Thursday, December 23, 2010

BC Bookshelf Update: End of 1st Semester!

BC Bookshelf Updates features my latest bookish and BookCrossing (BC) activities including book trades, RABCKs, book rings/rays, challenges, and all things BookCrossing. Enjoy!

I completed my first semester of grad school!  Plus, we got our grades already and I did really well! YAY!  So it's time to celebrate.  I'm going to catch up on my leisure reading over the next month of freedom before the grind starts up again.  Here's the latest BC updates:

Manga/Graphic Novel Bookbox: I signed up for my first BC bookbox. This box is full of manga and graphic novels shipped to participants across the U.S. (sorry not an international one). Participants take as many as they want, but add the same number back to the box and then send it on it's way to the next person on the list.  Here's the forum link if anyone else is interested in joining.  I received the box in the mail yesterday and I can't believe how many volumes are in it!  It's gonna take a few days to go through and decide what to keep.

Audubon BookCrossers:  The ABXC group meets monthly at the Panera Bread in Audubon, PA and last Sunday was the largest gathering that I've attended there so far.  We had the usual BCers attend, plus Flut3girl home from college and nat4lee visiting.  It was so large, we attracted attention from a number of Panera-goers who asked about what we were doing.  We informed them about BookCrossing and several people even left with books.  What a wonderful thing!  For the first time, I brought books to the meeting and left without any.  That's a good accomplishment for me right now since my bookshelves are overflowing.  I need to release more and bring home less (or at least stuff that I will read and release).

Park House Coffee OBCZ:  Sad news from Ridley Park, PA.  The Park House Coffee (a.k.a. Park House Cafe), which is home to an Official BC Zone, has closed.  The cafe changed ownership multiple times in the last few years, but the OBCZ (run by my pal Bascula) persevered. Park House Coffee was a wonderful place to grab a hot drink and relax. I hope it reopens again.  I'll keep you updated.  A group of BCers met there in November hoping to start a new meetup group, but plans will be postponed until we find another location.

Reading Challenges:  Since I haven't reached my challenge goals yet, I'm going to hold my own little read-a-thon next week.  What else would a bookcrosser want to do on vacation!?!  I'll be away visiting family for the holidays, but will host my own 24 hour read-a-thon on Tuesday or Wednesday.  It'll come down to the wire, but I think I can pull off my "Pages Read Challenge" goal of 15,000 pages. I have about 1,700 pages to go.  I have four books to read for the "Read Ten 1001 Books Challenge."  Not sure if I'll reach that one, but I'd be satisfied with one more completed.  I'm still figuring out my challenge goals for 2011 so stay tuned.

I'll post again next week, until then...


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Read-a-thon Wrap Up

We've reached the end of 24 hours.  Let's recap.  After some life distractions, I was able to refocus and get some more reading in.  I didn't come close to my initial goals, but I had a blast anyway.  Thanks so much for all your comments!  They make me laugh and keep me inspired.  You guys rock!  You other readers out there are one of the many reasons I love to participate in this reading event.  Even though I didn't get as much time in as I had hoped, it was fun to read your posts (especially some of your mini-challenges answers) and cheer you on.  Get some sleep's well deserved.

End of event details:
How many books have you read?  Half of two books...that means one when you put them together?!?
Finished Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia
Started How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Pages read: 198 pages (131 from Angel Star and 67 from HTTYD)
Hours spent reading: 5 hours (wow, I read really slow)
Hours spent on mini-challenges, cheering, and blogging: approx. 2.5 hours
Total participation: 7.5 hours
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope, it was lots of fun!
What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I would try to devote more time to it like I did in April.  So many distractions that I missed out on a bunch of fun challenges. I'll definitely participate next time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Read-a-thon Hour 11

Reader fail!  I've been a terrible read-a-thon participant. Even though I wanted to spend the whole day reading, life got in the way.  Hubby and I had DirectTV drama this morning. They were supposed to install the dish this morning (something to busy Hubby while I read...thought that was a good idea), however, do to complications it didn't happened. Then my car wouldn't start this morning, so I had to get it towed.  Yep, no luck today. The fine guys at Firestone fixed my car, I've got it back, and now I'm getting back on track with my reading.  I'm sure you don't want to hear all the details...but alas I've spent only about two hours reading (about 80 pages worth).  I know, it's a travesty!

