Monday, December 31, 2012

Reading Recap December 2012

YES! Look what I read this month!!!

 A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: A noble man from France who lives in England, makes the wrong choice to go back to France during the war where he then is caught and sentenced to die by the guillotine!

 The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: Belly loves the two brothers she has grown up with each summer of her life, and this summer is no exception.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo is forced on an adventure to help the dwarves reclaim their home from the evil dragon.

How's that for a strange little trio! Well, at least I totally enjoyed them all! Here's to a new start in a new year!

Plans for January:
  • finish Reached
  • read a bunch of NetGalley ARCS!
  • read that new zombie book by J. Scott Savage
  • read The History of Love for book club
  • read my first classic of the year... ummm.... what shall it be?
  • finish Seraphina, a new Christmas book
  • read another new book I got for Christmas!
Wow, that's really biting off more than I bet I can chew!

Happy New Year everyone! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Songs of 2012

Last year I had fun pondering the songs that I played a ton all year long, and so this year, I had to do it again! Remember these aren't necessarily new songs, but the songs that I loved, discovered, re-discovered and wore out the track of during this past year!

1. Gotye: Somebody I Used to Know

2. Adele: Set Fire to the Rain

3. Dead Man's Bones: Lose Your Soul

4. Muse: Unsustainable

5. Adam Lambert: Outlaws of Love

6. Rush: The Garden

7. The Wanted: Chasing the Sun

  8. Maroon 5: One More Night

9. Richard Armitage and the dwarves from The Hobbit: The Misty Mountains Cold

10. The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack: Rise


Are there any that were your favorites of the year too?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Year End Number Crunch 2012

It's time to count things!

Total Books Read: 80
Total Re-reads: 5
Total Pages: 26,735

Men: 28
Women: 53
(one book had both!)

Book Club: 9
Challenges: 15 ish
Blog Tours: 4
Reviews for ARCs received: 9
Read Alongs: 3
Utah Authors: 19
On my own for fun: 36
(yeah, so a few of those overlap!)

The library: 24 (including a few ebooks!)
My own stash: 33
Kindle: 19!Borrowed: 4

YA and MG: 50
Adult: 30

From the YA category:
Science Fiction/ Fantasy (including dystopian, paranormal, horror, steam punk, etc.): 32
Romance: 5
Other (contemporary fiction): 9
Middle Grade: 4

From the Adult category:
Non Fiction: 1
Classics: 5
Literary Fiction: 4
Science Fiction/ Fantasy (including dystopian, paranormal, horror, etc.): 11
Historical Fiction: 3
Romance: 4
Mystery/Thriller: 2

My observations:
  • figuring out genres is hard!
  • I need to read more adult books... literary fiction and historical fiction
  • As usual, I need to read more classics and non fiction.
  • Why am I so tempted by YA SF/Fantasy?!!?? Gosh, I LOVE those books!
  • Wow! Lots of Kindle books for having it only half the year!
  • No audio books yet....
  • I can't seem to do 100 books anymore. I will lower my Goodreads goal this year. I like this 80 number a lot!
  • I didn't do as many read a longs this year as I thought I would. I did much less blog tours than past years too. 
That's about all! What have you observed about your reading habits this past year?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Bookish Moments of 2012

I started doing this recap and look back a few years ago and love it. It's fun for me to have these reminders of how cool the years have been with all things bookish. So here's what I've loved about THIS year:

Top Ten Bookish Blogging Moments of the Year 2012

1. Participating on a panel! There was a week back in March were one day I talked on a panel at BYU class about blogging to students learning about publishing kids books, and the very next day I talked on another panel at the library about blogging in general to those interested in getting started. Both were very fun, and very scary. When I started, I felt nervous and weird about talking about my blog, and now I'm on a panel? It was surreal to me. And huge highlight of the year.

2. So many author events! It seems like the author events have skyrocketed this year! Either that, or I made more time to actually go to more things. I went to many launch parties, a conference, and countless book signings at both libraries. I can't remember them all, but a few of the authors I met and/or supported this year are: Lois Lowry, Maggie Stiefvater, Eoin Colfer, Marissa Meyer, Susan Beth Pffefer, Jonathan Maberry, Dan Wells, Rob Wells, Brodi Ashton, Ally Condie, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Jennifer Nielsen, James Dashner, and many many more! It's truly getting crazy around here.
Lois Lowry

3. Bloggiesta! This year Danielle from There's a Book and I took over the event created by Natasha from Maw Books and hosted it twice, in March/April and September. We got an awesome response and are so glad that so many are participating and happy to have it back. Looking forward to many more events.

