January 30, 2009

Neil Gaiman: Coraline

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As many people know the movie Coraline is coming to theaters next week with an opening night on Friday, February 6th. What I find funny is that some people have missed that this movie is based on a book.

"The movie's a book?" some kids might ask. Such were the words spoken by my youngest sister, age thirteen, when we discussed this two weeks ago.
"Well, the book's a movie, actu-"
"I want to read it!"

Excellent! You see, it is worth mentioning. This is especially true if said youngster or teen isn't fond of reading to begin with. (Haha, dear sister. I love you.)

I must admit the quieter approach may be better with some of them. It might be best to withhold the information until after they've enjoyed it and then sneak it in. While you might not know when you can afford to take your kids (and possibly their friends) to see it again, they can check the book out from a library to read as many times as they would like.

Try to break this news as excitedly as you can. Picture a surprise birthday party. Hold that thought. It would make the book sound 'uncool.' I am here to tell you there is no doubt that this book is not. It's fantastic! This book is not your child's average bedtime story, however.

Gaiman chills us with his dark children's story about a girl named Coraline who is just trying to find something to do while playing all alone in a world with only grown-ups. That's when she discovers a door leading to a world exactly like her own and yet terribly different. Coraline is a very mature girl and a character that can easily be admired. Her story is incredible however short. My movie tie-in edition is 163 pages with impressive and chilling illustrations. It will find itself in my sister's hands tomorrow.

Like all movies based on a book, and yes, for the young uns, I will say with a smile 'book based on a movie,' there are differences between the two. The movie is rated PG. I think kids of many ages will enjoy it. I've been clued in that the book is the more scary of the two. My thoughts are that if younger children are going to read this you might want to consider reading it with them if you're worried. I would steer away from reading it as their nighttime story before bed.

This is the official trailer provided on YouTube from "Coraline, the Movie."

January 26, 2009

Favorite Book That Begins with . . .

I have a sleeping cat on my lap and while she is there I dare not disturb her. A comic strip by Brian Crane called "Pickles" introduced me to the term COL, which stands for 'cat on lap.' COL may be used as an excuse for just about anything. "I need you to go make dinner." "Could you go finish the laundry?" "I have a few errands for you to run." Just about anything goes with COL. It can even be for something that works against you. I wish I could get up right now because this nearing eight-year-old baby who has the most photogenic skills is beginning to make me uncomfortable, but because I have COL I may not get up. While I am bound to the computer chair I am finding something to do to pass the time by blogging this entry. Oh, dear. I sneezed. She has just left me. I am free, and yet now compelled to type. Well, here it is....

These are my favorite books that I have read for each letter of the alphabet:
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde
The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte: The Secrets of a Mysterious Family by James Tully
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Harry Potter series. I can't decide which is my favorite.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Knight of the Sacred Lake by Rosalind Miles
The Little Country by Charles de Lint
Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Quicksilver & Shadow by Charles de Lint
Remember Me by Carol Higgins Clark
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
You Suck by Christopher Moore

Runner Ups:
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle by Rosalind Miles
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Most Wanted by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Untamed by P.C. and Kristen Cast
Widdershins by Charles de Lint

More From the Hardest Letters to Choose From:
B: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
D: The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman and The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
F: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint H: The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, and Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
L: The Lady of the Sea by Rosalind Miles, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
M: The Maid of the White Hands by Rosalind Miles, Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock, and My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews
O: Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip and The Odyssey by Homer
S: A Shortcut in Time by Charles Dickinson, The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman, and Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
T: A Theory of Relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard and Tunneling by Beth Bosworth
W: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, The Wood Wife by Terri Windling, and A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

On an ending note, I was quite worrisome my four-legged friend would return. She made several trips back to see me. More seriously now, I wonder if there are any good books that begin with a 'V' an 'X,' or a 'Z.' Also if there are any writers reading this, why so very many 'W's? I am overwhelmed for this letter more than any other by far. They are magnificent stories, though.

January 24, 2009

Why I Choose LibraryThing

I recently voted on something to do with social networking sites for readers. I didn't spend more than a few minutes typing it up but this is what I left as my comment.

I don’t like LibraryThing. I love LibraryThing.

I’ve been a member of LibraryThing for two years now. The day I stumbled on it became a milestone in my life. My lifetime membership status isn’t just because a friend paid for me to have more than a year of unlimited book cataloging. I love how well I can keep track of my books there. The site has terrific features that feed all of my addictions for organizing and much more. I turn to LT for anything book related before all else. LibraryThing has complete reins of which books I purchase and which books I don’t purchase. It can tell me what order a book series is in, which books I may like based on what I have already, and I haven’t even gotten started on the communication parts of it. It introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever ‘met’ and I am very grateful for the friendships it has given me. Talking to a group of people about books you have in common is wonderful. Talking to a group a people who you know well and share many of the same book interests as is even better. I am eternally grateful to those who work hard to keep LibraryThing the outstanding place that it is.