My new goals: maybe 10 hours I've got at least 8 hours of reading ahead of me. Of course, I'll try to make it to the 24th hour. 

How everyone else hanging in there? Anyone have a distraction story to share?  Let me know.

Read-a-thon Hour 1

Ready, set, read!  It's the first hour of the Dewey 24 Hour Read-a-thon. I've got everything I need:  coffee, books, computer. I'm rocking my Monticello t-shirt with Thomas Jefferson's quote "I cannot live without books...".  Let's get reading!  Here's some of the books I have with me today.

Finish Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia
How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (this is a BookCrossing bookring)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (a 1001-book...I'm way behind in the "read ten 1001 books" challenge)
plus some manga (Tokyo Mew Mew 1-3 and Crescent Moon 1-3)

Goals:  I'd like to match or exceed my stats from the last Dewey read-a-thon in April. I'll shoot for 4 books (I could breeze through the manga), at least 500 pages, 6-8 mini-challenges, and at least 12 hours reading/16 hours participating.  

Hour 1 meme:
Where are you reading from today? My apartment in the western 'burbs of Philadelphia. 

3 facts about me … 
1 - My favorite colors are PINK (when I'm feeling girly) and BLUE (the royal kind). 
2 - I just moved...not far, just the next county over. 
3 - I love to read!  Hooray for reading!

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I've got three books on the agenda, a bunch of manga in between, and dozens (err, hundreds) of other books to choose from if my mood changes.

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)? Copy and paste from above: 4 books (plus manga), at least 500 pages, 6-8 mini-challenges, and at least 12 hours reading/16 hours participating.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?  This is my second time participating.  I learned in the spring read-a-thon that you should read genres you love. It's easier to get through books you like than ones that torture you. Another tip: write down your start and stop times of your'll help you keep better track of it all. Finally, have fun!  The read-a-thon is supposed to be fun, so don't get stressed out over how fast other participants read. Focus on your reading experience. Take breaks when you need to and support other readers. At hour 19, we're all struggling to stay awake together.  :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

It's back!  Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon is this Saturday, October 9th.  I've craved out most of the day to relax and catch up on my leisure reading.  Grad school is kicking my butt, so I'm due for one day of vacation from it all.  I participated in the read-a-thon in April and absolutely loved it!

Here's some of my wrap-up stats from the Dewey's 24 hr Read-a-thon in April 2010:
Participated for over 16 hours, including:
   - over 11 hours of reading
   - 5 hours of blogging/mini-challenges/cheering for other readers
Books read: 3 1/2 including
   - The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
   - Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
   - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
   - Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (read about 1/2)
Pages read: 505

Mini-challenges completed:  9
Prizes won: none...maybe I'll have better luck this year.

I'll post a list of my potential reads before it officially begins. It's not too late to sign up for the read-a-thon on Saturday. Check out the website to learn more.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Update: Hiatus

Sorry I've been silent for a few weeks.  I'm taking a break from blogging for a little while.  There are two big changes happening in my life right now: grad school and moving. 

I just started an online graduate program for a master's in library science (MLS).  I'll (hopefully) graduate in Summer 2012, which seems so far away right now.  Since I'm still working full-time, grad school studying and paper writing is taking up all my free time. I haven't been able to enjoy leisure reading for two weeks...and that's killing me already. But I have to take the responsible road and focus on my schoolwork. Hopefully, I'll find a few weekends to hold my own personal read-a-thons to catch up on the books from my TBR pile. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm not going to reach my challenge goals this year.

Also, I'm moving this month so almost all my books are packed up. September free time will revolve around lugging my heavy boxes to my new apartment. Hopefully, I'll be a bit more settled come October.

On the BookCrossing side of things, I posted a note about my limited free time on my extended profile. BookCrossers can still feel free to send me a PM, but it might take a short time for me to respond back. I'm sending on a bookray I wasn't able to finish to the next person on the list.  I still want to attend the monthly Audubon BookCrossing meetings at the Panera Bread on Trooper Road in Audubon, PA. So if you're in the Philly area, come and join us.

I will occasionally post...I have some pictures and books from August I still want to share.  I'm also way behind in my Google Reader...1000+ posts to read...EEK!  That means I'm behind in reading the reviews and news from all my favorite bloggers. Miss them already. 

