Friday, January 31, 2014

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

Movie: Captain Phillips
Genre: Drama
Starring: Tom Hanks
Rating: PG13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I've been anxious to see this for for quite awhile, but didn't quite make it while it was still in the theater. But this week it came out to Redbox so yay! We finally got to watch it.

And wow. Intense. But you probably already knew that.

So this is the true life story about a ship captain who takes a routine job moving cargo down the African coast when they are captured by Somalian pirates. In the movie, we get a little of the back story of these guys so we know that they are real people just trying to survive, not that it makes them nice or anything. But maybe a tiny more sympathetic.

Anyway, things go very badly, and the captain is taken hostage in one of the life boats. And then when the coast guard and Navy Seals come to the rescue things get so extremely intense that you pretty much forget to breathe.

When the end actually happens, there are no words to describe the emotion, and the acting job of Tom Hanks is so incredible at that moment that it will bring you to tears. I was totally blown away. It was as if we were truly experiencing the event ourselves.

It's hard to believe that someone actually DID experience this.

By the way, I don't think Tom Hanks is up for best actor in the Academy Awards, but the dude playing the pirate is up for best supporting. It has been nominated in several other categories, including best picture.

Bottom line: Rent it now! "Everything gonna be okay."

Here's the trailer if you missed it:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Random Little Bookish Tidbits

Letter Month Take Three

I think, yes, I will take part in A Month of Letters once again. For the third time! I love to write letters. I may be losing my mind this February, but I will still write letters. I'm not sure I'll manage one a day, but I'll try. You probably know if I have your address already from giving it to me in previous years. But if I don't and you want a letter, speak up in comments!

Speaking of letter writing, I've signed up to do the Start 2014 Write challenge at the Estella Society, which is planned to go along with letter month. So, yeah. I'm excited about it all.

Brodi Ashton Signing

The other day Kami, Jenni Elyse and I headed off to The King's English bookstore to see Brodi Ashton, one of our favorite local authors. The third book in her trilogy, Evertrue, came out and I'm very anxious to get to it to see how things end up. Soon, very soon. Anyway, we enjoyed the evening, bought the book, got it signed and then went out to eat and talked and talked. Fun stuff.

Kami, Jenni Elyse, me and Brodi

To Accept or Not to Accept

I wasn't going to accept any more books for reviewing for awhile. Except those already lined up on NetGalley and Edelweiss. Life is just too crazy right now. Seriously crazy. But then, what happens but I get nice emails from the authors themselves and... I just can't say no. Ugh, I can't do this right now people!

Writing, I Think I Can, I Think I Can

We got our little writing group started! We met, we talked, we read some stuff, we argued! It was a blast! And then I go home and decide... well, I guess I can't do this. Yeah, so I'll be having to fight that feeling over and over and over again if I'm really going to write. Wish me luck on that.


I seem to be on roll with reading final installments of trilogies this week. Right now, I'm still into Champion. I just finished Allegiant. Last week, Into the Still Blue and coming up soon, the above mentioned Evertrue. What else should I be adding to my list? Ignite Me.. yes? And I actually need to start the Incarnate series. I think the final one for that is soon, am I right? Ruins (from Partials and Fragments) is soon too. Ah, series ending books are sad, but awesome.

Well, I think that concludes my little tidbit post. What tidbits are going on in your bookish life this week?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Cassie's Cowboy Crave by Kimberly Krey

Book: Cassie's Cowboy Crave by Kimberly Krey
Genre: Romance
Rating:★★☆ ☆ ☆
For: Fun
From: free on Kindle

Someone was pushing this book hard the other day on Twitter and so I thought, what the heck. It's free and I need to learn about how to make/write a swoony cowboy. Maybe I can call this one research? :) So I bought it and read it pretty much that very day.

Sadly, I was not that impressed. This book turned out to be all about the making out and less about the cowboy. Which confirmed in my head the fact that making out is not the stuff that causes the swooniness. We need some build up! We need some character development! We often moan about insta-love and wow, this was the worst case of that I've ever read. It was like BAM... straight to the making out.

But then again. I pretty much expected that. Though I was hoping for more cowboy and less making out. And I'm not even sure what I mean by that!

As for the story, I thought it was an interesting premise. There's this wonderful country family with three awesome hunky brothers, each with their own problems. The interseting thing they do is to take in people through the witness protection program. Funny thing though, every girl that they bring in falls in love with a brother! The other brothers' stories are in different books and this particular book was the youngest brother's story.

He's a little bitter and doesn't want to be in charge of this latest witness, but of course, he does it and gasp, he falls instantly in love. We, the readers, know it's happened with the other boys, so why not this one too? Of course, why not? I was bugged that it was so easily decided from the very first page how things would turn out. I kept hoping maybe some surprising twist would happen and she would fall for one of the ranch hands instead. But nope.

One of the ranch hands was a bit creepy though and his story brought in the element of suspense. Just for a few pages anyway. All the rest was making out. But clean stuff! Let me make sure you know that should you crave (ha CRAVE!) some clean making out scenes!

Anyway, it was a fun experiment, if not for the lesson learned at how important it is for a romance to build, and to not necessarily be assured to happen from the very first page.

Bottom line: Easy to read romance, pure fluff, fun for what it was.

Other reviews:

I definitely recommend this if you're looking for a sweet and sultry, but clean, romance. From Tressa's Wishful Endings

What a fun, clean read! From Mel's Shelves

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Not So Wonderful Worlds

What bookish worlds would you NOT want to visit? That's the question today over at The Broke and the Bookish. And it's an easy one to answer I think. Anything dystopian, yes? Or places with zombies maybe? And some fantasies I'd think.

