Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Case You Missed It: September

Does everyone feel Autumn in the air? I am! I was just thinking the other day that it even might be fun to carve some pumpkins! I don't know about you but my September was chock full of activities both personally and on this blog. This picture is taken outside of famed New York restaurant Les Halles where my boyfriend and I got to eat on our trip to the Big Apple over Labor Day. It was delicious! We also had family visiting and my birthday to celebrate so September was lots of fun.

As for the blog, in cased you missed it here's what's been happening around here:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Living in the Past

'The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather'
By Alexandra Potter

Format: Paperback
Published: Plume; March 2010
Pages: 400

Synopsis: In the 10 years since she arrived in London as a know-nothing college graduate with caterpillar eyebrows and her hair in a scrunchie, American Charlotte Merryweather has transformed herself into the stylish proprietress of the city's poshest public relations firm. Charlotte (along with her faithful assistant, Beatrice) is in pursuit of a hot new client and a home for herself and her boyfriend, when a sighting on the morning commute derails her: a curly-haired young woman in a beat-up orange VW Beetle who resembles the Charlotte of 10 years earlier. On a whim, Charlotte follows her home and discovers that, through some sort of inexplicable time-bending phenomenon, the girl is in fact Charlotte's younger self, called Lottie. Buddying up with her doppelgänger, Charlotte finds paradoxes taking a backseat to life lessons; thinking she's got a decade of hard-won wisdom to teach Lottie, Charlotte is surprised to find herself learning from her past persona about love, passion, and trusting herself. 

My Take: I am always up for finding a new chick-lit author so when this book came across my path, I was intrigued. I hadn't read any of Ms. Potter's books and it was set in London, one of my favorite city's! I was excited to dive in!

The concept intrigued me. Charlotte is an American who moves to London and 10 years later at the age of 32 has made a success of herself. She is living the life I kind of wish I had been bold enough to do but she had the duel citizenship to make it a reality! The problem is Charlotte isn't necessarily happy with her life. She is the owner of a highly successful PR company but in order to keep it running she has to keep herself working around the clock and most weekends. Just reading this was kind of stressing me out! I normally read chick lit to escape the stress of my day job, not add to my worries when I am lying in bed!

Charlotte is also dating Miles. He seems picture perfect on paper but in reality he doesn't really make her heart go crazy. However, she seems to be fairly resigned to this fact, or maybe just too darn busy to care!

At any rate, she is one of the silly people who drive to work instead of taking the Tube and she sees her younger self. At first she thinks she must be hallucinating. I mean, wouldn't you if you were driving along and you saw yourself 10 years younger? But no, she actually is able to be swept up into some sort of space time continuum sort of thing. Now, this isn't science fiction. This is merely trying to be cute and telling a moral to the story. The problem is, I knew what the moral was right away. Now, don't get me wrong, I like when chick-lit books just kind of sweep me up into an easy plot line and I am thoroughly entertained but I wasn't. I was stressed out and this one then kind of took a long time to get to the main action here. So while I did like the ending, I knew what the middle would be. Does that make sense? However, I do have one of her other books on my shelf so I will give her a try to see if this was just a fluke for me.

(I got this book from Crazy Book Tours)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just in the Nick of Time!

I have just completed the Non-Fiction Five Challenge hosted by Trish. The rules for this one were to read 5 non-fiction books between May and September and phew, I just got it finished! At least one of these had to be 'outside by norm'. As far as non-fiction is concerned, I'm not really sure what my norm is. I like memoirs but beyond that, if a subject interests me, I just might try it. I read two memoirs and the others were a scattering of other categories. Here's what I've got:

1. '
Two Guys Read Jane Austen' by Steve Chandler and Terrance Hill
5. 'I Was Told There'd Be Cake' by Sloane Crosley

Overall, I have to say my favorite book from this challenge would have to be 'Born Round'. Loved it! I also loved this challenge and I'm itching to read more memoirs now!

Who Wouldn't Want Cake?

