Friday, September 28, 2012

September Wrap Up

What a busy month! Although I feel for certain I have been proclaiming how busy it's been all summer and now straight into fall! But I'm excited autumn has arrived and I welcome it with open arms and a cup of apple cider in my hand. Autumn is my favorite season and I do all the stereotypical autumnal things if I can: read books while wrapped under blankets, take walks and step on every crunchy leaf, decorate with pumpkins and mums, and hope that I can find the best pumpkin in a pumpkin patch. I have a blast during the fall, always have, and I'm so excited it's here again (especially after such a hot summer)! 

Despite having a horrendously busy personal schedule I've gotten quite a bit of reading done so let's get to this wrap up!

In Case You Missed It:
September Book Reviews:
Anna Dressed in Blood is hands down a fantastic book and really great for this time of the year! You'll fall straight into the hands of ghosts and the haunting home Anna, our main ghost, lives in. I devoured this book really quickly and was sorry to have it end.

Heaven is Here is something I have wanted to read for quite some time as I am a fan of the NieNie Dialogues and reader of hers since around the time she had her accident. I am not a religious sort but this book was very empowering and certainly made me respect more that I have in life. 

The Fault in Our Stars completely blew my mind away. Often YA fiction is scoffed at because authors will talk down to their readers and simplify things in such a way that "anyone" can be a reader of that particular book. That tendency annoys me to no end and when I come across a YA book that breaks that mold and writes beautiful, thoughtful words that yes, you need to be a book lover or have a will to concentrate to follow, I completely am taken by the work. This book is one of those books and its story of grief and understanding pertaining to life, death and cancer hit a nerve in me and comforted me in ways I did not realize I needed to be comforted. 

Sierra is a romance set in the middle of the woods - quite literally. For those who love romantic entanglements with a touch of thrill (and a little heartbreak) then this is the book for you.

Other News:
I went to the National Book Festival again and had a blast! I was able to meet John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars (review is up above), and I had a nerdishly delightful time. I also had a blast celebrating Hobbit Day with Second Breakfast. Next year: I'll make my own second breakfast and it will be epic.

Tonight I'll be going to see Neil Gaiman which I am also particularly excited about. Unfortunately, I don't believe there is a signing. But I'll be happy to hear him speak seeing as I missed out on another opportunity. Let me tell you, following authors you love on twitter really pays off otherwise I wouldn't have known about this!

Next week starts my blog's busiest time of the year: Banned Books Week. Each year I rant and rave about books that have been wrongly challenged to be banned from schools and libraries. Check it out to see what books I feature this year and then go out and buy some banned books to read!

I'll also be having even more book reviews, as always, and I'll be hosting the Book Blog Hop for the first two weekends of the month. Oh my! Let us not forget that October is more autumn fun and Halloween. I can only imagine what I'll be getting myself into. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - September 27th

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
Do you bring the book(s) you’re reading with you when you go out? How? Physically, or in an e-reader of some kind? Have your habits in this regard changed? (I know I carried books with me more when I was in school than I do now–I can’t read while I’m driving to work, after all.)

My Answer:
I always bring a book with me to work. I have an hour (sometimes hour and a half) long bus ride into Washington and then the same amount of time to come home. Sometimes I can't read on the bus (motion sickness) but othertimes I can. If I'm taking the metro in - I always have a book. Plus at times when I take breaks at lunch I'll read. Thing is, it's a long commute and I get most of my reading done then since I can't be doing the other things I need to be doing. It doesn't matter what type of format the book is in, if I'm reading it then it comes with me. If I'm in between books I'll just bring my e-reader as I have a huge selection and can pick something to read if I find I have the time. For traveling, I take my ereader just so that it saves on luggage space. But if it's day trips I, again, just take whatever I am reading at that time!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


About the Author:
Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding that she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of romance in her line-up. 

The Review:
Alyssa Fontaine’s life, loved ones—everything familiar and dear—are brutally taken from her.  
Taken captive by two men, she endures a horrific nightmare. A new life is forced upon her and even a new name.  
Just when it appears that no hope is in sight, she is saved by an unlikely twist of fate. Trapped in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, life will open its arms to her again and she will embrace it. She will find love such as she never knew existed.  
Sierra is a heart-wrenching story of the power of the human spirit to survive amidst impossible circumstances and severe losses. It is a story of survival . . . and hope. 