4. Meeting bloggers IRL! This was the first year that I actually met up with bloggers (not from Utah) and talked! We went to Arizona and found a few there, then Melissa from Book Nut came here and we talked, and then Susan from Bloggin' bout Books came here and we hung out for a good long evening. So fun! I wonder who I'll be lucky enough to meet this next year!

In Arizona with:
Melissa from One Librarian's Book Reviews
Susan from Bloggin' 'bout Books and
Gaye from Inside a Book

5. Getting a Kindle! For Mother's Day, I ended up with this popular e-reader and have finally joined the ranks of readers and bookish people who love it. Yeah, the electronic reading? Not bad, not bad at all! It's changed a lot about my reading habits. A whole new way to look at things.

6. Going to Powell's! One of the most famous bookstores in the country, and I finally went there! Yes, it's everything they say it is. Very overwhelming place, and so awesome.

7. Milestones reached: Five years blogging, 1000 Twitter followers. I feel like both these milestones is something to note! Not sure what it means, expect, I'm here to stay awhile I think.

8. Hosted my first highlight week. One of the challenges of the September Bloggiesta was to do something out of your comfort zone. So I decided that no matter how much it scared me, I'd finally host a Markus Zusak week. And yes, it was scary, but yes, it was also lots of fun! Maybe I'll do it again... maybe.

9. Making more "real" connections. This year I wrote real letters and cards to several bloggers and felt like I made connections on a whole new level. I also watched lots of movies and TV shows with Kelly from The Written World and others. I've made a friend in Japan who LOVES Josh Groban and we chat and email a lot these days. All these things make me so happy for blogging and I feel the level of personal connections has grown in huge amounts for me this year.

10. Sister Megs joins the ranks. I managed to get my sister Megs from Sweet and Sour Sassiness to blog a few times this year, and to join me for Bloggiesta in September. It was tons of fun! I also hauled her with me to a couple of book launches! Here's hoping she keeps up the blogging and lets us know about her upcoming adventures in Missouri!

Wow! What a year, yes? I've loved it all! Here's to an equal awesome year in 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year End Book Survey 2012

This is the third of this awesome year end survey and the second year that I've participated. It's HARD! If you want to stress yourself out too, you can find the questions and the link up for the survey over at Jamie's Perpetual Page-Tuner Blog 

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Best YA Contemporary: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Best YA Fantasy: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Best YA Paranormal: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Best YA Romance: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Best Ya Dystopian: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Best YA Science Fiction: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Best Adult Fantasy: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Best Adult Historical Fiction: The House at Tynford by Natasha Solomons
Best Adult Paranormal: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Best Adult Romance: Edenbrooke by Julieanne Donaldson
Best Adult Horror: The Hollow City by Dan Wells

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn't?

I really expected more from Insurgent (by Veronica Roth.) I looked forward to reading it all year long, and finally got to it just last month and meh... I wasn't very much impressed. It was quite boring for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?

I think I was quite surprised at how Under the Never Sky (by Veronica Rossi) totally took me over! I was expecting a normal YA, but it blew me away with its coolness and uniqueness and I loved it!

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

I think I recommended For Darkness Shows the Stars (by Diana Peterfreund) a lot this year. What an awesome unique story! Even if it is a re-telling!

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I'm in love with the series by Melina Marchetta that starts with Finnikin of the Rock and has the sequel Froi of the Exiles. I'm assuming there's a third coming. But yes, I love this fantasy story. I'm so into the characters, it's a little scary.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Julianne Donaldson
Jennifer A. Nielsen
Diana Peterfreund
Sarah Waters

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Hmmm... didn't read many out of my comfort zone this year. Most everything is in that zone these days! Well, I guess I did read The Bone Collector (Jeffery Deaver) but yeah, I didn't especially love it. It was okay though!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I would have to say that The Hollow City by Dan Wells, with all its messing with your head and perception of reality, was the most thrilling of the year. Read it.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

You know, it took me awhile to get into The Scorpio Races (by Maggie Stiefvater) and I only rated it 4 stars on Goodreads at first, but I think it needs to be upgraded to a big fat FIVE and I'm dying to re-read it in order to catch all the beauty that I missed the first time around for worrying about the story itself.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

I'm not that much into covers, and in looking over the covers of the books I read (using Goodreads) I, you know, like them all! But here's a couple:

11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Ah, so I'm not much into covers, but I AM into characters and I can't do just one! Can I make a list please?

Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races
Perry from Under the Never Sky
Froi from Froi of the Exiles
Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door
Queenie from Code Name Verity
Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars
All the boys in Raven Boys.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I would have to say The Scorpio Races again!

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

Ugh, I can't come up with an answer for this one! I mean, what do you mean by IMPACT? Nothing changed my life really. There's many many that stuck with me (see the favorites list above) so I guess you could count those.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

It's weird to me that I'd never heard of, or read, Precious Bane by Mary Webb, before now. Because of book club, that's now fixed and you can add me to the list of those who love this book!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

From A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:

"I think you were sent to me by Heaven."

"Or you to me," says Sydney Carten. "Keep your eyes upon me, dear child and mind no other object." 

"I mind nothing while I hold your hand. I shall mind nothing when I let it go, if they are rapid."

"They will be rapid. Fear not!"

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfoss at 994 pages.
Shortest (not counting a picture book): A novella called Defty Dunne and the Keys of Death by Carmen Wye at 58 pages.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Oh my there's so many, but the one I've settled on is the horse riding scene in The Scorpio Races. Wow, that was so intense and breathtaking!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I really loved the slow burn relationship that developed between Aria and Perry in Under the Never Sky.

For a non-romantic relationship, I'd have to say Queenie and Maddie in Code Name Verity. The very definition of true friendship, yes?

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

Seriously? How do I answer this question??? Pretty much all the favorite books listed above. Unless they were a new to me author, listed in question 6! :)

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

The House at Tynford (by Natasha Solomons) fits this category. Everyone was saying it's like Downton Abbey, so... I read it! And yes, it kind of was. Awesome story.

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?

There's so many, but one that comes to mind first is Flowers of Quiet Happiness. Kara is such a positive upbeat new blogger! I've been terrible at commenting there though, and everywhere else actually! So sorry everyone!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012?

I had a lot of fun writing a review for The Hollow City by Dan Wells.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

We had a pretty good discussion about the Kindle recently when I pondered life with a Kindle six months later.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

Jenny from Alternate Readality had lots of great discussions on her blog this year, but one I especially loved was YA is Rotting My Brain!

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Co-hosting Bloggiesta twice this year was pretty memorable! Crazy fun both times! Going to LTUE in February was lots of fun too. And just all the author signings that have been happening these last few months.  So fun. I'll have another post on my top ten bookish moments of the year where I'll highlight some of these things further.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

Having the guts, as scary as it was, to host my own "week" and highlight Markus Zusak. It was also a pretty big moment to decided to take over Bloggiesta from Natasha at Maw Books, and get it going again, along with Danielle from There's a Book. Scary but fun and a big part of my blogging year this year.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The most viewed post, just like last year, is the post listing what our plans are for book club. I think people search A LOT for book club book suggestions and often my post will come up. Cool.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I wanted all of my Markus Zusak week posts to get more love, but especially this one: Getting to Know Markus Zusak. 

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Since I finally got a Kindle this year, NetGalley has been a pretty fun discovery!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I completed  Melissa's Double Classics Challenge (click here to sign up for next year!) I did NOT get to my Goodreads 100 books goal, but close, sort of. I did pretty good on the Classics Challenge too I suppose!

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Oh my word, ALL OF THEM! Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Fire, Clockwork Prince, etc.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

More Raven Boys, more Partials (Fragments), more Perry (Through the Ever Night), to name a few.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

More classics (thus the Classics Club and list) and more commenting on other blogs, and more of the same from this past year because it's been great!


Mostly this survey makes me realize how many really awesome books I read this year! So hard to choose between them all. I can't wait to get going for next year. I've been in a pretty bad slump the past few weeks, so wow, I hope I can find the groove again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Have a Good One!

I had plans to blog through all the craziness, but it doesn't seem to be happening. First off, I seem to be completely out of bloggish ideas. This is a strange feeling, and a frustrating one! Next week I hope to do some more wrap posts, but I'm not in the mood to make those happen this week.

