Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Unraveling Isobel

"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...

Unraveling Isobel
by Eileen Cook
Releases on January 3, 2012
A darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor, from the author of The Eductation of Hailey Kendrick and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. Isobel's life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn't only her life that's unraveling-her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she's seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel's fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

Oooh, a contemporary YA with a splash of paranormal and a hint of romance. Sounds like fun!  I'm on a world-building dystopian kick right now and I like to throw in a contemporary YA every so often.  Unraveling Isobel seems like a cute contribution to the contemporary paranormal genre.  Plus, it's releasing in two weeks so it's not too long of a wait!

Read the first chapter on Eileen Cook's website.

I have two early favorite quotes already (and from the same paragraph): 
"I looked at my mom for confirmation. I hoped it was a joke, but instead of laughing, she was looking at Dick like a slice of chocolate cheesecake after an extended sugar-free diet."   
"The wings on both sides were covered in ivy. Not in a nice Big Ten-campus sort of way, but more like a wild-jungle-vine-gone-rabid kind of way."  (As an alum for a Big Ten it!)
Enter the book giveaway on Goodreads.  Unraveling Isobel on Amazon and GoodReads.

What book are you waiting on? 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

R.I.P. Challenge Wrap Up

In September, I joined Carl's (Stainless Steel Droppings) 6th annual R.I.P. Challenge (i.e. R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril).  I wanted to use the challenge as a way to catch up on my 1001-books reading, or lack there of.

The R.I.P. challenge participants read books from September 1st to October 31st in the following genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural.

I signed up for the "Peril the First" level to read 4 books. Not too much for me. While I thought I would read Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I only read one of those titles. What can I say...I get easily distracted with YA series.  Here are the five supernatural-themed books I read in October:

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Bk.1) by Cassandra Clare.

Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps, #1) by R. L. Stine.

Queen of the Dead (The Ghost and the Goth, Bk.2) by Stacey Kade.

Demonglass (Hex Hall, Bk.2) by Rachel Hawkins.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Some thoughts on these book:
I absolutely love the Hex Hall series!  Demonglass was my favorite among all my October reads, followed closely by City of Bones.  I bought The Mortal Instruments trilogy set a while ago so I'll definitely continue reading the series in November.  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was different than I thought it would be...more suspense than horror.  I'm glad I read it.  Welcome to Dead House is a Goosebumps classic that I had lying around.  I was obsessed with Goosebumps growing up and must have read at least the first 50 volumes of the series.  Finally, Queen of the Dead was amusing but not world-shattering. It's a fun series (The Ghost and the Goth) but not as addicting as Hex Hall or The Mortal Instruments.

This was a fun challenge!  I'll join it again next year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Classic Kid Lit Rant

On Friday, The Independent featured an article called "Why do adults read children's books? Blame modern life".  According to Dr. Louise Joy from Cambridge University, adults read classic children's books (and modern books that resemble older children's classics) because they represent a "symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality".

More gems from the article:
"Books such as Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach offer a world where self-consciousness is overthrown and relationships are straightforward," says Dr Joy. "But relationships in the real adult world are often fraught by miscommunication and the impossibility of understanding one another properly."
Dr Joy claims The Hobbit's characters hanker after simple meals, whereas "in the real world we rarely sit to down to a home-cooked meal".
Really?  Give me a break!  I understand that Dr. Joy trying to promote her forthcoming book Literature's Children, but come on.  You can use an "escaping reality" argument for reading in any genre, not just classic children's books...or any hobby could be seen as an escapist activity from watching TV to playing a sport. Your focus is on the show or game, not dwelling on life's stresses.  While some classic kid lit plots seem straightforward or idealistic, that doesn't mean the story is one dimensional or without relationship conflicts.  It sounds like Joy's theory over-analyzes scenes and character traits in children's literature to justify that seemingly needy adults use it as a method to escape their terrible reality.

I'm a YA lit fan but I don't read these stories because they give me things I don't have in my everyday "real adult" life.  I cook meals with my husband.  I communicate with my family and friends.  I didn't want a soul mate who could be my identical twin. I simply enjoy reading children and young adult books because the stories are fun. I agree with children's author Charlie Higson who's quoted in the article as saying:
"I get irritated when people try to come up with great theories... The nostalgia which inspires us to read children's books written 100 years ago is the same as what attracts us to watch period dramas on television."
Thank you Charlie. 

