Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blog Tour: Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

When I was contacted by Anna Jarzub from Authors on the Web about a book tour for Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas (320 pgs, St. Martin Press, 2009), I was a tad hesitant. I consider myself a very eclectic reader and I try not to pigeonhole myself. But this book is a bit away from the norm for me. But Anna and Wiley Saichek have always been very good to me, and haven't steered me wrong before. So I agreed to the tour. And I'm glad I did!!!

The old woman peered past the red geraniums in her deep front window at the figure lingering in the moonwhite snow at the gate. In the gloom of the late winter afternoon, Hennie Comfort did not recognize the woman, who stood like a curious bird, her head cocked to one side as she looked at the fence, then the front door, and back to the fence again.

The year is 1936, and eighty-six-year-old Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan, Colorado for almost seventy years. Middle Swan is a small mining town in the mountains, and has seen it's share of hard times. One day, Hennie notices a woman standing at her fence. A stranger. And in a place like Middle Swan, that is very unusual.

The young woman at the fence is Nit Spindle, a new bride who has come to live in Middle Swan because her husband has taken a job at the gold dredge company. She stopped because of a sign on the fence that said, "Prayers for Sale". The young woman doesn't know anyone in town and is extremely lonely. And she is grieving over the the loss of a child. Hennie tells her that prayers are never for sale, but if she needs one, it will be given freely. And so starts a wonderful friendship between the two women.

The book alternates between the present time and the past, as told in stories by Hennie. In her long lifetime, Hennie has seen her share of hardships. Life in a mining camp is tough for everyone, but especially the women. Because the life is new to Nit, Hennie relates stories from her past to help Nit acclimate herself to Middle Swan. This is a wonderful passage from the book:

There was another reason that she was glad the girl had attended the burying, Hennie decided after giving it some thought. A mining camp is a harsh place, and Hennie had never been ignorant of such things. The girl should know that death was the cost of tearing gold out of it's resting place at bedrock. The earth took it's retribution. Hennie wouldn't be around for a lot longer to explain such things to the girl, and Nit would have to learn them on her own. Pray God, nothing ever happened to Nit's husband, but the girl ought to be prepared a bit, just in case. There was no circumventing providence in mining town.

At once depressing and uplifting, Prayers for Sale is wonderful book. Dallas has written a remarkable character in Hennie Comfort. She is sweet, kind, sympathetic and amazingly resilient. Her life is filled with heart-ache and grief. The tragedies she has faced have been enormous, and yet she still goes out of her way to help others. This book shows the strength and determination of women and how they can rely on one another. It's simply written and will tear at your heart-strings. The harsh realities of this hard life are brought to the forefront, and you can see how tough a person has to be to survive this life.

The is a wonderful read for any one, but most especially for women. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I came to not only empathize with the characters, but to admire them. Many thanks to Anna and Wiley for passing this book in my direction!! 4/5

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Randomness

I was going to do a post like this Tuesday.....but then I saw Carl's announcement of the RIP IV Challenge....and well, I just got too excited!! I mean seriously. I've been stockpiling books like crazy for this challenge. I wait all year for it....couldn't NOT post immediately! started this week. Ana is in the 2nd grade and Bella's in the 4th. Both were really excited for the first day of school. The social parts of them love to get together with all their friends. But they are both really excited about learning too. I find that so refreshing. This summer, during their summer reading program, we spent hours checking out non-fiction books. They wanted to learn new things. We worked our way through the juvenile non-fiction section of animals, stars, and the weather.

Chad is going into 8th grade. He's freaking out just a bit. He found out he'd been placed in an advanced, high-school level math class. Math = NOT my favorite subject by any means. But he loves it. And has always done extremely well. I have no idea why he's worried about it. Except for the fact that he might actually have to study just a little bit.

