Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May's Monthly Reading Report

This past month, being Utah Author Month, I tried to concentrate my reading on just Utah authors. Here's what I read that fulfilled that goal:

 Reiyalindis by Cory Poulson: A young high elf puts together a group of interesting characters to led a mission to defeat the "ghost people."

 Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith: All Joy wants is to get Zan back, so she goes of on a road trip to accomplish that goal with Zan's ex-best friend in tow.

 Forest Born by Shannon Hale: Rin leaves with forest with her brother Razo to experience an adventure of her own and in the process discover who she really is.

 I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells: John Wayne Cleaver has more murders to solve and the solution is not what he expects it to be at all.

 Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George: After all the Midnight Ball chaos, Poppy refuses to dance when she is off visiting a neighboring castle, even when a charming prince appears on the scene!

 Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler: KJ, who lives near Yellowstone Park, suddenly becomes the center of the hot political topic regarding wolves in the park.

Here's what I "snuck" in that didn't fit those parameters!

 The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: In which we meet the legend that is Kvothe and find out what really happened!

 A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. La Guin: The story of how Ged became a famous wizard.

 City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare: The adventures of Clary, Jace and Simon continue.

 Bruiser by Neal Shusterman: Twins, Bronte and Tennyson, become friends with a loner boy from school nicknamed Bruiser and discover that there's a very interesting reason he's a loner.

Not bad! Not bad at all! My favorite from the Utah author bunch  was I Don't Want to Kill You. My favorite from the non-Utah bunch was The Name of the Wind and Bruiser. Awesome books. 

Plans for June:
  • Start the Wheel of Time #7, hopefully.
  • Finish Ship Breaker, currently reading.
  • Read The Wise Man's Fear.
  • Take a bunch of easy to read, brain candy paper back fluff on vacation and read lots! Any suggestions?
And that's about all I'll be able to handle in June. It's going to be a hit and miss month reading-wise. And it's started already. 

How was your month? What are your first month of summer plans?

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sunday Salon: On Monday...Because Life Happens

Wow.. what a whirl wind week! Whew, I'm still reeling. Maybe putting thoughts down will help. The following was written quite late Sunday night:

Outside my window: Dark and cold-ish. It rained too. Yes, again. But wow, things are green!

I am listening to: nothing.

I am watching: We just finished watching Toy Story 3... again. But I only watched the first bit, didn't want to cry at the end, yet again!

I am thinking: that it's been a fun and crazy weekend, welcoming my son home, but I must say, I'm quite glad it's over!

I am grateful for: lots of supportive friends and family who came to our house today to visit and eat.

I am reading: Well... I started Ship Breaker, but have not read for three days straight now. That right there tells you that life has not been normal around here.

I am photographing: The family, all together again!

I am listing: all the things that still need doing this coming week! Yes, it never ends.

I am creating: nothing besides the mess in the house (see below) and the food from the kitchen (see below.)

On my iPod: nothing new this week.

I am hoping and praying: that I can sleep with worrying and thinking too much. That would be nice.

Around the house: Oh boy. So, today we had a party where I think I fed nearly 100 people. And you know, it had to rain. And so instead of everyone being outside, we crammed inside. In order to fit everyone, we pushed couches to the outside of the room and put tables and chairs up in the inside. We haven't fixed it yet, and everyone thinks it's cool to have this big open space. I said, fine for today, but tomorrow we put things back to normal!

Oh, and probably 30 of those 100 people? Kids! That ran around and around the house! Even though it made me crazy, guess what? The house survived! :)

From the kitchen: What I made for the party.... shredded ham cooked in pineapple juice all day... served on a bun. Seven layer dip, cowboy caviar (salsa,) cookie salad, fruit salad, several salads donated by family... and lots and lots of cookies and brownies.

One of my favorite things: Armchair BEA twitter parties and winning books! Oh, and Markus Zusak on Twitter! Yes, not only did I have much family excitement this week, but much blogging excitement too.

The children this week: Out of school! And then what?

Plans for the week: Pirates 4, Rockapella, Les Mis, dance recital, 6th grade graduation, finals for the 10th grader, a choir concert, grandpa's birthday... just to name a few....

On this date: Last year I wrote a lovely post for Armchair BEA on ideas for blog content. I'm quite sad that I haven't had much time this week to get around to the other blog posts. But maybe this week. It's okay to be a week late commenting, right?

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA Day Five: Keeping the Freshness

Today's prompt over at Armchair BEA central comes with lots and lots of questions! Finally I think I've picked just one to answer:

How do you keep your blog fresh and interesting to your readers and yourself?

Here's what I try to do:

** I like to mix reviews up with other things that interest me (and hopefully readers.)  Posts gushing about music, or what I'm watching, or random things I'm thinking or worrying about, or pictures of book stacks and author events, etc. break up the all book talk... which is kind of ironic since I named this blog It's All About Books....when in fact, it's morphed into a blog that should be called It's All About Whatever I Feel Like That Day!

** Memes are fun, but may get boring to readers if done all the time, so I do some one week and some another and only if I'm in the mood or have something fun to say. Hopefully this helps the meme monotony, and readers never really know what will show up.

** Discussion posts are fun to do and keep things interesting and usually have the most comments. I love it when an idea pops into my head for something to ask and throw out to readers and then I can hardly wait until I can get it posted.

** Pictures are important I think. Just words words words gets boring. I love finding ways to illustrating what I'm talking about and I really love adding videos in there too. This, however, I've wondered much about, whether anyone ever watches them!

