Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: With or Without You by Domenica Ruta

Book: With or Without You by Domenica Ruta
Genre: Memoir
For: Review
From: NetGalley

I almost didn't it make it to this book! But I managed to stick it in and that's been a good thing. Wow, what a ride.

The thing is, here's yet again another book that's about the author's crazy childhood and early adulthood. And once again it makes me realize how very sheltered my life has been! To think people are dealing with these problems in real life, every day, every where! It makes me sad for them, and yet happy that I've been so lucky.

The author, very beautifully, writes about her life, being raised by this mom who is mostly concerned about where she's getting her next hit. I think this mom cares about her daughter deep down, and she isn't necessarily abusive in the way we normally think, and yet, she does not take care of her. She encourages her to do really stupid awful things, and the situations she is put in at such a young young age make me cringe.

When the author (called Niki in the the book) gets to be old enough to make her own decisions, guess what she chooses? Not to go the other way and be clean and sober and functional,  but to follow her mom's path and be high and drunk constantly. So sad.

But, this is also the story of how she pulls out of that and look where she is today!

Be warned, this book is quite brutal and gritty. Yet as I said, beautiful at the same time. I loved the writing. I loved the lessons learned and the stories told. I love the feeling of power that comes across when someone has gone through such pain and yet has come out of it on top.

Bottom line: Thoroughly enjoyed it, grit and all.

Other Reviews:

There's nothing like a memoir by a gal with a messed up childhood to make you feel better about the way you were raised. From The Relentless Reader

Shockingly honest and honestly shocking, this is an astonishing memoir. From Reviews by Sammi

Ruta can write, as I hope the quotations I’ve chosen show, and I would have no hesitation at picking up another book by her. From The Writes of Women

A Poignant Post: In Defense of the Word

So the other week during her presentation  Megan Whalen Turner gave all readers advice, saying "Never read a book with poignant on the back!" 

We all laughed. I laughed. It's very funny, yes?

And yet, later in thinking it over, I wondered.... but why? Why SHOULDN'T we read a book declared poignant?

Is it because that word is way too much overused? (I've used it! Many times. Have you?)

Is it because no one really knows what it means?

Is it because it's a word reviewers and blurbers use when they can't think of anything else?

Or is it that we shouldn't like poignant books?

Let me help you out here.

The definition of poignant according to

: pungently pervasive <a poignant perfume>
a (1) : painfully affecting the feelings : piercing (2) : deeply affecting : touching
b : designed to make an impression : cutting <poignant satire>
a : pleasurably stimulating
b : being to the point : apt

Sounds like a book I'd want to read actually!

Okay, here are some words to use in place of poignant, should you so need them (also nabbed from

affecting, emotional, impactful, impressive, moving,stirring, touching, eloquent, expressive, meaningful, significant;demonstrative, excitable, feeling, passionate, responsive,sensitive; exciting, inspirational, provoking, rousing,stimulating; dramatic, histrionic, melodramatic, theatrical,cathartic

Now it REALLY sounds like a book I'd want to read!

Here's a trend I'm seeing a lot lately all around twitter and on many many blogs to describe a book: "It makes you feel ALL THE THINGS".... or "I felt ALL THE FEELS!!" (You've seen this too, right? Have you used it yet? I think I may have once or twice!)

So, is that not just saying poignant, without saying poignant? I think so, yes!

And while I like the above phrase, and it makes me smile, and it gets the point across,  I do think it is on its way to being overused AND if it's not a cop out for "I-don't-know-what-word-to-use-to-describe-the-feelings-I-felt-but-I-felt-them".... I don't know what is!

And so I for one will NOT be turned off from a book that's been declared poignant and while I may try not to not use that word myself to describe a book, I guarantee nothing!

What about you? Do you hate the word? Will you take the above advice to heart? Or does this word not bother you so much? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Club 2013-2014 Voting List!

The book club at my house is currently voting on these books for our next year's line up. Which ones do you think are MUST reads for us? Or on the other hand, do you see some that we should totally avoid at all cost?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Literary Fiction
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
March by Geraldine Brooks
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

There's only a handful on here that I haven't yet read, so those are the ones I'm voting for! I'll let you know soon which books win, 'cause I know you'll be dying for the results!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto Buy Authors

So I'm thinking that this list is going to be no surprise to those who regularly read this blog. But since today's prompt over at The Broke and the Bookish is which authors will you automatically buy their books, no questions asked.... I'm ready to list them all again!

