Friday, December 31, 2010

Books Read from January 2010-December 2010

My goal was to read 100 books this year... mixing both children books and adult books into the mix. Here's the tally up:
  1. The Best American Poetry 2009 (240 pages) Review is Here
  2. The Amazing Bone by William Steig (32 pages) Review is Here
  3. Nightlight- A Parody by Harvard Lampoon (160 pages) Review is Here
  4. Horace by Holly Keller (32 pages) Review is Here
  5. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (304 pages) Review is Here
  6. The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin, David Shannon (32 pages) Review is Here
  7. Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace (293 pages) Review is Here
  8. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace (310 pages) Review is Here
  9. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (32 pages) Review is Here
  10. Becoming Jane Eyre: A Novel by Sheila Kohler (256 pages) Review is Here
  11. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (48 pages) Review is Here
  12. The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice (448 pages) Review is Here
  13. Things to Love by Richard Scarry (24 pages) Review is Here
  14. Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (224 pages) Review is Here
  15. The Complete Idiots Guide to Vegan Living by Beverly Lynn Bennett (360 pages)
  16. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (413 pages) Review is Here
  17. Tales of King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone by Hudson Talbott (48 pages) Review is Here
  18. You Are What You Eat by Dr. Gillian McKeith (224 pages)
  19. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan (320 pages) Review is Here
  20. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (160 pages) Review is Here
  21. Token of Darkness by Amelia Atwater Rhodes (197 pages) Review is Here
  22. The Vampire Diaries- The Return: Shadow Souls by LJ Smith (599 pages) Review is Here
  23. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (160 pages) Review is Here
  24. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (270 pages) Review is Here
  25. Who Do You Think You Are? by Megan Smolenyak(224 pages) Review is Here
  26. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (290 pages) Review is Here
  27. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (576 pages) Review is Here
  28. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (294 pages) Review is Here
  29. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo (272 pages)Review is Here
  30. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (470 pages) Review is Here
  31. Rude Awakenings for a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (293 pages) Review is Here
  32. Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation by Ellen Fitzpatrick(384 pages) Review is Here
  33. Lady Susan by Jane Austen (80 pages) Review is Here
  34. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (241 pages) Review is Here
  35. The Carrie Diaries by Candance Bushnell (400 pages) Review is Here
  36. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (237 pages) Review is Here
  37. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (180 pages) Review is Here
  38. Insatiable by Meg Cabot (451 pages) Review is Here
  39. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (276 pages) Review is Here
  40. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen (281 pages) Review is Here
  41. Your Daddy Was Just Like You by Kelly Bennett (32 pages) Review is Here
  42. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide by Kathleen McDonald (224 pages) Review is Here
  43. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer (178 pages) Review is Here
  44. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien (233 pages) Review is Here
  45. Ophelia Joined the Group: Maidens Who Don't Float by Sarah Schmelling (256 pages) Review is Here
  46. Return to Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank (only read 50 pages) Review is Here
  47. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (288 pages) Review is Here
  48. Love You Forever by Robert N Munsch (32 pages) 
  49. Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems (36 pages) Review for Pigeon Books
  50. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems (40 pages) 
  51. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (358 pages) Review is Here
  52. Atlas Schmatlas by Craig Robinson (123 pages) 
  53. Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill (408 pages) Review is Here
  54. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (304 pages) Review is Here
  55. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems (40 pages) 
  56. Memoirs of a Gothic Soul by Rebekah Armusik (300 pages) Review is Here
  57. Marked (House of Night Series) by PC Cast (stopped by page 100) Review is Here
  58. Flawless (Pretty Little Liars 2) by Sara Shepard (330 pages) Review is Here
  59. Aesop's Fables by Aesop (304 pages) 
  60. Forever... by Judy Blume (208 pages) Review is Here
  61. The Pigeon Found a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems (40 pages) 
  62. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (213 pages) Review is Here
  63. Love Sucks! by Melissa Francis (285 pages) Review is Here
  64. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (128 pages) Review is Here
  65. Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes by Giada de Laurentiis (256 pages) 
  66. Italianissimo: Over 600 Great Recipes from Every Region of Italy by Anne McRae (424 pages) Review is Here
  67. A to Z of Crochet by Martingale & Company (160 pages) Review is Here
  68. Little Critter: The First Day of School by Mercer Mayer (20 pages) Review for next 3 books
  69. The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing (32 pages) 
  70. Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish (32 pages) 
  71. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (107 pages) Review is Here
  72. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (278 pages) Review is Here
  73. Pretty Little Liars: Perfect by Sara Shepard (336 pages) Review is Here
  74. Pretty Little Liars: Unbelievable by Sara Shepard (368 pages) Review is Here
  75. The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (114 pages) Review is Here
  76. The Duc de L'Omelette by Edgar Allan Poe (3 pages)
  77. The Fire Inside by Raymond Rose (527 pages) Review is Here
  78. Late for School by Steve Martin (32 pages) Review is Here
  79. Corduroy's Best Halloween Ever! by Don Freeman (32 pages) Review for the next 3 books
  80. The Littlest Pumpkin by R.A. Herman (32 pages)
  81. We're Off to Find the Witches House by Richard Krieb (32 pages)
  82. Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray (32 pages)
  83. The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene (32 pages)
  84. Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner (32 pages) Review is Here
  85. Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman (32 pages)
  86. Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson (256 pages) Review is Here
  87. A Tale of Jerusalem by Edgar Allan Poe (4 pages)
  88. It's a Book! by Lande Smight (32 pages) Review is Here
  89. Berlitz Italian Phrase Book by Berlitz (223 pages)
  90. Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace (dual book with Betsy's WeddingReview is Here
  91. Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace (720 pages)  Review is Here
  92. The Tudor Queens of England by David Loades (256 pages) Review is Here
  93. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (176 pages) Review is Here
  94. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (352 pages) Review is Here
  95. Very Scary Jack O Lantern by Joanne Barken (24 pages) Review is Here
  96. I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1) by Pittacus Lore (440 pages) Review is Here
  97. How Philosophy Can Change Your Life by Marietta McCarty (304 pages) Review is Here
  98. In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater Rhodes (176 pages) Review is Here
  99. Better Together by Raymond Rose (328 pages) Reading in 2010, review will be posted in January.
  100. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (440 pages) Review is Here
  101. Demon In My View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (176 pages) Review is Here
  102. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (233 pages) Review is Here
  103. Shattered Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (227 pages) Review is Here
  104. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris (288 pages) Review is Here
  105. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and Other Tales - Greg Hildebrandt (40 pages) Review is Here
  106. Christmas Bear
  107. A Pussy Cat's Christmas
  108. The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens (556 pages) Review is Here
  109. By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan (284 pages) Read in 2010, Review will be posted in January.
Total Books Read: 109
Total Books with Chapters Read: 78 
Total Pages Read: 23,093