That's about all I can think of at the moment!

What do you like to do to keep things exciting at your blog?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA Day Four: Relationships and Questions

Here's the Armchair BEA prompt for the day:

Blogging is about community, and community is about relationships. Post about a relationship you’ve formed with a particular publisher, author, blogger, or bookstore; share your thoughts and tips about connecting and building those relationships; crowd-source your questions about these relationships!

I love the relationships I've formed with other bloggers though this blogging thing. It's what keeps me going really. I love you all! And sorry that I'm feeling too lazy and overwhelmed to post about some of you individually. That always makes me crazy anyway because there's always someone left out. You know? And then I feel bad.

I haven't really managed a publisher relationship. Not sure how to do that! So there's my question for the crowd! How do you do that anyway?

If The King's English (the awesome local indie store) were closer, I bet I'd get something going with them...but they are just a bit too faraway for consistent supporting.

Hopefully I've got some good author relationships... a bunch from the local crowd. At least I think that. I don't know what they think! :) Let's just pretend that they think so too!

But anyway, I have some tips for good relationship building:
  • don't be shy
  • comment a lot
  • don't be shy
  • respond a lot to comments
  • don't be shy
  • send an email if you feel moved to
  • don't be shy
  • highlight authors, especially new ones
  • don't be shy
  • request books when you want them 
  • pretty much, just don't be shy!
  • but DO be yourself! (unless you're shy, then just don't be!)
And now my questions for the crowd:
  • A repeat from above.... how do you connect with the publishers?
  • If you are shy, how do you get over it?
  • How do you keep up with commenting and connecting to all the blogs you read?
  • Do you personally write to authors to let them know if you loved their book?
  • Does the connecting/relationship process differ if you are a "new" blog or an "old" one?
  • Does the follow/subscriber number reflect your success in connecting?
I'd love to know what you think!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Armchair BEA Day Three: An Interview with Chachic

It's so fun to meet a new-to-me blogger, Chachic from Chachic's Book Nook, and get to know her through some hopefully fun questions I threw her way! It was interesting for me to find out that she travels in the roughly the same blogging circle that I do, yet I've not come across her path before.

Chachic is a YA book lover from the Philippines and has been active in gathering Filippo bloggers together. Check out this directory she's created. Very cool.

I asked her some of my favorite interview questions and here's what she had to say:

1. Tell us about what got you started blogging, and what you love (or don't love so much!) about it.

I was a lurker for a couple of months before I decided to start my own blog. I wanted a site that I could just give my friends whenever they asked for recommendations. Also, I don't get to talk about books with my real life friends so book blogging is a great way to interact with fellow book lovers. I love how nice and friendly the book blogging community is. I mean look at ArmchairBEA, the organizers came up with this event so those of us who can't make it to the actual BEA will still have something to look forward to. What I don't like is ever since I started the blog, I feel like I'm being pressured to read and review as fast as I can. 

2. What five books are most important or influential to you?

Oh I have so many favorites, it's so hard to choose just five! I have a list of favorites on a page on my blog broken out by genre and I love all of the books listed there. If I was asked what my favorite series was though, I'd have to say the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

3. I see you have a whole post (and feature) on your blog about why YA, but tell us here in just a few short sentences.... why YA?

I have a featured called We Love YA on the blog and in each post, one blogger answers the following questions: Why do you love YA? What are some of your favorite YA books? What can you say to encourage other people to read YA?

I think I decided to come up with that feature when I realized that so many of my old favorites fall under YA although that doesn't mean that I exclusively read YA books. There's something about the characters written under that genre that makes it very easy for me to relate to them. Remember how intense and vibrant everything was when we were teenagers? YA books are able to capture that part of our lives and bottle it up in all sorts of different ways: mixed with magic in fantasy books or with realistic scenarios in contemporary fiction or with happily ever afters always present in fairy tale retellings. I feel like there's a YA book out there that every person will be able to enjoy.

4. What other hobbies are you into besides reading and blogging?

I like to travel but I don't get to do it as often as I'd like because traveling is expensive. Whenever I go out of town though, I always post pictures on the blog to share the sights that I've seen, especially if they're local places so I can encourage people to visit the Philippines. You can view some of the pictures here. I'm also into lomography so I have some lomo shots in the blog.

I love hanging out and catching up with friends and family so I usually go out on weekends to spend time with them. It helps that I also love to eat so weekends are all about unwinding at the end of the work day and doing something fun. Also, the Filipino Book Bloggers group has had a couple of meet ups in the past couple of months and those are always interesting.

5. What do you do in your "real life" when you aren't reading, blogging... or doing the above listed hobbies?

You mean what do I do for a living? I'm a senior research analyst for a business process outsourcing firm here in Manila and I actually work with clients from the US. It's not related to reading or blogging in any way and I know that my managers have no idea that my blog exists. :P

6. Describe what your perfect day would be like.

The rainy season is just starting here in the Philippines and I'm frustrated that I wasn't able to go to the beach the whole summer so right now, a perfect day would involve nice weather, a beach with powder white sands similar to Calumbayan or Malcapuya, a shaded area where I could read, a really good book and something cool to drink on hand like a glass of ripe mango shake.

7. What is your favorite "bookish" memory?

I think most of my favorite bookish moments involve reading and discovering my favorites. Like when I experience a moment when I know that I'm going to love the book even if I haven't finished it, when I have to pause and think to myself, "this is really good" and when I finish reading the whole thing, I can say, "THIS is why I read!"

