Friday, December 24, 2010

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers

Rating: 3.5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Eggers is a fantastic writer. Both humorous and deep. I laughed just about as much as I cried. I mean, I didn't really cry - but AHWOSG was heavy enough to make my heart hurt. And there were moments that... I was laughing at the same time my heart was hurting. Because that's life, you know? And Eggers presents life - his life - perfectly.

Still, because it was so heavy at times, I had a hard time getting through it. And unlike Raven (which was so heavy it took me over a year to finish), there wasn't anything about it that affected me deeply enough to stay with me for weeks (or months, in Raven's case) on end.

Purchase Now from Amazon:  A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top Ten of Twenty Ten

Though I haven't yet finished the last of my four books to finish before the end of the year, here are my Top Ten favorite books of this year. While From Eternity to Here is good, it isn't going to make this list. So I don't need to worry. This is seriously my favorite post of the year, every year.

10. Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
9. Faithful Place - Tana French
8. Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
7. The Ear, the Eye and the Arm - Nancy Farmer
6. Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
5. The Giver - Lois Lowry
4. Hunger Games (trilogy) - Suzanne Collins
3. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
2. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
1. Raven - Tim Reiterman

Also - a year end review of my resolutions:

- Read between 35 and 50 books this year. 35 being the final total of 2009 and 50(something) being the number I burnt myself out on in 07 and 08. I ended up with 34. Not too shabby. I read some good quality books this year.

- Stop using my credit card and fix my debt (it's already been two months since I last used it. Huzzah!) I got rid of the crippling debt on my credit card by applying for a personal loan and am no longer freaking out about the state of my finances. Now if I only had a million dollars....

- Read at least two works of non-fiction - filling out my notebook as I go along. I read Raven and I'm halfway through From Eternity to Here. I should finish before the end of the year.

- FINISH Les Miserables. I believe I have something like 3 or 400 pages left. No, but I'm considering focusing on TWO books only in 2011. This and War & Peace.

- Keep my apartment neat. Well, I kept it clean the week I was kitten sitting...

- Write a review for every book I read this year.

- Update my blog with all of my book reviews. That I definitely did.

- Write. Anything. I participated hardcore in NANOWRIMO this year. Didn't finish, but still made it to 30-something thousand words. I'm happy with my creative output this year.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Masks & Daggers - Jennifer Hopkins & Jason Salfali

Blurg. Crazy days, these days. On top of being, busy busy busy - my Google account was hacked and it took me way too long to get it back. Okay, it really only took me a day. But I was DYING inside.

Anyway, my friend wrote a book! And then she wrote a short prequel! It's self-published using Barnes & Noble's pub it program. I'm not huge into the whole self publishing thing, but she's gotten good support on it and has made a fair amount of sales.

I reviewed her first book a while back. Some of the writing is a teeny bit amateur, but there are sections that are written so well, it'll knock your socks off. Not to mention - her story telling is pretty great. It's also refreshing - to have a paranormal romance that is so unlike anything else there is out there. That can just as easily be enjoyed by boys and girls, men and women. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Now, by popular demand, Jennifer and Jason have released a short story chronicling the history of Julian Edwards - a character in Book One that everyone wanted to know more about. It's available for a buck, ninety-nine and very good.

My short review is featured on the website.

Also, here:

“Masks & Daggers is a magical thrill ride. Complete with complex characters, clashing weapons, and magic on every page – this story hooks you in and leaves you begging for more. If you are new to the Immortal Champions Saga, what a fantastic place to start! If you have already read Sleight of Hand, Masks & Daggers is a must read to satisfy your Julian needs while you are waiting for Book Two.” –Nicole

I strongly urge you to try it out. For a $1.99, why not? And if you like it, read SLEIGHT OF HAND.

I'm super proud of her!

Purchase Now from Amazon: Masks & Daggers (An Immortal Champions Saga Short) (The Immortal Champions Saga)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Freedom - Jonathan Franzen

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

This book was... nothing short of a struggle. I breezed through the first couple hundred pages only to get stuck on the banality that was Walter. I don't get all the hype, I said. I'm not really liking this book, I said. Only to pick it up again a month or two later and breeze through the last two or three hundred pages. And when I finished and when I realized I'd just been bested by Jonathan Franzen, I was angry. Because I'd fought against loving this so hard. And so I argued with myself. I'd give the book a 3.5. How could I really give it any more since I'd struggled through? Fine, okay. I'll give it a 4. Only to finally allow myself to accept the fact that I loved this book. That this book is indeed a freaking masterpiece.

I loved this book so much I want to write an essay. A thousand essays on its themes and characters. An essay on freedom - how the freedom to decide, to choose our own paths, can both destroy us and lift us up. How sometimes, to even obtain freedom, one must build a cage. On the characters, and particularly that of Jessica, who is the only character in the family to not get her own chapter yet her sanity seems to have ground them all.

Read it. Just. Read it.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

Rating: 3.5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

It's not really superbly written. At all. Ken Follett overstates to the point of absurdity. His dialogue is weak. The characters, while they had depth... that depth only went so far. For instance, I loved and understood Jack the boy. But as the years went by and Jack became a father and a older man - I had trouble imagining him as so. It was as if Follett had a strong vision of his characters in their prime and then failed to grow with them, even though he insisted his novel span decades.

Nevertheless - the story telling was sublime. It took me a while to get into the book because of the sub par writing, but once the story captured me, it was hard to put it down.

It really doesn't live up to all of the "masterpiece" hype that it has gotten over the years. But it was definitely a good, emotional, and engaging read.

Purchase Now from Amazon.   The Pillars of the Earth

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yawn & Stretch

So. I didn't finish NaNoWriMo. But I was close! 37,000 something words. Chapters 1-7 finite as well as chapters 11-13! I think that's very good. I'm not disappointed in the least. I accept my failure but don't really think it's a failure at all. Good things!

My silence now can only be explained by the mad dash I started on December 1st to finish all of my unfinished books. (I'm dropping Tiger's Curse. No time!)

- Pillars of the Earth: will most likely finish tonight.
- Freedom: erg. But I will finish. I just don't get it. It won't make my Top 10 list.
- Heartbreaking Work: I plan on finishing this one on Saturday when I visit my parents house to do laundry.
- From Eternity to Here: science and space and nerdy things. Want to finish so bad.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing Is Painful?

I was true to my word and holed up in my apartment for an entire day and a half to write, leaving only to have dinner with my parents on Sunday and even writing through that, much to my mother's enjoyment. "Nicole, will you please get that thing off the table?" - that's my mom referring to my laptop. Anyway, she made pasta with ricotta and sauce. So. It was worth it.