The description of this book made me nervous from the beginning about growing too attached to any of the characters but, of course, I quickly became attached to a few. We set off with a chilling start as "Pa" and "Adam" scope out families until they settle on one they deem perfect. Quickly, we're in amongst that family and witnessing the going ons while at a rest stop. This would be about the point where I became attached to characters I told myself not to get attached to. Shortly after, everything goes wrong.

While the fright of a kidnapping is obvious and the end result is heart breaking I felt that more of an emotional pull could have been created for the reader if there had been an opportunity for more character development. Alyssa, Sam (her husband), and Clay (her son) obviously love one another very much but you have experienced so little of their normal lives that I was finding myself often wondering how (specifically, Alyssa) previously behaved before the kidnapping.

Once Alyssa is separated from her family and forced to travel with her kidnappers, I was glad to see her natural reactions to things. Crying, fighting, trying to escape and thinking of her family. It was great to have her stumble upon Alex's cabin (her soon-to-be savior) and I was cheering on the idea that Alyssa could be saved. One thing leads to another and Alyssa "finds love in the most unexpected of places."

***Warning: potential spoilers ahead***

I can understand the pair falling in love, they work well together and play off one another well and I didn't think they developed feelings too quickly. What became somewhat unbelievable was that almost suddenly they didn't just have feelings for one another - they were in love and after a week of mourning the loss of her husband and child Alyssa pretty much forgets them. Not even a mention of memories while she dives into a relationship with Alex nor a moment of nostalgia while she prepares for Christmas of her son and how a little boy may have handled the holiday. This continues to the very end of the book where another character has to scold her to remember Sam and, you know, maybe pay her respects to him. This man whom she apparently loved so much and she seemed more over him than someone who went through a bad break up. It was all handled as if her original family was completely forgotten and nearly never existed.

When Alyssa returns to the real world it seems her priorities are a little more in order and her reaction to events are more believable. The above gripe still persists but otherwise she seems to have a natural change in her personality while Alex seems to change in a more aggressive manner. His past is revealed in more detail and most of his actions are understandable and make sense however the way he behaves during a confrontation on the mountain seemed mean and aggressive to a fault.

***End of spoilers***

In some ways, I feel a lot of things were plot devices used to get from point a to point b and where more detail and character could have been added it was lacking. There is a good, interesting story here but I feel it could have been presented in a better way. That's why on goodreads I gave it only 3 stars. It isn't a horrible book! It isn't anything like that and I am sure many people will adore it. For me, however, I am not so into the romance and kidnap plot. I didn't hate this book and I wouldn't tell people not to read it, hence the three star.

There were few things that took me by surprise in Sierra but what did surprise me really surprised me. More details of that when you read the book itself. The ending was happy and gave closure to the reader, there were nearly no editorial or grammatical mistakes (of which I rejoice!) and the descriptions of the area were lovely. Really, I think my favorite thing about this book was that Alex basically was living out my fantasy life in my fantasy home. How wonderful would it be to have a cabin in the woods with no one to bother you? I have sparkling bright dreams of being able to go and stay in a cabin one day, as a way for a vacation, and I think it would be awesome.

I am not head over heels for romance books although some worm their way into my heart. If you are into adventure and a lot of love, Sierra is for you. Check out the book on Amazon, Swashwords, and Barnes and Noble to get your copy today.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of
this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading
Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was
no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not
necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure
is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of
Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Monday, September 24, 2012

The National Book Festival 2012

I've had the opportunity to go to the National Book Festival once before but with now living in the DC metro area I wanted to make the National Book Festival a yearly activity. This year, with the knowledge of how the festival ran in 2010, I felt I had a better grip of what to expect. So the day began early and filled with excitement. I took the metro in (it's advised to do so if you're going to the festival: get out at the Smithsonian stop but beware that weekends usually mean there are hold ups with the metro as they typically do all repair work then) and proclaimed that I would live-tweet as I went along. 

So, that happened. I really adore the Library of Congress and had hoped they would retweet some insightful message I wrote during the day. Instead they retweet my complaints about the tourists! But hey, it's advice for you all to take if you go to the festival in the future. 