But I have to remember that this isn't a "goodbye"'s more like a "see you later". So enjoy your readings, feel free to leave comments or recommendations on my posts, send me an occasional PM through BookCrossing, and...I'll see you later. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Favorite Movie Librarians

The Huffington Post created a slideshow about librarians in movies.  I can't help but share the link.  It features two of my favorite movie librarian: Evelyn from The Mummy (1999) and Flynn from one of the best TV movies ever, The Librarian: Quest For The Spear (2004).

Librarians Save The Day! 11 Great Movies In Which They Star  

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from The Mummy:
Evelyn: Look, I... I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O'Connell, but I am proud of what I am.
Rick: And what is that?
Evelyn: I... am a librarian. 

Check out the 11th picture...the one for The Librarian: Quest For The SpearIt's the wrong movie!  This picture is from the second Librarian installment, Return to King Solomon's Mines from 2006 with Emily Davenport. OK, maybe you didn't get the same kick out of that as I did...but I think it's hilarious they used the wrong one.

There are a handful of movies I haven't even heard of before. Cool...more to add to my Netflix queue.

Who's your favorite movie librarian?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Tunes For Bears To Dance To by Robert Cormier

Tunes for Bears to Dance to
by Robert Cormier
Publisher: Laurel Leaf, Mass Market Paperback, 1994, 101 pages

Description on the book:

After his brother's death, Henry moves with his parents to a new town, where he meets and befriends Mr. Levine, an elderly survivor of the Holocaust who spends his days carving a replica of his childhood village.

Enter Mr. Hairston, who holds power over Henry's life. He is a man of glittering promises, but he exacts a terrible price from Henry that involves the boy's friendship with Mr. Levine.

All Henry has to do is...
My Review:

Wow! Robert Cormier is a remarkable author. This is another riveting example of Cormier's mastery of powerful realistic fiction.

Tunes For Bears To Dance To is about a young boy Henry who recently lost his older brother in an accident.  Even though his family moved to a new town to escape the memories of his brother, Henry's father is still stuck in a dark depression and his mother is struggling to support the family during the post-WWII era. To help out, Henry works at a local general store for a bigoted owner who is nice to customers while in his store but says some really nasty stuff once they leave.

One day, Henry follows an old man whom he sees every day walking back and forth from the psychiatric hospital next door. Henry soon befriends the old man, Mr. Levine, and the learns about his past as a Holocaust survivor and why he's staying at the "crazy house". Then Henry is blindsided when he's given a terrible ultimatum. Henry is stuck in the middle of a moral dilemma and has very little time to decide what to do.

Just over 100 pages, this book is a short, fast read. Henry is genuine and you can't help but feel sorry for his situation (and cheer him on despite it).  I'm the type of reader who gets emotionally involved while reading and I found myself gasping and getting teary-eyed at several points. Tunes For Bears To Dance To is not a happy read. It confronts some uncomfortable topics and situations dealing with mental health, prejudice, and the concept of evil. But it's another Cormier tale that will stay with you long after you finish it. I love Cormier's powerful yet simple and effective writing.

My Rating: 5 out of 5! Couldn't put it down.

I also recommend Cormier's Heroes, a startling book about a young disfigured WWII veteran who plans on killing the man that inspired him to enlist. Surprisingly, I haven't read "The Chocolate War" or "I am the Cheese" yet. But they're on my TBR list now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through A World of Books to share what you've read in the last week and plan to read this week.

This is my first time participating in this meme. I'm hoping that it will inspire me to get through books faster since I'm sharing my progress with other bloggers.

Tokyo Mew Mew (vol. 1) by Mia Ikumi and Reiko Yoshida
Crescent Moon (vol. 1) by Haruko Iida
I'm starting to read manga, so I'll throw a few volumes in between reading books from my TBR pile.

The King's Mistress by Emma Campion
I haven't read romance/suspense historical fiction in a long time and I'm really enjoying this book.

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
This one is a BookCrossing bookray so I need to read it next and to keep it moving.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to share books bought, borrowed from the library, received for review or won.  Enjoy!

This is my first In My Mailbox post!  Here are the books I received in the last week:

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
I won this ARC in a giveaway from Steph Su Reads.  It turns out that Steph lives real close to me so we met up last weekend for lunch. I had a great time and I'm so psyched that such an awesome blogger lives in the next town over. Can't wait to hang out again!  Nightshade releases on October 19...hey, that's my birthday! :)

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller (ARC for review, releases on August 10).
Deja at first sight...I'm so excited to read this one!

