Saturday, July 31, 2010

July Monthly Recap

Here's what I managed to fit in this month:

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: Our favorite thief, Gen, has a new life he must figure out how to deal with and not lose face with anyone, especially the queen.

Captivate by Carrie Jones: A new threat shows up on the scene that throws Zara, and her friends, for a loop.

Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner: Jessica and Brady get together out in the wild west and help each other to face their major issues.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: Christopher sets out to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog and gets much more than he bargains for.

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan: The saga of Rand and his friends continue as Rand sets out to find the crystal sword.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: Grace has an obsession for the wolves living in the woods near her house, especially for one wolf in particular.

This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Ellis: Logan must come to terms with a violent event he's recently witnessed involving a couple of his friends.

Favorites for this month: I'd have to say The King of Attolia, Pieces of Sky and The Dragon Reborn. 

Plans for next month: 

  • Read a newly received ARC and review it
  • Finish up the Queen's Thief series
  • Read another one or two books from the TBR Challenge list
  • Try to get back into the classics
  • Maybe start on the next WoT book
  • Polish off a few library books
  • Oh, and there's a read along for Children of God, the sequel to The Sparrow!
How was your month and what are you plans for next month?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Randomness

So here's what I'm thinking today:

** July wasn't such a great reading month, especially compared to June. Here's hoping things perk up in August! Do you ever find you have a great reading month and then a not so great reading month right next to each other?

** So we finished season one of Prison Break and Oh. My. Gosh what a ride that was! And now we have to somehow get our hands on season two ASAP! And also now I have most definitely added to my celebrity crush list. Wentworth Miller I'm looking at you dude! Anyone know what he's doing these days? Anyway, watching TV shows this way is such a blast but it sure does cut into the reading time.

** I got more library books this week that I put on hold months ago. And they are mostly the paranormal genre still. Yes, I can't seem to truly give it the break it needs. I also got books in the mail from that Shelf Awareness promotion that I'm guessing many of you also participated in. Most of those are paranormal-ish too! So much for my resolve to shake things up a bit! What do you think? Should I read all these new books anyway?

** I dreamed my garden shriveled up and died last night. Kinda funny but after seeing a certain movie over the weekend, I got look at dreams the same way. What do you think about dreams? My dream only meant that I'm bugged because I keep forgetting to water!

** Today we are heading to an extended family reunion to spend the day and talk and play. I wonder if anyone will talk books with me? Do people talk books with you at family gatherings? Also, I'm getting Toto back after her being gone at camp all week. It's been a weird week, and I'll be glad to see her again!

** Have I dished about Josh Groban lately? No? Well, let's fix that shall we?  He keeps promising a new album by fall. I'm holding him to it! Do you realize how long it's been since a new album? Not counting the Christmas one? Like FOUR years! That's a long time to wait. A long long time. In the meantime, he's showing us all the pictures he's had taken of him for this new album. Here's my favorite:

** Okay, I'm off. Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Answers to Author Pictures

Here's the answers to my Author Pictures which I posted last week for the Weekly Geek assignment (with my thoughts on the subjects in blue):

1.Photos of your favorite author(s).

Suzanne Collins
(Can you hardly wait until Aug. 24 and Mockingjay? 
I wonder what she is feeling? 
Is it like butterflies at Christmastime when you are nine?)

The Bronte Sisters
(Lovely painting, don't you think?
 I wish so bad they could still write
 from wherever they are now.
 Maybe they are, and we just can't read it yet, 
until we get to where they are ourselves? 
Now that's an interesting thought.)

2. Photo(s) of the author(s) of the book(s) you’re currently reading.

Robert Jordan
(Mr. Jordan, I'm hooked!)

3. Photo(s) of any author(s) you’ve met in person (even very briefly).

Richard Peck
(Love this picture of him!)

4. A Youtube of (an) author(s) you’ve heard speak.

Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and Nathan Hale
(So this was someone else's video of an event I was actually attending. Very fun!)

5. Any photo(s) you may have of yourself with an author.

Brandon Sanderson
(Love the head tilt! 
But I really wish I'd held up the book he had just signed for me... Warbreaker.)

6. A photo of the author of the book you’ve most recently finished.
Mark Haddon
(Don't know much about this author except he wrote The Curious Incident 
that I just read and quite enjoyed.)