I arrived at 10, right when the festival opened, and had every intention to get John Green's signature. His presentation was from 10-10:45 and his signing from 11-2. At 10, an hour before his signing began, the line for his signing looked like this:

The line, by the time the signing began, looped back and forth about ten times and extended into this massive amount of people. I was able to meander over to his presentation while my roommate held a spot in line for me. He was hilarious during his presentation and there were too many people to fit under the tent. 

When 10:45 hit and John Green's speech ended teens were literally running towards the line and the already kinda-long line tripled to this:

Luckily enough for me, I was in the 2nd row and getting excited by the minute. I had my copy of The Fault In Our Stars ready to go and what I wanted to say all planned out.

And then I met him. He was cheerful and said hello to me with all the energy in the world, as if he hadn't already greeted a hundred other people. He asked me if I was wearing a Florence + the Machine shirt (I was) and when I mentioned that I had only just seen her show on Wednesday he proclaimed, "Well, you've had an eventful week!" I stuttered, completely forgetting what I had wanted to say to him, and babbled something in return.

But ultimately I had gotten what I had gone to the festival for:

The rest of the day was spent in the sun and shade, waiting in lines for signings and meandering. I was surrounded by book nerds and so many people declaring their love of literature with shirts and bags. I was making friends simply waiting in line and how easily too, after all we shared the same interest in books. When I grew tired I relaxed under the trees of the National Mall which was sprinkled by other readers and families who were taking a break from the activities as well. The book festival continued into Sunday, although I didn't attend it that particular day - I spent it catching up on entries and decorating for Halloween! I'm excited for next year's Festival and can't wait to see who else may be attending it. Hopefully it won't be quite as toasty in the sun!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blog Hop - September 21st

Blog Hop:
Book Blogger Hop

This Weeks Question:
What is one thing that your blog readers probably do not know about you?

My Answer:
Yikes, I haven't been able to do a Blog Hop since August! None the less, this took some thinking to answer because I've been intending for, oh, about a month to do a "if you knew me" type of post just for my readers to have some insight on my life. But I don't want to end up repeating myself and yet come out sounding somewhat interesting! Anyway... I suppose one thing that my readers probably do not know about me is that while I received my degree in English (with the intention of getting a certification in publishing the moment I have a permanent job) I actually intended on applying to art schools for most of my High School career! 
While I loved reading and writing, I also loved art (and still do!) and I wanted to study it. That, however, changed when I had somewhat of an epiphany while going through the details of how to get into art school. Basically, when I realized I would have to present a portfolio of my work I lost most faith in myself. I wasn't quite sure I wanted to do it anymore. I take criticism of my artwork very hard because I already criticize it myself on an endless basis. I couldn't imagine going to school for four years and having people correct my art all the time! I'd end up with a complex! But reading, writing, those were two other subjects that I loved and I realized - why not study that? I actually loved all things English so much more and it was a daily part of my life while art was something more like a whim. So while I had originally intended on sending my applications into schools with "Art" listed as my declared major, I changed it to "English" and there you have it!

In Other News:
If you'll be attending the National Book Festival tomorrow on the National Mall in Washington, DC - LET ME KNOW! Or follow my twitter for live updates!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

To begin, I want to share my brief goodreads review:

It is a rarity that I will give a book 5 stars. Sometimes I will sit on it, only allowing the distribution of four stars until I feel empowered enough to give them five. Other times I just know. This was one of those times. I have also a tendency not to let go of a book. I will cling to it, wanting more, yearning for it in ways that grip my core. I proclaim that the book "stuck" with me. But for this book it created a different kind of "sticking." It stuck with me, certainly, in an emotional way in which I am okay with bearing. The language was beautiful and struck my soul. The storyline held on tighter; the topic of cancer is a common one in my family due to our own issues. This is one of those books where, if someone were to say they simply do not "like" to read, I would think of it. I would consider all that they are missing out in the world. All the things they could understand all the better. And this book would be in my mind's eye. I would suggest anyone to read this. Anyone.

I wrote that the moment I put the book down and typically I wait until the night or following day to write a "fast" review. By fast I mean I don't put it off for days like I typically do. But this book left me feeling so many emotions that I was unable to figure out just what to do next. So I wrote the above paragraph.

