Monday, March 31, 2014

March 2014 Reading Wrap Up

It's been another lovely reading month! You know... I really love reading! :)

Here's what I managed this month:

Panic by Lauren Oliver: high school kids compete in a death defying game over the summer with the winner getting a pot of money.

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess: a young girl joins the assassins lair as their magic teacher, even though she is losing her magic.

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld: a death row inmate observes life in the prison

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: two girls are paired up to be roommates in the fall, so they correspond about their life that summer before they even meet

Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi: what Warner thinks!

Visible City by Tova Mirvis: several occupants of an apartment building in New York observe each others' life and then meet and then everything changes.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson:  a young Russian noble girl ends up as a housemaid in a British manor house just after WWI

Ruins by Dan Wells: the war between the humans and the Partials is in full swing with Samm and Kira trying to stop it because they know something that will save the world, if only someone would listen!

Favorites of the month include: Death Sworn, Destroy Me and The Enchanted

Plans for April:
  • Read The End of Your Life Book Club, for book club
  • Start Words of Radiance
  • Read Noggin for review
  • Finish Laughing Boy
  • Read Evertrue
  • Read The Distance Between Us
  • Read House of Ivy and Sorrow for review
  • Read whatever I want!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review Discussion: A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson

Book: A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★☆ ☆
For: Book Club
From: the library

Short Synopsis: A young girl is displaced from her rich noble lifestyle in Russia during WWI. She ends up in England and has to work for a family as their maid. She joins the staff, makes friends, and generally enjoys her experience. It appears she is helping the family prepare for the big wedding of the new master, but in reality, something else entirely is happening!

My response: Fun fluffy book! Though, the writing style made this one quite a bit harder to follow and stick with than I expected. It took a bit of perseverance to get into it, but then the second half flew by. I enjoyed it!

Let’s talk about it: I find myself drawn to these sorts of books since the popularity of Downton Abbey. The whole complicated structure of the servants and their jobs mean so much more now! And the interaction between each other and between the people of the house is fascinating. All because of Downton. Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Have you found yourself drawn to certain books because of it? Which books have you loved that give you a good Downton Abbey feeling? If you were to be part of a big manor house, do you see yourself being part of the upstairs lifestyle, or the down? If you were down, what job would be to your liking? I think I'd be downstairs, working in the kitchen!

(P.S. As part of Bloggiesta I'm introducing this somewhat new format I'd like to try here on the blog for reviewing books. My idea is to make them even shorter.... give you just a glimpse of what the book is about, an idea of what I thought about it and then suggest a topic for discussion regarding the book... something that it made me think about. I would love some feedback! What do you think? Do you think it will generate more comments? Do you think it's asking too much of you the readers to think about the book with me? Do you think I've made the "review" part TOO short? Let me know your reaction!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Discussing Books With Family

I love looking back at this post! It sill makes me laugh like it did then. I seriously did have a conversation with my family that went like this. It was so funny. I don't have much more to say about it now except that nothing much has really changed since that day except... yes, both my mom and my sister have now read The Book Thief! And my sister has joined Twitter. And Markus Zusak himself has since created his online presence (at the time of this post a few years ago he was very elusive!)

Anyway, here's the link to the first post but I'll copy and paste it here for those of you who hate clicking..... and if you want to link up one of your old posts, head on over to Mom's Small Victories! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Discussing Books.... with Family

...or.... In Which I Pass Out my Blog Business Cards to Them!!! A happening that I got such a kick out of I thought I better post about it!

So, the other day, we had an extended family dinner. (LDS General Conference equals the traditional Hawaiian Haystack gathering!) At this dinner, there were a couple of new-to-us faces, not family members. Now, normally when I'm with my family we do have a little bookish discussion, mostly it's "what are you reading now?", my answer,  followed by blank stares. Often, I want to talk about blogging, (what I've learned, what I'm doing, how it's going etc.) but usually, that gets even more blank stares and glazed over eyes, so for the most part, it doesn't come up.

But this time, the bookish subject came up again and this is a vague, perhaps even a little (a lot?) exaggerated, reenactment of how it went down:

First the players:
New Guy
New Girl
many onlookers

Brother#3: So, did you just recently go to an author thing?
Me: Yeah! Markus Zusak? Oh my gosh, it was SO AWESOME!!
Bro3: Who? No, I mean that one with the new kids book?
Me: Oh. Oh yeah. You mean Brandon Mull? Yes, I went to his launch party! So fun!
Bro3: Launch party?
Me: Yeah, so his new book Beyonders just came out, so they had a party. It was crazy!
Bro3: So, is it good? Better than his others?
Me: Yeah, I really liked it. I read it before it came out even you know. So I could tell him "awesome book" when I saw him at the signing.
Bro3: You already had it? How does that work?
Me: An ARC? Advanced Readers Copy? They sent me one. Cool, huh.
Sister#3: So, should I add that to my list of things to read?
Mom: I already gave you a book to read, you can't add more to the list!
Me: Whatever! She can make a reading list! Hello.

