggest to newbie classic readers:

If you like books that have a witty way with words, and a little mystery thrown in, try some Wilkie Collins. His most well-known books are The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Both of them wonderful!

If you like books with a soap opera-y feel, lots of love triangles, and character relationships, try reading The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. Wow, I got so wrapped up in this one a few years ago.

Charles Dickens has always been one of my favorites. I know some people have a hard time with him, but to me, his stories are so involved and interesting. My favorites: Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. I'm dying to read Bleak House, and keep putting it in challenges year after year, but never seem to get to it!

Of course, there's Jane Austen... and the Bronte sisters... and Elizabeth Gaskell. All have the fun romances and an interesting depiction of the society of the time with simple plots. My favorites: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wives and Daughters.... and all the rest! I love 'em all!

I also love Thomas Hardy, especially Tess of the d'Urbervilles, but I'm not sure I'd suggest his books to so called newbies. They are a bit bleak and depressing.

Oh, and I love George Elliot. Bybee's been talking about her 10 year reading of Middlemarch. I need to read that one again so bad! And I loved The Mill on the Floss too. Wow.

Wait! I can't leave out Alexandre Dumas and his The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers! If you love swashbuckling stuff and lots of dudes... read these! :)

As you can see, I could go on and on. But these are the first ones that come to mind.

As for new-ish books that I think will be considered classics someday (thus ones I would recommend to dear cousin Mrtyle!) : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.... for starters.

And a little of what other people are saying:

Frances from Nonsuch Book suggests a book I've never heard of: The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic. I'll have to remember this one and try it some day.

Strumpet makes me want to re-read A Tale of Two Cities. I was in 9th grade when I read that one and I know much went over my head. Though I do remember seeing the movie and totally falling in love with Sydney Carton.

Shannon of Confuzzled Books read the first chapter of Peter Pan, which reminded me I started this book years ago, got distracted half way through and then never finished it. Sheesh, I really should do that!

Now as for the challenge... to read a chapter of a classic... I'll have to get back to you on that, because I want to post this RIGHT NOW, but I don't want to take time to go read a chapter RIGHT NOW. So... later on that one!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: The Moon Below by Barbara Bickmore

Book: The Moon Below by Barbara Bickmore
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: A-
For: 2008 TBR... which is now over, but still, I can finish the books, right? :)

I started this book in December, then got distracted with Christmas and new Christmas books and the holiday happenings. So this past weekend, I decided to finish it once and for all, and spent most of Sunday reading the whole second half. (It's about a 600 page book.)

This is one of those books I'd never heard of until becoming part of the blogging world. It's not a new book, but not a really old one either. Many people consider it on their all time favorite list, so I decided I needed to check it out.

It's a sweeping epic story covering many years and following one woman's adventurous life as she becomes a part of Australia's beginning. When she is 17, Hallie decides to answer the letter of a man she new when she was a child. He wants her to join him in Australia and become his wife. She takes a leap of faith and heads out from England to start her new life.

Meanwhile, she falls in love with the doctor that saves her life when she has an appendicitis while crossing the ocean. And so the love triangle begins!

Real historical events and people weave themselves in and amongst Hallie's story as we see Australia grow from a few small, grungy port cities, to the thriving country it is today. However, Hallie's story takes place mostly out in the country, on her farm where we live through all the problems she faces from drought, to floods, births and deaths, failures and successes... and of course that ever bothersome love triangle!

Yes, it's quite the soap opera. And I totally enjoyed it, having not read a soap opera-ish book in quite awhile. It reminded me a lot of the recent movie, Australia, only without the war element.

There were a few things that bothered me a bit (just the repetitive writing style mostly) that made me give it the A-.

Blog Improvement Project: Weeks 1 and 2

One of the things I wanted to do this year was work in sprucing up the blog a bit. It's getting too boring or something. Anyway, the perfect way to do this is by participating in Kim's (Sophisticated Dorkiness) Blog Improvement Project. What great ideas she's dishing out to us all! A new one every week.

