Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Reading Recap

So you already know this month has been pretty dismal quantity-wise, but still, what I've read, I've really enjoyed. Here's the list:

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff: Mackie feels like he's never really fit in and then the truth comes out that he's probably quite right.

Bright Blue Miracle by Becca Wilhite: Leigh has to share her mom, bedroom and even best friend that's a boy with her new step-sister.

Matched by Ally Condie: Cassia goes to her Matched Ceremony and gets a surprise match. Later, she gets an even bigger surprise when she finds it that might be a mistake.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer: We learn what's happening with the newborn army that's being created to fight the Cullen's at the end of Eclipse.

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry: Evie takes off to the university, and on the way has more adventures than she can handle.

Spells by Aprilynne Pike: Laurel learns more about the faerie world, including her friend Tamani, which causes stress in her human world with her friend David.

Read to page 650 of The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan: Really enjoying this one. Loving the story, the characters, everything.

Read to page 530 of Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Turning out to not be not as great as I'd hoped, not as great as other Dickens books that I've loved.

Favorites: Bright Blue Miracle, Matched and Secondhand Charm, all so different from each other, but all very fun stories.

Plans for next month:

  • First and foremost, finish the big books!
  • Read all day long on October 9 for the readathon, list of potentials in a separate post.
  • Read The Clockwork Three, which I now have!
  • Read Nightshade.
  • Try to get in a couple more RIP choices.
  • Fall of Giants? I'm losing hope for this book.
  • Perhaps start on The Count of Monte Cristo for book club.
  • Oh, yes, The Scorch Trials of course! :)
How did your reading month go?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Extreme Mini Reviews for Books Long Ago Read

Under normal circumstances, I think I'd be writing and posting a review today, but since reading two 1000 page books at the same time makes for very abnormal circumstances, I'm left wondering what to post about today.

So I had a thought. Why not do some blurbs or extreme mini reviews on a top ten favorite list from a pre-blog year (but a post book journal/notebook year of course!) Yes... why not?

So here's my top ten favorites from the year 2002, the first year I wrote down everything I read that year from which I picked my favorite ten. 

Pope Joan by Dona Wolfolk Cross: A young girl disguises herself as a boy in order to save her life and to get an education. Soon, she ends up rubbing shoulders with the pope himself. I loved this fascinating story and had to look up to see if history confirms this premise!

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: One of Dickens' best coming of age stories. While at this point, I don't remember the details of this book, I do remember flying through it and being glued to the pages.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: This must have been a re-read for me that year, since I remember trying to read this book when I was a kid. Let's just say, I got much much more out of it the second time around! A classic for sure.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: I think I read this with an online Yahoo group at the time, and had never heard of it till then. It was delicious story. I mean, who would NOT want to live in a castle!

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: Another re-read this particular year, I think because my son was reading it at the time, and I needed to remember it so we could talk. It's a harsh story, and the ending didn't fail to blow me away even though I knew what was coming.

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: What a tragic story! And I loved every minute of it!

The Red Tent by Anita Diamont: Fascinating tale of Dinah, the sister of the 12 sons of Jacob. Brilliant look into the culture and times of the Bible. I couldn't believe some of the stuff I was reading and wondered "that can't REALLY be in the Bible can it?" So I looked it up and sure enough, it was.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet: This book defines the word epic. About a family over the course of several years, and the building of a massive cathedral in England. Loved it for sure.

Emma by Jane Austen: Whoa, yet another re-read finds itself on my list this year! I read it the first time in college and didn't really warm to it. But this second go around, I find it much more fun and enjoyable. Emma, matchmaker extraordinaire!

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein: About this time the movies were coming out. In fact, I had watched the first Lord of the Rings and thought, hello... why have I not read these books. So I fixed that immediately and soon caught up and flew past the movies. When I got to the ending of this one, I couldn't believe the cliff hanger I had just read! No way! Good thing I had the next book right on hand and could keep reading! (It was interesting to me that The Two Towers movie choose not to end at the same spot.)

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park: I probably read this one in preparation for book fair that year. I knew nothing about it and went into it a little disinterested. Then I was blown away by the warmth of the relationship of this little Korean boy and his master, and the things they learn together. It's an amazing story that left me in tears.

What books from this list have you read and loved? Which ones do you think you'll try some day? Should I do extreme mini reviews again for the other books on my pre-blog list?  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Color of Villains

Last week not only did I get to listen to Brandon Sanderson, rising fantasy star, but also James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner trilogy. He told us the story of how The Maze Runner came to be. A great story about how it was the first (or nearly the first) book he wrote which proceeded to get rejected over and over. Then after he published other things, he went back and re-wrote much of it and after more stress and a change in agents, he then got a Random House deal. And now, he is none other than a New York Times Bestselling author! LOVE stories like that.

During the course of his story, he mentioned how much fun it is to write about gray villains. You know, those bad guys you can't decide whether you hate them or love them? (But in the end you mostly love them.) The ones you feel close to and feel sorry for? The ones you are drawn too, no matter how bad they are? The ones who have enticing glimmers of good? The ones who pure and simple just make your heart ache?