New Guy: So what do you like to read?
Me: Pretty much everything, but hey, I heard you are a writer...what are you writing?
NG: Oh, it's a science fiction thing. But I heard SF isn't really selling now, so I don't know...
Me: You could set in the Victorian era and call it Steam Punk! Everyone loves that these days!
NG: What? Really?
Mom: Steam what?
Me: Steam PUNK!
Mom: WHAT?
Me: S T E A M P U N K! You know... Steam..... PUNK!!!
NG: So what is that exactly?
Me: Mixing SF with the Victorian era, or at least set in the past. You know, like Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan? WWI and strange gizmos and gadgets too. Like a ship that's a whale. You know...
Everyone: (Blank stares......)
Mom: Steam WHAT?

Sis3: So what should I be reading?
Me: So, umm.... I have a blog, it has, like, tons of lists on there. YOU SHOULD LOOK AT IT!!!
Her: It makes my head spin.
Me: It has Top Tens, and all time favorites, tons of reviews, etc.
New Girl: Hey, I need ideas for what to read. I'll go look at it.
Me: Really?
NGirl: Yeah, how do I find it. (rips out paper.. starts to write)
Me: sueysbooks, dot
NGirl: What... Suey? Like how do you spell that?
Me: Ummm. actuallly, I have a card.....
NGirl: Well, it's okay, I've started writing this.
Me: sueysbooks.blogspot. com
NGirl: sueysbooks.... what?
Me: (getting cards): Here's my card....yeah.. .. so I made them for the blogger party, see...
Mom: WHAT? You've never given me a card!
Me: Here Mom... my card!
Me: (passing card to Sis3 and New Guy, and Bro3)
Me: (passing to Sis2)
Sister#2: Um... I know how to get there already!
Me: Yes! YOU comment!!! :)
Mom: So, what's this @sueysays thing?
Me: Yeah, so that's my Twitter....
Mom: Your WHAT? Oh brother....
Me: Um, Twitter?Yeah, so you have to Twitter if you want to stay in touch with the whole bookish/bloggish community you know.
Sis3: And besides, Josh Groban is on Twitter. Maybe I'll join and I can follow you and Josh.
Me: Do it!
Mom: (rolls eyes)
New Guy: (rolls eyes)
Everyone: (rolls eyes)
Me to New Guy: Yeah, if you become an author you WILL have to get one. And a blog. And a website. And then go do signings. And everyone will fall in love with you. And you'll have groupies, and stalkers!  And it's going to be great!
New Guy: Hmmm... maybe I better re-think this whole author thing....
Sis3: So, does Markus Zusak have all that?
Me: Ummm... no actually. But... he's a unique case!

Mom: Markus who?
Me: Zusak... only the best author ever.
Mom: So, what did he write?
Me: The Book Thief of course... for one.
Mom: (with the golden question) So what's it about?
Me: (quoting Markus exactly!) It's set in Nazi Germany, narrated by Death, everyone dies, 560 pages long... YOU'RE GONNA LOVE IT!
All onlookers: (rolls eyes... except for)
Sis3: (whipping out phone and adding it to her ongoing Facebook wall list of books to read!)

Yeah, so that was sort of the feel of the thing. I thought it was funny, especially that my mom was all put out I'd never given her a card. And that I ended up passing out a whole bunch to everyone. And now I wonder if anybody came here to take a look around, and if it made their head spin? WAVE TO THE FAMILY. Family, you can comment. Use your Google account, you all have one! New people from the family dinner, you can comment too. It's allowed. Comments make bloggers happy, just so you know.

Maybe I'll have to start passing out my cards more often... even to the "obvious" people!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring 2014 Bloggiesta To Do List

It's time once again for Bloggiesta! If you're new to the scene, it's an event (four days this time!) where we focus on working on our blogs and have fun doing it with lots of other bloggers. And we learn stuff from each other along the way. You should join us! It starts Thursday and goes through Sunday.

To sign up go to the main website here and link up your to do list. Here's my list:

❏ catch up the archive lists, as always
❏ add a picture to my header, maybe
❏ update my About Me page
❏ introduce a new book review system/idea/something (see this in tomorrow's Friday post)
❏ add an Instagram and Google+ icon
❏ write some letters for Authors Pick Five
❏ get caught up with printing blog posts
❏ start planning Utah Book Month
❏ post some reviews to Amazon (especially for local authors)
❏ host Twitter chats
❏ do a bunch of mini challenges
     (I've done Evernote, Google+, Blog Post Bingo, )
❏ comment like crazy!

 Speaking of Twitter chats, here's the schedule. I hope you'll join me!