My Top Ten Auto Buy Authors

1. Markus Zusak.... hello. What's there even to say? :)
2. John Green.... I love his stuff and his books make me happy.
3. Maggie Stiefvater... she is a newcomer to this list, but after the last couple books, I think I'll be buying.
4. Brandon Sanderson... with a little qualification here. I will buy his adult fantasy, but so far I haven't felt the need to buy his MG things. (I have just the one.) And the adult fantasy I haven't kept up on, but I will get there.
5. Shannon Hale... local famous author who writes amazing books. I'll be buying.
6. Ally Condie... ditto for Ally.
7. Patrick Rothfuss.... he has me hooked on the world he's created, and I can't wait for more. When he does start a new series with a new world, I'll be there for that one too!
8. Dan Wells.... I don't care what he writes, I will read it.
9. Suzanne Collins... what will she come up with next? I'll buy to find out!
10. Melina Marchetta... I would like to list her here, but so far, I've only read her books from the library. Let's fix that!

Which authors will you automatically buy? Do we share any of the same? Who should I add to my list?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review and Book Club Report: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orszy

Book: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Genre: Classic 
Rating: ★★★★★
For: Book Club
From: book club set from the library

Way back about nine years ago I read this for the first time as one of the first books this book club read! (Actually, in looking at my list, it WAS the very first book!) And now we've come full circle and read it again! I loved it then, and I loved it again.

It's the story of a British guy and his buddies who have taken it upon themselves to help rescue people who have been sentenced to die by the guillotine during the French Revolution, specifically during the Reign of Terror. In order to not be discovered and caught, he masks his true personality by acting like a crazy fool. Despite this, he has married a lovely (and smart?) French actress. They were quite in love at the first, but since then he has had cause to lose his trust. They are estranged and it makes them both sad... and the lady (Marguerite) is baffled as to why.

This is the story of how she discovers many interesting things about her fool of a husband, Percy, and gets herself needlessly involved in a rescue!

I love it because it's a fast-paced, intriguing yet easy-to-read story. I love the drama and the excitement. I love the romance that's there, but not there. I love the character of Percy, how he is first one way and then another. I love the time period and the setting. I love the movies and musical that have been based on this story.

Bottom line: It's a fun enjoyable story, and I love it.

Book Club's Thoughts:

We didn't have a whole lot to say about the book at book club! Everyone (most everyone!) seemed to enjoy  it and read through it quite quickly. The main consensus was that the character of Marguerite was very unlikable and that her place in the story is a mystery, that she served no purpose. It was mentioned that while reading it, you didn't really think about that, but afterwards it hits you that she is quite the drama queen and really does the story no good. Well, except for the romance part of the story of course!

We talked about how there are many "sequels" with the Scarlet Letter character and his other adventures. I hadn't realized this and it makes me want to check those out and see what they are like!

Other Reviews:

True, it veers dangerously close to being a romance novel, but there are adequate numbers of buckles being swashed and swashes being buckled that I'm still terming it "historical adventure." From Collateral Bloggage

I do remember that I loved the romance and the action of this tale based loosely on the French Revolution. I was still spellbound by the romance and drama of it all. From BooksPlease

One of the things wrong with this book: Marguerite. What a useless character! She was used as a plot device. There was all this set up like she might actually be of some help but she never was. So freaking infuriating. From Alternate Readality

I enjoyed the book, it had a very lovely flow to the writing, that made it easy to get lost in the book, not to mention the character, the Scarlet Pimpernel, was a fun character to read about and root for, making for a very enjoyable read. From Jules' Book Reviews

Here's a fun scene from the musical, though the sound is a bit off.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Life Story: Music Memories

I’ve always been pretty obsessed about music, and there’s really nothing I can point to in my life as the thing that caused it. I’m quite sure I just came that way. Like most kids I’m assuming, I can remember my parents singing to me when I was very little, as they rocked me to sleep. I especially remember my dad singing Round and Round by Perry Como, or Ghostriders in the Sky by Sons of the Pioneers. Not your normal lullabies! My mom sang simpler songs like “In the Leafy Tree Tops” or “Give Said the Little Stream.” But I loved both sorts!

One of my favorite music memories is laying in my bed in the evening, trying to go to sleep and my dad would put a stack of classical music records on the stereo. (We had a big Magnavox stereo console, and you could stack several, even up to six, records on, and one by one they would drop down on the turntable and play automatically. It was magic!) 

My room was right off the living room and I loved to lay there and listen to them, right along with my dad who would sit in the chair and listen while he read the evening paper. The favorites that I remember where mostly Tchaikovsky like Romeo and Juliet, Caprice Italien, The Nutcracker Suite, 1812 Overture and so on. I also remember Largo from the New World Symphony by Dvorak. I’m sure I was introduced to many others like Mozart and Beethoven through this method too. But I loved it and it was perfect music to lull me to sleep. Eventually I may have even requested the records every night.