Fallout by Ellen Hopkins (ARC for review, releases on September 14)

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
ARC, released in July 2007.  This is a BookCrossing bookray. You sign up for bookrays with your BC account, eventually get the book in the mail (the order usually based on shipping preference), read it, and then mail it to the next person on the bookray list.  The last person tends to continue the ray or send it to someone wishing for it as a RABCK (Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness). I'm 23rd on the list, so it's traveled pretty Canada, Portugal, UK, South Africa, Finland, awesome is that?!?  It's next on my TBR list and when I'm done it's going to Washington state next (then it'll continue on to Japan...gotta love bookrays).

Wait For Dusk (Dark Days, book 5) by Jocelynn Drake
I finished book 4, Pray For Dawn, last week. Jocelynn Drake was in Maryland last month for a signing at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland. I really wanted to go and meet her, but it's over 3 hours away and the road trip didn't work out. However, you could purchase signed (and personalized) copies online. YAY! Here's my signed copy that arrived in the mail last week:

"Michelle, The wait was too long. J Drake"

That's it for now. Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Cold Magic

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is...
Cold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy, Bk. 1)
by Kate Elliott
Releases on September 9, 2010

Description from Amazon:
From one of the genre's finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle. 
It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.
Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?
I love how Kate Elliott (and her publisher) explain the book's setting:
It’s a brand new series set in a brand new world, although a fair bit of this steampunk world may look familiar because it is set in an alternate Earth. My publisher has described the book as "a Victorian fantasy set in an alternate world of trolls, dragons, and darker magic, this is a combination of steampunk and adventure fantasy at its most fast, and furious." I also call this book my Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy with Bonus! airship, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons.  (from her website)
How awesome does that sound!?!  Check out Kate Elliott's website and blog for more info.

What book are you waiting on?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Completely Unrelated To Books...Seven Days of Yoga

Lynn from The Next Chapter is hosting the Seven Day Yoga Challenge this week. It has nothing to do with books or libraries so why am I posting about it?

Well, sometimes you need a jump start or a change in pace to shake up your reading a book completely outside your genre comfort zone. Yoga was hobby of mine during college.  I attended yoga classes at my school's fitness center whenever I had free time between my studies and other responsibilities.  It was a fun stress reliever that was different from any other activity in my life at the time.

Today I spend my days working in a library and my free time reading, BookCrossing, blogging and attempting to keep up with all my Google Reader feeds. So when I saw Lynn's yoga challenge it reminded me that even though books are such a huge part of my life, I need to throw other stuff in the break up my reading, to relieve stress after work and to keep everything feeling fresh (and fun).  That's why I decided to take the Seven Day Yoga Challenge. Hopefully it'll spark my passion for yoga again.

If you want to learn more, head over to Lynn's blog and cheer on the other participants.  I'll update this post throughout the week to share my progress in this challenge.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday: Zen in Your Den, 20 minutes, from Exercise TV On Demand.
Monday: Yoga on the Edge Sunset, 27 minutes, from Exercise TV On Demand.
Tuesday: The Biggest Loser: The Workout: Weight Loss Yoga, 30 minutes, DVD
Wednesday: Louise Solomon's Yoga & Pilates: Total Body Toner, Workout One, 20 minutes?, DVD

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bookish News: 30 Days until Mockingjay!

I'm so excited for the release of Suzanne Collins' final installment of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay.  I marked August 24 on my calendar months ago.  Only 30 more days to wait!

I haven't decided if I'm going to preorder it on Amazon (so it will be waiting for me when I get home from work) or if I want to pick it up at Borders or Chester County Book Company and take a vacation day to read it (is that crazy?!?). Some Borders are hosting special Mockingjay Fan Fests that following weekend, but I'm disappointed that it's not a midnight release party so not sure if I will attend yet.

Author Suzanne Collins will be promoting the book on a 12 city tour this fall, including a stop in Pennsylvania on Sept. 21 at 6:00pm at the Barnes & Noble in Fairless Hills. I will definitely be there! Let me know if you're local and plan to go.

Hunger Games tshirts are now available at Hot Topic. I haven't shopped there in a while, but I'll definitely stop by to take a look at what they have in stock. Several designs are already sold out online. These shirt designs are available on Hot Topic's website:
Also, you can shop for some amazing Hunger Games inspired jewelry at Etsy, including charm bracelets, necklaces, pins, earrings, rings and much more. I love this Girl on Fire necklace! Go Katniss!