ANYWAY. I wrote - and I did the math. And I'm not good at math, so I checked it with my calculator. I wrote 13,338 words this weekend. And it was basically the most painful thing I've ever done. But also the most rewarding? To see my counter move past the halfway point. There's so much blue now and so little gray. Look I'll show you:

Ah! So pretty!

I'm all caught up now and ready to hit my 50,000 words on or before November 30th! Rock on, WriMo'ers!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Schedule

Okay. Here's my schedule for my weekend of nothing else but writing. I mean. I'm also eating. But I'm not showering. So. Gross. And. Lots of writing!

Saturday -
7 - Rise. Stretch. Eat.
8/11 - Write. Work on Chapter 6. Goal - 3,000+ words
11-1 - Break. Lunch. Clean? Start Eastern Promises?
1-3 - Write. Finish Chapter 6. Goal - 2,000+ words
3-4 - Break. Go for a walk?
4-5 - Write Start Chapter 13. Goal - 1,000 words
5-6 - Break. Eat Dinner.
6-9 - Write. Work on Chapter 13. Goal - 3,000+ words
9-10 - Call boyfriend?
10-12 - Finish Chapter 13. Start Chapter 7. Goal - 2,000+ words

Sunday -
7 - Rise. Stretch. Eat.
8/12 - Finish Chapter 7. Goal - 4,000+ words
12/1 - Break. Lunch. The Cut stuff.
1/4 - Write. Work on Chapter 8. Goal - 3,000+ words
4/the rest of the evening - go to parents for dinner and continue writing there. Finish Chapter 8 before you go to bed!

This is assuming I finish Chapter 5 and Chapter 12 (I've been working out of order. It's been working out for me) prior to the weekend. If I do that, and if I follow this schedule, I should be well ahead of Sunday's word count goal of 35,007.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keep Going At All Costs!

So. I'm behind in NaNo. NaNoWriSLOW. Haha. Okay, I really need to stop with the NaNo puns. Anyway, not so far behind that I can't catch up. Just, you know, 5882 words behind. No big deal, right?

Are any of you as far behind as I am? Is being that far behind daunting or motivating? How do you motivate yourself to keep going and reach the end target of 50,000 words by the end of November? Or are you more inclined to admit defeat and bow out of the struggle?

I'm going to keep trying, I think. I was a failure last year for a number of reasons. The story I'd chosen to write too closely matched the real life of a well-loved family member and he was none too pleased that I was stealing what was emotionally his. And my boyfriend had broken up with about a week into the month and while the tears came quick and swift, the words just weren't. Though, I think I probably wrote 50,000 words worth of unsent letters, pouring my heart out to him in love, anger and pain. I should have submitted that.

But this year, things are looking up! I have an idea born of original thoughts and emotions that are not those of others. I have a wonderful new boyfriend who read my first four chapters (the first three, of course, not part of the challenge) and encouraged me to keep on writing. So though I paused, for a hot minute, really in NaNo time if you think about it - I'm going to go full steam ahead.

Current NaNo Count: 12,452
Grand Total: 26,610

Friday, November 5, 2010

Need Your Input!?

I'm having trouble finding really great suggestions for Beginning Readers/Early Chapter books. I'm talking really strong, stand alone titles. I'm aware of the series - Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, etc.

Anyone have a top five?

Shit. It's Almost the End of the Year.

And I still need to finish -

From Eternity to Here - Sean Carroll
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
Tiger's Curse - Colleen Houck

Can I do it in 2 months?

P.S. Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


So I took this cute little guy from Melissa who in turn got it from its owner, Kate Higgins. He makes for a good buddy, I can tell you that much.

As of last night, I'm ahead of the count. The totals are:

Day 3 Word Count: 2,120
NaNo Total: 5,492
Grand Total: 19,650

I've been on a really good schedule - 600 words on the train (300 coming, 300 going), 500 words over lunch and the remainder in the evening.

What's shocking to me is that by the end of today, I'll be done with Chapter 4. Done!! It took me how many months to write three chapters? Also - if I stay on track, I'll have through Chapter 13 finished (but unedited, of course) by the end of the month. Craziness!

Anyway, I'm already exhausted. Since I was ahead last night, I took the time to nap on the train this morning instead of write. I really needed it. I always get a little cold at the change of the seasons. The fact that NaNo is happening at the same time is probably not good for my health. But I'll soldier on!

I'm planning on posting an Unedited Piece of My Soul at week's end.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I finished Chapter 3 about a week ago, so I'm all ready to start NaNoWriMo fresh from Chapter 4. I'll update as often as possible with my NaNo count and my official count (which is somewhere near 13,000 right now).

Here's my page, just in case you want to buddy up.

Game plan:
Train: bring notebook and write by hand. (ugh) But this is prime writing time and I am NOT carrying my laptop. Make do.
Work: Can I do at least 500 words during lunch?
Home: Combine train writing and work writing and finish up.

The hardest thing for me is going to be JUST WRITING. Not thinking too hard and editing as I go. It'll be difficult for me, but it's essential. Blah.

Good luck, all y'all WriMoers!


NaNo Count: 1,709
Total Count: 15,867

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writing Update

Trying desperately to get Chapter 3 done before this weekend. I keep saying that and it shouldn't be this hard. Kitten-sitting last week made it impossible to write as Francie didn't quite understand why I'd want to pet the computer instead of her. I did try though. Got in a paragraph here and there whenever she found her tail more amusing than my hands.

Chapter 1 -The House - 3,496
Chapter 2 - The Lot - 5,198
Chapter 3 - Christmas Eve - 4,309

Total: 13,003

I still haven't hit the reason for Chapter 3's existence so - I'll probably run closer to 6,000 words on that chapter.

I'm going to attempt NaNoWriMo again this year. I read the rules and it says you can't work on something you've already been working on, but I'm not going to follow that rule. I won't count my 13,000 words towards my final count - that I can promise. But I don't want to work on something else and I need help focusing on writing more than not writing. And I want to make writer friends in New York City!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bloggers in Manhattan?

I'll be handing out bumper stickers outside Penn Station (along with a bunch of other people, but still!) If we offer you one - please smile and take it?


Monday, October 4, 2010

Random Writing Update

Of course, when I should probably be spending my time doing other things is when I get really focused on writing. I'd like to finish Chapter 3 before this weekend.

