Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bookword Voting Going on Now!

Oh my, I almost forgot it was my turn to do the Bookword Game today! And there's a bunch of cool bookwords to choose from today, so good luck with that! :)

The word we need to come up with today is this:

What should we call a  book with plots both in the past and the present  with characters from the present looking at and researching  the lives of the characters from the past?

Here are this week's players with their suggestions:

A BookSlip Novel: from Jenny's Books
A FlashBook from One Librarian's Book Reviews
A Now and Then Book from Arcona
A Parallel Lines Book from An Adventure in Reading
Historical Friction from Reading, Writing and Retirement
A Time Chaser Booker from A Small Accomplishment
A Two-Timing Tome from A Small Accomplishment
A History Mystery from A Small Accomplishment
(she had more, but I narrowed it down to my favorites!)

And here's the poll:

Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Book: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Genre: MG Fantasy
Rating: B
For: Fun
From: the library

I'm sure it's no mystery as to why this book has suddenly shown up in my list. I'm thinking lots of people have decided to check it out recently. I not only have the movie to blame, but my daughter (JJ, the 18 year old one) also.

It's because AFTER watching the movie, she realized this book was on her classics reading list for English, so she promptly checked it out from the library. After reading it, in one afternoon, she handed the book to me to return. So I thought, what the heck, might as well read it quickly before taking it back.

And now I must say, I don't get it! It's so strange to me that this book became such a household name and one of the most familiar stories of all time, because wow, it's a weird one! Truly nothing in it makes sense, there is not plot, there is nothing to follow. It's just Alice and her dream, and everything that happens is just like a dream would be. Bouncing from thing to thing to thing, and nothing is really connected, and everything is just weird. But a good fun weird really. Which, I suppose, is why it IS so popular.

I had to force myself to get through it though, even if it only took an hour or two. Later I learned that Toto's 5th grade class attempted it as a teacher read aloud book, and they abandoned it out of boredom.

Having confessed all that, I still gave it an okay rating because it is so clever and so classic and so much a part of our culture. But I think what we think of Alice's adventures are actually two books. Because in this book, there is no Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum.... are they in the Looking Glass book? I'm so totally clueless. My guess is there's a couple of adventures, and we've put them all together in our head. Also, the book I read had hardly any resemblance to the movie I just saw!

At least I can now say I've read the book, one of them anyway.

Bottom line: It was okay. (Maybe I just wasn't in a silly enough mood?)

For more on Lewis Carroll (and probably where I could find answers to all my Alice questions) click here.

Other Reviews:

Bookfoolery and Babble
All About {n}
The Zen Leaf
Educating Petunia
What Cheesy Reads

And just in case you've been living under a rock, you really should watch this trailer for the recent movie:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Book: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Genre: Steampunk
Rating: A-
For: Take Another Chance Challenge
From: I bought it!

I bought this one with Christmas money, and then made it fit it to my Take Another Chance Challenge for Part Six of that challenge which says:

 Challenge 6: Genre Switch-Up (worth 1 entry)
Go to this list of book genres and pick a genre that you have NEVER read before. Find a book from that genre, read it, and write about it. Note: If you seriously cannot find a genre that you have never read, then pick the genre that is as far away from what you normally read.

So I've been hearing everyone talk about this book and how it's "steampunk" , which is a genre I'm pretty sure I've never read. But what's steampunk anyway? I'd consider it a SF sub-genre actually, where it's basically a cross between historical fiction and science fiction... a story that takes place in the past yet has strange interesting science fiction-y aspects to it.
This particular book is about the beginning of WWI, after the arch duke gets killed, and his teenage son is running for his life. So part of the story follows his adventures. The other part follows a girl who pretends to be a boy so she can enlist into the military and fly! She ends up on the Leviathan which is a huge flying ship of a sort you've never seen before! Very cool. And of course, their paths cross and things just get going when the book ends! Ugh. Frustrating.

I enjoyed the uniqueness of this book, but once again, I yearned for the character relationship parts, and felt a little glassy-eyed whenever all the ship/technology description parts were the focus. Even if the ship was cool... I just wanted more people talk!

