Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Liebster Award

I was nominated for a Liebster award this week by The Paperback Princess. I was honored by her nomination since she was the first book blog I started following and the first blog I found on my own, as opposed to through someone else's blog. The idea behind the Liebster award is to spread the love from one awesome blogger to another. Hopefully readers will find some new blogs to follow!

However, I'm only nominated...I've got to earn this bad boy now. The Liebster award has four parts: state 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions about yourself that were given to you by your nominator, nominate people yourself, and give your nominees 11 questions to answer.

Here we go...

11 Random Facts About Me
1. This Friday my husband and I will attend our 12th prom together - all at the same school.
2. I've never diagrammed a sentence in my life (even though I'm an English teacher)!
3. I own as many books I haven't read as I do books I've read.
4. In my 20s I got married, had three kids, earned two degrees, bought a house and a mini van, and established my teaching career. (Yea, I'm pretty proud of the productivity of my 20s)
5. I love dogs and would have one for each member of my family if my house was bigger.
6. I don't get satire - very inconvenient for an English teacher.
7. I have two tattoos, both chosen for their words.
8. I've read the Bible completely at least twice, if not three times.
9. I don't wear make-up.
10. Besides reading, I like landscaping and DIY house projects.
11. My favorite color is blue - just about any shade.

Answers to The Paperback Princess's Questions
1. Austen or Bronte? Why?
Austen. I love her characters! And the six hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is just awesome!

2. What was the last translated book you read?
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas

3. Where do you prefer to read?
In bed because I have comfy pillows and blankets. I like to be warm and comfy at all times.

4. Are you part of a book club? If not, would you ever want to be a part of one?
Technically I am. I am the supervisor for my high school's student book club, Reading Warriors. It is very hard to get them to decide on something to read together, so I'm not sure how I'd like an actual book club.

5. What is your earliest library memory?
My mom took us to the library every Monday evening for as long as I can remember. I don't remember not having my own library card.

6. What are your feelings on choose your own adventure books?
I loved them when I was in middle school. I liked that I could read it multiple times and have something different happen.

7. What book are you going to read next?
The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. It's a classic taught at my school and on my TBR Pile reading challenge for 2014.

8.Do you abandon books? Why or why not?
I've only done so once. I usually feel once I've started a book I don't want to give up and waste the time I already put into it. Plus, I'm not overly picky, so many things others would put down, don't bother me.

9. If you read biographies, do you read mostly about men or women?
I've read so few biographies, I can't even answer. If I look at biographies I own, two of the three are on men. Memoirs though, I have mostly women.

10. Are you a library regular or a book store shopper?
Book store shopper...but recently I've been disciplined enough to know I need to use the library for books I know I don't absolutely needle am only mildly interested in.

11. If you could see anyone in concert, living or dead, who would it be?
The only band I've wanted to see in cancers, I've seen twice: Matchbox 20.

My Nominations:
(Note: for a complete list of bloggers I follow regularly, see the list to the right column of my blog. Those listed below are among the first I ever followed, so I nominate them based on the longevity of my following them. Numbers 5&6 are writing blogs, the very first blogosphere friends I ever made! Ladies, I know your blogs focus on writing, but wanted you to know I'm thinking of you!)

1. Allison at The Book Wheel
2. Rebecca at Love at First Book
3. Jennifer at The Relentless Reader
4. Tanya at Mom's Small Victories
5. Donna at donnaeverhart
6. Carolynn at Carolynn...with 2Ns

My Questions for the Nominees:
1. What is your favorite season of the year?
2. What is your favorite genre to read?
3. If you could change your career, would you? To what/why or why not?
4. Where would your dream vacation take you to?
5. What do you enjoy besides reading/writing?
6. Have you ever lied about reading a book?
7. Do you think reading is antisocial?
8. Where is your favorite place to read/write?
9. Are you signed up for any reading challenges/writing goals this year?
10. Do you have any pets? Names?
11. What are you reading now? What will you read next?

Well that was fun! Visit the blogs above and I know you'll find content and people you'll love.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bring on the Next Read-a-thon: Bout of Books 10

Upper left: Chloe was the first to fall asleep.
Upper right: Samoa stole my seat every time I got up to stretch.
Bottom: They both stuck by me through the whole day.
 Well, Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon was great! Even though I never seem to read near as much as I'd like, it's fun to know I have an excuse to devote my day to nothing but reading. I didn't finish All the Light We Cannot See as originally planned, but I did read all in one day The Forgotten Man and I Kill the Mockingbird, both of which will have reviews forthcoming, closer to publication dates. I felt inspired and went with it, Tweeting here and there and trying to talk with some fellow readers. I ate Garlic Parmesan Pretzel Chips and Peppermint Patties with Starbucks's bottled Mocha Frapp. (Yes, I'm a junk food snacker.)

So what next? Bout of Books 10, of course. Bout of Books is a week long reading event with the best Twitter chats I've ever participated in. Well, who better to explain it than the Bout of Books ladies themselves? From the site:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. 