Chapter 1 -The House - 3,496
Chapter 2 - The Lot - 5,198
Chapter 3 - Christmas Eve - 1,784 and counting...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raven - Tim Reiterman

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading


Raven is the story of Jim Jones and the People's Temple - told by Tim Reiterman, a journalist who survived the massacre of the Ryan party in Guyana just hours before more than 900 People's Temple members committed "revolutionary" suicide with poisoned Grape-Aid. Reiterman begins at the beginning - the birth and early life of Jim Jones and moves carefully forward, in almost 600 pages, to chronicle the rise and fall of a people who put their lives in the hands of a sociopath.

Reiterman does a fantastic job of detailing both the positive and negative aspects of the People's Temple. It's altogether too easy to dismiss what happened, to think of the followers as crazy, to believe you could never get caught up in something similar. But the social and political climate of the time helped to foster the rapid growth of a belief system that preached equality for all. And the people, many of whom Reiterman gives detailed accounts, were downtrodden minorities or reformed drug addicts or people disillusioned by their own religions, people who didn't belong - People's Temple, in its beginnings, gave them all something to be a part of. By the time things took a turn for the worst, it was too late.

It took me well over a year to finish this book. The emotional and mental toll it took on me was, at times, too much to bear. There were times I had to put it down. Had to think happier thoughts. But, I'm so glad I read this. It is a superbly written account of ALL aspects of the People's Temple and the tragedy that occurred in Jonestown.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sleight of Hand (The Immortal Champions Saga) - Jennifer Hopkins, Jason Salfali

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

A really great addition to the ever-growing paranormal book population - with a new and exciting twist. Sure, there’s the always expected romance, but the strength in this novel lies in the epic conflict between good and evil. This superbly written, fast-paced novel is complete with truly kick-ass fight scenes, swords and just a touch of sinister magic.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Immortal Champions Saga.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Sleight of Hand (The Immortal Champions Saga #1)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I'm taking one. Personal... things. Everything is a-okay, though. Or at least it will be. I'll continue to post book reviews, but the other semi-regular posts will halt for the time being.

I hope you'll miss me. I'll miss you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

There are no words. At least no words that won't completely spoil the entire Hunger Games experience for you - and let me tell you. What an EXPERIENCE! Mockingjay is slightly more political than the other two books in the trilogy, but that's okay because we're finally getting down to it.

I thought MOCKINGJAY wrapped up the entire series perfectly. Keeping my sunglasses on during the train ride home did not do enough to mask my tears - my complete and total heartache. Three days later and I'm only just getting back to normal.

Again. As I did with HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE. I'm begging you. Read. This. Series.


If you'd like to discuss Mockingjay, hop on over to Hannah's blog. It's where all the cool kids go.

The nook Experience

So, because I'm super poor, I opted to read Mockingjay on my nook via the LendMe feature. The nook's LendMe feature allows you to borrow a book from a friend's nook for 14 days.

Ease of transfer: Amazingly easy! All my friend had to do was type in my e-mail address. Within seconds the request to lend appeared in both my g-mail box AND on my nook. I agreed that I'd like to borrow the book and then I clicked Download and the thing was mine!

Length of borrow time: For me, 14 days isn't an issue. I read fast. But I don't think the nook's core demographic are the type of voracious reader that I am. nook's (and any e-Book Reader) demographic is dominated by an older leisure reading crowd, whose eyes thank the Reader's easy-on-the-eyes screen and easily enlarged font. Two weeks seems a little unrealistic.

Reading a really good book on the nook: It was a little depressing, actually. Not holding the real book in my hands. There was no new book smell, no hugability. I couldn't really curl up in bed with it or wrap both my hands around the thick pages. I couldn't close the book and stare at the bookmark - seeing how far I'd come and how much further I had to go. I really felt the loss of a real book. Still - most of what I plan to read on there is either free Google classics, or anything that's sort of trashy that I might not want to buy and display on my shelf at home. (Like, Dan Brown for instance.) It wasn't a terrible experience - just a disheartening one.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WWYCD/S Wednesday - Hosted by Melissa Getting Published

Hop on over to Melissa's blog to read the questions. The object of the game is to bring your character(s) out of the box. This week's questions are in honor of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.


1) Probably District 11. I feel like he would have been friends with Rue.
2) He wouldn't look forward to killing anyone. But I think he'd get a kill or two in. He'd sacrifice himself for people like Rue and Katniss.
3) He would align himself with Katniss - I think he'd only be drawn to those characters who are playing to survive, not to win. If you understand the distinction.
4) Cynical anti-hero all the way.
5) His sister, Anabel.
6) He would try to lead a revolution, because he's spirited and would definitely feel wounded by the wrongness of the Hunger Games. But he'd be doing it to protect everyone around him and he'd probably be among the first to die.


1) Probably District 12. And he'd feel really put upon about it.
2) He'd really want to take out the Careers just to prove that he could.
3) He wouldn't align himself with anyone. I feel like he'd be the person with crazy eyes hidden in the trees, covered with mud and blood.
4) He'd probably be attracted to the smart, beautiful girl who also refused to align herself with anyone. If he could make it past the Careers, it'd be Paul and this girl in the end. And he'd kill her - though with some reservation.
5) No one.
6) No. He's too busy worrying about how all of this affects him. Not the people around him.


1) I'd have to say The Capitol. I don't know if she's really as flighty and stupid as the rest of the people in The Capitol. Maybe she's 50% Capitol-esque and 50% Cinna-minded.
2) She wouldn't be part of the games, obviously. But she'd watch them with one eye closed.
3) She would probably route for Paul, even if she didn't know him.
4) She'd be attracted to Paul because she'd find the fact that he's this downtrodden guy from District 12 who is surviving on his own very charming in a cliche sort of way. Anabel likes cliche disguised as unique and brooding.
6) She might secretly support a revolution.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The nook Thus Far

Melissa Getting Published asked that I let you guys know how I'm liking my nook and also, why I even went with the nook.

There's all these e-thingys, why choose the nook? The answer is really simple. Maybe I should preface this by saying that I am the perfect consumer. If I had had the money to buy a Saturn Ion back in 2005, I would have. Solely because they had the MOST AWESOME COMMERCIALS.

Basically - I am obsessed with anything Barnes & Noble. I worked in the stores for about five years in high school/college. My local B&N is a place I frequent way regularly. I love anything and everything to do with the place. I was stupid against e-Readers until the nook came out and suddenly, I was all over wanting to own one. That and I got an amazingly good deal on a refurbished 3G nook that could not be passed on.

How's it going so far? Okay. I'm in the middle of a REAL BOOK, so I haven't been carrying it around. But I downloaded a bunch of free stuff - B&N is currently offering different classics for free each week - and it works really nicely and looks great. I sort of wish you could adjust the lighting on the main screen because I was hoping to be able to read in the dark with it. But, reading in the dark is really just a thing I like to do and otherwise, the screen looks like a real page and is super easy on the eyes.

