Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Non Fiction

Here's the thing with non-fiction and me. I usually push it to the side and favor fiction over that "learning" stuff! BUT, when I do finally pick up the book, I almost always love it. I don't know why I don't make more time for it. Probably, simply... there's not enough time to read it all and I get frustrated!

Anyway, some of my favorite non-fiction books, ones that I absolutely loved:

Coop by Michael Perry
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Seabiscuit by Laura Hildebrand
John Adams by David McCullough
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Wonderful wonderful books all!

What are some of your favorites? Which non-fiction books am I missing that I NEED to read NOW?

Come and play over at Armchair BEA!

Armchair BEA: Ethics

It's quite the heavy topic today at Armchair BEA! Ethics! I' not sure what I have to add to this discussion but we'll see what I come up with here.

First of all, I've been really lucky and have manged to stay out of the drama and far away from the center of unethical action! At least as far as I know. If plagiarism has touched me, I've remained blissfully unaware. I do remember one website that just took everyone's post and re-posted them, but I think we were credited... sort of. Not sure that makes it better, but I think they were busted.

Anyway, I get sad when all the hoopla happens with some sort of blogging drama, but I guess we end up all learning something from it. Hopefully. I think some people thrive on it though, so it will always be there and will always keep happening.

As far as giving credit, it's pretty simple. If you get an idea from someone else, say... "Hey,  I saw this on so and so's blog and this it what they said, and this what I think." Link to them. And then they will be, hopefully, pleased with the shout out and the follow up discussion.

If you are participating in an event or a meme or a weekly feature of some sort, link back to whoever is hosting that event. Makes sense, yes?

A recent (well sort of recent) thing I've been doing is grabbing blurbs from other reviews and adding them to my "other reviews" section of my own reviews. And I will copy and paste a sentence or two that stands out from the other reviewer, and then link to them. I love doing this, and now and then I wonder if they will be bugged, but truly, I think that they would just be happy to be featured/highlighted on my blog. So hopefully I'm covering my bases by the link and the shout out and hopefully sending other readers their way.

Some guidelines I suggest:

-- never copy and paste someone's whole blog post and post it as your own. I mean, why would you even do this?
-- never copy and paste someone s whole blog post and then just change the details and post it as your own. Same difference.
-- if you get an idea or a blurb (as I mentioned I do above) link to them! Link a lot. Link all the time. Link link link!!!
-- I'm not really that familiar with the FTC guidelines regarding ARCs, but I'm figuring it's safe just to say where you got the book from and disclose if it's an ARC.
-- bottom line, be yourself and try not to copy anyone else in any way really, because I mean, why else are you blogging if you don't want to do your own thing? Know what I mean? I just don't get it.
-- I also think we just simply should be nice.... nice in our comments to each other even if we disagree, nice in our reviews, even if we didn't like the book (and remember it's the book not the author you are reviewing) and nice in all our dealings with each other, on Twitter, and etc.

Hmmm... did I simplify too much? Is this issue more complicated? Don't copy, link a lot and be nice! Oh, and stay out of the drama! I think that about sums it up!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA: Literary Fiction

I sort of think of literary fiction as a catch all category, but I'm sure it doesn't think of itself like that. This category of books thinks very highly of itself! It's a phrase that has sort of acquired a snooty reputation. But like any category, it has its good books and its bad. Just because a book is considered literary fiction doesn't mean it's going to be all perfect and wonderful.

I also think of these books as pretty deep thinking. They are usually on the serious side with a bit of a subject to tackle. For this reason, many of my favorite books are literary fiction...because I tend to like the serious stuff. You have to use your brain to read them (usually) and they truly get you invested and involved.

Some of my favorites are:

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
The Angel's Game by Carols Ruiz Saffron
The Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allande

Well, there's a start anyway!

What would you put on your list?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA: Genre Fiction

I really love genre fiction. Like a lot. Fantasy? It is the best! And all that popular dystopian and paranormal? So much fun! Even romances (the tame sort) and westerns (the romantic sort) I love. Science fiction too, of course! And even horror!

I feel like genre fiction is where we go to escape the real world, and for many of us, this is the whole purpose for reading. Or at least a big purpose.

This is the genre where we fall in love with awesome characters and cool settings. Where we read and read and read because we can't get enough of it. Where we get lost in other worlds and times.

These books truly are the best.

Some of my favorite books that fall under the "genre" book category:

The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfus
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Lumetere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
The Passage and The Twelve by Justin Cronin
The Hollow City by Dan Wells, also his serial killer series
Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
The Raven Boys and the upcoming series by Maggie Steifvater
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russel and sequel Children of God
The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

.... and I guess I'll stop there since I truly could go on forever.

What's your favorite genre? (I can never pick one you know.)
What are some of your favorite books in that genre?
Link up over at Armchair BEA!

Armchair BEA: Blogging Development

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is how we go about developing our blog. 

My answer is going to be a very helpful one for you all... are you ready?

I have no idea!!!

You must remember that when I started this blog I knew nothing (and still don't really.) And... I'm guessing pretty much everyone else out there knew nothing... or at least not much. It was all still so new. All the stuff that there is now, all the talk, all the events, all the groups, all the "rules" and suggestions and... just all the blogging things... did not exist. There was no TWITTER!! Can you even imagine! :)

So, to me, starting a blog meant that I had a place, a public place (though granted I figured no one was reading it) to talk about what I was reading, and my love for books. People in my real life thought I was crazy, so I figured going online with this passion I would find other crazy people. 

And that's all I thought about. There simply wasn't anything more to it. 

But I knew I wanted readers, so I started trying to find places to connect. Back then it was through challenges, or doing meme's, or Booking Through Thursday, or just simply commenting a lot on other blogs....because I wanted to talk books, and I wanted people to find me and talk with me. 

Things have become a bit more complicated than that these days, haven't they?

