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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Library Torture Part II

Part I of my torture was knowing that some long-awaited library books were at the library, but the library was closed.

Part II was getting to the library. Not one of my best plans ever, but I tried going to the library after work. The original idea was to save time, but I ended up getting stuck for an hour in the suck that is downtown traffic.

Then Google maps directed me horribly, horribly off course. There was a street on the directions that doesn't even exist. Why, google maps, why?

At last I arrived and got my books and at last I got home and at last I got to settle into reading bliss. That's me in the pic above, reading Fables: The Mean Seasons. I've already chowed down on Sandman: The Wake so far. And I have three more graphic novels still waiting.

Is there anything better after a long day of fighting traffic than chilling out to read some long-awaited books? I didn't think so.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Library Torture

I have six books waiting for me at the library. Three Fables and three Sandman novels, like my two favorite series. I had to specially order them at a different library, and the library closed today at 5pm, which is about exactly when I get home from work. Now, I can go get them tomorrow, when they are open later, but still...



Friday, April 24, 2009

In a Reading Mood

Reading moods are such transitory things. Sure, there are a few types of books I can find myself in the mood to read almost anytime. Typically those books are fantasy books, or young adult novels, or both. I have to usually force myself to stop reading Sandman novels, or the Harry Potter books or anything by Sarah Dessen or John Green.

As for books not falling into the above categories, I need to be in the mood. Sometimes I really am in the mood for a mindless chick lit or a mystery or a biography. But sometimes I'm not. It's not you, I have to tell this novel that's just not piquing my interest. It's me.

Now, of course there are books I just genuinely don't enjoy and I could read the whole way through without ever finding a redeeming characteristic. I try not to dwell too long on them. Nor do I force myself into finishing them because hey, I've got a large tbr pile clamoring for my attention.

But it can be tricky sometimes to sort between books I'm not in the mood for and books I genuinely don't like. I sat aside On Beauty weeks ago as hopelessly boring and overwritten. Too literary. I picked it up again the other night when I was having trouble sleeping figuring it would put me right to sleep. Except that all of a sudden I loved the detailed character study, the analysis of a family in crisis. And when I got up the next morning I wanted to read more.

Maybe I need to go back to the list of books I didn't finish. Maybe I was unfair. Maybe my new favorite book is to be found in that stack. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heat Lightning

Heat Lightning by John Sandord
Reason for Reading: Friend's recommendation
Rating: 3/5

I figure it's about time to post another review and I feel wholly inadequate to review The Book Thief today, so I'm going to review this book instead. Hailing from the literary genus murderous mysteriosius, it is a quick whodunnit starring John Sandford's Virgil Flowers. A man winds up dead next to a veteran's monument in Stillwater, MN with a lemon in his mouth and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension detective Virgil Flowers is out to find out who's behind it.

I'm not much of a mystery reader, even less so of police procedurals. Wooden characters, overly witty banter and head-scratching twists and turns tend to turn me off. However, I did read through this one rather quickly for two reasons:

1. It was set in Minnesota, my home state. It was fun knowing all of the places discussed in the book.

2. I thought I might have figured out the mystery and I wanted to know if I was right (I was). For some people, it might be annoying to figure out quickly during the book what's going on, but it made me feel smart.

Should I read it? This book wasn't really my thing, but if you are a fan of police procedurals, you will probably enjoy it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Read-a-Thon Wrap-up

Here's what I've learned from the Read-a-Thon

Your eyes really do look like this after too much read-a-thoning
Winning rocks
Libraries rock too
Alcohol does not help with staying awake, but it sure helps with the loopiness
Don't read scary books late at night!
And cheerleading is awesome. Next time, though, I need to do more reading!

Hour 20ish

Blogged? Nope
Visited? 30 blogs
Read? 48 more pages of Tigerheart. 188 pages total.
Challenged? Nope
Random observations of the hour:
Goodnight ladies and gentlemen, I've fallen asleep over my reading now and bed is beckoning.

Hour 18ish

Blogged? Nope
Visited? Nothing since last update
Read? Okay I just picked THE CREEPIEST little story to read, right around the midnight hour when I'm most prone to being creeped out. 40 pages of The Bloody Chamber. 136 pages total.
Challenged? I think I'm going to have to sit out the challenges. Too exhausted. Except maybe they'll distract me from the creepy story I just finished.
Random observations of the hour:
Why oh why did I pick a creepy story to read at this hour? It is late at night, which is the time when the true confessions always come out, so here's mine.