P.S. Charlie Higson's book The Enemy is on my TBR list. I love zombies, especially YA zombie novels since it's fun to read. :)   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WOW: Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh

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

It's been a while since I featured a WOW book.  And there's one that I can't get out of my head.

My pick this week is...
(Nevermore, bk. 2)
by Kelly Creagh

I absolutely LOVED Nevermore!  It was fun and suspenseful and romantic...I loved the characters and the storyline...everything!  I can't wait until Enshadowed comes out.

The weird thing is the release date was slated for January 17, 2012, but now GoodReads and Amazon also say August 28, 2012.  I don't get it.  I already can't stand the wait until 2012 and now August.  Hopefully, we'll get it earlier in the year rather than later.

Author Kelly Creagh explained the long wait on this blog post. Thanks for sharing Kelly, but I'm still an impatient fan.

Friday, September 2, 2011

R.I.P. VI Challenge

Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the 6th annual R.I.P. Challenge, which stands for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril. From September 1st to October 31st, read books in the following genres:

Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Supernatural.  

I'll try the "Peril the First" level of reading 4 books. It shouldn't be too hard to accomplish.  I'm way behind on my 1001 book reading so I will finally get around to reading Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Not sure about the fourth book yet. 

Check out Carl's blog post for all the details.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reading Without Reviewing

My summer has officially ended this week with the beginning of fall semester.  I thought I would regularly post over the last two summer months without the stress of class deadlines and other grad school responsibilities.  Instead, I sorta fell off the face of the earth in terms of blogging.

I caught up on some of the leisure reading (my TBR list is never-ending so not vast amount of progress in the long run).  I was more interested in reading than fulfil that need to get lost in a story, in an author's world, and just savor it.  Then I ventured into the next world and so on. But I didn't necessarily reflect deeply about each book.  I didn't take any notes.  I didn't write down the page numbers of my favorite quotes.  I enjoyed reading the books, but I kind of regret flying through them so quickly. Now, I'm ready to attempt my note-taking again and soulfully reflect on the story lines so I can update more frequently.

Here are some of the books I read this summer....

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: The Fallen, The Stolen, The Chosen by Liz Braswell

Vampire Knight, vol. 11 & 12

The Secret Circle: The Initiation and The Captive Part I by L. J. Smith

The Secret Circle: The Captive Part II and The Power by L. J. Smith

That's 12 books in 9 volumes...not too bad for a month and a half.  I might try to go back and write a few reviews. 

Right now I'm reading Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers, the second book of the Personal Demons series. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Stonewords: A Ghost Story by Pam Conrad

Stonewords: A Ghost Story
by Pam Conrad
First HarperTrophy Edition, 1991
130 pages.
ISBN: 0-06-440354-8

Description on the book:
Zoe's best friend is a ghost.  The first time Zoe met Zoe Louise, Zoe was four years old. Zoe Louise was more than one hundred. From that day on---living in the same house, separated by a staircase and a century---Zoe and Zoe Louise have been an important and permanent part of each other's lives.

Now Zoe is older. And although Zoe Louise never grows up, she is changing in dreadful, frightening ways. Time is running out for Zoe's best friend---and Zoe is the only one who can help her. To do so, she must travel back one hundred years in time and somehow alter the past. But in changing the past, must she also change the present? If she saves her friend's life, will she lose Zoe Louise forever?

My Review:
Best friends, ghosts, time travel and a rickety old staircase---it's the magical ingredients for the adorable plot of Stonewords: A Ghost Story. I must admit, I read this book with a complete bias...I remember loving it as a child.  My copy of Stonewords has a tattered cover, yellowing pages, and a Lisa Frank sticker inside the back cover. The publishing date and sticker are clues that I probably read this book between the ages of 8 and 10, around the main character's age. Would it still hold that same magic for me years later? It definitely does.

Zoe's mom, Jessie, took Zoe to live with her Grandma and PopPop at the age of four. Jessie, who would visit once or twice a year, was eccentric and flighty to say the least: 
"She had some mighty strange ways. Like she has this one cemetery on the island she loved. She didn't know anyone buried there---they'd all been dead for over a hundred years---but my mother would walk through the grass, trailing her silk scarf, with her large straw hat shading her empty eyes, and she'd pause at each stone and read the words out loud." (page 2)
Zoe was named after one of these gravestones. The name was the only word left on a particular crumbling gravestone, no last name or dates.  Yet it took Zoe a long time to the dots between this stoneword and her first childhood friend, Zoe Louise. 

