Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts on Eclipse

What I liked:

-- Jasper! Wow, lots of lines. Way to talk Jasper! He is as cool a dude as I thought.

-- back stories of certain Cullens. Interesting. And Jasper should really talk in that southern accent more often!

-- feisty Jacob. Oh... so very very feisty! "I'm hotter than you!"

-- smiling Edward. Yes, much less sullen, more smiley, and his talking was less mumbly this time and more just soft spoken, which I liked.

-- Riley. I hardly remember him from the book, and he played quite a bigger role here than I expected. He was good, I mean bad.

-- The fighting scene was awesome, as was the "training to fight" scene.

-- The tent scene was just as I imagined it! Way to go people! The pain on Edward's face, the gloating on Jacob's. Perfect!

-- Charlie. Always Charlie.

-- The Kiss! You know the one I mean (not the "ouch I just broke my hand" one, the other one.) Yeah, it was a good one!

-- the sparks between Edward and Jacob. They pulled that off really well I thought.

-- Jasper and Alice interaction. Whoa!

What I didn't like:

-- I completely missed the Muse song, but it was there!

-- It felt a little slow to start, and took awhile to get going (except for that Riley scene at the beginning.)

-- Leah. Hmmmm.... not too sure about her.

-- Imprint talk creeped me out, maybe because I know what's coming.

-- Really there's not a whole lot I didn't like actually I guess.

Are you going to see it? Will you come and tell me what you thought when you do?

Authors Pick Five: Suzanne Beecher

Last week, I reviewed Suzanne Beecher's fun book, Muffins and Mayhem. This week, I asked her my favorite author question:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

This is her answer:

My favorite books, the ones that I’d consider all-time favorites, change with the flow of my life. I read for what I need. But answering the question today, here are my five choices: (I’m primarily a nonfiction reader.)

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Humor is essential to a satisfying, happy life and this book makes me laugh and laugh and laugh out-of-control every time I reread it. ( I wish I would have written the book.--my greatest compliment.)

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

One of my favorite inspirational books for writing, especially when I started working on my memoir, “Muffins and Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if disorderly) Life”. You can pick this book up, turn to any page and jump into a story. It’s fabulous.

A Complaint is a Gift by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moeller

This book changed the way I run my company, In the midst of reading it, I was so excited about trying out the suggestions that I couldn’t wait for someone to complain to me. You don’t have to own a business to get something out of this book. If people complain to you, or you ever feel the need to complain to others, you’ll love the strategies in this book.

Poems Old and New and Girls by Helen Ferris

This is a book of poetry copyright 1957. I had this book when I was a kid. I’ve read this book so much that there isn’t even a cover on it any longer. I can even recite some of my favorites from memory. . .

“The Monkeys and the Crocodile” by Laura E. Richards 

Five little monkeys
Swinging from a tree;
Teasing Uncle Crocodile,
Merry as can be.
Swinging high, swinging low,
Swinging left and right:
“Dear Uncle Crocodile,
Come and take a bite!”

Five little monkeys
Swinging in the air;
Heads up, tails up,
Little do they care.
Swinging up, swinging down,
Swinging far and near;
“Poor Uncle Crocodile,
Aren’t you hungry, dear?”

Four little monkeys
Sitting in a tree;
Heads down, tails down,
Dreary as can be.
Weeping loud, weeping low,
Crying to each other;
“Wicked Uncle Crocodile
To gobble up our brother!”

(I live in Florida and I never tease crocodiles! :))

The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block

It’s an older book. The author offers a new way of thinking, so we can free ourselves from making life choices and decisions out of guilt and messages that we are bombarded with from marketing and other people. A great book that really made me think.

Thanks for participating Suzanne! What a fun list of books!

Please check out Suzanne's site and learn more about her book at If you are at all interested in life stories mixed with fantastic recipes, you'll want to read this book!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Book: Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A-
For: Fun 
From: I bought it.

Okay, so here's another one I've heard tons about and decided to finally read to see what I thought for myself. The back says you don't need to know what it's about, but I found it doesn't need to be all that secret, so here's what it's about:

There's a girl from Nigeria and she's just been "let out" of the detainment center in London. She's been held  there for two years after trying to come into the country. She has an address and phone number of one person, and so it's that person she calls for help.

The story line flips back and forth between this girl (who has named herself Little Bee) and the wife of the guy whose phone number she has. The wife is going through some pretty major trauma herself and so through many flashbacks, we learn about what caused that particular incident, what's happened to Little Bee and how exactly their lives intertwined before and how they are even more connected now.

It's a fascinating story. And I loved the voice of Little Bee especially. She is a wonderful character, so strong, so much spirit and spunk and very endearing.

But what happens to her, and to the wife also, is, wow, hard to read. It's the sort of stuff that's hard to get out of your head, that you think about a lot after finishing, that keeps you awake at night, that makes you feel so helpless and frustrated and angry. This is the stuff that gives me nightmares way more than the so called "horror" novels.

Despite the horrific nature of the story, the book itself was beautifully written and a very quick and fast read.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it.

For more on author Chris Cleave click on over to his official site.
Click here for more on Little Bee itself.

Other Reviews:

Book Journey
Alison's Book Marks
Beth Fish Reads
Maw Books Blog
Rhapsody in Books
One Librarian's Book Reviews
.... and many many MANY more!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.23: Dear Author

For Weekly Geeks this week we are encouraged to write a letter to a recent favorite author or an old favorite. Here's what I've come up with:

Dear Mr. Shusterman,

Where have you been all my reading life? Wait, let me guess.... you came to be a famous well-known author sometime in the 90s I bet, which, as I have established, was my decade of lost reading! But that's okay, because as they say, better late than never.

