Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Month of Letters Wrap Up

I did it! I wrote and mailed a letter or card or post card (or two) every day this month!

According to my list I sent 31 pieces of mail to England, Canada, Australia, Sweden, The Philippines, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, Indiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Hampshire, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, Colorado, Idaho, and of course Utah! (Did I forget someone?) Whew. Awesome!

Hopefully I sent something to everyone that responded to my several pleas for addresses. If I didn't let me know! (Some of them may still be on their way.)

I sent several birthday cards and Valentines to family, Utah postcards and cards to lots of blogger people and other letter writing participants, cards and even a few "real" letters to in real life friends, and far away friends! Oh, and one fan letter! (To Mr. Markus Zusak of course!) And I don't even think it was too fan girly or gushy, it was a simple chit chatting thing and was actually so fun to write and made me realize I should do that more often. I have John Green on my list too, but didn't get one written yet. And I couldn't find a real snail mail address for Josh Groban, but perhaps I'll keep looking. Yeah, as if he looks at real snail mail letters. Do you think?

So far I've received two postcards, two other types of cards, and one "real" letter. (By real letter, of course I mean on several pieces of paper with several sides covered! Thanks Memory!) Hopefully there's still some to come!

Here's what I learned from this experience:

FAITH: that the very small piece of paper that I was sticking in a box was actually and truly embarking on a trip and would make it to its destination wherever it may be in the world!

PATIENCE: waiting waiting waiting for the possibility that maybe perhaps a letter would come back to me!

TRANQUILITY: to take a quiet moment to stop, and sit and write something

TRUST: that giving out my address to several strangers would be safe and okay

CREATIVITY: in thinking of what to say to 1) people I've never met or talked to 2) people that read my blog and see all there is to know about me already 3) people who I live with and/or talk to a lot in real life, so what's left to say? Yeah, that was fun trying to be creative!

ORGANIZATION: to actually fit in that bit of tranquility and creativity and get a letter written every day.

And I'm sure there were many other aspects to the experience, but those are the ones that stand out. Oh, I also learned that the mailman changed up his schedule and comes to the house much earlier than he used to! That messed me up several days and caused me to have to take a little drive to the post office. Oh, well.

Bottom line: I loved it! It has been so fun, and I will keep the letter writing going. I just won't stress about the  every day thing. Yeah, that will be nice.

Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Book: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: *****
For: Fun
From: the library

I really loved this book. To me, this is what a perfect fantasy book should be. The magic isn't really over the top, the world building doesn't take over the story, the characters are real, the politics aren't complicated, the plot is intriguing and the story is moving. Did I say I loved it? I loved it.

The book starts out giving us a glimpse of some terrible event that happened a few years (ten or so I think) previous in the history of our characters. Finnikin, who was a child at the time, is now a young man wandering the countryside with his mentor trying to round up their scattered people. Their kingdom has been shattered by this event, and in fact, has been cursed and shut off from the outside. So not only do we have the scattered refugees on the outsides, but there are also the lost people who were left inside the gates. What's become of  them? The question haunts our Finnikin.

As the story opens, Finnikin and Sir Topher (the mentor and former King's First Man) arrive at a convent of sorts to answer a strange message Finnikin received about someone there who they needed to consult. When they arrive, they find out it's a young novice girl who has taken a vow of silence and who is having night visions that their prince is still alive and out there. They decide to take her with them so they can hopefully, finally, find the prince and restore their kingdom.

This is, to say the least, an unexpected turn of events, which, as you may guess, leads them to all sorts of adventures and twists and turns.

Well, I suppose I can officially say I'm a Melina Marchetta fan. I loved Jellicoe Road and I loved this one. I know there's more and I need to keep this experiment going! (And look, the next book is out in a couple of weeks!) I think she has an amazing way with words and a style that completely draws me and makes me a part of the book. I always have a hard time articulating how this happens with some books and not with others, and it's so frustrating, but just know, that for me, it happens in this book! I'm so glad I finally fit it in, after being anxious to read it for a long long time.

Bottom line: Loved it!

Other Reviews:

One Librarian's Book Reviews
Chachic's Book Nook
Angieville (who, GASP, did not like it!)
Janicu's Book Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Theme Songs!

This week we are giving theme songs to books! You'd think with my love of music this would be an easy one for me. However, it is not! For that reason, I've only come up with five for my top ten list today. Besides, as you all know, I want to share the song with you too, so ten would just be too much. Anyway, if you have songs that easily go with books, be sure to join us over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Five Books with Theme Songs

1. I love the song My Immortal by Evanescence. I feel like it could be the theme song to pretty much any vampire love story. But I've always pictured it with New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, especially. However, I read somewhere that it's actually about the singer's little sister that died when she was only three years old. Can there be a sadder song? It kills me. It gives me chills galore.

2. Another song that I really love is Hazard by Richard Marx. In listening to the lyrics, I've always thought it would make an awesome book! Then a book came along whose description really reminded me of this song. I have YET to read the book! But you all say it's so good! Crooked Letter Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. I have no idea if this story matches the song at all but my feeling is,  it's close. Those that have read it, what do you think?