I have an irrational fear of the dark.

It is COMPLETELY irrational. And I get creeped out easily. I avoid scary movies, not so much because they scare me at the time (although they do), but because as I'm driving home from the theater, I'm driving home in the dark thinking about the movie, and all the creepy things in the darkness. And then I get home and it's dark, so I have to turn on every light in the house, but I'm totally convinced as soon as I flick the light switch on, the light is going to reveal something that shouldn't be there. And then I turn off the lights behind me, and then when I'm in bed, I'm thinking about what could be lurking around my bedroom.

If anything, this weird quirk of mine has gotten worse since childhood. Because it is normal to be afraid of the dark as a kid. It is a little weird when one is nearly twenty-five.

Late night creepy reading has that same effect, and now hubby has gone to bed and even my faithful puppy is in his kennel asleep. So now, faithful readers, the only thing standing between me and totally creeped-out-ness is your company. I'm off to do some cheerleading!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hour 16ish

Blogged? Yup, here and there.
Visited? 48 blogs
Read? Nope, but I'm going to settle into some reading now.
Challenged? Completed the mid-event survey.
Random observations of the hour:
Other people have been posting pictures of their food and I'm getting hungry right now. I think I'll go get a snack and then dig into my reading. A good book can keep me awake late at night, I just have to find the right book, the right place to sit and a good snack. I think my second wind is going to come now that I feel the accomplishment of having visited every Read-a-Thoner.

I've noticed my words become much more disjointed the tireder I get. Anyone else?

Mid-Event Survey

Needed a break from blogging, so here it is. My answers to the mid-event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?
I'm reading Tigerheart by Peter David. Good book but I'm getting tired so I might have to switch it up soon.
2. How many books have you read so far?
This is my first one.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Let's be honest. Here's what I'm looking forward to: bed.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
I didn't make special arrangements, but I wish I had. Still, all things considered, it worked out pretty well.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Interruptions I've had so far were self-imposed. Took a nice hike and got badly sunburnt. Went grocery shopping and such.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How quickly it has gone past!
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Please, take it from me, after cheerleading most of the day, TURN OFF THE VISUAL VERIFICATION. Thank you. I want to comment on your blog, and that is not helping me. Also, it crossed my mind that maybe cheerleaders could take a section of blogs and try to visit them repeatedly. I doubt I will be able to check many blogs more than once, considering how many people are participating this year.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
I would do more reading. I wasn't sure how much time I'd have to commit, so I decided to cheerlead. Next time I'll do more reading, as I see I'm not the only one with limited time.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Take breaks by going outside! That is, if the weather's nice. Otherwise, pace your dwelling to work up some energy.

Hour 15ish

Blogged? Very, very little
Visited? None this time
Read? Yay, 96 pages into Tigerheart
Challenged? No minichallenges at the moment.
Random observations of the hour:
Reading is moving right along with the consumption of adult beverage. Tiredness beginning to set in. Need to visit more blogs.

Hour 13ish

Blogged? Very, very little
Visited? 62 blogs
Read? Absolutely nothing so far
Challenged? OH YES. Participated so far in Love Your Library Mini-Challenge and Books to TV Crossover Minichallenge
Random observations of the hour:
Methinks I need an alcholic drink to celebrate my accomplishment of visiting and commenting on 62 blogs in the past few hours. And something un-Read-a-Thon related. And I need to actually read something. Be back soon!

Mini-challenge: Books to Movie crossover

At Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic, this hour's challenge is:

Now, what I want you to do for the mini-challenge is to search your memory for books and book series that might also work as a TV series. Which are they, and do you already have some actors in mind for them? (If so, you might even post links to a photo of the actor!)

Now think about the movies or TV series you've watched. Which of them would you read as a book as well? What are they about and what genre would they be?

And finally, think about the books that have already been made into a movie or a TV series. And what about those movies and TV series that were made into a book?

The first question is an easy one. The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman begs to be made into a TV series. Maybe not some of the middle novels, which are more short-story collections than anything, but "Preludes and Nocturnes" and "Doll's House" would make a TV miniseries. I can't imagine who would make a good Dream. Anyone have a good idea?

