Friday, August 31, 2012

Mini Reviews on Two Novellas

At the end of this crazy month of reading, I have fit in two more little tiny books! Yay, that means I could count them toward my overall goal at Goodreads! It helped to catch me up, even just a little. Anyway, I thought I'd do a quick mini review for them both right now.

Book:Deftly Dunne and the Keys of Death by Carmen Wye
Genre: Mystery
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

This one is a first foray into writing by a friend of mine that used to live in the neighborhood and come to book club... until she moved. I had no idea she was writing stuff, but suddenly, her little book (she even calls it a short story, but it's a bit longer than that!) shows up on my Kindle! It's a fun story about a kid named Deftly Dunne who is very klutzy and accident prone, which makes it awfully hard for him to work at his parents cafe. He does have one particular talent though... old typewriters. This leads him to take a writing class where the writers have a thing for using old typewriters. Well, he doesn't show much potential at the writing bit, but when a murder happens right there in class, he is suddenly solving the mystery! 
While the story itself was simple... and a mystery (you know they aren't my favorite!) I did really enjoy the writing! And that's not just because I know Carmen! She's got some funny and spunky writing going on! I totally enjoyed it. 

Shear Luck by Heather Justesen
Genre: Romance
Rating:★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

This is your typical LDS romance squished down into a very condensed version. A girl, who now runs a beauty salon, happens upon a guy who she had a major crush on all her growing up years. Then, he lived next door and hung out with her brother. Now, he owns restaurants and is building one next door to her salon. Well, of course, sparks fly and they get together, yet... his wife has just died and he has a kid and so there are issues to overcome.

This one was just okay for me. It reminded me that this genre of LDS fiction is just not my thing. Too contrived and sappy for me. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot and I'm not one to do that usually. The writing was okay and I would be willing to try another one by this author if it was a different sort of genre.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Authors Pick Five: Amber Argyle

Here's yet another Utah author that I've invited to participate in Utah Book Month by highlighting her in this  Authors Pick Five feature. Please welcome Amber Arygle, author of Witch Song and its soon to be released sequel, Witch Born.

What five books are most important or influential to you?

Here's what she had to say:

1. My scriptures. I'm a very religious person. I grew up with them and I've never stopped reading.

2. Eragon was the first true fantasy book I've ever read. Plotting gears started turning in my brain before I'd ever finished and I felt this incredible drive to write in the same genre--something that had never happened to me before. I remember distinctly thinking that if this kid could write and publish a book, so could I.

3. Robin McKinley--I searched for books like what I wrote--YA high fantasy with a female main character--they were few and far between. Robin gave me hope.

4. Harry Potter--For so many years, dry literature was force fed to children who responded by never picking up another book after graduation. Rowling opened the doors for reading. She made it possible for people to see books as fun instead of dreary. And she opened the doors for the rest of us.

5. Books on the craft of writing. King and Card both have one. Farland has a fantastic newsletter.

Thanks so much for participating Amber! I love these books too.

Amber Argyle is the author of Witch Song and its sequel Witch Born which will be released next week. She grew up on a cattle farm with her three brothers and says she spent much time in their creepy barn which fueled her imagination for high fantasy! She currently lives in Utah with her husband and three children. Places where you can connect with her:


Book Review: Eternal Starling by Angela Corbett

Book: Eternal Starling by Angela Corbett
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: ★★★★☆
For: Utah Book Month
From: Kindle download

I remember briefly meeting Angela at a blogger/author shindig probably about a year ago now. Her book looked intriguing to me at the time, but it took awhile for me to actually get my hands on it. (Getting the Kindle helped with that in a big way!)
And now to finally read it as part of my Utah books line up this month. Perfect!

I enjoyed this story for it's fun take on the whole supernatural love triangle thing. The boys in this book ARE supernatural, but are really quite different from what I've read before. And I'm not sure I can even figure out how to describe them to you! (You may have to click on over to Goodreads for a better description!)

Anyway, so there's Evie who's about ready to start college (yes.. these characters are college age and not high school) when she suddenly, out of the blue, meets the first boy. Instant attraction (something you may or may not get into) and there's stuff mentioned about being soul mates.... but when their relationship becomes more intense, Alex (the dude) FREAKS and runs away.

