Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I picked up The History of Love earlier this year at a book sale and it probably would have languished on my shelf (or in my closet or stacked on the floor or wherever else books land in my house), but part the Nesties' Fall Book Challenge was to trade recommendations with a friend.  By some stroke of luck, I was paired with Jacki (who blogs at Lovely Little Shelf) and who just so happens to be my reading twin.  She recommended this one and I, of course, fell in love.  It's not really a book that lends itself well to summary, as it's a story within a story within a story, but it's a beautiful meditation on love of all kinds.

Writing
Holy. Moly.  Yes.  This isn't an easy read, but it's a beautiful read.  I had some moments where I wasn't quite sure where I was in the story (it all came together at the end) but I still couldn't put it down because the words were just so beautiful.  I can't rave enough about the quality of the writing.

Entertainment Value
I was worried when I started this one.  I'd heard that there wasn't just a whole lot in the way of plot (which is kind of a literary fiction stereotype to being with) and I knew the main character, Leo Gursky, was old.  When I started reading and realized he was old and lonely, I almost stopped right then.  There are a few things that I just can't handle in books: dead mamas, little boys who just want their distant daddies to love them, and lonely old people.  I actively try to avoid books with those themes and I was kind of stressed when I realized that a major theme of this book was going to be Leo's loneliness.  If it weren't for Jacki, I probably would have thrown in the towel, and I'm so glad I didn't. 

The novel is also most definitely character-driven.  It's about motivations and family and what love means - it's not a juicy gossip novel and there's not really any action.  So you can't go into it expecting lots of drama or, honestly, much of anything plot-wise.  But that doesn't mean it's not interesting.  All of the characters are fleshed out and their motivations are understandable and sympathetic.  It's just a beautiful story (stories) and very moving. 

Overall:
Highly recommend it, especially for lovers of character-driven novels or literary ficton, aspiring writers, or those who enjoy reading about complex emotions.  If you're looking for a quick read or a fast pace, this isn't the one for you, but the beautiful writing more than makes up for the lack of plot.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Conversations and Cosmopolitans by Robert and Jane Rave


This book is a memoir of sorts coauthored by a mother and son.  Robert Rave came out to his parents in a letter at the age of 21 and his announcement prompted his mother to embark on her own discovery of who she really was outside of her life as a mother and wife.  This book follows some of the conversations, emails, and life events they shared as they both became honest with each other and themselves about who they were.

Writing
The writing was somewhat less than impressive for me. There were portions that rang true and genuine, especially from Jane, but a lot of Robert's writing was awkward, particularly his dialogue.  It seemed stiff and unnatural.  I also felt like several sections didn't really serve any purpose in the book.  It was kind of like hearing a coworker tell you a series of unrelated, mundane stories along the lines of "then I pulled the milk carton out of the fridge and - you'll never guess - the milk had gone bad!"  And you nod along and pretend to be amused but really you're just wondering why they think this is significant enough to tell.  In the book's case there were plenty of moments that fit perfectly and were truly significant but also a fair amount that were kind of dull and meaningless.

Entertainment Value
I suppose the dull parts could fit in this section as well.  I was just bored with too many portions to say it was truly entertaining.  There were some very funny stories, but overall it just didn't resonate with me in any particularly attention grabbing way.  I was ready for it to be over.  I also hate to say this, since Robert Rave is obviously a real person, but man he drove me nuts with the doormat behavior.  Several times in the book I wanted his mama to grab him by the shoulder and shake him and tell him to stop letting people take advantage of him.  It's probably because I have a thing for mamas in general, but I did truly love Jane.  She was adorable and obviously a loving and devoted mother. 

