Monday, February 28, 2011

February Books Read

Here are the books I managed to read this past month of February:

 I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore: John Smith is hiding from from the bad guys who have come from his planet of origin to wipe him out along with others of his kind. They find and kill them in order... three are dead and he is number four.

 Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Anna is forced to attend a boarding school in Paris. She thinks it's going to be awful, until she meets a guy that is practically perfect in every way.

 Princess at the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George: Galen finds himself involved in solving the mystery of the 12 dancing princesses and why their shoes are worn out every night.

 A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin: Matthew Swift wakes up one day after he KNOWS he was killed. He's the same yet different... and he wants to find and kill the people who killed him the first time around.

 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff: Helene writes to a British bookseller for twenty years and they become best friends.

 Open Country by Kaki Warner: Hank wonders if this Molly that says she is his wife, is really telling the truth. He can't remember much since the train wreck, but the more he thinks about it, he hopes it's for real.

 The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope: This rich obnoxious guy moves into the London neighborhood and proceeds to mess up pretty much everyone's lives and loves.

 Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: Evie has worked for this place that finds and neutralizes paranormals of all sorts for her whole life nearly. When a new (awesome looking) sort arrives,  she begins to question her whole past and purpose.

Favorites: Paranormalcy, Open Country and Anna.... I think.

Plans for next month:

I pretty much detailed my plans in yesterday's Salon post, but here's a bullet point list, just for my organizational pleasure:

  • Start Lord of Chaos, Wheel of Time #6, a buddy read with Ibeeeg.
  • Read Wither before it comes out on the 22nd.
  • Read Beyonders before it comes on the 22nd.
  • Read Room so I can help my son do his project on it.
  • Re-read Persuasion hopefully.
  • Re-read or at least review These Is My Words for book club.
  • Re-read I Am The Messenger... maybe.
  • Read No Going Back for review.
  • Continue with Mr. Monster for my treadmill book.
  • Catch up with the husband who is reading Monsters of Men without me.
  • Fit in The Glass Castle for my nonfiction of the month. (that is nonfiction, right?)
Oh boy too many re-reads. You know I'll never do that many re-reads on a month. Sheesh. Who am I kidding!

What did you read this month? And what are your plans for next?

Review: Open Country by Kaki Warner

Book: Open Country by Kaki Warner
Genre: Western Romance
Rating: A
For: Fun (and counting it towards Twenty Eleven Challenge)
From: I bought it from Amazon.

Last year I read the first book from this trilogy, Pieces of Sky, and loved it. Each book in this series is about a different brother. Brady in Pieces of Sky, and this next one is about the middle brother Hank. He and Molly meet on train. He's doing business and she is running away from her brother in law, with her niece and nephew, after her sister has just died. When the train crashes, Hank gets hurt and Molly, when she realizes that the train people will need to pay money to wives of anyone hurt in the crash, pretends to be Hank's wife. (Well, they actually do get married, while he is unconscious.) Because of course he is going to die and of course, she is desperate for money.

Well, you can guess what happens from there I bet. Yep he doesn't die. And so NOW what does she do?

Okay, so it's all pretty predictable perhaps, but I loved it, just like the first one. Lots of lovey dovey stuff, lots of edge of your seat moments, lots of "you go girl" bits. Yeah, it was just fun.  I like these kinds of books. I should read more of them. Really. (It appears this is not the type of book many of you, my book bloggin' buddies, read either, since I can't find any other reviews from y'all.)

Bottom line: I loved it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Life Goes On, Obladi Oblada

Outside my window: There's snow, sadly. I'm okay if it decides to be spring now, any day.

I am listening to: Nothing at the moment. It's a quiet Sunday morning. Everyone is sleeping in. I "read" in! Love it!

I am watching: Oh man I only have two more Merlin episodes to watch and then I have to search and scour the internet for Season Three! THEN, once I'm caught up, I may start watching it live. What a concept. Tonight is the Academy Awards. Perhaps I'll watch that too. But that's still up in the air.

I am thinking: that I should go eat breakfast and get ready for this day!

