Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Reading Recap

Well, my list of books read this month is so pathetic I may as well not even do this post.  I have no idea what the deal was this time around, I don't even have a big book to blame. So, for what it's worth, here's what I read during November:

The Death Cure by James Dashner: Wherein Thomas continues (and concludes) his maze/WICKED/Flare adventure and tries to figure out, once and for all, who are the good guys and who are the bad.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: A re-read for book club that reminded me how sweet Francie Nolan is and to enjoy again her beautiful simple life in New York in the early 1900's.

Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Four friends end up with temporary tattoos that give them temporary powers to fight against the three Fates (well one bad one at least) who have come to take over the world.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: A circus that operates only at night is filled with magic, mystery and intrigue and has a behind the scenes story that is equal parts romantic and deathly.

Well, at least I can say I read a book this month that will make to my year's end Top Ten list! Yay for The Night Circus. 

Oh, and P.S. , I didn't really like Tattoo and thus didn't even take the time to review it. This is just another example of how my book bloggin' buddy and IRL friend Jenny, and I, are so much different, while at the same time being so much the same. I love it. (See what she has to say about Tattoo here.)

Plans for December include:
  • finish The Path of Daggers
  • finish Inheritance
  • read Supernaturally (buddy read with my sister perhaps?)
  • read some easy books that don't take much concentration because, whoa, I'm having a really bad issue with focusing lately. I blame that on Christmas.
I also realized last night that even if I think I have an evening free to just read, it's not going to happen because there's too much kid homework to be helping with. These last three weeks before Christmas break are going to be insane and yeah, I might as well give up on accomplishing much reading in December too.

So much for 100 books this year!  Here's to trying again next year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR List

The question today over at The Broke and the Bookish is what we hope to read this winter. Mostly, the books on my winter TBR are ones that have been sitting around for quite awhile waiting until I can get to them, yet ones that at the same time, I'm dying to read.

Ten Books on My Winter TBR List

1. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
2. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
4. Chasing the Sun by Kaki Warner (for a cowboy fix!)
5. Atonement by Ian McEwan (this one for book club)
6.  The Exiled Queen by Cinda William Chima
7. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
9. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
10. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

So, there's ten for starters! Ah, there's so many more I want to read soon! What's on your list?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy? Sort of? Magic... whatever genre that falls into.
Rating: A perhaps even with a +
For: Fun
From: Amazon using my gift certificate from Brigit at The Book Garden! Thanks Brigit!

Seriously, I don't even know how to describe this book. But I'll give it a go.

The time period is late 1800s and early 1900s. There's two rival illusionists. Over the years, they have each taken a student, taught them magic and then have them compete with each other. As the book opens, they are beginning a new competition. One student is actually the daughter of one of the illusionists, and the other is a random orphan boy.

There's also this circus, that comes... take a guess here.... only at night!  And it appears out of nowhere! This circus is amazing! It's full of really awesome acts and displays. One of the students mentioned above performs in this circus. The other runs things behind the scenes but doesn't actually get to travel. Is there a connection? It is a safe bet that there probably is.

The story jumps back and forth between their story, and the story of a boy a few years later who is fascinated with the circus and especially with a pair of twins who are an integral part of the show. We wonder what he has to do with anything really, but it all comes together in the end and makes perfect sense.

With that description, it doesn't sound like it's anything special. But if you love magic and wonder and rich descriptions, it truly is special. The thing that stands out most to me about this book is how it uses every one of your senses. Color (or lack thereof) and smell and electrifying touch, all play a powerful role. It draws you in and makes you a complete and total part of the experience.

The style is slow and poetic and wonderful and beautiful. It's like you want to savor every word. I found myself re-reading passages many times just to feel it again.

Then there's the love story, which is magical! Everything about this book is just.... magic! Yes! And magic that is believable too.

If you are scared of buzz and hype... don't be. Just go read this book and decide for yourself. Seriously.

Bottom line: I loved it!  A lot!

Other Reviews

Book Journey
Leeswamme's Blog
Fyrefly's Book Blog

Here's a fun interview with the author:

The Sunday Salon: Thanks for the Weekend

Wow, what the weekend, eh? I've taking a couple of blogging days off and now I'm forcing myself to do this post to hopefully help me get back into things. Not feeling the motivation at all lately. :(

Outside my window: The weather these past few days... just wow. Amazingly beautiful. Right now, cold and clear out my window late this Saturday night. The days have been perfect. PERFECT I tell you!

I am listening to: 30 Seconds to Mars at the moment, trying to decide what I think of them. That Kings and Queens song is pretty cool, one of their most popular ones I'm guessing. Ummm... some screamy songs too though.

Song of the week: Just discovered this one and have been loving it:

TV Talk: Not much TV this week, but a couple of movies to report. I went to Breaking Dawn yesterday with the sisters and that was fun. The movie was much better than I expected. Quite intense actually. I enjoyed it just fine despite a few really cheesy parts. What's with the cheese guys? Anyway, I look forward to the final installment! Then today we went to see Hugo, which I thought was wonderful. Some will think it's slow, but I thought it was beautifully done, though I have much love for the book, so that may have factored into it.

Reading Report
Books I've finished: Just finished The Night Circus and let's just say I agree with the buzz and hype. Wow. Awesome book. LOVED it.
Books I've started: Still working The Path of Daggers. Yes, I will plug along.
Books I want to start: Still wanting to start Inheritance.

Gosh these weekly reports make me realize how much my reading doesn't progress sometimes at all. How pathetic.

