Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Book: White Cat by Holly Black
Genre: YA SF
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: It was a gift!

This is a book I've just recently been hearing lots about (just opposite of what I was saying about Wake yesterday, which I've been hearing about forever.) And for once, I've been able to read it soon afterwards instead of waiting and waiting for a chance to get to it!

This book is the first of a series called The Curse Workers. It's about a society where many people have an ability to manipulate other people simply by touching them (through dreams, memories, emotions, etc.) This "curse work" has been outlawed and therefore, to help prevent the working of curses, everyone must wear gloves. (I'm still not sure how this particular law is enforced though.) Of course, there are those who disregard the law and insist on keeping up the practice which creates a whole new meaning to the mafia/con world.

We meet our main guy as he is just waking up from sleepwalking on the roof of his dorm. Cassel, as he is called (and a name that quite grew on me I must say) comes from a family of curse workers, yet he himself has no power of his own. This whole sleepwalking thing is quite suspicious to him and he wonders what's really going on. Is someone "working" him? And if so, why? And who?

Because of this particular incident, he is given a sort of leave of absence from school and he uses that week or so to begin solving this mystery, which appears to have a lot to do with his family and what they are really up to. And it may also have something to do with another terrible incident that happened in Cassel's past.... one that haunts his life relentlessly.

And what's up with the white cat? Well, you'll have to read it to find that out!

I really enjoyed this unique take on the whole paranormal/magic thing. I also enjoyed hearing the story from the guy's point of view. We need more of those out there! It's a fast-paced story, filled with several plot twists that for the most part I didn't see coming. I love it when that happens. Those, wait, what? moments! Great stuff.

Years ago I read Tithe by Holly Black and was not impressed at all. She redeemed herself for me with this one. It was much much more enjoyable.

Bottom line: I really liked it a lot!

Other reviews:

The Page Flipper
I'd So Rather be Reading
You've GOTTA Read This
Stella Matutina

More information about author Holly Black.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

Book: Wake by Lisa McMann
Genre: YA SF
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: The library

I've been wanting to read this one forever its seems. Nearly every time I go to the library, I check to see if it's in, and finally the other day, there were tons of them! So I knew it was finally time to read it.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see what other people are dreaming? In this book, Janie knows all about it and she does NOT think it's very cool at all. In fact, it's basically become a curse, especially since she has no control over it and if she is in the vicinity of anyone dreaming, she is sucked right into their dream with them. Meanwhile, her physical body is paralyzed as if she's having an epileptic fit. Not fun and quite inconvenient to say the least.

And things get especially creepy when the guy she sorta kinda likes falls asleep nearby and she learns what he happens to be dreaming about. A little bit good and a lot bad.

I really enjoyed this whole dream idea. Quite an interesting concept. I also really liked the guy in this book, one of those shy, quite types who on the surface looks especially nerdy and needy, yet as it turns out, there's a whole lot more going on than what you can see. Love that!

Most likely I'll read the next one, called Fade, I believe. However, I'm a little worried because I think most of th allure of this story is the figuring out of things, and now that all the mystery is "solved" I'm not sure if the sequels will be as fun. If you've read them, let me know!

Bottom line: Totally enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down.

P.S. Beware the language in this one.

Other reviews:

Bookfoolery and Babble
There's a Book
Books Love Me
Sadie-Jean's Book Blog

And don't forget to check out author Lisa McMann's website here.

Review: Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

Book: Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A-
For: Fun
From: The library

My friend Jenny has been loving this series lately, and so I decided I had to find out what it was all about. This first book is quite a small thing and I figured I could fit it in the line up quite easily and read it quickly. However, sad to say, it still took me awhile to read it. I think it was a mixture of what was going on in real life and because it was a little slow to start and took awhile to get into.  (Also, it may have to do with the fact that she started this book while a teenager.)

The premise of this book is that a long time ago in the history of this society, something happened called the Great White, a nuclear holocaust of some sort. Because of that event, many people have been tainted and have ended up with strange and unique gifts. These people are labeled misfits and are condemned to death or banishment.

One of the locations for banishment is Obernewtyn, a place from which no one has ever returned.

So as you may have guessed, this is where we go with our main character, Elspeth. Once there, she begins to uncover the secrets and corruption of this place. And from there, it all gets quite intriguing! In fact, I think I read most of the whole second half in one sitting. Not only that, I found myself wondering about the characters after finishing, which is always a good sign for wanting to continue with the series, don't you think? Yes. I will be finding out what happens to them.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it.

Other Reviews:

Presenting Lenore
Bart's Bookshelf
Stainless Steel Droppings

What the author has to say about it:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Josh and Other Excitement!

Wow, it's been quite the weekend! Tons of excitement around here!

First off, I got the mail on Friday and found there a little surprise from Deanna (Ibeeeg) from Polishing Mud Balls. I knew she had something up her sleeve, but when I opened it I couldn't believe my eyes and nearly hyperventilated right on the spot! Inside was Josh Groban's new cd... and it was SIGNED BY HIM!! Personalized to ME! I guess Deanna's mom was lucky enough to see him at a signing in Chicago and so she asked her to get this for me. How well she knows me already!

Oh my. It's still freaking me out actually. If only I could have personally been there too. Maybe some day, huh. Anyway, thank you so much to Deanna... isn't she awesome though?