I am grateful for: a fun sister who gets my weirdness, because she is plagued with the very same curse! Oh but I got some funny texts from her this past week! I told her she needed to watch Robin Hood ( the BBC series of course) and now she is cursing me. I knew it! I knew she would fall in love! Yep. Can't wait for her reaction to the rest of the series. :)

I am reading: Yesterday morning I finished The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope.... finally! Whew. And then I started Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, which I finished this morning. Loved it! And now what should I start? I want to read Wither before it comes out, and I also got the new Brandon Mull book this past week, Beyonders, and so I need to read it before it comes out. PLUS, it's seriously time for more Rand and Mat and Perrin (I hope Perrin anyway) AND my husband is just now starting Monsters of Men, which I haven't even read yet either, so that's killing me. Plus I promised I'd read No Going Back before March is over, then there's Persuasion sitting here begging for a re-read before I see the play in a few weeks. Plus These is My Words for book club, also begging for a re-read. PLUS shouldn't I re-read ALL of Markus Zusak's books before seeing him in... oh.. ONE MONTH from now! :)  Hmmmm.... where to start?

I am photographing: hmmm... well, I can't think of a thing that I took a picture of this week.

I am listing: books I read this month for a wrap up blog post tomorrow or Tuesday.

I am creating: a birthday party for daughter Toto, sort of. She will do most of the creating I think. But I will supervise. She turns 12 in a few weeks and there's going to be a party!

On  my iPod: I've been listening to my random favorites playlist a lot this week. Some songs I remember were: Sleepwalker by Adam Lambert, Supermassive Black Hole (live version) by Muse, The Mummers Dance by Loreena McKennitt, I Don't Wanna Cry by Jason Castro, Forever Autumn by The Moody Blues, Hearing Damage by Thom Yorke.

I am hoping and praying: that lots and lots of Utah bookish types come to the party next Saturday. Please?

Around the house: I haven't done anything interesting. I still need to work on the junk shuffle project, but it seems to have come to a dead stand still.

From the kitchen: I just put in the crock pot for today's dinner... round steak smothered in Panda Express Mandarin Sauce. Doesn't sound too bad does it? We haven't baked anything for awhile either. Cookies later perhaps? This week I also made this yummy soup that Kristina posted. Wonderful!

One of my favorite things: Blasting music in the car, with all the windows down. Can't wait for it to be warm enough to really do that again.

The children this week: They kept things busy as usual. Nothing too out of the ordinary that's worth reporting. A violin recital, a hair cut for the long haired kid, lots of homework, helping in the 6th grade class, etc. Just life.

Plans for the week: buy birthday presents, promote the blogger party, plan the birthday party, take Toto to get 7th grade shots! Ah, THAT should be fun.

On this date: In 2008 we met Brandon Mull... hopefully this month we'll get to go to one of his famous launch parties. In 2009 I recapped books read for the month and only read five. My favorite that month was probably All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Last year around this date I did a thought stream. It was quite fun. I should try it again sometime. What do you think?

Thanks to Ibeeeg of Polishing Mud Balls for the inspiration for this post's layout.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Music Stuck in My Head: Happy Birthday Josh!

In honor of his birthday coming up on Sunday (30 years old!), this Music Stuck in My Head post today has got to be all Josh Groban. Besides, it/he really has been stuck in my head this week, surprise surprise.

One of my favorites from this newest album:

Singing Shape of My Heart with Sting and Chris Botti, which I love love love:

Another favorite from the new album:

And one of my all time favorites, from the Troy soundtrack:

So, what's been stuck in your head this week?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Edgy Books vs. Gentle Books

At the recent writer's conference that I attended, someone (I think it was Tracy Hickman) said something that sparked my interest. He said many authors have "edgy fatigue" and wished that there was a market for a more "gentle" sort of book. I found this fascinating, though it didn't really lead the panel to much further discussion on the issue. But in my head, the discussion took off!

What is edgy? And what is gentle? Do authors really yearn to be able to write a more gentle book? Do readers need it? Or are they, as was suggested, clamoring more for the edgy?

I use the term "gritty" interchangeably with edgy. To me it means pushing the envelope a bit. It means there's stuff in the book that may make you squirm a little. Perhaps the subject matter is hard. Perhaps there's lots of violence and street talk and rough characters. Perhaps there's parts that make you want to close your eyes in denial. "Stuff happens" in edgy books I would say.

However, in gentle books, there's not necessary a lot of stuff happening. It may be that it's more about the characters. It may be that it's more about relationships instead of stuff happening. The action, if any, is quieter and slower. People are perhaps, nicer. We might use the word "heart warming" for gentle books.

Let me be the first to say that I like both kind! Obviously, sometimes you are in the mood for one, and sometimes the other. But do you think that there's more of a market for the edgy? Do you think that if someone were to write a gentler book, no one would want to read it because it's boring and "nothing happens!"? I think there's a bit of truth in that. But I would hope that enough people are satisfied with a slower book such that there will in fact be a market for them.

