Friday, July 30, 2010

Blog Hop Day!

This is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy-For-Books.  Check out today's hop and find some new blogger friends!

Today's question from our host: Who is your favorite new to you author so far this year?
Obviously, after my last few days of reading I have to say Emma Donaghue, author of Room.   Some others that I've enjoyed reading for the first time this year are:
Tana French
Sarah Addison Allen
Maggie Stiefvater
Carrie Ryan

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: Room by Emma Donaghue

I'm nervous to even write this review because I'm afraid I won't be able to express how amazing Room by Emma Donaghue is.  I've been thinking about it non-stop since I started it Monday night.  Work has been torture this week because all I wanted to do was to go home and keep reading.  But at the same time I didn't want to keep reading because that meant it would be over.  I'm still feeling a little mopey over the fact that I finished it and had to leave the characters.  I know I can re-read it, but it's not quite the same as experiencing a really great novel for the first time.

Room is the story of a boy named Jack and his relationship with his Ma, as told by Jack.  Jack is five years old and was born in Room.  He has never left Room because of Old Nick, who kidnapped Jack's Ma and has locked her in Room for the past seven years.  Not only does the author capture the voice of a five year old in an incredibly accurate way, but she stays consistent with his voice throughout the entire book.  This is the best book I've read with a child narrator.  There was never a moment when his voice was too young or too old.  Even better, Jack is completely innocent in so many ways that it would be difficult to remain consistent, but the author accomplishes it flawlessly.  Because Jack has never been outside of Room, he doesn't know about grass, wind, stairs, and a million other things.  The author maintains such a consistency with Jack's voice that the story is never broken. 

The relationship between Jack and Ma is so precious.  It was heartbreaking and beautiful and so very real.  Every character was utterly believable.  I can't say enough about how amazing this book is.  It will be released in September and I recommend that you be waiting at the bookstore on the morning of the 14th to buy it and read immediately.  Don't even go home first.  Definitely the best book I've read all year.   I'm honored to have the opportunity to review it for the publisher.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Book DIY

I know guys.  I know, I know, I know.  I have a DIY blog.  But this blog has more followers and I'm so proud of me I just can't contain it!  So if you don't want to see the crafty results of my evening, look away now.  Also I used my phone so the quality isn't just awesome

Project #1 - cardboard letter sale at Hobby Lobby = "READ" sign on my mantel for about $4 and some spray paint.  Question: should I stagger the letter height by stacking them on re-covered books?  Or will that be too busy?

















Project #2 - I've had these awesome damask print letters on hand for a while and I've been keeping my eyes open for a six opening collage frame.  Tonight at Wal-mart I hit the jackpot.  Approx. $25 total.  Just pretend you can't read my last name, especially if you're a crazy.
































Project #3 - I have never had decent jewelry storage.  I'm not kidding.  Never in my life.  And the sad part is that I have some really nice pieces.  I have several strands of pearls, including some that are heirloom pieces passed down through my family.  Of course, most of these I keep sealed and stored, but a few of the pieces that I wear regularly (and what Southern lady doesn't wear her pearls regularly?) have always been kept in boxes stacked everywhere.  Tonight I fixed that! Behold my craftiness:

Goodwill frames + two sheets of half off scrap book paper + modpodge +hooks.  Total cost: $5

Books and the Significant Other

I really really want to write a review for Room by Emma Donaghue, but I haven't quite finished yet.  I can't wait to share about it because it is probably the best book I've read so far this year.  And it was just long listed for the Man Booker Prize (see the rest of the list here).  So keep your fingers crossed that I get in lots of reading time tonight.

Since I can't review Room yet, I thought I'd see if I can't prompt some discussion.  A topic that comes up fairly frequently on my book message boards is whether or not your significant other reads.  For a long time I swore up and down that I could not possibly marry a man who didn't love books.  And then God laughed and introduced me to Luke, who I pretty much immediately fell head over heels for.  The thing is...Luke doesn't really like to read.  And on the rare occasion that he does read, he doesn't read anything like what I like to read.

I just remember being so sure in college that I could never be compatible with someone who doesn't love the written word the way I do.  But I think I've come to realize since I met Luke that what's really important is not that he loves books, but that he loves the fact that I love books.  I hear people say that their husbands complain that they read so much, but Luke has always respected and even appreciated my need for reading time.  He knows that before I go to bed I need an hour or two to relax and read and he's never infringed on that or even asked me to turn the light off (it helps that the man could sleep through the Second Coming). 

