Saturday, August 31, 2013

Utah Book Month Blogger Spotlight: Kami from Kami's Library Thoughts

Today, this last day of Utah Book Month, I have the great privilege of introducing to you book blogger, Kami! She blogs over at Kami's Library Thoughts and she has become one of my favorite and best book blogging buddies, both online and off.

I asked her a few questions, some of them pretty hard even, and here is what she had to say:

1. How did you get started book blogging and what's been your favorite blogging experience so far?

My life long friend, Emily from Emily's Reading Room, started a blog a few years ago. I was always tempted to start one because of my crazy reading habits, but I resisted. Emily invited me to join her and some fellow bloggers to see The Hunger Games movie at the midnight showing. I was excited and accepted. I decided to become a blogger before I met all the other bloggers, so I could say I was one of you. Turns out that I enjoy blogging about all the books I read!

My favorite blogging experience? That is tough. I love meeting all the bloggers and book enthusiasts! Utah has a wonderful literature following!

2. What is your favorite book you've read so far this year? What's been your favorite book by a Utah author you've read this year?

You can't ask a book addict something like that! I've read A LOT of books this year already, so I'll just list a few that stand out in my mind. There is Transparent by Natalie Whipple (Utah Author), Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (Utah Author), Legend by Marie Lu, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Everneath and Everbound by Brodi Ashton (Utah Author), Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielson (Utah Author), The X-Men comics, and we'll stop there.

3. What's your best Utah author encounter you've had?

Hmmmm...another toughy! Well, I went to a writer's workshop thingy at the library where there was a bunch of Utah authors. I had Brandon Sanderson sign Mistborn for me, then I made my way over to Shannon Hale. She signed Goose Girl for me, and while she was signing, Dean Hale, who was sitting beside her of course, told me he'd sign that Brandon Sanderson book for me. I said okay and handed it over. Dean hesitated and Shannon grabbed Mistborn and said "I'll sign it!" Shannon wrote Brandon Sanderson who? and signed her name. Then Dean took my book and wrote I AM THE BEST, not Brandon Sanderson and he signed it. So my Mistborn book is signed by 3 Utah authors!

I need to get Brandon Sanderson to sign my Goose Girl now! I'm thinking of starting a Sanderson vs Hale war.

4. What would your perfect day include?

 Popcorn, nap, sushi, presents, buying out Barnes and Noble, ice cream, obtaining the Karazhan mount, meeting Robert Downey Jr., and while were at it, lets win the jackpot too.

5. But how would you actually spend a normal day in real life?

Wake up, make myself a smoothie, go to the gym, read, clean house, eat lunch, read, do some activity with gnome, read, dinner, read and/or play video game and/or watch a movie, bedtime. I might sneak a nap in there some time, if gnome decides to nap too. 

Here's a lovely picture of Kami and her family
that I lifted from her blog.... a post
about all the things she loves about Utah.
You should go read it!

6. What story would you like to read yourself into?

All of them! Okay, maybe not all. Lord of the Rings would be fun...and scary. Anne of Green Gables for sure. A Maria V. Snyder book. A Jessica Day George book. Ya know, I would happy to read myself into any book.

7. Which authors, dead or alive, would you love to have over for lunch?

J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Roald Dahl, Mo Willems, and everyone else. Honestly, I would love to have any author over. At least, an author who wrote a book I enjoyed. It would be awkward to serve lunch to an author who wrote a book I hated.

8. What is your favorite bookish memory?

That is a hard decision. I love all my memories that involve books. One of my favorites is my first midnight book release. My sister and brothers surprised me for my birthday by kidnapping me and taking me to dinner, and then we went to Media Play and waited in line for the 4th Harry Potter book to be released. We read the first chapter that night and camped out in someone's backyard. It was fun!

9. What "new to you" author have you discovered this year?

Carolyn Keene, Natalie Whipple, Cindy Pon, Marie Lu, Julianne Donaldson, J. Scott Savage, and a few more.

10. Favorites: 
Food: Popcorn
Band/Singer: Ben Folds
Movie: Lilo and Stitch
TV show: Depends on what I'm watching at the time
Candy bar: Snickers or Almond Joy
Place to visit: Provo Library, Barnes and Noble, Sushi Ya and and LDS Temple
Color: Blue, Black and Gray
Animal: Red Panda or Dog
Villain: How can I choose? I read too many books and comics and watch too many movies to decide. I also play a lot of video games, so this question is impossible! I really like The Joker...Mark Hamill's Joker. I really like Prince Zuko. Who doesn't love all the Disney villains? I don't know! I can't really answer this question!
Hero: This question is even worse!! I love Batman, Gambit, Han Solo, any character Robert Downey Jr. has played recently, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, Valek from Poison Study, and many many many others!

Thanks so much Kami for hanging out on my blog today! 

And everyone else, be sure to go visit Kami, take my word for it, you won't be sorry!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Movie Review: Mud

Movie: Mud
Genre: Drama
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland
Rating: PG13
My Rating: Two thumbs up!

I give it two thumbs up, even though I would have to say, this movie is weird! A strange little thing, yes. I'm not sure what the whole point of the movie even was, but yeah, it was.... just... weird.

But enjoyable in its weirdness! You know the kind?

