Monday, March 29, 2010

Fablehaven Release Party

The glorious Fablehaven release party happened on March 23rd, nearly a week ago. For the record, it is not entirely my fault I am so late on posting it. There was an issue with involving a dirty rotten rat who stole my USB cable. It is still not located. I had to resort to the well-I-suppose-you-could-use-this-one that my husband found in some secret electronic stash in our bedroom. And...I really do have 5 small to midlin' children. Anyway....

Welcome to Fablehaven 5!!! (Cue really cool music.)

I was not at all sure we could attend this, but my whim took over, the stars aligned (meaning two "babysitters" were found last minute) and we went. We = me, my husband, my baby, my two oldest children, and our teenage helper friend.

We did have to wait in a line, but it moved quickly and was hardly painful. We climbed 3 million steps to sit in the last available seating - the nose bleed section. No problem. We could see the whole stage. The excitement was palpable.
Such a huge crowd! And oh you should have heard the cheering. Brandon Mull is a superstar! And Shannon Hale, who hosted, is not too shabby either! :)

There was a super funny show put on by D.C. Comedy - a movie preview called Sense and Senseless Violence. Pop culture referenced:
  1. Harry Potter
  2. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson got the biggest roar of applause!)
  3. Pride and Prejudice (the love-interest was Edward Darcy)
  4. Sense and Sensiblity
  5. Twilight
  6. Pirates of the Carribean
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (He got stuck in the Quiet Box)
  8. The Hunger Games (Katniss thought things should be decided by a fight to the death :)
  9. the Matrix
  10. Fablehaven (of course)
  11. Avatar
Later it was discovered that Brandon Mull couldn't come out of the magickal knapsack because Shannon Hale (aka Creepy Stalker) had hidden the knapsack in her locker and put a rock on it. She was put in the Quiet Box. Good stuff! The kids ate it up. 
There was a little ballet performance, some dancing satyrs, and an appearance by the illustrator of the Fablehaven series, Brandon Dorman. There were also some announcements from Brandon Mull: yes, this really was the LAST Fablehaven, the sequel to The Candy Shop Wars would be coming soon, and he is writing a new fantasy series about some kids that get transported to a world with no superheroes because the badguys are taking 'em out called the Beyonders.

A Funny Sequence of Events:
  1. Early in the show, handfuls upon handfuls of glow sticks were thrown into the audience, but none reached the top of the nosebleeds where we were. 
  2. My 8 year old son took this very hard. 
  3. Later, when Brandon Mull was asking the powers that be if there were any other questions he was supposed to be answering, my little boy held up his hand and bounced around like Mr. Mull was going to see and call on him. 
  4. On the way out a random kid handed 4 glow sticks off to my kids and their evening was made blissfully complete.
  5. While walking to the car I remembered to ask what the Boy wanted to ask so badly.
  6. "If we could have a glow stick!" he answered.
  7. :)))
 Picture of my cute baby (who also waved at strangers and clapped a lot) covering his ears with my hands. It was loud.

Well, if you haven't read this amazing series...what are you waiting for!!! It is awesome. LoveLoveLove it!

Listful Mondays: Where Do You Do It?

 Welcome to Listful Monday again! Upon some reflection, I realized it would be much easier to participate if I gave the heads up as to what I'd be listing next week. That way thoughts could stew for a week and a list would just POP out. Right? Right. So this week I picked a real easy one and I'll put next week's topic at the end. But again, I would love to read any list of yours.

{Places you read, or have read.}

  1. on the super squishy couch in the family room while the baby plays on the floor
  2. in my bad at night
  3. while rocking in the nursery to a lap full of kids
  4. laying on my belly on the futon in the library
  5. in the bathroom *blushes*
  6. in the kitchen while eating, or waiting for the water to boil, etc...
  7. in the tent, while camping, to restless kids
  8. in the car waiting to pick up or drop off
  9. outside in the swing or the hammock
  10. out loud in the hospital
  11. on the beach
  12. in class
  13. at the doctor's office
  14. out loud to a working husband (painting a bedroom, in the garage....)
  15. while hiding ( the closet...)
  16. while watching tv (or husband is watching a movie I don't want to see)
  17. in the car (either out loud or CD cuz I can't actually read in the car)
  18. while walking - usually around campus - though this can also make me dizzy/sick and is only a last desperate resort
  19. while walking a baby (this could be anywhere in the house, and since it mostly involves swaying or pacing I can manage it with much more frequency)
  20. in stores - waiting
I generally keep a book either in my hand when I move locations, or in the car, or in my Life (purse to the rest of you) so I have a book at all those "waiting" locations. A Life has to be big enough to hold a first aid kit, a diaper, and a novel.

 Where do you do it??