8. If you could read yourself into a book, which one would it be?

Probably one of my epic fantasy books like the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith or The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

9. Who are some "new to you" authors that you've discovered so far this year and fallen in love with?

I read my first novel in verse this year: Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell and was blown away by this book. It made me more interested in novels written in this format and I'm hoping to read more like it within the year.

I've really been enjoying so many Aussie books lately probably because I also signed up for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge. Some amazing Aussie authors that I discovered this year are Kirsty Eagar, Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood. Melina Marchetta isn't a new-to-me author but I read The Piper's Son this year and thought it was amazing. I recently read and loved What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, who is another Aussie author but she writes women's fiction instead of YA like the other authors I mentioned.

10. What are you missing most about not being able to participate in BEA?

I feel like I've made a lot of good friends through the blogosphere and it saddens me that I've never met them in person. I feel like that's one of the biggest things that I'm missing out by not being able to go to BEA. I would love to meet my blogging buddies and talk about books with them in person. I would also love to meet my favorite authors in person because they're the equivalent of rock stars for bookish people like us.

Thank you Chachic for your wonderful answers and for being my interviewee subject! You sound like a blast and I, for one, will be adding you to my blogger list!

Here's some other places you can find Chachic:

Like her on Facebook.
Follow her on Twitter.
Friend her on Goodreads.

And finally, if you are interested in who interviewed me and what I had to say, head on over to Carrie's at Just One More Chapter! And here's the link for all the other interviews going on to today all around the Armchair BEA universe! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA Day Two: Best of 2011

It's actually giveaway day today in the Armchair BEA realm, so be sure to head over to the site to find out where all those are! I should be doing one too, but didn't figure it out and life's too crazy this week to worry about it, so instead, I'll do the alternate activity which is the “Best of 2011" where we are to "share some of your favorite books so far this year, and/or the the books being promoted at BEA that you hope will end up among your favorites for the year!"

So what I've decided is to go look at my Goodreads and see what I've given five stars to so far this year. I'm learning that I'm a little more stingy with my five stars over there, than I am with my A's over here. I don't get it, but yeah, that's how it is.

Five Star Books in 2011:

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak (a re-read)
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (a re-read)
Room by Emma Donoghue
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Skellig by David Almond
I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Paranormalcy by Keirsten White
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Now if that doesn't show some diverse likes all across the genres, I don't know what does!

What have you given five stars too so far this year?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Club Report: What We Thought of A Wizard of Earthsea

Book: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: B+
For: Book Club
From: Bought it. (We also used book club sets from the library.)

First a quick summary. This is a book about how a famous wizard learned his stuff. We start out seeing him grow up as a neglected boy who shows some promise. He is then sent off to live with the resident wizard, who in turn sends him off to the wizard school. While there, he has a run in with another student and in order to prove his superiority, he tries to summon the dead. Instead he summons some evil shadow creature which he spends the rest of the book running from.

My quick thoughts: The writing was fabulous, but the story itself wasn't very engaging to me. It felt like a lot of telling and not much of getting the reader involved. Not much conversation, or even inner turmoil of the character. I was a little disappointed and really wanted to like it more.

Random Book Club Thoughts:

  • Everyone agreed this was a book that was more about the story and not about the character.
  • The use of "true name" magic was interesting. Personally, I found this especially interesting having recently read The Name of the Wind which is based on the same sort of thing.
  • We agreed that there were a lot, and we mean A LOT, of geographical names and locations to keep track of! And the map wasn't all that helpful. That was a bit frustrating, if that sort of thing bothers you.
  • Many of us, not all of us I don't think, and not all the time anyway, realized that the characters in this book are black, or dark skinned. We ended up having an interesting discussion on this subject, and how we picture characters certain ways despite the physical description provided! 
  • We watched an appearance of the author that I found online and enjoyed hearing her talk and say how the book came to be and her thoughts behind its development.
  • Most of us enjoyed it fine. A few plan to read more from the series and a few probably won't seek them out.
Since this was the last book club meeting we'll be having until fall, we discussed which books we liked best from our books read list from this past year. It was pretty much a tie between The Potato Peel Pie book, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and The Count of Monte Cristo. 

Other random books discussed:

Tessa and Sam read and enjoyed Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. Their 9 year old son joined us for this meeting and he's been reading and loving the Superfudge books by Judy Blume. 

Jessica A enjoyed Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin and The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne, which we all had fun learning about!

Mr. Stuey has been reading the Dark Divine series by Bree Despain. He seems to enjoy them, but calls them fluff.

Jenny has read a lot this past month and from that list has enjoyed The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter and The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.

Vibeke read the second Flavia book called The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. She liked it, but it wasn't quite as fun as the first book, she says.

Suey's been enjoying catching up with The Immortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, and reading lots of Utah authors.

Coming up for summer, we'll read Middlemarch by George Eliot and then watch the movie. We'll discuss our thoughts on both at our first meeting after the summer break in September.

It's been a fun book club year!

Armchair BEA Day One: Who Am I?

Welcome to the first day of Armchair BEA! That's when those of us who can't manage to go to New York for the week to hobnob with authors, publishers and other bloggers, get together to hobnob in our way, from our chairs at home in front of our computer! Maybe someday I can try out the real thing, but I don't see that happening for a long long time, so instead I'll enjoy the party from home for the time being.

Here's today's prompt from the creators and hosts for Armchair BEA this year:

You’ll probably be getting a lot of new visitors to your blog this week, so introduce yourself in a post! And if you specialize in a particular genre, share what it is and why you love it. Also, tell us how you’re doing Armchair BEA - where you are, what you’re excited about, what you hope will happen this week.