It's unfortunate but much of YA literature has this stigma of being poorly written. When people discuss a YA book I've heard it go so far as to saying, "It's good. No, I mean it is really good. It's not Twilight YA or anything like that." But I suppose that could sum it up. There is YA literature much like there is adult literature that doesn't have much substance and isn't particularly moving or well written. Some are downright brainless and pretty horrible. Others may not have fantastic writing but the storyline is interesting. Then there are the ones that break the YA stereotype. The books that are beautifully written and leave you shocked and breathless. Typically, these books are the ones where readers go, "This shouldn't be in YA, it should be in Adult" as if only Adult's can have decently written literature. As if young adults are too young or stupid to comprehend a well written book.

Aside from books that become huge sellers followed by a cult-like following, I rarely see anything on Goodreads have close to a 5 star average for ratings when there are multiple ratings at a time. This book, however, manages this. Or maybe "manage" isn't the right word to use because I feel the near perfect rating by thousands of users is completely deserved. 

I've seen this book plenty of times on bookshelves, tumblr, and Goodreads and yet I didn't hear much about it. Maybe I wasn't looking to hear about it, maybe I was oblivious. But upon hearing that there was an opportunity for me to meet John Green I looked a little more into his writing. Whoa. Now, this is my first John Green book but all of his publications look awesome and one has been challenged (so expect me to have a review for that in next year's banned books week). The Fault in Our Stars was the book I settled on to read due to a blogger raving about it. I didn't know what type of books she was into, if she liked silly stupid stuff or what have you, but for some reason I trusted her opinion that this book was Capital-A Awesome.

Right away the Author's Note was striking. If the author talks like this in his note, uses that language, it was setting me up for some damn good reading. The book was even better. First off, let it be known that this is a love story. But it's also a story of survival. I kind of moan when I hear of a YA book that's a love story. Again? Really? Was I that obsessed with love stories when I was a teen? Because I really don't remember being so. If you think in similar terms, knock that out of your mind right now. This may have a love story element but it isn't what makes the book. There are so many factors to this story, so many points, that my head was reeling in a pleasant way. 

Hazel, our lovely main character, is sarcastic, smart, and a damn good fighter. Despite having terminal cancer she has learned to deal with her bleak outlook on life and still lives. She knows what her end will be like and she seems to have accepted that. All she wants, really, is to help protect hurting as many people as she can when she does go. Her sense of humor certainly hasn't gone away and the mentions of her life with cancer are done in a way that doesn't make you entirely scared the entire time you read the book. People tend to do that, get scared at the mention of cancer. They get nervous and anxious and really don't particularly like hearing about it. But you realize that this has been her life for many years. 

Then you have Augustus. This handsome boy who enters Hazel's life when she least expects it and causes her to experience more than she had ever thought she would. He brings life into her life and makes her ask questions or argue her opinion in ways that she hadn't before. 

Hazel, in many ways, makes us face what makes humans incredibly uncomfortable while Augustus is more so like the rest of us. We hope to bring some meaning to the world and fear the idea of oblivion. We fear being meaningless. We fear death. Augustus picks apart every detail he has and is often times philosophical but oh my goodness, the language used is so powerful and well worded. But I digress, Hazel is accepting of her future and feels very strongly that not everyone needs to make a huge change in the world. In fact, they won't and probably can't so why waste the time over that?

There were many times that the book left me laughing, literally, and many other times where I was equally saddened and fighting off the urge to cry. When I was nearing the closure of this book I kept stopping and sitting it aside. I didn't want it to end. I was a masochist. It hurt to read at many points but it was so good. So beautiful. Then I would snatch the book as if someone were trying to take away a favorite toy and I'd gobble up the next few pages before putting it down again.

When I finished the book I felt a certain ache in my heart. This book is beautiful and well written and so, so worth the read. But I was left not entirely sure how to feel. I currently have someone very dear to me suffering from cancer and I've known others who have had it as well. Generally, I've been avoiding any literature that has to do with cancer because of what my family is currently experiencing and I was worried that this book would be too tough for me to get through it. It would end up leaving me raged and broken and a mess. But, somehow, it sort of helped. It comforted something within me that no one has been able to comfort; something which I did not know existed. 

And I can't wait to tell John Green as much.

If you are in the Washington, DC area this weekend come to the National Book Festival. I'll be there, excited as ever with my copy of The Fault in Our Stars in hand. Check the schedule to see when he'll be speaking and doing his signing plus all of the other author's that will be there. If you're intending on going to the book festival, let me know and maybe we can meet. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - September 18th

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!
"I don't mean it. Stay with me forever, forever, until you die, and then, still, I will keep your bones and clutch them to my breast.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - September 13th

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
How do you organize/store your books? Do you go through them often? Or do you pretty much just shelve them and then leave them alone until you need them?