Zoe Louise was a ghost who appeared to Zoe shortly after arriving at her grandparents' house. The girls played, fought, and cherished their unique friendship.  As Zoe ages through the years, Zoe Louise stays the same.  Zoe Louise always wore the same dress and it was always the same day---her birthday spent waiting for her father to come home with her present, a pony. Zoe Louise lived upstairs through the back staircase in the kitchen that Zoe's grandparents no longer used. When Zoe follows Zoe Louise up the dark rear staircase one day, she travels back to Zoe Louise's time.  Confused and scared, Zoe doesn't want to lose her best friend, but she needs to find out what's going on.  She starts investigating what happened to Zoe Louise over a hundred years ago. Can Zoe find out the truth?  Can she change the past? 

I really like Zoe's character.  She is a smart young girl you can't help but cheer on. She's happy with her grandparents and appreciative for their role in her life.  She never quite understands her mother and fears that she will end up like her.  When she first met Zoe Louise, Zoe didn't hide the friendship from her grandparents. But as she got older, Zoe realized it wasn't normal to have an "imaginary friend" so she stopped talking about Zoe Louise.  Zoe doesn't have any other friends in the book and there's no mention of school. I found it odd that her grandparents didn't make her socialize with other children.

Then you've got Zoe Louise, who is a spoiled, sometimes obnoxious 11 year old. She's waiting for her pony and claims Zoe's toys as her own. I had to stop and remind myself during her tantrums that she's just a scared little girl who doesn't understand the circumstances either. Despite their flaws, the Zoes share a deep bond and complex friendship that influences the rest of their lives.

I enjoyed re-reading this book. The story doesn't disappoint. Conrad also wrote a sequel called Zoe Rising, which tells a new story about 14 year old Zoe at summer camp.

Stonewords is a book that I'll keep in my permanent collection in the hopes that I'll pass it on to my own children someday.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My Favorite Passages:
"Probably the strongest feeling I'd ever had for her was anger. For not being a true mother. And for not remembering what she had once told me about the rosebushes." (pg. 4)

"'Zoe, dear.' It  was Grandma, just as the leg tore off the baby doll's body and Zoe Louise's invisible hand disappeared through the door. Grandma opened the door and she stood there alone. My doll was torn in two. 'Oh, Zoe. What have you done? Why aren't you more careful with your things?'" (pg. 21)

"I touched things. My headboard, the wall, the mattress, my pillow. I made sure I was real, that I didn't pass through things, that I was not a ghost. Was not a ghost. I wasn't a ghost anymore." (pg. 51)

For More Information: Stonewords: A Ghost Story on Amazon, GoodReads.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading Challenges Update and HP Deathly Hallows Pt.2

My summer semester is over!  WooHoo!  When I got home from work each day, grad school stuff enveloped all my time.  The summer semester was condensed and intensive.  The last six weeks was full of writing discussion board posts, researching legislative histories, reading scholarly articles and learning all about library reference.  I learned a lot this semester, but I'm so glad it's over.  Now I can get back to reading and BookCrossing...until the madness starts up again at the end of August.

I'm way behind on my reading challenges. Unbelievably, I didn't finish a book in June.  That's a first since I started to track of my books read in January 2010.  I began two books, but never got around to finishing them. I'll look out for any read-a-thons in the end of July or August to help get my reading goals back on track.

2011 Pages Read Challenge:
I really want to hit that 15,000 pages read goal, especially since I didn't make it last year. However, I'm further behind now that I was this time last year.  As of my last count (in the end of May), I'm at 4,645 pages read. That's only 30% of my goal.  Eek!  I have to step up my pace.

Read Ten 1001 Books Challenge:
I only read 1 book so far, Erewhon by Samual Butler (and I hated every moment of it). I'd like to read some Jane Austen, George Orwell, H.G. Wells, Margaret Atwood, and maybe even Franz Kafka if I'm feeling adventurous. I never like to list the next book I'll read because I always end up changing my mind.  I read whatever I crave in that moment.

