Thursday, October 15, 2009

BTT: Weeding 'em out

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?
Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)
And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?
I would say that the last time I really weeded down my library was when my mom moved out of the house I grew up in and all my stuff had to either fit in my and my husband's (then boyfriend's) 600 square foot apartment or a handful of bins in a storage unit. It was rough. Most of them ended up in a garage sale and some went to my sister (without my knowledge...ugh...don't even get me started. Her bookshelf full of MY books that she won't give back just makes my blood boil). So, for a couple years I really had to keep my book collection in check which was a little easier than it is now because I wasn't reading quite as much and space was an issue.
Once we moved into our house, a little over a year ago, I really got to enjoy having books again. I've now dug all my books out of storage and have collected new ones from library sales and other (more expensive) means. I still try to keep the collection in check though. I post ones that I'm not in love with on PaperBackSwap (so I can get new ones), pass others around to friends and family, and have sold some duplicates. I don't think that I've ever actually thrown a book away though...Even the horribly water damaged copy of Middlesex is still hanging around!

More Supernatural Reading

So I'm still going on this "It's October, which means Halloween, which means SPOOKY! VAMPS and WEREWOLVES and CREEPERS! Oh my!" kick so my reading choices have fallen under the supernatural realm as of late.

Dead and Gone
by Charlaine Harris
312 pages

The ninth Sookie Stackhouse book. Finally. Not much different with this one from the other 8...but it's still entertaining. And I still can't decide which of Sookie's many suitors I like best. For now, she's just stuck with Eric though so I have no choice! I do feel oh-so-bad for Quinn after this book though. Life is so not fair in the supernatural world.

7 out of 10 stars. Good, wholesome (yea, right) vamp-y fun.

Halfway to the Grave
by Jeaniene Frost
358 pages

So this is a new series that I picked up from PBS because it suggested that I would like it since I like the Sookie books. Plus, I wanted some fluffy summer reading (which of course kept getting pushed back in the TBR pile and is now fluffy fall reading). Cat is a half human, half vampire (her mother was raped) who now dedicates herself to killing vampires, since her mother bore into her that they are all evil and BAD. Then she meets Bones, a 200-some odd year old vampire who also kills vampires. Interesting...So hijinx ensue, Cat and Bones get it on, and the bad guys are killed. Oh and some secret government agency is now after Cat so they can use her abilities to help them out. It was entertaining, action packed, and had a little loving splashed in there for good measure. It gets a little smutty in a couple parts but at least the cover isn't TOO embarassing to have out in public!

7.5 out of 10 stars. I'm glad that I have the other 3 sitting on my shelf waiting.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Post in Which I Catch Up.

Well, interwebs, it's been a while. I have no real excuse for why I've been slacking majorly with the blogging! BUT, I have been reading some (whenever football season doesn't take me away) so here's my hopefully quick recap of the past three weeks.

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
617 pages
I originally picked this up at a library book sale because The Book Lady talks about it quite a bit! I enjoyed it for the most part and really loved Owen's character but the narrator, John Wheelwright, just felt not real enough for me I guess. Also, this book took me FOREVER to get through. I would think this book would have taken me 5-7 days to get through but it was more like 2 weeks. It was definitely worth a read though. 8 out of 10 stars.

Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen
253 pages
This was my book club's book for September. I found it funny in some parts and fairly relatable, even though it was about a Vietnam refugee trying to fit into American culture. I guess as kids we are all just trying to fit in with the "cool crowd" by having, eating, and doing the cool things, regardless of our ethnic background. We had a pretty interesting conversation about the book but I don't know that there was anyone who really LOVED it. I felt pretty "eh" about it by the end and barely skimmed the last 40 pages. 5 out of 10 stars.
The Last Summer (of You and Me) By Ann Brashares
306 pages
Eh, good summer chick lit. The characters left something to be desired, as did the ending, but I enjoyed it for what it was: total fluff. Not much else to say... 6 out of 10 stars.

Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbot
301 pages
I've had this on my shelf since last Christmas and just now FINALLY got too it! I don't know why, but I wasn't thinking that this book was pure non-fiction, I was thinking historical fiction, but still it was interesting! I had no idea that a lot of the stuff in it even happened. I really enjoyed this one. 8.5 out of 10 stars

From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
312 pages
The 8th of the Sookie Stackhouse books. The usual Sookie getting in trouble because she's involved too deeply in the supernatural world. Entertaining and with the addition of vampires, Weres, and other supernatural creatures it's a great way to start out my October reading! 7 out of 10 stars.
So there you have it! My super-quick recap of the last few weeks. Hopefully I'll start keeping on top of this blog a little bit better now! *See* you all soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW: Reading Meme

Today's BBAW post topic is a fun little meme about reading habits. I love answering these kind of things :) and I'll try to do so in as few words as possible.

Q: Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
A: I try not to, but I do love salty, crunchy stuff.

Q: Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea ofwriting in books horrify you?
A: Only when reading for a class.

Q: How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
A: Bookmarks, the magnet style ones.

Q: Laying the book flat open?
A: Only for a couple minutes.

Q: Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
A: 75%, 25% respectively.

Q: Hard copy or audiobooks?
A: Hard copy 99% of the time.

Q: Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are youable to put a book down at any point?
A: End of the chapter or after a page ending with a period.

Q: If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
A: Nope, I go on context.

Q: What are you currently reading?
A: Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

Q: What is the last book you bought?
A: A book of short stories for my Grandma.

Q: Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
A: One at a time.

Q: Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
A: In bed, before going to sleep or on the back porch swing Saturday mornings.

Q: Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
A: Either

Q: Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
A: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Q: How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
A: Hahahaha...I'm suppose to organize them? Really?? I don't even have the read seperated from the unread.

So, I'm trying my best to keep up with BBAW but man! It's tough! I feel like next year I'm going to have to take days off work to keep up!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Musing Monday: Reading Trends

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading trends…

Do you find yourself forming trends in your reading? Is this a conscious act, influenced by either your own interests or current publishing fads?

I guess that sometimes I do end up in reading trends. It's definitely not on purpose, but sometimes I'm just not ready to give up a subject at the end of just one book. I guess the whole vampire-supernatural topic has been big on my list in the past year. The Twilight books and Sookie books are some of my favorite quick, fluff reads to pick up. I also have some other Charlaine Harris and vampire-related novels sitting on my bookshelves waiting to be read. I would say that this trend has a little something to do with current publishing fads, considering the popularity of the Twilight books, but it's also just something that I find interesting and action-packed to read. So maybe I'm just influenced by the trends because I already have an interest in the subject!

BBAW: Day 1

Today (what little is left of it) is the first day of my first Book Blogger Appreciation Week! The plan is to post something everyday and discuss the topic listed on the BBAW website. Today's topic is:

What book blogs mean something to you? Who are your most trusted sources for recommendations, your greatest help, the blogger you turn to for a laugh or to vent? Whose writing do you admire or who introduced you to a whole new genre you didn’t know about? We want to hear all about them…because we want to know them too! Please share about the blogs we haven’t had a chance to meet via BBAW and let the party begin!

Well, since I began this book blogging adventure back in January, there have been many bloggers that I have started to visit on a regular basis. Some are on the BBAW Award shortlists, and some are not but all I love reading!

For informational reviews and recommendations, I usually turn to the Book Lady's Blog and Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin'? They both have a tendency to add a TON of books to my TBR pile, which I'm sure that my husband really appreciates...haha :)

For a good laugh, I definitely head over to Books I Done Read and A Reader's Respite. I love Raych's hilarious commentary like CTRL-Z!!!!, the use of CAPITALS!, and exclamation points!!!! And the fact that her rating system of catepillars makes me giggle a little. Then Reader's Respite fulfills her tag line by presenting us with "Book Reviews, Author News, and Hot Reads with Sassy Commentary."

Other blogs I like to frequent include Just One More Page..., Book, Line and Sinker, Great Books and Fresh Coffee, It's All About Books, and Pop Culture Junkie. These are just the start of my day! Of course there are many, many more that I like to keep up on. And hopefully this week will fill my reader with even more great book blogs!