Secondly, there's just too much going on and I can't concentrate on blogging or reading... not even a little bit really. Tonight there's book club (I didn't re-read the books sadly) and tomorrow is a birthday at our house (if the world doesn't end of course) and then there's dinner to take to a sick neighbor on Saturday and perhaps make treats gifts for other friends, Sunday I hope to have a fun family hang out night, Monday we are hosting the extended family party, and then it's Christmas! Whew.

After that it's either hang out and relax... or take off and disappear. I guess we'll see.

Anyway, I'm sure it's a similar story for most all of you! But I just wanted to check in really quick to say that I hope you all have a great holiday and that if I seem to be scarce, it's only temporary! Maybe I'll be in and out, but I've a feeling that this year, it's going to be mostly out. I think if I give myself permission to forget about the blog for a few days it might be just what I need for now.

So take care, have fun and I'll be back to normal, hopefully, when life gets back to normal.

Happy celebrating and get lots of reading done!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books of the Year 2012

Is it time to make this list already? I guess I probably won't read my favorite book of the year these next two weeks, (if I do I'll be sure to let you know!) so I'll go ahead and make my final list now and link up over at The Broke and the Bookish. Come join us!

BUT, you do realize by now that I make TWO lists? Yes, I do, so enjoy!

Top Ten Adult Books of 2012
(books I read this year, not necessarily published this year)

1. The Hollow City by Dan Wells
2. The House at Tynford by Natasha Solomons
3. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
4. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
5. About a Boy by Nick Hornby
6. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
7. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
9. Forever Odd by Dean Koontz
10. Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman

Top Ten YA Books of 2012
(books I read this year, not necessarily published this year)

1. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
2. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
4. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (and the sequel Froi too!)
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
7. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
9. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Re-reads I loved, but didn't add to the official Top Ten List

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
4. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
5. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Putting this list together has made me realize that my adult book consumption has been pretty sparse this year. But more on that when I do my year end number crunch! Stay tuned!

Have you read these? Do agree with me?

I can't wait to see everyone else's top ten of the year lists! I bet I can predict a few of them!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Genre: Fantasy
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and lots more
Rated: PG-13
My Rating: Two Thumb Up

Wow, where to begin? I thought it was great of course! It dragged in a couple of parts, and was awesome in a couple of parts and was corny in a couple of parts. 

As most of us have learned by now, they are planning to turn this small simple story (because the book The Hobbit really is quite simple) into a trilogy. How are they doing that? Well, they are adding a lot of back story! They are adding some scenes not found in the book. They are taking their time with certain adventures. I can see that they very easily will mange the three movie thing. I feel mixed about this, but oh well.

The scenes I loved.... flying with the birds, exchanging riddles with Gollum, the dwarves singing, the stone giants fighting, an cameo appearance by Frodo, dealing with trolls and.... anytime Kili was called on to shoot arrows!

Scenes that dragged... the opening narration, the talk with the elves in Rivendell, and then the goblin fight went on for quite awhile too.

Scenes that were a bit corny... the whole goblin fight seemed pretty crazy. It was good (all that running on broken brides!) ... and bad (easily killing goblins?) at the same time.

So, we saw it in 3D and also the new 48 frames per second. You've heard about this I suppose? It's never been done before, and I was very geekily curious about it. And let's just say, yes, we noticed it! Yes, it was strange. Yes, it takes some getting used to. But I think I did get used it by the end, and I think I liked it. I think. I don't know for sure! It's like... so REAL that it seems FAKE! It's like you are watching a play. It's like you are RIGHT there with them. It's like you forgot it was 3D and just became immersed in the movie. It was very strange. Did any of you, my readers, see the movie in this new format? Please, let me know what you thought! It's very hard to explain. 

I am amazed that he could fight in this big coat!

Anyway, the dwarves. I have a new love for them. Before, I loved the elves  Elves aren't thought of very highly in this movie (and book... in my review I said I had never thought of them as so mean before!) But here, we love the dwarves.  Richard Armitage was AWESOME as Thorin, as expected. Perfect. Wonderful. And he even smiled a couple of times. Watch for it! And then there was Kili (see poster above) who was quite a standout too. Yummy! And he's an archer dude, which I'm guessing is not too common among the dwarves. So that's cool, way cool.