This book also has pictures! I loved that. There were times when they were totally necessary to help visualize what was being described. I mean, even though this was "in the past", the stuff going on was totally foreign.

In the end, it appears I'm hooked to yet another series! I have to know what happens to these guys.

Bottom line: I liked it a lot.

For more on author Scott Westerfeld (most well-known for the Uglies series) check out his official website here.

Other reviews:

Karin's Book Nook
Bart's Book Shelf
Laura's Review Book Shelf
The Book Muncher
Boys Rule! Boys Read! (which reminds me... I did think boys would really like this one)

Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Book: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Genre: SF
Rating: A
For: blogger read along
From: Paperback Swap

I first heard about this book probably a year ago when Michael and Ann were discussing science fiction on their podcast, Books on the Nightstand. Whatever they said, it was enough for me to instantly request it from Paperback Swap. When I got it, it promptly sat on the shelf until this past month when this read along was proposed and I joined up.

I read it quickly at the beginning of the month, and now finally it's time for all the read along participants to share their reviews.  So hopefully I can remember what I wanted to say!

First a bit of a summary. This book takes place in two different time settings. One just a few years from now, around 2019, when a radio transmission is discovered being broadcast in the vicinity of Alpha Centuri. The music is beautiful and scientists are drawn to the possibility of making contact. The Jesuits are leading the push for exploration, and they put together a group of people to head out on this mission.

Jump ahead many years to about 2060 or so when the only surviving member of that mission has returned, in awful physical and emotional condition, only to face an interrogation by his peers and community and the world at large.

The book continues to jump back and forth between Emilio Sandoz, who is slowly recovering and trying to avoid his questioners yet finally giving up and telling his story... to the story itself as we learn about all the members of the group, fall in love with everyone of them and head off with them on their voyage through space. We participate with them as they discover this new world.... and ultimately learn how they come to their tragic end.

And saying that is not a spoiler because we know from the very first page that Emilio is the only surviving member, and that something terrible and tragic happens. It's hinted at throughout, and some stuff is out and out revealed to us. Yet, I knew the whole time there would be more, and that the hints we were getting only scratched the surface of what was to come.

Therefore, though I was entranced by this whole story, I was scared to death too. At some point, I decided it was NOT a book to be read right before bed, as I know I have a tendency to think and ponder whatever I've read way too much as I'm falling asleep and I had a distinct feeling this book would not be good for this sort of thing!

I was so scared to get to the end!

But get to the end I did, and I survived. Even though that end was hard to read, and heart breaking indeed, the book itself was about so much more than this tragic space mission. The characters were wonderful, different and vibrant. It's about their connection and bond. It's about their belief (or not) in a higher power and if that power is truly involved in our lives and aware of what is going on....or not. It's a much more religious book than I would have ever imagined. There's some very powerful and frankly disturbing questions raised about what it means to be human and the meaning of life in general.

Ah, it's too hard to explain! You'll just have to go read it for yourselves!

Bottom line: I loved it.

For more about author Mary Doria Russell, visit her official site here.

Other Reviews:

Adventures in Reading
The 3 R's Blog
Age 30+... A Lifetime of Books

Monday, March 29, 2010

Listful Monday: Where Do You Do It?

Today's Listful Monday, brought to you by A Small Accomplishment, is to list places where you read, or have read.

1. On my bed
2. On my "piano room" couch
3. In the travel trailer
4. In the car, while driving long distances (as a passenger)
5. In the car, while waiting for kids
6. At the table
7. In various waiting rooms
8. In the funky chair in my book nook
9. On a plane
10. Waiting at the airport
12. On a cruise ship... various many places there
13. On many different beaches
14. During commercials
15. In the hall at a movie theater while waiting to be let in
16. In the middle of music programs
17. In the middle of Primary Program practice (during the readathon last year!)
18. During church
19. On the patio deck
20. At the pool
21. During kids' soccer games
22. In the mountains, while everyone else is fishing
23. Under the tree, on a blanket, in the backyard
24. Yes, in the bathroom
25. In a tent with a flashlight

Okay okay, I'll stop now!
Want to play? Head on over to A Small Accomplishment and leave a link to your list.

