Friday, September 30, 2011

Under the Dome Read Along Begins!

A few of us have decided it would be fun to read Stephen King's Under the Dome together as part of our RIP VI reading challenge. Tomorrow is the starting day! Are you ready? Get set, GO!

Here's a schedule that Jenny and I have come up with (which includes page numbers according to my trade paperback book, which I think it's pretty close to the hardback):

Oct. 1: Reading begins
Oct. 7: Read and discuss first ten sections (up to "This is not as bad as it gets" page 213)
Oct. 14: Read and discuss next six sections (up to "In the Jug" page 497)
Oct. 21: Read and discuss next four sections (up to "Busted" page 757)
Oct. 28: Read and discuss last five sections (the end!)
Anytime between Oct. 29-31: Final comprehensive review post.

Each Friday we'll have a discussion post on that week's reading, complete with questions Jenny and I will (hopefully) come up with. We'll email the group these questions a few days before so you all can put up a discussion post too. After that, post your final review post with all your total thoughts on the book.

Here are the bloggers we've got joining us so far:

Let us know if you aren't on this list, but would like to be! (Also let us know if you've changed your mind and don't want to join us after all!)

Here's a quick 30 second book trailer, maybe this will entice you to join us? :)

Okay... are you guys ready for this? I'm a little nervous given the size of this thing and that it's by, you know, Stephen King, and all. Just his name can creep me out! But I think it's going to be a fun wild ride, so let's get going!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Character Connection: Joe Fontaine from The Sky is Everywhere

One of my most recent character crushes is Joe Fontaine from The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. (Be sure to click on over to Jen's Character Connection feature and link up to participate!) And once again, since I have such a hard time writing why, I'm going to list why. (I have no idea why that is so much easier for me!)

Reasons why Joe leaps off the page for me:

* First, his physical description of course: messy brown curls, green eyes, very tall. In the book they say he looks like a gypsy, no a rock star, no a pirate! Heathcliff even maybe, then again, no maybe not.
* He's a musical genius, playing all sorts of instruments but especially clarinet, guitar and trumpet. He writes songs too, special songs for people he loves.
* He is constantly smiling! Jack-o-lantern happy they say! Bright and brilliant, all the time.
* He is concerned and sincere.
* He moves slowly, he becomes friends first, if you know what I mean.
* He's lived a bunch in Paris, so he sort of has the French thing going on too.
* He "gets" Lennie, with all her traumatic past.
* He "gets" her strange eccentric family too.
* Mostly I love this guy because he is real. Very real.

You need to read this book and meet him.

Look! I actually found a celebrity to match the image of Joe in my head!
I don't even know who this guy is... Adrian Grenier they tell me.
If only he was holding a guitar!
Oh wait, here's one!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Books: Extreme Mini Reviews

In celebration of Banned Books Week, I thought it would be fun to simply tell you, and give an extreme mini review for, some of my favorite banned and/or challenged books. I don't pretend to know why these books give some people issues. Mostly, I think they deal with hard, real, emotional subjects which can make some people nervous. Perhaps they don't like how certain groups are portrayed. Maybe that portrayal is right, and maybe it is wrong, but still it seems like it might be a good starting point for some nice healthy discussion, not the catalyst for censorship.

So here are some of my most favorite books that show up on the list here and here:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: A heart breaking portrayal of the hardships and frustration one family goes through during the drought of the 1930's. I don't think I've ever read a book that left me feeling more frustrated and helpless for the characters. It was intensely emotional.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank: Here's a book that I would love to find time to routinely re-read. (I should have put it on yesterday's list!) A perfectly normal girl gets a diary for her birthday and starts writing (granted her writing is amazing) in it about her perfectly normal life. Then the Nazi's come to town and suddenly she is documenting one of the world's most darkest moments. It never fails to amaze me that this young teenager has become so well known just for preserving her spunk and spirit by simply writing in her diary.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Because this was a book I (re)read since blogging, I do have a full review here, but let me just say quickly that yet again, here's a book that packs a powerful punch to the feelings and emotions taking place during the civil rights era, through (yet again) the eyes of a young girl. Not an easily forgotten one, this book.

The Giver by Lois Lowy: This is probably the first dystopian book I read, way before dystopian was cool and trendy. And I was blown away by the idea of a world where memories are taken away, where people lose their choices, where kids can't be kids and old people can't grow old. It's a haunting powerful book.

