Friday, January 20, 2012

My Lost Week

I hate being sick. Unfortunately, I have a gross cough that I can't shake off.  I took a few sick days, but I had to go back to work today still coughing up a storm. I read a little bit this week. I finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern but I haven't been able to write a review yet.  Hopefully, I'll get that to you next week. 

Until then, enjoy these random bookish links!

20 heroic librarians who save the world from io9.  It's an awesome list!

Supercut: Libraries on TV and in the movies (Funny Library Montage) from BuzzFeed.

SNL, Daniel Radcliffe do Harry Potter ten years later from The Huffington Post. LOL! How did I miss this?

Should Authors and Agents Weigh In on Citizen Reviews?  from Publishers Weekly.

ALA Midwinter Meeting 2012 Coverage from American Libraries.
-- I wish I were in Dallas this weekend. So many great programs and speakers (John Green)...sigh!  I really want to go to ALA Annual this summer in Anaheim, CA.  Hey, a girl can dream! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Which I Gush About Downton Abbey

I finally joined the ranks of obsessed Downton Abbey fans this weekend.

I had the Downton Abbey season 1 DVD set sitting around collecting dust.  I heard so much wonderful praise about the show, but I never got around to watching it. Yesterday, I decided to watch an episode and I ended up watching the whole season.  It is so addicting! 

My favorite characters are Anna and Mr. Bates.  I can't stand Mary. She doesn't deserve to be with Matthew Crawley. The back and forth between Violet and Isobel Crawley is wonderful! 

There are so many familiar faces in the series including Maggie Smith (Prof. McGonagall, of course), Hugh Bonneville (from Lost in Austen, Miss Austen Regrets, and Daniel Deronda), Penelope Wilton (Harriet Jones from Doctor Who and Mrs. Hamley from Wives and Daughters) and Brendan Coyle (Nicholas Higgins from North & South).

You can explore Downton further in the companion book, The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes.  I haven't read it yet, but I'll try to track it down in my public library system.

Watch some of the episodes online. If you're a fan of Upstairs, Downstairs, then you'll love Downton!

My husband watched the entire first series with me too. Our Downton binge reminds me of this hilarious Portlandia Battlestar Galactica sketch. One more episode!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Timepiece (Hourglass, Bk.2)

"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...

Timepiece (Hourglass, Bk.2)
by Myra McEntire
Releases on June 12, 2012

Goodreads description:

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...

The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

I LOVED Hourglass so I'm eager to read the next book. From the description above, it sounds like book 2 will be from Kaleb's point of view.  I would prefer Michael's personally, but this should be interesting, especially since we'll see what Kaleb really thinks (and feels) about Emerson.

Learn more on Goodreads, AmazonMyra McEntire's blog, and Murphy's Law Hourglass fan page.

What book are you waiting on?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bookish News: The Occupy Movement & YA Dystopians

Photo credit: AP from Salon article
Yesterday posted an interesting article entitled "What Occupy can learn from the Hunger Games".  Mike Doherty wrote about the how the Occupy movement can learn a few lessons from dystopian novels.  He specifically cites an example of how the London Occupy movement uses slogans and visuals from the graphic novel V for Vendetta.  Doherty discusses the parallels between Occupy and popular young adult dystopian novels:
It’s fitting that the Occupy movement should have drawn inspiration from dystopian fiction, an increasingly popular genre for teenagers and young adults in particular. If, as Time magazine suggests, the person of the year was the Protester, the publishing phenomenon was the Dystopia — the story of the dissenter in a repressive society who becomes a revolutionary. The new wave was led by two trilogies, both published from 2008-10: Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” (whose big-budget Hollywood adaptation kicks off in March) and Patrick Ness’ “Chaos Walking” (now being adapted by Lionsgate).
The article discusses examples from The Hunger Games, Matched, Divergent and Chaos Walking in depth.  There are SPOILERS in the article for these books, so be prepared for them if you haven't read these stories yet.  Doherty concludes with intriguing insights:
The new YA dystopian novels are thoughtful books, but they don’t offer solutions or blueprints – they merely suggest ways of combating stifling political ideologies. They’re full of different voices, or what literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, writing in – and against – Soviet Russia, called “polyphony”: the opposite of propaganda, and the enemy of ideology. Where they resonate with the Occupy movement, it’s in the protagonists’ determination to recalibrate the world around us in creative ways: seeing a bank as an educational institution, a tent as a library, a movement as a gathering of people asking questions, and encouraging ways of thinking by which solutions could be found. 
Check out the full article. It's worth the time. While I'm reading my next dystopian, I'll think about how the storyline could parallel current events.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: Obsidian (A Lux Novel, Bk.1)

Obsidian (A Lux Novel, Bk.1)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Entangled Publishing, 1st Ed.
Released: December 6, 2011
268 pages
ISBN: 978-1-937044-23-7

Description on the book:
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don't kill him first, that is.

