Monday, June 30, 2008

The LOST Books Challenge

My Friend Amy
Yeah...I know. What am I thinking?? Well....I just couldn't help this one. LOST is probably my very favorite TV show. And I'm going to be going through withdrawals until it comes back....and that's not till January!! So instead, I joined the LOST Books Challenge, hosted by Amy, from My Friend Amy. If you've ever watched LOST, you know that books are a huge part of it. Sawyer, my very favorite character, is always reading. Episodes are named after books. The Others ever had a book club. So this challenge is to read 5 books that have been on or mentioned in the show. Here are the rules:

1) Check out this site, and this site and compile a list of 5 books and upwards that you want to read to complete this challenge. (If you know another book mentioned on the show or relating to the show, you can defend your choice in your post) Update: If you have not finished watching the show, please use this list, so as not to be spoiled!
2) Write a post on your blog announcing your intention to participate in the challenge, list the books you want to read, and invite your readers to do the same. Then come back here and add a direct link to your post to Mr. Linky. (not a general link to your url)
3) You are absolutely welcome to cross books from this challenge with books in other challenges.
4) You must complete the challenge by December 31st, 2008.
5) There will be prizes raffled for those who complete the challenge, I just haven't figured out what yet!
6) If you are not a blogger, you can email me your plan to participate and I'll make a post for you right here on my blog...see? I love you too!

Here are the books I've chosen:
  • The Invention of Morel by Aldofo Bioy Casares (from Sawyer's List)
  • Bad Twin by Gary Troup (the "author" of this book was on Oceanic Flight 815 when it was LOST at sea!)
  • Valis by Phillip K. Dick (from The Other's Reading list)
  • Through the Looking Glass (and Alice in Wonderland) by Lewis Carrol (The Looking Glass is a Dharma station, and it was the name of one episode).
  • The Survivors of the Chancellor by Jules Verne (was being read by Regina on the Freighter before she killed herself)


  • Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (from Desmond's List)
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (name of an episode)
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (from Sawyer's List)

If you are a fan of LOST like I am, this might be a fun challenge to join!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekly Geeks # 9 - Challenges

So...I've been putting off this post for the whole week. Basically, because I was scared to see IN WRITING how many challenges I'm involved in. And how many I'm failing miserably! But who cares, right? I enjoy signing up for the challenges, I enjoy making lists for the challenges....and I enjoy the camaraderie of reading along with others. So, as long as you keep putting them out there, I will be joining the challenges!!

Here is the Weekly Geek post for Week # 9:

And this week’s theme is Challenges.

1. If you participate in any challenges, get organized! Update your lists, post about any you haven’t mentioned, add links of reviews to your lists if you do that, go to the challenge blog if there is one and post there, etc.

2. If you don’t participate in any challenges, then join one! There’s a good selection of possibilities over on my right hand sidebar (scroll down) where I list those I participate in. There’s also A Novel Challenge, a blog that keeps track of all sorts of reading challenges.

3. Towards the end of the week, write a wrap-up post about getting your challenges organized OR if you’re joining your first challenge, post about that any time during the week. Once you have your post up, come back and sign Mr Linky with the link to the specific post, not just to your blog.

I think I have posted every time I've joined a challenge. So, really all this is going to be is kind of a summary/wrap-up/point check.

Once Upon a Time Challenge - I recently completed this challenge!! Yeah!! I read 7 books plus Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. My wrap-up post can be found here.

The Pub '08 Challenge - Read 8 books that were/will be published in '08. So far, I have read 3 of the 8. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, Change of Heart by Jodi Picout, and The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I also just started This Charming Man by Marian Keyes. 5 books by the end of '08. I think I can handle this one!

The End of the World as We Know it Challenge - Read 3 books from May to September 15th that deal with the end of the world or are dystopian in nature. So far, I've only read one: The Host by Stephenie Meyer (FANTASTIC - READ THIS BOOK!). And I already have another one started. I would like to read more than 3 books for this challenge. But I will definitely be able to complete this one!

What's in a Name Challenge - Read 6 books by the end of the year. Each book has to come from 6 categories. Sadly, I haven't even read one book for this challenge. But I will.

2008 TBR Challenge - Read 12 books from your TBR list. I've read 3 books for this challenge: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, and High Five by Janet Evanovich. Hmmmm....9 more books by the end of the year. Don't know whether I will make this, but I can try.