And of course, I'm already a week behind!

So, for the first week (which was last week), Kim suggests we think about the purpose of our blog and come up with specific goals. I did that a little bit in this post, but those were more general goals and reading goals too.

So the purpose of my blog: To have fun sharing what I'm reading with the world! To have an outlet for the enthusiasm I have for reading. And to have fun trying to be creative with it at the same time. My purpose is not to make money, not to become the most popular book blogger on the planet (though I do get jealous of you popular ones!), and not to have it take over other areas of my life.

My goals:

  • keep up with posting often, even on those days when I think there's no one reading so why try.

  • comment more, even when I feel like I have nothing to add to an already rousing discussion.

  • be less shy about advertising and promoting my blog (I love how some of you have business cards for your blog! I want to do that! Maybe....)

  • continue to participate in things, like The Blog Improvement Project, and support other bloggers and their projects

  • clean up the look of my blog (I've been working a little on this already, but it's still in progress.)
And this week, we are given ideas on what to do if we are stuck for ideas. Kim links to some great articles HERE. The point is to then keep some of those ideas handy for when we feel that blog fog setting in. Also, she suggests for us to come up with a regular feature for our blog, something that is unique to us. I love this idea! I want my own feature! :)

(.....several hours later..... )
I guess I'll have to keep pondering on what feature would work for me. So far, nothing too cool is jumping out at me. I guess it'll have to be one of those middle of the night inspirations, or something. Anyway, stay tuned.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Inspired

Since “Inspiration” is (or should be) the theme this week … what is your reading inspired by?

I'm inspired by:

  • all you other bloggers who read so so much and then tell me what all the good stuff is.

  • all you authors who write amazing things that blow me away.

  • all those good old classics that I can read over and over again and still love 'em.

  • all the great new books that come out constantly and that no matter how slow I am, they'll wait their turn!

Hmm.. I don't know if that really answered the question, but I guess I'll go with it!

So, what inspires your reading?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Genre: JF Fantasy
Rating: A
For: Dewey's Books

I started reading Neil Gaiman's blog while he was writing this book. So it's been fun to watch it come to pass.

So anyway, after all the buzz about this book, I was anxious to get it and see what I thought. And what I think is that this one for sure deserves all the hype. It seemed to take me forever to read it because I guess I had a million distractions, but still, I loved the premise and the whole fun, magical feeling of the book.

For those that don't know, it's about a boy who is raised by ghosts in a English graveyard. He learns some of their magic and has many interesting adventures. But he has to stick to the graveyard because there is something sinister out there in the world that's after him.

To copy what I said over at Goodreads: It's got some magic, some bad guys, some monster-y things, a gazillion ghosts, a girl, a cool dude who I'm pretty sure I know what he was, (but I'm not saying,) a dead witch, and lots of creepy craziness, some of it that made me hold my breath just a little! Oh, and there's great pictures too! Read it!

This is my first book for the Dewey's Books Challenge. You can find her review HERE if the link is working that is. This is also get marked of as my first library book of the year for the Support Your Library Challenge. Also, it's going down as a YA for that challenge too! :)
Other Reviews:

Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

Book: Let It Snow
Genre: YA Romance
Rating: A
For: Fun

I'm already getting behind in reviews since I finished this one a week or more ago,but I did want to tell you about it, so here goes!

This book is made up of three different stories, each written by a different author. I bought it awhile back (with my gift card!) simply because of John Green, of course. However, even though they are all different stories by different people, they are all tied together and I love how they did that!

The first one called The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson is told from the point of view of Jubilee, whose parents are suddenly not available on Christmas Eve, so she is heading, on a train, to her grandparents. The biggest storm of the century blows in, of course, and the train gets stranded. This is the story about who she meets on the train, how she is rescued and by whom, and how she ends up spending her Christmas day.