As far as which TV series would be good as books, if there are not Battlestar Galatica novels already, I think it is a series that would be ripe for spin-off novels. Especially if they were written in the Battlestar Galactica universe, but about characters that the novelist creates. Or else some of the minor characters. It would be interesting to explore how the ordinary people in the fleet live on a day to day basis.

Love Your Local Library

Although I missed the "Take A Walk" mini-challenge due to (ironically enough) being outside on a walk, I want to brag a little bit about the beautiful weather. I live in Minnesota, which is known for two things:

1. Snow
2. Snow

It seems to snow here for about most of the year, and then it turns into summer, which is preferable, although the summers here are extremely muggy. When we Minnesotans are very, very lucky, there is occasionally a season called Spring when it gets sunny, about 70 degrees out, and there is just enough breeze to keep it from being hot. It doesn't happen every year. In fact, right around this time last year, I was complaining about a snowstorm. Today, we have Spring. It typically lasts for about a week, but I have high hopes for this year. Last year's winter lasted so long, I think that Nature owes Minnesotans a Spring.

Back to Read-a-Thon stuff. The Love Your Local Library mini-challenge is great, because I do love my local library.

1. What is the name of your local library? What city is it located in?
It is called R.H. Stafford Library, or as most people refer to it, the Woodbury branch. I live in Woodbury, MN

2. How often do you go to the library? If you're a regular, do the staff know you?
I am a regular, but I doubt the staff know me. It is a large branch, and they have self-check out machines, so my only interaction with the librarians is when I buy books from their little sale shelf or once when I had to call about a book I had returned but was still listed on my account.

3. Do you browse while you're there or just pick up items you have placed on reserve?
A little of both. I spend more time picking up items I've reserved, because I typically am hunting for a particular read, however I do enjoy browsing when I can.

4.What is your favorite thing about your local library?

My library is extremely nice, and it is located next to the Y, which is where I work out. I can kill two birds with one stone... working out and picking up books.


Back from the outdoors. Hubby, puppy and I hiked for about three hours or so and enjoyed the MN sunshine. Now its back to cheerleading!

Catch Ya Soon

Okay I can't resist the outdoors too much longer, so I'm off to enjoy Minnesota's beautiful (for once) spring weather! Catch ya'll in an hour or two.

Hour 5ish.... I WON, I WON!!

Blogged? Very, very little
Visited? 50 blogs. Whew!!!
Read? Absolutely nothing so far
Challenged? I did the intro post and I WON!!! OMG, I am so excited. My first read-a-thon and I won a prize!
Random observations of the hour:
I think being a cheerleader is about the awesomest. I don't take as much time as I should these days to visit new blogs. This is a great way to meet more bloggers!

Introducing Me!

Here's my introduction post for the Read-a-Thon

I'm reading/cheering from SUNNY Minnesota. Yes, folks, I'm sacrificing 70 degree weather to read and blog inside.

I have no idea how many books are in my pile. I'm just going to be picking from my tbr stack and I'm going to make a library run later today.

My goal for the Read-a-Thon is to do a little reading, do a little blogging and GET DOWN TONIGHT!

I'm not a veteran, I'm a first-timer, so all I've got to say is I'm superexcited.


In my enthusiasm, I missed the part about 3 facts about myself. So with no further ado, here are three facts about myself:

I am originally blonde, currently brunette.
My biggest grammatical pet peeve is when people misuse apostrophes
My two loves in life are my hubby and my puppy.

Begin the Read-a-Thon!

Bring it on! I'll be up ALL NIGHT LONG. Til my eyes look like this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Things

I was having a kind of annoying day when I got home today and I had two things waiting for me from fellow bloggers.

The first was this lovely postcard, sent to me by the equally lovely Becca, for no other reason than she had beautiful postcards and wanted to mail them out to people who would enjoy them. Thank you Becca!

The second thing I first saw when I was scrolling through my Google Reader. My name, mentioned on Aaron's blog (That's The Book). It turns out that my comment on his blog was comment #500 and he has a prize ready for the person who left comment #500. Better yet, the prize is a book I had already been coveting from his recent review. So thank you Aaron for Ghost World!

Seriously, this was a good day for me to get some encouragement. Thank you to all!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh No You Did Not, Amazon

This isn't the first time I've heard of disgusted bloggers switching to other booksellers because of something unsavory Amazon has done. But really, Amazon... what were you thinking?