And then, Christmas came early when we all got new phones on Friday. I thought this day would never come. But come it did and now I'm in the process of learning what a "smart" phone can do and how to text on a touch screen. It may take some getting used to! But it will happen, and I'm going to have tons of fun with it!

Also on Friday (it was overload on Friday I'm telling you) we fit in Harry Potter. I enjoyed it. My brother said  there wasn't enough comic relief, but I thought there were quite a few cute and funny moments. Bummer we have to wait longer for the conclusion to the whole thing. I'd totally forgotten the book, but as I watched, it started coming back to me.

Finally on Friday we had a little mini family gathering with my side of the family. Ate more pie and played Catch Phrase a bit. And I showed my sister the above tidbit and we squealed like teenagers! Yeah, she gets it.

Saturday I got a much needed haircut, hung the outside Christmas lights and did just a teeny tiny bit of Christmas shopping, but at least I can say I've started. To those who can say they have finished, I say you are amazing.... or crazy... one of the two.

Oh then there was Thanksgiving of course. This was with my husband's family, the side of the family where we've had the recent and still raw loss. So for the most part, it was a fine Thanksgiving, but there were also moments where we just wished things were normal and we were ALL there, without that "someone is missing" feeling.

Earlier in the week there was the BIG BLIZZARD of 2010! Wow, I've never ever EVER seen the news and the weather guys get us all worked up about an approaching storm like they did this time. They sent everyone home early from nearly everything and we proceeded to batten things down and hunker down, prepared to light a fire and cozy up with the family all safe and sound. And we kept saying to the kids... "any minute it's going to get here!!" And then we waited, and waited and waited. We built the fire, watched a movie, told the teenager she was confined to home and waited, and waited and waited! Finally, we went to bed, and heard nothing all night long. We got up to absolutely no change. Yeah, for us, the blizzard never came! It was the most anticlimactic non-event we've ever experienced! Pretty funny. (Places just a bit north of us did get hit though, some harder than others. But still, I think we have had WAY worse than this in past years.)

Whew, like I said, it's been an exciting week!

And yes, I've been reading. in and through and amongst it all. For the last few days I've been totally loving North of Beautiful. Really loving it. I also finished Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, which was very fun too. Ugh, I'm getting massively behind in reviews. But still, I had hoped to read much more than I did during this vacation weekend. Isn't that always the case? Oh, well.

Well, so I think that's all I had to report on. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, whether it was a holiday for you or not! Now, on to December!

Oh wait, a video... the song Josh signed on, and one of my favorites on the new album:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Music Stuck in My Head: Carol of the Bells

Yes, it's officially safe to break out the Christmas music now, right? And so today I thought I'd highlight one of my most favorites, Carol of the Bells.

I like my Carol of the Bells done up in many many ways.

There's the all guys a capella version, which I really really love:

The piano version, and there's many of these, but I picked the George Winston one:

The choir version, by the Mormon Tab of course!:

The ladies Celtic version,:

This awesome rock version by TSO:

And finally, a handbell choir:

Do you like Carol of the Bells? What's your favorite version?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.38: Antique Books

I decided I better do a quick Weekly Geek since I posted the question, even if it was a day late! :)

So the question is what old books do you have? Where here old means like, old, like ancient, like antique. And I do have a few, most of them come from my grandparents. So I took some pictures of a few of them for you:

These books were my grandpa's favorites when he was a kid. (He's the one that turned 90 this summer.) One day, he just up and gave them to me. The dates on them are 1927 and 1928.

These Hardy Boy books are my father-in-law's. They are from the 1940's.

The green book is my mom's history book from 1958 or so. The blue book is my grandpa's English book from 1934. What I love about the English book is all the signatures of all the kids inside whose hands this book traveled through. It's like a time capsule.

The Bobbsey Twins book I just found at a thrift store and fell in love with it. It's date is 1929. The Pinocchio book is one I inherited from my grandma. It's from the 1960's. It's a flip book where this side is Pinocchio, but the other side is King Aurthur and the Round Table...but its cover is torn off sadly.

This one also came from my grandma and is dated 1902. I have no idea why she had it. I wish I knew if there was a story behind it. The pictures inside are wonderful

 And my favorite is the husbandry book that was found in a pile of junk on my grandpa's farm. I'm not sure he ever used it, but perhaps his uncle, who he bought the farm from in 1948 or so, used it. It's date is 1899, and I find it a most fascinating, old thing! Inside is all sorts of knowledge about how to run a farm and deal with livestock, including cool fold out overlays of cows and horses like this:

Not that this will ever come in handy for me, but I'll always remember that day we were on the farm going through this junk and I latched onto this old book and my grandpa thought I was crazy!

What cool old books to you have around  your house?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Books I'm Thankful For

Well, I'm thankful for all books, but especially these:

The Box Car Children: because it sparked my imagination as a kid and made me forever fascinated with the idea of living in a box car

The Hiding Place and The Diary of Anne Frank: because they made the Holocaust real to me.

Anne of Green Gables: because I learned that books can just be fun and happy

Harry Potter: because it was so fun to be part of a world-wide book club!

Howard's End: because I will  remember it as the first book I read with an online community

Twilight: because it gets people talking about books with much emotion and passion, positively or negatively!

The Tale of Two Cities: because it was the first book I remember discussing with a class and therefore becoming extremely attached, invested and emotionally involved.

Good Night Moon: because it was my favorite book to read to my little kids

The Enchanted Cup: because it was the first book I remember just grabbing off the shelf and ending up loving. It also began my love for the Tristan and Isolde story.