I am grateful for: how fun the weekend was and mostly relaxing. I stress about accomplishing shopping, but that's only because I feel surrounded by crazy shoppers, or something. So I wish I could have made progress on that a little, but oh, well. I am grateful for having all kids home this weekend! That has been wonderful.

What I learned this week: Even if you expect a crowd for Thanksgiving, don't do too many stuffed celery things. Wow, what do I do with THOSE yucky old leftovers!??

Around the house: lights are up on the house. Tomorrow we'll work on the tree and the other decorations. So wish me luck with that! Oh, and it took me three full days to get laundry done. That was not fun.

Recipe of the Week: no recipes to share this week. I have not cooked at all really. Must get back to that this week! But it's been a nice break. Oh, my husband made me try some sushi this yesterday. It wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be but I was not converted to it and I just don't get the point. (They weren't the roll things, but ones that looked like this:)

Favorite things of the week: all kids home as mentioned, some movie attendance as mentioned, The Night Circus as mentioned, lots and lots of sleeping in

Family Matters: Kid 1 may have found a place to move out to, Kid 2 has been doing homework all weekend it seems, Kid 3 got a speeding ticket, (shhh don't tell anyone) though he was hardly speeding at all, Kid 4 went to a friend's house today and filmed a movie for a school project and is now deeply into editing it. Oh, and she also got a new violin, full size finally!

Things we discussed at home this week: the randomness of speeding tickets, violins, movies, Christmas lists, shopping, and I don't remember what else.

Things I hope to accomplish this week: just please let me get going on Christmas stuff!!

The Blog Report: I picked some authors to feast with, I listed stuff I'm thankful for, and justified my reading, and reported on book club.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stuff I'm Thankful For

Because it's Thanksgiving here in the US, I will now share with you a list.... a very random list.

I'm thankful for:

-- authors who aren't scared to put themselves out on paper and share it with the rest of us to ponder of, argue about, and sometimes tear to pieces.

-- authors who take the time to come out of their comfort zone and meet with fans

-- the fact that I will never ever run out of books to read.

-- health, something I'm realizing more and more is not to be taken for granted and is quite an usual thing to have.

-- chocolate in all its many forms.

-- music in all ITS many forms!

-- a warm house and quilts to snuggle up in when it's blustery outside, and a switch I can flip to cool things off when it's stifling outside.

-- those annoying, irritating animals we call pets who somehow seem to always make us smile and bring a sense of grounding to our lives.

-- libraries... may they never go out of fashion.

-- leisure time, so I can pursue random trivial pursuits that only exist to make me happy.

-- stories in all its many forms....including TV.

-- everyone who comments here and talks to me on Twitter... so that I don't feel too invisible.

-- family and friends of course!

-- warm water in showers.

-- milk

-- all sorts of other food stuffs

-- modern day appliances

-- gadgety things that are fun to play with

-- ice

-- and so so many other things!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy the day and don't go shopping until Friday so that stores will FAIL on Thursday night and re-think their strategy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Which I Justify My Holiday Weekend Reading Choices

So here's the thing. I have this long vacation looming ahead of me, a perfect time to read read read (you'd think anyway, it may end up being too crazy to read) and as of last night, all I had going was that very slow Wheel of Time book. Why are these things so slow in the beginning (beginning here meaning first several hundred pages)? I'm starting to second guess this quest!

Anyway, and then I thought, why should I spend my whole vacation reading this book that's not grabbing me? Why not read something I'm really anxious about and dying to read?

So I sat on the bed, gathered a few of the "loudest" books, and read the first few pages of them all. I loved the history (history here meaning a refresher course of the first three books) pages at the beginning of Inheritance, then I jumped right into the first few pages of the first chapter. They were interesting enough, but then I thought, why would I start yet another 700 plus page fantasy this weekend? Why would I do that to myself? What am I thinking??

So I read the first bit of The Night Circus, a prologue of sorts. And it was short and sweet and simple and very mysterious. And really quite interesting.

I also read the first page (maybe even paragraph) of Supernaturally, which would definitely be quick and fun and easy. And it did appear from that first little bit that it would be. But I don't know, I just wasn't in the mood!

Then I looked over a few more books in the stacks, nothing seemed right. Nothing! Argh! Frustrating! The whole weekend! I just wanted something really, really, you know, really, GRABBING!

I picked up The Night Circus again. First chapter. Love the style. The mysterious feeling continued. Second chapter. Oh boy. Something is up. Third chapter. Hooked. Grabbed.

I think this is it... I'll be reading The Night Circus this weekend, for starters anyway. I hope I can get through more than just one book.

As for the Wheel of Time quest? On hold for these few days anyway. There's just not enough time for reading this one right now while it's so slow!

(Speaking of time.... we also saw the movie In Time last night. It's making me think twice how to spend my time, you know? We all have a clock counting down our minutes/months/years left on this earth, we just can't see it. So, why waste it? You know?)

I don't know why I feel I have to justify all this! Probably because the Wheel of Time book is a buddy read and I just can't quit on it! Probably because I need/want to read Inheritance before the author appearance, and it's not short. Probably because I'm just weird. Maybe you all get it? Maybe you feel the need to justify sometimes too?

Here's hoping many good things happening with your time this weekend! And lots of wonderful fascinating books to read too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Feasting With Authors

What authors would I want to invite to my Thanksgiving feast? This is the question today over at The Broke and the Bookish, and I'm thinking that you all know already who I'd like to invite! Do I even need to do this post!!? :) Well, just for fun, I throw in a few you probably are not expecting.

Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Feast With
(and I've decided to limit my authors to living ones, 
as if that could make the fantasy come true or something)

1. John Green
of course, because he's so cute and funny
 and intelligent and witty,
and yes I love the puff.

2. Neal Shusterman,
 because he seems so nice and
 smart and cool

3. Judy Blume,
 just to make sure we have some class and experience included

4. Robin McKinley,
 because she seems so eccentric and interesting

5. Avi, 
because he's a mystery
 and I'd like to see what he's all about

6. Megan Whelan Turner, 
because I want to know the person
that created a character like Gen

7. Patrick Rothfuss, 
because we need one of those epic fantasy types in the mix
and he seems like fun

8. Patrick Ness, 
because it would be interesting to see what he's really like,
 and if he's anything like his books! That might actually be kinda scary.

9. Janette Rallison, 
just because she would keep us laughing
 and because I could see us being friends in real life

10. And finally, hmmm.... I wonder who it could be... oh, right... 
Markus Zusak! 
Because. Well, because he's by far the coolest author ever. 

Yeah, liked I'd be able to eat if ANY of these authors showed up for Thanksgiving! 

Well, and so, who would be on YOUR list?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review and Book Club Report: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: A
For: Book Club
From: I read the library book club set, even though I have my own copy which I have no idea when or where I got it.

This was my third time reading this book.  The first time when I was probably around 14 years old. I liked it then, but didn't "get" much of it. Then I re-read it about 10 years or so ago with an online book group. And I remember thinking, wow, I missed a lot that first time around! Wow, that is really a great book!

This time around, I think I got even more from it... again! I just plain love love love this book.

A quick summary for those who haven't read it yet.... it's about a young girl, Francie, living in poverty in Brooklyn, New York from 1910 or so, to WWI in 1917. It's about her family, and how they cope. It's about her relationship with them... her mother, father and brother. Also her quirky aunts. It's about how she pretty much takes charge of her own education.... how they know that is what will raise their status in life. It's about their hardiness to all the things they face, just like the tree that grows up through the cement there by their house, no matter what happens, it keeps on growing and growing.

Some particular things that stood out to me this time around:

  • reading a page from the Bible and a page from Shakespeare, every single day
  • trying to read everything in the library from A to Z.
  • giving numbers a personality and creating stories and family situations out of every number pairing or group.
  • making a game (going to the North Pole!) out of having no food or heat
  • observing piano lessons
  • the flowers from her dad! Oh my word, that got me.
  • the initiative to switch schools
  • skipping high school and going straight to college
  • ....and so many other things!
Something I didn't realize on previous readings is how closely this story mirrors the authors own story. It basically IS her story. It's fascinating to me that this "fiction" is really non fiction and someone lived that life.

Bottom line: I LOVED it... again.

We choose this book for book club because surprisingly, no one else had read it yet! What's up with that? So I was very anxious for them to experience this book and hoped so badly that they, too, would all love it. Well, so. That question remains to be answered because only two (three by the time it was over, and she hadn't quite finished the book yet) came to book club this month! Happily, those two said they enjoyed it. They agreed that it was slow moving, and it could be said that nothing happens. But that it didn't matter because the spirit and strength of Francie and the other women in the book proved enough to keep a person reading to the end.

So, hopefully the book club members that couldn't make it this time around were able to read the book anyway and enjoyed it. And if they didn't read the book, I really hope they fit it in another time. 

Up next month for book club: The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt.

Here's a scene from the 1945 movie of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I hope to watch this whole thing some day!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Not a Bad Week.. not bad at all.

Outside my window: We got snow last night, and it's still there this Saturday evening, nice and crunchy. It's very cold out there!

I am listening to: Enrique singing I Have Always Loved You. Sweet song. I am anxious to listen to my new Michael Buble Christmas CD though. Waiting just one more week! Just a few more days actually!

Song of the week: Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson... the band jamming son played this at gig this week (on the drums) and to prepare he played this original over and over again, which I didn't mind at all

TV Talk: All caught up with Once Upon a Time. Really enjoying it. Finished Merlin season three, got weepy when he (Arthur) finally formed the round table and when Merlin finally stuck the sword in the stone. LOVE this show. Sad, now, to have to wait for another season.

Reading Report
Books I've finished: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (a blitz of a day or two!)
Books I've started: Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (shouldn't take long if I can sit long enough)
Books I'm still reading: A Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (several more chapters down!)
Books I want to start: All the same ones as last week! Inheritance tops the list now though.

I am thinking: that I must be in reading sort of slump. Also, that it can't be past mid-November, really? And... is it weird that I just created a cowboy board on Pinterest? What is up with THAT?

I am grateful for: lots and lots of things. I'll list some for you this coming week.

Happy Thoughts: Snow! Vacation! Food! Christopher Paolini tickets!

What I learned this week: it will make your arms sore if you carry two bags of Kneaders food (holding soup and bread bowls) while balancing a bread platter between them, all the way from your car, into the library, down the stairs and to the meeting were people are waiting for their food.

Around the house: I bought some Christmas lights today. Thought about getting someone to go on the roof to put them up... but then realized there was snow up there. That makes things just a bit too scary, know what I mean?

Recipe of the Week: I didn't make anything different and interesting this week, sadly. It was a depressing food week... except for the jello I made for book club which was really quite refreshing.

Favorite things of the week: Book Club! Though it was a small showing... and that for one of the most well-loved books of time! But oh, well. I guess life has been too busy this week for people. Another favorite thing was going to a fundraiser for the library's Center for Story and having a bidding war on a Las Vegas getaway with a co-worker (she won) and hearing the best storyteller ever (Donald Davis) tell us some wonderful stories. Very fun.

Family Matters: Not much new with the kids and family this week. Status quo. Hanging in there... plugging along. Last night all kids were sleeping at home. That was nice. All present and accounted for.

