Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated


The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated
The Morning Star: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine is Illuminated by Nick Bantock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



(Note: This review covers all three books in the series - The Gryphon, Alexandria and The Morning Star.)

The Morning Star Trilogy is the second trilogy of books regarding Griffin and Sabine. But this time, Griffin and Sabine are in the background, guiding another pair of lovers together in an effort to stop Frolatti from some horrible plot. In the forefront of this story are Matthew Sedon, a young archaeologist in Alexandria with a connection to Sabine (she helped deliver him) and Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris and Matthew's lover. Isabella often has waking dreams, views into the psyche of the world. The letters are primarily between Matthew and Isabella, though Sabine does contact Matthew on occasion and Griffin keeps in contact with Isabella. There are shades of the beginnings of Griffin and Sabine's romance within these correspondence - primarily with Matthew's doubts regarding Sabine.

Unlike the previous trilogy, there is more of a sense of menace with this trilogy. There is active evil in the unseen Frilotti and his cohorts. But getting Matthew to understand the seriousness of what is happening (within the first book) is a large part of the first book.

I'll be honest. The second trilogy fell flat with me. It still had the beautiful artwork of the first trilogy, but the magic wasn't quite there. I think the addition of "the next generation" just didn't work as well. My husband, of course, thinks I'm crazy as he loved them as much as the first trilogy. But for me, Griffin and Sabine had a simplicity beneath the complications of their circumstance. Something primal about the connection and the love they shared. But adding Matthew and Isabella complicated that. And it just didn't sit as right with me.

The series was ok... worth reading at least once. But it didn't, in my mind, live up to the magic of the first trilogy.



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Review: Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds


Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds
Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds by Nick Bantock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



(Note: This review covers all three books in the series - The Gryphon, Alexandria and The Morning Star.)

The Morning Star Trilogy is the second trilogy of books regarding Griffin and Sabine. But this time, Griffin and Sabine are in the background, guiding another pair of lovers together in an effort to stop Frolatti from some horrible plot. In the forefront of this story are Matthew Sedon, a young archaeologist in Alexandria with a connection to Sabine (she helped deliver him) and Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris and Matthew's lover. Isabella often has waking dreams, views into the psyche of the world. The letters are primarily between Matthew and Isabella, though Sabine does contact Matthew on occasion and Griffin keeps in contact with Isabella. There are shades of the beginnings of Griffin and Sabine's romance within these correspondence - primarily with Matthew's doubts regarding Sabine.

Unlike the previous trilogy, there is more of a sense of menace with this trilogy. There is active evil in the unseen Frilotti and his cohorts. But getting Matthew to understand the seriousness of what is happening (within the first book) is a large part of the first book.

I'll be honest. The second trilogy fell flat with me. It still had the beautiful artwork of the first trilogy, but the magic wasn't quite there. I think the addition of "the next generation" just didn't work as well. My husband, of course, thinks I'm crazy as he loved them as much as the first trilogy. But for me, Griffin and Sabine had a simplicity beneath the complications of their circumstance. Something primal about the connection and the love they shared. But adding Matthew and Isabella complicated that. And it just didn't sit as right with me.

The series was ok... worth reading at least once. But it didn't, in my mind, live up to the magic of the first trilogy.



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Review: The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered


The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered
The Gryphon: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Is Rediscovered by Nick Bantock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



(Note: This review covers all three books in the series - The Gryphon, Alexandria and The Morning Star.)

The Morning Star Trilogy is the second trilogy of books regarding Griffin and Sabine. But this time, Griffin and Sabine are in the background, guiding another pair of lovers together in an effort to stop Frolatti from some horrible plot. In the forefront of this story are Matthew Sedon, a young archaeologist in Alexandria with a connection to Sabine (she helped deliver him) and Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris and Matthew's lover. Isabella often has waking dreams, views into the psyche of the world. The letters are primarily between Matthew and Isabella, though Sabine does contact Matthew on occasion and Griffin keeps in contact with Isabella. There are shades of the beginnings of Griffin and Sabine's romance within these correspondence - primarily with Matthew's doubts regarding Sabine.

Unlike the previous trilogy, there is more of a sense of menace with this trilogy. There is active evil in the unseen Frilotti and his cohorts. But getting Matthew to understand the seriousness of what is happening (within the first book) is a large part of the first book.