My Answer:
My life can be categorized by moves. In New York, where I spent my first 21 years of life, we had a room with an entire wall filled to the brim with bookshelves. This, however, was just the extra books of my mother and my old childhood books. In my own room I had a bookshelf packed just as well with what books I devoured as a teen and young college student. When we moved, however, we were working within a budget. We were moving everything we could that had filled our home over 22 years three hours away and we couldn't shell out the cash for large moving trucks or any of that. So we downgraded with our books: going through what was in the spare room and donating what books we could. Garbage bags of books, actually, although I was able to keep most of mine we got rid of a ton. 
Pennsylvania had us living in a smaller house with a lot less book space and yet, after graduating college, I went wild with buying books. New books, old books, used books; it didn't matter because I had to have them. However, I also quickly ran out of space. No matter, it wasn't until I began to plot my move to Virginia where I would have even less room for books (my room is about half the size as what I had in PA) that I realized my collecting habits of books would have to change. It was with that I began going through the books. While before I would let them sit on the shelf until I needed them (or just so they could collect dust because I had no intention of rereading them) I began to donate the books I was sure I would never read again. If it was a book I wasn't certain of, I'd keep it. But there were books I had purchased, read, and hated and really there was no point in keeping them. Once I knew what books I was going to get rid of I offered them to friends - glad to see them going to a happy home. The rest went to the local library. 
I never thought getting rid of books would be somewhat relaxing; while we were donating books in NY I would literally cry upon coming home. It felt like I was giving up a favorite playmate. But gathering what I wanted for VA it was different. Maybe I matured, I like to think that's the case, that I realized that for these books I had no interest in at least someone else would benefit and possibly have a world of fun with the book I rejected. So currently my book collection is like this: all the books I have yet to read. I left the majority of my beloved books in PA in favor of taking the ones I hadn't read yet to VA. I'm slowly making it through that pile and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of and while that pile slowly lessens I keep calling my mother, "Hey, could you go into my room and look at the bookshelf... yeah, there should be a copy of Capture the Castle on the bookshelf. Could you put it in the pile of stuff you'll be bringing down when you visit?"
While before I felt that I was abandoning my beloved treasures I now feel like I am making a home for them as I sweep away the books that I don't really care for and make room for my most memory filled articles of literature.

Wow, that was a much longer reply than I had intended!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Heaven is Here

When I began reading the Nie Nie Dialogues it was shortly after her accident. I had heard about it through another blogger who asked for prayers and it drew me to her page. At that time, she was still in a coma and it still seemed very touch and go. I devoured her older entries, quickly getting to know this woman, and when updates would come through about her condition I would rejoice. I feel that I have a connection to her, although she does not know who I am, due to reading of her life since it changed so dramatically. I have always been filled with a sense of complete awe for her. For what she's gone through, I don't think I would have ever been able to handle it. Some people are made to deal with these type of horrible things and I don't think I'm one of them.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Simply put: I knew of the author of this book and her tale long before Heaven is Here was published. When it was, I wanted to buy it to support her and her family (even if my purchase was only a small contribution) and to read more details into her life. Stephanie Nielson, the author of this book and the Nie Nie Dialogues, was in a plane crash along with her husband and their friend. She was burnt severely and through her blog she would share bits and pieces of how she recovered. This book gives more detail to that recovery process and all the behind the scenes that you may not have known about from her blog or was only giving tidbits of.

It is a spiritual book of sorts as religion is something important to Stephanie. I am spiritual but no longer identify myself as tied to any specific religion. I do not pray and I do not attend church. Typically I shy away from religious books because many times I feel as if the author is preaching to me or condemning me for my lack of religion. It was a small concern when I ordered Stephanie's book but I didn't care. Even if she preached I was still going to read this book! What I found upon reading this book wasn't any preaching. God and her religious beliefs obviously fill Stephanie's life and are a great part to her recovery and that is wonderful. It was good to read such a positive experience with religion and I didn't feel as if I was talked down to at all.