'I Was Told There'd Be Cake'
By: Sloane Crosley

Format: Audio CD
Published: Penguin Audio; Aug 2008

Synopsis: Crosley's dry, ironic narration is the perfect match for her collection of essays about her struggles and misadventures as a 20-something gal in New York. Her reading brings a personal touch to her reminiscences. She never hams it up or overdoes it, telling her stories in an understated but arch tone (the aural equivalent of a raised eyebrow), and her timing and delivery are unerringly on-target, making humorous lines even funnier. She's especially effective in her self-deprecating moments, as when ruefully recounting the time she managed to lock herself out of her apartment twice in one day—one can hear the horrified realization in her voice as the door closes and the lock ominously clicks, and the disbelief and frustration in knowing she's made the same careless mistake, again. Her tone and voice bring out all the humor and personality of her writing, making this collection even more enjoyable on audio than in print.  Copyright © Reed Business Information

My Take: I am totally on an audio memoir kick lately and loving every minute of it! I don't know what it is about them, maybe it's because the author themselves tends to read them so they know exactly how to affect their delivery but they are really resonating with me and this collection of short stories was no exception, making me laugh out loud and slap my knee in total agreement throughout.

Crosley, at the time of writing this memoir, is a 20-something New Yorker and it's not so much a look back at her long and arduous life as a memoir might proclaim, as it is a collection of witty stories that make you want to be her friend and it is totally relatable. Being a 20-something gal myself and living in another major city, San Francisco, much of what Crosley discussed in this collection I could totally agree with.

Rather than ruin the whole thing for you, because it was a really quick audio, I'll tell you some of my favorite moments. Crosley has a whole, hysterical section on how she was recently a bridesmaid and what a traumatic experience that was. I was recently a bridesmaid myself, and while it wasn't traumatic, many of the things you do for the bride during the time leading up to and during the wedding are so universal and seemingly silly that her descriptions make you just laugh out loud. If you've ever been a bridesmaid reading that section alone is worth it!

Another great piece was that which discussed her first job and the horrible, tyrannical boss that went along with it. Unfortunately since it was her first real job, she didn't realize that there was something better out there and she should just quit so she just kept putting up with it. The things her boss kept making her do were so cringe worthy it couldn't help but make you feel your own job is a blessing.

Then there was the ultimate dinner party story where she has some friends over and one by one they go into her tiny little bathroom and at the end of the night and she discovers a tiny little turd on the carpet. Who left it? How does she find out without letting all the other attendees find out her bathroom has been pooped on? Seriously if you aren't laughing out loud while reading or listening to this book then, well, we just have different senses of humor than I do! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

(I got this from the library)

Monday, September 27, 2010

I've Been a Bad Girl!

This probably only shows a quarter of the size of the Pavilion. I'd have to be hanging from the rafters to give you a good view of the scale!
Every year during the last weekend in September the San Francisco Public Library has their Big Book Sale and on Sunday all books are $1. Yes, you read that right, $1! I have gone every year since I have moved here and for the most part I do very well (last year seems to have been an anomaly). So while I am not supposed to be buying more books since we don't have the space and I don't have the money, when they are $1 it seems hard for me not to justify it. So to the sale I went and...well...I came home with 18 books. Whoopsies! Other women may sneak in clothes or shoes so that their husbands or boyfriends don't roll their eyes. I have to sneak in books :)

Here's what I got. Please let me know if you've read any of these and if they are any good so I know what I should read first!

  • 'Alexandra Gone' by Anna McPartlin
  • 'American Journey: Life on the Home Front in the Second World War' by Alistair Cooke
  • 'Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons' by Lorna Landvik
  • 'Bad Trips: A Sometimes Terrifying, Sometimes Hilarious Collection of Writing on the Perils of the Road' edited by Keath Fraser
  • 'Diary of an Ordinary Woman' by Margaret Forster

  • 'Dearest Cousin Jane: A Jane Austen Novel' by Jill Pitkeathley
  • 'East Hope' by Katherine Davis
  • 'The Elegant Gathering of White Snows' by Kris Radish
  • 'The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Place in the World' by Eric Weiner
  • 'The Gypsy Madonna' by Santa Montefiore

  • 'Haweswater' by Sarah Hall
  • 'Home from the Vinyl Cafe: A Year of Stories' by Stuart McLean
  • 'Let's Meet on Platform 8' by Carole Matthews
  • 'Lucia, Lucia' by Adriana Trigiana
  • 'The Luxe' by Anna Godbersen

  • 'The Solace of Leaving Early' by Haven Kimmel
  • 'The Queen of the Big Time' by Adriana Trigiani
  • 'The Queen of Palmyra' by Minrose Gwin
So how did I do?! Do you have good library sales near you?

