Saturday, July 31, 2010

Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge

Laurie Halse Anderson, the notable author of many historic fiction books for children and teens, created something rather wonderful: Write Fifteen Minutes a Day during the month of August. As she does, we'll call it WFMAD.

It's somewhat like NaNoWriMo (which I feel EVERYONE should try at least once in their lives) except not quite so insane. Instead of trying to basically write out an entire novel within one month this concept is a little easier to accomplish: fifteen minutes of writing for 31 days.

What's so wonderful about this is because nearly every creative writing tips out there proclaim that one should write- a lot. Every day get some writing done so that the creative juices keep flowing and I certainly agree. It's a lot easier to get words down on paper (or in my case, Microsoft Word) if you're familiar with taking out a piece of paper (or opening a document), grabbing a pen (or adjusting your keyboard), and writing.

So I ask you all, will you do it? Will you try and write fifteen minutes a day?

I'm going to give it a shot, I think!

Love Sucks!

When receiving this book in the mail I wasn't sure what to think of it. First, I had not read the first book, Bite Me!, and this appeared to be a follow up. Second, how many more vampire love stories do I have to read about? Third... well, I don't know.

Anyway, I picked up the book and blew through it in one evening. It was a ridiculously quick read, probably due to the easy language and not so hard to figure out plot line. Don't take this as a negative remark, you don't always have to read books that are at the level of War and Peace, sometimes a girl just wants some enjoyable easy reading. But I was really begrudging this book before I even started it until I read through the first page.

To my surprise it was actually very humorous. I like my vampires to be dark, seductive, serious, and possibly experiencing inner turmoil. But I did not realize that I was craving vampires that shed their night creature persona in exchange for a more normal life. The characters, no matter if they are vampire or warlock, are capable of interacting with one another in the most normal and human-like of ways.

As noted, one of my main concerns was that I had never read the first book by Melissa Francis, but I was able to settle myself into this book rather quickly and enjoy the story line without getting too confused. It's really hard to find a series where you can hop around from book to book without being perplexed or disappointed.

AJ Ashe is left preparing for a new arrival to her paranormal Brady Bunch Family but she also has to contend with an unfortunately sexy professional vampire trainer. All the while being chased around by creepy nasty things that don't exactly want to be friends with her. It's not very often that I enjoy the entire family in a book. Usually there is that one person who just ticks me off. However, I didn't find that with Francis' book. I really enjoyed all characters marked as 'good'.

I have to admit it, for the past week I've been in a reading slump. No interest to read a book what so ever. But to my surprise, Love Sucks! brought me out of that slump and back to my more constant reading level. While this book might not be of my top interests (I am tired of vampire romances) if it was capable of stirring my imagination and bringing me back into the reading world then I applaud it.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Three hundred.... and first post!

So I missed the big 300 mark although it's kind of a fake 300 mark (I have 4 posts that aren't visible to you all due to trying to write up reviews for an up coming event I'll have on my blog in September). But nonetheless, I am quite proud of the number! It's going on two years since I started writing on here and I still love it.

I have some unexpected time off and I planned on spending it all by reading lots of books. However, I've been doing other things instead. Helping clean out my house, organizing things, taking bike rides to enjoy the first cool few days of summer.

But I wanted to write something to pass the time and just say- I'm still here. A fellow book blogger prevented herself from buying books for half of the year. And while I have limited my book purchases by... well... a lot (I had to with working in a bookstore) I still buy at least three books a month. I think that I may try the same thing- not buy any books. But I'll be lenient on myself. I can buy books for theses scenarios:

  1. For the upcoming event in September
  2. As Christmas presents
  3. Seasonal- ie: it only comes out during Christmas (which I don't think will apply to any of my purchases but just in case)
I already have a set list of Christmas and birthday presents for people which involve books but that's not buying books so much for myself... but for others. I think that works, right? And the Big Event of September, some books are necessary and I will need them to mull over for a long time- not a scenario where I can just return them. 