Overall: Meh.  I think there are better books to spend your time on - it gets a "do not recommend".  But, as always, I am grateful to the author and TLC Tours for giving me the opportunity to read it and I suggest that you take a look at the recommendations of other bloggers on the tour.  You can click here to find the list.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is going to be an incredibly busy holiday weekend for me and my family.  This morning, Chief and I are starting things off early by participating in the Turkey Trot, which is a fun run to benefit the Kideny Foundation.  We're actually just doing the three mile walk, but even that is a huge stretch for me.  Then we'll head over to my parents' house for lunch with these people:

And playing with this little guy:
That's right, Reader Friends.  George has arrived.  And he has footie pajamas. Aunt Julie is in love.

Saturday is the day before Sugar Bear's wedding.  We're trying to fit in some family pictures, finalizing wedding preparations, the rehearsal dinner (we rehearsed today), and a lingerie shower with her college friends (thrown by yours truly).  And Sunday is the big day!  Needless to say, I will not be around so much over the next few days.  I'm going to try to have a few reviews scheduled to post over the next few days, but honestly I'm not sure it'll happen.  I've got student presentations to attend tonight AND the dog needs a bath before tomorrow AND I've committed to making dessert for Thanksgiving AND I need to do all the decorations and food preparation for the shower...

So if I don't make it back to post any reviews before Monday, have a wonderful holiday weekend!  Hopefully I'll have pictures galore (featuring George of course) and Sugar Bear's wedding.  If you're lucky I'll even have some of George AT Sugar Bear's wedding.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Blogging Drama: Disclosure and Plagiarism

Plagiarism has kind of been the theme of my week.  I caught a student plagiarizing at least 98% of her final paper this week at school.  Then, yesterday, I was checking my blog stats and noticed a large number of hits from one particular site, which I, of course, visited.  I found an article that used original content from this blog, along with pictures (taken by me with my camera in my house) but didn't mention my blog or my name.  To be fair, a link to a tutorial posted on my blog was included in the article, but my pictures weren't credited.  I wasn't asked if my material could be used and the author of the article was compensated for an article that contained my uncited original material. I wasn't pleased and emailed the author (nicely) to ask that the article be updated with appropriate credit.  She agreed (not as nicely), but whatevs, situation resolved successfully.

But today, as I was reading about last week's brawl over Friday Reads and blogger disclosure and all that (by the way a great summary can be found on Florinda's blog The Three R's here), it got me thinking about what reasonable expectation bloggers should have regarding compensation and credit from other sources.  It seems that one side of the argument is that bloggers are putting a lot of work into creating reviews and memes and site content to entertain and attract readers and that compensation is a logical expectation for that amount of work and that the disclosure of compensation is nice, but not a deal breaker for readers.  The other side of the argument is that it is dishonest to present book blogging as a hobby when you are in reality being paid by an author or publisher for your writing.

So I want to go ahead and address both of these issues head on in a post that I can reference back to if needed.  I may go ahead and make part of this part of an FAQ page in the future. 

1) All content created here is original and I (most of the time) put time and thought into what to write about and how I write.  I don't expect to ever be financially compensated (and wouldn't ever ask to be), but I do expect to be appropriately credited for my work.  If you'd like to use something from my blog, I'd be happy to let you, but please ask first.  Don't just take original pictures, ideas, or writing and pass it off as your own or use it to augment your own blog (to be clear, not all of this happened yesterday, but I want to take this opportunity to get rid of any confusion).  Appropriate credit, to me, means that you make it clear in your post or article or however you choose to use it that whatever content you use originated here.  A link to my blog at the bottom of your post doesn't convey that.  Use of my blog name or my name and a link to the original content source does.