Anyway, so here are the questions listed over at the main site Armchair BEA site that I will attempt to answer:

Have you branched out into your community? 

Yes, I have. Or at least I have tried. Both online and in real life. Online I'm quite involved in Bloggiesta! :) And doing events such as this one and BBAW. Sometimes the readathon. In real life, I'm often seen at signings and launch parties and I've organized a blogger party or two. Also, we've got a Utah Book Month thing going on, which is sort of a mixture of both online and in real life communities. I love it!

Do you partner with other bloggers? 

No, as far as writing my blog, no. I have partnered to start up events, like Utah Book Month, and working on Bloggiesta together. That sort of thing. And I've done a couple of read alongs with other bloggers. But for now, I'm keeping my actual blog just my own. Actually, probably for always.

 Have you gone "pro" or begun supplementing your income through your blog?

No, and I don't see this happening. For me, the blog is a hobby and a "for fun" thing. As soon as I start worrying about money, that all changes. And I'm not willing to go there. That would turn the whole thing into a stress and cause me to have a very different end goal in mind. Yeah, that's just not for me. 

 Are you a long-term blogger, and how has your online personality developed over the years? 

I'm guessing six years is long term, yes? And wow, I think my online personality has changed a lot over the years. I was timid and shy at first (much like I am in real life) but online I've become a lot more confident, for the most part. And much braver about what I'm posting and saying and thinking and joining. Yet, at the same time, I'm still pretty timid, and a fairly quiet online person. I tend watch and observe much more than get right into things. But yeah, it's pretty funny for me to read those first posts! I mean, some are fun, but mostly, they are pretty.... quiet-ish.

Man, I'm not even making sense!

So anyway, I think for me, blogging development is something that I have thought about only the past few years, and mostly it means that I'm trying to make sure other book bloggers know I exist so that I can make connections and talk books. It's a very simple philosophy, but one that I'm sticking with!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA and Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Classics

I love the classics. Before book blogging, it seemed that's pretty much all I was reading. Now, I've broadened my horizons, and sometimes the classics have suffered. But they are my first love.

Here's a list of my favorites:

Top Ten Favorite Classics

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
3. Jane Eyre by Charolotte Bronte
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
5. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
6. The Forsyte Saga by John Galslworthy
7. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
8. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
10. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

What are some of your favorite classics?

Link up over at Top Ten Tuesday (where it's a freebie prompt today!) or Armchair BEA.

Armchair BEA: Introductions!

It's time for Armchair BEA! That's where those of us at home can enjoy some bookish/blogging fun just like those who are attending the actual BEA event in New York! Some day I may actually go and experience what seems like an intense week of all things bookish, but for now, I'll have fun connecting here online instead.

We'll be doing things all week related to BEA. For a complete run down of the things planned, check out this post on the main website.

Today's task is to introduce ourselves. Wow, I feel like I've talked about myself so much lately! There's really nothing left to tell! But in the chance that someone new comes to visit this week and hasn't heard my whole blogging life story already, here goes:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? 

Mostly, I'm a mom. My kids are making my crazy by growing up. In fact, this week, kid #3 is graduatiing from high school. I have two that are already in college and off on their own adventures. And only one left that will be hanging out with me for a few more years. And I myself, still feel about 17 years old, or so.

I've been blogging here for just over six years now. I started because I wanted to connect with he people from my Yahoo book groups who were all started to blog too and posting challenge lists and all sorts of other fun bookish things. I had thought about doing a blog for years, but was nervous. Then I started a personal one the year before, but it wasn't long before it all morphed into a book one... with personal added now and then.

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures. 

I'm blogging from Utah where we have an amazing amount of local famous authors. (Some of the most famous: Shannon Hale, Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner, Ally Condie, Rick Walton, etc.) This means we have lots of author events, and lots of bloggers that participate  The real life bookish community here is pretty cool and lots of fun.

As far as my actually physical space in the state.. I live pretty much within walking distance of a most awesome mountain canyon, at the foot of a mountain called Timpanogos after an Indian legend. I love this mountain more than words can say.

The mountain

The canyon

Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?

I've been here since the beginning. I love it because it's one of the best fun ways to connect with other bloggers and make new friends.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013? 

This week I've started Beautiful Ruins, Paris (the new Rutherford one) and Hood. None of them are really grabbing me yet.

I don't know what my favorite book so far this year has been. Maybe The World's Strongest Librarian, or Through the Ever Night, or Quintana of Charyn... I don't know!

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you. 

Maybe you don't know that I played the clarinet for the BYU marching band for three years.  And the first year that I was in this band, was the year our team became the national champs. It was a very exciting game.

So much fun! 

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read? 

One of my favorites is when I talked about how author signings are pretty scary when you are shy. I have gotten over some of this since writing that post, but its still a bit scary!

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why? 

Markus Zusak of course. Who else is there? :) I doubt I'd be eating much though.
There are so many characters I'd love to meet, I don't even know where to start!

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why? 

Prince Edward Island.... this one has always topped the list for real life locations anyway.
As for made up ones? Rivendell I think.

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? 

I just love that, though we are all different, we all have a huge passion for books and reading and that it's fun to find so many people who you can talk with that share this craziness.

Happy Armchair BEA everyone!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Currently: Last Week of School

(written Saturday Night)


** Absolutely loving the Star Trek soundtrack. Yep, add yet another favorite soundtrack to my list.

Here's one of my favorite clips so far:

** Guys, if I did a review of Josh's All That Echoes cd and give away a copy, would anyone be interested? It could happen....

** We are seeing All 4 One on Monday... the first concert of the outdoor theater season. They'll be good, right?


**Not much since all the TV went away, but I did watch an episode of Being Human as recommended by Jenny a long time ago. It was good, mostly. 