Non-Fiction Five Challenge - Read 5 non-fiction books between May and September. Nope. Haven't started this one either. But I have a couple here just waiting to be cracked open.

1% Well-Read Challenge - Read 10 books from the "1001 Books to Read Before you Die" list. 10 books in 10 months. This challenge will end in February 2009. Haven't read one yet!

Southern Reading Challenge - Read 3 books by August by Southern Authors. I have one book here to start.

Chick Lit Reading Challenge - Read 3 Chick Lit books. This will be easy to do, especially when I need something light to read.

Graphic Novels Challenge - Read 6 Graphic Novels by the end of the year. For some reason, I'm having a hard time starting this one. I've never been a big reader of Graphic Novels. MUST get started on this one.

Mythopoeic Challenge - Read 7 books from the list of Mythopoeic Award winner. Runs through 2008. So far, I've only read one: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. 6 more may be pushing it for the rest of this year. But we will see.

Young Adult Challenge 2008 - Read 12 YA books. Runs all of 2008. I've read 5 of the 12 so far: Chosen by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Tithe by Holly Black, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Freaks by Annette Curtis Klause. 7 more books is totally doable!

Decades Challenge 2008. Pick a time span and read a book from each decade. I may have over-extended myself on this one. I choose 15 books, and I haven't read one yet!! This may be one I just have to forget about finishing!!

Cardithon 2008 - Read books by Orson Scott Card, or books he has recommended. So far, I've only read one: Enchantment. We will see how many more I finish by the end of the year.

I failed miserably at last year's Canadian Reading Challenge. I only finished one book (and will have one more done by the end of the week.) Hopefully I will do better the next time.

I have a few other small or mini-challenges that I would like to finish. And a couple of other lists I have made just to keep me reading. And there are a couple of more challenges I'm chomping at the bit to join. I'm actually reading a lot more now that I was at the beginning of the year. So hopefully, I will be able to accomplish a few Completions!! Only time will tell!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

24 Hour Read-a-thon

The 24 Hour Read-a-Thon hosted by Dewey is going on right now!! I really wanted to participate this year, but it's just not plausible. First of all, I have to work today. Sucks to be me, right? And even if I didn't have to work, the kiddies probably wouldn't let me get too much reading done.

So....before I go to work, I'm going to do a little cheerleading!! I hope everyone is reading, reading, reading!! Yeah, team!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One Fantastic Book for your Heart AND Soul

Not having read any of the Twilight Series (yes, I heard the collective gasp from the crowd!), I didn't have any expectations coming into reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer (624 pgs, Little, Brown and Company). I don't have any of the bias that a lot of readers will have. I didn't expect to find a book that I would fall head over heels in love with. But that is exactly what happened!! If it's any indication on how wonderful this book is, I read over 600 pages in 2 short days....hardly pausing for sleep!! I read The Host for The End of the World Challenge, The Stephenie Meyer Mini-Challenge (see...I'm PLANNING on reading the Twilight series!), and The Pub '08 Challenge.

In a time when Earth has been almost completely taken over by aliens, there were a few rebel Humans left in existence. The aliens, or Souls, have done a systematic take-over of this planet. They are a parasitic creature that can not live without a Host body. When they are inserted in a human body, their "soul" takes over. You can tell by the silver that shines in their eyes.

Wanderer is unlike most souls. She has lived on 8 other planets in 8 other host bodies. And yet, she has never found a place that she could truly envision herself at home. Hence, the name Wanderer.

Melanie was a rebel human. Along with her little brother Jamie, and her true-love Jared, she was carving out a small existence for herself. But when she saw on the news a person that looked like her cousin Sharon, she knew she had to find her and see if she was still human. That's why she went to Chicago in the first place. But when she was caught by the Seekers, the souls that were scouring the planet for the last of the humans, she knew she would rather die than become one of THEM. Unfortunately for her, the attempt of suicide failed. Her body was healed, and Wanderer was inserted into her body.

But unlike all the other Hosts that Wanderer had taken over, she couldn't lose Melanie. Melanie was such a strong human, she refused to let Wanderer completely take over. Mel was still there with her, talking to her and making her miserable. Wanderer knew all of Mel's memories and feelings. As much as Mel tried to block her thoughts, Wanderer would dream of Jared and Jamie. Soon, Wanderer finds herself longing to find the Humans that meant so much to Mel. On a trip to Tuscon, Mel remembers a map that her Uncle Jeb had drawn for her, and the two of them set off to find out if Jared and Jamie have survived.

