Friday, April 30, 2010

BIP Bingo Wrap Up

You know, I think I got blackout! I hope you all didn't get too sick of some "off the wall" posts and that the deviation was kinda fun for you as it was for me. Here's what I ended up with. Check them out if you missed them along the way.

A Link Post: A Few of My Favorite Links
A Short Post: Dying to Read
A List Post: Book Movies
An Opinion Post: Earth Day
A Poll Post: How Do You Read and Blog?
A How-to Post: How to Make Strawberry Jam
A Long Post: Muse Concert Review
A Review Post: The Thief
A Personal Post: What I Did on my Spring Break
A Resource Post: Attempting to List Genres
An Interview or Guest Post: Emily's Guest Post: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
A Profile (or Case Study) Post: A Reader Profile
A Contrasting Post: The End
A Collation Post: Robin Hood: Fact or Fiction?

Did you have a favorite one? Which type of post do you think should appear more often? How about one I should never try again!!?

And now.... time to catch up on reviews!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Book: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Genre: Romance (I thought it was YA but it wasn't shelved there at the library.)
Rating: A-
For: Fun
From: the library

I blame Angie from Angieville... again... for directing me to pick up this one. She did a post awhile back where she shared the book trailers for this one and it's sequel, Rules of Attraction, and something about them made me want to read them. I was in a mood I guess.

This first book is about how a supposedly perfect cheerleader-ly, blonde-haired, shallow type girl gets together with a rough and tough looking, Mexican gang banger. It's about how these stereotypes we might have for each of these kids is blown all to heck. Each of them has assumptions about the other, and those assumptions, of course, are totally wrong. And we know all these things going through their minds because it flips back and forth between each of their points of view. It's a fun journey to go on along with them as they discover the truth about each other.

The book has some very rough language and vulgar talk, and there's teenage sex and drugs.... so beware if you are bothered by that stuff. Some of it did bother me, yet I loved the story and the characters and as I said, it was a fun journey, so I liked it despite those "gritty" moments.

Alex, the guy in this story, has two younger brothers. As I understand it, the next book is about the next brother in line, and there's going to be a third about the last brother. Fun idea. I plan on reading them both.

Simone Elkeles official website.
An official site for the book Perfect Chemistry.

Other reviews:

Em's Bookshelf
Laura's Review Bookshelf
Read This Book
Angieville: Interview with Simone Elkeles
I Heart Monster

Guest Post from Emily at Emily's Reading Room: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles

Today I'd like to welcome Emily from Emily's Reading Room to my blog! Last week I begged for guest blog participants and she enthusiastically stepped up. After thinking of several potential subjects, we settled on having her tell you about one of her favorite authors and series of books.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede

I am so honored to be guest posting on the wonderful Suey’s blog. Suey and I met last Summer at a get-together with fellow Utah bloggers. I really feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such talented bloggers and authors here in Utah.

I want to introduce you to (or remind you of if you’ve already read them) the wonderful Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. The first book in this series is Dealing with Dragons.

This series of books is what got me re-interested in reading after a several-year hiatus from reading. I used to be a voracious reader as a child. I would get in trouble for hiding a book in my desk while I was supposed to be doing math. After I graduated high school and went to college, I had so much required reading that I really didn’t have time to read fiction anymore. I slowly turned to newspapers, magazines, and other non-fiction sources for reading material.

Then, one day as I was working in my wonderful government job, I realized that I needed some fiction in my life. I walked down to the local library and went straight to the Children’s section and asked for recommendations on books. I was directed to “Dealing with Dragons.”

This book is an oldie but a goodie. Cimeron is a spunky girl that decides that there is more to life than needlepoint, and sitting around waiting to be married to a loser prince. So, she decides the best way to have adventure and escape her fate is to volunteer to be a “dragon’s princess.” She finds Kazul and convinces him to take her on. As princes come to the Kazul’s cave to rescue Cimeron, she sends them away. As Cimeron learns more about the dragon culture and the conflicts they face with the wizards, she discovers there is more to this job than she thought.

This whole series was wonderful. I don’t want to give anything good away, so I’ll just say this. There is a twist later in the series that when I read it, I literally gasped. And... I may have shed a tear. Or not. Who knows?

I’d recommend this series to reluctant readers and the kids that can’t get enough of dragons. It’s well-written, fun, and timeless.

One feature that I do on my blog is called “Book A-Likes.” So, here are the book-a-likes for Dealing with Dragons:

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher

Thanks again Suey for the opportunity to share this wonderful series with you and your readers!

Be sure to stop by Emily's blog and say hi. She wrote a wonderful post just yesterday about why she loves blogging so much. I agree with all she had to say. She's a new mom with the cutest baby girl, just born in March. You can see them both on Emily's first vlog she did earlier this week. Emily is on Twitter as @emsreadingroom. Thanks Emily for a fantastic post!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bookword Poll: It's Time to Vote!

This week, over at An Adventure in Reading, we were looking for a word that describes:

A book that you remember everything about the plot, but not the title.

We only had two suggestions! They are:

Title Block: suggested by Melissa
Tome of the Unknown Title: suggested by Jenny

So which one do you like better? It's time to vote!

A Reader Profile: Survey Results!

I was having a bit of problem coming up with a "profile" post for BIP Bingo. Then I realized that just giving the results of the survey I did last week profiles you, my readers! Hey, that works, right? Well, I'm running with it, because after tomorrow's guest post, I will have managed every single one of the bingo posts, so I couldn't skip this one just because I was struggling a bit.