Things we discussed at home this week: College son wrote a paper on how he thinks the country has their priorities screwed up because athletes get paid so much more than teachers. I read this paper over and over and over again in my attempt to help edit.

Things I hope to accomplish this week: Thanksgiving! My assignment? Fruit salad, stuffed celery and pie of my choice. Thinking about Breaking Dawn too. Maybe the sisters will go with me? Hmmm... need to think of something else fun to do with the kids. Maybe the tree next Sunday? Lights up? Even some shopping? Wow, I can't believe it's really time....

The Blog Report: I reported on my library day last weekend, I gave you some fun links, Brodi Ashton picked five books that are important to her, and I shared my TBR shelf... again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Bookish Links....

.... or Stuff I Found Interesting This Week!

The Hunger Games Trailer... very good stuff here. So excited for this movie. My guess is, you've probably watched it a gazillion times by now, but if you haven't, it's time to click on over and watch NOW. From this first impression feel, the casting seems pretty good...except for Peeta, but I'm willing to give him chance. Just not how I pictured him, you know?!

Markus Zusak lists his Top Ten favorite book characters... included on the list.... Mr. Collins from P and P (wait, WHAT?) and Sam-I-Am. Click on over to see who else is on there. One thing is sure, I've added Gilbert Grape to my want-to-read mental list... again.

Brodi Ashton, author of Everneath, worries that while her blog is funny, her book is not. Really, it's okay. I say you CAN write a funny blog AND a heart wrenching book. Yes, you can.

Neal Shusterman writes a beautiful blog post about his mom.... beware, you may weep just a bit.

The Story Siren, blogger extraordinaire, reminds us what NOT to do on our blogs. Great reminder here. I hope I'm in compliance.

John Green, once again, makes a video that makes me smile. In this one he lists his five favorite zombie apocalypses. Did I tell you? I just don't get zombies, but he makes me want to. Sort of. Maybe.

Josh sings "Smile" as a tribute to all those Regis has interviewed in his career, that have passed on. Goosebumps and maybe even a tear or two...... oh wait, did I say bookish links? Oops!

There's probably more, but I can't remember them, so this is it for now.

What did YOU find interesting this week? (Bookish or not.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Book: The Death Cure by James Dashner
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: B+
For: Supporting Local Authors, and finishing the series of course
From: I bought it... Amazon I think?

This book concludes the story of Thomas and his friends began in The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. Since both those books end on fairly crazy cliff hangers, you know that a review of this book will be spoilery to those, so beware.

Anyway, so this one begins with Thomas in the headquarters of WICKED with all the kids that survived the Scorch Trials. Teresa keeps insisting that WICKED is good, but to Thomas, it just doesn't feel right, and he is very very confused about Teresa in general, given the stuff that happened in the previous book. So, when they tell the kids they can have their memories back, some go for it, but Thomas says no way dudes.

That makes those in charge not happy and once again, Thomas is running for his life.

Oh, but first, they tell everyone who is immune to the Flare and who is not. So that's a bit sad.

Much of this book finds us in a strange future Denver where the Flare is feared by all, and everyone is eyeballing everyone else and life seems quite disrupted. Thomas finally gets a look of the world he was supposedly suppose to help.

Meanwhile, a new group of dissenters crops up, but Thomas has no idea who to trust. It's all very confusing and frustrating.

Which leads me to say that I, as a reader, often felt very confused too. I had a hard time following some of the issues this book brought up. Maybe I was reading too fast? I don't know, but I would have to say that for much of it, I just didn't get it. I found my brain wandering, which was unexpected for this particular book!

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the story though. Of course I was anxious for Thomas and his buddies and was often biting my fingers in worry for the situations they were in. And I so wanted him to figure things out and to finally understand who were the good guys and who were the bad. As far as the ending itself? Well, you go read it and let me know what YOU think! :)

All in all, a very fun series that I'm sad to see end, though I do look forward to what's next from James Dashner. You know that whatever it is, I'll be there.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it.

Other Reviews:

That's What She Read
S. Krishna's Books
Karin's Book Nook

Wow, I hadn't seen the trailer yet, but it's pretty impressive:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Five Hours with Four Authors

Last Saturday I went to the Teen Book Festival at the Provo Library. It was a perfect way to celebrate my birthday.... spending time with bookish people and listening to authors! I thought I'd write a post telling you a bit more about it then just the quick mention from Sunday's post.

This event highlighted four YA dystopian authors and had a bunch of fun things for teens to do. I, not being a teen (ha)  ignored the "fun stuff" and just went from one author presentation to the other to other for five hours straight, along with Jenny who was with me and is thus the "we" in this narration.

The first hour: Ally Condie author of Matched and Crossed

Ally was the keynote speaker and kicked off this event. She showed some awesome pictures of southern Utah and talked about how these cool places were the inspiration for the setting in Crossed. (Check out the road trip she and Rob Wells have planned just for you!) She spent much time here as a kid hiking and exploring and it was only natural, she said, that it ended up in a book. One of the main things she wanted to get across is that we all end up at some sort of turning point in our lives where we have to decide do we go forward with courage and face the canyon that's ahead of us, or do we turn back. We all have "crossings" to make.

Someone asked her, which character in her book would she want to date? She laughed and said that she put the best things about her husband into both Ky and Xander so that she, as a writer would be torn as to which one was the "best," just as her character Cassia is torn. There's no way she could pick!

After she was done, we ran to her signing to get our Crossed ARCs signed, then off to the next presentation.