Mailbox Monday - Sept 20th - 25th, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and September is being hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog! Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Since my birthday is this Tuesday I got to celebrate my birthday this weekend and it was lovely! My boyfriend got us tickets to go see Beach Blanket Babylon which I've always wanted to see and if you ever get a chance to go to I highly recommend it as it is a San Francisco institution! I also got to go to our library's annual big book sale so check back here this afternoon when I post about all of the loot I bought at that!

Now, without further ado, here's what I got in my mailbox this week:

From PBS:
1. 'I Remember You' by Harriet Evans 

2. 'A Proper Education for Girls' by Elaine di Rollo

From Awkward Press:
3. 'Awkward Two' (A collection of short stories)

From Pump Up Your Book Tours:
4. 'Let's Eat' by Denise Burroughs

What did you get?

Friday, September 24, 2010

1 Year Blogoversary Celebration and Giveaway!

Well I can't believe I've reached this milestone already but here I am, 1 year old today! With some trepidation I put out my feelers on the blogosphere exactly one year ago today and I can't believe what all it's turned into and how wonderful the whole experience has been. Basically I was reaching my birthday and I was feeling the need to have a more creative outlet, I was searching for something to fill a void and boy did I find it! Here's a link to my very first post!

With my blog in time came comments and followers, boy I never thought I would have so many followers! Then came offers to review books...and people would send them to me for free. What? I love the friendships I've built through blogging, I really didn't see that coming. I've built up my writing skills, my html skills, and heck I even started a twitter account. I've gone to book festivals, author talks, and blogger luncheons, participated in read a thons, bloggiesta, read alongs, BBAW (even being shortlisted for Best New Book Blog 2010!), and Armchair BEA. Every single moment of it making me a more creative writer and reader, which is exactly what I was hoping for when I started up my blog one year ago.

So all of this is a celebration of everything a blog can be and help a person achieve. It's also a thank you for all of your support along the way. Book bloggers are an incredibly supportive bunch and the knowledge out there is amazing once you tap into it.

Giveaway Details: So with that I would like to host a giveaway because what's a celebration without some prizes! Throughout my year as a new blogger I've reviewed 79 books (wow!) and I'd like to give two (2) lucky people the chance to win any (1) book that I've reviewed.  Whichever book they want. One (1) book each. This giveaway will be open internationally as long the book they choose is available on The Book Depository. Books chosen from those in the US and Canada will be shipped from Amazon. You can choose now or when the giveaway closes since more books will be reviewed. To see all of the books I've reviewed just click on the 'Reviews by Title' and 'Reviews by Author' tabs at the top of the blog. The prize will be open for two weeks until midnight PST on the 9th of October. Just fill out this form and good luck!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ghosts of Your Past

'Her Fearful Symmetry'
By Audrey Niffenegger

Format: Paperback
Published: Scribner; Sept 2010
Pages: 406

Synopsis: A haunting tale about the complications of love, identity, and sibling rivalry. The novel opens with the death of Elspeth Noblin, who bequeaths her London flat and its contents to the twin daughters of her estranged twin sister back in Chicago. These 20-year-old dilettantes, Julie and Valentina, move to London, eager to try on a new experience like one of their obsessively matched outfits. Historic Highgate Cemetery, which borders Elspeth's home, serves as an inspired setting as the twins become entwined in the lives of their neighbors: Elspeth's former lover, Robert; Martin, an agoraphobic crossword-puzzle creator; and the ethereal Elspeth herself, struggling to adjust to the afterlife. Niffenegger brings these quirky, troubled characters to marvelous life, but readers may need their own supernatural suspension of disbelief as the story winds to its twisty conclusion.

My Take: I've been wanting to read this book for awhile now if only to see how my reaction would differ from Niffenegger's first book, 'The Time Traveler's Wife'. Everyone loved this book and I felt a bit out of the loop because I thought it was just ok. I liked it but I didn't honestly see what all the fuss was about. Now comes her second book and the reviews are mixed so I thought, well she deserves one more try from me, and guess what folks, I freaking love this book! I guess whatever the public thinks of Niffenegger, I'll think the opposite!