Just in case you want to know, here's how we met. I remember hearing your name thrown around here and there especially at the local science fiction and fantasy conference that I've lately discovered. But then, last year during the library's summer reading program, they were promoting a bunch of books up for a local award, and your Unwind was one of them. However, they, the librarians said, "This book is really great, but beware, it's disturbing and may make you squeamish!"

That was enough to make me a bit leery. But not my daughter. She nabbed the book, read it and loved it. So finally, just awhile back when I saw it available once again at the library, I did the nabbing, the reading and the loving of it. (And it didn't make me squeamish, by the way, but it did have some disturbing bits!)

So that has set me off on my own personal Neal Shusterman quest these past months. And man, you've written a ton of books! It may take me awhile to catch up, but I'll sure have fun doing it. Even though I'm so not in your target audience. That being said, I do have lots of influence over your target audience!

Here's why I enjoy your books and will promote them wholeheartedly to the kids in my life:
  • sense of humor. Lots and lots of it. 
  • clean. No bad words, no vulgarity. (At least what I've read so far.) Refreshing.
  • thought provoking. Even with funny and clean, there's still lots to take in and ponder and learn.
  • great characters. Kids that I fall in love with nearly instantly. Wonderful. 
  • books boys would like. People always complain there's not YA written for boys. I wonder if they've read your books. I think these are perfect books for boys.
  • clever. Not just funny, but clever funny. 
  • creative. Situations that aren't the same old same old stuff that everyone seems to be writing about these days.
So thank you for writing such wonderful books and keep up the good work! 

All the best from your new fan,


P.S. Here's a video I've found as I've stalked stumbled around that makes me even more a fan:

Love it!!!! :) 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Sunday Salon: I'm Reading!

Have I had a good couple weeks of reading or what? This is what summer is all about!

Here's what I've just finished recently and need to officially review:

Little Bee by Chris Cleave: Beautifully written book with a subject matter that is intensely hard to read.

My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite: perfect summer fluff

Everlost by Neal Shusterman: a highly adventurous ghost story

Here's what I've started:

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan: about five chapters in and so far we're seeing the story only from Perrin's point of view, which is okay by me... so far....

Hidden Wives by Claire Avery: a few pages in and already I'm interested and curious

Captivate by Carrie Jones: One chapter in and so far it's mostly just a wrap up of the first book Need.

The Demon's Lexicon by  Sarah Rees Brennan: Several chapters in and I've put it aside in favor of the other books. I'm not sure why. Just a mood thing I guess.

And what I hope to get to soon:

The  Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer: My friend at work bought it, started it, said she couldn't handle it, said I could borrow it if I wanted, after which she plans to donate it to the library. This does not bode well for the book! But still, I want to read it just so I'm up with things.

Spells by Aprilynne Pike: Reviews are saying they like it better than Wings.

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: Dang, I'm dying to get back to Gen!

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett: So cool, this showed up in the mail. And I think it's the hugest book I've seen in awhile (bigger by another third than The Passage) and so if I want to have it done by its September release date, I need to start now!

Then there's eight or so other random library books most of which I'm so very anxious to read! Ah, but that's just the same old story, right?

I think I can keep up this roll for another week. But then, the next week, not so much. Hopefully that busy week won't throw me off too much and I can get back on track afterwards and read read read!

How's your summer reading going? What book have you read so far this summer that you think there's no way I should miss?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday Rambles.... Make That Saturday

So, how's everyone's summer going? Here's a few thoughts on my summer so far:

** We survived the learner's permit experience and Driver's Ed with the 15 year old. He wants to drive every where now, and he's doing pretty good but still.... it's nerve wracking to say the least. And some of you may have seen my couple of Twitter rants. People out there on the road these days are rude and obnoxious. Yes, I know you are shocked. But guys, give a learning driver a break.... and let's stop with all the laying on the horn... please!? If he hestitates a bit, and/or waits for it to be all clear before he goes, you will live. In fact... literally, we will all live!!

** We haven't been successful on the job front though. Another thing to rant about. People forget that somehow they all had a first job! To pass up hiring my nice, dependable, 4.0 student that will be one of your best workers ever? It's insane and extremely frustrating!


And that's as far as I got with my rambles yesterday, Friday, before I was interrupted by a chorus of "Moms!!!" So now to continue this Saturday afternoon!

** So, who's going to Eclipse this week? I think I'll go on Wednesday sometime. And my guess is I'll need to buy a ticket ahead of time. I'm really looking forward to it and can't wait to see how they handled the tent scene.

** We're having our own boy drama at this house. I think I could write my own teenage love triangle romance by just observing the events of this past week. It's not as fun living it as it is reading it, let's just say that!

** I've been making a movie of our lives this past year for a movie show and tell event coming up at a family reunion in a week or so. (Some of you may even have a small part in it!) It's been fun. I'm remembering that "other" hobby I have! But wow, it gives me a headache!

** I've been sure having a blog fog this past week or two. It's been BORING around here! BUT, at the same time, I sure am getting lots of reading done! Which all means I'm getting behind in reviews.

** Did you see what the assignment is over at Weekly Geeks is for the week? Write a letter to an author! I love the idea, simple though it is. I'm composing one in my head even as we speak. Hopefully it will make it to the blog and you can see that coming up.

** Raidergirl3 and I are taking a break with the Bookword Game for the summer, BUT we need more ideas for bookish situations that need a word. Please comment with any ideas you have for us! We'll be back probably in September or so with more bookword fun.

** Anybody know of any good books that feature a cowboy as the leading male love interest? (Something like A Man From Snowy River?) I was just wondering.....

** We rented and watched When in Rome last night. What a fun, silly movie! We loved it! Funny, sappy to the core, and so much fluff. It was perfect when you need something like that.

** Well, I guess I've had a nice break, and now it's time to get back to cleaning this disgusting house! Even though tomorrow it will be messy again!!

