Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Reading Recap

Here's the books I read this month, the last one being mere minutes ago!

Wither by Lauren Destefano: Rhine finds herself kidnapped and forced to become a sister bride to wealthy boy in order to make babies so his father can figure out what's gone wrong with this world's genetic engineering.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: The author tells a tale of childhood neglect that will make you rejoice in her eventual escape.

Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull: Jason and Rachel are sucked into the world of Lyrian where they work together to overthrow the evil Emperor.

 Mr. Monster by Dan Wells: John Wayne Cleaver struggles to hold at bay the evil monster within himself.

 No Going Back by Jonathan Langford: Paul comes out as gay in his Mormon culture and is forced to deal with the consequences.

 I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: Ed gets mysterious cards in the mail and learns how to live outside his own problems by helping others.

 Room by Emma Donoghue: Jack and his ma have lived in a single room all his life, until things begin to change when he turns five years old.

 My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones: Lily escapes the sadness of her life by going to England to participate in a Jane Austen literary festival and hopefully fulfill her dreams of living in a novel.

Favorites of the month: Room for sure, followed by The Glass Castle... and my re-read of I Am the Messenger. They were all good though!

Plans for April:
  • Finish Lord of Chaos, ASAP, because I'm having YA cravings that I need to address
  • Read Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie for book club
  • City of Bones! Once and for all!
  • Read The Pun Also Rises for a TLC book tour late in the month
  • Finish up the Chaos Walking trilogy with Monsters of Men
  • See what all the fuss is about The Name of the Wind
  • Figure out something small, quick and easy to read during the readathon
Here's to a new month of reading! What are your plans?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Markus Zusak

I'm sorry I'm sorry! I'm so not done yet! I know you are all getting quite sick of these posts, but I have a couple more things to share. First I forgot this picture in my wrap up post, and I think it's too fun to not share:

We are so excited!!

Second, I wanted to post some pictures of the actual signings so you can see what we mean when we say, "he took time." Plus some of the others that were there may be curious as to what ended up in all the different books. I know I'd like to see what ended up in every one else's books!

This one for Yamile, and what he wrote to her after I told him
I was getting it signed for her since she couldn't be there.
I didn't see this until way after when we were comparing our books.

Okay, so NOW maybe I'm done. Just maybe. Except, I did want to post a review of I Am The Messenger... and I also wanted to do a Character Connection on Ed I think... but maybe I'll wait until next week. You'll be ready for more Markus Zusak next week, right? Please can I?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Book: Room by Emma Donoghue
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: Amazon

Of course I've seen this book recommended by many of you bloggers, but what got us on to it was when my son's English teacher starred it in a list of recommended books and when he (my son) showed interest in it, I instantly bought it for him.

I've seriously never seen him read a book so fast, and so intently. It was amazing. I worried a little, because I've heard there's some disturbing parts, but he read it before me anyway and I hoped all would be well. Once he was done,  I took a turn and could see why it was so hard to put down! And the disturbing bits, not so bad that a 16 year old couldn't handle them.

This is the story of Jack and his ma, as many of you know, told all from Jack's point of view. It opens on his fifth birthday, where Jack is thrilled to get a drawing of himself from his ma and even a birthday cake. His world consists of a single room, and the routine that his mother has developed for him within. Meals are on a tight schedule, as are different "classes" and play times and TV times. He doesn't know anything else exists, and is convinced that what he sees on TV is pretend. There's a guy visitor that comes sometimes in the night, who he must hide from, but who does bring them Sunday treat, something he very much looks forward to. He would be happy to go on like this forever.

But his mom does not feel the same way. And once he turns five, things begin to change.

Wow, this is an amazing story! All captured in the voice of this five year old who knows nothing of the world, yet is brilliantly smart because of what his mom has taught him. It is very hard to stop reading and put it down when real life calls. It's fascinating to be inside this kid's head, and then when stuff happens, it's hard to not feel his total terror. Or his mom's. And what a powerful character she is too, with her intense will to survive and live and keep them both alive.... even to the point that her son is happy to be in Room forever.

It might sound like it's a bit on the depressing side, but actually, it's the complete opposite. It's a tribute to the human spirit and leaves you with a very positive outlook.

Bottom line: LOVED it!

Other Reviews:

One Minute Book Reviews
Write Meg!
Book Journey
Tiff Talks Books
....and many many others!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Markus Zusak: He Really Came!

All this time, waiting for this night, I thought that perhaps it wasn't for real. That someone was tricking us. That at the last minute they'd say... "JUST KIDDING!" That somehow we'd misunderstood and maybe they were just doing a tribute to him or something.

But in the end, he really came. Markus Zusak, my favorite author ever, came all the way from Australia (36 hours he said) to Utah to visit 500 of his adoring fans. All day long my stomach was in knots because I was so nervous about how it would all go down. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to get good seats, I wanted to not look like an idiot during the signing. And I was just plain excited.

So we got there quite early to get a place in line, to get good seats and to be first in the signing order. The wait wasn't bad, it actually went buy quite fast. We were about the 10th to 15th spot back. (And when I say we, I'm talking my friend Jenny, my daughter JJ, and my sister and her friend.) When we finally got into the room, we beelined to the front center spot... where the whole row was still vacant. It was actually the second row, right in the front, because the front row was reserved for his friends and staff people. Anyway, I ended up there right on the aisle, which made me a bit nervous actually! Perhaps I was TOO close!