Thank you to everyone who took the survey! I had 83 responses. How cool is that! So here's what I learned:

Let's talk about our READING habits first:

The overwhelming majority of us (78%) spend 1 to 3 hours reading. 10% spend less than an hour, and 8% have a bit more time with 4 to 6 hours.

Most of us do our reading later in the day with 34% in the evening time and 27% in the night time. I know this was a hard question because when I answered it, I wanted to include both of these answers! I also sneak in a bit of afternoon reading... and lots of morning reading on the weekends. So I know for most of us it really varies.

I loved the results of this next question! It was an almost complete three way tie for how many books we read at a time, but focusing on only one book won out with 37%. Two at time came in at 26% and several at a time with 25%.

Most of you readers buy the books you read (43%) or get them from the library (28%). I know this was a hard question to pick just one, so I think nearly everyone who choose the "other" answer said it's a mixture of those too, which is totally true for me too.

So I wanted to know that when you actually find time to sit down and read, how long do you read for at one sitting. Most of us (57%) will read for at least 1/2 hour at time when reading. 22% said they can read for an hour or two at at time, and 11% for long hours at a time. Also, 11% can read for 15 minute chunks at  a time. Sometimes I do this, but usually I find it's for at least 1/2 hour. Long hours at time rarely happen now and then on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or a read-a-thon! But that's about it!

The next couple of questions dealt with HOW we like to read. I learned I should have included another choice, because most of the "other" responders said "on my side!" (That was about 22% of you.) But most of you (37%) like to sit in a reclining chair, and 22% of you sit straight up.  But when we get to the next question we learn that 42% of you do most of your reading in bed! The rest of you (27%) like the couch, and 24% like the chair.

Now let's learn about BLOGGING habits:

Just like reading half of us, about 53%,  spend 1 to 3 hours blogging, and the other half (43%) less than an hour. No one answered either question for more time than that! Interesting.

As far as when during the day do you blog, we are all over the place. Morning was most popular with 35%, and evening with 25%. Some did say that they blog all day long (must be for short short time periods though!), about 16% of you. I end up doing lots of blogging time in the afternoon, but only 10% of you answered the same.

I liked seeing how all over the place we were also when it came to how long we've been at this blogging thing.  The majority (25%) are "old" and have been at it for over three years. 19% , and 16% have been around for more than a year to 2 years or so. Then we have the newbies, 5% just started and 17% just in the last few months. Yey for newbies! Another 6% are just around their year bloggiversary. Congrats! :) And finally 11% are nearly to the 3 year mark and can join the ranks with us old timers. (Did I make the cut of for being "old" at this about the right time? I think there's really only a handful that's been going WAY longer than that, right? Let me know!)

Blogger is the big winner on blog hosting. No surprise there, right? 60% have Blogger blogs, with 18% using Wordpress, and 14% self hosting.

Do you schedule usually, or post right away? I wanted to know! We were nearly evenly split on this one too! 28% post right away, and 29% usually schedule, but sometimes post right away. 17% schedule for later and 25% usually post right away, but sometimes schedule for later (that's my answer!) Now we know!

55% of you (us) spend more than a few minutes on a post, but less than an hour. 28% spend at least an hour. And of course that varies a lot depending on what we are writing about. Many of you brought that up... it really depends doesn't it. This post for example, is taking me forever!

Okay, Twitter. Does everyone publicize their posts on Twitter? I usually do, but sometimes I think, ah, whatever, this is a dumb one and so who cares..... but what do YOU do? 30% of you do automatically but your posts on Twitter, and 16% do it manually (like me.) 23% of you are like me and only put it out there if you want to promote it, and 8% never do. 22% of you don't have a Twitter account... yet! :)

Pretty much everyone blogs from home with a laptop (48%) or on a desk top (36%). 10% answered that it's a mixture of everything! I do use a lap top sometimes at home, but usually it's at the desk.

Now about our numbers, do you know what they are? 77% said yes and 22% said no. Interesting. And along with that, I wanted to know where we all landed as far as subscriber numbers.  A fourth (25%) have 100 something subscribers. 31% have a hundred or less.  A couple of you have more than 1000. Whoa! Then everyone else, about 26% , have between 200 and 1000. That's quite the range there.

I wondered if subscriber numbers and how long you've been blogging correlated a little, but you know, it doesn't really. That's sort of all over the place too. Interesting.

And because I'm clueless on these things, I had people list what they used to track their numbers. Here's what I got: Google Analytics, Feed Burner, Sitemeter, Statcounters, Reader, Wordpress stats page, Google Friends and followers, etc.

Anyway, so that's about it. What do you think? Did you learn anything? Do you feel like you got a decent profile of the readers and bloggers that are around in this wonderful community of book bloggers?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Robin Hood: Fact or Fiction?

Or a mixture of both?

As part of my ongoing Robin Hood kick, I thought I'd research him just a little for yet another BIP Bingo post that's taking me out of my box and making me think.

Here's some random quotes I've found:

By 1300 at least 8 people were called Robinhood, and at least 5 of those were fugitives from the law. In 1266 the Sherrif of Nottingham, William de Grey, was in active conflict with outlaws in Sherwood Forest. It seems most likely that a number of different outlaws built upon the reputation of a fugitive in the forest, and over time, the legend grew.