Martin Freeman was perfect as Bilbo too. And Gollum? So good! The struggle between his good side and his bad was both funny and painful to watch. Poor Gollum.

The music was great and we all came home humming the dwarf song: 

Bottom line: I loved it. Do go see it. Try the 48 fps thing and let me know what you think!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Currently: The Hobbit and Andes

C  U  R  R  E  N  T  L  Y

(as written on Sunday afternoon)

Listening: a Pandora station called "classical for studying". I find it very interesting to see what pops up on this!

Eating: Andes mints

Loving: the softly falling snow, how calm and peaceful it is

Reading: nothing much. Started Reached. Started a re-read of Unwind for book club this week, and started a book on my Kindle from NetGalley called What We Saw At Night. I DID finish and review The Hobbit though... before the movie!

Feeling: Tired and overwhelmed 

Watching: The Hobbit! It was awesome. 48 fps was weird and cool at the same time. But more on all that in a post of its own. Also watching lots of Parenthood, into season three now. And tonight, we'll be watching the Survivor finale which is always fun.

I really like Malcolm,but
I'm kinda hoping Lisa wins!
Wanting:  to finish up Christmas shopping and birthday shopping and get to the fun stuff

Thinking: I really need to get the cards mailed out!

Exercising: nope. Stopped again. :( If my shoulder would get better, that would help things a lot!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Classics Challenge: November Prompt and December Wrap Up

Back last year, I decided to join The Classics Challenge hosted by November's Autumn. Remember that? Here's what I said I would read:

Seven classics I'd like to read are:
1. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
2. Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson
3. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
4. various unread Wilkie Collins that I have here on hand
5. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
6. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
7. My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara

Here's what classics I actually ended up reading:
(links to my reviews)
(I've loosed up my definition of "classic" a bit, and also this is very much counting re-reads!)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: a re-read, five stars
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle four stars
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut three stars
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: a re-re-re-re-read! five stars
Lady Susan by Jane Austen three stars
Precious Bane by Mary Webb four stars
12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose four stars
I Capture the Castle by Dorothy Smith: a re-read, four stars
Persuasion by Jane Austen: a re-read, five stars

Hmmm... that looks NOTHING like my original list! Love it! Sort of. So much for list making, eh? I got one of them anyway. BUT, wow, I read many more classics this year than past years. Go me.

Each month we were given a very fun prompt to do regarding whatever classic we were reading at the time. These were awesome prompts and I wish I would have done more of them! Here's what I did manage:

January: The Author Jane Austen
September:Merry Robin Hood Music

Seriously? Only two? I totally had plans for more, one of them being November which I think I will stick in this post anyway! Here are the questions:

Of all the Classics you've read this year is there an author or movement that has become your new favorite? Which book did you enjoy the most? Or were baffled by? Who's the best character? The most exasperating? From reading other participants' posts which book do you plan to read and are most intrigued by?

-- I have no new favorites as of yet! Charles Dickens and Jane Austen retain their spots.

-- I totally enjoyed Robin Hood of course, and I loved the re-reading experience with Pride and Prejudice. But I think of the new to me books,  Precious Bane would rank pretty high. Quite the story, that one.

-- I was baffled by Slaughterhouse Five! Weird book! Lady Susan was also a bit baffling... that one just didn't do it for me.

-- Best character... Sydney Carton from Tale of Two Cities... but yeah, Robin Hood, Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth and Kester from Precious Bane were ALL pretty awesome too.

-- Most exasperating character... Lady Susan was very icky to say the least.

-- And finally, I plan to read: hmmm.... I'm not sure on this one yet. I know that whatever I plan to read will most likely come from this list! I think Vanity Fair is going to be high on the list next year. Here's hoping.

Well. I love the classics. I am happy that my list is growing again (back a little to what it was like pre-blogging days.) I look forward to keeping that up next year!

If I can count this post as completing both November and December prompts, then I earn the "completed" badge! (four prompts, seven books) I'll declare this challenge completed for now. Let me know if you disagree!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Genre: YA Fantasy
For: fun and movie prep
From: our personal library, my husband's 1970s copy

I remember trying to read this book probably in junior high or early high school. It just didn't grab me, you know. And now, I'm wondering what the heck was wrong with me back then! This was delightful!