Top Ten Worlds I Don't Want to Visit

1. The Road
2. The Stand
3. The Hunger Games
4. Matched/Crossed/Reached
5. The Passage
6. I Am Legend
7. The Knife of Never Letting Go
8. The Wheel of Time world
9. Under the Dome
10. Legend/Prodigy/Champion

In looking over the fantasies, I'm thinking most of them wouldn't be bad to visit. But I wouldn't want to live there!

What would you put on your list?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Book: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Genre: YA Dystopian/SF
For: Review
From: Edelweiss

Ah, the end of a wonderful series. Wow, I devoured this series! For me, it had everything. Awesome romance, cool characters, unique setting with both futuristic and past elements, understandable goal, despicable villains, twists and turns, sad stuff and happy stuff. And many swoon-worthy moments! (Had to get that in there since I've been thinking much on The Swoon lately!)

I loved all three books.

In this, the final book, Perry is still trying to get his tribe to safety. The atmosphere is failing, the lethal storms are getting worse, and they have word that there is a safe place to go where this phenomena is not happening. They call it the Still Blue. All of this book is trying to make this happen.

The interesting thing about it this time is that the two different worlds, the futuristic one called the Dwellers, and the rustic one called The Outsiders, must work together to make it happen. And people we thought were the bad guys may now become the good guys and the good guys are the bad guys. Well, actually there's one bad guy who will ever and always remain the very very bad guy!

We see a different side of Roar in this book. As you know (or not) he is one of my all time favorite characters and he is one angry young man in this book. His joviality is no more. It's very sad. All because of stuff that happens in book two.

Perry and Aria are working together for most of this book except for a very nail biting moment towards the end where I thought it might turn into a Romeo and Juliet sort of ending. Scary!

And then there's Cinder, who makes everything possible. Ah. Cinder. I love him too.

Things end both happy and sad, but it was a totally satisfying ending for me. Love it when that happens. But wow, I'm going to miss these characters. But it will probably be a series I'll read over and over again through the years. Also one I'll push onto anyone looking for a good science fiction type dystopian. This one is perfect!

Bottom line: I feel like I'm doing a terrible job telling you how good this is, but let's just say it one more time...I loved it!

Other Reviews:

Veronica Rossi’s writing is so emotionally compelling. Cinder and Talon and Perry and Aria and everyone — they’re all so vivid to me and I’ve become attached. I have to say, Roar might be one of my favorite characters I’ve read in a long time. From Anna Reads

All in all, I'm in LOVE with this series and will recommend it to everyone. From Annette's Book Spot

I couldn't help but read the entire book all in one sitting, because it drew me in right from the start and I didn't want to let go. From City of Books

The story is vivid and spellbinding, perfectly grafted to make us hope, guess and hold our breath until the very last page. From Bewitched Bookworms

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thinking About Branding: A Bloggiesta Mini Challenge

One of the Bloggiesta Mini Challenges for this Bloggiesta weekend is Branding by Amanda at On a Book Bender. She asks some questions that I thought would be fun to answer here in this post. I figured after nearly seven years at this, it would be a good time to ponder my brand!

Here's what she wants us to think about:

How well does your blog name reflect what your blog is about? When I sat down seven years ago to make a book blog, all I could think to name it was something very obviously pointing to what it was about. The name It's All About Books popped into my head and I went with it. Many times over the years I've regretted my choice and my quickness with which I just typed it in and went for it. But now that it's grown on me, I can't change it! Sadly, many others have had the same idea and I know I'm not the only blog out there with this name, but hopefully I'm the most active and prolific one!

Create a tagline. When I made up this blog name, I added the tagline "...and life's other adventures too!" because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep my posts to only about books. And because of this simple tag line, I feel justified in branching out to posts about movies, TV shows, music and other posts on life. I find it it be perfect for my other rambles. It encompasses everything!

Look at the name you use to leave comments. Change it to reflect your brand. One of the things I didn't understand when I created my blog was to make the blog name and the URL match. Oh well on that. But I did decide at some point to be known all over the internet by my nickname. And my URL ended up reflecting that. And this nickname is what I use to comment and I find it to be unique enough that I don't usually use my whole blog name along with it. So far, I haven't come across any other Sueys! (Except that Jamie Ford mentioned to me the other day that he has a friend with that name!) So anyway, I'm hoping that the strange and weird nickname sets me apart somehow!

Do you have the same profile picture on all social networks (including your blog)? This is one thing that I did understand in the beginning, that if people want to recognize me wherever I go, I should use the same picture. I've only changed my profile picture once. Some places (mostly commenting apps) are still connected to my old one, but they are similar enough that it hasn't mattered too much. I'm starting to get itchy to change it again, but this is something that I think is such a BIG DEAL that it freaks me out! And I want to be creative and yeah... the pressure!

Is the picture of you or an avatar?  Sadly, it is of me, but I guess that's a good thing? But, I hate pictures of myself. Thus, the hiding behind books. Ugh. Maybe when I do get the guts to change it again, I can think of something else. Suggestions?

What do people expect from YOUR blog?  I'm not sure, but I would hope that readers expect some very casual and chatty book talking and occasional book gushing. Hopefully a friendly and welcoming place. A blog where all sorts of books are talked about. A blog with a fun dose of other media consumption items discussed. Pretty much a blog where what you see is what you get.

Look at your Twitter timeline. What’s the ratio between interacting with people and self-promoting tweets? (Eyeball it.) Well, my recent timeline is promoting lots of Bloggiesta posts of other people! But yeah, most of my tweets are interactions with other people. I tend to forget to plug my own posts except for the app that I started using during a previous Bloggiesta, one that posts your new posts automatically. Anyway. Yes, actual conversations on Twitter are my favorite!