My Review:
There aren't many books I buy immediately after I read a review, but Obsidian was one of them.  I fell for the amazing description above and it has a 5 star average rating on Amazon with glowing reviews. Thus, I took the plunge with this first installment of the Lux series. I devoured the book in less than a day. 

Obsidian is hot, hot, hot!  It starts off when seventeen year old Katy, who just moved from Florida to West Virginia with her mom, goes next door to ask for directions to the closest market.  She finds an incredible hot guy, shirtless with six pack abs and all.  But Daemon's downright rude and obnoxious to her. So begins their back and forth chippy retorts, fighting yet flirtly.  There's a good reason why Daemon's trying to stop Katy from getting close to him or befriending his sister Dee...they're aliens!  The twist isn't actually a spoiler because it clearly states it on the back cover.  The real fun is leading up to Katy's discovery of her neighbors' identity, reconciling with it when she finds out and trying to survive attacks from the alien's enemies.  I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but it really works.  The story is funny, suspenseful and intoxicating.

There are obvious plot stereotypes that will annoy some readers.  The normal teenage girl, who is beautiful but doesn't realize it, meets the gorgeous supernatural guy who's obnoxious but occasionally shows her a softer side.  Also, it has those overly dramatic scenes where the helpless damsel in distress is saved by hot supernatural guy, one such incident reveals his secret.  I've read these story lines before but it works well here.  One of my favorite side notes: Katy is a book blogger who loves paranormal novels.  I laughed out loud when she passed time by publishing her "Waiting On Wednesday" post and explains to Daemon why she blogs when she doesn't get paid for it. It was a great touch to the story.

Obsidian is a downright delicious guilty pleasure. It reminds me of how I fell hard for Hush, Hush. It won't become my favorite book, but I'll definitely reread it.  The sexually charged banter and chemistry between the leads is what makes this book good.  There is some cursing, although I completely enjoyed it when Katy shot them at Daemon for acting arrogantly.  He loved it too.  Actually, I was more annoyed by the main characters' names. Did Daemon really need the extra "e"?  Then Daemon's nickname for Katy is Kitten and Kittycat.  Slight gag reflex...but then again I'd take any nickname that Daemon wanted to give me. Gush!

If you're looking for a sexy, new paranormal romance series to sink your teeth in, buy Obsidian.  I'm glad I did. I'll definitely preorder book 2, Onyx, when it releases in May 2012.  I can't wait to read more from Jennifer L. Armentrout.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5!

My Favorite Quotes:

"Since it was Wednesday, I'd typed up a quick "Waiting on Wednesday" post for my blog featuring this YA book about a hot boy with a killer touch--can't go wrong there--apologized for my extended absence, responded to comments, and stalked a few other blogs I loved. It was like coming home."   (page 17)

    "Time seemed to slow, every second stretching out before me, tantalizing and torturing every breath I took. Waiting, wanting to show him whatever he was looking for as his eyes darkened to a deep green. His face strained, as if he were waging an internal battle. Something in his eyes made me feel very unsure.
    I knew the second he made up his mind. He took a deep breath and his beautiful eyes closed. I felt his breath against my cheek, slowly moving to my lips. I knew I should pull back. He was bad, bad news. But my own breath caught in my throat. His lips were so close to mine, I desperately wanted to meet him halfway, to rush forward to test if his lips were as pillow soft as they looked."   (page 62)
For More Information:
Read the first chapter of Osidian on Entangled Publishing's website.
Learn more on Amazon, Goodreads, and Jennifer L. Armentrout's blog.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Goals and Challenges

As promised, here are my goals and reading challenges for 2012.  Also, I joined a bunch of new reading challenges. Very exciting!  It's going to be a fun year.