But when Wanderer is found by the group of rebel Humans that include her family and friends, it isn't pretty. No one is sure what to do. They want to hate the alien that has taken over Mel. But things are not always as it seems. And Wanderer isn't the typical soul.

Can I tell you now how much I LOVED this book?? Although sci-fi in nature, it is so much more than that. It's a story of love and understanding, acceptance and humanity. This book is so deep and so beautiful that I'm having a hard time putting down in words my feelings for it. Melanie is such a strong human, but there were times that I just wanted to throttle her. She had become jaded and pessimistic during the occupation....and rightfully so. But she didn't think things through very well. Wanderer was such a beautiful and kind soul. Altruistic was a word that was used frequently, and for good reason. She would rather die than cause pain to other person or soul.

The cast of characters in this book is large, but my favorite would have to be Ian. He was one of the rebels that initially wanted to kill Wanderer. But spending time with the soul, he realized that to be human didn't always mean being a body without an alien presence. Stephenie Meyer has put together a brilliant novel. Her focus is more on relationships than on the alien presence, and is amazing to read. And the relationships are complex. There is a really weird triangle with Melanie/Wanda/Jared. Then you thrown Ian into the mix and it gets weirder yet. There are some seriously hard scenes to read. And as the end nears, as a reader you can see how difficult it is going to be to end this story well. You come to love the soul as much as the human. In fact, they come to love each as much as they do themselves.

If you are a fan of the Twilight series, I beg you to give this book a chance. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed in this story. I can't remember the last time a book completely left me so emotionally drained. I laughed, I cried, I cringed at times. But I wouldn't take back a second of it! This book was Freakin' Fantastic....and I'm telling you: GO READ THE HOST!! 5/5

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Tale of Acceptance

Every once in a while, I read a book just because of the cover. Maybe I'm just shallow, but I'm a sucker for a great cover! Freaks by Annette Curtis Klause (336 pgs, Simon Pulse) just happens to be one of those books. Both covers are incredible: colorful and mysterious. It's the reason I chose to read this book for Joy's Young Adult Challenge.

When a boy's first romantic interlude is with Phoebe the Dog-Faced Girl, he feels a need to get out into the world and find a new life. So I thought as I stood in the wings and watched Colonel Kingston introduce the next act. Not that I had anything against Phoebe. She was a sweet girl under all that fur. "Oh, Abel," she whispered prettily whenever I brushed her lips with mine, and perhaps she blushed -- who could tell? -- but I was seventeen and yearned to kiss a mouth sometimes without getting hair up my nose.

Come on...with an opening paragraph like that, who could you not love this book??

Abel Dandy had grown up in the world of "Freaks". His parents were considered human oddities, and he lived amongst them in Fairyland, a compound that was the home of Colonel Kingston's Freak show. But because he was "normal", Abel just didn't fit in. His uncle had taught him to throw knives, but there didn't really seem to be much room for a normal boy in a show of Freaks.

So Abel decided he was going to go off and join the Circus, and make his own way in the world. Armed only with his knives and a mysterious Egyptian ring given to him by Rose and Violet, the Siamese twins, Abel left Fairyland to try to make it on him own.

But nothing seemed to work out like it should. The circus that he joined, wouldn't let him try his hand at knife throwing. It was filled with perfect people that looked down their noses at the ones they considered human oddities. Then it was discovered that Abel was followed, and his young friend Apollo, the dog-faced boy, had stowed away with the circus. Since the Marvel Circus had no use for freaks, both were thrown out.

But when the two were picked up by the sinister Dr. Mink and his Monster show, bad things started happening. Abel had a bad feeling about Dr. Mink. But Abel's need to protect the young Apollo and the other children that were being held by Dr. Mink was strong. And what did all of this have to do with the mysterious dreams he kept having about the beautiful Egyptian dancing woman? The one who was calling him to save her.....

Annette Klause has done a wonderful job of painting the world of freaks. She has a special knack for showing us that there is a little "freak" in all of us. This book isn't so much about oddies as it is about acceptance. Accepting who we are and being able to live with that. And accepting others, not matter what differences are between us.

On top of that, there is a great mystery to be uncovered. This book is filled with action from murder to kidnapping.....and even a bit of a ghost story. Abel Dandy is such a strong character. He feels he is lacking in some way because he ISN'T different. And yet, he has such a strong sense of right and wrong, that he is willing to put his own life on the line to help the people he considers a friend, no matter what the consequence. It's a mesmerizing tale, and one that I highly recommend. 4.25/5

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Once Upon a Time II Quest Complete

This year, I once again joined Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge. And this year, I completed it!! Gosh, it feels good to complete a challenge!