As it turned out, when he came in and we all could see that indeed, this was for real, and he really was here, it was a perfect spot to be! Oh my gosh, awesome! I filmed the whole speech, which I'm hoping to get up on YouTube in parts, very soon... if people are interested. And being right there in the front, I know, I just know there were several eye contact moments! :)

So anyway, he told several fun stories, talked lots about The Book Thief, just a little about the new book, and then read from The Book Thief, which was stunning to me. The audience nearly forgot to clap afterwards we were all so... so... floored really. It was so cool. And he was just as cute, sweet, humble, funny, clever, nice, amazing... as I'd expected. Isn't it great when that happens? I could have listened to him for hours, and I think the whole audience felt that way.

I did get this overview video done, with teasers from the stories, and a bit of the reading, because you really do need an idea of how fun this was.  Sorry, I had to remove my videos from YouTube. :(

Then it was time to get our books signed, limit two copies per person. We got around that because my daughter, my sister and her friend all had no books to be signed! Lucky us! We were among the very first group to go in there, and were once again maybe 10th in line. When it was our turn, he was so nice, and very personable, and taking a ton of time to write all sorts of things in our books. And after all the worrying, I'm not really sure what I said to him! I think something like this:

Me: Thanks so much for coming. We are all so amazed you are really here!
Him: I'm amazed YOU are here! I can't believe you all came.
Me: Oh wow, you don't even know!
Him: Is this S-H-E-Y?
Me: No, it's S-U-E-Y... yes, I know, weird name, it's my nickname.
Him: Okay, cool, I just wanted to be sure.
Me: Cool... you are drawing pictures!
Him: Yeah, I hate it when authors just scribble their names, as if they didn't even care.
Me: Yeah. That's so awesome of you.
Me: Here's a book for Yamile, my blogging friend who couldn't be here and is so sad to be missing this.
Him: Cool. (Then you should see what he wrote in her book... ah... silly him!)
Me: And here's a book that I'm giving away on my book blog. I had a contest. So this is for the winner.
Him: Cool. So you don't even really know this person?
Me: Not really, well, I guess not, well, yeah, I think she reads my blog maybe....

Yeah, so that was my intelligent conversation. I have no idea if he really said cool that many times, but something like it anyway. Here's what I wish I would have asked him, because there was time, oh yes, because he spent a lot of time on those books:

-- So, what's up with Bridge of Clay then? When can we expect to read it?
-- Will it ever be possible for me to get my hands on The Underdog?
-- Is it true that Fighting Ruben Wolfe has really gone out of print?
-- So, which character are you most like? Rudy, Ed, or Cam?
-- What's your favorite music to listen to while you write?
-- Twitter? Maybe? Someday?
-- What's your favorite book? Who's your favorite author?
-- Will you come again some day?

The dazzling smile.

But you know, of course my mind went blank. I was actually quite fascinated with what he was doing to my books! And probably I was being a bit dazzled by that smile? Yeah, probably that. And then I took pictures of Jenny and my sister, and we stood there for a bit while he did their books, which were really more of our books!
Waiting our turn.

Finally, the moment of unintelligent chit chat, on my part anyway.
My sister talking with no problem at all. 
And Jenny, in her words, "smiling like an idiot!"
Then, we waited... and waited and waited. Because there was a bunch of bloggers there (Natasha, Melissa, Jessica, Emily, Jenni, Debbie, Enna, Angie, Holly, Chersti... were the ones I was aware of, there were probably more that I've forgotten!) and we had this fabulous idea to go out all together and eat something afterwards, but of course, most of them were in later signing groups, and it became apparent rather quickly that the line was NOT moving, and that he was taking so much time with people that it was going to be a long long time before everyone had a turn.

But still we waited and waited. And talked, and talked, and compared book signings, and waited and talked. And wrote him a love letter. Yes, they did have a book where you could write to him, sort of a thank you note. Once I got started on that, I felt I could go on forever. I'm so glad they thought of doing that. Awesome idea. I hope he loves it. Anyway, during all of that,  I was happy. Then tired. Then hungry. Finally at about 9:30 (he started signing at about 7:00) we who were done said to those who weren't, we are going to such and such a place. Call when you are done, and see if we are still there. Bye!

They called, just as we were leaving, to say they had just got done. It was 11:00 p.m. And there were still a ton of people there in line waiting! And a ton that were still waiting their to even get in the line! I keep imagining whoever that last person was, and what time it was and how tired everyone was, but maybe they got, like, a lot of special attention! I bet they did. So maybe they were the luckiest in the end?

So that was the little glitch in the whole thing. But that glitch only happened because he was so nice. So you can't really call it that, now can you? No. He was too nice. Yeah right, no, not a glitch.

It was all perfect. And now I can live off that high for awhile, and only hope that perhaps he had enough fun with us all, that someday, he'll come back again. And we can do it all over.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sunday Salon: What a Week END!

Outside my window: Sunday morning! Sunny! Bright and beautiful!

I am listening to: The sound of silence. It's 10:30 a.m. here and everyone is still sleeping. Lucky for us, we have late church!

I am watching: this week just more of my regular TV shows. American Idol where there was a fun results show this week. I'm happy we get more Casey. That was craziness. And Survivor where for some reason I'm rooting for Matt to keep winning those Redemption Island duels and get back in the game. He's a little strange but seems quite cool. And Amazing Race where thankfully, the cowboys seem to have their mojo back. We'll see how tonight goes.