3. If you've ever read 1984 by George Orwell, AND if you are a Muse fan, you'll know that their album Resistance is all about this book. But especially the particular song Resistance. Pay attention to the lyrics!

 4. When I fell in love with the song Sort Of by Silversun Pickups, I found out that it was used in the pilot episode of The Vampire Diaries... and now I can't listen to it without thinking of Damon and company. "Do you think, that I'm sort of... alive?" Love. This. Song. Yeah and okay, I know that's a TV show, but it was a book first. (Couldn't find one with lyrics scrolling but if you click over to YouTube, the lyrics are in the description if you want to read them.)

5. I really love the song Somebody by Depeche Mode and just knew there should be a book that could go with it. I decided on a John Green book, pretty much any of them. What do you think? If not, what book do you think would fit better with this song?

Well, so I hope some of you at least listened to a song or two here! Let me know what you think! I can't wait to see what you've all come up with this week! I bet for many of them I'll go.. "DOH!! Of course!!"

Bloggiesta Mini Challenge Host Sign Ups

UPDATE: We have now closed sign ups for mini challenge hosts. Thanks to those who signed up! We have an awesome line up!

If you missed the news, Bloggiesta (the fun blogathon event created by Natasha of Maw Books) is back! (Click here if you missed the intro post with some general info.) Part (a lot) of the fun of this event is to encourage those who know how to do blogging things (especially the technical aspects of blogging) to share with those of us who do not! In order to do this, we are asking for several bloggers to host a mini challenge as part of Bloggiesta where they share a tutorial on their blog and help participants during the actual Bloggiesta event. You can choose your own topic or pick from this list of ideas:

  • How to put social media icons on your side bar
  • How to put star ratings in your review posts
  • Best way to make labels work for you
  • How to embed a Youtube video (and size it for your blog post)
  • How to make a creative header and add it to your blog
  • How to use Google Analytics
  • How to use Facebook to promote your blog
  • How to use Pinterest to promote your blog
  • How to use Twitter to promote your blog
  • Cool things you can do with gmail (or yahoo) to keep your email organized
  • SEO for Dummies
  • Goodreads for Dummies
  • Sidebar help... what do you REALLY need there?
  • Cool android and iphone/ipad apps that bloggers need
  • How to set up a Mobile viewable site
  • Plug-ins for Wordpress sites, which to use & not to
  • Publisher Etiquette how to’s - sending reviews & contacting for reviews
  • How to create a vlog and great video editing software
  • Get to work - write “X” number of reviews.
  • Protecting your blog - Copyrighting
  • HTML Basics
  • Monetizing how to and where to go to do it.

If you feel you have some expertise in these or any other areas of blogging and would like to participate in Bloggiesta as a mini challenge host, please fill out the form below. If you have hosted a challenge in a previous Bloggiesta event and would like to add that post to our list of resources this time around, you will also need to fill out the form. (This form can be found both here and over at There's a Book, but you'll only need to fill it out in ONE of those places!)

Thanks for your help! Let us know if you have any questions!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Overbite by Meg Cabot

Book: Overbite by Meg Cabot
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: ***
For: Review
From: the publisher (Williams and Morrow)

This book is the sequel to Insatiable which tells the story of Meena and her involvement in ridding New York of it's vampire infestation. Who knew she would fall in love with one? And not just "one" but THE one, the son of Dracula himself!

In this book, the story starts out awhile after the dramatic events that concluded Insatiable. Meena hasn't seen Lucien all during that time and wonders what's become of him. Meanwhile, she has immersed herself into the work of the Palatine with Alaric Wulf (he with the not-so-subtle last name!) who she has very mixed feelings about. By the time it's over, she's learned, of course, what Lucian has been up to, and figures out her feelings for Alaric.

The thing I enjoy most about this book is the fun tongue-in-cheek style regarding all things paranormal. I mean, it's a good story and all, but it seems to be making fun of this popular genre at the same time. It makes you feel like giggling throughout!

Also, it was nice to read such an easy book after reading a few hard ones. This is such fluff and you know, fluff is awesome sometimes!

Bottom line: I enjoyed it!

Other reviews:

That's What She Read
The Englishist
A Book Blogger's Diary
Rhapsody in Books

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Sunday Salon: My Own Mini Readathon!

Today, I've done nothing but read, and go grocery shopping. It's good to have some Saturdays like that, right? I hope so.

Outside my window: It's Saturday evening as I write this, and it's very blustery outside my window. Once again, I think snow is threatening for our Sunday. Every week this is the case. Weird. And it's cold in this house and shhhhh.. don't tell anyone but I turned up the heat for a bit!

I am listening to: the songs that Kailana posted recently on her blog. Very folksy. Do I like them? The jury is still out.

Song of the week: last week we went to the closing store sale at FYE... and one of the cds I bought was by Vangelis. Have I mentioned them before? So I fell in love with one of the songs on this cd which, I guess, is from a movie called 1492. I think. You must listen:

TV Talk: There was no Vampire Diaries this week, so that was sad. American Idol has whittled people down to 24, and I'm really liking the Korean kid whose name sounds like Hey Jude. He sings okay, but he is so funny! On Survivor, the women team is self-destructing which is highly embarrassing... for them. I watched a Merlin episode on YouTube that cracked me up thoroughly. Dang that Colin Morgan kid is so good! And Downton Abbey ended for now. :( With an awesome feel good ending! Now, how long do we wait for more?

