A long time ago…

a blogger friend said she wished I would post a picture of myself. I’ve always been reluctant to do so. But, well, I’m rather happy with this picture, so I decided to give it ago.  My sis-in-law took these.  So, here I am!  Happy now Nancy?  🙂

Me, Ellie and Wesley on Mothers Day
Me, Ellie and Wesley on Mothers Day
at least I can look at the camera
at least I can look at the camera

Sunday Coveting

I am so happy to see so many of the things Dewey started are living on in our blogs.  This is such a fun one she created.  Thank you Dewey!!!


The Sparrow by Mary Donia Russell. Blame this on those guys at Books on the Nightstand.  I’ve heard reviews before about how awesome this is, but Ann Kingman mentioned it in their Sci-Fi podcast from late last year/early this year (I can’t remember which podcast it was) and made it sound so good.  It doesn’t seem like my typical book (I mean Jesuit priests in outer space???) but she said it wasn’t hers either and she loved it.  So I thought I might give it a go.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I have seen this on so many blogs that I was beginning to think it was over-hyped, but then Michael Kindness mentioned it in the Books on the Nightstand pod cast and made it sound so good and interesting that, well, I am adding it here.

Middlemarch by George Eliot. This is probably cheating, since I already bought it, but since I bought the Everyman’s Library hardback edition from Book Depository and it’s not HERE yet, I think I can safely say I am still coveting it.  Every year I pick a big, huge, doorstop of a book and don’t finish it.  I hoping this will be the year that I do finish one, and Middlemarch will be my victim. Ha, ha, ha.  It is also for the Beowulf at the Beach classics challenge that Books on the Nightstand is hosting this summer.  And Amanda recommended it as a good place to start with Eliot and I deeply value her opinion where such books are concerned.

Oh and in case you are wondering, past FAILS include Kristen Lavransdatter, Les Miserables (which was actually a reread, so only half FAIL), Don Quixote, and The Count of Monte Cristo (also a reread).  I hope I can break this loosing streak this year.  I am determined!  I will persevere!!!!

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. YES!!! The amazing, amazing, AMAZING I TELL YOU, writer behind The Historian has a new book coming out.  Unfortunately, it is supposedly not coming out until January 2010.  I’m hoping, hoping, HOPING I get a review copy. Although…it looks like the UK will be getting it before us (blast and drat those redcoats!)…I may have to do another Book Depository order!!!

And lastly, I would love to have every single book that is being given away at BEA this weekend.  Well, not really, but I saw a BUNCH on the list that sounded so good.  Sigh…at least I can live vicariously through the ones who are there and will blog and Twitter about it.

Book winners!

So. I made my list. Then, I went to random number generator and here’s the winner for box ONE

Box One

In case you can’t tell, and I can’t and I know what it SAYS, that is a number one.

Here is the totally crappy screen capture for box TWO

Box 2

That’s a number 9.  I swear.  I really dont’ know why they look this crappy.  They are JPGs and not small ones either.  Anyway. Ahem.

Here’s the list.  I went in order of the comments and the order of the ReTweets in Twitter. If I missed your RT I’m really sorry if I did, but I went through all my tweets and searched for it and I think I got everyone.  I really hope I did!

So this means, Vasilly won box number ONE and Devourer of Books won box number TWO! I hope she has time to read all those books once that sweet baby gets here!  Congralations you guys and thanks for playing!  I wish I could give you all books, but  I promise, I’ll be having more giveaways soon!

The Blue Notebook

The Blue Notebook
The Blue Notebook

The Blue Notebook
By James A. Levine
Spiegel & Grau, July 2009
224 Pages

“The Blue Notebook is a deeply moving story and a searing reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. It is a tribute to how writing can give meaning and help one transcend even the most harrowing circumstances. The voice of Batuk, the unforgettable child prostitute heroine, will stay with the reader a long, long time.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns

I have to say, I don’t know how to review this book.  I have so many feelings about this book that it is going to be difficult to get them into the right words.  First, let me tell you what it’s about.

