Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Remember what I said yesterday about loving a good bubble gum read every now and then? I wasn't kidding. Since I had finished House Rules and needed to read Shiver for a discussion with a Nestie friend (FYI Nesties are my online book loving friends - bissou, ladies!). I started at 8 and finished sometime around 2. So I'm definitely paying for staying up way too late at work this morning, but it was worth it.
Basic outline of the story: wolf pack attacks girl, girl meets wolf, girl falls in love with wolf, wolf turns out to be human. Complications ensue. If you're wondering if this is Twilight with werewolved I can't tell you because I've never read Twilight. But it was fun as all get out. I will admit that the first 100 or so pages creeped me out. The wolf-love thing is weird. But then the story starts and once you get to the end, the wolf-love isn't so creepy and is actually somewhat explained. But I hate spoilers and you all know how to use Amazon to find the full plot summary if you really need it.
What we're all really here for is my recommendation, right? I say, yes, read the book. Unless you are a book snot. Then you should probably stay away. And don't feel the need to ruin it for me by telling me why you hate it. If there is one thing that annoys me, it is book snots who have to tell people who like a book despite it's quirks (this book's quirk just happens to be it's plot revolving around teen-werewolf romance) why they shouldn't love a book. Again, let me stress that I don't care. Maggie Stiefvater is probably hanging out with Jodi Picoult swimming in solid gold pools of cash.
Summary: I liked it, and if you read for pleasure or enjoy YA at all you should check this one out. I don't like YA usually and I really don't like paranormal, but this one is an exception to all my rules. Give it a try and try to ignore the first 100 pages of weirdness.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Are you guys ready to hear my completely non-literary confession? I love Jodi Picoult. But that's not the confession. Before I confess I have to say that I've read several of the woman's books and I always get into them. This one (about a boy with Asperger's who is obsessed with crime scenes and ends up accused of a violent crime) wasn't any different. Does the woman recycle characters? Yes. Do all of her books sort of blend together with the twist at the end that you can see coming a mile away? Yes. But when you're reading for pleasure and not for increasing your knowledge or making a huge literary discovery or improving yourself in any way, what is there not to love about an engrossing story?

So here is my confession: If I were a writer, which I'm not, I'd choose to be a Jodi Picoult. I mean seriously people...would you rather write books that people love to read and make the best seller lists for weeks and sell tons of copies, thereby making you a very rich person - or would you rather read a book that a few college professors read and deem of literary value? Maybe if I were a writer, I would feel differently. And of course there is always the option of being both "literary" and popular. But I think popular authors frequently get shafted because they aren't technically the best. And when I'm looking for a book to push my mind, I'm not going to be turning to Jodi Picoult. But there's a reason the woman is on the top of the best seller lists and it's because her stories are fun to read. So I say "bah" to all you literary types who don't understand the draw of "bubblegum" pleasure reading. Jodi Picoult is laughing at you as she rolls in her piles of money.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend Update

Busy weekend! Between having a yard sale (totally unsuccessful), trying to finish out the semester in my master's program, working on graduation for my students, and spending some quality time on my new hobby (random DIY projects for the new house) I accomplished pretty much nothing. I'm reading the same book I was reading at the beginning of the weekend (boo!) and packed almost nothing.

Have I mentioned that we're buying a house? We close on Thursday and I can't wait. I'm still trying to decide if I want to make a google page to show off my DIY projects or if I want to start a DIY blog. What do you guys think?

I hope to post my review of Jodi Picoult's new book House Rules tomorrow - I'm almost done - and my thoughts on popular fiction.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Bridegrooms: Book Review + SBC Giveaway

As I established pretty well in my last post, Christian fiction makes me a little nervous. A lot of times, it, quite frankly, sucks. However, I've made a few exceptions recently, and this is one of them. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the next real quality literature, but as far as romance writing goes, it's on par for the genre. We're not talking about books you'll find on a college reading list or anything life-changing here, but we are talking about some pretty good bubble-gum reading. I always appreciate books with Christian characters who don't always act like saints and this book does a great job of that - the characters actually have personalities and aren't walking, talking Scripture-reading machines. The sisters argue and gossip and make snide remarks about others - they're believable as human beings (as opposed to my last venture into the genre). I certainly recommend it if you're looking for a wholesome romance novel/chick lit, but not looking to be preached at.

And here is where I get to the fun part. I've got a copy to give away. Those of you who participate in the Spring Book Challenge on the Nest know that I've written about a bazillion times about how I will never read a baseball book and I'm skipping that whole challenge. Well, I lied. This is pretty much the cutest baseball book ever. It is about four sisters of marrying age in turn of the century America whose lives are turned upside down when a baseball team (The Bridegrooms) come to town. I think you can pretty much guess where the plot is headed from there...

But it's about baseball! I can count it for SBC! And since I'm so thrilled to be able to use it, I'm giving away a copy - and thrilled that I can actually recommend this one to readers! Leave a comment and I'll choose a winner in a few days!