Speaking of Chad, his 13th birthday was last week. Talk about making a person feel old. I now have a TEENAGER in the house. With the girlies, I made sure to take each one out separately....dinner and stuff afterwards. But I was a little worried Chad wouldn't want to go. I realize hangin' with your mom becomes super un-cool after a certain age. So I put it out there for him and told him we could go out, but only if he wanted to. He said that was fine. We could do something after his football practice one night. So I rushed him home for a shower and we took off. We went to Borders (and I bought him 3 books, including The Hunger Games which he is almost finished with...and loving!), then out to Applebee's for dinner, and finally a late night movie. While we were sitting at dinner, he said, "Mom, can I tell you something? I've REALLY been looking forward to tonight." Sheesh, I just about lost it. I'm such a sap. But he is my only boy...and my firstborn. I hope he stays as sweet as he is now.

Work has been busy....I swear, I'm putting in close to 70 hours a week with both jobs. And my shoulder is just killing me. I know I'm going to have to have surgery on it. But I can't afford to take the time off now. Maybe after Christmas. That's why I'm working so much. Trying to build up some savings for me to take the time off. The Dr. said the recovery period for a torn rotator cuff could be up to 3 - 4 months. That's a lot of time to NOT be working.

My wonderful friend Michelle, from Master Musings by Michelle (a totally awesome new blogger that you really need to start reading!!) just gave me an award!! She passed along the Me-to-You Blogger Award, and it seriously made my day. I love the little bear, don't you? I'll have to think before I pass it on to anyone else. It's so hard when all the blogs I read are so good!

Since we are talking about things that made my day, I wanted to comment on the BBAW nominations. I haven't had a chance to post about it, but I got *3* nominations! Best Speculative Fiction Blog, Best YA Blog, and Best Reviews. I can't tell you how excited about this I am. Not that I expect to win or anything, because the competition is fierce. But seriously, just being nominated has meant so much to me. It means that someone has noticed the things I do here. And although I really mean for my blog to be just for me, it makes me feel fantastic that someone else out there thinks enough about to nominate me. So THANK YOU so much to whoever you are. It means the world!!

In reading news, I requested a butt-load of books from the library. Mostly for the RIP challenge. Man. They must think I'm crazy. It's not like I don't already have 30 books checked out!! Looks like a library Loot post is upcoming.

On the reading front, I need to post a review for Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I always have a hard time with books that don't meet my expectations. :( I'm still reading I Capture the Castle. Slowly but surely, and I'm really loving this book. Not at all what I expected. I'm also finishing up a book for a book tour on Friday....Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas. A different read for me, but a good one.

What's going on in your lives?? I really need to catch up with my blog reading. I'm slacking a bit these days. Later....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!'s not the fact that school started. And it's not because the NFL season is just around the corner. Mind you, these are both valid answers. But today, the most wonderful time of year means the start of the RIP IV Challenge brought to you by Carl, from Stainless Steel Droppings!! The Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge is my very favorite challenge across the blogosphere. It's a time to give in to fear. The leaves are going to be changing soon, there will be a little nip in the air. Halloween is just around the corner, and there will nights filled with ghouls and goblins. The eerie and the creepy are set to make their way into our lives for a short period. It is a time that I don't have to feel guilty for imbibing in my true pleasure of horror and the dark elements that surround it. And I, for one, am ridiculously excited about it!! I've been waiting for weeks for this announcement. I've even been stockpiling books to be used for this challenge. And today it is here!

As always, Carl has set up this wonderful challenge to have multiple perils to choose from:

Peril the First:
Read Four books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.

Peril the Second:
Read Two books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.

Peril the Third:
Read One book of any length, from any of the subgenres listed earlier in the post.

More than any other time of the year, R.I.P. season brings out my desire to explore the short story genre. We will again do Short Story Sundays, for those of you who read R.I.P. related short stories any time during the week and want to write about them. I know I have Lovecraft, Poe, and Angela Carter waiting in the wings for my short story reading.

As always, this challenge runs from September 1st until October 31st. I know I will be participating in the Peril the first....hopefully multiple times!! I read more books for the RIP III last year than I did any other challenge. Do you need a set reading list? Of course not. But here is the pool of books I will be drawing my reading from this year:

  • The Rising by Brian Keene
  • You are so Undead to Me by Stacy Jay
  • 13 Bullets by David Wellingham
  • Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
  • Baltimore,: Or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
  • Castaways by Brian Keene
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Infected by Scott Sigler
  • Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid: The Book of Scary Urban Legends by Jan Brunvand
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • Nocturnes by John Connelly (for the Short Story Peril)
  • Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files, Book 3)
  • Embrace the Night by Karen Chance (Cassandra Palmer, Book 3)
  • Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson, Book 3)

And this year, I may have to delve into a re-read of my very favorite scary book: The Stand by Stephen King.

