Monthly Archives:: September 2012

Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge; October

September 30, 2012 Miscellaneous 5

This is my third time trying Pin It & Do It. The first month was a great success. The last one…not so much. I will succeed this time, as I have a ton of things I want to start making for Christmas (and Halloween!) so I’m reading to DO THIS THING. I will be exhausted after October is over, I just know it. :) I’ll be going for Pinterested, but really hoping for Pin Obsessed. I have a ton of stuff to do on my To Do Soon board over at Pinterest.

Are you interested in joining in? Here are the particulars:

Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting Challenge

The Details (shamelessly the same as May and August):
1. To participate you will choose your level and then make (or do) that amount of pins during October 2012. Challenge ends October 31st.
2. Report back on your Pin It and Do It success. On October 1st I’ll post a linky for you to link up. Ideally this will come in the form of a blog or tumblr post. Or you can post about it on Facebook or Flickr if you don’t have a blog or tumblr. Or create a board on Pinterest for this challenge. If none of the above, report your success in the Wrap-Up Post comments.
3. Anyone is welcome to join. If you need an invite to Pinterest, let me know your email address and I’ll send an invite.

The Levels:
Timid Pinner: 1-3 Pins
Pinterested: 4-7 Pins
Pin Obsessed: 8+ Pins

Some Pinterest Etiquette and Courtesies:
–If you create a pin from a post, make sure you are pinning the true URL of the post and not the main website so folks can easily find the link again.
–When you create a pin, try to include the website in the description of the pin.
–Do not include the entire recipe or instructions in the pin description.
–If you embed a pinned picture on your own blog, make it clear that it is not your original picture–a link back to the original blog post is always appreciated.

And other little tidbits...this does not have to be a food or crafting challenge. Saw an interesting photography lesson? Click! An outfit you’d love to put together? Yup! Organizing idea for around the house? Go for it! A workout Regiment? Kick butt! Really this challenge is endless–you just need to tell us what you pinned and what you did. Make sure to note the original pin wherever you complete your wrapup (or if you do progress reports) to give the originator credit and make the pin easy for others to find.

Sound like fun? Totally stress-free y’all.

Sign up at Trish’s blog here, and help spread the word. We’ll be using #PinitDoit on Twitter. 

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The Bookseller by Roald Dahl

September 27, 2012 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 6

The Bookseller
By Roald Dahl
Read by David Ian Davies
Published:  1987
Playboy
Length: about 45 minutes
Downloaded from NC Digital Library

This…is not your typical Roald Dahl book. If you’re like me, you associate Dahl with magical flying peaches, chocolate mixed by waterfall, prankster geniuses, bald witches with ‘wig-rash,’ and other such fantastical and beloved things. I read Dahl through my childhood. I adored him. I still adore him. I have introduced him to my own children, through his novels and the movies made from his novels. His stories are part of the food of our lives.

So, it took me completely by surprise to find he had written so many things for adults. So many adult things for adults.

The Bookseller is completely different from anything I’ve ever read by Dahl. The two main characters are… just…smarmy. Completely smarmy. They put the smarm in smarmy. Mr. Buggage and his “secretary” Miss Tottle (their names even sound smarmy, don’t they?) run a bookshop in London, England, called Buggage’s Rare Book Shop. And they DO actually sell books. It’s just not their main source of income. It’s what goes on in the backroom that pays the bills. It is…unsavory. There is unexpectedness of a fraudulent, and sexual, nature going on back there. Uh huh. *eyebrows up and down*

Let’s just say it involves the newspaper and letters, going out every day, to grieving widows of the dearly, and wealthy, departed.

I don’t want to give much more away. I think it’s best left as a surprise. It was completely unexpected, for me, and didn’t jive with my previous experiences with Dahl AT ALL. I suppose adding that this story was published in Playboy should pretty much clue you in. This is not to say that THIS brand new experience with Dahl was BAD. On the contrary, I quite enjoyed this story. Very much so, and I think that is partially because it was SO unexpected. Dahl’s trademark sense of humor was very much intact, if a bit darker than I’m used to. Which is fine, I have a dark sense of humor.

The audiobook was read by David Ian Davies, who did a serviceable job. I enjoyed his performance very much. He has a lovely, deep voice that fit perfectly with the story, I thought. I wasn’t bowled away or anything, but I really enjoyed it all the same. How’s that for contradictory? Anyway, the audiobook was great fun and I hope to read more of Roald Dahl’s adult stories soon.

Warning: be careful how you look up information on this story. The first link I came to gave the entire story away. On a Roald Dahl Fan site too! The shame!

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A More Diverse Universe – Octavia Butler

September 25, 2012 Book Reviews, Books 13

“There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.”