A-Z New Author Read & Release Challenge:
It's been a while since I updated my list. This challenge takes so long because it only counts registered BookCrossing books that you read and release. So my library books and non-registered BC books don't count.  I completed 10 out of 26 letters so far. Here's the list.

Check out my Reading Challenges page for the lists of books I've read so far. 

On a completely different topic....

I'm going to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 midnight showing tonight!!!  I'm so excited to see it and I know I'll cry in the end.  With the last film, it feels like an era is ending.

I'm going with a group of people which is a first for me.  I usually go to midnight showings by myself because I can't find anyone to drag along with me.  Except of course for last year, when my husband and brother actually came with me for Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows.  When we got to the theater, there were firetrucks and hundreds of people outside all over the parking lot. Some idiot pulled the fire alarm before we got there and it was mayhem.  The theater had no idea how to handle the crowd and by the time they started to let people in, it was past midnight with huge unruly crowd of teenagers pushing and yelling.  What a nightmare!  We didn't stay that night, but were able to exchange our tickets that weekend.  In short, I'm not going back to that movie theater for a midnight showing ever again.

Here are some links to get you in the HP spirit:

Harry Potter Maize Maze (Technabob)
Harry Potter fans unite to end worldly evils (CBSnews)
Harry Potter Stars Felt "Weird" During Epilouge Scene (MTV) 
Harry Potter The Exhibition 
10 Things You Need to Know About "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" (Moviefone)
9 Classic Album Covers Re-Imagined With "Harry Potter" Characters (nextmovie)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Burn The Night by Jocelynn Drake Released!

Burn The Night by Jocelynn Drake was released today!!!  

I'm so excited to read the final book in the Dark Days series.  I bought my copy right after work and I plan on starting it tonight.  I love this series!  Here's a pic of all six volumes on my bookshelf.  Isn't the cover of Burn The Night amazing!?!  It's my favorite cover of the entire series.

Basic story premise (some spoilers):  Mira is a nightwalker (i.e. vampire) who is also known as the Fire Starter since she has the unique ability to create and control fire. In the first book Nightwalker, we meet sexy Danaus who is a nightwalker hunter (i.e. vampire slayer). Danaus and Mira postpone their fight to the death in order to face a common enemy, the naturi.  Lots of drama, fighting, death and several books later, Mira and Danaus survived many foes and are now FINALLY together. But they're up against their greatest challenges yet: kill the naturi roaming the Earth, save their supernatural society that the naturi will destroy, and maybe prevent or at least push back the Great Awakening (i.e. humans realizing all these supernatural beings exist).

Ok, that's a little oversimplified...or maybe I've lost you in my gushing ramblings anyway. If you like urban fantasy or just need a change in pace, give book one Nightwalker a shot.

Like all final books of a good series, I'm excited yet hesitant for it to come to an end.  Jocelynn Drake says it won't let fans down.  If Burn The Night is like the previous books, it will have action, betrayal, and steamy bedroom scenes (maybe a certain couple confessing undying love? Please?).  Jocelynn Drake, my high hopes are in your hands.  I could really use a great lose-yourself-completely-in-a-book reading experience with all my grad school stress.

Also, a Dark Days prequel novella is in the works for this fall, but will only be released as an ebook.  Drake is working on a new series called the Tattoo Artist. She explains the plot on this blog post. Can't wait! 

For more info, check out Jocelynn Drake's blog and website.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Darke

"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...

Septimus Heap, Book Six: Darke
by Angie Sage

Releases on June 7, 2011

We're just a week away from the return of Septimus Heap.  Darke is the 6th book of Angie Sage's Magykal series. 

Septimus has a special place in my heart.  Check out my thoughts of the series on my About Me page.

Description from Amazon:

In the sixth book of the Magykal series, Alther Mella has been Banished, a Darke Domaine engulfs the Castle, and a Darke dragon is on the loose. Septimus Heap must use all of his skills to save the Castle and the Wizard Tower from destruction: He must enter the Darke. But he cannot do this alone. With the help of Jenna, Alther Mella, Marcellus Pye, and Septimus's estranged brother, Simon Heap, Septimus and Marcia Overstrand battle the spreading Darkenesse. Will Septimus succeed in protecting his Magykal world?