Book was furnished by the publisher and can be found at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Alabama Reading Festival

I was lucky enough to spend this Saturday with my awesome friends Anna, Crystal, Leah, and Wendy and got to meet my new friends Thomas and Lisa in Montgomery at the AL Book Festival. We had an awesome time and I got quite a few new books (signed copies!). Enjoy my photos! and my favorites!

Crystal and Leah, who are apparently close personal friends of Hex Hall author Rachel Hawkins, scored awesome t-shirts - and the rest of us ended up getting one too!

My stack of new books!

Big Fish by Daniel Wallace

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Review/Kind-of-GIveaway: Forget Me Not

Ok, I'm trying something new today, and hopefully my favorite publishing company ( won't mind too much. They were kind enough to provide this book for my review (even though I'm late publishing - sorry!!) I've had a crazy weekend, but here we go. As much as I've loved everything else sent to my by the publisher, I cannot in good conscience recommend this one. It's about a woman who has lost her memory and has no clues to her identity other than a necklace and a business card for a Crisis Care Center. She goes to the center and realizes that she looks just like the owner's wife - who was murdered three years before. Interesting, if not completely original, premise, but I have to be honest guys, I am annoyed by the writing. It fits into the "inspriational" genre (read Christian) and it reads, at least to me, like the agenda for the book was chosen and the book was written around that - and not very well.

Right now my biggest pet peeve is the way the female character interjects prayers into her conversations randomly (and out loud). I pray and I pray out loud sometimes, but not usually right in the middle of a conversation with another person - and I can't say that I know anyone else who does the same. Anyway, regardless of the writing, I feel bad because I love the publisher and I've enjoyed every other book they've sent me. I don't feel bad for not liking the book, but I feel bad because they also sent me a giveaway copy and I can't really write a whole post about how I didn't like a book and then try to give it away, right?

So for this giveaway, here's what I'm thinking: I'll give the book another chance to be reviewed on my blog by someone who might have a different opinion. Would any of my sweet readers be interested in winning a copy of the book, writing a review, and guest posting it on my blog? My grandmother, who reads inspirational fiction exclusively, will be getting my personal copy and I'm going to try to get her to write a guest review for me too! Leave a comment if you're interested in guest writing on my blog!

For those of you who are interested, more information about the book can be found at:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Review: It - finally finished!!!

I didn't use the book cover as my picture for this post because I like the movie pictures so much better. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a copy of the movie today so Luke and I can watch while we price items for our yard sale tonight.

Can I just say that Pennywise is now in the running for my all-time favorite villain? I've always loved the character of Iago in Othello and I think my love for Pennywise comes from the same place. The idea of a villain who doesn't have a reason for being evil, wasn't abused as a child, and isn't portrayed with any sympathy can be thrilling. In an epic story like IT, the whole evil for the sake of being evil really works well I think. It certainly builds up the whole battle of good vs. evil in a way that isn't possible with a sympathetic villain.

And I'd also like to add that Stephen King does an amazing job of potraying the epic battle between good and evil. He incorporates so much of the tradition behind the epic, but also manages to keep it fresh and original. All of the literary tradition is present, but the villain spends half the book dressed like a clown! (I have had a thing for creepy clowns ever since Killer Klowns from Outer Space). He also does a great job of wrapping things up. Not that the book just has a tidy, happy ending, but the things that were foreshadowed/hinted at from the beginning are cleared up by the end. In a book as long as IT (my copy was 1138 pgs) it would be easy to just let certain plot points just trail off (as seen in oh I don't know, Lost???) but he does such a good job of keeping it all together and uniting it under one theme.

So here is your chance to reply: what is it in your imagination that goes bump in the night? If you saw Pennywise, what would he look like to you?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cover Love Wednesday

Week two of my meme: Cover Love Wednesday. In honor of National Library Week, post your favorite covers featuring a book/books, a library, or a librarian. These don't have to be books you've read, just covers you love! Add your link to the comments section.

All of these covers represent my two favorite parts of libraries: books and book lovers! And if you're not just looking for a pretty cover, but also an excellent book about books or librarians, here are a few of my five-start suggestions:

The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt both by Nick Hornby - selections from his book review columns in The Guardian.

Bizarre Books by Russell Ash - photos and cover quotes from unintentionally hilarious books

A Passion for Books by Harold Rabinowitz - a great collection of stories, essays, and lists about books

Bibliotherapy: The Girls' Guide to Books For Every Phase of Our Lives - just what it says - a fun and light read

The Book Lust series by Nancy Pearl - collections from her articles, plus she's my hero librarian

Don't forget to add your links!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Library Week Part Two

The bad news: no pictures from last night's Break the Rules night.

The good news: the reason I didn't get any pictures was because I was so busy with students! Break the Rules night was a HUGE success! Each instructor talked it up in the classroom, so by the break time, all the students were really excited. I spent a good hour pouring punch and explaining our week-long scavenger hunt. I also had forms available for parents to fill out about a program our county provides that sends children a free book every month. So many parents were excited about that and signed up.

My favorite parts:

One student gave me a fist bump "for books"
Hearing a student say "Yay books!"
The excitement over the free books for kids program
Leaving last night and having a student call after me "Happy library day Miss Julie"
Feeling appreciated

Tonight I've got another Break the Rules night planned and I'm going into our composition class to play a trivia game about famous library scenes from movies.