As you could probably tell by now, The Hunger Games is currently my favorite YA series.  I gushed about it in my first ever Waiting on Wednesday post.

If you haven't read the series yet, don't wait another day. WARNING: Do NOT read the summaries/synopsis/reviews of the second or third books because they will spoil the endings of the previous books. You've only got 30 days to devour the first two books (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire)...I did it in 4 days!

Check out The Hunger Games Examiner for other news stories about the series.

You can download this Mockingjay countdown widget and other fun stuff from Scholastic.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Study Like A Scholar" in your Library!

I love libraries and I get a kick out of those goofy Old Spice commercials. So check out this awesome video that combines both!  Genius! 

Based on this video and other fun library-related stuff, NPR speculates that libraries are the next pop-culture phenom:  Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1st Annual 2010 PAYA Festival

I recently learned that the 1st Annual 2010 PAYA Festival will be held at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts in West Chester, PA on August 21st!  It's local for me, so I'm thrilled and can't wait to attend.  What is the PAYA?  Well, I just discovered them and as their website states:
PAYA is a coalition of Pennsylvania’s young adult authors, bloggers, librarians, readers, and other book-lovers. Our mission is two-fold:
1 - To share the love we have for young adult literature with others in our state
2 - To raise money to support Pennsylvania’s libraries, with a focus on helping build Young Adult library collections and Young Adult services.
I'm a reader, blogger, YA lover, and work in a library, so it sounds great to me! The festival includes author signings, a bake sale, a used book sale, a basket raffle, and two writing workshops for aspiring YA authors.  FYI - you need to register ahead and pay a small fee for each workshop.

So far, fifteen authors are listed for the book signings including Shannon Delany (13 to Life), Jennifer Murgia (Angel Star), Amy Brecount White (Forget-Her-Nots), Jeri Smith-Ready (Shade, WVMP series, Aspect of the Crow trilogy), and many more!

The PAYA is also accepting monetary and book donations. Money can be donated by Paypal or money order. All books donated need to be YA or middle grades in like-new condition and donated directly to PA libraries.  Plus you'll get swag bags featuring stuff like signed bookmarks for specific level donations (starts at $10 or 10 books donated).

Check out the PAYA: Bringing (More) YA to PA blog for all the authors, the event schedule and more details. Let me know if you're attending...I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bookish News: Daniel Radcliffe in Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe will star in the film adaptation of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black.  I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I thought he was great as Rudyard Kipling's son in My Boy JackIn The Woman in Black, Radcliffe is a young lawyer who travels to an old house in a remote UK village to review the papers of a deceased client. Check out the descripton of the book below for more details. I've added the book to my TBR 'bout you?

Published in 1983, The Woman in Black was Susan Hill's first ghost story. Read about her process of writing the book on her website.  Susan's latest book The Small Hand, published by Profile Books, will release this September.

Some cover love for The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black book description from Amazon:
What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller - one that chills the body with foreboding of dark deeds to come, but warms the soul with perceptions and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story by Jane Austen.

Austen we cannot, alas, give you, but Susan Hill's remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as the late twentieth century is likely to provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero one Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north to attend the funeral and settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the nursery of the deserted Eel Marsh House, the eerie sound of pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most dreadfully, and for Kipps most tragically, the woman in black.

The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler - proof positive that that neglected genre, the ghost story, isn't dead after all.

P.S. Radcliffe is also starring in the film remake of Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, due out in Spring 2012.

Friday, July 16, 2010

BC Bookshelf Update: Gotta love free books!

BC Bookshelf Updates features my latest bookish and BookCrossing (BC) activities including book trades, RABCKs, book rings/rays, challenges, and all things BookCrossing.  Enjoy!

Miraculously, I won two book giveaways recently!  This is the first time I've ever won a giveaway hosted by another book I'd like to send out a big THANK YOU to Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews, where I won a copy of Deception by Lee Nichols. Paranormal YA is awesome and I'm excited to start reading the Haunting Emma series.


Then I won Heather's giveaway over at Fire and Ice for a copy of River Secrets by Shannon Hale.  I'm a huge fan of Shannon Hale.  I loved Goose Girl and can't wait to read all the Books of Bayern.  Thanks Heather! Check out Heather's blog for awesome jewelry giveaways. Her Little Red Reads shop on Etsy features adorable bookish inspired items.