The Journey

This is really as simple as the name implies and is to Once Upon a Time as the experience was to The Sci~Fi Experience. It means you are participating but not committing yourself to any specific number of books. All reading is a journey, perhaps none more so than reading fantastical fiction. By signing up for The Journey you are agreeing to at least read one book within the four categories during March 21st to June 20th period. Just one book. It has always been of utmost importance to me that the challenges that I host be all about experiencing enjoyable literature and sharing it with others. I want you to participate. Hence, The Journey.

Quest the First

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

Quest the Second

Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proved to be one of the more difficult quests last year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I was fascinated watching how folks worked to find books for each category.

Quest the Third

Fulfill the requirements for Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Love the story, love the films, love the idea of that magical night of the year and so this is my chance to promote the reading of this farcical love story.

Three is a magical number, a number of portent in fantastical tales, and so three quests seems about right.

I choose Quest the Third and here are the books I read:

Fairy Tale Fantasy:

Mythic Fantasy

Folklore Fantasy

Fantasy (of any sub-genre)

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

My least favorite read was definitely White as Snow. Just didn't do it for me. I'd be hard pressed to pick my favorite, because I truly enjoyed all the rest. But if I had to choose I'd say either Neverwhere or Memory and Dream.

Once again, I just wanted to thank Carl for hosting the best challenge!! And I really can't wait for the fall and the RIP challenge!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Last Book for the Once Upon a Time Challenge II

Whew. I was able to squeeze in ONE more book for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. After the big disappointment of Tanith Lee's White as Snow, the question is: Can Orson Scott Card do better in the "retelling of a fairy tale" department? Couldn't do worse, right? Of course, all you Card fans out there (and you KNOW who you are), already have the answer to that question! Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (400 pgs, Del Ray) is a modern day Sleeping Beauty (sort of....I'll get to that!)

"I'm ten years old, my whole life you've called me Vanya. My name is on the school records, on government papers as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. Now you tell me I'm really Itzak Shlomo. What am I, a Jewish secret agent?"

Growing up in Russia isn't easy if you were Jewish. Ivan's parents wanted to get him to America, so he could grow up in a land of freedom. And the way they were going to do it was by declaring themselves Jewish, and applying for a Visa to Israel. From there, they were going to go to America. Ivan could grow up free, and Piotr Smetski could teach at a University. But declaring yourself Jewish in 1975 had it's drawbacks in Russia. After Professor Smetski lost his job, the family lost their apartment, and still no Visa was to be had. So the Smetski's moved to the country near Kiev to live with Cousin Marek and his wife.

One day when Ivan was out running, he came across a clearing in the woods. The canopy of leaves overhead was "so dense that it was perpetually dusk at ground level". The ground was covered with leaves. When a slight breeze stirred the leaves, young Ivan could see something at the center. It was a woman: a beautiful, sleeping woman on a pedestal. And when the leaves moved, it wasn't just ground that it covered, but a wide chasm. Then something moved, and Ivan realized that he wasn't alone with the sleeping woman. There was some sort of creature hidden in the leaves. For a ten-year-old boy, this was too much. He ran off as fast as he could. But he never got a chance to tell anyone about what he saw (if he REALLY saw anything at all). Because when he returned to the country house, the family's Visa had come through and everyone was hurrying to get ready.

The plan worked, and the Smetski's immigrated to New York, to a small town close to Syracuse. And this is where Ivan grew into a man. He became a track star and a scholar. Fourteen years later, Ivan was working on his dissertation for his graduate degree. He was studying Russian Folklore and Ancient Languages, and figured the best way to finish his work would be to go back to Russia. At least that's what he told himself. Because in the back of his mind, he knew that he wanted to see if the woman, the clearing and the beast under the leaves was real.

The story of the Sleeping Beauty in most fairy tales ends once the Prince or Knight awakens the Princess and they live "Happily Ever After". But our story is only beginning. The best part of this tale is what happens after the beauty is awakened. Katerina is a 9th Century Princess who was hidden in time by the evil witch Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga's powers were so great because she had bound the Russian God, the Great Bear to her and was feeding off his power. What did she want? She wanted to rule to land of Tania, Katerina's land. So she hid Katerina away.....not knowing that Ivan would find her and lead her back to the 9th Century.