The book is brought together in three parts: before, during, and after. Prior to the accident Stephanie's life read as a fairy tale. Much of it was almost too hard to believe but I feel it set up a good base for what was to come and the weight placed on the relationships you had learned about in the first section. The middle section - the accident and recovery - was quite possibly the hardest section for me to get through. My heart ached as I read it and I could only keep thinking, "I could never do this, I could never make it through such an experience, this woman is so strong." I've seen plenty of medical shows and read articles about so and so having some horrible thing happen to them but it's rare to see what happens with the patient themselves. It's rare to see what is going on in their minds. The terror, the worry, the depression is all there and yet I still couldn't fathom that experience.

The final portion of the book is Stephanie's initial recovery into her original role as wife and mother. It's tough to read but through out much of it I would recall things she had mentioned on her blog: the first time she showed a picture of just her eyes after the accident and the year after mark which included a successful hike.

The book isn't the most awesome thing I've ever read. It isn't Dickens or Shakespeare. But the point of it is to tell her story and to show how she recovered physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think she got that point across with flying colors - enough to take my breath away at different points and cause me to reflect a lot about my own life. As someone who is regularly trying to improve her life for the better, to have a more positive outlook and be less focused on my flaws, reading this book was helpful and empowering. I feel that her blog has changed somewhat within the past year to become more of a promotional outlet rather than tales of her life as a mother and wife which I find disappointing. I'm hoping her blog will swing back to what it was when I fell in love with it. But the fact still remains that this woman is lovely, inspiring, and certainly worth knowing about. Her courage gives me courage to face the much more meaningless things in my life than what she has had to face. Whether you are spiritual or not (so long as you accept other people are spiritual) this is a wonderful read and should be on your bookshelf as soon as possible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - September 11th

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!
"Maybe somewhere my dad is looking on too. Maybe while being batted at by a hair-pulling cat."
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Monday, September 10, 2012

Musing Mondays - September 10th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...

Do you take notes while you read?
My Answer:

Only in school did I actively take notes while I read. When I was a teen I would often write down quotes from books I was reading but they often got lost or took up room in my many notebooks. I never liked writing in the copies of books, it bothered me, even text books. I felt like I was doing the book an injustice by writing in them, ruining the pages, and take pride in keeping my books looking brand new. Still, I've often times found moments where I have wanted to write in books, highlight a quote, whichever. Luckily enough my Kindle has helped a lot as I take to highlighting a bunch of different quotes. It especially comes in handy for Teaser Tuesday so that I may go back and see the quotes I want to use. Still, I don't take notes when I'm reading paper copies of books!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

August Wrap Up

Oh my, I can't believe it's September already! Through out the entire month of August I was so stuck on the fact that it was August that I forgot to enjoy the very month itself. I was continuously going, "But, what happened to July? It still feels like July! Fall can't be that close." And while I adore autumn - it being my favorite season - I felt that I hadn't done quite enough this summer. I felt that it flew by me and I had so much more summer to experience. Of course, I've done plenty this summer and to be quite honest, Labor Day was quite possibly the best Labor Day I've ever experienced because it was the first full weekend I've had since Memorial Day where I didn't do one darn thing other than lay around my flat. And with laying around I totally forgot about my monthly wrap up posts so here goes nothing!

In case you missed it:
August Book Reviews
The Handmaid's Tale frightened me to the core. The reality of it being a possible future for women if certain political and religious minded people were to get their way is terrifying. This is a good book, although fiction, to raise awareness of the way things could be. Learn more about The Handmaid's Tale during Banned Books Week in October.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is another book that will be featured during Banned Books Week but this book, compared to what I just mentioned, left me breathless with laughter. It has it's sad points but many funny ones. It's a quick read and, I feel, perfect for a teen or adult - it doesn't matter the age!
The Pemberely Chronicles was waiting to be read for years and I finally got to it. It sent me to that lovely placed filled with gardens and spring air, the mental place I visit when I read Austen books (or, in this case, books inspired by her!) but I had mixed feelings for the plot itself.
The Night Circus swept me away and made me yearn for some performing art! This descriptive book is magical and, while maybe not filled with action, still exciting.