Review: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

Book: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
Genre: Fantasy (of the epic kind)
Rating: A
For: own personal Wheel of Time challenge
From: bought it!

So, I'm not quite sure how to go about reviewing each succeeding book in this series, because whatever happens in that particular book might spoil something from the books that come before. My plan is to summerize it without spoilers, then make a list of random thoughts that may or may not have spoilers, and will most likely be intersting only to those who have read the book... at least I hope they will be.

This, the second book in the Wheel of Time series, is called The Great Hunt. That's because they, our heroes Rand, Mat, Perin and their new friends, are trying to find this special horn that when blown calls the Heroes of Ages Past to come help fight the last battle. It was found at the end  of the first book, then stolen at the beginning of the second book. It's dire that they get it back, along with Mat's dagger that he is unfortunately connected to, or else he'll die. Meanwhile, the girls head off to the White Tower to learn how to become... basically sorceresses. While there, they meet up with a couple other girls we know from the first book, and they all become fast friends.

And now for my random thoughts that may have some spoilery elements:

-- I missed that Lan wasn't more in this book, can't wait to learn more about him.... and what is up with him and Nynaeve anyway? Sheesh, just get ON with it!

-- I liked Egwene more in this book than I did the first book, and was so bugged at Rand when that awful Selene came around. Ugh... we got a hint at the end, didn't we, who she really is? Stay away from Rand!!

-- I really like Min. She reminds me of Jack in th Robin Hood series. So if Rand decides to notice her, it will be okay.

-- Speaking of which, boy, he does have a bunch to choose from, or what,  these days!

-- I missed that Perin wasn't more in this book too. More Perin please!

-- I really like Loial too, and how he can read no matter what's going on around him, and that he NEEDS to read just to relax and clear his head. He is too cool.

-- The end was very intense for me and I had to remember to breathe. Wow. Is this how every ending will be for all these books?

-- I loved that there wasn't much "now remember what this is?" explanations and reminding us about stuff from the first book.... especially since there wasn't a huge break for me between books.

--  I'm starting to get into the swing of the culture, language, mythology, etc. I love that. Some stuff I still don't get at all, but imagine it will all come as I go along.

-- And does Rand play the reluctant hero part well or what? Wow, he is going to have to face the facts soon I'm thinking.

-- What is up with that awful Liandrin? I hope we get more about what in the heck she was thinking. Sheesh.

Well, I'm afraid I could go on and on here, but I do hope that those few of you who have read this book will comment with some of your thoughts on things up to this point.

Bottom line: I loved it!

Other reviews:

Punkadiddle (who, it appears, also has a quest going to read this whole series, but who, however, doesn't seem to be enjoying it overly much)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.11: In the Beginning

For this week's Weekly Geek, we are thinking back to the past and remembering that defining moment where we realized "I am a reader!"

I know it's hard to settle on one particular moment, but I've thought long and hard as what book I could pin down as "the one." Finally, I've decided to give this honor to the Little House series.

Now, I wish I had a story to go along with these books! But I simply remember that I read Little House in the Big Woods... loved it, and then got the whole freakin' series one year for Christmas in a wonderful boxed set. I was so excited! My guess is I was about in the 2nd or 3rd grade. So, from there, I worked my way, slowly but surely, through all the books.

Here I am in 2nd grade (left) and 3rd grade (right.) Can you see that my mom did something VERY devastating to my hair in between those two grade!! I really hated it.She had blow it dry every day in order for it to "look right." What a pain!

I remember enjoying the books when Laura was younger, much better than the ones after she got older and old and married! Then there was that one book, Farmer Boy, that was thrown in there, and there was no Laura at all!

Years later, one of my sisters got a hold of Little House in the Big Woods and either destroyed it or lost it. I was so devastated. Even more years went by, and finally, after getting sick of hearing about it, she gave me a replacement copy, which I was glad for even if it didn't match the rest of my set.