Another early music memory was going to my grandparents house on the farm in Idaho. They had a bunch of “old” records too that I begged them to play (also on a big stereo console) every time we went. Sometimes I would manage to talk my brothers and sisters into dancing all around the room as part of the experience! I especially remember the chicken and the turkey song (Turkey in the Straw?) and some old Tex Ritter country songs ( Rye Whisky) and Lynn Anderson (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden or I’ve Been Everywhere.) They also had a Jefferson Airplane album which I think my grandma was a bit embarrassed about, but they had won it as a prize somewhere or something, But I was fascinated with that music and played White Rabbit over and over again. We also hauled out out the little 45 records from the 50s and listened to things like A Tisket a Tasket and Jailhouse Rock and Tan Shoes with Pink Shoelaces!.

One day, when I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, I was home sick from school. I remember laying there in my bed feeling pretty miserable, but having an absolute joyful time listening to the radio. All day long! That’s a very distinct memory of when I discovered the awesomeness that was the radio! That day, I remember listening to David Bowie’s Fame song, and Earth Wind and Fire’s September
I’ve loved both songs to this day


Of course, at this same age, I was in love with all the Osmonds, but especially Donny. My room had Donny pull outs from Tiger Beat Magazine pinned all over. We watched the Donny and Marie show every Friday night without fail. Donny could do no wrong. At some point, I even got my own albums, one of all the Osmonds greatest hits, and one of just Donny and Marie’s famous songs. I loved every song!

You could also find pin ups in my room of Shaun Cassidy, Lief Garret, Andy Gibb (and his brothers too)  and anything Star Wars I could lay my hands on. Of course, this was about the same time as Saturday Night Fever (I movie I was not allowed to watch) but I, however, spent my own money to get the album.... my very first music purchase! Not long after that, I also bought the soundtrack to Grease (a movie I DID watch!) I guess I was also stricken with John Travolta too!

When I was in 6th grade, we had a dance every Friday afternoon. It was just our class and after lunch, we would push all the desks to the edges and start the festivities. (Our teacher was off his rocker, but that’s another story.) Thankfully, I totally loved these dances! All the kids would bring records from home and we would haul out this old ancient looking player and play the music. My friends would beg me to bring my little 45 Star Wars medley by Meco. Oh, how we loved to dance to that one! Other songs I remember being played at those 6th grade dances were More Than a Feeling by Boston, Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Those dances were quite the thing and deserve their own installment!

Around about this time, my dad bought the Star Wars soundtrack. Oh my I was in heaven with that music! Often on a Sunday evening, I would gather my albums around me, stack them on the stereo, put the big huge headphones on, and sit down and write in my journal while all my favorites played. Here’s a list of what was probably in that record album stack, some my own albums and some from my parents collection:

* How the West Was Won soundtrack
* Star Wars soundtrack
* Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass... the Whipped Cream album
* South Pacific soundtrack
* Saturday’s Warrior
* Saturday Night Fever
* Grease
* The Osmonds


When I was 13 years old, for my birthday I got a 45 record of Queen, We Will Rock You. I was so excited. I also got a Donny and Marie holder to carry all my 45 records. (Do we know what a 45 record is? It’s just a single song, one on each side. The A side had a famous song, the B side had a not so famous song.) The practice of buying 45 records continued through high school and by the time I quit the practice, I had these songs:

* We Will Rock You by Queen
* Star Wars medley by Meco
* Hey Deanie and That’s Rock ‘n Roll by Shaun Cassidy
* Love You Inside and Out by The Bee Gees
* You Take my Breath Away by Rex Smith
* She Believes in Me by Kenny Rogers
* Rocky by Austin Roberts
* Only Time Will Tell by Asia
* Stray Cats Strut by Stray Cats
* Red Skies by The Fixx
* Burning Down the House by Talking Heads
* Break my Stride by Matthew Wilder

(I made a playlist on YouTube with all these songs if you are interested!)

Through junior high and high school all my music obsessions blend a bit together. But make no mistake. I WAS obsessed! Some of my favorites that I remember: Asia, Loverboy, The Fixx, Journey, The Cars, Saga, Rush, a-ha, Lionel Richie, Chicago, Billy Joel, The Alan Parsons Project, The Thompson Twins, ABC.. and so many others!

One of the first concerts I went to, if not the very first, was the Beach Boys. We drove up north about an hour to get to it, with all my friends. Later, my then boyfriend (now husband) took me to both Lionel Richie and Billy Joel. I also have recollection of going to Chicago (ha, the band not the city!) twice, and Barry Manilow once while in college. These concerts were quite the investment at $15 bucks a ticket! Can you even imagine! 

But it wasn’t just the rock music I loved in high school. I was also very much into Mannheim Steamroller. And went twice to a Maynard Ferguson concert! I thought my ears would never be the same after those two shows! Wow, that was some loud trumpet playing!