I'll be honest. The second trilogy fell flat with me. It still had the beautiful artwork of the first trilogy, but the magic wasn't quite there. I think the addition of "the next generation" just didn't work as well. My husband, of course, thinks I'm crazy as he loved them as much as the first trilogy. But for me, Griffin and Sabine had a simplicity beneath the complications of their circumstance. Something primal about the connection and the love they shared. But adding Matthew and Isabella complicated that. And it just didn't sit as right with me.

The series was ok... worth reading at least once. But it didn't, in my mind, live up to the magic of the first trilogy.



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Review: The Golden Mean: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Concludes


The Golden Mean: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Concludes
The Golden Mean: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Concludes by Nick Bantock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Griffin is once again in London and Sabine is once again on Katie. They believe in one another, but the strangeness around their inability to meet has them desperate to find a way to do so. Each correspondence draws them closer to a possibility, while also exposing them to dangers that are stalking them.

Personally, I didn't care for The Golden Mean as much as I did for the previous two. Don't get me wrong... it was a good book and one that I'm glad to have read. But it just didn't seem to have the magic that the previous ones did. The introduction of Frolatti actually detracted from the story for me, though it did give the pair an extra impetus to find a way to get together. And it sets things up for the second trilogy.

The one constant through the series, however, is the artwork. There is nothing plain or uninspiring about any of the envelopes or postcards contained withing the pages of these books.



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Review: Sabine's Notebook: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Continues


Sabine's Notebook: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Continues
Sabine's Notebook: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Continues by Nick Bantock

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



The second book in the Griffin and Sabine trilogy (that eventually spawned a second trilogy) sees Sabine come to London, only to find that Griffin has fled. The letters between them continue, Sabine being the supportive friend and love as Griffin tries to figure himself out. Of all of the books in this series, this is the one that explores change and acceptance more than any of the others.

As with the first book, Sabine's Notebook has beautiful, sometimes disturbing artwork that only adds to the postcard and letters that have been written between the pair. I could spend hours just looking at the artwork, finding something new with each glance. It's that wonderful.

Bantock also proved, once again, that he is a master at leaving the reader shocked and anxious to read the next book. I don't want to talk about the ending here... it would be too much of a spoiler. But prepare yourself for things not being quite what they seem.

In many ways, I enjoyed this book even more than the first. It brought the relationship of Griffin and Sabine to deeper levels, taught the reader more about each of them as individuals and the pair as a couple, without either having met the other. It takes a long time to digest everything in it.

Most series, I don't worry about reading in order. But this series... You really do need to read them in order. You need to take the journey along with Griffin and Sabine because you'll lose so much if you don't.



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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Jacob grew up on his grandfather's unusual stories of his youth. As a young child, he believed everything his grandfather said was true. But as he got older, that belief waned. Still, his grandfather's tales never altered and he continued to insist that the peculiar children he lived with during the war existed. When his grandfather is killed, and Jacob is convinced that he sees one of the creatures from his grandfather's stories in the woods, he starts to rethink his disbelief. He and his father head to the small island off of Wales where his grandfather claimed this unusual orphanage existed. Here, Jacob will find out the truth regarding the stories his grandfather told... and the truth of who he is.

I'd seen this book on many friends' read lists and each time, they'd reviewed it favorably. Being a book with fantastic elements was something I knew would be right up my alley. And with so many people recommending it, I knew I'd need to read for myself what the fuss was about. And I'm very glad that I did.

The story was a perfect melding of prose and unusual, sometimes impossible seeming photographs. As the story was told and a photograph was mentioned, you would see it on the next page. And being able to see what Jacob was talking about as he described the picture just added to it.

The story itself was incredibly engaging, to the point that I wanted to stay up all night reading it. I wanted to know how Jacob's life was going to change and how the children that he meets at Miss Peregrine's would react to him. I was carried along and, at the end, very anxious to hear the rest of the story. I can't wait until the second book comes out. It'll be on my reading list close to immediately.





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Friday, December 23, 2011

Eclectic Reader Challenge, 2012


As readers of this blog know, I have very eclectic tastes when it comes to reading.  So this challenge seems tailor made for me.  Below are the rules, directly from the site:


The aim of The Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge is to push you a little outside your comfort zone by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different genres.

JOIN IN:

  • The challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st 201. Participants may join at any time up until December 1st 2012
  • Create a blog post committing to your participation in this challenge.
* If you don’t have a blog you are still welcome to sign up. You can create a shelf for the challenge at Goodreads or LibraryThing or a similar site Just include your name and a link to your shelf.
  • Post your name, blog name, and the direct link to your challenge post in the Linky using the link below

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

  • Select, read and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books.
* You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. You may combine this challenge with others if you wish. * Where a book is identified by more than one genre eg historical romance, it may only count for either the historical fiction or romantic fiction genres – not both.