7. Photos of the hottest author(s)!

Sorry, I can only think of the one. I would be "cheating" if I put anyone else here!!! :)

Markus Zusak

(What can I even say about this one? I'm so far gone!
 So cute. 
But, perhaps I could beg. 
PLEASE write another book soon! 
PLEASE come to my area so I can hyperventilate and make a fool of myself say hi!)

Congratulations to any of you who guessed correctly on any of these! Most of you got the Brontes and Mr. Zusak. A couple did well guessing Suzanne Collins and Brandon Sanderson. Way to go!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

Book: The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
Genre: epic fantasy
Rating: A-
For: own personal quest to read the series
From: Bought it.

In this, the third book of the continuing Wheel of Time Saga, we follow several characters as they either track down Rand, who seems to be in some sort of crazed stupor, or track down other members of their group who they feel are in major trouble. Wow, how's that for a simplified summary!

Here's a bit more detail for those interested.

Perrin, Loial, Lan and Moiraine are with Rand at the beginning of the book. He is losing control big time and stumbles away from camp in some sort of stupor, being lead by dreams and with one goal in mind, find and get his hands on the crystal sword. (Does anyone see major parallels here with Author and the sword in the stone? Is it intentional?) Min is also with them, but they leave her at the camp and we don't see her again the whole book. I didn't like that! But we follow the rest of them on their adventures as they follow Rand. We are in Perrin's head, which I totally enjoyed. Along they way the add another member to their party, a girl, who turns Perrin into a mass of mumbling awkwardness. I loved it! We are so teased by this new relationship and I want more!

Meanwhile, the girls are having their own struggle in the White Tower and the Amyrlin sends them on a quest of their own to figure out who the bad Aes Sedai are (those who turned to the Dark Side in book 2 and now everyone is all in a dither!) They themselves, have sent Mat (who is recovering from the episode of the bad dagger) on his own quest to deliver a letter to Elayne's mom so she won't get mad again about Elayne being out and about. In the process, he learns that they, the girls themselves are in big time trouble too and so he is off to the rescue.

So everyone is all separated going on these different journeys. We alternate from being in Perrin's head, to Mat's, to Egwene's. Once or twice, we get a glimpse of Rand and his dreams, but not much. It was interesting to have a book where Rand wasn't in it much, yet he is still the driving force behind the whole thing.

My further thoughts (with possible mini spoilers):

-- I continue to love Perrin. Partly it may be because of my wolf fascination too. Interesting storyline he has going. And I love that he now has a love interest! Keeping my fingers crossed there!

-- Mat is funny and I enjoy him too. I love picturing the fights he has with the staff. In my head, it's very very cool. Still waiting for his love interest to show up.

-- I missed the sparks between Lan and Nynaeve in this book. Maybe more next book?

-- I really really missed Min too. But funny, I didn't miss Rand that much. Hmmmm.... strange.

-- The book was very slow in parts this go around. I had a big break from it right in the middle and not sure that was because of summer distractions, reading mood, or what. But I'm not blaming the book much really because once I decided to really concentrate on it, I could hardly put it down.

-- The climatic ending was once again a perfect nail biter! And strange to read this right after seeing Inception, because wouldn't you know it, the two had many many similarities! I know, craziness! But believe me, they did.

-- I'm seeing lots of Star Wars similarities too. Like the scene where Mat shows up in the cell of the three girls and says "I'm here to rescue you!" Love it.

-- Oh, and I enjoyed getting to know some Aiel characters finally. They seem pretty cool too and I hope we see much more of them to come.

Well, I guess that's about where I should end on my ramblings of this book. And now I've finished the boxed set I owned, and must find/buy/borrow/ to continue on with the series! On with The Quest! :)

Bottom line: I loved it.

Other Reviews:

Kay's Bookshelf
Rob's Blog o' Stuff
Polishing Mud Balls

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Genre: Literary Fiction (YA?)
Rating: A
For: The TBR Challenge
From: I bought it ages ago!

Yes, I've had this book forever, heard people talking about it forever, put it on my TBR Challenge list which I don't seem to be reading from, but now finally have! And what a quick read this was. Doesn't it make you wonder why we wait so long to read books like this when it only takes a day or so?

This is the story of Christopher, a 15 year old autistic boy, who, with the suggestion of his teacher at school, has to decided to write about his investigation into the death of his neighbor's dog. His investigation (which he insists on pursuing despite being forbidden to by his dad) leads him to discover many surprising things, most importantly what really happened to his mom.