2) While I do put a good deal of time (and occasionally small amounts of money) into this blog, I do not expect to be compensated for what is, essentially, a hobby.  I get the argument that bloggers put in a lot of time (often enough to be at least a part time job), but for me this is about my enjoyment and what I hope is my readers' enjoyment, and not a money-making venture.  So, heads up, no income coming from any of this.  I do gratefully acknowledge that I am given books by authors, publishers, and publicists and will continue to acknowledge those gifts in the future.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood


First of all, how apt is it that this YA fantasy about plants is written by a woman named Maryrose Wood?  Perfect.  It's about a young girl who has grown up in relative seclusion with a botanist father who is called on to perform various doctor duties using his encyclopedic knowledge of plants.  Jessamine, the daughter, is learning the tricks of the trade from her father, but there is one part of his garden that is locked and she is forbidden to enter.  A boy shows up on their doorstep (his name is Weed which is really just terribly unfortunate) and she falls for him.  Weed can communicate with plants and with his help they uncover a mystery.

Writing
The first half was fairly typical YA fantasy.  It was entertaining and easy to read and didn't jump out at me as especially awesome or especially poor.  The second half was off the charts crazy.  Weed can indeed communicate with plants, but I expected more of an ESP-type thing or an intuition of feeling.  Instead, the plants basically grow legs and turn into what I imagined as Disney characters.  The dialogue between Weed and the plants is, frankly, ridiculous.  It goes from being a pretty serious story with moderately interesting characters to an animated movie.

Entertainment Value
This one was offered by Harper Collins as a free preview before the second book's release.  I was able to read it at work (shhhhh) and it was more entertaining than work.  I actually was really into the first half and then the plants started talking and things got crazy.  The plant prince tried to seduce Jessamine (or at least I think that's what was happening) so of course Weed had to save her.  Like I said, it beat actual work, but I'm glad I didn't spend real time reading it. 

It's quick and easy and as long as it's free and you like quick, easy, YA, go ahead and give it a try.  I wouldn't recommend spending any real money on it, although I am somewhat curious to know what will happen to Weed and Jessamine next...it's possible that I will read the sequel. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunities for Women Worldwide

This book should be required reading for all high schools, church groups, community organizations, basically everyone.  It's an incredibly touching account from journalists Nicholos Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn of the oppression women are experiencing around the world in the forms of sex slavery, female genital mutilation, the use of rape as a weapon of war, the murder of women as a form of population control or political gain, and the proliferation of AIDS.  They have travelled around the world and liberated women from these situations.  The real beauty of the book is that the authors not only present the humanitarian issues facing women in the developing world, but they also present solutions on international, national, corporate, and personal levels.

Writing
Excellent reporting, professional journalism, and detailed research.  Absolutely no complaints.

Entertainment Value
The personal stories from women around the world are touching as are the authors' descriptions of the situations and threats women are facing in the developing world.  The solutions to these problems are inspiring and motivating.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Like I said in my introduction, this book should be required reading for high school/college students.

One aspect I particularly appreciated was the balanced viewpoint of the authors.  There is a chapter on religion that I was nervous to read.  And the authors do criticize the role that some religions (fundamental Christianity and Islam) play in the oppression of women, particularly in developing countries.  However, the authors present solutions that don't reject Muslim or Christian beliefs, but integrate them into a healthy view of women.  They also advocate not for a-religious aid but for a nonpartisan, inter-religion effort that puts the welfare of women before either a liberal or conservative religious or political agenda.  Also, the authors recognize the impact of Christian missions worldwide, which means so much to me as the daughter of Christian missionaries.  I feel like the secular media frequently ignores the positive contributions of Christian (Protestant and Catholic) missions, but these authors acknowledge their positive impact. 

Please give the book a try - it may very well change your life.  Also, check out a new website I found yesterday while I was browsing the internet.  The site (http://www.slaveryfootprint.org/) contains an application that allows you to answer questions about the products you consume and then gives you an estimate of the number of slaves who work for you worldwide (according to my consumption habits, I have 27 slaves working for me).  It also pinpoints where slaves who produce the products you consume may be located and provides information about what products may be produced by slaves.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Hell's Belles by Seale Ballenger


I've had this one on my TBR for quite a while now, so I was pretty excited to find it at McKays for $0.75.  It's a book of short essays and facts about famous Southern women - actresses, authors, singers, politicians, socialites, and criminals.  Each essay is only a page or two long and has a brief biography of the woman and how she influenced the South.  It also has some fun quotes and fact lists, things like that.