Now that summer is halfway through I also have a few other goals in mind. Whenever school is starting up I am left feeling intellectually saddened. I want to learn again and I miss the joy of the first day of classes. So, I always read one Shakespeare play and one Edgar Allen Poe short story- this shall continue this year. I usually throw in a Jane Austen or Bronte sisters book somewhere in the mix too. I can already feel my brain craving that moment where I pick up these books again. 

But generally, I'm distracted this summer- it's pretty hard to get me to sit down and make it through a book quickly. 

I want to wake up and watch the dawn. Then... make a great big breakfast filled with locally grown fruit. I want to go outside and enjoy myself. I want to shop and swim. To go out to dinner and drink wine under a sky that's filled with lightning. 

That's why I've been sticking to really easy quick to read summer books.

What are you all doing this summer? Are you kind of lazy with reading as I've been? I hope you all are, at the very least, having quite the blast. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

I cannot get enough of this pigeon. And now he's found a hot dog! Granted, I much rather prefer his freaking out over something he wants very badly (like a puppy) but this is just as good. And pigeon still has a near break down so it's almost the same.

The characters: Pigeon and duckling
Minor character: hot dog
Plot: Pigeon finds a hot dog! And he's so excited to have one up until a duckling happens to wander by and ask many questions (sounds familiar, pigeon?) about the hot dog. Basically, the pigeon gets a taste of his own medicine because now he has the duckling more or less asking for the hot dog. However, I think the duckling is a little more smooth when it comes to begging.

Basically, it's a book of wanting and sharing. But the beloved pigeon is back and I just adore him. The duckling is pretty cute too! If there are any more pigeon books, I kind of hope the duckling makes another appearance.

I really would suggest the pigeon books for anyone who is looking to get a picture book for a child. I just think they're so cute and funny and from what I hear other kids like them as well (sorry I don't have kids and all of the children in my life live very far away). Go out and read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

And besides, these kids seem to find it very funny... that or it's the costumes. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pretty Little Liars: Flawless

So I am incapable of figuring out how to add a 'reply' option to my blog comments. So before I dive into Flawless I wanted to go over what people said in my first Pretty Little Liars post.

I get a lot of books for free, consider it a library loan type of thing, so the Pretty Little Liar books- despite that they run for an extremely cheap price- I don't know if I'd buy them. I buy A LOT of books. This is why we have five very large bookshelves in my house and we really need to buy more since they're all running out of room. It's kind of intense. Its just that there are a lot of books and I'm always buying more. These books are good, they're really entertaining and great for something to read on the spot. But would I spend the money on them? Probably not. They aren't so captivating that I'll cherish the paper bound material and read it over and over again.

I am quite surprised as to how similar the book and the tv show are to one another. The plots are the same, and thus far, whatever happens to a character in the book also happens to them on the show. I appreciate it. Granted, some of the plot lines are slightly different, but you can still guess what will happen next when watching the show.

So with that, if you are watching the tv show and enjoying the 'what will happen next' ride, then don't read the books, or at the very least stay a book behind with each show. Flawless definitely covered the most recent episodes so I am only left to suspect the next book to cover the next two or three episodes.

The problem with writing entries about books in a series is that for those of you who haven't read book one- the entry will be filled with spoilers. So always consider that when I'm moving through a series, just a word of forewarning.

Flawless jumps directly into the action where the first book left off. Once again, the emotions the girls experience are very real, and each chapter leaves you wondering 'well, what happens to so-and-so next?' but then you're faced with the next chapter being about ANOTHER girl who only a few pages back you were also wondering about. Make sense? Probably not. None the less this continuous 'what's going to happen next' causes you to fly through the book. And the book isn't very long to begin with so the time it takes to get from cover to cover is short.

All of the girls have this little bit of a privileged air to them, which annoys me greatly, but their family members are worse. Once more, I'm impressed by the detail to the Pennsylvania area.