Write a social media update about your latest post (or your latest FAVORITE post) that teases and gives people a reason to click through. This is one thing I've really been trying to work on lately, the eye catching, click inducing tweets to make people want to come visit! It's hard! If I were to write one about my latest post it might look something like this: Flawed characters are the best! What are some of your favorite flaws? What do you think? Would you click?

Fun stuff to think about! I'm actually fairly happy with my "brand" and find that it has been established in such a way that truly reflects who I am and what my blog is all about. Yay for that!

How do you feel you've branded yourself and your blog? Are you happy with the results too?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Favorite Character Flaws

Today I'm thinking about characters and what makes them interesting. It's pretty obvious that characters with unique personalities and a dynamic voice are the interesting ones. But what also makes them interesting is their flaws.

But here's the thing...character flaws have always been a little illusive for me. I can never quite put my finger on what they are. Unless, of course, they are very obvious, like anger in Heathcliff... or pride in Darcy and Elizabeth. I know I know, flaws should stand out, but I'm always focusing on other things usually. It's weird. Like what, for instance, is Harry's flaw? I have no idea.

Anyway so I looked up "flaws" and found this list of fun ones. Some of my favorites are:

  • can't keep a secret
  • hold everything in
  • don't look at me!
  • too snarky
  • fear of thunder
  • forgets to eat
  • talks to much
  • smothers with love
Ah.. and the list goes on and on. 

So I was wondering what character flaws do you notice and like to see show up in your favorites. And which ones do you hate and roll your eyes at and think are way overdone? Which ones are good in heroes and great in villains? 

Tell me about some of your favorite characters and what their flaws are! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Book: Prodigy by Marie Lu
Genre: YA Dystopian
For: Fun
From: the library

I may have mentioned before that it's crazy I've waited so long to read this series. I guess it's good though because they are all out now! So I don't have to wait long in between them!

So this one takes off where the first one, Legend, left us. Day and June are running for their lives and they end up in the Patriot's camp and some how they are suddenly telling them that they'll help them assassinate the new president of the Republic (who is by the way, a young guy who just happens to have eyes for June.) June is the one lucky enough to be going inside to get him where they need him to be. And Day, of course, is the one lucky enough to be the the shooter.

But, once the plan gets going, they found out things that just don't seem right. And the whole idea of everything is turned on its head. Ah, the roller coaster ride this is! And whose side are we on? I don't know! And will June be safe and will Day be safe? Maybe, maybe not!

And Day. I just love this character. Even if he has blond hair! :) I don't know. He's just so... cool. And vulnerable. And smart. And... cool. Maybe I'll write a Character Connection on him and find some more and better words to describe him!

Anyway, the book. It's awesome. It's exciting and crazy and fun and even a little bit scary. I love this series.

Bottom line: Awesome!

Other Reviews:

Let's just hope this Romeo and Juliet-inspired dystopian tale doesn't wrap up as tragically as the original. From YA Romantics

I loved how there was enough action happening that you had to continue to read the book and the surprising twists and turns the came out. From Cindy's Love of Books

Overall, if you haven't started this series, go get it now! It's absolutely fantastic. From Book Chic Club

At the end, it took everything in me not to cry. Am I scaring you? Don’t be scared. From Anna Reads

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Things on My Reading Wishlist

This week over at the Broke and the Bookish they are asking for things we wish we could find in more stories.

 Now, okay. I'm a little scared about sharing my list because these are the things I want to write about should I actually fall into this writing thing as I'm hoping to do. Because, as they say, write what you want to read, and this is what I want to read yet haven't really come across out there in bookland. And sharing ideas is scary, sort of. Am I right?

Things on My Reading Wishlist
(aka. Things I Want to Write About)

1. YA cowboy romance
2. YA space opera
3. an 80s teen drama
4. a story starring band geeks
5. more books where ordinary people are the heroes
6. more books with vulnerable villains
7. a love story set in the late 30s just before WWII breaks out
8. a romance starring a socially awkward yet surprisingly brilliant boy
9. more books were best friends fall in love
10. more books that are inspired by song lyrics

What things do you want more of in your stories? And, would you read stories like the ones I've listed?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mini Bloggiesta To Do List

It's time for another Bloggiesta! You have things to do on your blog, right? And so do I. So let's do them together. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Check out the blog for all the details and if you want to join in, write up a post with your to do list and link up.

Bloggiesta To Do List:

1. Change my header. I've been working on that. How do you like it? Isn't it the most creative thing you've ever seen? Updated to add: I thought at first that it's too simple, but it's been growing on me. One thing is for sure, I like it a ton better than what I had before!

2. As always, update the review archive list. I hate this job. Done! Well, that wasn't so hard, now was it?

3. Move some pages to the side bar? I don't know. I can't decide on this.

4. I really want to spend a lot of time writing. And brainstorming. And list making, etc.

5. Get ahead in Top Ten posts perhaps.


6. Catch up on reviews. (I wasn't that behind but suddenly I am!)

7. Pin reviews.

Mini Challenges will go up late Thursday, early Friday, so be sure to come check those out. Also, mark you calendars for a Twitter chat on Saturday night at 9 pm Eastern. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Currently: It's All About Love


(as written on Saturday Night)

Listening: Random songs on Youtube. Gotye at the moment. Coldplay, Adele, Lorde a bit ago. Maybe some Maroon 5 coming up. 

Watching: There are new Parenthood episodes! I'm now behind! Also, Sleepy Hollow. Did you know that has a season finale this week? Oh, and Downton Abbey, yes? And tomorrow, SHERLOCK!

