Saturday, August 29, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
So....school 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
No....it'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 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
Also on trial is the alleged shooter, James King, a gang member. Steve was an acquaintance of King's.
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
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.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
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
Thursday, August 13, 2009
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?
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
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
1) What was the highlight (something that happened, a post, an activity, etc.) of BBAW for you last year?
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Can 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.
Now...my 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.
- The Sandman, Vol.2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman
- Fables, Vol.2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
- Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens
- The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie
- City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier
- Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
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
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