Reading Report
Books Finished:  I got done with Overbite by Meg Cabot (fluffy fun) and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which I so very much loved!
Books Started: Nothing else new, but I got Dead End in Norvelt at the library
Books currently reading: I put away several chapters in Path of Daggers just now! Boring!!! But the Egwene chapters are almost done and then maybe it will pick up. Crossing fingers. Only a couple hundred pages and this book will be done!
Books I'm anxious to read: All the same ones I mention over and over again. Here's hoping next week will see some movement on them. People keep mentioning Wise Man's Fear and I think I will go insane if I don't read that one soon.

I am thinking: that I wish I could do something drastic and fun and fabulous with my hair. Suggestions? I'm so sick of it.

I'm grateful for: Penelope, who figured out the tickets for a bunch of us to go to The Hunger Games together! That is going to be so much fun! I can't wait!

What I learned this week: Well, I didn't learn this, but I remembered how unfun it is to get cavities filled. Yes, that hurt a bit after the crazy numbness wore off. And the dentist even called to see how I was doing later that evening. So that was interesting. That's what I learned, that our new dentist calls to check up on you!

Around the house: Oh! My! Word! You should see what we did do the pantry! Yes, it was a very very scary place and we cleaned it out, like REALLY really cleaned it out! We threw away nearly everything. It was liberating. And disgusting. And it looks wonderful now! Yay!

Recipe of the Week: I made two more Pinterest things. Would you like to know which ones? They are healthier things this time around. Are you impressed?

Favorite things of the week: Hunger Games tickets, discussing Josh with Enna on Twitter, finishing books, announcing Bloggiesta is back!, getting a letter from Memory, going out to dinner on Friday night, seeing a Johnny Cash impersonator in Park City, and many other things.

Family Matters: I took the college kids grocery shopping today. Yep, that was a blast. One of them has a broken computer, yeah, that's going to be fun too. (Still under warranty, but we have to send it back and wait for it to return.) Kid#4 (7th grader) went to a symphony performance, complete with opera singer and all, and she loved it! Kid#3 survived his dentist appointment, no cavities! :)

Letter Writing Month: I got some back this week! A postcard from Chachic, a postcard from Faith, and a letter (a very long very awesome one) from Memory! Yay! And I mailed two birthday cards and a packet of letters to family, two postcards, and three or four other card/letters this week. Only a half a week to go! I still have several letters to write! And then I have to tell myself to keep writing even once the official challenge is over. We'll see how that goes! What fun it's been though.

The coming week: another book signing hopefully (which means another book buying,) a family baptism, Josh's birthday!, and lots and lots of Bloggiesta stuff!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bloggiesta is Back!

We are so excited to announce that Bloggiesta, the wonderful blogging event where we focus on all things blog related, is back! It's taken a bit of a hiatus because Natasha from Maw Books who created this event has had a few other things going on (like a baby in the works!) and she decided awhile back that she needed hand it over to whoever was willing which turned out to be me and Danielle of There's a Book. Hopefully we can make it happen and keep up the awesomeness that Natasha created.

So here's the date to get on your calendar right now:

March 30 , 31 and April 1

But first, for those who have no idea what I'm talking about, Bloggiesta is a three day event where participants will spend as much time as they can working on fixing all those pesky blog related tasks.... all those things that you think "some day I'm going to clean that up, or change that around, or add that thing!" Everyone will post a "to do" list, or goals they want to accomplish and then all of us will work together to get our lists done. The fun thing is that we can cheer each other on, and learn from each other and have a blast doing it. It's the perfect time to figure out that something you've always wanted to do, but didn't know how... or to get caught up on reviews, or to fix your labels, or take control of your Reader... or do oh so many other things!

As part of the event we'll have several mini-challenges where hosts who are experts at a certain blog related thing will share their knowledge and teach us something. It's fun to add those challenges to your to do list and learn something new. We'll be asking that those interested in hosting a challenge come back to sign up next week on Tuesday. So be thinking about what you have some extra expertise in and come back and sign up! 

Just a couple ideas we've had so far are:
  • how to use Facebook, Twitter and/or Pinterest to promote your blog
  • how to add social media icons to your sidebar
  • what should be in a sidebar anyway?
  • HTML for Dummies
  • SEO for Dummies
  • what about vlogging?
You get the idea. The list goes on and on. We'll talk more about these ideas and others in the host sign up post!