I am thinking: about Markus Zusak of course, because my brain is going over and over and over again how last night's event went. I can't wait to tell you all about it, but that will be in it's own post, tomorrow perhaps,  with video hopefully, which I'll work on today. But let me just say, it was amazing. Awesome. Wonderful! Crazy! So. Much. Fun! Oh my gosh, I was right all along, he's the best. THE best I tell you!

I am grateful for: for bloggin' buddies. Yeah, last night was so fun to be able to gush about Markus Zusak with so many buddies that got it. And to hang out forever, and I mean forever, with them... and gush some more. You guys rock, really.

I am reading: books! Yes, I actually finished three of them this past week. No Going Back, which I reviewed, and I Am the Messenger and Room, both of which I will review this week. That left me with more time to focus on Lord of Chaos, which I felt like I made progress on... Chapter 17 page 392! And I also started My Jane Austen Summer, which will be for a TLC blog tour next week. Never a dull moment in the reading department.

I am photographing: Markus Zusak! As I said, more on that later.

I am listing: all the questions I wish I would have asked him. Dang, I'm so dumb!

I am creating: school files for the kids. Yes, I went through piles of papers this week trying to catch up on these files. I am nearly three years behind! I've never done that before. It's painful. I tried to listen to Lord of Chaos on tape while shuffling through these school papers... it didn't work very well for me. I had to go re-read what I'd just listened to. I must be a visual reader. It doesn't stick in my brain unless I see the words. Is that weird? Or what?

On my iPod: Hey I got new music this week! I suddenly realized I had an Amazon mp3 credit, so I stressed all one morning at how to use that. I finally ended up getting five songs from Ramin Djawadi..... know him? Probably not. He's like the next Hans Zimmer. But I love his stuff.

I am hoping and praying: that our broken computer comes home tomorrow all fixed and better, with a hard drive that still has familiar content on it.

Around the house: status quo. Nothing new. Same old same old.

From the kitchen: Did  I ever tell you that my main mission in the kitchen is to cook and bake without using partially hydrogenated oil? Aka shortening/margarine? Yes, this makes certain things hard because did you know that cream of mushroom/chicken soup has this in it? Yes. So I'm trying to figure out how to make casseroles without these soups. Yes. I know. I learned this week and last how to do chicken enchiladas AND tuna noodle casserole WITHOUT them. Yes. They were MUCH better. This also means I only bake with butter. Which is also good. I hope to continue being successful in this quest.

Some of my favorite things: author events, book signings, blogger gatherings, book loving friends and sisters and daughters, libraries, way cute authors....

The children this week: One kid went out of town for tennis again. He came home while I was still gone last night and was sound asleep by the time I got home. I haven't even seen him yet, but I hear him stirring now. Maybe I'll be getting a report shortly.

Plans for the week: Hmmm... I have absolutely no plans. I have no idea what's happening this week. How's that for organized?

On this date: Here's stuff I was looking forward to four years ago, kinda interesting. Three years ago I was freaking about Jason being in the bottom three. Ah Jason! I miss you! Two years ago I was randomly going on about John Green. Here's hoping HE shows up at the library one day! :) One year ago I reviewed my first Neal Shusterman book, which started another author obsession. After John Green, I want him next! :) I've learned that these dream author appearances really truly might come true! It HAPPENS!

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Thief Winner Announced! (And other stuff)

Congratulations goes to Josanna as my Book Thief winner! Her number was chosen for me by We've already exchanged emails and so she will be getting this book signed to her by the very man himself. Yes! And I will mail that out first thing next week.

Other business:

I'm signing up to do the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on April 9th. It appears we'll just be hanging out that day anyway, so why not read, right? Come join us! It truly is a blast!

Also, it's time for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge. Read a fantasy, fairy tale, myth or folklore. I like to try one of each, which means I'll be doing Quest the Second, but we'll see how that goes. It's another thing that's way fun to do, so come join us there too!

Then, there's Armchair BEA happening again! I think it's going to be an INSANELY crazy week for me that last week of May, but I will hope to do some of the activities planned. What fun we had last year. It's just about as good as going to NY for the real live thing.

Anything else I'm forgetting? How about a song stuck in my head? I've been thinking about The BeeGees this week. I think it's because my son hauled out our records, as in real records, and then hooked up the record player, which yes still works, and started playing our old albums.  One of them was the first album I ever bought, Saturday Night Fever, when I was in 6th grade. Love the BeeGees, all their songs, but this is the one I've been listening to a lot this week. I expect you all to get up and dance!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ode to Markus Zusak

Two days! Two days to see, hear, listen to, meet, talk to, Markus Zusak!  If you've been around here awhile, you know I love this author! I remember thinking even just recently that there would probably be no chance ever to see him. After all he lives in Australia! And if he were to come to the US he would most likely only come to the big important cities, not my small obscure spot in the middle of Utah!

But then we got word a few months ago that he was coming here after all! The band of bloggers we have here went a little berserk that day! And since then, we've been waiting for the day to arrive and now, wow, it's almost here.

And because it's almost here, I must do a tribute post!