Writing
I hate to say it, because I want everything Southern to be awesome, but the writing in this was pretty poor.  Lots of typos, grammatical errors, and awkward phrasing that really took away from the fun of the book.  The writing was a huge distraction from a fun topic.

Entertainment Value
It's not that hard for me to put aside so-so or even poor writing in the case of good entertainment.  But the writing in this one was so bad that it kept me from enjoying the book.  All I could think of was how much editing it needed and what changes I would make to make it better.

It's a really cute idea but the book needs some serious editing and rewriting in sections.  It's an older book, so I doubt that'll happen.  Do not recommend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (25 pt 2)

Not only did I get some great books for review last week, I also made a trip to the used bookstore and used some store credit to pick up these books:

Bad Girls of the Bible (this one was actually in the free bin)
Vision in White by Nora Roberts (I've never read Nora Robers but my Nestie friends rave about this series)

Riding the Bus With My Sister by Rachel Simon
A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon (also from the free bin!)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (another gift from my friend Rev)

The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura miller
Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres (I'm currently reading her newest book about Jim Jones and it is fascinating)

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank
Literary Feuds by Anthony Arthur

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

I also picked up these books at Barnes and Noble using a gift card I found when I cleaned out the garage and an awesome coupon I got off of Facebook thanks to a Nestie (see why I love them?)


Forever (finished up my set - the first two are signed thanks to Nesties) and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Envy by Anna Godbersen (just need The Luxe to finish up my set)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Samantha Kingston is not a very nice person.  She's one of the most popular people in her highschool  and she would fit in great with any group of mean girls.  After leaving a Friday night party, she is killed in a car crash - but instead of dying, she wakes up again on Friday morning.  She spends the next week reliving the last day of her life, making changes, and realizing what things and people are really important.

Writing
Fantastic.  I read this book for the first time right after it came out.  It is one of the books that got me into reading more YA.  The plot is original, the characters are believable (even if that means not always likable), and writing itself is beautiful.  In terms of writing it's one of the best YA books I've read.

Entertainment
Well-written and also entertaining.  It's got some of the typical aspects of YA fiction - the "issues" - like bullying, teen drinking, etc - but I felt like the focus of the book was on the development of Samantha's character and on the writing itself, which was refreshing.

I've recommended this one several times since I read it, and I'm pleased to do so again here.  It's a must read if you're a fan of the genre, and it's a good book to start with if you haven't read it before.

Thanks to Planned Television Arts for sending me a copy to review!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (25 pt 1)

Lots of new books this week, so I'm going to go ahead and divide this into two books.  Especially since I have some other updates for this post too.  First of all, thank you so much to all of you who voted for me in the Book Riot competition - I didn't win, but I did much better than I expected and I'm thrilled that so many of you were kind enough to vote for me.

This week has been very busy.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on the blog, but Sugar Bear is getting married two weeks from today.  We've been running around to dress fittings (hers and mine - I'm maid of honor, natch), picking up gifts, making hair appointments, accessorizing, and we had her first shower on Saturday.

Chief has finished his Canine Good Citizen training and is preparing for his Therapy Dog International testing, but the CGC is all that is required for therapy here, so he made his debut as a therapy dog this week.  We took him to a support group for foster families and the kids got to play with him and snuggle on him.  I was super nervous, but he was perfectly behaved - the kids loved him and he loved being the center of attention.  We couldn't take pictures of him with the kids, of course, but here's a few of him snuggling his mommy when we got home:

 How sweet are those big brown eyes?

 His tail seriously never stops wagging.  We're snuggle buddies.

Ok now on to the books.  This is a couple week's worth of review copies and a few gifts from friends.


Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, courtesy of Planned Television Arts


The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, from my good internet friend Rev
The Betsy-Tacy Treasury (the first four books in the Betsy-Tacy series) by Maud Hart Lovelace, courtesy of TLC Book Tours


Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire, from the publisher, William Morrow


The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore, courtesy of TLC Book Tours
Christmas Belles of Georgia by Rose McCauley, from the author


A Study In Sherlock by various authors, won from Random House Reader's Circle
Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder, courtesy of Harper Perennial


You're (Not) the One by Alexandra Potter, received from Plume
Conversations and Cosmoplitans by Robert Rave and Jane Rave, courtesy of TLC Book Tours


Want To Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman, picked it up myself for a book challenge
The Doll by Daphne du Maurier, received from TLC Book Tours


Tuck Your Skirt In Your Pantie and Run by Lucy Adams, won from Laurel at Curl Up And Read
The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees from Quercus

I've got quite a few others to show you, but I'll post those tomorrow!  What did you get in your mailbox this week?


Friday, November 11, 2011

Votes please?


"Please vote for my mommy!"

Bad news, Reader Friends.  I am currently NOT WINNING Book Riot's Book Nerd Out contest.  I dont' want to spame you guys with pleas for votes, but uh, I also really want to win.  So I promise this is my last post (especially since voting closes Sunday night and I have a crazy busy weekend doing wedding prep for Sugar Bear) but if you have a chance please go to the following link and click the Facebook "like" button above the title. 

http://bookriot.com/2011/11/07/book-nerd-out-finalist-book-hooked-blog/

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: Mozart's Last Aria

First of all, gorgeous cover, right?  I am obsessed with this cover - I'd probably read a lot more historical fiction if all the covers looked this good.  The story itself is pretty intriguing as well.  Mozart's sister, Nannerl, herself an acclaimed musician, investigates her suspicions of Mozart's untimely death and discovers disturbing connections to a conspiracy involving Austrian royalty, secret police, and the freemasons.

Writing
Excellent writing.  I think the author did a great job of achieving his objectives in this story.  It is perfect historical fiction - nothing too flowery or any obvious attempts at being literary fiction, but also not too light and fluffy.  It's also very well researched.  Rees includes an appendix with a listing of the music that is mentioned throughout the book as well as an explanation of K numbers and how to find the music.  I found this especially interesting and used it to listen to the music I was reading about as I read.  Rees does an excellent job of conveying a sense of Mozart's music through his writing.  I also enjoyed his editorial notes at the end on which parts of the book are historically accurate and which were embellished.  Overall, I was very impressed.

Entertainment Value
It's a mystery involving Masons - so what's not to love?  Secret societies fascinate me and Rees does a great job of delivering suspense.  I also loved the inclusion of classical music throughout the book, although I don't think being a classical music fan is a requirement for enjoying this one.  It may even motivate you to give it a try.  I also enjoyed reading about Nannerl and learning some of the history of the time period.  It's a great mystery and kept me up late at night finding out who killed Mozart and why.  I highly recommend this one.

This one was graciously sent to me by TLC Book Tours and you can find a list of the rest of the tour participants here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Review: Living Dead Girl

"Alice" used to have another name.  But that was before Ray took her from her family and her home and made her his daughter.  The problem is that Alice is growing up and Ray wants a little girl - so he has entrusted Alice with the job of finding his next "Alice".  This is a ripped from the headlines story of abduction and sexual abuse.  It's graphic and disturbing and paints a vivid portrait of a little girl who has been lost to the world.

Writing
Honestly the subject matter was so horrific, I didn't notice much about the writing.  It's a short book and easy to read, but I really didn't pay much attention to writing style at all.  I don't think that's what the author was going for - this is definitely plot-driven and the selling factor is the nature of the story as opposed to the writing itself.

