Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Castle has been Captured!

One of the best things about book blogs, aside from getting to know like-minded people, are the book blogger recommendations. I have read numerous books that I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. For example, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (352 pgs, St. Martin's Press, 1948) is a book that I had not only never heard of, but I'm pretty sure I would never had even considered reading if it hadn't been for a review I read from Nymeth. Aside from the whole Tender Morsels ordeal (LOL), she has never disappointed. And I have to say, I fell in love with this book from the opening chapter! I'm using this as a selection for the What's in a Name II Challenge.

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cozy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is the depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring -- I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house.

This is the story of the Mortmain family, in all their wonderful eccentricity. It is told by Cassandra Mortmain, youngest girl of the family, and aspiring writer, as she tries to "capture the castle". She lives with her family in an old English castle. The father, known only as Mortmain, was a famous writer. His one novel, was very successful, especially in the United States. But he has been suffering from writer's block every since....and is a tad bit on the crazy side. With no income for years, the family is basically dirt poor, having sold off all their valuable possessions just to have enough food to live on. They live with Mortain's second wife, Topaz, an artist's model and extremely free-spirit who exists only to be her husband's muse. And hasn't been able to accomplish it. The eldest sister, Rose, is self-centered at best. She hates being poor. Hates it with a passion, and would do just about anything to marry someone with money. Youngest child, Thomas, is just a schoolboy, but remarkable insightful. And rounding out the motley bunch, is Stephen. Stephen is the son of their former housekeeper. When she passed away, Stephen stayed on with the family. He's exceptionally handsome, though Cassandra finds him a bit "daft" (of course, he thinks the sun rises and sets on her!)

Things change very little in the Mortmain castle until the day the Cotton's move into Scoatney. The Cotton's are Americans who have inherited the estate, and with that become the new landlords to the Mortmains. Simon, as the eldest brother, is the actual heir to the land and in essence, the "wealthy" one. Neil, the younger more carefree brother wants to return to America to become a cattle rancher. Rose, in her desperation to get out of the poverty that has struck her family, decides that she is hopelessly in love with Simon and will do just about anything to get him to propose to her. And since Simon is rather scholarly, he and his mother are taken with Mortmain. Fans of his writing, they try to get him over his writer's block.

The story is told in journal format by Cassandra, who is sweet and gentle and kind. She's also smart as a whip and devoted to her family. Cassandra, in a word, is delightful! I usually tend to root for the more brash characters. But there is just something so endearing about Cassandra. "And that was all she ever did talk about it -- that was almost the worst part of the gloom, our not talking naturally. Never have I felt so separate from her. And I regret to say that there were moments when my deep and loving pity for her merged into a desire to kick her fairly hard. For she is a girl who cannot walk her troubles off, or work them off; she is a girl to sit around and glare." "That evening of the row was our lowest depths; miserable people cannot afford to dislike each other. Cruel blows of fate call for extreme kindness in the family circle." Cassandra is level-headed and wise beyond her years. She is charming and refreshingly honest in all her writings.

Rose drove me crazy though. She is vain and self-centered and annoying. And even though she tried to justify that her marrying Simon would help the family as a whole, she really was in it only for herself. She was obnoxious and the type of woman that sat back waiting for someone to give her something. The Cinderella waiting to be rescued by the Prince, instead of the Belle, who was out there doing the rescuing. And that just drove me crazy! But, in truth, it's how the character is written and Smith definitely did a great job in making me dislike her immensely!

Each character was so thoroughly fleshed out. It's like you actually knew the people that were being written about. And you cared what happened to them. I can't remember the last time I was so taken with the characters in a book. And I can't even begin to pick a favorite. Aside from Rose, each character has some strange but endearing qualities. And I loved them all!! A timeless story that will last forever, this is one book that I'm truly a better person for having read! Thank you, Nymeth!! A 100% definite 5-Star Rating!!! Will surely land on my list of favorite novels! 5/5

Monday, September 28, 2009

This Damned Shoulder.....