I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with Katerina for a very long time in this book. She was so headstrong (which I usually like in a female character) that she wouldn't listen to reason. She had no sympathy for Ivan coming to a new place and time....and having no idea what the customs were or how he was supposed to act. But when fate sends the couple back to the modern time, she realized just how hard life was for someone who didn't have a clue.

Ivan, however, was a pure soul and I just fell in love with him right from the start. Far sooner than Katerina, that's for sure. Card did an incredible job of intertwining the lives of 2 people from different eras and making a fairy tale come to life. He truly is the gifted writer that so many of you keep trying to tell me!! On top of the fairy tale, he mixes in Russian folklore and creates a cast of characters that will stay with me for a long time. This was really a remarkable book, and one that far surpassed the Tanith Lee story of Snow White. I just wish I had read this one first. If you are a fan of Card, or just a fan of fairy tales, this is one book that you must be sure to read!! 4.5/5

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

As the final part of Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge, I decided to read Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's been a long time since I've read Shakespeare. College, maybe. Although this play is rather short, it took some time, that's for sure. But such a fun little play!!

Theseus, the Duke of Athens, is preparing to marry Hippolyta. Egeus, arrives in town for the wedding with his daughter Hermia. Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius, who is in love with her. But Hermia wants to marry Lysander. They make plans to steal away into the night and run off and marry. They tell Hermia's friend, Helena, who is love with Demetrius. Hoping to get back in Demetrius' good graces, Helena tells him of Hermia's plan.

As the couple head off into the Woods, we come across a group of fairies. Oberon, the fairy king, and Titania, his queen are arguing about an Indian prince that Oberon wants to make a knight. Titania refuses. So Oberon sends out his servant, Puck, to find a magical flower. If the flower's juice is spread over a sleeping person's eyes, that person will immediately fall in love with the first person they see when they wake up. Oberon wants to use the flower on Titania, but he then he overhears Demetrius talking to Helena. Demetrius is rather cruel to the lovestruck Helena and Oberon decides to use the flower on Demetrius. But Puck spreads the juice on Lysander's eyes by mistake, and the first person he sees is Helena. So Lysander abandons Hermia.....and everything just goes awry from there!

Puck is such a fun sprite!! He is also known as Robin Goodfellow, and he's rather mischievous, but he does make up for it by trying to do the right thing. I haven't read a lot of Shakespeare's comedies. Mostly just the dramas. But this was fun, once you can get past the Old English writing and understand what is going on! It's enchanted, with fairies and sprites and is the perfect way to end the Once Upon a Time II Challenge. Look for my Challenge wrap-up tomorrow!

Also Reviewed by:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Weekly Geeks # 8 - Scavenger Hunt's been a couple of weeks since I Geeked it up! Sorry, folks, but my life has been a bit, shall we say, challenging the last few weeks. And I have to say, this was fun....but way exhausting!! I wish I could have added my own links, cause I would have tons!!

1. (THE PRIZE. Did you find it?) Subscription to Bookmarks Magazine from Dewey

2. youtube - Just Add Books Post: Weekly Geeks #5

3. war - Out of the Blue Post: Book Review, The Book Thief

4. Sunday Salon - Katrina Reads - Post: The Sunday Salon: Another Poor Reading Week

5. Buy a Friend a Book - Bell Literary Reflections - Post: Buy a Friend a Book Week

6. BTT (or Booking Through Thursday) - Bride of the Book God - Post: Booking Through Thursday: Clubbing

7. omnibus - Mysteries in Paradise - Post: Sunday Salon #10

8. Speculative fiction - Chris - Stuff as Dreams are Made On Post: Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic

9. Short stories - Caribousmom - Post: Look What I Won

10. Ani Difranco (or just Ani) - Care's Online Book Club - Post: Music!! Help?

11. Printz - Tiny Little Reading Room - Post: Review: Looking for Alaska

12. Man Booker Prize (or just Booker) - The Biblio Brat - Post: Review: The Gathering by Anne Enright

13. Newbery - Chain-Reading - Post: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

14. Mother Talk

15. interview - The Armenian Odar Reader - Post - Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi

16. history - Smallworld Reads - Post: Book Review: The Senator's Wife

17. glbt (or any other arrangement of those letters, or with a q in there)

18. fantasy - An Adventure in Reading - Post: Book: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

19. film - Mog's Book Blog and.....Post: Sunday Scribblings

20. giraffe - It's All About the Books - Post: "New" Books. Just what I need!