So first of all, who am I?

- I'm a conservative Utah Mormon mom in the process of raising four kids
- Yet at the same time I act like I'm 17 most of the time...
- For instance, my kids tell ME to turn the music down,
- And I love rock concerts and rock music and edgy books, and edgy music
- And I have a celebrity crush issue way worse than my teenage girls
- And I especially like reading teen (YA) books with lots of love and romance
- Yet, I also love fantasy books with lots of action and creatures and intrigue and magic... and romance.
- Other book genres I love are classics, historical fiction, memoirs and some westerns.
- My other passions, that I often blog about, are music, movies and TV.
- I work at the library three mornings a week, helping in the administration office.
- I just got done with a ten year gig chairing the book fair at the elementary school.
- We have a Big Trip planned for the summer!
- A perfect day for me would look like this: sleeping/reading in followed by going out to breakfast, then a loud adventurous movie matinĂ©e, after which we take a drive up the canyon where we meet some friends for a picnic lunch and breathe the mountain air. The afternoon would include a nap, more reading, and in the evening we'd go to a Josh Groban concert! And because of the nap, I wouldn't be tired, so I'd read some more before sleeping. Do you think I could do all that in one day?

How am I doing Armchair BEA?

Well, first all this is a crazy week, so many of these posts will be pre-written! I am prepared to party ahead of time! :) So I am here, but also running around taking care of real life at the same time. As always, I'm most excited about connecting with other bloggers, "hanging out" with long time buddies, and hopefully meeting a slew of new ones. I especially look forward to the Twitter parties and hope they are happening when I can join in. Other than that, what I hope happens during the week is that I get all pumped up and pepped talked to keep on blogging!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Sunday Salon: And Then I Got Sick

My life's observations as of late Saturday night. Enjoy!

Outside my window: Ah, another perfect day today! Perfect I say! And after a week, a full week!, of rain. Which was crazy, but welcome. I love the rain. It made me happy actually.

I am listening to: Mary Poppins.... specifically I Love to Laugh! I was shocked when my daughter said she'd never seen this movie! Poor deprived child!

I am watching: Well, I was watching another Downton Abbey episode, but it got over, so now it's Mary Poppins in the background, though I'm not really watching.

I am thinking: that it's a drag I decided to get a lovely head cold today. Here's hoping it doesn't last long. I've really too much to do this week.

I am grateful for: clothes stores that have normal prices. Sheesh I stepped in to Nordstrom's today, looked at the price tag and about died laughing. How do they get away with that? It truly blows me away!

I am reading: Just finished City of Ashes... very fun. Quite the romp! And then I started Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. Also, I got Wolves, Boys and Other Things that Might Kill Me  by Kristen Chandler today, so think I'll start in on that one. I also got The Wise Man's Fear this week and am dying to jump right into that one! Ugh... when will I find time to read though?

I am photographing: Nothing this week.

I am listing: Different things for different posts for Armchair BEA! And all the things I have to do this week. I did lots of stuff today, but nothing really got marked off the list. I hate it when that happens.

I am creating: I meant to sew some more today, but I ran out of time and energy. Keeping fingers crossed for time this week.

On my iPod:  I finally got a real cd for Pet Shop Boys... it's called Pop Art and it's two cds of their hits. LOVE it! Yes, the Pet Shop Boys craze continues!

I am hoping and praying: that this cold doesn't last long. And that my son travels home safely this Friday!

Around the house: I washed half the windows.... meaning the inside... I really hope to tackle the outside soon.

From the kitchen: Oh man, do you have to ask?! I think next week I'll have something to report on this front!

One of my favorite things: Smokey Jack Paninis at Jason's Deli.

The children this week: It's the second to last week of school for one. The other one has to go into June a bit more. That's going to be a trial and a trib. We'll survive though.

Plans for the week: Trying to keep up with Armchair BEA stuff, and finish up Utah Author Month posts, and get ready for my son to come home and plan a welcome home party this next weekend! Whew. See why there's no room for being sick?!

On this date: In 2008 I reported on a author library event I went to, one of the first author things I went to which started the current craze. This event was also the one where Natasha and I realized afterwards we were both there, but didn't know each other. Then the idea of blogger get togethers was born!

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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Book: Forest Born by Shannon Hale
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A
For: Utah Author Month
From: Probably Amazon, a long time ago!

Yes, this is one of those books that I HAD to have! And then when I got it, I put it on the shelf and never got to it... until now. Finally. It was fun to revisit the Bayern world and get to know all the friends again. In fact, that was what I liked best about this particular book, that all the characters and stories from the previous three were woven into it.

But this story is mostly about Rin, the little sister of Razo. She is discovering her special gifts and is not too sure she is happy with them. In fact, she is pretty freaked out. But before she even figures out what's going on, she feels lost at home in the forest, so she decides to go off with Razo when he returns to the capitol. She quickly makes friends with Enna, and Dasha and Isi and ends up going with them when they need to solve a recent problem pertaining to the ongoing war and political issues.

When they discover the "who" behind all these problems, things get pretty chaotic pretty quickly. And it appears it's all up to Rin to save the day.

As with all the other books in this series, the writing is fabulous. The imagery and description wonderful. It makes me want to be Forest Born and live among the trees. Not sure I want to have a "speaking" gift though, but that sure seems to make life interesting for all these characters!

I loved remembering how cool I think Finn is too. A favorite part was when Dasha and Enna were listing the traits of the forest born boys! That was awesome! I think I quite agree with them!

