Friday, July 31, 2009

Harry Potter Reading Challenge: Bringing the Family Together

I saw this challenge going around the book blogging world and I knew I had to sign up. Who doesn't want to read the HP books (again)? Then, with my usual brilliance (ha) I thought I should get my husband to sign up as well. Not only would it encourage him to read, but it would give me an opportunity to do duel book reviews. I'm pretty excited. So is he (but only because it is HP). And so without further ado, the details:

August 1, 2009 – July 31, 2010

Harry Potter Reading Challenge

Basically, all we have to do is read all seven of the books in a year's time. We've decided to attempt one book a month. We'll see how it goes. Head over to GalleySmith for more details.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Buyers Anonymous

While reading the fabulous book 84, Charing Cross Road, I discovered this quote:

"It's against my principles to buy a book I haven't read, it's like buying a dress you haven't tried on..." p.44

When I read that, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit.. As a general rule, I never buy books I haven't read before. There are exceptions - most of them books in a series I HAVE to read as soon as they come out (Harry Potter, Twilight, probably Catching Fire). I am extremely particular about what I own. Almost exclusively, the books I read come from the library (shocking, I know). However, after reading lots of other book bloggers' habits, I realize I am pretty alone in this practice.

I have been thinking about my reasons for only buying what I've already read.
-First, I already know it is worth buying. I know this book in hand will be something I want to read again sometime, share with others, and save for my children to enjoy.
-Second, I am a stingy person. I hate to admit it, but I don't like to spend money. It makes me feel queasy. Don't get me wrong, when I walk in a bookstore, I want to buy lots of things, but there is that stingy, penny-pincher inside me that says, "Look at that price! Maybe you should just wait." I want to know that the money I spend on a book is worth every cent - no surprises.
-Third, my husband is still in school, so we really don't have a lot of money to spend (even if I let myself spend it). I think that perhaps if I had some unlimited funds, I would go wild with it. Maybe.

What type of book buyer are you and why?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

Fragile Eternity follows the suddenly much-more-complicated lives of Aislinn, Seth, and Keenan as they try to understand their delicate relationships. Aislinn and Keenan are growing closer as the climax of summer approaches, while Seth begins to feel his weak mortality and how he doesn't truly belong with Aislinn. Throw in the rival Winter Court's queen, Donia, who is in love with Keenan, and the Dark Court's new king Niall who once served Keenan, and you get a lot of very complex relationships.

Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely, Book 3)

Things I liked:
Marr's depiction of faeries and the Faery courts. I love the history, the descriptions, the characters and personalities of different individuals. She must have done a lot of research into Faery mythology and it really comes through. I also really like the complexity of her characters - they feel many different things and often having conflicting emotions. It makes them more believable.

Things I didn't like:
How all the relationships are about intimacy. I understand when they say in the book that the relationships are more than that, but sometimes they seemed like empty words. And who would want to live for eternity as only the consort of the one you love? I'd rather spend my time finding someone who could be with me and only me. I also was distracted by how much of the book really had no plot. The characters didn't do anything for a while but feel sad and grumpy. Hopefully the next book will have more action (and more of the characters I liked).

First two books in the series Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange (which is more like a companion to the first one, but has important stuff that relates to Fragile Eternity as well)
Reminds me of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George for a more lighthearted similar story
A bit like Wings by Aprilynne Pike

s-factor: !@#

Some strong language.

mrg-factor: XX
Lots of references, not a lot of details.

v-factor: ->
Some more frightening stuff than violent.

Overall rating: ***

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Own Amazing Debut Novel

I saw this floating around the blogosphere today and I really couldn't resist. Directions on 100 Scope Notes; go there to create your own cover. I don't know how I lucked out with such a fabulous word and then got a photo of a man with a dreadful mullet. Ah, well.

Bonus points for writing an excellent blurb for this book (I had a really hard time coming up with one). I think I'll do this again when I have another giveaway.