Anyway, it's basically one of those typical coming of age stories. Two boys, best friends, each with their own issues at home. They go off on an adventure one day and discover this strange guy living in a boat, in a tree, on an island!

Turns out, this guy is a bit of fugitive, and he will leave (and leave the tree boat to the boys!) if they help him. Well, of course, that gets more and more and more complicated as things go along and pretty soon the boys are pretty much in over their heads.

So this guy, Mud is his name, seems to actually be a pretty nice guy but has just found himself in a really bad situation. I wondered the whole movie if he really IS nice or if he's just full of it. Not sure I ever decided!

I love Matthew McConaughey, but they made him look pretty icky for this movie! That was kinda sad, but kinda cool too. The kids were awesome actors and Reese Ritherspoon even shows up for a couple of scenes.

Bottom line: Pretty good little flick... especially for Redboxing it!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: Seers by Heather Frost

Book: Seers by Heather Frost
Genre: YA Supernatural
For: Utah Book Month
From: A book exchange at a work party

I first heard about this book and author when her grandma came up to the library administration offices, handed us some book swag (and a book too I think!) and said, "Here. You need this book in your library! She's even local!"

We thought, wow, aggressive!

Later I saw the author at the favorite LTUE conference and thought, wow, she is WAY too young to have written a book already!

So my first impressions, before even picking up the book was that I was a little bit wary and skeptical, you know? How unfair is that!

But how wrong those first impressions were! It turns out that this book is awesome! It kept my attention constantly through the whole book (and it's not the smallest thing) and I fell in love with the characters completely. It's one of those books where, when not reading, I'm thinking about it and wondering about the characters and longing to get back to them. However, it only took me a day and maybe a half to read this book, so I didn't have much of that yearning to do really!

It's the story of a girl who, after a near death experience, can suddenly see the auras of people around her, which lets her know their emotions. Then one day a new guy (always the new guy!) comes to school, and she can only see silver around him. And he gives her a bit of the creeps because of that and she can't tell what's up with him at all! A couple of other weird things happen and when she finally gets the guts to talk to this dude, she finds out...well, I want you to read it and find out what too!

But maybe I'll say one thing... he's Irish, complete with accent and piercing blue eyes and all.

Anyway, this discovery sends her and her new friends on an adventure which turns out to be quite more complicated than they first expected, and quite the dangerous one.

I loved these guys! Both Patrick and Kate.. and there's an especially wonderful sidekick, Toni, with an awesome comic relief sort of personality that we all love. I loved the simple and straightforward writing that kept me reading and the end was so nicely wrapped up and yet left me hanging at the same time... perfectly setting up the sequel (and trilogy.)

Bottom line: I really enjoyed this one, a lot.

Other Reviews:

The writing style is quite good,the story flows easily and in general,I was quite pleasantly surprised by the way Heather Frost managed to deliver her story. From Books to Brighten Your Mood

I thought this book was great, and well written. This is the author’s first book, and I was very impressed. From LDS Women's Book Review

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Garbage Can Root Beer!

It's a long standing tradition in my extended family to make homemade root beer... in a garbage can... for our reunions. It's quite the fun project and always so yummy too! So whenever I get the opportunity to make it for some other event, I jump at the chance!

I had just such a chance this past weekend at a church picnic party and thought I'd document the fun so you too can make garbage can root beer some day!

First of all, I always forget the amounts of stuff, and I'm not totally sure that the recipe on the back of the root beer extract is what we've always done, but I found this ingredient list at All Recipes, which is what I ended up using. If you don't want to make a HUGE batch of this stuff and just want a "normal" bit, then make it in a 5 gallon jug instead of a garbage can!

Here's a list of the both ways:

For a Five Gallon Jug

6 cups of sugar
3 1/3 gallons cold water
1 2-oz bottle of root beer extract
4 lbs dry ice

For a 20 Gallon Garbage Can
(times the above by FIVE!)

30 cups of sugar (15 lbs of sugar!)
16 2/3 gallons of cold water (give or take a bit!)
5 2-oz bottles of root beer extract
20 lbs of dry ice

So here's what you do.

First, buy a new plastic 20 gallon garbage can! And if you plan to make this often, you of course keep it handy and store it garbage free.

Fill the can up with water about half way and then add the sugar and extract. Stir with some sort of long implement (we tried using a hot dog roasting stick this last time, but I wouldn't recommend stirring with a fork. Doesn't work too well!)

Or, if you aren't bugged by it, stick your arm in and stir the sugar so it doesn't settle too much at the bottom!

Fill the can with the rest of the water, which you'll want not all the way to the top, thus, about 17 gallons as listed above.

Then, the fun part! Carefully and safely drop in the dry ice. Let it bubble and fizz for about an hour. It's during this step that I hope the sugar truly gets stirred up, because it's pretty impossible otherwise! (Be sure to not put the lid on, that would be explosive!)

After an hour, taste it to test the fizz level. If it passes, you are done! If not, let it percolate a bit more. To serve it, we transfer the root beer with a gallon pitcher to the 5 gallon cooler, so people can easily fill their glasses.

And then, bottoms up!

This amount served well over 100 very thirsty people the other night, and we had a good couple of gallons left over.

Seriously, this is one of the best summer treats ever!

Oh, and if you are at a big gathering, I would keep your eye on on the can during the actual picnic, or at least put a note on it declaring it NOT garbage, or you just might end up with a picnic plate thrown right in!