When Aarti announced her A More Diverse Universe Event, I instantly knew two things. One, that I was going to participate and two, I was going to read Octavia Butler. I first encountered Ms. Butler in 2009, when I listened to her novel Fledgling. While I was not crazy about the reader, I was crazy about the book. It felt like it had been ages since I read an original vampire novel, and Fledgling came out the same year as Twilight. I just found this out, because I just looked it up and I am flabbergasted. Of course, it IS silly of me to think the better book should have had all the success, isn’t it? *sigh* Somehow the book felt older to me; perhaps like a classic?

Needless to say, after reading Fledgling, I had to read more Butler. Aarti gave me the perfect excuse. Yet, which book to read? I had Kindred and Parable of the Sower, both of which I have heard great things about, so I did that time honored test of, which one can I not put down?

Parable of the Sower won, but only just barely.

Parable of the Sower is about Lauren Olamina, a young 18-year-old black woman growing up in what is basically a dystopian landscape. The year is 2025. Global warming, pollution, political machinations, all kinds of stuff have come together to basically cause a worldwide decline. The area of Los Angeles Lauren lives in is one of the safer ones, thanks to high walls that surround her community. Still, adults and children are killed with little retaliation from the police, drugs run rampant, the homeless line the streets, and water and food are precious. Lauren has what Butler termed “hyperempathy” a genetic condition that cause her to experience the pain of others as true as her own. When she has to kill a wild dog to protect herself and her companions, she feels that dogs’ death has almost a physical blow to herself. As you can imagine, this “gift” is not the best thing to have while living in such a violent and cruel society.

Lauren is well educated, thanks to her father, the pastor, and her step-mother, who is a teacher. Perhaps thanks to her hyperempathy, she recognizes that her little community doesn’t have a lot of time. She wants to prepare for the worst; their leaving the compound and their home. She convinces her father, but it’s too little, too late. Their compound is invaded by the Paints, drug crazed people who love to burn things down. Lauren and a few other refugees join together to try to find somewhere safe to live. Already, Lauren has been developing a ‘philosophy’ of seeing God as change, and along her travels, she further develops her ideas.

From the start, this book felt more..real…than some dystopian novels I’ve read. Having our downfall as ourselves, not aliens, not some government accident unleashing a virus that turns humanity into zombies/dead/vampires/whatever, immediately makes the novel more powerful. Butler’s world is violent, dirty, and yet hopefully at the same time. And she’s a master of diversity. In Lauren’s little enclave, it felt like every race was accounted for and, what’s more, they all worked together. Sure, they fell to the crazies, but they worked together up until the end, sharing food, time, skills, and more.  Butler’s voice is full of warmth and kindness, despite her gritty subject. Throughout the story, you can feel her hope that humanity can turn things around, even has she’s writing their downfall. It’s beautiful.

My old TINY problem was Lauren’s religion. She calls it Earthseed and, as I said, it’s key tenet is “God is change.” I didn’t have a problem with the religion, per say, my main problem was feeling preached too. Lauren gets a little heavy handed, which to me made her religion come off feeling more like a cult. Part of me recognizes that in that situation (you know, life or death) I’d probably get a little crazy about my beliefs too, yet it still got under my skin a little bit. Just a minor quibble. Here is a poem from the text that shows what Lauren means by saying God is change pretty well, I think. Plus, it’s rather lovely, isn’t it?

The child in each of us
Knows paradise.
Paradise is home.
Home as it was
Or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one’s own place,
One’s own people,
One’s own world,
Knowing and known,
Perhaps even
Loving and loved.

Yet every child
Is cast from paradise-
Into growth and new community,
Into vast, ongoing
Change.

Parable of the Sower is the first part of the Earthseed series, the second is Parable of the Talents. In reading about the book, I found that Butler had intended to write a third, called Parable of the Trickster, but writer’s block prevented her from finishing it. I am sad the world lost Butler too early, but at least I have a few more books of hers to explore.

Check out more books on the More Diverse Universe event over at Aarti’s blog. Here is the entire schedule.

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The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

September 21, 2012 Book Reviews, Books, eBooks 7

The Wizard of Oz
Book 1 in the Oz series
By L. Frank Baum
Illustrated by W. W. Denslow
Published May 1900
So. I read The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum for the very first time last month. By the end, I was all “What the heck were you waiting for? That was awesome!” Yes, I often talk to myself this way, don’t you? Thought so.