2012 Goals:
  • Read 65 books this year:  I read 58 in 2011 so I'll try to top that number. 65 sounds like a good goal.
  • Review more:  I read a lot, but tend not to write many reviews.  I'll try to write more reviews in 2012.  I'm not satisfied with my review voice just yet.  I have to work on fine tuning my review style.  I can't let self-consciousness get the best of me.
  • Spend time working on my challenges:  I basically forgot about my A-Z read and release challenge, so I actually should think about reading a few books that will fit in it.  This year I'm signing up for more challenges than ever.  I need to make an effort to keep track of them all (see below for details).
  • Regularly attend and release at the local BookCrossers Meeting: I usually go to the monthly meetings (in Audubon, PA), but I'll try to bring more books to release. I will continue to only take books home that I have an interest in reading. 
  • Visit official BookCrossing zones (OBCZ) more often:  I haven't stopped by Black Salt Cafe (my closest active OBCZ) in a while.  I want to release books there more frequently. 
  • Visit Indie Bookstores:  I want to visit more independent bookstores (and blog about it), both in my area and while I'm on vacation or away at work conferences.
  • Re-read The Hunger Games:  I'm so incredibly excited for the HG movie!  I'm going to the midnight premiere with a bunch of friends.  I can't wait!  In preparation, I have to re-read the book. When I went to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter 7 Pt. 2, my friends made a list of trivia questions which was so much fun while waiting in line.  I'll try to make my own list of trivia.
  • Buy an e-reader? This is a maybe. It certainly would make my purse a lot lighter.  Plus, my public library system recently expanded to include Kindle devices.  I'm not sure what brand I might buy.  I've heard buzz about the Nook, but I don't frequently shop at Barnes and Noble. Maybe something compatible with NetGalley.
BookCrossing Challenges:

This year I'm continuing my usual BookCrossing Challenges and I'm adding several non-BC challenges open to the book blogging world.  Check out all the details:

2012 Pages Read Challenge:  It's favorite BookCrossing challenge!  I surpassed my 2011 goal of 15,000 pages so I'm bumping up my 2012 goal to 18,000 pages.

Read Ten 1001 Books Challenge:  I'm a sucker for lost causes, so I'm signing up again to read 10 books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list.  I only read 5 books in 2011 and 6 in 2010.

2012 Reduce Mount TBR Challenge: It's my first time participating in the Mount TBR challenge.  I have so many books on my TBR list (I can't even count them). My goal is to knock 25 books off my TBR list this year. 

A-Z New Author Read & Release Challenge:  This is a tough one because the books need to be new authors you haven't read yet and after reading, you have to register and release the books.  I read so many library books that I completely ignored this challenge in 2011.  I'll try to knock a few off the list this year.  I'll shoot for 3 books.

Non-BookCrossing Challenges (open to everyone):  It's my first time participating in all of the following challenges....Yay!  Check out the links below for all the challenge details and to sign up, of course.

2012 Young Adult Reading Challenge (The Eclectic Bookshelf)
Level 3: The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.

I think I read more than 40 YA books in 2011.  Since I want to expand my reading to knock off more of my 1001 adult books, I think 40 YA books is a good goal for this challenge.

Level 1: Gaslight – Choose 6 books to read

I don't think I've read a steampunk book yet. That's weird. Well, now's the time to start.  Six books sounds like a good introduction to the genre.

The Dystopia Challenge  (Bookish Ardour)
Level 2:  Contagion – Choose 15 books to read

I love dystopian YA.  I have a bunch on my Mount TBR list so I should be able to hit 15 without a problem.


Speculative Romance Challenge (Book Chick City)
Level 3: Sexy Vampires – Read 18 Speculative Romance novels

I'm a sucker for speculative romance...sigh! I'm on an angels and demon kick right now.  Plus, steampunk and apocalyptic romance count too.  This one is going to be fun.

What challenges are you participating in this year?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Wrap Up, Part 2

Not surprisingly, most of the books I read in 2011 were YA series.  Actually, 32 out of the 58 books were a part of young adult series (many the first volume).  For 2012, I'll try to expand my reading outside of my comfy YA niche, but it's so fun to read what you know you really enjoy. 

I'll post my 2012 goals soon.  This list contains books I read in 2011, but many of books were published before 2011.  Now for the fun picks for 2011!

My 2011 Favorites (and not-so-favorites):

Favorite YA book: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
       Runners up:
               Matched by Ally Condie
               Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Favorite YA series (read more than 1 vol.): Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins

Favorite Female Character: Sophie from Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
      Runners up:
            Emerson from Hourglass by Myra McEntire
            Allison from Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
            Waverly from Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan 

Favorite Male Character: Varen from Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
      Runners up:
             Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
             Conrad from We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
             Richard from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Favorite adult book: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Favorite manga series: Vampire Knight (vols. 1-12) by Matsuri Hino

Favorite guilty pleasure: Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick

Best obscure book (haven't heard of but you must read):
Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

Most moving book: I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant

Most disappointing book: The Nine Lives of Chloe King series by Liz Braswell
         Runner up:
              Beastly by Alex Flinn

Biggest hyped book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Least favorite book: Erewhon by Samuel Butler.