How does life find you this summer Saturday?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: Muffins and Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher

Book: Muffins and Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher
Genre: Memoir
Rating: A
For: review request
From: review copy sent by publisher

Wow! Look at that! Two memoirs in a month! I must be on some kind of a roll!

Seriously, I don't know why I don't read more of these things because I always end up loving them. I accepted a request to review this one, knowing really nothing about it except it sounded fun. And it really was. The author, Suzanne Beecher, talks about her life as little tidbits and experiences that she compares to recipes.... recipes for life. Thrown into the mix are real recipes that relate somehow to the recipe for life she's telling at the moment.

Most of her stories are quite funny (like her lemonade stand business,) some are sad (like her strained relationship with her parents,) some are moving and poignant (like her friendship with the elderly lady,) and some are inspirational (like her fight with a rare eye disorder.) I really enjoyed them all!

But the part that hit me hardest was when she telling about a time she was in a newborn intensive care hospital, holding her grandbaby, observing all the other parents in there with stories much worse than her own, and she realized that it's not about making a name for yourself, or trying to put a mark on the world somehow with all your business knowledge and/or amazing creativity, but it's about just loving each other. I really liked that thought and it's something I need to remember more often.

Anyway, there's lots of fun recipes and I hope to try many of them out soon. But I'll have to wait a bit for that experience since I've currently loaned my copy out to my mom!

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it!

Suzanne Beecher is the creator for an online book club called She also has a special website just for this book. There you can find the recipes included in the book, and create your own family cookbook complete with their special stories.

Other Reviews:

She is Too Fond of Books
Beth's Book Review Blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Book: Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Genre: YA (or not) Romance
Rating: A-
For: Fun
From: the library

This book is a sequel of sorts to Perfect Chemistry. That book is about Alex, but this book is about his brother Carlos, who has come to live with Alex. He's not too happy. He's a bit cocky, and rebellious and bitter and frustrated. The first day at his new school, he is assigned a peer guide for the week, a geeky looking girl named Kiara. He does a lot of eye rolling.

And of course, he ends up in trouble before the week is out and in order to help solve the problem, Kiara's family offers their home to him. He's thinking, what rotten luck, but he doesn't have much choice. And now he has to deal with Kiara and her strangeness 24/7.

Most reviews say they still like Perfect Chemistry better, but I actually think I enjoyed this one better. Even though there was still the harsh language and choices being made that I don't agree with, it seemed just a bit less harsh and tamer than the first book. That being said, there's still plenty of steamy hotness going on in this book just like the first one!

As far as characters go, I liked Kiara much better than Brittany from the first book, and I actually think I liked Carlos better than Alex too. Alex was a little scary, and I think Carlos was all bark and no bite. But still, they are both such complicated boys!

Bottom line: I enjoyed it a lot.

Other reviews:

Juiciliciousss Reviews
Charlotte's Library
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
Just Your Typical Book Blog

And a pretty hot nice book trailer if you are interested:

My Top Tens: YA Classics

My Favorite Children's (YA/MG) Classics:

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgen Burnett
2. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgen Burnett
3. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
4. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
5. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
7. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
9. The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope
10. Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Oh man. I could go on forever I think.

What would you include in your Top Ten? Make a post and share your link in the comments.

(P.S. Yes, I've tweaked my Top Ten feature to reflect less on me, and more on sharing. So hopefully some of you will be happy to share what you would include in your own Top Ten list.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.22: Hoarding Behavior

Over at Weekly Geeks this week, we've been asked the following questions:

  • Post a photo (or two or three) of your books to-be-read
  • Share your buying or book accumulating habits - how bad of a problem do YOU have?!?!?
  • Do you keep all the books you've read, or do you give them away or sell them?
  • Can you walk past a bookstore and not go in? If you go in, do you impulsively purchase?

Here's my lovely TBR shelf. I've posted it before, but as it's ever changing, here it is again. Sometimes I try to organize it. This, if you must know, is it in all it's unorganized glory. Too bad you can't see the stacks behind the other stacks! Or the stacks on the floor, where most of the library books end up. Yes, most of this shelf is TBR... there are a few recently read books that have yet to be shelved in the more permanent location.

I do have a bad problem I think. Yes, I do. Especially lately. I never used to buy as much as I buy now, but something is different. Perhaps it's the desire to support the local authors, which as you can see by clicking here, is quite a pile. Perhaps it's the fact that I got a job a couple of years ago and I use the money for "fun" things... which if that's not books I don't know what is. Perhaps it's because I'm going through a mid-life crisis and I'm learning to understand the "seize the day" concept. 

So, yeah. I have a problem.

And yes, I do keep my books. I love having a library of sorts in my house and my kids are discovering the fun of our very own library. We have been lending out books more often than before, in fact I've created a Google spreadsheet to keep track of where they go. I feel like, at this point, most of those books have yet lots of love and reading to enjoy from people in this house, so I'm not ready to give them away yet.

Bookstores. Ummm... I can walk by without going in because usually if I see a "new to me" bookstore, I'm on vacation with the family in tow and then it's not so much fun. But I have hauled them in a lot too!  And yes I usually buy something, but not always. 

My problem is more with the library. I can't go in without coming back out with something!

Do you have a hoarding problem? Write a post and come share over at Weekly Geeks!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Book: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A
For: F2F Book club summer project
From: I bought it!

This is the continuing story of the thief boy we met in the first book called, The Thief. And this could be quite the tricky review since that first book ends in quite the twist, if I talk about this second book much at all, it will give away that twist!


So let's just say that our boy, the thief, gets mixed up in the middle of a war between all the three kingdoms of this world. It starts out with quite the horrendous thing that happens to him, in fact, it was one of those, wait, WHAT? moments for me. The, "did I just read what I thought I read?" sort of moments. And because of that incident, he has much to overcome.