The Blue Notebook is about an unforgettable character.  Batuk is without a doubt one of the most amazing characters I’ve ever met and she’s going to be staying with me for a long time, I’m sure.  You see, Batuk is a 15-year-old prostitute from rural India.  She was sold into sexual slavery by her own father when she was nine.  Her father very clearly adored her, but he did it anyway.  The only reason we are given is that “he lost everything.”  Batuk is a very precocious little girl.  A bout with TB in her youth gave her the opportunity to learn how to read and write.  Once she procures a pen and paper on the streets, she begins to write her private thoughts and stories into a diary.  This novel is very powerfully told through her voice, through the stories she puts in her blue notebook, where she writes eloquently about the beauty and even the hope she finds in the most hopeless of circumstances.

The most impressive thing I found in this book was Dr. James A. Levine’s writing skill.  Dr. James A. Levine, MD, PhD is a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and is a world-renowned scientist, doctor, and researcher.  And now, we can add accomplished writer to that prestigious mix.  For he does an admirable job of writing with the voice of a 15-year-old girl prostitute from India.  In the letter that was printed in the front of my copy, the publisher says:

How did Levine, a British-born doctor at the Mayo Clinic, manage to conjure the voice of a fifteen-year-old female Indian prostitute? It all began, he told me, when, as part of his medical research, he was interviewing homeless children on a street in Mumbai known as the Street of Cages, where child prostitutes work. A young woman writing in a notebook outside her cage caught Levine’s attention. The powerful image of a young prostitute engaged in the act of writing haunted him, and he himself began to write.

As if that wasn’t moving enough, ALL of the U.S. proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.icmec.org).  

This is a beautifully crafted novel that explores how people in such extreme, desperate situations can use words, language, the very power of storytelling, to make sense of their world and give added meaning to their lives.  It gives a glimpse into a world that you don’t see on the news, read in the news papers, or hear about on the radio. It is a glimpse into a world that needs help.  Make no mistake; it is not an easy book to read.  There were several sections where I felt like I could not keep going, Batuk’s initiation into prostitution being one of the hardest, but after some comments by others on Twitter, I did.  The Blue Notebook is an intense novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page and Batuk a character you will never forget.  She continues to haunt me weeks after I finished this book.  I am glad I read it and hope that you will too. 

Thank you, Spiegel & Grau Publishers, for the opportunity to read and review powerful and exceptionally moving novel. 

Also reviewed by:

Book Tsunami | The Book Lady’s Blog | Rhapsody in Books | Literate Housewife | Books on the Brain | The Magic Lasso A Writer’s Pen |

If you have also read and reviewed The Blue Notebook and would like for me to link to the review here, let me know in the comments!

Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp

From the publisher’s website:

After arguing with her live-in boyfriend about his inability to commit, Peggy Adams flies to a friend’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas, and wakes up next to a man she can’t remember. Hung-over and miserable, she sneaks out of the sleeping man’s hotel room and returns home to New York, where her boyfriend apologizes for the fight and gives her a Tiffany box containing a pre-engagement ring. Not what she expected, but close enough! The next day she receives a phone call from the Las Vegas one-night stand, Luke, claiming she’s already married to him¬-and he faxes her the license for proof! Both are ready for an annulment, until Peggy arrives in quaint New Nineveh, CT, where Luke cares for his Great Aunt, and the old woman makes Peggy an offer she can’t refuse.

Like many I suppose, I knew I had to read this book based on the title.  I mean, is that not the funniest title you have ever heard?  Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp.  I mean, that just promises funny.  Add in the fun, bright green, cover, with that sneaky little martini glass and it just screams, READ ME!  I admit, I haven’t finished this book yet.  The tour crept up on me when I was looking to other books.  But what I have read has been funny, cheeky, impertinent…and has a lot of heart.  I can’t wait to finish and will post a more complete review when I do. 

For more about the book, please visit:

Author bio: http://www.laurenlipton.com/biography/
Q&A: http://www.laurenlipton.com/qa/
Author website: http://www.laurenlipton.com
Author blog: http://www.laurenlipton.com/blog/
Facebook fan group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=64715506150&re…

Other Participants include:

BEA Twitty Party * Sticky Post *

All new posts will be below this on until Saturday.