I can't wait to see how many of these books I can actually fit in this year!! Now, dear readers, you should join us on this eerie and creepy journey. Come on: you know you want to!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Monster: The First Printz Award Winner

As part of my ongoing quest to read the entire list of Michael L. Printz Award winner and honor books, I picked up Monster by Walter Dean Myers (281 pgs, Harper Collins, 2001). Not only was this book the very first winner of the Printz Award, it was also nominated for a National Book Award and was named a Coretta Scott King Award Honor. Figured it would be worth my time!

The best time to cry is at night, when the lights are out and someone is being beaten up and screaming for help. That way even if you sniffle a little, they won't hear you. If anybody knows you are crying, they'll start talking about it and soon it's be your turn to get beat up when the lights go out.

Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is in jail. He is awaiting trial as an adult for felony murder. He is a relatively good kid from Harlem, that was the supposed lookout in a holdup at a drugstore. When things went wrong, the cashier was killed. Steve is looking at 25 years to life if he is convicted.

What makes this book unique is the format in which it is written. Because Steve was in a film club in high school, he tells his story of the trial as if it was written to be a screenplay. The rest of the book is in diary format. The prosecutor called the defendants Monsters. So this is the title Steve is using for his screenplay.

Also on trial is the alleged shooter, James King, a gang member. Steve was an acquaintance of King's.

I was very impressed with this story. The format, as strange as it was to read, really worked. It was like watching an episode of Law and Order! The harsh reality of prison life is made abundantly clear through the diary entries. Although sixteen qualifies Steve as an adult, it is plain to see that he is just a very scared little boy who is looking at spending the rest of his life behind bars. Is he really a monster that deserves this fate? Was he really the lookout during the botched robbery? Did he really want to be like King and the other gang members? Or was he just a boy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? That is actually left up to you, the reader, to decide.

Honestly, this book should be mandatory reading in high school. The diary entries give you a glimpse into the harrowing world of prison. Here is an example:

Lying on my cot, I think of everything that happened over the last year. There was nothing extraordinary in my life. No bolt of lightning came out of the sky. I didn't say a magic word and turn into somebody different. But here I am, on the verge of losing my life, or the life I used to have. I can understand why they take your shoelaces and belt from you when you're in jail. When the lights went out, I think I heard someone crying in the darkness.

It is so raw and honest, you can feel the fear that Steve is feeling. Any student that reads this book, might think twice before doing something really stupid. An excellent book that rightful deserves the awards it was given. 4.75/5

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Little Library Love....

I'm curious: Do you use your library? Are you a card-carrying member? If not, how come? I'm a huge fan of my library. The town I grew up in is a small farming town. The population of the town hovers around 500. And we didn't have a local, community library. There was a small library in the grade school, but it was only accessible during the school year. And I'm pretty sure I read through the entire collection by the time I was in 8th grade. We also had a library in my high school. But it was even smaller...I'd be willing to wager I now own more books myself than was in the library!!

The college years were spent reading mostly textbooks. With classes, work, and my social life, I rarely read for pleasure. I didn't realize how much I missed it though until I graduated and moved out on my own. One of the first things I did was get a library card. And although I used to buy a lot of books, I still kept my library card current. Now that I've put myself on a budget, I use my library more than ever.

The picture above is the exterior of my local library, Alpha Park. It's not the biggest library, by any means. It doesn't have the greatest selection of books. But there are a lot of reasons that I love my library!! First of all, each of the librarians know me by name. Probably because I request/put holds on so many books. It seems like there is always a book behind the desk with my name on it.

If a book is not in my library, I can usually get it through Inter Library Loan. There are about 60 libraries in this system and I can almost always find what I want. Now that all the libraries are connected through the same computer system, I can log in myself and renew or put holds on books. I love it!! Last week, I was trying to figure out how to get the next graphic novel in the Fables Series. I was talking to the reference librarian, and she found all but 2 books in the series in the system. The 2 books she couldn't find, she ordered to put in our library!! Book 3 is one of those books. I got a call last Friday that I had a book on hold. When I got to Alpha Park, it was the new copy of Fables, Vol.3. I'm the first person to check it out.