And I thought, ah a perfect blog post subject for me! Because this is one of the things I love most about reading, and TV shows/movies, are these gray villains. The tortured pained souls who if only circumstances were tweaked just a bit, everything would be different! If only someone would show them kindness and love, that good would come out. If only they didn't have their one fatal flaw!

Here's a few of my favorites (some he mentioned, some I added) from both books and TV/movies:

Darth Vader/Anakin from Star Wars: Loving too much is his fatal flaw, and how can you not feel sorry for that?

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights: Another villain whose passion simply consumed him which leaves you feeling sorry for how things turn out.

Damon from Vampire Diaries: He's a misunderstood vampire and just needs someone to validate him!

T-Bag from Prison Break: He is one creepy villain, but there are many many glimpses of how you know that deep down, he wants to change and be good.

Sylar from Heroes: I loved when he let his good, vulnerable side peek out. That bit of a tease was what kept this showing interesting.

Guy of Gisbourne from the BBC Robin Hood series: He is one bad dude and does some unthinkable things, BUT if only Marion would love him instead of Robin Hood, the story would be so different!

Javert from Les Miserables: He just wants to do what he sees is good and provide justice for the world.

Frankenstein's Monster: He did bad stuff, but I always felt so sorry for him.

Who are some of your favorite gray villains? What villains do you think are pure and total black?Or do you think ALL villains could be considered gray?

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Top Ten: Books I've Re-Read

I'm not huge into re-reading, though I totally enjoy the experience when I do. Most of the time, I find myself re-reading something for book club. But there's been other times where I've just re-read because it felt like it was time. Here's a ten eleven of my all-time favorite re-reads:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

What books do you find yourself re-reading over and over?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon: All Those Books I Haven't Read

This week it hit me, wow, there's so many books I haven't read and will probably never get to read. Do you ever ponder this depressing thought? Most of the time, we are concentrating on what we have read, what we plan to read, what's in the stack, what we are looking forward to, etc. But do you ever wonder and feel sad about all the books you'll never manage to get to?

I know, it's sad!

When I was listening to Brandon Sanderson's thing this past week and he was talking about all the wonderful fantasy series he's read and loved, it made me crazy wondering if I'll ever find the time for any or even some of them (besides the Wheel of Time which I am determined to get through and which will be at least another year of effort!)

Then there's this new used book store here in my area which I've been meaning to check it out forever and this weekend I finally did. Wow, I couldn't believe how many books they had! And how many I haven't read! I guess it's the same feeling you have when you walk into a regular bookstore, or a library and suddenly having that overwhelming feeling that there's so much to read.

Bottom line I guess is finding that tricky balance between trying to cram as many books as you can onto your reading plate, and stuffing them all down as fast as you can, or stepping back and taking things a little more slowly and enjoying and savoring the books that you do find time to read.

Know what I mean? My guess is we go in phases between the two, sometimes stuffing, sometimes savoring. I must be in a savoring phase a the moment with these two huge books I'm concentrating on, because I feel like there's not much stuffing going on!

Yes, my reading report for the week has not changed at all since last week. I'm completely wrapped up in Rand, Perrin and Mat's story in The Shadow Rising, Wheel of Time #4. Just past half way done now. Also, I'm just about to the half way point of Bleak House. This one is a chapter by chapter experience. One chapter is great, another not so great. But we're moving along!

So yeah. I'm wondering if next week I'll STILL be on these two books! Meanwhile, all those books I'm NOT reading? They sit there waiting.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me): Ballet Class

Today's question for A Bit of Me(Me) over at There's a Book is:

Tell us about a job you just couldn't stand or one that was embarrassing to you.

I've had fairly normal jobs through my life, nearly all of them secretary related (for the mall, a grocer's association, the hospital and now the library.) But my very first "real" job was playing the piano for a ballet school. I had just barely turned 16 (this I know because driving to this job was the first place I ever went alone in a car!) when I stumbled across this job. The teacher felt strongly about the girls warming up to "live" music. So I had to play this little electronic thing for all their stretching exercises. She didn't give me the music either. I had to just get a book with random (and easy) classical pieces, and she would just say what time signature she wanted, and I would pick something and play for them. For their dances, they then turned on the tapes or records (no CDs back in those old days!)

It was interesting, but very scary for me, and sometimes embarrassing, because I wasn't very good and I was pretty clueless about it all, but I got the hang of it and soon it wasn't that big of a deal. Still, I pretty much dreaded going there the whole time I worked there.

However, I did get some good reading done! For the second half of their lesson, I'd sit and read! I remember reading The Count of Monte Cristo while sitting at that piano, and loving it. I'm so excited to pick that one up again next month for book club. And I know that just reading that book again will bring back memories of playing the piano for the ballet school!

What job did you hate/dread going to? Join us over at There's a Book!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Little John, Josh and Janette Love

Some random fun videos I've come across this week that I simply must share:

Why I love John:

(a video where John Green talks to a 15 year old version of his brother and discusses critical reading by comparing it to eating pizza... or something. Be sure to watch to the very end. Just sayin'.)

Why I love Josh:

(Okay, so you all know why, but this montage clip of the past few years really shows it all! New album people! New album!)

Why I love Janette (as in Rallison):

(This just cracked me up because it's so close to my reality...minus the Cheez Its, which I just really can't stand.)