I'm currently in the middle of figuring out how to "purchase" e books on and transfer them over to my nook. I started going through all of the free Google Classics that B&N offers - there are so many! I'm working through them alphabetically and I'm 400 titles in and only on C. Just "bought" Count of Monte Cristo. Since they are seriously just scanned pages available for free, I don't think they'll be formatted as nice as the B&N classics, but that's okay with me.

In a couple of days, I'll be utilizing the Lend Me feature of the nook to borrow Mockingjay from a friend. When I put up my review, I'll also review the ease of the feature for you guys. And I'll also check back in once I'm a nook pro to let you know how I like it and what I would change, if anything.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What I'm Reading Weekly Roundup

In Blogs

Pencil Sharpening
Where do you write? I write in my big sofa chair or in my bed. I used to have dreams of a writing studio, but truth is, I hate sitting at desks.
Literary Classic Posters so many things I want to spend money on.
Emma Thompson to pen a Beatrix Potter book?
A Decline in Glowy Magic
Backward. I Read
26 Ways to Prevent Summer Reading the best way though, would be to refuse the parents who show up at the information desk demanding booksellers go find all the books on their list instead of shopping.
Beta (and Alpha) Readers I've always been so against having people read what I'm writing until I finish. The problem is, I never finish anything. I'm tempted to trust a few people with my first 3 chapters. See if they love my characters as much as I do.
A Brief History of Time (Covers)
Tales Before Bed super cute!
Pseudonym I need one of these. Not Hemingway Heroine either. A name that I wish I'd never picked for myself. But seriously - my last name is not even pronounceable. How am I ever going to get published with it?
Eeyore-AT-AT I am such a NERD

Mockingjay Excitement

YALSA is excited
Disgruntled Bear is excited
Collecting Children's Books is excited
David Maybury is excited

And me! I'm excited too! And seriously considering how cool a Mockingjay tattoo would look on my ankle...

In Books

Raven - Tim Reiterman
A.H.W.O.S.G. - Dave Eggers
Eternity to Here - Sean Carroll

In The Pile

The Maze Runner
- James Dashner
Purge - Sarah Darer Littman
The Eyes of the Dragon - Stephen King
Into the Land of the Unicorns - Bruce Coville
Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
On Writing - Stephen King

Friday, August 20, 2010

nook Dance

I have a nook, I have a nook. I have a nook, hey, hey, hey, HEY!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Good but not great? I love the show, so obviously Jeff Lindsay created really great characters. And I'm glad. There were parts about the book that I liked better than the show. Deb is way less annoying. And less boy crazy. I was actually able to take her seriously in the book. And Doakes - I loved that Dexter sees the Dark Passenger in him as well. That they have a moment similar to the one between Dexter and the Nurse. LOVED IT!

But - it was a little boring. Not always, as I finished pretty fast. Enough was changed from the book to the show to make the book original and interesting. Still, I found myself skimming whole groups of pages, something I don't do unless I find the text unnecessary.

Still, it's a good read for any fan of the lovable serial killer.

Purchase now from Amazon: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Mah Wish List

The newest books I've discovered this week and hope to read someday below. Also, I visited a nice new boy up in Albany this past weekend and came home with a pile of books to read. He had the books in a gigantic bag under his bed, which isn't a very nice place for books, but. I think he was trying to impress me with his collection. Or something. So I should have a nice new In the Pile segment for the round up this week.

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself - David Foster Wallace
Finny - Justin Kramon
The Zero - Jess Walter
Playing with the Grown-Ups - Sophie Dahl
The Art of Worldly Wisdom - Baltasar Gracian
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang - Chelsea Handler
Are you there, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea - Chelsea Handler

Shop Now - Satisfy Your Wishlist

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Total pop-culture classic that is, in a way, timeless. Sure the language and social settings are pure 1950s/60s New York City - a really great snapshot of the times. But the book is about more than that. It's about the individual struggles of three women - Anne Welles, who is looking for freedom from her restrictive New England life; Neely O'Hara, who is looking for fame and power at any cost; and Jennifer North, a beautiful actress who is just looking for someone to love her for who she really is. VALLEY OF THE DOLLS is about that struggle - the climb, the sacrifices, the consequences. And the dolls. The red dolls. Yellow dolls. Green dolls.

I think what loved best was the build. You meet Anne when she first moves to New York. Neely is a young, bubbly vaudeville actress looking to make it. They are both so bright and hopeful. Lovable. You want Anne to get Lyon Burke. You want Neely to make it big, bigger than Helen Lawson. Jennifer enters the story later, but she is just as instantly likable. You want for her to find a great guy and have the children she's always longed for.

But then the years pass. Perhaps most interesting was watching Neely fall apart. Watching her go from this promising young woman to a washed-up, power hungry, Academy Award winning actress who cares about only herself.

And the end of the book was perfect - a cliffhanger of sorts. Anne maintains her dignity throughout the novel, though we watch Jennifer and Neely fall hard. I waited and waited for Anne's descent as well. It doesn't come until the very last line - she'll take two red dolls that night. After all, it's New Year's Eve! And the reader is left wondering - will Anne end up like her friends or will her strength bring her to a happier ending?

Purchase Now from Amazon: Valley of the Dolls

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Rating: 2 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Just... not an excellent book. I really don't understand all of the hype. I thought it was terribly boring, completely predictable, and there were large sections that I found wholly unnecessary. Both Blomkvist and Lisbeth are ridiculously unlikeable characters - Blomkvist because he has sex with everything that walks (including Lisbeth even though he's twice her age and wonders if she has Aspergers), which really only serves to take up space rather than actually drive the plot and Lisbeth because she's got no personality whatsoever.

And then! After much painful toiling, when you've finally confirmed that who you thought dunnit actually did it, you still have another 150 plus freaking pages to go!

I think it's safe to say that I won't be continuing this series.

Purchase Now from Amazon:   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Friday, August 6, 2010

What I'm Reading Weekly Roundup

What I remember is slow summers, filled with advances and not much else. This summer has been one crisis after another. It's driving me crazy! I'm so exhausted all day long. If you've been following my tweets lately, you'll know I screwed up a project I was working on: a kit with a handle that is really, so freaking cute! Only problem is, when you pick it up, the cover is upside down. AWESOME! I spent a majority of this week figuring out a solution to the problem. I have quotes coming in from three different avenues. We'll see if it's even possible to get this kit out by Holiday this year.