Much like with her first novel, in order to get into the storyline you have to suspend belief a little. While I had a hard time understanding what was happening in 'The Time Traveler's Wife' this did not happen to me in 'Her Fearful Symmetry'. I got it. I knew what was happening. I could suspend belief because I could go along with the story and I liked it, it worked for me. Does that makes sense?

This book is all about twins. Identical twins. The younger set are named Valentina and Julie. They inherit their aunt Elspeth's flat in London when she passed away. Her aunt was the identical twin to their mother Edie. In order to inherit the flat and her wealth they must live in it for one year without their parents coming along. Don't worry, they are in their early twenties and kind of need a little push into adulthood anyway! I loved this premise! What I wouldn't have given at that age to live in London rent free. I wouldn't give my aunt's life by any means - but you know what I am saying. It's a charmed deal if you ask me. Julie seems to grab it by the horns and go exploring but Valentina is a little frightened.

After they settle in they get to meet their neighbors who are a little eccentric and fun for us to get to know. They also live right next to Highgate Cemetery. You better believe that after reading this book, if I ever make it back to London I'll be going on one of the guided tours of this cemetery as it sounds absolutely fascinating!

All is not what it seems in the flat that the twins are living in though because Elspeth's ghost is visiting them. This is where things get a little weird. You either go along with the story and get wrapped up in it like I did or you don't. I found that it really worked for me. Elspeth was weird and freaky and well, you know, not all ghost's are good. Stories come out about their past and I felt that the story kept the pages turning for me. I really got into and just plain loved it! It took me by surprise really. To tell more would give the plot twists away so I'll leave at that but I hope you give this one a try!

(I got this book from Crazy Book Tours)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reminder - Lonesome Dove Read Along is Coming Up!

This is just a reminder that the fabulous trio of Melissa, Amy and I are going to be hosting the Lonesome Dove Read Along! You know that Pulitzer Prize winning cowboy loving masterpiece? SO if you were on the fence about joining us this is your chance to join in!

Here's how it's going to work: every Wednesday we will discuss 10 chapters of the book on one of our 3 blogs and if you are reading along to it too then we will just point you in the direction of the discussion. The first discussion will be Wednesday, October 6th so we will start reading the 1st of October, with 10 chapters every Wednesday. This book is big so we will take it nice and slow. So get your cowboy hat out of closet, put on some sweet country tunes, kick up your boots and start reading! Just let us know in the comments if you want to read along with us. We sure hope you do!

Here's the full reading schedule:

October 6th--Chapters 1-10--My Friend Amy
October 13th--Chapters 11-20--Amused by Books
October 20th--Chapters 21-30--Gerbera Daisy Diaries
October 27th--Chapters 31-40--My Friend Amy
November 3rd--Chapters 41-50--Amused by Books
November 10th--Chapters 51-60--Gerbera Daisy Diaries
November 17th--Chapters 61-70--My Friend Amy
November 24th--Chapters 71-80--Amused by Books
December 1st--Chapters 81-90--Gerbera Daisy Diaries
December 8th--Chapters 91-101

Need a teaser from the book to still entice you? Then here you go: A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

Now I have one more photo this week to entice you! This is to show you that we all have a little cowboy/girl in us. In my past, I used to have to dress up like a cowgirl (I think the white boots were my favorite part) and we took professional photos. You know, others would take photos in a studio in fancy dresses? I would take them dressed up like a cowgirl. All I am saying is, I am surprised I don't read more Westerns. All I can say in defense of the below was, it was the 80s. Also, maybe you have some too and so therefore, it's meant to be that you should read this book as well!

Therefore I give you Exhibit A (I'll show you Exhibit B next week when I harass you again to join our read along!):
I call this: 'Sassy Cowgirl'. Friends of mine have threatened to blow this very picture up to poster size and make this the theme of my 30th birthday party. What you can't see in the photo is the shirt is red and white checked with little cows on it, yes cows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Molto Bene!

'Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater'
By: Frank Bruni

Format: Audio CD
Published: Penguin Audio; Aug. 2009

Synopsis: More the gourmand than the gourmet, former New York Times food critic Bruni takes us through his love/hate relationship with food and catalogues everyone who ever fed him and what they served, every diet he went on and his fraught—even dangerous—relationship with food in this excellent memoir. Bruni is a talented reader with an intelligent voice, a perfect pace, impish humor and a contagious passion for his topic. Dieters may crumble under the weight of so many lavish descriptions of luscious treats, but Bruni's frank depiction of his eating disorders and his charismatic delivery make for memorable listening. Copyright © Reed Business Information

My Take: This was one of those books that I remember hearing a lot about last year but thinking, yeah I'll read that someday but for some reason not running out and buying it. I don't know why. With a cute, chubby kid on the cover usually I'd be all over it. I love books about food but I kind of let this one go by. When I saw it come up on the limited options of books I could get on audio from my library though I was more than thrilled. It seemed like the stars aligned and man, I realized I should not have put this off. From the moment the first notes of Italian music started twinkling and Frank's voice started describing the foods he grew up with in his Italian American background I knew I could settle in with this gem of a book. 

See the thing is, I love food. I may not be fat, but there is a fat woman screaming to get out. I go to the gym all the time and San Francisco is a hot bed of fantastic restaurants. People spend all day talking about great new restaurants and where they will eat next and what they are going to cook tonight and I am all about it. I loved listening to this book. Hearing Frank's descriptions of the dishes his families would serve him as a child, oh it made my mouth water!

Frank grew up as one of four in White Plains, NY as a member of an incredible loving middle class family in the 1950s and 1960s and he couldn't eat enough! His mother worried about his weight but she also showed her love through food so she didn't really know how to fix his problem. Frank dealt with his weight issues a number of ways, all of which are chronicled in detail in this book, many of which are unhealthy, none of which I found tedious thanks to his humor and candor.

His career as a journalist I found fascinating. He got to travel to many places and cover such exciting topics as the Bush campaign and the Pope in Rome before getting the coveted job as the top food critic for the New York Times. This part of the story, for me, was the most fascinating. Maybe because I always read food reviews, watch Top Chef fanatically (where I even saw him on an episode while listening to this audio and recognized him instantly by voice!) and so the manner in which they go about methodically reviewing restaurants is pretty intense!

At any rate, this book was way more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined and through it all, what shines through more than anything, is that standing behind Frank is the love of his sweet family who are chronicled in this book and I really related to that too and it is so heartwarming to read about. Read (or listen to) this book!

(I got this book from the library)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mailbox Monday - Sept 13th - 18th, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and September is being hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog! Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

This weekend we had my step-grandparents in town visiting from the UK and we had so much fun showing them all of the sites and sounds of San Francisco but now we are pooped! I hope you all had a great weekend too!

Here's what I got in my mailbox this week:

From Crazy Book Tours:
1. 'Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City' by Holly Denham

From Harper Collins for TLC Book Tours:
2. 'The Recipe Club' by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

From Tribute Books:
3. ' Call Me Kate' by Molly Roe

What did you get?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Books Made Into Movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
DVD Released: May 2002
Running Time: 152 Minutes
Rated: PG

Synopsis: Here's an event movie that holds up to being an event. This filmed version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, adapted from the wildly popular book by J.K. Rowling, stunningly brings to life Harry Potter's world of Hogwarts, the school for young witches and wizards. The greatest strength of the film comes from its faithfulness to the novel, and this new cinematic world is filled with all the details of Rowling's imagination, thanks to exuberant sets, elaborate costumes, clever makeup and visual effects, and a crème de la crème cast, including Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, and more. Especially fine is the interplay between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his schoolmates Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), as well as his protector, the looming Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). The second-half adventure--involving the titular sorcerer's stone--doesn't translate perfectly from page to screen, ultimately because of the film's fidelity to the novel; this is a case of making a movie for the book's fans, as opposed to a transcending film. Writer Steve Kloves and director Chris Columbus keep the spooks in check, making this a true family film, and with its resourceful hero wide-eyed and ready, one can't wait for Harry's return. Ages 8 and up. 

My Take: Now that I finally listened to the first book in the Harry Potter series I HAD to see the movie! I feel like these books and movies are so ingrained in the psyche of people the world over so I was excited to finally know what everyone was talking about. My boyfriend has been rolling his eyes because he saw the movie when it came out and really didn't have a desire to watch it with me again - I think he's probably seen it a half dozen times! So when he was out of town, I popped the dvd in and sat down to see what all of the hype was about!