First of all, once I decided Markus Zusak is the coolest author ever... I noticed I have hard time describing exactly why (well, besides looks and voice, of course.) It makes me crazy. It is all about his way with words, and yet I can't find the words to describe that! So I've been re-reading I Am the Messenger this past week, and trying to consciously think about what I love so much. There are some obvious things, namely the use of metaphor, and similes and personification. Remember your English classes? Anyone? He does these things like nobody else I've ever read.

Then, somehow, those words, simple though they are, turn into poetry. Yes, this is where I think it happens. He writes poetic novels. He uses these simple words to describe complex feelings and then, we the readers, are able to understand those feelings, and get deep into the story and characters, in the most amazing way.

Whatever it is, however you describe it, I love it.

So while reading this week, I wrote down a few of the phrases from I Am the Messenger that jumped out at me, just for example:

I let the words out, each one tugging and pulling at my lips as they fight to stay in.

The grass on her front lawn is gold. My feet crunch over it, like the sound of someone biting into toast.

Sophie. I like it. I hear it in my mind and place the name carefully to her face. It fits nicely.

Her eyes are worth drowning in, and her mouth speaks to me.

There's something flowing between my fingers as I hold the envelope in my hands and being tearing it open. The breeze outside steps closer.

It feels like the mornings clap their hands. To make me wake.

I drive my cab with a headache that waits behind me. Every time I turn around, it's there.

The hammer of a fist lands on the back of my neck. I taste the floor. It joins my mouth.

Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.

Fear is the street. Fear is every step. The darkness grows heavier on the road and I begin. To run.

And so it goes.

My only complaint? I wish he would write more. I feel so very impatient!

Oh wow. I'm so looking forward to Saturday! Hopefully I'll come back with a picture or two worth sharing, maybe video if I'm lucky.

Some other posts mentioning this author obsession of mine:

Author Fun Facts
Review of The Book Thief (the second time)
Review of I Am The Messenger (the first time)
My Dream Panel (be sure to see my #7 question!)
Weekly Geek Author Pictures (including hottest author... from way back when)
Review of Getting the Girl and Fighting Ruben Wolfe (also from a LONG time ago)

So please tell me, who is YOUR author obsession and have you meet him/her? How did it go? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Club Randomly Discussed Books: March

Here's what we "randomly discussed" at book club this past week. I find it interesting that some of the books get talked about over and over again at each gathering as everyone takes a turn reading them! Fun!

Julie read and reported that she enjoyed these books:

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen: this one brought on the discussion of "what is magic realism"... something that is quite interesting to try and define.

Kim read and reported that she enjoyed these books:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: this was for her other book club
Precious Bane by Mary Gladys Meredith Webb: this is the book she recommended to friends and was seriously baffled when they didn't like it. She LOVES this book and Melissa seconded that she agrees and loves it too.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis: this book is getting a lot of blogger buzz and attention lately

Suey and Jessica A. both read this book recently and found it very fascinating:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Jenny is also currently reading it.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: random discussion on this book just happened I think. Mixed reviews from all around. Suey still anxious to read and see what she thinks once and for all.

Jenny read these books and liked them both okay:

Mistwood by Leah Cypess: she wished for a different/better ending.

Bethany read these books:

Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban: based on Julie's rave review
Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien: says to wait until sequel is out in Oct/Nov so you can read them both at once

Melissa reported on these books:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool: says it's really interesting, but kids won't get it
Diary Queen by Catherine Gilburt Murdock: compared this one to this one:

Alisa read Bright Blue Miracle by Becca Wilhite and wanted encouragement to finish because she got to "I'm off to the Mormon school" part and got bugged.

Jessica N. read Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay: says there are hard parts, but she just reminded herself... this is not real.

Suey read Mr. Monster by Dan Wells: says it's good intense horror! But don't let your kids read!

We also talked a bunch about the fun Brandon Mull launch party for Beyonders which Suey has read, and recommends. Fun book.

Review: No Going Back by Jonathan Langford

Book: No Going Back by Jonathan Langford
Genre: Fiction... perhaps YA.. not really sure where I'd put it
Rating: A-
For: Review
From: Copy sent by the author

I  must admit that ever since I realized what this book was about, I've been a little nervous to read and review. But hey! I was  pleasantly surprised how this controversial subject ended up being handled.

This is the story of a 15 year old Mormon boy... a Mormon boy who is also gay. It takes place during the couple of years in high school in which he comes out to first his friend, then his mom, his church leader... and finally to the rest of the school (though that was accidentally.) The story is told from several characters' points of view as they react to and deal with this news. But mostly it's about Paul, and the feelings, conflicts and situations he has to go through.

His best friend freaks out at first, but sticks by him and defends him to the end. His church leader is amazingly loving and supporting. His mom is also unusually fine about the whole thing. Other kids in the school, and at his church are pretty awful though. And his dad is infuriating.

The internal conflicts he goes through are heart wrenching. He loves his church and wants to still be part of it, but this is a problem since it feels being gay is wrong. But I loved how this issue was left in a hopeful way, where he didn't necessarily have to decide, at least at this young time in his life, to deny either part of himself.

It's a hard subject to read about.  There were some reactions (both positive and negative), and some characters that seemed a little unrealistic to me. But, I was happy that he had lots of people around him that stood by him, even though he still felt all alone in the world. Also, I was worried it would reflect poorly on the Mormon church, but instead, it was actually quite positive.