Which leaves the door open for the new boy, Emil, to step in and then things begin to get even more complicated. Now Emil says HE is her soul mate. Then, we learn that Alex never really went away, and so he jumps back in the picture with stories about how Emil is the bad guy and Evie needs to be protected from him.

Whew... so who IS the bad guy and who is the good? It turns out, these guys are each from rival groups that have to do with the upkeep (or not) of souls. What that all has to do with Evie... you'll just have to read to find out.

As I said, I really enjoyed this new look at supernatural, immortal characters. Very unique given all the other types of creatures we are always reading about. I enjoyed the romance bits too, pretty intense, even if the typical love triangle angle was present. It was fun!

Of course, there's more to come for Evie! I look forward to what she decides to do next!

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it!

Other Reviews:

Books With Bite
The Fairytale Nerd

And the trailer, which isn't too bad actually!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Utah Book Month Blogger Interview: Jessica from Books: A True Story

Today I'd like to introduce to you Utah book blogger, Jessica from Books: A True Story!

About herself she says: Besides reading, I love to play the piano, the guitar, and video games. I’m a tech nerd and I love to keep up on the latest in cool gadgets. I don’t always buy the latest and greatest gadgets, but I do know everything about them. (See more here at her About page.)

And here are the questions I've asked her so we can get to know her even better:

1. It seems like we always like to start these things out by asking how you got started blogging about books. What's been your inspiration? And what's your most favorite thing about it so far?

 My sister actually got me into blogging.  She does a fitness blog and she loves blogging.  I kept telling her I had nothing to blog about…the only thing I like is books…oh, I could write a blog about books.  My favorite thing so far is the community.  I knew that I wasn't the only person to think of writing a book blog, but I didn't realize that there was such a close-knit community for a long time.  I have loved meeting fellow bloggers, new authors at book signings and just talking to tons of people about books!

2. What is your most favorite book by a Utah author?

 Everneath by Brodi Ashton.  I love how she did something new with Greek mythology.  Plus I have a soft spot for sad stories.

3. What's the best book you've read so far this year?

 I'm going to pick Life of Pi by Yann Martel because I just finished it and it's on my mind.  It was very thought provoking and had the best surprise ending ever.

4. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to meet and talk to?

  Oh that's so hard…but I'd love to take a train ride through Europe with J.K. Rowling and just talk about books.

5. Which story would you like to read yourself into? 

 Harry Potter.  I would love to live in the world of Harry Potter.  Go to school, learn everything I possible could, see Hogwarts.  When Voldy is not running around, it seems like a very charming and tame world.

6. What do you do in your "real life" when you are not blogging?  

I like to spend time with my kids (especially building legos), watch Sherlock and Once upon a Time with my husband, and I love to cook.  Well, technically I just love eating so cooking is a means to that end.  Asian is my favorite and I make a mean Cashew Chicken and a new favorite of mine is Roasted Cauliflower Curry.

7. I see you have a lot of fun blog projects and features going on, now's your chance to promote them! 

My favorite posts on my blog are my Google Diaries.  I have always loved searching things when I have questions from a book and it's ten times more fun to share it with everyone.  I just finished one for Life of Pi and I'm working on one for Shadow and Bone.

In front of the Tower Bridge in London

8. You've done lots of traveling.... what's the BEST place you've been? 

London. I could live there.  They have awesome museums, huge libraries, charming people, plays, culture, and the best subway (aka the Tube) system I have ever ridden on.  I refuse to live outside of Utah, but if the opportunity came to live in London I'd be gone in a second.

9. One of my favorite questions to ask... what would your perfect day be like?

I would love to spend it somewhere I've never been.  I have the travel bug.  I would read a book outside and my kids would run around like the cute, wild, screaming kiddies that they are.  And my husband would chase them while I just sat and watched how adorable my family is.  That would be heaven.

10. Favorites

Food: anything Asian
Band: Nickel Creek
Movie: so hard…but it has to be Return of the Jedi
Candy Bar: Take 5 (with the pretzels and peanut butter…yum)
Villain: Darth Vader
Place to read: anywhere outside
Animal: Hamster
TV Show: Downton Abbey

Thanks so much to Jessica for participating! She truly has a most awesome blog!