So there you have it! I've participated in the past and, like I said, really enjoyed the Twitter chats. Plus it gives me extra reason to say to my family all week "but I'm in a read-a-thon!" And a week is a good amount of time, so the things in life you can't ignore can still be attended to, with plenty of time left for reading!

Same ideas apply to this read-a-thon as others - I'll have snack foods and drinks planned ahead, as well as a tentative list of books to read. Too early to decide now, who knows what the weeks leading to Bout of Books will bring? I'll make sure I post a list closer to May 12th.

Join us! It's easy, hassle-free fun for all readers.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

From the thriller, In the Blood, which I unexpectedly enjoyed last week!

"The best way not to call attention to yourself is to agree with what other people say. Even silence attracts attention." 
                                                       In the Blood, by Lisa Unger

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

I've noticed talk of Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon taking place this Saturday, April 26, 2014. Starting at 7am US Central time and for 24 hours following, readers around the blogosphere will be spending as much time as possible reading. I haven't been able to participate in this for some time, so I am glad that this weekend is looking good for it! I'm not sure if there's a formal sign up...I wasn't sure I'd be able to participate til this week, so I didn't pay attention for a sign up link. But I'll be posting on Sunday or Monday about my progress and tweeting as I read.

The best way to feel accomplished during a Read-a-thon is to have a variety of material, preferably short to mid-size books. I am going against this in hopes of finishing All the Light We Cannot See. The book is almost 550 pages long and I'm only about 30% through it at this time (and won't be more than 40% through by Friday). With the end of the school year (and research paper grading) still going strong, Dewey's Read-a-thon is just what I need to carry me through the rest of this book. Of course, in case I do need to switch it up, I also have a graphic novel, The Forgotten Man, ready to go. These are both new releases for May 2014, so I'm excited to also use the Read-a-thon to get a leg up on my publisher review list!

Of course, I will be hoarding snacks and drinks for the day. I love to snack while reading...unfortunately, it will likely end up as a raid on my kids' Easter candy :/ So conveniently located. Who can resist?

I have a third piece to my reading routine - my dogs! Both of my dogs will sit right alongside me the whole day. They are faithful reading companions. I'll make sure I get them in on the update action.

The one break I will likely take in the day is the softball season opener my daughter has mid-day. Besides that, I think I'm ready to go. Anyone want to join? It's not too late.

Monday, April 21, 2014

In the Blood = Thriller Success

This is the UK edition, which
I like much better than the US cover.
In the Blood, By Lisa Unger
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: January 7, 2014
Category: Literature/Fiction
Source: I received this e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

My reading mojo is back! All it took was finishing up some work projects and starting a fresh - and very good - book. I completely relied on recommendation with In the Blood, because I don't typically read thrillers. Yet, I read it in two days.

In the Blood starts out with college student Lana Granger recalling the death of her mother when she about sixteen. All she recalls is that she is laying under her bed, a safe place, with blood on her hands, while her father goes about taking care of the body and mess, swearing he did not kill her.

Throughout the story, Lana returns to this scene and we see more pieces added to her memory. The difficulty is that Lana grew up a "troubled child," eventually (and currently) heavily medicated and unsure of many things. Although she talks to a counselor regularly, she doesn't trust many of her thoughts and feelings.

The story heats up when Lana takes on a babysitting job for eleven-year-old Luke. His mother, Rachel, admits she has trouble keeping a sitter for him because he is a troubled child who attends a special school for children with emotional, behavioral, and mental instability. Luke is unfeeling, sly, and manipulative and Lana begins to see signs of herself in him, relating to him more than she would ever care to admit.

When a friend goes missing, Lana simultaneously finds herself dealing with the police investigation; facing her death row father's request to speak with her before his execution; and wrapped in a manipulative game of Luke's that quickly becomes life or death. It is more than a regularly functioning person can handle, let alone one already dealing with medicated paranoia and dark thoughts.

What I love about this book is that it had my favorite plot element - twists. Not just a twist ending, but twists throughout. I didn't catch on at all until I was about 65% through the book. And even then, I never figured all of it out until the end. And even the very end wraps up with a great twist in which many readers will find satisfaction.

Have you ventured into any new genres lately and been pleasantly surprised?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

A special quote this I will not soon forget! Not particularly Easter-y, but scripture nonetheless. (And the strawberries quite fitting, being a trademark of mine!)

Galations 5:22-23   But the fruit of the Spirit is...

Happy Easter everyone. God bless.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Multi-Perspective Word Exchange Review

Thought a different cover would
be a good change of pace!
The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication date: April 8, 2014
Category: Literature/Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Source: I received this e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Are you feeling a little feverish? Do people look at you funny when you talk? If so, you need two things - a doctor and a good book! That's right, you have "word flu" and nothing reverses the effects like reading...what are you waiting for? Keep reading!

It took me awhile to read The Word Exchange, but only because life (work) decided to interfere with my reading. Ain't nobody got time for that! I did like this book and think I would have enjoyed it more had I been able to read straight through, instead of days between chances to read.