Just when I'm feeling good again, the clutz in me comes out! I slipped and fell in a big puddle of water (for the record, that wasn't my fault, and water on ceramic tile = trouble!). Fell on my ass, but stupid me, tried to catch myself. Just force of habit, I guess. I felt ok, until about 5 hours into my shift at the Red Cross, and my shoulder (the bad one) started stiffening up....badly. Left early for the ER.

On a positive note, it's not dislocated, separated or broken. On a negative note, it's sore as hell, and any further damage to the rotator cuff is undetermined. I can't go back to the Cross until I'm realized by a doc, so I'm on vacation right now. And I'm supposed to be back at the restaurant tonight, but I still have my arm in a sling. So I really don't think that's going to happen. I really need the money the restaurant provides. I'm losing daily right a few words of good things my way might help me out just a bit!! A little mojo is never a bad thing!! Thanks, guys!

I have 3 reviews to write. At least I can still type!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winner of the Hush, Hush Giveaway!!

And here I bet you all thought I forgot!! No. I didn't forget. I just didn't get to it right away. Complete and utter difference!!

So...for my BBAW Giveaway, I ended up assigning everone a number. I give you the winner, from Random Generator #39:

Thanks so much everyone for visiting and entering!! I appreciate every comment!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The First Suzanne Collins Series

In our school systems, we have the Accelerated Readers Program. K - 8th are required to read a certain amount of books and take "quizzes" on them. You receive points based on the difficulty of the book and the amount of questions you get correct. Each child has a goal to complete for each quarter. After I bought Chad The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, he was hooked. But unfortunately, neither book is in our AR program. (On a side note, his teacher is now reading The Hunger Games and thinks Chad's a genius when it comes to books!) So, he went to the library and found ANOTHER series that is in the AR program by Suzanne Collins. He brought the book home to me, and said, "Mom, did you know Suzanne Collins wrote another series? No? Then you've GOT to read this book. She can sure write!". I figured if a book makes him excited to read, it's something I had better check out! The first book in the Underland Chronicles is called Gregor the Overlander (320 pgs, Scholastic, 2003).

Gregor had pressed his forehead against the screen for so long, he could feel a pattern of tiny checks above his eyebrows. He ran his fingers over the bumps and resisted the impulse to let out a primal caveman scream. It was building up in his chest, that long guttural howl reserved for real emergencies -- like when you ran into a saber-toothed tiger without your club, or your fire went out during the Ice Age. He even went so far as to open his mouth and take a deep breath before he banged his head back into the screen with a quiet sound of frustration. "Ergh." What was the point, anyway? It wouldn't change one thing. Not the heat, not the boredom, not the endless space of summer laid out before him.

For eleven-year-old Gregor, life has gotten tough. He is now the man of the family, since his father disappeared from his life a little over 2 years ago. And although Gregor held out hopes of finding out what really happened to his dad, it was starting to diminish. Since then, his mother had to return to work and the family was struggling just to make ends meet. And this summer, he couldn't even go to camp because someone had to stay with Boots, his precocious two-year-old sister. Although he loved Boots, there were so many other ways he would have liked to spend summer. The chores were endless and the days were boring.

Until the day he and Boots went to the basement of the apartment building to do some laundry. As he was sorting the clothes, Boots managed to get the grate off an old air duct in the corner. And just as Gregor was trying to grab her, she fell! Without even thinking, Gregor squeezed into the hole after her, and began to fall himself. And fall....and fall. He couldn't for the life of him figure out where he was falling to, but it couldn't end good!

But when they reached the bottom, eased down by a strange mist that was floating around, Gregor and Boots realized they were someplace that neither of them were supposed to be. They were surrounded by cockroaches. Giant cockroaches that stood over four feet tall. AND they could talk!! Gregor wasn't sure what to do, but Boots, with the naivete of a child befriended the bugs. And they loved her. So much so, they called her Princess. The Crawlers decided to take the kids to the Underlanders, the humans that inhabited the land. Having never actually seen the light, they were a pale people with silver hair and purple eyes. Queen Luxa, the fifteen-year-old heir to the Royal Underland throne met them at the gates of the city Regalia. She was young, bold and arrogant, and Gregor disliked her immediately. But Vikus, an older gentleman, seemed to really be the person in charge, and he immediately made the Overlanders feel welcomed. You see, Gregor's arrival was prophesied by Sandwich, the original inhabitant of the Underland. He led a contingency of people here and started his own kingdom.