Also, if you happen to have some vanilla ice cream handy, well, you know what that means! Floats!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Supporting Roles

With this prompt,  favorite secondary characters, it makes me wonder how to actually define a secondary character, you know? So see if you think I got it right or if you think some of my characters are actually main characters!

Top Ten Favorite Secondary Characters

1. Roar from the Under the Never Sky comes to mind first. What an awesome character he is!
2. Simon from The Mortal Instrument series... since this has recently been on my radar, he has come to mind quite quickly. He's my favorite character in these books (well the two I've read so far.)
3. In The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, do you think Adam is a secondary character? If so, then I list him! (Wouldn't you say Blue and Gansey are the mains?)
4. Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities! (Assuming Lucy and Charles are the mains here!)
5. Bean in Ender's Game. Bean WILL be in the movie, right?
6. Bast from The Wise Man's Fear books. Ah, he's awesome!
7. Lan from The Wheel of Time series. Sa-woon. Dang, I need to start reading these books again.
8. Legolas from The Lord of the Rings series. He's in a supporting role, yes?
9. Gale from The Hunger Games. Yep, that's right. Team Gale.
10. And of course someone from Harry Potter.... now who should it be? Snape is not a main character, right? (Now do you see what I mean with my above disclaimer? This is HARD!) No, he is not, so I say... I love Snape!

Wow, heavy on the fantasy, yes? Man, some people write some pretty awesome fantasy characters though! Agree or disagree? (With either my list, awesome fantasy characters OR the fact that I deemed these guys secondary characters.) I really want to know!

Who would you put on your list? Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Utah Book Month: Author Event

I figured this being Utah Book Month and all, that I should tell you about all the local authors I listened to and met (well some of them) this past weekend! And many of them new to me! You'd think with all my trying to keep track of them that I would be familiar with more of this crowd than I was.

This event at the Orem Library was big enough that they split up the panels and had kids authors in one place and teen and adult authors in another. I went to hear the teen and adult authors... all women! I found that interesting.

So I thought I'd do little mini spotlights on who was there.

Andrea Pearson: She discovered the writing bug fairly recently and has since published the Kilenya series (YA fantasy), and the first book is currently a free ebook on Kindle. She is also starting another series she describes as soft teen horror/thriller/paranormal, with a very slight hint of romance that takes place at Katon University which will be about every year of college for three different students.

Tristi Pinkston: Describes herself has someone who writes a bit of everything including non-fiction, mystery, cookbooks, and her latest a Jane Austen retelling, Turning Pages (which I reviewed recently here.) She is also does a lot in the community to help and inspire other writers.

C. Michelle Jefferies:  She's the mother of seven children and since they've started getting a bit older, she's started to fulfill her life long dream to write. Her genre is what she calls technical suspense, her latest just out is called Emergence.

Cindy Hogan: Is a mom and a teacher and writes YA suspense like the Watched trilogy. Her latest books, Adrenaline Rush and Gravediggers will be launched coming up on Oct. 26 at the King's English!

Pendragon Inman: On her blog she describes herself as: a martial artist, a writer, a musician and a book binder. She writes the Shinehah Saga, which is YA fantasy.

Donna K. Weaver: Her first book, A Change of Plans, just came out earlier this summer. (My review here.) She writes new adult adventure romance and has plans to perhaps add YA fantasy, a book based on her granddaughter. She is also an author who is very much in marital arts!

Wendy Knight: She writes the YA fantasy series Fate on Fire, where, as she says, "Girls are the heroes of their own stories." The next book out is called Feudlings in Flames.
The panel was short and simple. Some of the things they discussed:

What are your challenges? having enough time, balance, too many idea and marketing!
Do you need an editor? YES! Also, you need writing groups and conferences.
What are some of your favorite resources? a cover designer, Google and Pinterest, social media, a formater and a typesetter
How do you reward yourself to finish a deadline? getting to start another book, chocolate, buying books, having uninterrupted family time, checking off a white board list
And ways to get unstuck? block out time chunks, stop and do something else, go READ!

After the panel, I bought the whole Watched trilogy by Cindy Hogan, and then quickly left before I could by all the books by everyone else!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Movie: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Genre: Fantasy
Starring: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Rating: PG13
My Rating: One thumb up

This movie is getting beat up by all the naysayers and poohpoohers, but I thought it was okay. I mean, it didn't blow me away or anything. I'm not running out for the soundtrack, or totally in love with Jace, or wanting to watch and watch and watch it over again.

But, it was fun to see this very popular YA book turned into a movie. It started out FAST (much faster than the book I thought) and kept the excitement coming non-stop. As readers of the book will know, this story has it ALL....werewolves and vampires, demons and angels (sort of ), witches and warlocks, creepy guys in robes and creepy girls in leather. It's quite the dark tale, and in fact felt much darker to me on screen than what I experienced in reading.
For those wanting a little summary, it's about a girl, Clary, who is suddenly seeing strange things... demons, she later learns, that others can't see. Come to find out, after a harrowing experience face to face with one, she is actually a Shadow Hunter, or demon hunter, like her mom. Her mom, who by the way, has suddenly disappeared, and now it's her quest to find her mom and get some answers.