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George: Here's a book that brings back memories of childhood when I was discovering the joy of reading. It was on the list that I got from a relative which listed a bunch of good books to read (aka Newbery Award winners.) I remember it basically being about the coming of age story of an Eskimo girl and the stuff she had to go through... wow. I should read it again so I can remember better.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: I read this one the summer after ninth grade, and was sucked in! Then we (my friends and I) went and saw the movie which suddenly was playing for fun at the dollar theater. Ah, the memories! One of the best novels ever to give you a feeling of the craziness that was the Civil War.

I could go on and on! What a bunch of awesome books are on those lists! Now, granted, there's also some on there I'll probably avoid, but that's okay. I don't have to read them. But the key part is, I don't get to tell YOU not to read them! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Re-Reading Wants

It's a re-read list today over at The Broke and the Bookish! Now, let's make sure we understand here... these are books I currently wouldn't mind re-reading at this very moment. They are not necessarily books I've already re-read, or books I'd love to read again for the first time, or books I simply love to re-read over and over and over again... just books I think would be fun to re-read, right now. Clear?

Top Ten Books I Want to Re-read

1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.... because the first time through I didn't understand a thing, the second time through I loved it and I kind of want to see if I love it again a third time through, and also to determine if my ability to read classics truly is diminishing.

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.... same reasons as above plus I want to see if my fascination with Sydney Carton has held up over the years.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.... because it's been a few years now which means it's time for a re-read!

4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel.... because I wonder if having already read this book would make it not as good as the first time through... or make it better.

5. The Enchanted Cup by Dorothy Roberts... because this is one of the first books I remember reading as a teen that blew me away with it's tragic love story and I'd love to find it and read it again.

6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.... because I can't remember all the fascinating details that were found in this book and I want to remember!

7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley... because I want to see if I really like it has much as I thought I did.

8. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.... because this is where my love for all things King Arthur and Merlin began and it would be a blast to revisit.

9. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot... because after our recent read (re-read) of Middlemarch, it would be fun to read this one again too to see if I truly do like it better than Middlemarch.

10. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.... because this was my first of his books which started the love affair with them all.... and I can't even remember much about it!

What books do you want to re-read right now?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Book: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: B+
For: Fun
From: I won this one during Armchair BEA! Yeah, cool.

The thing I especially enjoyed about this dystopian story was that is set in just the distant future instead of the far far future (which many of these stories seem to be) and thus things still felt familiar, yet not. It felt like a world that really could be possible. It's a world where there's still the things we have today and the city (New York) we have today, but there are shortages on everything. Paper (thus books have stopped being printed) and water (it costs money to take a shower) and fresh fruit (back to the days when oranges were a special Christmas treat) etc. Email has postage and phones calls are a rarity, not mention that chocolate and caffeine are illegal.

Anya lives in this world, taking care of her brother and sister and also her ailing grandma (born in 1995 and remembers the good old days!) Her family, who manufactures chocolate, is part of the mafia and her parents have been killed for their involvement. All this makes for some interesting situations for her and she has to grow up way too fast.  Meanwhile, she's dealing with the new guy at school (have you ever wondered why the guy is always new?) and her friend situation, and her ex-boyfriend and all sorts of normal teenage drama. It gets a little crazy!

So I enjoyed this story, it read very quickly and was very engaging. Somewhere just past half way through, though, I felt like it was all over the place, and needed to settle down onto one issue. Some of that stuff is resolved, but for the most part, it's all left hanging and so I'm assuming there's sequels to come. (I have no idea and I'm too lazy to look it up!)

Bottom line: I enjoyed it, but it didn't blow me away or anything.

Other Reviews:

Waking Brain Cells
Steph Su Reads
Book Nerd Reviews
Good Books and Good Wine

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sunday Salon: So Much Stuff!

It feels like I've got SO MUCH to tell you! Let's see if I remember any of it!

Outside my window: FALL! I see colors changing on the mountain now! Cool cool nights. And yet warm enough for the windows down in the car during the day so I can have the wind tangle my hair into an uncombable mess!

I am listening to: At this very moment, something dumb on Disney Channel playing in the background, and the sound of someone having a shower. (It's Saturday night.)

I watched: The Man from Snowy River this week. That's because Toto is reading a book for school about a cowhand and I thought this movie would help her envision things better. I think it worked, but have I told how much I totally LOVE this movie? Oh my gosh yes. And I watched some more Survivor and Vampire Diaries and just a tiny bet of X Factor and another episode of Dr. Who. The boys, however, are hooked on 24.

I am thinking: of posting reviews of some of my favorite banned books I've read in the past in honor of Banned Books Week this week. Perhaps I'll actually fit in reading a banned book too? I'll try.