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Literature Challenges

This year I've decided to give a stab to a couple of challenges. I've never done a challenge before... I've always set my own goals and followed (or failed) based off of what I've chosen. But this year it will be a little different in that I am going to try and see if I can make it through a couple of challenges I've come across. With it being my first year, I've chosen all of the first level goals. You know, start small and work your way up- something like that. So, without further ado, here are the challenges!

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Goal: Getting my heart rate up– Read 1–5 more books 


Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge

Goal:   First Date – Read 1–4 Nicholas Sparks novels 


In six months:
The goals to complete:
  1. A Banned Book
  2. A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war)
  3. A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up:  a list can be found here
  4. A Children's/Young Adult Classic
  5. 19th Century Classic
  6. 20th Century Classic
  7. A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic
  8. Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes

This challenge will run from 01 Jan 2011 - 31 Dec 2011.
Goal: Sense and Sensibility: 1-4 books.

Wish Me Luck!
And good luck if you are participating in a challenge!

Monday, December 27, 2010


When I wrote about The Moravian Book Shop I failed to mention something that's quite important: It's indiebound. For those of you who do not know what indiebound is or means... that's what I'm here for.

IndieBound is a great community that brings all walks of life together; book sellers, customers, indie business', and your local area. It's a way to support the local economy and people who live in your area. From what I understand, IndieBound shops that are listed aren't some corporate owned big name store. It's those little mom and pop shops, the hole-in-the-wall bookstores, all of that which makes these shops so special and unique.

Through the website you can get a listing of all the indiebound bookstores in your area. Just go to the search section (right side of the page, really hard to miss) and type in your location. I have to say, as someone who has only been living in this area of Pennsylvania for three years, it was exciting to discover that there were more bookstores to the area then I ever realized.

So celebrate and support local businesses and the next time you're interested in purchasing a book don't forget to check out your local indiebound bookstores. Not only are you supporting the store but the community and those who live there (including yourself!). You might just find your own hole-in-the-wall bookstores to fan over!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you all enjoyed the day as well. I received many gifts that will be very helpful in the future and also some money to order $50 worth of books for a mere $10 (I know how to shop!). It was cozy and nice with lots of great food and now we're being hit by a snow storm. I'm so excited!