The second hour: Rob Wells author of Variant

Rob spent his hour talking about the characteristics of dystopian novels and how they are different from post apocalyptic novels. He first defined "utopia" which is "a good place."  So dsytopia is a good place gone wrong.... or a utopian society with a fatal flaw. He felt like dystopian books would have:

  • a society that plays a major role
  • elements of control and loss of freedom
  • restricted information
  • characters are dehumanized
  • an illusion of a perfect world
  • antagonism to nature
  • conformity is good, individuality is bad
  • a hero that feels trapped, recognizes a problem, discovers restricted info, is NOT an outsider, is willing to take risks... etc.
So, what do you think? With those parameters, are we defining our dystopian stuff correctly? Or do we all have a tendency to get dystopian mixed up with post apocalyptic? Or does any of it even matter? 

With all that being said, I wondered if he thought his own book was dystopian, and he did answer that question by saying not really, that it is dystopian-ish... a term I totally love. 

Afterwards he took questions which included explaining his book a bit and telling about the Amazon book bomb his friends pulled off last week.

When he was done, we ran across the hall to get his autograph on Variant, (where he revealed that he had been "stalking" my blog which made me feel oddly content) then back over for....

The third hour: Kristen Landon author of The Limit

I haven't read this book, so I bought it then and there. It is more of middle grade type book about a kid who, because his parents are in debt, gets sent to some sort of work house. I'll let you know what I think, if I ever get to read it!

She spent her hour listing some of her favorite dystopian YA books, including like Uglies, The Giver, Birthmarked, The Ship Breaker, Brave New Wold, 1984, Divergent, Matched, etc.

After running across the hall to get her to sign the book I'd just bought, we started...

The fourth hour: Elana Johnson author of Possession

I found Elana's presentation interesting because she is sort of new to the whole author thing. Most of authors I notice have been writing forever and may or not have been trying to be published forever too, but Elana just sort of decided a few years ago to write and then she went for it, received the obligatory gazillions of rejections, but got her one (you just need one she said!) offer and away she goes! Her presentation was the journey of a book from beginning to end... all the steps it takes from being written, to getting queried, to finding an agent, editor and publisher, to going through revisions and copy setting and keyboarding entry (did you know someone has to re-type the whole book out?) and then the ARC is made and then changes are again made and finally, the book comes out. It takes roughly two years. Really really interesting.

She answered a bunch of questions regarding querying and talked a little about her book. I already had her sign my copy of her book at an earlier event this summer, so for our break we stretched!

The fifth hour: Dystopian panel

All the authors joined together to discuss their books, their writing, dysopian stuff, and their favorites. I love panels. It's very fun to see the different personalities all together. The only thing I wrote down from this discussion was what they mentioned as their all time favorite book:

Ally: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Rob: It was Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, but changed to Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Elana: Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey
Kristen: Holes by Louis Sachar

Very fun to see what they came up with off the top of their heads.... all these with rave and passionate reviews and pleas for us to read them. Millions and Skin Hunger... now on my list to be read!

What a lovely lovely day. Other bloggers I saw there for just a brief moment (besides Jenny of course) were Jenni Elyse, Emily, Enna Isilee and Diana. My sister and her friend also joined us for Ally's part. Who else came? What'd you think about it all?

Next year, they plan to have Susan Beth Pfeffer and Jonathan Mayberry as guests! Time to finish up the Life as we Knew It books and read Rot and Ruin! Maybe I can get into zombies after all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: My Oldest TBR's!

Once in awhile an opportunity comes along where I get to show off my lovely TBR shelf... the shelf I look at every night as I'm falling asleep. I post it now and then, but since it's always changing, I figure that's okay. So here it is again:
My newest books are stacked in two teetering piles on the floor
in the bottom left. See them? The books I'm listing here are all hidden behind the ones you see
because of course there's double shelving going on here!
Gah, what a mess1 

Today's topic for Top Tens brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish is to list ten books that have been on your TBR shelf for the longest time. Well, this shelf has books that have been on there for YEARS... so I'm going to reach back to the very dustiest corner of this mess and let you know about ten random ones. I still hope that sometime I'll read them, even if they've already been here for years and years.

Top Ten Oldest TBR Books 

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
2. The Master by Colm Toibin
3. Vanity Fair by William Thackary
4. Broken Music by Sting
5. The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
6. Oil! by Upton Sinclair
7. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
8. Peony in Love by Lisa See
9. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
10. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Wow. I could go on for pages and pages! So tell me... of these ten, which ones do you think it's very sad that I haven't yet read? Do you see any other books in my picture that need my attention pronto?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Authors Pick Five: Brodi Ashton

As part of the blog tour of Everneath that I'm participating in (see my review here) of course I had to also ask Brodi Ashton, my favorite author question:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

Here's what she had to say:

1. Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg. I know it's a book-clubby pick, but I loved that book as a teenager, and I was inspired by the past/present style of storytelling. I'm sure it influenced me while I wrote EVERNEATH, because of it's structure.

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker. I was sort of obsessed with this book in college. My mom (an English Teacher) always stressed how the book isn't ultimately about a bloodsucking vampire. It's about love. Sure, mom. Sure. 

3. Anything by Jane Austen. I love her. I love her characters. Especially Emma. 

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. After I read this book, I told my agent, "My sequel is going to be exactly like Anna and the French Kiss!" And he was all, "Um... Brodi, your book is dark paranormal about the Underworld. Hers is about an American girl finding love living abroad in France." And I was all, "Your problem being?"

5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Economy of words. No punctuation needed. Me jealous. 

I love those books too! Except I have yet to read Fried Green Tomatoes. Better add that to the list!