Anyway. Enjoy! A lovely Friday and weekend to you all!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bleak House Read Along Thoughts: Week Four (and Five)

Okay, so I'm now officially one week behind in this read along. We took the week off last week posting-wise, but not reading-wise, which I completely understood but choose to ignore anyway. So now this next week hopefully I can read enough to catch up and get back on track.

So, what did I think about what I did mange to read? Maybe my brain was overloaded with just other stuff going on, but I didn't understand much of what I read! Ugh!! I hate it when this happens!

We met a new guy, Mr. Jobling, (at least I think he's new, I'm starting to lose track about now) who rented the room where the Nimo guy died. He seemed like a fun guy, and I warmed to him quite quickly, so I hope he comes back shortly, and that when he does, I actually remember who he is.

Yes, I'm finding that the characters we have been introduced to up to this point, if they come back, I can't remember who they were from their first appearance. It's quite tricky.

And then we meet the Smallweed family, with a pair of eccentric grandparents. And they have a little servant girl named Charley, who I suddenly remembered was from that family of three orphan kids. And she comes back into the story quickly as Esther's new little servant. So that's all happy for her. But I'm still worried about the baby! (I think she's just been given to someone to take care of.)

Then there's Mr. Bucket, a detective guy I think, who tracks down our boy Jo and brings him to a lady and says, "Is this the lady who paid you to take her around to all the different houses?" And Jo says she is, until she speaks that is. So obviously, they've planted someone else in the dress that Jo remembers. I'm actually quite impressed with Jo's memory. He really seems to have an eye for detail.

Back to Esther's story, we learn that Richard and Ada will not be engaged after all, and that Richard is getting shipped off to the army, because he's been a bad boy. Something about gambling away all his money? Also, Esther talks Caddy into telling both his and her parents that she is engaged. Interesting reactions she gets too. Can I just say her mom is really awful?

The next week's reading seems quite intriguing, according to Amanda's recap here, and so I look forward to continuing! Here's hoping I can catch up, because if I get behind don't have this read along to motivate me to stay on track, I think I would probably flounder to the point of giving up!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Fantasy?

Yesterday our library kicked off a couple of months of celebrating fantasy with a Brandon Sanderson appearance in which he talked about his feelings for the fantasy genre.  People always ask him why he writes fantasy and he said he wishes he could say, "Obviously because everything else is boring!"

He listed some great points about why he thinks fantasy is legit, and it made me think about why I enjoy it so much too.

Brandon's reasons for writing/reading fantasy:

  • to explore other worlds, while at the same time learning about our own
  • to warn and to teach, to ponder the "what ifs" both  negative and positive
  • to focus on humanity. It's like an experiment where you change up all the variables in life, but the human characters remain the same, and are the control group. Thus, we come to understand ourselves better.
  • to simply enjoy the story itself. It's like mythology for our time. He told about when people were trying to figure out what Tolkien meant to say with Lord of the Rings. Was it about WWII? Was it symbolic for the atomic bomb? Tolkien always responded with a  resounding NO. It's JUST A STORY!
  • to inspire and to imagine. Reading fantasy is like doing crunches for the imagination! He reminded us of an Einstein quote (one of my favorites), "Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the whole world, and all we will ever know and understand." It doesn't have to be real for us to learn and gain something from it.

Great reasons, yes?

My reasons for reading (and loving) fantasy:

  • sweeping involved detailed and imaginative stories
  • extremely well defined characters
  • new worlds (language, races, cultures, religions, politics) to explore 
  • it's just plain fun! Of course it is!
Okay, so my reasons aren't quite as meaty, but still.  As Brandon Sanderson also said, there's those that get it and those that don't. I'm happy to be on the "get it" side. And oh man, there's so much of it I haven't read. It's overwhelming!

Where do you fall in this debate? Do you get the fantasy thing? Perhaps you are still not sure about it? Or maybe you won't even go near it? I'd love to know your feelings on fantasy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review: Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry

Book: Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: ARC borrowed from the library staff (to be released Oct. 12)

Julie Berry is coming to speak out our library soon, and as part of the preparation for that, her people sent the staff a bunch of ARCs for this book. I got wind of that and happily took the chance to read one.

I read her first book The Amaranth Enchantment during the readathon last October and quite enjoyed it. But I hadn't heard a thing about this book, so I went into it expecting absolutely nothing.

What a quaint fun book this is! I totally loved it! It's about a girl who gets this unexpected chance to leave her little village and go to university to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. On the way, many mishaps happen that thwart her from that goal. (Mishaps here meaning life threatening occurrences!) And she ends up.... well, I won't tell you where she ends up, but it's crazy how she gets there. And then she learns something about herself totally unexpected which causes her to see life in a whole new way and wonder if her past and family life before was at all what it seemed.

As I said in my little Goodreads comment on this one, I saw this book like a movie in my head, and for some reason, that movie had a very Princess Bride feel to it. The time period, the look, the location. Also, there were a couple of silly (and scary) comedy/circus actors, a prince and princess, the boy next door who's suddenly quite attractive, an old widow lady, a loving grandfather, a couple of special creatures and a gypsy selling charms. Mix that all up and you've got this fun tale.