Other News
September is busy work as I prep for all things autumn, the National Book Festival, and Banned Books Week. I'm quite excited to go to the National Book Festival this year as I have not gone since 2010. I'm hoping to meet John Green and Sandra Cisneros while there. If you're going, let me know! I'm almost ready to say goodbye to summer, once I get it through my head that it's actually September and not August and summer has passed, but I really can't wait to enjoy my favorite time of the year.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood

A friend mentioned that she kept looking at Anna Dressed in Blood but had yet to buy it. I believe that if you keep getting drawn back to a book then something is insisting that you read it. My friend bought the book, devoured it, and sparked my own interest.

When I began the book I spent a good deal of the beginning going, "this is just another supernatural YA novel." It has all the makings of what is popular: a possibility of love, the kid who is different and doesn't fit in, high school politics, and the ever popular paranormal plot. That stuff I could do with or without but, of course, the paranormal plot is what makes the story. The author certainly has a knack for descriptive horror, blood and gore but she doesn't go over the top or cross over into a place of unnecessary description. You get the point of what needs to be seen and the author doesn't give in to unnecessary details. This creates a world of ghosts which are intricate and detailed, completely believable and sometimes a little scary.

You're given a POV from a male character, Cas, which is somewhat unheard of in YA literature. This book is appealing to girls but with the male main character maybe more teen boys will grab hold of it as well. He's confident, but not overly so. The friends he gets are seen as the stereotypical prom queen and nerdy boy but they quickly become so much more. Anna is an interesting creature and well written to display the difference in her personality from a goddess of death to a ghost girl. One moment it is very easy to dislike her and find her unpredictable in the worst kind of way, then a moment later you are hoping the sweet ghost girl isn't a joke but will remain.

Her history and how she was killed was painful to watch (or read, in this case) and certainly part of what I loved. The author didn't floss it over or make it less horrible. You got what happened to Anna bit by bit and it made it almost understandable for her to be so vengeful. Of course, the moral point of "that doesn't give her the right to kill others" isn't ignored by the other characters which is something else I loved. Although it makes some sense for her to be angry, the characters still work on stopping her from what they're doing. I feel that a book more fitting to the stereotype of YA literature (the negative stereotype to be specific) would have glossed over these details.

The nice Anna, the true Anna, was darling and I couldn't get enough fo her. I loved the power she held, even when nice, and the desperation she had to not do anything "bad." I do feel that some of the obstacles that occurred in the book (you'll know what I mean when you read it) were almost too easily dealt with. A little confusion here and there, sure, but then it was over with and without much misery. I was expecting more struggle, more time, and more unncertainty of whether or not the problems at hand could be done but that was lacking.

Still, despite this, I really enjoyed the book. I had a great time reading it and flew through the end. I was sad to put it down but also excited - there is a sequel and I fully intend on reading it. While the plot issues were easily taken care of in this book, the characters were great, the detail was awesome, and it was nice and creepy. Maybe I'll hold off a little on reading the second book... it might be more exciting once Halloween rolls around.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - September 4th

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!
"That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Monday, September 3, 2012

Musing Mondays - September 3rd

Hosted by Should Be Reading, this week's musing asks...

Have you ever considered writing a book before? What genre would you write?
My Answer:

I actually have written many things but I am too shy to pursue publishing, at least right now in this stage of my life. As a teenager I was more daring which led to me being published in a few poetry anthologies, but my stories and manuscripts stayed tucked away as they still are. I love to write but upon going to college it seemed that all of my creative side went out the window. My tastes changed and my life got busy and I had intense writers block. Now, I'm happy if I can just make it through NaNoWriMo each year. I miss it, the joy I felt when creating a story. I miss being tucked away in the early night time winter hours or until 4 am in the summer writing and writing. It was the perfect writers lifestyle that I yearn to have as an adult and I don't think I appreciated it as much as I could have while a teen. Now real life gets in the way, I have other things that take priority, and my lack of creative ideas hinders any possibility I would have to write. But one day. One day I'll write. 

In fact, as a teen I had this dream that I would go away to the New England coast and rent out a room at a bed and breakfast. I'd stay there and write during the evenings or days, only leaving to visit the beach or the little town for food or maybe a rest on my eyes, and I would write the most beautiful story that displayed all of my strengths as a writer. I still have that dream. I still want to do that. Maybe, if I obtain a permanent full time job, I'll be able to take a little vacation and do just that. Here's hoping! 
And for my genre - my most easy writing ends up being YA of the paranormal variety. But I would really like to write adult fiction or historic fiction. That'd be lovely.