Here, take some photo evidence of the holiday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas Tree Tour

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it!

I figured I would ring in the holiday by doing something unrelated to books- a tour of the little Christmas tree I've had since the age of 10. It's two feet tall and holds all of my most beloved Christmas ornaments.

Right after Thanksgiving (earlier this year since my Thanksgiving was early) I decorate the tree.

Usually I decorate with white lights. It's... a rule. I don't know, everything is 'white' in my room.

I have all white lights that outline my white bookshelves, a white desk, etc.
So, white Christmas lights were obviously the choice for my tree.

But this year I couldn't find the 50 string of white lights, I settled for multi-colored.

I think I like it, to be honest, I enjoy the colorful glow that it gives to each ornament. It's a rainbow of soft colors. 

Merry Christmas Everyone

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Holiday Reminder and CSN Store Winner

As those who celebrate Christmas prepare for the holiday I wanted to leave a note... a reminder.
I am blessed to have a wonderful group of friends. Many of which are in the military and currently serving overseas. 
Wartime songs bring to mind much of what is going on but this particular poem is quite powerful.

I am blessed to have a warm home, a beautiful tree, and the outlook of a wonderful Christmas this weekend. I am blessed to have wonderful friends and family who have served and have returned home safely. 

So enjoy your family!
Enjoy your friends!
Enjoy Christmas and all it has to offer.

Be sure to think of those who cannot be with their loved ones.
And if you are out enjoying the holiday festivities- drive safely.

I'm off to dream of a white Christmas and prepare Swedish food (Our own Christmas tradition)

And PS:
The winner of the CSN promotion is...

I'll be emailing you with the details of your winning.
Thank you everyone else for entering, be sure to keep reading- I should have another giveaway soon!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Old Curiosity Shop

It appears that every year as the final leaves fall and Christmas music begins to churn out of the store overheads I have a sudden need to wander the damp and dreary roads of 19th century London. Maybe this is because the cold winter months bring to mind the image of Christmas and Christmas brings to mind Charles Dickens undeniably most famous work- A Christmas Carol. So I will wander my way into an old bookstore with a cat sleeping by in a window, I'll search the dusty shelves for Dickens, and I'll buy a book of his that I had never read before. Near Halloween I had this reoccurring urge and found my way into one of my favorite bookstores. It was there that I came across many Dickens books I do not own. Curious about each I brushed my finger along their spine until I found a title reflective of my adventure: The Old Curiosity Shop. My well known problem with classic literature is that I read very slowly. While modern day novels are read in less than a week (sometimes in a day) the classics take a month. Why? The language is harder for one. I'm not used to hearing this type of spoken rhetoric so it takes me some time to grow used to it. Also, and this is the big flashing reason it takes me so long, I concentrate on each page and I like to fully submerge myself in these tales. I can't just read it for a couple of minutes at a time.

The Old Curiosity Shop, a book I knew nothing about, quickly became a part of my life through the descriptions of plot and place. I fell in love with the two children characters Nell and Kit. I hated Quilp. And despite the little time I had in length to sit and read, the book was never far from my mind. It was a companion of mine on evenings at the college when no students needed my help (because in the past month I've gained a job as a reading and writing tutor at a local college) and it was nice to turn to during those quiet moments.

Nell and her Grandfather leave their home (the curiosity shop) and depart on an adventure of travels in order to distance themselves from the evil characters that formerly lurked in their eyes. Along their travels they meet a host of people and face many problems that Nell must work through.

The novel has so much one could discuss but I feel the need to focus on one of the more popular characters first. Nell's grandfather would not find a fan in me. I found him to be a selfish man who was too wrapped up in his own mind and pain to place his granddaughter's needs first. I could dive into examples, I could back up my statements, but this is not the blog for that type of talk. You should not read this in an attempt to gain further understanding of the book. That type of information can be found through a scholarly journal.

So without examples, do believe me when I say I do not like the grandfather. I feel that he certainly loves Nell but his priorities are skewed. Nell, being a child, should be taken care of by her elder (IE: the grandfather). I agree with Nell's estranged brother who felt the grandfather was using Nell. Perhaps my dislike arises from my mothering nature. Perhaps that is the stem of it all. I want to care for Nell, I want to ease her fears and I want to ensure her health. And maybe that is Nell's personality as well. She sees someone who is helpless and will do anything to place their needs before her own. Maybe I'm seeing it all wrong but really, Nell is reaching out to help her Grandfather because it is in her genetics and it is not her Grandfather's self absorbed decision. Nell just feels that she must.