The Book Thief: because it showed me that writing can be so much more than just.... writing. (NEWSFLASH!!! I'm hearing that Markus Zusak will be coming to the library in March!!! I'm still in shock over this news!!)

The Maze Runner: because it's the first New York Times bestseller where I can say "Hey, I know that author!"

Seabiscuit: because it proves to me that you never know what sort of book you'll love ( a non fiction book about horse racing? Who knew?)

The Kite Runner: because it taught me that I can love love love a book, while others can hate hate hate it!

Ender's Game: because it demonstrates the "blow you away" ending in a big way

Okay okay, I'll stop now! What books are you especially thankful for and why?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guest Review: Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Book: Marysvale by Jared Southwick
Genre: It felt like a YA paranormal one to my husband, but I'm not sure exactly how it's being marketed.
Rating: A 
For: Review
From: The author

I accepted this review copy awhile back and promptly put it right there on the top of the stack with grand intentions of getting to it sooner than later. However when my husband, Mr. Stuey, recently finished a book and started rummaging through my stacks looking for the next great read, he happened upon this one, picked it up and once again beat me to it! This seems to be happening more and more these days. I'm reading all the read alongs I've committed to and all the library books I can't resist and the book club books, etc, while meanwhile he is enjoying all my review books. Many of them he hasn't written a review for quite yet, but this time he sat down and did one for me right away.

Here's what he has to say:

I just finished reading Marysvale, a young adult book by Jared Southwick. When I plopped the book back on the book shelf, my wife asked if I was done. When I said, “Yes”, she responded, “Wow, that was the fastest you have read anything lately.” Well, the reasons for that were, first, I really liked the book and, second, it is an easy read that lends itself to quickly turning the pages. It was just FUN.

The story is about John and his trusty horse Smoke. Both are thrown out into the back country and run headlong into the dreaded Brean, a race of vicious monsters that inhabit the forest. John has a special power that allows him glimpses into people's soul, and wicked people want to take advantage of this gift for evil purposes. Along the journey through the forest, and finally to the city of Marysvale, John meets new and old friends. It is a struggle to get into Marysvale and then even a larger struggle to get out again.

I felt very close to John, Smoke and the other characters that joined him, so when the Marysvale leaders treated them poorly I found myself really hating them. At times, I thought the evil men were actually scarier than the Brean monsters.

The book contained elements of mystery, action, cowboy western, magic, demons, Indiana Jones, and even a light romance. I am looking forward to the next installment of the Marysvale series, Alyth, which should be available in Fall of 2011.

I would recommend the book for children 9 and older. Younger kids may find it a bit too scary. I enjoyed the book at 45, so it would be great for young teenagers and really anyone who likes young adult fiction.

If you want a gift for a young teenager in your life, or if you are looking for a quick fun read, give Marysvale a try.

For more about the author, Jared Southwick, check out his website here.

I am really looking forward to my turn at this book and to perhaps discover yet another favorite Utah author!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review and Book Club Report: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Book: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Genre: Classic
Rating: A
For: Book Club
From: The library (though I do have my own extremely beat up copy too)
Version: Abridged! Ugh.

So, as I've been mentioning quite a bit lately, this was a re-read for me for book club this month. I read it the first time during high school and LOVED it. This time around, I loved it... meaning, it didn't seem to be quite as awesome as I remembered it the first time around. Not sure why. Maybe because it felt like I was missing something by not reading the unabridged version. I don't know. It could also be because this was the book I was reading during all the emotional upheaval our family has been experiencing this month, which made it very hard to really enjoy reading at all.

Again, a quick summary of the plot: Edmond Dantes, a very nice boy, has it all. That is, until his "friends" plot against him and he ends up at a very ruthless prison for life. Luckily, he happens upon a real friend there in the prison who teaches him all sorts of things and then actually tells him about the existence of a buried treasure. When he escapes, was we all know he does, he finds the treasure, reinvents himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, and plans his revenge against all those who sent him to jail in the first place. The plot gets quite complicated from there and you won't believe all the stuff that's happening!

And that's what I love about this book. The fun and crazy plot. The interweaving of all the people and stories. The bottom line theme of revenge and is it justified? And do the kids have to pay for their sins of their parents? And how far does one go for revenge? Ah, it's all fabulous stuff. And a timeless story. Definitely fits the description of  "classic."

Bottom line: I loved it... again.

What the book club thought:

It was interesting that the only people who actually finished this book where the ones that chose to read the big unabridged version. Out of the rest of us, several were almost done, or not quite done but planned to finish. Then there were a few who just didn't get into it and gave up after a couple hundred pages.

We spent a lot of time comparing the book and the movie, the 2002 version that I've been talking up too much lately. I know there are many versions of the movie, and I think some of them were made as a series, so they are probably much more true to the book, but this movie (that I still really enjoy,) is nothing like the book and we decided that we must think of them as completely different things and not related at all.  Then we can just be happy and forget it! However, I've decided that I really do need to watch some of those other versions and see what I think.

Differences are (SPOILER WARNING):

* there's no second generation for the Count to manipulate, except Albert, so all the secondary plots are discarded
* Fernand and Edmond are best friends
* Mercedes marries Fernand shortly after Edmond is arrested because she is pregnant
* Albert is his kid! WHAT?
* He gets back together with Mercedes. Ah, I like this ending, really I do.
* All the people that help the count with his revenge plans are melded into one character, Jacopo.

