Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday !

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read               
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Today, my teaser comes from a book I picked up at the library on Sunday:  The Maze Runner by James Dashner

"Eventually, the day dragged to a close, and the setting of the sun brought the now-familiar grinding of the four Doors closing for the night.   Thomas had no memory of his life before the Box, but he was positive he'd finished the worst twenty-four hours of his existence."    p. 147          

Monday, March 29, 2010

Just a little thought to share about Easter .... and rabbits.....

I feel I'm obligated to post a little something about rabbits and Easter.   Everyone knows rabbits and Easter don't mix, right?   Right!!???         Every year, thousands of rabbits are abandoned to shelters because people buy them for their kids for Easter, not realizing that they are a real commitment, and they don't really know how to take care of them.

Take it from me -- I share my house with four rabbits, and at times, it's like having four toddlers in the house.  I love them.  But I would never, never, never recommend a rabbit as a pet for a child.   Rabbits are very cute, and very soft --- but most often, they don't enjoy being held, hate being picked up, and they can get very frightened and unhappy if someone tries to handle them.    And don't get me started on cages ---- suffice to say, Nature designed the rabbit to run.   Having a rabbit stay in a cage is like a person who is living in their bathroom.  Literally.

ok -- rant done.   But if anyone would like more information, here's a PDF of a flyer from House Rabbit Society about rabbits and Easter.  Pass the word, please!!

Back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, I promise....    :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm Stylish!!!

The lovely Amanda, over at Daydreams and Wanderings, has again made my week by bestowing another award on me .    !!!!!!!!     I now have a Stylish Blogger Award!!!!     Definitely what I need after a week of feeling a little blah.    :)     Thank you, Amanda!!!!!

I'll now be passing this along to some well-deserving blogs: 

The Universe is Made up of Stories

She is Too Fond of Books                      Tattooed Books

Book Soulmates

Friday, March 26, 2010


Crazy for Books has this cool book blogger hop meme-thing going on.  It's a great way to find other blogs and see lots of cool things ---   check it out!    I'm planning on treating myself to some looking around today, too!     

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins

Originally published in Australia as Rosa and the Veil of Gold, this is a really interesting book that twists Russian folklore and reality into a very original story.

Here's the synopsis, courtesy of Google Books
            When an ancient gold bear is found walled up in a dilapidated St. Petersburg bathhouse, researcher Daniel St. Clair and his frosty colleague Em Hayward set out for the university in Arkhangelsk to verify its age. Along the way they are mysteriously set adrift. Maps are suddenly useless. Lost and exhausted they turn north, sinking even deeper into the secrets and terrors of the Russian landscape.
Daniel’s lost love, the wild and beautiful Rosa Kovalenka, fears the worst when Daniel goes missing and resolves to find him. To do so will mean confronting her past and secrets that she has fought to suppress. The only way to save him is to go forward, where she encounters the haunted Chenchikov clan, a family with their own shadowy tangle of grief, desire, and treachery.
In the unknowable, impenetrable Russian forest, Rosa meets an enigmatic wanderer who is full of tales and riddles of times past. Who might hold the key to Rosa and Daniel’s future--or the destruction of their world.

Here's what I thought:   What I liked most about this book was the writing.   There were times when I would just savor a sentence, or re-read a paragraph, just because the writing and language were so beautiful.  I also really enjoyed reading the elements that had to do with Russian folklore, because I don't really know much about folklore from that area of the world.   The author does a nice job of pulling in elements from history, and then giving them a little twist to make them more fantastical. 

What I wasn't so big on were the characters.  Rosa is kind of interesting, but I felt she was a little flat.  I didn't care that much about her, and was usually just curious to see what was going to happen to her.   Daniel is, plainly put, annoying.  The kind of man I refer to as "milk for blood."  He's wimpy and the only redeeming things he offers throughout most of the book are his knowledge of the Russian language, and his knowledge of some Russian folklore, both of which come in handy when he's stuck in the magical wilds with Em.  Em was the only character I really cared about.   A little cold and a little prickly, Em's got some balls --- she's the real strength here, character-wise.  She's certainly not perfect, but I found her to be much more interesting than Rosa or Daniel.