Despite Robin's "legend" status, there are many reasons to believe that Robin Hood could well have been a real historical figure. Researchers into the legend have uncovered compelling evidence about this historical period here in Nottingham that points to an underlying reality for our favourite Outlaw. The Robin Hood Legend

It is at Kirklees Priory that the supposed grave of Robin Hood can still be seen to this day.Sadly, much of Kirklees Priory is now ruined but roughly 600 metres from the gatehouse a medieval gravestone was found bearing a partial inscription "here lies Robard Hude..."

Stephen Knight said in an interview,
"I'm skeptical that there was a real Robin Hood. I think it is a mythic name like Santa Claus. You become Santa Claus when you put a beard on and give presents to children at Christmas. And you become Robin Hood when you're an outlaw, and live in the forest shooting the king's deer. That did happen."
Criminals weren't the only to take the name "Robin Hood". The outlaw legend became a celebrated part of the May Games. Robin was seen as a mythic summer king leading a procession. This tied Robin into other forest legends.

Modern literature regarding Robin Hood begain to appear in the 1800's. Many of these authors merely collected the stories from the old ballads; others tried to link the ballads together into a single cohesive story. Still others used the ballads as a starting place for their own original interpretations. Shadows of Sherwood

Also from Shadows of Sherwood: a link to a list of Robin Hood novels and a link of a list of Robin Hood movies

Here's some images of Robin Hood. Who's your favorite?

Here's the trailer for the upcoming movie, to be released May 14th:

And so what do I think about Robin Hood? My conclusion is the same as what I think about King Arthur. There was someone that the ballads and stories were based on. Through the generations, things changed and perhaps several different people's stories were melded into one. But somewhere, sometime, someone existed that made these stories have a beginning. So, yes, I believe! Do you?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Listful Monday: Book Places NOT of this World

Today's list, brought to you by Julie at A Small Accomplishment, is to list:

Bookish places not of this world you'd like to visit

1. Hogwarts... of course. Don't we ALL want to visit Hogwarts?
2. Rivendell: the elves' city from The Lord of the Rings. And I hope Legolas is there.....
3. Bayern from Shannon Hale's books:  specifically, I think a nice quiet farm, or Finn's place in the forest.
4. Narnia: after the snow is gone.

5. Never Never Land: to hang out, just for awhile, with Peter Pan
6. The Hundred Acre Wood: now this place seems nice and calm, except on those blustery days!
7. Maximum Ride's Mountain Retreat: and spend a day flying with the flock

I've realized, trying to make this list, that make believe places really aren't so nice. Fantasy worlds are SCARY and dark, and dreary, and dirty, and hard and full of crazy creatures. I really don't want to go there. And futuristic worlds are.... scary and dark and dreary! I'm trying to think of a nice happy futuristic world written about in some book? Is there one?

Attempting to List Genres

So the other day at book club, one of the ladies there said, "You know what I wish? I wish one of you bloggers would do a post explaining those genre things... because I can't keep them all straight!"

I thought that was an excellent idea. But who's to say I can keep them all straight either? In fact, I'm pretty sure I can't, but I thought it would be fun to try.

To begin with, there's two basic genres, fiction and non. Each one is broken down into their own sub genres and each of those has even more sub genres. But since I'd like to try and keep this list on the simple side, I'll probably skip many of them. Anyway, let's see how I do:

FICTION: a made up, not true, story
  • literary fiction: a realistic story in the present, familiar world, with high literary merit. (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)
  • contemporary fiction: basically the same as literary fiction, but more your normal "run of the mill" current novel (My Sister's Keeper)
  • fantasy: a story taking place in a made up world where magic rules the day (Lord of the Rings)
  • paranormal: a story where the some characters are supernatural (Twilight)
  • science fiction: a story where science and technolgoy rule the day (Ender's Game)
  • apocalyptic: a story about people who survive an "end of the world" event (The Road)
  • mystery: a story where the solving of a crime (usually) drives the plot (One for the Money). A popular sort of mystery, called a cozy mystery, is where there's very little graphic violence and stories end happily ever after.
  • classics: a book that's stood the test of time (Pride and Prejudice)
  • historical fiction: a true to life story that takes place in the past (The Help)
  • westerns: a story about the forging of the western frontier (Lonesome Dove)
  • romance: where relationships drive the plot (The Notebook)
  • women's fiction: also known as chick lit where the story is about a strong (usually) female character and her relationships and problems (Good Grief)
  • dystopia: a "what if" story about a future and/or alternate world (The Hunger Games)
  • horror: where something scary or shocking drives the story (The Shining)
  • thriller/suspense: where an exciting plot drives the story (The DaVinci Code)
  • picture book: where pictures are worth a thousand words! (Where the Wild Things Are)
  • fairy tales and folklore: tradition stories from all around the world (Beauty and the Beast)
  • drama: a story in play form (The Crucible)
  • short stories: a complete story in simple form (The Lottery)
  • poetry: telling an idea in verse form (The Road Not Taken)

NON FICTION: a real life, true story or as we call them at our house a "learning" book
  • memoirs: a person reflects on a part of their life
  • biographies: someone writes the live of someone else
  • autobiographies: a perons writes about their whole life, themselves
  • travel: real stories about the author's travel adventures
  • how to's: books that teach you how to do something!
  • true crime: books that tell you the real and true story of a famous (usually) crime
  • informational book: any non-fiction book that teaches you about something