Along the way she is helped by Jace, demon hunter extraordinaire, and her loyal sidekick friend, Simon , and two other hunters Isabelle and Alec. Luke, her sort of step dad figure, is also there in a surprising way.

Anyway, it's very fast paced and crazy and dark and a bit violent. And quite twisty in the end, though this is actually one of my complaints... that twist was very anti climatic compared to the shocker feeling one has when reading it in the book!

Clary and Jace
My biggest curiosity about this film is, of course, the casting. Did the characters feel right to me and match with the ones in my head? Well, Clary was spot on. Luke was most awesome too (but I expected having remembered that he is Kili in The Hobbit!) and Valentine was perfectly creepy too. Simon was okay, I mean yeah, he was pretty good (I'm a huge Simon fan, so he had a lot of expectations to live up to) but Alec was not at ALL like I pictured him.
And then there's Jace, and I'm not quite sure what I think of the casting on this one. He was pretty good with the whole mysterious swagger thing, but this guy was too gaunt and skinny looking. I needed Jace to be buff, you know? But I liked his hair for sure. And his eyes. And I liked his acting. So, yeah, he was good, not perfect with the Jace in my head, but not bad either.

Anyway, bottom line: I liked it! It's not a bad movie at all. It's fun and exciting, especially for fans of the book.

Here's the trailer of course:

I'm Spotlighted!!!

So, I'm being featured today for Utah Books Month over at Carol Nicolas's blog! Come and see the fun questions I had to answer and find out if you learn anything about me you didn't already know!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bout of Books Reading Updates

Being a newbie at this Bout of Books thing, I'm not sure I have the hang of these daily updates. I think the idea is that I have all updates on one post and just, you know, update them all week long, yes? I'll bold the current day's update.

  • Pages Read: 80 + 16% of Dream Thieves
  • Hours Read: 1 1/2 hours + 2 hours for a total of 3 1/2 hours
  • Books Read: 1 (The Rithmatist... finished what I had started over the weekend.)
  • Thoughts: I did some line waiting today, so I had lots of extra reading time, plus I used my "waiting for kids to come home at night" time a little better than normal.
  • Pages Read: no idea, but I did read from 16% to 48%, that's lots, right?
  • Hours Read: no idea, but I did read in many different snatches that may or may not have added up to oh, about 3 or so hours.
  • Books Read: none, but I made the above pretty good progress on The Dream Thieves!
  • Thoughts: I hate keeping track of reading time. It's way too hard. And keeping track of pages read while reading a Kindle book? Can't. But, I am enjoying this sequel to the Raven Boys! These guys are crazy awesome! 
  • Pages Read: On this day I went from 48% to 88 % with The Dream Thieves. Gah! So close to finishing but not quite!
  • Hours Read: Not as many as I would have liked, or thought I would do today, but it was probably a couple of hours, maybe three.
  • Books Read: no more to add to this yet!
  • Thoughts: I got distracted and went to see City of Bones in the morning! Wow, that was a fun spontaneous event! (I'll review it soon!) And then I had much house management to do and so had to just fit in the reading here and there like usual and didn't quite get the book finished. 
  • Pages Read: From 88% to 100 % in one book, 70 pages in another book, and 20 pages in a third! Whoa!
  • Hours Read: Not as much as it would seem from the pages read above! Again, probably about 2 or so, which, it appears is my normal reading hours for the day, because it felts like I haven't revved it up really that much more than normal. 
  • Books Read: I finished The Dream Thieves! I read a big chunk of Visiting Tom, and then I also started Seers.
  • Thoughts: See above (about the reading hours.) And now the weekend begins and there's lots of stuff going on, so my "readathon" that I've been enjoying so far might dwindle down to nothing. 


  • On this day I read.... absolutely nothing! Yep. I went to work, came home, went to pick up a kid, did and errand, came home, went to pick up another kid, came home, worked on a picture project (I printed up our trip pictures, 500+ pics!) and that wiped me out, so then I had a nap, and then it was time to go to the outdoor theater where we saw SYTYCD stars and other dancers, and then when we got home it was latest, but not too late, but somehow I was SO not in the mood to read, so I just laid here waiting for all the kids to come home and then I finally slept. And so, I read nothing. In fact I'm not sure I even got on the computer either. What a day.



Book Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Book: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA SF/Steampunk
Rating:★★★☆ ☆
For: Utah Book Month
From: Bought from Amazon

I absolutely love Brandon Sanderson's books, however, I was quite disappointed by this one. For me, it really wasn't at all like any of his other high fantasy stuff. I don't know, maybe YA is not for him. Maybe steampunk is not for him. Maybe I just was plain too dumb for this book!

So we have this kid going to this posh school where kids who have been deemed (in a religious ceremony when they are 8) rithmatists go to school along with kids like him, who are not rithmatists. And all he wants is to be one of them. He studies the magic, the science and the history. He knows it all, but when he draws his lines and circles, they just sit there and don't come to life at all.

Because you see, rithmatists have magic that make it so their circles and lines and figures, all drawn with chalk on the ground, come to life and battle each other. It's really quite exciting and there's a huge massive strategy involved. There's duels and competitions and all sorts of crazy stuff.

The most crazy thing, though, is that there are bad guys whose figures will actually kill a person. Those guys are, supposedly, all contained in another part of the country, where all the good rithmatists go (in fact they are trained and then must give 10 years of their life) to defend the chalk circle containing the bad guys.