*A gallery of these delightful books has been posted on 100 Scope Notes.*

Monday, July 27, 2009

Recent Acquisitions

Yeah, I know there is a weekly roundup or something on this topic, but I just wanted to let you know what I got recently. Mostly cause I am super excited about them:

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White Houseby Jon Meacham
A goodreads first read.

A Circle of Soulsby Preetham Grandhi
A book for review (that would be my first :)

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boyby Jeanne Birdsall
The Dust of 100 Dogsby A.S. King (which has a seriously intriguing and unique premise involving pirates, a curse, and 100 dog lives)
Both of these picked up at a used book store (which I have discovered is the bane of my pocketbooks existence :)

Anything good you recently acquired (by any means...except perhaps theft, since you may not want to publicly admit that...)?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Book Review: Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Fire Studyis the stunning conclusion to Snyder's Study trilogy, wherein Yelena must come to terms with her soulfinder powers, heal relations between Sitia and Ixia, deal with a possible traitor in their midst, and fight the powerful and alluring fire warper. Her choices will affect not only her future but those of everyone she loves.

Having just finished Magic Study, I jumped right into this book. I still love Yelena as a character - in this book, she struggles again with her own identity and powers. The story is compelling and interesting, keeping me reading. I did think sometimes Yelena was being really stupid and purposely not understanding certain things that were very clear to the reader. Perhaps too many storylines going on at once detracted from the smooth flow of story, but resolutions seemed to tie the different stories together in a satisfying way. However, these and a few other minor issues did not truly mar my enjoyment of the book. Poison Study was by far my favorite of the trilogy. I look forward to a different series about this same world told from the eyes of a minor character, Opal. Storm Glassis the first in the series.

Yelena still reminds me of Harry from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
A bit like the world in Warrior Heir, Wizard Heir, and Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
Court intricacies are similar to Crown Duel and Court Duelby Sherwood Smith

s-factor: !

A few scattered throughout.

mrg-factor: X
A couple of mild scenes and innuendo.

v-factor: ->->
Some gruesome details, but nothing graphic.

Overall rating: ***

Friday, July 24, 2009


I am very excited to have the opportunity to review a bookshelf from an office furniture store. I was pretty thrilled about the offer, since I am really bad at getting new shelving when I need it and also at liking what I eventually get. I'll be honest - my bookshelves are pretty dang cheap. They sag in the middle (what with the bulk of bookage I put on them). So, I was more than happy to take the opportunity to review a bookshelf (a shelf review?).

While perusing the bookcase area of their website, I was struck with the sheer volume of bookshelves. Hundreds of different styles and finishes made choosing just one very difficult. I was almost overwhelmed with how many pages of shelving I could dig through. Fortunately they allow you to narrow your search by price, style, finish, type, and several more options. I had a very good time browsing their shelves.

I will be reviewing this lovely shelf. It is not the type of shelving I usually purchase (I am more of a plain and sensible), but I simply couldn't resist trying something new. Stay tuned for my first shelf review!

What kind of shelving do you prefer?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

+6 -2 = not enough time

The increase in books is greater than the decrease of books (again). Ah, well. What would I do without more books to read?
All from the holds list (when will I ever feel ok browsing again?):
84, Charing Cross Roadby Helene Hanff
Eon: Dragoneye Rebornby Alison Goodman
Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Spaceby Philip Reeve
Song Of The Sparrowby Lisa Ann Sandell
Needby Carrie Jones

I only finished one book from my last list and one from the list before!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Review: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Magic Studybegins Yelena's time in her homeland of Sitia. Yelena is returning to her family after fourteen years of separation, but not everyone is glad to have her home. Accusations that she is an Ixian spy, threats against her life, animosity from other magicians, and a terrible murderer killing young girls to gain power all conspire to make her homecoming not at all welcome.