He has also not only accepted my maniacal collection of books (we're now numbering in the thousands), but encourages it.  He picks up books for me and surprises me with book shopping trips all the time.  And after my book purchasing expeditions he's always sweet about sitting and listening to the details of each book I bought, even if he's not at all interested.  I'm not trying to bash anyone else's significant other, but I've always appreciated the fact that while my love for reading isn't something we share, it's something that he accepts and even celebrates as a part of who I am.  You won't catch me having to hide my new purchases in the closet or sneak them into the house when he's not home - he's happy to just stack them on the floor until he can get me a new bookcase.  I realize that at this point I'm just bragging so I'll stop.

The question I really want to ask is this:

If you're in a long term relationship, how does your significant other feel about your relationship with books?

If you're single, would you date someone who doesn't have the same passion for books that you have?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: She Walks In Beauty

Cover photo of a young woman in a beautiful gown...set in the Gilded Age of the early 20th century...scandal and intrigue in the upper classes....sound familiar?  Like maybe...The Luxe series? 

She Walks in Beauty isn't just a rip-off of the Luxe books, even though they have similar settings.  As much as I loved The Luxe series, I think I actually ended up enjoying She Walks In Beauty more.  I completely identified with the main character, who is more interested in her education than her social status, but is being forced to debut in order to restore her family's honor - by making a match with the most eligible bachelor of the season.  And her best friend is going for the same guy!  Ok, so it's not high brow literature, but if you're a fan of the Luxe books, you'll like this one.

The best thing to me is that this is actually under the category of Christian fiction, but you'd never know.  Well, ok that might be pushing it, but the thing is that the characters don't walk around talking about their Christianity.  And the main theme of the book isn't how to become a Christian or why you should be more like Christians or whatever.  The main "issues" addressed by the book are the disparity between those living in poverty and those flaunting their wealth and the dangers of obsessing over outer beauty.  A few of the characters are Christians and one character tells another that God loves her just as she is.  That's about it on the preaching front.

Which brings me to what I really loved about this book (other than the fact that the story is intriguing and well-written).  This is the kind of book I want to see more Christian authors marketing.  Writing a work of "fiction" that is a thinly disguised sermon, which you will in turn publish by a Christian publishing house and market solely in Christian markets seems like preaching to the choir to me.  There's nothing wrong with stores like Lifeway that cater to a Christian market, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying those books. 

But I think it's hugely important for Christian fiction authors to be able to compete outside of that market as well.  And if you're not a good writer (except compared to other Christian authors) and you're writing books that no one is going to pick up because they are such obvious attempts at explaining the gospel message, I don't think you're fulfilling the Biblical command to excel.  If we can do all things through Christ, why aren't we writing best sellers across various markets?  And why does Christian fiction have to be about soul winning?  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd love to see Christians authors writing fiction that may or may not have Christian characters but isn't crammed into the genre fiction that is Christian Lit. 

Apparently, Siri Mitchell can do it.  I was really impressed with this one.  Give it  a chance and let me know what you think!  Thanks to Jim at Bethany House for sending me a great book that doesn't limit itself to genre fiction!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Must. Remain. Calm.

Today has been pretty horrific.  A co-worker gave my husband's cell phone number (listed in my HR documents as my emergency contact) to a student who was trying to call me over the weekend.  An issue between an instructor and a student that I witnessed became drama-of-the-week and I had to be involved in it.  Another student is currently bawling her eyes out in here over baby-daddy issues.  And it's only Monday.  And it's raining and my pants are too long and they dragged in a puddle and now I have damp ankles. 

But then.
The skies opened and I got an email.  My friend Tameka was at a Linger signing and just so happened to see my Tweet about how I can't seem to win a copy of Linger for the life of me.  And guess what?  She not only picked up a copy but also got it signed!!!!  My day has been made.  And it inspired this haiku:

My friend Tameka
Our love of YA unites
Us across the miles.

and

Wet ankles; no match
For the joy that is Linger
And thoughtful net friends

My day is totally worthy of a vlog of the Hallelujia chorus if only there weren't students in the library right now.  And just in case you were wondering - I do, in fact, know all of the words, not just the hallelujias.