But he makes a surprising decision, and it's all pretty amazing actually, how he manipulates things and what happens. In fact, I love how in this book, what you think is happening is not necessarily what is really happening, so stay on your toes!

I also love this book because even though it does get quite political, it is also very romantic in an unconventional sort of way. It's very hard to describe, but whatever it is, I loved it.

But the best thing I love about this book is the thief himself. What a dude! I don't know, there is just something about him that makes you love him no matter what. He is strong, yet vulnerable. Smart, yet silly. And so very funny. His sense of humor is a blast. And he puts this wall up around him that seems so impenetrable, and it's great to see how even that is not what it seems.

I'm totally enjoying the series. I can't wait to start the next one. (Though I am waiting just a bit, because I don't want it all over too fast!) And I can see what everyone's been talking about. These books are unique, not the same old same old that we (or at least I) seem to be caught up in lately.

Bottom line: I loved it!

Presenting Lenore
Becky's Book Reviews
Fantasy Cafe

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Looking Back

I'm in a "looking back" sort of mood, so I've consulted my notebooks and can tell you this stuff that I was reading in years past:

June 2002: The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
June 2003: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
June 2004: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
June 2005: Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
June 2006: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
June 2007: I am Legend by Richard Matheson
June 2008: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
June 2009: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

The first few years on this list I only read like 2 or 3 books in the month of June. The last few it was more like 10 or 12. Hmmm..... what changed I wonder?

Another interesting thing, many of these books ended up on my Top Ten for that particular year. Did any of them end up on your Top Ten? June's a good month I guess.

What I'm reading now:

Books I just finished that are still waiting for a review: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Tuner, Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles and Muffins and Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher.

Books I started but didn't get grabbed by yet: Spells by Aprilynne Pike, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan.

Book I'm reading today that DID grab me: Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Do you remember what you were reading in past summers? Have you been grabbed by a book this June?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm Versatile!

Hey! Cool! Melissa over at My Reading Table got her very first award and passed it on to me! So, of course I'm playing.

First, seven random (really really random) things about me:

1. When I was 16 I had a job playing the piano for a ballet school while they did their warm ups.

2. When I was in kindergarten, I was awarded two little plastic trophies at the end of the year, one for not missing any days of school, and one for not missing any spelling words the whole year!

3. When I was dating my husband-to-be, his company told all the employees that if they made so much (something like $100,000 million) by the next year, everyone would get a trip to Hawaii. We were married by the next year! (And yes, went to Hawaii on the company's dollar for our first anniversary.)

4.  Just saw Toy Story 3 today and loved it. Laughed and cried. (I knew that whole story line would get to me with my kids growing up suddenly and just the other day we were going through the toys and.... yeah.....)

5. I must confess now that when everyone is complaining about bad weather, I sort of enjoy it. I like storms, rain, snow (unless I really need to drive far in it), and gusty breezes. I like cooler weather, and get grouchy when it's too hot.

6. I didn't start wearing glasses until I was about 22 years old. I blamed it on eye strain during college!

7. I dream of going on a road trip across the whole US. That and a whirlwind European tour!

Second, to pass it along. I'm not going to try and do 15, as the "rules" say, but I'll just do a random list of new-to-me bloggers that I've lately discovered:

Girls Gone Reading
The Introverted Reader
Reading Vacation
Book Clutter
There's a Book
A Little Bookish
Sam's Book Blog
The Allure of Books

Friday, June 18, 2010

Twitter Chatting and Challenge Hosting

Have you ever followed a Twitter chat event? Whoa, talk about eye/hand/brain coordination! For those new-ish to Twitter, this is kind of like the old chat room experience, only it's through Twitter, where you chat about a certain subject for a certain amount of time, and use a hashtag (#) so it's easy to follow only those tweets. Sometimes we call it a Twitter party too! (I feel silly explaining as if I know so much about it!) Anyway, this past week or two I have suddenly seemed to discover this whole phenomenon.

For instance, on Wednesday evening it was the launch of a new Twitter chat meant to be a conversation between book bloggers called #Bblog. (Of course any book loving person can participate) Luckily, I was able to join in for a fun conversation about reading challenges. An ironic topic for me since I just dumped a bunch of them this last week. For the schedule (which looks like it's growing quickly) click on over to their dedicated blog.

Also, just yesterday afternoon, I followed (and sort of participated) in the #followreader chat, which I've seen before but hadn't really paid attention too. This time, there was a roaring discussion about the relationship between bloggers and authors and publishers, and ever interesting ongoing topic. Also, I topic I have pretty much no clue about, so it was fun to see what so many thought and what they had to say. It has it's own blog too, where the Twitter convos are even archived.

Then, of course, a few weeks ago there was that wild Twitter party for those involved in Armchair BEA. That was fun. I would suggest, if you decide to try coming along for a Twitter chat ride, that you use something like very easy, plus it adds the hahstag automatically for you and it makes it much more possible for you to follow the conversation.

Anyway, one of the things we talked about during the #Bblog chat was what makes a good reading challenge host. It's something I've been wondering about since just this year I started a challenge of sorts meant to support local authors, and last year, Jessica from The Bluestocking Society and I started the Printz Project. And I haven't really done much about them since, except wonder what I should be doing about them!

So here's what I'm thinking. Little mini challenges for each one of them.

For the Support Your Local Author Challenge, I propose that current participants make a page (or post and link to it somewhere on your blog) that lists all your local authors you are interested in, and the books under each one that you hope to read. Then as you review the books, link your reviews to that page. Perhaps many of you have already done this and I just haven't been observant! Natasha from Maw Books has her list here. And I've just created my list here. (though reviews aren't linked up yet as of this writing.) Currently this challenge is a little heavy with participants from Utah (since those bloggers sort of know me) so I'd love to see people from other places, especially, get a list going so I can see who your local authors are!