If you're a reader and haven't discovered the amazingness that is LibraryThing yet, I suggest you go check it out.

January 23, 2009

Christopher Moore: You Suck

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I hadn't been sure that I would read this book next but did after all. The eventful weekend didn't leave room for much reading as I spent it trying to cheer up my newly become jobless sister. It took longer to read the book than I thought it would because of this but not for a lack of interest in reading it. I set it down with regret each time I had to lie the book aside.

Often a series might grow on me as I think was the case for this one, though its two companion books rather than a series from what I can tell. The characters grow on you and I love nothing more than books that follow another because you can stay with the characters who you have already begun to know and understand. In some ways this story was different because a new point of view was introduced but it never failed to make me laugh. I think I can say the story only got better.

This book takes place immediately following where its companion novel, Bloodsucking Fiends, leaves off. Vampires Jody and Tommy are still in San Francisco and with a few problems:
  • They need to find food, a priority to newly made vampire Tommy who is experiencing the hunger for the first time.
  • They need a new minion, or onion, if you ask Jody.
  • They need to find a new apartment to please the San Francisco police.
  • They need to go Christmas shopping for their parents because in all that had been going on, they've forgotten it's only about two days away.

  • Learning how to be a vampire and pushing a great huge statue down the street can be hard work but then again so can hiding on top of a pipe that heats up during the day. Being a statue for a living is the easy job, or so it is for one statue in particular. I won't reveal any more when it comes to that but its quite funny.

    Through their adventures they find the strangest ways of acquiring food, searching for a way that their bodies can accept the coffee that satisfied them as humans. That comes in handy later on but I won't reveal why. Jody and Tommy get themselves a regular blood donor with little cost to them. A shaved cat in a red sweater is probably the one who pays the most.

    Tommy's love for literature plays a role in checking 'minion' off their to-do list. Strange, amusing, Gothic, street-smart, and very much a teenager are some of best words of choice in describing Abby Normal who prefers to not use her day slave name. Abby more than happily becomes the loyal servant of her very old vampires, Flood and the Countess. Her only hope is to become one of them.

    A woman named Blue comes into the story while spending time with the Animals, a nickname given to those who work Safeway's night shift. Tommy's old friends reveal to her that Tommy is a newly made vampire and from then on she has one goal: "'You want to be orange?' 'Not orange, you nitwit, a vampire!'" (Moore 162).

    Only one of these girls becomes a vampire. Which one will it be? I will not say so you will have to find out yourself. This book is filled with just as much humor as the last book and I enjoyed it a bit more. Moore does a brilliant job capturing the point of view of the sixteen-year-old that is Abby Normal. I don't feel he could have done any better on that. I kind of missed a few things that couldn't be in this book that had been a part of the one previous but the author more than makes up for it. Hysterical!

    I've loaned both books out to someone who is reading them as quickly as the murdering vampire of San Francisco seemed to be draining bodies of their blood in the first of these two books. She is ecstatic and loving the series, the first vampire books she has ever read. The amount of humor in these books just has her so drug into these books. I see books grab at her attention on a regular basis, but these two are not books the nonfiction reader I know her to be would pick up to read on her own. I think that says something more for these two books.

    January 21, 2009

    Which Bennet Sister Are You?

    I've fallen behind on reviewing what I've read but am working on some posts. In the meantime here is a fun quiz. Have you read Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice"? It's one of my favorites! Take this quiz to discover which of the five Bennet sisters is most like you.

    I took this quiz twice with the same result both times. However, I needed a tie breaker on the second attempt.

    You Scored as Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Bennet is intelligent witty. She sometimes judges people before she knows them but changes her opinion when she knows she was wrong about someone. She is considered somewhat of a tomboy but usually doesn't care what people think. She may have a hard shell but is extremely loving to those she cares for.

    My first attempt at this quiz provided me with the following information, though the second time left it out entirely for odd some reason. (It probably has to do with the tie.)

    Elizabeth . . . 81%
    Jane Bennet . . . 72%
    Kitty Bennet . . . 56%
    Mary Bennet . . . 44%
    Lydia Bennet . . . 16%

    January 14, 2009

    Christopher Moore: Bloodsucking Fiends

    I think I heard this book mentioned a good year or more before it made it's way to my wishlist. My TBR pile was great already. With the Twilight series over though, I've been branching out to other vampire series, something I never dreamed would happen. It's not that I think books about vampires are bad, because I don't think that. I had just thought them all juvenile after spending much of my teen years buried in them. I had read L.J Smith's complete works. I had also read Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series, a collection of six books. (The Remember Me books had been ones I reread over and over again as well.)

    After buried in so many Young Adult books as a teen I had thought growing up meant no longer reading YAs, and definitely putting vampire books behind me while moving on to those great and wonderful classic stories. I think I needed a little reminder of everything on that list of classic books because I know now there is at the very least one vampire book on that list. It wasn't until more recent years and seeing how many adults read YAs that I began to pick them up again myself.