We talked a lot about the differences in the two book versions also, and what we may have perhaps missed in our abridged version. I think we missed much of the detailed back story, and some description of places they go, and I'm really afraid we may have missed some writing style too. That's the part that really bugs me the most. We also talked about the differences in translations, which can be quite an interesting comparison.

Some people felt like there needed to be more time to get invested in the character of Edmond before he was arrested and hauled off in order to care about what happens to him in the remainder of the book. We discussed this for awhile, trying to decide if we felt for him and whether or not his plans were justified or not. Also, if he changed is mind about what he was doing, and at what point. Like I said before, I really think he a fascinating character, no matter where you stand on this whole issue.

Anyway, I really think everyone enjoyed the experience for the most part, and were happy we chose this book.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Reading Updates

It's snowing today! I think I'm ready to break out the Christmas music!

Here's what I've been reading this past week:

I started White Cat by Holly Black on Friday evening and finished it this morning. Awesome book. Very unique take on that supernatural thing everyone is so obsessed with. Review to come this week.

I also finished the first book in the Obernewtyn series by Isobelle Carmody. This first book is a very small tiny thing, but for some reason it still took me what felt like forever to read it. The first half anyway. The second half went much quicker and I become much more engaged and I think that yes, I will try more of this series.

Today, I started and have now read half of Wake by Lisa McMann. Wow, I've heard a lot about this book and it's nice to finally be reading it. I'm gripped. I'm hooked. I'm swallowing it whole!

Meanwhile, I need to start The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope for the Classics Circuit for which I'm on the schedule later in December. I've a feeling it might take me awhile to read that one. And I don't want it to be nagging at me when I start the next Wheel of Time book shortly either. Can't wait to start that one. And I always forget the name of that next one... (looking it up now)...... The Fires of Heaven! Yes, that's it! :)

Oh, and then there's The Riddle, which I'm meant to be reading for a read along. But, I'm only a few chapters in and have already missed the deadline. I will continue with the series, but I may have to read them at a bit slower pace then the read along is suggesting. Know what I mean?

This past week we had our Count of Monte Cristo book club. I'm hoping to do a report on that tomorrow for those interested. I've also been assigned my day for the Virtual Advent Tour (Dec. 22) and my blogger for the  Blogger Holiday Swap (ha not sayin'!) This will be my fourth year, I think, participating in both of these super fun bloggish holiday events! Thanks guys for keeping them up.

Yesterday it was my day to post a Weekly Geek assignment and do you know, I completely forgot! And I totally even had an idea! So, that went up today, a day late, and so if you participate in that lovely meme, do head on over and see what my question is!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me): Thankful

Today for our Saturday A Bit of Me(Me) post hosted by There's a Book, we are to talk about things we are thankful for, which of course, there's a lot!

Last year I did such a post and just made a nice long list. Here's the link to that if you want to revisit it. And what do you know, I still like and agree with all the stuff on this list!

Three years ago I even made a video about things I'm thankful for. Here's the wild thing, I actually found it! Perhaps you'd like to watch it?

This year, all I think I need to add is that I'm thankful for health and life and just existing! I'm thankful for the little things, all that stuff we take for granted. Being able to get up in the morning and have a day to do pretty much whatever I want. Being able to go to a fun job, read, play on the computer, take care of kids, make dinner, clean the house (yes even that), drive where I need to go, be involved in lots of things, be interested in lots of things and just living life. 

Yes, that's what I'm thankful for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Character Connection: Edmond Dantes

One of my favorite characters of all time is Edmond Dantes otherwise known as the Count of Monte Cristo. I've just recently re-read this for book club tonight, so I thought what better character than him to highlight today for my character connection! (Feel like highlighting a character? Join us over at The Introverted Reader every Thursday!)

Edmond Dantes from
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
(shown here as played by Jim Caviezel)

As you may know, Edmond Dantes starts out the book as a happy, young 19 year old boy. His whole future is ahead of him. All is going right in his world, and it appears his life is going to be heaven on earth. But suddenly, that all changes when he is framed for treason, arrested and locked up in a prison from which no one has ever escaped. His life makes a full about turn and all looks bleak and hopeless.

But then stuff happens, and things begin to look up again! (I don't want to spoil things in case you haven't read this book yet! Is there even anyone out there who hasn't read it?) And then what he does with this second chance is what this book is all about. But that part I should save for an actual review I'm thinking!

So, back to the reasons why I love Edmond Dantes:

* his character is complicated and dynamic
* he exudes the very definition of "coolness"
* he is extremely charismatic
* he is confused and torn and flawed
* he is brilliant!
* on one hand his the good guy hero, and on the other he's the bad guy villain
* he is passionate and colorful

Yes, this is definately a character I love!

Here's a video I enjoyed that does a pretty fine job of highlighting him:

What character are you crushing on this week?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Insanity at the Library

Today, I went to the library to check out book club sets for next month's book, The Potato Peel book as I'm calling it because I'm really sick of typing it out every time I talk about it, you know.

Anyway, so I told myself, "Suey, no WAY are you going to browse the shelves in the YA section because we both know that you have plenty to read already." Yes, I told my self, there's all those review books that I accept and then never read, there's two or three read alongs (official and un), there's book club and challenges, and a major stack new books that I have yet to get to, and a Classic Circuit tour coming up.  Yes, there's plenty to read.