Right now, the important thing is to get all these dates in your head:

Bloggiesta Event: March 30, 31 & April 1
Challenge Hosts Sign-ups Start: Tues. Feb. 28th
Participant Sign-ups Start: March. 1st

Please spread the news around and let all your readers know about this! We'd love for everyone to participate! Remember, this is NOT just a book blogging event, it's for anyone with a blog that wants to join in the fun and learning and chatting. (Past participants have mentioned that the Twitter interaction is one of the best things about this event, so if you don't have Twitter yet, now is the time! Follow @bloggiesta and #bloggiesta)

We are so excited to get this going again! We know a lot of people have missed it and wondered what happened, but now, we're back! We hope you all join us for the fun! Let's break out the guacamole and mariachi band! Ole!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Book: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Genre: YA Fantasy (though I think it should be adult over YA)
Rating: ***
For: Fun and to finish this epic series
From: Bought from Costco!

I've really loved this series. Epic fantasy in all it's glory.... it has it all! I think Eldest was my favorite book of the four, though it's been so long I can't totally remember why except for the big reveal at the end. Anyway, like all other Eragon fans, I was really looking forward to this final concluding book.

BUT, wow, it was a hard one to get through. Long, and detailed and a little plunky and ploddy in parts. It seemed to take awhile for things to happen. But then stuff happens and the second half of the book felt much faster.

To sum up, Eragon and his friends are in the process of confronting Galbatorix, the very very bad guy. He (as in Eragon) has to go on a few pre-fight errands and one of them is really quite cool with some much dragon excitement about it. Actually, this book has lots and lots of the back dragon story, if you are into that sort of thing.

My favorite part of the book was when Murtaugh finally shows up. He's yet again another one of those fascinating "is he bad or is he good" sort of characters. (An anti-hero as I learned at LTUE the other week!) Anyway, there's some awesome interaction between him and Nasuada, the leader of the Varden, that I really enjoyed. I would love a book that follows their story, or at least his story, a little further.

I also enjoyed the interactions between Eragon and Arya, especially the sword fighting practice. I could totally picture that in my head and it was awesome! Still, I needed more, and was left wanting a bit.

Why do I think this should be considered an adult book? Because it feels just like reading an adult epic fantasy to me. There're big words here! And long long descriptions and a very very detailed story with tons of characters and history and its own language. It's harder than kid's books usually are, plain and simple. Oh, and it's violent! Very!

Bottom line: In the end, I enjoyed it! A good final book.

Other Reviews:

Amy Reads
Alternate Readality

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Club Books 2012-2013

The book club has picked books! I love this part of book club... choosing the line up for the next year. Since our book club uses library book club sets, we have to choose well in advance (a whole year) so we can reserve the books. This way we are pretty much guaranteed our first choices. 

So here's what we've decided on:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak 
1984 by George Orwell 


Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross
The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

What do you think? Has your book club read any of these books? Did they go over well? Are there any of them you think we shouldn't do... ones that won't work? Or any of them we should be especially excited about?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Save

The list prompt over at The Broke and the Bookish today is one that gets you thinking. What books would you save if there was a disaster at your house? You know, like a fire, or flood, or zombie apocalypse or alien invasion? To me these would be books that you cannot at all replace, that have great sentimental value. So the answers will be quite different than the old "what book would you want on a deserted island" one. So here's what I thought of:

What Books Would I Save?

1-4: All my signed Markus Zusak books! That's actually three (The Book Thief, I Am The Messenger, Getting the Girl) and also Underdogs, which isn't signed.... yet.
5 and 6: Both my husband and I have copies of Where the Red Fern Grows that our grandmas gave us and wrote in for us. Those would need saving.
7 and 8: At least a couple of my grandpa's old books from his boyhood about the X BarX boys!
9. My old beat up copy of Mr. Pine's Mixed Up Signs.
10. My old beat up copy of Great Expectations.

Well there's ten anyway. I keep thinking of more that should be on the list, but I guess I better stick to the required number!

What would you find yourself saving at the last minute?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review and Book Club Report: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Review: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
Rating: ***
For: Book Club
From: the library

I've been a little nervous about reading this book, but was excited when the book club voted it onto the list because it would force me to read it. Turns out "the scene" that I worried about wasn't THAT bad, but the writing itself was harder than I expected.

This is the story of a family, specifically two sisters, who have a pretty big event happen that changes their lives. The whole first half of the book takes place in one day in 1935 I think it is where the family is preparing to have a party for the brother/son who is visiting from college along with his friend. During the course of the day, the older sister has a couple of interactions with her friend who is also the neighbor boy. The younger sister misinterprets these interactions and when another event happens later on that evening, she blows things really out of proportion. And thus, everyone's lives are changed forever. The remainder of the book, which takes place during WWII in England, goes on to show how.

I have no idea how to sum up my feelings on this book! While it was quite a slow one, it was still quite beautiful in a way. The writing is very descriptive and nice, but left me feeling anxious at times and desperate for something to happen. Then again, that could possible have to do with the fact that I only left myself a couple of days to read it before book club! I wanted it to be a fast thing and fly through it, but it's much more of a slow, savor type of book.

At the risk of giving it all away, I must also say that it's one of those books that you need to read the very end, I'm talking the VERY LAST PAGE even, for it all to make sense and for it to hit you with a "you've got to be kidding" kind of feeling. So if you do choose to read this some day, don't give up, read that last page and then I challenge you to try and say what you think!

So, while it didn't blew me out of the water, it did leave me with quite the punch and made me think and made me look at the author with new eyes.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it, even the slow bits, but especially the crazy ending.