    Christopher Moore: Bloodsucking Fiends
    Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    The book I'm going to talk about in this blog entry today is not a YA at all, but it is a vampire love story. Vampire books as ordinary fiction books - who knew? I had never read any perhaps until now. And yet, this book was not simply ordinary. It was a rather humorous one. Jokes were far apart at times, but other times they were left and right. Sometimes they were buried without characters even taking note of them when the jokes were right in front of them. This is a good thing though, because innocent and unnoticed jokes by the characters are always jokes very much enjoyed.

    I was very confused about the setting when I first started reading. An Emperor was mentioned and my thoughts were, 'Egypt?' The next thing I knew it was mentioning Oakland, and this might just be because I am from California, but when I think Oakland, I think CA. It's a pretty scary place at times. The violence and gangs keep me away from it. It's not a place for someone my size to be alone. It soon became apparent that it was indeed the San Francisco Bay Area where this book takes place, and the Emperor was in fact Emperor of Chinatown. I obviously haven't been there often enough.

    When we first meet one of our main characters, Jody, she is walking to a bus stop at night on her way home after work. 'This is the last time,' she thinks of being out that late as she aims to go past passersby. Have I ever known that feeling! The details of events for the next few days will go unspoiled by me with warning and you may use your imagination. Otherwise... (SPOILER) Jody thinks herself at some point left for dead. Until she wakes up. Was she left for dead, though? This is where the story really begins. (END spoiler.)

    Tommy Flood finds his way into San Francisco immediately seeking a roof over his head and a job. His only real desire is to write and he creates a name for himself. His roommates and apartment tenant are quite the characters. So is his strange crew of co-workers who are up to all sorts of things that really make you wonder just what exactly goes on in grocery stores at night. They really had me laughing. What does Tommy have to do with Jody? I said this was a love story.

    It took me a while to really get into this book but once I did, I was very glad for my mistake of buying book two by accident when shopping for book one. It allows me to jump right into the next book if I so chose. I haven't read a book that has made me laugh as much as this in a while. I really recommend it. In some places I was looking for something more and it's not a book I love such as those I rate at four to five stars. It was however a good book, and I can't wait till I have a person to talk to about it instead of just trying to avoid giving spoilers here.

    January 12, 2009

    John Connolly: The Book of Lost Things

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    This book was a tricky one to read but not so tricky as I've heard it's been for others. I had wanted to read it months ago when I bought it in October but the book had about a one month disappearance until I was too busy to read it. Some might only joke that this book becomes lost but after a while you begin to worry about it missing from one of your bookshelves just because it's that book. In any case, I managed to read it without loosing it once during my reading this weekend. I looked up where my copy is from exactly (England) and am now wondering just how many journeys my own copy has had as it may have become lost multiple times in it's life.

    I wasn't really sure what kind of book this would be before I started reading. I knew it had some sort of fair tales within and that some people don't recommend it to children. I also knew it was a favorite to some enough that they read it more than once a year. Since I know some people that might read this and haven't read or finished the book yet I'm going to try to stick to things mentioned on my book's jacket when it comes to spoilers. Again, my copy isn't from the U.S so I hope all will be okay due to any differences our covers may possess in story details and giveaways.

    The main character of The Book of Lost Things is a twelve-year-old boy I reached out to immediately as he mourns the loss of his mother. Books had meant a great deal to his mother, particularly a book of myths, legends and fair tales he would read from to her. She felt so strongly about books that she would tell her son stories come alive in reading them out loud, after which they can transform you. This message held her spirit inside this book to me and seemingly to David as well, who always kept the book close after her death.

    With his mother's passing books are no longer the same as they once were to David. They move without anyone touching them. He can understand books, too. They whisper things. (Bonus points to the first person who can name where I grabbed parts of the last three sentences from. I thought it would be funny to use here.) David keeps this to himself. Best not to be locked away.

    The real and unreal seem to merge as David has night and then day dreams about a crooked man in a land where he has only been to in stories. Soon enough they collide, and David is in a new land away from the ongoing war that coincides in his own land. The Crooked Man is there, too, along with some familiar and yet unfamiliar characters as well. Nothing is as we knew them to be in the fairy tales we grew up to. These ones are all new. Connolly has created ones for which it won't matter where you grew up or what culture you're part of. You will have never read these. David hasn't, either, and is embarking on a journey said to be one of these tales as well.

    I thought David made very significant character development in this book. Though a child to begin with, this is a story that changes and transforms him into someone much more grown up. I'm impressed with the author's ability to keep the book in a twelve-year-old's mind and yet fit for the older audience. I imagine most books in which the main character is such an age they are coined as children and young adult novels, something I've been told this is not.

    Connolly's stories are very interesting and unique. I feel he could go on to write books which tie-in to this one if he wanted to. However, they would not be as strong and his messages have already been delivered. This book makes an excellent story on it's own as a standalone. Nothing is missing from it. I am sorry that I can't reveal why I gave it a barely imperfect rating without spoiling. If anyone is curious, ask in a comment and I will write about it there.