I am grateful for: Kelly who cuts my hair and knows pretty much just want to do and I can just sit back and relax.

I am reading: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zavin. I also read Brodi Ashton's new book Everneath, which I can't review until November. Just know I loved it and can't wait to tell you about it! This weekend our little read along for Under the Dome starts. Don't forget! Let me know if you still want to join up! And a couple of weeks after that I'm also going to start a little mini read along for Interview With a Vampire.... finally. Do you think I'll be to handle that book? I'm a little nervous... in a good sort of way.

I am photographing:
This the gag gift I got at our work party this past week! Ha.
Maybe the calendar I have up by my desk gave it away, you think?

I got to meet author Cinda Williams Chima this week! Sadly, I haven't read her books yet,
but now I have the first book from both series signed and ready to go! 

I am listing: books to reorder at the book fair, and people who might come volunteer with us and books I want to buy at the book fair (Virals, Rot and Ruin, The Gardener, and more I can't remember!) and stuff to fix on my blog and....

I am creating: maybe perhaps a new blog design? I don't know, I'm chickening out I think.

Around the house: Hmmmm.... nothing new to report here at all. Things are status quo and pretty much out of control as always.

From the kitchen: Chocolate chip banana bread baked in a tube cake pan. Yum. Also anything I can think of using green peppers.

One of my favorite things: A fun GNO that included my 89 year old grandma!

The children this week: A new guitar, a doctor appointment, new rock band group classes starting up, lots and lots of homework, just the normal stuff really....

Plans for the week: Book Fair! Yes, I can't stop with the book fair thing. I hope I survive the week, I really do.

On this date: Mini reviews of some books I read four years ago, here's what I was rambling about three years ago and it sounds awful similar to today's post, ah two years ago I was pondering present tense! And then a year ago I was thinking about villains and posted one of my favorite posts.

It really feels like there was more stuff, but this will have to do for now. Enjoy your day!

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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Music Stuck in My Head: Waiting by Porcupine Tree

I have a son who has been into this group for years. Mostly when he listens to them, I think, yeah, that's pretty cool. They have some songs, though, that get on my nerves, so I haven't really given them much of a chance. But the other day, I made a random mix cd for the car and put a few of their songs on it. One of them was this song that I just blindly picked from the line up we had on iTunes.

Turns out, I'm LOVING it and so I thought I'd share! You must let me know 1) if you've heard of this group before and 2) what you think of this song. (And people, you've gotta listen to both parts!)

And so I give you WAITING by Porcupine Tree:

Here's Phase One: (which includes singing and awesome guitaring)

And that morphs immediately right into Phase Two, which is all instrumental and lots of drums. I think this is what they call psychedelic music? If so, I love it.

What think you?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Book: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Genre: YA Romance
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: The Library (ah poor neglected library!)

I've heard so much about this book and so when I saw it sitting there just waiting to be checked out at the library, I obliged. And I'm so glad I did!

I knew I would love this book as soon as I saw that it was about a band geek. A bookworm band geek. A clarinet playing bookworm band geek! No wait, a clarinet playing Heathcliff obsessed bookworm band geek! People, this is me! Well, was me in high school. Band was my life, so it was very fun for me to read about someone like that. The similarities between us ended with all the issues this girl has though. She is dealing with the recent sudden death of her sister with whom she was very close. The sister also left behind a cowboy/skater boyfriend and these two (the boyfriend and our heroine....whose name is Lennie... after John Lennon by the way) end up mourning together in a very unique yet not so healthy way.

Meanwhile a new boy shows up at band. He actually reminds Lennie of her vision of Heathcliff a little. Add to that the fact that he plays a mean trumpet... and clarinet... and guitar... and I don't even remember what else! Not to mention his brilliant smile and his French-type romantic ways. There really is no hope for her, and yet... she feels guilty for being even a little bit happy. Nothing can be the same without her sister.

A beautifully sad story.... filled with raw emotion written down in that lyrical poetic way I love so much. Then there are all those book and music references thrown in besides! How could I NOT love this book?

Bottom line: Yeah, LOVED it.

Other Reviews:

Paperback Treasures
The Infinite Shelf
The Bookbind

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

Book: Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
Genre: YA Mystery
Rating: C+ (don't everyone fall down at once!)
From: garage book sale

I know... I KNOW! Look at that rating would you? If I use the rating scale I say I do, this is what it would get... Okay, but would not recommend. Yeah, so this book was not quite what I expected a bit disappointing for me.