The Children's portion of the library is also fantastic. The entire top floor is for the kids. There are a couple of classrooms, where they hold meetings and have craft lessons. One corner of the library has three steps up to a carpeted platform. There are floor to ceiling windows up there, and big pillows for the kids to lounge on while they read. And the kids/YA selections are really good. I can always find something when I'm waiting for the girls to pick out some books.

I love my library!! And my kids love the library. The only thing that would make it perfect would be a cappuccino machine!!

As for reading, I just finished up Monster by Walter Dean Myers. It was the first Printz Award winner and a really good book. I'm still reading Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall for the Non-Fiction 5 Challenge. I started to read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and so far I'm finding it just a charming read!! I'm also getting ready to start Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.

What are you reading these days??

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My First Discworld Book!! (Buddy Read with Kailana!)

For ages now, I've wanted to read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I've heard nothing but good things about it. But I have an admission to make: this series intimidates me. Not only is the sheer number of books daunting, but the strange way they are grouped into different "series with in the series". Honestly, I had absolutely no idea where to start.

And that's where Nymeth comes in. She suggested that the Tiffany Aching trilogy would be a great place to start reading Discworld. So Kailana and I decided to put our faith in Nymeth to the test, and read the first book in this particular series: The Wee Free Men (375 pgs, Harper Collins, 2003). This is Book 1 in the trilogy that is actually written for Young Adults.

Some things start before other things. It was a summer shower but didn't appear to know it, and it was pouring rain as fast as a winter storm. Miss Perspicacia Tick sat in what little shelter a raggedy hedge could give her and explored the universe. She didn't notice the rain. Witches dried out quickly.

Young Tiffany Aching has a lot going on in her life right now. She lives on the Chalk, at the Aching Family Farm. Her job there is to churn the butter and make cheese. This is a job that she's very good at it. But when she grows up, Tiffany has decided she wants to be a witch. Why a witch, you ask? Because witches KNOW things. Tiffany read the fairy tales when she was little. The handsome princes were smug and the princesses were dumb and weak and always waiting for someone else to rescue them. So she wanted to be a witch. Turns out, she really IS a witch. Tiffany's Granny Aching was the only witch on the Chalk. But when she passed away the year before, that left only Tiffany. And right now, the Chalk NEEDS a witch. The beautiful, but evil Fairy Queen has kidnapped Tiffany's younger, "sticky" brother, Wentworth.

Armed with a talking frog and a frying pan, Tiffany is going into battle, not only to save Wentworth, but the entire world from the Fairy Queen. The Queen is the mistress of dreams, and has the power to trap a person in the realm of these dreams...and nightmares. But Tiffany isn't going alone. She has help from the Nac Mac Feegle (or the Wee Free Men). These 6-inch-tall men are blue, tattooed, red-headed, and always looking for a good fight. If fact, they will fight anyone, drink anything, and steal whatever isn't nailed down!

Terry Pratchett has a huge following. Now I can see why. His writing is smart, funny and surprisingly insightful, with a bit of social commentary here and there. He takes this rather twisted fairy tale and he makes it work. He gives us a nine-year-old dairymaid as a hero...and he makes it work. This book was a quick read because once I got started, I couldn't put it down. I loved every page!! And I will definitely be reading more Tiffany Aching....and more Discworld! 4.75/5

Now that I've given you a bit of information about the book itself, I will give you the answers to Kailana's Questions :

1. What did you think of Tiffany Aching? Was she a good character that you look forward to reading more about?

I LOVED Tiffany!! As you know, I'm always up for a book with a good, strong female protagonist. But Tiffany takes the cake. Not only is she incredibly smart for her nine-years, but she is fearless. Armed with only her brain and a frying pan, Tiffany takes off to the dream world to find her brother. A brother that she really doesn't even like very much. But Wentworth is HER brother and damned if anyone is going to steal him away!