In this strange land where animals could talk, everything seemed dangerous. Besides the talking roaches, there were also giant bats, spiders and rats....with the rats being the most dangerous of all. Led by King Gorgen, the rats longed to rule the Underland, and the Prophecy of Gray was the only thing that stood in his way. When the Underlanders met Gregor, they were sure he was the one the prophecy foretold: a hero warrior that has come to save them. But Gregor wants nothing more than to find his way back home again...until he learns of the last Overlander to have fallen: his father.

While this book was written for an intended audience that is certainly younger than The Hunger Games, it is still a complete an utter page-turner. And Chad was right: Suzanne Collins certainly knows how to tell a story!! She has created a great hero in eleven-year-old Gregor. He is smart, brave and loyal. He will do anything to keep his sister safe. And while Luxa may be arrogant, she is, in all actuality, just a scared little girl who's parents were killed by the Gnawers. She harbors a lot of ill-will because of it, too.

There are twists and turns throughout the story as the reader tries to decipher the Prophecy. And nothing is quite as it seems. I can't tell you how much I loved this story!! It was a quick read....and so much fun. Collins has created such a unique world with the Underland. And you end up CARING about what happens to them. It takes one hell of a writer for me to care what happens to a cockroach, that's for sure!!

This fantastic story is good for kids of all ages, and adults alike. Boys as well as girls. It is flat-out perfect for just about anyone. I've already started Book #2, The Prophecy of the Bane and am in love with it too!! So, if you ever see this little book lying around: do yourself a favor and read it!! You'll be glad you did!! 4.5/5

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17, 1994

15 years ago today, Mike and I hauled our bad selves in front of family, friends, and God and said, "I do". It's been 15 years of good times as well as bad. But I did want to shout out to him today. Nothing long or gushy. Because honestly, that's not the way we are.

Lord...we didn't look half bad when we were younger and thinner!!

Thanks For Introducing Me to this Book!!! BBAW

From the BBAW Website, here is today's assignment:

Can you believe it’s already Day 4 of BBAW? Where has the time gone? Well hopefully you’ve discovered plenty of new book blogs to clog up your RSS feed readers and introduce you to more marvelous books throughout the year! But let’s talk about that book you know, the one you discovered only because you read about it on a book blog and then you realized you couldn’t live without it! And then you read it and you loved it so hard! Tell us about it and about the blogger (or bloggers!) that introduced the book to you!

Well, as you could probably tell from yesterday's 5 words answers, I don't do very well following directions!! It's not like I don't READ them. I do. I just choose to ignore them, and make up my own. Besides, since I've started blogging, I have read some of the most wonderful books!! And I'd have to say that 95% of the credit goes to bloggers. With that said, I'm going to list a few more than just one. Because, when you say that book, the one you can't live without - I say there are more than just one!!

When I started blogging, I discovered Neil Gaiman. I haven't read anything that he's written that has been a disappointment to me. Not in the least. But one of the best of his books so far has been Neverwhere. I read this one last year for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. It was through urging from Carl. Although Gaiman has legends of fans (me included), Carl could possibly be one of his biggest!!

Preludes & Noctures: The Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman is the very first graphic novel that I've ever read. Not only did I love it, I was blown away by the awesomeness of it!! The story itself is a first-rate fantasy tale, but the artwork is amazing. I can't remember exactly who the first person was to bring up this series, but I'd lay money on a couple of people: Carl, Chris, and Debi. And because it's a graphic novel, I'm throwing Nymeth in to boot. Because she is one of the people that pushed me into reading a GN in the first place.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs is the first book in the Mercy Thompson series. There is just something so incredibly appealing to me about books with strong female characters. And Mercy is definitely one of the strongest. This isn't great literature, by any means. But it's escapism at it's best: it's fun, fast, and exciting. I first read about this from Kailana. She reads enough fantasy/paranormal/speculative fiction, that if she likes it, I'm positive I will too!