So, what would I consider gentle books? I've been pondering, and it's a lot harder than you'd think to deem a book "gentle." Here's some that I've come up with:

1. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
2. At Home in Mitford Jan Karon
3. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
4. Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons
5. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
7. My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
8. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
9. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
10. My Friend Flicka by Mary O'hara

What are your feelings on gentle books? Do they bore you? Are you looking for more action and edge? Or do appreciate the slowness of a gentle read? Do you agree with my list of gentle books? What would you add or take off this list?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Upcoming Utah Book Blogger Party!

We've got a day pinned down and now it's time to spread the word. If you are a book blogger, author, aspiring author, bookseller or publishing type person in the Utah area, please join us for our fifth get together coming up on Saturday, March 5 at 6:00 p.m. We'll be meeting at the same Golden Corral as we did last year (7200 S. and 655 E.) in Midvale. The cost for dinner is just under $10.00 plus drinks/tips. We'll be doing the book exchange like last time, so bring a used/loved book to share.

Please, all you Utah people, spread the word. Put up your own blog post. Tweet about it. There's just too many of us now to send out personal invites, so we need help to let everyone know it's happening!

And if you haven't already joined the Utah Blogger group on the Ning, now is your chance. That's where we are trying to keep track of everyone and it makes for a good central location for all that's happening.

Here's my posts from past parties if you want to know what you'll be getting into! You can see how we've grown tremendously, and how much fun we have, and how you really want to try and come if you can.

First Party in January 2009
Summer 2009
Last Year in Feb. 2010
Last Summer Aug. 2010

It would be awesome if you could let me (or Natasha at Maw Books Blog, or Becky at One Literature Nut)  know if you plan on coming so we can get a feel for our numbers that night. You can also email us at utahbookbloggers AT gmail DOT com.

Also, let us know if you have any questions or suggestions! We hope to see many of you there!

Book Club Report: What We Thought of 84 Charing Cross Road

This past week at book club we discussed 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Many of our members had not read (or heard of) it before. So it was fun for me to see what they all thought of this quaint little book!

A quick summary for those who haven't read it: It's simply a bunch of letters that a book lover in America wrote to a book seller in England. Some of his family got involved in the writing, as well as some of the other workers in the shop. They wrote for twenty years (from about 1949 to 1969) and created quite the relationship.

I for one, love this book and find it's simplicity refreshing. The love of books that's felt throughout it is also really fun. I laughed out loud, and I cried. It's a wonderful book.

Here's some random reactions from our book club discussion:

  • One major lesson we felt to be learned was don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today! Live your dreams NOW before it's too late... go to England to visit your friends! Take that trip! Write that book! Start that adventure!
  • Many of us wanted more, it was bothersome to know there were missing letters.
  • Learning about the rations in England after WWII was interesting and it was fun to see how she responded by sending food... interesting strange food.
  • We thought she was funny, but sometimes a little bit obnoxious too.
  • We, most of us anyway, mourn the lost art of letter writing. Can email create this same connection? A pretty good discussion ensued. We decided that sometimes, it can.
  • Another discussion: Can you create a bond and connection with someone faraway that you've never met? With several bloggers in our midst, I think you know what our answer was to THAT!
  • Most people just liked the book okay, some LOVED it, and some said, "it was better than I expected."
  • We learned that the movie is pretty boring, but wondered about the play. Anyone know?
  • We found it interesting that she is famous not for all the many other projects she worked on, but this simple little letter compilation.
  • We, most of us, enjoyed the England love. It truly makes you want to go there and walk down Charing Cross Road.
For more fun stuff, here's a site that shows all the people mentioned in the book and pictures of the book shop. And this Wikipedia site lists all the books mentioned. Most of them, I've never heard of. I guess Helen Hanff and I are not book bosom buddies.

Have you read this book? And what do you think?

Up next for book club in March is This Is My Words.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books to Movies

Today the Top Ten Tuesday list prompt over at the Broke and the Bookish is to share some of our favorite books to movies. I have quite the list, so I've decided to divide my list in half....well actually... that is... to DOUBLE my list!

Movies Made from Classics/Regency Period Books

1. Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version)
2. Wives and Daughters (crazy ending!)
3. North and South (best ending ever!)