Book Review: Proust's Overcoat

On Thursday night I got an out of the blue summer cold.  It was nasty.  I ended up leaving work early on Friday and staying in bed until Sunday.  I hate to say it, but when I am sick I am a big, giant baby.  Sweet Luke spent the weekend bringing me juice and flowers and fresh peaches and basically spoiling me rotten.  The good news is that I got a ton of reading done in between naps and moanings and groanings. 

Proust's Overcoat: The True Story of One Man's Passion for All Things Proust by Lorenza Foschini was a great book to read after hitting up the TN Antiquarian Book Festival last weekend.  It tells the story of Jacques Guerin, a chemist/perfumist who identified with the Marcel Proust and had an interest in collecting literary memorabilia.  He providentially met Proust's brother, Dr. Robert Proust, and spent the rest of his life collecting artifacts pertaining to Marcel Proust.  At the end of his life, he not only possessed many original drawings, manuscripts, letters, and first editions, but also Proust's bed, desk, shaving kit, and many, many other articles including the titular overcoat.

The book goes back and forth between the history of Guerin and his collection and the history of Marcel Proust himself.  I know basically nothing about Proust as an author, but this provided a good overview of his life.  You don't need to be a Proust fan to read it, obviously, but I think if you are a Proust fan you will really enjoy this one.  Regardless of my lack of knowledge, the book was great.  It's accessible, but still academic.  I learned about the time period, Proust's history, his contemporaries, and his impact on the literary world.  It's also a short read, at 144 pages, so the academic aspect isn't overwhelming and dull.  It won't be released until August 10, 2010, but I recommend that you add this one to your TBR list. 

Ideal for: those interested in collecting books or literary artifacts, Proust fans, history buffs, those interested in the Parisian literary scene of the early 20th century, anyone looking for a great academic story that can be read in an afternoon!

A million thanks to Ecco for providing me with a review copy of this book!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

Remember when I was posting lists of what I bought and read each week?  I'm going to try to get back in that habit, but I think I'll use the IMM meme from The Story Siren to post the what I bought/received list.
 
Received for Review
Fallout (not pictured)
Her Fearful Symmetry (not pictured)

Purchased with credit from trades at McKays:
Something by Jim Butcher for Luke
The Dearest Dorothy Series

Dumpster Dived

Don't worry guys I'm not suddenly obsessed with the great disasters of the 1970's or overcome by the desitre to decorate my house in neon colors.  But these were in good condition and are coffe-table sized - perfect for re-covering!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Review: Dear Diary

I picked this one up at McKays because the cover reminded me a lot of Mortified (edited by David Nagel), which I enjoyed.  I also needed a book for a quarterly challenge my NBC girls do that is in diary form and the premise for this book sounded hilarious.  The book is made up of entries from the author's diary from middle school through her post-college years.  She also includes updated commentary on her diary entries and interviews some of the people she wrote about.  The back cover blurbs all talk about how funny and poignant it is, etc, etc. 

Sorry guys.  Not funny.  And not poignant.  Really, really annoying is more like it.  Warning sign #1 should have been the forward by Chloe Sevigny about how this is such a great reflection on the typical high school experience and how everyone can find something to identify with.  The one thing that kept me from putting the book down was that I wanted to be sure that I was annoyed by the author's writing not just by the fact that I couldn't identify with anything that ever happened to her.  Obviously I'm pretty conservative, so I didn't want my personal opinions on drug use to color my analysis of the author's writing.  And I can say with a pretty fair amount of certainty that they didn't.  It's just not well done. 

First of all, there are a million typos.  Beyond the typos, there are several places where I stopped and read sentences over and over again and never could figure out what the author was saying.  It was like she would start a thought and forget what she was talking about mid-sentence.  Her is a paraphrase of one that really jumped out at me "My friend Charlene, who was never into drugs until she met a man who was a junkie and suddenly she became a junkie overnight."  And that would be the end of the thought.  And I'd be thinking "This sentence has NO VERB!" - which is fine in certain cases, but this was not intentional.  And it happened multiple times.

Finally, I think the author may just be friends with James Frey.  My issue with Frey is not that he ficitonalized parts of his memoir (that's why it's a memoir not an autobiography - someone tell Oprah, please) but that he didn't do it well.  I've read several other drug use/abuse/troubled family memoirs and not really questioned what the author was telling me.  I'm a very trusting person.  But in both Frey's book A Million Little Pieces and in Dear Diary I found myself frequently thinking "Really?  That really happened?  Your were able to get on an airplane with a hole in your face and no one said anything about it?  Really???"