Bottom line: In the end, I'm glad I read this one! I would like to think that this book would be a help for anyone, especially a Mormon teenager,  going through this same situation.

Other Reviews:

One Librarian's Book Reviews
Confessions of a Book Habitue
Good Clean Reads

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Pet Peeves

This list, as promoted at The Broke and the Bookish today, may look a bit like the list I made yesterday, only listing the negatives. Well, yes, maybe so, but instead this list instead of being about general bookish things, is about the books and stories themselves. Make sense? And I'm rarely negative around here, I think, so maybe you might find this rant of sorts a bit refreshing? I guess we'll see.

Top Ten Book Pet Peeves

1. What I really hate in a book is that unnecessary F word. Yeah, that one. I feel, usually, like it's thrown in there for shock factor, which bugs me. If it is truly part of the character, then I can handle a few, just to let me know that's what that character is like. But tons? I don't need that, thanks.

2. I also am bugged by over preachiness or a book with an obvious agenda to push. Turns me off in an instant and makes my eyes glaze over and I'm gone. Yucky yucky yucky.

3. Cliffhangers are freaking frustrating! Granted, sometimes they make a book very memorable, but usually they just make you crazy in the end.

4. Okay, so footnotes are sometimes quite helpful, especially in classic books. But if they are at the end of the story, and I have to flip back and forth and back and forth, I'll usually skip them. I wish they were at the bottom of the page instead. Because I do find that stuff interesting, but not enough for all that flipping.

5. Books that are degrading to a certain group of people, just for the "fun" of it, where it has nothing to do with the story, make me crazy.

6. I hate books that are in tiny print, especially where that print ends up lost in the binding! I'm having this issue right now with my Lord of Chaos book and it's not fun at all.

7. Books that have a printing flaw.. such as the time I was reading along in a book and suddenly discovered there were 30 pages missing! Yeah, that's just not cool.

8. Another thing that bugs me is when one genre thinks it's better than another genre. Okay, so books themselves don't really think this, but readers do. And I wish they wouldn't. All genres are created equal. Some writing is better than others, some stories are better than other, some characters are better than others. But not genres. What say you?

9. Along that same vein, I hate it when we all suddenly decide to bash certain books. And I've talked about this before, so I'm guessing you'll know exactly what I mean. First they are popular and everyone likes them, suddenly we find it it's not cool to like them anymore, so then we bash mercilessly. Bugs me.

10. But what I hate most of all is when people say either of these two things.... "I don't have time to read" or "There's nothing good to read."  Oh boy. Yes, both of these things will get me going in a heartbeat!

So how about you? Anything you'd like to vent about book-wise? What are YOUR book pet peeves?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekly Geeks 2011.10: The Bookish Me

It's been awhile since I've done a Weekly Geek assignment. It's about time, right? This week we are to list ten things about us with regard to books and reading. Our bookish personality of sorts. Whatever goes. Here's what I've come up with:

1. Do you ever take a book, usually new but sometimes old, and stick your nose completely into it and inhale deeply? Yep, I do that, quite a lot actually. Ah the smell of books. I love it!

2. As far as the actually physical book itself... I like to read trade paperbacks. Mass market ones are too little, and hardbacks are too big.

3. One of my favorite things is to fall in love with an author and then read ALL their books!

4. It used to be I didn't know how to answer this question: "Are you a plot driven reader or a character driven one?" Hmmm... that's easy now. Guesses anyone? Yep... characters for me.

5. I can read with all sorts of outside distractions... TV, music, kids, noise, people talking, etc. BUT, I have a hard time reading if there's any internal distractions going on. That's why it's hard for me to read while flying (too nervous) or waiting (too anxious... well depending on what I'm waiting for) or if I'm just plain worrying or stressed about something in my life.

6. Reading in bed at night is great, but I enjoy reading in the morning (on weekends of course) even better. My eyes stay open then!

7. I don't think it will come as a surprise that I like to have more than one book going at a time. You can get more read this way, right? Doesn't it work that way?

8. I'm not much of a note taker while reading, and I don't underline and mark up the book. I find it messes with the flow of things.

9. I'm a surface reader, not a deep one. I read for the enjoyment of it, and not for the underlying meanings. That's not to say I don't find the underlying meanings interesting now and then, it's just that I don't necessary look for them much.

10. I enjoy both sad and happy ending books. Sad ones tend to stick with me, and have the greatest impact, but it's best if the story is left with a sense of hope. Happy ones are simply the most fun though, and sometimes I get really bugged if an author sees fit to deny us that happy ending!

Are we the same with any of the bookish habits I've listed?  I'd love to know what your bookish personality is. Do a post and come over and link up at Weekly Geeks.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sunday Salon: What a Week!

It's late Saturday night. I just got home. I should be reading.  Or sleeping at the very least.

Outside my window: There's a little drizzle. They say snow by morning. I'm not sure I believe it. If there is, it will be gone before afternoon I'm sure. Spring... gotta love it!

I am listening to: Just now in the car, Bohemian Rhapsody came on! We got home too soon! I wanted to hear it all! Love that song. I think it has everything... a little mellow, a little rock, a little pretty voices, a little screamy voices, a sad story, a happy story. Perfect.

I am watching: Downstairs the news is on. The community is THRILLED that our local college team is on to the Sweet 16. If this keeps up, you just might find me interested in March Madness after all!