All I'm going to say is that The Word Exchange plot reminds me of a more modern mix of Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984 all rolled into one. With those titles, a break down in society is a given. The scary part is the involvement of technology (somewhat like what we currently have) in the break down of what makes us human - our words. Author Alena Graedon had some wonderful narration pieces about words: "Words, I've come to learn, are pulleys through time. Portals into other minds. Without words, what remains? Indecipherable customs. Strange rites. Blighted hearts. Without words, we're history's orphans. Our lives and thoughts erased." Couldn't have said it better myself.

But I figured, why write a big ole review when I've been saving up reviews from my most trusted book bloggers for a couple weeks now? I haven't read these myself as of this posting, so they wouldn't affect my opinion, but these ladies are intense readers and great bloggers, so stop by and see what they have to say about The Word Exchange!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

Catherine @ The Gilmore Guide to Books

Rebecca @ Love at First Book

Shannon @ River City Reading

Monika @ A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Also, here's an interview with author Alena Graedon, by

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Another amazing quote about words from The Word Exchange:

"Words, I've come to learn, are pulleys through time. Portals into other minds. Without words, what remains? Indecipherable customs. Strange rites. Blighted hearts. Without words, we're history's orphans. Our lives and thoughts erased." 
                                         The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Lover Gifts

There is a new online book store this month called Book Lover Gifts. There's nothing like a bookish gift...especially a unique item or something that is a perfect fit. Book Lover Gifts offers just such an assortment of items, as well as books. (All pictures belong to and are from the Book Lover Gifts site.)

Based in London, Book Lover Gifts allows you to search their site according to type of gift, author related, or book related. You can also search according to the purpose of your gift, whether it is for a wedding or a gift for a child. They accept major credit cards and PayPal, and also offer email sign ups for their mailing list.

The site is new, so their stock is growing. In the couple of visits I've made, they have added new things each time. They have a mix of things I've seen elsewhere and new-to-me items. For example, by now most of us have seen the literary scarfs; however, they have Alice in Wonderland, pictures included, which I haven't seen yet!

Also among my favorite items was the bag with the text of Mr. Darcy's proposal. 

Although now outdated both in the library and at home (thanks to the code scanning, book sorting apps), the Home Librarian Kit makes me smile. I get that warm and cozy feeling thinking of placing cards in my books to be stamped for check out. 

And last, but not least, I loved the Shakespeare text corsage, which is actually made from pages of Shakespeare books and comes in a number of color choices. 

So when you get the chance, stop by the Book Lover Gifts shop and see what they have in store for you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Official Illustrated Movie Companion

My biggest anticipation of seeing a book-to-movie is the "how." How will they use costumes, make-up, props, special effects, location, etc., to tell my story. (Yes, I meant to say "my story." Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, even says that she have herself a lecture about ownership. Once the book is published, she was, in some ways, giving up ownership of her work. It now belonged to readers and the movie makers as well.)

With that said, I much appreciate the sets of book-to-movie books that have popped up since at least Twilight (I am not aware of them for books-to-movie previous to Twilight). They are always titled The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, along with the title of the book-to-movie it will discuss. I have also noticed that these movie guides are usually made for fantasy/dystopian type books-to-movie, such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, City of Bones, and Divergent (one for each movie made, not one per series). I assume this is in part due to the large fan base these types of series garner prior to the movie and also because there are fantastical elements about which people may be curious. In short, they know these books' movie companions will sell.

These 120+ page books serve a couple of purposes. The books are all slightly different, but typically discuss the topics of casting, movie crew, costume/make-up, special effects, and locations. Each book has more than enough pictures showing the various costumes, locations, make-up sessions, computer/CGI work, and other behind the scenes activities that took place during the making of the movie. The text gives summaries of the book in reference to how the movie makers decided to bring certain events to life. Or, more interesting, discuss how they went about creating something, like the intricate research and study that went into the making of Twilight's CGI werewolves. Numerous quotes from involved parties, such as the author, director, actors/actresses, etc., are given in answer to questions posed by that particular movie guide's author or for insight into character portrayal.

It's really as close as most of us will ever get to an inside scoop. Although I don't think I'm the type who would do well on a movie set, it is definitely cool to know the fun facts of the process. And really, who doesn't want to know everything possible about a book he/she loves?

What is your favorite book-to-movie?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Reading The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon, and so far, it's like a modern Fahrenheit 451. This quote is just amazing:

"Words are living legends, swollen with significance. We string them together to make stories, but they themselves are stories, encapsulating rich, runny histories."

(PS: Last week was a very. long. week. So I hope you'll excuse the silence of the blog. I didn't even have the energy to whip up a little something to post. Between the emotions of the funeral of my husband's uncle and the energy draining back-to-back meetings and events (at and outside of work) of the other four days, I have read next to nothing, falling asleep every time I tried actually. I also totally dropped the ball on most other blog activity, from social media to reading other blogs. Hopefully this week will bring it all back to normal.)