If you're looking for something new, and have gotten all you can from Celtic mythology (or Greek mythology, etc). and you're a fan of the original Grimm's fairy tales, you'll probably find this an interesting read.  It weighs in at 496 pages, but I found it a pretty fast read.

Thursday poppet pic

I'll be posting later to give my little review of The Veil of Gold (which I've posted for the last 2 Teaser Tuesdays).  However, in the meantime, another picture with the red poppet.....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday !

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I feel like I'm cheating a little this Tuesday --- I'm still working my way through this book that I posted a teaser from last Tuesday....   but in the meantime, finished 2 other books.  :)    I'm finishing this book up for a discussion tomorrow, and have really been enjoying it. 

"The Golden Bear rests in a carved box, but in her magical eyes she can see the narrow paved streets of Constantinople, the mighty sea walls, the monuments and columns.  The bear sees a building three times as tall as Olga's palace, and knows that Olga is feeling more and more like the barbarian princess she loathes to imagine."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!!!

Forgot to post about this yesterday because my day was crazy.......

But get yourself on over to Crazy for Books and check out the Book Blogger Hop!   A few people discovered me this way, and I've found lots of blogs I never knew about, too!   

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

I just finished this this morning, and just had to share my thoughts .....       I'm sure just about everyone has heard about this book, the companion to The Forest of Hands and Teeth.   I had ordered this for our collection and pounced on it as soon as it got here.    

Here's the quick summary, taken from Amazon:  "Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves."

I had really enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and this companion book didn't disappoint.  Gabry isn't always the easiest character to like, but I got completely caught up in the story, and really found her, and the other characters, to be very well-written.   You get more answers here to what's going on in this world than in the previous book, so I felt like this story filled in some gaps for me.  The one thing I wasn't wild about was what seemed to be the somewhat melodramatic treatment of the relationship between Gabry and two of the other characters, Catcher and Elias.   Gabry swings back and forth quickly between how she feels about them, and how she speaks to them --- I found it annoying at times.  However, this aside, I thought the story was really strong and thought-provoking.    I think the author has done some interesting things with the world she has created, making it a place that's harsh and foreboding, but also somewhere where hope can shine through.   I whipped through this book because I just needed to keep reading, to see what was going to happen next.    Now, I just need to wait for the third book........

If you'd like to see what other people thought of this book, the Book Smugglers had a really nice review.

Where I got this book:   The library (of course)!    I've been neglectful in my postings to state outright where my books come from, so I'm trying to make sure I do this now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday !

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week, my teaser comes from The Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins (published as Rosa and the Veil of Gold in the UK)

"Of course, I would never let Totchka sense my concerns.  I like her world to be made of sunlight and smiles."  (p. 221)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Poppet Pic .....

I had been seeing the little "What is a Poppet"  picture on other blogs, so I was a little curious.....
                            Went ahead and treated us to two for Christmas.....

And took one along yesterday to the Arboretum.


Just thought I'd post about something completely different today.   I went to the Morton Arboretum yesterday (I live in the Chicago area) because we were finally blessed with a little sunshine (!!) and I wanted to take some pictures of a new exhibit they have there.   These sculptures are amazing -- so organic!  Some of them are huge, some are small (about 2 feet tall).   I'm looking forward to going back and taking more pictures as Spring continues onward.   But for now......

To learn more about the Steelroots, click HERE

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Bigamy ??

I just read a really interesting post over at Floor to Ceiling Books about people who *gasp* read more than one book at a time.  
She posts: But I have heard *whispers* of people who read more than one book at a time...
             My questions are:
- Do you read one or many?
- If many, do you have a particular technique? Locations for certain books? Reading different genres to keep everything fresh?
- How on earth do you keep all the stories straight?
- Why do you read more than once at a time? To get through more? Or to keep your interest?

I plan to post a short comment on her blog, but this posting really gave me some food for thought......

