Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Vacation!

I'm off for the holidays - Christmas Eve with my paternal grandparents, Christmas Day with my maternal grandparents, and then the weekend out of town with my boyfriend's family. I expect to be back Monday night though.

I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


All of my Sandman books have been in storage for the past few months, so I've been looking for a graphic novel series to pass the time until I could get back to Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors). I found Eva's review of the first graphic novel in the Fables series a couple months back and decided I needed to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did. I really enjoyed the first volume and look forward to reading the rest of the series in 2010.

Bill Willingham's Fables: Legends in Exile is the first in the Fables graphic novel series telling the story of the characters from fairy tales and fables exiled in the real world. Everyone is a familiar character but there are interesting personality twists to make them feel kind of new too. The characters have a lot more depth than in the fairy tales we all grew up with, which provides a lot of entertainment watching them interact. The basic plot of the first novel is that Rose Red (SnowWhite's sister) is killed and Bigby (Big Bad Wolf) needs to figure out the mystery. It's a fairly simple story and plot, but it's a great (re)introduction to the characters. I look forward to seeing what Willingham does from here.

According to a friend who knows a bit about comics, the artwork is done in an older style. I'm kind of curious why Willingham decided that, but I liked the contrast from what I usually see. 

Monday, December 21, 2009


PC Cast and Kristin Cast recently published the sixth book in their House of Night series, Tempted. My best friend and I started the series earlier this year and have been enjoying it so far. Without giving plot away, the books follow Zoey who was marked as a vampire fledgling in the beginning of the first book, Marked. Fledglings have some qualities in common with vampires but they are not full vampires until they go through the "change." Fledglings go to the House of Night for school - there are several Houses of Night in the world but Zoey's is in Tulsa, OK.

Plot-wise, not much happens in this installment of the series. I had read on Amazon reviews that a lot of people found this to be a negative, but I disagree. There were a lot of little things that happened and adjustments to changes in the characters and their relationships. I do, however, think that the authors made a mistake in trying to shove a bit of plot in at the very end. It felt a bit rushed and like they put it in there just because they needed to have some action before it ended. And the end was seriously abrupt. I would have been happier if they left the action for the opener in book 7 (which will be called Burned) or if they spent more time describing what happens in this book.

That said, I thought the flow of the narration greatly improved between Hunted and Tempted. There were fewer errors and it was much smoother in general. I had gotten frustrated with Hunted, so I'm really glad to see improvement here. Now, there are still childish terms used, but that's part of Zoey's personality and I don't think it's going anywhere (as much as I would like it to).

The Casts also decided to change the narration a bit for this book. Everything up to this book has been 1st person from Zoey's point of view. This book, they switched it between Zoey's 1st person and 3rd person for other character's points of view. I thought that was an interesting way to share more of the plot and I think it was largely a good idea. Most of the different points of view were integral to the plot, and it was nice to get a view into their thoughts. I also really liked how they changed from 1st to 3rd POV for other characters, as if to point out that Zoey is still the primary character even though they're giving some other characters more depth and air time.

Overall, I enjoyed Tempted. I thought it was one of the better in the series. I was not expecting it after reading all the reviews on Amazon, which were all over the board. It's not a piece of brilliant literature, but it was a fun read during last weekend's rain.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Little Prince

I started a book club with a few friends a year and a half ago after watching The Jane Austen Book Club. We all wanted to read more classics, so after we each chose a book, we started working our way through classics. Book club has taken a turn and now I'm choosing everything we read and I've been trying to encourage trying different genres and allowing us to all grow through our reading and discussion. I've also been working on coming up with activities to do together that pertain to themes, etc in our choice book.

All that to say, December's book club choice was Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince. I wanted to find something easy to pick up and quick to read because the holiday season has a habit of being exceptionally busy. For most of us, this was a re-read. I had actually only read it in French before, so it was fun to read it in English (my native language). The other reason I chose this book was because it's easier to find gift charities for children - the activity I chose was to donate to Toys for Tots together due to the book's theme of a child's imagination.

The little prince follows a man whose plane crashes in the desert. He meets the "little prince" who comes from a very small planet. I love how simple The Little Prince is. It reminds me to stop worrying about everything: the lists, the schedule, etc. It's a good reminder to stop and smell the roses, to cherish the time we spend with each other. I loved being able to follow the little prince on his travels and I definitely wanted to hug him repeatedly through the story. The fact that the author did all the illustrations makes it an even sweeter story.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm working on figuring out my A to Z Challenge and I decided I'd allow myself crossovers for that one (otherwise, I wouldn't have the opportunity to participate in any of the other amazing challenges out there. However, I'm only allowing crossovers with that challenge. I'm also trying really hard to stick to books that are already on my TBR list and available at the library. This means that I have had to do a bit of work to figure out what I want to read and how to make it all work.