Wow, how young was little Harry/Daniel Radcliffe? So cute! I think they did a really good job casting this movie. Naturally I knew, for the most part, who was who when I was listening to the audiobook in the movie, because while I hadn't been reading/watching them, I also don't live in a cave and you can't really avoid all of the hype everytime a new movie comes out so naturally I envisioned the main characters in the roles but the supporting cast I didn't really know. I thought they were great. Hagrid was probably one of my favorite characters in the 'Sorcerer's Stone'. He protected Harry and, well, he had a Scottish accent and was funny. In the movie, I absolutely loved him too!

The movie did a good job of not being super scary for the little kids that for sure would be wanting to see it but of course had that eerie edge because it's about wizards which I was grateful for because I have a very low tolerance for the scary! I am definitely looking forward to continuing to watch these movies after I listen to the audiobooks!

BBAW - Future Treasures

We've been visiting each other and getting to know each other better; now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

Well we have reached the last day of BBAW and being that it is my first year taking part I just want to say thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole week and getting to know a bunch of new bloggers and reading what it is so many people love about book blogging - it really rejuvenates you for another year!

As for my goals for next year, I think they are simple: 

  • To keep doing what I am doing well. 
  • To write reviews that people connect with of books that people want to read. 
  • To keep my site easy to navigate.
  • To keep my integrity in everything that I am doing with my blog.
  • And most importantly, to keep making friends with fellow bloggers like you because that makes all of this so fun!
How about you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW - Forgotten Treasures

Today we've been asked over at BBAW headquarters to talk about books that we don't think have gotten the buzz they deserve. We all know that there are plenty of books that we see all over the blogosphere and the world over and clearly get all the buzz they need but what about those forgotten treasures that are wonderful books in their own rights that you've read this year?

An absolutely fabulous book that I read for the first time this year was Marie Bostwick's 'River's Edge'. Set in WWII in New England, we see a young girl come to grips with her heritage and make peace with a new life in a different country. I absolutely loved this book.

Another interesting read that really stretched, for me, the way a book can be written, was Nancy Houston's 'Fault Lines'. Set in modern day and working it's way back to WWII it deals with events that occurred that set a family on it's axis but no one ever wanted to talk about. It made you want to get to the source.

So tell, what have you read lately that you thought didn't get the attention it deserved?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Have a Winner of Wolf Hall!

Congratulations are in order for Myra who is now the proud new owner of 'Wolf Hall' in paperback! I will be contacting you shortly by email. Thanks to everyone who entered.

BBAW - Unexpected Treasure


BBAW fun continues and I've been enjoying every minute of it! Today we are meant to discuss a great question:

We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger.  What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?

Book blogging has made me expand my interests in many ways. Where it comes to books the most recent genre I've entered into that I never thought I would go back to was young adult or Y.A. books and man have I loved what I've read! Just this summer I've read and reviewed five books after having not read any since I was in middle school and I liked them all! I even finally listened to the first 'Harry Potter'!

Another way I've branched out in a way I never thought I would have is by listening to audiobooks. After clicking on Bibliophile By the Sea and Devourer of Book's blog and listening to them discuss all of the audiobooks they love, I thought I need to give this a try! I did and failed. But I got back on the horse and tried again and have had much success this year, checking out audiobooks from my library at home and loving most of what I've listened to. It's a great way to get in the zone for me at work.

Also, with all of this combined I think I may be reading more than ever! How are you being pushed by fellow bloggers?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reminder: Last Day for Wolf Hall Giveaway!

Just a quick note to say if you haven't yet signed up for my giveaway to win a free copy of the award winning 'Wolf Hall' by Hilary Mantel you have until midnight PST to do so! So click here for the details!

BBAW: New Treasure—Interview Swap

When BBAW posted the opportunity to do an interview swap, I was very excited to be able to interview Stacy from A Novel Source! I've visited her site a few times but after getting to know her through the interview process I will definitely be visiting her site on a much more regular basis and I hope you make a point of doing so too! So please take a little time to read below and get to know a fellow blogger, Stacy!