Censorship is the last thing we need from you Amazon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

24 Hour Read-A-Thon

One of the great things about finally catching up on your blog reading is that you suddenly realize that exciting things, like the 24 hour Read-A-Thon are coming up, like, really soon.

I've been busy for the last two Read-a-Thons, so I'm going to ease my way into this one by cheerleading. Maybe a little reading if there is any time, but I suspect between visiting other bloggers and minichallenges, there won't be much time at all.

Who else is getting excited about the Read-a-Thon?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Who Needs Plural Marriages When You Can Have Plural Clothing?

When you and your loved ones are so close, so tight, you literally want to dress in the same clothes at the same time, your only solution up until now was to buy a really oversized sweatshirt and stretch out the neckhole. But thanks to, you can wear plural clothing in style.
I know, you've always wanted to be adored, why not make it easy with sweat pants that have the arms of your adoring herd already attached?

Do your daughters fight over clothes? No longer a problem, since they can both wear this lovely shirt with add on patches. But will they manage to agree on which patches to use??

All for one, one for all. It worked for the Three Musketeers. Why not for you and your best three buddies? Eating lunch might be a little awkward, though.

You and your sweetie can't bear to be apart? With Pantalaine's special sweatshirt, there's no longer any need. Together forever.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Reason for Reading: IRL Bookclub
Rating: 4/5

Memoirs of a Geisha is a lyrical and intoxicating peek inside an exotic world where woman who are not quite prostitutes entertain Japan's most powerful men. Sayuri, the main character, grows up in a poor fishing village but at the age of nine is sold into servitude at an okiya, a geisha house.

Life in the okiya is far from easy. Far from her parents or her sister, Sayuri must contend with the bitter jealousy of another geisha, Hatsumomo, a cold and calculating okiya owner, and long days of chores with little food. One day, Sayuri finds herself crying in the street when she meets the man who changes her life, the Chairman. He shows her kindness by giving her a coin to buy the first sorbet she's ever had in her life. That day, she falls in love and determines that she will become a geisha so that she can be a part of his life.

This book completely grabbed my attention. I was drawn in by the delicate, lyrical writing, the setting and the details. Somehow Golden manages to teach about a vastly different world without ever seeming to inundate the reader with historical facts. I was especially interested to learn, for example, that the elaborate hairstyles that the geisha wore were so expensive and time-consuming that they only went to the stylist once a week or so. To preserve the style the rest of the week, they slept with their neck elevated on a special pillow.

The only reason I rated this lower than five out of five is because I found my dissatisfied by the ending. Sayuri spends her entire life wishing she could be with the Chairman, but we see hardly anything of him throughout the book. Instead the male character Sayuri spends the most time with is Nobu, the Chairman's business partner. Nobu loves her, and in fact protects her when Japan goes to war, but Sayuri yearns to spurn his affections. I kept waiting for a particular ending to this threesome, but it went a different (and in my opinion rather saccharine) direction.

Should I read it? Do you like good writing? Then yes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Confessions of an Aspiring Writer

When I was cleaning some stuff out of my parents house not too long ago, I dug up a big stack of notebooks, papers, and diaries I had written in my childhood. Wow. I really wrote some... interesting stuff. In the interest of poking fun at myself and introducing you to the person who would someday become me, I give you... a random sample of my writing as a teenager.

The Newest Fad: Drinking Blood

It's been scientifically proven that blood is essential to your health. 99% of the two scientists and one gym teacher we asked agreed with us.

We asked our expert on circulation, the postmaster general, what he though. "People should get more blood," he said. "I deliver magazines that talk about people who drink blood and have cancer cured."

We next interviewed another expert on blood, a guy who studies vampire bats. When asked about humans drinking blood, he offered us this advice: "If bats drink blood, why shouldn't humans? It keeps your iron level up and helps fight disease."

We asked an extensive amount of people, and they all agreed. Drinking blood is the new way to stay healthy.