The second one, A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green, is from the point of view of Tobin, who is also without his parents on Christmas Eve. He is hanging out with his other two friends a girl named Duke and a guy named JP. They get a call from another guy telling them about how all these cheerleaders, whose train has been stranded because of the storm, are hanging out at the Waffle House and that they should come join the fun. So they go, but have numerous adventurous in the process and learn some cool stuff about each other.

Story number three, The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle told from Addie's point of view is all about how she is so sad about her recent break up. She is wishing so bad she could go back in time and redo things. Throughout the story, she learns that she needs to think less about herself and more about others.

In the end, it all ties together in such a fun way! I loved it! Just for a fun simple cute teen romance written by three great YA authors.
Other Reviews:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Sunday Salon: What Shall I Read Today?

So let's see. What's up in my world of reading today?

In the last two days I finished two wonderful books that I can't wait to review. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Taken By Storm by Angela Morrison. The first one many of you have read and/or heard of by now. A wonderful fantasy kid's book that, as many are saying, is sort of a cross between The Jungle Book and Harry Potter. The second is one that not many of you will NOT have heard of... yet. It doesn't come out until March, and it's an LDS (Mormon) Teen romance, that is very untypical of LDS books. Wow, intense is the word that comes to mind! But, I may wait until JJ has read it too and can help me to review it, just for fun and something different. So we'll see.

So then there's today. I'm torn between starting the next book club book by a local author Mette Ivie Harrison called The Princess and the Hound... or finishing up The Moon Below that I started awhile back... or knocking off a few War and Peace chapters. Hmmm.... maybe I'll do a bit of all three. Or maybe, I'll just start something else entirely. Like Inkdeath.

But before I can do any reading at all, I've got to GET OFF THE COMPUTER!

What the family is reading:

The Mr.: Everyman by Philip Roth

Bud: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

JJ: Paper Towns by John Green

Moder: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Toto: Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009.02: What Does It Mean?

There's another Weekly Geek post up! This one, posted by unfinishedperson, asks the following questions:

For those who have been with the group, either from the start or joined within recent months, what does being a member mean to you? What do you enjoy about the group? What are some of your more memorable Weekly Geeks that we might could do again? What could be improved as we continue the legacy that Dewey gave us?

It was the name of the group that attracted me from the very beginning. I like to embrace my geekiness... especially where books are concerned. Once I started participating in the group, I came to know that each week, the assignments were thought-provoking and required some real action on my part. Sometimes I had to take pictures, or do a little Google research, or ponder my answers. And almost always I "had" to visit other Weekly Geeks posts and see what they came up with too. I loved all of that. I looked forward to it every week. It was fun. It encouraged me to come out of myself a bit. And that's the best thing about Weekly Geeks.

Some of the more memorable weeks I remember are: the time we interviewed each other, any time we post about authors and push our favorites, the "quote of the week" week, asking review questions to each other, the scavenger hunt (that was hard though!) and catch up weeks. They've all been fun and I look forward to what we come up with again as we get going on a new version of Weekly Geeks!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Book: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Genre: Classic
Rating: A
For: F2F book club and Lit Flicks Challenge

This was my third time reading this book. I remember loving it in the past. I've always loved it, and I loved it again.

For those who have never read it, it's about two families living out in the desolate moors of England. One day, the father of one family brings home a stray child and they adopt him. His name is Heathcliff. The dad and the daughter, Cathy, are quite taken with him, but everyone else treats him like crap. As he gets older, he and Cathy fall in love (a sort of twisted, bizarre love) and he decides to take revenge on everyone else. However, Cathy ends up with the guy from the other family, which really messes up Heathcliff... and then things all fall apart from there! Eventually, there's a second generation involved and also all messed up.

How's that for a simple sum of this crazy story?

Many people hate the book because the characters ARE so messed up. They are rotten, selfish, immature, crazy, mean people. Most of them anyway.

But I've always liked the story because they are also complex characters. To me, even though they are flawed, they are intriguing, interesting, heart-wrenching, emotional and deep. Heathcliff fascinates me and gets in my head. I know he can't be all bad. I know that deep down there's something to him.