Friday, September 11, 2009

In which I return to the interwebs...

Hello everyone! My, it's been a while...apologies all around! My reading time has been lacking lately due to some fun things (the return of football tailgate Saturdays, an OAR concert, and spending time at the lake cottage) and some not so fun (painting around the house, chores, and the like). But I have managed to finish one book and hopefully will finish A Prayer for Owen Meany this weekend since it has taken me WAY longer than I anticipated and I must start the September book club book ASAP. Anyway, on to the review.

Gifts of War
by Mackenzie Ford
350 pages (in ARC)

Isn't the cover of this book beautiful? It's really what first drew me to request this ARC. Then, I read the book description and I knew that I would be hooked.

Hal Montgomery is a British soldier on the front during WWI and on Christmas in 1914, there was a truce between the British and German soldiers for a whole day. They came out of the trenches, shared cigarettes and stories of home, and buried their dead. It was there that Hal met Wilhelm, a German soldier who had a fiancee in England who he was not even able to say goodbye to, due to the war. Wilhelm gave Hal a picture of himself in uniform and asked him that if he ever had the opportunity to please find her and give her this picture. A few weeks later, Hal is shot and discharged from the military. Once recovered, he goes to find Wilhelm's fiancee, Sam, to tell her about Wilhelm but of course, he falls in love with her.

So, since Hal is in love with Sam, he decides not to tell her about Wilhelm and his picture that he's carrying around with him. Even though, she continues to talk about him and HAS HAD WILHELM'S BABY! Seriously, this whole I'm-going-to-keep-this-secret-and-hope-that-it-goes-away thing NEVER works. Didn't work for Bill with Sookie in Southern Vampire Mysteries series, and didn't really work for Marcus in the Jessica Darling series, so it is definitely not going to work for Hal. Sorry buddy, but secrets don't make friends! (or lovers for that matter!) But, regardless of how much I really wanted to grab Hal by the shoulders and shake the living ba-jesus out of him, he really made up for it in the end and it was just so sad and so beautiful and I literally had just one little tear fall as I closed it...and I loved it. I clutched the book to my chest and wiped away the lone tear and just said "wow."

So 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

BTT: Fluffy Reading

What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?

Well, it's summertime which means that I've been reading things that can easily be enjoyed while either sitting up at the lake or on my back porch sipping an ice cold drink. This means LOTS of fluff! Most recently was the seventh book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris, All Together Dead.

I haven't even reviewed it on here because after reading the last 6 Sookie books, there isn't a whole lot that changes. Sookie's living her life partially in the real world where she's a waitress, but mostly in the supernatural world where she's used for her telepathic abilities by the vampires and were-animals. She of course gets herself into some big-time trouble but manages to escape. Such is the main storyline throughout these books, with mostly just the main love interest (that Sookie sure does get around!) and the deadly situation changing . But, they are fun, quick little reads and their mass market paperback size makes for convenient toting around. Perfect for summertime!

What was the last "fluffy" book you read?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Musings: Serial book-ist

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book series…
Do you prefer to read stand-alone books, or books in series? Do you stick with a series the whole way through or stop after the first instalment? Are there any particular series you enjoy?(question courtesy of Elena)

Lately, I've been reading a LOT of books in a series. I have been re-reading Harry Potter, finished Jessica Darling's, been slowly but surely taking in Outlander, and every once in a while taking down one of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries. Out of the 53 books I have read so far this year, 35 of them are stand-alone books. I think that this is a fairly low number of stand-alones compared to most years simply because there are just so many great series out there right now! I guess that I should just put myself in the serial book-ist category.