Genres

  1. Literary Fiction
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction
  3. Romantic Fiction
  4. Historical Fiction
  5. Young Adult
  6. Fantasy
  7. Science Fiction
  8. Non Fiction
  9. Horror
  10. Thriller /Suspense
  11. Classic
  12. Your favourite genre
  • Each time you read and review a book as part of this challenge, make sure you identify it by adding either a direct statement and /or the challenge image badge to the post.
  • Share your review with other challenge participants by posting your name/blog name and title of the book with a direct link to your review in the Linky.
All participants that complete the challenge by December 31st 2012 will be eligible to win a book of their choice to the value of $15 from bookdepository.com (or paypal funds of  US$10) to be drawn via random.org Jan 1st 2013.



Needless to say, I'm in!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: Justice League of America (Volume 2): The Lightning Saga


Justice League of America (Volume 2): The Lightning Saga
Justice League of America (Volume 2): The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I heard about this book at the end of JSA: The Next Age, purporting to be the next part of the story. And it was, though it was combining three different super teams - the JSA, including their newest members, the JLA, and the Legion of Super-Heroes (a group from the 31st Century). Seven members of the League had come back for some reason they refused to tell their earlier counterparts about. The first part of the book involves reuniting the members of the League, as they've been thrown back and have been immobilized in some way (eg. Starman has lost much of his memory and his schizophrenia is at the forefront, Wildfire is frozen as a statue in the Fortress of Solitude). Once they've all been found, however, they start using subterfuge and misdirection to keep the JSA and JLA from finding out what they are doing - using lightning power to bring back someone from the dead. The lightning should kill one of those trying to call it and they are afraid of being stopped because of that danger. In the end, the JSA and JLA figure it out, but they are too late to stop it. The person is brought back.

It was a pretty good book, but I think it suffered from too many characters. Between all the members of the JLA, the JSA and the League, the pages were always filled with characters. For all of that, the story was pretty good. I liked finding out more about characters I'd seen in future story lines (primarily Final Crisis), as well as finding out a little about Superman's past that I hadn't known previously. There were also a few stand-alone stories after the main narrative. My favorite was "Walls", in which Red Arrow and Vixen are trapped within a building that has collapsed and is slipping into the water. They need to find a way to get out, and it isn't definite that they will do so. It was very moving and very suspenseful. As much as I enjoyed the other two stories ("Monitor Duty", which involves various JLA members both monitoring from their base and being monitored by Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, and "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow", which is a combination origin story of the JLA/view of the changing friendships between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman), "Walls" was far and away the best. If you read it for no other reason, read it for that story.



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Review: Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence


Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence
Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I'd originally read this wonderful book about 10 years ago and was impressed with it then. It had been in the back of my mind all this time and came to the forefront when I was reading through Book Lust for reading suggestions. I requested it and all it's sequels from the library. I picked them up yesterday and am glad to sink back into it.

This book will be a quick read, and you'll spend as much time looking at the artwork as you will reading it. The book is a series of postcards and letters between Griffin Moss and Sabine Strohem, initiated by Sabine when she recognizes a piece of artwork that Griffin had created for his card business as something she'd seen in her imaginings. Thus begins a conversation between the two that is defies description. With each postcard, and then letter (which are written as pieces of paper you can remove from envelopes on the page), you learn more about both Griffin and Sabine and a hint at what connects them.

This is truly one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, both in concept and in story. It's one that, when Pete's a bit older and not into destroying everything he touches, I'd love to own just so I can reread it whenever I need a little magic in my life. Because that's what this book feels like to me - magic within the pages of a book.



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Monday, December 5, 2011

2012 New Book Challenge


Welcome to the 2012 New Book Challenge. This challenge is for those who love reading books right after they come out.

Who can join? Anyone.  If you have a blog, link to that.  If you have a Goodreads account, link to that.  Link to whatever location you'll be putting your reviews up on.

When will it run? From January 1, 2012 until December 31, 2012.  And you can sign up at any time.

How many books do I need to read? Well, it depends on which level you'd like to be.  Here are the levels:

  • First Time Author - Read up to 3 new books in a year
  • Follow up Success - Read up to 6 new books in a year
  • Best Seller - Read up to 12 new books in a year
  • Award Winner - Read over 12 new books in a year
This year, I'm aiming for Follow up Success.

