Friday, September 30, 2011

Retro Friday Review: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 1985
ISBN: 9781439195260 (among many)
Source: Library

I don't think it's really possible to write a "summary" of this book, since there is so much that happens.  Here's what I managed: McCall and Gus are two old Texas Rangers who decide to head to Montana, one of the last wild places in America, with a herd of cattle.  Along the way, they deal with young foolish cowboys and stubborn women and renegade Indians. 

Things I Liked:
This book is so epic I don't think I could talk about everything in it if I talked for a month.  I loved Gus most of all I think.  He seemed the most honest, the most likable character, though he does a lot of stuff that I wish he hadn't.  Also, Newt was another favorite of mine, looking to find himself and wondering when his life will truly begin.  The story has adventures and sorrow and hope and all kinds of human frailty woven into a huge epic tapestry.  I'm definitely not a fan of Westerns, but this one had me invested all the way through its 800+ pages.  An epic worth reading.

Things I Didn't Like:
It was hard to be interested at first.  I struggled through probably the first 100 pages and wondered when something would happen or when I'd start caring about the characters.  I gave it time and stuff happened and I ended up caring about the people.  In addition, it was just so sad that I almost didn't like it when I came to the end.  It seemed like everyone was unhappy and no one liked who they were or where they were.  Definitely not a book that will lift your spirits.  And the talk of whores all through the entire book really tired me. 

The only thing similar I remember reading is All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Louis L'Amore stuff I'm sure

s-factor: !@#
very regularly throughout, though no f-bombs

mrg-factor: XXXXX
it's everywhere in this book, some pretty graphic

v-factor: ->->
hey, in the old West, violence was a part of life

Overall rating: ****

Have you read this one?  I think I might be the only person who didn't adore it.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Provo City Library: More (No Longer) Local Love

It's now been almost six months since we left behind this library, but I thought it was still appropriate to honor the Provo City Library in a Libraries Around the World post. 

This is a shot of the front of the building.  This library is kind of unique, because it was placed in the remodeled Brigham Young Academy building.


The library itself occupies only about half of the building, though, and the other half includes offices and rooms for events and receptions (including a gorgeous ballroom where I attended several author events).  In fact, all of the photos I took are of the non-library part, but many library events take place in this other part, so I figured it was ok.

A lovely staircase leading to the ballroom and other rooms for events.

I love this little hallway - the ceiling is made of glass so the sun shines through and makes it bright and happy.  On the other side of the stained glass window is the upper floor of the library.

This library, though fairly new (I think 2001), has a fantastic number (and caliber) of authors that visit every year. They also host the wonderful children's book festival and teen book fest every year with loads of local authors and activities.  As you can see, it is a perfect example of a community-centered library.  And oh, how I miss it!

Do you have a fabulous community-building library?

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication date: September 2010
ISBN: 9780545166645
Source: Library

Plain Kate grew up learning to carve before she could walk.  But, when her father dies and the carver's guild sends a new master to her town, she is forced to leave behind that life.  When even the townspeople turn against her, calling her a witch, she must place her trust - and her life - in a pale stranger who promises to help.  In exchange for something, of course.  Will Plain Kate make the bargain?  And will she be able to deal with the consequences?

Things I Liked:
This was a gorgeous fairy-tale kind of story.  I adored the writing, which flowed smoothly and brought vivid images to mind with every sentence.  I loved Plain Kate - what an interesting character, flawed and vibrant and one who doesn't have all the answers.  She was made more real with each difficult decision she faced.  The dark and wicked story was touched by just the right amount of humor and light to balance it and not leave me depressed.  And Taggle was the best of all.  I'm not even fond of cats, but he sure made me wish I had one just like him.  I was also really glad the ending didn't try to come off too neatly.  She took it where it needed to go and didn't flinch away.  An all around excellent story, beautifully dressed.  Some favorite parts:

He was a dandy with one ear cocked, a gleam on his claw and a glint in his eye.  He sauntered through the market square elegant and tattered, admired and cursed: a highwayman, a gentleman thief.  His name was Taggle.  p 14
The next evening they anchored in a place where the fields of barley and rye came right down to the river, the grain growing among the riverside tangle of bloodtwig and basket rush.  The grain - as Kate had come to dread - was unharvested, and full of feasting starlings.  As the sunset lit, the birds threw themselves into the sky in tongues of dark fire that flashed back and forth across the river.  Linay stood up on the roof of the hold, playing his fiddle.  The skirling notes wove through the rush of wings.  p 226
Things I Didn't Like:
It was very dark, not at all what I expected, particularly from something I thought was a nice middle grade happy-ending fairy tale.  Still, the unexpected in this situation was very welcome.  It made it deeper and richer and more enjoyable to me.  Give this one to your more mature tweens or teens who love dark fairy tales.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
StarCrossed by Elizabeth Bunce

s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
it does have some frightening, dark stuff

Overall rating: *****

Have you read this?  I feel like this is an under-the-radar awesome book.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: September 2011
ISBN: 9781416971771
Source: e-book provided by GalleyGrab

*Possibly spoilers for the first two books - ye be warned*
Alek and Deryn are both far from home on a voyage around the world to stop World War I.  Alek, who feels duty bound to stop the war, places his hopes in a crazy scientist with a big plan.  Deryn's disguise as a boy member of the crew is getting more dangerous by the minute - especially since she's in love with Alek.  With new characters and danger lurking everywhere, the two may not end up quite where they expected.

Things I Liked:
I'm not entirely sure what my favorite thing about these books is.  Honestly, it's just so much fun to read them it's almost like being on an adventure myself.  Deryn is such a prickly, smart, sassy, vulnerable and hilarious girl that you can't help but love her.  I adore her "cussing" and the plain way she talks, especially when others are dancing around a topic.  Alek is interesting in different ways - trying to find his place, wondering if he can make a difference, torn between two worlds.  And, of course, the story is so fascinating, so unexpected, and so unique that you dive in and can't surface until the conclusion is finally reached.  I loved every minute of this book and especially the illustrations, which can make some tricky concepts come to life.  A favorite series and I'm sure it will delight tween boys and girls alike.

Things I Didn't Like:
Not much.  I think a few times I was annoyed by decisions characters made, but that doesn't make the book any less enjoyable.  I honestly can't think of other things I didn't like!

Read Leviathan and Behemoth first
Reminded me of Larklight by Philip Reeve
Airborn and sequels by Kenneth Oppel

s-factor: ! 
maybe one or two, but most "cussing" came in the form of "bum-rag" and such like

mrg-factor: none 

v-factor: -> 
there is some action, but most of it is quite mild

Overall rating: ***** 

What do you think of steampunk: like it, hate it, don't know it?

Added bonus: Scott Westerfeld is visiting Arizona next week!  Check out the details for Oct 3rd visit at Changing Hands and the Barnes and Noble in Mesa for Oct 5th.

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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Name That Book, Episode 18

Name that Book is a biweekly game where you get to guess a book title from the photo clues.

In celebration of the excellent ALA-sponsored Banned Books Week, I thought I'd do a special edition of Name That Book.  Both of the books featured today were banned or challenged, sometime, somewhere.  Leave your guesses in the comments.  Enjoy and celebrate your freedom to read!  

Book 1:

Book 2:

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Retro Friday Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication date: July 2007
ISBN: 9780545139700
Source: Purchased (of course)

Really?  I'm not going to bother with a summary. 

Things I Liked:
Even after reading it before, I am amazed I can still fall into the story so easily again. I know what will happen, but the action is so non-stop and heart-pounding I get caught up in it anyway.  And, having only read it once as fast as possible back in 2007, there were lots of delicious details I missed and needed refreshing.  Rowling is a master of suspense and giving you just the right amount of info at once that you feel like you know something, but then later you learn you didn't really know it at all.  I never once seemed to see any of her revelations coming.  Lily and Snape, Dumbledore's family, the horcruxes, nothing.  Fantastic story, exciting ending, and still fascinating enough to be reread often.  I managed to reread it before I saw the last movie installment (mind you, I didn't see it for several months) and I was reminded how superior the books are to the movies.  In my opinion. 

Things I Didn't Like:
I was struck again at just how nearly ridiculous it becomes that Harry can have so many near-death or near-Voldemort experiences and get out every time.  I think it stretched its believability to the max, but no one cares because we love Harry and his innate ability to get out of scrapes (with luck and his friends).  

Nothing quite like it, but you know the first six Harry Potter books
For post-Harry withdrawals, I liked the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

s-factor: !
a few here and there

mrg-factor: none
except occasional snogging

v-factor: ->->->
loads of this, though

Overall rating: *****

Do you have a favorite part of this book?  What do you wish had been in the movie that didn't make the cut?