What Mr. Armitage thinks of North and South:

4. The Forsyte Saga (intense drama)

5. Middlemarch
6. Bleak House
7. The Way We Live Now
8. Sense and Sensibility
9. Jane Eyre (Timothy Dalton)
10. Wuthering Heights (I can't remember what version)

Other Movies Made From Books

1. The Princess Bride (one of my favorite movies of all time)

2. Chocolat (though I've not read the book and have no idea if the movie is a good match)
3. Lord of the Rings (awesome job with this one)
4. Anne of Green Gables (practically perfect)
5. Harry Potter
6. Twilight
7. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (I sobbed in this movie!)

8. The Kite Runner
9. Gone With the Wind
10. Holes (haven't seen it? Then you must fix that!)

What are your favorite books to movies?

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Am Just a Reader: My LTUE Experience

I am just a reader, not a writer.

This is what I feel like saying to everyone when I go to conferences geared toward writers, like LTUE (Life the Universe and Everything) was this past weekend. I feel the need to explain that though I am not an aspiring writer (don't you love that word.. aspiring....)  I do feel like being "just a reader" is okay when it comes to soaking up the excitement and enthusiasm felt at these conferences for the written word. I love hearing the authors talk about their processes, and their genre definitions, and their take on the whole bookish community.

I love it.

Yet, I still feel this strange feeling like I'm crashing a party. But then I think, you know, I can meet and mingle with all these aspiring authors and then I can blog about them and promote them and so I do fit into the picture somehow. After all, where would writers be without readers, right?

If only I had the meet and mingle talent. Yeah, I'm not good at this, especially if I'm at an event all alone. I tend to hide in the corner and just soak up everything and observe. I don't get in the middle of it all. So, that idea doesn't really work for me either! Such is my confusion about being a reader at a writers conference!

But all that aside, here's some highlights and things I learned at the panels and discussions during the day and a half that I was able to participate:
  • The authors morals and values will show in their work naturally, but if it's your INTENT to show them, then it's not going to work for your readers and will come across as preachy.
  • We need more "gentle" books in the market, but they aren't commercial enough, so authors aren't writing them.
  • Sometimes writing is uncomfortable because you are forced to look at and understand some things that you normally wouldn't participate in.
  • Heroes need well written villains in order to make their hero victory true and worthwhile.
  • J. Scott Savage did an awesome presentation on protagonists.  He says they must have history, goals, motives and prejudices to make them believable. They must NOT be reactive, make random decisions, have no growth and unexpected changes of heart. A character must not be static, but must be growing OR regressing at all times.
  • YA books tend to be more hopeful than adult books.
  • YA books don't work if the characters are in college. Teen readers need to relate to the characters.
  • Take care of yourself so you can write! If your hands hurt, stop and take a break!
  • Fairy tales are awesome for a jumping off point. You take it and tell it from a different POV, or setting or with a completely new twist.
  • The ability to make people feel different emotions at the same time is brilliant writing!
  • Villains need to be ones you can root for. They need to have their own code of behavior. It's creepier if they are "normal" most of the time... and if you are sympathetic to them... that's even better!
James Dashner did an awesome keynote address. He called it "Lesson's I've Learned." Some were funny, like... be born, sitting in poop is bad, and don't show your high school pictures! But then he got serious (a little bit anyway) and said to all the aspiring writers: love books, pound the pavement, go to conferences, network, get an agent, learn to do good characterization, have depth and never never never never never never give up! It was very inspiring to everyone, with real simple basic advice. I loved it. Awesome job Dashner Dude!

And now for another book list. Here are the books that were mentioned over the course of the event, that I paid attention to anyway:

  • Eventide by Tracy Hickman (an example of a gentle read)
  • The Immortals by Tracy Hickman (a book that got him in trouble with his family a bit)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (used as an example of protagonist development)
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (yes more bashing, sheesh)
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (an adult book that looks like YA)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (an adult book that looks like YA)
  • Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud (YA books that could be adult)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry (a YA book that could be adult)
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis (religion in SF)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (religion in SF)
  • Matched by Ally Condie (an example of a YA book who's character has a family)
  • The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal (where the character's sense of belonging is tested)
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (another where the character doesn't fit in their family)
  • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
  • Terribly Twisted Tales (fractured fairy tales)
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (based on mythology)
  • Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey (a new take on vampires)
  • The Survivors by Dan Willis (cool villains)
  • I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (funny? horror)
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George (her latest... a retelling of Cinderella, but a sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball)
So, in the end, even though I am "just a reader" going to a writing conference is a blast and I'm sure I'll be back next year! Maybe I can learn how to mingle just a teeny tiny bit more by then....and it will only be my fifth try at it!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sunday Salon: In Which Silliness Ensues... Beware

And today I give you my slap happy stream of conscious musings for this past week:

Outside my window: I heard some wind awhile back. It was drippy today (today being Saturday, as you probably know already, since I can't really write this detailed of a post first thing on a Sunday morning) and it's dark, but was warm once this week.