Unfortunately I grew to like the character Toby, a lot. He's that quirky bad boy that no one likes and I always grow attachments to characters like that. The kid that everyone knows but that doesn't mean he's popular. I even kind of have a soft spot for the character Jenna. However, I suspect my opinions will change as the books progress.

And I certainly intend on reading more of the books. I still want to know who A is and I still haven't found out. I want to know who killed Alison, if it is A or what. I generally hate mystery-related books because I hate being surprised in the end. I don't like to be kept in the dark and left unable to figure things out. But, these books have caught my attention and I don't think they'll let go any time soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Marked- House of Night Series

What is not to hate about this book? There are a slew of vampire-related books on the market right now. I generally hate them all until I get enough courage to just try and read them. To my surprise, a number of the books have been pretty good, but there are the few that are just down right horrible.

Marked is one of them.

I didn't even make it to page 100 before I gave up. This is a rarity, where I actually put a book down midway through because I stopped caring.

The pop references are so current that the book will not be understandable in ten years. People who read this series in the future won't understand all of the references to celebrities and movies because it won't be current. The writing style was obnoxious and annoying, although I have most certainly read worse.

I feel that the book was strongly trying to force the authors beliefs in the world. Classic religion is bad, Paganism is the only way. (I honestly don't care WHAT you believe in, so long as you're not hurting living creatures). There were many sections that were so soaked through with the authors opinion of homophobic tendencies, oral sex, and a list of other events you experience as a teenager. If you're going to fill your book with your personal opinions on the world with the apparent hopes that teenagers will agree or at least think this mind thinking is cool then try to cover it up a little more.

I didn't like a single character and I really didn't like Zoey. It's hard for me to like a book when the main character is completely unlikable. I felt no connection to her. None at all. The only thing I enjoyed about the book was the edge of Native American beliefs. Whether or not those are accurate I don't know, but I do feel that the majority of lead female characters in YA Fiction are all caucasian girls with blonde or brown hair. Finally, a character who is unique. But her heritage is the only thing unique about her.

I was just greatly disappointed in this book. I didn't expect it to be mind blowingly awesome, but with the number of people who buy this book ever day and it's overall popularity I expected it to have a little more substance then the random dribble it contained.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pretty Little Liars

I tried to ignore these books for months. Then, the ABC Family commercials began to circulate and my curiosity grew. I didn't want it to grow. I wanted no part in a series whose book covers featured dolls and are so bright in color that the very display hurts my eyes. But watch the tv show? I did. And I liked it. In fact, I really liked it! Then I wanted to read the book because the series captured my soul I write a book review blog. I took the first book out (featuring the tv shows promotional photos as a cover because I still hate those neon covers) and read it during a weekend.

Now, here was my issue with the book: I didn't enjoy the hoping from character to character, at times it would get a little confusing. But I understand why Shepard did this. Moving on.

Every page you're left wondering two things: What will happen next? and Who is A? Four girls all with their own secrets. The only person who knows of their secrets is Alison- and she went missing three years ago. But now the girls are getting messages from A who knows their most hidden secrets. Is this Alison? Has she returned?

Shepard does a great job at bringing forth the emotional range of teenagers. From that moment where you feel life just isn't fair to the times where your heart is breaking.

Shepard did a great job at describing the Philadelphia region. I live just outside of the metro area of Philly and found much of the descriptions to be spot on. Really, there aren't many books out there whose location is in Pennsylvania. I just wonder how confusing it would be for a person who is not from Pennsylvania .

The books ending has the next in the series dangling in front of me. All I want is to read the next book. And I fully intend to because I, like the four girls, can't help but wonder- who is A?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Mo Willems Pigeon books

Allow me to express my utter LOVE of these books! The pictures inside are simplistic but cute. The pigeon is identifiable- he's like a little kid! I openly laugh when I read the pigeon books. My favorite? The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! It's developed into a big joke in my household because I am constantly requesting a puppy for us. (And I will name this puppy Lady Bug and call it Bug for short).