Either way, I still don't like him. Towards the end of the book I began to feel sorry for the character as he redeemed himself slightly. In all reality the character suffers from a social disease which mirrors a grander issue with society and many people in the world. The character finally pulls himself away from his self absorbed existence and realized what was at stake- but far too late to make any type of a difference.

The book had a bitter sweet ending. No mention of how it ends, that will be left for you to discover on your own, however I appreciate the choice Dickens made in how to end the novel. Most times I am left wondering what happens to the characters in books but this novel luckily ends with a brief sum-up of what happened to each character. To this I feel the book comes to a more complete close.

I enjoyed this book, it satisfied my hunger for a Dickens tale, however the one problem I have with Dickens is that every time I read one of his books- I want to read more. But not right now, maybe later on, maybe next winter.

For anyone traveling in the future, the curiosity shop is a real place! Check it out when you're in England or travel there through the powers of the internet. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 12/21

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #1: Origins
"But you can't argue with true love." With that she swept out the door and across the grounds, the daisy in her hair scattering its petals into the wind.
-Stefan's Diaries Origins by Alloy Entertainment and L.J. Smith

I just picked up this book after a lot of writing pertaining to Dickens so that's why there was a break in my Teaser Tuesday! Happy Reading!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Children's Christmas Book Picks

A list, if you may, of some of my households favorite Christmas books. Enjoy!

Christmas Bear
Aren't the majority of all children's books adorable? Well, here's another one. Little Sally forgot to mail her letter to Santa and here it's Christmas Eve! Tearfully Sally goes to bed just knowing that she will receive nothing from Santa this year because of her forgetfulness. But don't feel too bad because Christmas holds all kinds of magical surprises. A naughty teddy bear doesn't want to sit safe and sound in Santa's bag as he flies over the land. Peaking out of the bag he falls from the sled and lands with a thump on the ground. Searching for a home and encountering many things along the way- he finds a place to sleep and fortunately a new owner to love him, the little girl Sally. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas
If you don't know how great A Charlie Brown Christmas is then you must be living under a rock.

'Twas The Night Before Christmas
This book was read every Christmas Eve, a tradition in my household and still is even though I'm 24! What is not to love about this specific edition of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas? The artwork is beautiful and vibrant, the familiar storyline just adds to the magic, and you also get more then just TTNBC. Also included in the book is The Nativity Story also with gorgeous artwork and after all of that- Christmas carols! As a child when I was too young to read I would stare at the pictures, mesmerized by the beauty and story it depicted, and when I was older I would take the carols and sing them while picking along with the keyboard. My copy is nearly falling apart due to 24 years of reading the book over and over but I'll always keep it and plan on reading it to my children when/if I ever have any. Check the bottom of the post for the link to this particular edition of TTNBC.

A Pussycat's Christmas

This is a family book, we love the cat because she looks exactly like my cat Oliver. (example below)
Cute artwork filled with colors and the general vibrance Christmas brings and Pussycat investigates it all. It's a Christmas Eve story and just... adorable. If your child likes cats, you own a cat, or you simply want a cute Christmas Eve story to read check this book out. PS: It's by Margaret Wise Brown, you might recognize that name considering she is the author of Goodnight Moon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blog Hop Friday and an update

Book Blogger Hop

Question: What do you consider most important in a story: the plot or the characters?

Answer: Both are extremely important in reading in the general sense and also for me. Without a decent plot your characters, no matter how well written they are, have the potential to crumble apart. And yet, if your characters are simply unlikeable or really poorly written it doesn't matter so much how well of a plot you have. Then again... in some ways it is as if you were to have a decent plot/character then it will help the character/plot to become well written as well.

But for me... I have to say... I've read books where by the last page I sit back and ask, I don't understand, what was the plot? And yet there are others where I sit back half way through the book and go, Oh my God, I can't read another page, this character is unbearable and I might strangle him/her if he/she was real. In my experience I am quicker to stop reading a book that has a horribly written character then a horribly written plot. A character I do not like, it seems, will ruin the plot even if the plot is decent. I think that this is what happened to me with The Twilight Series and The Summer I Turned Pretty. I could not stand the main character. I couldn't stand their written voice nor how whiny and self absorbed they were. Midway through I didn't care anymore what happened to the characters- I just wanted the book to be done. So... while I think the plot is very important it appears in my own experience that I have to say- characters. Characters are more important.