Bottom line: I loved it!

For more from author Julie Berry check out her website.

Other reviews:

Books Complete Me
Two and a Half Book Lovers
My Pile of Books

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Book: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: B+
For: Fun and I suppose this fits for the RIP Challenge too!
From: borrowed from friend

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this quick story of Bree Tanner's background and the events leading up to the scene in Eclipse where the Volturi decide that the Cullen's can't keep her. When it first came out I was thinking, oh, it sounds kinda dumb. But when my friend at the library had it, she said I could borrow and read it before she donated it. So of course I took her up on it.

I was quickly brought back to the world Stephenie Meyer created, this time as part of the hideout Riley created, per Victoria's orders, where he hid the newborn army he was gathering to fight the Cullen's. Bree is sadly caught up in that whole mess. She makes a couple of friends though, and we get to know some new vampire talents. It's interesting to see her point of view of what's going, since she is completely in the dark (ha in more ways than one!) about nearly everything.

It's actually quite the sad story.

If you are a Twilight fan and haven't read this yet, you'll want to sometime. If you are not at all a Twilight fan, of course you'll have no interest and will want to skip it.

Bottom line: I enjoyed the story thoroughly!

Other reviews:

Should Be Reading
Book Journey
Write Meg!
Rhinoa's Ramblings

BBAW Giveaway Winner for The Maze Runner!

Congratulations goes to GAYE, winner of my BBAW Maze Runner giveaway according to
I've sent off an email requesting your mailing address. Please respond in the next couple of days so I can get your book signed and mailed quickly.

As part of my giveaway, I wanted to know what everyone's reaction was to Mockingjay. I had nearly 100 responses and here's how the answers broke down:

34% loved it
7% said it was okay
7% felt disappointed
7% enjoyed most of it, but thought the ending didn't feel right
and 43% have not read it yet!
Not one person said they hated it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Sunday Salon: A Non-Reading Bookish Week

It was quite the bookish week around here. Yet, funny thing. I got no reading done! Well, maybe a little. Friday night and Saturday morning I read and finished a book. And it was an awesome one. But I'll review that later!

Bookish things I did:

BBAW, a week long celebration with many of you. Lots of posting. Lots of visiting and hopping. Lots of hopping still to do. It was fun! A fabulous week of bloggy love.

Book Club which I recapped here for you. Another fun evening. Lots of book talk. I missed it over the summer. I think we have great plans for this year.

Book Fair, which I started planning. It's my last year at this, since next year my youngest will move on. Subconsciously I must be wanting to go out with a bang after doing this for ten years, because wow, did we have problems this week! But, I think all will be well, and the book fair will go on, not necessarily as planned, but go on nonetheless.

Training at the Library, in which we made t-shirts where we picked a number to catalog ourselves. (My number: 028.8. Do you know it?) And we had a "state of the library" address, and we cleaned stuff and had general all round bonding moments. Patrons, sadly, would rather the library staff not have training days, because it means the library is closed.

Reading I did NOT do:

Bleak House... very very behind now. Two weeks worth of reading assingments to catch up on.

The Shadow Rising... I carried it around with me everywhere I went and read a page here and there.

Secondhand Charm... this one I jumped into last night, and finished this morning. Loved it! Really loved it. So I guess I did do a little reading there at the end of the week after all.

TV/Movie watching I did (some last weekend):

Clash of the Titans: Not bad,not bad at all. Avatar guy, actually quite nice.
The Last Song: Sad, yes. Sappy in parts, yes.A good Redbox rental movie.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: I liked! Pretty spot on casting. Funny and enjoyable.
Vampire Diaries: Oh poor poor Damon. Will someone just love him already?
Survivor: Great start to yet another season. New twist... "The Medallion of Power!"

It was a busy week. I hope you had a great one! Here's to whatever next week has in store!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me): My Favorite Famous Person

It's Saturday! BBAW is over, which means we are back to our regularly scheduled programming. And on Saturday that means,  A Bit of Me(Me) from over at There's a Book.

Today's question:

Who is a famous person
 (dead or alive)
 that you most admire and why?

I had to ponder a bit. Then I was going to give up, as I usually do, and make a nice list. But then I thought of a person I feel very good about, and I'm going to leave it at one answer for a change! So who is the famous person I admire?


And I think the why is fairly obvious. The things she overcame to be a totally contributing member of society are incredible. Her story is amazing as we all know. Have you read her book, The Story of My Life? If not, I highly recommend it. (Here's my very mini review.) Fascinating to know what was going on in her head during those moments we know from The Miracle Worker. And then all the things she had to deal with from there. It was published in 1904 when she was only 22. Think of all the things she did after that!  Her perseverance is impressive and something we should all take to heart.

Here's a few cool quotes of hers I've just stumbled on:

Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.

Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.

Who do you most admire?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Club Report: What We Thought of the Queen's Thief series and other books

Last night my book club got together for the first time since our summer break. We had lots to talk about! In fact, I even had a schedule which we sort of, not really, a little bit, followed!

Here's some of our random thoughts about the different books we discussed:

The Passage (a few of us read this over the summer, those that wanted to came a little early to discuss it.)