I loved being in the head of an autistic person, and I'm assuming this book comes pretty close to portraying what that must really feel like. I loved how normal he thought, but how we could still see how abnormal he acted to the outside world. I loved knowing his motivations for doing certain things and how observant he was about everything. It was great.

The story itself is really heart wrenching and sad. It makes you think about how you treat kids with mental issues and that they need to know how things really are even if you think they can't handle it.

Anyway, I'm glad I finally got to this book. Now, let's see if I can manage any other books on my official TBR Challenge list!

Bottom line: I loved it.

For more about author Mark Haddon check out his blog here.

Other Reviews:

Maw Books Blog
The Book Lady's Blog
Miss Remmer's Review
... and many many others!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner

Book: Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner
Genre: Western/Romance
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: The library

This book was the first thing I read after my overwhelming desire to switch up the genres! And it was seriously just what I needed. Real world, real guys, real situations.

The story is about a girl, Jessica, who is fleeing a pretty terrible situation in England. She is searching for her brother to help her, in Texas(or New Mexico) I think, but on the way there's quite the stage coach mishap. Who comes to her rescue but a horse ridin', cow wranglin', rough and tough cowboy! :) Suddenly, she finds herself mixed up in his life, which isn't too perfect either. Both of them have major issues and together they just might figure things out.

Great story. I had a great time getting all mixed up in it and rooting for the both of them. There were moments of so called "bodice ripping" situations, but it wasn't too abundant and not overly graphic, so I was okay with it all.

And now I understand that this is the first of a trilogy and there's two other books about the other cowboy brothers. (Yes, there wasn't just one cowboy dude, but three!) So I look forward to reading some more about wild west adventures.

Bottom line: I totally enjoyed it!

For more info on the books and author Kaki Warner, check out this website.

Other reviews:

Queen of Happy Endings
Babbling About Books and More
Bloggin' 'Bout Books (thanks so much for the recommendation!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Stories in my Head

No, not the stories I'm making up and feel the need to write down (though that would be fun) but the stories that are getting told to me that are rumbling around inside of my head and getting all mixed up together! That's what I'm having fun with today.

So what stories are getting told to me?

Well, I went to see Inception last night. Whoa, lots of stuff to ponder there. What is reality and what is not? Then, I'm reading the third Eye of the World book where many of the characters are having very realistic dreams, so these two stories seem to be meshing together, especially as I'm falling asleep myself and everything is all muddled up together.

Add to that the fact that we just checked out the first season of Prison Break and are now five episodes in.... and of course I'm all wrapped up in Michael's trauma and drama which is in turn getting all mixed into the dreams of both Inception and the Eye of the World world!

It's a little crazy! Ah, but fun!

So what's swirling around in your head today?

What the family is reading:

Mr. Stuey: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
JJ: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Moder: The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Toto: The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Dang, those are some great books getting read at my house!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.25: Author Pictures

We doing a Dewey original this week over at Weekly Geeks. We first did it back in August of 2008, one of my favorites. The idea is to post pictures of authors that answer the questions in this list, and have you my readers, guess who you think they are in comments.

1. Photos of your favorite author(s).

2. Photo(s) of the author(s) of the book(s) you’re currently reading.

3. Photo(s) of any author(s) you’ve met in person (even very briefly).

4. A Youtube of (an) author(s) you’ve heard speak.

5. Any photo(s) you may have of yourself with an author.

6. A photo of the author of the book you’ve most recently finished.

7. Photos of the hottest author(s)!

Sorry, I can only think of the one. I would be "cheating" if I put anyone else here!!! :)

Comment with your guesses!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Captivate by Carrie Jones

Book: Captivate by Carrie Jones
Genre: YA paranormal
Rating: A-
For: Fun
From: Borrowed

This book began it's life with me as my treadmill book. And it was going okay. I liked it fine and all was well. Somewhere along the way I got sick of the paranormal stuff. But I still had this book to finish with this really good start I'd made with it.

Because of that, I feel like this book didn't get a very good chance with me. I took it off the treadmill just to finish it and "get it out of the way" so I could move on to my "no more paranormal books for awhile" motto. So that makes me kinda sad really. It got lost in the middle of a bad timing with my personal reading moods! Poor thing.

Anyway, it's the second in the series which started with Need. It continues Zara's story with her friends Nick, Devyn and Issie, most of whom have special powers. They have to deal with the mess of sorts they created as the first book ended. And it involves Zara's dad who is not so nice, really.