Reading: I'm reading a random cowboy romance right now. I'm calling it research. Man, that book is fluff. I'm going to float away it's so light. I read and loved Prodigy though. And soon, I might start... I don't know. We'll see.

Writing: I'm rewriting my first chapter, again. I like it better so far. And maybe we'll get a writing group going this week! Stay tuned.

Blogging: I'm so out of blogging ideas! But hey, BLOGGIESTA this weekend! Sign ups are on now over at the site! Anyway, I'm going to get my groove back, I promise. 

Eating: Man, this eating thing. I just don't know. I don't want to talk about it.

Crafting: I'm hosting a wedding shower in a few weeks, so I'm crafting for that... sort of. Making invitations and thinking up decorations and such. I'm also doing a bunch of other wedding stuff like making some flower baskets, a ring pillow, and thank you favor bags, for starters. This wedding has a rustic theme so everything is made out of burlap, which is different, but fun. We're having the reception in a barn, so it fits!

  • So yeah, my daughter DID get engaged. So my son in March, my daughter in May. I'm going to be okay. Really. I think.
  • And my other two kids (ages nearly 19 and almost 15) are having their own relationship issues, ups and downs, backs and forths. Oh my word, I'm going to go crazy. Maybe I WON'T be okay after all. Wake me up when it's all over!
  • Last night I couldn't sleep until nearly 4 and then when I did fall asleep I dreamt we were fighting a plague and were all quarantined. Interpretations, anyone?
  • WAIT! Have you seen this video? My sister shared it with me and I thought I'd make your day too if you haven't enjoyed it already. 

And I think that's a perfect place to end for today!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Review: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Book: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Genre: YA Science Fiction
For: Fun (and Local Author!)
From: I bought it 

Okay. This book is going to be a hard one to review because I was all over the place with my feelings on it. It was good at first, then it got slow, then it got good then slow, then really fast and then ended with a bang.

So, how would one review that? Maybe I should just say that for me, there was a pacing problem?

But I want to emphasize the "for me" part. I think that a certain crowd of readers will find this book to be a blast. I'm just thinking I don't fit into that crowd.

Here's the story. In this world, people pretty much live in the Virtual Net, the fake world, the video game world. They don't spend much time in their real lives. (Sound familiar? This is a premise of many books I've read lately.) In this world, there's a bad guy who is sabotaging the games and killing the real people. I think. Part of my problem, I will admit, is that I didn't totally understand the villain and his motives.

But, our heroes, a kid and his two friends, have been asked to go find this dude, which means playing a very scary game and going to uncharted parts of the VirtNet (and a part, by the way, that if you die, you really die) and once they find him, the good guys will come in to help them fight and save the world, real and fake.

Make sense?

So in they go and there's lots of weird and scary things they have to get past and figure out. Once they were actually in the game, it picked up a bit for me. Still though. You need to have your awesome kid/game imagination going strong for this one!

But I must say the end was very interesting and I didn't see it coming. It left me with the desire to read on and see what happens next. So. There's that.

This book should have been an easy easy read, and I should have flown right through it. It ended up taking me over a month to read, while I got distracted in between by several other books and Christmas festivities. It was frustrating to me.

Bottom line: So, to sum up, I enjoyed this book in parts. In other parts, I had to force myself through it. That being said, I think video-game-playing-middle-school-age boys will love it! And we need books that they will love, so that's a good thing.

Other Reviews:

On the whole, mind--blown. I liked it a lot. From One Literature Nut

If you like fast-paced action novels with an emphasis on friendship, give this one a read. I promise you won’t regret it! From Good Books and Good Wine

A few flaws with the pacing and occasionally forced dialogue, but an interesting, quick read. From A Patchwork of Books

Things do get a bit too quick at times and it threw me off, but I quickly got back on track. I loved the world that Dashner has built, and the characters! From Book Twirps

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Author Event: Jamie Ford

Last weekend I attended the first author event of the year. It was the Family Literacy Symposium at the Prvov Library and featured Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, as its keynote speaker. Don't you think that it was great timing that our book club just happens to be reading this book this month? I thought that was awesome!

Jamie Ford

So I was there, despite the chaos happening at my house that morning! It was fun to be there with Kami and Kathy too. But still, I'm surprised more book bloggers didn't come.

It was fun hearing about how he realized he was a different sort because of his love of stories, and particularly his love of love stories. He tells about how he discovered this at a young age when he sobbed over an ABC after school movie. Anyone remember those? I captured a little of this story on my phone:

He then suppressed this for years until he was at a conference for newly engaged couples and he and his fiance were older and while listening to all the young crazy kids talk about the weird ways they found each other, something hit him and he decided to finally embrace his sentimentality and write.

It was fun to hear how himself, his dad, and his grandpa all inspired the Hotel book. And how he explored even darker themes in his newer book, Songs of Willow Frost, which I really look forward to reading.

Yes, I bought this new one and had him sign it for me. Sadly, I thought I already had the Hotel book, but couldn't find it anywhere.

After listening to him, we went to a couple of breakout sessions where the librarians told us all about their favorite teen books and adult books of the year. There was also one one favorite kid books. I didn't go to that one. Interested in those lists? Click the links.

Finally, at the end, we listened to a panel discussion of great book club books. However, the discussion morphed into thoughts about picking book club books in this unique area where so many readers are really quite conservative. I'm sure Jamie Ford enjoyed that topic! (He did say he spoke Mormon though, so maybe he followed along okay?) Actually, it was fun to hear his take on this and it was fun hearing how other people solve this issue. I'm glad that for the most part, our book club doesn't worry about this much.

