Friday, December 30, 2011

Actually, not........

actually, not really.
 I had been planning to do many things in December.    These things did not include: having to replace our house's HVAC system, having dental surgery, and being struck down by a nastyawful (yes, I believe I just made up that word.... and it perfectly suits) flu this last week.

Needless to say, things have not gone as planned.    But, we're almost at the end of this year, so I'm sure that January will bring many good things to all of us.   Personally, now that I'm finally feeling better, I plan on spending some quality time this weekend catching up on my reading....   and then making sure I get posting again!   Thanks for bearing with me.  

And blah blah blah ... enough about me!   I'm also looking forward to being online this weekend and seeing what all of you have been up to!

Hope everyone has a wonderful New year's weekend!!  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Holidays!

I'm coming up on a three-day weekend, since my library will be closed .... and I plan to indulge in some reading.    So, wanted to wish everyone a nice holiday and hope you all enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bookie Brunch -- with a giveaway!!!!!

Welcome to this week's edition of Bookie Brunch!!   Bookie Brunch is a weekly meet-up, held every Sunday, where bloggers can have a virtual beverage of choice and chat about a particular bookie topic of interest.   The discussion is open from Sunday through Wednesday and you're welcome to drop by at any time to add in your opinion, or read what other people have to say.   The discussion is open as well to general readers or bloggers in a different field, authors, publishers and publicists.

This Brunch, my guests are: Melody from Book and Music Lover, Stevie , Amanda from Geeky Fairy Tales, and Sarah Olivia from The Book Bunny. I'm sorry, but as of the time when I'm finishing up this post, we're waiting on a few guests --- so stay tuned for updates.

Our discussion question is:  If you could invite three authors to dinner, who would be on your guest list, and why?

Courtesy guidelines: Thank you for coming!  All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers.  In fact, you’re encouraged to talk and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials.    We’d like everyone to have a nice time.  Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.  

So, let’s begin the Brunch, shall we?    I always forget to ask people what they’d like to have as their virtual drink, so I suppose I’ll just pass around a nice pot of hot cocoa today.  Extra marshmallows to anyone who wants them.    

Sarah had her answer for me right away:  
 Wow, such an easy yet hard question at the same time. I must warn you though, throughout my answer I may fangirl and gush over characters/authors exc. I'll start off with YA and then do my Adult author. First I would love to meet and have dinner with Scott Westerfeld the author of the Uglies series as well as the Midnighters series, exc. I would talk about the books his favorite foods, who and who inspire him, and the list would go on. I would have tons of fangirl moments if I could have dinner with him. Believe me. I would choose Scott Westerfeld because the Uglies series is what really got me into reading and as I said before I would love to talk about the books and characters and everything to do with Uglies, and even his other series. (I've read everything but Leviathan) To have dinner with him would be such a wonderful experience.
The second author I would love to have dinner with would be Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy series. I would have so much fun talking with her about all the exciting twists and turns in the Vampire Academy series and all the relationships between the characters. Just I love this YA vampire series. I would also have way too much fun gushing about Dimitri. And I still remember going through the series (while they were still being released) and having to wait for the next one. And not wanting to finish it because I would have to wait for the next one and also wanting to finish it so badly so I could know what happened. It's amazing that I still remember that much about it and would love to just be able to talk to her and eat good food.

Last and certainly not least, my Adult author. Stephen King. Need I say more? A man who I swear, has a never-ending imagination. To write so many books, so many good books is amazing. I honestly would probably meet him and not be able to say anything. Haha lame I know but I get that way sometimes. But don't we all? If I met him and had dinner I would love to talk about all his different books, what inspires him, and talk about his many books and all the characters he has created.

To meet these three authors, at all would be amazing. I would have such a gush fest it would not even be funny.
I would like to thank Sasha Soren and Jo for inviting me to be a guest blogger.  And now I'm off to daydream about this fairytale dinner.

Sounds like it would be an interesting dinner, for sure!!!!

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I took a bit of time thinking about who I would invite to dinner --- and I am glad that this is one of those hypothetical situations, because if I was ever in the presence of any of these authors, especially at the dinner table, I would most likely be so awestruck that I’d just sit there quivering.