First all, I thought for some reason it would have an element of the supernatural so I listed as a RIP read, but it didn't at all. However, it was a mystery sort of story, which still counts so I guess I'm still official there! As you may know, though, mysteries tend to not be my favorite, mostly because I don't ever really care about the solving of the crime or the process one goes through to solve a crime. It bores me. So that was the first hurdle this book had to cross and didn't do very well.

The second was there was not much of story here. There's this girl who is going to this rich fancy school, yet she is in an outsider geeky group. One day she gets invited to hang with the popular kids. When she goes to the party that night, the cool cute guy is all interested in her (which yet again happens too fast for me... I like the build up of relationships,  you know?) and so they kiss and he falls down dead. (This is not a spoiler, it's in the title you see.) So it's a mess and she leaves to her grandma's boarding school where she whines and mopes and wonders what happened and why the kid died. The end.

Oh, there are a few clues thrown out here and there, but nothing really shocking. And then at the end, it seems we might... just might... be getting somewhere and then the book ends. Yes, I think there's a sequel, but this book was barely there anyway, why not just finish the thing? Gah, it's so frustrating sometimes.

You all know (I think) that I'm very very forgiving when it comes to the writing element of books. First of all, I don't have a clue, and second I'm usually too wrapped up in the story to care about the writing. But this writing did nothing for me. Very repetitive and surface-y. I think it's good writing that gets readers into the characters and makes us care about them, and with this story I really really didn't care.

But I did keep reading, because I did want to find out what happened, even though I never did. And there is a cute gardener boy that I was hoping to see more of, but his appearances were rare.

Anyway, there you have it. A book I didn't like. Take note and mark it down.

Bottom line: I plodded through this one.

Have you read it? And what did you think?

Other reviews:

Blinded by Books
Bean Bag Books
Fiction Folio
Carrie's YA Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Club Report: What We Thought of Middlemarch

Our book club takes a break during the summer (something I may reconsider this next year) but we like to pick a biggish sort of project to "keep us busy." This year, the book club voted to read a book and then watch it's corresponding movie. The book they choose to focus on was Middlemarch by George Eliot! Can I just say, I was surprised at this!? Yes, it was an ambitious choice I thought, but still, that's what they voted for!

As it turned out, only three of us read it, which is actually not too surprising. I think though, several attempted it and found the language and style to be just too darn hard! At least I think that's what the problem was. I must say though, many of them didn't give it a very fair chance and gave up WAY too soon. Yes, it's true people. Perseverance is the key!

So three of us read it and four of us watched the movie, which meant that we spent a lot of time at our book club discussion this month telling the other members the story, which I find quite fun to do actually. (You did see my review, right?) So we went through the synopsis to try and convey the complexity of this story, and in so doing, I find that I'm thinking to myself, this really is a crazy fun story, yes?

Then we watched (or at least tried to) several clips from the movie. We were especially interested in Rufus Sewell as Will and Jonathan Firth (aka Colin's brother) as Fred.

Here're a few thoughts that we voiced while discussing and watching:

  • Some of us (one of us?) found Will to be quite the drama queen. After this thought was brought out, we watched the movie clips of him and laughed to see that yes in fact, Will is quite emotional and dramatic! (If you are interested in Will clips, here's a nice one on YouTube, see if you agree with the assessment.)
  • We liked Dorothea for the most part, but felt that she was being stupid (to put it mildly) for marrying Casaubon and that she knew better. This fact made us crazy. Why Dorothea, why? We also felt the actress picked for the movie was too old for the part and that the impact of what she did would have been felt more had it been a younger girl (Dorothea was only 19 remember.)
  • We had a blast IMDBing while watching the clips and we thought for a moment that the guy playing Casauban was Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter, but then we realized it was actually Uncle Brooke.
  • It was pretty much a unanimous thought that Fred and Mary are the best and favorite characters from this story. We wondered why, because Fred has many issues too, so why  is he so likable?
  • We discussed whether Dr. Lydgate deserved what he got, or was he an innocent victim and was it all Rosamund's fault? No one seems to like poor Rosy, and some of us felt a little sorry for Lydgate, but I hold to my argument that even though he rushed into that marriage, he truly loved Rosy all along.
  • We talked about the fact that this novel is held up as one of the greatest of all time. We tried to ponder why, but we must all be too clueless to get it. I do know that the general feeling is that she (as in George aka Mary Anne)  has created some of the richest, most dynamic, very real and authentic characters who are dealing with some of the most real and authentic issues. People truly FEEL it. 