Other Reviews:

Alternate Readality
Nishita's Rants and Raves
The Literary Omnivore
Book Chase

Book Club Report: I was a bit out of it at book club the other day and didn't write down anyone's comments, but actually, only three of us read it. More than one quit after a page, or chapter, or two. Those that did read it found it to be interesting, but not fantastic. Until that last page that made you think of the whole thing in a whole new way. We did agree that the characters were not endearing and made us not really care that much about what happens to them. Which then made us wonder who some authors create characters that we love and others that we don't care about. However, that last page may also explain this phenomenon too.

Up next for book club: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. I seriously have no idea what to expect.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Sunday Salon: This Week, I Did Not Like

It's been a long sad, not so fun week. I'm glad it's over. Here's to a better week to come.

Outside my window: Dark on this Saturday night.

I am listening to: The TV is on behind me, and it's some Disney Channel show, so very irritating. The thing that drives me the most nuts about those shows? The laugh track. It so awful! I hate it.

Song of the week: I can't remember listening to much music this week. A lot of 80s Pandora stations I think, while I worked around doing stuff. I can't even remember. Boring music week around here.

TV Talk: A new Survivor started. But a bunch of snobby people this go around? But the twist? Men vs. Women? On the same beach? It's going to add a lot of new elements to the show I think. Interesting. I felt bad for that girl who looked exactly like Snow White on Once Upon a Time. How would it be to make it to Survivor and break your wrist at the first challenge? Bummer dude.

Reading Report

Books Finished: I started and finished Atonement! AND.... I finished Inheritance today! I'm so very excited! Wow, I can do reviews this week!
Books started: I didn't start anything else new.
Books currently reading: Finnikin of the Rock and Overbite, oh and Path of Daggers... still. Maybe I'll try to finish THAT one this week!
Books I'm anxious to read: I just bought Midnight in Austenland, so that's one. Plus all the books I got last week at LTUE, oh, and The Savage Grace is at the top of the list now.

I am thinking: that I am really quite tired at the moment and would love to go to bed and sleep forever. Or least until morning.

I am grateful for: kitties and how much joy they bring us, even when they drive us crazy at the same time.

What I learned this week: that I'm going to be taking over and helping with a popular blog event! I'm so excited! More to come soon when we work out the details, so do stay tuned!

Around the house: nothing to report. 

Recipe of the week: Ah, Butterfinger Blondies found on Pinterest. They were yummy! 

Favorite things of the week: book club on Thursday, and talking to Shannon Hale today. Oh and the fact that I figured out how to make my Zumba game work properly, so now it can tell I'm there and doing stuff and it shoots off fireworks and everything!

Family matters: well, as you know, the biggest family matter this week was our poor kitty. How long will it take to get used to her not being here? A long time I'm guessing. She followed me around and was in my face so much. It's just weird now, you know? Even if that wouldn't have been part of our week this week, it was still a hard one. Everyone else had tests, and presentations at school and there was stress all around. Like I said, glad it's over. Oh, and add to that, I wanted to have a little excursion on this holiday weekend, but no one would cooperate, including the weather. So not fair!

Letter Writing Month: still going! I sent out a few birthday cards this week (I have eight siblings as you may or may not remember,and four of them have birthdays this month. I've always thought that was interesting.) I also mailed a couple or three Valentines, and one or two post cards and a fan letter to MZ. THAT one was fun to write! But, as I mentioned in this quick post, I need more international (including Canada) addresses to write to. Email me!

Things I hope to accomplish in the coming week: Dude, I read over the big long list of things I hoped to accomplish last week... and wow, I nearly did it all! Are you not impressed? Only, having a sick and dying cat was SO not on the list. I'm still blown away that that actually happened, after expecting it for so long and suddenly, it's over. Oh, but this week? Let's see what I need to do....a church young women event that I have a bit of a part in, another dentist visit (ugh), sleep in on Monday, more letters to write, and.... I don't know what else. It's going to be an easier week, I just know it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

More Letter Recipients Needed!

So here's the thing. In preparation for all the letter writing I planned to do this month I went out and bought "special" stamps... ones that would get a letter to Canada and ones that would get a letter to all other places overseas. And I still have lots of those special stamps! So I need more friends to email me with their mailing address, especially friends that live in Canada or overseas (that is overseas from the US) anywhere else!

Is that you? Do you want a letter? I'll send you one! Email me (jenstusue AT yahoo) with your address! Please?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Goodbye to Our Kitty

It seems like a lot of blogging friends have had this experience lately and now I sadly join the club. Our kitty, the one that strayed our way exactly fourteen years ago, died today. She's been declining for years, but we thought she was hanging in there quite nicely for an old cat! But her body hit the wall this week and she stopped eating. After a couple of days of no improvement we took her to the vet and they said she had kidney failure, and had probably been dealing with that for years. Anyway, we brought her back home for one more night and to say our good byes, and then this morning we took her back and let her go peacefully to sleep. She was so miserable and had gotten so much worse through that night that it was a relief to be able to ease her pain. Still, argh, hard. So so hard. She leaves a huge hole that will be felt for a long time to come.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Wow! It's been awhile since I was tagged for a thing. And since it's Jenni that did the tagging, you know I have to play along. Besides, I have a mind blank about what to post today anyway, so perfect for a tag meme, right? Here's the scoop:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them!