In Blogs

Triceratops or Torosaurus? What's the deal? Why are scientists trying to RUIN MY LIFE?
Surreal Bookshelves One of these would look SO CUTE in my apartment!
A House Built of Books I wonder what the rent would be...
READ with Jeffrey Dean Morgan or, you know. Don't read.

Wine Blog Shameless plug! Check us out!

In Books

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
Raven - Tim Reiterman
Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
A.H.W.O.S.G. - Dave Eggers
Eternity to Here - Sean Carroll

In the Pile

I need to revamp my pile and get back to you. Now that I'm no longer reading so much Teen for PYLAB, I need to clean it up. I mean, it's an actual pile that sits on my nightstand. Once it's revamped, I'll post a picture!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Character Parties are Cool

Major, major thanks to Hanna for the idea and for hosting.

I - or well, Charlie - met some really interesting and amazingly creative people. My first instinct was to respond to Hanna's post as myself, commenting on how I thought everybody was so great and creative and how I liked all their characters. But then everyone else started posting AS their characters! And at first I thought - well this is silly. But then I thought - no. This is BRILLIANT. (With a capital BARBARA KINGSOLVER)

I've never tried to be my character outside of the story. It's actually pretty difficult, but I think I nailed him.

See - I used to be really creative. Since college, though, I haven't been able to come up with a completely unique plots with completely unique characters that feel like flesh and blood to me. It's sort of depressing - to be a writer without a single unique thought. I kept pulling from my life - using dramatic events with real people that I tried to turn into characters. It was bad. Just. Bad.

As I think I mentioned before, Ana and Paul's story came to me during a car trip to the Catskills. In the dead of winter. And before I knew it, I had three characters who all felt very real to me. Sure they sprang from my mind, but they somehow feel more substantial than just imaginary characters in an imaginary world. And really, they dictate what happens to them.

For instance, I was filling out Charlie's invite questionnaire and came to the Occupation question. Now, I know what Paul does for a living. And I know what Ana does. But it won't ever really matter what Charlie does - he exists to further develop the characters of Ana and Paul more than anything else. Now, I know I have creative license to make Charlie do anything I want. My first thought was to put down "Unemployed," since Charlie is sort of the black sheep, always bunted to the side by A&P. But that felt entirely too wrong. I felt like Charlie was yelling at me, "Hello! I may let those two idiots walk all over me, but I'm not a complete loser! I DO stuff. Figure out what I DO!" Kindergarten teacher came to me rather suddenly and I realized how perfect it was. I can see him teaching. He's so good with the kids, so kind hearted, so fun. He treats them with respect and so the kids adore him. I LOVE that this is what Charlie does.

Also, when I first started writing this, I was lovingly telling my cousin all about each of the characters. I told her I couldn't wait to write Chapter Three - Christmas Eve. Charlie brings a new girlfriend to the house and Ana announces to everyone that she and Paul are having a baby. This is the first time Paul hears of it. In Chapter One, Paul avoids the baby topic. He doesn't want one.

My cousin said (sarcastically): "I'm sure Paul's going to love that."
And my first thought was, Oh my gosh! She knows him too!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I've Got To Show For It

A review of my 2010 resolutions. Because most people just forget about them.

- Read between 35 and 50 books this year. 35 being the final total of 2009 and 50(something) being the number I burnt myself out on in 07 and 08. (I think I'm on 23 right now. 23 fully read books. That's much slower than I had hoped. But I've been picking it up a little bit lately. I also have three books halfway read. And MOCKINGJAY comes out soon. I'll pull it off.)

- Stop using my credit card and fix my debt (it's already been two months since I last used it. Huzzah!) (I've not used it at all this year. But it's still out of control. APR is through the roof and I can only make minimum payments right now. Blurgh.)

- Read at least two works of non-fiction - filling out my notebook as I go along. (I am in the middle of both Raven and From Eternity to Here. I will finish both before the end of the year.)

- FINISH Les Miserables. I believe I have something like 3 or 400 pages left. (Who made this a resolution?)

- Keep my apartment neat. (HAHAHAHAHAHA)

- Write a review for every book I read this year. (Check, thus far)

- Update my blog with all of my book reviews. (Check, thus far!)

- Write. Anything. (And check! Sort of!)

Wow. I think I'm doing pretty good. If I do say so myself! I really should clean my apartment this weekend. I mean, it's getting OUT OF HAND. It's hard to do it though. When it's just you and you is who doesn't really care.

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

Again, I finished this in one day. 11 hours passed, to be exact, from the moment I twittered "I'm starting this RIGHT NOW," to the the "finished it," tweet. I don't - I'm not sure I have the words.

CATCHING FIRE was just as amazing as HUNGER GAMES. Holy crap. It was. The momentum never slowed, not for a second. And I NEVER expected ANY of the events - not a one.

All I can do is sincerely BEG you, all of you, to read this. I'm not really sure what I was waiting for. And I really don't know what you are waiting for. DO IT. DO IT NOW.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Boy Who Could Fly - James Norcliffe

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

The Boy Who Could Fly was, at times, a bit confused. As if Norcliffe, an award winning poet, had a hard time distancing himself from the beauty of verse. Not sure if that even makes sense. Still, the story was so completely original and wholly unpredictable, I thought it deserved more than just an "I Liked It" rating.

The Boy Who Could Fly tells the story of the loblolly boy - a boy who is invisible to most of the world around him, has giant green wings and has the ability to trade his existence for another. But as Captain Bass, the mentor to the loblolly boy, says, "Folks often forget that when they are desperate to escape from something, they have to escape into something else."

I finished this quickly and eagerly. I had no idea of the sorts of twists and turns the story would take and I was glad of that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Super Sad True Love Trailer

I'm a big fan of hating book trailers. However, this one is hilarious. All book trailers should be the book trailer for Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story.

Hop over to The Rumpus to watch it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Faithful Place - Tana French

Rating: 4 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

I rarely ever rush out to buy a book. First of all, I don't make a lot of money and so jacketed hardcovers are out of my price range. Secondly, I'm lazy and forgetful. Tana French trumps my 'First of all' and 'Secondly'. I counted down the days for this and then, as soon as I got paid of course, I rushed out to the bookstore to buy it. I finished it in two days.

French spins a vivid tale with characters that are more real than your mom. I loved every gripping moment.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Faithful Place: A Novel

Since I wasn't regularly posting reviews around the time that I read both The Likeness and In the Woods, I thought I'd include them as well. Get y'all to read the entire series:

The Likeness
Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: 2009 Shelf

I just re-read my review of IN THE WOODS - my feelings on this book are so drastically different from my feelings on the first. THE LIKENESS helped me to form a greater respect for IN THE WOODS. Tana French is most definitely a master at character development. Her characters are so vivid, so realistic, so incredibly real to the reader - she achieves what most can not - a lasting impression. A group of friends you wish you'd really known.