21. biography -Confuzzled Books Post: A Sister's Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter

22. Geraldine Brooks - Age 30 - A Year of Books - Post: Year of Wonders (May 08)

23. graphic novels The Hidden Side of the Leaf - Post: We are on Our Own

24. classics - Journey to the end of the TBR Pile - Post: My Reading Tastes

25. faerie - Rhinoa's Ramblings - Post: The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

26. Amelie - Naked without Books - Post: Off to a Flying Start

27. doo doo doo

28. 24 Hour Read-a-thon - Nothing of Importance - Post: The Read-a-Thon Meme

29. etsy - Book-A-Rama - Post: More Treasury Fun: Fahrenheit 451

30. poetry - Blue Archipeligo - Post: Sunday Salon: Poetry or novels?

31. Bookmooch - Adventures in Reading - Post: Bookmooch


33. R.E.M. - Joystory - Post: Everybody Hurts

34. Bookworms Carnival - Book Nut - Post: I'm a Bit Behind the Times

35. library - Saving My Sanity - Post: People are Reading Less?

36. Lost (must refer to the TV series) - The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness - Post: Ten on Tuesday: New Travel Plans plus Random nosiness

37. Six Feet Under - Literary Escapism Post: True Blood News

38. ReadingAnimals (I’m featuring her because I feel bad that I can’t figure out how to comment at her blog.) We'll just give this one to: Reading Animals

39. hedgehog - In Spring it is the Dawn - Post: Friday Fill-In #14

40. pregnant - A High and Hidden Place - Post: 9 Months Old

41. nosebleed (or nose bleed) -

42. 42 (No, that’s not a mistake; number 42 is to find the digit 42.) - Becky's Book Reviews - Post: Becky Unveils Secret Project

43. herding cats - Writing Choas that is Me - Post: Award + Reader Challenge

44. Django Reinhardt

45. A.S. Byatt - Tripping Toward Lucidity - Post: What do I Know?

46. Homer - A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore.....Post: The Strand 80

(The next three are suggestions from my son.)

47. ROFL

48. cheezburger (must be spelled with Z!)

49. d20

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vampires and Werewolves and Demons....Oh My!

See? Told you I was excited about this series! So much so, that I jumped right into Book 2 of the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs: Blood Bound (304 pgs., Ace).

Like most people that own their own businesses, I work long hours that start early in the morning. So when someone calls me in the middle of the night, they'd better by dying. "Hello, Mercy," said Stefan's amicable voice in my ear, "I wonder if you could do me a favor." Stefan had done his dying a long time ago, so I saw no reason to be nice."

Stefan is Mercy's vampire friend. If you could possibly call a vampire a friend, that is. And yes, she owes him a favor. He had gone to bat for her with his seethe when she had some werewolf trouble, and now he is calling in that favor. Stefan has been asked to investigate the appearance of a new vampire in town. One that didn't ask permission from the seethe, which is a big no-no in the vampire community. And Stefan wants Mercy to come along as a witness, in case something happens. He needs her for 2 reasons. Because she is a Walker, she is virtually immune to the powers of a vampire. And she can shapeshift into a coyote and no one will know who she is.

So Mercy goes along on the meeting. But when they meet up with this vampire, she knows that trouble has come to the Tri-Cities. Not only is he a vampire, but a sorcerer.....that has let a demon inside. He actually had the ability to control Stefan, and he's about the most powerful vampire around. And now this new vampire's bloodlust is causing a rather large body-count. Which for a group of vampires that don't want the human world to know their existence is big trouble.

What can I say? This is one fantastic series!! Mercy is tough as nails, funny, and exceedingly humble. I just love her! Strong female characters are always good for me, and Mercy is definitely one of the best. The main storyline is fascinating, as we learn a lot more about the vampire community. And Mercy's lovelife is only getting weirder. Not only is she caught in the middle between 2 dominant werewolves, now there is a little something with Stefan the vampire! Blood Bound is ever bit as good as the first book, Moon Called. Maybe better. I can't wait to see where Mercy goes next!! 4.5/5

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So Many Issues To Tackle.....

I have long been a fan of Jodi Picoult. Most I have loved, like My Sister's Keeper and Plain Truth. One I hated, The Tenth Circle. But on a whole, I'm totally enamored with her work. So.....when I saw a new book by Picoult on the shelf, I figured it would make a great addition to my reading list for "The Pub Challenge".