In other news, I received three new ARCs in the mail. The King's Mistress by Emma Campion was released on July 6th and it's on the top of my TBR list. Dracula In Love by Karen Essex releases on August 10th, but I have to read Dracula first.  I own a copy and I've read the first 1/3 of it before but got sidetracked for some reason. The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart will also release on August 10th.

Last Sunday, I attended the monthly Audubon BookCrossers meeting at Panera Bread in Audubon, PA. I left the meeting with less books than I brought with me...which was my goal.  So I now have a volume from a new (well, new for me) vampires series and a handful of manga.  I've never read manga before.  My first graphic novel (The Courageous Princess by Rod Espinosa) was awesome so it'll be fun to experiment with manga. 

Hunted: A House of Night Novel by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Crescent Moon, Vol. 1  by Haruko Iida
Tokyo Mew Mew, Vol. 1  by Mia Ikumi & Reiko Yoshida
Kodocha: Sana's Stage. Vol. 1  by Miho Obana
The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1  by Takeshi Konomi

I should finish reading Pray for Dawn this weekend and try to post the review soon.  Well, that's it for now. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: I Am Number Four

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is...
I Am Number Four
by Pittacus Lore
Releases August 3, 2010
I think this book is the next big series.  It hasn't been released yet and the movie version is already being filmed starring Jake Abel (Luke from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians The Lightning Thief movie), Dianna Agron (Quinn from GLEE) and Alex Pettyfer (from the upcoming movie Beastly).  The movie's scheduled to release in February 2011. 
Oh yeah, Pittacus Lore is the alien character pseudonym for authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes. I've avoided reading anything by James Frey as a result of his fictional "memoir" A Million Little Pieces (ugh...just be truthful and call it fiction!), so I'm going to try to put my bias aside and give this book a shot.
Check out the book's website and facebook page.
Here's the description from Amazon:
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone


The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors
by Michele Young-Stone
Shaye Areheart Books, April 2010, 372 pages.
ARC received from publisher.

Description on ARC*:

The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors follows two lost souls separated by time and place, from the moment lightning changes their lives until the day it ceases to define them.

On a sunny day in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Becca Burke, flame-haired daughter of Mary and Rowan Burke, was struck by lightning.  She was eight years old. No one believed her, even when her watch kept losing time and a spooky halo of light appeared over her head in every photograph taken after the strike. She was hit again when she was sixteen.  Becca survived, but over time she would learn that outsmarting lightning was the least of her concerns.

Buckley R. Pitank was always very attractive to bullies, including his pseudo-evangelical stepfather, the Reverend John Whitehouse.  When he escaped with his mother to glorious Galveston, Texas, at thirteen, it seemed his luck was changing.  But when Buckley loses the love of his life to a lightning strike, his quest to understand the power of lightning will lead him around the country and into the heart of a young woman who once thought she was alone in the world.

My Review: 

I wasn’t prepared for The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors. This story is much darker than I thought from the description above. It’s not a romance or an uplifting story or a book I could fall in love with.  It’s a gripping tale about two children living separate lives, Buckley in Arkansas and Becca in North Carolina. They both grow up in dysfunctional families and become scarred from lightning in different ways.  Most of the adults in this novel are downright selfish, focusing only on their needs, wants, biases.  I particularly couldn’t stand Becca’s parents.  Definitely not good role models for any kid, I don’t envy Becca or Buckley’s situations.  They are confronted by heart-wrenching issues including a parent’s adultery, the pressures (and addictions) of drugs/sex, and surviving the pains of death, grief, heartbreak and (of course) lightning strikes.  

It took longer to read this book than I initially thought it would.  For me, it was hard to get through the first 100-and-some pages.  We meet so many friends and families members, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of the characters (i.e. wait, who’s grandma is this again?...oh, okay that one).  Buckley is slightly older than Becca so the timeline jumps around throughout the book and begins in the 1960s stretching until the 1990s.  At times, it didn’t really feel like a YA novel to me because of the frequent drug use, cursing and casual sex (I’m talking about the adults and our two main characters) sugar coating, not something I’d recommend for younger readers.  Half way through, I had to stop to ask myself, “Is this a book I actually want to read?” Finally, Becca and Buckley’s separate worlds SLOWLY begin to merge...first with locations and then minor characters (friends-of-friends) until the inevitable meeting.   