Of course, I became a band geek in 5th grade when I picked up a clarinet and learned how to play it. I didn’t know then what an important move that was for my life, but it shaped my whole high school and college experiences. But that too, is another story!

Shortly after I got married, a new thing called compact discs began appearing. I remember going to a specialty store just buy the things. I think the first CD we bought was Enya, the one with Orinoco Flow on it. And from there, we went crazy with the things! And still buy them even though they have gone a bit out of style. 

I don’t remember being much into musicals when I was growing up, except maybe Fiddler on the Roof which my dad loved. But a few years into married life, we discovered the theater. First, we went to the outdoor theater here in town, and took the kids, all summer long. Then we had the opportunity to buy season tickets, front row, to the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake and have hung onto those for probably 18 years now at least. What awesome shows we’ve seen. And our CD collection of Broadway music is now pretty impressive.

Well, I have many many more music stories and memories, but I’ll leave it here for now. These are some of the earlier ones and have sparked some thoughts and ideas for future life stories to tell.

Do any of my music memories match yours? Did I make you think of your own music memories? I'd love for you to share! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Where In The World Are You Reading: Comfy Spot

The question this month for the Where in the World Are You Reading meme is:

Where's your comfy reading spot?

And the answer is:

My bed of course!!!!

And for those of you keeping track, see that blank wall above the bed? THAT'S where my hexagon wall quilt is going to go, along with an awesome wooden quilt hanger thing that I'm going to get my husband to make! Should we keep track of how long that's going to take us??? 

Anyway, reading in bed with lots of quilts and pillows piled around me (or the ceiling fan going if it's summer) is the best comfy reading spot I know!

Where's your comfy spot? Link up this month over at The Written World.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

Movie: Beautiful Creatures
Genre: Fantasy
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Alden Ehrenreich
Rating: PG-13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I was a bit leery about going to this movie. The trailers made it seem so very cheesy (though cheesy rarely scares me!) but I'd heard from my husband's friend that it was different, better even, then most chick flicks and even though it might look like another Twilight, it was not. At least that was his assessment.

So, I made everyone go with me over the holiday weekend, to see what we thought.

And... I liked it! In fact I liked it quite a lot! (My husband though, just says, it was okay.)

This is the movie made from the book (what movie isn't these days) that I reviewed here. It's about a normal kid who's bored with his life when suddenly everything changes and gets quite exciting when a new girl moves in. He finds out she is some sort of witch, no, make that... a Caster! And their lives are intertwined because of an ancient spell and subsequent curse.

So what I especially loved about the movie and was surprised to see, was how funny and witty it was! This kid, Alden Ehrenreich, was awesome! What a wonderful job he did! And such funny things he says! Love his personality! I'm sure those lines were in the book, but I probably missed them at the time. The movie is great for bringing all that out.

I loved Jeremy Irons too, how could I not. He is so fun to watch... and listen to.

Some of the witchy stuff was a little over the top and weird perhaps, but you know, not that bad. And like the book, I really loved the connection with the past... the Civil War.

I never managed to read the book sequels, but now that the story is fresh in my mind, I hope to get to them, especially now that I just loaded them on my Kindle!

But anyway, I do think you readers who love the YA books will love this one.

Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Five Stars: Real or Not Real?

So the other day when I was at an LTUE panel about reviewing books, the conversation turned to rating books. As always, the discussion gets fairly lively for this topic, but I was shocked when one of the dudes on the panel said "five star ratings are fake!"

Perhaps he was referring to Amazon star ratting exclusively, because you know we've all heard of the stories of people getting paid to put positive reviews on there. Because, yes, we did talk a lot about the difference between reviews on Goodreads compared to those on Amazon. And Amazon is just not to be trusted. I guess.

But the way I took it to mean was that all five star ratings should be dismissed by the author and even the reading public with the idea that that reviewer is just way too bias to give a legitimate review. Or something. And that the only meaningful reviews are those that fall in the 3 and 4 star category. I mean, I sat there confused for the rest of the time wondering about it and getting even a little miffed. Of course, I didn't have the guts to ask a follow up question and make him clarify what he meant.

Instead, I sat there and wondered about what rating I should give to all those books I absolutely love! The books that stick with me, that I can't stop thinking about, whose characters I completely fall in love with! The books that I want to read over and over again, and tell everyone else to read NOW! The books that I want to hug and keep forever!  Do not those books deserve a five star rating? And if I give it to them, is that FAKE? And to be dismissed as worthless? What?