Yet, I found myself literally compelled to walk through the section! It was as if Damon himself were there looking into my eyes! I mean, just what if there was something over there that I've been dying to read forever, and I didn't go check it out! How could I ever live with myself again???

And so of course, I now not only have 15 book club set books, but five more random YA books littering the floor of my room.

Here's what I ended up with:

Yeah, maybe I'll even read them sometime.

So tell me, does something compel YOU every time you step your foot into a library? And then you walk out of there wondering what in the world you were thinking? 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter

Book: Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter
Genre: YA Romance
Rating: A-
For: Supporting local authors
From: I bought it the other day at the big library event.

Here's the story of a girl, Polly, who doesn't really know what she wants. She bounces from guy to guy and each time, she does what HE likes and then decides that's not really her thing and so off she is again. We meet her one summer when she is in between boyfriends and she is really floundering because she doesn't know what to do with herself without a guy telling her what to be interested in.

She thinks that perhaps the arrival of her grandma, who writes a popular column in the paper called Miss Swoon, will help her figure things out, but yeah, not so much as it turns out! Maybe the boy next door, who has turned into all things awesome, will help her sort things out, but then again, maybe it will turn out to be the same old story all over again.

Once again, I totally enjoyed this fluffy teen romance... a teen romance with a lesson to be learned. What I took from this fun story is.... just be yourself! Yes, a common lesson, but one that teens seem to often forget. The writing and style of this book reminded me much of Meg Cabot, and that's a good thing. I went on a Meg Cabot streak awhile back, but then sort of got sick of it, and now to find Sydney Salter with a similar feel, but different, is very fun.

Bottom line: I liked it a whole lot.

Other Reviews:

Pop Culture Junkie
Killin' Time Reading
The Book Muncher
Juiciliciousss Reviews

Author Sydney Salter's official site.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Josh Groban's New CD!

Josh, and we his fans, are a bit excited this morning! Finally! A new CD! I'm so excited! I may have to wait until tomorrow to actually go buy it though. And I have this compulsion to find the exclusive CD/DVD version so I can watch Josh talk about the whole process and the fun bloopers and all that. And it usually has bonus tracks on it too, so anyway we'll see how it goes.

Finally!!!!!! from Josh Groban on Vimeo.

Want to listen to the whole album? You can by clicking on this link which takes you to a "listening party" at Josh's Facebook page. Is that cool or what?

Anyway, I couldn't let the day go by without this little celebration.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Trying to Read

My reading life the past couple of weeks has been totally suffering. It's been really hard to concentrate on it during the personal crisis we've been facing with the passing of my brother-in-law. Although, I find it interesting that my sister-in-law is begging me for books to read to help her get through this. I said to her, "I'm having a hard time focusing on a book, so I wonder how you'll be able to!?" She said, "I know, but I want to try, and to get involved in someone else life right now sounds wonderful." So I did give her a stack and I hope it helps.

Meanwhile, I've been slowly making my way through The Count of Monte Cristo... finally finished it a couple of days ago. It shouldn't have taken me so long, because it's actually quite easy reading (this abridged version is at least.). Anyway, we'll be discussing that for book club this week, so look for more on that later.

I've also been reading Bohemoth by Scott Westerfeld, which is currently on the treadmill. I'm really enjoying that one right now too. So far, I'm managed to leave it on the treadmill, to entice me to go walk and read. We'll see how long it lasts until I can't stand it and take it off just to read and finish it!

In the mail I got an ARC for The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart. What a fascinating  concept to me! She and her three teenagers took six months off from technology. I read the first chapter and am anxious to continue on to see how they survived this experiment!

From the library, I've been reading Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. This is a teeny little book that should only take me a little bit to read, so I hauled it around with me yesterday while I went to several dance performances of my daughter's. So I've got a good start on that and it's going well so far.

Also, I've read a couple of chapters in The Riddle by Alison Croggan for the Pellinor read along. Not sure I'll make the deadline coming up this week for that one, but I'll see how it goes and try to keep up!

Then I had a birthday! Yep, and Jenny gave me a couple of books: White Cat by Holly Black and A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin, both of which I'm really anxious to get to, so wish me luck in fitting them into the line up! And thanks again Jenny!

So, as you can see, I'm trying with the reading thing despite the hard times. But, it's not been too easy lately.

P.S. Also for my birthday I got the first season of Castle! Can't wait to join the fan base for that! And also the soundtrack to Prince of Persia, which I'm loving. (Both of those came from my friend at work, and made me realize I talk too much and she totally knows exactly what I've had my eye on!) Then, my husband surprised me with a leather jacket, which just recently I was thinking how I'd like one, but hadn't even voiced it out loud. Interesting how that works!

P.P.S: Don't forget to sign up for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap! It's very fun so don't be left out! I think today is the last day to sign up so head on over right now!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Stuff: A Bit Me(Me) and Weekly Geeks

It appears I'm killing two birds with one stone today, by answering two meme-ish questions on one post! I know, what a concept. But the questions are a bit more simple for me today so I thought I'd go for it!

For A  Bit Me(Me), brought to you by There's a Book, the question is: If you could take a class in anything (for free) what would it be and why?