Written with Angie Sage's characteristic humor, Septimus Heap, Book Six: Darke is a compelling fantasy adventure filled with surprises, thrills, and laugh-out-loud moments. Readers will revel in the action-packed story as they realize the wisdom of Magyk—that all things are meant to be part of a living whole.

Check out the Official Septimus Heap Blog for updates and some awesome illustrations from Darke.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

HG: Our First Look At Katniss And More!

In March, I ranted a little bit when Jennifer Lawrence was casted as Katniss in The Hunger Games movie. Too blonde, too old, yada yada yada.

Now I'm breathing a big sigh of relief.  Jennifer Lawrence is on this week's Entertainment Weekly cover...and she looks pretty awesome!  The hair and makeup does wonders.  She almost looks like the Katniss image in my head.  I can't wait to see more pictures. Hopefully we'll get a glimpse of Gale and Peeta soon.

Other reasons to anxiously await and celebrate the movie's release in March 2012:
- Woody Harrelson as Haymitch: I'm doing back flips! Absolutely loved Harrelson as Tallahassee in Zombieland. Perfect casting job there.
- Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman: Incredible actor!
-  We can splurge and buy some amazing HG merchandise from Cafe Press, Etsy, Amazon, NECA, and more other sites.
- The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy: This collection of essays released last month (I haven't read it yet...I know, it's blasphemous) is a must read to add on your TBR list before the movie. Hmm, perhaps there will be books in the future on HG film criticism and interpretation.

So excited to see the movie. Gary Ross, please do it justice!

Check out these HG links:
EW's Hunger Games Central for news and updates.
My Hunger Games

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Silence

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

Silence (Hush, Hush bk.3)
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Releases on October 4, 2011.
Last month, I power-read the first two books (Hush, Hush and Crescendo) of this series.  By power-reading I mean: two days, stay-up-as-late-as-possible, all plot events run into each other, don't-bother-me-I'm-reading!!! power-reading sessions.

I didn't write reviews for these books yet. Maybe I will when I re-read them before Silence comes out. 

I must admit this series had a sort of "Twilight" effect on me.  I fell in love with the storyline (despite it's flaws).  I was completely and utterly enveloped in it the point where I can't really remember what minor stuff happened in which book, the point when you're willing to skip a meal or cancel plans because you don't want to stop reading. 

Still, the more I considered the characters and plot, the more flaws I saw. Some characters can be overly whiny and completely unbelieveable.  Some of the situations Nora puts herself in are absolutely ridiculous. I understand the poor book reviews. I get it.  But despite it all, I'm completely in love with this story (and Patch).  Hopefully, the final phase of my Twilight effect* doesn't break the Silence for me (sorry for the terrible pun...couldn't help myself). 

Love the cover!  Finally one with both characters on it. Can't wait until October!

*I hated Breaking Dawn with a passion and it ruined the entire series for me.  But that's a rant for another day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dewey 24 Hour Read-a-thon, Part 3

Hour 20 Update:
- 8.5 hours of reading/4 hours blogging & challenges.
- I finished 2 books during this read-a-thon:
  The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman
  The Boxcar Children (#1) by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

I think I'm hitting that wall...bedtime is nearing.  I will add a final post soon, possibly after napping.  Keep going strong everyone.  I always enjoy this read-a-thon! :)

Hour 18 Update:
I'm still up at Hour 18!  It's nearly 2am (approaching hour 19) and I'm getting a little loopy. It's really hard to focus on reading.

- Reading 2nd book: The Boxcar Children (#1) by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
- 7 hours of reading for 248 pages...hmm, guess I'm still a bit distracted.  I wanted to be further, but I'm having fun anyway.
- I LOVE the Classic Paranormal Mashup mini-challenge. The mashup book title I came up with is Ethan Frome Hell. And with this mini-challenge, I hit my goal of participating in 5.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dewey 24 Hour Read-a-thon, Part 2

Despite many distractions (errands, Mom visiting, and cooking dinner), I'm still reading.  OK, it's Hour 13 and I'm nowhere never my goals...but I've got all night.  Keep on going everyone! 