{Next week: Book Food (food mentioned or described in books) that you want to eat or have eaten.}

Friday, March 26, 2010

I Got Gutsy and Put My Name on the Book Blogger Hop

There is a way cool thing over at Crazy-For-Books where you can check out new book bloggers, and hopefully get a few to check out you! Go check it out! Now I'm off to read the 10 I picked to check out today...

(If anyone came here from there, would you comment and let me know, please?)

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Historical Fiction, World War II
552 pages
published: 2006
For: book club
6 of 5 stars


Death is tired. He has much to do on any day, but war requires overtime. He vacations in colors and tries to avoid the "leftover humans." Unfortunately, he fails one day and takes notice of a small girl who steals a book. Death keeps running into this girl as the years pass and war ravages Germany, the world, and her. The last time they meet he pockets the girl's diary so as to preserve her story, and eventually share it.

There were powerful themes of endurance, kindness, the power of words, and friendship. Most of all friendship - the power, necessity, and requirements of friendship.


I had a very unique experience with this book. It took me an unearthly long time to read it. I found myself carrying it up to my bedroom at night, and carrying it back down in the morning to sit by my spot, but I would not crack it open for a week at a time. When I was reading it, I didn't want to stop. When I wasn't reading it, I didn't want to start. "That bad?" you wonder. No. Anything but.

Let me step back. I challenge anyone to read this and believe, really believe, that the "characters" were fictional. They were real. They were beautiful and flawed people - people you know and understand and love and hate (for a moment) before you love them again. They were more real than I.

The writing was incredibly metaphorical. Here are some snippets:
"His skin widened."
"The only sound I'll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps."
"...carrying handfuls of suffering..."
"His face tripped over itself."
 "Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain."

(All these quotes are from the beginning of the book. I apologize, but I am unable to search through the book for more, or later, or better, examples.) The writing wasn't just lyrical, or beautiful, it was poetry. Even the paragraphs were poetry. And it was sparse, sometimes the most powerful thing on the page being the amount of white space.  And being poetry, it had a unique power over me.

I am a poet.
Poetry is my first love, my first language.

Under usual circumstances, I am able to keep an emotional book at arm's length. I have a barrier, a protection, that keeps the book in a place where it can make me feel and experience and all the things a book can and should do, without taking me over. This is important because I do have a life outside of reading that I'm required to function in. This book bypassed my barrier. It cut straight through my skin. The poetry was the sword it used. This book spoke my language and I had no protection.

A book like that is dangerous.

And that is the reason I hesitated to pick it up again. I needed to allow healing time to pass between readings.

I should also mention that the pacing is also very post modern. The narration jumps around in time. Events aren't just foreshadowed, events happen multiple times. You'll be at one spot and totally unprepared for when everything jumps forward, and in that sparse and poetic way, announces how a beloved character will die, or when. There is no shielding from something like that. Yet, the narrator is so hospitable, so compassionate, that you can't fault his method of telling. And I suppose it was a kindness to die by degrees, instead of one fell sparsely-poetic death swoop.

Let me clarify that I am NOT a WWII virgin. I obsessed over WWII literature in early elementary school and have been reading and collecting it since. This book really is special. It made me cry. I don't mean misty eyes and can't see the book crying. I don't even mean seeping tears and hiccuping crying. I mean face-crumpling, should-shaking, check-sopping, book-dropping, loud-bawling crying. Over and over. I hate admitting this. But I need you to understand.

This book destroyed me.

Should you read it?? Yes. Please. It is amazing. It will be a classic from our time. The story is brutal. The characters are real and unforgettable. The writing is haunting. The plot is taken from our world - a darkest point in history - and never slows. It humanizes those who need a rewritten history, for not everyone in Germany was a monster. Not even many.

And there is every possibility that it will not have quite the same effect on you. This book was recommended, highly and repeatedly, to me by several different people, and no one mentioned that it was poetry or that my soul would be in danger.

And if you do not read it, how will we reminisce about our lost and mutual friends??

P.S. I love that Death is the book thief in the end.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jadyn's Review: Mayk by Angie Sage

Introducing my oldest (10 years) daughter, Jadyn. She has grown into quite a reader of late and I've invited her to do some reviews for my blog. Enjoy!

MAGYK is about Jenna, Boy 412, and the Heap family.  It is also about how Boy 412 helps Marcia.  In the story Jenna finds out that she is a princess and people are trying to kill her.

What I liked -
1. I like how the story goes.
2. When there's action it's packed.
3. It was very interesting and hard to put down.

      I read 552 pages in two days.

      I felt such concern and sympathy for them and they felt real to me. I pictured Jenna as me but with longer blacker hair and a gold circlet or a crown on her head .  I pictured Nikko Heap as Xander (my little brother) but with a litte longer blonder, curlier hair and a bit taller too.  Septimus looked like Xander too, but taller and with much curlier hair.  Marcia looked a lot like Mommy but with longer black hair, taller, and most of all, fancier. Silas Heap, the father of all the 7 Heap boys, I pictured as Daddy but with slightly curlier hair and a bit shorter. Sara Heap reminded me of Mommy but with longer blond curlier hair and depthless deep dark green eyes like Silas and all 7 Heap boys. The other 7 boys I would explain but my time is running short.