It still feels like there could be more for them all....this really isn't the end, is it?

Bottom line: Thoroughly enjoyed it! However, The Goose Girl remains my favorite. And now I can see I'm all caught up on the Shannon Hale books. When's the next one out? I'm ready!

Other Reviews:

One Librarian's Book Reviews
Confessions of a Book Habitue
Beyond Books
Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Book: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A-
For: Utah Author Month
From: The library

This book is a sequel of sorts to Princess of the Midnight Ball. That book is about Rose and her sisters and how they have to dance all night long for years and no one can figure out why. THIS book is about Rose's sister Poppy who is sent off to visit some friends in the kingdom in order to help her family restore goodwill around and about. It's also about Prince Christian who is visiting the nearby palace, and has been sent there to hopefully fall in love with the princesses at that residence.

And then there's balls and dances and masquerades, and Christian and Poppy both end up at them and become fast friends because Poppy of course doesn't want to dance. She actually ends up playing cards instead. And Christian has his hands full trying to get away from his intended princesses who annoy him endlessly.

Meanwhile, a new maid arrives on the scene who seems to really mess up a lot. Strange stuff is afoot. Then she discovers her "fairy godmother" and gets help going to the ball where she is supposed to make Christian fall in love with her, and bad things happen if she doesn't get back before midnight.

You may think you know what happens next, but this being a fractured/twisted fairy tale, things don't always go as expected.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it a lot. Fun take on Cinderella.

Other Reviews:

Charlotte's Library
Welcome to my Tweendom
One Librarian's Book Reviews

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Ode to Utah Authors

As part of celebrating Utah Author month, I wanted to compile all my author pictures in a movie thingy, and then I decided to do even the ones I'd met but didn't have pictures for, and then it morphed into trying to include all the authors I am aware of... in Utah.

So here it is, BUT I have two disclaimers first:

1. I'm very disappointed in how this uploaded to YouTube... it looked fine on my editing software, but the timing totally messed up during the upload processing.. or something. I almost didn't share it, but then I decided I worked too hard not to. And since I have no idea how to fix it, here it is anyway. But the whole thing is all about the timing to the music, so it's quite a bummer that didn't work out like I'd envisioned. Oh, well.

2. I'm sure there's lots of authors I didn't list, but these are the ones I'm aware of and who happen to be in my circle and genre of notice. Make sense? In other words, not many non-fiction, or adult or authors of strictly LDS fiction... mostly YA and MG and a few picture book. And the line between actually published and almost published is blurry enough to me that I may have forgotten someone there too. Anyway, if you don't see yourself here, and you wish you were... make me aware of you! :) But that being said, my guess is most of these authors named won't be seeing it anyway. But just in case, you know.

So without further ado.... Happy Utah Author Month!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekly Geeks 2011.16: Best Bookish Moments

Over at Weekly Geeks this week we are asked to think of a few things that have stood out to us since the year began, and have, so far, been our favorite bookish moments of the year.

Can you guess what mine are? Well at least what my top one is? As my mom always says, I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count!

Best Bookish Moments of the Year 2011.... So Far

1. Markus Zusak!

Need I say more? Years ago, when I realized this guy was a most awesome author and decided to list him always as my number one favorite, I remember thinking.... too bad I'll never be able to meet him. Then suddenly one day, he came! Now I wonder, did that really happen? Yes, it did!

2. Jenny is blogging! 

Jenny's been coming to book club at my house for years now, and somewhere along the way we clicked and have found a lot of fun in comparing our book (and other) tastes. I've taken her with me along on many bookish adventures and finally, just this past month, she started blogging! Yes, now you all can go over there and see what she thinks about things. Just an example of her style is her non-recommendation for a book she recently reviewed... does she recommend it? "Fat Freaking Chance!"

3. Buddy read with Ibeeeg!

I love buddy reads, and it was a blast to read book number six of the huge Wheel of Time series together during March and April with Ibeeeg. A perfect motivation to get through what is quite the daunting task. Soon, we'll be tackling book seven!

4. A fantastic fun read and new favorite: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss!

Still thinking about it, wondering when I can get back to these characters. Soon, I hope, since I just ordered book two. But life is going to get crazy, so I don't know, I just don't know.

5. General random miscellaneous bookish connections!

Book blogging parties, launch parties, Twitter chats, LTUE, book club, the upcoming Armchair BEA events.... all of it. Connecting through books has just been especially fun this year so far!

What bookish things have stood out to you so far this year?

Authors Pick Five: Emily Wing Smith

Today's Utah author I'd like to spotlight is Emily Wing Smith, who just launched her second book, Back When You Were Easier to Love just a few weeks ago. I asked her the Authors Pick Five question:

What five books are most important and influential to you?

And this is what she said:

Okay here are five of the most influential books to me--maybe not THE most influential, but the ones I chose after a good deal of thought! They exclude scripture.

ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK, Laura Ingalls Wilder



SPEAK, Laurie Halse Anderson


Yep, pretty YA heavy...I guess that's why I write what I write!

Thank you so much Emily! Lovely titles here. A couple I'm going to have to go and check out!

Be sure to check out not only Emily's new book, but her first one also, called They Way He Lived, which is wonderful. You can also follow her blog here on her website, and see what she's up to over on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let the Summer Reading Begin!

See? This is what happens when we go to the library! Unsupervised! With abandon!Some are "mine," some are JJ's and some are Toto's. We probably won't read many of them, but they are there if needed! The ones I really hope to get to to are Finnikin of the Rock, Bruiser and City of Ashes. After that, we'll see.