I really wanted to like this book, but I'm so confused by the way it was marketed as humorous.  Literally not a single funny thing happens.  I don't think I even smiled while reading it.  It's a definite no as a recommendation and I'm disappointed that I lost the $1 it cost from the discount bin at McKays.

Upcoming CSN review!

Yay!  CSN asked me to review a product on my blog and of course it will need to be book related.  Honestly, why buy anything else?  Here's what I'm looking at right now (perfect way to spend a day stuck in bed with a nasty cold):

Table Lamps - I'm going to need at least one to go in the library next to the couch.  Something that I can use as a reading light when I curl up in there with my Sly that will also match my book-themed decor.

Book ends - I especially like these elephant ones, but I'm worried that I'm getting too close to an Indian-style decor in there already.  I've alredy got tiger prints, I'm not sure how many more animals really belong in that room.

And of course this is me we're talking about so I'm also looking at bookcases because I have once again filled my bookcases to capacity and I am having to resort to floor stacks. 

Any suggestions?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Blog Hop (2)

My blog friend Crazy For Books started this Friday hop for bloggers and this is my second week to participate.  Check it out here!

Today we are discussing what we're currently reading.  I'm reading a book called Dear Diary.  I've got a big review post planned as I have a LOT to say about this one!  Also, I'm trying to convince Honey Bear to review The Hunger Games and Catching Fire since she just read them and loved them.  She will be presenting the pro-Peeta version, which I must say up front is NOT supported by Book Hooked Blog.  Leave a comment telling Honey Bear how awesome it would be if she guest blogged. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Awesome Stuff Lately

Ok, I know this is another not completely book related post, but you guys need to see it.  I've been crafting some more.  And what could be more fun than crafting with books?  I re-covered some books I picked up out of the free bin at McKays with scrapbook paper (20 sheets for $3) and added some buttons (on sale at Walmart $.50 for four):


While I had my zebra paper out, I went ahead and decoupaged a "G" that I bought at Michael's for $1
I still have two more G's that I haven't decided what to do with yet.  I've already got several up in the house, but my new nephew will be named George, which also starts with a G...maybe he needs some book ends?

And speaking of the Doctor Who (what, we weren't?) - look what I got from Bestie this week:
Yes, that is a t-shirt with the Tardis and DeLorean crashing into each other.  If you don't get it, do yourself a favor and go watch Dr. Who and/or the Back To The Future movies immediately.

Finally, in awesome news - I convinced Sugar Bear (my sister) to read The Hunger Games and she has fallen in love.  Although she has somehow been deceived by Peeta, I'm convinced that she will come to her senses and be on Team Gale by the end of Mockingjay.  Another convert.  Way to go me!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: True Religion

Not sure if you can see it, but the book is subtitled "Taking pieces of heaven to places of hell on earth."  This book was pretty appropriate for my reading this week, because we just sent my 18 year old brother and my dad off to Ecuador for a week and a half on a mission trip.  The book isn't solely about missions, but they do play a large role in the book.  The author, Palmer Chinchen grew up in Africa as the child of missionaries.  His book is written to urge Christians to act out what he considers true religion - caring for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.  While he recognizes the needs of our own country, this book focuses on the needs of those in foreign countries, particularly Africa.

It would be hard to find a book related to Christianity that 100% agrees with everything the I believe (unless it's CS Lewis of course), but this book comes very close.  I totally identify with the author's passion for the oppressed and marginalized.  I also love his intensity about missions.  I wish I could say I've been on tons of mission trips, but I haven't.  I have, however, taken a 12 week in-depth seminary course called Perspectives on the Christian World Movement that changed my life.  This book reflects a lot of what was taught at Perspectives and really challenges the status quo of Christian faith. 

I think I'm most challenged by the author's encouragement to live a simpler life.  He quotes statistics about the percentage of items in American homes that are not necessities - and I believe it was somewhere around 51%.  It really got me thinking about the things I own and how so much more than 50% of our things are not necessities.  He also refuses to play golf anywhere the charged more than $35 - because he learned in Africa that a home could be built there for $35.  Knowing that you could house an entire family who is currently living on the streets, or build a well for people without drinking water, or buy shoes for an entire village makes it a little bit harder to spend $50 on a meal out with my husband.