And right around the time this book opens, students begin missing! And now the mystery must be solved!

Maybe this way I didn't get so much into this book. It was basically a steampunk mystery, all based on geometry! You might love that, but I was mostly like, eh... yeah, okay. It sort of made my head spin.

And maybe it's just the time we live in now, book-wise, but there did seem to be a lot of Harry Potter sort of similarities. Sigh. Oh, well.

Anyway, as always, it was a pretty cool world, an alternate United States, only they are United Isles. But I did feel (and Jenny will be cheering in the wings about this statement) that the characters suffered in light of the world building! Something that I don't agree happens with his fantasy books, because those characters are awesome!

Bottom line: It was okay and many kids might find it totally fascinating, but I was just.. yeah, okay about it. But it still gets three stars from me (meaning I did actually like it) because the ending was pretty exciting after all.

Other Reviews:

It's not that it isn't as good as any other magic system Sanderson has created, it's more that it's actually overused for once. -From Only the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy

With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world. From Surrounded by Book Reviews

The Rithmatist is one of those great stories that just sucks you in and never lets go. From BookBanter

So, I definitely recommend The Rithmatist to people who prefer fantasy with an academic bent and especially to those who are in the Brandon Sanderson fan club and know the secret handshake. From Good Books and Good Wine

Thursday, August 22, 2013

TV Series Review: Merlin

Show: The Adventures of Merlin by the BBC
Genre: Drama
Seasons: Five
Netflix: Yes
Starring: Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Anthony Head
Rating: Two thumbs up

I've always been in love with the King Arthur story. I've devoured many books on the subject, all with a different spin or take of the story. I've even been to what is supposed to be the remnants of the Isle of Avalon where he was allegedly buried! Ah, the myths and stories that float around that place (Glastonbury, England) are awesome!

So when,  a few years ago, I learned about the BBC show, Merlin, King Arthur's wizard, I was intrigued. Admittedly, it took me awhile to actually start watching the show and I think it was into its second or third season when I jumped on board. But I inhaled them, and then waited along with everyone else for these final two seasons.

And final it is. They've ended it! So sad! I'm going to so miss these guys! Wow, I hope they show up in something else, they are WAY too good of actors to go unnoticed!

Anyway, back to Merlin.
Merlin and Arthur

So this show gives yet another spin to the familiar tale. Here, we have Arthur as a young prince still, living with his father, Uther, and his stepsister (or is it foster sister here?) Morgana. Then young Merlin comes along to be an apprentice to the court physician, Gaius.

Well, Merlin and Arthur's paths cross one day and a most hilarious exchange follows after which  Arthur ends up making Merlin his servant boy... where he remains for the whole rest of the series. Arthur doesn't know that Merlin has magic (and is in fact the most powerful wizard living!) because of course, magic is outlawed! This makes for a very tricky relationship indeed.
Arthur and Gwen
And Gwen with Lancelot

They stay true to the old legend, for the most part. There is Lancelot and he does woo Gwen (who also happens to be a servant, Lady Morgana's lady in waiting) but that story ends a bit differently than the normal one, just in case you wondered.

And there is Mordred and for a long time we don't know where his heart lies, and that is the story that takes up much of this last season, and yes, it's very scary and nail biting! Morgana is nice at first, but quickly turns rotten to the core, just as we knew she would all along!

Mordred and Morgana

There's also a handful of robust and lovely knights! All with their different and awesome personalities. And a round table, and a beautiful castle and kingdom called Camelot, and Tristan and Isolde show up and the Lady of the Lake, and Excalibur and oh so many wonderful bits of the story are here!

Arthur with his knights

It's fun to have Merlin and Arthur be young and silly and strong and handsome. There are moments were Merlin does have to be old though, and those episodes are the funniest of the lot!

Anyway, if you haven't checked this series out yet, and you love stuff done by the BBC and you love old ancient myths and legends from England, and you love great acting and story lines, then what ARE you waiting for? (All seasons are on Netflix now!)

Seriously, all my gushing can't do it justice.

Here's a trailer for the first season:

And here's some clips of some of the funny bantering moments between Arthur and Merlin, because that is truly what makes this show so great, this bantering!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Book Thief Trailer is here!

So... what do you think? Can they pull this off? 

P.S. NOW... do you want to read it or re-read it with us? Sign up here!

Book Review and Book Club Report: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Book: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Book Club
From: I won this one a long time ago from another blog

This book tells the story of the Lithuain people that Stalin so ruthlessly shipped out of their country during Russia's invasion of this area during WWII. It's a story that not many people are familiar with, all the attention going to what happened to the Jewish people. But these people in Lithuanian, and other nearby countries where taken from their homes simply for the fact that they were thought to be not so friendly to Stalin and his policies. They were carted to Siberia and forced to work in labor camps for years, totally forgotten by the world.

It's really quite a sad event in history.

This story follows a young teenage girl as her family is shipped away. They spent weeks crammed into a cattle train, then sold, then working in a camp for awhile before their final distination of the North Pole. Here, they barely survived with hardly any food or shelter and having to keep working hard at their various labors.

It's one of those stories where you wonder how anyone ever survived something like what you are reading. It seems impossible. But so many did.

I found it to be quite a hard one to read. At the end of nearly every chapter I had to close the book and just breathe for bit, before I could continue on. But then continue on I did, because it only took a couple of sittings to read the book.