In IN THE WOODS, I think I was never supposed to like Rob Ryan. French had such a picture of who Rob was and didn't stray from that at all, not even to get sympathy for him from the readers. THE LIKENESS focuses on Rob's partner, Cassie Maddox. Rob only enters the story a handful of times, through Cassie's remembrances of the previous case. And Cassie is a considerably more likable character.

They all were. There wasn't a single character I despised in this whole novel. Even the guy who did it (thank god there wasn't anything left unanswered in this one!). I also had NO CLUE what the outcome would be at any time. French took me for a very enjoyable ride with this one.

I'm actually really very sad that I finished. I think I'm going to sit with this one for a while.

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Likeness: A Novel

In the Woods
Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: 2008 Shelf

I was sorely disappointed with the outcome of this book. While entertaining, I don't think it was very solidly written. The Prologue is a great trick - written so eloquently you think this is what you are in for. But you aren't. A lot of whining and excuse after excuse by the narrator. I hated every time he sized a person up. I usually don't like women/men who are... Not a very good objective detective - maybe that is what French was trying to tell us? I knew from the moment the character entered the picture whodunit, it was just a matter of how. Watching buttloads of SVU preps you for that - and it isn't truly about Katy Devlin's case until the very end. Instead, French teases us with Peter, Jamie and Adam. The fact that she doesn't deliver at all on this story line is fantastically disappointing. She plants red herring after red herring, and they are obvious you just want to cut through it and get to the point! All that time wasted on the rape and the laughing animal in the woods... what?

I want to know who or what killed those three children and I want to know now!

Purchase Now from Amazon: In the Woods

The Series Characters

In the Woods - Rob Ryan
The Likeness - Cassie Maddox (Rob's partner in In the Woods)
Faithful Place - Frank Mackey (Cassie's Undercover boss in The Likeness)

I really hope the next book is about Stephen, the kid cop from Murder that Mackey takes under his wing in Faithful Place.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What I'm Reading Weekly Roundup

In Blogs

Library Cards on Etsy
Amazing photo of Hemingway that made me realize I STILL haven't posted about visiting his house in Key West!
Hemingway loafers Want!
Another LOST thing that I want.
RIP Steinbrenner Listen. I'm from New York. Okay?
Who is your favorite fictional character? I'd have to say either Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice or Joe Kavalier from Kavalier & Clay.
Ten Rules for Writing from Janet Fitch. I'm not really a fan of hers, but the rules are solid.
Time to Check your :'s (no that's not supposed to be an emoticon)
Um, Sassy Gay Friend is the BEST I wish he was my sassy gay friend.
Which Dystopian Future is right for you? I was split down the middle between A and D. My eggs shall be harvested but I won't be an "I" about it.
Frances Bean Cobain's Art Click through to find her piece on my friend, Jim Jones.
10 Lady Writers for your summer reading list!
A New Blog and Posters of Writer's Homes
Allen Barra needs to STFU because To Kill a Mockingbird is the most awesome. (By the way, I totally learned about STFU on an episode of SVU last night. Amazing!)
HOWL trailer
Argentina goes GAY and I say weeeeee!
Ship found under the WTC, WTF?
Amazing Illustrations for The Green Mare Provocative and awesome.

In Books

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (started at the beach, but it's pretty slow so far)

- Tim Reiterman (I've been reading this for over a year now. I love it, but Jim Jones is such an evil person that I can only read it a bit at a time before I have to put it down.)

Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann (bedtime reading)

A.H.W.O.S.G. - Dave Eggers (I haven't been able to force myself to pick this up again)

Eternity to Here - Sean Carroll (More than halfway through, but want to finish Raven before I continue)

And, of course! I'm going to pick up Tana French's book this afternoon. I'll have it read before the weekend is out. Happy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

So the last time I went against the masses and gave a semi-bad review to a book everyone else thought was so WONDERFUL, I was told by certain people that I obviously had "no emotions" and that they "felt sorry for me." I really hope that doesn't happen again, because it's sort of annoying to be berated for having a brain. This book wasn't all that great.

Sure, as you can tell by my rating, I "liked" it. It was entertaining and a quick, light read. But it was entirely too predictable. Nothing, not one thing, came as a nice surprise. Tess was an interesting and relatable character, but Charlie himself fell incredibly flat. The author begins his description of Charlie as if he's telling us a tall tale, so we are instantly distanced from the character. I was never able to regain the closeness I expect to feel to the characters in any decent novel.

And, why, WHY, did it have to end with Charlie telling Tess a neat little tale about their time together? WHY did it have to invoke THE NOTEBOOK? Why? "Well... it starts in Waterside Cemetery where a brave and beautiful sailmaker complained to the caretaker about a disturbance of the peace." Spare me? Seriously. Spare me.

Thank goodness the cover image was Zac Efron's face.

Purchase Now from Amazon:  Charlie St. Cloud: A Novel

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wish List

Wow. A lot of posts on this Wednesday. I'ma busy lady.

Here are the newest books I've discovered this week and hope to read at some point in my life. And this Saturday will mark the return of my round up post. I've missed doing those for like, what? Three weeks, I think? Life. You know? (a.k.a. Lazy. You know?)

Over the Edge of the World - Laurence Bergreen
Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories - Shirley Jackson
The Facebook Effect - David Kirkpatrick
The Dream of Perpetual Motion - Dexter Palmer
The Empire of the Summer Moon - S. C. Gwynne
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. - Sam Wasson
I Was Told There'd Be Cake - Sloane Crosley
Light Boxes - Shane Jones
The Colony - Jillian Marie Weise

The Facebook Effect sounds like such a good book even though I was totally hesitant to admit that I was interested in reading it. But, let's face it. Millions of people around the world have come to rely socially on a program that was created by a kid in a dorm room. That's crazy!

As I've gone on and on about, Tana French's novel is out RIGHT NOW. I don't have any money to buy it until Friday and that is making me incredibly sad faced.

Also, Light Boxes sounds INSANE.

Shop Now - Satisfy Your Wishlist

An Early Morning E-Mail Conversation on the Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

G - (On Monday) So, I finished the book. It wasn’t the best, but it was a decent, quick read. Sometimes you just need a book with slightly cheesy love story, ya know? You should read it before we see the movie (you can borrow it, duh). You could probably read it in two days like I did. And you can stare at Zac Efron on the cover.