Then on to the scene comes a new guy, or course, who is going to give Nick a run for his money. He has blonde hair and amazing green eyes and he tells Zara they are destined to be together. But she knows that's not true because she is destined to be with Nick, but suddenly Nick is in big time trouble and she can't save him without the help of the new guy. Dilemma big time!

What I really enjoyed about this book is the writing style. Quick and punchy and witty and snappy. Very fun. And even though I'm giving these types of book a bit of a break, I'm invested in this one now and will keep going to see what Zara does!

Bottom line: I enjoyed it a lot.

Other reviews:

One Librarian's Book Reviews
I'd So Rather Be Reading
My Favourite Books
Charlotte's Library
The Book Bind

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who Would I Let Date My Daughter? Or Not.

The other day Angie (of Angieville) posted a list of book character guys she wouldn't mind her daughter dating. So I thought it would be fun to copy her and make my own list of acceptable dudes for my own daughter especially since for me, this is very much a current event because I have a dating 18 year old daughter who is having all sorts of "fun" boy issues this summer!

It would be okay, though, if she went out with:

Gilbert Blythe because he's always on the top of the list of perfect "boy next door" sort of guys.  A real guy, who doesn't start off on  the best foot with us in the book, because he's a tease, but then it doesn't take long for him to work his way into our hearts, because we know deep down inside how caring and passionate he is.

Laurie of Little Women fame, because he just seems so fun! Or should we say cute and fun. Cute and nice and fun. And Jo, Jo, Jo.... I just never understood how things turned out. What were you thinking?

Charles Bingley, and I pick him over Mr. Darcy just because he seems quite a bit more fun and light hearted and easy going, if you know what I mean. Thought he (Mr. Bingley) is a little overly influenced by his friends and didn't stand up to them (Mr. Darcy) when he needed to, which always bugged me. Also, as I'm thinking about it, all the Jane Austen/Elizabeth Gaskell/etc. guys just seem too old for an 18 year old really. What do you think?

Gideon from My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter. I said when I reviewed this back awhile go that this guy has become one of my favorite leading guy characters. Mostly because he just so well-rounded with tons of interests that make he,himself, fun and interesting. And who cares if he has a big nose? Sheesh.

Fang, but let's get him a little older. He's the strong, silent, dark and brooding type to the T, and we should throw one of those kind in here for fun! Strange how most of the fantasy character guys didn't end up on this list...I seriously can't think of one that I'd truly be happy with dating my daughter. Who am I forgetting?

But stay away from:

Edward and Jacob both, because they are just too intense and can make a girl crazy.

Heathcliff, of course, for obvious reasons, even though I feel for him.

Same goes for Holden Caulfield, he is just too messed up, even though he so desperately needs a friend.

Alex and Carlos, from the Perfect Chemistry books, because even though they are decent in the end, at first they are after only one thing. Besides that, it would freak me out if someone like them appeared at my door.... just sayin'.

On the fence with:

Eugenides from The Queen's Thief books. Okay, so I love him to pieces, but, would he actually be good for my daughter? I think he would scare me, actually. He's a bit intimidating. He would be hard to get to know, he would be quite scary looking because of his... you know... accessory. I think it would take a bit for him to make us feel comfortable with the idea of dating the daughter!

Both Gale and Peeta, because seriously, I can't decide between the two myself, and they both have issues and they both have strengths and man, I just don't know. Which one would you rather see at your door for your daughter? Or neither actually?

Well, that was fun! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

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

I read this book, well most of it, during our recent family reunion. In the car driving for six hours, during our breaks from activities, and in the car driving home. What this means is that I was fairly distracted and I'm bugged by that because I don't think I got the full impact of this book. Hate it when that happens. (I should have picked a different book for the trip, but I was so anxious to read this one!!)

Anyway, this book surprised me from the beginning because it was not from Gen's point of view... instead, we get to see Gen from one of the King's Guard dude's point of view. This guy gets in trouble right at the beginning of the book and ends up, as his punishment, being "forced" to attend to the king. The things he learns and observes and discovers and decides all changes his mind about the king.

And Gen (Eugenides, what a name) finds himself in a situation where he has to use his manipulation skills like he's never done before! What an expert he is at this! He has to prove himself and deal with homesickness and hide his cleverness so know will guess what's really going on. Anyone read The Scarlet Pimpernel? Yeah, he acts a bit like that, silly boy.

