Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Updates

It's crazy that January is already over! Here are some of my highlights:

Awesome new bookcases!!! Check out and look at the Smart Shelves

I've gotten hooked up with some excellent publishers and have a stack of ARC books to review/give away in the upcoming weeks.

I met some of my favorite blog/nest friends this month and it was awesome! Best weekend of the year so far and I'm looking forward to February in the ATL!

I also had my first blog giveaway and I'll be mailing books to Anna at tomorrow. Look forward to another giveaway next week...

Start of my second year of grad school - or is that a lowlight?

I've read more books this month (and more pages) than I did in any month last year, so I'm off to a good start on my goal of reading more this year than last year. I'll close with my list of books read this month:

Stitches by David Small (4/5)
Lies I've Told by Dave Lileks (3/5)
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis (5/5)
Cottonwood Whispers by Jennifer Erin Valent (3.5/5)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (3/5)
World War Z by Matt Brooks (3/5)
Mortified by David Nadelberg (4/5)
The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis (5/5)
Country Music by Charles Wright (3/5)
Acolytes by Nikki Giovanni (3/5)
Smashed by Koren Zailckas (2.5/5)
The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks (2/5)
Beowulf (2/5)
Grendel by John Gardner (4/5)
Asparagus Dreams by Jessica Spears (0/5)
In The Woods by Tana French (4/5)
The Cost of Choice (5/5)
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers (3/5)

Pages read: 4578
Pages read by authors I've never read before: 2151

I really really hope to finish The Historian tonight, but I've got 200 pages to go so things aren't looking good for finishing tonight.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

Today's Questions:

1. Do YOU like books with complicated plots and unexpected endings?
2. What book with a surprise ending is your favorite? Or your least favorite?

I love books with twists at the end - quite possibly my favorite kind. I think it's one of the main reasons I typically avoid the romance/chick-lit genre - because you know how it's going to end by the time you're halfway through with the book.
My favorites with unexpected endings are Bel Canto by Anne Patchett and Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Just this week I finished In The Woods by Tana French, which also had a great surprise ending that I didn't see coming. It was my Nest January Book Club book, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys suspense. I much prefer the Hitchockian-style suspense of having no idea what will happen next to the blood and gore of many modern "thrillers".

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Half Full

My optimistic thought of the day:

When you wake up in the morning, walk into the laundry room, and step barefoot into a pile of clothes that the cat peed in, you know your day can only be headed up!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review: The Cost of Choice

If you're at all interested in the pro-life (anti-abortion, whatever) side of the abortion debate, this is a great book to read. I wish I could read it as a newer edition because a lot has happened since 2004 in relation to the issue, but the book still provides an excllent source of information and statistics from women who are experts in the field of politics, medicine, psychology, and women's issues. If you're stringently pro-choice, it's probably not the book for you, since it is a one-sided argument against abortion. However, I think it's a good book to start discussion for both sides of the debate and raises interesting questions. It's also a great way for those who are pro-life (again, whatever you want to call it) to familiarize themselves with the statistics being used by both sides. It also comes from a feminist perspective, which I especially enjoyed since I certainly consider myself an ardent feminist. I'll not go in to details of the book, as this isn't a political blog, but I did enjoy the book and I highly recommend it.
PS: This is an awesome website:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My new bookcases!

So for my birthday, Lucas bought me the bookcases I've had my eye on for a while now. We got them from his company ( and I'm in love! If you're at all interested in bookcases, SmartFurniture has awesome ones - and also a ton of fun bookends, picture frames, and of course awesome furniture. I will pimp the links at the end of this post. TJ, if you are reading this, please feel free to give me free stuff in the future in return for the promotion of your products.

Now on to the good stuff:

Here is a close-up of the sword (yes the infamous Christmas sword) on top of my pretty new bookcases. Please note that it is propped up with styrofoam. I'm sure you'll all agree, though, that you must choose your battles.

We've got the bookcases split for now, but when we move we will try to put them together on one wall. I love the smart cases because we can take them apart and do any size/combination we want. If you check out the website, make sure you note that Luke is the web developer so he made all of their virtual room set ups and everything. I'll end with a few links. Tomorrow I'll post pictures of all my other book related birthday gifts!

9'wide by 6' high Smartshelves
James the Bookend

This one isn't book-case specific, but it's a program Luke has been working on for his company that they are really excited about:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

This is the perfect opportunity to fit in my BTT answer and two book reviews I've been meaning to post. Lots of people have heard of CS Lewis, and quite a few have even read the Narnia books or are at least familiar with the movies. But I rarely come across people who have read his adult fiction. Just recently, I read through The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, both as rereads. So many good insights in both and I've had tons to think about. Reading them together (one set in heaven, the other in hell) was also an interesting experience.

What has jumped out at me most, though, is Screwtape Proposes A Toast - the short essay at the end of Screwtape Letters. It addresses the failings of the movement in schools towards equality - children who learn quickly are held back so that the lazy or less intelligent children don't feel bad. Over the past few weeks I have seen this attitude so clearly in my students. After our student council election, two students who had not campaigned for positions were very disappointed that they didn't win the positions they wanted. They maintained that the fact that other students asked people to vote for them and posted signs was "unfair". Having just read Screwtape Proposes a Toast, the attitude that if they choose not to do the work, other students should be held back as well. It's an interesting thought and one that goes along quite well with much of the latest political debates, especially those on healthcare. Don't worry, I won't start a political rant here. But I highly recommend both books to be read as fiction, spiritual analogy, or even devotionals.