Bottom line: I think those that read it, enjoyed it for the most part, but felt it was quite long and there was too much political moments and too much author narration. And I for one, still say to those that didn't read it, do read it someday! It may turn out to be your most favorite book of all time!

Books Discussed at Book Club September 2011

Last year during our book club meetings I started making a list of books that we randomly talked about during the course of the evening (besides the book we were actually meeting to discuss) and emailing them back to those in the book club. They seem to be enjoying creating a massive "books to read" list from all the books we talk about.

Then I thought you, my blog readers, would enjoy access to this list too so I posted a few of those last year, but this year, be prepared for a list like this each month (and separate from my report on the actual book club book.) Links on the books go to Goodreads, links on the people go to their blog if they have one. Enjoy!

Books Discussed at Book Club in September 2011

Julie read:

Jessica A read:
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (she warns not for the faint of heart)

Jenni read: (new book club member)
Everneath by Brodi Ashton (this book is not out yet 'til January... local author)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (read for a school class)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (currently reading)

Jenny read:
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (better than she expected)

Kim read:
The Hourglass Door trilogy by Lisa Mangum (she was ho hum about this series...local author)

Alissa read:

Bethany read:
The All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (and she has a beautiful garden to show for it!)

Jessica N read:

Suey read:
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (fabulous start to a huge epic fantasy series)
Possession by Elana Johnson (local author)

Many of these books are ones we discussed in previous meetings which people then went off to read! Now THAT'S what I love about book club! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

Book: The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: a gift from Ibeeeg

You may remember that back in the summer Deanna (Ibeeeg) wrote me a letter on her blog telling me how much she thought I'd like this book, and then she up and bought it for me! Isn't she the best bloggin' buddy ever? So of course, since then, I've been anxious to read this one to see if she was right or not!

And of course she's right! It was a book to be savored and enjoyed. It's very beautifully written. I'm even tempted to say it's a "gentle" read (as we discussed on my blog once upon a time) but in reality, the subject matter makes it not so gentle.

This book takes place on the Isle of Guernsey (located in the English Channel) during the German occupation of WWII. (The Potato Peel Pie book anyone?) Our main character's husband is off fighting the war and she is left to take care of her two daughters and her mother in law. She is torn with so many decisions and what's best for her family. Can you imagine being in this position? I'm sure there's a few of you who can. It would be so hard.

So the German's come and move in next door, some of them anyway. She's scared to death of them, but begins to warm up to one of them. And you can guess where things go from there. My only complaint about this book is that for me this happened so fast! I wanted the tension and the worry and the actual attraction to build up a bit more. It was like BAM! And neither one of them seemed very concerned about what they were actually doing, you know? It seems like there would have been more anguish and stress involved.

But the best thing about this book was the peacefulness, beauty and tranquility of the setting played against the violence and horror of war. These two things were so jarring that it made you sit up and take notice. Beautiful poetic description about this wonderful place (dang I so want to go there!) and then description about starving prisoners of war and torture and beatings and bombings.

The decisions that she makes must have been her only way to survive these things really. Deanna mentioned that it was overflowing with emotion and this I totally agree with. And there's lots of sadness involved and things are not very happily ever after. This is must read for anyone interested in the happenings of WWII.

Bottom line: I totally enjoyed this one!

Other Reviews:

Books and Movies
Bookfoolery and Babble
The Bluestocking Society
Rhapsody in Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'm the Last to Read

It's another Top Ten Tuesday today! And the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish want to know what:

Books Everyone Else Has Read Except Me

1. The Iron Fey series (read the first one)
2. The Seven Realms series
3. The Vampire Academy series
4. The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series (I actually will probably never read these ones)
5. The Immortal Instruments series (read the first two)
6. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series (read the first one)
7. The Sookie Stackhouse (aka True Blood) series
8. The Gallagher Girl series
9. The Forest of Hands and Teeth series (read the first one)
10. The Fablehaven series (read the first two)

Do you sense a theme here? Which one should I concentrate on first?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: A
For: Fun
From: Borrowed from Jenny

Wow, and finally I can feel like I know what all the fuss is about surrounding this book! Did you see that it won like, everything, for the BBAW book awards?

First, for those of you slower at getting to this one than even me.... it's about a future society set in Chicago where people are divided into different factions according to their personalities. Well, at least that's how the factions were created. Each faction is in charge different careers in the society, whatever best suits their personality. When kids get to be 16 or so, they get to decide if they want to stay in the faction they've been raised in, or switch.

