Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween: Not For the Faint of Heart

I must admit, I am not a big Halloween fan.

Don't get me wrong, I love to dress up. I particularly loved the year I dressed as a pillow - stuffed with newspaper.

And I definitely love candy. My silver teeth will tell you that.

What I don't love? Scary stuff.

I don't like being afraid. I avoid the haunted houses and forests. I get particularly spooked by scary movies (even the ones most people don't think are scary). And I don't read horror novels. Books that are scary have never been favorites of mine. In fact, if I am reading one that is particularly intense or frightening, I have to read something mellow and calm before bed so I don't have nightmares.

Basically, I'm a chicken. Which is why I haven't been participating in any Halloween challenges or reading any scary books to celebrate.

But, I have put together a list of some of the "scary" books I have read. I would call this "the list of suspenseful books for those who don't like being scared," but that is just too long and convoluted. These books are more suspenseful, intense, or mysterious than scary. Here they are:

Supernatural/Paranormal: Are they really out there?

Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse (there's a ghost!)
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Heir Trilogy by Cinda Williams Chima
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld
Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Need by Carrie Jones
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (c'mon he's a skeleton!)
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Nail-Biters: On the edge of your seat

Hunger Games series
Alcatraz series (nothing scarier than evil librarians, right?)
Epic by Conor Kostick
Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Mysteries: solve me!

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What's your favorite type of "scary" book?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shivertells the interconnected story of Grace, a girl with an obsession for wolves, and Sam, a yellow-eyed boy who shows up on her doorstep one night looking remarkably like her yellow-eyed wolf. As winter approaches, Sam struggles to stay human in order to remain with Grace. Their time together is scarce, but they must make the most of it, as the wolves' existence and Grace's life are both in danger.


Things I Liked:
The werewolf mythology (I'm assuming that's not really a spoiler) is fabulous - I love the details Stiefvater has woven into their existence and the rules they must obey. The characters, especially Sam and Grace, are very real. Their interactions, the love story in essence, was very well done. Even the minor characters came to life. All of this is probably due to Stiefvater's beautiful writing. It was just gorgeous. I had to throw in two quotes I loved:
"Behind the counter, I slouched on my stool in the sun and sucked in the summer as if I could hold every drop of it inside me. As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air." p.8
"Her face was turned toward the trees, but I was invisible, intangible, nothing but eyes in the woods. The intermittent breeze carried her scent to me again and again, singing in another language of memories from another form." p.387
Things I Didn't Like:
The story itself was a little slow. Not a lot happened in the early part of the book. I was personally annoyed by Grace's parents and their issues. It seemed also like some of the emotional things Grace and Sam experienced were not discussed. They kinda skipped over what I thought would have been normal reactions.

I hate to say it, but it is rather like Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Also reminded me of Need by Carrie Jones

s-factor: !@
scattered throughout

mrg-factor: X
implied, not described

v-factor: ->->
wolves are involved (they fight)

Overall rating: ****

Do you have a favorite werewolf depiction or mythology?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Library Day(s)

Does it seem like every other day you have a new hold at the library? I would almost get annoyed that as soon as I pick up one (or two or three or...) there is another one that just came in, except that I get so excited when I look at what I've got! I even get a thrill out of the automated messages that the library leaves on my phone (with multiple slightly scary voices). Here's what came in for me:

The 39 Clues Book 5: The Black Circleby Patrick Carman
Daughter of the Forestby Juliet Marillier
Flygirlby Sherri L. Smith
The Helpby Kathryn Stockett
The Ruby in the Smokeby Philip Pullman
Dreamdark: Silksingerby Laini Taylor
Willowby Julia Hoban
The Demon Kingby Cinda Williams Chima
The Stolen Oneby Suzanne Crowley

I also got two books for review:
Fallenby Lauren Kate
Invisible Linesby Mary Amato

What did you get?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xiais the story of Ai Ling, rejected by a potential husband (much to her relief) and suddenly finding herself likely to become a fourth wife to a much older man, decides to reject that fate and follow her father. The only problem is that her father has disappeared. She embarks on this journey and is immediately beset on all sides with demons and other terrors. Can she, with the help of Chen Yong, a man who saved her life, find her father or will she fall prey to something worse than the demons?

Things I Liked:
I thought the setting and the history of Xia was absolutely beautiful. The Chinese lore and stories about the other kingdoms were gorgeous and very well-written. I also thought that the very last parts of the ending were pretty exciting.

Things I Didn't Like:
That being said, I didn't much like the story before it got to the ending. It seemed almost like a series of random events that felt disconnected. I was not drawn into the characters of the story because it seemed more like weird experiences followed by even weirder experiences. I just couldn't get interested in either the story or the characters. The only person I really liked was Li Rong. Part of the problem might be me, because I started reading this and put it aside for a pretty long time and then picked it up again later. I also found the ending, while exciting, was just the strangest part of all.