    January 10, 2009

    The First Bookpile of '09

    Some of these books I actually got last year but I felt there weren't enough of them to post in a photo until two arrived in the mail these last two days. Here is the newest contribution to my TBR pile.

    Where they came from:
    PaperBackSwap: Shadowland, Bloodsucking Fiends, The Boleyn Inheritance, and The Alchemyst
    Bought new: Revelations and The Secret of Lost Things
    Gift: Eats, Shoots and Leaves
    From 2008: Shadowland, The Boleyn Inheritance, and Eats, Shoots and Leaves

    As I try to write a little about each of these books I am finding that I can't really remember why I had any interest in reading Shadowland which is always a bad sign. I am sure whatever the reason was that it had to do with something someone said about the book, though, so Mediator series fan, I hope this book is good! It seems to be about a teenage girl who sees ghosts and is trying a new life after recently moving to my home state of California.

    Eats, Shoots and Leaves is subtitled "The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation." Unlike the other books in this pile, it's not in my TBR pile, though I am planning to read it soon and this copy is new to my home. One of my aunts gave it to me happy she could recommend a really good book that she thought I would like. She was right. I love this book! It's hilarious and perfect for anyone either wanting to know a little more about punctuation or who has an issue with all the wrong punctuation they see in the world. That is precisely why the earlier editions actually came with brilliant punctuation marks for the reader to add anywhere they see use for them. I think the previous time I read this book the only flaw I found was that punctuation, I learned, is sometimes different for different countries. This book was originally published in the United Kingdom so I couldn't learn so much about punctuation for the U.S. as the author isn't American, but it's still a very funny book and good read.

    I have been sitting anxiously waiting all week for Bloodsucking Fiends to arrive. I've heard friends mention and discuss the vampire series but didn't really get interested in it until I went book shopping with one of them in October. My mistake was in not buying this book that day. I went to another bookstore some time later and accidentally bought book two, You Suck, so I am thrilled to have book one at last. These books are supposed to be very funny. This may be one of the next two books I read.

    I was silently laughing when I came across The Secret of Lost Things last weekend. I'd never heard of the book before but the title made me think of The Book of Lost Things and a joke about it's copies always disappearing. I thought perhaps it will reveal the secret as to why or how it happens! Obviously not, but it was a funny thought at the time. I had to pick this book up and learn a little about the story. It's about an eighteen-year-old bibliophile who leaves home for New York bringing only her books with her. She quickly makes herself at home working in a used bookstore. This book is said to be a literary adventure as well as an adventure for this girl trying to make a new home in the world.

    I really shouldn't have gotten The Boleyn Inheritance just yet since it's part of a series so I'm hitting myself over the head. It's book three in the chronological order for Philippa Gregory's Tudor series. Many have heard of book two which I think was the author's first published work, The Other Boleyn Girl. I've already read that one but missed book one. The Constant Princess sits in my TBR pile. I'm hoping I will enjoy this series, though. Book two was very good. I enjoyed it much more than The Queen of Subtleties by a different author.

    I spent a lot of time just ignoring The Alchemyst but began to hear enough about it and positive feedback that I decided to try the first book in this series out. A lot of people have already heard a little bit about Nicholas Flamel and so may recognize the name. The biggest reason why I recognize it is because of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone which had originally made me so against reading a different book from another series that included him. For those who aren't sure what Flamel is known for, it is for creating the elixir of life, the drink to make one immortal, in a sense. Reading the back of this book's cover, the story is that Nicholas Flamel, born in 1330, did not die in the 1400s as the record shows. They go on the say there isn't a body buried in his grave at all and that he lives still by drinking the elixir of life. While I once snubbed this book, it sounds like it will be very interesting. It's good for booksnobs to consider those ill-seeming books sometimes!

    January 8, 2009

    Melissa de la Cruz: Revelations

    It was a very exciting day two months ago when I discovered that Melissa de la Cruz's newest book in her Blueblood series was to be published that very day. Rather than going to buy a copy, though, I waited for my birthday and Christmas to pass up. I honestly can't say how many times I walked up to this book, took it off a shelf, and set it down again before walking away. When no one bought it for me I went bookshopping for it this past weekend. I may have discovered it the day of it's release but the wait was definitely long enough.

    Revelations is part three in the Blueblood YA vampire series following Blue Bloods and Masquerade with more books to be expected. It picks up within a matter of days or weeks where the second book leaves off. Main character Schuyler Van Alen is still attending the Duchesne School in New York, still being taunted by the ever popular Mimi Force, and still dreamy-eyed over Mimi's twin and 'soulmate,' Jack. Another thing that hasn't changed are the feelings Schuyler's childhood human friend Oliver has for her. There are bigger problems for the Blue and Red Bloods, though.*

    Whatever danger was lurking and attacking young non-fully formed vampires in book two is still out there.** Everyone has their suspicions as to who the Silver Blood that is causing the killings is but no one really knows who it is for sure. More lives will be taken, putting an end to yet more vampires being able to go through their cycle of rebirth to life again. A trip abroad will lead to more answers and yet more questions. De la Cruz keeps readers waiting for more but leaves us only with a title of what book will come next. Look for Melissa de la Cruz's The Van Alen Legacy in what I expect to be ten to fourteen months from now, based on her previous Blueblood publications.