It was a fun bookish day! So glad I managed to stop life long enough to go.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim

Book: Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim
Genre: Historical Fiction
For: Blog Tour
From: TLC Blog Tours

I seem to be attracted to any book about Paris these days. So I accepted the opportunity to review this one. It ended up taking me awhile to get into it. The writing is great, but it has a sort of detached quality that made me not feel very invested at first. But then things got going and I got the feel for it and ended up enjoying the book very well.

It's about this old lady, living in Paris, who gets a trunk sent to her, a trunk full of mementos from the past, a trunk that she left behind years ago and pretty much had forgotten about, a trunk that suddenly finds its way back into her life.

So she sits down and starts to rummage through this stuff and as she does, we, the reader, are taken back in time to remember right along with her, all the adventures she's had.

She was a famous reporter just before World  War II breaks out. She gets assigned to Paris and to Berlin and so she is right there as Hitler begins his push. She herself, is half Jew which puts her in lots of danger and I began to think she was absolutely crazy as she continues to run back and forth between Paris and Berlin during this time! What WAS she thinking?

Besides the war, other stuff happens. Her cousin is murdered, she falls in a love with a German Jew in Berlin, she fights with her mom, her dad dies, she makes friends with all the guys in the newsroom and all the tenants in her building. There are some pretty tense moments as she becomes involved with saving people and getting some of her Jewish friends out of Berlin. And things do not all go smoothly.

It's a fabulous peek into what it may have been like in this part of the world during that volatile time. And learning about these things through the memory of an old lady who lived through them was a fun and interesting way to experience it.

Bottom line: I really enjoyed this one.

Other Reviews:

Be sure to check out the other stops on this tour:

Tuesday, January 7th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, January 9th: Man of La Book
Friday, January 10th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Friday, January 10th: Diary of an Eccentric
Monday, January 13th: It’s All About Books
Thursday, January 16th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, January 20th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, January 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, January 22nd: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, January 23rd: Unabridged Chick
Monday, January 27th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, January 28th: Book Dilettante

More about the author Michele Zackheim, from her webpage:

Michele Zackheim is the author of four books. Born in Reno, Nevada she grew up in Compton, California. For many years she worked in the visual arts as a fresco muralist, an installation artist, print-maker, and a painter.

She has been the recipient of two NEA awards, and teaches Creative Writing from a Visual Perspective at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Of her transition from visual artist to author she writes: “Over time, random words began to appear on my canvases…then poems…then elaborate fragments of narratives. I began to think more about writing and less about the visual world. Finally, I simply wrote myself off the canvas and onto the lavender quadrille pages of a bright orange notebook. This first book, Violette’s Embrace, was published by Riverhead Books.”

You can visit her at her webpage and on Facebook or connect with her on Twitter.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mini Bloggiesta in Two Weeks!

Just wanted to let you know, or remind you if you already knew, that the Winter Mini Bloggiesta will be happening in two weeks! January 25 and 26. We'll have just a few mini challenges and will plan to spend the weekend together working on some blog spiffing up. There'll be one Twitter chat that Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. here in my Mountain Time Zone!) So if nothing else, plan to at least join us for some chatting fun!

Oh, and by the way, Bloggiesta itself has had a little blog makeover! Be sure to check it out. Also, pick a button and help us spread the word.

You can sign up by linking up your To Do Lists a WEEK AHEAD this time, as per feedback requests! So look for that to appear in about a week over on the site.

Thanks everyone for supporting Bloggiesta! See you there!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Book: Defy by Sara B. Larson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Blog Tour Review (and Supporting Local Authors)
From: A travelling ARC and a NetGalley ebook

This is one of those books that I started without really knowing what to expect. It turns out that it's one of those lovely fantasies with a strong heroine and  interesting other characters , all set in a harsh cruel, yet magical world.

In this world, there are two rival kingdoms, one in a jungle and one in a more desert area. When the book opens, we meet a set of twins, a boy and girl, just as they are losing their family and home to war between these kingdoms. In order to survive, they join the king's guard for the jungle kingdom (sorry I forget all the kingdom's names!) and live a relatively safe life for several years. Alexa, the girl half of this twin set, has to pretend she is a boy in order to make this work, and is known to everyone as Alex.

Then a terrible thing happens, which I'm not revealing here, and Alexa's life changes. Suddenly, she is assigned to guard the obnoxious and pompous prince, Damian, who she is also oddly attracted to and she is feeling like her secret will be unveiled any moment. Meanwhile, there's a boy in the guard, Rylan, who has been at her side for all these past years, but of course, he believes her to be a guy. So that's a problem.

Before long, she is sent on a mission out the world and a bunch of crazy things happen there. It seems like in this book, there are twists and turns and surprises throughout. You never know what's going to hit you next!

I really loved it! It's been awhile since I read a fantasy and I was in the perfect mood for one. And it was nice that this wasn't an over the top one with hard names and cultures to understand. Just a simple story about love, revenge, war and magic!

The characters are great. Alexa is one of those strong fighting girls with much power despite her smallness. The boys are both (or all I should say because there's lots of boys in this one!) really awesome and I wish she didn't have to choose. But choose she does, so the triangle thing doesn't really last long. But then in the end... well... never mind, you'll see.

Bottom line: Loved it!