So easy to read and hard to read!

I appreciated that there was a bit of humor thrown in here and there, and even a little romance. I appreciated the fight and the will to survive that was shown by this girl and her brother and friends. It's amazing and inspirational.

Bottom line: Wonderful, beautiful and sad book!

Other Reviews:

The book’s sparse prose and quiet message of hope and endurance moved me in unexpected and unimagined ways. From Book Harbinger

I think the more we try to uncover the past, terrible though it may be, the more we try to not whitewash these incidents, the more we are able to move forward, and hopefully change for the better. From Good Books and Good Wine

From the very first sentence, this book grips you by the throat and doesn’t let go. From Logan E. Turner

All in all, Ruta Sepetys has written a deep, evocative, and powerful tale with her debut. From Ivy Book Bindings

What the Book Club Thought:
  • Fascinating to see the will to live in the teenager age group. Would we be like that? Now? As teenagers? 
  • The ending was too abrupt and too quickly resolved. We wanted more detail in that ending!
  • We enjoyed the flashbacks that helped us to get to know her father and her life before.
  • Stalin... scary scary dude. We don't like him. And yet, we don't know very much about him either. 
  • There was an interesting discussion about our feelings towards certain groups, and certain individuals. We hope to not categorize people as "bad" and yet, we talked about how nothing "bad" like this has really happened to us, and if it were to, would it be so easy to not lump individuals into a group and dislike them all? Know what I mean? 
  • It made us think about the Germans and how they live with a stigma and how they don't want to seem too patriotic because of how it might look to others. It made us think about the people, any sort of people, who had to pretend to go along with something bad in order to survive. 
  • Which then made us ponder the guard in this book who ended up playing a significant role in the survival of our main character. And what would we do if we were put in his position?
Wow, lots to ponder about with this one! If you haven't read it yet, do it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that Make Blogging/Reading Easier

I tend to make my blogging and reading life pretty simple, so I'm not sure how I'll answer this question. But I'd thought I'd give it a try anyway. And I'm very excited to see what everyone else comes up with! Check out all the links over at The Broke and the Bookish!


1. Goodreads: for book images and remembering character names. I rarely use the synopsis, but it's there if I need that too!

2. Book Blogger Search Engine: to find other bloggers' reviews of the same book so I can blurb them in my reviews

3. Google: to find images and author websites and reviews I can't find on the BBSE

4. Google Docs (I mean Drive!): for jotting down ideas, keeping track of dates, creating forms and such.

5. A plain old simple paper pocket calender: for planning when I'm going to post things, thinking ahead and all that. Love this little tool actually.


1. My Kindle: it really is easier to hold and read than a book. Gasp, did I say that? And it's much easier to get your hands on a book too, because you just push a button and BAM, you have the book. I'll never get over it.

2. Amazon: I know many of you hate it, but it goes hand in hand with the above mentioned magic of my Kindle.

3. A good light: natural is the best, but a nice big lamp is great too, or a reading light, or a lit up e-reader!

4. Bookmarks: I love my crazy homemade pile of variety!

5. Goodreads: Again! For keeping track of what I've read of course. I guess the written journal thing has fallen by the wayside now, which makes me sad, but I've moved totally to Goodreads for this keeping track bit.

So... what would you put on your list today?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Announcing The Book Thief Read Along!

It was inevitable that I would end up hosting ( in this case co-hosting) a Book Thief read along, right?

Well, let me tell you how it happened:

So I was sitting there minding my own business on Twitter when suddenly Kathy says, "Hey, do you think I should read The Book Thief before or after the movie comes out?"

Both Kami and I were like, "What? Dude! BEFORE!! Of course!"

And then Kathy was all, "But, I'm sort of worried about it, and I need to read it with someone or something!"

And we were all like, "AH!!! We will read with you! We can have a READ ALONG!!"

Because you know, even if I've read it twice already, I'd say it's about time for another read of this book. AND, because one can never read it too many times. And now there's the movie, right? And one should read it again before the movie comes out anyway, right?

Of course right.

So if you:

1. ...have never read this book before and feel that now is pretty good time to give it go...
2. the book so much that you can re-read over and over and never get sick of it....
3. ...want to re-read before the movie comes out (on November 15, by the way)...
4. ....have never read the book and are like Kathy and are a little scared to, and want a support group...
5. ...want to just join in with us for a fun project and read along....

Then now is the time! Sign up today to let us know you want to participate!

Here's our plan:

We've divided the book into three parts, with the idea to read it slowly through the month of September. We will each (Kathy, Kami and I) take a part and host the discussion on our blogs for that part. The schedule look like this:

September 1: start reading
September 10: read through Part 3: Suey will host discussion here in this blog
September 20: read through Part 6: Kami will host discussion on her blog
September 30: finish the book: Kathy will host final discussion on her blog

Also, we'll be using the hashtag #bookthief to discuss it on Twitter. My particular plan is to tweet my thoughts and quotes that jump out at me as I'm reading, just like I did awhile back with I Am the Messenger. That was quite fun!

So? Are you with us? If yes, then post about it on your blog (to help us spread the word) and then sign up in the linky below with the URL of the post. Then join with us on the above mentioned days for our discussions either by commenting on the discussion blog, or writing up your own discussion on your blog and linking up on the linkys for each discussion.