Finally, I really appreciated that the author isn't just critiquing and aspect of Christian culture that he doesn't like, but he provides practical, realistic solutions for people to put into practice to move towards a global perspective and care for the needy.  My personal favorite was Barefoot Sunday - he asked all the members of his church to come to church in their favorite shoes, then take them off at the end of the service and donate them to Africa.  The people were challenged to spend the rest of the day barefoot as an exercise in experiencing what a large portion of Africans experience every day.  I'm working on coming up with a similar project that our students could try out here at school. 

Definitely check this one out.  It's an easy read and fairly short (200 pages in paperback), but will really make you question what you believe about loving your neighbor. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Babushka Baba Yaga

Babushka Baba Yaga is my mother's new favorite children's book.  When we were growing up she stayed home and homeschooled all four of us through middle school.  Now that we are all grown, she's a substitute teacher.  For her birthday this year Luke and I bought her a copy so she won't have to check it out from the library anymore.  And we took it to her at church last week - where we promptly forced her to sit down and read it out loud to us. 



Luke didn't make it into the picture, but he was there too and got to see me and my sister nerd nerd out over an absolutely amazing children's book.  And yeah, we got a few strange looks from some church members - but they were probably just jealous that their grown kids aren't cool enough to ask their mom to read picture books to them in public places.  It turns out that my mother's taste is, as always, impeccable and she has discovered a brilliant and beautiful picture book. 

It's the story of the Baba Yaga - an old witch who lives in the woods and according to legend eats children.  Only the Baba Yaga loves children and has always wanted a grandchild of her own.  So she disguises herself as a babushka and adopts a single mother and little boy.  I won't spoil the book, but the story beautifully illustrates the lesson that people shouldn't be judged by what you've heard about them or how they look.  We laughed.  We cried.  It was magical.  This is my favorite illustration from the book:

I don't have kids yet, but I'm already planning a purchase of this one.  And it turns out that the author's story is just as sweet.  She is dyslexic and made it to the age of fourteen without really ever learning to read.  She finally had a teacher who realized that she couldn't read and who taught her the joy of books.  Thank You Mr. Falker is the autobiographical story of how she learned to read and the teacher who taught her.  Check out her website (http://www.patriciapolacco.com/) and by all means read Babushka Baba Yaga! 

Growing up loving to read, for me, was all about the experiences I had being read to as a child by my mother.  My sweet Mama introduced me to Billy and Blaze, Anne Shirley, Narnia, and Corduroy and taught me to love the written word.  My question for readers is...Were you read to as a child?  Is there something or someone in your life that influenced your love for books?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Wreath

It put up a valiant fight, but I conquered the book wreath!  With only minor damage to three fingers.  Ok, so I may end up with a few scars, and I did have to go to the doctor because some of the hot glue burns were pretty severe, but all that is over now!  I did it!  And here is the proof in my lovely home library:



And a close-up:



And the damage:


Very sad but totally worth it, right? 

Antiquarian Book Fair

I know I promised a post about my sweet Mama, but it is going to have to wait another day or so.  I promise it will be awesome when it finally arrives.  Meanwhile, enjoy this post about the Antiquarian Book Fair!  Can I just tell you guys that I almost passed out when I walked in?  Am I gushing?  Don't expect it to stop.  I made quite a few new friends and like to think that I got some networking in.  And let me just tell you about the books!  It was old book heaven.  Here are a few samples (if I post your book under the wrong name, let me know and I will fix it.)

This is a first edition of Gone With The Wind along with a letter from Margaret Mitchell, some newspaper clippsings from the release and the original movie poster.  Unfortunately I didn't get a card from this seller, so I don't have any information on him to post, but he was very friendly and appreciated my gawking over his collection.


Not sure how well you can see it, but this is an ARC of To Kill A Mockingbird.  The next time I have $19,500 laying around, this is what I plan to buy.  This was from the first dealer I met, who came all the way from Michigan.  I hope she made off like a bandit because she really deserved it.  She knew all about the books she was selling and had some amazing works.  Like these:


Signed first editions of The Princess Bride, The Shining, and Salem's Lot.  Her prices are reasonable (not that I could afford them - yet) and she really knows what she's talking about.  I can't rave about her enough.  Check out the website: http://khbooks.com/.  I highly recommend it - and if you're in the Chicago area, they'll be at a fair there in August.