Comments on my picks:
I love love loved Nevermore! It was fun, the ending was unexpected, and I was cheering on Isobel to save the day. It's a book I had to re-read all my favorite parts immediately, which meant I practicely read it twice. I also loved Matched and Hourglass. Both books had great characters and amazing love stories!

I can't stand when series are compared to Harry Potter because it's THE series of our generation (not an overstatement). So when I read reviews describing Hex Hall as a cross between Harry Potter and Paranormalcy, I scoffed. But I have to's pretty close. It's an addicting series and I love where the story went in Demonglass. I'm not giving away any spoilers, so go read it if you haven't already.

I understand that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is on everyone else's best list, but sorry it's not on mine. It was a completely unique and fascinating story, but it didn't wow me. I never really connected with (or even liked) Karou as a character.

I loved The Nine Lives of Chloe King TV series, so I had to run out and buy the three volume book. Oh boy, that was a mistake. Watch the show, but don't read the book. It was that big of a disappointment. Finally, where do I start with Erewhon. It was a 1001 book I got through a BC bookring. It was tough to read because I hated the story and the narrator. It started off okay, but then the narrator gets to the land of Erewhon he goes rambling on for chapters on the Erewhonian philosophies on machines, unborn people and the rights of vegetables. Give it a shot if you don't believe me.

What was your favorite (or not-so-favorite) book of 2011?

I'll post soon with my goals and challenges for 2012.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Wrap Up, Part 1

Happy New Year all!  I'm excited for 2012 because it'll bring some awesome book releases to look forward to....and some life changes as well (graduation, hopefully a new job, and possibly a move).   

Here's Part 1 of my 2011 recap, which includes my challenge results.  I'll post Part 2 soon.  It features my favorites and not-so-favorite reads from the past year. 

2011 Recap:

- I read 58 books this year, which is up from 53 last year.

- I quietly had my one year blog anniversary in April 2011. I promise to actually celebrate it this year.

- Started my second year of graduate school in the fall.  I only have two semesters left!  I'll finish my Masters in Library Science (MLS) this summer.  Thus, I'll be looking for a new job as a librarian (preferable for fall, if the stars align and luck is on my side....too dramatic?).

- I celebrated my second anniversary on BookCrossing in August.  I joined in August 2009.

- Participated in one 24-hour Dewey read-a-thon this year.  I couldn't participate in the October read-a-thon because I was out of town visiting a friend.

- Sadly, I didn't complete any books in June.  I had a crazy busy summer semester (only six weeks long) that caused a major leisure reading road block.  Hopefully, I won't repeat it this year.

-  In November, I read the most books that I've ever read in one month, 13!  I was on a Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins binge.

- Near the end of the year, I focused on new releases from 2011.  I loved it!  There are so many awesome first books of series out.

Reading Challenges:

2011 Pages Read Challenge: Last year I didn't reach my pages read goal, so I decided to shoot for the same number this year: 15,000 pages.  I actually reached it this time!!!  My final tally was 16,101 pages, 107% of my goal.  Yahoo!  I even read more pages that I didn't count...including my 400+ page textbook and a few books I disliked enough not to finish (cough...The Thirteen Hallows...cough). 

Read Ten 1001-Books Challenge:  Epic fail! I only read five 1001-books this year. I'll try it again this year.
  • Erewhon by Samuel Butler.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  • The Wonderful O by James Thurber
  • The 13 Clocks by James Thurber

A-Z Read & Release Challenge: Another fail!  I haven't done anything with this ongoing BookCrossing challenge for a number of reasons.  First, a majority of the books I read this year were library books so they can't be registered.  A few registered books I releases were repeat letters (G and R). I'll keep my eye out for books that fit into this release challenge, but I'm not gonna sweat over it. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my 2011 Wrap Up and my 2012 Goals post!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

25 Most Beautiful College Libraries

I'm working on my 2011 wrap up and 2012 goals posts.  In the meantime, I wanted to share this Flavorwire link of the 25 most beautiful college libraries in the world. Sigh!  While I would be lucky to land any Librarian position when I get my degree, I can't help but dream about working in one of these gorgeous places.  Hmm, I wonder if any of them are looking for a Government Information Librarian.  Enjoy!

Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.

University of Michigan Law Library, Ann Arbor, MI