Other Reviews:

I loved everything about this book. The writing, everything about the story, the characters, the adventure, magic, romance, and especially Alexa. From Mundie Moms is very fast-paced, and managed to be engaging even when it was getting under my skin. I saw enough in it that I would read the follow-up, even if it won't be high-priority; From The Book Rat

The ending is good but killer! I want more! Overall, it was a great read! I'm looking forward to more from this author. From Kami's Library Thoughts

The magic is subtle and believable. The sorcery is slowly revealed throughout the book. There are plenty of surprises that kept my interest. I had a hard time putting Defy down! From Annette's Book Spot

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Book: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Genre: NF
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Fun
From: Amazon

This book was mentioned at a Nanowrimo workshop I went to in November. I was intrigued at the time because of the whole "steal" thing... that no idea is original but the fact that we take ideas and do original things with them is the thing.

So I bought it. It's a tiny little thing, but filled with short and simple bits of advice that really hit you where you need it. It's also filled with wonderful artsy pictures, since the author is also an artist in the traditional sense of the word.

In the book, he makes ten points. These ten points are all on the back of the book so I'm assuming I'm good to share them with you. I guess you'll need to get the book for the "in depth" discussions found in the book! :)

1. Steal like an artist.
2. Don't wait until you know who you are to get started.
3. Write the book you want to read.
4. Use your hands.
5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
6. The secret: Do good work and share it with people.
7. Geography is no longer our master.
8. Be nice (the world is a small town.)
9. Be boring (it's the only way to get work done)
10. Creativity is subtraction.

So does that peak your interest? It did mine and I'm glad I spent the money to have this little pep talking book by my side now! And yes, I even plan to follow most of its advice!

Bottom line: Loved it!

Other Reviews:

It’s a very quick read, and has lots of illustrations — hand-drawn, and actual black-and-white photos.From Should be Reading

If you are looking for motivation, this will fit the bill. From Lindy Reads and Reviews

And the last point about creativity being subtraction I should tattoo on my forehead. From Draft No. 4

Here's the author talking about his book and the ideas in them:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bout of Books Updates and Other Such Stuff

So, in order to fully participate in this week long readathon, I must update you all! I'll continue to update here on this same post throughout the week, and put the new stuff at the top.

Here's what I've read so far:

Friday: I managed to get to page 225 in Prodigy this day, which meant only reading 75 pages. Stuffed happened I think.

Saturday: And if you think stuff happened in Friday... stuff REALLY happened on Saturday and I didn't have a moment to pick up my book and read at all.

Sunday: Which brings us to today, and our whole day is booked. Well, I could have read this morning for a little bit, but it's so pointless right now given all the things that are happening today, I choose to just and breathe instead. I guess we'll see. Maybe late this evening I'll actually read something.

And so that ends my Bout of Books experience. I read the second half of one book, one whole book and the first half of another. Which is about my normal weekly reading rate for the most part. I wanted to try and do more, but this past weekend has been really really crazy and so my vision for the reading week did not fully happen.

Oh, well. It was fun to try!


Wednesday: I read until 91% of Into the Still Blue and then I got too tired to properly enjoy the ending, so I waited until...

Thursday: When I quickly and easily finished in the morning. Then the day was crazy and I didn't started Prodigy until afternoon/evening, but easily read 150 pages before sleeping. Whew. What a crazy story that one is!

So I'v now finished two books (one started before this week began) and half way finished a third. Not too bad I guess. I'm thinking I might add some novellas and some graphic novels to my list and maybe read some of them this weekend. We'll see though. The weekend might end up crazy.


Monday: I finished The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, which amounted to about 150 pages, easy short pages. I'll review eventually, but that books was... not really for me. (It is very much geared to gamers specifically young boy gamers.) Until the end. And then it grabbed me and I must say I'll probably have to read the next one after all!

And then that night I started Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi. Love this world, these characters, this writing!

Tuesday: By the end of this day, I'd read 50% of my e-ARC of the above mentioned book. So far today (Wed.), I've read several more percentages. (I forgot to check, which the mark of a good book when you forget to note your progress, don't you think?) I plan to finish it today, and then on to Prodigy!

Introducing You to FANTASY!

And now I'd like to participate in a Bout of Books mini challenge, this one hosted today by Katie from Doing Dewey. She is asking us to suggest books from our favorite genre to readers who might not be too familiar with that particular genre.

As you know, I pretty much love all the genres, but if you look at my year end numbers, the fantasy genre stands out. Here's a few books I would suggest to readers who aren't so sure about this genre:

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Any non-fantasy fans want to try one of these books and see if you like it? It would be a fun experiment! I would be your own personal cheerleader and everything. :)

Happy Bout of Books reading everyone!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2014

My goals aren't really anything earth-shattering or challenging or huge. But since it's the prompt over at The Broke and the Bookish today I'm thinking I'll go ahead and list them for you!

Top Ten Bookish/Bloggish Goals

1. Host some more read alongs. Not sure of the book (or books) yet, that will be a spontaneous spur of the moment thing as they usually are. I'll let you know when it (they) pop (s) up!

2. Stop neglecting The Classics Club. Dang, but I failed on that last year. Why why why is it so hard when I want so bad to read them? I don't get it. New shiny books I guess. I blame them. If only everyone would stop publishing just for a bit, so we can all catch up!

3. Comment more. This seems to be getting harder and harder these days. I read blogs on my phone, but can't stand using it to comment. I need to set aside dedicated comment time and just do it.

4. Participate in Letter Month again in February. I'm going to be a stressed out basket case that whole month, but maybe writing letters will calm me. By the way, I just signed up to write and receive letters over at The Estella Society today. You should too! Check out the details here. 

5. Go to some conferences. I'm in the habit of the one (LTUE) but I plan to add to that this year. And hopefully ComicCon too.

6. Write. And start a writing group to help with that goal. I don't think it'll happen otherwise. There's three of us interested at this point. Anyone else want to join us? My plan is to hopefully meet in person once a month and have lots, like LOTS of online interaction in between. That's in addition to attending other events together. Anyone?