I am thinking: That this past week was a fabulous bookish week! A rockin' launch party, a rowdy book club, a chat with Ally Condie, a Brandon Mull signing, a four years of blogging celebration, five new books bought, an author that retweeted my review of his book and just now... a play of Persuasion. I couldn't ask for much more really.

I am grateful for: All the above stuff. Also, for water and food and air and a house.

I am reading: Too many books! Lord of Chaos, No Going Back, Room, I Am The Messenger, City of Bones... anxious to read The Name of the Wind, My Jane Austen Summer, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Monsters of Men, The World We Live In and Front and Center...

I am photographing: Brandon Mull's Launch party. Did you see my video? And also I've been asked to be on Scene of the Blog in the coming days... so I'm taking pictures of my blogging space. Ha. How exciting that is! :) Well, it IS exciting, but my space is so very not.

I am listing: Weekly Geeks is a list of our bookishness.... you should go participate! I'm going to be listing my things soon. 

I am creating: Wahoo! Daughter Toto said today, "I feel like sewing." So we started a skirt. Are you impressed? Tune in next week before you decide on that point.

On my iPod: Same.... same same same. I almost bought the new Radiohead album this week, but Amazon said it wasn't quite out. 

I am hoping and praying: The trip we are planning in three months time is fun and not stressful. 

Around the house: Pretty much the same too. Since it was book club week, it got cleaned pretty good one day, but you know, that lasted for maybe an hour or two.

From the kitchen: Wow, it's been a bad cooking week. I was gone during dinner time Tues, Wed. and Thurs. Then Friday I was dead tired, and today is Sat. which means I don't cook. Yeah. Not a good dinner week at all around here.

One of my favorite things: Ice cream. M and M's. Cookies. Croissants. Pancakes. Pizza. What? A problem with food? Me?

The children this week: Were overly busy. There were a couple of melt downs I must say. I don't enjoy melt downs particularly. 

Plans for the week: Well, let's see. I think compared to last week, it's going be quite a normal routine week. Until Saturday of course... when I plan on meeting my favorite author ever! Wait, what? Less than a week away? I am freaking OUT! Deep breaths, I can do this....ARGHH! So nervous! What will I say? 

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

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Club Voting List 2011-2012

Here is the list our book club came up with for potential reads next year. Let us know which ones you think we should for sure choose! Most of these are book club sets, which is how they ended up on this list.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Nation by Terry Pratchett
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Joan: the Mysterious Life of the Heretic Who Became a Saint By Donald Spoto
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Agnes Grey by Ann Bronte
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Precious Bane by Mary Webb
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Room by Emma Donogue

Book Club Report: What We Thought of These Is My Words

Yesterday was a Third Thursday, which means it was book club at my house! Did I ever tell you how much I love book club? We seem to be on a roll lately. I don't know, it just feels like everyone is really into it right now and lots of people are coming out to it and everyone (mostly) seems comfortable enough to just say what they think... and I love it. Sometimes what people think cracks us up to the point of hysterical laughing, which I hope is okay with the person revealing themselves, but like I said, I think there's a sense of comfortableness lately that makes it all okay.

So the book this time around was These Is My Words by Nancy Turner. This is a book I read years ago and totally loved. I was hoping to be able to re-read it but of course, that didn't happen. I did manage to take a bit of time yesterday and skim through it to remember a bunch of parts... mostly the Captain Jack Elliot parts of course! Hello. And just that skimming reminded me how much I loved it and reminded me also how sad this book is. Many times I felt weepy just skimming... but then again... it could have just been my mood.

Quick summary of the book: It's the dairy of Sarah Prine, starting when she was 17 years in 1880 or so and lasting for twenty years until 1901 or something. She is a pioneer woman, living in the unsettled West of Arizona. She has to deal with all sorts of craziness including Indian attacks, rattlesnake bites, untimely deaths, etc. At the heart of this book is the love story between her and the captain of the local Army branch. Basically, this book is a mixture of a coming of age/historical fiction/western/romance novel.

Here's some random thoughts thrown out by the group last night:

-- Several people voiced the opinion the the Captain Jack love story was a little (okay a lot) too unrealistic. He was too perfect, they were too in love, it all worked out too well.

-- Some thought more of this story was based on the author's great grandmother... in fact, SOME of it was, but a lot was added and made up... including the awesome Captain Jack. That was, shall we say, disappointing to some of us!

-- Both of those observations got us onto the subject of "magical marriages" and is there such a thing.. really? And do we as readers truly enjoy reading about magical marriages? Does it make us look more closely at our own marriages? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Do we want to read about marriages that perhaps struggle like ours do? Or do we want the escape of reading about magical marriages? Or are our marriages magical and reading about them reconfirms to us that fact? Yes... interesting discussion!

-- Most everyone enjoyed the spunkiness of Sarah, the heroine of this book. However, some also thought that there was just too much spunkiness and that she handled every trauma that came her way TOO well. We needed to see her flounder and struggle a bit more.

-- Then again, some thought that she was forced to handle too much stuff. Too much happened, it was overwhelming! But then some thought that they'd still rather have her life and her problems, then to deal with some of the stuff our modern day life throws at us.

-- No one seemed bothered by the bad grammar she uses in the beginning and in fact most, because of the hint the title gives us, expected it to be worse. But it was fun, we agreed, to see her progress in that area and get better and better the more she read and learned of the world.