** No movies yet this weekend, but maybe we can do one on Monday? I still need to see Iron Man, you know.

** Looking forward to more Falling Skies, which starts in a week or so, and maybe I'll watch some of the Under the Dome thing too, but it might have to be after the fact.


** This week I finished Everbound (a review that got absolute no comments this week. Sad.) and A Change of Plans, which I'll review next week as part of a blog tour, and I just finished Insomnia. Wow, that one was crazy! I'll review it next week when it comes out too. 

** And that should end my recent big round of ARCs and review books that seem to have caught me these past months. In June and July, I'm going to read whatever.. just.. .whatever. Deal?

** I started two huge books that I'm not sure I'm in the mood for at the moment. And then today, Beautiful Ruins, which I've heard so much about, just landed on my Kindle, so maybe I'll try that one. I feel like I'm doing the book waffling thing at the moment. 


** My husband asked me this week when I'm going to start writing a book. Ha.


** Guys, I'm feeling the slump lately! No! This can't be! Next week is Armchair BEA so I hope to have posts planned and written and I hope they are not boring. 

** I'll be taking a bit of a break this summer when we are on the epic adventure anyway, so maybe I'll be warming up to that. If I stop for awhile, you'll all still be here when I come back, right?


** ate out at Texas Roadhouse tonight. Wow, that place has good food and lots of it. I've been feeling sort of sick since, but it was awesome.

** I started trying to use My Fitness Pal again. My sister keeps sending me encouragements, but I get frustrated with how to add homemade things in there, and I don't have the patience to enter all my recipes!!


** My bangs were out of control, so I cut them myself. I've never done that. That was the best thing I did this week!
** We planted a wee little garden today...tomatoes, peppers and zucchini.I think that's going to be it this year. 
** Graduation this week! 
** Remember the stinky mice? From the science experiment? We need to get rid of them, in a nice humane way. Suggestions? Anyone want some pet mice?
** My daughter saw a bull fight in Spain today. She got home too late to report, but we look forward to hearing all about tomorrow during our Facetime! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

Movie: Star Trek Into Darkness
Genre: Science Fiction
Starring: Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto
Rating: PG13
My Rating: Two thumbs up!

Being the Star Trek geek that I am, I of course loved this movie. Loved.

In this story, we have the original Star Trek crew (timeline-wise it takes place before the original TV show and after the last movie we saw that shows how they all came together) beginning their adventures together. The opening shots are of them trying to save a planet from a volcano. There are some issues and it appears Spock might have to die... of course.

After this incident, Kirk gets the Enterprise taken away. What? How can this be?? But then, because of the actions of a  very very bad (yet very very cool) dude, he ends up on yet another mission... and yes on the Enterprise.

What he discovers on this mission is crazy! And it's a lovely nod to past stories that those of us who have loved and watched Star Trek all our lives will get very excited about.

My favorite thing about these "new" movies with a young original crew... the fact that they have mastered the personalities of these characters (and original actors) so so well! It blows me away, actually. And they have the banter so down! I could sit and watch a movie full of their bantering forever I think. Bones? Oh my word, he is awesome! And Scotty and his silliness and the accent of the Russian kid (Chekhov?) And Zachary (aka. Sylar) as Spock? So perfect. I just love what they've done with these characters so so much.

Anyway, and the tie in to the past movie? That movie (and I HATE spoilers so I'm not even going to say the name, though spoilers for this are RAMPANT out there) was one of the scariest most crazy movies I remember seeing as a kid (teenager actually, because remember, I'm old.) It freaked me out big time! And the villain we are talking about here, one of the best villains... EVER.

And Benedict/Sherlock/Star Trek villain? He with the most awesome voice ever? Another perfect addition to the movie. Wow, he's good. He's so so good. I mean bad... you know... very bad. But good. Some wondered why they cast a British boy in this role when in fact, he should have been... you know... from another ethnic origin if we were to match up with that other movie. But me? I did not care. I like this British boy.

Okay, is my gushing showing yet?

Oh, I must add that this movie was the first movie in a long time that literally had me holding my breath in several scenes. And heart pounding. And very much edge-of-your seat-hands-gripping-the-arm-rests sort of thing. Yes. It really was that exciting.

My question... have you all seen Star Trek things before? Movies? TV shows? The next generation? Anything? We came out of that movie and saw some old neighbors of ours and the wife said of her husband.... he has not seen anything Star Trek ever before, that this movie was his first experience! (And we're talking a guy in his 50s here.) I can't even imagine!! How's does this even happen! People, if you haven't seen anything Star Trek, please, fix this now!

Bottom line: I loved it... and I really really want to see it again. In the Imax theater this time please.

My only complaint? More kissing is needed please. Just a little more.

Here's the trailer in case you haven't seen it:

P.S. Oh, and yes, I did see it in 3D... all the regular showings were sold out. But that's okay, because as you have probably learned by now, I'm a 3D fan. It know longer makes me dizzy, or gives me headaches. For me, it just makes the movie more cool. :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Book: Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Genre: YA paranormal
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun and Local Authors
From: I bought it from Amazon... I think

This book continues the story of Nikki and her two boys, Jack and Cole. The last book (Everneath) ended (spoiler!) with Jack, her human boy, being sucked down to the Everneath where he sacrificed himself and took her place in the tunnels there, with his energy providing food for the everliving immortal creatures.

So this book is her quest to get him back. She solicits Cole's help in this endeavor and surprisingly, he decides to help her. He, of course, is the everliving guy that wants her to go live with him in Everneath and eventually become the queen. She thinks he is crazy to believe that she will ever do such a thing.

But she doesn't care what his agenda is, she just needs him to help her find Jack. This adventure takes them to the Everneath several times where they have to make their way through a maze and all sorts of obstacles in order to get the tunnels where they hope Jack will be found.

I will not say anything about the ending, but let's just say there's a twist. And now I have no idea whatsoever which direction this series will take!