What constitutes a new book? The book has to be released within the year 2012.

How will you know that I've been participating in this challenge? First, you need to add your name to the roster below.  Then, on the last day of each month (or as close to it as I can), I'll post an inlinkz to allow you to add your reviews.


Do I have to add each individual review to the link? Not unless you want to.  The other way to do it would be to have a monthly review page and have links on those pages to your reviews.  Then just link up your link page.

Can I ask you any questions that you didn't answer here? Sure!  I love questions and I'm kind of making this up as I go along.

So that's it.  Sign up below to participate!

2012 Children's Book Reading Challenge



Welcome to the 2012 Children's Book Reading Challenge.  This challenge is for those who want to enjoy more of the wonderful children's books.  It's perfect for those who read to children on a regular basis (parents, teachers, librarians) and want to get the word out about the books they've read.

Who can join? Anyone.  If you have a blog, link to that.  If you have a Goodreads account, link to that.  Link to whatever location you'll be putting your reviews up on.

When will it run? From January 1, 2012 until December 31, 2012.  And you can sign up at any time.

How many books do I need to read? Well, it depends on which level you'd like to be.  Since these are children's books which are, by nature, quick reads, the numbers may be a bit higher than you've seen in other challenges.  Here are the levels:


  • Crawling - Read up to 10 children's books in a year
  • Cruising - Read up to 20 children's books in a year
  • Walking - Read up to 30 children's books in a year
  • Running - Read over 30 children's books in a year
Since I have two little ones who love to read, I'm aiming for Running this year.

What constitutes a children's book? If you would find it in the juvenile or children's section of the library, it would count for this challenge.

How will you know that I've been participating in this challenge? First, you need to add your name to the roster below.  Then, on the last day of each month (or as close to it as I can), I'll post an inlinkz to allow you to add your reviews.

Do I have to add each individual review to the link? Not unless you want to.  The other way to do it would be to have a monthly review page and have links on those pages to your reviews.  Then just link up your link page.

Who's that cute kid in the button? That's my youngest son, Peter.  He was sitting in our local library reading one of the books he wanted to check out.  I thought it was the perfect pic to show this challenge.

Can I put what my kids/students/story time listeners thought of the book as well? Please do!  It'll be a great way to gauge how appealing it is for it's intended audience!

Can I ask you any questions that you didn't answer here? Sure!  I love questions and I'm kind of making this up as I go along.

So that's it.  Sign up below to participate!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: Justice Society of America: The Next Age


Justice Society of America: The Next Age
Justice Society of America: The Next Age by Geoff Johns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



While the old guard is busy recruiting new members for the JSA, someone is killing this younger generation. This is one of the earlier books from the reboot of the JSA and it's a place where we get introduced to some of the newer members like Damage and Cyclone and see their beginnings in this super team.

The backstories for the new characters flowed seamlessly with the narrative as a whole. I'm finding that I really like Cyclone a lot. She's bubbly and excited, yet even when faced with death on her first day, decides that this really is what she wants to do.

It was also interesting meeting Wildcat's son, Tom. I'd seen bits and pieces of him in some of the other trade paperbacks that I'd read, but I didn't know too much about him. I like the fact that he's generally a pacifist, but can (and will) kick butt if necessary. He too, I think, will become a favorite of mine.

All in all, it was a very good read and one that I was glad to have picked up. I've got the next one on order from the library so I can see where things go from here.



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Review: JLA Classified Vol. 3: New Maps of Hell


JLA Classified Vol. 3: New Maps of Hell
JLA Classified Vol. 3: New Maps of Hell by Warren Ellis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



When people connected to LexCorp start committing suicide, it intrigues Lois Lane and Clark Kent enough to do some research. What they find out leads them to something that can only be handled by the JLA - and a lot more deaths to come. Because the JLA is going to be tested by a being that is brought here through a code map. And none of the outcomes are good.

This was a fairly quick read for me, finishing it in about an hour. While not one of the better JLA stories I've read, it's still a solid book. I enjoyed seeing the various pieces of the puzzle come together, as well as, for once, Luthor being involved but not being at the bottom of it. It was an interesting dynamic for me.





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Review: Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye


Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye
Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I've heard a lot of things about Frank Miller's Sin City. It's a dark, gritty graphic novel that doesn't pull any punches. It had been on me To Read list for awhile, but passively rather than aggressively. So when I saw the first volume in the library, I knew the time was right for me to read it. I wasn't 100% sure what to expect, but it wasn't what I got.