I tend to describe myself as a book addict, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say I am a reading addict.  A glutton.   Ever since I was a child, I have read just about anything I can get my hands on.  Books.  Magazines (even ones I don't really like).  The backs of cereal boxes.   You get the idea -- I see words and I just can't help myself.      As a result, I suppose it was only natural that I became one of these strange creatures who can't help but have more than one book going at a time.   You see, I just can't help myself.   Despite the fact that this addiction sometimes means that I stay up way too late just because I need to know what's going to happen next, it really doesn't hurt anyone else (and unlike my addiction to certain foods, doesn't cause weight gain or sugar highs).

To put a few answers out there ---   I tend to read, on average, two books at the same time (plus the magazines that make their way into the house).  I usually have one that I read before bed (usually a lighter read) and another one I read whenever -- morning, afternoon, etc.  I facilitate two book groups at my library, so I also have 2 books per month that I read and take notes on (those are separate from my other reading).     Genres don't seem to come into play much, although I find if I am reading a lot of nonfiction, I then want some light fiction.  Or some fantasy.  I read a lot of YA books, so this makes it easy for me to keep things balanced.     I don't seem to have a hard time keeping the stories straight because I don't read two similar books at the same time --- if I'm reading a YA book about vampires, I don't simultaneously read something by Laurell K. Hamilton.   If I'm reading a steampunk book, I might balance it out with nonfiction.    However, I usually don't put that much thought into balancing my reading --- it just seems to work itself out.   

And why, why, why????   Really, it's because I simply can't help myself.   I have always been a "fast" reader -- able to read and digest in a single evening!   As a Librarian who manages several parts of our collection, I am constantly reading reviews, book blogs, etc -- this only feeds my addiction, as I see books that are going to be published that sound good -- and I add them to my list.   But then, new books arrive on the shelves, so of course, I have to grab those, too.   And, just because I am an addict with a capital A, I also re-read books (it's like visiting with a friend I haven't seen in ages).    Seriously, it's a little out of control.   I think the one saving grace is the library: I rarely buy books anymore unless I really WANT them, because I can get things from our library, or interlibrary loan things that we don't have.   I like the whole "try before you buy" deal, as this lets me indulge my love for books, and also stay within the limits of my budget (I keep a list of my "want" books and then go on sprees once in a while on used-book sites).      I come from a family of readers, and while they used to think I was a little strange, they seem to have accepted that I have this addiction -- we just don't talk about it.   The way I see it, as far as addictions go, it's not really so bad;  it's not as awful as drugs (or as expensive), and I don't hurt anyone else because of it (getting a little pushy in line to see an author in person doesn't count!).

One person commented on the blog that "I can't stop. I don't know if I want to."   Yes.   I can't stop either --- and no, I don't want to stop.   Reading has taken me to places I couldn't imagine, introduced me to people I never knew could exist, and has enriched my life and fed my dreams.  

Anyone have thoughts they'd like to share?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the Forest of Forgtting by Theodora Goss

I teased about this on Tuesday, and have now had a chance to read more of this book of stories.   I don't remember where I heard about this book, but something must have piqued my interest ---   and now that I have read through it, I am happy I trusted my instincts that this would be an interesting read.

I'm not sure how to describe this book of stories, but I'll try:  disturbing but beautifully crafted (like ice on trees.  Or gnarled tree roots.   Perhaps really like a stinging jellyfish).   Like really nothing else I have ever read.   I didn't love all the stories, but there are a few that really stood out to me: In the Forest of Forgetting, The Rapid Advance of Sorrow, and Sleeping With Bears.   I've added this to my "want' list just because I can see wanting to read some of the stories again, just because they are so interesting, and odd.   It's kind of like why I find certain kinds of art interesting -- something can be beautiful, and disturbing, all at the same time (I'm thinking Magritte and Dave McKean right now).      Definitely a read if you're looking something completely different.

Where I got this book:  Interlibrary loan (my library doesn't own it, but I'm seriously thinking of adding it to our collection).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser today comes from a book I acquired through interlibrary loan:  In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss.  