As I was saying to the book club last night, maybe it's just because I love these gothic, English, creepy, sad, doomed stories!


For the Lit Flicks challenge, I also watched the movie.... well one of the many versions made of this book. As I mentioned in a previous post it was a 1970-Timothy Dalton-as-Heathcliff version. I enjoyed it. He was great. The only complaint I have is that they completely re-did the ending. They left off everything about the whole second generation (with Cathy #2, Linton and Hareton) and then ended it totally different with Cathy #1 and Heathcliff. Strange. But, until that bit, I liked it a lot! :)

And for the question of the month for the Lit Flicks challenge, which you can find HERE, Jessica asks: Do you set reading/watching goals for yourself? Do you have any book/movie adaptations that you are particularly excited about this year? How did you do on last year’s goals?

1. Yes, I set reading goals, which is mostly the challenges I've joined, and to try and get to 100 books again. And to just read the books I have! But I don't set any movie goals. I like to read the book before the movie, usually anyway. And I like to keep up on the popular movies, most of them anyway, but I wouldn't consider those goals really.

2. I am SO SO excited about Inkheart that's coming up really soon!

3. I did pretty good on my goals from last year I think! Except I come short in most of the challenges, but still, I'm getting plenty of reading done! And movie watching too!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Sing! Sing a song!

But, enough about books … Other things have words, too, right? Like … songs!
If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.
So, today’s question?
What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?
You don’t have to restrict yourself to modern songsters, either … anyone who wants to pick Gilbert & Sullivan, for example, is just fine with me. Lerner & Loewe? Steven Sondheim? Barenaked Ladies? Fountains of Wayne? The Beatles? Anyone at all…

Wow! Is this opening a can of worms for me or what? I will have to restrain myself, but let's see where it takes us, shall we?

The first song that comes to mind is To Where You Are sung by Josh Groban and I thought it was written by Richard Marx but when I looked into it, I realized he wrote the music and David Foster's wife (Linda Thompson) wrote the lyrics. Anyway, both are amazing. Listen:

Richard Marx HAS written a ton of amazing songs though, and one that I think is so pretty was made popular by 'Nsync called This I Promise You.... here he is on Oprah singing along with them. Amazing, wonderful lyrics:

My son would disown me if I didn't put in Bob Dylan or John Lennon, both with an amazing way with words.

Musicals were suggested above, and I can't leave them out. They are all wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! But the one that jumps out for me is Andrew Lloyd Weber. I love all of his. I've always especially admired the way he's put the words together for Joseph, how they all rhyme and are so clever and everything. And it was one of his first ones too, I think.

I've always loved the words from Dust in the Wind by Kansas, depressing though they are. But I don't know who wrote them for sure.... whether it was the band or some writer they had.

Well, there's so many more. What a loaded question this week! Interesting for me just to see what my brain thought of first though. Later on today I'll wonder why I picked what I did.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: Calling the Police!

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

From The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman p. 135:

"If you're still in here," he said, in a sour mutter, "don't even think of making a run for it. I've called the police on you, that's what I've done."

Review: The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

Book: The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
Genre: Lit. Fiction/ Mystery
Rating: B+
For: Fun

So, I must say, after looking forward to reading my first Georgette Heyer novel, and finally doing it, I think I'm a touch disappointed. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the book. I thought the story, about a girl who ends up making a mistake right at the beginning which causes her to marry a dying man, instead of going to become a governess, was fun and interesting. But, it turned out to be more of a mystery (with all the subsequent problems and questions) and I was expecting more of a romance. I wanted SO BAD for the characters and the relationships to be more developed! I wanted to be "in their heads" more. I felt like, as readers, we didn't really get to know them. It was frustrating to me.

I know there's tons of you who love these books, and I'm wondering if you've ever felt this? This distance from the characters? Hmmm.... maybe it's just me.....