After really loving Poison Study, I was eager to pick up this sequel. While I still love Yelena's character and Snyder has produced another great story, this book did not have the same compelling story and interest the other had. Perhaps it was that the main storyline did not seem as personal to Yelena as the first one. Ferde's plans to gain power did not seem to really have any connection at all to Yelena. Her interactions with her family were interesting, but I just didn't have the same compulsion to finish the story as with the first. Still a good book, and definitely ready to pick up the next one.

Pick up the first in the trilogy, Poison Study
Still reminds me of The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
A bit like the world in Warrior Heir, Wizard Heir, and Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

s-factor: !

Scattered throughout.

mrg-factor: X
Commonly mentioned, but action all offstage.

v-factor: ->->
Some fighting and other violence, mostly not described.

Overall rating: ***

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thoughts and Reactions

After reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, I found myself thinking back over some of the thoughts and experiences of the main character Mary. I don't wish to give away the ending or too much of the story, for those who haven't read it. However, I was particularly struck with its portrayal and discussion of religion and God.

Mary's village is basically ruled by the Sisterhood - women who claim to be servants of God and who decide what is best for the village. Throughout the book, scriptures plays an important role and even several prophets from the Bible are mentioned. But, after experiencing some things, Mary loses her belief in God. (As a side note, I thought Ryan's portrayal of Sister Tabitha was particularly good - she was not exactly a villain, but not entirely good either - a very complex and therefore believable character.)

Being a religious person myself, sometimes I attempt to tie parts of books in to my own personal morals. I thought Mary's lack of faith very believable and understandable. But, I found that her atheistic thoughts and the moral nature of other parts of the book, did not blend together. I thought that a resolution of her anger at a nonexistent God was not addressed entirely, especially in light of the ending of the book. I was expecting, not necessarily a return of her belief, but more of a recognition of certain truths.

Anyway, I wondered if this expectation on my part was arising entirely from my own strong beliefs and morals. I know that I have disliked more than one book because of characters choices or beliefs, even if those things are minor (this book for example - I've been revising my opinions of it ever since I wrote the review).

Do you find yourself viewing books through morally-tinted glasses? Do you think this detracts from your enjoyment of certain types of stories (those that grate against your personal beliefs)?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teethis all Mary has ever known - it appears to only hold hordes of unconsecrated; there is nothing outside of her village. This is what Mary and her family and friends have always been taught by the Sisterhood. Mary, however, clings to a dream of something more - a beautiful place her mother told her of outside of her isolated world.

This book had a lot more depth and thought than I expected. On the surface it just appeared to be an apocalyptic horror tale about zombies. But really, it was so much more - an exploration of Mary's feelings and desires, of dealing with grief, of testing boundaries. I loved this story for its dystopian world, for Mary and her complex feelings and experiences, and for the action-packed adventure. What I wished the book had was more explanation, more answers, and just more story. I hope Ryan creates another book from this world - I am dying to learn more.

Had me thinking about Lois Lowry's dystopian books beginning with The Giver- I've got to reread it now!
Reminded me of a darker version of City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
A little like Unwind by Neal Shusterman

s-factor: !

There might have been a very few.

mrg-factor: X
A few situations, but action was always off-stage.

v-factor: ->->->
The zombie fighting and killing was a little gross, but not overwhelmingly so.

Overall rating: ****

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Princess and the Bearfollows the story of the hound and the bear who met during the story of The Princess and the Hound. The hound and bear are just beginning to get used to one another when an evil being arrives in their forest, driving out all magic and life. Will the bear be able to face someone he hates in order to save them - and will the hound ever feel completely comfortable back in her original form?

This was a complex and very beautiful fairy tale story. The characters - the bear and hound - are very realistically portrayed and I love Harrison's exploration of their human and animal sides. The story is quite beautiful as well, seeming almost reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast. Harrison uses fairly sparse language, but it fits very well into the story - the symbolism and descriptions of scents and feelings allow us into the minds of characters who one might not at first be able to relate to.