Shay Bourne is the first man on New Hampshire's Death Row for over 69 years. He was convicted 11 years ago of killing a police officer and his 7 year old step-daughter. A jury of his peers found him guilty and sentenced him to die by lethal injection. But now that the execution has been set and Shay has been moved to the I-Tier, "miracles" seem to be following him around. A dead bird is "resurrected", a dying AIDS patient's disease seems to disappear, and a tiny piece of gum seems to be stretched to feed all the inmates of the block. Now, people are lining up outside the prison to see the "Death Row Messiah".

June Nealon knows better than anyone about Shay Bourne. It was her husband and daughter that were killed. She holds an amazing amount of hate towards Shay. But will she be able to get past all that hate to accept a gift from him that could save her OTHER daughter, Claire?

Maggie Bloom is an ACLU attorney that would like nothing better than to do away with the Death Penalty altogether. But in her quest to shed light on this issue, she takes Shay's case about HOW he is going to be executed. As much as she would like to have Shay's case reopened for fear that an innocent man will die, she has to follow her heart and the things Shay is asking her to do.

Father Michael has been called in from St. Katherine's Church to be a spiritual advisor for Shay Bourne. But is Father Michael as interested in saving Shay's soul as he is his own? Because before Father Michael was a priest, he was a college student that sat on the jury that sent Shay to Death Row.

One of the things I love about Picoult's writing is her amazing ability to see all sides of a situation. In this book, she writes from numerous perspectives, so you can see what many of the characters are feeling. And as with all of her previous books, she tackles tough issues. In this one, namely the death penalty. And if she had just stuck with one, it probably would have been a 5 Star review. But instead, she hit on some other topics that kind of muddied the point of view. Reminiscent of The Green Mile with "miracles" performed by an inmate, she also choose to touch on religion, which is another subject all together. Bringing in topics like the Gnostic gospels, while interesting, took away from the main storyline a little.

Don't get me wrong. I still loved the book. And I still cried in the end, as I usually do when I read a Picoult. But I had figured out the "Twist" long before it was actually revealed. And unlike a lot of Picoult's books, this actually left me with questions to ponder, even after the book was finished. No clear cut ending for this one. Still, it was a page-turner and I'm glad I read it. I'd love to hear your opinions, if you read this one yourself!! 4/5

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fantastic Beginning to a Unique Paranormal Series

I read a review on Kailana's blog for this series over a year ago that prompted me to run right out and buy this book. Since then, I've read numerous reviews that just cemented the fact that I must read this series!! So for this year's TBR Challenge and the Spring Reading Thing I decided to read Book 1 of the Mercy Thompson Series, Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (304 pgs., Ace Books).

I didn't realize he was a werewolf at first. My nose isn't it's best surrounded by axle grease and burnt oil -- and it's not like there are a lot of stray werewolves running around. So when someone made a polite near my feet to get my attention, I thought it was a customer.

Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson knows a thing or two about werewolves. You see, she was raised by them. Mercy isn't a werewolf, though she does have the ability to change. She is a Walker, or "skinwalker", like the old Southwestern Indian witches. She can shapeshift into a coyote. Faster than a werewolf, but not nearly as strong, Mercy lived with the Marrok pack until she was 16 and went to live with her real mother. Now, she owns a garage (bought from a Gremlin named Zee) and works on German cars (like the VW Van outside owned by a Vampire).

So when Mac walked through her door looking for a job, she knew what he was. Mac couldn't have been more than 17 and looked like a runaway. He was hungry (not a good quality for a werewolf) and was looking for some work. And Mercy felt sorry for him. She knew she had to notify Adam, the local Alpha Werewolf and Mercy's next door neighbor, but she wanted to ease Mac into telling her his story first. But he was really skittish (another bad quality for a werewolf). So she gave him a job and a place to stay....he could sleep in the van. He seemed to be a scared kid, and all Mercy wanted to do was help him.

But when she showed up one night to see if he was ok, she heard voices outside the shop. Mac was there, along with a couple of humans and another new werewolf. They were trying to get him to come back with them, and he refused. When Mercy tried to help Mac out, a fight broke out, and the new werewolf ended up dead. It was time to call Adam.