Jenni's Questions to Me:

What is your favorite book of all time?  The Book Thief

Who is your favorite author? Markus Zusak... I think... yeah... probably him

Who is your favorite literary character of all time? Seriously? Ed Kennedy, Mr Darcy, Heathcliff, Anne, I DON'T KNOW, there's too many. I can't think of an all time favorite.

When did you start blogging? March 2007

Why did you start blogging? To join challenges, make lists, and find other book lovers, and talk books

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Europe... all of it.

If money were not an issue, what would you buy yourself at this very instant? A trip to Europe, one that would last the whole summer.

Who is your favorite actor? Wentworth Miller, though I've only seen him on Prison Break. David Tennant has recently come to the top also, though I've only seen him on Doctor Who.

What is your favorite movie? Star Wars... and The Princess Bride, and A Knight's Tale and Ladyhawke

Who is your favorite musician/band? I really quite like Josh Groban :)

What is your favorite song? There's too many. Sky High by Jigsaw, Nights in White Satin by The Moody Blues, Knights of Sedonia by Muse, My Confession by Josh Groban, Across the Stars by John Williams... just to name a few....

My Questions:

1. Do you bake? What's your favorite thing to make?

2. What's your favorite quote?

3. What's your biggest pet peeve?

4. Who's your current favorite TV couple?  (or movie, or book couple)

5. Where's the best place you've ever visited?

6. What would you do if you could do anything for a whole day?

7. Look on the floor by your bed... do you have books there? How many?

8. What's the best book you've read so far this year (since January)?

9. What's your favorite book genre?

10.  What are you making for dinner tonight?

11. Why eleven questions? Any guesses?


1. Melissa at The Avid Reader
2. Kristina at Kristina's Favorites
3. Megan at Leafing Through Life
4. Lisa at Books Lists Life
5. Lisa at Lit and Life
6. Jen at The Introverted Reader
7. Alita at alita.reads
8. Ms. O at Ms. O Reads Books
9. Kaye at The Paper Reader
10. Kailana at The Written World
11. Jessica at The Bluestocking Society

I hope you can all play!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: You're Breaking My Heart!

The Broke and the Bookish has decided to go "anti" Valentine's Day today and list books that broke our hearts. I had no problem coming up with a few.

Top Ten Books That Broke My Heart

1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck... the sons at the end broke my heart in a big way.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak... Rudy? Please.
3. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski... not a happy ending at all.
4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy.... sadness all around, and then there's the dad and all.
5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini... for you a thousand times over.
6. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls... a fern growing up between dogs graves? Sobfest.
7. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White... who knew you could cry over a spider?
8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott... the whole Laurie thing kills me every time!
9. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck... extremely depressing sad book.
10. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett... did it HAVE to end that way?

What books broke YOUR heart?

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Hunger Games Midnight Movie Party!

Utah Book Bloggers! We want you to join us for a midnight showing of The Hunger Games! Bring your friends and family too! I'll even give you a ride if you live nearby. Yep. It's true. 

Penelope of The Reading Fever has planned it all, so if you are interested email her at readingfever AT gmail DOT com and she'll give you all the details. She needs to hear from you before Feb. 22 so she can buy all our seats as soon as they go on sale.

We hope you can come!

An LTUE Recap

Once a year, for thirty years running now, a bunch of geeky nerdy science fiction and fantasy fans and writers gather for a conference here in Utah to talk about the craft and industry. The name of the conference is: Life, the Universe, and Everything or LTUE for short. I discovered it just a few years ago and have gone ever since, even though, as I've mentioned before, I'm not an aspiring writer. But, as you all know, I do have an author stalking problem! Plus I love learning about the above mentioned craft and industry. The enthusiasm here is infectious and fun!

And this year was no different. In fact, I think more people came then ever before. What a crowd!