Thursday March 27 @ 9 p.m. E
Friday March 28 @ 4 p.m. E
Saturday March 29 @ 11 a.m. E
Sunday March 30 @ 8 p.m. E

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Bucket List

I've already made and exhaustive list of bookish things I want to accomplish. You can see that here. And also, I've been lucky enough to have already accomplished tons of bookish things that I never would have dreamed possible. Which just goes to show, on these types of lists... dreaming is okay and you never know what might happen! Seriously. It's been amazing.

From the list I've already made, here are ten that stand out for me right now.

Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucket List

1. Accomplish the 50 Classics (Classics Club) challenge.
2. Read the Wheel of Time series, once and for all!
3. Go to BEA!
4. Participate in World Book Night. (Yet again I didn't sign up this year. Next year maybe?)
5. Plan and host a reading/blogging retreat.
6. Meet MORE big name authors. (I've been so lucky in this so far, but there's many more on my list!)
5. Visit famous libraries and bookstores. (I've started on this one. Doubt it will ever be truly done.)
6. Write a book, which is to say, actually finish it.
7. Go to ComicCon (first one here, then maybe one in San Diego)
8. Host a book themed party.
9. Read, I mean listen to, an audio book.
10. Collect different editions of Markus Zusak books.

Want to link up your Top Ten list? Visit The Broke and the Bookish today! Want to make a list of 50 things? Visit The Book Wheel today!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Movie Review: Divergent

Movie: Divergent
Genre: Drama
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I was sort of surprised at everyone's reaction to this movie this weekend. I expected lots of, eh, it was okay. Or, eh, it didn't really work for me. Maybe I missed those people's reactions, but I didn't see that, and instead I saw everyone raving about it. So, the more I heard the more excited I became to see it myself. And we actually managed it despite a crazy busy weekend.

And I must say, I totally enjoyed it too! It followed the book really well, what I remembered of it (the book) anyway. This new actress, who we'll be seeing everywhere this year, did an awesome job. The guy was a little old for Four, but he nailed the character on the head for me. I love how he was so aloof and scary and mean at first and then warmed up into the sensitive guy we all know he is by the end.

All the casting was pretty awesome, though it was weird to learn that the dude playing Tris's brother will be her (though she will be Hazel then) boyfriend in an upcoming movie! They are both going to be getting around in the movie making scene this year!

Anyway, I found myself on the edge of my seat toward the end, biting my hands and dreading the next bit... especially the bit with Will. When it came I said out loud, "I hate this part!" I wonder what the dude next to me thought!

The music was awesome. A great theme that sticks in your head and some awesome drums songs to go along with Dauntless guys running all over and jumping off trains. Perfect.

Well, there's really not much else to say except it was fun and I totally enjoyed it. You should go see it! Really!

Here's the trailer:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Words of Radiance Read Along

Awhile back I read the first book in this series, The Way of Kings, with a group read along. It was awesome. The group was awesome. The book was awesome. Everything was awesome. And so, now, I plan to do the same with with the next book, Words of Radiance, and I can't wait!

Did you love The Way of Kings? Have you got your hands on this
next book? Then come join us! Details over at Stainless Steel Droppings.

Anyway, for you this means that now and then these next few months, I'll probably be posting some thoughts about this book. Hopefully you'll stick with me as I experience this journey!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Book Club Books for 2014-15

The results are in! Here's what my IRL book club has chosen to read this coming year:

  • Unbroken (this book was already on the list and I think we'll finally get to it in October!)
  • Persuasion and For Darkness Shows the Stars the same month. Cool!
  • Winter’s Tale. Has anyone seen the movie? Is it good?
  • Wintergirls for a little taste of a book written in verse. Also because Laurie Halse Anderson is awesome.
  • Pope Joan. We've been wanting to read this one forever.
  • The Golem and  the Jinni. The popular book of last year.
  • The False Princess. Because we needed a fairy tale fantasy.
  • The World’s Strongest Librarian. He's local! And many of the book club members haven't read it yet, so let's do it!
  • Out of the Easy. We loved Between Shades of Gray. So we needed to read this one.
  • Catcher in the Rye. Many members haven't read this one and are curious. This could be interesting!
  • Maus. We wanted to include a graphic novel and this one is probably one of the most well known. I think. This experiment could be interesting too!
  • And Fairy Tale Re-tellings for a summer project! We love summer projects in our book club!
  • Plus, several book club members who are also bloggers want to do some bonus read alongs for the following books: North and South, Dune and The Lord of the Rings. I'm sure you'll be seeing more info about those as they come up. We'd love to have you join us!
Well? What do you think? It's an awesome line up, yes? And seven of them I haven't read yet! Double yes!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Sunday Salon What a Week!

Sheesh, how'd it get to be Thursday again? Which means, it's time for that fun new link up to our old posts! Head on over to Tanya's at Mom's Small Victories to participate!

This week I'm looking back on a post exactly three years ago. Back then I wrote long and detailed Sunday Salon posts. You pretty much knew everything that was going on in my life. Well, I guess it's not much different now, is it? Here's what I wrote that day:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sunday Salon: What a Week!