Is there anyone NOT familiar with this series? It's hard to imagine, but basically, it's the life of a pioneer family, particularly one girl, Laura, as they move from their cozy house in the woods of Wisconsin, to the stark and dreary plains of South Dakota. She has many many adventures and stories to tell as she grows up, becomes a school teacher, falls in love, and gets married. It's all based on the true life story of the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder... in fact, she doesn't even change the names! Which almost makes me think she didn't intend these books to be considered fiction! But anyway, she is an amazing story teller and her life, as ordinary as it may seem, was a fascinating one to read about.

Sadly, I haven't been able to make my own girls interested in this series at all. Why is that do you think? 

Anyway, I think it was after these books came my way, or at least right around the time that they did, that I decided I really liked to read, that I looked forward to school ibrary day with a passion, that I loved hauling my parents to the county library and making them help me pick something, that I loved getting books for gifts, that I wanted to read everything.

Here you can see my mismatched Big Woods books,along with the letter and diary books that aren't really part of the main series. These books I have were printed in 1971.

Some other books that played a huge roll in my early book loving years:

*The Nancy Drew mysteries
*Beverly Cleary books: specifically Fifteen, which my guess is the first romantic book I ever read
*The Box Car Children (which I didn't know was a series at the time):  I made my brothers play Boxcar Children over and over and over again!
* Where the Red Fern Grows: books can make you cry!
* Mandy (by Julie Andrews): was another book I couldn't get enough of. A lot like The Secret Garden only different.

Hopefully you'll have a chance to participate this week in Weekly Geeks and let us know what got you started on the path to reading!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Random Rambles

Today, I am:
** wondering if spring will ever come. Today we had blizzard-y snow falling horizontally followed by blue sky and sunshine, followed by more snow. Does this sort of spring weather sound familiar? 

** wishing chocolate chip cookies were good for you. We found this recipe and can't seem to stop making them. Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

** figuring that I finally ended up on a bunch of publisher's lists because the books some to be showing up at an alarming rate on my doorstep. I seriously wish I didn't have to ever sleep. Are lots of books showing up at your house too?

** hoping that my anxiety-ridden son is having fun at a big huge tennis match down south four hours away from home... playing against bigger and better schools! Do you worry about your kids when they go on school trips, anyone?

** planning on seeing this (see below) tonight at the library.... then Michael Buble next week, and then of course Muse the next week. And last night I was listening to a Depeche Mode remix over and over again and loving it! Nothing like fun, diverse musical loves! Do you love all sorts of music?

** thinking that American Idol still isn't all that exciting so far this season. My favorites so far are Lee... and a little bit Casey and a little bit Aaron.... but I hate how Tim Urban is getting so picked on, so I end up voting for him! Sheesh, give him a break! :) Crystal's pretty cool too, and Siabon, or however you spell it, is a little interesting I suppose. Who's your favorite, if any?

** trying to talk Mr. Stuey into the Grand Canyon for a spring break excursion. He says, "Been there, done that." Do you think the Grand Canyon is worth seeing more than once?

** feeling overwhelmed with all the books I want to read!! Seriously, it's out of control around here. My guess is you are all overwhelmed too, right?

** going to finish two books! Yep, but I have to get off the computer to do it, so bye for now! I'm off to read. Do you find yourself sometimes thinking about reading when you're on the computer and thinking about the computer when you're reading? Don't you love it when that happens! :)

Happy weekend everyone. Enjoy! Be sure to check out Weekly Geeks tomorrow! (I'm posting the question.) Also, suggestions are being taken over at An Adventure in Reading for the new Bookword so drop on by. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog Improvement Project Catch-Up

I haven't posted much about it, but this year, I am still doing, at least trying to do, the Blog Improvement Projects. Here's some of the the things I've done so far:

* added the Google Share feature to my side bar. I'm finding it fun to think, as I'm going through my Reader, about what others would find interesting. Hopefully people are noticing some of the fun things I'm sharing!

* added a label cloud! Well, first, I did clean up labels a bit. That was a project, and one I'm not sure I totally finished. But I finally understand the benefit of having labels posted on my sidebar. At first I thought it was kinda silly to share those with everyone, but I've found myself using other bloggers' labels many times to find things, so I'm assuming posting mine will come in handy to someone sometime. 