There's also the marketing categories, or, a way to let booksellers and librarians know what section in which to shelf the book, and to let readers know a basic idea of what may be contained in the book.
  • General (adult) Fiction
  • YA (teen) Fiction: written for and about teens usually 12 to 14 and up
  • Middle Grade (juvenile) Fiction: written for and about kids 9 to 12
  • Intermediate Fiction: written for and about kids 5 to 9
  • Picture Books: written (and illustrated) for kids of all ages!
Some of the sources I used if you want to learn more:

Genres as defined by the California Department of Education
An interesting Wikipedia article on genre
An extensive list from Spark Notes

So, what do you think? Where did I go wrong? Or is this pretty much how you envision the genre layout too? I know I left sub genres out... which ones do you think I ought to include? Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, steam punk, space opera, family saga, historical romance, cozy mystery, Christian fiction, magic realism, etc? Do you think dystopian and apocalyptic should go under a certain category, or be their own? Did I leave out any major main genre category? I'd LOVE some feedback!

Updated to add: a category to separate contemporary fiction and literary fiction

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Sunday Salon: A Library Story

It's been kinda weird around here for this past week. It might get weirder before it's over. Having said that, I really love how the bingo challenge over at BIP makes me think about new and different ways to post. Hopefully, you all are having fun with what might show up next too! One more week and then back to your regularly scheduled program! (Unless I discover something I love so much I'll add it to the normal line up!)

Anyway, so I have story to tell. This is a story that illustrates how I've gone over the edge of sanity regarding books. I truly am crazy.

Last week, I realized I had three books that I'd put on hold and were ready to be picked up at the library. I couldn't wait, (even though I really didn't lack for anything to read!) so I took daughter Toto with me and we gathered up the book club sets that needed to go back anyway, and headed off, arriving about 40 minutes before closing time.

I found my three books quickly, thought about checking them out quickly too, but then we decided to look at the movies first, to see if Toto wanted something. So we did, and lingered there for a bit while she choose her four movies (this library has the four movie limit.) Just as we were done and about to head  to the check out... .the fire alarm went off!

Instantly, I had a bit of a panic attack. Not about a potential fire... no... but about the fact that I knew they wouldn't let me check out  my books now! I even asked! (What a look I got too!) And they said, no way Jose, so we put our stack on a cart and went outside.

Of course, most people just went on home, but there were a few of us that lingered, hoping to be let back in. We sat there, listening to the alarm ring and ring and ring. Finally, the fire trucks came and the dudes sauntered slowly in and grinned at all us fanatics and said, "we'll try to get you back in as soon as we can."

So I had hope. We waited and waited and waited. The alarm finally went off. We could see the dudes wandering all over the place in there. I just knew any second they would came say.. "false alarm! All is well!"

So we waited. A half hour goes by. I kept thinking if only I'd just checked them out FIRST! Before we looked at movies! Soon it's 9:00 and closing time, which made me nervous. My books! I NEED them! I couldn't leave them there!

Finally, one of the guys came out and said to the small crowd still waiting, "You can go back in for person items you left but THAT'S IT!!" Sheesh, they sure can have an authoritative voice! UGH, I was so bugged. My poor books. I had to leave them. What would happen to them? Where would they end up?

I asked the librarian standing there and she assured me that they would be safe and available the next day.

I felt.... I don't know... crazy... walking off and leaving those books I was so excited about! It was weird. I was so bugged to have made a special trip for them and then to still leave them there. I even dreamed about them that night. Seriously. Is that scary or what?

Anyway, the next day, I went back after work and I looked first on the hold shelf and they weren't there. Then I went to cart, which looked like a mess and I couldn't see my stack! So I asked about it, ready to fight for my books! She calmly started shuffling through the mess on the cart...and suddenly there they were! My books! :) And the movies too! They were saved!

See, I've lost it. Totally.

And I know you want to know what the books were right?

P.S. As I suspected, it was just a little kid pulling the alarm. But when they didn't let us back in, I wondered if something really was up. But, no. The library was safe and sound. And I've since read one and half of these books. See. I really did want them NOW. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Book: A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: B+
For: Once Upon a Time Challenge (fairy tale book)
From: bought it

There's not a whole lot to say about this book. It was a fun light-hearted re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. There's a pretty snotty princess who lives in a castle around about the 1700's. She pricks her finger on the eve of her 16th birthday and falls asleep, along with the rest of the village.

Sound familiar so far?

Then it jumps to the modern day. Jack and his buddy are on tour in Europe and they ditch the tour bus and head off on their own to find a beach. They get lost, end up fighting their way through a huge wall of brambles, whereupon, they discover the sleeping village and of course, the princess.

From there, things divert quite a bit from our familiar story. Jack takes the princess, who somehow he has kissed awake, with him back to America. Life gets interesting for both of them then, and they've got to figure out what solution is best for the story to end happily ever after, as all fairy tales should!

It was fun. It was cheesy. It was just what I needed after a couple of deep, dark, torturous (literally) books.

Author Alex Flinn's website.
And her blog here.

Other Reviews:

Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
SherMeree's Musings
Juiciliciousss Reviews
Katie's Bookshelf

How to Make Homemade Frozen Strawberry Jam

I bring you yet another off the wall topic in my ongoing quest to earn BIP Bingo blackout! This week, you never know what you're gonna get! :)

Today's "bingo square" is to post about how to do something I'm an expert at. So, what am I am expert at? Nothing is the resounding answer! BUT, just the another day I made four batches of strawberry jam in about an hour, and so I thought, hmmm.... maybe that seems "hard" to someone out there and they'd like to know just how easy it really is.