Apparently someone had turned Mac, and was keeping him prisoner in a cage. They were experimenting new drugs on him when he escaped. Adam was none too happy about it, but he offered to help Mac understand his change and help him. But just when Mercy thought everything was going to be ok, Mac's body was dumped on her doorstep. Adam's house had been broken into and he was left close to dead. And his teenage human daughter Jessica had been kidnapped. Mercy was the only one that could help now.

Smart, sassy and full of bravado, Mercy Thompson is my kind of heroine!! In a world where werewolves run in packs, fae are alive and living among us, and vampires haunt the night, Mercy can handle herself. She is gutsy and sarcastic, a true spirit. Adam Hauptman is dangerous and cool. Tough as nails, but with a soft spot for Mercy, he is plunged into a war that he never saw coming. With help from Mercy's old Marrok pack, they try to uncover what is really going on in world of werewolves. The wind is bringing change....and it isn't good.

Not only was there a fabulous "new" storyline, but enough back story so a person feels they can truly understand where Mercy came from and how the packs run. This is definitely a series I'm going to fact, Blood Bound, which is book 2 is staring at me right now!! If you are a fan of the OLD Laurell K. Hamilton books, you will definitely enjoy this series. Patricia Briggs has brought us a series that is a true page-turner....filled with fun, excitement and lots of things that go bump in the night. 4.5/5

Greetings and Salutations.....

I know. I know. I've disappeared for awhile. Sorry. It's a been a horrible week for me. Lots of personal stuff. But that aside, I've been in such a depressed state, I haven't wanted to get online. And I LOVE to blog. I love to blog hop.

I may be coming down with something on top of it all. I've been really dizzy that last couple of days. Might be an inner ear "thing".

Just wanted you to all know I am still here!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Some Promotion for a Friend

Do you remember my best friend Aaron?? He made a movie called "The Collar". All done independently, but he's trying to sell it to HBO. It's about an auto plant, taken loosely from his experience (and alot of our friends, including my husband Mike) at the Mitsubishi plant here in Normal. Below is the clip! It was really well done, and I'm so proud of him. If you get a chance, please go to the My Space link and leave a comment if you think it would be a good series!!

The Collar Trailer

My space link......

This and That

Today is the first Sunday of the kids' summer vacation. It hardly seems possible that the school year is finished already!! Chad completed his first year of Jr. High with extremely high honors. In fact, the only B anywhere on his report card was in P.E. Which actually surprises me, because he's super athletic, but there it was. Bella did remarkably well, and passed right into 3rd grade. She had 3 B's and the rest A's. And Ana "graduated" into 1st Grade. Man....time is going so fast, I can hardly stand it. As a child, you just want everything to speed up so you can grow up. Now, I can't seem to make it slow down enough!!

The girl's are both spending the summer playing softball. This is Bella's 2nd year, and I think she has found her sport. She has the same coach as last year. And Ray is such a good teacher. The team is mostly 7 year olds, with only 2 that are older. It will indeed be a learning year for us. But Ray told me that Bella's going to be his little "Stunner". She'll be batting clean-up, and he may even start her pitching!

This is Ana's first year of softball. And it's hard for me to help her. First, the shoulder is still giving me some grief. But Ana's a lefty, and it's just so awkward for me to try and teach her certain things. Like batting! But she's picking it up in leaps and bounds.

Chad isn't playing ball this summer. He's waiting for football to start in August. But he is getting a season pass to the pool. He will be 12 this summer, and all his friends go to the pool daily. I guess it's time for me to let go just a little and let him be a kid. He did SO WELL in school this year, he definitely deserves a little summer off.

Tuesday is the kick-off to the Summer Reading Program at our library. This year's theme is "Get Into the Game". The kids are really excited about it. Our library does such a good job with the kids. They offer fun things all summer long: movies, parties, cook-outs....and fun little prizes. And the end of the summer is a big pool party for all those that complete the reading. It's just an added bonus, because the kids love to read. Well....the girls do anyway. Chad is more of an "instant gratification" kind of kid. He loves movies, and hates to take up so much time reading. At least till he does it. This year for AR, he was even recommending books to ME. He's a fantasy kind of kid (Yeah!), and found some wonderful books: Peter and the StarCatchers, The Thief Lord, Inkheart, and the Charlie Bone Series, to name a few. But I think he'll be lazy this summer and skip the books. But I'll keep trying!

There's a summer reading program for adults as well. But I am already making lists of the books I want to read!! Since we aren't going on a vacation this summer, we'll be around for the whole program. Should be alot of fun (in a geekish sort of way!!)

How about you guys? Any summer reading plans for the family? For you?