I've taken quite a few little fun classes in lots of things and really enjoyed them. But most of them were just dabbling in a topic. So if I could, I'd like to revisit some of those things and get a little more in depth. For instance, I'd like to REALLY learn Photoshop. Yeah, that thing confuses me to no end. And Premiere too. Well, I know that one pretty good, but I'd like to know it much much better.  I'd also like to take more writing classes so I could get enough guts to write a book perhaps. As far as language goes, I'm really keen on learning Italian. That be so cool.  And also (I have you noticed I can never give just one answer to these questions?) a literature class would be awesome!

Weekly Geeks is wondering this week, how we find time to read amongst our other responsibilities. Here are the specific questions:

Do you read for a few minutes here and there?

Yes, I do actually. I read lots in the evening, after family activities or TV or whatever else is happening. I read lots on the weekends, especially Sunday afternoons. I read most afternoons actually when I get that "I must crash now for a moment or die" feeling. I read waiting for kids at lessons and orthodontist appointments. Reading basically fills up all the cracks of time during the day when otherwise you'd be just wasting time waiting for the next thing to start.
Do you put aside certain nights or times of the day to read?

No, I don't do this. I just read whenever it works into the day, all day long, all week long, all month long, all year long.

How do you minimize family interruptions?

Family interruptions just happen and there's no way to minimize them. You just read around them and through them and with them. Sometimes I will say to a kid, "Hey, get your book and come read with me." That works... sometimes. Sometimes, everyone else will be occupied with their various activities and then I know I have a few good moments of reading time. That's when you must be sure to use that time  and not waste it!

My bottom line answer to this question: If you want to read, you'll find time in your day no matter how busy you are. 

You are welcome to join in the fun and answer these questions on your own blog! So what are you waiting for? Come join us!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Music Stuck in My Head: New Songs

So the other day I had a wee little Amazon credit to use towards a couple of new songs. Then the stress began, what songs should we buy?

I got help from the kids and here's what we ended up with, and therefore, what's stuck in our head this particular week!

Marjaani Marjaani: Here's a song I know nothing about except that they danced to it on SYTYCD during the summer, and we loved it. So, we bought it and now, we want to dance to it all the time! What do you think? Does it make you want to dance too?

Secrets: My daughter begged for this one, and I like it too, so we got it. My guess is many of you have heard it enough now that it's probably stuck in your head too.

I Gotta Feeling: This one makes me feel upbeat too. Not my normal type of song though. So... yeah.

What new-to-you songs are stuck in YOUR head this week?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Top Tens: War Stories

I haven't done a BTT question for quite a long time, but today's BTT episode has inspired me to make another Top Ten list.

First the question:

It is November 11th, known here in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day to remember the end of WWI but expanded to honor all veterans who have fought for their country, so …
Do you read war stories? Fictional ones? Histories?

So, to answer the question, yes, I read war stories and totally enjoy them. I tend to go for mostly the fictional ones, but have been known to read a few nonfictional too. Here's ten of my favorites:

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (WWII)
2. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank (WWII)
3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (French Revolution)
4. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (American Civil War)
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer (WWII)
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (French Revolution)
7. John Adams by David McCoullough (American Revolution)
8. North and South by John Jakes (American Civil War)
9. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (WWII)
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (French Revolution)

As you can see, I seem to have my "favorite" wars.

What would you put on a top ten list of favorite war stories? Which ones should I have included on mine? What books would you recommend for me to read to expand my knowledge of other perhaps "lesser" known wars?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Book: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: B+
For: ARC review
From: the publisher through Shelf Awareness for review

If you love werewolf novels, this one is for you. Yet another take on the werewolf culture, and it's quite an intriguing one at that. This is a world were the wolves can turn back and forth from their wolf form to their human form effortlessly. They appear to be in total control of everything, strong and powerful, but as we progress through the book, we learn that things may not be as they seem.

This story is about two specific wolf packs who are about to be merged together as the mating of their two alphas approach. Calla, the alpha female, has planned and prepared for this her whole life. She knows this is just who things must be.

But that was before she saved the life a human boy who was hiking in her territory and got attacked by a bear.

Now, she is totally unsure about everything she's understood about her life as a wolf, where she fits in, what's really going on, and who to trust.

It's quite the page turning experience, and I was completely wrapped up in the story. Yet, at the same time, it still followed the familiar formula we've come to know so well in these sorts of novels lately. So because of that, I was a little bit ho hum. I'm still anxious to stumble upon a fresh and fabulous new take on this whole paranormal/supernatural phenomenon. This one, as I said, is exciting, but not necessarily new.

But, it does have tons of steaminess if you're in the mood for that!

Bottom line: I enjoyed it.

Other reviews:

The BookBind
Laura's Review Bookshelf
Carrie's YA Bookshelf

Author Andrea Cremer's official site.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010.35: Readers Advisory

Weekly Geeks this week is an intriguing assignment wherein we ask for recommendations and we give recommendations.

But first to answer some questions:

-- Where do you go for book recommendations?

It's all from you bloggers these days, seriously. Your influence over me is huge. It's a little scary, isn't it? That and just falling love with authors and then wanting to read everything by them, or things they like. That adds to my list too.

-- How often do you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone?

Probably not really that often, though I'm not opposed to the idea. My comfort zone is pretty broad I think, so it's hard to find something "out of it" really.

-- How often do you read outside your genre?

Hmmm... so what's my genre? All types of YA? Fantasy? Classics? Contemporary, literary fiction? If I consider these "my genres" then I don't get outside of them often. I have read more non fiction this year than normal, and I love it, so that's good. I have read more horror this year and that's been fun too.