And now, all the ways you can find her:


Now go and follow! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Authors Pick Five: Kristen Landon

Once again, I've invited a Utah author to participate in Authors Pick Five here on the blog today as part of Utah Book Month celebrations. This time, I've asked Kristen Landon, author of The Limit (which I recently read and reviewed here) to answer this one question:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

Here's what she had to say:

This has been a really hard assignment! Instead of saying these are the five most important or influential books to me, I'll have to say these are five of the most important or influential books--because, just as soon as I hit the send button, dozens of books will come to mind that I'll wish I had included on the list.

1. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg I'll start with a book that I remember being fascinated with during my childhood. First of all, the idea of running away from home was one I romanticised in my youth--so this was really cool. But running away and living in a museum! Major coolness. It showed me that I could experience things in a book that I would never dare to do--or even imagine I could do--in real life.

2. Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan I stumbled across this book during my high school years. I was always in honors English classes, and all my reading time was monopolized by those classic literary books from my English teachers' reading lists. Take a look at the cover of this book sometime. It fascinated me, and I had to read it--even though it wasn't 'aproved' by my English teachers. It's an exciting, creepy book, and tons of fun. It allowed me to remember that reading could be just for fun at a time when reading was often a homework assignment.

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry When I wrote THE LIMIT I didn't know it was a dystopian novel. I hadn't even heard of that genre. The world of THE GIVER fascinated me, and I longed to write a book set in a world close to our own--but with a few creepy twists. Looking back now, I can say that THE GIVER was the first dystopian novel I fell in love with.

4. Holes by Louis Sachar (Seems like most of the authors on this list have very similar first names!) The books I write tend to be more plot driven than character driven. This book inspires me because I believe it to be one of the most brilliantly plotted books of all time.

5. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom I don't read many adult books, and I read even less non-fiction. So for me to include an adult non-fiction on my list, you know it has to be special. This book just inspires me to be a better person. Corrie and her family helped others at great risk to their personal safety. Surely I can help others, even if it is an inconvenience to me.    

What a fabulous list! I love seeing books that influenced all these authors!

Kristen has split her life between both Utah and Michigan. She has seven brothers and sisters and now four kids of her own. She has been writing since age three! Besides The Limit, Kristen has written another book called Life in the Pit. She has also contributed to a short story collection called Family Ties. Be sure to check them out!

Places to connect:

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Confessions

Fun prompt today over at The Broke and the Bookish! It's confession time! I'm not exactly sure what direction to take this, but let's see what happens!

Top Ten Bookish Confessions

1. I confess.... I have a hard time remembering character names! Argh, it makes me crazy! When I go to write a review, if I even decide to mention a name (sometimes I leave it right out!) I have to look it up... even if I just finished the book. What's up with that? Some names do stick in my head, and if a book is popular, or I've read it a gazillion times, then yeah, I'm good!

2. I confess... I am an unobservant reader. I miss things, I miss REALLY BIG things sometimes. Maybe I'm reading too fast, maybe I'm reading when I'm too tired, maybe I'm just plain OUT OF IT, but often I'll be like... "Ummm.... so where exactly did it say that?"

3. I confess...bad writing doesn't bother me... for the most part. I mean, sometimes I'll notice it but usually I can still enjoy the story and read along just fine. Lots of adverbs? Who cares? Repetition? Eh... whatever.

4. I confess... I write reviews that are often too nice. Okay.... always too nice perhaps? I find it very hard to be mean to a book, really, I do. And I like them all, pretty much. Thus, the nice reviews.

5. I confess... I am a book snob. There are certain people who think they are readers (and I can tell you right now if you are reading this you are NOT one of them) but they really aren't.... well, at least in my opinion, and that's where the snobbery comes in. I feel like you should have a certain... broadness... to your reading in order to be called a reader. Know what I mean?  A wide vision, a big picture. Yeah, okay, so this confession makes me nervous!! But there are some people where you can instantly tell that you won't be able to talk books with them, no matter how hard you try.

6. I confess.... I HATE it when someone says, "but seriously, I just don't have time to read!" People. People people people! Change the phrase at least! You can say this instead, "I don't FIND time to read!" :)

7. I confess... I like the bad boys. Why? I have no idea. Maybe someone can explain this to me? Probably because my life is so very tame and normal that living on the edge through a book is a fun to do? Yeah, probably.

8. I confess... I think brainless books are fun. You know the kind? The ones where you seriously don't have to use your brain at all to read them? Fun, I tell you.

9. I confess.... I will keep a book from the library, past its due date, with the hope and plan to still read it... even if someone else has it on hold. SORRY!!! (And I just barely did this and boy, I'm SO glad I did!)