      I LOVE Magyk.
      I'm Jadyn and bye!

      The is SUNSHINE in my soul today!

      Suey gave me an award!! How totally amazingly awesome is that!?!?!

      I've been thinking about who to pass this one on to...
      and I've decided that my reasons,
      though possibly silly,
      are as good as any other reasons.
      If it makes me smile - that is Sunshine!

      Diary of a Quilter because she makes me come back and read even though I'm not a quilter. Not even a sew-er. She is fabulous.
      Typing with My Toes because she is obsessed with Fablehaven. And if there were box seats to obsession, I'd be sitting next to her.
      Reading Thru the Night because she was (somehow) right there and leaving great comments when I began blogging again.
      One Librarian's Book Reviews because her blog always makes me feel calm and "mature romantic garbage" makes me smile every time.
      Candles and a Cup of Tea because she gets my Jane Austen thing and we reviewed the same silly book on the same day once.

      Have a bright and lovely Spring day!!

      Listful Mondays: More Ways in which My Mother Tried to Drown the Fantasy Out of Me

      {Books suggested/given to you. Books from your formative years.}

      She was unsuccessful. But upon reflection, I have realized that my mom gave me excellent things to read.

      I love every one of them.

      1. Christy by Catherine Marshall
      2. Julie by Catherine Marshall
      3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
      4. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
      5. Follow the River by James Alexander Thom
      6. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
      7. The Journey Home by Johanna Reiss
      8. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
      9. White Fang by Jack London (love is too strong a word for this, but it is a solid like)
      10. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (like for this one too - can't ALL be winners)
      11. Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert
      12. Blitzcat by Robert Westall

      The One Book My Mom Gave Me that I Refused to Read in a Fit of Teenage Pique:

      1. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

      And I still need to read that...silly teenage me...

      Listful Mondays Makes an Appearance!

      I have wanted to add a wee more structure to my blogging. It would be especially helpful in weeks like the last one when I get little reading done. But it couldn't be anything too difficult or research intense. I happened to think about my penchant for making lists on one listless Monday - that being the exact phrase in my head at the time for some reason. For obvious reasons, the ideas merged. I mentioned my delicate seedling idea to my photoshop savvy husband, who hauled off and made me a button on the spot. (That is still shocking to me. Where was the necessary procrastination and requisite stressing about the potential failure of it all??)

      So now I have a button, a happy husband, and no choice but to proceed. [Step #9 was supposed to be a joke, but he stuck it on there anyway. It refers to Sleep Talkin' Man, which is a pee-you-pants hilarious place. But don't go there if you can't handle "colorful" language.]

      So. My plan is to put up a bookish list every Monday. It will have a "theme" or "question." I would love for anyone to join me. If you do decide to participate, please leave me a link or your list in the comments. And for the record, I don't care if you use my theme or if you just write me your shopping list. Oh, and please grab the button if you want to play!


      Sunday, March 21, 2010

      Weekly Geeks 2010-10 : Literary Tattoos

      Many lovers of books and tattoos have combined the two. In my opinion, there is a magic in being able to carry your favorite quote with you wherever you go. I'm far from being the only one who feels this way. LiveJournal has a group called Bookworms with Ink in which people share their literary tattoos and ask for advice before getting one.
      And so I ask:
      • Do you have a literary tattoo? Please share it with us and tell us why you chose it.
      • Do you have any ideas for future literary tattoos? Are there any quotes that you might one day want to have printed on you? (No plans on ever getting a tattoo? Just let us know what you would get if you were to ever get a tattoo!)
      • How do you think the author feels about having their work permanently inked on a fan's body?
      I don't not have any tattoos, and because of my particular belief set, I will not be getting any tattoos.
      I have forever thought tasteful tattoos are cool. (Tasteful to me = small, not on the face, not obscene, etc...) I have often teased my husband about how I wanted to get a little tattoo on my ankle or shoulder blade. I just didn't know what. A butterfly? Dolphin? Nothing seemed right.

      A literary tattoo had NEVER occurred to me.

      How completely AWESOME is that?!?

      I clicked around in the links offered in this Weekly Geeks post, then went straight to an image search to inundate myself with the idea. Here is some shameless image swiping:

      This exercise has put on more tick in the bibliophile category for me. I found that there aren't any quotes that come to mind that I'd want on me. (Except of course for "Don't Panic." Who wouldn't want that?) What I swoon over is that actual books. My favorite that I found was the huge stack of books (above ;) on the lady's arm. I would just want a smaller stack. So lovely.

      While browsing I read on one lady who wanted the Desiderata on her back, but worried it wouldn't all fit. You're right, Honey. It won't. But I can sympathize. I love the poem with all my heart.