My first choice would be Ray Bradbury.   He’s been writing for such a long time, and has written some of my favorite stories, that I think he’d make a fascinating dinner guest.   Something Wicked This Way Comes is one of my all-time favorite books, and I just love savoring it every time I read it.   I’m sure Mr. Bradbury would have some great things to share over dinner.

My second guest would be Audrey Niffenegger.   You might be familiar with her as the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Night Bookmobile.    I admit that I haven’t read her newest book (but, of course, would do so before I had dinner with her).    I did have the opportunity to hear her speak once, and I found I was just captivated by her.   She’s an interesting person, and I think she’d provide some thought-provoking conversation over dinner.

And last, China Mieville.   I’ve already rhapsodized plenty about this author on this blog.  I am a HUGE fan of this man and his work ---- and I think that he’d be the perfect guest for dinner.   He’s extremely intelligent, and has a great sense of humor --- and he’s fascinating to listen to.   I was fortunate enough to meet him earlier this year, and while I was completely awestruck in his presence (yes, completely …. I froze), it was really something to hear him speak.    Again, I’m glad this is a hypothetical dinner, because I seriously don’t know what I’d do with him at the dinner table.   

I believe he just may be perfect.   Yes.
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Stevie , aka SableCaught, has had a chance to join in, and since she's a vlogger, you may listen to her choices:

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Brunch is now in full swing ---- so your comments and thoughts are welcome!!!!!

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GIVEAWAY DETAILS:     A lovely prize pack: Multi-title DVD, angel book, blank journals and a tote!     Courtesy of me, I have a lovely embossed blank journal (sorry, no picture on that one), and a lovely book about Guardian Angels.  It’s actually a book with three sets of angel cards to go with it (kind of like a tarot of angels).    I’ll also be including some chocolate and other goodies to go with what Sasha is offering ------

Courtesy of Sasha Soren, an adorable little tote bag and a lovely little butterfly book..   Cute and quirky, the bag folds up into a bee with clip and is super-nice to pop into your purse, bag or pocket to have on hand. Dimensions are 14-3/4" H x 14-3/4" W and it holds up to 18 lbs.  Pretty and practical, beautiful butterflies grace the covers of this handy 64-page blank notebook and it’s small and light enough to slip into a coat pocket or tote, perfect for quick notes on books or places.

Multi-title DVD: The Timeless Romance Collection
About: Settle in for a marathon of romantic movies, with this multi-title DVD. Four romantic films, including the original A Star is Born, Eternally Yours, The Lady and the Highwayman, and Power, Passion, Murder. This would be a really nice gift for someone who loves costume drama - and melodrama.

I never seem to be able to get the YouTube embedded properly and working, so I’m doing what I know will always work:   a LINK.   Shown here is the Trailer, A Star is Born (original film, 1937, Technicolor).  This technicolor romantic drama stars Janet Gaynor as an aspiring Hollywood actress, and Fredric March as an aging movie star who helps to launch her career. Original film, not a remake.   (More)

Eternally Yours: Anita Halstead, swept off her feet by magician Arturo, finds the results less than magical... (More)
The Lady and the Highwayman: Based on romance author Barbara Cartland's book, Cupid Rides Pillion, the film is a swashbuckling tale of romance, jealousy and betrayal set in England during the Restoration of Charles II, starring Emma Samms as the notorious Lady Castlemaine. Beautiful period costumes and settings; a spirited romp through a bit of England's history. (More)
Power, Passion, Murder: Set in 1930s Hollywood. A top-billed actress, on the surface, has it all, but that's not the whole story. Murder, scandal and intrigue mark this intimate look at 1930s Tinseltown - a town of secrets. (More)

So, as you can see, Sasha and I will be providing a mellow and enjoyable prize pack, and some goodies to enjoy, as well.    Please note: DVD is Region 1, although a multi-region DVD player
should be able to play it. Check your region

WIN this cute prize package! International. Through January 15, 2012.
Details: To win this prize package, please leave email info and thoughtful or interesting comment below. A winner will be picked at random. If host and guests agree that a specific visitor comment is substantial, outstanding, or in some other way has particular merit, they can override pick at their discretion.  Please note - open internationally, but DVD manufactured for Region 1 only. Check your region . Through January 15,  12 midnight EDT.