-- How often do you try a new-to-you author?

I love trying new authors, and in recent years, my list of new authors I've discovered every year grows and grows. It's very fun learning about how many authors there are out there to love and read.

-- How often do you take a chance?

Again I would say, not very often! So here goes nothing!

And now for the experiment to help me take a chance!

I'm looking for:

....something considered real true science fiction. I think I've read many science fiction type books, and they are all YA for the most part, so I want something in the adult section which is considered real true science fiction. A sub genre of this that intrigues me and which I don't really know what books would be classified as this is space opera. Tell me, what books can I read that would fall in this genre? Anyone? Anyone?

If you're looking for:

....books to help you escape real life (as my sister-in-law whose husband just died this week is asking me for) I would recommend:

Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Insatiable by Meg Cabot

....to name a few.

 (What would you add to this list for me to recommend to someone who truly needs to forget about real life pain right now?)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Bloomability by Sharon Creech

Book: Bloomability by Sharon Creech
Genre: MG
Rating: A-
For: Fun
From: The Library

I decided to pick this one up solely on the recommendation of Becca Wilhite in her Authors Pick Five post from awhile back. In that she said, "she (Sharon Creech) has created my other tied-for-favorite boy character in this book. He's Guthrie, and I'm half in love with him, even if he is twelve." So, of course I needed to find out what was so cool about Guthrie.

First of all, this book is about a girl whose family is sort of falling apart at the seams. Her dad can't keep a job, her brother keeps getting in trouble and eventually jail, her sister gets pregnant, etc etc. So, they decide to send her (Dinnie is her name) to be with her aunt and uncle who just happen to run a boarding school in Switzerland, while the rest of them try to work things out.

Well, as you may imagine, she is not happy with this decision at all. She misses her family, she wants to be with them to help with things, and she feels very abandoned. And then, she begins to feel like she has actually been kidnapped. But of course, as the days go by and she begins to make friends and learn new things and have her world broaden in a big way, she realizes that this experience may not be so bad after all.

Guthrie is one of the friends she makes during her adventure. And the thing about him that makes him so cool is his complete and total joi de vivre. He has a personality that is extraordinarily positive. He enjoys everything and everybody. He's the kind of person we all love to have around us. Simply, a happy person.

So yes, I enjoyed this book. At times it got a little preachy and covered many  issues. (I meant to make a list but didn't and now it's been too long since I actually finished the book that I can't really remember them!)  For the most part, it wasn't too distracting and was done in such a way that kids would understand and hopefully "get it." 

Bottom line: I liked it quite a lot.

Other Reviews:

Teen Book Review

Author Sharon Creech's official website.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Bit of Me(Me): Broadway!

Today's question from There's a Book:

Have you ever seen a Broadway musical? Do you like theater?

Once again, are you sure you want to ask me this question? Sheesh this is really opening up a can of worms here because I LOVE Broadway! We've had season tickets to the theater in SLC for going on 15 years and they bring in four (usually) wonderful shows each year starring the New York touring companies. (Now and again they even bring us the original stars like Carol Channing and Donny Osmond and Hayley Mills.) Also, we usually get season tickets for the local summer outdoor theater and have seen tons of stuff there too. Not to mention the fact that every year we go to both the high school and junior high school's musical shows and they do such and excellent job that you forget you're not watching professionals!

My all time favorite shows are:

Les Miserables: the 10th anniversary concert is all over YouTube and I can't pick a favorite, but the dude that plays Enjolras, which you can see in this song, is stunning... and this song also shows cute Michael Ball playing Marius.

Jekyll and Hyde: I just highlighted this one the other day with a link to my favorite song, Confrontation.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: with Donny of course (when I saw him in this show, I had my two oldest kids with me, and he thumbs uped at them during the finale! So cool!)

Forever Plaid: such a fun silly show

The Scarlet Pimpernel: drama and comedy in one! My favorite song,  Into the Fire.

The Secret Garden: yes, based on the beloved book. I love every single song, but the one I especially love is the two brothers singing about the girl they both love, Lily, who is now dead. It's called Lily's Eyes (not the best quality video of this but this one is sung by the "real" guys.)

The Music Man: I love love love the train scene right at the start. When they did this at the high school years ago, my son got to be one of these guys.They did an awesome job.

West Side Story: Tony's Something's Coming is the best

Fiddler on the Roof: mostly I'm familiar with the film version of this one, and yet another where it's so hard to pick a favorite song! But the rich man song.... it's got to be the classic of this one!

Close in the running:

The Phantom of the Opera
Into the Woods
Seven Wives for Seven Brothers
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Annie Get Your Gun
Hello Dolly
Miss Saigon

Other ones I've seen that I really really enjoy:

Peter Pan
Sound of Music
The King and I
Mamma Mia
The Pirates of Penzance
All Shook Up
Once Upon a Mattress
Children of Eden
Little Women

And even with that list, it just barely skims the surface of the stuff we've seen and loved. Yes, we love Broadway around here! And now you know why I end up comparing my books read to shows I've seen!

This year the four shows we'll be seeing (one coming up in just a couple of weeks) are The Color Purple, Mary Poppins, Les Miserables and Young Frankenstein.