I love the writing of these books. I love the language and style. I love the characters (mostly Gen of course.) I'm totally enjoying this summer book club assignment to read these books. I want to savor it. I don't want it to be over, and now there's only one book left! Dang. Then I just might have to start over again and read them all again, because I know I've missed a ton of stuff.

Bottom line: I loved it!

Other reviews:

Becky's Book Reviews
Bookshelves of Doom
Dear Author

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Authors Pick Five: Claire Avery

As is my custom and routine now, I've asked the author of Hidden Wives (recently reviewed here) to answer the question: What five books are most important and influential to you?

Since the author of this book, Claire Avery, is actually a pen name for a sister duo, they've both submitted their lists! Here they are:

Five Most Influential Books for Mari Hilburn (Pen name, Claire Avery)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendack- As a child, that simple picture book ignited and liberated my imagination. Let the wild rumpus begin!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- As an adolescent, I was fascinated with Lee’s exploration of good and evil. Atticus Finch, a lawyer defending an innocent man from rape, never loses his belief in the capacity for human goodness, even with evil and depravity all around him. His children loIt’s such a powerful thing to believe in goodness and to reject cynicism in favor of cautious optimism. It has affected how I move through life and relate to the people in it. Also, the profound way the author presented a story dealing with racial inequality and injustice, introduced me to the idea of using fiction as a vehicle for social change.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl- The author was a concentration camp survivor. He proposed the notion that life has meaning in every circumstance, even amidst profound suffering. When I read it as an angst-ridden teenager, it pulled me out of my moodiness and provided a gauge by which I measured all my “problems” from that moment on. I tried to weave gratitude into my worldview. Not always an easy thing, but I’ve come back countless times to reflect on the book and its message of the indomitability of the human spirit.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley- The basic plot of this story seems simple enough: An Iowa farmer decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When one daughter objects, it sets in motion a chain of events leading to tragedy. It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Smiley is a worthy imitator. The story is brilliantly layered in moral complexity and insight into human nature. The tension is excruciating as it builds to a shocking, yet inevitable, conclusion.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch- It’s the story of a young girl growing up in the foster care system, always haunted by her sociopathic mother’s manipulation. It’s a perfect literary marriage of lyrical, glorious prose, a riveting plot and an incredibly sympathetic protagonist. I lost sleep over this poor girl! I could not put the book down, praying, with every page, that she would be okay.

Five Most Influential Books for Michelle Hilburn (Pen name, Claire Avery)

Lord of the Rings by J. R. Tolkein- Hobbits, dwarves, elves, dragons in Middle Earth. High fantasy at its finest. It was a literary feast for a future fiction writer.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant- The Red Tent retells the story of Dinah, a woman mentioned in the book of Genesis, who never utters a word in the bible, but finds her voice in the novel.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of a missionary family in the Congo in the 1950’s. Learning about African history was absolutely fascinating, and the characters were fully realized. I was so impressed with Kingsolver’s ability to weave history into this fictional family’s life so seamlessly.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a masterpiece of Gothic literature, filled with mystery, suspense and a dark, brooding atmosphere. But it also has psychological depth and insight. What more could you want?

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is a novel set right before the 1949 revolution in China. Not only did I learn about Chinese culture, but it was the first book I read which dealt with oppression of women in other societies. It whetted my appetite for books about exotic, foreign countries, the people, their customs and their treatment.  

Claire Avery is the pen name of a sister writing team comprised of Mari Hilburn and Michelle Hilburn. Hidden Wives is their first novel. You can learn more about them at their official website, here on their blog, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks so much for participating in Authors Pick Five! I love both of your lists! Wonderful books!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

Book: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A-
For: TLC Book Tour
From: The publisher for blog tour review

I'm a little nervous about reviewing this book because I have mixed emotions! So, how about I jump right and tell it how it is....

First all I think it will help to separate out the subject from the story. The story is about two sisters whose father is a polygamist, and they have been raised to believe they will most likely be married to a man with several wives already. As the book begins, they are both meeting with the prophet of their church to see who he thinks those husbands will be. The answer is not surprising for one sister, though still devastating to her. But the other sister has a problem since several men want her to wife.

And so the conflict begins. Not only must they deal with who they will marry, but what happens if they fall in love with a nice young man, who does not already have wives and who is not of their faith? What happens if they want to go to school and learn and read? What happens if they start to doubt everything they've ever been taught? What happens if their dad is a monster?

Wow, the story is gripping and heart wrenching. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I became tied up in the lives of these sisters instantly. The things they had to suffer are unimaginable. Yet the strength of their spirits and their overall fortitude is truly inspiring.