Okay so I've been accused of liking too many books. A thought that I find funny, actually, given the fact that I've made the habit of reading and talking up books a huge part of my life! It seems you'd just assume that I like them for the most part, right? And in fact, there was a guy on the panel, a book reviewer, that seemed to talk a lot about all the books he hates. (Because the discussion of course tended to go the direction of what to do when you DON'T like a book.) And it made me think, I wonder if he likes ANY of the books he reads and reviews? But of course he does, he has list on his site!

Anyway, so yes, it appears that I like most of the books I read, and lately I've tried to be more stingy with the five stars so that they will mean a little more, and I understand that if I give everything five stars, then the meaning of the rating is essentially gone. But if I am consciously trying to only give five stars to books that fit the above criteria, then one thing they are not is FAKE.

They are so very very real, and it truly means that I love that book.

So I will keep giving out the five stars, even if I review on Amazon. Take it or leave it!

That being said, I did come away from this panel with a cool new way to look at reviews (and I think it was even the above mentioned guy who came up with this):

Amazon reviews are to get people to BUY the books
Goodreads reviews are to get people to READ the books
Blog post reviews are to ENTERTAIN people about the books.

Makes sense to me.

For those that are interested, other notes I took while at this panel:

* the difference between a book review and a critique (review: speaks to the audience about your feelings of the book, a critique speaks to the author about your suggestions and advice to fix the book.)
* think of your audience (share in your book love? want to buy the book? friends?)
* there are good reviews, there are bad reviews and there are UGLY reviews (don't be ugly)
* remember kindness and honesty
* is your greater responsibility to the author or the audience? (Audience! But... don't kill the author.)

So all my expert reviewer friends, what say you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Characters in YA Contemporary

This week for our top ten lists we get to choose a genre and list our favorite characters in that genre. I could pick so many different ones! But I've chosen to go with:

Top Ten Characters in YA Contemporary

1. Joe Fontaine in The Sky is Everywhere Jandy Nelson
2. Antsy in Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman
3. Cricket in Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
4. Ed Kennedy in I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
5. Michael in The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
6. Owen Armstrong from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
7. Stargirl in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
8. Gideon in My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter
9. Hazel in The Fault in our Stars by John Green
10. Sean Griswold in Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Wow, this has made me realize how many characters I love in YA are actually in fantasy books! Whew. Harder than I thought it would be to come up with this list! How'd you do with your list?

Come join the fun over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, February 18, 2013

LTUE 2013 Recap

So this is like the fifth or sixth year I've gone to this science fiction/fantasy writers conference put on by the  local university, which we call LTUE for short, Life the Universe and Everything for long. It's been going on for years and years, even back into the dark ages I think when I went to the school! I only discovered it a few years ago when Orson Scott Card came and I went for him and then found out there was an event too!

Every year I go wondering why I'm killing myself to arrange my life so that it's possible, and every year I realize that it is just too much fun to miss. (Let me just say, life this year was against me, but I still went!) Every year I think I don't fit in, and then every year I realize that I fit in just perfectly fine. I need to own up to my nerdiness and also agree to the fact that it doesn't matter what KIND of writing I'm doing, I AM writing! Every single day!

Anyway, here's the list of classes, presentations and panels I found myself at this go around:

The First Day:

The Hobbit movie: Discussion from those in love with the book about how the movie did the job. Was it good? Was it bad? What are your quibbles with it? Most of them loved it and had very few quibbles. The quote I came out of this one with was to enjoy the journey and not worry about the apparent slowness of the beginning.

Drawing Out The Dragons: This one was a repeat of  the keynote from the year before by James Owen. I missed it, but heard it was amazing. So I was excited they had a repeat. Basically, it's this guy telling his story of overcoming great odds in order to do what he wanted to do with his life. It's quite inspiring and brings you to tears in parts. And makes you want to jump up and life your dreams.

Lloyd Alexander: a very scholarly presentation about the life and works of this author. He sounded like a very interesting and eccentric man!

Teen Romance: a panel of some of my favorite local authors discussing what should or shouldn't be in teen romance books.

Adapting Classics to Modern Settings: for some reason, this one fell short of my expectations. Maybe because the room was about 100 degrees.

Accessing the Subconscious: a presentation on how to get your subconsciousness active in the writing (and creating in general) process.

Structuring Your Life to Make Room for Creativity: probably my favorite presentation which gave some very concrete ideas on how to fit creative pursuits into a busy life. Very practical and smart. Thanks go to Sandra Taylor for this one!

Classic SF and F You Should be Reading: the presenter passed out a list of 100 books that he came up with, which was cool, and then read the list to us, which wasn't cool. He needed to book talk his favorite ten or something!

The Second Day:

50 Years of Dr. Who: Oh my, geek out galore! But fun to be a part of it, though I have yet to watch season six and there were a few spoilers discussed. Oh, well. Anyway, these people take their Dr. Who VERY seriously!