Besides being strong and smart, Tiffany also has a really wonderful moral compass. It upset her alot when a woman in her village was accused of being a witch. When the baron's son disappeared, people accused an old woman of being a witch. So the people of the village went to Mrs. Snapperly's cottage. They killed her cat, burned her books and turned her out. The poor lady then died in the snow that winter because no one would help her. Tiffany said THIS is the reason she wants to be a witch: so this kind of thing would never happen again. Tiffany is shrewd, sharp and courageous. I love this girl!!

And yes, I'm going to continue reading through the Tiffany Aching trilogy!!

2. What did you think of the Wee Free Men? Did they add or take away from the book?

I loved the Wee Free Men!! How could you not love men with names like Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, and Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock? And although understanding their Scottish brogue was a little difficult, the main ideas made it through. They like to drink, fight, and steal!! Not only did they add to the book, they stole it right away.

3. What was your favourite scene in the book? Why?

Hmmm...I had a lot of scenes in this book that I loved. Quite a few made me laugh out loud. But if I had to choose just one it would probably be the scene where Tiffany meets up with the water monster, Jenny Green-Teeth. She first sees it when she is out by the river. A few of Nac Mac Feegle try to warn her about the creature. But Tiffany heeds the warnings and decides to take care of the creature herself. So she sets a trap (of course, she uses her little brother as bait) and when the creature comes out of the water, she cracks it with the frying pan.

I think the reasdon I liked this scene so much was because it's the first time we get to see what Tiffany is made of. She's not a timid little girl at all, but a force with which to be reckoned!

For the record, I just want to thank Kailana for her patience with my freaky-busy schedule. I loved the buddy read!! A special thanks to Nymeth for recommending such a great book as a starting place for Discworld!! You know you rock!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blog Tour: Everything Sucks by Hannah Friedman

Everything Sucks: Losing My Mind and Finding Myself in a High School Quest for Cool is the debut memoir by Yale Graduate, 22-year-old Hannah Friedman. It is a Young Adult book published by HCI Teens. This review is part of a TLC Blog Tour.

I am the first born human.

Hannah Friedman bares her soul in this raw, but refreshing memoir. Playing second fiddle to your mom's adopted monkey is one thing. But becoming known as the "Monkey Girl Freak" in middle school because of said monkey is another thing all together. Hannah has always dreamed of being popular. But in middle school she becomes the target of some horrible "mean girl" bullies. Taking time out of school to tour around the UK with her father's band turns out to be disastrous. And when she comes back to school, the bullies are utterly relentless. If at all possible, Hannah has fallen to an even lower level in the eyes of her classmates.

But with a lot of hard work and fantastic grades, Hannah is accepted into one of the country's most prestigious boarding schools, Danforth Academy. This is her chance to reinvent herself in high school. And with a little boldness, Hannah finds that she has been admitted to one of the most popular cliques in school. But being popular has downfalls that she never even considered, especially as a scholarship student in a school full of rich kids. The competition was always there: whether it was to be the prettiest or the thinnest or to get into an Ivy League college. And there was always someone there just waiting for you to slip up and make a mistake.

This book is at times hilarious. And other times, it's heartbreaking. Friedman comes to realize that popularity isn't all that it's cracked up to be. All the years of abuse from the middle school bullies results in self-esteem issues for Hannah, which in turn leads to an eating disorder and drug problems in high school. Raw and brutally honest, Friedman lays it all out for the world to see. I find this admirable, especially for someone as young as Hannah. You don't see many 22-year-olds with enough guts to write about themselves with such frankness.

This is one book all girls should read. Even with stark references to sex and drug abuse, this book will resonate with anyone who has ever felt that they didn't quite live up to the world's standards. Or for anyone that has ever been bullied. Or for anyone that has ever felt they weren't thin enough or pretty enough or smart enough. This book will at once make any young girl feel like they aren't alone. And that is truly a gift. I expect great things in the future from this very talented writer! 4.5/5

Please visit Hannah at her website.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Morganville Vampires Series Book 3

You all know my affinity for vampires. I just can't help myself. And although I *should* be saving this series for the upcoming RIP challenge....well, I needed a little pick-me-up this week! So I decided to "pick up"
Midnight Alley: Morganville Vampires Book 3 by Rachel Caine (256 pgs, NAL Jam, 2007). Besides, it's another book I'm using for the Young Adult Challenge 2009.