  • Some thought it was slow moving in parts.
  • Some even skimmed the end to hurry and it over with!
  • Some are pretty creeped out by the realistic bad guys.
  • "It's way too long!" say some.
  • "Did you know it's a trilogy?" I said. "NO WAY!" pretty much they all said.

The Queen's Thief series (yes all four books to date)
  • I was surprised at how many ended up not liking the series much at all.
  • Many felt it was way too political.
  • Many felt there was too much geographical description.
  • A few felt betrayed in the first book, given the big reveal at the end and that it was written in first person.
  • Some found the character development interesting. How you could love and hate a character at the same time, and how your whole perception of certain characters changed over the course of the series.
  • We had a small discussion on how to pronounce Eugenides (soft G vs. hard G.) 
  • Pretty much everyone agreed that Megan Whalen Turner has a unique writing style. We talked a bit about her use of the "show don't tell" technique.
  • Everyone mentioned their favorite of the series, and it was different all around!
  • Several agreed that the Newbery Honor awarded to The Thief was well deserved.
  • We all wondered how many more books are left to come in the series. Anyone know?
  • The question "did you like it?" was alway followed by a long pause before answering.
  • Were the books about just Katniss? Katniss and the boys? Katniss and The Capitol? Or the Capitol? Once that question is answered, you can decide if the ending of the book resolved who or whatever the main problem was.
  • She (as in Suzanne Collins) was ruthless with some of our favorite characters!
  • One of the main surprises in this book, many saw it coming! (Ha, but not me!)
  • Overall feeling was that it was a little bit of a let down after the excitement of the other two books, but most people still liked and enjoyed it.
Book club people, if you are reading this, did I understand our discussions correctly? Feel free to add comments to clarify my perceptions!

Some other books that book club members read over the summer are:
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  • The Duff by Kody Keplinger
  • Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  • The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

We originally had planned to read The Wizard of Earthsea for our next discussion, but we made a change in favor of reading Matched by Ally Condie instead. That's because our next meeting falls on the day she will be coming to our local library, so we plan to go and hear her presentation, then stay and have our discussion there at the library.  Between us, we have three ARCs of Matched, so the plan is to pass them around and hope everyone has a chance at it. Sound fun? I should think so!!

BBAW: Future Treasures

Today's BBAW topic is to recap our week and predict our future in blogging.

First off all, I've been  a little more laid back this BBAW then in previous years. I've been a little less click happy with regard to adding to the reader. Which kind of makes me sad because I'm sure there's lots of blogs out there that I would love and have sort of skimmed over in my hurry. Hopefully, they'll end up on my radar eventually anyway!

But it's been fun as it always is! Reading the interviews and meeting new bloggers. Seeing what new genres we've encouraged each other to read this year. And adding to the pile with all the great recommendations. Oh, and the gazillon giveaways! Did you enter lots? I entered only a few really, but yeah, there's some great ones out there! (My giveaway lasts until Sunday night, so you still have time if you missed it.)

Having said all that, I must admit that BBAW and other events like it have another strange side affect. It makes me feel like a very very small fish in a very very big sea. Once that happens, lots of insecurities float to the surface and I have to battle them down. I hate it when that happens. But on the other hand, all the praise and high fiving and back slapping and "way to go"s are wonderful and happy and so very positive that you can't help but be proud to be part of it all, small or not.

I really do enjoy this week of book blogging love and think it's a blast!

And now for my goals. Hmmmm..... what are my goals?

1. Stop with that above mentioned insecurity already. Sheesh. Unnecessary!
2. I hereby vow to comment more! (Is it okay if my comments are, perhaps, a bit on the brainless side?)
3. Don't stop... believing blogging! After three and half years, I'd say it's part of who I am now, and why would I ever want to stop? So here's to keeping it up.
4. I would like to do more enthusiastic reviews. (In other words, I want more of you blaming me for finding your favorite books!)
5. And finally, continue to put more effort into my little features. Add to my lists! Be brave and email more authors to send me a list!

So, that's about where I stand on my future... how about you? 

And a big hip hip hooray to all those involved in making this week happen! It blows me away the effort that's involved. You are all extremely appreciated!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW: A Forgotten Treasure: Anya Seton

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is almost over! Wow, how did that happen? Today, the theme is to promote a forgotten treasure, or in other words, a book we feel deserves more attention.

After much pondering I've decided to bend the instructions just a little (of course) and highlight an "old" favorite author, Anya Seton (1904-1990).

Back when I was just a "normal" reader, back in the days when I would wander aimlessly into the library not knowing what was "the thing" at the moment, or what it was I just had to read, back before YA or endless trilogies and series to keep up with..... I discovered Anya Seton.  After the first book I read, I devoured everything the library had by her. I think my fascination waned before I'd read all of her books, but while it lasted, it was a blast!

Here's a list of her books (swiped from Wikepedia) with notes if I've read them:

My Theodosia (1941): about the daughter of VP Aaron Burr and her romance with Meriwether Lewis. I think I have this one but have yet to read it!

Dragonwyck (1944): about Miranda Wells and her marriage to Nicholas Van Ryn. I don't remember ever reading this one, though it sounds familiar.

The Turquoise (1946): New York Society in the mid 19th century. I have NOT read this one.