I reviewed Amy Sedaris' book Simple Times
I also reviewed Little Critters Just a Snowy Day
I HAVE A GIVE AWAY!!! Go enter it HERE

I've been busy this week... I am a tutor at a college and it was finals week so the tutoring center was torn between busy constantly to having long periods of silence. During those periods I busied myself with writing a review for another site and writing a fictional piece for myself. Yesterday, being the last day the college was open and the last day the group of tutors and I would be together until the end of January, we played word games and watched silly youtube videos. Now I'm off from work until the end of January- five weeks to do whatever I please. I want to say I'll be reading, a lot. And I think I will in some ways. However, I also believe I'll find myself doing writing exercises with friends... it seems to be how I've been spending all of my free time lately.

And wow, one week until Christmas. Can you believe that?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just a Snowy Day

One of my favorite book series as a kid was Mercer Mayer's Little Critters. I. Loved. These. Books. I still own a slew of the copies and every time I do childrens donation it's a Little Critters book. All I want is for children to experience the joy I felt with the series. I loved them. Hands down I still do.

Despite the collection of Mercer Mayer books I owned as a child my favorite was, by far, the touch and feel book Just a Snowy Day. Children and adults alike can follow Little Critter as he prepares to play in the snow. On with the boots and coat, don't forget your hat, and out the door you go. But what can you do in the snow? Little Critter goes skating and sledding before going indoors to have hot cocoa (which was what my mother always gave me when I would come in from playing in the snow).

But much like all little kids playing in the snow could be exhausting. Quick, get ready and hop into bed! Each page features something to touch or a detail that can move. My favorite page has a spinning wheel to display the falling snow outdoors (my personal favorite part of winter is when there is actual snow falling).

This is a cute book that is strictly for winter and does not feature any holiday/religious related... well... anything. It's good childhood fun in the snow, a great gift to give your child when they experience their first snow day, and something (I can tell you from experience) you can enjoy for years to come.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I received Amy Sedaris' book in the mail. The cover looked good enough but in general, I'll admit, I'm a very boring person who does not find humor books, well, humorous. If I do it's a rarity and a good humor book will generally be appreciated but not loved by me. When simply flipping through the book I thought, "Wow, these are crafts of days past. These are the type of crafts that are done with spare objects around the house or in elementary school. They are crafts for the 'poor' people."

However, it's more than that. A lot of barely tolerable photos/crafts, jokes abound, and a section on crafting while suffering from different psychological issues. I appreciated the crafts done while under the influence and the section of crafting with OCD but over all I do believe the humor was up and over my head.

I think my issue with the majority of 'humor' books is that I find them to be more or less pointless. I don't see the humor so I generally pass it by. But I can see that those of who would enjoy a humorous read would appreciate this book. Maybe even to see some of the ridiculous choices of crafts or reading the little blurbs. If you find you are opposed to lewd jokes and comments then stay away. If you enjoy that stuff then go and buy the book!

Would I buy more of Sedaris' books? Probably not. But that isn't a reflection of the author or her capabilities to write. It's just that I myself do not enjoy these books. If you would like to hear a review that is directed more towards those who do enjoy and understand humor then please, check out the 5-star ratings of the book on my favorite book logging site- goodreads.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog Hop and Update!

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop
"What is the thing you like most about reading book blogs? Is it the reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways, or something else entirely?"

I laughed a little when I read 'giveaways' in that question simply because I never win at any of them. =X To be fair... I only ever really enter giveaways on my one friends blog. I'm a giveaway enterer slacker. Speaking of which, I might be posting a giveaway on here soon.... if I get around to it. 

What I really enjoy is reading what other people think of the books I have read or am curious in. I enjoy seeing some of the books that are due out which I might not have heard of yet. Really, that's what makes me happy. I don't want to read reviews that are talking about the rhetoric of a book... only once in a blue moon do I find myself interested in that. What I want from a review is to feel like I am hearing an honest opinion of what a person thought of a book, as if I am a part of a conversation with them. Sitting down and discussing this awesome/horrible book they just read where I could join in about what I loved and hated. That's what I look for in a book blog and what I enjoy reading the most.

I did a guest post, check it out! There is a whole slew of Christmas related posts on that blog right now and they're all so cute!
I got my Christmas Tree!
And I did blog posts on Shattered Mirror and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

This coming week I'll have reviews up for Simple Times and Just a Snowy Day.

Speaking of snowy days, we're due to have a brief period of snow this afternoon. It was just flurrying a little, I hope we get more! And Sunday we're due for a rain storm which I hope is just snow.