And now - the things that make my little heart go pitter-pat.  I wish I had a way to make the hallelujia chorus or a trumpet fanfare or something start on viewing this picture.  The CS Lewis collections.  They were awesome.  I write below about the main collector, but another store to look at is Smythe Books in Dunwoody.  Look for them in Arkansas in August and in Florida next March.  You'll want to see what they've got.  Their selection is incredible, the staff knows exactly what they're talking about, and they have an amazing stock. This is a copy of an early printing of the Narnia books, although not the first copy.  I believe this set was going for around $1500.  Want to know how much a complete set of first editions costs?
$75,000
I kid you not.  Looks like Luke is going to need to get a second job.

These are all first or early editions of C.S. Lewis books.  They were presented by the world's foremost collector and C.S. Lewis.  Guys this man owns more rare copies of Lewis works that anyone else in the world - and I shook his hand.  The hand that has touched first editions of Till We Have Faces.  I am not ashamed to say that I fangirled all over him.  I don't think he's used to have young women swoon all over him, but I was out of control.  He is my hero.  I'm pretty sure I saw my friends pretending not to be with me.

His collection is now at Taylor University and you can read more about it and him here.  He's written an awesome book about his experience collecting Lewis and it includes a descriptive bibliography of Lewis' work.  And he GAVE me a copy.  And signed it.  Swoon!  Ok, so I'll be sending him a check for it, but...now I know how to contact him.  Not that I'm a stalker.  I just really love Lewis and this man does too!  There is so much more I could gush about Dr. Brown, but I've already bored you enough.


This was also one of my favorites.  Again the dealer didn't have a card, but was so friendly and told me a lot about the French versions of Babar.  Like this one.  A French first edition.  I didn't even ask how much because by this time I had realized that I could afford basically nothing.  I think it might be time for Luke to get a second job.  Because I'm now obsessed with old books.

Here are a few things I got:

My signed copy of In Pursuit of C.S. Lewis: Adventures in Collecting His Works by Dr. Brown.  If you can't tell, he wrong "To Julie - Wishing you success in collecting CS Lewis - Ed."  sigh.  Beautiful words, no?

I also picked up some old book bindings that were riduclously cheap.  These will be framed and hung on the way in my living room/reading room like you would hang a photo collage.  But mine will be cooler becuase it will feature amazing old books.  The dealer also had some really good printing presses, book binding equipment, etc.  Definitely check out his website, cause he's got some awesome goodies on there.


The pictures don't show it well, but the bindings are gorgeous - partial leather, woven cloth, beautiful!  I've got several others with similar embossments on the front that I'll hang with them, including one of Gone With The Wind, although I'm debating hanging that one somewhere else since it's a very different color.

So that was my day.  My bestie (hereafter to be referred to as Bestie) and one of her besties went with me and except for one small mishap the trip was uneventful other than meeting fabulous people and seeing a cornucopia (like my word?) of beautiful books and archived ephemera.  And then we went back home and watched the airbender tv show which I'm now addicted to and ate ice cream with our husbands and my other bestie, who happens to be my sister (hereafter to be referred to as Sa-sa because that's what we call her and also because she had a stalker and I don't want him to find her.)  And now that I've mentioned everyone I know pretty much, Sly can't stand to be left out.  I'll end with a picture of him helping me blog.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Blog Hop

This is my first time to participate in a book blogger hop, so I hope I get it right.  The hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books, who asks this week's question:

RIGHT THIS INSTANT, WHAT BOOK ARE YOU DYING TO GET YOUR HANDS ON (PAST, PRESENT, OR FUTURE)?

Well I'd probably kill for a copy of Mockingjay right about now, but I'm sure everyone else will be posting that as well.  Here's a more unique reply:

First editions (or unique editions) of works by C.S. Lewis.  The bestie and I are going to the Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend and will be attending a lecture by the world's leading Lewis collector, Dr. Edwin W. Brown.  He owns the world's best collection of works by Lewis.  Who just so happens to be my favorite author.  The lecture is on collecting the works of Lewis and I would just love to show up with a really unique book to have appraised.  In fact, Luke and I are going hunting for one tonight.  Wish me luck!

Look for a post later today about my sweet, precious Mama and what I credit for my love of books.  Over the weekend I'll have some book fair pictures!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Better Than Edward

I keep hearing rumors about some kids named Edward and Jacob.  All I have to say to that is, who wants a sparkly boy, who is, by the way, an eternal teenager, when you could have this:

Well, hello there!  It's my all-time biggest fictional crush, Dr. Who (played by David Tennant of course).  Now, he's not from a book, but let's just be honest, do we really care?  Who needs a teenage vampire when you can have a Time Lord?
One more?
If you insist:

And we can't have Dr. Who without Captain Jack Harkness, right?