TwittyPartyThe EXCELLENT Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog has, at the suggestion of Kat Meyer has scheduled a BEAtwittyparty for next Friday, May 29th, from 8-10pm Eastern.  Our virtual party will coincide with the real-life BEAtweetup, where they’ll have a Twitter feed and will be able to keep track of us as well.  The sign up post is here


I’m going to be giving away a box of books (as yet to be determined books, but it will be quite a few) during our BEA Twitter Party.  So sign up below if you want to win!  I promise; there will be some good books in there and I will update this post when I decide just which books will be in there.  I’ll decide tonight, so please, come back and check!


Okay, change of plans. I’m  not giving away one box of books, I’m giving away…TWO!!!

The winners will recieve either box one or box two.

Box one includes:

  • Psalm at Journey’s End by Erik Fosnes Hansen
  • Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl by Kate McCafferty
  • Follow Me by Joanna Scott
  • This One is Mine by Maria Semple
  • Forever by Pete Hamill

Book Two includes

  • The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
  • Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
  • The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert
  • Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott
  • The 13th Reality by James Dashner

So there you go.  Also, new rules.  Comment here for box one, retweet for box 2!  Good luck!

Sunday Coveting

I really like this new trend of Sunday coveting posts, so I want to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak. Fun!


Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen because I’m feeling a YA reading binge coming on and you just can’t have enough Sarah Dessen around when that happens.

The Sister by Poppy Adams. I got an iPod Nano from Mother’s Day (LOVE IT!) so I started listening to some pod casts. One in particular I have fallen head-over-heels in love with; Books on the Nightstand. I downloaded all the pod casts so I could catch up. In one, Ann Kingman reviewed this book and it sounded right up my alley.

Sunnyside by Glen David Gold. Back, I don’t know, AGES ago, I got Gold’s Carter Beats the Devil for Christmas and LOVED IT. I was so excited when Alfred Knopf mentioned on Twitter this week that Gold had a new book out.  I promptly  put it on hold at the library.  Dude, it’s about CHARLIE CHAPLIN. I cannot WAIT!

Natasha at MawBooks interviewed her husband Taylor about The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker about a week ago. It was hil-ari-ous. It really made me want to read this book. You should read it. The review I mean. And maybe even the book, it does sound good.

Lastly, and another from the Books on the Nightstand pod cast, is a graphic novel I had never heard of before. Pride of Bagdad by Brian Vaughn sounds rather like Maus and Persepolis in that it takes a true story and puts it into the graphic novel form. I really enjoyed both Maus and Persepolis.

Incidentally, you can listen and/or download the Books on the Nightstand pod casts on iTunes.  I highly recommend them, for they are excellent.

I could probably go on for pages and pages, but I’ll stop here for this week.

Nerds Heart YA!

Nerds Heart YA!
Nerds Heart YA!

Oh my goodness y’all, but I got the best opportunity for this summer. The amazing Renay, at YA Fabulous, has brought together twenty book bloggers and sixteen YA books – all from 2008 and all a little more obscure than most – in a book tournament to end ALL book tournaments! And believe you me; it was HARD getting that list down to only 16 books. I don’t know how I missed so many great YA titles last year! You can keep up with all the action by following our official twitter account, Nerds Heart YA. Reviews and co-reviews (not to mention the BIG decisions!) will be coming all summer long. Here are the sixteen books we’ll be reading:

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before by David Yoo
The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab
I Know It’s Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson
The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen
What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson
The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Debbie Harry Sings In French by Meagan Brothers
Feathered by Laura Kasischke
Leftovers by Laura Wiess
The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher

So, who are the judges?

They are:

Valentina, Valentina’s Room
Jodie, Book Gazing
Natasha, Maw Books Blog
Ali, Worducopia
Lenore, Presenting Lenore
Mary Ann, Libr*fiti
Trish, Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’
Vasilly, 1330v
Kelly, YAnnabe
Becky, Becky’s Book Reviews
Kailana, The Written World
Heather, A High and Hidden Place (ME!!!)
Amy at My Friend Amy
Laza, Gimme More Books!
Stephanie, Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-Holic
Nicole, Linus’s Blanket
Renay, YA Fabulous 
Susan, She’s Too Fond Of Books And It’s Turned Her Brain
Chris, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On 
Nymeth, Things Mean A Lot

Here’s the judging bracket!