"He looked down at the table and felt a throbbing start in his left temple.  A woman with what looked like a flamingo on her head winked at him.  The flamingo winked as well.  Too much fur, too many wings, and not a single nose was the correct shape or size."            p. 34

Monday, March 8, 2010

Very nice award!

Amanda over at Daydreams and Wanderings has kindly sent me a Humane Award --- isn't she cool?

"This small little green award is possibly the most special. It's passed onto those kindhearted bloggers who take the time make comments and show their support."

I'll be thinking about who to send a little award on to on in the next few days, but suffice to say -- she has really made my week.   Lately, I've been feeling a little low (although it's possibly just due to the weather), so this was just what I needed to get me energized.   :)      Thank you, Amanda!!

In addition to brightening my day, her post has now opened my eyes to some other great blogs out there that I've added to my "follow" list!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marvelously Slothful

I treated myself this weekend to some uninterrupted reading (ok, I put in 2 loads of laundry -- but that doesn't really count).   I had taken a day off of work to use up some extra time, so I was able to whip through the usual housework, and then kick back in our library at home, and settle in with some nice re-reading.   Today, I spent more time reading than I thought I would because I was trying to keep the house quiet (husband wasn't feeling too well), and it just felt so decadent to sit and do nothing but read.  I have to admit, I don't always treat myself to just sitting in the chair with a drink and a soft throw and a good book -- it feels like I'm on vacation when I do, and I always feel a tiny bit slothful and wicked......

This weekend, I re-read Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride, Ann Packer's The Dive from Clausen Pier, and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams.   There's just something restful and comforting to sometimes re-read a book; I know what's going to happen, so I feel it's ok to sometimes skim to favorite parts (this sometimes feels slightly naughty, as well).   It's also nice to just re-visit a favorite story, or favorite character -- it's like talking to an old friend you only see every few months.   I happened to pick up Clausen Pier because I just wanted something to read before bed, and wound up remembering how much I liked parts of it (not really the main character, but I do enjoy the descriptions of sewing - something I have no idea how to do).   Animal Dreams was my Sunday reading -- it's a rainy, grey day here, and I felt like I needed a little Arizona.   Plus, I really like this book - it's another one that I've read many times over.

Tomorrow, it's back to the real world -- but the past few days of reading have been just the break I needed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

I just treated myself to a re-read of one of my favorite books: Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride.   I think this is my 9th or 10th time through this book, and I gulped it down, as I always do.   I looked for a summary I liked, and on Amazon.com, found this one from the publisher: 
Exploring the paradox of female villainy, this tale of three fascinating women is another peerless display of literary virtuosity by the supremely gifted author of Cat's Eye and The Handmaid's Tale.

This book was published in 1993, and seemed to receive varying reviews: some people found it one of Atwood's less well-written books, while others weren't as wild about it.    Obviously, since I have re-read it so many times, it's one of my favorite books by this author.   I think part of what I really enjoy in this story is how the characters are written.   The three main characters, Tony, Roz, and Charis are completely different, and are unified in friendship only because of their mutual enemy, Zenia (more about her in a moment).  Every time I read this book, even though I know the story, and the outcome, I get completely caught up in these three characters.   Tony's passion is the study of war, Roz is a tough businesswoman, and Charis is floaty and new-Age-y (see what I mean about them being completely different from one another?).    It's like having many stories within one story, and each time Zenia enters a story, things get really interesting.   Zenia is almost unbelievably bad, but I find her fascinating.   We don't get the story from her viewpoint, which is fine: she'd be a completely unreliable narrator.  And, it keeps her a mystery.  