All the series that I've picked up this year, I have every intention of finishing up (with the His Dark Materials being lowest on the TBR pile) because I enjoy them so much. Unless I really, REALLY dislike a first book in a series, I always eventually finish the series. Outlander is taking a little bit of time just because I like to get in a few shorter books in between the mammoth tomes that Diana Gabaldon writes, but I will definitely get there (hopefully before Echo in the Bone arrives on my doorstep!). The series that I'm really looking forward to starting, but haven't yet, is The Hunger Games. I've heard a lot of good things about it but at this point I haven't received it from PBS yet and I figure that I might as well wait until I own a copy (especially since I'm pretty high on the wishlist for the second book).

Are there any series out there that you really enjoy? Or are you not a fan of the series?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: August Book Club

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music

By Steve Lopez

286 pages

My book club this month read this book because it's this year's choice for the One Book, One Community Program. It's a really neat program that gives the community of East Lansing and the students of Michigan State University to read the same book then get together in different settings and discuss it. There's a week of events scheduled to begin August 30th with an evening with Steve Lopez and other seminars, showings of the movie, and workshops throughout the rest of the week. But enough about that; on to the book and what we thought of it!

The Soloist is Steve Lopez, a columnist for the LA Times who, while out looking for a story, came across a man in one of the tunnels of LA playing his heart out on an old violin with only two strings. Seeing that there's was obviously some musical ability in this man, he struck up a conversation with him. Steve discovered that his name was Nathaniel Ayers, he grew up in Cleveland where he learned to play the upright bass then was granted a scholarship to Julliard. During his time at Julliard, Nathaniel began doing odd things, acting out of the norm, yelling at others, randomly taking off his clothes, etc. and it was discovered (after he failed out) that he had schizophrenia. After years of forced treatment, drugs with terrible side effects, and his family not knowing what they could do for him, he ended up in the streets of LA, homeless and pushing around a shopping cart with his prized possessions.

When Steve gets to know Nathaniel, he realizes how much he wants to help him to get better so he begins to try to send him to LAMP (Los Angeles Men's Project), set him up with an apartment and psychiatric help, give him instruments and music that people have donated, and try to get him off the streets. Unfortunately, Steve doesn't quite seem to understand the disease and needed to learn the hard way that Nathaniel's progress wasn't going to be immediate or easy. But, throughout their time together, Steve was able to learn from Nathaniel, just as Nathaniel was able to learn from Steve, and their friendship grew into something very special.

I had really mixed feelings when reading this book. Sometimes I was really touched and liked how Steve was helping Nathaniel, but sometimes I really disliked Steve because I felt like he was kind of using Nathaniel for next week's column or that he was helping him not because he wanted to, but because he felt obligated to since he had made Nathaniel somewhat famous. Steve just pushed and pushed for Nathaniel to do certain things, even leading to tricking him into things and I just wanted to yell "Let him be! He doesn't WANT to!" at him. I guess since I wasn't there and in that situation, then I can sit here all I want and say that we can't make people conform to what we (as society) deem as "normal" but I'm sure that Steve Lopez had good intentions.

One thing that a lot of people at book club said was that this book made them want to go out and help! Get involved! etc. And while I can definitely understand that, I just kept asking myself, Could I go up to some homeless stranger and be their friend? Could I dedicate myself to helping someone who was homeless with mental disabilities? I just don't know. The thought kind of frightens me because I just don't think that I would feel comfortable doing that. I mean, I have no training or experience with people with mental diseases and you really never know what they are going to do or how they are going to react to things. I do think that volunteering and doing something to help your community is a really rewarding thing to do, but I don't think that helping the homeless or mentally ill is up my alley. When I start volunteering again, I think that something at the library or at a school would be something I would be more comfortable doing.

Anyway, Steve Lopez will be coming to East Lansing on August 30th to give a lecture. I'm definitely going to try to make it out there for it because I think that it would be interesting to hear what he has to say about his experiences and what his opinions are about the movie version of the book (which I haven't seen but heard is not very good and very Hollywood-ized). I wonder if seeing him speak in person will affect the way that I feel about the book?

For right now, I give it 7.5 out of 10 stars. I wasn't as inspired as I thought I would be.

Have you read this or seen the movie? What are your thoughts? Do you volunteer on a regular basis? What do you do and what inspired you to do so?