Everneath is Brodi's first book. But there are more planned as it's the first in a trilogy. Besides being a YA author, she is also a mom to two boys. According to her blog (which is a blast and you must read) she loves cinnamon bears and diet Coke. I also happen to know she plays the piano! I look forward to many many books from Brodi!

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Book: Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: A
For: Book Blog Tour (book comes out on January 24th)
From: An ARC passed from blogger to blogger for the tour

I've been one of those bloggers who have been waiting a long time to read a Brodi Ashton book. I've been paying attention as she went through all the ups and downs of getting published these past couple of years, cheering her on from the sidelines and so it's been quite the reward to finally be able to read this, her first book, and now to finally be able to tell you about it!

This is story based on the myth about Persephone, a myth I'm not at all familiar with so I can't tell you if it mirrors the original much or not, but here's a little summary. It starts out with Nikki waking up from something called The Feed where she has been attached is some sort of way to this immortal guy named Cole. Once awake, she has a choice to stay with him in the Everneath, or to return to her family. She chooses to return because there's a face in her memory that she simple cannot forget.

It turns out this face belongs to her boyfriend Jack. When she comes back, however, all is different between them and she is so changed that it's hard for her to figure out how to deal with it. She also has a strained relationship with her dad too that needs fixing. But she only has six months until she has to go back, and what she has to go back is not pretty.

Meanwhile, Cole shows up and causes her all kinds of stress because she is torn and because he lets her know she still has a time to change her mind. Ugh! It's all so complicated! If she does one thing, this bad thing will happen, and if she does the other, this other bad thing will happen! And Cole is an absolute lovely bad guy, and  Jack is an awesome cool good one.

I truly did love this emotionally charged story. Lots of delicious drama and heart wrenching issues. The whole supernatural element was especially unique which was refreshing in this paranormal saturated book world. A very easy to read, page turning book. Way to go Brodi! :)

Bottom line: I loved it!

Other Reviews:

Jenni Elyse
Sara B. Larson
J.R. Johansson

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Let Another Year Begin!

Outside my window: It's Sunday morning right now, barely. About to change to afternoon, which means I have church then, which means I better hurry if I want to do this post because after church we'll have dinner guests and other activities!

I am listening to: the TV is mindlessly on... plus I hear the sound affects of kid#3s Koss pad that he is building. (It's like a synthesizer built into a guitar, in case you wondered.)

Song of the week: I can never get enough of this version of Hotel California.

TV Talk: Vampire Diaries ended until January, sadly... but with much craziness. Survivor has been very interesting with Cochran trying to take control over Ozzy. I love it. Amazing Race has been quite boring this season. I caught up with Once Upon a Time online, and enjoyed those episodes a lot. Doctor Who continues to work it's way into my heart. I haven't watched any Merlin or Supernatural this week. The husband is completely addicted to 24 and has been watching several episodes a night.

Reading Report
Books I'm Reading: The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan, though I don't think I actually ever read it this week. This means I am now many chapters behind in my buddy read with Ibeeeg! Dang.
Books I've Finished: The Death Cure by James Dasher, review to come this week.
Books I've Started: This morning I've been working on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for book club.
Books I want to start: So many I want to read right now, it makes me crazy. Like seriously, I'm beginning to fear for my sanity.

I am thinking: It's really time I had a shower and got ready for this day!

I am grateful for: family, as always, but it needs to be said again this week.

Around the house: I spent one whole afternoon this week cleaning the laundry room, which is really the junk room. I throw away a ton of stuff and wow, you can actually see the room again! It was an exhausting, but satisfying task. Here's hoping I can keep it clear for awhile anyway!

Recipe of the Week: This week I made Ibeeeg's Pumpkin Soup found here.(Everyone loved it!) Also we made gingerbread men cookies for Toto's "pioneer recipe" school project. This recipe came from an old bakery in Nauvoo:

Ginger Bread Cookies
from the Scovil Bakery in Nauvoo, Illinois

1 C sugar
¾ C butter
1 C molasses
½ C hot water
2 eggs
1 Tsp. Soda
½ Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 heaping Tsp. Ginger
6-7 cups flour

Refrigerate dough. Roll out and cut with cookie cutter. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Favorite things of the week: Yesterday was pretty awesome when I hung out at the library all day long and listened to four authors talk, mingled with other Utah bloggers, and got books signed, etc. Another favorite thing was taking the whole family to visit a spunky neighbor we have and left laughing and happy. Why don't we do things like that more often?

Family Matters: Kid#1 went golfing with Grandpa and needs to finish is English paper, Kid#2 did not have a good week at all and we'll leave it at that, Kid#3 is building the guitar as mentioned above and continues his zoombie game addiction, Kid#4 has learned how to make things, crafty things, out of duct tape.

Things we discussed at home this week: much talk on relationships. What a complicated bit of this life we live.

Things I hope to accomplish in the coming week: I've got to read more this week. Last week was pathetic on the reading front. I'm also going to learn my new video editing program I just got... Premiere Elements TEN!! Wahoo. Beware, I may make a movie and force you to watch it!

The Blog Report: I gave away a book, I discussed issues that bugged me, I pondered getting old, and I got excited about John Green.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Iron Knight Winner!

We have a winner!

Congratulations goes out to LEIGH whose number (#21) came up on as the winner of my Iron Knight giveaway! Way to go.

I've sent an email out and hope to hear back from her quickly so I can pass her info on to the publisher.

Thanks everyone for entering.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Getting Old... or Not

Awhile back while at a book signing thing with a bunch of other bloggers, I suddenly looked around and realized how freaking old I am! It took me back a minute! That's because I totally FEEL not old, (well except for the occasional ache and pain and the whole how-did-I-get-so-fat thing)  but then when I realized how much older I am than most of these other book fanatics I hang with now and then, I wondered if they think, what the heck? Who invited this middle-aged lady to our party??? Know what I mean?