The mini challenge idea for the Printz Project is simple. Read two Printz books by the end of the summer! I got all excited about this project, and then I don't think I've read a Printz book since! So I especially need to pick it up and get back on the wagon.

Let me know what you think, if you do one of these minis, and if I should figure out prizes to go along with. Here's hoping I can be a better challenge host!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Book: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A-
For: final book for the Once Upon a Time Challenge
From: personal collection (bought it LONG ago)

This is the continuing story of Percy Jackson and his buddies Grover and Annabeth. In this adventure, they must rescue Grover from the famous cyclops (of Odysseus fame) and recover the golden fleece (of Jason fame) and save the future of Camp Half Blood.

I love how these books have a huge appeal to kids and how they are learning their mythology stories in such a fun way. However, though I enjoy them, I'm still waiting to be "grabbed" by them or "sucked" in, as they say. It's hard for me to picture Percy has a mere 13 year old, doing what he's doing, even with his special powers. In fact, because of the movie, I kept picturing him as older then had to keep reminding myself he's barely even a teenager! Hate it when that happens.

Anyway, my daughter loves these books and was pleased to death that I was finally reading one again. She would ask me every chance she could where I was and what was happening. And she couldn't wait for me to get to that last line which, as she put it, was a big surprise. And I must agree, it ended with a bit of a twist!

I will keep going with the series, but with lots of breaks in between.

Bottom line: Fun books!

For all about the author Rick Riordan and his other books, click here.

Other Reviews:

The Book Nest
Age30+... A Lifetime of Books
Beyond Books
The Zen Leaf

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Book: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: A-
For: Fun
From: The library

Yet again, one of those books that I've heard so many people talk about and finally got my hands on so I could see what's up!

This book, told from the guy's point of view, grabbed me from the start. It's sort of flip flop from the "normal" plot structure of these popular teen paranormal romances. We have the guy falling for the new girl who moves into town to live with her reclusive uncle. She's bizarre, different and beautiful. He falls hard and fast!  Slowly, he learns about her family, her background and how he's surprisingly intertwined with it all.

What I especially loved about this book was how it mixed some history of the Civil War into the paranormal story. Very nice. I loved seeing things from the guy's side. I loved the writing and the descriptions. The book itself was a little long and had one or two moments of slowness there in the middle, but not enough to really affect my reading.

And like me, you may be surprised at who the beautiful creatures are!

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it.

For more about the book and it's sequel Beautiful Darkness, click here.
Kami's Blog
Margaret's Blog

Other Reviews:

My Friend Amy
The Written World
Linus's Blanket
The Book Nest
All About {n}

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bloggiesta Update Day Three and Wrap Up

This day of Bloggiesta was pretty much a bust. Did I accomplish anything? Not really.

  • I wrote a Sunday Salon post at least!
  • I added a Utah Book Blogger section to my sidebar.
  • I added some new faves to my blog roll.
And that's about it. I actually accomplished quite a bit that I set out to do overall. The stuff I didn't manage was send some authors an email, clear out my Google Reader and get more Bookword ideas from you all. (I will  still do that soon  I hope!)

So, in the end, it wasn't bad. I have no idea how  many hours I worked on things (I'm lousy at keeping track of hours) but if I had to guess I'd say probably six Friday, six Saturday and one today. Thirteen hours! Not bad! I commented on a few other bloggers posts and made a couple of new-to-me blogging friends, but not near as many as in January. Don't know what happened there. I added a comment to three mini-challenges I think, and the surprise photo one yesterday at Maw Books. (Be sure to click here to see all the pictures!)

But mostly I just had a blast working on some things while chit chatting with other participants on Twitter. Very fun.

But now, I'm anxious to read because today I started The Queen of Attolia and already I'm dying to get back to it!

But first one last music piece for you!  I wanted to share some Ricky Martin, and my favorite of his is Cup of Life. I was searching for a video to post and then remembered I had my own video I put up on YouTube of our experience doing the zip line in the jungles of Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago, which I set to The Cup of Life. So what the heck.... here it is.

The Cup of Life while watching me and my family do the zip line (Dang, that was fun!):

The Sunday Salon: The Challenge About Challenges

At the beginning of the year I joined about five or six challenges, which I know for some of you, is like a drop in the bucket. But for me, it must have been too much because this past weekend during Bloggiesta, I deleted/quit/bagged/trashed/stopped about three. And I'm not even really feeling very bad or anything!

So here's the thing. Challenges in the beginning sound so fun and, well, challenging! But then we lose our excitement and then we get sick of keeping track (at least I do) and then suddenly we find ourselves feeling bogged down by them. Raise your hand if you know what I mean. It's sad. But true.  So I took of the ones I wasn't feeling worried about, and left on the ones I'm enjoying. However, one of them, the TBR challenge which is one of my favorites, I've only read one book out of 12 so far this year! And that challenge is simply to read your own books! I mean, that's what I really should be doing anyway right?

But then there's the still fairly new occurrence of review books coming in. And the ever tempting library that's in my face every day. And that darn Borders that sends me coupons every week. Or like yesterday at FYE where they are selling all their books right now at 50% off! So all those "old" forever waiting books just keep waiting.

Yes, those challenges are challenging!

BUT, guess what? I finished one this weekend! Yes, even in the midst of crazy Bloggiesta stuff! I read my final book for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. For that challenge I wanted to read something in each category. So here's what I ended up with:

For a fairy tale book I read A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn which is a modern retelling (sort of) of Sleeping Beauty. Very fun.

For a folklore book I read Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson which is a wonderful take on the Robin Hood story. Another "how Robin began" story because it ends as he is banned to the forest.

For a fantasy I read several books, but I think I counted The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner as the one for this challenge. Great book. And this morning I started the sequel and wow, that didn't take long to grab me!