Today I'll be busying myself with job applications, reading some Dickens, and baking a gluten free chocolate cake for a job party. I'll also, likely, be drinking this:
I love all things pumpkin and literally squealed in the middle of the grocery store when I spotted this. Finally some yummies for the people with lactose issues!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Girl with a Pearl Earring

I remember the artwork fondly and how the visual was reminded to me when the 2003 movie was brought into theaters. But never did I read the book. Sure, I had it as something I planned on reading but it never ended up in my hands. A couple of months ago a friend of mine was selling copies of books she didn't want anymore. I opted to buy a couple of her books and this was included in the collections.

During my first week as a tutor I had a lot of down time where students weren't seeking help. It was after mid terms and assignments were scattered so I was left with an eight hour shift and nothing to do. Luckily, I had a copy of Girl with a Pearl Earring with me and began to read.

The structure of the book bothers me... I'm a person that needs a list of 'goals'. I see chapters as a necessity when I read because I can think "Just finish this chapter" and aim to complete that goal. Otherwise, I run the risk of never putting the book down and devouring it far too quickly. Or, depending on what book it is, losing interest because I feel that the 'chapter' never comes to an end and giving up.

With this book, I ended up devouring it. Begrudgingly I would sit it down, slipping my book mark into it's pages, in order to do my job or drive home. But this was somewhat strange because I didn't find myself completely falling into the world of Griet- the main character. This timid creature who, honestly, seemed kind of dumb (she did mention that she was 'confused' at least once a page) didn't stir too much emotion in me. The other characters; aside from her father, the butchers son, and Maertge, were pretty obnoxious. And yet- I flew through this book and couldn't put it down.

But why? Why did I read it so quickly and with a passion when I didn't particularly like anything about it? I think this is when we turn to how Tracy Chevalier is as a writer. I know nothing of that time period nor the land this novel is set in. I know just about nothing about Vermeer (aside from being able to tell what paintings are his). Chevalier managed to depict a world that I could easily picture and she didn't hold back into making the characters an honest portrayal of not-so-nice people. I commend an author for doing that. You're working with these characters you've given life to and it's hard to not have a soft place for each and every one of them (at least, that's how it is with me). To take these characters and twist them around to make them not very likable (which, like I said, I don't think any of her characters can truly be liked) is a hard thing to do. It's like saying bad things about a much loved family member. You might feel a little guilty, you might even feel a little sad.

In some ways, the story doesn't even end all too happy. None of the lives of these characters are easy and Chevalier makes that clear. They all have sadness to contend with and hard occurrences which they face. Nothing comes easy, even for the 'rich' characters, which is all very true in comparison to real life. Griet is the typical hard working class girl as is the rest of her family and the butchers while the Vermeer family is trying hard to continue an aire of richness.

With drama, heartache, and scandal this book does capture your attention and Chevalier writes it very well. I couldn't put the book down but I pause to say that it's a 'great' book. However, maybe I enjoy happier endings to books, much more than I realize.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
By Fire, By WaterI'm still reading the same book as I was reading two weeks ago. Forgive me. But I'll probably be finishing this in a matter of hours!

"She interrupted from time to time, but mostly listened, more to his distress and confusion than to his words. She heard something else, too, not in his voice, but in her heart."
 By Fire, By Water -Mitchell James Kaplan

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shattered Mirror

The third book of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes in her vampire series was published in 2001. Despite still being very young you can truly see how her strength in writing and story telling grew from her first two books to this one. The plot is much more exciting with twists and turns and the characters are much deeper and developed then the previous books.

In this book we see a twist that has been previously shown in vampire fiction. Two brothers (twins). One is sweet, the other somewhat evil. It reminds me a lot of Vampire Diaries however while Damon and Stefan are simply brothers in Shattered Mirror Christopher and Nikolas are twins- with a sister to boot.

Sarah Vida, the youngest daughter of a prominent witch family, was raised to hunt vampires and destroy them. When she starts at a new school she discovers that all vampires aren’t exactly blood sucking leeches as she always assumed. Some even have… gasp… feelings. They actually seem to be like a real person with real emotions! Realizing her misjudgment Sarah is torn between becoming friends with two vampires or sticking to her raising and staying very far away or, preferably, killing them before they could prove that her idea that vampires are nice is actually very wrong.

This tale is strongly about family loyalty. Do you stand by your siblings? Your family? If you agree or disagree with what they are doing, will you follow suit or fight against it? Both the twins and Sarah find themselves considering their choices and one family ends up without the loyalty of a member.