10. I confess.... there was one time where I bought a book for a gift, but read it first, THEN wrapped it, then gave it! GASP. But I think it was "just" my mom, so I don't really feel all that too terrible about it.

Whew! That was an interesting exercise! Do you have any similar confessions to mine? I'm hoping I'm not the only one in some of these! Please, fess up!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: The Limit by Kristen Landon

Book: The Limit by Kristen Landon
Genre: MG Dystopian
For: Utah Book Month
From: I bought this one at a book festival last year.... I think.

It was an interesting experience reading a middle grade dystopian story. I felt the distress of the characters situation, but without the trauma that one usually finds in these sorts of books. And the ending was nicely wrapped up and left me with a hopeful feeling. Not many dystopians do that. They are always very much depressing!

Anyway, so this one is about a society a little bit, but not very much, in the future. Basically, money has been eliminated and everyone has an account, which is accessed by scanning the person's eye. Yes. And if you go over your limit, then you are in SO much trouble! In fact, they take a kid from your family away to work until they've worked off the overage. At least, that's the idea.

So of course the kid in this story gets sent to the work house, (because he has crazy parents who don't seem to care about their limit... sound familiar and or possible?) which surprisingly turns out to be a not-so-bad place. But then he starts wondering... what's REALLY going on? His parents, boy oh boy, they don't have a clue! Talk about some awful parents. Sheesh. Well, maybe they are trying, but seriously, I can't even imagine behaving the way they do. So it's all up to this kid to help himself out of this situation.

However, the kid is pretty much a genius and he can do this! And it's fun to see how he figures out the mystery of this place he's been sent to. He's made some decent friends in there, and they help him along the way.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed this one! A fun and interesting story.

Other Reviews:

Presenting Lenore
The BookBind
Gamila's Book Review
Stiletto Storytime

Authors Pick Five: Sheila A. Neilson

As part of Utah Book Month and in conjunction with my reading and review of her book Forbidden Sea, I've asked Sheila Neilson to participate in my Authors Pick Five feature and answer this one question:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

Here's what she had to say:

Trixie Belden Series

I used to be one of those kids who was obsessed with horses. There was a time when I refused to even look at any book if it didn't have a one starring somewhere in it. Trixie Belden had horses--but she also solved mysteries. Because of Trixie Belden, I discovered that I liked mystery books even more than I liked horse books. That was when I--*gasp*--branched out and started reading books without horses in them. Thank goodness for Trixie Belden. 

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

This was my favorite book growing up. I've probably read and re-read this book more than any other novel. I felt a real connection to Emily, who wanted to be a writer just like I did. Emily didn't let anything stop her from reaching her goal and I wanted to be just like her. Many years later, I read these books aloud to my aging grandmother. She was just as delighted with them as I had been as a child. Now that my grandmother is gone, I still carry in my heart, those tender memories of sharing with her my favorite childhood books.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

This was the book that introduced me to fantasy--now my favorite genre to write. Before Beauty, I had mostly read contemporary fiction and mysteries stories. It was Beauty that showed me all the possibilities of a fantasy book well written. My own novel, Forbidden Sea, owes a great deal of its fairytale flavor to a love of that style which Beauty awakened in me long ago.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine and Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

As an adult, I gave up reading middle grade and young adult books for years before rediscovering them a second time. These were the two books that helped me remember the joy of reading juvenile fiction all over again. Without them, I would never have become an author of teen fiction--or a children's librarian, for that matter. Oh what a world of opportunity I would have missed had I not picked both of these titles up and given children's literature a second chance!


Sheila has been a children's librarian in here in Utah for 15 years, but she says she hopes to be a full time author some day. About her many hobbies she says: "Among my top five interests are doll collecting, art, reading, writing, and horseback riding. I also collect mermaids--but ONLY those wearing fantastic mermaid outfits. Which is near impossible to find, believe me. But that is what makes collecting them so much more fun than the regular kind. : )"

You can follow her at these places:


Thanks to Sheila for participating! I love your list!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Utah Book Blogger Party... It's a Wrap!

Hey! So we had a party last Friday night and people came! I'm always amazed! We had lots of fun, playing a "guess the character" game, and a silly book swap, and eating all sorts of desserts, (some even healthy ones,) and just talking and meeting new and old people, bloggers and authors alike.