It's late Saturday night. I just got home. I should be reading.  Or sleeping at the very least.

Outside my window: There's a little drizzle. They say snow by morning. I'm not sure I believe it. If there is, it will be gone before afternoon I'm sure. Spring... gotta love it!

I am listening to: Just now in the car, Bohemian Rhapsody came on! We got home too soon! I wanted to hear it all! Love that song. I think it has everything... a little mellow, a little rock, a little pretty voices, a little screamy voices, a sad story, a happy story. Perfect.

I am watching: Downstairs the news is on. The community is THRILLED that our local college team is on to the Sweet 16. If this keeps up, you just might find me interested in March Madness after all!

I am thinking: That this past week was a fabulous bookish week! A rockin' launch party, a rowdy book club, a chat with Ally Condie, a Brandon Mull signing, a four years of blogging celebration, five new books bought, an author that retweeted my review of his book and just now... a play of Persuasion. I couldn't ask for much more really.

I am grateful for: All the above stuff. Also, for water and food and air and a house.

I am reading: Too many books! Lord of Chaos, No Going Back, Room, I Am The Messenger, City of Bones... anxious to read The Name of the Wind, My Jane Austen Summer, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Monsters of Men, The World We Live In and Front and Center...

I am photographing: Brandon Mull's Launch party. Did you see my video? And also I've been asked to be on Scene of the Blog in the coming days... so I'm taking pictures of my blogging space. Ha. How exciting that is! :) Well, it IS exciting, but my space is so very not.

I am listing: Weekly Geeks is a list of our bookishness.... you should go participate! I'm going to be listing my things soon. 

I am creating: Wahoo! Daughter Toto said today, "I feel like sewing." So we started a skirt. Are you impressed? Tune in next week before you decide on that point.

On my iPod: Same.... same same same. I almost bought the new Radiohead album this week, but Amazon said it wasn't quite out. 

I am hoping and praying: The trip we are planning in three months time is fun and not stressful. 

Around the house: Pretty much the same too. Since it was book club week, it got cleaned pretty good one day, but you know, that lasted for maybe an hour or two.

From the kitchen: Wow, it's been a bad cooking week. I was gone during dinner time Tues, Wed. and Thurs. Then Friday I was dead tired, and today is Sat. which means I don't cook. Yeah. Not a good dinner week at all around here.

One of my favorite things: Ice cream. M and M's. Cookies. Croissants. Pancakes. Pizza. What? A problem with food? Me?

The children this week: Were overly busy. There were a couple of melt downs I must say. I don't enjoy melt downs particularly. 

Plans for the week: Well, let's see. I think compared to last week, it's going be quite a normal routine week. Until Saturday of course... when I plan on meeting my favorite author ever! Wait, what? Less than a week away? I am freaking OUT! Deep breaths, I can do this....ARGHH! So nervous! What will I say? 

My current observations on my thoughts from three years ago:

* nothing has changed regarding my love for Bohemian Rhapsody!
* we had a rowdy book club three years ago. Do you think we'll have one again tonight? I love rowdy book clubs!
* I celebrated four years blogging. And I thought that was long then....
* I was excited about an author retweeting my review of his book. I wonder who that was. I still get excited about that, by the way, though it must happen enough that I don't note it down. What I love more is if an author actually TALKS back... like when Dan Wells said to me the other day... "Wahoo!" to me.  Wahoo back at ya!
* I had my first Brandon Mull launch party experience. Wow, that was something!
* I was still reading The Wheel of Time. I still want to keep reading them. I do. I really do.
* Weekly Geeks was still happening. Ah, the old days.
* Sewing? Really? I wonder if I remember how...
* Radiohead? Really? Well, they ARE pretty awesome.
* I was just one short week away of the best author appearance ever! Oh my gosh, the butterflies! And has it really been three years since then? I'd say it's time for you to come back MZ!!!
* all I can say is that this post feels like it barely happened, and yet, there's so much that's different too. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Authors Pick Five: Tova Mirvis

It's been a long time since I've done an Authors Pick Five, so why not start now and bring the feature back? So I've asked Tova Mirvis, author of The Ladies Auxiliary and most recently Visible City (my review here) to answer this questions:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

Here are her wonderful answers:

Tuck Everlasting/Natalie Babbit – This was one of the first books I loved as a pre-teen, one of those books that transported me so fully to another world. I fell in love with Winnie a young girl who stumbles upon a family’s secret potion for immortality, and with Jess, a teenage boy who asks Winnie to drink the potion and join him in eternally exploring the world. Here in this tender gentle book were questions about death and immortality and the meaning of life. From reading this as a pre-teen I understood that novels were the best place to ask the largest of questions.