Hour 13 Update:
Hours Spent Reading: 3
Books Read: 1
   The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman (library hardback large print edition)
Pages Read: 141 pages
Mini-Challenges Completed:4
   1 - Intro
   2 - Where in the world are you reading?
  12- Mid-Event Survey
  13- Book Habits

Hour 12 Update:
Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman
2. How many books have you read so far? Finishing up my first one.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Hmm, I want to read The Boxcar Children next. :)
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I intended to, but had to also run errands and make dinner.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?  Way too many interruptions to count. I dealt with them, but I'll bunch back in the second half.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I haven't updated my posts as much as I thought I would.  Sorry, I'll check in more often.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  Not yet...maybe later.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?  I would try really hard to focus more on just reading today. Couldn't devote as much time as I thought I would.
9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope, I'm ready for more!
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Nothing revolutionary, but commenting and texting friends help keep you connected.

Dewey 24 Hour Read-a-thon, Part 1

Welcome to my Dewey 24 Hour Read-a-thon, Pt.1 post!  This is my third time participating and I'm going to consolidate some of my posts this time around. Check back frequently to see how I'm doing. :)

Hour 1 Update: 
1) Where are you reading from today?
My apartment in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.
2) Three random facts about me…
      1 - No pets...I have terrible allergies.
      2 - My favorite drink (besides wine) is a Starbucks Caffè Mocha.
      3 - I love scrapbooking, even though it never seems like I have time to do it anymore.
3) How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 
I have 8 books next to my couch and I would like to read at least 3 in the next 24 hours.
4) Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? 
My goals: Read for at least 10 hours (not including blogging, cheering, etc.), complete 3 books, and participate in at least 5 challenges (1 down, 4 to go!).
5) If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Pick short books you really want to read. Check in on other readers throughout the day and especially nearing the end.  When the 18-20 hour marks come around, it's rough...we're in it together, so show you're support. I write down the time period I read on a 3 x 5 index card to keep track.  Finally, have fun! You might not be able to read for 24 hours straight with all the updating, blogging, cheering, eating, and dealing with family/weekend stuff to distract you.  It's OK, just enjoy the ride! 

Hour 2 Update: 
I read 50 pages of The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman in 1 hour. It's awesome!  I have 4 Alice Hoffman books in my pile. Let's see if today turns into a Hoffman read-a-thon.
Check out the Hour 2 mini-challenge at I Heart Monster.  This was a fun one!
Where In The World Are You Reading?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Countdown to Dewey!

Dewey's 24 hour read-a-thon begins in under 10 hours!  I've had a really bad week, so I will try my best to relax and enjoy losing myself in a good story.  My goals this time around...hmmm....I'll shoot for 10 hours of reading, three books, and at least 5 challenges. 

Not sure which ones I'll read, but here's the pile of books next to me:

A bunch of Alice Hoffman books including:
 - The Foretelling
 - Green Angel (re-read)
 - Green Witch
 - The Ice Queen
The Boxcar Children (#1) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien
Stonewords: A Ghost Story by Pam Conrad

See you in the morning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: The Watchers

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

It's been months since I last participated in this meme.  The book that brought me back which I desperately want to read now is...

The Watchers
(Delcroix Academy, Bk. 2)
by Inara Scott

Releases in August 2011.

I just finished the first book of the Delcroix Academy series, The Candidates (a review coming soon).  I'm excited to read what happens next.  I don't want to post the summary of book two because it would completely ruin the first book for new readers of the series. Let me leave the series premise at...girl with a secret power is recruited to attend an elite academy that holds it's own mysteries, and of course there are two hot guys in the picture.  Ok, maybe that's a complete oversimplification because the plot felt deeper than other books with the "supernatural chick at new school" storyline.

The cover is gorgeous!  It's dark and mysterious.  Love it!  I agree with author Inara Scott when she says it looks even better than the cool orange cover of The Candidates. Alas, this is not the final version yet but I'm hoping it will be.

Do I really have to wait until August?!?  Inara, can you hook a girl up with a copy now...please?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coming Soon: Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon is coming up on Saturday April 9th. Nearly 250 readers signed up so far.  I hope they get 500 participants this year since 448 people signed up for the last one in October.  I haven't officially signed up yet, but I really want to participate in it again. It will ultimately depend on my school work load that week. With some planning and preparation, I should be able to complete (or at least organize) my assignments ahead of time.  This will be my third Dewey 24 hour read-a-thon.  It's addictive and such a fun event!  I love the hourly challenges, the cheerleaders providing encouragement, and sharing the reading experience with so many hardcore book devotees. Sign up and find the details on Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon website.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