Reviewing Novels: So, this one was interesting! While I didn't learn anything much, I had fun hearing what authors and publishers thought about the subject  I have a  blog post in mind for later this week about something that was said that made me crazy. So stay tuned. Anyway, one of the panelists was Elitist Book Reviews. Take a look. What do you think? He was an interesting guy to listen to at least!

Podcasting: I keep going to these panels because the idea of having a podcast seems so fun. I have no idea why. I think Jenny and I should do one because we could do some good arguing over books I think. Would anyone find that interesting/funny/entertaining? Ha.

(This looks like a short day, but I had to work in the morning and I had to go home to be a mom in the evening, but we came back for the mass signing later. In actuality, it was a crazy insane day.)

Mass Signing where I took some really crappy pictures as usual:

Megan Whalen Turner,
signing books for ton of people.

The mass crowd at the mass signing.
I would say about 50 authors?
Something like that.

I just found out that Kasie West is friends with my cousin.
That was a fun connection!

And my The Thief copy!
I had all four signed though. Cool.
She told me she has two more books planned. :)
And the line wasn't hard at all because I had
Shanda to talk to!
The Third Day:

Social Media: I always go to these wondering if I will learn something I don't yet know. Sandra was again on this panel and she said she thought Google + is worthwhile and wishes more people would use it. So I've looked over there again, and joined a community! We'll see I guess.

Projecting the Future: This one was okay, but there was a guy on the panel that was just too, I don't know.. weird. It was making me crazy and besides I was anxious to get to the keynote speech and make sure I had a seat! So I left early....

Keynote by Megan Whalen Turner: Wow! TONS of people! She was awesome, and down to earth and straight forward. She talked about an article that bugged her that said YA books were getting too dark and that perhaps we should put warning labels on them. She shot that to pieces and said all sorts of quotabe quotes about censorship, teaching our kids to figure it out on their own, letting them have horrible reading experiences and etc. It was great.

Writing Descriptions: Hmmm... more of the same with this one, also I was getting very very tired.

The Structure of Epic Fantasy: An awesome presentations by local favorite Tracy Hickman. Very well done. I love listening to this guy.

MG vs. YA: I couldn't figure where to go to go this hour so I just stayed put and this was the discussion, the one I've heard a gazillion times. And then once that was over, I was too tired to stay put any longer, so I went home!


So much fun!

But I'm so bad at these things... mingling-wise. I did talk to people a bit at the mass signing, so that was fun, but for the most part, I'm just hanging on the edges and observing things. I did tweet a lot though. You may have noticed.

Anyway, I'm glad I went. I learned stuff and felt part the community and that's a good cool thing.


The day wasn't over yet. There was also the Breathless Reads Tour that came to the local Barnes and Noble. I debated even going. I was so tired. And the authors involved weren't ones that I get excited very about. But Ally Condie was "guest appearing" and even though I have all her books already, I thought, what the heck. I'll go. I actually found three books in my collection that could be signed by the other authors. Who knew. So we went, and listened to them answer questions for a bit. And then the line formed, and I found myself at the back, and decided that I didn't care enough, and so we went home without talking to them or getting anything at all signed!

I felt like such a slacker blogger!

But yes, I went home and crashed.

And that was my crazy bookish weekend! I feel book-evented out! It's time to just stay HOME and READ now!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wolf Hall Read Along: Review and Final Thoughts

Book: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆
For: Read Along co-hosted with Jessica from The Bluestocking Society
From: book bought from Borders going-out-of-business sale

Thanks so much to those of you who picked up Wolf Hall and read along with us! I'd love to know how the ride was for you all! Please link up your final thoughts in the linky below.

As for me, I found this to be quite the interesting experience. This book was unlike any other historical fiction I've ever read! And I'm not sure I can explain why. But here goes.

As most of you know, the story follows the life and career of Thomas Cromwell as he comes to be a close adviser of Henry VIII, England's crazy king famous for marrying many women and then chopping off their heads. You know the one?

He had a perfectly nice wife, and as far as I can tell (especially from other books I've read on the subject)  the marriage was a fairly happy one. However, he was desperate to have a boy baby to pass on the kingdom to. When his first wife, Katherine failed (funny how we now know it's the dad's fault whether a baby is a boy or a girl!!!) he wanted to divorce her by declaring their long marriage a fraud, and marry Anne Boleyn.

This book is the story of how he did just that with help from Thomas Cromwell.

The story behind this portrait was told, including the  thought
that Thomas felt like he looked like a murderer here!

In other books I've read, I'm quite sure I didn't find Thomas Cromwell likable  Well, of course, in this book he was awesome. He's portrayed as a sweet family man, and man who had a listening ear to many of the girls in the court who needed to vent (including Jane Seymour) and also a man who seemed to have a very calming effect on the king himself.