Bookie Brunch is the creation of Sasha Soren (Random Magic).   More about Random Magic can be found in these links - feel free to browse:  Find Random Magic: Print | Kindle
Explore Random Magic: YouTube
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Bookie Brunch winners .... from November Brunches

I had mistakenly thought I needed to run the on these a while ago .... then was corrected.   Then, I realized it was December 15th yesterday, which meant it was the real date to run the randomizer to pick the winners.

So, without further delay ----
My Brunch from November 9th had 10 comments. chose:  Comment #10!  (vvb32 Reads)
True Random Number Generator 10
My Brunch from November 18th had  11 comments. chose: Comment #8! (Lisa)
True Random Number Generator 8  
I will be emailing both of the winners so that I may send their information to the most gracious and lovely Sasha Soren, who offered both of these Brunch prizes.
I am hosting Brunch this upcoming Sunday, so feel free to drop by and add in your thoughts!   And congrats to the winners!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Watch Where You Step: Going to the Dogs by Jenepher Field

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): Jenepher had lost count of the number of times she’d heard this mantra from her energetic and ambitious husband, Louis. But she didn’t imagine that upon Louis’s retirement from his orthopedic surgery practice, he would charm her into starting a business they knew nothing about, building a new house and a pet boarding kennel in the beautiful countryside of Washington State. Swept along by the current of his drive and enthusiasm, as she has been many times before, Jenepher starts to learn about boarding and caring for dogs and cats. Watch Where You Step is the story of their struggles and success, and of the ways in which they evolve and grow, finding both new points of friction and new appreciation for one another as they design and build a house and a business. They learn to expect the unexpected as they cope with issues they didn’t plan for, including septic system logistics, flash floods, unreliable employees, irrational pet owners, and pets who could teach Harry Houdini a thing or two about the art of escape. Rich threads of humor and love run through their lives as they come to realize they have invested in a business that is full of heart as well as full of mayhem. Join Jenepher and Louis on the wonderful adventure of a lifetime!

And here's what I thought:   I had been approached about giving this book a read and a review, and thought it might be nice to try something a little different than what I was reading at the time.   As you can see from the above summary, this is one person's memoir about her life, especially in a time period when she and her husband retired.   What I thought was interesting about the book was that although there was a focus on the boarding kennel that the author and her husband opened, the author also wrote about her upbringing, and relationship with her mother.   The book doesn't necessarily proceed in a straight timeline, but rather, proceeds more or less, with references backwards occasionally to give detail or context.  

I admit that I wasn't as taken with the writing as I was with the subject material.  My family had a dog when I was growing up, and we've had other dogs in the family since -- and I admit I do like a good dog story now and again (and reflect quite fondly on James Herriot's stories).  It was interesting to read about the author's experiences with not only opening the boarding kennel, but with some of the customers, as well.   What I was surprised by at times was how she and her husband dove into this idea of having a kennel business, despite not really having any experience at all --- that takes some courage!    Admittedly, I didn't always understand their decisions, and at times, it felt they were a bit naive about what they were getting themselves into.  However, that's what makes this a thoughtful memoir.

Overall, a very nice book, especially if you are an animal lover.  It didn't resonate with me completely, but I thought it was an okay read. 

First sentences: A shiver of...something...ran through me.  Excitement?  Anticipation? Anxiety? I didn't know.  There was so much to look forward to; it was probably a little of each.  Here we were, behind the desk: Louis, Mary and I, waiting for the first customer to arrive.

Thoughts on the cover:  Interesting, with the golden yard and trees with the red barn and ominous-looking sky.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): November 22nd, 1963 was a rapid-fire sequence of indelible moments: Shots ring out; a president slumped over; a race to the Dallas hospital; an announcement, blood still fresh on the First Lady's dress. But what if President John F. Kennedy didn't have to die; if somehow his assassin could have been thwarted? For Maine schoolteacher Jake Epping, those hypothetical what if's become real possibilities when he walks through a portal to the past. Without special skills and still unfamiliar with his new/old surroundings, he struggles to discover a way to change the history he left.
And here's what I thought:   There have been a lot of reviews written of this book, and while I could go on and on about the story, I don't think I will.   As you can see from the summary, the basic idea is this: guy goes back in time to see if he can prevent the Kennedy assasination.