And no, it's not really time for summer reading... it's time for end of the year projects, papers and tests! It's time for recitals and programs and award assemblies! It's time for figuring out next year's schedule, and planning housing arrangements for college kids. It's time for spring cleaning and garden planting. And it's still May which it's still Utah Author Month! So yes, we are jumping the gun a little bit... but... who's keeping track?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Supporting Cast

And one again, I bring you a list as inspired by The Broke and Bookish.... to list ten of my favorite supporting characters.... almost all of which seem to be the friend of the main character. I guess that's pretty much what the definition of "supporting" means, right?

1. Mr. Bingley: Mr. Darcy's friend of course, from Pride and Prejudice and truly a happy fun loving guy!

2. Alec: Clary's friend in the Immortal Instrument series. There's lovely foreshadowing about him, and now I must keep reading to find out what!

3. Much: Robin Hood's loyal friend who (at least in the TV series) steals the show much (ha!) of the time!

4. Samwise: another loyal friend character, this time Frodo's from Lord of the Rings. What can I say about him? What a guy.

5. Charlie Swan: as in Bella's dad in Twilight, etc. I just think he's awesome.

6. Rudy: Leisel's friend in The Book Thief and the character that makes us weep and think... if only.

7. Bast: A recent discovery from The Name of the Wind. Kvothe's student, but he appears to be much more than that I hope the next book reveals a bit more about him.

8. Keiro: Finn's adopted brother of sorts from Incarceron, with an obnoxious attitude yet you love him anyway.

9. Gale: from The Hunger Games. Even though he's a big part of the story, we hardly see him, so that makes him supporting, right? Ah, Gale.

10. Fang: the dark and mysterious quiet dude from the Maximum Ride series. I don't know, is he supporting or main? Max is the main and he is by her side, yes? Whatever he is, I think he is awesome.

What supporting/minor characters do you enjoy? Who did I blatantly forget?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

Book: I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells
Genre: Horror
Rating: A
For: Utah Authors Month
From: Mother's Day (my 16 year old son went all on his own and bought it... I had to laugh at the vision of him asking for it at the store!.... "Yeah, my mom wants a book called I Don't Want to Kill You!")

The story of John Wayne Cleaver, which began with I Am Not a Serial Killer, ends with this third book in the trilogy. These books tell the story of this 16 year old kid who is obsessed with serial killers, and knows way too much about crime scenes, profiling, and all sorts of other killer things. Add to that the fact the he works with his mom and aunt in the town's only mortuary and loves to help with embalming all the dead bodies. This is actually the only time he feels at peace. All the other times he is trying to resist the thoughts in his head about how cool it would be to kill someone.

However, in this book, he feels like he has the monster within himself a bit more under control, because now he has a job to do, he has direction and a focus for his sociopathic tendencies... and that is to find and kill the latest demon infestation. Because of that focus, he lets himself get close to a particular girl (not the one you'd expect though) and to participate more in normal teenage behavior.... and he finally talks to people. Way to go John!

This book is full of murder, suicides, high school dances, more embalmings, bike rides, and a pretty intense twist followed by an ending that might even get you a bit weepy. It's was quite the ride and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I was worried that this kid would do something stupid and make me not like him any more, but I'm happy to report that somehow, we got through yet another book with me still thinking he's a  good kid despite his claim to have no feelings for others. In fact, I really really like this character! He's quite the interesting one! And even though I'm not a big fan of mysteries, this mystery definitely had my attention.

Bottom line: Loved it. Now that this trilogy is over, I can't wait to see what Dan Wells comes up with next!

Other Reviews:

LEC Book Reviews
LDS Women's Book Review
The Book Zone (for boys)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Nothing Much

Outside my window: Cool and breezy and sunny. I love it. It was an awesome weather day yesterday and I hope today will continue that, with a little bit of everything. Perfect. I want it to stay like this forever, but I know it's going to be too hot very very soon.

I am listening to: nothing at the very moment but....

I am watching: Friday Night Lights in the other window I have opened right now. It's still really good, but just not quite the same without some of those original kids. Recently I also watched: The Secret Garden (the musical done at my son's high school, pretty good), Thor (on a date Friday night, very fun movie!), Justin Bieber (before the date on Friday night... enjoyed it!), The Vampire Diaries finale (with a repentant loving Damon, awesome!) , The Amazing Race finale (blase about the winners, but love the show), Survivor (excited about the finale and wonder, can Rob really win?), American Idol (sad to see James go, now rooting for Scotty I suppose!).... and I guess that's "all." Addicted to TV anyone? Soon it will all be over and I'll be done with TV for the summer. Though I'm already trying to figure out what shows I will catch up on and watch on DVD, or Hulu, or maybe we can even finally get Netflix! What a concept! Someone (Angie? Holly?) said something about Downton Abbey, and now I have that on hold waiting for me at the library!

I am thinking: this post is so very very boring. I should just scrap the whole thing!

I am grateful for: Blogger, because this week, I found out how things get crazy without it! What a weird feeling to not be able to access this blog! Really really weird!

I am reading: A Wizard of Earthsea for book club this week, which is sort of slow going and Princess of Glass is on the treadmill, which is quite fun and I'm ready to lift it from treadmill status and read until it's finished!

I am photographing: Yesterday I filmed the violin recital, well my daughter's piece anyway. All went well! Nice to have it over too.