Looking for Alaska is another book that I give full-credit to bloggers for. It's quite possible the first review of this book came from the phenomenal Dewey. In fact, I'm sure that's the first place I saw it. But since that time, it was Nymeth, Chris, and most recently Debi that pushed me over the edge to read this WONDERFUL book. Have you ever felt like you were a better person for reading a certain book? THIS is one of those books.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is such a new read for me, I haven't even had a chance to review it yet. In fact, I just finished it this morning. But I wanted to add it to the list because it was completely and utterly delightful!! And I wanted to give Nymeth peace of mind. Since I had a less than stellar reaction to one of her favorite books, I just wanted to let her know how fabulous I though I Capture the Castle was! So much so that I need to savour it for a few days before I write the review.

Don't forget to sign up for my Hush, Hush Giveaway!!

Happy BBAW!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW Meme.....and a BBAW Giveaway!!

Today's "assignment" for BBAW is to complete a reading meme. It's one that is listed on the BBAW blog, so everyone can answer the same questions. The trick is to do it with few words. Anyone that knows me, will know this is an impossible task. I like words. I use them all the time. LOTS of them. To answer these questions in 5 words or less is well..... Ridiculous!! I'll try to shorten my answers, but don't count on them really being all that short!!

Do you snack while you read? Nope. Not usually. Unless you count Diet Pepsi.

If so, favorite reading snack? Did we decide Diet Pepsi was a snack or not? Still unclear. But if it IS a snack, that's my answer!

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? NEVER mark up my books. Sacrilege!

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?Laying the book flat open? Bookmarks, if I ever have any (the girlies tend to steal them!) Usually just scraps of paper. Never dog-ear.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Both. Mostly Fiction, though.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard Copy only.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? End of Chapter person. With anything else, there is no closure. I'm all about the closure!

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Usually. I hate not knowing something. Immediately.

What are you currently reading? I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and Book 2 of Gregor Series by Suzanne Collins (although I am told that The Knife of Never Letting Go MUST be my next read!)

What is the last book you bought? The Hunger Games for Chad's Birthday (and The Preacher: Gone to Texas by Garth Ennis - graphic novel for me!)

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? Can do more than 1, but has to be different genres or the confusion sets in.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? Any time/Any Place

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Either. (But I do like closure, as we discussed above)

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? The Stand by Stephen King. To everyone that will listen.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) WHEN they are organized, it's by author.

Now that was fun, not all too taxing. Since it IS BBAW, I decided I would do a giveaway as well. Although I didn't love the book, there is a ton of buzz about it on the Internet these days. And since it isn't being released until October 13th, I thought I would giveaway my ARC copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzgerald. I didn't love, but it doesn't mean you won't! It is a used copy. Try as I might to keep them perfect, there always ends up being at least a little reading wear on them!

Since this is for BBAW, I'm only running the giveaway for a couple of days. So enter quickly. Enter now!! All you have to do to enter is tell me your favorite read of 2009. No jumping through hoops. Not posting on your blogs. You don't even have to tweet it, if you don't want to. See? I'm pretty easy to get along with, aren't I? This contest is open worldwide, and my girlies will draw a name this Saturday: Sept. 19th!!

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy BBAW!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW Interviews and Some Left-Over Blogger Love!

As you all, this week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. If you blog for awhile, you find a niche and stick with it. I have made some great friends and found some great blogs. I didn't, however, realize until this week just how many book blogs are actually out there! I'm hoping by my day off Friday I get a chance to visit many of these "new-to-me" blogs.

One new blog Blog: Bookworm with a View. Mari is my interview parnter for today's assignment!! And just in case you want to follow her on Twitter, her name is BookwormMari.