So in this book we follow Beatrice as she makes this decision and what the consequences of that decision end up being. And I will say, because I don't think it's really a spoiler, that she moves from her very calm peaceful faction to one that's really quite wild and rowdy. Oh boy and does life ever get exciting for her from there! And I will not tell you what divergent means, because I DO think that's a spoiler!

My take on this book is that first of all, it's very violent. It does remind me a lot of The Hunger Games and I think this is the main reason why everyone is loving it so much. Although while I was reading it I didn't think about The Hunger Games once. But let's just say you can't get too attached to any one character!

It's a very fast paced wild ride, this book. A real page turner and hard to put down. I enjoyed the characters, very unique and different. The premise and conflict are pretty fun too, though still, much of the same old ideas are used over again. If you love dystopian, it's a must read. If you are sick of the genre, perhaps give it awhile.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it a lot.

Other Reviews:
Book Twirps
Annette's Book Spot
Alternate Readality (who did NOT like this one!)
... and about gazillion others.

A YA "What I've Read" List

It's been awhile since I've done one of these... you know,  "bold the ones you've read" list! Saw this one over at Read This Instead, and I'm in a mood, so here you go (I also added LOVED, if, well, I loved it!):

Alex Finn – Beastly
Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
Ally Carter – Callagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
Ally Condie – Matched (1, 2) LOVED
Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4) LOVED
Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret LOVED
Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
Christopher Paolini - Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4) LOVED
Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3) LOVED
Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) LOVED
James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2) LOVED
James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) LOVED
Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
John Green – An Abundance of Katherines LOVED
John Green – Looking for Alaska
John Green – Paper Towns LOVED
Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1,
2, 3, 4)
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
Lemony Snicket - Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
M.T. Anderson – Feed
Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)  LOVED
Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief LOVED
Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger LOVED
Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Mary Ting – Crossroads
Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Meg Rosoff – How I live now
Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)  LOVED
Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road  LOVED
Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion  LOVED
Neal Shusterman – Unwind LOVED
Neil Gaiman – Coraline
Neil Gaiman – Stardust
Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1,
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)  LOVED
Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever

Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Scott Westerfeld - Leviathan (1, 2, 3)  LOVED
Scott Westerfeld - Uglies (1, 2, 3)  LOVED
Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days  LOVED
Shannon Hale – Princess Academy  LOVED
Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
Stephanie Meyer – The Host
Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3) LOVED
Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped LOVED
Interesting list to ponder. Many of the ones I haven't read I have on hand ready to read any second (the whole Luxe series, the whole Underland Chronicles for instance.)  Many of the incomplete series I'm dying to finish and/or continue with (Septimus Heap and Bartimaeus for example), but some I don't care about (Alex Rider, Artimus Fowl among others.) There's a bunch I haven't heard of which makes me feel like I better check them out and a bunch I haven't started which makes me feel behind. Gah, so much to read! 

Winner of BBAW Giveaway: I Am Not a Serial Killer

Congratulations goes out to

Alexia561 from Alexia's Books and Such 

who has just won a copy of I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. 

I've sent an email and will get that out to you as soon as I hear back from you.

Way to go! I look forward to hearing what you think of it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Finally Fall!

It's been awhile since I've done one of these rambling musings posts, so it's time!

Outside my window: Dark, clear and beautiful on this Saturday night. Fall is coming. I'm happy.

I am listening to: The BYU Utah football game, and it ain't pretty.

I am watching: Yeah, the game. And you know, I never watch games. Football, whatever. But I thought I'd join in the excitement of the huge rivalry this night, and now I'm sorry I did. What an awful game for us BYU fans. But for Utah, happy day!

Other stuff I'm watching this week: Survivor started and I must say, Ozzy is so very nice to look at. And then there's Vampire Diaries, and lots of nice people to look at there. Yay for new TV! Dr. Who is still slowly going on the Netflix, and what a fun show that is too! But I haven't seen a movie for a long time. Need to catch The Help I think.

I am thinking: that I have a ton of reviews to write suddenly. Yay! I've finished some books and must tell you all about them!

I am grateful for: fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden even though about this time they are starting to drive me crazy!

I am reading: Just started The Sky is Everywhere today. Very good so far. Sad though. But it's about a clarinet band geek! That's totally me in high school! Kind of a strange thing really.

I am photographing: These books I got during my final trip to Borders:

I am listing: Books I reviewed this year! I got all caught up here and here while watching the game tonight. It was my own little mini Bloggiesta!

I am hoping and praying: That I survive this experience of sending kids out the door to be on their own. This transition is hard for me.