* Title Improvement. Well, I'm trying. Some titles end up pretty boring still. I don't know. It's amazing how hard thinking of a title is. What do you think?

Those are the main projects so far this year. I love the ideas these guys (Kim and Jackie) come up with. If you haven't checked it out yet, be sure to head over there and see what's up.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Book: Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: the library

One day I suddenly realized that this book was a week overdue from the library. Of course, I then had to make it "worth it" by actually getting it read before I took it back! I fit it in between everything else going on, and I'm so glad I did!

This is basically a "what if" story. What if, a few years from now, we have another civil war in this country. The war is between those that are on side of  pro-life, and those on the side of pro-choice.. regarding the abortion issue. What if in order to end this war, a compromise is reached called The Bill of Life. This agreement states that all babies will be born, and will live until they are 13 years old at which time the parents can then choose to "unwind" them. This means, 100% of their bodies are harvested to be used for others, thereby keeping the child essentially "alive." They have until the kid is 18 years old to decide, at which point, they are too old for unwinding.

What if kids who are destined for this fate run away? Bond with each other? Find adults willing to help them... a sort of underground railroad system in fact? And there, you have this story, about three kids (a troublemaker, an orphan and a tithe) dealing with the fact that they are on their way to be unwound, and what ends up happening to them. 

It's quite the statement. Not preachy or anything, but very very powerful. Beware, there's one very disturbing chapter. But overall, it's gripping and action-packed and intense and heartbreaking.

Bottom line: I loved it. A lot.

I've heard about this author for awhile now, but this is the first book of his I've read. I really hope to read more before too long. For more on author Neal Shusterman, click here for his official website. 

Oh, and it looks like this book is being made into a movie. Cool. And there's talk of a sequel to the book, but I couldn't confirm it.

Other reviews:
Becky's Book Reviews
Bookshelves of Doom
Presenting Lenore
Karin's Book Nook
So Many Books, So Little Time

Reader Survey Results

Last week I threw out a bunch of questions to you my readers. It's been so fun to see your responses. I thought I'd share some of them here with you all, in case you are interested.

I had 34 total responses. Thanks so much to everyone who played along! You guys are great! So out of these 34:

--59% have been reading my blog for about a year or so, and 24% just started in the last month. 

--56% check in here a couple of times a week, 22% drop by every day! Cool!

--85% enjoy reviews here the best, Random Ramblings is everyone's next favorite at 42%, and discussion type posts come in third at 36% (I love those too!)

--It's a tie for least favorite thing at 24% for both non-book talk and weekly memes. Interesting!

--91% of you (31 out of 34 of you all) have been influenced to read something I've reviewed. Wow, for some reason I didn't expect this one to be that high. Sheesh, I hope you liked whatever it was!

--Regarding commenting habits, 53% said they commented sometimes.

--This next question I wanted to asked because we all look at our subscriber numbers and follower numbers, right? But I wondered if these numbers overlap each other, or if people usually do either one or the other. The answer you gave me? 45% of you are just subscribing, 35% do both, and only 16% are just followers. Interesting, don't you think?

--I wanted to find out if people reading my blog end up being those who like the same things I like or not.... and the answer is not too surprising here... 81% said that we like some things the same and some things not. Totally makes sense. Three people said we have very similar taste in books.

--Sometimes I wonder if I'm posting too much (twice a day or more) because sometimes I get on a blogging roll.... but it was 1a 00% answer that it's just right! I guess the times I don't post at all (weekends sometimes) makes up for the twice a day posts! I will officially not worry about this one now.

--Another 100% answer... everyone is female! Wait, what? So does this mean I have no male readers? Hmmmm?? What's up with THAT? Or maybe, they are just too LAZY, those guys, to fill out my poll? Anyway, actually, not at all a surprising result here either.  

--And the age answer was a cute little bell curve... one or two young 'uns, one or two, shall we say, experienced readers, and everyone else falls into the 21 to 50 age range. (36% twentysomethings, 33% thirtysomethings, and 21% fortysomethings) That's pretty much how we'd expect things too, right? 