And here is my interview with Mari:

Can you give my readers a little Background information: I met my husband when I was eighteen, we celebrated our 21st anniversary earlier this year. We have one son and three dogs. I work remotely (from home) in an international organization, which might explain why I appear online all the time (I support Singapore , UK , Brazil and Canada ). When I’m not working you will find me running, working out, practicing yoga, keep my house organized, and relaxing.

I also manage two book clubs, my local BC (The Omaha Bookworm’s) and an online BC for the Manic Mommies.

What made you start blogging in the first place? When I started my blog (last November) I had no idea anyone blogged! I thought my family was moving and wanted to post my book clubs book list somewhere. I had no idea this ‘world’ existed until this spring when an author asked me to include an interview on my site for an upcoming book club discussion. The interview was hosted by a blogger.

Have you always been a reader? I didn’t read much until I was a teenager. In seventh grade I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and relearned how to read. I have been reading ever since! I don’t remember reading a real novel until I was in junior high.

Does your family read? My husband used to read all the time but doesn’t read much these days. My son and I are the readers in our family.

What are you favorite types of books? Historical fiction or fiction with an educational element (about the medical industry, culture, etc). I like to learn while reading.

5 top all-time favorites and you can include classics, if you like: The English Patient, The Red Tent, The Poisonwood Bible, Anna Karenina, Resistance (to name a few)

Favorite author(s): Five years ago I would have said Anita Shreve. My expectations are high for her new book coming out later this month. I hear it’s wonderful.

A book you loved as a kid: I loved Judy Bloom as a young girl, Forever & Are you there God, it’s me Margaret.

A book you loved in high school:
Okay this is not a book but hands down… Romeo and Juliet! In ninth grade I read all of Shakespeare’s work one semester and was beside myself the day I was asked to read Juliet and the boy I had a crush on read Romeo J. It’s the simple things….

And yes, I have some fun ones too!

Favorite Movie: About last Night

Favorite Food: Does a Starbucks coffee Frap count? I only let myself have one on a rare occasion.

Favorite Color: Green

Favorite Song: Living inside my heart, by Bob Seger

And finally, if you could have dinner with any 4 LITERARY CHARACTERS, who would it be: This would be easy if the invites were authors! I think these characters would make for a lively dinner though: Elizabeth Bennet, Anna Karenina, Dinah (The Red Tent) and Skeeter (The Help).

Thanks Mari!!! That was fun!
Since I wasn't able to post yesterday, I just wanted to add just a few names to the blogger "lovefest" that went on! I have a few awards of my own that should be presented!

Michelle from Master Musings by Michelle is a very good friend of mine. I've known her for quite a few years, and hers should definitely earn an award for Best New Blog! She writes wonderful reviews that are not only well-written, but incredibly insightful. She's also a HUGE Twilight Fangirl!

Kailana from The Written World is like the Michael Jordan of reading. I think she is nearing 300 books this year, and it's only September!! Besides having fantastic taste in books, she's also a dear friend. If there was a blog award for Reading the Most, she'd win in a New York Minute!

Nicola from Back to Books. Nicola reads and reviews tons of children's and YA books. There are always great recommendations for my kids. And although we may disagree on a lot of topics, she is never afraid to state her opinions. And always in the nicest possible way. I repect her a lot, and consider her a friend, as well.

Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. Carl is a super guy that has a passion for anything in the arts: literature, painting, photography, music, movies....and the list goes on and on. What makes Carl so special is his need to share this passion with everyone. Besides that, he is the GREATEST Challenge Host....EVER!

Finally, Nymeth from Things Mean Alot, Chris from Stuff as Dreams are Made On, and Debi from Nothing of Importance as the Bloggers that add the most books to my TBR!! All 3 are fantastic people. All 3 are considered my friends. And all 3 read books that somehow end up on MY TBR!! It's because they are all 3 so cool, smart and well....just like me!! (at least in the sense that we have very similiar belief systems!) In some alternate universe, I have a feeling we are all siblings...and somehow, here we just sort of got separated! The simple fact of the matter is, I feel closer to these people, that I have never even met, than I am to 95% of the people in my "real" life. And THAT is what blogging has done for me. I feel like I have come home! (just a special, special thanks to you 3!)