1. How did you get into blogging and what is the best experience you've had since doing it?
I started blogging because I wanted to gather more advice and tips on opening my bookstore, but then it turned into more of a book review blog and almost like a hanging-out-with-my-booky-friends!  The best experience I've had since I've been blogging was being contacted by one of my absolute favorite authors, Kathleen McGowan and by the granddaughter, Lena Roy, of my childhood favorite author, Madeline L'Engle.  Lena Roy has her first young adult novel, Edges, coming out on December 7th.

2. How did you pick the name for your blog?
I see books or novels as being the source for knowledge, adventure, a new reality, space, or time.  Thus 'a novel source' was born!

3. Describe a typical day in the life of Stacy?
Ahhh, a typical day for me would be to take my dog, Obie for a walk first thing in the morning. He's a standard poodle and definitely needs his exercise!
Go to yoga class 3 mornings/week. With multiple sclerosis it's imperative I exercise by walking and doing yoga as much as I can.
Do necessary housework or yardwork.
Work on my blog and google reader for usually 4-6 hours.
Work on online college classes another 3-5 hours.
Cook dinner somewhere in the midst of all this.
Read the rest of the evening.

4. How do you balance family time with blogging and reading time?
That's a great question! I usually do not blog on the weekends. I may read a little bit, but that's rare too.  We are all so busy running & rushing during the week that spending much quality time together is rare. So I reserve the weekends for family.

5. You say that you have a family full of readers, and that you grew up in a house full of readers which is so wonderful. How do you think you can instill a love of reading in children?

I think one of the biggest ways is simply to have a house full of books that are accessible to children. Another important aspect is that children need adults to read to them; to show them from an early age how reading can open up surprising and amazing new places for them.

6. How's the independent book store coming? That would be an ultimate dream of mine too, btw!
Very, very slowly! With the economy the way it is I've been so scared and reluctant to jump ahead.  I am going to the Southern Independent Bookseller's Alliance (SIBA) Conference September 24th - 26th! I am really excited about that! I will know more of how close I am to opening after that conference. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

7. How many books do you own and where do you store them all?
I have about 3000 right now - nowhere near enough to open up yet.  I store most of them in hard stackable plastic tubs in my mom's basement. (thanks Mom!)

8. What is the best advice you can give to book bloggers just starting out?

Write what you know.
Read, read, read.
Comment everywhere....and not just 'great review' - leave meaningful comments!

9. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Karen White
Kathleen McGowan
Madeleine L'engle
James Rollins
Douglas Preston

10.  And finally, do you have any plans for your blog in the future?
Yep! Just to keep on keepin' on!
I cannot imagine NOT blogging anymore!

Thanks so much Stacy for allowing me to interview you! And if you want to check out her interview of me, just click here!

Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW: First Treasure

It's officially here! Book Blogger Appreciation Week! This is my first year participating since I started my blog a couple weeks after the festivities last year so I am very excited to be a part of it and see what happens during the week. Since this is a week about appreciating book blogging we are going to be doing a lot of that this week so sit back and relax. There may not be a lot of book reviews this week but there will be a lot of fun!

Today, if this is the first year we are participating, we've been asked to talk about the very first book blog  we discovered and why we love it. Well that's easy for me. The very first book blog I discovered was Becky's A Book A Week. I love her blog because her reading pace matches mine, her taste is very similar to mine and some of the best books I've read have been recommendations from her. She keeps it simple, only writing book reviews but her review style is wonderful and to the point, always coming down to whether or not it's worth reading and frankly that's what I'm looking for in a review and I feel like she inspired me a lot. I have no idea if she knows at all that she was the very first blog I found. From her blog roll I was able to find many others and that opened up a whole world of wonderful and then I eventually started a blog of my own. Things do spiral that way sometimes but it all started one day with a google search about a book, and Becky's blog showing up and feeling like I had a bit of a kindred spirit out there, so thanks Becky and keep up the wonderful reviews.