    I had really looked forward to more in this series when I had left off with the book previous but felt this book could have offered a little more. (SPOILERS) Schuyler is too wrapped up in her interest for someone to pay attention to other and more important things. I was disappointed that she doesn't go to visit her comatose mother even once during this book. She also could have been paying more attention to what was going on with the Bluebloods and doing her studies for it as she was instructed. Instead she leaves Oliver to do the homework and know everything for her. I'm also puzzled by her weak-seeming state of friendship with her close friend Bliss, who continues to have a strong role and is having a lot of things going on in her life. (END spoilers.)

    There were two slight problems with my copy of Revelations so I would like those who are interested in the book to be aware of it. Pages 197 and 200 were both missing text from one side of their pages. Be careful not to end up with pages such as this in your own copy of the book.

    * Blue bloods are vampires while red bloods are humans.
    ** Vampires reach maturity at twenty-one or twenty-two years of age.

    January 7, 2009

    Lewis Carrol: Through the Looking Glass

    The last book I finished reading in 2008 was Alice in Wonderland and I have now finished reading part two of the story, Through the Looking Glass. I was at first puzzled by the board game inside my copy of the book. The first page notes which characters (players) are which color (red or white) for a game of chess. It made me think of how we see font such as was in this book in works of Shakespeare right before the start of the plays. I began reading wondering if the story would appear in a similar fashion. It began with a poem and then an introduction about the pages showing the chess game information to make it more clear. The story itself was just like the last story in the way of the style it was written in.

    I immediately ooed and awed over the black and white kittens, Kitty and Snowdrop. I had only known of Alice's cat, Dina, existing. As I read I had to stop toward the beginning because it hadn't been clear to me right away that Alice, rather than dreaming such as in Alice in Wonderland, was this time daydreaming and using her imagination.

    Imagination is a perfect thing for children to have, and very good for a child who seems to not have any other children around to play with. Alice occupies her time playing with cats and inventing things that are make believe. She starts off with the mirror in the very room she is playing in by going through it and seeing how everything she already knew from her own world in another way, how it is on the other and unknown side of the looking glass.

    On the other side of the looking glass, the chess pieces in the room have life. Alice begins this story by playing the part of one of the pawns. She comes across a few characters (i.e., players in this story) who she already met before and meets a few new faces as well. There is a great deal of playing with words. The characters put focus on some words versus others, and change the form of some sentences entirely to have a new meaning or to ask a new question.

    I had to fold one of the pages because the poem on it reminded me of another. This is what was inside my book:

    "The time has come," the Walrus said,
    "To talk of many things :
    Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax --
    Of cabbages -- and kings --
    And why the sea is boiling hot --
    And whether pigs have wings"

    --(Carrol, 153)

    I think there were actually a few poems this reminded me of but at present I can't name a single one. I think some others who read poetry might be able to tell me what other poem I might possibly have been thinking of.

    Of course, I was very likely to recall these words from Disney's movie as well, which I did. I pictured it and was not happy for those dear little clams. I think I would have lacked as much sympathy for them without it because they were just too young and cute in the film. How dare that Carpenter and Walrus! I also pitied the kitty who Alice shook when the Red Queen turned into Kitty. Yes, it's only a story. Yes also that Alice must love them, though not quite enough to understand what their meows mean. Silly Alice.

    January 5, 2009

    Book Quizes

    I just took a book quiz on a friend's site and remembered about the one I have linked on my side column here. The Blue Pyramid produces many book quizzes but the only one I've taken is their book quiz. It doesn't seem to matter what sort of mood I'm in or how much time passes between each time that I take it. My results are always the same.

    You're Watership Down!

    by Richard Adams

    Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
    actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
    assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
    build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
    be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

    Take the Book Quiz
    at the Blue Pyramid.

    I like rabbits and have had them as pets so I thought this book seemed like it might be kind of cute. I had to add it to my wishlist after a few times of taking this quiz. I got it from BookMooch and it's one of the great many books that is my TBR pile. I'm curious how one of my sisters who is so different from me is this book, too. She is, though, the only person who I've had take this quiz that is the same book as me.

    January 4, 2009

    2009 Book Challenges

    You might already have noticed this new addition to the side column, but I've made a few challenges for this year from the 50 Book Challenge on LibraryThing. Typically an LTer will take any amount of books they wish to read and try to read them within a year. A few choose to have a few more challenges as well. This is where my reading challenge for 2008 came from. It was the first year I made a challenge to read a given number of books within a year. I had chosen fifty-two books based on the one book per week ratio.