Some shows I haven't seen but would LOVE to:

Starlight Express
Whistle Down the Wind

Whew, I don't know about you all, but I had a blast making that post! :)

What shows have you seen and loved? Or dare you admit that you aren't a fan of musical theater?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stuff and Such

Here's what I'm thinking this week:

** It's been sucky week. On Monday, my 36 year old brother-in-law collapsed while jogging and has been on life support since. The prognosis doesn't look good and my sister-in-law and her four young boys (along with the rest of us) are just waiting now to see if a miracle happens before she has to make that dreadful decision. Why does it take such drastic events to make us realize how precious life is?

** In better news,  the weather this week has been the perfect fall! I'm loving it!

** I finished one of the books I bought last week at the big library event: Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter. Very fun. Reminds me a lot of Meg Cabot's books.

** I'm thinking I really need the Prince of Persia soundtrack. Yeah, that's what music I'm thinking of today.

** Oh boy and for my Josh Groban update... watch this video of him interviewing himself about groupies. He's a hoot and so much enjoys making fun of himself. I love it. I think there's more like this coming and I can't wait. Oh, and there's a new music video too.

** I watched The Vampire Diaries last night and saw Damon reveal more of his true self than ever before. It was  a hold-your-breath moment! The things he covers up with all that bad boy stuff... wow.

** I really wish there was a good movie in the theaters currently. My birthday is next week and that's all I want to do really is go see a fantastic exciting awesome movie. Harry Potter comes out a week too late to fulfill this wish. Oh, well.

** I've been a crappy commenter lately. Sorry for that everyone!

** I'm also getting behind in reviews. For me, this usually isn't a problem I deal with, but lately, yes.

**  I'm afraid that it's time to start thinking Christmas shopping. Double, triple ugh.

** Our neighbor gave us a huge bag of apples from her tree. I'm thinking I need to make apple crisp or some such thing.

** All you NaNoWriMo-ing people make me want to write a book... if only I knew how.

What's on your thoughts today?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Character Connection: Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings

For a Character Connection post today, I wanted to highlight one of my all time favorite characters:

Samwise Gamgee 
from The Lord of the Rings
(portrayed here by Sean Astin)

I only read these books a few years ago back when the movies came out. I think I've said before, I just hadn't gotten around to them before that, and after that first movie, I read all three before the second one came out. I went into them thinking it was all about Frodo, I mean he IS the hero of this story, right?

Wrong. By the end, I knew that Sam was far and away the definite hero. I don't think there's a single other literary character that can match him in loyalty, faithfulness, steadfastness and pure courage. He is amazing. I love him with all my heart.

There are many many scenes depicted in the movies (taken straight from the books) that prove this, but my all time favorite one, the one that gives me chills and makes me weepy every time, is this one from the very end of the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring:

Do you have a character crush you'd like to share with us? Head on over to Jen's at The Introverted Reader and link up!

By the way, speaking of favorites and hobbits and crushes, did you hear that Richard Armitage is playing the dwarf leader, Thorin, in the new Hobbit movie?  What think you of that people? :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Book: Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic
Rating: B+
For: Classics Challenge and Read Along
From: Bought it years ago

On the off chance that there's someone who wants to read my final thoughts on Bleak House, here they are:

I don't know! :)

This reading experience reminded me a little bit of the time I was in 8th grade and for some reason decided that I would read Great Expectations for my 10 minute beginning-of-class-silent-reading book. I still have the little notes that we had to write down every day after reading to report what we read and it amazes me that I came up with something to report because all I remember was being in a huge daze and fog. I remember something about an old lady, a rotten cake, a boy named Pip and girl that was awfully mean to him.

Of course, I've read it again since then and it's now one of my all time favorites!

Bleak House was like this experience in the sense that I felt like I was in a fog for much of the time. There were many chapters that I just didn't get and wondered what they had to do with anything. However, there were many chapters that I loved and thought were very interesting and intriguing. My guess is that upon a re-read, I'd "get" so much more.

To help me understand things, I checked out the BBC series from the library and watched along with my final few pages of reading. There were lots of moments where I thought, "Wait? When did THAT happen?" or "Oh boy, I must have missed that part entirely!" Too funny. And of course I really really enjoyed the movie, and in fact, got much more emotionally involved and found myself quite weepy several times.

Oh wait? Would you like a summary of this book? Let me try.

So there's this case being heard in court that's gone on and on. It's because they don't quite understand who the dead dude wanted to name as beneficiaries of his will, or actually he had too many wills. It was all very confusing. But anyway, two of the main characters, a boy and girl who are cousins, are hoping that the court will rule in their favor. In fact, the boy becomes obsessed with this idea, much to the sadness of his guardian uncle, and many other people involved.

Meanwhile, their friend who shares their uncle as her guardian, learns about her parentage, which is quite a surprising shock to her and to her mother who thought she was dead from birth. Despite this, she is a stalwart girl and ends up being the glue that holds everyone together. Her mother, however, falls apart.

Mixed up in all of this, we have several deaths, several love stories, several bad schemes, and many secrets. And tons and tons of characters. They were overwhelming at first, but in the end, I found them all quite interesting, and it was fun to see how my feelings for them changed drastically over the course of the book...and perhaps also influenced by the movie.

All that makes for quite a good story, if you can understand it! Mostly, I just think I was rusty on my Dickens and seriously shouldn't let such a long time go by again before reading another one!

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

Other reviews:

Age 30+... a Lifetime of Books
To Read or Not To Read
Books and Chocolate
The Zen Leaf

I may have posted this trailer already, but in case I didn't, or in case you missed it the first time, here it is:


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