Beyond the characters, I think the other thing I love so much about this book is Atwood's writing.   I find that the way she crafts sentences and phrases is so well-done; it's like art.   Here's an example:  "It takes time, because Tony has no single clear image of her mother.  The memory of her is composed of shiny fragments, like a vandalized mosaic, or like something brittle that's been dropped on the floor."  (p. 135)   
         "She can't see the lake from here: the mist blots it out.  She makes an effort to find the mist beautiful - everything made by nature should be beautiful - but succeeds only partly.  The mist is beautiful, true, it's like solid light, but it's also ominous: when there's mist, you can't see what's coming."  (p. 201)

I relish so many parts of this book; every time I read it, I know what's coming, and I can't wait to get there, to gulp down the sentences, to experience the stories again.   Each character is written in a way that is so true to them; from the two quotes I included above, it's clear they are from two different women.   And the way that Atwood describes each of them, including Zenia, makes them completely real to me.     This story might not be everyone's cup of tea, and certainly, I don't love every single book that Margaret Atwood was written.   This is just one of my favorites, so I'm sharing. 

It's official !

This doesn't have to do with books, but every so often, I like to throw something different onto this blog ---

I share my house with my husband and four bunnies.  All of our bunnies have come from House Rabbit (we have a long history with them) and we finalized Pixie's adoption today.   We've actually had her since late July, 2009, but it's taken a long time for her to bond with McManus.   However, I'm just too fond of her to keep her in foster status, so we filled out her adoption contract today.   Now, she's officially ours!   She's the one on the right side in this photo (McManus is the one on the left).  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Veracity by Laura Bynum

I finished this book a few days ago, and have been turning it around in my mind ever since.   This is another book that I ordered for our library's collection, and then put on hold for myself (yes, most of my books come from the library -- it's one of the little bonuses of seeing the review journals, etc. and getting to actually order things).

If you haven't already seen something about this book, the short summary is this, taken from the inside flap:  "In the tradition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Laura Bynum has written an astonishing debut novel, a bold and incendiary vision of a chilling, all-too-plausible future in which speech is a weapon and security comes at the highest price of all."  
         And from the back cover, a quote from Elizabeth Moon: "A remarkable book, thought-provoking, horrifying, and yet hopeful."

And here are my thoughts:  I think this is a book that many people should read, not just because it is well-written, not just because the main character is intriguing and compelling, and not just because the story is creative.   I believe this book should be read simply for the concept it presents of a future where the power of speech is chipped at little by little, resulting in society living under a suffocating blanket of terror.    If you've ever read Orwell's 1984, you are familiar with the lists of un-words, the concept of thoughtcrime.  Laura Bynum's world is one where if a single word is spoken, there can be terrifying repercussions (rape and torture at a minimum).   Little by little, words are forbidden, creating Red Lists of the unspeakable that tighten the screws tighter and tighter around the society.    I found this book nearly impossible to put down, and several times, I forced myself to slow down while reading it so that I could really digest what was happening in the story.  As a lover of words, it's difficult for me to imagine a place where even speaking a word such as "heresy" is enough to justify someone assaulting you.   However, I couldn't look away from this book, even when I was horrified, because of the very hope that Elizabeth Moon mentions.  The main character is strong, and I needed to know what was going to happen to her.    I also kept thinking about words I use all the time, and take for granted; this story has made me appreciate the power and beauty of language (and made me determined to broaden my vocabulary on a regular basis).       This is definitely a story that will (hopefully) resonate with many readers, and one I plan on re-reading again.

Some of my favorite words, right now:  contemplate, perplexed, fantastical, fluidity, effervescent, ethereal, heresy, veracity.        and cinnamon --- not only a favorite word, but a favorite spice of mine!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cool giveaway over at one of my favorite blogs ---

Amanda over at one of the blogs I love to visit, Daydreams and Wanderings, is having a very cool giveaway --  she's shooting for 100 followers, and has not only a book available, but also an original bookmark she has created.     She just posted on Teaser Tuesday about Veracity -- a book which I am currently in the middle of, and had wanted to post a teaser on, as well.

Definitely check out her blog -- she always has some interesting books she's reviewing, as well as some really nice original art.    :)

Teaser Tuesday!!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I really wanted to give a teaser from the new book I'm halfway through, but I forgot to grab it ---- so instead, here's my teaser from another book I'm starting today:
"Secrets and lies were inevitable given the inequalities.  Sometimes, they were part of the job.  'Mrs. Woolf is not at home,' servants frequently lied as they got rid of unwanted guests."
            p. 140    Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light
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