      I also saw a lot of Twilight tattoos - especially that lion and lamb quote. I did wonder what Stephenie Meyer would think of that...and I decided she would...oh heavens I don't know. I only know what I would feel - flattered and embarrassed.

      But as for Don't Panic...Douglas Adams was probably the one tattooing it on the guy's arm!

      Saturday, March 20, 2010

      Book Orders

      Our most recent school book order has arrived! Here is what we got:
      1. Savvy by Ingrid Lawn (Newberry Honor)
      2. Spelling B and the Cat-Astrophe by Lexi Connor (#4)
      3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
      4. The Boy who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
      5. The first 3 Dragon Slayers' Academy by Kate McMullan: The New Kid at School, Revenge of the Dragon Ladyn, and Class Trip to the Cave of Doom
      6. Henry and Mudge (set of 4)
      A small order. I must have been making up for the last order that nearly broke my 8 year old's back when he hauled them home. Book Order Day is well anticipated at our house.

      I have three questions:
      1. Has anyone read any of these book? Good? No? I have not read a single one!
      2. Do you utilize school book orders?
      3. Do you remember getting book order books as a kid?
      I remember. It was a rare treat. My parents raised our family on a shoestring and books were not usually in the budget. (My small town had a pitiful library. I remember clearly in grade school saving up my allowance until I had exactly the $5.31 needed {with tax} to buy another Dragonlance book. Those were wondrous moments at B Dalton's in the mall!) Being a young book lover, you would think I was thrilled when my mother ordered something...but that was usually not the case. She didn't approve of my love for fantasy and used book orders to broaden my horizons. And those books that I had to collect in class were embarrassing to me. I'm not sure why, now, but I would try to hide the covers. I read those books anyway, and I was big enough even then to acknowledge I was wrong. The books I remember being most embarrassed about and most determined to hate became some of my favorites. The Iceberg Hermit. The Sole Survivor. The Secret Garden. The Upstairs Room.

      Just to make sure we're clear, it would many years before I'd pick up anything but fantasy on my own. But Mom, if you take the long view, your efforts have paid off. Thank you.

      I Haven't Finished Another Book Yet!!

      My current read is troubling me, so I've decided I will not start anything else until I've finished it. Must. Finish. That. Book.  I am now on page 350 out of 550. Progress.

      So this is a post just to link to a great bog!

      I clicked over to Farm Lane Books the other day and found a wealth of information. If you scroll down and scan the rightest column you will find the list entitled "Most Useful Posts." Admittedly, many of the posts would be 'most useful' for beginners like me, but there is probably something there for everyone. Very cool place!

      Wednesday, March 17, 2010

      Rating System

      My rating scale is a reflection how much I enjoyed a book. That's it.
      (I made this thing so I could put it on my sidebar, but it is much too small to read! :(   Now I'll probably have to write it out on my side bar and link to my pretty picture. It was too much trouble to trash just yet.)

      Once Upon a Time Challenge

      I have held off on signing up for challenges this year due to lingering embarrassment from last year. (I had signed up for hundreds than fell off the know...) But thank you Suey for pointing me to this one. I am going to do it. I am going to focus. I have been reading fairy tales like there's no tomorrow anyway and I love the artwork. Good motivation, huh?

      There is Quest the First: Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time IV criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

      And Quest the Second: Read at least one book from each of the four categories. In this quest you will be reading 4 books total: one fantasy, one folklore, one fairy tale, and one mythology. This proves to be one of the more difficult quests each year merely because of the need to classify each read and determine which books fit into which category. I am not a stickler, fear not, but I am endlessly fascinated watching how folks work to find books for each category.

      Then there is Quest the Third: Fulfill the requirements for Quest the First or Quest the Second AND top it off with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream OR a viewing of one of the many theatrical versions of the play. Love the story, love the films, love the idea of that magical night of the year and so this is my chance to promote the reading of this farcical love story.

      Now that I'm copyin' and pastin' I see that the important conjunction word is or. This whole day, and it really does take me a whole day to put up a post, I've been thinking and. I'm still taken with the and concept.
      So here are my Goals:

      Quest the First:
      1. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
      2. East by Edith Pattou
      3. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
      4. Confession of an Uglay Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
      5. The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron Dokey

      (I will be focusing on fairy tales since there are so many I've been pointed to recently. I read fantasy all the time and it would not be anything of a challenge.)

      Quest the Second:

      1. Fablehaven: The Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull (Fantasy)
      2. Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen (Fairy Tale)
      3. Hush by Donna Jo Napoli (Folklore)
      4. Mythological Creatures: A Classical Bestiary by Lynn Curlee (Mythology)
       Quest the Third:
      1. A Midsummer Night's Dream (reading)
      2. A Midsummer Night's Dream (watching)
      But, in case things get hairy, let's keep in mind that it is truly an or.