On January 11th, 2001, All Just Glass will be published. It’ll be a continuation of Shattered Mirror and from what I understand, going further into Sarah Vida’s life after Shattered Mirror ended. I'm interested in seeing how it pans out and will definitely buy my copy as soon as it hits the shelves. However, if you're intending on reading this yet to be published book it is best that you read Shattered Mirror first.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

O Christmas Tree

On Saturday my parents went Christmas shopping early in the morning. When they returned my father started his rickety car and I hopped in. One of my favorite moments of the holiday season- getting our tree.

We live on a route that is known for it's tree farms and it turns into a huge competition during December. Our town is covered with signs for one tree farm, then another, the prices battle each other and so do the trees. Do you want the gray-blue tinted Blue Spruce? Do you want the soft needled (and pain free) Douglas Fir? Maybe a Scotch Pine? There are over 100 different kinds of pine trees through out the world although not all are available in the US nor would you want to use them for a Christmas tree.

Usually we end up traipsing through grassy fields between rows of Christmas trees. We pick out The Perfect Tree and cut it down, dragging it back to our car, securing it, and going on our merry way. This year we cheated. We went to a farm that provides great fruit and veggies during the summer but in the winter the owners climb into their fields and cut down their own trees, putting them on display at the fruit stand.

It didn't take long to pick The Perfect Tree. A 6.5 ft Douglas Fir for under $30. We brought it home and while my father was off doing fatherly things and my mother was getting better after a random stomach bug I decorated.

I think it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself. We're hoping to slowly start changing over to LED lights next year. The year is filled with ornaments from my grandmother, ornaments I made as a child, and little things we've picked up over the years.

Now our living room is strong with the scent of pine. There is the warm glow of the colored lights (we usually do the brightness of white though) and the cat has found his place next to the tree.

And I have too, loving to sit next to the tree with the fireplace in sight while it snow flurries(!!!) outside. It's where I will be for the next month when I read or dream.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Book Blog Hop and an Update

Book Blog Hop!
Book Blogger Hop
"What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?"
Twilight. It's a long story and I'm providing the link for the post I eventually made. When I first read the book I enjoyed it. But I think it's for the reasons I list in the post. The second time I read it I realized how badly written it was and how much of a cruddy storyline the 2-4th books had. The first? Not the best storyline however I can see how it can catch the attention of teenage girls. 

I really did not like it. 
And what frightened me about posting the review was how could I say I didn't like it in a nice way? I had a lot of readers at that time who absolutely loved the books and I didn't want to rip the book to shreds and offend them. But I came up with a way to discuss it that was a lot more personal then the 'this is bad because' type of set up. Later on during Banned Books Week I was a little more honest with my opinion of the writing but then stuck up fro the book because... well I don't think anything should be banned. All over the place with that book however I was happy to see that despite my opinions I didn't get any hate mail over it. =P

I never mentioned but Christopher Williams Books wrote about my blog on their website awhile ago. I thought the post was cute and it made me happy. You can view it HERE.

Also, I've been up to Christmas shenanigans and took a trip to Bethlehem, PA last weekend. You can read about that (and watch an embarrassing video) HERE.

I've begun the onslaught of Christmas/Winter related book reviews. Thus far there is the classic The Snowman and the new book (which I love so much!) Snowmen at Christmas.

I will also be guest posting on two different blogs at some point this month so I'll provide the links when they are available. =)

This weekend.... I'M GETTING MY CHRISTMAS TREE!!!! Where I live in Pennsylvania is on what I've dubbed "Christmas Tree Alley". The route I live on is Christmas tree farm after Christmas tree farm. Some of the farms keep themselves busy all year because they also are a regular tree farm (you know, flowering trees, maples, etc) or fruit farm (pumpkins, apples, cherries). Last weekend we stopped at one of my favorite fruit stands because we discovered they were selling Christmas trees as well. So, hopefully we'll be going there to pick up our tree this weekend. A post about those adventures shall follow. =)

Happy December everyone!
Can you believe it's the last month of 2010 already?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snowmen at Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, this idea seems to be believed by all and is most present in households with children. So one has to ask, how does Christmas magic affect snowmen? I am a big sucker for the artwork of childrens books. The better the artwork, the more I like it. And then of course I have to enjoy the story. With this, I adored both the artwork and the story and couldn't get enough of each dazzling page! I intend on buying the book for my house and also sending one to my cousins children.

The Plot:
Snowmen come alive at night, especially on Christmas Eve! They walk to town and window shop much like people do. The snowchildren run around and play games as the snowparents prepare festivities. Decorations are put up in the town square and snow ornaments are placed on the tree for the big celebration. With snowtreats and drinks the snowmen gather and wait for the arrival of the snowman Santa Claus who gives out gifts to all the children then goes on his way. A festive and beautiful night ending just before dawn when all of the Snowmen travel back to their homes and return to their places just as their humans begin to wake on Christmas morning.