And those are just a few of the Awards that should have been presented!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New YA Read: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - How Far are you Willing to Fall?

It seems like lately I've been all about the YA books. Or fantasy books. Or, in the case of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (400 pgs, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2009) a little of both!! This book is set to be released on October 13. The copy that I received is an ARC from Simon & Schuster through Shelf Awareness.

God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment....2 Peter 2:4.

Nora Grey is a smart girl. She would never do anything over-the-top irresponsible, unlike her best friend, Vee. She is a good girl who has no need for boys in her life. She is more worried about college than the prom. Then, a seating change in Biology causes her to be paired up with the new student, loner Patch. And he is anything but responsible. He is tall, dark and gorgeous. And completely uncooperative as a biology partner. At once flirty, yet condescending, he has no desire to complete the interview the teacher assigned as an "investigation". But all the while Nora is maddened by his actions, she is also finding herself wildly attracted to him.

Then weird things start happening to Nora. She doesn't feel safe, and is convinced someone is watching her. Is Patch stalking her? She has this certain feeling that he is somehow involved in the incidents that are plaguing her. And yet, try as she might to keep her distance from him, she just can't. She even tries to investigate his past by looking at school records and finds them completely blank. When push comes to shove, can Nora trust Patch to save her? Or is he the person she needs saving from?

I have waited a ridiculous amount of time to review this book. I kept putting it off and putting it off. I find reviews where I can gush endlessly about a book just write themselves. Anything else is a lot more work. I wanted to love this book. I really did. I had extremely high hopes for it. And unfortunately, they feel short. I try to go into books knowing very little about them, so I don't have such high expectations. But early word about this book has traveled fast, and it's popping up all over the net. From what I've read, I'm probably in the minority on this one. But it just didn't do it for me. And for a number of reasons.

When Harry Potter became so wildly popular, it spawned lots of similar books that dealt with kids and magic. That's just the way the world works. Now we are seeing the same thing with the Twilight books. And unfortunately, I just can't help but see too many similarities with Hush, Hush. From the high school to the bad boy "watching" the reeks of the same outline.

Although the basic premise is the same, the storyline does go in a different direction. Patch is the "bad" boy, and honestly, it's hard to tell where his allegiance actually lies. I will give Fitzgerald lots of kudos for the fallen angel/nephilim mythology. It was seriously my favorite part of the book.

I did like Patch. Of course, I have always had a thing for the bad boy. I'm the one that was attracted to Kiefer Sutherland's bad vampire, David, instead of the good guy in Lost Boys. And that's just one of MANY examples I can give. Hell, I even married the bad boy. But as for the rest of the characters....nothing. I didn't really like Nora, and I should have. I always like the "smart" girl that doesn't realize how beautiful she really is. But not so with Nora. She was just so flat to me. And as completely ambivalent as I am about Nora, I downright hated Vee. She was rude, brazen, and just plain dumb. I think she was written as comic relief, but to me, it fell short. And if you don't care about the main characters, it's hard to really like the book.

The story had a lot of potential, and some of that actually shows through. Given time, I think Becca Fitzgerald will turn out some good books. And I have a feeling that those young girls who are missing Edward Cullen will fall hard for Patch. Unfortunately, it just didn't do it for me. But feel free to disagree. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this book. It's bound to be pretty popular with the YA's. 2/5

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Recent Informative

What’s the most informative book you’ve read recently?

Timely question!! I was at the library this morning. Yes, I know you are all thinking, what the hell?? Didn't she just check out a truck load of books last week?? What the $^&%@ is she thinking?? Here's the deal. I only went to the library to return the DVDs I checked out. They are due back tomorrow, and I had time today. $.10 late fees on books are one thing. $1.00/day fines on DVDs are another!! While I was waiting for a librarian (I was wanting to request the next Season of the Gilmore Girls), I started looking at the shelf of books to be re-shelved. I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction books, but I do like to browse....when all of sudden, this book jumped off the shelf right into my hands. (well....not exactly, but you get my drift!)