I am listing to: the whole Awake album by Josh Groban... this is so I can write my impressions to Ibeeeg as we have our ongoing Josh Groban fest, which is being the Biggest Blast Ever! See, she just got the Awake album this past week, and wow, to go back and listen to it again for the first time?! That would be so cool. So that's what I'm doing... pretending I'm listening for the first time. Guess what? Yep, I like it, I mean LOVE.

I am watching: Merlin. I love it. Arthur has just decided that he is quite besotted with Guinevere, and Gwen is very very flattered, but then Lancelot comes back and bam... things change quickly. I'm actually feeling for Arthur, poor boy. And Merlin.... do you think he will fall for Nimue like in the books? Oh my. I want to say, "NO. STOP. DON'T!!! Oh that Merlin, he has the cutest smile ever!

I am thinking...... that I am so very tired and I should be reading because I haven't read in two days now which is quite sad and bizarre, but I'm on a bit of blogging roll and suddenly there's so much to say and report and so I'm getting all kinds of posts lined up to publish and I think that I'm too tired to read anyway and would just fall asleep should I try so I just keep sitting here typing away, but wow, I'm so very tired.....

I am grateful for: the fact that I have been able to drop my whole normal life this week and for a day and a half I hung out with Grandma and Grandpa, and then for another day and a half I basked in the geekiness that was LTUE... a science fiction and fantasy writing conference. In between the two I hosted book cub, and it was so much fun! This has been the weirdest week I've had in a long long time. And I don't think my family has missed me one bit!

I am reading: NOTHING! Well, while hanging with the grandparents, I got quite into Open Country by Kaki Warner... the second of the Blood Rose trilogy.... a cowboy/western romance. Very fun. I truly need more of these kinds of books to counter balance all the paranormal fantasy dystopia stuff I read.

I am photographing... myself with James Dashner!!! (Actually I had a stranger in the line behind me to the honors.) Yes, finally! After all the stalking I've done, I finally said, "Hey, dude, I need a picture!" (Gah, I look like crap.)

I am listing: all the books my book club talked about during our last two meetings. Did you see that list? Is it not awesome?

I am creating: lots of blog posts. Look for my wrap post on LTUE on Monday.

On my iPod: there's lots of music. I need something new. Suggestions?

I am hoping and praying: that you find this crazy post readable and fun. Seriously. I'm feeling really silly at the moment. I really should sleep.

Around the house: You know, I don't even know what's going on around the house lately! I've been quite neglectful as mentioned above. And NO ONE CARES!!

From the kitchen: So here's the thing... my husband just decided that he wants to invite his parents for dinner tomorrow, and so he went shopping just now, to buy the ingredients for a killer lasagna/salad/trifle menu that HE will put together tomorrow! Yes, I know. We'll just wait and see how THAT goes!

One Some of my favorite things: M and M's, fantasy authors, authors who "know" me and will say hi, talking books, book club, big kids who can take care of themselves when mom takes a few days off, Josh Groban and new friends who have joined the fandom, American Idol, THE COWBOYS on Amazing Race!!!!, the King Arthur story in any form, slap happy moods, blog comments, saying "to heck with it" and eating a HUGE Carl's Jr. hamburger, fries and shake!.... sleeping.... sleeping.... sleeping....

The children this week: might have a mom again. Maybe. Or, maybe not.

Plans for the week: R and R.... recover and read.

On this date: I blogged about LTUE in 2008 and in 2009 and in 2010. I'm so glad I discovered this little event.

Thanks to Ibeeeg of Polishing Mud Balls for the inspiration for this post's layout.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Club Randomly Discussed Book Lists

I mentioned the other day that I've been making lists at our book club meeting of the books we talk about during the course of our discussions. These are NOT the books we meet to discuss,  (that will be a different post) but the books we report to each other as the ones we've been reading, or hearing about, suggesting or whatever. I thought maybe you'd all think it fun to see these lists and get a peak into our book club personality.