What I got blew me away. The artwork is purely black and white, but very intricately drawn. The contrasts that Miller shows between light and dark in each panel is breath-taking. There are times when the artwork is incredibly disturbing, more because of what your mind fills in than what Miller has drawn.

And the story was riveting. From Marv meeting Goldie in a bar, through her death and his search for her killer, all the way to his final end, I did not want to put it down. I was incredibly invested in this story, worrying about Marv, saddened by some of the deaths, disgusted once Marv finally tracks down the killer... I felt every emotion that, I'm sure, I was intended to feel.

I'm not sure if this is one I'd want to own and only maybe read again. It was a wonderful, fantastic, terrific book. But it's also not a world I can see myself wanting to dive back into regularly.



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Review: Alterant


Alterant
Alterant by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Alterant is the second book in Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love's Belador series. It takes place directly after the first book with Evalle having to face a tribunal of three gods. They are to decide whether Evalle they need to lock up Evalle because she is a female Alterant. Along with the other problems, there have been a large number of Alterants shifting into their beast form, attacking and killing humans. Three have escaped from their confinement. With the backing of the Belador leader, Brida, Evalle proposes to show her loyalty by finding and recapturing the escaped Alternats. But, she informs them, she then wants them to have a chance to plead their case before the Tribunal. They agree but tell her she cannot get help from her friends, Tzader and Quinn. She has to go it alone. They don't leave her completely without help, though. They give her three all-powerful wishes. The only stipulation is that she cannot repeat wishes. And then they send her to the prison of the last Alterant she sent back into captivity.

I'd been looking forward to this book, loving the previous works of Kenyon and Love and having really enjoyed the first book of the series. But for some reason, I had a difficult time getting into it. It could just have been the mood I was in, but I couldn't make myself get emotionally involved in the story. And for me, that's a big deal. It didn't seem quite as cohesive as the previous books. And reading it felt like watching actors who are technically good but not involving their emotions. Like I said, it's possible (even probable) that I was just not in the mood for this kind of story right now.

I will, however, read the next book in the series. The plot is an interesting one and the world is rich. I may even try giving this a reread in a few weeks to see if it was me or the book.



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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Graphic Novel Challenge

Well, it looks like I don't need to host this one this year. Nicola from Back to Books is hosting over at Graphic Novel Challenge.  The goal is to read 12 graphic novels.  I somehow suspect I'll hit that goal early, but I'm going to enjoy doing it anyway. :)

So if you're interested in graphic novels, or want to read more of them, come on over and join the challenge.

I'll make a decision tomorrow on the other two challenges.  So keep your eyes on this space for more news.

TBR Pile Challenge from Roof Beam Reader



Because I'm glutton for punishment, I'm joining Roof Beam Reader's 2012 TBR Pile Challenge.  This is the only challenge in which I'm participating that requires you to name the books before hand.  Since I have a huge pile of books that have been purchased but not read, I've got plenty to choose from.

I think I've talked my husband into joining, which is a big deal since he never joins anything like this.  He may have his list and reviews here on Views from the Reader Side since he doesn't have a blog of his own.  So keep an eye out here for posts by Rich.  Those will be his reviews and his list.

The rules are pretty simple.  Choose 12 books that have been on your shelf for at least one year and that you have never read.  You may choose up to  2 alternate books in case some of the books end up on your slush pile.  Keep a master list of your books in a post on your blog and link your reviews to the titles on that list.  You don't have to read them in order.  But you do need to sign up here

I spent some time last night going through my books to figure out which 12 I'm going to read.  And here they are, including my two alternates.

Amber's Master List of 12 Books and 2 Alternates to Read in 2012

  1. The Time Machine by HG Wells
  2. Finis: A Book of Endings to Give People New Beginnings edited by Tomorrow the World Games
  3. Maybe (Maybe Not) by Robert Fulghum
  4. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E Feist
  5. Salt in your Sock: and Other Tried and True Home Remedies by Lillian Beard
  6. Decalog edited by Mark Stammers
  7. Lankhmar: Tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber
  8. Silverlock by John Myers Myers
  9. The Collectors by David Baldacci
  10. The Nine Tailors  by Dorothy L Sayers
  11. Unicorn Variations by Roger Zelazny
  12. Night by Elie Wiesel
    Alternates
  1. The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock
  2. The Dollhouse Murders by Thomas P Mauriello
The hardest part of this challenge is not starting on them until January!