      It starts March 21st and ends June 20th.

      Wish me luck! And then come JOIN US!

      Weekly Geeks 2010-09: Do books do the talking or do you want more from your authors?

      Do you seek out interviews with authors of books you've enjoyed? Why or why not?

      I have sought out interviews on occasion, but my motivation was to find out when a much anticipated book would be released, or how many books the author intended for the series. And a few times when writing a report. I am not usually the best researcher so I often get frustrated when "seeking out" things. I am not opposed to reading interviews, but find myself skipping/skimming many of the interviewer's questions, which can get tedious.

      Do you subscribe to the blogs of authors you like? Which ones? All the authors you like or only certain ones?

      I do follow, or have links, to a very few. I have read others, but I only come back if the writing is interesting and fun. If it is only signings announcements, awards received, or inside jokes, I don't bother. And all the sites I have read have been because another blogger linked me there.

      Would you skip reading a book if you couldn't find out anything about its author?

      As is probably evident from my previous answers, the book speak louder than the author for me. I would never skip reading a book because I knew nothing about the author. I don't even read the author blurbs in the back until I'm done with the book. I also have a touch of fear about knowing too much about an author - just in case, like with many actors, they are awful people (or at least...misguided?) and knowing that will taint my opinions of their books/movies. To be fair, I haven't run across this with any authors, who seem down to earth people in general, but the possibility exists.

      Tuesday, March 16, 2010

      Review: Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier

      by Daphne de Maurier
      410 pages
      published: 1938
      For: Book Club
      1 of 5 stars

      Well, you know what I thought of the beginning, but I hadn't finished the book and had not formed my final opinion. I was hoping it would change. Ironically, about half a chapter after my rant, things started to improve. Wanna know why?? People started talking!!!

      I didn't before realize how important conversation was to me.


      Maxim de Winter brings a young new wife home to his estate where the presence of his late wife, Rebecca still lingers. The new Mrs. de Winter has trouble learning to run a house, trouble with the scornful housekeeper, and trouble staying close to her troubled husband. What happened to Rebecca?


      Things had picked up after the first 100 pages. There were new characters, there was confusion, there was mystery. And then there was the freakish housekeeper. Makes me think about traveling asylums, perhaps like door-to-door salespeople:

      Ding Dong.
      "May I help you?"
      "We were just wondering if you had any crazy people you would like us to take off your hands?"
      "Why yes. My housekeeper is worshiping a dead sociopath and tried to kill me!"
      "Well, we can take care of that for you! Load her up, Frank!"
      "What a relief. I'm so glad you were in the neighborhood today."
      "No problem Ma'am. That's our job."

      But I digress.

      So I was enjoying the book finally. I was truly thinking it might all be salvageable. It got creepy. There were several layers of "bad guys." There was the fear of getting found out. There were a few fewer descriptions of flowers and definitely fewer imaginings of Nameless. There was rising action...dramatic action...relief....more rising action...

      Then splat.

      It didn't finish. It just stopped. I searched the back matter. I searched the crease of my book in case pages had been ripped out. Nope. The book just didn't have an end. ???? I tried to read the included "alternate" epilogue and choked. I re-read the epilogue in the second chapter, choked, tried harder, skimmed, and then called it good. I gave this book more than it deserved already.

      Questions Not Answered: (Spoilers Alert!!)
      1. Why didn't Nameless have a name? (In the author notes, Mrs. du Maurier said something like not being able to think of one, then writing no name as a sort of challenge.) Not good enough reasons!! Why didn't she have a name! Or a face! Or an age! This wasn't any sort of a deal breaker, but it was annoying.
      2. Why stop the book before the end?
      3. Did everyone die? Did everyone live?
      4. Did Favell not call Mrs. Danvers in time? Why did she set the house on fire? Did she even do it?
      5. Why did it go all Jane Eyre at the end?
      6. Why did they leave the country? Their life had some rough spots, yes, but leave the whole country??
      7. If they "had" to leave the country, why live a boring, sad life? Why not go adventuring like on their honeymoon? These people are easily broken!!
      8. Why was Mrs. Danvers so dedicated to a sociopath?
      9. Why didn't Max produce proof of adultery as evidence to divorce Rebecca and get out of his nightmare long before that night? Didn't they such things as personal dectectives?
      10. But most importantly: WHY STOP THE BOOK BEFORE THE END?!?!?!?
      I may have listed something twice, but so what? Endings are important. A whole book can be ruing by a bad end.

      I'm done.

      Reciew: Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey

      Beauty Sleep
      by Cameron Dokey
      Fairy Tale
      208 pages
      published: 2002
      For: Fun
      4 of 5 stars

      I have been delving into Cameron Dokey's world and have been loving it. Then I started this book. I didn't like the preamble. I was annoyed and figured if this was how it was going to go, than I would not be rating this book very highly! And then I felt a kind of relief that this author doesn't always do things perfectly, and that I'd come across as more "rounded" for disliking this one a bit. (Sometimes I wonder if I really shouldn't be as honest as that all the time...) Fortunately/Unfortunately the premable ended and the book started.