Now for the subject, polygamy, not a fun thing to read, talk or think about. Yet it happens. The stuff in this book I'm sure, is not very far from the truth. But the thing I get nervous and upset about every time I read about this subject is how it ends up being a Mormon issue. It was a Mormon issue over a hundred years ago, but now, it's not. People forget that. People still think of polygamy and Mormons as one and it makes me crazy. At first, I was excited when this book made sure to clarify that those practicing polygamy today are not main stream Mormons, but Fundamentalists, as they are called. However, as the book went on, it seemed to forget that distinction and still referred to them as Mormons.  (I don't know, maybe they still think of themselves that way or something?) Anyway, I wish people could understand the difference, and I wish books wouldn't confuse the issue further.

Also, there was some discussion in this book about religious ordinances that made me quite squirmy because they were treated so lightly and made to look so ridiculous. And I don't know really why that was in there in the first place because it didn't really have much to do with the story itself, so it just felt all wrong.

Anyway, so there's the mixed emotions! Loved the story, but cringed at the Mormon references. But frankly, I expected that. It happens with any story about polygamy.

Bottom line: I loved... most of it!

For more an author Claire Avery (who is actually a sister writing team) here's the website.

For more TLC reviews on this book, head on over here to see this list.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Reading Changes

If you've been paying attention to things around here, this week, I decided to make some reading changes. Yes, I'm going to give a certain genre a break. In fact, I just may shake up the reading habits altogether! Oh gosh, I have no idea what I'm talking about! But I do know, things are gonna change!

Last month I was on a reading roll, this month, wow things are dragging. Weird how that happens. July just makes me feel sluggish all around. Did I say that already? I think I did last week. Well, it does. So I'm wondering if that makes me feel sluggish reading-wise too. Or is it just that I'm sick of what I've been reading?
Whatever it is, there's going to be changes I tell you!

So what does that mean? I don't know. Pay attention the next few weeks and tell me if it means anything at all!

First of all, I dropped everything I was currently reading and picked up Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner and have been loving that. It really is pretty much what I needed.

But I am still half way through The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan and I simply must finish it, but it's dragging (dragon? Ha, couldn't resist.) It could take me another month at this rate.

I took a ton of books back to the library unread. Then today, I bought two books (The Glass Castle and People of the Book... do you see a change already?) I kept one library book, Captain Wentworth's Diary. Hmmm... it looks fun, but not too sure. Also, I checked out Shiver, only because it was on hold and it would be, like, blasphemous or something to leave it there, so I 'll give it a chance, but not holding my breath there either.

Other books that are sitting here starring me in the face that are far far removed from that genre and could shake up my reading of late:

The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (oh I forgot, also from the library... along with...)
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

And man I'm not only craving a cowboy book, but a classic. What do you think? Could I handle Bleak House about now? Or Vanity Fair? Or is a sluggish month not the best time to start something like that? Yes, I'm crazy. Truly truly crazy.

And I think I should throw in a nonfiction too. What should it be? Hmmmm......

Also this past week:
And that's about it since not only have I been sluggishly reading, but sluggishly blogging too.

How are you all holding up?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me): Favorite Smells

Danielle of There's a Book, started this meme/feature weeks ago and I've been meaning to participate ever since. This week, I finally am!

The idea behind this is to get to know each other better personally. Each week, she poses a question that you answer on your own blog then link up on her blog with the Mr. Linky. This week's question:

What is your favorite smell and why? Does it bring back memories?

I have a gazillion favorite smells, so I'm trying to narrow down to just two here. First, I love the smell of the mountains. See how I picked one that includes a ton of smells? But mostly, the mountains smell like pine trees, then just trees in general, and wild plant life, and fresh clean air, and dirt (that spongy soft mountain kind) and sometimes rain. It's the best. We have a favorite camping spot we go to every year and when people ask me what I do when we go, I always answer, "sit and breathe." 

I also love the smell of baking. See how this also includes a ton of smells? Favorite baking smells that come to mind are chocolate chip cookies, bread (or rolls), anything cinnamon, banana bread, etc. Even our orthodontist's office catches the importance of this smell. They bake cookies all day long, which they give to patients (and their moms) as they leave... and so when you walk in you smell cookies and not that yucky doctor office smell. Somebody knew what they were doing!

Head on over to There's a Book if you want to play!

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Brand: FUN!