Through some serious forensic evidence, I have deduced that I wrote the above piece my freshman year of high school and I have a vague memory it was for a class assignment. I seem to recall that the project involved a picture of the Pope smoking a joint. That is all.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sandman VI, VIII, IX

Sandman VI, VIII, and IX by Neil Gaiman
Reason for Reading: Graphic Novel Challenge, Dream King Challenge, for the love of Neil Gaiman

The sixth Sandman graphic novel, Fables and Reflections is a series of short stories similar to Dream Country and World's End. While most of the tales don't add to the main plotline, like all of Gaiman's graphic novels, there are characters, plotlines, and details that come from previous storylines or will play into future storylines. One of my favorite stories is Three Septembers and a January, a tale that sounds too fantastical to be true... except that it is a true story. Joshua Abraham Norton, a failed businessman moves to San Francisco and declares himself the Emperor of the United States. He prints his own currency and publishes his royal decrees in the newspaper. Thanks to Gaiman, we at last learn the behind the scenes story, which involves a contest between Desire and Dream.

Other stories include Orpheus, which introduces us to Dream's son and sets up the background for the next major plotline and a number of other fairy tales and myths. Fairy tales, Roman emperors, mythical cities, and the French Revolution are just a few of the dazzling number of settings.

Next up is Brief Lives, where Delirium convinces Dream to help her search for their missing brother, Destruction. The Endless have been introduced previously, but in this novel we finally get a more satisfying look at their lives, their realms, and their sometimes dysfunctional relationships. Previously, I had not cared much for Delirium, but in this novel as she leads Dream on erratic and (to his mind) pointless search, I started to really warm up to her. She has a knack for misadventures and for saying the wrong thing at the right time. Also, interesting is Gaiman's portrayal of Destruction as a kindly soul weary of his duty, taking up art in his retirement.

This novel starts as a kind of a lark, a buddy adventure between the free-spirited Delirium and the straight-laced Dream, and takes a more serious turn as the people around them start dying. Dream, who at the beginning of the series was remote, cold and willing to let humans die without a second thought, has evolved to a point where he is more in tune and sympathetic with humanity. Determined to make their mission succeed so that their human companions will not have died in vain, Dream finds himself making a choice that he knows will possibly lead to his own destruction.

Between Brief Lives and The Kindly Ones, is World's End, which I had previously read and reviewed here.

And finally, we arrive at The Kindly Ones, the climax of several loose plotlines that we've been following since the first few novels. Over the years, Dream has managed to accumulate a number of beings with grudges against him. In this novel, several of them come together to carry out their revenge. Lyta Hall, who had once, with her husband, attempted to fill the void left when Dream was imprisoned, knows that Dream had claimed her son, Daniel. When she comes home and finds her son missing, she immediately latches onto getting revenge and seeks the help of the Furies, empowered to bring destruction to those who have spilt family blood.

Dream is not necessarily innocent. He has, by the decisions made throughout the course of the series, caused the events of The Kindly Ones. He has spilt family blood, although it was a mercy killing. He did claim Lyta's son, although it wasn't him who kidnapped her. Dream knows his responsibility, and his actions to save himself and his kingdom become increasingly half-hearted. At last, the novel ends with Dream and Death sitting on a desolate peak together, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. Death is my favorite character of the series, and the exchange between the two as Dream finally accepts his fate is heart-renching.

Should I read it? You'd be missing out if you didn't.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

I joined a bunch of reading challenges and kind of sucked at completing them. But you know, then I join another one. Because, well, I'm a glutton for punishment.

I don't have a list. Not even close. But I'm joining anyhow. Got any good recommendations?

I Thought This Was a Book Blog...

So where the heck are the book reviews lately, huh? I have actually been reading, just not so good at reviewing.

The situation has not been helped by my new computer crashing on me. Or our internet temporarily being non-wireless. It isn't really that bad. I could sit in this one particular spot in the apartment, hook up the cable from our modem and voila, internet again. And it seriously is temporary. Our router is in transit. But I've gotten kind of lazy about it. Because I want to sit wherever I want to sit and have connection to the internet.

Man, it really wasn't that long ago that the internet was like super new and super cool and I'd be willing to sit and watch a webpage take three minutes to load because of dial up. Even more recently, when I first went to college, the dorms were not wireless and so if you didn't set up your desks exactly right (which my roomies and I didn't), we had to switch who got to plug in the DSL cord to use internet.

Now the thought of using anything less than wireless is... shocking.

Anyhow, I just finally updated my reading list and never you fear. Book reviews are on their way. Soon to come are reviews of Sandman VII-IX, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Book Thief, and Heat Lightning.