PS: Check out an awesome post on my good friend Heather's site!

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Library Week

This week is National Library Week, so look forward to several posts about my library and how we're celebrating this week. Some of the programming I've set up:
Break the Rules Night (tonight and tomorrow) where I'll be serving food and drinks in the library
LRC Scavenger Hunt where students will be entered in a raffle for every question they can provide the correct answer to - featuring questions about resources available in the library
Movie Trivia - prizes for students who can correctly answer questions about well known movie scenes involving libraries or librarians
I should have some pictures to post tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of my library! Oh and don't forget tomorrow is Library Worker's Day, so show me some appreciation already!

My desk

More of my desk...

The view from my desk

Not many books, but I'm working on it!
And the view from the front door! Look for pictures with students tomorrow!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tying up loose ends

Just need to tie up some loose ends in this post - I'm still plugging away at IT, but I can only read it for so long before I need a break. I love the book, but it is getting to the point where it is incredibly creepy - and it just keeps getting creepier. So in my breaks, I read Princess: You Know Who You Are.

I loved it as long as I took it ironically and just as a "fun" read - a life guide for those of us who consider ourselves deserving of the "princess" title. Unfortunately, I think I have some of the exact tendencies written about in the book (especially when it comes to getting what I want). It's cute to read about in a book, but when you think about a person behaving that way in real life, it's not cute so much as spoiled and obnoxious. Parts of it were funny, but other parts just annoyed me. And made me even more sure that "princess" isn't really the role I want - definitely time for some work on humility. I give it a 3/5 if you can read it for the irony.

Next on my list of loose ends: an award from Jacki at Lovely Little Shelf.

For this award, I will tell seven honest things about myself and then pass this on to seven other bloggers. Here we go:
1. I never memorized all of the multiplication tables - some of the 7s and 8s I still have to think about for a minute.
2. I'm a terrible housekeeper. My house is always a mess and I can't ever seem to catch up on the cleaning.
3. I'm a sucker for stationery but I can never find postage, so I have a stack of unsent letters that go back years.
4. I like the smell of vehicle exhaust and gasoline.
5. I'm spoiled to an unhealthy level by my dad and husband (see above review of Princess).
6. I can skank (and I think I'm pretty good at it).
7. My ideal date is laying on the couch in my pjs with Luke, eating takeout, and watching tv.
Passing this on to:
Crystal Clear Reading (has an awesome contest going on)
The Tales of Bobo and Cocoa (cutest puppies ever)
An Everyday Angel (my Southern girl)
That's Life... (my favorite Canadian)
See Heather Write (can't wait for her book!)
Life Is Short. Read Fast. (Awesome recommendations)
I love you ladies!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Starting my own meme!

After all the fun I've had with covers, I think I'm going to start a Cover Love Wednesday meme. Anyone want to play along?

Since yesterday I did book covers that I didn't love, today I thought I'd start with favorite book covers - but only those that you've already read. Comment on the quality of the book as compared to the quality of the cover! Post your link below!

Love the book, love the cover, both made me laugh. Had the cover not been so much fun, I wouldn't have given the book a try. I think it helped that I've never really been a true Austen fan, and the humor of the book was similar to my sense of humor.

Rainbows and unicorns, need I say more? If you've never read McSweeney's, this is the time to start. This is a literal laugh out loud kind of book - maybe the funniest I've ever read.

This cover screams Alfred Hitchcock, suspense, creepiness to me. Unfortunately the book didn't deliver. But I still love the cover.

Add a link to your favorite book covers (that you've read!) to the comments section below!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Book List

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Book List. Today's list: Cover Disgust - three book covers that missed the mark.

Here are mine:

This cover turned me off to the book for a long time. I finally gave in and read it and I thought the book itself was as dull as the cover. It looks blah to me and it read blah to me.

I can't look at this cover and think of anything other than Cassandra from Dr. Who. It makes the book look stupid, which it's not.

I get why they chose the armadillo, but it really does nothing to make the book look appealing at all. There's nothing about this cover that makes me want to pick it up and see what it's about. If I weren't familiar with the author or the story or the book itself I'd pass right over it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My new house

I know it's been like a week since I had a book-related post. IT is really taking me a while to get through (which I think is forgivable given that we're talking about over 1100 pages here). I am absolutely LOVING it though and can't wait to post my raves about it when I finally finish. There are also a few others that I'm picking away at that I should be posting reviews for soon. In the meantime, here by request, is the link to my new house. That's right, pending inspection tomorrow, Luke and I will be homeowners!!!

Luke plans to get a puppy within the next few years - leave a comment urging him to let me name the puppy Pennywise!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter!

Because we are still kids at heart, my siblings and I still decorate eggs every Easter. Enjoy these photos of us and our eggs (especially my I love books egg!) and a few lines from some of my favorite Easter songs:

I don't typically use my blog as a pulpit and don't plan on starting now, but Easter is special to me, so I included a few lines of my favorite songs:

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on the cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the World by darkness slain
Till bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