      I haven't read a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, so I don't know if the twists in this story are "new" or "old." (Flash back to Rapunzel and not having any clue.) Regardless, for me, this book was twisty and wonderful. I loved it. Part of the joy I get from reading retellings is trying to figure out which character was going to fill the shoes of which "fairy tale" character. Was Prince Charming really going to be "Prince Charming?"  That sort of thing.

      Again, I love Dokey's use of words and her style of retelling. It reads like a fairy tale. I love Aurore's spirit and how human she was with her desires and mistakes. I love the bad guys. I love the not so bad guys. I even loved the forest with a personality.

      So? Go read it. But maybe skip the preamble.

      Recommended For?

      Friday, March 12, 2010

      A Rant that Will Make Me Feel Better this Morning...

      ...But Which I'm Prepared to Recant at a Future Date Should All These Issues Somehow be Resolved to my Satisfaction.

      Any one read this? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier? (Is that French and therefore pronounced in some strange way?)

      I first started to read this about a month ago and two things happened. 1) I realized that I needed to read the other book club book first. 2) The first chapter was a long long long treatise about some dream where all the plants had gone wild. I hate dreams in books. They often play a role in fantasy novels and I just as often put the book down to gear up for it. And plants? Pages on overgrown flowers? Pages???

      Back to the present - or at least last night. My husband had to work late, and showing a great deal personal discipline, I picked up this book again. I did have the testimonials of many readers that I respect that this was a good book. One even swore she couldn't put it down all day and got in trouble for not helping with Thanksgiving dinner. I was convinced if I pushed through the slow beginning that I would be sucked in.

      I'm on page 91 (I am a fast reader and it took hours to get to page 91) and I'm still not sucked in.

      After that first horrendous chapter there followed an even worse chapter. This one consisted entirely of foreshadowing. I get it, okay. Something bad is gonna happen. Something so bad you all had to run away, possibly to another country, where you are bored out of your minds and live for croquet updates. All right. Stop it now!

      Phew. And it moved on. Relief, right? Oh no. 

      Now I'm listening to a rather distant feeling narrator who is nameless, faceless, and ageless - and given to detailed imagining of what could/should/might have happened! I feel like I'm listening to a "classic," female JD! (Yes, a character's imaginings can be a useful literary device, but when that device is in actuality a hammer used to bludgeon the reader to death, it is no longer a useful device.) I would push through these passages only to make sure I didn't miss when things switched back to reality and narrated what DID happen.

      And there were the endless comments about her age and how she was so young that she was inexperienced/ridiculous/stupid/bad mannered/

      I am so bored!!

      At this point, the only things that could possibly justify the amount of foreshadowing and premonitions has got to be either:
      1. This Rebecca person is not dead, or is undead, and plotting evil while eating babies raw.
      2. The housekeeper is a vampire (not so far fetched given her description) and has Rebecca in the basement in the process of "turning" and is therefore justifiably pissed that Nameless has married the Master.
      3. Maxim is actually the murderer. And he did it with his teeth.
      Alas, as this was published in 1938, my husband assures me that Miss Daphne had yet to read Twilight. And I won't be thrilled with option 3 since Maxim is the one things I've enjoyed in this book. (Though I guess it is possible to enjoy a bad guy....)

      Please. Can anyone tell me why I should keep reading?? Can you please share your undying love for this book with me? I am willing to change my opinion.  (Though I don't think 5 stars could be bled out of me - even under "questioning.")

      Thursday, March 11, 2010


      I came to realization that commenting was often like small talk. I don't have anything against small talk. In fact, it is probably one of society's biggest lubricants. (Now don't blame me if that brought any questionable references to your mind!) The problem is that I have never been good at small talk. I tend to keep my thoughts to myself, even when they are positive thoughts. I can remember many a time that while sitting next to someone I wanted to know better, my mind and mouth froze - I could think of nothing to say. I have noticed a similar problem with commenting and commenting on comments. Geez. Small talk. A work in progress.

      I have been reading and reviewing A LOT of fairy tale retellings lately. This is partly due to my love of the genre, and partly due to a recent book club for which I read 4 retellings. It is happenstance that my return to blogging coincided with this fairy tale binge. I really do read much more widely than this. But I am loving my current obsession.

      Fablehaven 5 by Brandon Mull (a local Utah author) is coming soon. March 23. How freaking exciting is that!! There is a launch party which sounds really cool...but I don't know that my hoard of noisy children would mix well with lines. I'm still thinking about it though. Regardless, we'll be out on the 23rd grabbing our copy!

      The next Sisters Grimm is coming out in May. Book 8: The Inside Story by Michael Buckley. Way excited for this one too!