Here are a few pictures we managed to take and/or steal:

Let the party start!
Here we are playing "guess the character." Can you see the sticker there on
Kami's (Kami's Library Thoughts) back?
(at least I think that's Kami?)
And look! There's Natasha from Maw Books! With her beautiful baby!
I also see Penelope, from The Reading Fever, right there in the center.
On the right, I think that is Melanie, Diana's friend (Book Adventures) and
I also see just a bit of Heather from The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl.

Waiting for the swapping to start!
There's me in the purple, next to Kami and Penelope.
I also see Emily (Emily's Reading Room) on the right,
and Kathy from Read This Instead in the chair.
You'll find those with their backs to us down below,
except for Enna from Squeaky Books, who you will not find
anywhere in these pictures.. except I can see her here... can you?!

The whole crowd.

We covered the books for swapping and played the LEFT RIGHT game.
See story below.

We had desserts!

Oh wait! Here's Enna!
She brought a mask, but ended up tangled instead.
Penelope is hoping to untangle her here.

Kami and Emily,
they've been buddies since 3rd grade!

The three with there backs to us in the picture above:
Jessica from Books: A True Story
(Hey and I have an interview with her this week! Come back to see!)
Jenny from Alternate Readality and
Jessica from The Bluestocking Society

Melanie, who says she is a reader not a blogger,
and her friend Diana from Book Adventures

More of the circle!
I think during the swap game?

Hey and look!
It's me and Jenny! :)

Here are some of our author friends:
Nichole Giles
Chersti Nieveen
Jenn Johansson
Sara Raasch
Natalie Whipple
and not pictured
Julia King
Heather Moore
I brought these and they turned out pretty good!
Chocolate Macaroon Squares
(That link goes to the recipe for those interested,
which I actually found in a Nestle book I had.
But I left out the pecans!)
And finally, I thought I'd include this story I wrote for the book swap LEFT RIGHT game... you  know.. that's where you pass your book/present every time LEFT or RIGHT is mentioned? Yeah... that one. It got a little crazy and let me just say, we bloggers and authors had a little LEFT RIGHT issue going on!

But anyway, I thought some of you may get a kick out of this, so here's the story, which I call.....


Once upon a time, a few people in Utah started blogging about books. At first, they thought they were the only ones! But then one day, a couple of them went to an author event. While there, they stood RIGHT by each other in line to see James Dashner! Even though he wasn’t there because he LEFT to get stuff from his car! But he came RIGHT back and signed things and afterwards, they went RIGHT home to WRITE about the event RIGHT away on their blogs.

Then one said to the other, “Gasp! You were RIGHT by me the whole time and we didn’t know it? We LEFT without saying a thing to each other? We need to fix that! So how about we have a party RIGHT away?”

Several months later, they gathered all the other ten bloggers in Utah and had their first party. And guess who was there? You are RIGHT! James Dashner himself! He talked about a new book he had coming up soon, it was called The Maze Runner. He said, “It’s about this kid who knows RIGHT from the start that he LEFT his memory behind! And now he is stuck in a maze. And all he wants to do is get RIGHT out. So one day, he becomes the runner, and gets out there in that maze and he turns RIGHT, then LEFT, then RIGHT, then RIGHT again, then RIGHT again, and then LEFT, and LEFT and RIGHT. Whew. Finally, he.... well, I can’t tell you because that would give it RIGHT away!”

A few months later, a few more people started blogging so we had another party. It was a crazy day! It was so hot and remember? The city had an event in the park... we knew the bloggers were RIGHT there but we couldn’t get to them because the road was blocked! So we LEFT and went up and RIGHT around the whole park and back down and finally all found each other.

This time we had several more authors join us. We asked them RIGHT away, “So, what’s your book about?” One said, “mine is about a boy who LEFT the family that took care of him and then comes back, quite changed. Grace knew him almost RIGHT away and RIGHT away she was loving him all over again. But wait, is this a good RIGHT thing? Or not?” What book is it? RIGHT!!! The Dark Divine! by Bree Despain

The other said her book was so very serious... about a boy who LEFT all his friends... yep, you are RIGHT, he died. And they all talk about him and have memories of him. Which one of them is RIGHT in their thoughts they have? You are RIGHT! They all are!  What book is it? RIGHT! The Way He Lived. by Emily Wing Smith.