--And of course, nearly everyone who responded was from the US of A... with those few of you from Canada hanging out here too! I did have one from South Korea and one from Australia...and one from the UK! (you know who you are!! :)

--This next one confirmed to me that I have not very many people in my "real life" reading my blog, except one (waves to Julie), or at least if they are, they didn't feel like participating... surprise surprise! So yeah, 91% of you are fellow book bloggers. 

What do you think? Interesting? Or no? I love crunching numbers like this. So fun. So thanks again for answering some questions for me... and thanks to those of you who left such wonderful positive comments too. Someone even said, "let's do lunch" but I have no idea who it was since the whole thing was quite anonymous! 

Anyway, you can bet that I'll be posting another survey of sorts again sometime down the road. Hopefully, there'll be a handful of you still willing to humor me and my love of this kind of thing!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guest Review: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

Book: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A-
For: review request
From: sent to me by the author/publisher

When I got this book in the mail, I passed along to my husband to read, because for some reason, I have it in my head that he enjoys books about or set in Ireland. Now, I have no idea if this is really true, but somehow, I keep thinking that. So I handed it over and said, "write me a review when you're done!" 

And so, here it is:

Oh Venetia, Venetia, wherefore art thou Venetia?

Venetia Kelly, the mystical, flamboyant traveling show girl lands smack on top of Ben MacCarthy's life and turns it head over heels.

Ben, a run of the mill Irish farm boy, only child of hard working respectable parents, describes his idealistic childhood. “Things had been going so well in my life. No complications yet – no girls, I didn't smoke or drink, and I didn't gamble. I didn't even swear, not out loud.”

But in a single night his innocence would run headlong into a confusing and torrid world of deceit, thievery, and national Irish politics.

The trigger? Well, it went down something like this. It was a special night out on the town, just father and eighteen year old son. A heartwarming variety show: juggling, readings, maybe a clown or two. Both of them sat transfixed, mesmerized by the colors of the show. Then, as the performers exited stage right, the father said, “Ben, I'm not coming home with you tonight... I'm going to join Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show.”

Such was Ben's first kick in the pants. Several more followed as his mother sent him out into the world to “Go after him. Bring him back.”

In wonderful description, Frank Delaney allows the reader to follow along with Ben as he discovers evil, love, treachery, murder, and loss.

But what about Venetia? Isn't it her name in the title? Well, yes, but this is a book more about Ben. Venetia is bigger than life. She is mysterious, charming, controlling, mesmerizing. She known exactly what she wants and she does not follow standard protocols to get it. But, Venetia's story is still to be fully told. This story is Ben's and the impact Venetia, and her family, had on his life.

The story is told meshed into 1932 Irish politics and country life, but a knowledge of the history is not required to enjoy this book. I venture to guess that the Irish history buffs may see symbolism between Ben's coming of age and the Irish nation's maturation.

I loved Frank Delaney's writing style, but it took me a few chapters to warm up to it. The narrator is Ben as an old man and he speaks directly to the reader. This threw me off a little until I became accustomed to it, and then I grew to really like it.

I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick light read.

As I remember saying before, he should be doing book reviews and not me! 

For more on  author Frank Delany, check out his website here.

Other reviews:

Tales of a Capricious Reader
The Literate Housewife Review
Books in the City

Monday, March 22, 2010

Listful Mondays: Book Suggestions from Days of Yore

Julie from A Small Accomplishment has created a new blog feature. It's called Listful Mondays and the idea is to make a list around the theme she comes up with... or not. It's whatever you feel like she says. I'm hoping this will get me going on my Suey's Top Ten idea I had awhile back, but have slacked off in doing, because I'm sure some of these lists will go hand in hand with that. 

This theme for this first one is:

Books suggested/given to you. Books from your formative years.