If you haven't seen Dr. Who and Torchwood, I trust that you are leaving my blog right this second and making your way to Netflix to get them all.  So worth it.  But you will most likely become addicted.  Like me.  My most recent Dr. Who-related aquisitions:


A Dalek cookie cutter!  So cute and yes, I've already made Dalek cookies and will be taking them to my fellow Dr. Who obsessed bestie tomorrow.
AND some Dr. Who posters that I cannot claim credit for.  I got the idea from DAMECreations on Etsy and had my husband (who I think is WAY hotter than even Dr. Who) turned them into posters for me:


We also did one for the Tardis and the Weeping Angel.  All credit for the ideas again goes to DAME Creations!  She sells very similar posters on her Etsy shop, as well as some amazing magnets that I plan to purchase and cover my refrigerator with.

Are you intrigued yet?  You should be.
So no, this post isn't in any way book-related, but it's nerd-related and I am reveling in my complete and total dorkiness.  Feel free to join me, especially if you've got a thing for the Doctor!

Book Review: Shades of Morning

Ok, due to some technical difficulties, my post on the fictional love of my life (not to be compared to or even remotely able to compete with the real love of my life) will have to wait until later tonight.  In the meantime, I'll post some reviews. 

Shades of Morning.  Sigh.  I really wanted to like this one.  And for the first 200 or so pages I was so into it.  I liked the characters, I liked the plot, and the writing, while not just amazing, flowed well.  I was all set to give it at least three stars.  Three stars is my general rating for what I'd consider a "bubble gum" book.  It doesn't require the reader to make inferences or think very hard, but it entertains and passes the time quickly and is enjoyable.  And this book would be the Christian equivalent of a romance novel.

Then it happened.  The sermonizing started.  Now we all know that I'm a Christian and I consider myself to be a devoted follower of Christ.  I like to study the Bible and I love learning more about my Savior.  BUT, if I want to read a sermon, I will pick up non-fiction.  If you're going to sermonize in your fiction, please at least try to weave it in to your story.  I don't want to read a five page description of what happened on the cross in the middle of a story about a boy with Down's Syndrome. 

This brings me to another issue I frequently come across in Christian fiction.  Do Christian authors ever feel like maybe they are appealing to the wrong audience?  Most people who read Christian fiction are reading it because they are Christians.  We don't need you to present a systematic theology randomly in the middle of your story.  It really really leads back to the reason I started this blog and the book that inspired me (Roaring Lambs by Bob Briner - which I highly recommend).  Writing a story where the last hundred pages present five miniature sermons on various topics is just such a turn off for any reader regardless of religion.  It took me out of the story and took the focus off of the characters that I was starting to care about.

Finally, this book has a surprise ending.  For the sake of not spoiling it, I won't say what the surprise is, but it wasn't a good one.  I mean I guess some people think so, but I was completely annoyed by it.  It was random and didn't fit well with the rest of the story. 

In summary - I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't.  It gets two stars.  And a listing of "do not recommend."  I will temper that with saying that I'm passing it on to my grandmother and I think she is goign to LOVE it!

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for the change to review - and I hope you'll keep letting me review your books even though I didn't love this one!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding Time To Read

Would you like to know my secret to finding time to read?

Are you ready?  It's a big one...lean in close...

...I make time for it.  Sometimes people act shocked when I tell them I spend at least an hour reading every day. They act like maybe I have an hour somewhere that they are missing. Or that maybe I somehow have fewer responsibilities.



I don't have kids, but I do work full time (40+ hours a week) and I'm in graduate school full time.  I have a home and a husband and pets and friends that I do things with.  The truth is that we all make time to do the things we want to do, regardless of how many resonsibilities or obligations we have.  And don't think I'm making a value judgment on what people spend time doing - if you love refinishing furniture (which is another of my hobbies) you will find time to do it, even if it means cutting back on another hobby or cutting back on your amount of sleep or the amount of time you spend in the shower or whatever.  The truth is, that if you want to find the time to read, you can - even if it's only ten minutes here and there. 

Here are some ways that you can make time for reading if that's what you really want to do:

Multi-task.  Take your book with you to the gym.  Carry it in your purse during the day and read while you're waiting for an appointment or standing in line.  One of my online book club friends reads while she blow dries her hair.  Put an audiobook in your car or on your mp3 player for your commute.