Here are my reviews for the first 2 books:

Glass Houses: Morganville Vampires Book 1
Dead Girls' Dance: Morganville Vampires Book 2

Warning: There may be spoilers for previous books in this post!!

The instant the phone rang at the Glass House, Claire knew with a psychic flash that it had to be her mother. Well, it wasn't so much a psychic flash as simple logic. She'd told Mom she would call days ago, which she hadn't, and now, of course, it could only be her mother calling at the most inopportune moment. Hence: had to be a call from Mom.

Life in Morganville isn't ever normal. With a town run by vampires, how could it be? But when Claire signed a pledge to the founder, Amelie, she thought that she was doing the right thing. It was the only way she could save Shane's life AND protect her friends. Now, she just wants to get on with her education and try to live as normally as all possible. Without, of course, letting her friends know she signed the pledge.

But things in the Glass House are getting a little weird, even for Morganville. Monica Morrell is all friendly now that Claire has the Founder's Protection. Shane can't even be in the same room with Michael since he has become the town's newest vampire. Dead girls start showing up near the Glass House. And Eve's crazy brother Jason seems to be stalking the group of friends.

And now Amelie has a little project for Claire: She wants her to study with Myrnin, an ancient Vampire. Myrnin is a genius. So incredibly smart, but he has become increasingly unstable. When Claire figures out who Myrnin really is, the last thing she wants to do is spend time with him. His moments of lucidity are becoming farther and farther apart. How can she learn from someone that wants to teach her one minute, and kill her the next?

End Spoilers.

Ok. I admit it. This series is total fluff. And you know what? I'm good with that! When I read the first book, I was a little put-off by how unrealistic I thought the storyline was. No, not the vampire parts. We ALL know that is unrealistic. But the way Claire was being treated. It just didn't ring true to me. BUT the farther along I read, that doesn't seem to matter. Rachel Caine has created a great plot, and is slowly revealing pieces to the puzzle....bit by bit. Each book adds another piece to the intricate plot and in turn, makes the reader want to read even faster!

This book and the entire series is completely addictive!! But damn Rachel Caine for the utterly heart-stopping cliffhangers at the end of each book!! Thankfully, I have the next 3 books in line, all ready to go for the RIP Challenge, if I can just wait!! My advice to you: if you want to read a fun, fluffy, and completely enthralling series, make sure you have all the books ready. Once you start, you will want to continue through till the end! 4.5/5

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hey All!!

Just wanted to pop in and say a quick HI!! Didn't mean to have such a long blogging break, but last week there was a death of a family friend. I'm just now getting back online again. Sheesh, I'm going to spend HOURS just figuring out all I've missed! And now I'm even behind in reviews. Oh well.....I'll catch up soon!

Just an FYI.....I'm the "Featured Blog of the Week" over at Book Blips. Check out my super-cool interview here!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Unless you have been living under a rock the last month, you all know about Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It's coming up soon: September 14 - 18.

The brain child of the wonderful Amy, at My Friend Amy, Book Blogger Appreciation Week is "A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways."

There is even a dedicated blog for BBAW this year. You can find it here. And if you visit there right now, you'll find this meme:

If you were a part of BBAW last year, please answer these simple questions on your blog and drop your link into Mister Linky so that others can learn all about BBAW! Feel free to tag other bloggers to play along!

1) What was the highlight (something that happened, a post, an activity, etc.) of BBAW for you last year?
2) What is one new blog you discovered during BBAW last year?
3) What tips would you share to help others get the most out of their BBAW experience?

1. The absolute highlight of BBAW last year was the fact that I got a chance to host 4 of the awards!! Blog Name, Best Romance Blog, Best Kid Lit Blog and Best Challenge Blog. And what was even more special, to me anyway, was being able to present an award to Dewey @ The Hidden Side of the Leaf. We all know the impact Dewey had on the Book Blogging Community, and the loss we felt when she was gone.