Finally, the other author said her book was about aliens, and that’s all I can tell you because that book never came out. Instead, a few years later, we got to read her book about a girl who LEFT her family, but then came back, (but not RIGHT back) and has six months to make everything RIGHT again before she LEFT again to go be in the Everneath with a very scary dude. Opps, I gave that title RIGHT away! Sorry Brodi Ashton!

Then we had a couple of parties at Golden Corral where we were nearly RIGHT on top of each other because now it’s so crowded with all our bloggers and authors and WRITE-rs! At those parties, we brought books to swap and everyone LEFT their books on the table where RIGHT away there was a mad rush to get the popular ARCs. We also LEFT our fancy blogger cards, and we LEFT our email addresses and Twitter names with each other. Yes we LEFT the place with lots of new blogger friends, and went RIGHT home and got on Twitter RIGHT away to share pictures and stories with each other.

Now, there are so many bloggers, it has LEFT our spreadsheet in the dust and we can’t keep it all RIGHT anymore! But at least, now when we go to the book festivals, and author signings and launch parties, we know each other RIGHT away, whether we are standing RIGHT by each other or way over LEFT across the way... now we can say hi and talk books to our hearts content and everything is RIGHT with the book blogging world!


Ah, yes... we had fun! Thanks to all of you who came! To those that didn't, we'll see you next time!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Book: Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson
Genre: MG Fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Utah Book Month
From: I bought this one at last year's Scholastic book fair.

This book was really good! I don't know for sure what I was expecting...  maybe a simple mermaid story with simple characters. What I got was a cool mermaid story with a lot of heart and lots of wonderful and interesting characters instead!

This story is about a girl, Adrianne, who lives on an island in what feels like a time of the past, struggling with her family to make ends meet. She's got a nasty aunt, a depressed mom and sweet younger sweet, all who depend on her. She's also got a friend that's a boy, you know the kind, great pals all their lives and now suddenly, she is seeing him in a different way. I never get tired of that!

Anyway, so the people on this island tell a legend about a mermaid who stole away a girl years ago, to be marry the sea prince. One day, during a storm, Adrianne herself has an encounter with a mermaid and all those stories come rushing back and she wonders how this will affect her life. Are the legends true? And do mermaids really exist after all? And are they as bad as people have said all these years? To top it all off, she is then faced with a massive decision that could change her life forever.

I've not read many mermaid tales, and so I had no expectations about the mermaid aspect of this story. It was fun to see what the author came up with and to picture that world in my mind. So different from anything I've read. It's changed my idea of mermaids!

As I said, I was also surprised at the depth of these characters. Adrianne felt very real to me and I loved her boy buddy Denn too. She had also had a fabulous relationship with her little sister, one that reminded me of Katniss and Prim. But I truly thought all the characters were great.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed this one a lot! So glad to have managed it for my Utah book reading this month.

Other Reviews:

Good Clean Reads
The Literate Mother
Fantasy Book Critic

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mini Challenge Hosts Needed for Bloggiesta!

Hey everyone! It's time once again to be planning for the next round of Bloggiesta fun! The dates for this upcoming Bloggiesta are:

September 28, 29 and 30!
Mark your calendars now!

If you are new around here and have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a little explanation. Bloggiesta is a three day event created by Natasha from Maw Books several years ago where bloggers everywhere come together to work on spiffing up their blogs. It's time to make goals to solve those annoying blog problems you've been meaning to fix, or adding some fun features, or catching up on reviews or whatever blog thing you've fallen behind in. It's time to be brave and learn something new, or teach something new to other bloggers.

Yes, as part of this event, we gather a bunch of host bloggers who teach us about a fun blog related topic and post a "how to" or a pep talk on their blog. These are Bloggiesta Mini Challenges! And it's time now to find who will be interested in participating in this aspect of Bloggiesta.

To be a mini challenge host you should expect to write up a detailed post on some blog topic of your choice. You can, but don't have to, have a prize or giveaway in conjunction with your challenge. You should make it actually BE a challenge and give readers and bloggers some sort of task to accomplish so they can say they have DONE the challenge.

You will need to have your post written up and published the day before the event starts, so we can gather the links and post them all in one place. That would be September 27. Also, hopefully you will plan to be around throughout the event, visiting and helping those bloggers that are participating in your challenge.

And that's it!