And finally, this weekend for mythology I read A Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, the second book in the Percy Jackson series. I love how these books are "accidentally" teaching kids the mythology tales. So cool.

What I learned from the challenge is that fantasy is definitely my strong spot and mythology my weak one! And I love mythology, so that's just weird. But true nonetheless. I need to find more good mythology books I guess. Not dirty crude ones, and not simple kids ones, but something in the middle please!

Anyway, I'm happy to be able to say DONE with the challenge and I will look forward and plan on doing the RIP one coming up in the fall.

Have you finished a challenge lately? Did any Bloggiesters do like me and quit clean up their challenges this weekend? Any suggestions for how to have the fun of challenges without the commitment stress?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bloggiesta Update Day Two

This what I accomplished on the blog today:

  • Added my newly created Reviews by Author tab
  • Added some Blogger pages (created new ones, moved sidebar stuff to pages, moved some old pages from top tabs to Blogger pages)
  • Posted BBAW registration post
  • Registered for BBAW
  • Wrote a review policy
  • Entered mini challenges for the favicon and the review policy and "your best foot forward"
  • Entered Natasha's surprise picture challenge
  • Deleted some folders on Google Reader, unsubscribed to a few more dead blogs, marked a bunch of blogs as read, read/skimmed a bunch of blogs. I'm still at 1000+!
  • Wrote three Top Ten posts and saved 'em for later.
Even with all that I still got out and about. We shopped at FYI's sale and bought way too much stuff. Then we went to the grocery store and bought food for a bbq tomorrow. And the kid with the brand new learner's permit drove us all over. He also had to observe an intersection for his driver's ed homework. And to the jerky obnoxious person who honked at him because he wavered just a bit once today.... HAVE PATIENCE! You were once a new timid driver too! Sheesh. That made me so mad. 

Today is also our city's summer celebration, so we just got back from the parade and plan on the fireworks in just a bit. Too bad it's freezing out there! What weird weather we've been having!

I hope to be back to do some more stuff tomorrow. But we have church in the morning and the birthday bbq in the afternoon, so I don't know. It could be iffy. But hopefully there'll be some evening time at least.

So everyone have fun and hang in there!

And now more music to keep you in the Spanish-y mood:

BBAW Registration Links

To register and participate fully in BBAW this year we are asked to define our blog and enter it in a specific category. I decided to enter my blog as an "Eclectic Book Blog" which is described like this: This blog doesn’t specialize in any one book genre. It is known for consistently excellent reviews, recommendations, analyses, and other content in a variety of genres. Seriously, I'm all over the place genre-wise, so hopefully it makes sense to enter in this niche.

The next step is to create a post where we link to five favorite posts including three reviews, and two other miscellaneous posts. Here's what I've chosen:

Three Reviews

Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin  (horror/SF)

Review: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martell (literary fiction)

Review: My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter (YA)

Two Miscellaneous

The Trouble With Author Signings  (personal bookish observations)

True or False: 90% of Everything is Crap (discussion/opinion post)

And now that I've declared myself and picked my posts, I can go and officially register. Have you registered yet? If not, get to it! (Sign ups for BBAW can be found here.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bloggiesta Update Day One

I actually got started on my Bloggiesta goals Thursday evening because there was nothing going on and so why waste the time, right? Then today, after a crazy morning at work in the library, I've been working on stuff off and on all afternoon and evening. Here's what I've managed so far:

  • figured out that favicon thing! Wahoo. (At least I think it's working. No more orange B!)
  • Updated Reviews by Title page.
  • Created Reviews by Author page (but haven't published yet)
  • Deleted dead blogs from Google Reader
  • Labeled reviews by genres (starting with books read this year.)
  • Deleted stuff from side bar
  • Created Blogger pages for Favorite Posts, Lists of Books

Family: Everyone seems content with mom stuck on the computer. Everyone else has their computer addictions too and luckily, we nearly have enough computers to go around here! That is so insane! 

Food: We tried for Cafe Rio this evening, but the line was so line, so we ended up at In and Out instead. Oh, well. Maybe Mexican tomorrow. 

Music: For music I created an Enrique Iglesias station on Pandora. Perfect!

Okay, I'm done for tonight! Both me and the computer are way too tired! See you tomorrow!

Authors Pick Five: Michael Perry

It's been awhile since I've managed an Authors Pick Five post, but after reading Coop: A Family, A Farm and the Pursuit of One Good Egg (see my review here) I knew I just had to see if its author Michael Perry would participate. And look, he did! So I asked him the question: What five books are most important or influential to you? And here's his answer complete with fun explanations:

Five books (and/or authors) that are important or influential to me:

The Holy Bible (King James Version): It permeated my childhood. By teaching me early to speak in the rhythm of "wilt and "shalt," and "thee" and "thou," it also taught me to listen for poetry elsewhere. And even though I am nowadays a bumbling agnostic (I ain't lookin' for a fight, I'm just lookin'), it was this book that first and forever shaped my thinking regarding all possible worlds beyond this world. Oddly enough, even as a lapsed believer, I find myself tending to defend the King James Version, as to my palate the friendlied-up syntax of the more modern versions is the literary equivalent of a decaf latte'.

Louis L'Amour cowboy books (any one of the multitudinous): As a boy, I gobbled them up. As an adult I read one or two per year purely for the sense memory of all those childhood days spent reading on the porch or by the fire. And yet, Louis L'Amour's single biggest influence on me was not his chaptered prose, but rather the mini-bio printed at the end of each paperback. There I learned that L'Amour was a North Dakota boy from a farming community who skinned cattle and baled hay and worked in sawmills before he became a writer. This planted in me a seed that would not sprout until I was well off the farm, out of college, and working as a nurse, but somewhere within me the idea that a rural kid like me might go ahead and try his hand at the typewriter (yes, I am that old) survived...when I finally got serious about the writing, it was Louis L'Amour who made me think I maybe could do it despite the barn boots.