So the last two months' lists:

January 2011 Books Discussed

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (Julie LOVED this one and wants everyone to add it to your must read list without fail!)
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (winner of the latest Newbery Award, announced just last week.)
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (winner of the latest Printz Award, announced just last week.)
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low (a previous Newbery winner or honor? I can't remember, but Kim recommends.)
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Talked about because of the recent movie buzz.)
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (Jenny's been on a Sara Zarr kick, and says "they're okay.")
Bright Blue Miracle by Becca Wilhite (by the other author that we met when we visited with Ally Condie at the library.)
The Survivor's Club by Ben Sherwood (a book that Jessica N. really enjoyed.)
Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party by George R. Stewart (We talked about book club food themes, and wondered what we'd serve if this was our book!)
Breathing Lessons by Ann Tyler (Kim really enjoyed this one, even though it's simple and "nothing happens." It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989)
Peace Like a River by Lief Enger (Jessica A. recently read and loved.)
Poison Study by Marie V. Synder (Julie has been reading this series and enjoying them.)
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot (Vibeke has been enjoying this series.)
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Ashley recommends this one for a fascinating non-fiction book.)
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (when the conversation digressed to TV, this was one of the book tie-ins!)
Incarceron and Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (two books that Jenny and Suey have been lately discussing.)

February 2011 Books Discussed

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Stuart is currently reading and seems to be quite into. I'm pretty sure stuff happens.)
The Inheritance of Rome by Chris Wickham (Vibeke is still working on this ambitious book)
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Laurie just finished and was properly awed)
Chains and Forge both by Laurie Halse Anderson. (Jessica A has been enjoying these awesome YA historical fiction books)
The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Ashley's suggestion)
Jeeves and Wooster books by P.G. Wodehouse (a set of British comedy books that Ashley has been enjoying. Here's an example.)
We the Living by Ayn Rand (Tessa suggests this as a place to start for Ayn Rand stuff)
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (Sam's still working on this audiobook.)
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Michelle enjoyed, but says it might be "too edgy" for us!)
A Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (and now I can't remember who suggested this one! Michelle was it?)
My Double Life by Janette Rallison (Julie enjoyed... even more than Just One Wish)
Daughter of the Forest  by Juliet Marillier (Jenny didn't like, but thinks everyone else probably would. A few of us HAVE read it and loved it.)
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Amy has been enjoying this one. Jessica A seconds it!)
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas  (Amy read this with her other book club. She liked it but it's a big one.)
We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman (I can't remember who talked about this one either! UGH! Must. Take. Better. Notes.)
Princess Ben  by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Julie recently re-read, it's one of her favorites.)
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (Suey's fairy tale re-telling suggestion of the month, by local author)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (lots of blogger buzz lately)
Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien (a dystopian Melissa... I think.... suggests...similar to Matched)
Brave New Worlds by various authors (a dystopian short story collection Jessica A has heard about)
Castle Dor by Arthur Quiller-Couch and Daphne du Maurier (the Tristan and Isolde re-telling by the dude that Helene Hanff likes)
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin (Suey's urban fantasy recent read and one of Jenny's favorites.)

The Breathless Five (books being marketed with Ally Condie's Matched)

Markus Zusak books (did I tell you... he's coming to the library!!!! :) 
The Bridge of Clay (coming this year? I hope.)

I truly love that we actually talk about books at book club. Not that we don't talk about other things too, but books really do get discussed!

Are you in a book club and do you talk about lots of other books, besides the book you are meeting to discuss?

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Bit of Rambling

I want to check in, but my brain isn't functioning high enough to do a "real" post, so here's my rambles for the moment:

-- Book club was so fun last night, even though I was so so tired and bordering on zombie-ness. Thanks to those of you who came! I'm loving the enthusiasm and high participation of late. I will post about our discussion soon I hope.

-- Despite the major tiredness of last night, after book club, we watched Survivor (on demand) because we were so anxious to see how the new season opened up. Oh. My. Word. It was the craziest tribal council ever! It was worth staying up so late just see that!

-- Why am I overly tired? Because I stayed overnight to watch my 90 year old grandparents on Wed. and they (well Grandma) kept me awake most of the night. And when she DID sleep, I still didn't sleep for worrying about her! Ah well. The experience of watching over them for a day and a half was eye opening and even fun. I said that (well the fun part) to my grandma as I left and she said "well it was memory making anyway!" It was nice to slow down, WAY down, for a day.

-- One of the things I made them do while I was with them was watch American Idol! My grandma did not appreciate anyone.... "they just don't sing like they used to" she said. But as for me? I'm thinking there's some really fabulous people to keep our eyes on!