Anyway, I had a bit of hard time getting into this one at first. There was a lot of repeating stuff from the first book to catch us up to speed. Sometimes that's good, but in this book I was like... I know already! Get us to THIS story!!

I found it interesting to see another side of Cole in this book. In the first book, he is a pretty mean dude. But this one shows a softer side. I actually liked him, and quite a lot. However, for Jack fans, beware, he is hardly in it. Except for some sweet flashbacks to key moments in their relationship. I really enjoyed those actually.

So, despite the slow start, the end was pretty crazy and gripping. The supernatural weird stuff was fun, but sometimes a bit over the top and it was hard for me to actually understand or envision what was going on. I get frustrated with that sometimes. And I'm not sure if should be blaming myself or the author when that happens!

Bottom line: I ended up totally enjoying it and loved the crazy ending.

Other Reviews:

The plot was what saved this for me. It is such a interesting twist on classical mythos. From The Broke and the Bookish

My favorite part of Everbound was that we now get to see this underworld that we've heard so much about. From YA Romantics

Jack is too perfect to be convincing, and Cole is by far more interesting and attractive. From Rhapsody in Books

But the best part of Everbound is that nothing and no one can be taken at face value. Everyone has questionable motives and everyone’s fate is uncertain. From BiblioJunkies

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bookish Events: Stephanie Perkins, Margaret Stohl and Gail Carson Levine

This past week was a plethora of author events... again! They seem to come in waves! There's a bunch more coming up too, so I think yes, there's an author spurt on.

So the first event this past week was an appearance by a couple of very popular YA authors: Stephanie Perkins of Anna and Lola fame, and Margaret Stohl of Beautiful Creatures fame. This was actually Margaret's book tour for her new book, Icons, and Stephanie was just joining her for an event or two. In fact, the day before we saw them, they were at The King's English with our favorite locals, Ally Condie and Shannon Hale. Too bad that King's English is just far enough away that I can't just pop on over there!

Anyway, there were a bunch of us bloggers that showed up, as you can see from this picture:

I will name them, but too lazy to link right now!
Back: Kathy, Jenni, Debbie, Elyse
Middle: Me, my daughter Toto, Kami, Emily, Angie
Front: Jessica, Debra, Marissa
Holly was also here, but came just after we took the picture! Dang.

It was a bit of a different event in that the authors just sat and started talking... to each other sort of. It was like they were having a conversation and we just got to eavesdrop. The audience asked a few questions to get them going, but then they'd just take off and talk and talk and talk. It was fun! And very informal. And I liked it.

However, at this event, I learned that I have truly lost my ever lovin' bookish mind! I thought that I had read both of Stephanie's books from the library and/or borrowed them, and that I didn't own them. And I knew I'd read Beautiful Creatures from the library, but then had recently bought the rest of the series for my Kindle when they were having a mega sale. So I didn't bring any books to be signed.

I was trying not to buy stuff this time, around, but then I thought maybe I'd buy something after all... but when I got over to the book stacks, I thought... what?... maybe I really DO have Anna!! I better not buy it if I already have it!! And I'm not buying Lola in case I DON'T have it! And I wasn't in the mood to buy the new book, Icons either. So... I didn't buy any books. How weird is that?

So then I got to the signing line and decided to start a Kindle journal... you know... a book that authors can sign if you have their book only on the kindle? Have any of you started something similar?  I'm wondering if this is going to be a thing eventually, or if it already is.

Anyway, so I had Margaret sign that. But I felt too weird to have Stephanie sign it because I didn't even know if I had her books... and I knew they weren't on the kindle! So I didn't. Dumb dumb dumb.

Afterwards, some of us bloggers went out to eat, which is becoming a tradition. Fun.

And then I got home and checked my shelves and found Anna and the French Kiss... sitting right there!

Argh!!! Losing it I tell you.

Maybe Stephanie will come again some day?

A couple of days later we went back to the library and met Gail Carson Levine. The audience was full of tons of girls and kids. Loved it. I'd seen her talk before, but never have had my books signed.

We scoured our shelves and found five her books to take! She was a hoot to listen too, what a spitfire.... a tiny little lady full of crazy energy. Awesome. She talked about getting started and told some family stories and talked about writing and such. It was great.  If she ever comes your direction, don't miss her.

My daughter Toto getting her favorite book ever... EVER... signed!

Coming up next in the bookish event department these next few weeks: a YA panel with some awesome local authors, followed by Brandon Sanderson promoting his new YA book, then hopefully meeting the world's strongest librarian, and finally a launch party for A Change of Plans, the debut book by my fellow city employee! Whew. Love it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Coverings

So, I'm feeling like a bit of a party pooper today because the list prompt today  from The Broke and the Bookish is all about your favorite book covers. And I can't seem to muster up anything to list.

I mean, covers are cool and all, but I just don't really care that much about them. I don't get excited when a cover for a new book is "revealed." I don't get worked up if the covers are changed. I don't get bugged if there's a really dumb cover used. I just don't care about them that much!

That being said, I may notice a cool cover and think... oh... THAT book looks good! But that was probably more back in the pre-blogging days when I'd never heard about the books before seeing them!

Anyway, instead of actually listing a list today, I just thought I'd confess my cover apathy. Maybe there's some of you out there that feel the same?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Book: Transparent by Natalie Whipple
Genre: YA Supernatural
For: Review and Supporting Local Authors
From: ARC from Edelweiss (release date May 21, 2013)

This is one of those "what if?" books. I love that.

So... what if back during the cold war in the 60s, people became especially concerned about radiation fallout. So they developed a drug to protect themselves from this radiation. And what if everyone had access to this drug and everyone took it? And what that drug caused some weird and bizarre side affects? Like mutations.

And what if that those mutations manifest themselves even worse in the second generation?