The Hearth and the Eagle (1948): about the author's own ancestors in Marblehead, Massachusetts. I think this is another one I have on hand, but didn't ever get around to.

Foxfire (1950): a western set in the time of post Depression. Did not read this one yet.

Katherine (1954): about the romance of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. One of my all time favorite books. Wonderful love story.

The Mistletoe and the Sword (1956): set in England during the time of the Romans. I didn't read this one, but wow, it sounds good!

The Winthrop Woman (1958): about the niece and daughter-in-law of John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I remember really enjoying this one too.

Devil Water (1962): set in the time of the Jacobite Risings in the 1700's. I did read this one, yes. Wonderful!

Avalon (1965): set in the time of Anglo-Saxon England and the Viking expansion. I'm quite sure I read this one, but I don't remember much from it.

Green Darkness (1972): this is the first one of hers I read. It's a time travel book, going back to the time of Edward VI. I loved it! I need to re-read in a really desperate way!

Smouldering Fires (1975): I know I missed reading this one. It's about reincarnation set in the same time period as Green Darkness

Now, after having done that, you may think why would I highlight this author if I can't hardly remember her books! Yes, I'm wondering that too, EXCEPT, I do remember loving every bit of the books I read! I remember being caught up in the time period complete with just enough details to make you feel like you might be learning something. At the same time, the romances were just steamy enough to get you fanning your face and keep you glued to the page. Oh, I would love to re-read and remember those wonderful stories all over again. It seems that they are unique and amazing enough that we should be hearing more about them today. So yes, I think they all deserve a highlight and definitely fit the category of forgotten treasure.

Have you read any Anya Seton books? Which was your favorite? If not, do any of these sound interesting?

Edited to add: If you were paying attention, you may have had a sneak peak of this post when I accidentally published it yesterday, too early. So, then I copied, pasted, deleted and scheduled it to post on the appropriate day, today! If you saw this post earlier and wanted to comment, but couldn't, I hope you come back!

Ah, the things we do to keep people on their toes around here!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW: Unexpected Treasure (Blogger Buzz)

Today our BBAW task is to write about a book or genre we have discovered and read because of the influence of other book blogs.... specifically one we wouldn't have picked up otherwise.

Oh my, the list is endless! (And I can't stick to just one!)

The first one that comes to mind is the read along that I participated in with Heather J and Florinda. The one where in March we read The Sparrow and then in August we read Children of God. Now, granted, The Sparrow was already on my shelves to be read... some day. I'm not sure that some day would have happened very quickly if not for the read along. And I'm so glad to have read it sooner than later! As for Children of God, its sequel, I didn't even know it existed, so I'm glad that, because of them, I now have it read also!

Angieville. Do I even need to say more? I can blame her for so many books I read this year, some I may have found on my own, but not for a long long time. And some of them I'd never heard of and probably never would have. Here's just a small sample:

The Queen's Thief series which ended up being my book club's summer assignment and introduced me to my new favorite guy character.
Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction both of a steamy-ish genre I don't normally read.
The Lady of the Forest which she suggested to help enable my Robin Hood obsession.
Daughter of the Forest (along with Melissa from One Librarian's Book Reviews and her raving review.)
Mistwood which after this review I knew I had to try it.
And in the near future I'll be reading Jane because of this recent review. Reading Angie's blog is definitely hazardous to your TBR pile so beware!

But wait there's more:

--Because of a TLC blog tour I read Coop by Michael Perry which will mostly be on my top ten list of the year and in a genre I hardly ever read.
--Because of a comment made by Susan at Bloggin' 'bout Books I read Pieces of Sky, a nice western romance, which I also don't read much but was in a major mood for!
--Because of a comment from Melissa at One Librarian's Book Reviews where she said The Schwa Was Here was even better perhaps than Unwind, I discovered a new favorite author.

And as I said, that's just a smidgen of all the influences bloggers have had on my reading this past year. Thank you so much to all of you for broadening my reading horizons! I hope you keep it up! And I hope that sometimes my influence has caused you to find and read something that ends up as your favorite of the year, your new favorite character or your latest favorite author.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW: New Treasure (Interview Swap with Amber Stults)

On today, this second day of BBAW excitement, it's all about new treasures, in which we get to interview each other. So please, let me introduce to you Amber and her blog Amber Stults: Book Reviewer and Writer. I asked her some of my favorite interview questions, and here are her answers:

1. First of all, I always like to know what got people started blogging, so tell me that story.

 Initially I thought it would be a good way to provide content for my blog in between my posts about writing. As it turns out, it’s a good way for me to better remember the books I read.

2. What are three of your favorite books so far this year?

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson. It weaves several people's stories together in a very natural way which is really difficult to do. I know it will be a book I'll be re-reading in the future.

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave. It's truly extraordinary. I laughed and cried while reading it. It's a beautiful story about two women who seem so different on the surface but shows we all want to be happy in our lives. After reading this I had no desire to pick up anything else to read for a week.

Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder. It's written by a local author and set in Columbus, Ohio. Lucy does a wonderful job of mixing real landmarks with the fake ones. And it's one of the few urban fantasy novels I've read where the heroine gets hurt and stays hurt.