-- The science fiction/fantasy conference (LTUE) started yesterday and I'm so sad that I wasn't able to fit it in. I know they had a rousing discussion on dystopia that I would have really loved to listening in on. Oh, well. But today, I hope to show up for some stuff.  I will  learn a bunch and let you know all the fascinating details! Maybe I will Tweet stuff...everyone seems to be doing more of that this year.

-- At book club, I started making a list of books we talk about, and then emailing the members that list. It's really quite fun because it's a very random list of things people are reading or heard about, or even hated! I'm wondering should I blog that list? Interested?

-- Okay, now I really have to get ready to face the day. I need Ibuprofen!

What's going on with you today?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin

Book: A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffiin
Genre: Fantasy (Urban)
Rating: A-
For: Fun and The Twenty Eleven Challenge
From: a birthday present from Jenny

I went into this book not at all knowing what to expect and yet, it turned out to be nothing like I expected. I know this doesn't make sense at all, but I'm hoping you'll know what I mean!

And this review is going to be a strange one to write because my feelings are so mixed! For instance, in the beginning I was confused and foggy, in the end, I was glued to it. In the beginning, I didn't get the main character and in the end, I thought he was fabulous. In the beginning, I felt like I was slogging through it, in the end, I flew.

See what I mean?

So in the beginning we have this guy who wakes up suddenly and acts a bit confused as to where he is or what's going on. (I guess my confused feelings would make sense then, right?) We learn that he remembers being killed two years prior, yet, here he is now, alive... and sort of well.

Strangely though, he flips back and forth from calling himself  I to calling himself we. I knew that I would understand what THAT was all about later, but for awhile, it still drove me crazy!

He finds himself trying to search out his friends, who are not easily found. He ends up with a rough bunch of crazy people and they might be helping him, or might not be. All he knows is that he feels the need to find the dude who he thinks killed him.  Which seems simple enough, but it all gets quite complicated.

We are introduced to scads of fantastical beings. And the crazy underworld of London which is described in this incredibly unbelievably way. Most of the time, we read about the London of oh, say, Austen-ish era, or even Dickens sort of life.... but this is, as I said, the underworld. The beggars, the graffiti artists, the homeless, the misfits, the bikers. And a little bit the rich and powerful. We crawl through tunnels, and around The Tube, and through the alleys and gutters, into abandoned buildings and in and around all sorts of historical landmarks too.

I'ts very hard to describe, but it was all fascinating really!

However,  my favorite part was Matthew Swift, our confused, yet intensely powerful hero. He has much fighting to do, yet in between the fights, I loved it when he wandered the streets to just partake of life. After all, he was getting a second chance. And the we part of him? They were experiencing things for the first time. And they learned that life itself, is where all the magic can be found.

This fulfills the bit of the Twenty Eleven challenge that says take a genre you really love (fantasy in my case) and read a sub-genre from it that you don't normally read (urban fantasy in my case, especially non YA urban fantasy.) This definitely fit the bill as it was truly unlike anything I've ever read.

Bottom line: After a bit of slow start.... I loved it.

(P.S. Be warned, this is what I call a "gritty" read. F words are many. Oh and yes, this is the first of a trilogy of course!)

Other Reviews:

Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
Fantasy Book Critic

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Top Tens: Love Stories

After much stressing (I need like a top 50 list or something) here's what I've come up with for my top ten favorite love stories. This particular list kills three meme-ish type events today. Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and The Bookish, a Love Month post sponsored by Fluttering Butterflies, and my own quest to list top ten book lists now and then when the mood moves me.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Katherine by Anya Seton (love story of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt)
4. The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye
5. The Enchanted Cup by Dorothy Roberts (the first Tristan and Isolde story I read and was much taken with)
6. Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison
7. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
9. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
10. Beauty by Robin McKinley

What would you include in YOUR top ten?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Book: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A
For: Fun (and Support Your Local Author)
From: bought it at the library book sale

Here's one I've been meaning to read forever. I don't know much about this particular fairy tale, so I had no expectations going in, which means I have no issues with how it was re-told in this story. I just really enjoyed it!

This is the story of 12 princesses who have been cursed with their mother's fate, and must go to the underworld every night at midnight to dance until dawn with the sons of the bad king. Many people, including princes who would like to win their hand in marriage, try to figure out this mystery (since they can't tell anyone where they go) and are all unsuccessful. That is, until Galen comes along. Ah, he's wonderful hero! I really liked him a lot! I mean, after all, he knits! How awesome is that! (And there's even knitting directions included in the book!) And he's very gallant and strong and brave and handsome and just perfect.