And... finally... what if one of those mutations was that you were born invisible?

Thus, the premise for this book! Yes, Fiona has this very thing happen to her! She lives in the present day world, but one that is very different from what we know. Because of the mutations, the government has lost all control and crimelord-like figures have taken control of the country, each with their own different territory.

Fiona's dad is one of these men and he has been using her and her transparent ability, all her life to his advantage. Finally, one day she has had enough and she and her mom break free.

But will they be able to stay hidden from him? Will they be able to figure out how to live a normal life? And how will the "regular mutated" kids handle her invisibility, which is a pretty much unheard of ability?

And thus we have the makings for a really exciting and unique supernatural tale! I loved it! I loved the mix of normalcy with strangeness. I loved the characters  There's an awesome family of crazy boys that will have you laughing a ton.

And yes there's two boys that interest Fiona, but don't worry, it's not really a love triangle. And I loved that. One of these boys has made it to my new favorite swoon worthy boy list! Yay! He is such a sweetheart!

Bottom line: I couldn't put it down. Really. Read it in nearly one sitting. Awesome.

Other Reviews:

I really loved this book. It caught my interest right off and I couldn't put it down. From Dark Faerie Tales

However, for me, this book was fun, lightweight, and ultimately forgettable. From Bookshelves Anonymous

I also did really like the ending climax when Fiona and her motley crew assemble to face off against her cruel father. From Bookworm1858

It gripped me from the very first page and by the end, I was on the edge of my seat. From Katie's Book Blog

Sunday, May 19, 2013

TV Talk! And lots of it!

I've been doing a lot of TV watching this past week... lots of catching up, finale watching, finishing things, etc. And because I know so many of you also enjoy a little lot of TV, I thought I'd share my rambles.

I'm sure there'll be spoilers for many different things, so proceed with caution.

Survivor: I loved this season, as you may be aware already. I enjoy it when there are returning players. I also enjoy new players that are fans of the returning players. So much fun. Some of the returning players this time around were my favorites anyway, so it was hard to choose who to root for. But I picked Cochran from the beginning because of his lovely endearing nerdiness and yay for him! Anyway, it blows me away that after so many years of this show, I still find myself completely into it.

Amazing Race: I also still love this show like crazy, but this past season was a little less exciting for me than some of the others. It all depends on how well you like the teams I guess. And while I LOVED Dave and Conner (I did tell you that he, Dave, lived next door to me when I was a tween, yes?) they got out way too early and made the rest of the season just ho hum. Though I loved seeing their travels through Europe!

Revenge: I watched the first season of this one on Netflix and then caught up to the second season to the point of watching the last few episodes live. I found the first season to be very gripping, but the second season waned quite a bit for me and there were times I found myself falling asleep while watching. What? But the finale... wow. CRAZY beans! I will be dying for the next season to start after all! And I've totally fallen in love with Nolan. He is such a sweet guy and so funny. Anyway, the plot is a mess of complication, but it's a fun show nevertheless.

The Vampire Diaries: Ah, just watched the season finale last night and wow. My head is spinning! Poor Stefan, he always always gets the bad things happening to him! I was so happy to see a little Elijah there these last few episodes, because his character fascinates me. And Jeremy is back! (How DO they do that?) Anyway, the plot here is getting a bit complicated too, but it remains a fun guilty pleasure show for me.

Once Upon a Time: I lost a bit of interest in this one over the course of this past season. (It doesn't help that it competes with Amazing Race on Sundays!) But I decided to catch all up with it and I really do love the way they have been able to weave so many fairy tales together into this one story, and how they are changing things up a bit and continue to keep us all guessing. Peter Pan? I mean, wow, I guess he's going to be the next evil bad villain? I love the love story with Belle and Rumple and Captain Hook is just swoon worthy on all counts! Fun fun show.

Dr. Who: Yay! I finished all the seasons all Netflix (the new ones I mean) which means I've watched through season six. I haven't been watching the new current season  but wish I could have been. Oh, well, hopefully they'll show up on Netflix soon. Anyway, this show is pure and simple awesome. I'm amazed by how you never know which emotion will be featured in any given episode. Sometimes, you are laughing, sometimes crying (The Girl Who Waited so very much got to me) and sometimes scared to death! The crazy plot line and the twists and turns through time are so much fun! River and all her shenanigans?!  Wow. I just love it so much and I'm glad to have finally be "in the know" as far as this show is concerned  Anyway, I'm still a 10th doctor fan and once I finished season six, I immediately started a David Tennant episode to re-watch just for the heck of it!

Merlin: I haven't been keeping up on the current shows here either, but did watch through season four. Hoping season five shows up on Netflix soon. I think it's the last one and then then series will be over. Sadness. This show gets into my head and I end up dreaming about the characters. Love it!

American Idol: Blah! I'm so sad that this show is no longer what it used to be! I hardly watched this season. I watched a few and picked Candice to win. Yep, and was I right, or was I right!!?? Anyway, the judges are weird, and now Randy is leaving? What? Yeah, I think this show is on its last legs. And I've loved it for so many years. Sad.

The Voice: To take the place of that space, I tried to watch a few Voice episodes, but I'm just not sure I get it yet. I will keep giving it a try. All I know is that I'm fascinated with Adam Levine and can't seem to take my eyes off him. What's up with that? Oh my word. He's, he's..... mesmerizing!

Buffy: My Buffy watch has suffered of late, but now that I'm "done" with Dr. Who, I think I'll start up with this series again and watch one or two episodes a week. Or while I walk, or fold clothes, etc. I need it to get really really good so I am totally hooked. Obviously I'm not really at that place with it right now. (Middle of season 3.)