I must say though, I don't think I would have liked Lord of the Rings either back then. Then, I grew up (sort of) and then I saw the first LOTR movie, and THEN suddenly I was interested! I read all three of them before the second movie came out and found myself curious about The Hobbit again. But I never managed to get to it.

Until now... again because of a movie!

What a fun story about Bilbo who suddenly gets a bit forced into an adventure thanks to Gandalf. The dwarves, I guess, need his help. At least Gandalf thinks so and it turns out, he does do much to help them, and all that despite his inexperience in adventures! I love that.

Bilbo is funny and humble and simple, as all hobbits seem to be and what a great character. Then there's the dwarves lead by Thorin, all with their separate personalities that you can't help but love. They are off to reclaim their treasure that the mean old dragon has stolen. Along the way the have to deal with trolls, goblins  Golem, elves (I didn't know elves could be so mean, but they turned around in the end thankfully!) , wolves and finally the dragon.

My only complaint was that the dragon bit was quite anti-climatic. Maybe the movie will spice it up? And the return journey took about two sentences, even though much adventure was still to be had. I guess that's why they call this one a kid's book because too much more adventure and the attention span would have been lost.

And I wasn't sure the significance of the ring was totally portrayed except for this one sentence, just after he found the ring, that I absolutely loved: It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. 

The whole time I was reading this it I thought about how wonderful this would be as a read aloud. And I know many people have done just that. I'm thinking since I missed doing it for my own kids, perhaps future grand kids? I guess we'll see.

Bottom line: Loved it!

Other Reviews:

The writing is beautiful, at times very funny and witty and always brilliant. From Sarah Reads Too Much

I wished there would be more showing and much less telling, and the adventures did not have the same magic that I remembered them having when I was a kid. From Book Addiction

That magic ring sure is coming in handy, isn’t it? From Unputdownables

It really is a must read for fans of Fantasy and literature in general. From Val's Random Comments

I'm not going to review it but you all need to know that it's one of my favourite books, like, ever. From Just Add Books

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Author Extravaganza Report!

As you know, the other day we had a fun event at the library where several local authors came together to talk to all their adoring fans and to sign books. It was awesome.

It began with a Q and A panel, where I actually asked a question even! But so did many other people (including a bunch of kids who asked some amazingly thoughtful questions.) I  decided to sit and enjoy and not worry about remembering all that was said, but a few things stood out.

** Lisa Mangum, when asked about the editing process, told us about a manuscript that crossed her path once upon a time. She said it was huge for a manuscript (600 pages, and no it was not a Brandon Sanderson book!) But she actually took the time to read it, and then told the author to cut out a ton, and most of the middle and this and that. The author did, the book was published and did amazing. I enjoyed this story because the book is one that we have loved here at our house and one that my daughter has read over and over and over again. (The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum)

** When asked about a strange questions that fans have asked them, Dean Hughes (popular LDS fiction author) mentioned a story where someone came up to him and said that their mother had been really enjoying his recent popular series (I loved it too, about WWII) but she was not expected to live too much longer and could he tell her how it ended and what happened to all the characters? He said okay, so they sat the old mom down by him and he explained and talked to her about all his plot plans for the future books. She was so pleased and happy. The next year, the daughter came to another signing and said that yes, her mom had died, and thank you so much for telling her about his future books!

** When I asked about what was their favorite book of the year, the one that stood out in my mind was that Robison Wells answered Melina Marchetta's book, On Jellicoe Road, also one of my favorites! I need to re-read that one.

** Jessica Day George got lots of chuckles from the audience all across the board, but we especially enjoyed her story of killing off characters, or deleting them from the story altogether. Sad!

** When asked what was the worse moment of being an author, almost all of them mentioned painful book signings where they sit there and there's not a soul in the store. One of them said that the store had provided ONE book at their table to be sold. She felt that maybe they needed more. In fact, it turned out that only one person came up to them, and they did NOT buy the book! Ugh.

Anyway, it was all great fun and we had a good time. I was happy to be sitting by fellow book blogger, Kathy from Read This Instead. So glad she could come!

After the panel, there was a mass signing. I brought about eight books to be signed for various Christmas presents and so I talked to Rob Wells, Jessica Day George, Ally Condie, Brandon Mull, and Lisa Mangum.