"All Quiet on the Western Front": In the book COOP I explain the latent power of this book in my life. How when I read it first (in third grade) I believed (thanks to Louis L'Amour, no doubt) the good guys were always clearly cut. By the time I finished All Quiet on the Western Front, I had my first vague understanding that this is a world of complications.

Sharon Olds, "The Dead & The Living": When I first fell for writing, I fell hardest for the poets. Dylan Thomas, Lucille Clifton, Frank Stanford, Rita Dove, James Wright, Theodore Roethke...oh how I strove to be them. In the end, I wasn't much of a poet. But I devour them daily, and do my best to sneak poetry into my prose. I choose Sharon Olds today because "The Dead & The Living" was one of the first poetry books that moved me, that knocked me flat with imagery. Furthermore, Olds writes from a female perspective that is powerful in numerous respects, and I hope my writing benefits from the consideration of that perspective.

Dave Barry (his early newspaper columns, mainly): I try to leaven all my poetical-philosophical-memoir-y typing with overt snorts of humor, and those early Dave Barry newspaper columns definitely loosened a few of my screws in that respect. I also saw him speak live once and he was high-larious; I resolved that should I ever write a book and be given the opportunity to talk about it, I would strive to keep things as lively as Dave did. To this day I will gladly interrupt my most poetic renderings to explain why you should never stand behind a sneezing cow.

Michael Perry is the author of several books besides Coop. Among them are Population 435: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and Truck: A Love Story. He also pursues a musical talent and plays with a group called The Long Beds. Check out their CD here.

I, for one, have found a new favorite author to stalk!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: Coop by Michael Perry

Book: Coop: A Family, A Farm and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry
Genre: Memoir
Rating: A
For: TLC Blog Tour
From: the publisher

I'm so glad I choose this one to review from the line-up Trish from TLC gave me! It was just what I needed in the midst of all the vampires and horror and supernatural I've been reading lately. Something so real, so grounding, and so wonderful.

This book is the story of the author and his family's first year of farming. He was actually raised on a farm, but then went out in the world to seek his fortune. Later, after settling down with his wife, they decided to have a go at it themselves. And what an adventure it is!

But the main thing to know about this book is that it is not just about the crazy farming experiences, but that it is also about a family and their many bonding moments, their life lessons and their connections. Here's some of the things we go through with them during the coarse of this book:
  • the birth a new baby, at home, in a hot tub!
  • the death of nephew, which is sad beyond words.
  • learning about pigs and what they eat! (And yes, it's not lost on me that my nickname refers to this whole pig eating thing... but it's spelled different right? )
  • becoming attached to chickens.
  • building a coop
  • planting a garden only to have the dog dig it up
  • popcorn night!
  • teaching a 5 year old to work, including harvesting her own hay for her guinea pig
Another thing I loved about this book is that we not only learn about the year Michael Perry started his own farm, but there is lots of flashing back to his growing up years on his parent's farm. In fact, the book ends up being a sort of tribute to his parents and how they raised him and what strong, amazing people they are. 

Even though I myself was raised in a city, I have some farm girl in me, so I especially enjoyed the stories in this book. Every summer, for at least two weeks, I would get to go spend time with my grandparents who lived in a farm. These are some of the best memories I have of growing up. I loved to put my hat on, and go out with Grandpa to bale the hay, plow the field, pick the beans, feed the cows, turn the water, change the pipe and fix the fence.... and with Grandma to shuck the corn, wash the dishes, weed the garden, tend the kittens, visit the neighbors, and dust the house. Then there were the playing times.... jumping on the old hay wagon, climbing around in the barn, playing "runaways" in the grove of trees and wading in the creek, all wonderful memories on the farm! 

This book will make you laugh and cry both. It will make you appreciate your own upbringing and family traditions. It will help you to remember the small and simple, yet important things in life. Basically, it will leave you feeling positively good!

Bottom line: I loved it!

And to get a wonderful feel of the book and author, here's a video to watch:

P.S. Don't get too confused over the title. The subtitle I list above is for this latest paperback release. It was released in hardback as Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting. At least, that's what I'm understanding!

Oh, and be sure to come back tomorrow where Michael Perry will be featured in an Authors Pick Five post and lets us know what five books influenced him most. You won't want to miss it. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bloggiesta and BBAW

Two awesome bloggish events are coming up. One this next weekend, and one in September (but sign ups are happening now.)

First, Bloggiesta is will be happening again this weekend June 11-13. Click this post over at Maw Books for all the details. This is the perfect time to do some blog work and housekeeping. I participated for my first time last January and had a blast. I hope to get some stuff done this weekend, but we'll have to see what real life throws my way too.

Anyway, some of the things I hope to accomplish are:

  • clean up the Reader: mark some posts as read, get rid of dead blogs, organize folders
  • update master Review by Title list and start working on Review by Author list
  • clean up tags and labels
  • evaluate the sidebar and maybe add stuff and/or delete stuff
  • update the blog roll
  • email authors for Authors Pick Five
  • write some Suey's Top Tens lists
  • ask for more Bookword ideas, update the Bookword list
  • do that thing where I get rid of the orange B and add my own picture, what's that called again?
  • write a review policy, finally
  • sign up for BBAW

Next, sign ups are happening now for the hugely popular event known as BBAW (Book Bloggers Appreciation Week) coming up in September. Seriously, you don't want to miss this one. So click on over to their main site to find the sign up form and get all the information on what to expect. Figure out what niche you are in and add your blog to the list to be considered for an award! And while you're at it, maybe you can tell me what niche you think I'm in. Sheesh, you'd think that question wouldn't be so hard! Anyway, once I figure that out, I'll be back to post a list of favorite posts which is part of the process this year. 