The Scarlett Letter/Nathaniel Hawthorne –I read this in my small Orthodox Jewish high school in Memphis, TN, and first loved it for its distance to my own world: Here was blustery New England; here were other people’s rules which were so strict that they made my own religious world seem giddily free-spirited. But I also loved this book not just for its distance but for its proximity to my world. Here was a searing examination of religion and sin and goodness. When Hester wears the embroidered A on her chest, “every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact ... expressed, that she was banished.”  Yet Hester’s sin also expands her capacity for understanding and allows her to peer into the private compartments of other people’s hearts. Upon passing a revered minister or magistrate, “the red infamy upon her breast would give a sympathetic throb.” Or upon passing “a young maiden,” “the electric thrill would give her warning - Behold, Hester, here is a companion.” Hester knows that she is not alone in her sin; and in looking at her, the townspeople know that neither are they alone in theirs. This is a book that commands empathy and humility and forgiveness.

A Thousand Acres/Jame Smiley – When I read this book, it filled me with such a sense of awe. I am a fifth generation Memphian and from the time I knew I wanted to be a writer, I knew I wanted to write about the place where I was from. Here, in a Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley majestically captured the deep abiding connection to a place. The opening section of A Thousand Acres got me every time – “From that bump, the earth was unquestionably flat, the sky unquestionably domed, and it seemed to me when I was a child in school, learning about Columbus, that in spite of what my teacher said, ancient cultures might have been onto something. No globe or map fully convinced me that Zebulon County was not the center of the universe.” Every time I read that sentence, I feel moved.

Mrs. Dalloway/Virginia Woolf – One day, one woman preparing for a party she will give that night. A simply plot yet the book brings you deeply inside the characters’ inner most feelings, as close as I’ve ever come to that experience that you can enter into what it’s like to be someone else. It’s a book that requires you to work hard, but the rewards are immense. Inside these pages are pain and beauty and exhilaration and despair. Most of all, it’s a book to read for the language. Each time I read this book, I want to get lost in the words, to stay wrapped inside Woolf’s sentences.

Bird by Bird/Ann Lamott– I return to this book whenever I am stuck in my writing, which is all too often. When I open it up, I feel like it’s an old friend I can call on a bad day and know I will come away feeling better. How to deal with frustration and envy and doubt and failure. How to keep going despite the writerly dread. How to make slow progress in art and life. All of this is conveyed with dark humor and complete honesty. My copy is ragged by now, so many passages are underlined and starred. It’s one of the books I won’t lend out, because I never know when I might need it. This book should be part of every writer’s emergency kit.

About Tova Mirvis (from her website):

Tova Mirvis is the author of three novels, Visible City, The Outside World and The Ladies Auxiliary, which was a national bestseller. Her essays have appeared in various anthologies and newspapers including The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Commentary, Good Housekeeping, and Poets and Writers, and her fiction has been broadcast on National Public Radio. She has been a Scholar in Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, and Visiting Scholar at The Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. She lives in Newton, MA with her three children.

Ways to connect with Tova:

Webiste | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: Visible City by Tova Mirvis

Book: Visible City by Tova Mirvis
Genre: Literary Fiction
For: Review
From: Sent by the author

When the author herself approached me to review her book,  I couldn't pass up the chance. I remember years ago reading her book, The Ladies Auxiliary, which brings back memories of my first online bookish connections. It was one of the first books I remember reading for the online book group I joined. So much fun!

Anyway, this particular book is about a group of people living in a high rise in New York City. One of them, a young mother, is fascinated with watching her neighbors across the way through her window. Then, she ends up meeting them and things get interesting and entangled from there.

We see the points of view from many of the different characters. Not only the above mentioned young mother, but also her husband, the husband and wife who live across the way, their daughter, the ornery man in the building, the young mother's friend, and several more if I remember right. Each one of these characters is dealing with some issue or another. Dissatisfaction with life, a loss of a loved one, sadness, depression and etc. When their paths all cross, it sets in motion events that make things change for them all. Some for the better and some not so much.

I loved this book for its study in character development and personalities. It was fascinating to be a part of all their ups and downs and changes. Yet, at the same time, the story was sort of depressing for me. I don't know. I guess it makes me sad to think of people in real life dealing with such unhappiness, and coming to terms with it such drastic ways.

Bottom line: I completely enjoyed this view into these characters lives, though it did make me sort of sad.

Other Reviews:

The story becomes a journey as each character, unhappy in his or her own way, seeks refuge in the lives of others, assuming these others have it all figured out. From My Life in Books

As the neighbors’ paths continue to cross, the metaphorical walls behind which they hide fall away. From Book Page

(In an effort to get more response on my book review posts, I thought I'd try a new thing by asking a question pertaining to the book being reviewed. I guess if it works, I'll know soon enough!)

Question for my readers: Have you ever spied on your neighbors and wondered what their life is like? And think that perhaps it's much more perfect than your own?