Entertainment Value
I was "entertained" by the book in that it kept my attention and I read it quickly and couldn't put it down.  I had to know what would happen to Alice.  But I'm honestly still debating whether I think the book was just sensationalism of a horrible crime.  I felt voyeuristic while reading it.  I didn't get the same sense of importance in applying to the lives of teens from it as I do from Ellen Hopkins' books or from Speak.  Beyond tittilation, I'm not sure what the takeaway from it is, if that makes sense.  There isn't a moral or lesson the author is trying to convey and it's not an issue that I think teens are commonly dealing with (date rape, substance abuse, etc, I can see - but stranger abduction and sexual abuse for years - that's more of an SVU episode than something teens encounter in their daily lives). 

I liked the book, but I don't feel like I liked it differently than I like Law and Order or Criminal Minds.  It's a good book, but not necessarily an important book in the sense that I feel like Speak is important.  But maybe you read it and feel differently?  I've seen a lot of good reviews on Good Reads (and this isn't a bad review) - but I'd be interested to hear why you think it's important/good literature as opposed to just another Jodi Picoult-esque ripped from the headlines thriller.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Show me you love me

Remember a few posts ago when I entered Book Riot's Book Nerd Out competition with my Hunger Games obsession?  I am a finalist!  The winner is being chosen by Facebook votes - and of course I need all of you to vote for me.  The prize is a $100 book store gift card that I am DYING to claim.  Here's how to vote:

1) Go to  http://bookriot.com/2011/11/07/book-nerd-out-finalist-book-hooked-blog/
2) Click the Facebook "like" button above the post title.
3) Facebook it, tweet it, tumblr it, email it, etc, etc, etc. 

The deadline is Sunday, so make sure you vote before then!  Just in case, I'll probably post a reminder or two between now and then...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: The Girl With Three Legs by Soraya Mire

The Girl With Three Legs is a heartbreaking memoir by Soraya Mire of her experience with female genital mutilation (FGM) as a thirteen year old girl in Somalia.  Mire not only shares her experiences as a child in Somalia but also the physical and emotional scars left by the mutilation.  Eventually Mire was forced into marriage with an abusive husband.  In spite of these devastating circumstances, Mire found the courage to move to America, start a new life, and eventually film a documentary about the travesty of FGM, which is a rite of passage in all too many cultures.

Writing
I struggled with the writing in the book.  I had a hard time following the authors story - she seemed to jump around frequently in time and place and included details that I didn't feel related to the story at all.  However, I hesitate to critique this as poor writing because I am so unfamiliar with African literature and African storytelling.  I was also confused by a good deal of the dialogue between Somalians at various points in the book - the author uses slang and diction that I simply didn't understand.  I felt like it was a barrier to me in really committing to the story.  I'd like to read more African, and specifically Somali, literature to see if it gave me a better understanding of the book as a whole.

Entertainment Value
You hate to talk about entertainment value in a book about FGM, right?  I mean I don't want to say "yeah, the gruesome details of torture that women are enduring on a daily basis around the world really made my evening past quickly."  So while my confusion with the writing and the subject matter kept it from being a book I'd call entertaining, I do think it's a book that is important.  If you aren't familiar with FGM, you should be.  It's a major women's issue and as our world shrinks, the problem is spreading.  At the end of the book, Mire addresses the growing problem of FGM in the United States.  I definitely recommend reading it.  Also, I am a huge fan of Eve Ensler and she has contributed a great introduction for the book. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I Read in October

October was a great reading month for me!  My online book club's Fall Book Challenge started and I've been really motivated to finish this time.  The challenge goes from October through December, and I managed to finish all but three tasks during October. 

I read:

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
The Sweet Potato Queen's Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit
Lost Memory of Skin
Don't Sing At The Table
Triangles
The Poison Diaries
The Girl With Three Legs
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Children of Paranoia
Sweetly
Faith and Culture
Lola and the Boy Next Door
The Sky Is Everywhere
The History of Love
Godless: How An Evangelical Pastor Became One of America's Leading Atheists

Total books read this month: 15
Total books read this year: 95
Total pages read this year: 33,485
Money saved this year through buying used, using the library, and reading review copies: $994.61

As far as our life outside of reading goes, we had a good month.  Puppies and kitty are all happy and healthy, we're both happy and healthy, and we even managed to work in a trip to the beach.  I also got to see Crystal and Leah, so it was an all around great month for me.  Sugar Bear finally set her wedding date in October - for next month!  So we're in a flurry of wedding preparations right now.  How was your October?