Reading The Wizard of Oz for the first time was a bit like culture shock. Like most Americans, I grew up on this story. The movie comes on practically every year! I can quote lines and of course, I know Somewhere Over the Rainbow by heart. Who doesn’t? Familiar elements were there in the book, but for the most part, everything looked so different! It was such a surprise! The gist of the story remains the same. Lonely MidWestern girl, along with her dog Toto(!), is swept up by a tornado leaving behind monochromatic Kansas and her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, and deposited in Technicolor Land of Oz. And the house lands on a witch. A Wicked One. Lots of munchkins gather around in awe. No, they do not sing. A Good Witch is there to take the shoes off the Wicked One’s feet and give them to Dorothy. They Are Not Red. They Are Silver. (Color me surprised!) The Good Witch tells Dorothy if she wants to get back home, she needs to go see the Wizard of Oz. And off down the Yellow Brick Road we go, with a kiss from the witch on our Dorothy’s forehead. And, of course, she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion along the way.

The adversary, the main one, the Wicked Witch of the West, didn’t seem all that scary to me. It seemed like she was barely in the book! The more frightening to me were the Kalidahs and the Hammer-Heads, and honestly, the Wizard himself. I may not be remembering correctly, but in the movie he seemed more of a bumbling fool. The Wizard in this book didn’t really have that quality for me. The lengths he would go to hide himself from the citizens of Oz, from Dorothy and the others, and perhaps even himself were extraordinary! The fact that he hopped on out of Oz at the first opportunity speaks volumes to me. He’s like a deadbeat dad, gives what little he can to get himself out of trouble, then hops on the next bus, or, rather, balloon in this case, out of there. This makes me look forward to the new Disney movie about the Wizard himself; I’m interested to see how they interpret this character and what led him to be the way he is.

Another thing that interested me was the difference in how Dorothy was treated in Oz and Kansas. In Kansas she was poor, often didn’t have enough to eat, and was lonely. In Oz, she was well cared for by everyone she met, they fed and bedded her on her travels, she was protected by the bad “things,” and had friends who loved her. Kansas was a bleak and dirty landscape. Oz was beautiful and bright and colorful. Kinda makes you wonder why she wanted to go home so badly! I also enjoyed how the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion already have what they are looking for (a brain, a heart, and courage) but need the validation of their journey and the Wizard’s gifts to realize it. Their self-doubts feel a lot like my own. And the main bad guys, the Kalidahs, were only bad guys because of the Wicked Witch. Once the Golden Cap was in Dorothy’s possession, they were most helpful. And then, once Glinda gives them the cap, and therefore their freedom, they go on their merry way leaving everyone alone and were not scary at all.

All in all, I’m genuinely surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did. Like I said, I grew up on the movie and rather thought I knew it all. My only regret is that I read a cheap ebook version, when I have the Annotated edition I have pictured above. In writing this up, so poorly it feels like because I’ve forgotten so much, I want to go back and read the Annotated. Plus I missed out on all the illustrations! I read the Wikipedia entry on this book to refresh my memory and it left me wanting to know more. Highly recommended. And thanks Kristen from We Be Reading for leading us in this readalong over at The Estella Society!

 

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Classics Club: September

September 18, 2012 Books, Miscellaneous 3

Here’s the question this month:

Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?

Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to pick one book from The Big Review List? That list is already miles long (can you imagine how long it will be in 5 years time?)! Then, I have to narrow it down to, do I pick a book I want to read or do I pick a book I want everyone else to read? Do I pick from a blogger I know, or a blogger I don’t know? Decisions, decisions.

In the end, I picked a book by an author I have wanted to like, but have always struggled with and I picked a blogger I’m unfamiliar with. Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Reviewed by Jean at Howling Frog Books. Oh Charles. We have such a love hate/relationship, don’t we? Honestly, I’ve begun to think of Dickens as my literary nemesis. Ridiculous. I know. I mean, I KNOW Dickens isn’t out to GET me. It just feels like he is. Who will win? Time will only tell. So far, I’m still a Wilkie girl.

So, anyhoo. Jean’s review. She has me intrigued with this one paragraph:

Esther observes the effects of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a legal case that has dragged on for years.  It blights the lives of everyone involved.   Meanwhile there are some secrets about Esther’s own past that come to light.  Everything is quite a tangle of suspicions, maneuvers, and forlorn hopes, and it’s all quite interesting, though the legal critiques can get overlong.

I like secrets from the past that come to light. Everything else sounds like typical Dickens. Suspicions. Maneuvers. Forlorn hopes.  Classic. Might have to skim the legal critiques though. Blah.
Will I read it? I’ve narrowed down my next attempt at Dickens to this one and Hard Times. We’ll see, sometime later this year!

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Monday Rambles…on Sunday

September 16, 2012 Miscellaneous 6

I moved Monday rambles to this day because, well, because I can!

What a busy week, eh? BBAW was awesome this year. I found so many new bloggers, heard about so many new books…just general awesomeness all around. Kudos again, to My Friend Amy, for pulling off such a fantastic event.