There's really not much more to say about this one. It's just a simple and fun, quick and easy, fairy tale. So if you are in the mood for something of that sort... it's definitely one you should try!

Other Reviews:

Becky's Book Reviews
A Year of Reading
Bookish Blather
Charlotte's Library
...and many many others.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Stuff I'm Thinking...Again

Outside my window: It's dark on a Saturday night, but nice. Yes....what a nice day it was today. I think it will feel like spring this week.

I am listening to: Right now... Notting Hill, but just before we started the movie we were blasting Don't Fear the Ripper by Blue Oyster Cult. Love that song. Even with the depressing lyrics.

I am watching: Notting Hill... yeah. Just because. You know... Julie Roberts and Hugh Grant? Love that Hugh Grant.

I am thinking: that Borders really should have had Room in stock, so I could have bought it this evening and not had to wait a few days if I order from Amazon! My son is going to read this for school. What do you think? Is it an okay book for him to read?

I am grateful for: sleep. It's actually really quite lovely, sleep is.

I am reading: I just finished Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. Quite nice it was. I'm getting really close to finishing A Madness of Angels. This one was not what I expected and I'm having to warm up to it. Matthew Swift though? I think he's one of the most complex characters I've met. I've also started Open County, the second book of that Blood Rose trilogy that I started awhile back. Remember? The cowboy/western romance? Yeah, that one.

I am photographing: I filmed another gig today. But I forgot to take any still pictures. Sadly, they didn't do as well this time as they did at the other competition. They took second place at the other one, and so they got to move on to this level. But, sound problems. There's always sound problems. I hate that.

I am listing: books to read for Love Month still. But I am reading so very slow... very very slow.

I am creating: memories...yes, that's right... it's memories I'm creating! :)

On my iPod: I've been listening to my very very random playlist this week. Among the songs that played today, for instance, was: Spirits in the Material World by Police, Stars from Les Mis, Over the Rainbow by Jason Castro, All I Need by Radiohead, Supermassive Black Hole by Muse, The Alan Parsons Project, Yes, Human by The Killers... just to name a few.

Around the house: I did a magazine project. Did I tell you my fetish with magazines? I don't want to throw them away, but this week, I threw away TONS... and I mean that literally. I hope the garbage man's truck can lift the can to dump it!

From the kitchen: I made breakfast pizza this past week. It was quite yummy. And a lot of pasta... but the spaghetti I made this time around was absolutely disgusting!

One of my favorite things: sitting here playing on the computer while watching a movie.

The children this week: have really nothing unusual going on. Just normal routine. Which is a good thing.

Plans for the week: Tending my grandparents overnight... then spending some time at LTUE, I hope, where James Dashner will be doing the keynote address.

On this date: two years ago we did the very first ever Bookword game! We had 84 voters! That was so awesome... and the word that won was RecommenDUD. Fun times. That's basically the only interesting thing that happened on this blog on this date in the past.

Thanks to Ibeeeg of Polishing Mud Balls for the inspiration for this post's layout.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Bit of Me(Me): Best Trip Ever!

So, I haven't done a Saturday Bit of Me Meme for awhile, and since today's question is:

Tell us about your favorite trip

.... I thought I better join in!

About eight years ago now, we got to go to England, Scotland and Denmark. I left my four kids, for the first time ever, in the care of my mom for the two plus weeks we were gone. We went with my husband's parents and ran them ragged! It was a fabulous experience and one we dream of doing again, only this time seeing maybe Greece, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy.

Anyway, we spent a lot of our time seeing castles, small town churches (and graveyards) and museums. I didn't get sick of any of it! Especially the castles. Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite moments:

Discovering the Roman Baths in Bath, England.

One of the many village churches we explored.

Castle Combe

Walking the streets of Edinburgh

A Harry Potter filming site

And the street used to film Merriton in Pride and Prejudice

Experiencing the Scottish moors

Seeing where Shakespeare was born.

Walking on ancient walls and towers.

Seeing The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

Colorful Denmark.

Here we are bothering the horse guards in London.

Tower Bridge!

The Tube is a wonder all its own.

Standing on the spot were Anne Boleyn was beheaded.

Westminster Abbey!

Definitely the best trip ever!

P.S. We did see Stonehenge, but it was raining so hard that we didn't even get the still camera out. I do have video though, which I maybe will share another day! It was pretty insane!


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