    Since I passed my challenge last year while also having hardly read any books during three months of the year, I increased my book challenge to seventy-five books for this year. I'm not planning on any deaths, major illnesses in the family, or any type of catastrophe to interrupt it. I know that's always a possibility and at least one is likely, but I choose to plan for the positive. Some might argue that having a number of books desired to be read in a year's span is taking the fun out of reading, but when you enjoy reading as much as I do as I think is more than likely for most who visit this blog, then it doesn't really matter because it's still very much enjoyable.

    This is one of the challenges I made with thoughts of one of my sisters in mind: To try to balance out my To-Be-Read pile so it remains the same number as it is or shrinks down. How do you read and not have this always happen? Books will always find a way into your home. Do not question it. My TBR pile consists of one-hundred and fifty-two books at present moment. Already I have read one, bought three on PaperBackSwap, and purchased two in a bookstore. Rather than beat myself over my head for those purchases I will try to get a lot of reading done while I have the free time this week. There will be times that I won't be able to keep this up and I know it. That's why my main goal is to have it ideally be balanced out by the end of this year. Let's see how possible or ridiculous this challenge may be, shall we? Perhaps it will cause a great mockery.

    In the days before I blogged or discovered any of the book sites I am on now I would challenge myself to read at least one classic per month. As I've majorly decreased the amount of time I spend reading from being online on book sites I dropped this challenge. Now I would like to resume it with an alteration: To read twelve or more classics any time during the year rather than one per month. I'd rather read books when I am in the mood for them, not simply for reading a particular genre. Still, every time I've read a book knowing there is some reference or another to a classic or another book, I've always been the one to desire being in on it versus being on the outside and just not getting it. I might take the opportunity to read Charlotte Bronte's Shirley this year, a book which at some point discusses some marvelous stained glass windows I fell in love with years ago. (If you would like to visit these windows, they are at the Red House Museum.) Two other classics I would like to read this year are Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Shakespeare's Othello, both books I seemed to have not been assigned to read during any of the literature classes I've taken.

    My genre challenge does not end there. I would also like to increase how many nonfiction books I read each year and challenge myself to twelve or more. There are plenty all throughout my house some of which I've wanted to read for years so I'm not worried over finding many good books to read. One of the nonfiction books I've wanted to read for years has been The Man Who Tasted Shapes, the copy of which has been MIA. I guess this means I will be organizing and sorting through my fellow book lover's books at home, which she certainly won't mind. Another nonfiction book I plan to read this year is Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. It will be a reread for me, but someone gave it to me as a gift not knowing I've already read it and I'm not going to be the one to say so. A good book may be read more than once and this one is funny. I'm happy it's made it's way to my collection of books the way it has because I'm bad at buying books I've already read.

    Two other challenges that tie into classics are a Jane Austen and Banned Book challenge. I've thought over having an Austen challenge in the past because there are so many books in my TBR pile having to do with her works. Some of these are books related to Pride and Prejudice or all of her complete works and some of these are works by Miss Austen herself which I have not yet read. Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Emma are the books I've yet to read by her. I can't quite say how many times I've read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice. It's one of my favorites.

    My Banned Book challenge may be something I might try to attempt for the month of September during which Banned Book week falls in. I am still deciding but leaning more toward that as I think about it. I laugh at people who try to ban books. Do they not know it only makes me want to read a book I may not have glanced at before? This isn't just the case for me but my family as well. Someday I would like to own a copy of every book that has ever been banned. I fear this might not be something that can be accomplished if every copy of any book is or has been destroyed. What monstrous creatures who either try to or succeed in banning books. The same for those monsters from somewhere dark who burn books. That's not protecting children. It's increasing nightmares and throwing debris in their clean air. Don't get me started.

    Another type of book which is exceedingly high in my TBR pile are collections of short stories. I would like to read and complete three of these at some point during the year. I have a lot of these that are fantasy and mythology-related. Some are twisted and retold fairy tales, something I used to read a lot of. Others are books such as The Coyote Road, a thick collection of short stories about Tricksters. I bought this one after taking my second mythology class which discusses myths from a major range of cultures and regions. The Trickster was one of the things we covered.

    Lastly, I have created challenges based on reviewing books. I try to write a blog entry for each book I read here and write something for the 50 Book Challenge in it's proper place as well, but I would like to get to entering my reviews into LT's actual place for book reviews. So far I am on track with one book read and reviewed in all three places to review in. My other reviewing challenge is to be a better Early Reviewer member. I would like to read and review every Early Reviewer book received within a one month span of receiving them. I've been very busy the last couple of months, too busy to do this. The year has hardly begun and I've yet to receive any for this year as of yet, but should I get more, this is a challenge I've made for it.

    Cheers to another year of great books!