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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: August 2011
ISBN: 9781442402355
Source: e-copy of ARC provided by GalleyGrab

Benny Imura is no stranger to the violence and danger in the Rot and Ruin.  But since Nix and Tom have become obsessed with permanently leaving their town to face those dangers, he is even more nervous about it.  When they do finally make it out there, nothing goes according to plan, especially when they run into a new menace that looks a lot like an old one.

Things I Liked:
The story was, again, action-packed and thrilling.  Our heroes go from one disaster and death-defying situation to the next.  These books would probably transfer really well to the big screen for an action-horror flick.  Sword fighting and hand to hand combat, not to mention some very big explosions and lots of fire.  I can tell you there is never a dull moment in this book.  But even better is the touch of humor and lightness that Maberry has infused as well.  While the whole story is rather dark and sad, there is still hope and the optimism of the human spirit.  A solid zombie book.

No one is really who people think they are. It's unfair.  when they give us nicknames and create a story for us, everyone expects us to be that person and to live up to that legend ...Tom knows something about that.  Out here, people see him as either a hero or a villain.  Never anything in between, not for Tom.  He hates it too.  Do you know that?  He doesn't want to be anyone's hero any more than he wants to be a villain.  p 385 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like: It seemed to be so focused on the action and adventuring that nothing else managed to take place.  Yes, there was a bit of romance, but it took a back seat to the action.  Teen boys will devour these books.  Be warned, if you are squeamish, stay away - it can get pretty gory.

Start with Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan

s-factor: ! 
a handful here and there

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->->->
not for the faint of heart (very gore-ific)

Overall rating: **** 

Do you like zombie books or do you generally avoid them?  (I usually avoid, but make exception for these and Carrie Ryan's books - they're fantastic!)

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Boneby Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 2011
ISBN: 9780316134026
Source: ARC provided by publisher

Karou lives between two worlds, one just like everyone else's, an art student in Prague with best friend Zuzana. The other world is filled with fantastic creatures, ones that humans are unaware exist, an underground world and the one Karou grew up in. But when beautiful and terrifying angels show up and shatter the delicate balance of her life, she will learn much more about her past than she ever imagined possible.

Things I Liked:
Oh how I loved the writing.  Taylor had me wrapped around that story from page one.  I fell into it and I couldn't see (nor did I want to) my way out.  I read it slowly and in bits so I could savor every phrase.  And you can tell that Taylor spends time on every phrase so that they sound just right.  I love the spooky, creepy, quirky, but gorgeous style she has for writing fantasy stories with a dark undercurrent.  The world she's created is rich and deep and you think you know about it, until you learn more and realize you haven't learned much.  The story was not original in itself, but the way she's created the world, the characters (I adore Zuzana and Karou and Issa and so on and so on), and the cultures is so fascinating I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I'm even more excited to learn there will be more adventures in store for Karou.  A detailed and dark story that will lure you in.  I adored the details about Prague too - I spent only two days there, but Taylor brought it to life for me again. Here is some of the good:

The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century - or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies.  Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococco plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red.  Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper and gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels.  The wind carried the memory of magic, revolutions, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks.  Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet. p 24-25 of ARC
The first time she'd come to Prague, she'd gotten so lost exploring these streets.  She'd passed an art gallery and a few blocks later doubled back to find it, and...couldn't.  The city had swallowed it.  In fact, she never found it.  There was a deceptive tangling of alleys that gave the impression of a map that shifted behind you, gargoyles tiptoeing away, stones like puzzle pieces rearranging themselves into new configurations while you weren't looking.  Prague entranced you, lured you in, like the mythic fey who trick travelers deep into forests until they're lost beyond hope.  But being lost here was a gentle adventure of marionette shops and absinthe, and the only creatures lurking around corners were Kaz and his cohorts in vampire makeup, ready with a silly thrill.  Usually. p 185 of ARC
His eyes were hypnotic, his brows black and velvet.  He was copper and shadow, honey and menace, the severity of knife-blade cheekbones and a widow's peak like the point of a dagger.  p 195 of ARC

Things I Didn't Like:
As I mentioned, the story, if you stop and think about its bare bones, is not that original.  The telling and the wrappings and the life Taylor breathes into it brings me hope for more fabulous angel stories.  It is also not something I could devour in a few sittings, it requires time and thought to fully appreciate it.  Even if I felt it lagged a bit in the middle, I never could put Karou quite out of my mind.

Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
Demon's Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan

s-factor: !@
pretty regularly, though not overwhelming

mrg-factor: XX 
it does have it, but doesn't describe the actions

v-factor: -> 
not a lot, but they do fight and kill

Overall rating: *****

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

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin Winner!

Sorry I forgot to post the winner for this contest earlier!  The winner was:
Chen C.
I've emailed you and sent your mailing address to the publishers, so it should be on its way soon!  Thanks everyone who entered the contest.
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Radiance by Alyson Noel
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780312629175
Source: ARC provided by publisher


Riley has finally crossed the Bridge after she died in a car crash and finds herself in the Here & Now, a place where everyone knows where they belong.  Except her.  When she is assigned by The Council to be a Soul Catcher, she and her geeky guide Bodhie have their first assignment to bring home a ghost who's been terrorizing people for hundreds of years, the Radiant Boy.  Can Riley finally help him move on and will she figure out what Bodhie is hiding?

Things I Liked:
I have to admit I had pretty low expectations of this one.  For the most part, I thought it was ok.  But, it did surprise me with a level of depth I didn't expect.  Some of the thoughts about grief and moving on and living life to its fullest were quite intriguing and I liked a few of the ideas behind Soul Catchers.  I thought it was interesting watching Riley spending her time helping others move on.  Kind of a unique book.

Things I Didn't Like:
I just wasn't too impressed.  Like I said, a surprising level of depth, but the story felt a little half-formed.  Not enough development and thought to complete the ideas it brought forth.  I'm not sure how tweens have reacted to this, but I'm sure many like it, possibly because of Noel's Immortal series.  It's nice for a light and clean tween girl paranormal read.  But for me, I think it needed a bit more substance to it. 

Immortal series by Allyson Noel

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
maybe a little bit 

Overall rating: ***

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

Monday, September 19, 2011

Listless Monday, Boarding School Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

I'm a bit slow posting this, since school started weeks ago, but I figured I would post this list of boarding school books anyway.  

Boarding School Edition

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Alex Van Helsing series by Jason Henderson
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Bloomability by Sharon Creech
Breathless by Jessica Warman (suggested by Kelly J.)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Evernight Series by Claudia Gray
Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Haven by Kristi Cook
Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Miles Between by Mary Pearson
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Prep: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

Private series by Kate Brian
The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon (suggested by Reviews by Lola)
Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman (suggested by Kelly J.)
Wildefire by Karsten Knight
The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

I'm sure I'm missing loads - any suggestions?

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

Friday, September 16, 2011

BBAW Day 5: Blogging Practices

Today's BBAW prompt is to share three things I think are essential tried and true practices for every blogger.  Obviously, this is my opinion and I didn't spend hours thinking about it, just so you know.  Off the top of my head here are the three I try to abide by:

Be respectful, especially when you're angry.
It seems like every week there is a new blogging controversy that happens because someone says something and someone gets mad and says something and there's a whole bunch of nasty things said.  (Ok, most of the time, everyone is very nice.  But we all have off days.)  I think it's a great rule of thumb, particularly when you're angry, to step away from the computer and cool off.  You'll feel better if you don't make those nasty remarks online. 

There will always be someone more popular than you, so don't worry about it.
I know I tend to obsess about my follower number and how many people comment and how many people visit and how many, etc.  And I know I feel happier during the times I just forget about it and do what I want.  It's hard sometimes, but it really is so much more enjoyable.

Blog when you want to, don't when you don't.
Lots of people have said this and it really is some excellent advice.  I notice a drop in the quality of my posts when I don't want to be blogging and do it anyway.  It's better all around to just take a break.  People will still want to read your blog when you return.

The other question is about new trends or tools I’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.  To be honest, I'm probably the last person in the world to adopt new trends and tools.  I know there are lots out there that will make my blogging easier and faster, but I just don't know what they are.  I'd love to hear about some though, if you have suggestions!

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

BBAW Day 4: Readers and the Seven Realms

Another day of BBAW fun and I am excited for this topic. Today BBAW asks: Has blogging changed the way I read?

The short answer: Yes.