I am listing: Top Tens for Tuesday, things to do (the never ending list), what to blog about this week, and bookish thoughts for this week's Weekly Geek.

I am creating: nothing really. All that sewing from last week? Full stop this week. Add that to the to do list! Oh wait, I forgot! I've been creating this movie thing for Utah Author Month which I hope to share soon!

On my iPod: I added some stuff this week! But it's all stuff I've been talking about over and over again this past while to the point of you all being sick to death of my music discussions!

I am hoping and praying: that we make it through the end of this school year! Perhaps some of you can relate.

Around the house yard: The garden is planted! Added zucchini and swiss chard yesterday, plus flowers in the wine barrel.

From the kitchen: French toast this morning. Yesterday I didn't cook or make anything all day, and everyone thought they were starving! It was a  true "fend for yourself" day.

One of my favorite things: Frostys from Wendys.... they're really not that bad for you are they?

The children this week: One kid has a paper due Thursday, but he refuses to work on it.... this is making me so crazy I don't even have words. It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes down this week. The violin kid needs to go play for next year's teacher in an audition of sorts this week. That should be interesting too.

Plans for the week: I need to color the gray out of my hair this week! That's one thing on the to do list! Clean out the linen closet, what a scary place that is.... turn in the Eagle application, wash the windows, clean the bird cage.... aren't you glad you asked? :)

On this date: Yes, on this very very date, my husband's parents got married... 50 years ago! To celebrate, we are all going out to dinner, but then in June the REAL celebration comes when the whole extended family (24 people total) will be going on a cruise! It's a crazy endeavor, but will be one to remember that's for sure!

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guest Post over at Fluttering Butterflies

Today, I want to direct your attention over to Clover's blog, Fluttering Butterflies, where you'll find an interview she did with me about Awesome Women! Lots of tough and introspective questions! You won't want to miss it! :) Feel free to comment so she'll know you dropped by!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Music Stuck in My Head: Pirates and Such

I have music to talk about!

First off, I've been listening to the soundtrack of the new Pirates movie... it's streaming on Facebook if you like the page! Here's just one song:

And of course I LOVE it. I mean how could I not? It's Pirates! Can't wait to buy it! Can't wait to see it!

This week, I really truly have not been able to get enough of James Durbin singing Without You. I've been literally blasting it non-stop it seems.

So sad to see him go last night. I'll be keeping my eye on him to see what he does with himself this next while. However, I decided to NOT buy American Idol tickets. Sad, but true. Oh, well. It will just have to be Josh Groban for me concert-wise this year...except for the local outdoor concert stuff, and I'll be sure to tell you about that as it comes. There's some good ones!

Speaking of Josh... his tour started last night, and THREE MONTHS from this very date, it will be my turn! I'm getting butterflies already.

So I've never really been a huge Glee fan, but when it comes to Matthew Morrison, I'm hooked. And now he finally has his own album! And I just need to decide whether I'm getting an old fashioned cd or downloading it, which is a handful of dollars cheaper. Hmmmm.....

So, what's been stuck in your head this week?  What new music do I need to check out? What old music do I need to revive?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith

Book: Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith
Genre: YA Romance
Rating: A
For: Utah Authors Month
From: Bought it at the launch party last week!

And what a fun launch party that was! Did I even really ever tell you about it? Well, first Emily talked about the book a bit, how she's been writing it for a long time, how it's sort of a compilation of snippets of story, how the characters came to be named, how it's a little big based on a guy she knew in high school, etc.

Then her writing buddies, newly dubbed The Barely Manilows, sang a song that sounded a lot like Barry's Copacabana song, but with lyrics that described this book. I filmed it, but then my battery died, and Jenni already uploaded it anyway, so I'm stealing sharing hers here so you can see how fun this was:

Afterwards, we bought the book and stood in line to get it signed, surrounded by all her author buddies and other bloggers. As I said...tons of fun!

Luckily, I didn't have to wait long to fit it into my line up and one day last week, I started it in the morning, and by reading just during my normal down moments throughout the day, was finished by the evening. Yes, it's short quick easy read.

It's about Joy, who is a bit freaked out that her boyfriend, Zan, has left her to go to college in California. She feels like they are still together, even though she has had no contact with him since he left. When she gets a chance to go to California herself, to check out the colleges, she decides the trip will have a second purpose, which is to track Zan down and find closure somehow. Her friends won't or can't go with her, so she ends up taking Noah, Zan's ex-best friend. This makes for some interesting moments indeed. And in the end? Does she find herself? And closure?

I enjoyed the story and felt very much in Joy's head as she went through this struggle. There were a bunch of Mormon moments too, which nicely, weren't too much over the top and annoying, but showed how sometimes the Mormon culture can cause kids quite a bit of confusion. It was also interesting how Zan was so much a part of the story, yet we didn't really meet him until the end and then... oh boy.

I especially enjoyed the Las Vegas bits which I could completely relate to! How many times have we stopped to dodge through a casino in order to get to the buffet? Countless!

However I must say that I still find it unbelievable that kids can sneak out without their parents realizing what they are doing, to go on a days long trip. This happens in lots of books, and the parents are clueless. It doesn't make sense to me, and I'm always wondering what's going on with them that they aren't more aware and involved in their kids' lives.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it!

Other reviews:

Sarah's Random Musings
Karen Krueger
My Pile of Books
Fire and Ice

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: What a Jerk!

Today over at The Broke and the Bookish we are talking about JERKS. Yeah, so I think I can come up with some jerky characters! But first let me just say that jerks, in my mind, are different from villains. Jerks you have really truly no patience for. Villains have something about them that sometimes make you feel for them. Jerks, you never feel for. Am I right? What do you think?