I actually think that the movie might have a chance at being better than the book. I want you to read it so we can talk about the looooove scene.

Me - About 100 pages in. I feel medium about it so far. I’m at the part where Charlie and Tess are sitting by her father’s grave. They’ve just met. I think the author brought Tess and Charlie together too quickly. (However, in a movie, I wouldn’t have wanted to wait forever. Weird) Also – my biggest pet peeve is when everything becomes about ‘I LIKE BOYS!’ or ‘I LIKE GIRLS!’. So like, the fact that this adventurous, solo boat racing girl is all like, why’d I have to meet a cute boy right before my race, wah!? Is annoying me. So far, I wish this book was about Tess and her adventure and not about Charlie at all.

Tess is a very REAL character. I mean, besides the fact that he made her boy crazy to fit in with his plot. I like her. But there’s really nothing to Charlie. He started out talking about Charlie St. Cloud like he was a tall tale. I feel no connection to him whatsoever. But I did really like the part where they make it like Mrs. Phipps is grieving over her husband and then reveal that she’s really grieving over her own death. But now that that cat is out of the bag, Charlie is just talking to dead people and I’m bored with him.

G - I know! That’s why I can’t believe that all of these ladies are like “THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER!” I get that the author is totally appealing to the love-hungry part in all of us, but come on, it’s a book. A realistic relationship could actually be developed—you don’t have a page constraint.

And honestly, if I hadn’t pictured Zac Efron as Charlie in my head, I really wouldn’t have cared for him at all. I’m glad we’re on the same page. I was worried there was something wrong with me.

Me - Unfortunately, lots of people think that the worst books are the BEST BOOKS EVER. That’s why Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks do so well.

I Write Like...

I write like Stephen King. No matter what I put into the machine. Though, the paragraph that I shared a while back, the one where Anabel is telling the story about how a baby saved the sun and moon and stars compares to James Joyce.

Who do you write like?

*Edit* Click on the "I write like Stephen King." link to be brought to the magical analysis machine that was brought to us by the interwebs.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

I can't even remember the last time I devoured a book with such voracity. I finished in less than a day, choosing to spend the entirety of one evening reading instead of cleaning/cooking dinner/watching any sort of TV like I normally do after work. It was all cereal, ice cream and HUNGER GAMES. I had to force myself to go to sleep and save the last bit for the next morning. And then, it took everything in me to keep from flipping the book back to page one and starting all over again. That's how good it was.

I was drawn in immediately. IMMEDIATELY. I found a love for the characters in the first few pages that usually isn't developed until at least a third of the way through a book.

A friend of mine wrote on her Twitter that Hunger Games was more than a book. It was an experience. I wish I had more to write than that, but it's true. What a wonderful, WONDERFUL book.

Please read it. Please?

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Hunger Games

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tana French's Faithful Place Out in ONE WEEK!

Bahhhh! I can hardly stand it! Since I suck at actually remembering release dates (I also suck at remembering birthdays), this completely snuck up on me.

Check it out here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 01 - A Picture of Yourself

Me in my 'i'm an ugly.' t-shirt. Comes from the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I forget if the publisher was giving out the shirts for Spring or Fall previews, but it was before Extras came out, definitely. (However, since the original trilogy wrapped up so nicely and was SO GOOD, I decided to pretend that Extras was never written.)

Here is the editorial copy from Uglies:

"Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license--for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there. But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world--and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever."

The two books that followed are called Pretties and Specials. I loved each one of them. Westerfeld is such a good writer and the concept behind Tally's world was incredibly unique and thought provoking.

I am, very proudly, an ugly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wish List

Blah. I'm so behind in everything. I'm blaming the heat wave. That seems appropriate. Anyway - here's some more books I'm dying to read but won't ever get to because I can't even seem to finish the 40,000 books I already have in the pile.

The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman
Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis
Methland - Nick Reding
I Only Mark the Hours that Shine - Edith Bouvier Beale
The Passion - Jeanette Winterson
Musicophilia - Oliver Sacks
Minder - Kate Kaynack
Slam Book - Ann M. Martin
The Four Fingers of Death - Rick Moody
Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart
Faithful Place - Tana French
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud - Ben Sherwood

I am BEYOND excited for Tana French's new book. Even though I was meh about In the Woods, her second book, The Likeness, was one of my Top Ten of 2009. Faithful Place is the story of a young Frank Mackey, Cassie's undercover boss from The Likeness. I can't wait!

Also super excited for the diary of 11 year old Little Edie. I am obsessed with Grey Gardens. Totally. Obsessed.

Shop Now - Satisfy Your Wishlist

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Best Children's Non-Fiction

I'm trying to put together a list for work of the best Children's Non-Fiction titles. I've got an alright selection going including Seymore Simon, Steve Jenkins, and Philomen Sturges, but I could use some help.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Want it Wednesday

My wish list hasn't been updated in ages, but in the spirit of having a new feature on the blog, I'm going to start being proactive about searching out new titles and saving them to my wish list. Then on my birthday, or Christmas, or whatever days you like, maybe you can send me these books?


The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman
Only the Ball was White - Robert Peterson
Solar - Ian McEwan
My Face for the World to See - Liz Renay
Learning to Fly - Victoria Beckham
What Falls Away - Mia Farrow
Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland - Gerald Clarke
No Lifeguard on Duty - Janice Dikinson
Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Lost Museum - Hector Feliciano

Has anyone read any of these? What did you think?

Shop Now - Satisfy Your Wishlist

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What I'm Reading Weekly Roundup

In Blogs

Body or Brains? I have both. I'm screwed. (Just kidding.) (No, I'm not.)
Summer Reading? I love that he suggested Kavalier & Clay! What are you guys reading this summer?
Top Ten Books for Teens I love adding books to my wish list!
Sally Can't See the bird on her head.
All Quiet on the Western Front starring Harry Potter? YES!
Prices Dropping on Readers and so I think I'm going to buy a nook! Like soon!
Passion Pit Does Tonight, Tonight and I'm dying over here.
Regretsy Bella Swan Dress hahahahaha! WTF? I love how she says the daughter wants the dress, but the daughter isn't even old enough to know what Twilight is!

In Books

Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Raven - Tim Reiterman
The Dead Tossed Waves - Carrie Ryan
Valley of the Dolls - Jacqueline Susann
A.H.W.O.S.G. - Dave Eggers
Eternity to Here - Sean Carroll

In the Pile
If you have any suggestions on what I should be reading next, please leave them in the comments!