I don't have time and space to go into detail about all the stuff I learned and soaked up, but here's a list and a blurb about all the classes and panels I was able to attend:
  • Avoiding Cliche: the teacher made us think of familiar phrases, plots and characters in a different way.
  • Book Bombs: We learned how book bombs can be effective, if you have a big fan base already. And if you have famous friends. 
  • Urban Fantasy: Grittier than "normal" contemporary fantasy, fun because you can make an ordinary person have extraordinary adventures.
  • Villains: I learned the villains who have good in them are actually considered anti-heroes. I really enjoy those types!
  • Book Signings: Authors talked about how they push their books through signings. Some of them really struggle with this particular marketing expectation.
  • Conflict: Conflict is good! :)
  • The Flaw in the Plan: Did Dumbledore Plot Snape's Death?: This was someone reading a huge long research paper they did on this subject, which, while interesting, was very boring to have read to us. 
  • Fractured Fairy Tales: I love fairy tale twists and this was a discussion on doing that well.
  • Romance: Romance is good! :)
  • Book Trailers: Fun discussion on how to make a good one and not a cheesy one. For one thing, use good music!
  • Marketing and Publicity: They thing I took from this discussion? Book bloggers are your friends! Indeed.
  • Plots, Subplots and Foreshadowing: Rousing discussion on why and how to have subplots and ways to use foreshadowing to move things along.
  • Pod casting: Several pod casters talked about their experiences creating and maintaining a pod cast. I think this sounds fun, seriously. 
  • Creativity: This guy showed a lot of funny pictures where people used awesome creativity. His point was that we should realize that creativity is very important in education and we shouldn't be taking it (arts) from the schools, and that some kids learn better in other creative less tradition ways.
  • Suspense: Suspense is good! :)
  • The End of the World: We counted how many times the world has already ended, but not really. We also talked about why end of the world stories are fun... because we get to be the hero.
  • Using Reviews to Improve Writing: Loved this presentation by J. Scott Savage where he told the writers in the audience to look at Goodreads three star reviews and see what people are saying about books that are like the ones they are writing. Learn from it. He talked about all the different people that will/can review their books, including once again, book bloggers! (I remember going to this conference just a few years ago where book bloggers were not mentioned at all, and if they were, no one knew what they were. Things are different!)
  • A Vampire is NOT Your Boyfriend!: A discussion on what makes a vampire a REAL vampire. I got a kick out of this one. It made me giggle.
  • If I Could Do It All Over Again: Mistakes to learn by as told from seasoned authors.
  • Horror: Horror is good! :) 
We also got to sit in on an hour of live recording of three Writing Excuses pod casts. Always a laughing good time! You really should take a listen some time (only 15 minutes long of course!) 

At the end of the second night, there was a mass book signing with about 40 or so authors, ranging from brand spanking new, to New York Times bestselling famous ones! (The complete list of authors you can see here.) But here are the ones I talked to and got autographs from:

Bree Despain: She gave away ARCS for The Savage Grace, the third of her trilogy to come out in a month or so, to the first six people in line. Somehow, I ended up the first person in line! Wahoo!

Mary Robinette Kowal: So I got to thank her in person for her letter, and for starting the fun letter month campaign, and then I bought her book, which sounds fabulous, and she signed it. 

Amber Argyle: I've had her book, Witch Song, on my phone for a long time, but just can't seem to read it there, so I bought the "real" book and got her to sign it.

Abel Keogh: I bought his book, The Third, and had him sign it.

Brandon Sanderson: I took my already purchased (and one read) books The Way of Kings and The Alloy of Law for him to sign. He said he plans to write the second of the Stormlight Archives this year. Yay! And also I told him that I was totally stuck in the middle of the 8th Wheel of Time and he said that yes, 8, 9 and 10 are hard ones.. and that I should just read the summaries and skip to 11! What? I told him that would be so cheating! But then he said, that something big happens in 9, and something big happens (to Mat) in 10, so... then I said, dude, I have to read them.

James Dashner: I forgot my The Death Cure book so I nabbed him after a panel the next day for a signature. Now all my Dashner books are signed once again!

Dan Wells: I nabbed him before a panel so he could sign Emily's ARC of Partials. He warned me of letting others see it and that I might be mobbed. But it was too late, I had been already! Sort of. But it was nice to tell him that even though I didn't have my own ARC for him to sign, I had read and loved it.

Of course, I didn't take one picture. Not even one! What was I thinking?

Anyway, I wasn't going to go this year, but I'm glad I did. Jenny and I sure did get sick of sitting though, and we started making fun of several weird and bizarre audience members, but even that was a blast.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Sunday Salon: LTUE Meltdown

Outside my window: It's Saturday night and dark outside. But it's been nice today. I think. I was inside a building all day long though so don't take my word for it.

I am listening to: My YouTube favorites playlist, something I find myself doing quite often these days. The very moment the song Apollo Vibes by Pole Folder and CP is playing. It's a weird one.

Song of the week: I have no song of the week to share with you, but I was in a major Josh Groban mood. So here you go:

TV Talk: Still waiting for some one to shine forth in American Idol, but the first week of Hollywood was pretty much out of control and quite fun to watch. I missed The Vampire Diaries this week and am still waiting for it to appear online. Downton Abbey last week was fun as always and had many interesting surprises going on. Patrick? Real or not real? I really hope not. And what's going on with Mr. Bates anyway? 

Reading Report
Books I've finished: None!
Books I've started: I started Finnikin of the Rock, and Overbite.
Books I want to start: I have to start Atonement or it's not going to happen.

I am thinking: that I'm so very tired. So so very tired! 

I am grateful for:  the opportunity to hang out with authors and writers for three days with Jenny! We had fun, but got sick of sitting!

What I learned this week: Wow, a lot. One thing I learned is that POD means Print on Demand and for us as readers that means you pay $20 for a paperback.

Around the house: House? What house?

Recipe of the week: I made homemade Mac and Cheese which always one of my favorites. You make a basic white sauce, add a lot of cheese to it, and mix it in with cooked macaroni, then baked it for a bit. It's amazing how yummy it is!