3. And three of your favorite books of all time?

The first is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It's one that's stayed with me over the years and I've re-read it several times. Each reading brings new insights into the characters. 

The second book is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers. It was one of the
first books I read by someone my own age and I felt like he was speaking directly to me. 

The third book would be Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. My mother introduced me to Anne Frank by giving me the copy she read when she was in high school. I read several editions of it and it's probably time for me to revisit it. After I read Francine Prose's book about Anne Frank, of course.

4. What five authors (dead or alive of course) would you like to invite for a lunch date?

 This is such a wonderful question and a difficult one to answer. I think an interesting lunch date would include Francine Prose, Anne Frank, Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers and Joss Whedon. They all have themes of human and women's issues in their writings.

5. I see you are a writer, so tell us about that... what do you write? What future plans do you have? If your writing dream is fulfilled, what would it be?

I think part of my problem in getting my fiction published is I write a lot of different things. My flash fiction (generally under 1000 words) is mainly literary in nature and my novels are either literary or fantasy. It can be difficult to get my writing muscles to stay on one track. I've been writing book reviews for a few years and am now getting into interviews. My dream would be to have others read my writing and think, "I know just how that character feels."

6. What other activities are you in to besides books, reading and writing?

I like watching movies, playing Texas Hold'Em, baking, and hanging out with my husband and Corgi.

7. Describe your perfect day.

 A perfect day would include sleeping in, eating some ricotta pancakes and bacon for breakfast, spending the day with my husband (we often spend time together just reading or talking), attending a book reading and having Michael Symon over to cook dinner for us. (That way we don't have to drive to Cleveland for his cooking!)

8. If you could read yourself into a story (as they do in Inkheart) what story would it be?

 I couldn't pick one. Everything I read is full of emotional conflict or has scary monsters.

9. What five book blogs do you visit the very most?

This year I finally started using Google Reader so I would remember to visit some of my favorite book bloggers with more regularity. I have about a dozen feeds in my reader. Five include Bermudaonion, Maw Books, Fyrefly's Book Blog, Damian Daily, and Savvy Verse and Wit.

10. What are some of your favorite book blogging events/challenges/memes/phenomenas/author encounters have you participated in this past year?

I haven't been to many author readings this year which I'll need to rectify. Those are always fun. Last October I met Francine Prose and felt like a schoolgirl meeting her hero. Bloggiesta is always a good time and this year I've been pretty good about participating in the Mailbox Monday meme.

Thanks so much Amber for all your fun answers! Be sure to drop by her blog to see what questions she asked me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW Giveaway: The Maze Runner

I rarely do giveaways, but being a part of the BBAW festivities is something I do want to participate in, so last night it finally hit me what book I'd like to giveaway:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I will be seeing him next week at our library and will get the book personally signed for the winner before sending it on. This is a worldwide giveaway. The winner will be randomly selected at midnight (US Eastern Time) on Sunday September 19 and announced on the blog here Monday morning, the 20th. 

Please fill out the form with your info in order to enter. As part of this giveaway I'm also asking the burning question: How did you feel about Mockingjay? I would love to gather some sort of statistic to determine where most of us fall on this important issue! So hopefully I've given enough choices so you can click on something that describes your feelings the closest.

Thanks for participating!! Be sure to check out all the other giveaways at this BBAW link.

BBAW: First Treasure (Newly Discovered Blogs)

The minds in charge of Book Blogger Appreciation Week have come up with a wonderful theme for the week: A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs! Each day we are to post about a treasure with regarding to reading and blogging.

Today's suggestion is to talk about a first treasure, or in other words a newly discovered book blog! Ah, where to start! I'm assuming this means a "new to us" book blog and not necessarily "new" book blog... but perhaps I'll just go ahead and mention both!

A "new to me" blog that I've really connected with recently is Ibeeeg (Deanna) from Polishing Mud Balls. (How's that for a fun name! She explains it on her sidebar.) We discovered each other because of our mutual personal quest to read The Eye of the World series by Robert Jordan. It's quite the undertaking and we need to cheer each other on! She makes wonderful awesome comments and we've had some pretty fun comment discussions about the characters  in those books.

Then we realized we were both reading the Queen's Thief series also! Not only that, but we realized we both have a Muse obsession and lots of other similar music and book tastes. Don't you love it when that happens?

Other things about Deanna is that she is doing a Bible reading challenge which I find very brave, and she is a mom of a big and busy family, something I can quite relate to. But most especially I love that she has one of those very conversational blogs, you know, the ones where it feels like you are right there with her, just talking as friends. I'm so happy to have found her and her blog this past year!

Other blogs I must mention as favorite "new" and "new to me" blogs since last year:

Leah from Amused by Books
Jan at Eating Y.A. Books
Danielle from There's a Book
Tif from Tif Talks Books
Kika from The Book Bluff
Jenni from Jenni Elyse
Debbie from Cranberry Fries

And that's just a few of the favorites I've discovered this year! And I'm sure it won't be the last!

What blogs have you discovered this year?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Books? What Books?

Oh wait!  This blog is all about books, right? How about I actually talk about them today!