Parenthood: Love this show so much! I have no words. It has all the emotion, all of it! And the most awesome characters and actors. Wow. Can't wait for more. Dying for it. Please let Jason Ritter be back! I can't even imagine what Sarah is thinking!! Speaking of which, I hear he has another show that's going to happen, co-starring with Rory from Gilmore Girls. Funny, don't you think. I may have to watch just for him. I seem to really like him....

Downton Abbey: So fun to watch a show that the whole world, literally, seems to be in to. What a crazy sad season this last one was. I can't wait to see what they have planned for this next year. It seems like a long long time to wait. Frustrating.

Sherlock: Another one that we seem to wait for a lot. The ending of that last season was mouth dropping. Must have more!

Ummm... so how's that for a TV talk line up?  I may have even yet missed a few. I used to tell myself that TV was a bad bad thing and that I should stay away from it, but in my old age I have decided that it's a pleasure that I will allow myself and to heck with the naysayers. I think TV shows and reading books are a very similar pursuit and go hand in hand. Thus, the TV watching continues.....

How did all your favorites turn out this season?

Looking at the line up of my favorites, which shows am I not watching that you think I'd love?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie Review: Oblivion

Movie: Oblivion
Genre: Science Fiction
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman
Rating: PG-13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I loved the trailers for this movie. It looked like a wonderful, crazy, twisted post apocalyptic tale. And who doesn't love those, right?

It took us awhile to get to it, but when we finally did see it, it turned out to be just what I expected, though the trailers lead us to believe some things that weren't quite right. Anyway, they do that, those trailers!

And I thought Tom Cruise was in a perfect Tom Cruise sort of role. I know some people can't stand watching him anymore these days because of his crazy personal life, but I'm still okay with seeing him in the movies. So, I had no problem with him. There was one scene of him doing some crazy space ship flying and I thought... ah!!! Top Gun!!!

So the story. It's a crazy one. I loved the twists and shockers. Awesome! If you go into this movie knowing nothing and you are able to figure out what's going on... you are one plot figuring out machine dude! Let me know if you can!

However, if you think about things too hard, you'll probably find some inconsistencies and inexplicable stuff, so if that kind of thing bothers you, beware. But my suggestion... don't think about it too hard!

Anyway, fun fun movie, great effects, great music, great story.

Bottom line: I was enthralled the whole time.

And the awesome trailer I was talking about:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

Book: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆
For: Review and Support Local Authors
From: NetGalley

This is the story of two kingdoms who have been at odds with each other for a long time. In an attempt at reconciliation, the king from one kingdom is going to marry his daughter to the son of the other king.  Sadly, the prince is only 13 years old and the princess is 17, and to top it off, she falls in love with the duke who has come to her kingdom to make the arrangements! Hate it when that happens! :)

There is also a princess in the one kingdom (sister to the 13 year old prince) who is having her own issues, one of which is her truly awful father, the king. The book flips back and forth from the points of view of both these girls... the princesses in each kingdom. Through them, we learn about the interesting magic system, which is that men and women each have a different kind of power. Women have a "gentle" magic that grows things and keeps things pretty and nice. The men have a more wild magic that helps them to hunt and be strong and aggressive  If you are born with the wrong kind of magic... it's bad bad news!

One kingdom is ruled and guided by the men's magic, while the other is led by the women's. Will it ever be possible to join the two again? Will it the two magics ever have a chance to come together again? In fact, there is a prophecy that says just such a thing will happen.

And it may be that the doings and happenings of this story is that prophecy coming to pass. Or not.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It took me a bit to grasp the concept of the world and magic, but once I understood that, things started falling into place. I envisioned the one princess to be just like the girl in Brave, and the other was a much softer gentler sort, maybe like Belle or something. It was a fun contrast.

However, I wish I would have connected with these characters a bit better. I always find it interesting that in some books you just love them to death and feel so invested in them, while in others you like them okay, but really don't have much emotional attachment. Sadly, for me, I felt the second way with these guys. I wish I could put my finger on why that happens. Do we blame the writing? The story line  Our own moods? I don't know!

It probably didn't help that I'd just read a Melina Marchetta fantasy. Nothing can quite compare to her characters.

That being said, I still found the book fun and engaging.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it!

Other Reviews:

This book induced some kind of delicious reading addiction for me. I wanted to know what happened - I was dying for the ending and I wanted to see all my characters resolutions. From One Librarian's Book Reviews

One thing I really liked about this story was that it wasn’t a light and fluffy princess story. There’s cruelty and a fight for power, characters that I absolutely hated, and some that I truly loved. From Reading in Winter

If the prose were more alive, and the magic system less sexist – or conversely, if Harrison had really explored how society would be affected by such a system, in addition to focusing on one man's abuse of power – I would have enjoyed the book more. From The Bookwyrm's Hoard

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Random Wednesday

Stuff I'm thinking and doing and wondering:

-- John Cochran,  you've just won Survivor! What are you going to do now? WRITE A BOOK, he says! YES! If he writes a book, I'm so there. I love how he talks, and if he writes at all like he talks... awesome!

-- So... I bought tickets to see Josh Groban. Seventh row on the floor, I think. If I understood the weird numbering system right. And then, the next day I thought, what the heck, and bought Muse tickets. Yep. And then, earlier, I bought season tickets to our outdoor theater  and guess who's coming again this year? Richard Marx, and he is one of the best concerts I've ever been to! So, it's going to be a fall full of concerts (yes, they are all this fall, long time to wait!) for me this year.

-- I've got to send out graduation announcements soon I guess. Can this really be happening? Three out of four kids done with high school?

-- There is going to be a lot of cool bookish events for me this coming week! I will be reporting! Seems like it's been awhile. Tonight, Stephanie Perkins and Margaret Stohl!

-- I'm wondering why we always seem to skip over the 70 degree temperatures around here. Straight from the 60s to the 80s and 90s? I really have a problem with that.

-- Well, I guess that's it for now! I'm off to actually accomplish something.. .maybe.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Bloggers International!