A couple of weeks ago after the Twitter #bblog discussion about branding our blogs, I posted a little survey to see what sort of impression I'm putting out there regarding my blog. It appears that the overwhelming most common word used to describe things around here is FUN! I'm liking that! Chatty and friendly also come up often. I like that too!

A few of you are still not sure what a gravatar is (the profile picture that you use all around the social media sites and that shows up when you comment on other blogs etc.) but you do mostly recognize mine... me hiding behind books. And even more of you recognize me by my nickname. I was wondering if that would be the case. Interesting.

It appears everyone is kind of all over the place regarding feelings about branding. Some are having fun with it and getting into the swing of the idea, and others still aren't sure what it all means. I have a feeling we'll continue to hear more and more about the concept for the next while.

But enough of that! Back to the FUN! You know, I always (well usually) to try think of something fun to post on Fridays, whether it be random thoughts or music or whatever pops into my head. So here's to keeping up stuff like that.

Movie I Want to See:

Music I Want to Buy:

Book I Want to Read:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Toto's Guest Review: What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader by Adrianne Ambrose

The following review is a guest post by my 11 year old daughter, Toto:

What I learned from being a Cheerleader
by Adrianne Ambrose

Description from Goodreads:

Eleven-year-old Elaine Rewitzer is funny, smart and happy being a geek, but when she wins a spot on the Cross Creek Middle School Buccaneers cheerleading squad, she gets totally into her new life. Her mega-brain best friend Bethany warns that Elaine will just become "part of the herd," and her best geek-guy-pal, Tim, (who‛s struggling with nose polyps) feels forgotten. Will Elaine survive the roller coaster of pre-teen cheerleader fame? Will she win the heart of the cutest boy on the basketball team? Will she confess her "uncool" love for comic books? Will she lose Bethany and Tim‛s friendship for-evah? AND WHEN WILL SHE GET HER POM POMS???

Adrianne Ambrose sent this to me to review. At first I didn't think it would be all that good, but when it got here and I saw the cover, I started reading right away.

The book was written as if it were a diary, which I liked because it made me feel like I was more part of the story. I was happy because it's a fast paced book and I never wanted to put it down, and I hadn't read that kind of book in a while. Also it made me want to read during the day, which I usually only like to read before I go to bed, and in the morning.

My favorite character is Bethany, because she's smart and she's always reading a book. Even for Halloween, Bethany dressed up as a librarian so she had an excuse to go trick-or-treating while reading.

This is definately a book geared towards tween girls that are into comics, or cheerleading....or not.

Rating: A

Check out author Adrianne Ambrose's blog here.
And here is a fun trailer that I liked, even with it's funky music!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I've Had It With You Supernatural Genre!

Wow, I've been a lax blogger lately. I guess it's summer, huh?

So here's what I'm thinking today. I've decided that I'm just plain tired of the supernatural/paranormal genre. I know, many of you have arrived at this place long ago, but I always thought I'd hang out in this genre for a quite awhile. But, I've changed my mind. I need a long, long break from it.

Many of you have raved about The Demon's Lexicon. So I tried it and after 60 or so pages I was... bored. So since it's due (make that overdue) at the library, I'm taking it back.

Many of you have raved about City of Bones and accompanying series. So I tried it. At first, it was okay, but after 100 pages, I'm... bored again. Whoa, it's so very complicated these magical worlds. My head is spinning. So, since it's due (overdue) at the library, I'm taking it back too!

I've also read the first chapter or so of Spells and so far haven't been grabbed. Since I bought the book, I will read it. But have put it aside for now.

Captivate is going okay, but I put it on the treadmill and it's been sitting there awhile. I think I'll upgrade it to the book of focus and finish it soon. It's a borrowed book, so it needs to be read and returned!

Now, my problem is to determine if this is a mood thing... or a sick-of-a-genre thing. My guess is that I'll try these DNF books another day. But I'm going to give it a long awhile. I really truly think I've been supernatural-ed out for the time being and I want books about realness.

So I'm off to the library to get that cowboy book that Susan suggested.

But there's another dilemma. I also have Shiver on hold.

What do you think? Is it just a mood thing? Or something bigger than that? Is there a reason I should NOT leave these particular books as a DNF?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Sunday Salon: What I'm Not Reading

Well, and so July is nearly half over and so far I've not finished a book this month. Yes, that's a bit of a different story than June. Maybe I can catch up, maybe not.