Friday, December 2, 2011

Considering two challenges of my own

Seeing all these wonderful challenges that other book bloggers are starting or continuing or taking over has me thinking of three challenges that I may want to start for 2012 as well.  Honestly, at the moment the only thing stopping me is the inability to make pretty buttons to fit them.  I have very little talent when it comes to that kind of thing.  But this weekend or next, I may try my hand at one anyway.

The three challenge suggestions are these:

2012 Graphic Novel  Challenge - a challenge to read more of this far underrated medium.  There's a lot of great graphic novels out there (and some utter dreck) and it would be interesting to see what other graphic novels that people are reading for the challenge.

2012 New Book Challenge - I have a tendency to pull more older books from the shelves of my library than the new ones.  Then, years later, I end up "discovering" a book that friends have known about for years.  I want to change that.  So I'm thinking of starting up this challenge as well.

2012 Children's Book Challenge - There really are a lot of great children's books out there.  Those of us who are parents to children not yet old enough to read themselves have found a lot of them.  I think it would be a great challenge to see how many new books you can get your children to enjoy with you, as well as review.  It would be a perfect opportunity to tell your readers not just what you think of the books but what of your children do too.

The rules for all three challenges would be pretty similar to the other challenges I'm participating in, but that's something I'd write out when I do the sign up posts.

So this brings me to a few questions, oh gentle readers:


  1. Do you know of any similar challenges happening in the book blogging world?  If so, point me in their direction because I'd hate to step on any toes
  2. If not, would any of these challenges be of interest to you?  If so, which ones?
  3. If I do it, I'll need some help with the buttons.  Can you give me a few suggestions on the best way to make them/free software to help, free graphics that will make it prettier?
  4. Am I completely insane for wanting to host these challenges?
So that's it.  That's what's going through my mind.  I'm definitely interested in input from anyone who reads my blog, particularly those who are also participating in reading challenges.

What's in a Name 5 Challenge



This is one of the more interesting challenges I've come across in my search for being Challenge Mistress of 2012.  (Ok, maybe not but it's starting to feel that way with the sheer number of challenges I'm participating in. :))  I found this one through Teresa's Reading Corner who linked it up from Beth Fish Reads.  It's a 6 book challenge in which you try to read at least one book in each category.

Here's the information she lists on her blog regarding the challenge:


Here's How It Works
Between January 1 and December 31, 2012, read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with a topographical feature(land formation) in the title: Black Hills, Purgatory Ridge, Emily of Deep Valley
  2. A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title: Moon Called, Seeing Stars, Cloud Atlas
  3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title: Little Bee, Spider Bones, The Witches of Worm
  4. A book with a type of house in the title: The Glass Castle, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Ape House
  5. A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sarah's Key, The Scarlet Letter, Devlin Diary
  6. A book with something you'd find on a calendar in the title: Day of the Jackal, Elegy for April, Freaky Friday, Year of Magical Thinking


The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

Other Things to Know
  • Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
  • Books may overlap other challenges.
  • Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.
  • You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
  • You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order.


On January 1, I'll publish 7 posts, each with a Mr. Linky (one for each category and one for your wrap-up post), on this blog so you'll have a place post links to your reviews (bloggers) or leave comments (non-bloggers) as you finish up each category. You'll be able to find these posts during the year by clicking on the button in the sidebar. (I'll create those links on January 1.)

Tip: If you're ever struggling to find a title to match a category, check out what other people have read so you can get ideas or be inspired. And remember to be creative.

This is going to be a lot of fun, so why not join me and the other participants in getting our minds working on titles that will fit the category.  You can sign up here.  Look forward to checking out your choices!

Audio Book Challenge




Audio books have been, on many occasions, my savior.  They are the only way I can take care of two things at once - working a dull, boring job and getting my reading in, cleaning my house and getting my reading in, driving 800 miles and getting my reading in.  I'm sure you notice the theme there?  So when I saw the 2012 Audio Book Challenge from Teresa's Reading Corner, I knew I had to join up.

Like the other challenges that I've joined for next year, this one runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.  There are four levels to the challenge:

  • Flirting - Listen to 6 audio books
  • Going Steady - Listen to 12 audio books
  • Lover - Listen to 25 audio books
  • Married - Listen to +++ books
I'm trying for Going Steady this year with hopes of working my way up to married.  It'll just depend on the books I'm able to get on audio.

Along with the challenge itself, she has a few other interesting things that she'll be doing in conjunction throughout the year.  She'll have monthly mini-challenges, getting to know audio book publishers and a "getting to know our participants" feature.  It looks like a great challenge to be involved in.  So come on over and join up with us.  I think it'll be a lot of fun.