1. Ambrose from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Ugh, he is awful!)
2. Zan from Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith (He's on the list since I just read this one and he is at the top of my mind... hopefully this isn't too much of a spoiler!)
3. Harold Skimpole from Bleak House by Charles Dickens (This guy defines the word jerk.)
4. Felix Carbury from The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (You hope he can redeem himself, but it soon becomes clear that this is impossible.)
5. Hindley Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ( I blame him for everything that's wrong with Heathcliff!)
6. Fernand Mondago from The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (Gah! What was he thinking!?)
7. Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (Never once felt sorry for this dude.)
8. Mayor Prentiss from the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness (A creepy scary jerk.)
9. Mr. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Slime all around.)
10. All the sons in The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (Seriously, how could they?)

Do you agree with my list? Do you "feel" for any of these guys? What characters come to mind for you on this subject?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: Reiyalindis by Cory Poulson

Book: Reiyalindis by Cory Poulson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: B
For: Utah Authors Month
From: Bought it! (I forget where though.)

This is fun little story about a young elf girl, Reiyalindis, who has a vision of sorts that prompts her to gather a group together to go on a mission to take down the ghost people. The ghost people are a group of mysterious creatures that appear and disappear at a whim and have been causing havoc in the world for quite some time. The group she gathers is quite the interesting one. First of all, she has her companion, a mysteriously quiet Dark Elf (which is already strange because she is a High Elf.) Then there's the Common Elf warrior with a curious past. A human who is married to a half breed (part animal,) an eccentric mad professor type, and later a beast consisting of a hodge podge magically created body powered by thousands of magical spirits. What a group, no?

Once they are off on their quest, they must fight the evil fallen Dark Elf, and face down a colony of warlocks. Some pretty crazy things happen, including a close call in a torture chamber. In the end, you find yourself really hoping this motley crew can actually pull it all off!

Even though I enjoyed this story for the most part, I found myself wanting to like it more. I think I especially ached to know more about the Common Elf, Vaelon, who seemed to have a really interesting back story that was only touched upon. In the end, there was also a bit of a romance involving him that I wanted more of and wished was a bigger part of the story. It felt a bit rushed and easy.

I really enjoyed these interesting characters, but once again they needed more development. It was frustrating to not feel more attached to them then I was. The emotion that I love and crave in novels was lacking. Despite that, I was anxious to finish and learn what happens to them all!

In the end, I think it was a little too simple for me, that being said however,  it would be perfect for perhaps a younger audience. Granted, it probably wasn't the best for this book to have me read it right after The Name of the Wind, which will undoubtedly end up on my Top Ten of the year list. At any rate, I think I'll have my daughter give it a try and see what she thinks of it.

Bottom line: It was an interesting story that I enjoyed despite some development issues.

Other Reviews:

MrScience101's Blog

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Mother's Day

Outside my window: Wow! Spring! Birds chirping. A soft breeze! Sunshine! Wow. I'm impressed with you weather.

I am listening to: the kids are blasting Life is Life by Opus. Raise your hand if you remember that one? It's from 1985 if that helps. Yeah, me old? No way. They discovered an old tape this week. And latched onto that song! Earlier we were listening to James sing this song:

And Scotty sing this one:

And Haley sing this one:

Seriously enjoying American Idol this past week.

I am watching: We rented and watched Leap Year last night. Ireland. Loved it. There was a nice Irish dude too. :) Cute movie all around.

I am thinking: that a headache already this morning is just not fair. Ibuprofen, here I come.

I am grateful for: a wake up call from a missionary son to wish me Happy Mother's Day! And then we could say... "see you in a couple of weeks!"

I am reading: Forest Born by Shannon Hale. But feeling in a bit of a funk after last week's The Name of the Wind, and don't feel like reading much of anything. Hate it when that happens.

I am photographing: nothing this week I guess.

I am listing: things to do.

I am creating: new curtains for the guest bedroom. Yes, I'm still impressed that I remember how to work the sewing machine.

On my iPod: Two new songs! I downloaded the above James and Scotty songs! Then I ran out of iTunes money....

I am hoping and praying: that all the mothers have a wonderful day today, and no depression allowed!

Around the house: I put away Easter baskets yesterday. And purged clothes from the 16 year old's room. Both overly joyous tasks.

From the kitchen: A lot of breakfast foods this week. Yum.

One of my favorite things: finding old songs on Youtube!

The children this week: Toto has to prepare for a violin recital coming up on Saturday. Then for an audition for orchestra next year is the next week. So we have violin stress this week! And the Eagle papers I mentioned in another post? I swear that is getting DONE this week!

Plans for the week: I have an ongoing list of things to do... I plan on checking some of those things off this next week.

On this date: Wow! Twenty nine years ago I had a little brother born on this day! Happy Birthday Jed! And I know you are even reading this blog these days! And happy birthday to my other little brother Troy who turns... let me think...35? tomorrow! Wow everyone is getting old. What's up with that? Jed was born during the night after the evening that my dad took me and my friends to see Flash Gordon! Loved that show! I DARE you to click on that link! (In fact I think I better listen to it again! If this doesn't confirm my nerdiness, nothing well!) Such fun stuff back then! And Troy was born when I was just barely too young to remember much. I remember coming home from school the day they came home from the hospital, anxious to meet him.

DFTBA!! And now I better go before things get even worse around here. Have a good one!

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


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