It felt a bit like Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

s-factor: !
not a lot

mrg-factor: XX
some situations and innuendo

v-factor: ->->->
they fight a lot with swords and daggers

Overall rating: **

What is your all-time favorite setting from a book? (Place, time, fantasy location, whatever!)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review: The 39 Clues: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson

The 39 Clues Book 4: Beyond the Gravefollows the Cahill kids Amy and Dan in another terrifying race to find the next clue before the rest of their vicious family. In Egypt, the Cahills venture into ancient tombs and into their worst fears - betrayal from those they love.

The 39 Clues Book 4: Beyond the Grave

Things I Liked:
I think this series is a lot of fun. They are packed with adventure, clues, mystery, and humor. I also liked that in this book there was more depth and feeling from Amy and Dan. They actually sat down and thought about their grandmother. Some of the other evil family members had some interesting internal debates that provide insight into their motivations. I think this series will be a big hit for reluctant readers - short, quick, fast-paced adventure.

Things I Didn't Like:
This episode used a lot of foreign words that might throw kids off or just become annoying. It was (usually) quite easy to figure out the clues, twists, and mysteries. But, I still enjoyed the ride.

First three in the series: The Maze of Bones, One False Note, and The Sword Thief
A little like The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
might be a teeny bit scary for really young kids

Overall rating: ****

Got any great books you hand to reluctant readers (adults or kids)?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Monday, October 26, 2009

Books to Satisfy Your Hunger

I don't know about you, but I'm still feeling anxious for the next Hunger Games book. There is something wicked and fun about having an enormous cliff hanger ending in a series you adore. But, instead of pulling my hair out and crying every night into my pillow while I decide just EXACTLY how Ms. Collins must continue the series in order to make me happy (*cough*Gale*cough*), I've taken a different route. I've decided to find some other exciting and wonderful books to fill that empty void. And, since I have an inner librarian urging me on, I've decided to share my list of Books To Satisfy Your Hunger (terrible pun, I know):

Dystopia: In which we hope our future doesn't look like this

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Life As We Knew It and the dead and the goneby Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Fantasy: To escape from real life

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Graceling and Fireby Kristin Cashore
Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder
Airman by Eoin Colfer
the Abhorsen Trilogyby Garth Nix
Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

Paranormal: Could be real...

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare
The Host: A Novelby Stephenie Meyer

Got something to tide you over? Please share!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Read-a-thon Wrap-Up

After a lovely night's rest, I'm back to wrap things up. I read for about an hour and then crashed last night. Here are some end of event questions to answer:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
probably my last - I read the same page over and over and still didn't know what it said. That is when I decided to go to bed.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I think it definitely depends on the reader, but I love Richard Peck's Grandma Dowdel books: A Long Way From Chicago A Year Down Yonderand A Season of Gifts. They are short and packed with hilarious stories that should keep you reading.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I wish the posts on the read-a-thon site had times attached - sometimes I forget what hour it is or how long I can participate in a mini-challenge. Also some mini-challenges didn't have end times and that was a bit confusing.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
There was a lot of stuff going on to help you if you needed a break - blogs to visit, mini-challenges, etc.

5. How many books did you read?
Two full books, finished two books I'd already started, and then started two new ones. (~5)

6. What were the names of the books you read?
Daylight Runner, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, The Name of This Book is Secret, Between Me and the River, A Season of Gifts, and Artemis Fowl

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
The Name of This Book is Secret

8. Which did you enjoy least?
I didn't get a lot out of Artemis Fowl while I was listening, but I think I will enjoy it more when I listen to it with less distraction.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I think I'd like to participate again - maybe not both in April and October though. Definitely a reader. And maybe a part-time cheerleader.

Total books read: ~5
Total pages read: 869
Total hours read: 14

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nearing the End

This may be my final post for the night. I think I'll do a little more reading, but my eyes are starting to feel like sandpaper.

I just did a few mini-challenges, Care's Online Book Club and Libri Touches. And for the one at Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile, here are five of my favorite kids' books:

1. Where the Wild Things Are
2. The Cricket in Time's Square
3. Any Frog and Toad books
4. Best Friends for Francis (or Bedtime for Francis)
5. Any Bernstein Bears books

All of these I remember from my childhood and all remain favorites today.

And as my update:
Books read: 3 (2 full ones, 2 half ones)
Total pages read: 800
Total hours read: 13

I just finished Between Me and the River by Carrie Host (which I already had half read). Probably before I lapse into sleep, I will get started on A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck. And, since I probably won't post until I wake from the dead tomorrow - thanks again for the encouragement and the fun!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

A Person Called Dewey

So, for a mini-challenge from Eva at A Striped Armchair, we were to write about Dewey, founder of the read-a-thon and several weekly memes.