Stay tuned tomorrow when the author, Tova Mirvis, answers my Authors Pick Five question: What five books are most important or influential to you?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

Book: Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun
From: Amazon Kindle ebook

This book is actually one of those in between novella things that are so popular these days. I enjoy these things, if I can get them for free! They are so short! But this one, I had to buy because I was too curious about it's POV character,Warner, and I couldn't wait any longer for some sort of deal to happen. And actually, I should have read it between the first two books Shatter me and Unravel Me. But I only learned about it afterwards.

Anyway, so in Unravel Me, the second book, we the readers learn to to feel WAY more sympathetic to the "bad" boy, Warner. And if we read this Destroy Me book first, then we REALLY will feel way more sympathetic because this little book gets right into his head and we see what he is dealing with, his emotional scars, his painful childhood, his terrible dad and his true and pretty much obsessive feelings for Juliette.

In this little book, we learn how he gets his hands on her notebook and proceeds to read it so he then gets into HER head. And he is blown away by that. And it makes him crazy. Crazier than he already is. And he's reeling with the stuff that happens at the end of Shatter Me, and that makes me crazy.

I also loved how some scenes crossed between the books. One little and quite powerful scene happens at the end of Destroy Me, which is also covered towards the beginning of Unravel Me (though we see that scene from Juliette's POV in that book.) That was cool.

Even without reading this look into Warner's head, I was already feeling like there was so much more to him. I've decided he is one of the most fascinating characters recently created. I find him... unnerving and scary and vulnerable and so many crazy conflicting adjectives! I love it! I love it when an author can write such a character that not only messes with the other characters in the book, but messes with us as readers. It's so awesome.

And now, I'm dying to get my hands on the third and final book of this series, Ignite Me, so I can find out how it all ends with these people. I can't imagine that things will turn out good for Warner, though, so it might be painful to read, because man, it would be nice if he got some sort of happy ending! But I guess I'll find out.. as soon as I get that book!

Bottom line: I loved this little glimpse into this crazy, but fascinating, boy's mind!

Other Reviews:

Warner-haters, prepare to have your world rocked. I'm not promising that you'll like him by the end of this novella. I'm not saying you'll adore him as much as I do. But you WILL be changed. From Bookshelvers Anonymous

The short story accomplished such a major thing as to change my mind about Warner. I like Adam but….I think I’m beginning to like Warner more. From Dark Faerie Tales

Destroy Me starts to show that there is a little more to Warner than first meets the eye. Yes, he can be cold, and evil, but there’s also underlying reasons as to why he is why he is. And he does have feelings too. From Book Nerd Reviews

(Edited to add new question feature)

Question for My Readers: Do you ever fall in the love with the bad boy of the book and then feel a little bit guilty about it?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Currently: Bloggiversary Edition!

(written on Saturday evening)

Listening: What I'm hearing at this very moment is Lost in the background. My son has been marathoning this series on Netflix and is always watching it in the evenings. He's almost done. What a ride, right?

I haven't fallen in love with anything music-wise for awhile now. I feeling it too. I need something.

Watching: The Walking Dead! But I talked about that one already. Finished season two, dying to jump into season three but haven't had a moment yet. Also watching the new Survivor where the Brain team is DYING. And I so wanted to root for them! Also watching Amazing Race and and you know my favorite teams already. And so far, they are both doing so great!

Reading: Right now it's Visible City by Tova Mirvas. Soon I'll jump into Countess Below Stairs for book club coming up this week. Here's hoping I finish it before Thursday! And then... AND THEN... Ruins and Words of Radiance. GAH. I can't wait!

Writing: I've been very much into revising this week. I'm going over and over the first few chapters of this story. I'm sick sick sick of them! I want to move on! But actually, I've been having fun with it, for the most part. Often I feel like tearing my hair out, but mostly it's fun! Oh, and P.S. I bought Scrivener so I'm a real writer now! Ha!

Blogging: SEVEN YEARS tomorrow (Sunday.) Seven years blogging about books. Wow, where does the time go? Seven years ago I spent the week putting together a few lists so I would have a little content on the blog. I wrote my About Me page, and then crafted the first post. Up until that point, it was a private blog. After that week of creating a bit of content, I changed it to public and then hit publish for the first time. It was so scary! I had NO idea what I was doing. And I pretty much still don't, but I'm much less scared now, that's for sure! :)

Oh, and BLOGGIESTA is coming up! Make sure you check out our Twitter chat times. And look for the sign up linking this time next week!

Eating: A lot of chowder (aka. creamy potato soup) since that's what they served at the play my daughter has been in this week. We went three times. It was a dinner theater, melodrama production. So much fun! And so silly!

Crafting: Nothing, absolutely nothing!