Each chapter begins with an excerpt from The Handbook of Lightning Strike Survivors, either an anecdote, “fact”, or advice on surviving lightning.  It a unique way to break up the alternating chapters between Buckley and Becca’s story lines.  I have to say that it was great finding out who narrated these excerpts.

Not until the end could I appreciate all the earlier details.  Readers must endure the pain to understand and grow with these characters.  The ending was poignant and I got teary-eyed.  Even though I questioned reading this book, I’m glad I stuck with it for the compelling ending.  I love YA fantasy, and I like to take chances on books outside my reading comfort zone.  The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors challenged me in this way. Michele Young-Stone, a lightning strike survivor herself, created a forceful story and I can understand why other readers might love it.

My rating: 3/5  

For more information on the book, check out Michele Young-Stone's website (for the book trailer) and blog.

* I used the ARC's description because Amazon doesn't really feature a product description but has reviews and an excerpt. I think the Goodreads description gives away too many details.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Familiars

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pick was inspired by Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century.  Last week she posted a review AND author interviews for the upcoming release The Familiars.  Check out both posts.  I can't wait to read it now...thanks Kristen!  Plus it's going to be made into a movie, directed by Sam Raimi.  How cool is that!?!

For more info on the book:
The Familiars - Official website (excerpt and trailer coming soon)

The Familiars
by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
Releases on September 7, 2010

Description from Amazon:

THE FAMILIARS are the magical animal companions to a wizard or witch. When three young wizards-in-training get kidnapped by the evil queen of the land, it is up to their familiars to go a dangerous journey to rescue them. You'll meet Aldwyn, an orphan alley cat pretending to have telekinesis; Skylar, a know-it-all blue jay who can cast illusions; and Gilbert, a hapless tree frog with the ability to see visions of the future in pools of water. See what happens when these three animal assistants -- typically relegated to the background or found sitting quietly on their wizard's shoulders -- go on a heroic adventure of their own!

Some Love For Authors Who Love Vampires!

In honor of the release of Jocelynn Drake's Pray For Dawn yesterday and (of course) the movie release of Eclipse today, here's a few awesome authors explaining why they love vampires.

Justin Cronin, author of the new best-seller The Passage (which I have to add to my TBR list), shares his vampire inspirations. Oh, and the book has a movie deal! 

USA Today's PopCandy blog featured a guest post yesterday by Meg Cabot about her love of TV and movie vampires while growing up (she reminded me a little of Raven from Vampire Kisses). 

Why We Love Vampires:  This article profiles our obsession with vampires with insight from Nina Auerbach, a U Penn English professor and author of Our Vampires, Ourselves

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Summer of Reading Challenges

This summer is my chance to catch up on a bunch of books I want to read before starting grad school this fall (eek!). So here's two awesome summer reading challenges I found.  Compile your summer TBR list and join in!

Summer Reading Challenge 2010 - hosted by Julie at My Book Retreat. It kicked off last Monday, June 21 (the first day of summer) and runs until September 21.  Three whole months!  To participate, create a list of the books you’d like to read or finish during this summer season...there's no minimum and no requirements as to the type of books you put on your list. YAY!  See her blog for more details.

Summer Slimdown - Carina's (Reading Through Life) reading challenge starts TODAY June 29 and ends on September 6.  Her one rule: it has to be on your shelf already by June 28 to count. Check out blog and post your TBR list.

Since I seem to change my reading goals every few days, I can't guarantee I'll stick to it 100%.  The books with the asterisks (**) are titles that won't count toward the Summer Slimdown because they're not on my shelf yet (i.e. not yet released). 

My TBR list for these summer challenges: (in no real particular order)

The King's Mistress by Emma Campion - I won an ARC...this book releases on July 6!

Dawnbreaker (Dark Days, 3) by Jocelynn Drake

Pray for Dawn (Dark Days, 4) by Jocelynn Drake** Releases TODAY June 29!!

Dracula In Love by Karen Essex - I have an ARC. This book releases on August 10!

Dracula by Bram Stoker - I attempted to read it once but got sidetracked...need to read it before I start Dracula In Love. Plus, it's a 1001 book.

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth

Graceling by Kristin Cashmore - I feel like I'm the only person who hasn't read this one yet.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins** Releases on August 24!  I can't wait for this one!!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - 1001 Book.  I'm behind in my 1001 book challenge (reading ten 1001 books this year).