Hey! Guess what? I'm being featured today over at Book Bloggers International! It would be awesome if you could come say hi! Maybe haven't learned everything there is to know about me better come see!

Anyway, I had a blast writing that post. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Tough Stuff

Last week was light, this week is heavy. And strangely enough, heavy is easier!

Top Ten Heavy Tough Stuff Books

1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (rape)
2. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (holocaust)
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (drought, starvation, discrimination)
4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green (cancer)
5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (more holocaust)
6. Room by Emma Donoghue (kidnapping, abuse)
7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (foot binding and other old China customs)
8. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (poverty, discrimination, corruption)
9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (more racial discrimination)
10. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons (war)

And yes, I love my heavy books!

Be sure to link up your list over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Allons-y a Paris!

It's quite possible, in fact very very possible, that I'll find myself in Paris this summer! I am still freaking out about this thought. So excited. 

Anyway, awhile back I got a letter (dang I'm so behind in my letter writing!) from Melissa (Avid Reader Musings) and, knowing this Paris plan of mine, she suggested some awesome reading material for me.

Which makes me wonder what else you all think I should read before going?  (Melissa comment with your suggestions again if you remember them!)

Some books that I have already read with Paris as the setting include:

A Tale of Two Cities
Les Miserables
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Anna and the French Kiss
Just One Day
The Davinci Code

... and I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of at the moment.

So, assuming I had any time to add them to my immediate TBR, what else should I read before going?

And while you are at it, what should I read with Spain as the setting? :)

Speaking of Paris, I'm currently going through some Pimsleur lessons to remember all the years of French I had... so many long years ago. Sad how you lose that stuff, but cool how it sort of kind of comes back to you too.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Armchair BEA is Coming!

I just wanted to do shout out to Armchair BEA which is coming up in a just a couple of weeks. This is one of my favorite book blogging events of the year and if you are new to this whole blogging experience, this is an event you'll want to go and sign up for and participate in. 

BEA is an event that happens "in real life" usually in New York, every spring, where bookish types (authors, publishers and now bloggers) mingle and learn and market their products. I've never been and might not ever go, which is sad, but for those of us in this situation, we can "play" online and have some of our own fun from our own homes, chairs and computers!

There's lots happening over there so be sure to go check it out! The fun begins on May 28! Don't miss out!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Book: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★
For: Fun
From: Bought from Amazon

So, what I'm wondering is, why are there not more people ohing and ahing over this series? It's a fabulous fantasy series! Read it!

It did take me a bit to get my head wrapped around this one at first. I needed to have read that middle one again, or something. I couldn't remember all the details and there is not the normal "remember this" type catching up bits like some books have. You are just thrown right back into the crazy chaos!

Okay, so here's a bit of a summary for you... without any spoilers:

In the first book Finnikin of the Rock, we meet Finnikin who is out trying to find a way to break the curse that has some people of his kingdom (Lumatre) trapped inside and some that have been trapped outside for years. Of course  he's outside and he decides it is time to figure something out and stop the madness. In his travels he meets Evanjaline and Froi.

In the second book Froi of the Exiles, after the curse has been broken, the kingdom is trying its best to put the pieces back together. As part of that, Froi is sent to the neighboring, and enemy, kingdom of Charyn, to solve some of the mystery as to why this terrible tragedy has even happened, and to even maybe exact some revenge. What he discovers there will blow your mind! Oh my word, Froi!!

In this book, after we get over all that's been revealed, the next step is to try and come to some sort of peace. Quintana of Charyn, who we met in the second book, the princess who has been so used and abused to the point of madness, now finds herself as the key component to this possible peace. But who knows if it's all too late or not?

These books are full of rich wonderful fantasy plots and characters! They are complicated and wonderful. They are intense and beautiful. They are harsh and graphic and violent.

In fact, I wonder if there's such a thing as fantasy books for the that New Adult genre? The characters in these books are late teens and early twenties and the stuff going on here is pretty near adult fantasy stuff. I don't know. Why are they marketed as YA? This whole marketing thing is baffling. I think that many an adult fantasy fan who would LOVE these books won't read them because they are considered YA. That is just sad sad sad.

Anyway, like I said, this particular book was especially political and took me a bit to get into. But then it was just like the other two for me. I was very much drawn into the crazy story and the awesome characters and dying to know how they would end up solving it all. And the end is so intense, and even a bit humorous and I loved it ! Wonderful wonderful end to a wonderful wonderful trilogy!

Bottom line: Loved loved loved it! ALL the three books! If you even remotely enjoy true fantasy, add them to your stack and read them. Trust me.

Other Reviews:

I do not read Melina Marchetta books for people to hate each other. I read them because people in Melina Marchetta books are — once they’ve bestowed their love — unswervingly loyal. My fave! From Jenny's Books

While QUINTANA OF CHARYN didn’t do it for me as Froi of the Exiles did, it was still an overall satisfying ending to one of the most emotionally draining and ambitious YA fantasy series in recent publishing history. From Steph Su Reads

I don't even know how to explain just how much I love this book. From Bloggers [heart] Books

Melina Marchetta is an author I can count on to bring me to tears, to make me just lay there on my bed, thinking for hours on end every time I finish her books, and Quintana of Charyn definitely did not disappoint. From Ivy Book Bindings

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Classics Club May Question: What Are You Reading?

It's a bit of a classics check in this month! Here's the question (found over at the main blog here):

Tell us about the classic book(s) you’re reading this month. You can post about what you’re looking forward to reading in May, or post thoughts-in-progress on your current read(s).

So... I'm thinking this post is going to be all about my failing this challenge! Yes. It's sad, but true.