Well, I'll give it a shot. And too bad I hadn't thought of this before I actually made the jam, then I could have had such fascinating pictures to go along with! Oh, well.

What you'll need (to make four batches or one case of strawberries)

- one case of strawberries
- 16 containers (16 oz.) (or of course you can go with smaller containers, and get more of them)
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 4 cups light corn syrup
- 28 cups of sugar
- 4 boxes of MCP pectin
- a four cup measuring cup
- a blender
- four big bowls
- nice heavy stirring spoon


1. Rinse (or wash) 16- 16 oz. containers. I use butter/sour cream/cottage cheese type tubs. Perfect!
2. Wash, stem and chop (in the blender) a case of strawberries, 3 3/4 cups at a time. (As I chop them in the blender, I measure out 3 3/4 cups and put that amount in a big bowl.
3. Fill up four big bowls, each with 3 3/4 cups of mashed strawberries. (As I said, this should use about a case, but not quite.)
4. Put a 1/4 cup of lemon juice in each bowl. Stir.
5. Add a box of pectin (I use MCP Pectin... which instructions these are coming from. Other pectin brands will have a slightly different method.) Stir!
6. Let it all sit for about 1/2 hour, but stirring every 5 min. or so to get that pectin all dissolved.
7. Add one cup of light corn syrup to each bowl. Stir.
8. Here's the scary step.... Add 7 cups of sugar to each bowl! That's 28 cups of sugar you'll need on hand! Stir like crazy! Get it all mixed in and dissolved!
9. Pour into your containers. The challenge, not to spill a drop! Each bowl will fill up four containers.
10. Put lids on and let sit out for 24 hours, then freeze!

You're done! There's no cooking at all. So easy and so yummy and so worth it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

These are a Few of My Favorite... Links

So for BIP I need to do a link post. I thought I'd go a little off the book subject and link you to some of my favorite internet-ish things. I listen to this so much lately that I may have to upgrade some day! I love it here because it helps you to discover "new to you" groups.

YouTube: It still amazes me the stuff you can find here! I find it fascinating how it's become such a part of our lives. Some examples:

DialIdol: this site predicts the results of American Idol and we find that fun

JoshHe says he's working on a new CD. Sheesh, it's taking a long time!)

Jason (did you know his CD just came out, finally. I'm loving it.)

Goodreads: which I'm still totally enjoying after all this time. Are we friends?

All Recipes: my favorite recipe finding place

Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations: if you're into books and lists like me, this is the place!

Book Blog Search Engine: I use this all the time to find "other reviews" when I write my posts.

IMDb: My favorite place to go to figure out pressing questions like: who was the dude I just saw in that movie? or how old is so and so? or what other things was so and so in? or when is his next movie coming out? or what year was that again?

Okay enough. This is a silly post, but what better thing to post on a Friday than silly?

Do you love any of the sites I've listed above? What are some of your favorite sites? Tell me all the ones I forgot! Better yet, tell me about all the ones I'm unaware of! There's tons I'm sure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Earth Day

Hey, I think I'll answer a BTT question today. Sort of. I have a feeling I'm going to twist it around a bit, but here goes.

The question today is:

 It's Earth Day... what are you reading? Are your reading habits changing for the sake of the environment? What are you doing for the sake of the planet?

So first of all, I'm reading Perfect Chemistry. Whoa! Hot stuff. Not liking all the language though, but hey, it gives it an authentic feel. So, there's nothing about the environment going on there. And I can guarantee you my reading habits will not change for the sake of the environment. Not sure what the question means actually. That I give up paper books and start with the e-reader thing? Yeah, not going to happen. At least not for a long time. I mean, I'll probably end up with one of those things eventually, but it won't take over my "real" book habit. I think that's going to be a hard one to break, and not just for me, but for lots of people.

Or does it mean I'll be reading books about the environment? Yeah, not going to happen either. There might be some interesting books out there about that, but please, keep it out of my fiction! For some reason, this is one of my pet peeves, where fiction books get all preachy about the environment. I barely made it through the book Hoot and I love owls and everything.) And I tried to read Flush, but gave up quickly because it felt like it was going to be the same sort of thing.

Then there was that Maximum Ride book that totally went on a weird turn. Remember that one? Ugh, it made it feel like that series came to a screeching halt. The next book was much better. Now I'm reading the sixth book of that series (yeah Fang became my treadmill book of the week. Did I ever tell you how much I love Fang?) and it remains to be seen if it gets preachy on me again.

Anyway, this is all not to say I'm not for helping the Earth and keeping things beautiful. Just don't get preachy about it in my books! :)

As for what I'm doing for the planet's sake? Well, I'll continue not littering (that includes INSIDE as well as out, which is a whole other subject I could rant on someday if you'd like! movie theaters anyone?)  and continue recycling. And continue planting a garden. And I'm even pondering the idea of riding a bike to work in the summer. Wow! A massive move that would be for me!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Do You Read and Blog?

Today, it's time for another poll! Yes, I'm having some more Google Docs fun. So I thought I'd ask you, my readers, about your reading and blogging habits. Here are a few random questions for you to answer. I will have a blast crunching these numbers (letting Google Docs crunch them actually) and I'll share the results at the end of the month for those interested.

Thanks for playing! Hopefully it was fun for you. I think I could have thought of questions all day long! Already I'm thinking of ones I forgot.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The End

I've had this post in my head for awhile now. Maybe it's finally time to let it out.