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - 1001 Book (part of an anthology with Frankenstein and Dracula)

That's 13 books!  I'll update my progress throughout the summer.  Happy readings!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Hottest Graphic Novels of Summer 2010 compiled a list of the Hottest Graphic Novels of Summer 2010. It's divided into the categories of kids, tweens, teens, adult non-fiction and adult fiction.  Plus there's a printable list of all the catagories, which might be useful on the next trip to the comic book store.  Here's a few that look really cool to me.

In the TEEN category...

Legends: The Enchanted
by Nick Percival
Radical Publishing
On sale June 29

Reinventing the popular Grimms’ Fairy Tale characters in a fantasy action-adventure that mixes elements of X-Men and Sleepy Hollow, this book is set in a post-industrial steam-punk backdrop. Supernatural immortals live in a dark, creature-infested world where nature, technology, and foul magic are in constant conflict. When the twisted, burnt remains of the half-wooden, half-mechanical warrior Pinocchio are discovered, wolf hunter Red Hood and giant-killer Jack realize the fragile rules of their existence have been shattered. With the help of other powerful Enchanted (the mercenary Goldilocks and psychic exterminators Hansel and Gretel), Jack and Red team up on an adventure to stop whatever, or whoever, is destroying their powers and murdering their kind.

Stuff of Legend
by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith, and Charles Paul Wilson III
Random House Publishing Group
On sale now
Originally published by indie publisher Th3rd World Studios, this gorgeous comic will make you rethink everything you ever thought about the Boogeyman and your childhood dreams and nightmares. On the outside, it looks like a child’s story: A child is kidnapped and pulled into The Dark by the Boogeyman, and his beloved toys try to rescue him. On their perilous mission, they will confront the boy’s bitter and forgotten toys, as well as betrayal in their own ranks. Can they save the boy from the forces of evil, or will they all perish in the process?

In the ADULT FICTION category...

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel
by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith; adapted by Tony Lee and Cliff Richards
Random House Publishing Group
On sale now
Based on the New York Times bestselling monster mashup! Who doesn’t love gory zombie mayhem with a dash of English manners?

18 Days
by Grant Morrison
Dynamic Entertainment
On sale August 10

From superstar creator Grant Morrison (All Star Superman, Batman & Robin, The Invisibles) comes 18 Days, the story of three generations of superwarriors, meeting for the final battle of their age. 18 Days is a reimagining of the great eastern myth Mahabharata and follows the course of the climactic war that concludes the age of the gods and begins the age of man. It is the prototype for every war ever fought. The scale is epic, wherein the biggest armies ever conceived of face one another across the ultimate battlefield to decide the fate of the future. This hardcover illustrated script book allows readers a first glimpse into the mythic animated series being developed by Morrison.

Monday, June 21, 2010

HUGE TBR Readathon Wrap Up PLUS A Summer Slimdown!

The HUGE TBR Readathon ended last night. A big thank you goes out to Bookworming in the 21st Century for hosting the event. I absolutely LOVE read-a-thons and I usually set my reading goals way too high.  This time I planned to read 4 books for the week and it was pretty unrealistic considering my weekend plans (I ran in a 5 mile race on Friday followed by throwing an awesome party for family and friends).  Anyway, I did read two of the four books:

I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn  (146 pages)
Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber  (253 pages)

Total pages read:  399 pages
Time spent reading:  8 hours

Not my most impressive stats. I'm still reading The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone.  I hope to finish it this week. The fourth book on my list was The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, which I'll definitely get around to reading soon. Right now, I'm working on several reviews and hope to post them soon.

A Summer Read-a-thon!

Taylor over at The Library Lurker decided to turn her entire summer into a read-a-thon to get through her huge TBR pile.  What a great idea!  Instead of a week, three whole months devoted to reading. Well, that's where I found Carina's comment from Reading Through Life about hosting a summer read-a-thon called the Summer Slimdown from June 29-September 6.  I can't wait to join!  I'll make a list of my TBR books that I've been dying to read (and some books I need to just bookcross already) and post it when the challenge begins.  I'd like to believe that I could get through my TBR pile without participating in challenges, but it provides so much motivation. I love that feeling of checking off books from your list, tracking the progress and then sharing it with other readers. It sounds like a lot of head over there to sign up!