Read on your lunch hour.  This both time and money efficient.  Pack a lunch, find a private spot, and spend an hour reading instead of chatting with colleagues, surfing the net, or going out to lunch every day.

And my #1 way to make time for books - the guaranteed first thing I will say to you when you tell me you don't have time to read:

Turn off the TV!  Don't get me wrong, I watch plenty of TV and I'm not one of those "TV will rot your mind and you shouldn't even own one" people.  I love my Real Housewives of Wherever and my Dr. Who and Bridezillas and everything else.  But I love my books more, so I limit my TV watching.  If you're watching four hours of TV a night and tell me you don't have time to read (ahem, certain co-workers) you will not be getting my sympathy.

It's like when my students say they don't have time for homework.  I always tell them that if they have time to do their nails, fix their hair, play a video game, or go out for drinks with friends, they have time for homework.  It's the same with reading.  Although I feel like if you're reading this right now I may be preaching to the choir...

So, what do you do to make time for books?

And coming tomorrow...My Dalek cookie cutter has arrived.  Tomorrow's post will have pictures and my explanation of how a teenage vampire could never measure up to my fictional love...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My take on e-readers

I'm thrilled about the abundance of e-readers, I really am.  Seriously.  I promise.  I'm so happy for those of you who have them and maybe one day I'll get one myself (although I don't anticipate that happening anytime soon).  Last night at dinner, however, my dad told me something that led me to provide my family with a diatribe valuable lesson on the reality my opinions.

Someone I know
is selling all of his commentaries and reference books because he can get digital editions.  He plans to use the money to buy an ipad.  Can I just say that I think that is the worst idea I've ever heard in all my life? 

While e-readers are amazing and I agree that they are perfectly suitable for some situations, there are so many issues I have with using them to replace print materials, especially if you already own those print materials.  Want to hear why I will not be buying an e-reader anytime soon and why I will never replace my books with e-books?  I thought you'd never ask:
  • We have no historical context for the longevity of digital materials.  While we have print documents that are thousands of years old, we have absolutely no knowledge of how digital materials will age.  We really don't have a guarantee that the internet will last, or that computer technology will last.  We have at most a few decades of experience with digital media.  I realize that there is nothing to suggest that there will be problems in the future with digital media, but when you compare the few decades of knowledge regarding digital information to thousands of years of knowledge of print materials, digital just hasn't proven itself yet.

  • The rapid rate of change in technology could very well eliminate the e-reader from functionality within a few years.  For those who are using e-readers to read the newspaper, popular fiction, magazines, etc. this isn't an issue.  But replacing expensive and important reference works in print with digital versions that could be obsolete within a few years is not a financial bet I'm willing to make.  Think about microfilm.  What if libraries had thrown out all reference works and put them onto microfilm?  We'd be in trouble because it's quite a search to even find a microfilm reader anywhere.  We have no guarantee that the i-pad and other e-readers won't go the same way within a few more decades.

  • The issue of validity.  It is much, much easier to alter a digital text than a print text.  Copyright violations, intellectual propery ownership, and ethical dissemination of information are also much more difficult to control in a digital, internet based media than in print.

  • Although e-readers and e-booksellers claim that you have ownership of materials you purchase, it isn't quite the same as actually owning the book outright.  You own the book in one format that can most likely be read on one e-reader, maybe two.  Some e-readers allow you to lend books to friends, but those friends must also have the same e-reader you have.  You can't lend to someone without an e-reader.  You can't give the book as a gift when you are finished reading it.  You can't take it back to the used book store and exchange it for credit.  Basically you are paying for access to the book - not the book itself.  Again, if you just want to read the book once, e-readers are a fine solution.  But they shouldn't be a replacement for books that you want personal ownership of.  E-readers just can't provide the same benefits as owning a print copy of the book.

  • Finally, and most importantly, it's just not the same.  Your e-reader may be really cool, but it isn't a book with history.  It's not a first edition Dickens.  It's not a signed copy by your favorite author.  You can't pick it up and hold it.  It doesn't smell like a book.  You can't turn the pages.  It might be pretty and shiny and new but it's still just not the same. 
If you've stuck with me through my awesome lecture, just keep in mind that I'm not dissing e-readers.  There are some things that are ideal for (travel, information you need at your fingertips, etc).  But please, please, please for the love of all things holy, do not sell your collection of printed works in exchange for an e-reader.