      I wanted to mention that I loved loved loved this new version of Emma. It was longer than your average movie (4 episodes) so it had time to get through more than just the twists and turns of the storyline. This version focused more on the relationship between Emma and Mr. Knightly. They fought. Over and over. And it was glorious. There was sarcasm and teeth grinding. {Swoon} There was all the other stuff too - the soap opera confusion and the necessary humbling of the over confident Emma. The experience was even better because I watched it with two newbies. One was my teenage friend who was properly involved and stressed and asking questions (which I wouldn't answer) and making predictions. The other was my brother who was exasperated because he couldn't tell one male character from another, but who thought it was surprisingly entertaining. He was concerned most for Jane Fairfax and Harriett, wanting to watch the movie through to make sure they got happy endings as well. Good stuff.

      Review: Belle by Cameron Dokey

      Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
      by Cameron Dokey
      Fairy Tale, YA
      256 pages
      published: 2008
      For: Fun
      4 of 5 stars

      Honestly, this is another retelling of Beauty and the Beast. There ya go. But, I loved it. I have a thing for fairy tales, and this fairy tale is probably my favorite of all. Why should you read this version?
      • Cameron Dokey is beautiful with words. It feels like she is speaking directing to me and making me beautiful through her words. (All right, that might not make sense...and yet it does.)
      • The "curse" is different and interesting.
      • Belle has a hobby - and it's not reading.
      • The Beast has a bit more personality in this one. That is often the biggest weakness I find in retellings. The man deserves some personality!
      • There is some philosophy on beauty that was interesting.
      • Belle has a mother! And a mother with a personality. 
      • It pulled me in and took me to a magic and romantic place.
      • The ending isn't dropped off a cliff. Thank you denouement!
      What isn't so new?
      • There is a lot of similarity to Beauty by Robin McKinley: merchant father losing his wealth, two older sisters, move to the country...
      • Rushing through the get-to-know-you-falling-in-love part. At least that is how I usually feel. If I were to write a retelling (now there's an idea!) that would be the bulk of the book.
      I did love this book. I read it in one evening and it was a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I just need to air out my reading sensibilities.

      Wednesday, March 10, 2010

      Review: Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford

      Jane Bites Back
      by Michael Thomas Ford
      299 pages
      published: 2010
      For: the halibut
      4 of 5 stars

      Here is another example of me being swayed by book blogger I recently started reading. I really have no idea why this appealed to me. Perhaps my sense of humor? Irreverence? My love of Austen? Because it sure isn't my love or experience with vampires. Other than Twilight, I have read not a single vampire story. One Literature Nut was just persuasive!


      Jane Austen didn't die. She ran off for a romantic interlude and found herself changed into a vampire instead. She was forced to fake her death and eventually to remove to America. In the present day, Jane "Fairfax" runs a bookstore and keeps lots of secrets. She has the pesky vampire problems of needing blood and keeping her distance and she has to watch her work exploited and adored while she gets no royalties! To make matters worse, much worse, she can't get her latest book published. Suck. Throw in the bad guy who betrayed her in the first place, a couple of love interests, and someone with a vendetta and you have quite a story.


      I was hooked in the first chapter, though I was also horrified. I was soon grateful that the vampires in this world and not as dark as I think vampires often are. Once I was okay with that (this strikes me as funny at the moment...) I sat back for the ride and I had a great time.

      What I loved:
      • The plausible characterization of present day, much more experienced, Jane Austen.
      • The fun and confusion of today's publishing world.
      • The literary references.
      • The quick moving, simple to access writing.
      • The unexpected twists.
      • The resolutions of relationships.
      • The humor. Come on! Jane Austen a vampire! That is just funny.
      I do wish Walter had been more fleshed out. I think he could have added more to the adventure and depth. And there appears to be a sequel, though I not sure what more of this story could be interesting....but then, given the creativity of the author so far, it could be more great fun. 

      Recommended for?
      ??? These are pretty mild vampires and the story quick and approachable so I keep thinking YA, but then I remember that there is a fair amount of sex. Definitely a parent preview required at least.

      Weekly Geeks - 2010-08: What Is It About “THAT” Author

      Tell your readers what is it about "an" author that you are most passionate about, that have you coming back for more from them, following their every blog post – literally blackmailing people to read their books?
      Who are some of your all time favorite authors?
      And what is it about them that makes you keep going back for more?

      I've never considered myself much of a stalker, but that probably reflects more of my time constraints and internet ignorance. There are definitely authors whose books I wait impatiently for, and perhaps will even attend a release for. (Or at least dream about attending. My Littles often prevent such fun.) Some of those favorite type of authors are: Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Anne McCaffrey, Michael Buckley, Shannon Hale, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, Lisa Wheeler...

      Some of my favorite no-longer-writing authors: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, David Eddings, Emily Dickinson, LM Montgomery....