-- A few people felt like they had this book built up a bit too much and expected more out of it, so they were a little disappointed. Some felt like they would have enjoyed it more had they read it at a different time. But I think bottom line, everyone enjoyed it for the most part, but I'm not sure there was any one who totally loved it. We were told that the sequel is worthless and to not read it.

I think this book club surprises me every time and I'm thinking I will never be able to predict what they will love or not.

Up next month is Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I'm excited because this is one I haven't read!

We then did our random book discussion, talked about summer plans and proposed books for next year which we'll be voting on in the next couple of weeks. Look for a separate post on all that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beyonders Launch Party: A Video

Wow. I can't believe this video finally worked! It only took me all day yesterday and most of today! So I hope you watch it!!! Even though my battery died and I didn't even get Brandon Mull himself on it! I tried though. But the editing thing I'm using which recognizes my new HD camcorder, won't recognize my crappy camera. And the software that will do the crappy camera won't do the HD stuff. ARGHHH!!

But the party was fun, as you can see from this video. I hope. There were a few bloggers there, and authors, and I even found a gaggle of my cousins to hang with!

So I won't say any more... just watch. And then go read the book. Really. You should.

Review: Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

Book: Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
Genre: Horror
Rating: A-
For: Fun? Supporting Local Authors!
From: I bought this with a Christmas gift card.

This book follows the story that began in I Am Not a Serial Killer. John Wayne Cleaver has been diagnosed a total sociopath. He is messed up in a big way. Mostly, he just wants to kill and torture people. But he has some guidelines laid out to help him fight his battle within so that he won't let Mr. Monster take over. Most of the time it works really quite well, but then sometimes it doesn't.

Did I say he works with his mom in a mortuary? Yes, he LOVES to embalm their "patients." Lost of description. Oh boy. This is actually a bit therapeutic for him. But I had to skim. Ew.

And here's the weird thing. All that being said, I really like this boy. He wants to do the right thing. He wants so bad to be normal. He's really quite funny and clever and all together. I just want to give him a hug. But, you know, he might kill me!

So this book is mostly about his internal conflict. I enjoyed that. He truly is a fascinating character and you truly do get in his head, which is creepy and cool. But then, there's more murders going on in this town, which fascinates John, and of course, he gets right in the middle of it. And then, oh boy, things take a turn for the very very worst. And then I wanted to do more skimming, but I couldn't look away, and my eyes were glued to the page and I was holding my breath and... oh it's very bad... but in a good horror book way.

Dan Wells always says when he talks to fans out various conferences etc. that his mother-in-law has called to ask his wife if she is safe... and let me just say... I don't blame her! :)

Don't let your kids read this.

Don't read it before bed.

I'm scared for the next book.

Bottom line: Despite the torture, literally, I really enjoyed this!

Other Reviews:

Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
Dot Scribbles
Book Chick City

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blogging.... Four Years Later! And a Give Away!

Wow, have things ever changed in the past four years! When I started blogging (book blogging I should say, since I had been doing a personal one at Yahoo 360 for a year by then) I had no idea what a meme was, or an ARC, or anything about numbers/stats/followers, or that there was such a thing as a blog tour, or that there were even very many other book bloggers. I went into it very very clueless. The only thing I knew was that there were challenges, which is one reason I finally started the blog. But that was about it.

But I was excited! I knew this was going to be a blast and that it was something I would love. Four years later, I still love it and hope that it truly will be a life long thing for me. I love the creative outlet that it is. I love that there's a place to let loose my book passion full on and not feel too weird about it. I love the connections I've made and will hopefully continue to make. All those things keep me going.

Things haven't really changed too much around here. I started out with a pretty boring basic blogger look (wow they have some fun ones now!) and then I finally added a picture after about a year and this is what that
header used to look like. That lasted about a year before changing to the look I have now. I wonder when I'll change the next? I don't see it happening for awhile. And if you're interested in some of my favorite posts over the years, I have it's own page here.

So, to look back, I've come up with...surprise surprise... a list.

Top Ten Blogging Moments... So Far

1. When I got my  first comment  by Lisa of Books. Lists. Life. It came three days after I posted my welcome post. She said, on my All Time Favorite List post "What a great idea for a blog post! I might have to steal it."

2. The day I realized I had subscribers. I think when I discovered this, it was over a year after starting my blog, and I had 26 subscribers. I thought that was the coolest thing ever! (Now days when some of you start a blog you have 26 subscribers within minutes!)

3. My first author comment! I'm pretty sure this was by local author J. Scott Savage when I did a post about book fair, and mentioned Fablehaven, and he said his new book, Farworld, was similar. I was so excited! An author commented!

4. That comment actually led to my first blog tour, featuring Farworld and J. Scott Savage. I was thrilled to participate. While I'm not a huge blog tour person, I really enjoy doing them now and then.

5. The first day an unsolicited ARC came in my mailbox, I was freaking out! Right there on the padded envelope it said "Suey- It's All About Books" as if I was a real live important thing. And how did they get my name? And did they REALLY think I had any influence in the reading world? Wow! I was amazed and over the moon excited!

6. The first time I had, like, tens of comments on one post! (I remember this being on my "Lurkers! Delurk! post... 38 comments.) This does not happen very often, even still, but now and then it does and the first time it happened, I was again freaking out. Fun fun stuff, comments.