Around the house: It's actually sort of clean around here. Know why? Book club was this week! :)

From the kitchen:  I made homemade root beer for the blogger party last week, then dumped half of it down the drain. Too much left over. Also in the recent past I made brownies.... and two sets of cookies that didn't turn out... stuffed peppers, 'cause we have peppers (see above)... oh, and a really yummy frozen dessert thing for book club that I was craving and it was so worth it.

Some of my favorite things: All the bookish events of the past week! First, there was the blogger party, which is always a good time. Then it was BBAW which was fantastic as usual. And then on Thursday we got book club going again! I'll have a report post up soon about that, but we sure had fun. And laughed so hard at some points I thought we'd all die.

The children this week: One kid seems to have recovered from his concussion. One kid had a paying band gig. One kid went on a date. And one kid got 100% on her Algebra test, the class that she had a panic attack about on the first day!

Plans for the week: So I thought my stint doing book fairs was over! But guess what? I'll now be helping at the middle school/high school were both my remaining at home kids are going now! So, that's what I'll be doing this week and next.

On this date: Here's last year's first book club of the year report, two years ago I was pondering present tense, which is interesting because I feel the need to ponder it again... I thinking that EVERYTHING is in present tense these days... it's really strange. And three yeas ago, wow, I was really into Heroes. Remember that? Ah Sylar and Peter and Mohinder...I kinda miss you guys!

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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Music Stuck in My Head: Another Muse Song

For all my Muse fan friends, have you heard this one? I can't seem to get enough of it. The bass bit? Ah, awesome! I just wish this clip showed more Chris pictures, you know? (Someone on YouTube thought the same thing, so they made a Chris Clip video, but no embedding allowed, so if you want to see what I'm talking about, check it out here.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

BBAW: Tips and Trends

Wow! The last day of BBAW! What a fun week it's been! Weird though, that this is the first week in months were I've actually had reviews to post too. Next week I'll have to catch up on that....

So on to today's post prompt: Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

All the posts I've written this week were done before I saw what everyone else had to say. Today, however, I'm a bit behind, so I've already been looking over several posts and guess what? You are all saying the very same tips I wanted to give! That just means they are pretty important ones!

Blogging Tips

1. Be Yourself! Don't be worrying about what everyone else is doing. Don't be thinking, what should/can I talk about, how should I do this or that, is this way right? The only "right" way is the way it feels right to you. It's a book blog, yes, but if we don't get to know YOU then it's not as fun. When I first started, I was nervous about this bit. I didn't know if  book blog should have personal stuff, but I got over that and now you know probably a little bit too much about me! But I'm hoping that ends up making you want to come visit more often, if I am my real self. And I know I will visit YOU more often if you have your real self show up in your blog too.

2. Be Creative. If you have a great idea, go for it. Try new things. Don't be afraid to push buttons and experiment. Talk to people to get new ideas. Work together with other bloggers to try something. Don't be shy. (I remember saying this one before!)

3. Be happy and have fun! Stay positive on your blog. Rant now and then (because those are a blast!) but not all the time. Be friends with everyone and play well together! If something about blogging starts not being fun, change it up. Don't let blogging become a drudgery, keep it fun and simple and easy. If it starts feeling like too much pressure, step back and figure out why, then change it. 

So those are my very simple tips for the day! As I said, pretty much the same thing everyone else is saying.


You know, I'm usually the last to know about a new trend, and it takes me forever to jump on board with something, so I have nothing for you here! But I'm having a blast looking over everyone else's posts to see what's new. Be sure to check out the links here to learn along with me. 

I'v had a blast this week. Thanks to everyone who dropped by and I hope you find it interesting enough to come back again. You're all wonderful and I APPRECIATE you all! :)

P.S. Don't forget to enter my giveaway which will be ending soon! You know you want this book!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Report on the Utah Book Bloggers Social

Last Saturday night our group of Utah Book Bloggers met up for the sixth time (twice a year since Jan. 2009.) We gathered at a park in the canyon, ate some awesome food, and just talked and talked. We were a small group this year and I was a little disappointed that more people couldn't make it, but that's how these things go, I suppose. Last time there were so many it was hard to really talk and this time we sat in our cozy circle and got to know everyone! So that was a good thing. I took these three pictures which I'll share despite the fact that you can't really see anyone.