And I managed to take a few (not so good) pictures:

Brandon Mull, who came straight from the airport that morning
not even going home to see his kids first!

Lisa Mangum with Chris Crowe in the background.

Lines for Brandon Mull and Ally Condie

My very excited nephew meeting Robison Wells

Ally Condie, Jessica Day George, Dean Hughes

Brandon Mull is amazingly awesome with his young fans.

My people waiting in Brandon Mull's line.

Fun, yes? And that ends the recent couple of months of what seems like non-stop author events and book signings around here. I wonder what's in store for next year? I'm sure you'll be the first to know!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Discovered This Year

It's a fun list this week over at The Broke and Bookish, and it's one I love to do every year, and that is to recognize the authors I read and loved that are new to me! Ah, the list could be a pretty long one actually, but here's the ten I came up with:

Top Ten New to Me Authors

1. Diana Peterfreund: This author commented on my blog earlier this year when I was talking about Persuasion and she mentioned that she had a book coming out that was a retelling of this classic. It took me a few months, but when that book came out (For Darkness Shows the Stars,) I read it and absolutely LOVED it!

2. Veronica Rossi: I loved Under the Never Sky and am totally excited for the next book! I'll be paying close attention to anything else she writes in the future too.

3. Julianne Donaldson made a big splash locally with her book, Edenbrooke. I'm not sure if she is as well know out there in the world, but my guess is if not, she will be soon.

4. While Maggie Stiefvater is not really new to me, I truly discovered her this year with The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. Awesome stuff.

5. Jennifer A. Nielsen is another local author that wrote a fabulous fantasy book called The False Prince. I'm so excited for the next book coming up in March!

6. I read Sarah Waters for the first time this year with The Little Stranger and that was a great experience and I'd like to give her another try too.

7. Lindsey Leavitt's book Sean Griswold's Head was a lot of fun and I'm hoping to get to more of her books soon.

8. Elizabeth Wein who wrote the very popular book this year, Code Name Verity, is new to me. I'm wondering was she new to everyone this year?

9. Audrey Couloumbis I think has been around a bit, but I just recently read Not Exactly a Love Story and now I'm curious about her other books.

10. Camille Picott is an author/blog friend of my real life blog friend Jenny and so when Jenny raved about her book, I had to go out and find it and read it and it was a lot of fun! I'll be keeping my eye on this new to me author!

I loved all these authors! Weird that they are all lady ones! I usually love the guys too, so what's up with that? What authors did you learn about and love this year?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Book: A Tale of Two Cites by Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic
For: The Classics Club and Classics Challenge
From: free ebook

The first time I read this book I was in 9th grade. Much of it went right over my head, but through class discussions and a TV series that came out right about that very time I ended up loving it, even with all the confusing parts. Recently, I've been very anxious to read it again to see how it seems to me as a now old grown up person.

Here's what I  discovered:

-- this book that I thought was confusing was actually quite simple. Some people in French are very upset over their treatment by the nobility and so one day they rebel and storm the Bastille prison. After a few years, anybody with any connection at all to this nobility has their head on a chopping block, literally  In the meantime, Lucie (who earlier discovers her father she thought was dead has been released from the a fore mentioned Bastille) falls in love with Charles, who sadly has a connection to the French nobility, though he has renounced them and makes a happy life in England. But one day, he decides to go back to France to help a friend. Bad bad choice!

-- the character that I fell in love with the first time WAS as awesome as I remembered, although he didn't appear as often in the story as I remembered or would have liked. Why can't we get to know Sydney Carton a little better? His background? His story? It seems to me all we know is that he is a drunk, lonely dude, but smart as anything and helps his lawyer friend all night long, but gets no recognition. Why? I want to know more. Oh, yes, and strange thing, he looks a lot like Charles. And he loves Lucie, but of course, Lucie loves Charles.

-- I was surprised at the amount of sarcasm and witticisms the author threw into the story. I think that sometimes he was trying to be funny, but I felt like the book and its serious story really didn't lend itself to that, so it was just weird to me. This, of course, was something I didn't catch even a little bit as a 15 year old! I also noticed the literary devices (such as personification) that he uses much more this go around. And no wonder it was confusing to a 15 year old! He's appears to be talking about one thing, when he's really talking about another. This happens over and over again.