The Artwork:
How gorgeous it was! With the pink glow to the night sky in the town to the snowman puppy seen in the majority of all the pictures. The softness to the snowy night details and yet the vibrant glow of Christmas lights that decorate the towns square. And as an added bonus on each page there are different items hidden in the paintings that you can search for with your child. Really pleasing to the eye.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Snowman

Sometimes I think I'm the only person who had the joy of experiencing The Snowman when I was a child. The book, done by Raymond Briggs, has no words- but no words are needed. Each page is covered by a series of drawings depicting a little boy who wakes up on a snowy morning and builds none other than a snowman.

But it's the magic that the snowman brings which grasps a child's imagination. I would spend hours in the snow as a child and build the biggest snowman that I could possibly muster. Even in college my friends and I would still go outdoors to build snowmen around our campus. But I remember clearly being small and building snowmen, focusing on their shape, concentrating on what type of wood chips or coal I would use for their facial features. I would stand back with pride and I would wish they were real.

Raymond Briggs, in this children's picture book that was published originally in the 1970's, focuses on that dream of a child in snow. The little boys snowman does come to life! He does move and react and befriends the child. And what's better yet but the snowman, made of a substance that can float and fly through the air when in its loose form, takes to the sky with the little boy and they see the world.

Each picture is simplistic yet so interesting. As a child I would look at each photo and study it, wishing that my snowmen would wake up. There is also a cartoon movie of the book, no words (aside from an introduction), just music and artwork. Here is one of my most favorite scenes of the movie/book:

If you are considering a winter-themed book for your child do look for this book. While the movie features a Christmas tree and Santa Claus the book does not, it is entirely winter themed and can be enjoyed by anyone of any religious faith. Experience the childhood magic.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

There is nothing I love more than special book stores. You all know this, I love my hole-in-the-wall book shoppes, there are very few things that invoke such joy and a sense of calm. I went to Bethlehem this weekend with my parents to enjoy the holiday festivities, look at the shop windows, and maybe do a little sight seeing and shopping. I love this town so very much, it's definitely one of my favorite places in Pennsylvania, and somewhere I feel is worth making the trek.

So with that, I've made a small video for your viewing pleasure. I just want you to keep two things in mind when you view this: 1) My camera is not meant for making movies. It's a little camera with an option for films but not of the five minute quality. 2) I was doing a lot of guess work with iMovie, I don't like reading instructions and I fail when it comes to cool things like making movies.... so it's not of the best quality.

Allow me to continue on with my exploits of Bethlehem in a way that all of you bookworms might enjoy:

Bethlehem has The Moravian Book Shop. You've heard of my raves of the book stores in Jim Thorpe- they're little used books in little nooks and crannies. But The Moravian has so much more than just books. It's a huge store with a beautiful selection of chocolates, Christmas ornaments, Moravian Stars, a place to eat, childrens toys, house decor, and of course- books.  According to the website:

The Moravian Book Shop, the oldest bookstore in the world, was founded in 1745 when the Moravian Church appointed Samuel Powell of the Church's Crown Inn on the South Side of the Lehigh River to operate a book store.

How neat is that? So not only are you visiting a beautiful shop with some of the nicest employees I've ever had the chance to work with but you're sharing in history. Of course I can't go into that shop without buying something. Whether it's a gelato or book, I never leave empty handed. I picked up Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey and went on my merry way.

Another point of interest, if you ever get to visit Bethlehem, is Mama Nina's. It's a great place to eat if you're into Italian food. Everything is so fresh and I've always left completely stuffed. Just look at the inside decor:

As soon as we sat down we had a plate of this set before us:

I can't eat it, unfortunately, because of celiac's disease. Generally when I go out to eat somewhere I order salads but not this time! I ordered a stuffed pepper and it was so delicious. I barely finished it.

But that's how it always is when I go to Mama Nina: The food is fantastic and so filling. Prior to going gluten free I went there and had a couple of different pasta dishes, just the thought of them makes my mouth water. By the way, this place has another slew of really awesome employees who are funny and bright.

There are a ton of locations on Main Street where you can eat so if Italian isn't for you you'll certainly have your pick. I've eaten at a few of those locations (but failed to take pictures and don't recall the names- I'm so bad at remembering names!) and I've always had a pleasant experience.

Seriously, I adore this city. The stores are adorable, the people are sweet, and the buildings are just beautiful with so many objects that are easy to miss (like carvings of faces on the corners of bricks and the likes!).