I'm going to do the African Diaspora Challenge 2010 at the Novice level. It runs 1/1/10-12/31/10 and the site has a list of suggestions which I found pretty helpful. :) Here are my choices:
Chimamanda Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Sylvaine Dioux, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotida and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Yvonne Vera, Butterfly Burning

Next up is the 2010 Colorful Reading Challenge. Nine books with a color in the title. This also runs from 1/1/10-12/31/10. My choices:
Ji-li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl
Joanne Harrison, Five Quarters of the Orange
Anthony Eglin, The Blue Rose
Majusi Ibuse, Black Rain
Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel
Lauren Willig, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Kathleen Turner, Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles
Naomi Novik, Throne of Jade (book 2 in the Temeraire series)
Mort Rosenblum, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

And then there's the Graphic Novel Challenge. There are a few levels. I'm going to choose intermediate which as me reading 3-10. There are so many that I want to read, so I'm just going to list some of the ideas I've had:
Girl Genius
The Sandman vol. 6: Fables and Reflections
Fables vol. 2: Animal Farm
Persepolis 2
American Born Chinese

What's in a Name 3 Challenge sounds like fun too. I don't have all my choices finalized, so for those I have a pool. It runs from 1/1/10-12/31/10 and the title needs to contain a word that fits that category:
Food: Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story
Place Name: Tom Avery, To the Ends of the Earth: Our Epic Journey to the North Pole and the Legend of Peary and Henson
Music Term: Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
Body of Water:
   John Burnett, Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas
   Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
   Edward Dreyer, Zheng He: China and Oceans in Early Ming
   Shusaku Endo, Deep River
   Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
   Elizabeth Enright, Gone Away Lake
   Kate Grenville, The Secret River
   Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea
   Candice Millard, River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
   Lalita Tademy, Cane River
   Mike Tougias, The Finest Hours: The True Story of the US Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue
Person's Title:
   Liaquat Ahamed, Lords of Finance: The Bankers who Broke the World
   Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire book 1)
   Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ
   Madeleine Albright, Madam Secretary
   Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
   Simon Armitage (translator), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
   Sarah Addison Allen, Garden Spells
   John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
   Janet Fitch, White Oleander
   Patti Hill, Like a Watered Garden
   Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
   Sujata Massey, The Flower Master
   Barbara Michaels, Vanish with the Rose
   Joseph Moninger, The Viper Tree
   Katherine Paterson, Bread and Roses, Too
   Michele Slung (editor), The Garden of Reading
   Peggy Orenstein, Waiting for Daisy

And it doesn't start until February but I've been hoping for the Chunkster Challenge for the past month. I have so many books that are 450+ pages.I'm choosing the lowest level, which is three books. I haven't chosen my third book yet, but the first two will be:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Richard Zacks, The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

That's likely going to keep me busy for at least half of 2010. So I should probably stop signing up for challenges after this until I have a better feel for how well I'm doing staying caught up with these.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they've checked out from the library. If you'd like to participate too, just write up a post - feel free to steal the button - and link it using Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course, check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Head over to Marg's blog for the Mr. Linky.

I've stopped borrowing books for the rest of the year because I have so much to catch up on, but here are the last three that I picked up.

Tempted by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
I read this one already. There are 20+ holds on it so I wanted to hurry up and get it back to the library really quickly. It's the 6th in the House of Night series that my best friend and I are reading.

1000 Vegetarian Recipes because while I'm not fully vegetarian this has been the easiest way to find a huge assortment of recipes full of fruits and vegetables.

I also found a little soups and stews cookbook but I can't find it on Amazon or anywhere else to link to it. This is the perfect season for soup. Yum!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Season

I have been so busy the past couple weeks with moving right between Christmas and New Years. This was not a brilliant plan, but you live and you learn.

I finally have a basic plan for the holidays, which is really exciting. I still need to send out all my Christmas cards and get around to ordering all my presents for people online (first year I'm doing this, and I'm really excited about being able to avoid the mall this year. However, things are starting to fall into place and that's been really good for me. :)

I've gotten a little reading done, and I'm working on getting my thoughts posted. I'm going to try to figure out scheduling posts so I can try to stay on top of all my reviews and allow myself to be able to review more of the books I've read. I've been trying to do 2+ reviews per month, but I'd like to see that number go up. And this will be a good opportunity for me to work on that.

I have four books I've finished so far this month, so I've been whittling down my library collection pretty slowly. I have 12 books to work my way through I'm going to keep working on it so that I can get almost everything finished before the new year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi as my second book for the Women Unbound Challenge. It's a graphic-novel style memoir about a girl living in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s during the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq war. When the story starts, Satrapi is nine and it ends a few years later. It's all through her eyes, so at times the writing seemed a little too - although I can understand Satrapi's approach since it's supposed to feel like a little girl is telling the story.

I enjoyed Persepolis, but I wasn't totally completely drawn in like I wish I had been. The ending was a little bit abrupt to me, but it may have felt that way because I was tired when I was reading it.

That said, I think the art work had some really awesome images. For example, there's one full page image that shows her feelings about a family trip to Spain and Italy. It's so whimsical and light - they're even riding on a magic carpet. I wish I could find a picture of it but google has failed me. So you'll just have to imagine. I think the art work really did a fantastic job at really bringing the story's emotions to life.

I'm tempted to read the second volume of this story, because I would like to see how the story continues. My library seems to have a few copies of it, so it shouldn't be hard to get hold of it.