  • I pretty much did all my miscellaneous thoughts the other day.
  • There's lots of book stuff coming up that I'm excited about.
  • There's a movie coming up that I'm excited about.
  • Book club is coming up and I'm always excited about that.
  • My son comes home from Peru and that'll be exciting.
  • I already mentioned Bloggiesta, but I AM excited about it!
  • So much to be excited about! Yeah.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Book: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Genre: YA (NA?) Contemporary
From: the library
For: Fun and Supporting Local Authors

So I thought this book was going to be about dealing with college roommates or all the craziness that ensues during college, or some such thing. But it surprised me and was instead about two girls who are paired to be roommates for the upcoming school year, and the correspondence that they end up having with each other over the summer as a way to get to know each other. It was very cautious and hesitant at first, but soon turned into a real true and solid friendship. They ended up telling each other everything about their respective crazy summers, even before telling their lifelong best friends.

Then they had a fight. Then they made up and then they went off to meet each other in college. Is there going to be a sequel? I feel like it needs a sequel!

So really, it ended up not about being roommates, but about leaving your families to go to school and the stress that it causes. And about kids dealing with grown up issues and about making new friends.

I enjoyed it for the most part. Sometimes I felt like it was a little over the top with the stuff these kids were dealing with. I liked how one of the girls was part of a big family and had little brothers and sisters. That's not something we see much in books these days. And that was life for some of us!

Bottom line: I enjoyed it. It was fun!

Other Reviews:

This book was such an accurate portrayal of life and relationships and transition that I kept having to stop myself and nod, or reminisce on something from my life that felt exactly like what happened in the story. From Read This Instead

With a nice romantic element, but plenty of much bigger things going on, this had all the makings of everything I love in contemporary. From A Good Addiction

A wave of nostalgia just hit me over and over while I was reading this. Roomies is a very endearing, swell of a read! From Amaterasu Reads

It has a little bit of everything: stuff to make you think, stuff to make you swoon, a set of parents you hate and another you love. From Lili's Reflections

(Edited to add new question feature.)

Question for My Readers: Did you have some sort of connection or correspondence with your college roommates before you actually met them?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Goals from 2009

Last week I participated in my first Throwback Thursday post... wherein I posted an old post, and then added my current comments! It was fun! (And hey look at that, I was even featured!) I think I'll do it again! If you want to try it, link up over at Mom's Small Victories and check some other throwback posts!

Today I'm nabbing a post from January 2009 where I listed my blogging goals for that year. Always fun to go back and see what I was trying to do in years' past! Anyway, I've copied and pasted the post:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Book and Blogging Goals for 2009

Here's a few things I want to change, improve or do in the coming year:
  • create a new profile picture, and then make it the one that I use for all my different accounts and web places. Get consistent!
  • be less shy. Comment more, add more friends! Make the blog a little more personal. Go to more book signings and/or events.
  • be more active at the Book Blogs Ning. Fix my page there to be somewhat interesting.
  • clean up the blog here. Ugh. It's so messy, kind of like my house.
  • don't be afraid of challenges. Have fun trying!
  • try to read 100 books again. But read more NF, more classics and some new-to-me genres.
  • keep going strong in the F2F book clubs, but give up with the online Yahoo book clubs (so sad to do this... this is where I "started".... my first Internet experiences!
I know there was more I was thinking of, but I can't think of them now. Anyway, here's to a fun new year of book reading and book blogging!


Current thoughts on the above post:

  • I think the new profile picture I made back in 2009 is the still the one I'm using now! What do you think? Time for a new one?
  • I think I'm MUCH less shy here in the blogging world then I was back then. Yes? And going to more author signings? CHECK! I can't keep up now!
  • The book bloggers ning? What's that again? Yeah, I think that place died a big death. Oh, well. Some things last, some don't.
  • I've read lots of old posts about cleaning up the blog, and changing the blog and etc etc. And you know what I wish.. I wish I would have screen printed all the different looks of my blog over the years. It's changed so many times! Once it was yellow and green, and once it was very very purple. And then I eventually ended up with the blue.. and then this stark white stuff along with the blue. Ah, but it would be fun to remember the old looks!
  • Challenges! Yeah. I don't really do them anymore. But I truly did have fun trying. 
  • And read more classics and NF.... always the ongoing goal over all these many years!
  • The F2F book club is still going strong (I did give up one of them though) and ah the memories of the Yahoo book groups. So much fun they were!
The more things change and the more they stay the same!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thinking Random Stuff

I'm thinking stuff today. A few things anyway.

** We have survived wedding number one. All went well. It was a crazy party. The behind the scenes were chaotic, but those that came said it was tons of fun so that's what I'm going with! My son and his new wife are currently in Peru where she is from, visiting her extended family. I'm sure it's being the grandest of adventures. Two months until wedding number two!

** So I finally gave in and started watching The Walking Dead. Someone said "best character development in a show... EVER" so that did it. I had to see if I agree. Well, I'm not sure about the EVER part, but I AM sure, it's pretty dang good... the characters and the emotion. I was nervous for the violence, but I seem to be handling it okay. Though I was just now watching and had to hide my eyes and moan. Oh. My. Word. At this point I'm just a couple episodes shy of finishing season two. So far, I love Glenn.