I never had the privilege of knowing Dewey and I don't even participate in any of her memes. But, what strikes me as so interesting about this woman is the impact she left in the book blogging world. Her influence, though no longer alive, is pretty amazing. People in the book blogosphere are always talking about her. She is this omnipresence, reaching into far corners and places where her presence never went before. The hundreds of participants in the read-a-thon get to bask in the genius that created a community event that does not actually occur in a single location or through face-to-face interaction. She manages somehow to still bring people together, to discuss books, and to encourage reading. Someday, I hope to have half as much influence in the life of my family as she has on a worldwide group of readers. Plus she had a cool online name.

I also paused do some a few yoga moves from the mini-challenge on Jehara.

Well, I've managed to get a little bit more done in the past few hours:
Books read: 2 and 1/2 (finally finished The Name of This Book is Secret and Betsy-Tacy and Tib)
Total pages read: 655
Total hours read: ~10

I'm gonna go stick my nose in a book!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Back to the Books

I've come back (finally)! After a slight fiasco, I made it back from my author signing with a brand new copy of Hush Hush. I managed not to ramble or say anything awful to Becca Fitzpatrick. She was very kind.

For the mini-challenge at Joystory, I wanted to post this favorite photo of my parents reading to my older brothers and sisters.

It kinda has that classy feel doesn't it?

My mom used to read to us often. Admittedly, more often to my siblings than myself, since I always managed to get all the reading I needed for classes done and then some. But, I remember listening to her voice bringing to life some of my favorite kid books. Makes me want to read to my kids. Now I just need the kids.

And for the mini-challenge at Linus's Blanket I adored this section of Betsy-Tacy and Tib where they decide after climbing the big hill that they are so hungry they will beg for food.
"Betsy and Tacy didn't say a word, but they tried to act as hungry as they could. Betsy put her hands over her stomach and leaned forward and groaned. Tacy forgot to be bashful and she opened and shut her mouth. She opene and shut her mouth and made queer hungry noises." p.11
I didn't finish The Name of This Book is Secret yet, but I got about halfway through Betsy-Tacy and Tib. And I also spent about an hour listening the the first Artemis Fowl book. Fabulous narrator, by the way!

Books read: ~1 1/2 (seriously need to just finish a whole book - only read three half books)
Pages read: 433 (though I didn't count pages from the audio)
Time spent: 6.5

Off to read more! Thanks for all the cheerleading!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

A Break

I am now off to see author Becca Fitzpatrick! I will be listening to the audiobook of Artemis Fowl, Book 1. Here is a short update:

Books read: ~1 (1/2 of one and 1/2 of another) I'm about halfway through The Name of This Book is Secret.
Total pages read: 349
Hours read: ~3.5

See you when I get back! Happy reading (or listening)!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Progress Check and Mini-Challenge

Well, it's not been long, but I managed to finish the book that I was half-way through before today! (P.S. name of book is not secret: Daylight Runner.) It gives me a sense of accomplishment, though I didn't read it all today.

I'm taking a break to do this mini-challenge at Bart's Bookshelf, which was a lot of fun. Here's the photo:

the sentence this makes is:
About time the Schwa was here to kill a mockingbird, for whom the bell tolls.

Yeah, not something you want to have in writing, but fun to create, nonetheless! I am about to return to some reading - probably The Name of This Book is Secret for a while. I also mapped myself for Trish at Hey Lady! Watcha Readin?'s mini-challenge. I want to say thanks to all for visiting and cheering me on - I know it sure helps me! And thanks to everyone who put this all together. It's a lot of fun, and there's lots of fun still ahead. Here's an update on my stats:

Books read: 1/2
Pages read: 155
Hours read: 2.5
Stuff not done: just kidding, like I'm gonna tell you about everything that I'm not accomplishing today because I'm reading :)

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Read-a-thon Fun Has Begun!

Hello Fellow Read-a-thoners and others!

I am so happy to say - here I am! Awake and reading! My pile has changed somewhat, since I finished a few books there and added a few more. I still don't have much of an idea of how much time to read I'll have, but I am going to try my hardest. I was also very excited to learn that author Becca Fitzpatrick who just published Hush, Hushis doing a signing today very near me! I haven't read the book yet, simply because the library hasn't yet acquired it, but now I am going to just have to purchase it (tragic, I know). I'll let you know how that goes, especially since I have a tendency to either say stupid and embarrassing things at signings or remain totally silent.

Here also is the hour 1 (oops) meme:

Where are you reading from today?
From my comfy lazy boy chair (in the great state of Utah)

3 facts about me …
I'm a college librarian (with a fascination for YA books)
I like to paint in my spare time that isn't spent reading
I'm also working on writing a few books (still in the very early stages though)

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
It's changing so much and I don't really have a set number, but I certainly have a lot to choose from.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
My goals are very up in the air. I'd like to finish two or three books, maybe?