Contest Winner!

I finally forced Lucas to read all of the replies last night and choose a winner! Congratulations to MrsB72008 at Anna, if you will send me a wishlist, I'll pick three books up for you tomorrow during my "acquisitions" time at the bookstore! Thanks to everyone for participating - I'm already planning my next giveaway!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Giveaway Update

Don't worry I haven't forgotten! I'm too busy reading to do a full post tonight, but I will be announcing the giveaway winner this week! I've given Lucas until Wednesday to make his final decision - because of course this is not a questions of whether or not I get the book cases, it is only of how SOON I get them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?
I typically have looked up any book I read on Goodreads before reading, so I already have an idea of the plot. If I'm browsing, I will occasionally read the back cover or the inside flap, but for the most part I tend to know the plot before I choose the book. If you're looking for something good to read, check out my Goodreads page or the Book Bio that I've put together for the Nesties!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Team Gale!

It's small in the picture, but can everyone tell what my new favorite accessory is? Thanks to Tameka ( and my work bestie, Liz, I am the proud owner of not one, but TWO mockingjay pins. I've proudly put one on my coat and I'm thinking I'll use the other to pin some Hunger Games related book lists to the library bulletin board at work. Leave a comment with a book that reminds you of the Hunger Games so I can start working on my list!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Poll!

I borrowed this poll from Ashley at who borrowed it from The Story Siren...Copy and paste the questions and leave your answers as a comment!!!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
not usually, at night I'll have a glass of milk while I read

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea ofwriting in books horrify you?
I mark in them occasionally - I like reading back over what I was thinking when I read the book before

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?Laying the book flat open?
It depends on the book - If i can lay it open without breaking the spine and I own it, then I'll lay it open. If it's a library book I use a bookmark.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Hard copy or audiobooks?
hard copy pretty much always

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are youable to put a book down at any point?
I need a good stopping point and always try for the ends of chapters

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

What are you currently reading?
World War Z and Crime and Punishment

What is the last book you bought?
This is so shameful - I got a whole bunch of books at the used book store on Saturday and I can't remember the title for even one of them

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or canyou read more than one at a time?
More than one.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
At night in bed before I go to sleep

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Stand alone

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
CS Lewis, The Hunger Games, Bel Canto

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
By wherever I can fit them right now. When Luke finally gives in and buys me bookcases I plan to organize fiction alphabetically by author's last name and nonfiction by subject.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cottonwood Whispers

First of all, thanks to Tyndale for sending me this ARC. I didn't realize it was a sequel, but it can be just as easily read as a stand-alone book. After reading it, I'm definitely going to be looking for a copy of the first book as well as any continuations. I'd love to see this as a series.

First and foremost, it was anything but the typical inspirational fiction cliche. The protagonist is likable, witty, self-reliant, and not a Christian. There is also no "Damascus Road" experience where she is saved. When the book ends, she still does not believe. It really convinced me that the author, Jennifer Erin Valent, is writing books that appeal across genres (inspirational literature, chick lit, literary lit...wahtever) that avoid preachy, formulaic plots. The Christians portrayed in the book are all real people. For example, we have the father figure who, yes, prays before meals, but who also has his own doubts and struggles. None of the characters are perfect and we see all their flaws, but can still relate to them. I'm also a sucker for a good story, and this has one. The plot is captivating (main character must choose between protecting her family or protecting an innocent man) and the writing is good.

My only dislike was the dialect. I'm from the South too, but I don't love reading heavy dialect in books. Also, the book is written in first person, with the protagonist as narrator. In her narration she has no dialect - in her conversation it's heavy and uses tons of colloquialisms. A small issue, given the depth of the story.

Don't forget: post a comment on my previous post about the new bookcases I need and you might just win some books!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Other Man In My Life

I'm finally broadcasting my secret for all the internet to see. There is another man in my life. Our relationship is not romantic in nature, but I feel I can no longer hide what it has become.

Him: The older used book-store owner, a kind man with somewhat frightening teeth, but a vast knowledge of books.
Me: The wide-eyed literary ingenue (ok, maybe I'm pushing that one a little) with a big heart who wants to support local business owners.

We meet: I spend hours pouring over his shelves and refuse to even look at the chain stores that once held my attention. I provide him with a steady stream of used book trades and brag to all my friends about my new relationship. He gives me discounts and calls me when he finds something I've been looking for.

But I can no longer hide the offspring of our relationship from my husband. Here it is, in color, my dirty little secret (embarassingly enough, these are only the unread books - there is another room filled with books I've read):

My main problem, obviously, is that I'm out of space for all these poor illegitimate children from questionable backgrounds (who knows who their previous owners were) need a permanend place in my home. So here's the deal: post a comment telling my husband why he ought to buy me new bookcases. The poster whose comment my husband finds most persuasive wins 3 of these books (they are all used, but in excellent condition) tailored to your literary preferences! Post away!