** We also celebrated a birthday at our house this week. My baby is now 15. Is that crazy or what? She got Divergent for her birthday. I guess she's truly old enough for all those crazy awesome YA books now! We are looking forward to the movie. I hope it's good.

** So many good books out this month! I bought two of them today by a couple of my favorite local authors. Words of Radiance (the second after The Way of Kings) by Brandon Sanderson and Ruins (the third in the Partials series) by Dan Wells. I am so excited to read these books! I hope I find time to read them soon!  I have so many things I'm trying to read. So many.

** Still trying to write, to fix my terrible Nano story. My terrible story that I somehow love. And the most frustrating thing I'm finding now is that I can hear/see/envision this story in my head but I can't get it out in words. I really hope this comes with practice and that is just doesn't mean I totally can't do this.

** I had more thoughts and now I can't remember them.

** My house will never be clean again, I fear.

** It snowed yesterday. It's sunny today.

** We have a new book club schedule! Almost!

** I've been fascinated lately with wedding traditions and the waxing and waning of certain ones thereof. And who started these traditions in the first place? I may need to research.

** I started reading Destroy Me last night. Warner.. one of the most fascinating characters ever thought up!

** People, I want to go somewhere so bad. The wanderlust has kicked in. And I just don't see it happening in any sort of near future.

** What new music have you been fascinated with these days? I'm loving that Happy song. I need a new obsession regarding music. None of the American Idols are standing out to me, though I haven't really been watching.

** Jenni Elyse is planning a read along of The Lord of the Rings this summer. I hope to participate, if even a little bit. If you haven't read it yet, you should join us! Because, seriously, it's a really great story! :)

I guess that's all for my random spill of the day. What thoughts are you all thinking today?

Meet Glenn.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Book: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Genre: Literary Fiction
For: TLC Blog Tour
From: TLC 

I chose this book to read for this blog tour quite awhile back based only on a little blurb. It was very intriguing and it sounded like a magical sort of tale. It turned out to be so different from what I expected and yet, that magical element was still there. Hopefully I'll find the words to describe this strange and interesting book!

The main narrator in the story is a prison inmate on death row. We get inside his head and are meant to understand that he is quite mentally disturbed. And yet, he is also very observant and tame and sad. He watches everything that happens around him and thinks of this prison as an enchanted place. Not sure why except that he actually feels safe there. He has so many demons and issues that he's okay with his lot in life to stay put behind bars.

From his vantage point, we learn about the "fallen" priest and the lady. The lady is a lawyer who comes to try and save death row inmates from their death sentences. Sometimes she succeeds and sometimes she doesn't. We are able to follow her on her journey to try and find evidence to help these people. However, in this story, the guy she is trying to help does not want help. He wants to die.

As for the priest, we learn about his past and why he is "fallen" and what motivates him. These two end up connecting and learning from each other.

Meanwhile, we also learn about the warden and what problems he his facing and how he is a nice man that wants to protect the prison population and do whatever he can to make their lives better. However, there is a corrupt guard and some really ruthless inmates, as one can imagine, that make life miserable for the other prisoners, especially brand new young boys. It's disturbing.

We learn about all these different things and see all the different perspectives through the eyes of this mentally ill death row inmate. It's all colored with amazing imagery and beautiful poetic prose. Pair that with the things that go on in a prison and you get this strange and unusual mix that is oddly compelling and riveting.

I'm a huge Prison Break fan and many of the scenarios in this book reminded me of that show. So for me it was a sort of poetical Prison Break! Strange comparison, but that's what I thought of!

Bottom line: Though this turned out to be something so different from what I expected, I ended up being completely drawn in and totally enjoying it in the end. It's one of those books that make you think about the characters long after you finish reading it.

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

Tuesday, March 04, 2014: Books Without Any Pictures
Wednesday, March 05, 2014: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, March 06, 2014: Conceptual Reception
Monday, March 10, 2014: Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, March 12, 2014: Book Addict Katie
Thursday, March 13, 2014: Walking With Nora
Monday, March 17, 2014: Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, March 18, 2014: Bibliotica
Wednesday, March 19, 2014: BoundbyWords
Thursday, March 20, 2014: A Book Geek
Monday, March 24, 2014: A Reader of Fictions
Tuesday, March 25, 2014: Bibliophilia, Please
Wednesday, March 26, 2014: River City Reading
Thursday, March 27, 2014: Drey’s Library
Monday, March 31, 2014: Little Lovely Books
Tuesday, April 01, 2014: Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, April 02, 2013: Offbeat Vegabond
Thursday, April 03, 2014: Read Lately

More about the author:

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, Mitigation Specialist, and fact Investigator in death penalty cases. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a published author of four books including the international bestseller The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, Kill The Body, The Head Will Fall, and All God’s Children: Inside the Dark and Violent World of Street Families.

Find out more about Rene at her website and connect with her on Facebook.


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