First of all, I've been working on Vanity Fair since the read along started in.... what?... February? It's because shiny, newer books keep popping up! And books that I need/amsupposedto review! So, I can't really blame the book, because the book is fine, really. The read is not that hard, but it is... different. And the other books are, well, easier. You see. Gah, I'm determined to finish it! And it just so happens that I'm done with all the other books, at the moment! So maybe I'll read some VF tonight... maybe. Or at least a chapter.

As for what I'm looking forward to reading from my classics list. Well. I look at my list and I'm not getting very excited about anything. Maybe I need to revamp my whole list? Maybe, I'm just in a mood, you know? Dang. I need to be at least excited about my list!!

And then, there's the fact that I've hardly read any classics so far this year! Um, don't I have to read like 10 a year to accomplish the goal? I think so. 

Yeah. I'm pretty much failing at this at the moment. Maybe I can redeem myself at some point. But I don't see it happening for awhile.

How's the classic reading going for the rest of you classic clubbers?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Light and Fun

They are so fluffy!!!

Top Ten Light and Fluffy Books

1. Anything by Janette Rallison like My Fair Godmother
2. Anything by Sydney Salter like My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters
3. Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole and probably anything else by her (I've only  read the one.)
4. Fairy tale books by Jessica Day George like Princess of the Midnight Ball.
5. My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
6. Stephanie Perkins books I think, yes. You know, like Anna and the French Kiss and such! :)
7. Anne of Green Gables books of course!
8. Pretty much all of Meg Cabot's books, like The Princess Diaries. Love those.
9. Wimpy Kids books! Those are so much fun!
10. Shannon Hale's Austenland books. Fun stuff!

Wow, I seriously need to read more light and fluffy because I totally had to wrack my brain for this list!

I looked at Goodreads lists to get some ideas and can I just say, I'm amazed at what people listed as light and fluffy and fun?! Wow.

Which leads me to wonder what you all will come up with! :) Be sure to check out all the links over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Review: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Book: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Genre: YA
Rating:★★★☆ ☆
For: Review and Supporting Local Authors
From: ARC borrowed from co-worker

This was an interesting story about a music prodigy. Lucy has been playing in piano competitions nearly her whole life, but about 8 months before the events of the book, she up and quit. Through flashbacks we get the details of that story. It's sad.

And now, she is faced with what to do next. Does she start playing again? Does she even want to? Will her mom and grandpa even let her? Will it mess up her brother who is also a musical genius?

All these questions start coming to a head when her brother gets a new teacher. A young, hip, handsome one. Lucy is very much drawn to him and he helps her to start figuring out where she stands on all this.

I enjoyed the story, for the most part. Some of it got a little detailed into the piano thing and the life of these prodigies. Interesting,  but sometimes not. I did love the music discussion though, and how music moves us and is so powerful.

The strange and somewhat disturbing bit about this book is the attraction this girl has for this much older teacher. I mean, I get having a crush and all, but it goes a little beyond that. And in fact, it goes right to the edge of something not too good. I was a bit squirmy! I don't know, it was just strange.

What I did love is that at the back, there's a playlist of all the songs mentioned in the book. I actually looked some up, because there were several that I'm not familiar with. That was pretty fun.

Anyway, this book follows the tendancy for this author to write about deep subjects,  but I would have to say it's not one of my favorites of hers.

Bottom line: I liked it okay.

Other Reviews:

I like how Zarr shows a possible next chapter for the child prodigy who chooses to quit in a conscious defiance of her family and her peers. Beyond the guts of starting out a novel with a character in that position, Zarr certainly has the chops to dig Lucy out of that situation, and I think she accomplished that with aplomb. From Book Harbinger

As a piece of writing, The Lucy Variations is very impressive. Every scene, every character, every subplot worked to enhance the whole. From YA Romantics

Her characters always, always find a way to get under my skin. Sigh. So why didn’t that happen with The Lucy Variations? When I wanted to feel connected, I felt unconcerned. From The Readventurer

The Lucy Variations is about figuring out who you are (as distinct from your family) and what you love. It's beautifully written, with complex characters and realistic interactions. From Jen Robinson's Book Page

Lucy wishes that people were as familiar with the third movement of Beethoven's 5th as they are with the first. That's one of the songs she lists on her playlist. Here, I share it with you:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Movie Review: Jurassic Park 3D

Movie: Jurassic Park 3D
Genre: Science Fiction
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
Rating: PG-13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

Ever since I heard they were going to bring back this movie in 3D for the 20th anniversary celebration, I thought, cool! I want to see that!

Then I forgot about it until this past weekend when I heard them say on the radio how so very awesome it was, so it was my quest to actually get out and see it.

Yes, I'm pretty much good with the 3D thing! I know so many people who hate it, or pooh pooh it or refuse to even try it, but I think it's fun. It gave me headaches back in the old days (a few years ago) but now, it doesn't bother me at all, and believe me, I tend to have motion sickness issues!

Anyway, what I'm saying is, I guess this review is pointless if you refuse to try the 3D thing! But I say, TRY IT! You might like it!

I love this movie. All the many thousands (well tens) of times I've seen it, it never fails to make me bite my finger nails and have me on the edge of my seat. I've always thought the dinosaurs were plenty scary looking, or cool looking (depending on the variety) and not at all fake-ish.

But then again, I'm probably quite easy to please.

For those who have NEVER even seen the movie, it's about a guy who creates a theme park that features real live dinosaurs he's cloned from blood found in fossilized mosquitoes. Cool, yes? And it is so cool. Until a rouge employee decides to sabotage the whole thing and suddenly, everything goes wrong.. really really wrong.

The kids in this movie are amazing! I am blown away every time I see it by their acting abilities. Wow. Wonder what they are up to these days.

But I think, besides the acting, and the story, and special effects, I think the best thing about this movie is the music. Hands down on of the best scores out there. Thank you John Williams.

Bottom line: I love this movie. If you've never seen it, go. If you want to try 3D, go. It's awesome what they've done with it.


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