He went about his business of changing the whole course of British history with such an easy demeanor. I enjoyed this portrayal, though I still have my doubts he was truly this way. And now it makes me wonder what he was REALLY like!

The writing style, as has been mentioned before, was a most unusual one. His name was rarely mentioned, and he was just HE throughout. A paragraph would start with someone else..... like "As King Henry entered the room, he smiled." So... is the he the king? No, it's Cromwell. That made for some very very confusing moments! But, after awhile, one gets used to it I suppose! But, wow, so strange.

And conversation was often hard to follow too, with a sometimes yes, sometimes no, use of quotation marks. It was just kind of whatever she felt like through in at the moment. It gave it a very stream of conscious feel to it. You really had to be paying attention.

But all that aside, it must have worked, because as a reader, I felt very much into the story. Though I still say that a lot of the political stuff goes right over my head. I also had a hard time keeping track of characters and who was who. It helped to be a little familiar with the events though, even just a little.

Another interesting thing is the title. The whole title is a foreshadowing  Wolf Hall, the home of Jane Seymour is mentioned a couple of times, but as the book ends, and in fact the last line, refers to arranging Henry's schedule that next summer to spend some time there. Well, we all know what happens! (We do, don't we?)

If not, there's a next book... Bring up the Bodies! Sounds awesome, right? Much beheading to ensue! Let's go for it!

Bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this time in history, though it did make me want to re-read Alison Weir's book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, where everything is laid out so very clear! (If you enjoy this saga and haven't read it yet, I highly recommend!)

And now, I'd love for our fellow participants to write a final thought post and link up here:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Currently: Saturday Evening Version

C  U  R  R  E  N  T  L  Y
(as written on Saturday evening)

Listening:  to The Tenors! I just got their new CD this week. Awesome awesome stuff. I showed you Forever Young last time, so here's another:

and lest you think I'm all about the calm smooth guys lately, here's an old song I'm newly taken with by some guys who are known more for their hard rock stuff, but wow, I LOVE this mellow song:

AND because I also discovered a NEW song this week too, I want to share THAT:
(or is this really and old song too and I'm just clueless?)

Eating: not much. Nothing really. Sandwiches this week. A lot of sandwiches. 

Loving: that I managed to go to so much of LTUE this weekend. It was so crazy. And so exhausting, but I had a blast. I will l write up a summary of the experience this week, and maybe even a few other posts on things that sparked my interest while lecture listening.

Reading: I haven't read for three or four days straight. Like nothing. Today, though, I finally picked up Vanity Fair and read one chapter! Before the dry spell, I was muddling through Tris and Izzie. The reviews are right, not a good one. I added a ton of books on my Kindle that I hope to read someday, plus I accepted an TLC Book Tour review copy, and I need to re-read The Scarlet Pimpernel for book club this week! And then there's my science fiction experience that I'm still want to have! I am DROWNING! So fun!

Feeling: hmmmm... TIRED!

Watching: Survivor started! I'm happy to watch more Malcolm! And also Cochran and Dawn. It's going to be a fun season I think. Also, tomorrow night a new Amazing Race starts. Cool. I even watched a couple American Idol things this week. Meh. It seems like I watched a movie since the last report... oh yeah, Pitch Perfect. DUMB dumb movie. Nice music though.

Wanting: to watch another episode of Revenge online before it disappears. In fact, I hope it has not already done so.

Thinking: that I really should just go to bed and sleep. And it's not even very late yet. 

Exercising: not lately. Ugh.

I'm really thinking there's more to report on, but that's it for now I guess! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vanity Fair Read Along

Where one read along ends, another begins!

I've finished Wolf Hall and will be posting my review and read along ending thoughts this weekend, but meanwhile, it's time to start another read along. And this one looks even more long and chunky and scary than Wolf Hall!

This is the version I've had sitting on my shelf for years... many many years. Strange cover, don't you think? I hope this is one of those classics that I'm sucked right into and have no problem turning the pages quickly along.  I'm a little nervous, but here's to finally reading it! 

Want to join in? Click on over to Melissa's (Avid Reader's Musings) post here. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bring Out The Nerds!

Today is NOT Valentine's Day, no, instead for me it's Embrace Your Nerdiness Day! There is nothing that brings my nerdiness to my attention more than going to a science fiction/fantasy writer's conference! I love it!

Today I will embrace my nerdiness and rub shoulders with all the geekishnes I can find. Today I will NOT worry about the fact that I'm going to a writer's conference even though I don't consider myself a writer (though I do WRITE something every day....hmmm...there's a thought.) Today I will enjoy hanging out with authors and authors in the making, and other nerdy geeky bookish people. I will learn about the craft of writing, the joy of reading and the fun of enabling others to do the same. Which means I'll probably be tweeting a bunch of nerdy bookish drivel, so follow me if you think that sounds cool! (@sueysays)

Yes, today I will see you at LTUE!