Here are some suggestions we gathered after the last Bloggiesta back in April for challenge topics
  • Google Reader hints and helps
  • using Evernote in conjunction with blogging
  • how to add drop down menus
  • time management help
  • discussion post ideas
  • creating a blogger's notebook
  • balancing life and blogging
  • guests posts how to
  • scheduling posts and blog organization
  • monetizing
  • more on SEO
  • mobile friendly help
  • gravatars and favicons
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Of course, you can come up with your own idea too! Or, if you have hosted a mini challenge in the past, you can spiff that up and we'll share that again for those that missed it the first time around. Be sure to let us know in the form below if that's what you want to do.

So.. .yes.... if you want to participate as mini challenge host for Bloggiesta on Sept. 28-30, please let us know by filling out the form below with your information and the challenge ideas you'd like to do. We'll take submissions for a week until Aug. 31 and then we'll look it over and decide which ones we'll use and let you know. 

Make sense? Let us know (either comment here or over at There's a Book) if you have questions. Thanks!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Book: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Genre: SF
Rating: ★★★★★
For: Book Club
From: The library (though I have several copies of my own)

This book is one that has a secure spot on my all time favorite list. When it came to my attention that most of the book club hadn't read it yet, I campaigned for it to be on the line up this year! Thankfully, they all seemed to agree and voted it  in.

I hoped to get a re-read of it done before book club, and I made a pretty good effort and had it "mostly" read by the time we met last Thursday evening. The book flew by for me, once again, and I enjoyed remembering the story and all the things I love about it. (I finished up those last few pages as soon as book club was over.)

Quick summary for those unfamiliar with the story.... it's about a young kid, only six years old, named Ender. He is born as a third child at a time when third kids are not allowed. However, they let his parents have him on the condition that if he turns out to fit all the parameters of a someone who could go to Battle School and learn how to command the war, they would give him up to the government to do so.

Well, of course it turns out that he does turn out smart and perfect and so as this young genius kid (who nobody likes except his sister) he ends up at a space station school were he basically plays games that teach him fighting strategy and how to be ruthless and how to make quick decisions, etc. All this with the end in mind that he will participate in the real war against an alien race the world knows as the Buggers. (Think the Skitters from Falling Skies!)

When I read this for the first time back in the 80s I was blown away by the story. I had never read anything like it. I was reading it at time before email, before iPads, before blogging... and now considering all that stuff is in there, it's fascinating to see it all happen. (The book was actually written in the late 70s which makes it even more impressive.) I was reading it before The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, Delirium, Matched and all the other recent popular dsytopian books. Back then we called it plain old science fiction, but it was unlike any I'd read before.

I had never read a book where a kid acted like an adult, where he came from a world that expected him to be so smart and where he was basically FORCED to act like an adult. I also was fascinated with the video game aspect of things... how the games were so real that in fact it was hard to tell the difference sometimes... which is another thing that has come true for us in this time.

I also simply enjoyed the storytelling and the writing. It continues to grab me even on this my third time through the book. (I think I read this for my second time when I recommended it to my son about ten years ago.) It's harsh and blunt and violent and yet you feel for this kid, and you root for him and you ache for him, so that emotional element I'm always talking about yearning for is all in least for me. And when I read it for the first time, the ending absolutely blew me away. Maybe I'm a stupid reader (this could be a topic for a post some day, because I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's most probably quite true!) but I did not expect it to end the way it did, and it made me a little crazy... for a long time!

I will admit the political parts, as always, tend to baffle me and go over my head. I think this is why, though I've read and enjoyed them, the sequels to this book haven't been ones that I've promoted and talked about much.

But this book, I think, ends up on all my lists (see my Top Ten lists!) probably only second to The Book Thief!

Bottom line: I know that this is one of those books that people either tend to love or hate. Obviously I'm in the love camp. Have you read it. Which camp are you in? Love it, or hate it?

P.S. Have you heard there's going to be a movie? Wow, that took them awhile!

This kid will be playing Ender. I think he will fit the part perfectly,
even if he is actually a bit on the old side now.

P.P.S. This book could actually sort of be considered part of my Utah Book Month reading since the author was raised here, in fact just down the street from me I'm told.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Utah Book Month Blogger Interview: Jennifer from My Life with Books

Today, I am happy to introduce to you Utah book blogger, Jennifer from My Life with Books! Welcome!