7. Then came the day we had our first Utah blogger party and I meet bloggers in person for the first time. That was nearly two years after I had started blogging. Oh, that was a scary thing to do. But wow, I'm so glad I went. I'm so glad Natasha was brave enough to do it. I'm so glad for the friendships it has created.

8. Before blogging, I don't remember going to author signings. Now that I've started, I can't seem to quit! The first one I really remember was Brandon Mull, after he had been to our elementary school that morning. Wow, that was a crazy line. And isn't it fitting that I went to his big launch party just last night?

9. My first big blogger event. Wow, there were LOTS of other book bloggers! And participating in these awesome events was a turning point. I think my first one was the first BBAW in September of 2008. I couldn't believe the amount of bloggers... and what's happened since then? There's like a gazillion more.

10. About two years into blogging, I started my first feature... The Bookword Game. It was a joint effort with Raidergirl3 of An Adventure in Reading. We've stopped for now, but it was fun while it lasted.

Wow, what fun it's been! And will continue to be I'm sure.

Now, to celebrate further, I'm having a give away. A SIGNED COPY OF THE BOOK THIEF!!! I hope this gets you all excited as much as it does me, and that lots of you will be interested! Below please find the entry form. I will choose a random winner in just over a week, on Thursday March 25. I will announce the winner here on Friday March 25... then get it signed on Saturday March 26... and hopefully mail it out that day. I'm going to be brave and say that international entries are welcome! I don't care if you follow or spread the word or whatever... that's all up to you.

But... I would LOVE a comment! Just for fun (not required for the giveaway entry.) That can be your "present" to me! Here's some questions for you if that makes commenting easier:

1. If you're a blogger, what's your favorite blogging memory so far?
2. Do you and I have some sort of blogging connection or common memory? If so, describe.
3. Have you read The Book Thief? If so, what did you think?
4. Who's YOUR favorite author?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: A Family of Characters

Today's prompt over at The Broke and the Bookish is to list characters we think would be cool to have in our family. So I decided to actually create a family of characters. You'll see what I mean.

FATHER: Atticus Finch... I mean who else could this be? Perfect wonderful dad.

MOTHER: Marmie from Little Women... she had some issues, but also seems pretty wonderful.

What celebrity would you pick to play Gen?
Since none are to be found, I choose this drawing
which I really quite like.

BROTHER: Gen from the The Queen's Thief series, because he just has to be part of this family and wouldn't he be a fun brother? He'd keep you hopping that's for sure.

SISTER: Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, because she seems like someone you could tell anything to, just as a sister should be.

BEST FRIEND: Anne... of Green Gables fame... what fun she has with life!

GRANDMA: Grandma Dowdel from A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck... she totally reminded me of my real life grandma, so of course I'm adding her to the list!

(oh boy, can't find the perfect picture for this character!)

GRANDPA: Major Pettigrew because of all the reasons I listed here.

AUNT: Alice Cullen, because I just really thought we needed someone like her in our family! Besides, don't we need at least one vampire?

Lots of speculation on who'll be playing this part,
but this is how I picture him.
UNCLE: The character that wouldn't get out of my head for this one was Haymitch from The Hunger Games! Yes! Don't you think he just seems like your crazy uncle?

COUSIN: Huckleberry Finn because it's with cousins you go and have adventures and get into to trouble even sometimes.

Who would you like to have in your family?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull

Book: Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull
Genre: MG Fantasy
Rating: A
For: Review and Supporting Local Authors
From: ARC sent by the publisher (Simon and Schuster) for review (Release date: March 15, 2011)

I was so excited to be on the list to somehow to get to this ARC for review. I really need to figure out how to get on the list for more of my local authors.

I found this book, which is quite a bit different from the Fablehaven series, to be really a lot of fun! It's about Jason, who slips from this world into the world of Lyrian where he ends up being drawn into a quest to find the syllables of a magic word. A word that said out loud to the evil emperor will instantly destroy him. He also hopes to find, along the way, a gateway for getting back home.

The people in this world have seen his kind before and call them Beyonders. In fact, Jason meets up with another Beyonder, Rachel, who joins the cause in the search of The Word. They meet all sorts of crazy characters as they go. People who can detach body parts yet stay alive, giant man-eating frogs, a blind crazy king, people who grow from the dirt. They see all sorts of crazy places like the spinning pub, the white lake, the eternal feast, and a really bad dungeon.

It's quite the adventure! And they learn that in this world, which appears to have no heroes, some can rise above the oppression of the emperor and become a hero anyway, despite all the odds.

Then, of course it ends just as things really get going. That's so we know, without a doubt, that there's much MUCH more left to come.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it a lot. Sometimes I wanted a little more, I wanted a little edge to it, a little romance, but since this is after all, written for a bit of a younger audience, the edges are smooth. That's not to say there's not scary page turning parts, and that bad crazy things don't happen to our characters. Because they do. And be warned, some of it is pretty nasty. Still, it's all fairly tame, and I must be used to the edgy stuff now.

Launch party tomorrow! I'm excited! I'll let you know how it goes, and hopefully take successful pictures. Then, I'll have my daughter read this and let you know what she thinks of it.

Other Reviews:

My Love Affair With Books
Book Dads
Icey Books
The Story Girl

This trailer is actually pretty awesome if you're interested and enjoy trailers:


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