Never a dull moment around the book blogosphere. Keeps us all on our toes that's for sure!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Pile of Mini Movie Reviews

Summer is the season of movies, right? And we are no exception around and have already been piling up a list of both our rentals and "new" movies watched. Here's what I've thought of them:

New Movies

Robin Hood: This movie, starring Russell Crowe as Robin Hood, was pretty much what I expected. I knew it was the story of how Robin Hood became Robin Hood, and in fact ended with the words "As so the legend begins" so it was fun to see yet another take on this. My only complaint is there was quite a bit of political story line, and sometimes that drug a bit in the middle. Anyway, it was fun and I enjoyed it. It's just that the I'm spoiled now because of the wonderful BBC series.

Iron Man 2: Not as good as the first one. Still, I enjoyed it. It actually had some slow parts here and there too, which was surprising. But fun. I just love Robert Downey Jr. so it doesn't really matter what he does, I'll be watching.


The Lovely Bones: I was a little leery of this one, but someone said they down played the "bad parts." So we rented it. However, it was so creepy and spooky in general that it didn't even matter! Yeah, creepy is the best word I can think of to describe this one. The book didn't creep me out at all, so that was kinda interesting.

The Young Victoria: Loved this one.  A simple, beautiful movie about the love story of Albert and Victoria.

Dear John: It's about a relationship that begins during spring break between a college girl and a guy on leave from the Army. He has to go back of course, so they write letters. It had a little unexpected twist at the end, and you'll probably shed one or two tears, but not a bucket load. It's a sweet story.

Old Movies

The River Wild: We watched this one just the other night. And even after seeing it several times, it is still on the edge of your seat suspenseful! Great movie. But if you have to go on a river trip and you are a little bit nervous... skip this movie until after you're home! But then, do watch it. Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon... both do an excellent job.

Right now, Avatar is blasting forth from the basement. One of the kids' friends hadn't seen it yet, so of course, we offered to show it. I think I'll read instead of watching it again, but I will for sure be hearing it. But maybe, I'll just go down and watch that flying scene. Love it.

So what have you watched lately that I shouldn't miss? I'm thinking I'd like to go see Prince of Persia. Looking forward to Eclipse of course. It seems like there's quite a bunch of movies this summer that I'll want to be seeing. I guess we'll see....

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Book: Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: A
For: Fun and Review 
From: ARC copy sent by author (Release date June 8)

One day, awhile back, Meg Cabot twittered that she had review copies available for this book, a new one that I'd not even heard of yet. So, I responded, sent my address and then thought nothing of it. Like three days later maybe, it arrived in the mail! I was so excited. Meg Cabot has been a favorite of mine for years, so this was one of those fun pay back moments when I thought, this blogging thing is just so cool! (Actually I don't think a she was only sending to bloggers, but I'm guessing maybe it helped? I have no idea.)

Anyway, the book. As I said, I hadn't read anything or heard anything about it. When I got the book, the cover looked, shall we say, a bit more sensuous than what is my normal. But hey, I didn't care. This was Meg Cabot so it didn't matter! :)

I did read the very first line of the back blurb, "Sick of vampires? So is Meena Harper." So yes, this is yet another vampire book. But if you're sick of them, then this book is for you because obviously Meena is sick of them too! She lives in New York and writes for a soap opera called Insatiable. Since vampires are suddenly such the in thing, she's been asked to write a vampire story for the lead characters. Of course she rolls her eyes at this, but what's a girl to do? After all, she wants the promotion.

Then, her neighbor throws a party for a relative that's coming to town, and Meena reluctantly goes. Of course, she meets the guy, falls head over heels in love with him, and then life completely falls apart after that!Whew, and what a ride it is to read all about it!

There's lots of fun stuff, lots of exciting stuff, lots of romantic stuff, even lots of fighting stuff. Basically, it has it all, laid out in the very fun storytelling style that is quintessential Meg Cabot. And yes, there are several references making fun of everyone's favorite vampire tale, Twilight. Of course there is!! It's also being called a modern sequel to Dracula, which I can sort of see. But mostly, it is just full on fun and the perfect so called beach book.

Bottom line: I loved it! (And p.s., the cover really has NOTHING to do with the story at all.)

More about Insatiable at Meg Cabot's website.
Meg Cabot's official website.

Other Reviews:

My Overstuffed Bookshelf
Book Faery
The Book Whisperer

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Sunday Salon: It's a Numbers Question

Last week was sort of a downer blogging week. You know, the kind of week where you wonder if there's anybody out there? It's funny because the week before was awesome with all the Armchair BEA excitement, so maybe that's part of it, sort of the burned out thing that happens sometimes after a crazy blogging week. Know what I mean?

So today I have a question for my Sunday Salon post. Maybe that will snap some life back into these parts!

The other day I emailed an author in preparation for a blog tour post coming up this week. Then I had the thought, what if he actually clicks on my blog link and happens to see my number of  followers... would he roll his eyes and wonder why he's bothering with touring on this blog? Or would he think, hmmm.... okay, not too bad?

In other words, I wonder if authors (or their publicity people) notice following numbers and if there is some particular number that they think "oh, people read this blog" or "oh, this blog is a waste of my time." And if so, what is that number?

Normally, I wouldn't care about this number, I like subscriber numbers better than follower numbers actually, but since most of us put the follower numbers out there publicly,  then authors and whoever else can see them. And suddenly I'm finding myself aware  (especially after sending a link to an author) and conscious about what they think.

So I'm asking you, what is that respectable number? Is there such a thing even? Should I remain blissfully unconcerned about the numbers, or should I seek out the followers so when authors happens to stumble by for a visit, I don't have to be worrying about what they think?

(P.S. Of course, you should answer before you look and see what amount of followers I have!)


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