From her about page on her blog, Jennifer says: 

I am a 30 something nurse turned stay at home mom with two beautiful (adopted) children that are ages 4 and 3. I read young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy and some dystopian books. I like a kick bottom heroine who can take care of herself but also let others help her when she needs it. And also: I hate having dirty feet. I love ice cream - any ice cream but prefer chocolate. Mmm chocolate. I also love Pepsi, buttery popcorn and watching the previews at movies. TV is awesome and during fall schedule all of my days around the TV shows I like to watch. (What the heck am I going to do on Thursdays this fall? Too many shows to watch!) Reading isn't the only thing I like to do, some of my other hobbies include shooting guns competitively, camping, and hunting, gardening and hanging out with my family.

Here a some questions I asked her for us to get to know her even better:

 1. Tell me about how you got started blogging, and tell us one of your favorite blogging experiences so far.

 I started blogging to talk about books, I felt bad for my poor husband having to hear all about my latest favorite book obsession.

 My favorite experience is just getting to know people and specifically helping authors get word out about their books.

 2. What's the best book you've read so far this year? What's the best Utah book you've read so far this year?

 I LOVED Deborah Harkness Discovery of Witches, it is smart, intense and most importantly paranormal.

 My favorite Utah Author book is Angela Corbett’s Eternal Starling.

 3. I see you like TV too! What's your absolute favorite show?

 Oh wow, that's like asking me my favorite book! This summer I have been hooked on Teen Wolf and The Walking Dead. I also get a kick out of Glee and New Girl. I live for Thursdays with Bones and The Vampire Diaries but the one show that makes me happiest is Wipeout. There is nothing as funny as people falling down! :)

 4. What's the best Utah author encounter you've had?

 I had the opportunity to participate in Lani Woodland, Angela Corbett and Dan Haring's book tours this last year. Finally getting to meet them this summer at a Kings English book signing was AMAZING. It happens to be one of the best book signings I have been to. They were like a little family full of teasing and candid friendship. My goal is to help wonderful authors like these three succeed, hopefully I was able to do that for them, even if it was just a tiny bit.

 5. What would your PERFECT day include?

 When I close my eyes and go to my happy place I am sitting in a comfy Adirondack chair enjoying cool ocean breezes on a hot day; pants rolled up and my feet buried in sand with a few random sneaker waves  tickling my toes. I tip my head back and let the sun's rays warm my face while I listen to the birds and crashing waves on the beautiful rocks of the northwest. I love the mountains, the beach and the ocean; the northwest coast offers all of these elements that make me happy. What is better than pine trees at the beach? I know, throw a great book in the mix and I could die happy. Physically I get to visit about once a year; mentally I get there more often. ;-)

 6. But... how do you actually spend your days in real life?

 I have a 5 year old daughter, a 4 year old son and a sassy black lab dog. I also watch my 3 year old niece. My day consist of stopping fights, cleaning messes, swim lessons, tee ball, soccer and trying to get a page or two read during the day. Laundry, dishes and at least one Pepsi that is my guilty pleasure. I usually stay up late or get up early to read and watch my shows. (Thank you Hulu). I also take the kids to the children's library once a day for story time. I want my kids to develop a love of reading too.

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

 This is another hard question. Of course I would love to be a Hogwarts student or the student of Atticus O’Sullivan’s and learn to be a druid. But if I could trade places with any one character it would be Mercy Thompson. How cool would it be to be a shape shifter AND know how to fix my own car?

 8. Tell us about a favorite bookish memory.

 Listening to my mom read me to sleep every night as a child. As an adult and a parent I can’t believe how much time she spent doing that for me and how much it means to me now.

 9. What new-to-you author have you discovered recently?

 I found a great little book for free on amazon called Mayfair Moon by J. A. Redmerski. Its an indie book but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets picked up by a publisher. I've read book two that does need some finessing but I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out. It’s a great story for an older young adult audience. (18 and up)

 10. What's your favorite: movie, food, color, candy, song, band/singer?

 I watch the Harry Potter movies a lot, usually when I do my housecleaning. I giggle and quote 50 First Dates often and I love Chinese and Mexican food. My life would cease without Pepsi and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I like the color purple and recently I have become addicted to the band FUN. (Currently the Gambler by them is topping my fave) but it’s Don Williams music that calms my soul on a rough day.

Other places to connect with Jennifer and her blog:

Thanks so much for participating in Utah Book Month, Jennifer! It's fun to get to know you better!


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