Reading sort of fell to the wayside for me this week. I don’t feel like I read anything! I started The Belly of Paris by Emilie Zola, The Black Count by Tom Reiss, Partials by , and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (in audio). So far The Handmaid’s Tale is the only one to really STICK, even though I’m enjoying the other three. I’ve read like 7 or 8 books since the beginning of September however, so maybe my brain just needed a break.

Or maybe I’m a little overwhelmed by Other Things (see below).


Had a big week over at The Estella Society. We:

All in all a great week! Check in next week with our wrap up of The Little Stranger, the 100 Chapter Books Readalong kickoff with The Wizard of Oz, and more. Always, always more.


I might have made me one of these: Chunky Crocheted Basket. Well, almost finished it. I have to get a bit more yarn… I’ll post a picture when I finish.

I’m almost finished with my big granny afghan as well. I’m on the last two squares, then I just have to join and give it a border. I can’t wait!

Again, will post a picture when I’m finished. Maybe next Sunday?

That’s all for me today. Have to go get the kiddos ready for church. Have a happy Sunday everyone!

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Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Day 5

September 14, 2012 Books, Miscellaneous 12

WOW! Can’t believe it is already day 5! Where has this exciting week gone? *sigh* Today’s topic?

Share a highlight of this year’s BBAW. Whether it’s a blog you discovered or a book you’re going to read or a way you felt refreshed, this is the day to celebrate the week!

Gosh, I feel all of the above. I discovered new blogs, new books, and wow, do I feel refreshed? YES. This year had a new format, and I have to say I really liked it. The awards are gone and I don’t feel like I missed them at all. I had new commenters (hi new commenters!) and I found some great new blogs. I can’t wait to get to know these book bloggers even better.

Meg reminded me I need to read Girl, Unmoored.

Chris reminded me I need to read Georges by Alexandre Dumas, which I will probably do when I finish The Black Count by Tom Reiss (a fascinating book, btw).

Unfinished Person introduced me to a 13 book long series (eek!) that sounds fantastic! (Uh, thanks…Unfinished Person! lol)

I also discovered Unfinished Person, which is fantastic. I added Altered Readality (btw, isn’t that a great name?), LibereadingThe Sleepless Reader, Too Fond, and more, so many more to my Google Reader. It is straining at the seams y’all.

I got to know one of my favorite book bloggers better, Marg, in our interview swap.

And the best part is discovering so many of my favorite bloggers feel the way I do about blogging. Be it about books, or more. It’s been a great week y’all! See you next year!

 

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Book Blogger Appreciation Week 4

September 13, 2012 Books 3

Welcome to Day 4! Today’s Topic?

One of the best parts about book blogging is the exposure to books and authors you might never have heard of before. Pimp the book you think needs more recognition on this day. Get creative! Maybe share snippets from other bloggers who have reviewed it or make some fun art to get your message across.

I’m all about pimpin’ the books. Heck, Andi and I started a whole ‘nother blog just for pimpin’ books that we think need more recognition!

So far we’ve brought you posts on Daphne du Maurier, Edith Wharton, Jonathan Carroll’s Land of Laughs, Thomas Trofimuk’s Waiting for Columbus, and more. We’ve brought some Stuff We’ve Learned (about blogging), some Cage Matching, and a Read-along!

In the months to come, we’ll be hosting a more read-alongs, the seriously dangerous looking Dueling Monsters, and something else that I can’t quite announce yet, but I promise, it will be exciting. Plus more, always more. So stop on by, join us, we would love to have you! And any time you want to make a suggestion or submit a post, you can find us here: The Estella Society. We are always looking for book reviews, publisher profiles, stuff you’ve learned, and more. Come on over to the playground.

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Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Day 3

September 12, 2012 Books, Miscellaneous 10

It’s day three of Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Today’s topic IS:

What does book blogging mean to you?

Today’s topic is deceptively simple, isn’t it?

In the past seven years, book blogging has evolved for me. I started back when there were not nearly as many of us and we were not quite so connected, and it was very much a fly by the seat of my pants affair. As more people got into it, and as publishers noticed us, things changed. For some, it’s become more than just a fun thing (which I think is great!) but for me, it’s still just a fun thing. There was a time when I flirted with making it into something more, but seriousness is just not me. I’m just here for the fun, man. My posts on books don’t really read like reviews, they read like a conversation. I don’t know, nor do I really care to know, how to seriously review a book. I’m here for the conversation, with you guys, the friends I have made in this adventure. And I have made some pretty damn good friends, some that I’m pretty certain I will have for life. I think I’ve reached a point where I have what I want. I don’t need more. I don’t need the high numbers, I don’t need all the ARCs, I don’t need the author interaction (although I DO love it when that happens!). I just want to talk books with my buds and that’s exactly what I have. That’s what book blogging means to me at this point. Conversation with good friends.

Life is good.

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