      And about that "one" author...the one that haunts me is Shannon Hale. I've read most of her books, and the ones I haven't read are because I haven't gotten my hands on them. Why does she haunt me?? First because I think she is amazing and I love her books. Her books are some of my Book Crushes. Her writing is lyrical and wonderfully escapist and her stories are addicting. I can't put them down. Most that I own have already been read more than once. I have even plotted to "spread the love" by choosing her books for book clubs and giving them away as gifts.

      Yet there are other authors I could say the same things about. Why does she haunt me?? Because...this feels very confessional and perhaps arrogant or something else equally unflattering....but I feel like she writes exactly the kind of books I could write. Now to be clear, I don't feel jealous. I don't feel like she "beat" me to anything. I don't feel anything negative at all. More like she is my perfect personal role model. I read her books and think, "Yes! I could write something like this. I can do it. Someday. Someday I will!" In contrast, I do not feel the same about, say, Brandon Sanderson. I harbor no delusions of grandeur that I could create such epic scope of world and plot. I love his books, but he is not my "writing match."

      So I hang on her work. I study the words and pacing and plotting and structure and world building. Her worlds are deceptively simple. They use a minimum of information, but that information creates the exact right setting without overload. She is amazing. I want to be her when I grow up.

      I'm thinking perhaps I should work on that stalking thing. I need to find her online...

      Tuesday, March 9, 2010

      Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

      Bet Me
      by Jennifer Crusie
      432 pages
      published 2004
      5 of 5 stars

      As I've been "getting out" more and reading other book blogs I have found myself in the quandary of suddenly needing to read a lot of books I've never heard of. This might not have hit me so hard had I not already been in a difficult reading spot. You see, for some reason this year I've been reading a lot of "adult" books. Classic, Epic Fantasy, Tough Subjects. I found myself reluctant to pick up any of the books I was reading. That is unusual for me. More like unheardof. And it wasn't because I don't like the books I am reading. I do. But I needed a break. When I read this review by Angieville, I was sucked in. I didn't even let it bother me that it was surely a RomanceRomance book.


      After getting dumped in a bar by an boyfriend she really didn't like, Min overhears her ex make a bet to his good looking friend that he couldn't score with Min in a month, and Min overhears. Furious, she reasons that playing the player would get her a date to her sister's wedding and satisfy her desires for justice and revenge. But after the first antagonist date, Min realizes that she is no player and gives it all up. Good looking Calvin is happy to oblige. His charm had never failed him before, and he had enough man-hating wisecracks in that one date to last him a lifetime. Unfortunately, Min and Cal keep running into each other and have to deal with their mutual attraction and dislike.


      I needed this book. It was fun and funny and kept me turning pages. I loved Min and Cal and all their friends. They felt like real people with real problems. I loved the dialogue! I loved the verbal sparring. Min knew what Cal was after (or she thought she did) and therefore had no holds on her behavior. Since she wasn't trying to impress anyone she didn't hold her tongue. I found it hilarious. Cal was confused and surprised and pulled out of his own behavior rut. I loved that she didn't have a perfect body or a perfect relationship with her mother. I loved that she was attractive even with her extra weight. I loved the little twists - and there were a few - that gave the story and characters more depth.

      The real strengths of this book were the dialogue, the humor, and the characters.

      I do feel like I should have two different rating scales, or something, to account for the fact that this book is not an example of amazing plotting, drama, growth, social commentary, or anything of real "value." But I would argue that entertainment can sometimes be just as "valuable." Yes, it was predictable and complete fluff. But I loved it anyway!

      Recommended for?
      A mature audience. There was mild language and sexual content.

      Monday, March 1, 2010

      Weekly Geeks 2010-07: Commenting

      Commenting. It can be a fun way to connect to your readers. It can be the a source of frustration as a blogger. A comment can make your day. A comment can cause an argument. Today let's talk commenting.

      There were a million questions about comments, but as I'm new and don't get many comments, and don't have much experience. But I have a few things to say/ask.
      1. Comments are wonderful. They are happy-making. Thrilling when it's someone who hasn't commented before. A single comment can make my day and make a post seem worthwhile. But I think comments are like chocolate or potato chips - once you have one you want more.
      2. What are trolls and flamers?? Do people out there really say mean things? This is inconceivable to me! Can anyone tell me about some experiences?
      3. As much as I love getting comments, I am not always very good at leaving them. Often because I can't think what to say beyond, "Cool review. I want to read that!" which sounds really dumb when I go to write it. Even more lately, as I read more blogs and see all the followers and commenters, I think my tiny drop in the bucket won't matter and my contribution would be unnoticed or even unwelcome. Any of you with many commenters have an opinion on that?
      4. Resolution to comment: check.
      5. Commenting on the comments I get? I am not always good at that. But I guess I should at least be saying Thankyou, huh? Where are my manners?