Allison Hewitt is Trapped: A Zombie Novel
by Madeleine Roux
St. Martin's Griffin, First Edition
January 2011, 348 pages.
ISBN: 987-0-312-65890-8

Description on the book:

Allison Hewitt and her five colleagues at the Brooks and Peabody bookstore are trapped together when the zombie outbreak hits. Allison reaches out for help through her blog, writing on her laptop and utilizing the military's emergency wireless network (SNET). It may also be her only chance to reach her mother. But as the reality of their situation sinks in, Allison's blog becomes a harrowing account of her edge-of-the-seat adventures (with some witty sarcasm thrown in) as she and her companions fight their way through ravenous zombies and sometimes even more dangerous humans.

My Review:

Madeleine Roux delivers a fun, kick-a** zombie apocalypse novel in Allison Hewitt is Trapped. Allison is a grad student working part-time at the Brooks and Peabody bookstore when the outbreak begins. The bookstore "was attacked by the infected" a.k.a. insanely hungry zombies. Along with three coworkers and two store regulars, Allison finds refuge inside the break room protected behind a heavy reinforced door. But how long will their resources last?  Of course, they must ultimately leave the room (and bookstore) due to supplies and sanitation issues (yuck!).  They find the outside world populated with "groaners" (loud quick zombies) and "floaters" (their quiet slower counterparts). While sometimes impulsive and stubborn, Allison is definitely a feisty leader and becomes pretty handy with an ax.  Despite overcoming many challenges, the characters make some major survival mistakes in the process. Obviously poor judgment leads to unfortunately gory circumstances. 

Written in blog posts, the book chronicles Allison's survival experiences using her laptop powered by electric generators and the military emergency wireless network SNET.  As I started it, I thought reading a whole book of blog posts could get really annoying, but I lost that concern halfway through.  I loved Allison's storytelling. It switched effortlessly from describing their daily events to sharing her feelings like a journal. The blog is Allison's connection to survivors around the world who stumble upon it.  It becomes a comfort to her and her readers, plus a way to share advice and information.

This is definitely NOT a YA novel. There is a lot of language, which isn't necessary a bad thing.  I would have many choice words if crazed zombies attack.  Each chapter title (or blog post) is named after a book: Heart of Darkness, In Defense of Food, Sense and Sensibility, etc.  As a self proclaimed bibliophile, I love this homage.

Allison is courageous (in a brash I'll-stick-my-neck-out-to-save-you sense) yet still approachable.  I felt most of the minor characters were believable (Holly, Ted, Julian) except for a few personalities that fell flat (Collin...I didn't really buy that storyline).  Even though I'm a new reader to the zombie apocalypse genre, this book was a fun, suspenseful read.  I look forward to Roux's upcoming sequel, Sadie Walker is Stranded.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

My Favorite Passages:

"I throw the nearest thing, a monster copy of Whitman's collected works, and it hits a zombie square in the face. It doesn't stop it but it sure as hell slows it down." (pg. 22)

"Here we meet a few of our undead friends and Ted and I get to practice our golf swings. I've never cared for golf much but I could certainly learn to love it. The driver is light but vicious." (pg. 53)

"I don't want to regret or hate, I want to be the person I was before all of this started: Allison Hewitt, Graduate Student, Student of Literature, Faulkner Enthusiast, Field Hockey Player, Daughter, Normal Person. Those titles don't exist anymore." (pg. 120)

For More Info:
Allison Hewitt is Trapped on: Amazon, Facebook, GoodReads
Madeleine Roux's blog

Friday, March 18, 2011

Katniss Casted in The Hunger Games Movie

Yesterday the world found out that actress Jennifer Lawrence was casted as Katniss Everdeen, the incredible heroine of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy.

The Hunger Games (HG) is my favorite book series, so as a fan I must admit I'm a little disappointed with the pick.  I haven't seen Winter's Bone, Lawrence's film that earned her an Oscar nomination.  But she just doesn't look like Katniss.  The movie's director, Gary Ross, says in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that "Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve."  She will have to act her a** off to get this part right.  At 20, I think she's too old to portray Katniss.  Hopefully, she'll prove my assumptions wrong.  I really want to love the movie adaptation unlike my devastating letdown with the Twilight franchise. 