The subject of today's post: endings. More specifically, are you a happy ending kind of person? Or is it the sad that you prefer?

I think there's some readers that feel a happy ending is almost a let down. Like the author has contrived things to work out, or that they, the readers, have been manipulated. Or maybe the conclusion was too sudden and wrapped up way too easily. Maybe it's that happy endings aren't realistic enough?

So does that mean it's the sad endings that are more true to life? I find it interesting that many of the books that stick with me, and often end up being some of my favorites, are of the sad ending variety. Perhaps it's because they make you think and feel a little deeper than happy endings.

So which one gives you that satisfied kind of feeling? Which one accomplishes that completeness you need at the end of book?

Or maybe you are like me and like them both. Sometimes, I get really bugged if an author doesn't see fit to give his or her characters a happy ending, and I feel let down and even angry. For the most part, happy endings make me happy and I end up not really worrying about whether or not that particular ending could really conclude that way. I tend to give the story the benefit of the doubt I guess.

Yet, as I said before, the sad ones are especially memorable and powerful. Why is that do you think?

Then, of course, there's those books that might fit into both categories, and have an ending that is both happy and sad. Maybe that is the ending that is most satisfying and true to life?

I thought about listing examples, but that would be spoiling books now, right? And there's no spoilers allowed around here!

So, how do YOU feel about endings? Would you go as far as to say that one is better than the other?

BIP Bingo!

April is the month for the latest Blogging Improvement Project Bingo Game. The idea is to try and do many different types of posts during the month. Here's the list of the suggested types. As I do them, I will add the link to my post of that particular type. 

The 14 post types (copy and pasted from the above link)

  1. A Link Post – share link (or series of links) your readers might find interesting: Favorite Links
  2. A Short Post – less than 200 words: Dying to Read
  3. A List Post – simple as it sounds, a list of some sort: Book Movies
  4. An Opinion Post – take an event, news, or another blog post and share your opinion on it: Earth Day
  5. A Poll Post – post a poll or ask your readers a specific question for feedback: How Do You Read and Blog?
  6. A How-To Post – You’re an expert in something; big or small, share how to do it: Strawberry Jam
  7. A Long Post – more than 700 words: Muse Concert
  8. A Review Post – self-explanatory, I think: Review: The Thief
  9. A Personal Post – something that’s going on in your life, related to your normal blog topic or not: What I Did on My Spring Break
  10. A Resource Post – you know a lot about something, share the sites/books/tutorials you go to on that topic. This is similar to a link post, except these links should be related in some way and be useful for other people who want to know about the topic
  11. An Interview or Guest Post – interview someone and post about it on your blog, solicit a guest post from someone else, or write a guest post yourself for another blog
  12. A Profile or Case Study Post — both of these types of posts involve writing about a person or group in your niche; find out what they do, how they got there, or interesting stories then share with your readers (more details from ProBlogger)
  13. A Post Contrasting Two Different Options – compare and contrast two similar items, let people know the pros and cons of each and ultimately decide which is the best. The End
  14. A Collation Post – gather quotes or opinions on a subject and place them together in a post. Then use these opinions to draw conclusions on the topic.
Can you see how this might get those creative juices going? I love it! I have a few ideas for some of them, but if you have any suggestions for me, let me know. I'd especially love to know if anyone would be willing to do a guest post. Anyone?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Listful Monday: Book Places

Once again, Julie has come up with a fun list for us to create today on this nice Monday. Today's list is:

Book Places I Want to See/Visit

1. Prince Edward Island: this one will be at the TOP of my list every time because of dear old Anne. And now, I can add that if I ever do go there, I will plan to track down Raidergirl3 from An Adventure in Reading... because I know if she ever came to my part of the world and didn't come say hi, I'd be so very sad.

2. Guernsey: because I'd never even heard of this island before the book, and now, I long to see it.

3. Ireland: because of all of Maeve Binchy's books

4. London... again: because the first time I went there we didn't have time for "literary" tours. Next time, I will MAKE time.

5. Molokai: because of the book by the same name. I've been to Hawaii twice in my life, and it seems everyone skips this particular island. Next time (and I hope there's one) I want to see this island!

6. Switzerland: because of Heidi of course. And more recently because of Sing Me To Sleep. And because my great grandpa came from there.

7. Notre Dame in Paris: because of the hunchback! And while I'm there, I'll see some other Paris stuff too.

8. Australia: because of that one book.... ummm.... you know, with Richard Camberlain in the movie....what's that name of that book???? And because of the movie A Man from Snowy River. And because Markus Zusak lives there.

9. Cornwall: because of Arthur and Tristan and Merlin and Lancelot and ALL those dudes. I would climb all over every ruin I could find and imagine Arthur everywhere! (I did get to see what they think was Avalon where King Arthur was buried and that was truly very cool.)

10. Along those same lines Sherwood Forest and Nottingham: because, as I moaned about before, when we were in England years ago, we drove past these places but didn't get out and experience them. And even though Sherwood Forest is but a small clump of trees now, I just KNOW I'd feel the presence of Robin Hood and his gang if I got out and breathed and listened.

NEXT week: places I want to visit NOT part of this world. I'll be pondering all week.....
Join us over at A Small Accomplishment!

P.S. I still can't think of the name of that book. 

Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Book: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Genre: YA SF
Rating: A-
For: Take Another Chance Challenge
From: I bought it! :)

Here's another one I read for this fun challenge. It fulfilled this particular part of the challenge:

Challenge 2: Blogroll Roulette (worth 1 entry)

Find a blogroll at either your book blog or a book blog you like that has at least 15 book blogs on it. Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1 for the min. and 15 for the max. and then hit generate. Then find the blog that is that number on the blogroll you selected.
Awhile back when I was figuring out what to read for this challenge, the number I got from was six. At the time I counted down on my blogroll and Melissa from One Librarian's Book Reviews appeared sixth. A recent book she had reviewed at that time was The Ask and the Answer, so since I had it and was anxious to read it, that's the book I choose! I ended up reading it much of our vacation last week, and all the way on the long car ride home.
So this book, of course, is the second book after The Knife of Never Letting Go, which means there may be some small spoilers for that first book in this review.

I must say this second book, though just as page turning and gripping as the first, was even more depressing than the first. I think the first one had at least some heart-warming moments and a even a little humor here and there. But this one, wow, it's just dark through and through.

Our heros, Todd and Viola, have ended up in what they thought would be the town of Haven, where they thought they could get help. Turns out, Mayor Prentiss, one evil awful dude, has beaten them there and taken over. What he continues to do with that town and the people in it, and Todd and Viola and their friends, just curdles your blood.

Besides all that things get crazy muddled and it's especially hard for our characters (and even somtimes us the readers) to understand what's really going on and who are the good guys and who are the bad.

It's so frustrating!

Once again, as in the first book, there are some very disturbing scenes. This book, this series I should say, is defiinitly for the older set.

All that being said, I'm still quite taken with it  because I'm so completely wrapped up in the story. I'm fully invested in these characters, and boy, I sure hope the next book has something better in store for them or I just may go crazy! That third book will be called Monsters of Men and will be out in September here in the US.

Bottom line: I liked the book a lot, despite it's dark depressing nature. I didn't like it as much as the first book though.

Patrick Ness's website if you want more info.

Other reviews:

Rhapsody in Books
Things Mean A Lot
Tales of a Capricious Reader
At Home With Books
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Dying to Read

Here are Books from the Library that I'm dying to read:

And these are New Books that I'm dying to read:

And there's a couple of Borrowed Books that I'm dying to read:

And of course the pile ARCS (or review copies) that I'm dying to read:

But today, I'm reading The Help for next month's book club so I can pass my book along to people. Then I gotta read Twenty Years After for the Classics Circuit... maybe... if I get through it!

Whoever says "there's nothing to read" has got to be crazy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.13: Poetry Month

This week over at the Geeks, we talking poetry, in celebration of National Poetry Month. Now, I'm not much of a big poetry person, but there are a few I really like.

I love Robert Frost's poems:

Dust of Snow
by Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued. 

Or Shel Silverstein's:

by Shel Silverstein
"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"
Or poems that are sung and become... songs:

You know, I think I like poetry way more than I give myself credit.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Club Report: What We Thought of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Book: Bel Canto by Ann Pachett
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A
For: Book Club
From: the library

I read this book several years ago and loved it. So when I saw it was on the library's book club set list, I suggested it to the book club and it was our book of discussion last night. And once again, I learned that just because I love a book and think it's amazing does not mean everyone else will think the same thing! Amazing how that works! :)

For those who haven't read this one, it's about a party gone very very wrong. During a Japanese business man's birthday party, where his most favorite opera singer has come as a special guest, terrorists infiltrate the home and take the whole group hostage. They have demands, and they hoped the president of the unnamed country would be there so they could get some of those demands met. Well, he's not there; he had a "change of plans." So this hostage situation ends up being drawn out over several months and what happens between the hostages and the terrorists in the meantime is what this book is about.

Reasons why I loved it: (quoting from my own comment on Goodreads!)

1. The feelings and discussions about music speak to me.
2. The love story is moving.
3. The character development is fabulous.
4. The emotional involvement is intense.
5. The ending is tragic (but I still don't like the epilogue ending. It was weird and wrong.)
6. The writing is lyrical, yet simple, which is the kind of writing I'm drawn to.
7. There's so many quotes from this book that I love, but there was one that really stood out to me this time. It is found near the end of the book when one of the boy terrorists is learning how to sing and the terrorist general observes:
"It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how." Wow. Does that not make you sit back and wonder about your own life, and what you might/could/should perhaps be doing with it?
8. I love it when the line between the good guys and the bad guys is very very blurry.

Some observations made at book club last night regarding Bel Canto (small spoilers possible):
  • For some people, the book was completely ruined by the epilogue, even if they enjoyed the writing, the characters and the stories in the whole rest of the book.
  • Some people didn't agree with ANY of my statements above, meaning they didn't connect with any of the characters, or feel any emotional attachment to their situation or concern about what might happen to them.
  • Several people did agree that the writing was quite intriguing and enjoyable.
  • Several others felt the writing was boring and compared it to Faulkner, as in, long and drawn out.
  • Most of us agreed that opera is not the type of music that would draw a crowd of complete strangers together.
  • Most of us also agreed that listening to a soprano opera diva practice all day long would wear on the nerves instead of making us hang on every note in awe.
  • All of us learned that this book was based on a real life hostage situation that happened in Lima Peru in 1996.
  • Most of us loved the love stories, but some of us felt that one was authentic and one was not.
  • For the most part, I think we all enjoyed the book, despite it's various flaws.
Have you read this book? Do you agree with the book club's observations, or not?