(However, I will NOT be wearing a cloak, okay?)

Oh, and DFTBA!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Classics Club Spin List

The Classics Club is motivating us once again to have fun with our classics list. This week we are doing THE CLASSICS SPIN!

What this means is I pick 20 books from my list of classics I want to read (including some I'm scared of!) and then on Monday the club will pick a number between 1 and 20 and whatever book on my list that corresponds with that number, I read NOW! (Well, by April 1 they say!)

So, since I'm reading Vanity Fair with a read along already this month, this spin book will be my March classic. Hopefully.

And now, My Classic Spin List:

1. Evelina
2. Mary Barton
3. Where Angels Fear to Tread
4. Peter Pan
5. Basil
6. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
7. Anthem
8. The Bell Jar
9. Hide and Seek
10. Moll Flanders
11. Their Eyes Were Watching God
12. Felix Holt
13. Metamorphosis
14. Dandelion Wine
15. MaryAnne
16. My Friend Flicka
17. Death Comes for the Archbishop
18. In Dubious Battle
19. Eugenie Grandet
20. A Lesson Before Dying

Whew. I'm scared! I tried to not pick long ones because after Vanity Fair, not sure I can do that! Anyway, I'll let you know what my spin book ends up being. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Another Ten Romance Favorites

This week's top ten list prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is all about love and romance of course! Last year we did anti love stories, but the year before we DID list love stories. (And even before that, WAY before that I made a list of favorite couples! Beware if you click over, most of the awesome pictures I found have bad links now.) So I've decided to make another favorite love story list here, one that does NOT include anything from those first lists. Plan? So in other words, if you think I left something really very obvious out (Lizzy and Darcy for example) then you'll have to click on the above links and see what's on those other lists.

MORE Top Ten Favorite Romances

1. Perry and Aria from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

2. Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly in The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

3. Lola and Cricket in Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

4. Celia and Marco in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

5. Molly and Roger in Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

6. Sarah and Captain Jack in These is My Words by Nancy Turner

7. Prue and Kester in Precious Bane by Mary Webb

8. Anne and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion by Jane Austen

9. Han and Raisa in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

10. Paul and Hetta in The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

So? How'd I do? Do you agree? Or are you thinking, WHAT?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Book: Mind Games by Kiersten White
Genre: YA Fantasy
For: Review
From: Edelweiss (released next week Feb. 19)

While this author is not officially local, she has local ties, so I sort of count her that way! Which is why I jumped at the chance to get the eARC from Edelweiss (my first one from them!) Thankfully, they approved me! Yay! (I'm thinking it's harder to be approved there than at NetGalley? I don't know, maybe it's just me.)

Anyway, this book was completely different from her other books (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally, Endlessly.) Those are sort of a tongue in cheek, satire on all things paranormal. They are very fluffy, and funny and even a bit light (despite all the monsters!)

This book has a much darker feel. It's about two sisters who were orphaned at a young age. One of them is blind, and so the other feels this overwhelming need to take care of her sister. In so doing, they end up at what appears to be a perfect school for the blind sister, and a not-so-bad one for the other sister too! Of course, as we all know when a school looks perfect (especially in books!) it probably isn't.

Well, this school REALLY isn't! In fact this school searches out kids (always girls) that have special mind powers. And then they use them to their advantage. They things they use them for are brutal. So brutal, in fact, that the one sister (Fia, the not-blind one) is on the verge of totally losing her mind. And the blind one, Annie, is not far behind!

Everything changes though, when one day, Fia meets a guy that she is especially drawn too, and she makes a decision that could make or break them all.

The story is told from the alternating points of view of these two sisters, and then it also bounces back and forth from present moment, to years past, so we slowly get the back story.

I really enjoyed this one! Much more, I think, then even the author's previous books. I guess I liked this deeper darker story.  I found it very engaging and exciting and a little bit scary. It's written in a borderline stream of conscious which might put some people off, but I found it be that much more effective considering what's going on the brains of these girls.

The ending is crazy! Pay close attention!

Bottom line: I really enjoyed it a lot!

Other Reviews:

The plot gripped me from the first page, my eyes scanning every word wanting more. From Books with Bite

Like I was putting together the pieces of a puzzle while I read. And then when they all got into place it was just like, “Oooooh…NO WAY!” From Anna Reads

Think Nikita for Teens! From YA Book Nerd

It was definitely a psychological thriller which kept me glued and on edge all the time. From Bewitched Bookworms

There's an awesome book trailer for this one:


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