Favorite things of the week: Going to LTUE with Jenny of course, as already mentioned, also meeting Rebecca Stead, though that feels so long ago now (Tuesday) that I hardly remember it. I actually don't remember much about anything of this past week. It's quite the blur.

Family matters: The youngest survived Suzuki Graduation from Book Five, the college daughter has turned into a major dating machine, the college son is "enjoying" trying to figure out accounting, and the brand new 17 year old wants a car in the worst way. 

Letter Writing Month: I sent out about five cards/letters and two postcards. And I received one back so far. And at LTUE I met and talked to Mary Robinette Kowal, instigator of the whole thing. 

Things I hope to accomplish in the coming week: Recoup from being AWOL from mom duties for three days, watch last week's Vampire Diaries, read Atonement, have book club, send out six more letters at least (including Valentines-y ones), Valentine's Day?, print some pictures at Costco, write LTUE post, finish Inheritance, clean the toilet, watch the new Survivor, do some Zumba, count carbs, and sleep whenever possible.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Too Much Downton Abbey?

The other day I was arguing with my kids, one in particular, when I shouted quite loudly,without thinking, "DON'T BE SO DAFT!!!" There was a slight pause, followed by a burst of giggles and then one kid said, "Mom, I think you've been watching too much Downton Abbey." 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Book: Partials by Dan Wells
Genre: YA Science Fiction Dystopian
Rating: ****
For: Review (Support Local Authors)
From: the library staff's shared ARC copy (Release date Feb. 28, 2012)

I was so excited to have a turn with this ARC that was being passed around the library staff! I love the serial killer (aka. John Wayne Cleaver) series and just knew I would love this one too, even though I knew it would be totally different.

And totally different it is. This one takes place in a very bleak dystopian world. There are only a few thousand humans left, all living on Long Island. What's worse is that there's a disease which kills babies as soon as they are born. The human race is quickly dying. It is Kira's mission to find the cure. She is convinced that the clue to a cure lies in the Partials, who are human-like NOT humans.... hmmm... you know... I'm still not exactly sure WHAT they are! But they just might have the answer to how to save these babies, and Kira is going to find it!

So off she goes to Manhattan, which by the way, looks like something from one of those awful post-apocalyptic movies. And it's only been eleven years. Whenever I read these types of books, I wonder how long would it really take for nature to take over an uninhabited city. It creeps me out that it wouldn't be very long at all. But the Partials live there now, or near there, and that's where she goes to test out her theory.

Then, an adventure ensues! And of course there are Partials involved, one in particular. There's violence and intense action. There's situations that are very dark and in fact, parts of it reminded me a little of A Handmaid's Tale actually. Is that weird? It's a little weird, but the girls are treated as baby making machines, which is a disturbing thing to say the least.

There's also lots and lots of science discussion. This is the part that lost me sometimes, all the description of viruses and stuff. Cool, but complicated. Also, I wanted more romance, you know... more please more! But for those of you  who like just a touch of romance, it will be perfect for you! But those are my only complaints.

Well, besides the cliff hanger. Yes, yet another one! Though I was worried it was going to be a whole lot worse, so I'm quite thankful that the immediate story at hand was wrapped up at least, but there's so much left to do and see and solve and learn.

Bottom line: I liked it a lot!

Other Reviews:

This Blonde Reads
Imaginary Reads
IB Book Blogging
One Book at a Time

And once again, the really cool book trailer, which doesn't really tell you much about the book, but you will learn better what a Partial actually is!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Random Thought Day

You know I love doing these, and you all seem to love reading them (usually) so here goes another bout of randomness:

** I saw something the other day about writing, and how we shouldn't write like we talk. I have always figured that's exactly what I do here, write like I talk, and I always thought it gave the blog a sort of personal quality or something. But this tidbit I saw made me second guess that idea, and so I wonder, should I write like I talk or not? Even so, I'm not sure I could change if I wanted to!

** After a conversation last night, I'm thinking a lot about carbs today and and finding that some things are surprisingly full of them and others surprisingly not. This could be an interesting study.

**  I got my first Letter Writing Month letter today! From the author who started it all! Very fun. I've loved writing letters this week. I will be sad to see the month end.. not that I'll stop writing letters, but that the blitz and the craze will be over.

** Thanks to Shelley, I'm pondering the Clarissa challenge. Someone stop me now!

** Hollywood Week starts on American Idol today. I wonder if it will pick up a little excitement now. And Survivor starts next week, which now means all my shows will conflict and clash with one another. How sad life is. Good thing we don't live in the dark ages of TV anymore, I say, and watch stuff whenever and wherever we want!

** I always wonder what I did before blogging, and going to bookish author events. I'm not sure. Weird to think about. This month there is something every single weekend, and a few things mid week too. When did this take over my life? Still, I'm not complaining.

** Pinterest. There's been talk that one can use it more as part of the whole blogging thing too. As might notice, I'm giving that a try. But one thing I still don't get is Tumblr. How is this different from all the other social media things? I just don't get it.

** I have a deadline to make this blog the best it can be. Please, tell me what needs to be better! What needs to look better. What should I delete off and what should I add?


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