7. Last year I said I was going to work on The Wheel of Time again. Then I promptly forgot all about it. Maybe I can try again this year?

8. I hereby commit to reading 90 books next year! (See Goodreads for confirmation.)

9. Finish all the some series. Serieses? Series'? Gah.

10. Keep having fun. Seriously. Everyone seems to be stressing out about blogging and reading these days. Why? know, have fun! And I plan to follow this advice, because I know, in fact I can guarantee that during this year, I will be wondering about what is fun and what is not. And dang it, this reading blogging thing better be one of the things that stays fun.

What are your bookish goals this year? Do we sure any of the same? Can we cheer each other on?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Book: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Fun
From: Amazon (Christmas)

I just couldn't be left out of the buzz on this one. And so, it ended up being my last and very quick read, of the year.

This is the story of how two very different and somewhat misfit kids end up in a very unlikely relationship. We have Eleanor, who comes from an extremely dysfunctional family and doesn't have money for either food or proper clothes, with brilliant red hair and a body that is described as on the large side.

And then we have Park, who is half Korean, which I guess stands out, and who is nerdy and too smart, or something. Besides which, he's too beautiful for a boy. (He was actually quite awesome sounding to me!)

They are thrown together and after discovering their mutual love for comics, music and books, they become best of friends, even though they continue to be harassed by their classmates. Eleanor especially.

But it's Eleanor's family life that is particularly heart wrenching and in fact, stuff happens here that causes their whole world to come crashing down.

Sometimes this book is hard to read. There's some disturbing things going on. There's some (a lot of) foul language. And there's some mean and disgusting characters.

But mostly, it's a beautiful story of friendship and first love. Of conquering stereotypes. Of being who you and being comfortable with that. And for me, all that shines through the icky stuff.

Bottom line: I loved it. The people buzzing? They were right.

Other Reviews:

But what is new here is how the author portrays young love–with a brio and honesty that just took my breath away, it was so fresh and true. From Reading Rants
They don’t fit in, but they fit together. Their relationship can be defined as two forgotten puzzle pieces that are put together and lost again. From Books 'n Crannies

...and the end result is a novel that is a contender for one of the best of the year, if not one of the best young adult books ever penned.   Yes, I said that. Ever penned. From A Reader's Respite

Even with an open ending I was content, and I think anyone who enjoys bittersweet (emphasis on the sweet) contemporary YA will think so too. From Book Harbinger

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Currently: Let It Begin!


(as written on Saturday Night)

Listening: Hans Zimmer Pandora Station. One of my go to music spots. At this very moment it's playing The Dark Night. Love love love the music from all the Batmans! (Batmen?)

Watching: Last night we watched the new Star Trek which we got for Christmas. It was a repeat for me but a new watch for some in the group. Anyway, did I say I love that movie? I do. I love it. This week I also caught up on Vampire Diaries and Reign. Oh boy. And tomorrow... Downton Abbey! And soon... Sherlock! And American Idol which I think will finally be good again with Harry Connick Jr.! Don't you think?

Reading:Today I've been reading Last Train to Paris for a TLC blog tour. It has slow moments and good moments. I'm not sure how I'll be reviewing it. But am anxious to get to my list of Bout of Books reads this week. I plan to read some awesome ones.

Writing: I'm determined to make this happen this year. I want to go to conferences and form a writing group and get the guts to keep going to critique groups and have ideas and remember them and learn from people and be observant and find time and not not NOT get discouraged. This week, I started rewriting my first chapter of my Nano book, totally from scratch. And I made my character a little more grouchy and a little less perky. Still trying to decide if I should include the church scene. I really liked my church scene dang it.

Blogging: Gearing up for a Mini Bloggiesta this month (Jan. 25-26)! Are you in? We have a new look over at the main blog. Go check it out. Cool buttons too. Besides that, there's tons of author events this month and my author stalking tendencies are going berserk. I want to go to everything. 

Eating: Nothing of note. The Christmas crap lingers, but is almost gone. Yay for that. I need to make a menu plan. Menu plans are good and make life go so much smoother. It has to happen.

Crafting: I'm also determined to craft more this year. Back to quilting I say. I need to finish my hexes. What happened to my enthusiasm for that particular project, eh? Ah, there's so much to do!


  • Let me just say if I get through this year it will be a miracle. One (mostly likely two actually) weddings, a 30th high school reunion, a parent 50th anniversary celebration, and the possibility of both my grandparent's funerals. Not sure if they'll hold on much longer. Anyway, the thought of all that makes me nervous. "Wake me up when it's all over."
  • I wonder if I could lose 50 pounds in two months.
  • A new year of church starts tomorrow and I'll get a whole new crop of teenagers to teach.
  • My three college kids go back to school Monday. Let the stress begin.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bout of Books Readathon

Okay, I'm in. I'll be reading my guts out anyway next week, might as well join the party, eh? And this readathon is one rousing party. You know you'll feel left out if you don't just give in and join the fun!

Here are the details as given on their main Bout of Books blog:

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, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th 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 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

As for my goals for the week? They'll be pretty much what I listed the other day on my December Recap post, but I'll list them again here:
  • Read Into the Still Blue 
  • Read Allegiant (just got this ebook from the library today. Finally, I can be in the know!)
  • Re-read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for book club
  • Find Prodigy and read it.
  • Finish Eye of Minds.... maybe. Having a hard time with this book!
I feel like I'll be doing really well if I can do that much. Not sure what the week has in store, but kids will be going back to school and I'm hoping life will be calm and good for lots of reading. Time-wise, I'm not sure what to say for a goal. Can I just say... "I'll read a lot!" ? Good enough?