The New York Post reports that Ross said, "Katniss requires a young actress with strength, depth, complexity, tenderness, and power. There are very few people alive who can bring that to a role. Jen brings it in spades. She’s going to be an amazing Katniss."  I hope so.

The casting challenge will continue with finding the perfect Peeta and Gale.  I'm happy that HG author Suzanne Collins is a part of the movie process.  It'll be interesting to see the end result.  The movie is scheduled to release in March 2012.

Want more of a HG fix?  Check out the news and chatter on these links:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2011 Challenges and Reading Progress

Spring semester is in full swing with a ton of required reading and papers due soon.  I haven't had much time for leisure reading (sad face) I'm looking forward to spring break.  I'll still have work, but at least I will hold my own little read-a-thon to catch up on my long TBR pile.

I'm participating in the same reading challenges as last year:
  • 2011 Pages Read Challenge: My goal is 15,000 (same as last year but I hope to actually reach it)
  • Read Ten 1001-Books (ditto above)
  • and continue the ongoing A-Z New Authors Read & Release Challenge
So far this year I've read 952 pages, about 6.3% of my pages read goal.  I'm hoping to actually reach that 15,000 pages read mark this year even though I'm behind in my pace from last year. I might try to focus on reading shorter books this year since I have a habit of starting 300+ page books and set them down without finishing.  It's not that these books are boring, but I sometimes get distracted with shorter stories which are faster to complete. Just an idea...we'll see what the year brings.

Monday, January 31, 2011

2010 Wrap Up

Wow, I can't believe it's 2011!  I'm still deciding on my reading goals for 2011 (I know I'm late to the party), so let's wrap up some loose ends from 2010.  It was a busy year.

2010 Recap:

- Started this blog in April 2010. My first real attempt at blogging.

- Started graduate school in the fall for a Masters in Library Science (MLS) so I can become a librarian. The program runs through Summer 2012.

- 2010 was my first full year on BookCrossing!  I joined in August 2009.

- Became a regular attendee of the Audubon BookCrossing group.

- My first two wild releases caught by an anonymous finder:

- Participated in 5 BookCrossing bookrings/rays/boxes:
- Participated in 3 read-a-thons (two 24-hour Dewey read-a-thons and the HUGE TBR Read-a-thon in June)

- Received my first ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in the mail!
  • The King's Mistress by Emma Campion
  • Plus, five more ARCs.
- Read my first manga and graphic novel.
  • My first graphic novel: The Courageous Princess by Rod Espinosa
  • My first manga: Crescent Moon, Vol. 1 by Haruko Iida

Reading Challenges:
  • 2010 Pages Read Challenge: My goal was 15,000 pages.  My final tally was 13,600 pages, 90.6% of my goal. However, this number doesn't really represent all I've read.  One issue I struggled with was determining what types of materials to count as pages read.  I read a lot of manga this year and did not record most of it...thousands of pages worth.  At first, I didn't think I should incorporate them in this challenge, but I ended up adding a few in the total.  So if I did include all the manga, this number would be way beyond 15,000.  I have to decide if I will include them in my 2011 goal.
  • Read Ten 1001-Books Challenge: I read six 1001-books this year.
    • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
    • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
    • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    • Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there by Lewis Carroll
    • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
    • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  •  A-Z Read & Release Challenge: Read and released 8 books (B, C, E, G, H, J, R and S). This challenge is on-going, so I'm not worried about completing it within a certain time period.  It's harder than I thought because of the releasing component.  Some of the books I read are library books or in my permanent collection, so completing this one will be a challenge.
My 2010 Favorites (and not-so-favorites):

- Favorite YA series: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

- Favorite YA book: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

- Favorite adult series: Dark Days series by Jocelynn Drake. 

- Favorite adult book: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.

- Favorite manga series: Library Wars (v.1-3) by Kiiro Yumi.

- Favorite children's book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

- Favorite guilty pleasure: Vampire Diaries series (bks. 1-4) by L.J. Smith.

- Best obscure book (haven't heard of but you must read): Green Angel by Alice Hoffman.

- Most moving book: Tunes For Bears To Dance To by Robert Cormier.

- Most disappointing book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

- Least favorite book: Tithe by Holly Black.

I'll post again soon with my 2011 reading goals and challenges.  Meanwhile, I need to spend some time updating my blog and BC profile.