From left to right:
Julia from Writing Jewels
Becky from One Literature Nut
Penelope from The Reading Fever (and her son)
Emily from Emily's Reading Room (and her daughter)
Natasha from Maw Books
Lorren from The Story Girl

Kathy from Read This Instead (and her son and husband)
Diana from Diana's Amazing Book Adventures (and her husband hidden on the bench)
Taylor, Natasha's husband
Lorren's husband

And here's my daughter Toto, who had the choice of coming to a book blogger party or watching the football games with a bunch of rowdy boys. Of course she choose the party, but spent much of it curled up in the chair reading!

So thanks to everyone that came! I had fun getting to know a few more of you and hopefully you all enjoyed the evening out.

BBAW: How Blogging Affects Reading

Today's BBAW topic is to ponder the meshing of blogging and reading. Several questions are asked, but I think I'll concentrate on this one: Has book blogging changed the way you read?

And the answer is a very big huge YES! Blogging has changed the way I read, what I'm reading, how I pick what to read.... in many ways. Some are wonderful and some not so much. Let's explore.

Positive Changes

Branching Out. I'm reading things I never would have picked up on my own. Odd Thomas just recently reviewed is a good example. The huge epic fantasy series that I've been loving so much... I don't think I would have tried. Many of the non-fiction I've enjoyed in recent years (Coop for example) I would have never found. The list goes on and on of things out of my previous realm that I now love.

Give Me More! I read much more than I used to read. At first I found this to be a strange statistic because if I'm blogging, that takes up reading time, right? But no, when I started blogging, I also started reading more. Perhaps it's because I allowed myself to. I let myself read more and faster and two or three at a time. Does this make sense? Before, I think I held back, feeling that I shouldn't read so much. Now I figure, what the heck. Who cares?

Buying Binges. I buy more books then before. Is this a positive or a negative? It's positive because I like building up my home library, which encourages my kids to use it and choose books from home to read. See negative below. It also supports the ever wobbling print book business and the authors themselves. This is always a good thing.

Bookish Buddies. I have reading buddies both in real life and online. Before blogging, I had no one to talk books with, and it was sad. Now, quite simply, it's a blast! Especially reading books together. Little mini book clubs all over the place.

Author Savvy. Pre-blogging I don't think I would have ever learned who my local authors are and would have not had this huge desire to read everything they write. Well, maybe a little, but not to the extent this fanaticism is today. And I know they would have never known I exist, but now thanks to the blog, there are a few of them that know I'm out here cheering them on!

Set for Life. What to read next is a question I will never, ever have to ask again.

Negative Changes

Remember the Library? I really miss going to the library and walking up and down the stacks and just seeing what looks good. Having nothing at all in mind, just looking and picking. This hardly ever happens anymore. Now, if I get something from the library, I go with a book in mind. Or I've put something on hold and have been waiting forever for this popular book. If I do happen to grab random things from the library, I feel guilty because there's too many things waiting at home to read!

Dickens Who? I'm reading less classics than I used to, and I think it's because I read more YA. I didn't now much about these popular YA books before, but now, I HAVE to keep up! I also think my brain function has gone down, and that I don't know what to blame on for sure. It couldn't be old age, could it?

Buying Binges II. I'm buying more books than before. It's not good because this takes money! And one shouldn't spend ALL their money on books, should they?

TBR Mountain. The TBR pile is huge, much bigger pre-blogging days. While it's nice to never wonder "what to read next" (see above,) it is also sometimes a little stressful and tends to take the fun out of it. This is a balance easily found by simply saying to oneself, "I will read what I want to read when I want to read it!"   We can all do this, right?

I think I could go on and on (mostly on the positive list of course!) but I'll stop for now! So, what's on your list for how blogging has affected your reading?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Book: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Genre: Horror/Suspense
Rating: A
From: My first outing to the Borders closing sale 

Here's one of those "blame the blogger" books. Jenny's been trying to get me to read this one for a long long time, so finally when I saw it at Borders, I bought it and read it last week for my first RIP VI book. As you can see, I really liked it! Odd lived up to the build up he'd been given and I think he's awesome. It was very fast paced and extremely suspenseful, but way more creepy than I expected!

To summarize, this book is the first, I think three (and hopefully more on the way I understand) that follows this young kid (only 20 years old) as he solves crimes using a special gift (curse?) he has. In this book we meet his really cool girlfriend (I loved their healthy relationship) and his very messed up mom and dad, and his various unique friends in the town. When a stranger comes one day, Odd gets the vibe that something terrible is going to happen and when he tracks this stranger, wow, things are not what you expect. Lots of twist and turns and lots of creep factor and lots of edge of your seat moments.

Bottom line: I loved it and it was perfect for RIP reading.

Other Reviews:

The Bookish Pinoy
Tif Talks Books
Alternate Readality


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