P.S. I had fun playing everyone some opera music as we gathered last night. I don't really know what everyone else thought, but I thought it was quite fun! Here's a sample:

Now, even if you don't like opera, you gotta love that!! :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Book: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (Newbery Honor 1997)
Genre: YA (even maybe MG) Fantasy
Rating: A
For: Once Upon a Time Challenge
From: the library
Note on the cover: I've posted the cover of the version I read, which I think is extremely ugly compared to the newer covers I see on everyone else's posts!

Finally! After so many people saying "you need to read this!" I can now say, I've read it! Well, this first book anyway. Three more in the series to go! And if I understand correctly, they just get better and better.

I must say though, at first, I was a little underwhelmed with this book. It took me awhile to get into it. It seemed a lot of telling, not showing. And hardly any conversation, or something. I'm not sure what it was. Another funny thing was that I thought the main character was a girl, I don't know why, so it was a little weird when several pages in someone called her a him and I had to rethink all those first few pages! Love it when that happens.

Another funny thing was that I had just finished Bel Canto, where the main guy is named Gen... and the next book I pick up is this one, so totally and completely different, and the main guy is Gen again. And how common is the name Gen? Not really I'm thinking. So I thought that was interesting.

For those who haven't read it, and I'm not sure there's very many of you, this book is about a boy who's been in prison for awhile because of his thieving prowess and the fact that he has a compulsion to brag about it. One day, he's taken out and hauled off on a journey for the sole purpose of stealing a special treasure for the king's advisor who hopes to make good with the king because this mythical icon will gain him much power. On the way, this small party of guys, all with their own issues, learn much about each other. They also spend a lot of time telling stories about the creation of the world and the mythology behind their society. Soon, the thief Gen, feels less like a prisoner and more like a part of the group and completely takes ownership of the mission they are on.

The best thing about this book is the voice of our main character. He is wonderful! He's quite insolent and feisty and unconcerned about his situation. Or, at least, he appears to be. All he really seems to care about is eating and sleeping and then maybe hopefully being set free after the job is over. I loved getting to know him and can't wait to find out what's in store for him in the next books.

And the ending? Well, let's just say you probably won't see it coming!

Learn more about the author Megan Whalen Turner, and her books, at this site.
Read The Thief online here.

Other Reviews:

The Reading Zone
My Favourite Books
Presenting Lenore

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Suey's Top Tens: Wow Endings

It's been a long time since my last Top Ten post. So this is me trying to get back in the habit!

Awhile back, somewhere, I don't know if it was someone's blog post, or a BTT, or what, but the question came up about books with unforgettable endings. At the time I offered up a small list, but since then I've been thinking it would be a great Top Ten list. So here's my list of books with wow endings! We're talking not necessarily happy or sad, and not cliff hangers (that's a different list!), but endings that you won't forget, ones that make you go "Wait, WHAT?" or make you say "I can't believe that just happened!"

Suey's Top Ten Wow Endings

1. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
2. Pope Joan by Donna Wolfolk Cross
3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
4. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
5. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
6. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
8. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
9. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
10. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I know there's TONS more that should be on the list. Tell me, what did I forget??

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Book: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: B+
For: review request and ARC Challenge
From: ARC sent by publisher (Random House/Spiegel and Grau)
Release Date: Today (April 13)

Wow. I don't even know where to start on this one! When it appeared in the mail, out of the blue,  I was so excited! I'm a huge Life of Pi fan, and so I was really looking forward to this one. But... I must say, I was a little disappointed. It's so different, and it has me baffled. 

Still, when I finished it last night, once again, my chin was on the floor, but for completely different reasons than with Life of Pi. Which basically means, the ability this author has to shock a reader is definitely one of his trademarks!

The premise of the book is very simple. It's about Henry, an author, who's having a bit of struggle with his current book. So, he pretty much drops everything and moves with his wife to a big city. There, he meets a taxidermist who requests his help with a play he's writing. Henry gets all involved in this play and tries to figure out the crazy taxidermist. What he learns in the end is the reader shock moment... well, part of it.

So, the first part was interesting, the struggling author's musings and etc. As with Life of Pi, it feels like you are just reading a journal entry and that this is just the author telling his experiences. Which, I'm thinking is partially true. But then, for me it lagged a bit when we start in with the taxidermist's play, the one about Beatrice (a donkey) and Virgil (a monkey.) I could tell there was a point trying to be made, but it was going right over my clueless head.

Then, suddenly, the point is made quite obvious. There are several scenes that are extremely disturbing, and I was thinking, "why am I reading this?" Then there's that shocking ending, well, as I said before, a couple of shocks actually, and I was left with the a feeling like I was hit in the gut. 

Which is the feeling I think he was going for all along!

My reaction was to throw the book on the floor and say "Well, that was the weirdest book I've read in a long time!"

I'm being purposefully vague because if you choose to read this book and you know it all before starting, you won't really have this reaction. I'm sure many reviews will just come right out and say what happens and what it's about, but you won't find that here.

In the end, as I said, I was a little disappointed. But, still, even with this short little book, I managed to go through a huge range of emotions, and there's something to be said for that.

Bottom line: It was a unique reading experience!

For more about the book, click here on its very own website.
Click here for more about author Yann Martel.

Here's a video with Yann Martel talking about the book if you are interested:

Other Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews
The Crowded Leaf
The Book Lady's Blog
Tales of a Capricious Reader


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