Mailbox Monday - Sept 6th - 11th, 2010

It's Mailbox Monday time! Mailbox Monday is going on tour and September is being hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog! Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks and audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

My mailbox is really full this week so let's get right to it! Here's what I got:

From LibraryThing Early Reviewers:
1. 'Cheap Cabernet' by Cathie Beck

From PBS:
2. 'I Don't Care about Your Band' by Julie Klausner

From Crazy
3. 'The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather' by Alexandra Potter

4. 'A Vintage Affair' by Isabel Wolff

From Simon & Schuster:
5. 'The Gin Closet' by Leslie Jamison

What did you get?!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jewel in the Rough

'The Jewel of St. Petersburg'
By Kate Furnivall

Format: Paperback
Published: Berkeley Trade; Aug 2010
Pages: 432

Synopsis: Russia, 1910. Valentina Ivanova is the darling of St. Petersburg's elite aristocracy-until her romance with a Danish engineer creates a terrible scandal and her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count. 

Meanwhile, Russia itself is bound for rebellion. With the Tsar and the Duma at each other's throats, and the Bolsheviks drawing their battle lines, the elegance and opulence of Tsarist rule are in their last days. And Valentina will be forced to make a choice that will change not only her own life, but the lives of those around her forever...
My Take: I'll be honest, I don't read a lot of historical fiction set in Russia. I know about Russian history in the broad sense but specific details might be a little lost on me. I love history though, and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so when I saw this book I was immediately intrigued by it. An historical fiction book set around the time of the Russian Revolution with a bit of a romance thrown in. I was thinking I could probably like this. I was not disappointed!
However, it did take me the first 80 pages or so to really get into the book so please stick with it! I had to really figure out the political scene here. My mind was a little rusty on the details. Our heroine, Valentina  and her family were immediately attacked by the Bolsheviks when the story opens. Her father is a minister working for the Tsar. You have to kind of figure out who is working for who and why people are so mad at each other. I started this book when I was sleepy so details were instantly murky and there were a lot of details to work out but then you get into the rhythm of it and it all quickly becomes quite easy to follow so don't let me make you think this book is all just about Russian politics because while it will teach you a lot about the politics and the mood of the time, it has so much more...

And that is the romance! Valentina is a spunky Russian female who has very stuffy parents. Her parents want her to tow the line and marry up, marry for money. You know the drill. Valentina is bored. She wants to do something real, become a nurse, help the people. She also falls in love with someone her parents don't really like at all, the Danish engineer Jens. Jens is in Russia building tunnels to help bring water to the whole of the city. Can they be together though or will their parents and/or the politics of the time tear them apart?

Here's what I kept wondering the whole time I was reading this book. Would I have stayed in Russia if I lived during this time and had enough money to leave like Valentina did? Because these poor people were being bombed at ever darn social event they went to, every time they went out shopping. I mean seriously who wants to live like that? I get annoyed when my public services fail me all week like the subway is constantly delayed but if there were bombs on it everyday? I think I might be like, 'you know, maybe we should move somewhere else?' I don't know, it rarely seems to ever cross people's minds until it's almost too late and I know it's their homeland and now we move around a lot more than people used to but geez. Ok I had my say. This book will have you on the edge of your seat because of this political climate and the romance. I loved it and I hope you do too!

There is a sequel to this book: 'The Russian Concubine' which I will definitely be checking out!

(I got this book from Crazy Book Tours)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Challenge Completed - What's in a Name 3!

Honestly with all the options I had to read on my bookshelf I was surprised it took me until September to finish this challenge but for some reason that plant title had me holding on for a long time. Beth Fish Read's What's in a Name 3 Challenge was probably one of the more fun/creative challenges I signed up for this year and I thoroughly enjoyed figuring out what book to read that would fit the categories and here's what I did:

1. Book with a Music Term in the Title - 'The Piano Teacher' by Janice Y.K. Lee
2. Book with a Place Name in the Title - 'The House on Tradd Street' by Karen White
3. Book with a Plant in the Title - 'The Botany of Desire: A Plant's - Eye View of the World' by Michael Pollan
4. Book with a Title in the Title - 'Lady Macbeth' by Susan Fraser King
5. Book with a Body of Water in the Title - 'River's Edge' by Marie Bostwick
6. Book with a Food in the Title - 'I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti' by Giulia Melucci

As for my favorites with this one? It's probably a tie between 'The Piano Teacher' and 'River's Edge' but I got to read some great one's and I hope she does this one again next year because I'll sign up!
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