To elaborate on this, my post today is the perfect example.  Today, I am talking about my love for the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima.   But not in the same way I would have before the blog.  Not only do I talk about the love, but now I have the chance to literally share it.

See, back in the pre-blog days, I'd occasionally rave to people about awesome books.  Now, I can rave, I can interact with authors, and I can participate in book celebrations, like this one.  It adds a whole new dimension (or two or three...) to the reading experience.  I love the author interactions, the celebrations and read-alongs and countdowns and cover reveals and giveaways that populate the book blogging world.  I love to host and to simply participate.  All these things have increased my enjoyment and give depth to my reading experience.  And, of course, it's fun too! :)  So, to illustrate, here we go:

As you may recall, I've raved about this series before (specifically The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne)- it's pretty much everything you could hope for in an epic fantasy, especially a world so rich and deep it's almost impossible to distinguish it from our own.  It's the kind of book that you fall into and emerge calling yourself Frodo or Arwen or dressing in robes and clutching wands because you're so obsessed with the characters.  A story that will bring something new every time you reread it.

Emily of Emily's Reading Room invited me to join in this Seven Realms celebration by posting part of a puzzle that when put together will spell a secret word that will allow you to enter to win a set of signed Seven Realms books.  You can also change your Twitter avatar to one of the pictures below (each one represents a group from the books) and tweet using the hashtag #sevenrealms for more chances to win!

My piece of the puzzle:

You can find the links to the other pieces of the puzzle at Emily's Reading Room.

Once you have the word, email it to Emily (emilysreadingroom(at)gmail.com) with the subject: Seven Realms Week.

Below are the images to use for Twitter.  The crown represents the Queen’s Guard, the ring represents the Clans, and the amulet represents the Wizards.  On Facebook you can change your profile picture as well, and post on the Provo City Library’s Facebook Page they are offering another set of the books, signed.

So, what has blogging changed in your reading experience?

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BBAW Day 3: Community II

Today's topic is one I feel ridiculously inadequate writing about, so I'm hoping y'all will share your good advice and I will learn.  However, I wanted to mention a few things that I think I've learned (even if I haven't applied them) about blogging community.

First, the book blogging world is enormous.  There will never be a way for you to know every book blog out there and connect with everyone.  I think the best thing to do is find a core group of bloggers that you like.  People whose opinions and reviews you can respect, even if you don't always agree with them.  Connect with them, comment on their reviews or features that you like (and by comment, I mean things of substance).  Chat with them on twitter.  (Oh, how I am laughing at myself for giving this advice - I am so bad at it.)  This doesn't mean, however, that once you have a core group it can't grow, it just means you don't have to feel like you need to have 100 best blogging buddies.  I'd never have the time or energy to keep up with that many.  Kudos to you if you can!

Second, I think it's ok to have blogs on your periphery that you keep track of, but don't personally interact with the bloggers.  I stalk a number of blogs that I comment on irregularly, if at all.  Usually these are the big names that won't notice if there are 96 comments instead of 97.  I don't have the time to comment on everything I read, so usually these are the blogs that I skip.  Bloggers who are just getting started or that are under-the-radar are the ones I am more likely to comment on. 
So, let's get to some better advice, shall we?  I'd like to ask you guys, how do you find the time to blog and connect with other bloggers?  How do you start off that initial awkward acquaintance?  What are your tips for the ridiculously shy (like, well, me)?

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BBAW Day 2: Interview

Today I get to interview Vy from Vy's Blog. Here's a little bit about her:
"My name is Vy and I'm a teen blogger. I love reading YA books and getting a chance to share my thoughts."

1. You are a relatively new blogger - what one thing do you like the most about book blogging?  What surprised you the most about becoming a book blogger?
What I like most of all is meeting other bloggers who share the same love for books! Meeting some bloggers in person at some book events are even more fun. I did not realize how much time I'd put into blogging. Book blogging is really fun but I just didn't expect it to be so time consuming.

2. What one book do you find yourself recommending to friends/family/strangers over and over?
I've been recommending Divergent by Veronica Roth the most lately. But the first question I always ask someone is, "Have you read The Hunger Games?". 

3. Share with us the experience(s) with your middle school librarians that started you reading again.
My librarians just make every single book sound like the most exciting thing ever. It was actually during our library orientation and she was telling us about The Hunger Games. After that I had to go get myself a copy and relied off of their recommendations. 