    January 2, 2009

    Ellen Wittlinger: Love & Lies

    Wittlinger's YA novel Love & Lies is a companion to her earlier story, Hard Love, following sideline character Marisol Guzman who stars in her very own story with this book. Taking place after Hard Love, I consider it a sequel just for the sake of chronological order. John Galardi ("Gio") makes an appearance in this story, though don't assume because of the title that it means something that couldn't be in his own story. Marisol is a lesbian. I wouldn't give that away except for the matter that it's necessary.

    Earlier on during Hard Love Marisol had been a zine writer and high school student. Now she has graduated and is taking a year off before going to Stanford to accomplish two things: to write a novel and to fall in love. How hard could the first one of those be? Marisol is a very confident girl and moves out of her parent's, gets a job, and enrolls in an adult class called "How to Write Your First Novel."

    It isn't long before Marisol realizes that her old friend Gio is also enrolled in the class, that she's absolutely crazy over their beautiful female instructor, and that the girl who's been hanging around her work and befriended her is very much attracted to her. In Love & Lies Marisol gains the creative juices needed to produce her novel and learns what happens when love is built on lies.

    This is a two-hundred and forty-five page book that goes pretty fast. It was interesting to read about some of the writing exercises the class had for assignments. I liked that the author included bits of Marisol's writing in the book. The back page includes sixteen quotes about writing by well-known and successful writers. Here are two of the quotes I liked best:

    "The suspense of a novel is not only in the reader, but in the novelist, who is intensely curious about what will happen to the hero."-- Mary McCarthy

    "The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible."-- Vladimir Nabokov

    January 1, 2009

    A Summary of 2008 in Books

    2008 has ended and with it, my book challenge for this past year. I read fifty-nine books in 2008, surpassing my book challenge goal by seven books. I came up with a new challenge once I beat that one later on but knew there was a possibility that too much would be going on for me to complete it. (My new reading challenge was to read a total of seventy books.) Here is a list of what I read in 2008:

    1. Holly Black: Modern Faery's Tale, book 3: Ironside
    2. Caprice Crane: Forget About It
    3. Patrick Carman: The Land of Elyon, book 1: The Dark Hills Divide
    4. Melissa de la Cruz: Bluebloods, book 1: Blue Bloods
    5. Patrick Carman: The Land of Elyon, book 2: Beyond the Valley of Thorns
    6. Louise Rennison: Georgia Nicholson, book 1: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging
    7. Louise Rennison: Georgia Nicholson, book 2: On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God
    8. Melissa de la Cruz: Bluebloods, book 2: Masquerade
    9. Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson & the Olympians, book 1: The Lightning Thief
    10. Louise Rennison: Georgia Nicholson, book 3: Knocked Out by My Nugga-Nuggas
    11. Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Little Princess
    12. Cornelia Funke: Inkworld, book 1: Inkheart
    13. Louise Rennison: Georgia Nicholson, book 4: Dancing in My Nuddy Pants
    14. Phillipa Gregory: Tudor, book 2: The Other Boleyn Girl
    15. Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones, book 1: Bridget Jones's Diary
    16. Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials, book 4: Lyra's Oxford
    17. Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden
    18. Scott Westerfeld: Uglies, book 1: Uglies
    19. Rachel Caine: Morganville Vampires, book 1: Glass Houses
    20. Rachel Caine: Morganville Vampires, book 2: The Dead Girls' Dance
    21. Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, book 1: Twilight
    22. Stephenie Meyer: The Host
    23. C.S. Lewis: Chronicles of Narnia, (chronologically) book 4: Prince Caspian
    24. Scott Westerfeld: Uglies, book 2: Pretties
    25. Scott Westerfeld: Uglies, book 3: Specials
    26: Michael Middleditch: The New York Mapguide (5th edition)
    27: Rachel Caine: Morganville Vampires, book 3: Midnight Alley
    28: Ginny Rorby: Hurt Go Happy
    29. Melissa Marr: Wicked Lovely, book 1: Wicked Lovely
    30. Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Castle, book 1: Howl's Moving Castle
    31. Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, book 1: Twilight
    32. Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, book 2: New Moon
    33. Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, book 3: Eclipse
    34. Stephenie Meyer: Twilight, book 4: Breaking Dawn
    35. Ellen Wittlinger: Marisol, book 1: Hard Love
    36: Sean Stewart: Cathy's Book, book 1: Cathy's Book
    37: Ann Rinaldi: A Break with Charity
    38. Jane Elliot: The Little Prisoner
    39. PC and Kristen Cast: House of Night, book 1: Marked
    40: Patrick Carman: Land of Elyon, book 3: The Tenth City
    41: Cinda Williams Chima: The Heir, book 1: The Warrior Heir
    42. PC and Kristen Cast: House of Night, book 2: Betrayed
    43. Christopher Paolini: Inheritance, book 1: Eragon
    44. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black: Spiderwick Chronicles, book 1: The Field Guide
    45. Cinda Williams Chima: The Heir, book 2: The Wizard Heir
    46. PC and Kristen Cast: House of Night, book 3: Chosen
    47. Christopher Paolini: Inheritance, book 2: Eldest
    48. PC and Kristen Cast: House of Night: Untamed
    49. Wendy Mass: A Mango-Shaped Space
    50. Cinda Williams Chima: The Heir, book 3: The Dragon Heir
    51. Ibi Kaslik: Skinny
    52. Gabrielle Zeven: Elsewhere
    53. Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 2: The Sea of Monsters
    54. Libba Bray: Gemma Doyle, book 1: A Great and Terrible Beauty
    55. Sarah Waters: Fingersmith
    56. Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele: The Enneagram Made Easy
    57. J.K. Rowling: (Harry Potter companion): The Tales of Beedle the Bard
    58. Vicki Myron: Dewey
    59. Lewis Carrol: Alice's Adventures, book 1: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