But I enjoyed it enough to try more. I loved the character of the little brother. He was a hoot!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Utah Book Bloggers Bash

Natasha from Maw Books Blog said she was going to do it, and she did! She got many of us bloggers in the Utah SLC area together to eat, talk and hang out. She said she thought it was a crazy idea, but crazy or not, it turned out to be very fun and we think it just might become a yearly (at least) event.

So, in this picture you can see us all, including the understanding and supporting spouses that came. (Whose names I think I remember, but I'm not going to chance it!)
Way in the back there is Drew from The Bookmark at the U and his wife next to him. Then we have James Dashner, (his blog called The Dashner Dude) our local author celebrity who was so nice to join us! (His next books out: The Dark Infinity in March, and The Maze Runner late in the year.) Then you'll see Cari's husband, with Cari from Book Scoops in front of him (in the brown shirt.) Next is Kim's husband, with Kim from Good Clean Reads in front of him (in the green shirt.) There on the end is Jessica from The Bluestocking Society and her husband.

In the front we have my husband, with me (Suey) sitting in front of him. Next to him is Leisa, Natasha's sister, who has many blogs but I'm linking to
Enrich Create Dream Learn Live. Then there's Natasha from Maw Books Blog in front of her and next to me. (Her husband was taking the picture.) Also behind Natasha is Jenn from The Inkblotter at The King's English bookstore.
Front and center is Stephanie from The Children's Literature Book Club.

We had a blast eating good food, comparing our blogging experiences, picking James' brain about being an author, hearing Jenn and Drew's different experiences hosting authors at their bookstores, and talking lots and lots of books!

It was so great to meet you all and I look forward to doing it again. Those of you that weren't able to make it this time... hopefully we'll see you next time! Thanks again Natasha, for your "crazy" idea and for following through with it!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009.01: Blog Love... (and passing along some awards too)

Weekly Geeks is back! Yeah! Thank you to Terri for posting the first assignment which is:

1. Link to blogs you love.... and/or
2. Post your 2008 wrap up, or your 2009 goals if you haven't already done so.

Since I have done my wrap up... and a little bit of my goals (though there will be more on that later too) I will do the first option and list my favorite blogs... or some of them, since, sheesh, I have a lot.

Blogs I Love:

Melissa at Book Nut because I love her fresh opinion on books. She cracks me up a lot.

Becky's Book Reviews because even though I'm always behind on reading her posts, I love the variety of books she reviews.

Joanne at Book Zombie because she is such a great commenter... and her blog is great fun too.

Bookfool at Bookfoolery and Babble because she does Wahoo's that I love and she's also a great commenter.

Chris at Book-a-rama because I've just been reading her blog forever and can't imagine the book blogging community without her.

Natasha at Maw Books Blog because she invited me to a fun party and now we can be IRL friends... oh and because she has an amazingly well done blog too.

Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic because I love to see what books she's reading at what she thinks about them.

Amy at The Sleeper Reader because she's another one of those blogs that I've read forever and love to keep up with.

Boy Mom at Boys-R-Us because she writes some amazing poignant posts that either make me laugh like crazy or make me cry and cry.

Raidergirl3 at An Adventure in Reading because she is so nice and I've just been reading her blog forever. And she's the creator of "Where in the World Are You?"

Julie at A Small Accomplishment because she's an amazing blog writer and she is going to be the next up and coming popular book blogger AND YA author.

Trish at HeyLady! Whatcha Readin'? because she is so funny! And she's brave enough to tell the world what she thinks about certain books! :)

Jessica at The Bluestocking Society because now I can be IRL friends with her too! Besides that I love her blog. She gives away lots of stuff and sometimes I even win. She's also the host of the fun LitFlicks Challenge.

Andi at Tripping Toward Lucidity because she also very funny and has a fresh perspective about life and I love to read about what's going on with her.

Okay, well. I could go on and on. I'm leaving a ton of people out. That's what I hate about these "Blogs I Love" lists, because it's impossible to include you all.

Anyway, and to kill to birds here, I give everyone listed above (even though many of you have received them already) the following two awards, which were lately given to me by Ruthie at Books, Books and more Books.


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