But for the most part people seem sincerely thunderstruck when they do find out how old I am. I laugh at this because I don't know how to take it! Does this mean I look and act young-ish? Or does this mean I look and act immature? Because we wouldn't want that now would we...

So, as the weekend approaches and I have to add yet another year to my age tally marks, I'm pondering getting old.... yet trying to still "be" young.

Which of course means,  I made some lists. Here's how I know I'm getting old:

-- I remember when VCRs became the thing, and we had to rent them if we wanted to try them out.
-- I remember watching final episode of Mash.
-- I remember when MTV was first popular... one of the first music videos I remember was this one:

-- I went to Star Wars in the theater when I was 12 years old. We sat through it twice and I was completley blown away by everything about it.
-- I also remember LOVING this movie (Flash Gordon) when I was 16.
-- I remember watching Donny and Marie every Friday night, Emergency, Love Boat and Fantasy Island every Saturday night and The Wonderful World of Disney and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys every Sunday night..

-- Of course I loved Donny... and Shaun Cassidy, and also  Leif Garret, Andy Gibb and Scott Baio

-- We had a class dance every Friday afternoon in 6th grade and I had a little 45 record of this song which the kids begged me to bring for that dance every week:

(I love this clip of it because it has both the original music AND the disco one which starts at 1:26 in.. plus it has clips of the movie! Embedding might not be working, so go on and click over to YouTube!)


-- Another song I remember we loved dancing to was More Than a Feeling by Boston
-- I remember watching Roots on TV.
-- I got an electric typewriter for my going to college Christmas present and that was so very very cool.
-- I was already married when CDs become the thing and we freaked out about them
-- I  watched Oprah from the beginning
-- I remember when disposable diapers were the next coolest thing
-- I remember when Ibuprofen was the wonder drug and you could only get it in prescription
-- I was in college when the shuttle exploded
-- I remember when John Lennon was shot... and Ronald Regan... but no, not JFK.
-- I remember when TV shows started advertising their websites
-- I remember first getting the internet and how that AOL "you've got mail" thing was so awesome!
.... and the list could go on and on and on.

BUT... I feel/act/seem younger because....

-- I get into all the new computer stuff
-- I think it's fun to have a lot of celebrity crushes
-- I like to blast music in the car... (my kids tell me to turn down the music all the time)
-- and go to rock concerts.
-- I have the confidence of a teenager... in other words... not much
-- I get excited about weird things
-- I like to read YA books and ponder my own high school years
-- I dress like a kid in jeans and tshirts/sweatshirts and tennis shoes
-- and... I don't know what else.... what else?

Anyway, here's to getting older, but staying young! If you have the secret to that, let me know!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Random Bookish Stuff... Again

Some bookish things on my mind....

** So...the other day I went to yet another library event where Dan Wells came to talk teens. The problem was, only about three teens showed up. Also a few older "kids" and then a bunch of library staff. People! Where were you??? But it was okay, because those of us that were there had a blast hearing how this crazy funny author came to write a book about a sociopathic kid named John Wayne Cleaver in a book called I Am Not A Serial Killer. And we learned his take on the steps a book takes to get published. We learned how John Wayne Cleaver took over and is now so important that he will have another series sometime down the road. We also learned there's a movie that is perhaps really going to happen. They even have the kid picked out to play this main part.... but alas, he couldn't tell us who. :( We also learned about all the other projects Dan Wells has up his sleeves, not to mention a new series that comes out in February. (Partials is the name of the first one.) Anyway, it was very fun and the hour flew by. Come see him next time he is somewhere you are!

** So... I bought Inheritance today at Costco! Sadly, I guess it won't be getting signed.

** So... there's a Teen Book Fest at the other library this weekend.  I'm very excited to go and support the event and say hi to the four awesome authors that will be there, including Ally Condie who is the keynote. Yeah! Fun!

** So... someone (Holly, Allison and Angie to be specific) was talking on Twitter today about a Robin Hood book... Scarlet I think? And of course I was eavesdropping! They said they loved it! So I looked it up and it's NOT EVEN OUT YET!! Argh people. Stop that. Now I'm in the mood for Robin Hood and so must find a book that IS out and read it. (Oh and hey look, Angie reviewed it today.)

** So... other Twitter-ness making me crazy is Emily watching North and South and tweeting at the same time.... all that swooning going on. I'm thinking it's time for a rewatch of this movie? Yes?

** So... if I want to request an ARC and they say you must fax the request on company letterhead.... do I make up letterhead for my blog? Have you people done this? I need to get the hang of this requesting ARC thing so I can get the "cool" books that I'm really wanting.

** So.... anyone know why my LinkWithin thing isn't working anymore? I mean, I thought it was supposed to suggest related posts.. and lately, the posts it's suggesting aren't even near cousins! Sheesh.

** So... I think that's it for a minute here. I know there was more I wanted to ponder on, but I can't remember them now. I need to read. I need another readathon. I need Netflix to not be so distracting... and... and... so many other things.

'Till next time!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Outside the Zone

Today's topic over at The Broke and the Bookish for our top ten list... is what books have you read outside of your comfort zone.

Well, since my comfort zone is really quite large, I'm going to have to stretch a little to accomplish this list! But here's what I've come up with:

Ten Books I've Read Outside My Comfort Zone

1. Under the Dome by Stephen King... just finished and enjoyed this one, but I would say that anything by Stephen King is a bit outside the zone, just for the all round graphic nature of his books.