The Bracket
The Bracket - Click to make bigger

I am beyond excited to be able to take part in this tournament this summer. Stay tuned here, at all the other blogs, and on Twitter by following @nerdsheartya!

Library Loot, May 20-26, 2009

Library Loot
Library Loot

Wow, two posts in one day!  And one more ready to publish later!  I AM ON A ROLL PEOPLE! 

These always seem fun, so I thought I’d try doing a Library Loot post. I seem to go about once a week, so I have no shortage of material for it!  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. 

A dangerous activity indeed.

So, I just got back from the library.  I went in with 7 books to return, 6 on hold, and a few on the list in my mind.  I came out with a lot more than 6 but here are the important ones. 

arrivalplaygroundMrYexcellentvarioustell us

The Arrival by Shaun Tan because in case you didn’t notice, I ADORED Tales From Outer Suburbia and want MORE TAN.

The Haunted Playground by Shaun Tan.  See above.  Ditto.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.  I can’t remember where I saw it, but I saw that Neil Gaiman was reading it. Good enough for me.

My Most Excellent Year: a novel of love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park by Steven Kluger.  Reasons why forthcoming…

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill.  Just for the heck of it.  And I really like that title.

What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson.  Again reasons forthcoming.  Ooooo Heather’s being all mysterious…  😀

All total I have 17 books out from the library.  Wow…that’s just…jaw-dropping.  And a little bit shameful, when you think of how many of them I’ll actually READ.  But only a little bit.

The PLAIN Janes

The Plain Janes
The Plain Janes

The Plain Janes
By Cecil Castellucci and James Rugg
Minx, 2007
176 Pages
Young Adult/Graphic Novel

It’s probably starting to sound like a broken record around here, but yes, I loved this book. Hey, I can’t help that I am having the mother of all fantastic reading years!  Don’t hold it against me and don’t think I have high standards. I should say that I tend to put down books I do not love and seldom review them here.  I only tell you about what I love, okay!!!

Cecil Castellucci is a new author for me. I’ve seen her books before, in the YA section at the library and bookstore, and I’ve heard great things about her books and always meant to read her. I don’t know how it happened that I got my hands on The Plain Janes…I think I just saw it sitting on the shelf at the library and decided on a whim to pick it up. I am so glad I did.

The Plain Janes is the first of these two comic books that center on Jane, or the main JANE of the story. The book opens with a bombing in Metro City, the city Jane lives in. She is injured in the bombing and as a result her parents take her and move to a new, sleepy little city called Kent Waters. Jane struggles to create herself anew and is driven by the need to not be just plain terrified of this new world she’s landed in thanks to the terrorist bombing. She’s bored and lonely in Kent Waters and is delighted to find three other girls named Jane, all of them as out of place as she is. They form the group The P.L.A.I.N. Janes (People Loving Art in Neighborhoods) and decide to “beautify” their city with what they call “art attacks.” Many people love the art, but many of them don’t, calling in vandalism and swearing to catch those who are doing it and punish them. The Plain Janes give Main Jane a new sense of purpose and help her begin the healing processes from the bombing. 

I really enjoyed this little book about art renegades and really identified with Main Jane.  We’ve all had tragic, confusing things happen in our lives and I think Jane personified the struggle we all face as we find ourselves…especially during those wicked teenage years.   In this day and time, many teenagers are facing bigger things than even I, a 31-year-old, not THAT long out of the school room ever faced and I think they would find comfort and encouragement in all the Janes.  Heck, even as a 31-year-old, not THAT long out of the school room, I feel like I’m still finding MYSELF and for that reason, I think even adults would enjoy this lovely little graphic novel.

Castellucci takes care to give each Jane her own spirited and distinct personality. Each has her own “thing” that she brings to The Plain Janes.  Rugg’s art work isn’t like superhero comics or in a manga style, but more in the plain, black ink drawings of Craig Thompson and Dan Clowes and I think suits the story perfectly.  All in all, this was a sympathetic look at the stress of trying to conform and the import of self-expression. I think any fan of comics, art, and young adult literature will enjoy this work.