Definitely read the companion novel The Princess and the Hound
Princess of the Midnight Ball and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock


Maybe one or two.

mrg-factor: X
A few things were hinted, but not in a graphic or descriptive way at all.

v-factor: ->
Fighting and killing happens.

Overall rating: *****

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Post-Vacation Slump

So, last weekend, I went to a family reunion in the mountains. I had little to no internet connectivity. It was lovely. However, I had several posts scheduled to publish while I was away.

It seems oddly funny to me that this week has been the slump in my posting (and reading). I just can't seem to find the time (and, all right, the motivation) to get a post up. So, here you are, reading my very dull post-vacation post.

Anyway, despite my spending many hours in a car driving to the reunion, I didn't get much reading done. It wasn't car sickness or anything like that. I spent most of the time entertaining my niece and nephews and the rest of it grading papers (some vacation). Now I am trying to play catch-up on that as well.

Enough whining. I am saying all of this just to say: back to your regularly scheduled postings...soon, I promise!

P.S. Does it seem like you ever need a vacation after your vacation?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

The Ultimate Giftis what Red Stevens has left to his great nephew Jason Stevens, only it isn't what Jason expected. Jason must follow Red's rules exactly if he wants to inherit, but will he be able to overcome his selfishness, greed, and laziness?

The Ultimate Gift (The Ultimate Series #1)

After watching the movieI was pretty thrilled about reading the book. I think that the story lends itself better to film than a book. The story came across as didactic and a little cheesy. With the story being told from Red's 80-year-old lawyer, we don't see any of Jason's personal changes or experiences. Perhaps if the story was told from Jason's POV, it might have worked better. Also, if there had been more story told about each of his experiences. A great idea for a story, but not very interestingly executed.

The Ultimate Lifealso by Jim Stovall (next in series)
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Tuesdays with Morrieby Mitch Albom

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: **

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Hold List

And now for the (short) list of holds that have come in for me (aka my bi-weekly (sorta) Library Loot).

The Forest of Hands and Teethby Carrie Ryan (Finally!!!)

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tateby Jacqueline Tate

Fragile Eternityby Melissa Marr

And for my pending trip to Europe:

Viennatravel guides

Not very much for this week, but I am still whittling away at the last pile.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review: Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

Just One Wishis what Annika hopes to fulfill for her little brother who has cancer. Jeremy adores Teen Robin Hood, but when he wishes to meet Robin Hood in real life, Annika will drop everything to make sure this wish comes true, before Jeremy goes in for his surgery.

The book was fluffy throughout, with just a little depth in places. I kept hoping that the book would go more in-depth with Annika's feelings about Jeremy and her own identity problems. The story is pretty far-fetched in places as well, requiring a stretch of the imagination. But, the story was fun, Annika was interesting, though also rather annoying in places.

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
Drums, Girls, And Dangerous Pieby Jordan Sonnenblick

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none  

(just kissing)
v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book Review: The Brothers by Chris Stewart

The Brothers: A Novelis the prologue to a series following the pre-earth lives of three brothers and their sister. Sam, Ammon, Luke, and Elizabeth are caught up in the conflict in heaven between Lucifer, the fallen Son of the Morning, and Jehovah. Who they choose to follow at this time will affect their future - for eternity.

I haven't been interested in a lot of LDS (Mormon) fiction, but at the insistent recommendation of my husband, I picked up the first in this series The Great and Terrible. I think it is appropriate to call this first book the prologue, because it didn't appear to have much of a plot. Most of it seemed to be deep or thoughtful statements about the destiny and importance and choices the individuals were making during their premortal lives. I had a hard time getting invested in the characters, especially Elizabeth who seemed a little to sweet and lovable. However, I think I will pick up the next book, which my husband assures me has more of a story and is much more exciting.

other LDS fiction series: The Work and the Gloryand Kingdom and the Crownby Gerald Lund

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***
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