I'm so excited! Can't wait to get started!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Currently: It Rained!


(as written on Saturday evening)


It's just been Pandora this week, lots of 80s music and classic rock and some Latin stuff too. I'm really needing some new cool music to get into.

In just a week or so, it'll be the Richard Marx concert! Ah, he is so much fun! And then the month after that, the Muse concert! Rock on! And then the month after that JOSH!!! Seventh row!!! I can't wait to see him again!

And Monday at the outdoor theater we are seeing the one dude from The Righteous Brothers. And I hope he sings this song and makes is sound just like this:

Ah, I can tell you right now that I'll be having the chills for sure!


I finished Merlin this week... it was the whole complete series finale. Ugh! Such sadness! But we all know what happens in the end, right? Anyway, I have plans to do a whole post about this series and my thoughts on it all.

We rented and watched Mud last night. Pretty good little coming of age movie. Perhaps I'll do a full review of it too. 

My kids have been obsessed with Psyche, so I'm hearing that one a lot. But I haven't done much watching of it myself. 

That's about all I've watched. Haven't been doing much watching lately. It's still so strange to me that the TV season is so dead in the summer when there's actually more time to watch things. Whatever I suppose.


Working on my Utah books, but this week I'm going to add in some non Utah ones. Gasp, I know. But yeah, oh, well.

I actually haven't finished much this week, so stay tuned because this next week, I'm going to finish TONS!


I suddenly seem to have much going on the blogging plate! It's possible I may be a bit optimistic! See if you agree:

  • I signed up for Bout of Books today, and that gets started this week.
  • There's Utah Book Month still going on strong!
  • Bloggiesta is next month and I need to get that ball rolling again! (Host sign ups coming soon!)
  • I'm co-hosting a Book Thief read long in September with Kathy and Kami! (Sign ups Monday!)
  • I've requested several review copies from Netgalley, all being released soon.
  • I'm doing a blog tour book in a couple of weeks, and it's been awhile since that happened!
  • Plus there's a blogger party IRL on Sept. 7th. I need to plan things!
Whew. I've lost my mind.


I made some yummy stuffed peppers this week. I think that's the only dinner I've made in weeks. Dinner is falling by the wayside at our house. Makes me sad. Maybe with school starting we can try to get that going again.

Basically I'm eating like crap, which is not very newsworthy as it is the normal for me. Something needs to change!


  • School starts on Tuesday! Well, for one kid. College starts the next week for two kids, and the next week for the last kid! Wahoo! I think.
  • I'm going to be making root beer in a garbage can next week. I'll take pictures.
  • We went through a bunch of clothes and gave them away. That's so refreshing!
  • But what is most refreshing is that it rained today!
  • Oh, and P.S. it's our anniversary tomorrow! (Today when you are reading this!)
I think that's about all going on around here!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bout of Books!

So I've been hearing about this event, Bout of Books, for quite some time now and just haven't had the oomph to actually go for it. But all the cool kids are doing it, so this week, I guess I'll join the crowd and give it a shot!

How's that for enthusiasm!!

I'm just a little nervous because this week, like all the weeks lately, will be a bit crazy so joining something else is totally insane on my part. BUT, I have lots I need to read and so I was hoping to ratchet up the reading time this week anyway, so might as well make a pledge to do so, right?

Because yes, this challenge/week/event is basically that... to read  A LOT during this week! Here's the official blurb from the official site:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Do you agree?  I might as well, right?

My Reading Goals

Here's what I'm hoping to read this week:

  • The Rithmatist (half done, so the goal is to finish!) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Visiting Tom (just started) by Michael Perry
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater
  • Seers by Heather Frost
  • Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
If I get those five done I think I'll be doing good! And maybe I'll add to it if I do better than I think I can. Or maybe I'll switch them up if my mood changes, which you know, could happen.

So, how about you come and join the party? 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review: Turning Pages by Tristi Pinkston

Book: Turning Pages by Tristi Pinkston
Genre: Romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Utah Book Month
From: Bought the ebook

I saw this author the other day at the library, so I went home and bought the ebook and  added to my Utah Book Month list! So this is what I read over the weekend of the big race, which was perfect, because it didn't need a whole lot of concentration on my part.

Which is to say, that yes, this is a big time fluffy read! It's about a girl who works at a library (must be a very very small town one since there's only three library employees! What?) and dreams of making that her career. Well, at the very beginning of the book, that dream seems to be ruined when some upstart dude gets hired for the position she wanted! The nerve! And now he's her boss too!

Of course this dude is drop dead gorgeous... only he's rude and mean and quite obnoxious to her! So, she doesn't like him at at all.

Until, of course, she starts to see another side of him. And there's the day that he rescues (or at least tries to rescue) her friend who is about to make the most major mistake of her life!

Hey, does this plot sound familiar yet? Of course, it's a nod to Pride and Prejudice, which I didn't realize at first  (despite the little P and P blurb on the front!) and then I was like... oh hey! It's a retelling of sorts!

So that was fun.

And the other fun thing was all the library work references that I could relate to (even if it's a small library and I work in a big one) and all the nods to so many books. That was awesome, and in fact, the book has a book list at the back so you can go and read them all.

However, despite the lightness of this book, it does deal with sad things like change, moving, the loss of a parent, and friends that make bad choices. So there's actually quite a bit to think about.