Once upon a time, when I was about 12 years old or so, I went to a family reunion. While there, my dad introduced me to his cousin who was a librarian I think. He told his cousin, "This kids likes to read. Can you give her a list of some good books?" So he wrote me a list, a piece of paper that I cherished for years, but have since lost I'm sure. Many of those books were current Newbery winners (we're talking the 70's here!). But whenever I come across them even now, I think about that list. I'm pretty sure I read every single book on the list, and they opened up a whole new world of "good" books.

Here's what I can remember from that list:

Island of the Blue Dolphins
Julie of the Wolves
From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
A Wrinkle in Time
A Cricket in Times Square

.... and I wish I could remember more! I wonder where that paper ended up! It's probably still at my parent's home, stashed in some memento box. 

Other books I remember reading around this time:

The Riddle Master of Hed
Lilies of the Field
How to Eat Fried Worms

What do you remember reading from when you around 12 years old? Make your list and share!

What Should the Book Club Read?

We have two great libraries nearby that do book club sets. The way it works is,  I check out the whole set (usually 15 books) and distribute them to the book club members. The books check out for six weeks, which lets us have time for the month to roll around and get them all gathered up again to take back. But the sets are becoming so very popular that we, as a book club,  need to figure out what books to reserve way ahead of time. So this past week, I went through the list and come up with these few "potentials" for us to pick from. The book club members will vote for at least one per category. 

So, what would be your votes? Do you have any words of persuasion for us to choose one book over another?

Literary Fiction

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
These is My Words by Nancy Turner

YA Fiction

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pffefer
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead


The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston


Founding Mothers: The Woman Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
84 Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff

The Big Read for our community this fall will be The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin... so we've added that one as a "for sure" to our schedule. And we'll probably talk about the new Hunger Games book at our first meeting in September, along with whatever summer theme we choose this year.

The sad thing about this list is that I've read most of them... BUT that's okay. I'm sure we'll also add a couple of books, probably newer ones, not available at the moment through the book club sets, but I haven't figured out that list yet!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon: And So It Goes

Bits and pieces of bookish thought:

* I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman in nearly one sitting yesterday. Wow. It's an amazing one.
* I put The Great Hunt on hold to do it, but still, I'm halfway through that one now too!
* I've been dabbling in a few other books too, hopefully this next week I can finish a bunch.
* I had fun learning about you, my readers, this last week. Sometime this coming week I'll share some of the stuff I learned, so if you haven't had a chance yet and would like to, there's still time to go answer my questions. It's kinda fun, I promise!
* Yes, I bought New Moon. I mean, why would I not? :) The special features were quite fun.
* My daughter did her review, as I alluded to last Sunday Salon, but my husband has yet to write his. 
* Book club was fun last week. Up next is Bel Canto and I'm hoping to fit in a re-read.
* Speaking of book club, if we want to reserve book club sets from the library, it's time to start thinking of next year's schedule! Crazy, don't you think? Of course, we want your opinions to guide us.. so I'll post our list of potentials soon.
* I decided I really like blogger read alongs. 
* I wish I knew if I'm going to be home April 10th for the Readathon. 
* If I'm not going to be home, I wish I knew where I was going!
* I signed up for Once Upon a Time, did you?

Happy Sunday! Read lots!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sunshine On My Shoulders!

What? An award? I haven't received an award, or passed one on along for long long time it seems. So I decided... oh, heck, why not?

First, the interesting thing about this award is that it was given to me by Yvonne from Ink Spillers Attic... which is NOT a book blog! I find this interesting because I thought only book bloggers read my blog. Are you telling me that OTHER type of bloggers read this thing? (Besides the couple of so called "mommy" bloggers that show up now and then.) Anyway, nice to meet you Yvonne and thanks for reading! (She appears to be in the crafter type blogger circle...which I should get to know more of because lately my 11 year old daughter has been begging me to set up an Etsy shop, once and for all. But the crafts we make are CRAPPY. How could I ever sell them? But stop! Subject for another post I'm thinking.....)

Second, I will play and pass it along. It's been awhile, so I can handle it, I can!