Sisters Red - Jackson Pearce
The Maze Runner
- James Dashner
Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins
Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan
All Unquiet Things - Anna Jarzab
Purge - Sarah Darer Littman
The Eyes of the Dragon - Stephen King
Into the Land of the Unicorns - Bruce Coville
Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Game of Thrones Teaser Trailer

Oh my gosh, you guys. I watched this like, six times in a row with my hand over my mouth to keep myself from squealing at my freaking desk.


I couldn't find a photo of Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, my favorite, favorite, favorite character, so here's just a photo of Peter Dinklage for your viewing pleasure. Because. I love him.

Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

So, so, so good! Beautifully written, funny and fantastical. I fell in love with all of the characters and was incredibly sad that I finished the book so quickly. I wish it could have gone on and on forever. Luckily, Diana Wynn Jones wrote a couple more books about Howl. I think they both feature Sophie as well. Can't wait to jump into those.

Also - positive thoughts and well wishes being sent Diana Wynne Jones' way.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Howl's Moving Castle

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Updated - Commenting

I just changed the settings so that everyone can comment on my blog, not just people with a GoogleID. I know y'all are dying to comment.

(Not really, but I seriously hate it when I want to comment on blogs and they require me to sign in. As soon as the PLEASE SIGN IN comes up, I immediately get unnecessarily angry.)

New Ideas

30 Days of Me - Completely not publishing related, but my friend has been doing it on her tumblr, and I want to do it too! I'll try to keep it as closely related to my life in publishing as possible. For instance, Day 1 is a photograph of yourself and I have the perfect picture of me in my I'M AN UGLY t-shirt that I got from Scott Westerfeld's Uglies promotion. This will probably happen in July/August because I'll probably forget to do it every day.

Book Drops -I've seen these done before and I'd like to do one for my blog. I get a ton of books for free through my job. I live in a studio apartment, so I have nowhere to store half of these books when I'm finished reading them. Hence the book drop. I'll try to drop one book a week somewhere in either Long Island or New York City (and elsewhere if I travel). The books will have a small sticker on the front that shouts, "READ ME!" and a larger sticker on the inside front cover leading the finder back to my blog and encouraging them to find the post with their book. I'll be creating posts that just say BOOK DROP - Title + roundabouts where to find them. Then the sticker will also encourage the finder to leave a comment describing where they found the book, if they enjoyed it and also if they decided to re-drop the book and where (about).

Wish List - I've been so busy lately my reading has slowed down considerably. But that doesn't stop me from constantly adding books to my Shelfari Wish List. Once a week I'll do a rundown of new (and old) titles that I'd like to get on my TBR pile. Let me know if you've read them and if they are worth my acquiring them!

Low Red Moon - Ivy Devlin

Rating: 3 stars
Shelf: Now Reading

To start, the book was just another Twilight knock off. I don't think it would too difficult to come up with something other than: new boy/girl, new school, instant connection, one of them tries to stay away from the other because it's bad news bears for the other but they just can't stay away, etc. I'm tired of it. I feel like every other teen book I read starts this way. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO START A NOVEL, PEOPLE!

Anyway, I think I'm famous for (in my own head) knocking a book before telling you how much I actually liked it. Because I actually liked it. As a murder mystery, it was much more than just another Twilight novel. Sure there was a werewolf and an instant connection, but the connection between Ben and Avery is an actual connection of thoughts and feelings that in turn helps them both to connect to the forest they love so much. And - another bonus - I never suspected a thing about the ending. Way to lead us down a thousand paths, Ivy Devlin. I commend you for it.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Low Red Moon (Low Red Moon (Quality))

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer - The Long Review

I have no idea what's going on with Pretty Little YA Books. I think we're done for, but the e-mail we received was little more than incredibly vague. Anyway, I wrote this review for Twenty Boy Summer. I am pretty fond of it and I don't want it to just go to waste (like all the other reviews I wrote and sent. Ridiculous. I am pretty angry). Here it is:

This book went from bad to fab in 3.2 seconds. Or, actually, it was much slower than that because I struggled through the first 192 pages. And I mean, really struggled. There was more than one moment when I wanted to give up for good. But, in the name of Pretty Little Young Adult Books and reviews you can rely on, I kept plugging along. I hope you all appreciate it because it hurt. But, the instant it got good, it got good and it stayed that way right through to the end.

Anna Rielly has been invited to vacation at Zanzibar Bay with her best friend Frankie and Frankie's parents. It is Anna's first trip to California and the family's first since the tragic death of their brother and son, Matt, the year before. In the name of the Absolute Best Summer Ever (ABSE), Frankie challenges Anna to a Twenty Boy Summer complete with the ultimate goal of losing Anna's Albatross, otherwise known as Anna's virginity. What Frankie doesn't know is that Anna already had her perfect romance. With Matt. For one secret month before his death. And she's keeping the secret because it had been Matt's job to tell Frankie.With him gone, Anna feels as though her heartbreak should be second to Frankie's and so she continues to carry her love for Matt alone. At every moment you are wondering - can they, Anna and this family striving for normalcy in the wake of tragedy, survive the summer?

The romance between Anna and Matt is short lived - one month or 19 pages. Matt's impending death is no secret as anyone who checks out the back cover will find it in the summary. As such, it's difficult to feel all of the characters' connections to Matt, even though it is very clearly stated that he meant a lot to everybody. After 19 pages, the narrative rushes forward to one year after Matt's death and the planning of the ABSE. Frankie, we are told by Anna, isn't the same girl she used to be. But since the reader barely gets a glimpse of who she was before, it's hard to sit back and not be annoyed by her selfish, boy obsessed ways. Up to page 192, the story is just a repetition of Frankie putting on too much make up, Anna going along with everything Frankie says, and the same cycle of sad thoughts about Matt.

It all turns around when Anna begins to allow herself to let go. Suddenly, the process the characters are going through is real, painful, bittersweet and hopeful. Letting go is more painful than holding on and Sarah Ockler captures this pain exquisitely. I spent the last third of the book alternating between crying hysterically and ear marking my favorite passages. The turning point for me was when Anna begins contemplating actually losing her virginity - the passage is comical and true and is also the moment the reader realizes that Anna just might be ready to live the life that even Matt would have wanted her to have. Anna speculates about why virginity is something everyone says they lose - "Don't worry, Mom. You can call off the helicopters and police dogs. Turns out - get this - I didn't actually lose my virginity. I just cast it off somewhere between here and Monterey. Can you believe it? lt could be anywhere by now, what with all that wind."

While I found Twenty Boy Summer to be worth it in the end, I wouldn't recommend it to someone without warning them of the long struggle it takes to get there. It might not be worth it for everyone. I'm just saying - it was for me.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Twenty Boy Summer
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