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Only my second time participating, but if you start to hate reading, please stop. You don't want to ruin that fabulous book-relationship you have!

Anywho, I am starting out with a little bit of this and that:

Daylight Runner which I'm halfway through already
The Name of This Book is Secret for fun
Betsy-Tacy and Tib for a fast read

Happy reading all!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review: Dull Boy by Sarah Cross

Dull Boyis all that Avery Pirzwick wants people to think he is. He is anything but. His manifesting freak powers, superhuman strength and flying, are becoming more and more difficult to hide. But, when he learns there might be people just like him, he finds hope that he might just be hero material, instead of a major freak.

Things I Liked:
I found the characters were just so fun. They were quirky and I also thought they felt very real, with understandable emotions and reactions to their powers. And when the action finally came, it was good - exciting and fast-paced. I also found many of the interactions and dialog were quite funny. I particularly got a kick out of this quote:
"Skintight spandex isn't really my thing, the ski-mask-plus bathing-suit combo didn't exactly inspire confidence when I tried it on (please forget I mentioned that), and where am I supposed to find a leather jumpsuit?" p. 3
Things I Didn't Like:
Despite the excellent premise and the humor, the book had a very slow start. I had a hard time being interested in what happened until quite near the end. I was also annoyed by the characters' overlooking of the most important questions they should have been asking. Really, why weren't they asking more questions and about why they had powers and how they got them? I just think it fell a little bit flat, despite the fun plot.

Reminded me a little of Savvy by Ingrid Law
Also a lot like The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forrester

s-factor: !@#
regularly appeared throughout

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->->
plenty of action violence, nothing gory

Overall rating: ***

When you come across a book with a great premise or idea that doesn't quite satisfy, do you imagine authors who could pull it off? Do you rewrite it in your head?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review: Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Storm Glasscontinues the story of Opal, who we met in Fire Study. Opal is feeling discouraged by her one trick magical ability - creating glass animals with magic inside - when the master magicians send her on a mission to help the stormdancer clan. When things don't go exactly as they planned, Opal must fight for her life and in the process learns that her magic is much more than just one trick.

Things I Liked:
I loved the characters, especially Opal, who is so realistically drawn as a woman who doubts what she can do. I particularly like the romance woven througout - and how that is resolved by her own choice and not an outside factor. The story is very unique and I particularly love the world Snyder has created. The action, when it hits, is always very exciting. I also still love Snyder's quiet kind of humor, as in this quote:
"I really couldn't say anything about a scouting bat. I claimed glass and spiders spoke to me, and diamonds gave me visions." p.328
Things I Didn't Like:
I must admit I was a tiny bit disappointed. I think I expected too much from the book. The story seemed a little repetative in places - Opal getting into trouble. Again. I also became a little annoyed by her lack of confidence in herself. I think perhaps it might have been a little too long as well, some of the action in the story almost felt contrived. I still liked the book, but it didn't quite live up to what I expected.

Start with the Study Trilogy by Snyder first - some things won't make sense otherwise.
Also reminded me of Robin McKinley's stuff - The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: X
some innuendo

v-factor: ->->
fighting and blood

Overall rating: ****

What books have you read that don't live up to your expectations, but are still very good?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Library = Free Books!

Ah, wasn't it great when you first realized that libraries let you check out books, DVDs, music, and so much more for free? The library has kept me supplied with reading material during years of schooling - you know, when you don't have enough cash flow to buy everything you want to read? (Actually, I don't know if we'll ever earn enough for that...)

I'm done waxing poetical about the library (for now) and here is my list of lootage for this week:

Betsy-Tacy and Tibby Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hillby Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtownby Maud Hart Lovelace
Bones of Faerieby Janni Lee Simner
Fireby Kristin Cashore
The Chosen Oneby Carol Lynch Williams
The Knife of Never Letting Goby Patrick Ness
North and Southby Elizabeth Gaskell
Sentby Margaret Peterson Haddix
Sea Glassby Maria V. Snyder
Enchantmentby Orson Scott Card
Leviathanby Scott Westerfeld

And I got a pile o' non-library books too! For review:
Candle Man, Book One: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilanceby Glenn Dakin (ARC)
Primitiveby Mark Nykanen (ARC)
Spellbinderby Helen Stringer (ARC)
Elynia: A Novel in Lyric by David Michael Belczuk (ARC)
The Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents)by Gina Misiroglu

For my birthday:
Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Chalice by Robin McKinley
River Secretsby Shannon Hale
Airman by Eoin Colfer
Ugliesby Scott Westerfeld

When did you first recognize the awesomeness that is a library?
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