If you're familiar with little kids you know that they have a tendency to try anything when they're goal is something they cannot have. Their reasoning isn't typically very good and they switch from being polite to freaking out.

The pigeon, is much like this. I always stumble along when trying to make reviews for childrens books. How do you describe something that has less words then the review itself? But really, all I can do with true confidence is tell you whether or not I like it and if I'd suggest it to parents with young children.

Mo Willems Pigeon books would be one of the top children's picture books that I would suggest. In fact, I've chosen a few for a children's book hour that we'll be hosting at our store. It's perfect for a child, no matter their sex, and funny for adults as well. Go check it out! Even if you don't know any children in your life, it's an amusing read.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Bag of Loot

Thank you everyone who wished me a happy birthday! I did, indeed, have a happy one and I'm still riding on the fumes of the day. Every year when I celebrate my birthday I insist of giving myself some type of a gift. Sometimes, it can be a little pricey, other times it's something I really need (like, to pay bills). This year my loot was enjoyable and I wanted to share the list with you (before returning to your regularly scheduled book reviews)

Ethos Water

Proceeds of this water go to children in Africa, ensuring they have clean drinking water. I bought the bottle while chilling at a Starbucks with a friend. 


I love how adorably soft Caron's Eco-friendly yarn is, I've been working on a blanket with the neutral colored yarn since winter but when the heat of summer hit I never went back to buy more yarn. Lately, it's been so hot that I've been locked indoors with the AC on full blast. So with the chilly indoor air I've been craving my crochet needle.

My friends and I went for their weekly karaoke night. I had a great shrimp salad, pina colada, and my coworkers told the Applebee's employees that it was my birthday (mine and a coworkers) and they came out singing and gave us free desert. Woo!

The A to Z Guide to Crochet

I've had my eye on this book since winter. It's color is so bright! And I am by far a beginner at crocheting. My talents consist of knowing three stitches and I am capable of making two things: a scarf and a blanket. I hope by the time I'm married and having children I can make baby booties. (because they're friggen adorable)

Aesop's Fables

I got caught up reading this while at work. I was walking around with my jobs brand new Kobo eReader and my choice of books was Aesop. I've wanted to read it for years and when I had to give up the Kobo I was left wanting more.

It was a wonderful birthday and I am ready for the new year. Even numbers are my numbers, as I've mentioned before, and it just feels right that I am an even 24 years old.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wicked Girls

1692 was an altering year for the people of Salem village. After a group of girls begin to have visions of local people performing tasks of witchcraft. Quickly a craze develops and you know the story that develops. "Witches" were hung, one man was pressed to death by stones. The Salem Witch Trials were a period of terror and it all developed because of the proclamation of some girls.

Stephanie Hemphill takes these girls and sets a fictional story to them. Why did these girls see the witches? Did they truly have this 'sight'? Why did they chose certain people? Hemphill creates a story line, told by three of the girls, as they weave in and out of each others lives. Driven by jealousy, pride, and a need to seek out revenge, and the urge to feel a false sense of protection, these girls do more harm then the 'witches' who they have accused.

I have always had a strange fascination with the Salem Witch Trials but I am unfortunately very behind in my education of that period of time. I know the stats of it all and I've formed my own opinion of it but when looking at the literature I have, or should have, read- it falls flat. With that allow me to give my opinion. I thought Hemphill did a great job showing the insight of these characters. The motivation of these girls is almost understandable- it's the fact that their motivation led to many deaths which makes them wicked. Their growing dislike of people and the glee of the control of the town is evident. But the realization of what they have done dawns on their minds as well. While some characters I was glad to leave behind when I ended the book there were some others who I found myself asking, "But then what happened?"

I feel the girls were believable, especially their reasonings for what they did. Although wrong to be doing it, it is completely believable that people would go to such extremes. The book is a quick read because it completely grabs your attention. You know the ending of it all but you want to know about the girls themselves. It's on sale now so run out and grab a copy!