Meanwhile, this weekend I'm going to finish Last Train to Paris, so I can concentrate on the above mentioned books for the readathon. 

Come join us!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Movie: Saving Mr. Banks
Genre: Drama
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

What a wonderful, feel good movie! We need more movies like this! I loved it!

This is the true life story of how Walt Disney made the movie Mary Poppins. And how he begged the author, P.L. Travers, for 20 years to consider it before she would finally even talk to him. And then she had all sorts of demands and was extremely difficult to work with. And that was BEFORE she actually signed the rites over to him. It's amazing this movie (Mary Poppins) was ever even was made.

The heart wrenching part of this movie (not the Mary Poppins one) were the flashbacks to the life of P.L. Travers, whose real name is Helen Goff, when she was young and dealing with a dad who was a fun loving and imaginative father...and an alcoholic.

Eventually, we begin to understand the connection she has with her own life and the life she created with the Mary Poppins characters. And we see Walt Disney also open up and reveal himself and his past and we see him make the connection. And we see how they decided to make a different ending for Mary Poppins, an ending that was much more fitting and one that made all the difference.

If you love the book and the movie Mary Poppins, you really need, like NEED, to see this movie. It's so fun to get a little glimpse into the behind the scenes. As a bookish person, it's also fascinating to see the pain an author might have in giving up his or her story to be made into a movie.

Oh, and of course the acting was amazing. Emma Thompson? I have no words. She is incredible.

Bottom line: It was wonderful. Go see it. You'll thank me for it. And when you do, be sure to stick around for the credits for real life pictures and audio from the tape recordings. Awesome stuff.

The trailer:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

Book: My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White
Genre: Romance
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun (also Local Author!)
From: Amazon Prime Lending Library

I happened upon this one a few days before Christmas and on a whim hit the button to borrow it from Amazon and ended up reading it right away. I love it when that happens. Here's to spontaneous reading!

This is one of those stories about being obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, more specifically Mr. Darcy, and even more specifically in this case, Matthew Macfadyen's version of Mr. Darcy.

So our girl, who's name just happens to be Elizabeth, is holding out for her own Mr. Darcy. In the meantime, she is turning down perfectly good dates and boyfriend potentials. Her roommate is sick of this and so she challenges her to go on at least ten dates with the latest one before she dumps him for not being a Mr.Darcy.

The challenge is accepted and what do you know, but Lizzie starts to like this guy, Chad. However, then one day, a certain other guy walks into the bank where she works and guess what. He looks just like the above picture. Bam! Her own Mr. Darcy!

And thus begins the inner struggle. For us the readers, the choice is perfectly clear and you feel like taking this girl and shaking her and making her see clearly. But it takes her the whole book and few incidents to figure it all out on her own.

While there was nothing earth-shatteringly different about this P and P tie in, I did enjoy it for what it was and it kept me turning the pages for sure. It was perfect reading during the crazy Christmas days and I'm happy with my spontaneous clicking!

Bottom line: Sweet, fun romance with a P and P tie in, and not the Colin Firth kind. Oh and P.S. I wasn't a big fan of this version of P and P, but now, I'm really wanting to watch it again for fun and see what I think of MM on a second go around. :)

Other Reviews:

But let's just sum it up as a journey worth the taking with a BIG reminder that dreams and fantasies are nice, but if the reality doesn't stack up, those blinders will fall of one day soon, hopefully not leaving you high and dry. From Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

If you love contemporary romance that is sweet and a little funny, you’ll enjoy reading My Own Mr. Darcy. From Leisure Reads

The characters were well done. Lizzie was fun and quirky. From I am a Reader Not a Writer

If you love Pride and Prejudice, if Matthew MacFadyen is your Mr. Darcy, then you want to check this book out. Now! From Midnight Book Girl

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reading Recap December 2013

Not a bad reading month for December. In fact, I read the first half of these books in the first week and the second half during the last weekend. In between those times I didn't read at all. Those last few, I haven't even had a chance to review yet. I better get on that!

Anyway, here's what I managed to read this month, which got me to my 90 books total for the year. 

To Mormons With Love by Chrisy Ross: the experience of a non-Mormon moving to Utah County and living amongst the Mormons and their culture.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: This is the story of an alien apocalypse. And it's awesome.

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine: a YA love story between a good girl and "bad" boy.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: What happens to Cath when she goes to college? Does she keep up her online writing fanfiction site? Or does she fall in love with her roommates boyfriend? Or does she stop talking to her twin sister? Or all of the above?

My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White: Lizzie loves Mr. Darcy, the Matthew McFadden version. And so when a really cute guy comes along, she doesn't really want to have anything to do with him, because he's not Mr. Darcy. And then her own Mr. Darcy actually walks in to her bank!

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon: A really short and simple and awesome take on creativity.

Defy by Sara Larson: wonderful fantasy debut by another of our local authors. This one about a girl who has to pretend to be a boy in order to survive the cruel world and desperate world. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Sweet and heartbreaking love story between two misfit teens.

Favorites of the month: The 5th Wave and Defy and probably Eleanor and Park too. 

Plans for January:

  • Finish The Eye of Minds
  • Re-read The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
  • Maybe read the other book by Jamie Ford since he's coming this to see us this month
  • Read Last Train to Paris for a blog tour
  • Read Into the Still Blue... can't wait.
  • Maybe read Incarnate, I think there's a read along somewhere.
  • Hopefully get to Life After Life, which I got for Christmas
  • Probably read Evertrue which I'll buy later this month at the launch party.
  • Read a classic. One a month, right? Should I start out trying to do that?
How was your December reading? Do you have awesome plans for January?


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