I will admit that there are some Stephen King books that I never liked too much, like Pet Semetary, and, most recently, Full Dark, No Stars.   However, there are King books that I have read over and over again.  I wore out my paperback copies of The Stand, and The Talisman (which he co-wrote with Peter Straub).    His best books, in my opinion, are those where the writing isn't too gory, but the psychological stuff is what really gets into your head and is scary.

In this book, the scary idea is time.  What happens if you go back?  Can you change one small thing and have it make a difference?  What about the butterfly effect?   

I loved how King approached the whole thing; not just the going back in time thing, but what that would actually mean if you were to do it.   Example: Jake goes back to the late 1950s when he begins, so he needs to make sure he has the right money (no 2011 nickels or dimes). There's a great little part where he tries to make a phone call and accidentally puts in the wrong-era coin.  He needs to remember not to talk about current events, or current songs.  He has to be aware of what people are wearing.    These are the kinds of details that really make the story interesting for me --- all the things that Jake needs to keep straight, just from the beginning.        

The part about Kennedy and Oswald is interesting, but I admit that I got more pulled in to Jake's story about the town he moves to, and the high school he teaches at, and Sadie, the woman he falls in love with.   Typical for King, we have a flawed hero, an ordinary man who can perhaps do something extraordinary, or whose very being has a larger purpose.   I like that, and I think it makes for an interesting story.

The other thing I found really thought-provoking in this book was the idea of going back in time, yet with the knowledge you have in your current time.   Admittedly, I have always found it a horrifying idea to imagine waking up one morning and being back in high school, but with all the knowledge I have now.   I mean, it's easy to think of things you might change --- I'd take better care of myself, and I wouldn't let the mean people get me down.  But here's the thing: what if I made some kind of small change, and changed my future around completely?  I don't know if I'd like that.

I found this a thought-provoking story, and good book by an author I enjoy.  Size-wise, I think this could have been trimmed a bit without too much repercussion, but I found I was spending a lot of time reading and enjoying.   And now you can see why I haven't posted a review lately --- because I've been reading this 842 page book! 
First sentences: I have never been what you'd call a crying man.  My ex-wife said that my "nonexistent emotional gradient" was the main reason she was leaving me (as if the guy she met in her AA meetings was beside the point).

Thoughts on the cover: Eye-catching, especially if you look at the back cover, which has a modified newspaper headline.    Actually, the size of this book is what makes it eye-catching (I found myself doing arm exercises with it in between reading it)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- balcony in Verona, Italy

Verona balcony

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

And here's what I thought:   The author takes some interesting ideas: dystopia, a police state, and X-Men-esque abilities, introduces us to a teenage girl, and gives us a really read-able story.   There are definitely a lot of threads woven together in this book, and combined with the steady pace, I found this was a real page-turner.

I think the thing I liked most about this book wasn't the story, or the characters, but the writing, itself.   Juliette writes in a stream-of-consciousness style a lot of the time, and once I got used to that, I really liked it.   I thought it was cool that lines or words would be crossed out -- which gave me insight into what Juliette was really thinking.   Example: (p 95) "I watch him swallow hard and take a tiny breath and immediately I sense something is wrong.  I move closer and a quick. stiff shake of his head tells me not to.  I do not touch people I do not get close to people I am a monster.  He doesn't want me near him. "

The way that Juliette writes, you really get a sense of emotion, what is going on underneath the surface.    That's something I sometimes feel can be missing from a story, and I liked how the author used this technique of Juliette journaling to not only tell the story, but also let us in to Juliette's head.   Very cool.

Here's another example of the writing that I liked:  "Killing time isn't as difficult as it sounds.  I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand.  I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep.  I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath.  I've been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind." (p 127)

I found some parts of this book absolutely delicious to read.

First sentences: I've been locked up for 264 days.  I have nothing but a small notebook and  a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company.

Thoughts on the cover:  Very arresting, even if the girl on the cover didn't match up in my mind with the main chracter in the book.
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