    I've tried to keep a list of which books were my favorite that I read by the month on the side of my blog which I'll list the content of here:

    Jan. ~ Caprice Crane: "Forget About It"
    Feb. ~ Phillipa Gregory: "The Other Boleyn Girl"
    Mar. ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett: "The Secret Garden"
    Apr. ~ Scott Westerfeld: "Uglies"
    May ~ Stephenie Meyer: "The Host"
    Jun. ~ Ginny Rorby: "Hurt Go Happy"
    Jul. ~ Diana Wynne Jones: "Howl's Moving Castle"
    Aug. ~ Stephenie Meyer: "Breaking Dawn"
    Sep. ~ Cinda Williams Chima: "The Warrior Heir"
    Oct. ~ Sarah Waters: "Fingersmith"
    (Nov. ~ only read one book)
    Dec. ~ Vicki Myron: "Dewey"

    My mother is likewise a reader and since we both had the day off work wanted to discuss the books we read last year. This is her third year in a row of beating me with eighty-some books read. One of the things she insisted was hearing which one book was my favorite. One book. I couldn't do it. She knows I love to read series and told me I could count complete series as individual books and to come up with a couple. I looked over the books I read, made a short list, and scrambled to my bookshelves. This is what I brought to her:

    Cinda Williams Chima's The Warrior Heir was chosen to represent The Heir series for being the first and also possibly my favorite of the series. It has the fantasy thing going on and I am very thankful to all my LibraryThing friends who spoke so wonderfully of it. I loved this series. I've already written about the differences between the Heir and Harry Potter so I won't repeat that but post a link.

    Another book I chose to represent a series was PC and Kristen Cast's Marked. The House of Night series is published quickly making it fun to follow not to mention how funny I've found the series. I would for certain call this the lightest vampire series I have read. The dark and scary aren't really all that dark or scary.

    Here we get to the books I chose as stand-alones. Two of these I do not own. They are Ginny Rorby's Hurt Go Happy and Vicki Myron's Dewey, both books that I couldn't put down. There were a good amount of books like that for me this year, but only these two succeeded in making me completely sappy. I adore them both, each having an alarmingly touching story of their own.

    Rorby's book was close to home to me during a time that I was very far from home - across the country, in fact, and feeling homesick. It includes a great deal of sign language, the silent language I'm constantly unconsciously using, and also partially takes place right in the area that I live in. I was able to connect with the main character as well for her family life at home and the relationship between her and an animal that she loves dearly.

    Myron's book is one that is the second to last blog entry before this so I need not go into detail, but it was of course very close to me as well. My mother was surprised by me naming it as one of my favorite books for the year, but why ever would I want to erase everything about my Loofy and pretend as though he never was? His ashes are a way of holding on, but some special books such as this and Rorby's help keep everything there. I never want to forget.

    Another book I chose was Scott Westerfeld's Uglies. There are four books to this series and I have only read three of them, however, as a series, I feel that it stinks. I really don't like those books. The first one, on the other hand, as a stand-alone book delivers some very good messages, one of them being to take better care of our planet. I feel teens with eating disorders would also benefit from reading this book. It teaches so much about real and inner beauty!

    Patrick Carman's The Dark Hills Divide is a very cute book. As a cat and book lover, I enjoyed it's cozy and adventurous library where even the two library cats held clues to mysteries to be solved. Again, I liked this book better than the rest of the series.

    Cornelia Funke's Inkheart is not very fresh in mind at all now but I did very much adore this book. It seems everyone either loves or hates it. My opinion is stated. I don't know why I never got to book two and haven't purchased book three yet. This is one I am planning a re-read of for this new year right after I go to see the movie which should hit theaters this month. Who couldn't love a book in which books are brought to life? I love Meggie's red wooden box of books.

    I didn't read many books that weren't YA this year. Two that were adult fiction were Sarah Waters' Fingersmith and Stephenie Meyer's The Host. Both, though one more than the other, are love stories. Waters' book is like Jane Eyre, mystery, and so much more tied into one book. It was the book that never failed to surprise me. Meyer's provided something new other than the series she is well-known for producing and turned out to be a very strong story on it's own. It took me a bit to get into but once I was, I was buried, just as the characters.