Book Review: Feed by Mira Grant

A book about a post-zombie-apocalypse world where the heros are bloggers?  Yes, please.  After the zombie apocalypse, bloggers became the most reliable source of news.  Our main characters, Georgia and Shaun, are siblings who run a popular news site that earns them exclusive coverage of a popular presidential candidate's campaign trail.  The only problem is that a terrorist is using zombies to sabatoge the controversial candidate's success.

Writing
I loved the writing.  Mira Grant completely committed to creating a unique post-apocalyptic world and provides an incredibly detailed description of the future.  She has obviously done her research into politics and technology and used that to create a future where bloggers provide the most reliable news coverage using advanced technology.  The political world is also fascinating and believable.  Grant includes current controversial topics with imagined issues in a world populated by zombies (what happens to the death penalty when the dead come back to life?).  We discussed this one on my book club board and some complained about the details and the politics presented in the book.  I completely disagreed.  I loved how Grant used what we have technologically now and added to it for a world that would need increased security and broadcasting capabilities.  Some people expected the typical zombie book: lots of action, gore, etc.  And this provides those, but it also contains a lot more plotting and world-building that isn't zombie-centric.

Entertainment Value
If you like zombies and detailed world building, I think you'll like this one.  I was hooked from the beginning.  I loved the characters and really appreciated Georgia and Shaun's close sibling relationship (and I loved that a love triangle was not included).  I highly recommend it and I'm looking forward to reading Deadline (the second book in the series) soon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Nerd Out

This post is my entry in the Book Nerd Out giveaway hosted by Book Riot: Reviews, Recommendations, and Commentary about books and reading (but, you know, fun).

I'm a huge fan of the new Book Riot site, and I'm so glad I saw this contest before the deadline because, Reader Friends, you know this contest and I were MFEO.  I will happily nerd out over just about any book (and let's just say it's a good thing CS Lewis is dead because otherwise I'd be full-fledged, hiding in the bushes, creeping on him), but I think the books I've really geeked out the most over were the Hunger Games series.  And my geekery wouldn't have been complete without Bestie, who has been my nerd companion through the entire series.  Here are just a few of the ways we've geeked out over the Hunger Games since it was released:

1)  I debating saving this for last since it's the most awesome, but I can't resist going ahead and posting it first: The Hunger Games we staged in my backyard.  Yes, that's right.  When Mockingjay was soon to be released we got to talking about how I had this awesome recipe for fake blood...and then we realized that we (Luke and I at least) had a whole bunch of weapons (Luke is a martial artist and my family is Southern, what can I say?)...and then we realized that our Great Dane puppy would make an excellent muttation.  And what started as a joke turned into this:





You can see the full posts here, here, and here
A few other HG events hosted on the blog included: Hunger Games haiku, a Hunger Games playlist, and our cast picks, pre-official announcement.


2.  You'd think that the release of Mockingjay would have been the end of my geeking out, but I still plan to fully embrace the series.  Last Christmas I made Christmas tree ornaments for the library Christmas tree using my Hunger Games paraphenalia:
3.  Bestie and I drove from Chattanooga to D.C. for National Book Festival last year and spent basically the entire day sitting in the sun to get our books signed:


4.  And it's still not over.  This year for Halloween I was a pretty awesome Effie Trinket.  And I'm not through yet - I hope to tweak my costume and make it even better for the release of the movie in March.


And there you have it.  I'm a proud book nerd (as if you weren't already aware).  May the odds be ever in your (and in this case MY) favor!