I just finished, as in minutes ago, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer. That was a sad story. Interesting though. I love reading familiar stories from other points of view. Poor Bree. Poor Diego.

This week I also finished Matched by Ally Condie. That's so I can let my ARC float around my book club this next month so we can all go to see Ally when she comes to our library in a month or so. And yes, I really liked that one too! But I will save details for a review, which will probably not be for awhile as I was wanting to wait until closer to it's release date. But we'll see.

I'm also spending quite a bit of time on the Bleak House read along. Not my favorite Dickens so far, but there's enough interesting parts that I'm sticking to it!

Also, I'm quite into the fourth Wheel of Time book called The Shadow Rising. Much more flirting going on and concern about all the different relationships this go around than before. I'm quite enjoying that aspect! I'm actually wishing I could drop all other books and just concentrate on this one, but then I wouldn't get anything else read this month, and that would be sad.

I got my hands on an ARC (through the library this time) of Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry. I need to bump that one up on the list and then plan on seeing Julie Berry when she comes to the library this month! (Our library is concentrating on fantasy this next little while and as part of the celebration, many author appearances will be happening!)

I may attempt to start Fall of Giants by Ken Follett in the coming week. I mean, I at least want to attempt!

But what will I read this very today? My plan is to maybe read a chapter or two of Bleak House and then immerse myself into The Shadow Rising!

What the family is reading:

Mr. Stuey: He finished Mockingjay, slammed the book shut and said, "Well. That was stupid!" Now he is reading Matched. I find this so so fascinating because in the past, he's wanted nothing to do with the YA stuff I've been reading!

JJ: The Iliad by Homer.. .for school, along with tons of textbooks.(Just started her freshman year at college.) She also fit in Mockingjay this past week. When I asked her what she thought, she said. "It was good. I guess."

Moder: Still working on Ender's Game. For school, he's started Beowulf. (He just started 10th grade.) Wow, I say!

Toto: Just finished The Angel Experiment by James Patterson. Has now started The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (can't believe she hasn't read this one already!) She has to read 40 books during the school year (she just started 6th grade) from many different genres. I'll be reporting how that goes!

What are you reading this lovely Sunday?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me): Other Hobbies

This week's question over at There's a Book for her fun meme is:

Do you have any hobbies (not necessarily talents) besides reading?

I love the (not necessarily talents) disclaimer! Yep, I have many many hobbies, but truly not many talents, so I'm willing to list them for you if you promise to keep that mind!

Music: I love it. I find it creeping into my supposedly "all about books" blog quite often these days. I feel a strong need to talk and share music. I'm old, but I still feel young with regard to music. I think that's a good thing. Some of this is manifested also by my intense desire to go to concerts of all genres. I really really love them. Is this a hobby? Yes, I think so, and a very expensive one!  If you are a regular reader, you'll know that my biggest music obsession is all things Josh Groban. And so guess what I must share right now? He has a new single as part of his promotion for a new album! And you can download it for free! And I get points (for what, I don't know) if you use this link to do it!!! So what are you waiting for? Just do it already.

TV: Once upon a time I thought TV was a bad thing. Yes, many people still think this. But a few years ago, I decided life is too short to stress about feeling guilty about watching some TV. So, I embraced the temptation and my life has NOT suffered in the least! Many people also think that you can only do one or the other, read or watch TV. This, I do no get. Seriously, you CAN do both! Anyway, I think it's a very fun past time. Some of my current favorites, if you don't already know, are Amazing Race, Survivor, Chuck, American Idol, Vampire Diaries and Friday Night Lights. Some past favorites include: Lost, Heroes, Early Edition, Moonlight, Pushing Daisies, Star Trek Voyager, etc. Our recent hobby (discovery) as you DO probably know is having marathon TV viewing days and watching old series that we missed, like Prison Break, Robin Hood, Gilmore Girls, Firefly, and so on. What a blast of a way to watch TV!! I highly recommend it, but save it for a time when you don't have too many other pressing life issues.

Quilting: Before blogging there was quilting. Yes, this hobby has suffered in a big big way the last few years. But I still long to go back to it. I dream of it all the time. I yearn to play with fabric! I want to create. Maybe I can get back into this one of these days! (Here's a picture of a couple I made for babies. I think before it was over, I made about 10 versions of this baby quilt.)

Scrapbooking: as in slapping together some pictures on a page, NOT as in creating major masterpieces. I like to preserve memories, but I don't do the cutsy stuff. No patience (or talent) for that. But I do take a lot of pictures and I do print many of them and then actually put them in a book so they can be looked at. Is that a hobby? Sort of perhaps.

Other bookish hobbies: For years, I've volunteered as the book fair chairperson for the elementary school. Since my youngest is now in 6th grade, this will be my last year at that. I think I'm ready to be done though, so that's good. But, it's been fun. Also, I have a book club that completely enjoy being in charge of. And then there's the library, where I go and work for 12 hours a week. It's more like a hobby than a job, really. How cool is that? Oh, and then there's the local author stalking that's very fun, showing up wherever they are appearing. Yes, it's a hobby of sorts!

So, if I'm not reading or blogging or doing mom duties, I'm probably doing one of the above things! Or at least thinking about doing them!

What things do you like to do when you aren't reading or blogging?


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