Alex Awards Reading Challenge



I found this next challenge through Carrie at Stalking the Bookshelves.  It's being hosted by The Story Girl.  The idea is to read a certain number of Alex Award winners.  What are the Alex Awards?  I hadn't heard of them before either.  But The Story Girl put a nice description of them up on her challenge page.  Basically, these are books written for adults but that appeal to the YA market of ages 12 to 18.  Definitely books that are up my alley.  So I'm signing up.

Here are the rules, as posted by The Story Girl.  Look them over and then hop over here to sign up!

When does the challenge run? It runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. You have to start the book after January 1, 2012 for it to count.

What are the rules? It's pretty simple -- read Alex Awards winners! I will also count nominees. You can find lists here. There are four levels - 1-3 books, 4-6 books, 7-9 books, or 10+ books. You are not required to post reviews, but on January 1, 2012 I will put up a linky for participants to post their reviews.

Great! How do I sign up? Write an introductory post stating your desired level and link to it in the linky below. You can sign up at any time from now until the challenge ends, so feel free to join in midway through the year.


So here's my introductory post.  I'm going to try for the 4 to 6 level, but hopefully I'll fit more of them into my reading schedule.  Come along and have some fun with me in this challenge!

100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge


This should be one of the easiest challenges for me to complete. This past year, I've gone over that half-again. So I'm looking forward to this challenge. Again it's sponsored by Book Chick City. Take a look below for the rules for the challenge.

Challenge Details

  • Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012


  • Rules: Read 100+ books in 2012 (any genre)


  • You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.


  • You can join at anytime. All books read in 2012 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.


  • At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews.

  • Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.


  • Only fiction, no non-fiction.


  • This challenge can crossover to other challenges.


  • You don't have to have a blog to join in - for those without a blog just FILL IN THIS FORM and I will add you to the list - just join the discussion in the comments section to let us know when you've read a book and what you thought of it! :)
And that's it.  A pretty easy challenge for those who are addicted to reading.  If you're interested in taking part along with me, come sign up at Book Chick City

Speculative Romance Reading Challenge






Challenges, challenges everywhere!  I may be a glutton for punishment, but considering how much reading I like to do, I suspect I won't have a problem with them.

Again, I have another challenge offered by Book Chick City.  This one involves speculative romance.  Below are the rules from the sign-up page.  Look them over and see if you want to join me in searching for one sexy demon.

Challenge Details
  • Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012


  • Rules: There are FOUR (4) LEVELS to choose from:
    - One Sexy Demon: Read 6 Speculative Romance novels in 2012
    - Two Sexy Werewolves: Read 12 Speculative Romance novels in 2012
    - Three Sexy Vampires: Read 18 Speculative Romance novels in 2012
    - Four Sexy Archangels: Read 24 Speculative Romance novels in 2012


  • You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.


  • You can join at anytime. All books read in 2012 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.


  • At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews.


  • Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.


  • Only fiction, no non-fiction.


  • You don't have to have a blog to join in - for those without a blog just FILL IN THIS FORM and I will add you to the list - just join the discussion in the comments section to let us know when you've read a book and what you thought of it! :)

  • GENRES:
    - Paranormal romance
    - Dark fantasy romance
    - Urban fantasy romance
    - Steampunk romance
    - Sci-fi romance
    - Apocalyptic romance

    If you can think of any other sub-genres let me know by leaving a comment and I will add to the list. I often get emailed asking if such and such a book is classed as romance - in my opinion as long as the main plot line is the romance element then you're good to go! Also remember, this is 'speculative' romance so no historical or contemporary allowed ;)


If you want to join me in this challenge, head over to Book Chick City to sign up!

Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge








Here's my official declaration that I'll be participating in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge, 2012.   Challenge Details
  • Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012


  • Rules: There are TWO LEVELS you can choose from:
    - Read TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels in 2012
    - Read TWENTY FOUR (24) mystery & suspense novels in 2012


  • You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.


  • You can join at anytime. All books read in 2012 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.


  • At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to specific month to add your reviews.


  • Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.


  • This challenge can crossover to other challenges.


  • At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to add your reviews.