Homework for Grown-ups : Everything you learnt at School...and Promptly Forgot by E. Foley and B. Coates. I know I definitely want to be smarter than a 5th Grader....and trying to help the kids with the homework is getting surprisingly more difficult, I decided to check this book out. There are sections of this book ranging from English Lit to History; Home Ec to Physics. It reads easier than a textbook and is actually a lot of fun.

So...if you don't remember what Iambic pentameter is or who fought in the Battle of Balaclava, pick up a copy of this book and learn along with me!!

There are even quizzes in it, just to see if you learnt it the second time around!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Library Loot - The Challenge Edition (and some Random Thoughts!) feels like I'm been gone for ages! I go a little stir-crazy when I don't get to post for awhile. But my computer was down again for a few days. Don't ask. (it was a totally easy fix, but I had to go through 3 different service people on the phone before I packed it all up for Best Buy and the Geek Squad. It took the service girl literally 2 minutes to fix it. If I wasn't so relieved, I probably would have been fighting mad!) The kids. Right now, both Bella and Ana are in soccer and Chad's in football. A few nights a week, I have all 3 on some practice field at the same time!! Life is busy, that's for sure.

I ended up having to take some books back to the library without reading them. It's the nature of the beast I guess. That, and I check out 30 books at a time with no possible chance of being able to read them!! Keep that in mind when you see the haul that I made the last week or so. When RIP IV was announced, I immediately logged on to the libraries website and put some books on hold. Then I realized I was lacking in other challenges, so I put MORE books on hold. In addition to all the holds, I started wandering through the movie section. Like I don't have a million books to read, but I found they had Season One of the Gilmore Girls! I've heard endless stories about what a wonderful show this was, so I grabbed it too. The girls and I spent most of the holiday weekend devouring it. Why did I not watch this show when it was on?? It's fantastic!! And Rory is a reader!! The girl carried a book with her to a formal!! Gotta love it!! Anyway, here is this week's edition of Library Loot, The Challenge Edition:

GLBT Challenge (or The Challenge that Dare Not Speak its Name):

Suicide Notes: A Novel by Thomas Ford. Young Adult book about a gay boy that wakes up in a psych hospital after trying to commit suicide. Could be depressing, but is supposed to a humorous way of showing self-discovery. Looks good too me!

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. After reading so much about Sarah Waters, I knew I had to add her name to this challenge. This is her first book, and I am super anxious to read it!

The Canadian Reading Challenge III:

Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King. I don't remember where I heard of this book first. I think it was from Kailana. I did horrible in this challenge before, and this looks like a book I would like. And besides, I liked the cover art!!

Dewey's Reading Challenge:

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. I loved the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I still haven't figured out the connection, but if Dewey liked it, that is a good enough recommendation for me!!

Young Adult 2009 (though I'm pretty sure I've already filled my YA quotient for this one):

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Liga. I love the cover. I love the title. The inner Goth Girl in me is excited about this one. I first saw this one over at Becky's Book Reviews. Another blogger that holds a lot of stock with me.

Its Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. I don't know where I heard of this book. Another high school/psych ward story. Looks like a good one too, and I've seen only positive reviews.

And Finally, a WHOLE buttload of books for RIP IV:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Everyone and their brother has been raving about this book. It's a Zombie book. I've decided that Zombies are the new Vampires. SUPER excited about this one!!

Rare Beasts by Charles Ogden. This is the first book in the Edgar and Ellen series. I have no idea if it fits for the RIP, but the cover is awesome!!

Pearls from Peoria. This is a huge book of short stories that are pulled from fanzines and other small publications. It's a mix of sci-fi, fantasy and who knows what else. I stumbled across this one at the library. And since I LIVE in Peoria, I thought I would give it a try!!

Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest is described as a "Southern Gothic" tale. I've been excited to read this since I saw a review at Chris' blog. I think I'll be reading this one with Kailana.

Baltimore,: Or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola. Carl read this one for one of the RIP Challenges and raved about it. If his recommendation is enough (and trust me, it is!) there is "Vampire" in the title!! Good enough for me!

Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint. What's a RIP Challenge without a little de Lint? This is one of the first books in the Newford Collection and I can not wait to read it either.

Castaways by Brian Keene. Hmm....Reality Show contest on a deserted island...with Cannibals?? Sounds like a pretty decent horror novel to me!!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Another book I've seen pop up over the internet. A lot. Don't really know what it's about, but that hasn't stopped me before!!

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Chad brought this home to me from his school library. He read it in just a few days and was super-excited about it. Any time he get excited over a book, he wants me to read it. Who am I too push away a recommendation from my son? And yes, that's the SAME Suzanne Collins of the Hunger Games/Catching Fire. That alone should be enough to read it.

Finally, Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris is actually a book I got from Amazon Vine. But it TOTALLY fits for the challenge, so I added it here!!

That's all for now. I'm a couple reviews behind, so expect that later on this week (providing my stupid computer stays with me!) I can't wait to begin reading!! Now that I'm almost done with the blog tours I've signed up for, it's time to get into some serious Challenge reading!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blog Tour: Babydoll: A Saylor Oz Mystery by Allyson Roy

The last few months my reading has been pretty much grounded in fantasy and YA books. Which ARE my favorite genres. But one thing about the Blog Tours I've been doing lately is that I'm getting a chance to switch it up a bit. Today, I'm touring the new book from Allison Roy, Babydoll: A Saylor Oz Mystery (400 pgs, Berkley Trade, 2009).

"Can't we do this another time? I, um, I've got a pole dancing class at eight? " Crack. The back of his hand caught me on the side of my face, sending me crashing to the cement floor. Fighting back panic, I squeaked out a plea, "You've made a mistake. I'm not the woman you are looking for."

Saylor Oz is a sex therapist living with her roommate, Benita Morales, in Brooklyn. Benita is an ex-professional boxer turned investment banker. And normally, life is good for them. But now, things are different. The last 8 months have been a trying time for Benita. Her baby brother, Angel is now at Rikers, having just been convicted or 3 counts of murder. Angel, a photographer, was found guilty of killing 3 high-fashion models. Even with the high-price lawyer, Harlan Sneed, on his side, Angel lost his very high-profile case. But anyone who actually KNEW Angel would know that he was sweet and kind, with an artist soul. And Benita's heart was breaking over the loss of the case.

But when Saylor was doing research for a paper on pornography, she comes across an old video called Bad, Bad, Babydoll. And the way the three models are killed in this obscure porn video bare a shocking resemblance the the models in Angel's case. Armed with nothing but a porn movie and their wits, Saylor and Benita go on an amazing journey to prove that Angel is innocent.

I really enjoyed this book. In the same vein as Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, Saylor Oz is brassy, sassy and funny. In all actuality, there might be a little TOO much similarity between the characters. And although the story line is really far fetched, with clues clicking into place just a little too easily, I thought it was a fun read. When no one else believes them, Saylor and Benita end up doing a lot of digging on their own. And this is cause for many hilarious moments in the book. With a little help from Saylor's two dueling love interests, PI Johnny Lavender and ex-boxer Eldridge Mace, the girls end up staying alive.

If you are looking for a fun, fast read, I suggest you check your logic at the door, and pick up Babydoll. Especially for all of your mystery readers out there. It's definitely brain candy, but in the best possible way: Light and fluffy and fun to read!! I think I will definitely have to keep up with this fun series. 4/5

**Thanks to Trish and Lisa at TLC Book Tours for sending this one my way!! Check out the last few stops on the tour:

Tuesday, September 8th: GalleySmith

Wednesday, September 9th: Bookgasm

Thursday, September 10th: I’m Booking It