-- the end hit me just as hard now as then, maybe harder. Have you read this book? Do you know the ending? I'm guessing pretty much everyone does, but maybe there's a few who don't know it, so I will leave things spoil free here (even though it may be easily guessed too!) but I'd love to discuss in comments your feelings on this ending. The first time around of course I knew nothing so it blew me away. This time I felt the tension building up and dreaded every moment I got closer! Then, it was actually a little anit climatic from what I remembered, but still. There were parts that hit me much harder this time around and I got weepy, yes I did!

Bottom line: Oh, I so do love this book.

Other Reviews:

The plot is relatively fast-moving, and almost free from sub-plots and extraneous characters: it’s not as dense and wordy as a lot of Dickens’ works, and thus is an exciting and thought-provoking read. From Ela's Book Blog

Reading the book this time round the character of Sydney Carton is much clearer in my mind, with several vivid images of his slovenly appearance and drunken behaviour. From BooksPlease

Ultimately, what finally did bring me in to the novel was the human interest: the characterization. Once I understood how all the different characters fit together, I found myself engaged in the novel. From Rebecca Reads

It was an amazing piece of craftsmanship, and I was impressed with how all of the parts of the story worked together. From At Home With Books

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Virtual Advent Tour: Kurt Bestor's Christmas Songs

Welcome to day eighth of the Virtual Advent Blog Tour! Now in its seventh year! Wow. I love it. You know it's a good thing when it sticks around this long, right?

I've been participating since nearly the beginning (see the list of my other advent posts below, I think I wasn't blogging the first year they started this) so I'm starting to really have to think about what I'd like to share with you regarding what says Christmas to me! But, I've a feeling I could go on for quite a few more years before I actually run out of ideas!

This year, I'd love to tell you about Kurt Bestor. He's a local musician (grew up just down the street nearly) who has made it pretty big out there in certain genres of the music world. However, my guess is you've never heard of him, am I right? (Unless you live here in Utah that is.)

So years ago he made several Christmas albums, there may be more now, I'm not even sure, and there are some "best of's" and some compilations, but these are the three "main ones" that I have:

Let me just say that it is NOT Christmas until we get these CDs out and play them! This music is definitely the background of all our Christmas doings... decorating the tree, baking, cleaning up for parties, during the party itself, Christmas Eve and for sure... Christmas morning.

Every year, he puts on an awesome spectacular Christmas concert, with guest singers and other musicians and his band and all sorts of production. For years it was my dream to go to this and finally, a couple of years ago, we manged to make this happen! It was so awesome. And the guest singer that year happened to Jason Castro who I loved from American Idol! Sweet!! (Here's a link to Jason singing during that show, with Kurt on the piano. So awesome.)

I've struggled trying to decide what songs to share with you, they are all so wonderful, but we've (daughter Toto has been helping me and in fact has made the videos and loaded them to her YouTube channel!) zeroed in on these few:

Joy to World... because this is the quintessential song from all three albums that means Christmas is here! Listen, blast it and see if you don't agree:

Little Drummer Boy.... because I love this arrangement and I can't help but la-la-la along when that part comes. So pretty. And there's cool drums of course.

He Who Crafted the Earth ... because my guess is this is one you've never heard before. It's based on a fourteenth century poem and I find it to be absolutely chilling. Toto has added the lyrics for you even!

And finally, the Kurt Bestor song that many of you MAY be familiar with... Prayer of the Children. It's not a Christmas song, but it's his signature song that he sings at every concert. This one will also give you chills and perhaps cause a tear or two, especially this video that I found that's illustrated with powerful images.

I hope you took a moment or two to experience these songs! I hope you loved them! I hope it brought some Christmas spirit and joy to your day. (And P.S. Kurt Bestor has a ton of other non Christmas CDs that are equally as awesome!)

Other bloggers participating in the advent tour today:

Susan @ You Can Never Have Too Many Books
Robin @ A Fondness for Reading

To check out everyone those participating this year, please click on over to this post. 

Here's the list of my past advent tour posts highlighting other Christmas traditions in my life:

2007: Christmas Eve Traditions (including a movie the year the nativity reenactment went to pieces!)
2008: Decorating the Tree (including a yummy cinnamon roll recipe)
2009: The Advent Box: (with a time elapsed video that was a blast to make)
2010: My Love for the Grinch
2011:  I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all! Have a blast this holiday season. Enjoy.


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