2. Truman by David McCullough.... a book read pre-blogging days and probably took me the whole summer.  Books this big AND political are not my norm. Fascinating stuff here though.

3. A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman....a mystery. Not so much into them, but we read it for book club and guess what? I enjoyed it!

4. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.... a genre that I'm not especially familiar with, by a popular author I thought I'd probably never read. But thanks to Jenny, I tried it and liked it.

5. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis... books pondering religion, not my favorite. But C.S. Lewis was worth the try.

6. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand..... a memoir about horse racing? How boring! NOT! Turns out this is one of my all time favorite books. It may be that I'm more of a horse person than I thought.

7. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy... a very strange author, and one to be a bit scared of, that is, until you become immersed, and then he's wonderful.

8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert... a book about someone moaning about how horrible their life is... while they traipse around the world to find themselves? Not my normal thing, and I avoided it forever, but once again, there were parts I quite enjoyed. The writing was wonderful for one.

9. Beach Trip by Cathy Holton... a book I read for a blog tour, very chick lit-y, and I worried I wouldn't get it. But it also ended up one of my favorite books that year.

10. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff... another blog tour book I read several years ago. I'm not a fan of polygamy books, they make crazy in all sorts of ways, but I got through this one just fine, with only a few moments of insanity.

Whew! I did it! Ten books outside the zone. I bet there's more, but I really do have to dig deep to decide if a book made me nervous much. 

How about you? What have you read that was outside your zone?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Plug for John Green

Did I ever tell you how much I love this guy?

And now we get MORE of him!!! He's going to use YouTube to teach us stuff! I think I've said before, he would be an AWESOME teacher! Now he'll prove it.

Just like he said, I am so excited.

Oh, and he finished signing all the books too, for those of you following along. I so look forward to my copy and wouldn't that be cool if I got this last one... or one that was Hanklifyed... or Yettified... or Henry scribbled?  Awesome.

Now... watch....

Questions on Book Marketing Strategy

There's a library event coming up in a couple of weeks which I am very excited about! Christopher Paolini, author of The Inheritance trilogy, will be coming to talk and sign books! Very fun, yes? This particular library  continues to get some way awesome authors to visit. I'm loving it and in fact, it's almost hard to keep up! I hit a few and miss a few. This one is a no brainer though, and I'm going for sure!

So, most of the time when these authors come, we can bring in the books we already have and get them signed. Always, they will have a book seller of some sort on hand so you can easily buy books if you don't have them, or if you'd like to add to the stack you already have. I think nearly every time I use this service! I end up spending a lot of money at these "free" events!

This time, however, things are a little different. (My friend Jenny has already addressed this issue, so sorry if you've already heard her rant... but I wanted to weigh in too, so here goes mine!) This time, the library is making people aware (but I'm sure not everyone will get this message which means there's going to be a lot of really really bugged people that day) that you can only get this latest book signed if you buy it there. Now, of course, this isn't the first time I've heard of such a thing. Often, book stores will have signings and you'll need to buy the book from the store. Makes sense. But this is a library, so the library gains nothing from this.

It also makes sense if it's a launch party and the book is just being released that day. However, this event takes place nearly one month after the book's release date. So that is confusing to me.

It also might make sense if the library has some sort of agreement with the book store (Barnes and Noble in this case) so that the book store has motivation to come. But this is also weird to me because this book store has come to the library many many times and has never made stipulations before. So why now?

Which leaves the publisher. The library is saying that the publisher (Random House in this case) is the one making this rule. So my question is.... what does the publisher have to gain by making us all wait a month to buy the book? Don't they want poeple to buy the book the first week it's out? Isn't that first week really important number-wise and "best seller" status-wise? I thought someone told me this once upon a time, but I guess for some reason they'd rather we wait and buy it at the event a month later and not buy it that first week and help their numbers.

Unless of course the publisher has some sort of thing going with the book store, which I guess could be true. But someone needs to explain to me why a publisher would want people to buy the book from one certain place. Don't they want the book to be bought, no matter WHERE it's bought? Isn't the point to sell as many books as you can? Not as many books as you can from one store? I just don't get it.

Also, it makes me crazy because if we are excited to go see this author, which we are, that probably means we are big fans, which we are. And if we are big fans, that probably means we'd really like to read this book the second it comes out, which we do. And it's always cool when you meet an author to say, hey! Cool book! And to feel really smart and be able to say you have read it already.

But of course that won't happen if we have to wait to buy it there... so we'll just look like doofuses and won't be able to say, hey, cool book. Or maybe we could say, hey, I BET this is a cool book, if only I could have read it during this last month before coming to see you!

But I guess all this could be solved if we bought one copy now, to read. And one copy then, to get signed. Thereby, buying TWO copies of this $28.00 book. Because we can all spend that kind of money no problem, being book fanatics and all. Right? So maybe THAT'S what's behind this thing? The publisher wants us to buy two copies?

And if that's the case, it really makes me crazy.

So anyone out there have any better explanation for this? Publishers? Authors? Book stores? Libraries? Why would they do this? What would they gain? What if we all just refused to buy it there, and poor Christopher had no new books at all to sign? Wouldn't that be a bit embarrassing for all involved? And I wonder if he, as the author, has a say in all this? Because there's a certain other author that came awhile back (same publisher by the way, and same library, and probably same book store too) who I think would freak if this was going on at his signings.

Anyway, someone, please explain. Because I really really don't get it.

Meanwhile, I think I'll be buying the book ahead of time, and read it (hopefully) before the event and then take my older books to be signed, even though they are also saying he won't personalize them, because of course, he will only do that for the new one, the one we have to buy there.


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