But, it has been a wild week of family, and partying and food and fun. I took a few books to the reunion, but I knew I wouldn't be much able to concentrate on reading, and I was right.

I am half way done with The Dragon Reborn, book number three of the Eye of the World. I took it, but instead of reading it, I started The King of Attolia and managed about half of it this past week. And I'm not sure I'm following all that's happening in that one! Maybe I should have taken something even easier?

Anyway, today we are home and having a recuperation day before life starts up again tomorrow and I've read a bit more in that particular book and I think Eugenides rocks as usual. Dang, what a dude! Anyway, maybe I'll finish both those books one of these days and then get on a roll like I was last month... maybe.

Meanwhile, I feel like what some of you may feel in January when there's no sun... I feel that now when there's too much sun.... drained and lethargic and sapped energy and lazy and slow and hot. Yeah, July. Not my favorite month.

This last week I asked in a survey what you thought of branding and if I had a brand. I guess it was a hard survey because not too many responded. You still can if you want.... click on over here and answer just a couple of questions. I'm finding the answers quite fun. I'll share one of these days this next week, but first I wanted to see if I could get a few more of you to let me know what you think, so go answer!!

So, I think that's all I've got for today. I'm off now to try and catch up with a few bloggish things and see what I've missed this past week.

Have a great reading week everyone!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Top Tens: Biographies

My Favorite Biographies and/or Memoirs:

1. John Adams by David Mccullough
2. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
3. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
4. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
5. Coop by Michael Perry
6. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
8.On Writing by Stephen King
9. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
10.Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aaron Ralston

I seriously need to read more of this genre of book!

What would be in your Top Ten? Make a post and share your link!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Music Stuck in My Head

How about some music for this fabulous fun Friday?

I just have to listen to this song once, and it's stuck in my head for the day, I have no idea why. I like this Glee version of it:

My daughter did a dance to this updated version of the 80s Fame song recently. I like it tons better than the original!

I'm going through a Depeche Mode revival of sorts these days. One of my favorites is this remix:

So, what do you think? Do you agree and like them too, or do you think I'm crazy? :) 
What song is stuck in your head today?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beehive Award: 2011 Nominees

Every summer the teen summer reading program at our library kicks off the summer by promoting the books that are nominated for the Beehive Award, an award sponsored by the Children's Literature Association of Utah. The library encourages the kids to read these books and then vote (on a ballet they provide and can turn in when they return the book) on whether or not they liked the book. It's really quite and fun, and the list is quite consistently comprised of some pretty cool books.

Here's what's been nominated for the 2011 YA Award:

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Compound by S.A.Bodeen
The Devil's Paintbox by Victoria McKernan
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap
My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger

Have you read any? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's My Brand?

Last week we had a fun #Bblog Twitter chat about branding our blogs. Here's some of the things I learned:
  • branding is important to set ourselves apart from the masses of book bloggers
  • we need to use the same name and graphic across all social networks
  • we need to be consistent with our blogging
  • we need to establish a voice or personality
  • our blog look should reflect that personality
  • creating a niche for ourselves will help us stand out
One of the things we talked about was to survey our readers to see if our idea of ourselves matches our readers' idea of us. We talked about how doing surveys was fun but scary. You know I love to do surveys and have never really thought of them as scary, but this time, it really IS scary! That's because I seriously want to know how I am perceived out there in blogging land, yet to ask feels like I am fishing for compliments or something.

So just know that's NOT what I am doing by asking these questions. I am really only wanting to know what  sort of "brand" I'm creating.

Now this whole brand idea is so funny to me because, I'm sure like many of you, I just started doing stuff and somehow, hopefully, it's all meshed into some overall big picture that all makes sense. Maybe, I don't know. But I had (still have really) no idea what I'm doing and like many said on the chat, I just do what feels right and take it from there. 

But hopefully by doing what feels right, a personality or "voice" of some sort is coming through. And that's what I want to ask you all.... is it ? Or am I just clueless?

So here are my (scary) questions, which I hope you'll all take the time to answer this next week! (I'll be away some of the week family reunioning, so I expect to come back to TONS of lovely responses!!)

I'm sure there's tons of other things I could ask, but I'll leave at that for now. And please comment with anything more you'd like to add that the survey didn't address!

(P.S.  Do try to join us at the chats! I have a feeling I'm going to learn lots from these things and probably every time it will spark a post idea of some sort. I'm sad I will probably have to miss the next one though which is actually Thursday morning at 10:00 AM Eastern.)


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