For more from Vy and to see her interview with me, check her out at Vy's Blog or on twitter: @VysBlog

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

Monday, September 12, 2011

BBAW Day 1: Community

Welcome to Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  I'm so excited it's finally here.  I've been helping out the wonderful people who have done most of the work and I feel fortunate to participate.  Be sure to check on the results of the voting and those lovely bloggers and books that won.  Today, we're talking about community and people who have made a difference in our blogging.  I'm not sure this will even cover it, but I thought I should tell you about bloggers I admire and bloggers who make me want to keep blogging.  Here are a few:

Emily of Emily's Reading Room - this girl makes me want to do more.  She kept me up-to-date on Utah author events (and makes me miss it more now) and she seems so tireless in her blogging.  Love to read updates from her.

Jenny at Alternate Readality - a new blogger and one of my favorites.  Her reviews will make you think long and hard about why you liked a book, especially when she can rip it up and down so neatly!  Not only does she write exceptionally honest reviews, she is my most regular commenter, nearly always leaving some comment on every post I do.  She certainly makes me think someone else out there is reading my stuff. :)

Small Review - this is the blog I wish I wrote.  Every review is thoughtful and has some really fun and smart points.  Her features are so interesting that I wish I'd come up with them.  I love the review comparisons and the discussion posts.  Such a unique and wonderful blog. 

Stacked - another blog I wish I had created.  Perhaps it is because Kimberly and Kelly are secretly the librarians I want to be.  They have thoughtful reviews and also fun librarian posts.  Always a pleasure to read.

Susan of Bloggin' 'bout Books - I'm starting to think that everything Susan recommends is something I should read.  We have similar tastes, though I think she is a better judge of a book's literary quality.  I love to read what she has to say, mostly because she is brutally honest as well.  A go-to for books I should read.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention again (and again and again): Suey of It's All About Books - all around nice person and really eclectic in taste.  She blogs about books, but lots of other fun stuff too like music and TV.  She's the one who made me want to be a more active part of the blogging community, particulary the Utah blogging community.  And she invited me to her book club (which I miss so much).  One of my favorite people who happens to be a blogger.

And there you have a handful of my favorite folks.  Who are some of your favorites?

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

Retro Friday Review: A Train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

A Train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell
Publisher: Zhivago Press
Publication date: June 2005
ISBN: 9781598720303
Source: Borrowed

A Train to Potevka

The book is an account of Mike Ramsdell's experiences doing counter intelligence work in Russia at the end of the Cold War.  When his cover is blown and his life is suddenly in danger, Mike must flee from the Russian mafia boss who knows about his work.  Can he escape with his life, not to mention survive the cruel winter and near starvation that ensues?

Things I Liked:
This book had some really interesting stories.  I was fascinated with the small miracles that Mike experiences while doing this highly dangerous work in Russia.  His life seems like it would be so interesting to hear more about, having worked in such diverse and very different places in the world.  I was interested also in the descriptions of the Russian people and the things they suffered under some of the leaders in that country.  It was an inspiring as well as a thrilling adventure story. 

Things I Didn't Like:
It definitely had some pacing issues - the intriguing spy story interspersed with some slower parts about Ramsdell's history, family, and experiences.  It is also clear that Ramsdell is not an experienced writer, with some awkward wording and other similar problems.  I think, for those who are interested in his experience as a Mormon working in counterintelligence, it will be intriguing enough to keep you engaged.  Still, I whipped through it pretty fast, wanting to know how he'd get out of some of the scrapes he gets into!

Agent Bishop: True Stories from an FBI Agent Moonlighting as a Mormon Bishop by Mike McPheters

s-factor: none
(there were a few edited words)

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
he has a few run-ins with KGB and the Russian mafia

Overall rating: ****

This is definitely outside my usual fare - what do you read outside your usual?

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

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Giveaway: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done (Birthright)I've not yet had a chance to read All These Things I've Done yet, but just the description has me dying for more.  So, when offered the chance to host a giveaway for this title, I was super happy to share!  My copy of the book is still on The Pile, but believe me, it is calling to me from there.  Check out this description:
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame.  Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
And if that's not enough to tease you into it, here's the trailer:

One lucky winner will get a copy of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin, courtesy of Macmillen Children's! Just fill out the form below (US or Canada only). Contest ends September 18th. Good luck!

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