Twelve blogs that make me feel all sunshiny:

Brodi Ashton's Blog: because she never fails to make me laugh
Michelle's Masterful Musings: because we both "get" the Muse thing
Books and Chocolate: because she is a sweet sweet commenter
Po(sey) Sessions: because she is crazy silly
A Small Accomplishment: because she has recently decided to share her bookish opinions more often
Page After Page: because she shares the cutest granddaughter pictures ever
Angieville: because she makes me want to read every book she ever talks about
Age 30+... A Lifetime of Books: because we like lots and lots of the same things
The Zen Leaf: because we don't like lots of the same things and that's fun and interesting too
An Adventure in Reading: because she is such a fun Bookword Game partner
Michelle Teacress: because she's the only one who's commented on my daughter's guest post! (so far)
Good Clean Reads: because she made my day at our Utah blogger party

Thanks to you all for the sunshine. Now, go forth and shine some sun on other blogs, if you feel so inclined. If you don't, that's okay too because to me, there's no such thing as rules where awards are concerned! 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Book Club Report: What We Thought of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Last night at book club, everyone was eerily quiet at first, but after awhile, we got it all sorted out and started talking. Here's some observations that were made on Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier:

  • Many were bugged by the narrator's lack of a first name.... except one who said, "Wait! What? She didn't have a name???"
  • A few of us believe that the no name thing was done on purpose in order to symbolize Rebecca's domination of the narrator... but the author said in an author's note that she just couldn't think of a name. I personally said that I don't believe that, and that Ms. du Maurier was senile in her old age and just FORGOT that she did it all on purpose!!!
  • Several people felt our nameless narrator was spineless and wimpy... and they just didn't like her an so had a hard time feeling for her predicament. 
  • A few people felt the ending was too abrupt and left many questions unanswered.
  • We all agreed Mrs. Danvers was quite the creepy character.
  • Almost everyone enjoyed the beautiful writing and lush descriptions.
  • Some were just not in the mood for this book and gave up in first couple of chapters.
  • Some said it has been and will stay one of their all time favorite books!
  • We all agreed that it was crazy that we were all hoping for a particular outcome at the climatic ending.
  • Those that have seen the movies agreed that Laurence Olivier, from the Hitchcock movie, makes a much better Maxim than that other dude (Charles Dance) who's in the Masterpiece Theater production. What do you think?

Guest Post Review: Hashbrown Winters and the Mashimoto Madness by Frank L. Cole

Book: Hasbrown Winters and the Mashimoto Madness by Frank L. Cole
Genre: MG Humor
Rating: Toto gave this 4 stars on her Goodreads account
For: Toto read this to fulfill the "humor" square on her Booko assignment 
From: we bought it!

Today I welcome to my blog, my very own 11 year old daughter, who goes by the nickname Toto! She has been reading up a storm these past few weeks, and one of the books she recently finished is this one we bought in February at the great Auhorpalooza at Barnes and Noble. So I asked her if she'd write down what she thought of this book. Here's what she had to say:

Hashbrown Winters is about a boy named Hashbrown who gets jealous of a boy named Hi Mashimoto when he builds a tree house in his backyard along with a club, and Hashbrown already had a tree house and a club. So, when he (Hashbrown) tells Hi that his tree house has a time machine, all of his friends leave his club.

What I liked about it was that their names meant what they are like, Snow Cone loves ice, and Yeti is hairy! Also, it's hilarious! And if you do something wrong in the school, you go to the Recess Jail called Portatraz for a couple of years.

Now, I don't know about you, but I had to clarify a few points here. What I understand is that Hashbrown claimed to have a time machine, but then had to actually go build one. And that's when his friends got mad, because they didn't really want to spend the money on it, so they left Hasbown's club and defected on over to Hi's club.... I think. And so the revelry began and the competition is on! Also, there's something about the Portatraz at school that's fairly important... but I'm not sure what. But I know Toto got a kick out of that name because she is quite familiar with Alcatraz. She also, as you can see, loved the character names, and would often go on and on to me trying to explain them all. Very fun stuff!

I hope to read the book myself one day, but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to post Toto's thoughts!

For more on author Frank Cole, check out his blog here.

Note: This is actually the second book in the series, with the first being The Adventures of Hasbrown Winters.  Opps..... we read out of order!! How dare we!


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