Bottom line: So basically if you enjoy fluffy Pride and Prejudice retellings within a library setting and lots of references to other books, you'll enjoy this one!

Other Reviews:

I enjoyed Turning Pages as a clean read with good themes that I would happily hand to my 15-year-old to read. From LDS Women's Book Review

The situations that Addie finds herself in left a smile on my face and had me wanting to turn the pages to find out what would happen next. From Bookworm Lisa

The main character is certainly one to admire and even through I thought the romance could have been spiced up a bit, there is still so many sweet, touching messages that readers can take from this story! From Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

This clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice will make you cry, and then laugh, and then growl with frustration at the stupidity of two people who are clearly meant to be together. From Star Crossed Book Reviews

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Review: Pros of Prozac by Beca Mark

Book: Pros of Prozac by Beca Mark
Genre: Memoir of sorts
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆☆
For: Review
From: ebook provided by the author

I read this book awhile back and just haven't managed to get to a review. Mostly because I'm not sure what to say or how to review this book! But I figured since it's by a Utah author, now is the time!

It's small little thing, easily and quickly read, about the author's experience with depression and how discovering Prozac brought her relief and peace and helped her to join the world again. It was interesting reading for me because, while not suffering with depression myself (at least I think I'm not! Maybe I am some days?? Well, I do know I have an anxiety issue at least!) there are many in my family that do. So it was interesting and eye opening to read about what that's like and how this author managed to try and describe it, which I'm sure is not an easy thing to do.

And then there's the fear of revealing this problem to people, another aspect of depression that she talks quite a bit about, and how that now, she embraces and talks about it with everyone! And now the book!

I know for many people with depression, it's really hard to find the right medicine that will help you specifically, and she talks about this and how her whole world opened up when she finally tried Prozac and how wonderful it least for her.

It's really quite the advertisement for this drug and if you or anyone you know is pondering taking it, it will answer many of your questions I'm sure.

Anyway, the writing is short and sweet and simple. She says she did that on purpose because she knows that people with depression have hard time focusing on things for a very long, that they have short attention spans, so she wrote the book to be very easy to read. And that it is!

Bottom line: Very interesting and blunt look at depression and how this author was able to overcome it.

Other Reviews:

Overall, I think this book is really good. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’ve suffered with anxiety and/or depression, and have maybe thought about whether or not you should take medication for it. From Should Be Reading

I found the book was very easy to read, filled with personality, and surprisingly enjoyable, especially given my experiences with anxiety medications and beta-blockers. From Roundtable Reviews

It is short but powerful and inspirational. From Book Queen Reviews

This book covers the importance of knowing your family history, knowing that you ARE NOT ALONE, knowing ALL about your medication if that is what you choose, know your resources, understand the STIGMA, and that medication is not a solve-all. From Funny Postpartum Lady

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Our Epic Relay Experience

Yes, we named our trip this past summer the "epic" trip, but this recent experience that we just had really WAS called The Epic Relay! I promise!

I'm not into running, like, at all. So when my brother-in-law proposed the idea a few months ago that we should form a family team for the Epic Relay, I was all.... yeah... right! I'll run just as soon as you read P and P and join me for book club!

He said he would, but... alas, I did not run.

However, three of my family members did, and the rest of us three volunteered at an exchange stop. And wouldn't you know, as it turns out, being part of this race/relay/running experience, even in my small little non-running way, was quite fun after all.

The idea, for those uninformed like me, is that you take 12 runners and they all run three different legs (between 3 and 9 miles each) and you go from Logan Utah to Jackson Hole Wyoming (a total of 205) running nonstop until you cross the finish line! There are six runners in two cars, and when your runners are running, you follow and "support" them. When it's the other car's turn, you sleep, eat and rest.

It was chaotic and confusing to prepare for it and, being first timers, to understand how it all worked. There's choosing who will run what, and how many miles each one can handle, and what van they are going in, and sleeping and food arrangements, and getting people to where they need to be when they need it, and training and hoping you don't die (literally) on the course, and etc and etc.

But the actually race was amazingly awesome and inspiring. So, I thought I'd share a few pictures here, in case you missed them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Son, Dev, started the race as Runner 1 at 5:15 am Friday morning.

Katie, sister-in-law, was Runner 12 and had to wait nearly all day Friday for her turn.

Much of the runner's time is spent sitting/riding in the car.

Here's daughter Toto and son Drew at our volunteer
spot just after daughter JJ came in from her first leg.

Everyone decorates their cars!

This was my view for five hours while manning our stop,
between Preston and Soda Springs Idaho.
(Think Napoleon Dynamite!)

Here we are at exchange 10 waiting for the runners!
(We were early on in the race, there are 36 exchanges!)
My husband passing off the "baton" (actually one of those
slap bracelets) after his second run Friday evening.

And look at that sunset!!

Nephew, Brennan (only 13 years old), finishing up his third  and hardest leg,
running up the highway along the Snake River.

Here's various team members waiting in the hot hot
sun for their turn to takeover.
JJ, just about to finish her last and longest run.

The whole team running to cross the finish line!
(at Teton Village near Jackson Hole)

The team at the finish line.
(Two of the runners hauled their little kids with them
the whole race! The babysitter fell through!)

And my runners!


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