2. New blogs? I discovered tons of new blogs, but one of the ones I remember most is The Literate Housewife. Jennifer was one of the presenters for some of the blog awards, and I remember going to her blog for the first time. She has some great reviews and is a rockin' blogger!

3. The best thing I can say about BBAW is it's a chance to "meet" a whole bunch of really great book bloggers. It's a chance to get to know people that share a common bond: the love of books and reading! If you don't do anything else during the week, at least visit a few new blogs!!

This year it's going to be bigger and better. And I, for one, can not wait!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Sunday Salon - July in Review

The Sunday Salon.comCan you believe July is over already?? This summer is slipping by so fast, I can hardly believe it. This month we survived basketball camp, the end of softball season, a softball tournament, and Bella's birthday. Now, it's time to get ready for school. Am I the only weird one that loves shopping for school supplies?? I can't help myself....I just love to. On top of that, Chad has his last JFL season starting. This year, he will be a Senior (in JFL terms anyway.) My little wide receiver/line backer packed on over 20 lbs and 5 inches since last year! Practice starts tomorrow. reading July in review. I pale in comparison to most of you, I realize that. But for me, I've had a decent month reading. I read 7 books, 2 of which were graphic novels. 2144 pages in all. Not too bad.

Although I loved a couple of the books I read, I'd have to say Catching Fire was my favorite read this month. It's hard to beat that one!!

I bought 8 books, and checked out more than I can count from the library. I think my total check-outs is still somewhere in the 30's!! Every time I take back a bunch, I always end up with more in my hands. Again, I just can't help myself. I also joined 3 challenges: The Canadian Book Challenge 3, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge, and the GLBT Reading Challenge (or The Challenge That Dare Not Speak it's Name!)

For August, I have 1 scheduled Book Tour: Everything Sucks: Losing My Mind and Finding Myself in a High School Quest for Cool by Hannah Friedman. It's a YA Memoir and looks fantastic. I'm also starting the Discworld Series with the Tiffany Aching trilogy. There are also a couple other challenges I'm sure I'll be joining....especially the Japanese Reading Challenge. I'm also challenging myself to post more often this month. I've been rather lax, sometimes taking long breaks. But starting this month, I'm vowing to do better!

I think that's it for July. Time to put it in the books. Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Catching Fire...Is It as Good as The Hunger Games? You Betcha!!

I remember when I first heard of The Hunger Games. I read a review in Entertainment Weekly by Stephen King. As most of you know, he is one of my very favorite authors, and his column in EW is always a must read for me. When Uncle Steve says a book is worth reading, then it probably is. I was blown away by it, as a matter of fact. It was so readable and so full of action, I could hardly put it down.

So by now, we all know that Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (400 pgs, Scholastic Press, Sept. 1st 2009 release) is one of the most anticipated books in the blogosphere. I am so excited that I got the chance to read it early. Many, many thanks to Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made On for passing this one my way!!


To be honest, this review is actually going to be kind of a non-review. Since the book hasn't been released yet, I don't want to give ANYTHING away. What I will say is Catching Fire starts very soon after The Hunger Games end: Katniss and Peeta are back in District 12 as the winners of the Hunger Games. President Snow is VERY unhappy because Katniss made the Capitol look like fools. And it seems that she might possibly be the new face of a rebellion that is starting.

Did I think Catching Fire was as good as The Hunger Games? Damn skippy, I did! I was amazed at how quickly I got sucked right back into the story. I wasn't sure where Collins was going to go with this book, and I was actually shocked at the direction she took. Heartbreaking at times, and heart stopping at others, Catching Fire is another whirlwind of a book. I was so caught up in reading it, I even considered calling off work just to finish it! (For the record, I was good, and put the book down to go to work!)

There are a few new characters that are introduced in this book, most notably Finnick Odair, another previous winner of The Games. Collins has expanded the dystopian world she created and it is actually more frightening that the first book! And while Katniss and Peeta are still the main focus, some of the more secondary characters really come to life, especially Haymitch, Gale, and President Snow.

I really can't say any more without giving something away. Just know that Catching Fire is one fantastic read!! The only bad thing I have to say is now that I've read it (almost 6 weeks before it's actually released), I don't know if I can wait to read the conclusion to the trilogy! 5/5