  • You don't have to have a blog to join in - for those without a blog just FILL IN THIS FORM and I will add you to the list - just join the discussion in the comments section to let us know when you've read a book and what you thought of it! :)


  • You can choose from the numerous sub-genres of mystery and suspense, from cosy mysteries such as Agatha Christie to the more hard-boiled kind like V I Warshawski by Sara Paretsky, or romantic suspense written by the likes of Linda Howard, forensic crime such as those written by Kathy Reichs and even paranormal/supernatural suspense such as Kelley Armstrong. I'm sure this challenge will have something for everyone! :)


  • To help you figure out and decide, I have updated a sub-genre list - to view this list go HERE.

Since mysteries are some of my favorite books, I'm definitely up for this one!  Come join me in my quest to read 12 mystery and suspense novels in 2012!  You can sign up here.


Horror and Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge

I'm going challenge crazy for 2012.  Let's see how many of these challenges I can successfully complete.  This challenge is Book Chick City's Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge.  Take a gander at the rules and join up as well, if the mood takes you.


Challenge Details

  • Timeline: 01 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2012

  • There are two levels:
    - Read TWENTY FOUR (24) horror & urban fantasy novels in 2012
    - Read FORTY EIGHT (48) horror & urban fantasy novels in 2012

  • You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone!  The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.

  • You can join the challenge at anytime. All books read in 2012 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.

  • Audiobooks do not count, but all other formats are accepted.

  • No non-fiction - only fiction.

  • This challenge can crossover to other challenges.

  • At the beginning of Jan 2012, you will find a link to add your reviews.

  • You don't have to have a blog to join in - for those without a blog just FILL IN THIS FORM and I will add you to the list - just join the discussion in the comments section to let us know when you've read a book and what you thought of it! :)

So come along and join!  You'll find the sign-up page here.




Thursday, December 1, 2011

2012 eBook Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it.  This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

Below are the books that I've read for the 2012 eBook Challenge.

My goal is to read at least 5 eBooks.





2012 A to Z Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books I'm reading for the 2012 A to Z Reading Challenge.

A.
B. 
C. 
D. 
E. 
F.
G. 
H. 
I. 
J. 
K.
L.
M.
N.
O.
P.
Q. A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands (completed 1/5/12)
R.
S.
T.
U.
V.
W.
X.
Y.
Z.

2012 Eclectic Reader Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books that I'm reading for the 2012 Eclectic Reader Challenge.


  1. Literary Fiction 
  2. Crime/Mystery Fiction 
  3. Romantic Fiction A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands (completed 1/5/12)
  4. Historical Fiction 
  5. Young Adult 
  6. Fantasy 
  7. Science Fiction 
  8. Non-Fiction 
  9. Horror 
  10. Thriller/Suspense 
  11. Classic 
  12. Paranormal (Favorite Genre) 

2012 New Book Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

Here are the books I'm reading for the 2012 New Book Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 12 new books.





2012 Children's Book Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books that I'm reading for the 2012 Children's Book Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 30 books.


1. 

2012 Graphics Novel Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books that I'm reading for the 2012 Graphic Novels Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 12 graphic novels.



RBR's 2012 TBR Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books that I'll be reading for RBR's 2012 TBR Reading Challenge.

Next to each book in the list is the date in which I finished reading it.




  1. The Time Machine by HG Wells 
  2. Finis: A Book of Endings to Give People New Beginnings edited by Tomorrow the World Games 
  3. Maybe (Maybe Not) by Robert Fulghum 
  4. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E Feist 
  5. Salt in your Sock: and Other Tried and True Home Remedies by Lillian Beard 
  6. Decalog edited by Mark Stammers 
  7. Lankhmar: Tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber 
  8. Silverlock by John Myers Myers 
  9. The Collectors by David Baldacci 
  10. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers 
  11. Unicorn Variations by Roger Zelazny 
  12. Night by Elie Wiesel 

 Alternates

  1. The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock 
  2. The Dollhouse Murders by Thomas P Mauriello

2012 What's in a Name Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

Here are the books I'm reading for the 2012 What's in a Name Reading Challenge.


  1. A book with a topographical feature in the title. 
  2. A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title. 
  3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title. 
  4. A book with a type of house in the title. 
  5. A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse or backpack in the title. 
  6. A book with something you'd find on a calendar in the title.  

2012 Audio Book Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books I'm listening to for the 2012 Audio Book Challenge.

My goal is to listen to 12 audio books.


  1. A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands


2012 Alex Awards Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

Here are the books I'm reading for the 2012 Alex Awards Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 4 to 6 books.





2012 100 + Books in a Year Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books I'm reading for the 2012 100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge.


  1. Noble Causes: Extended Family #2 by Jay Faerber (Graphic Novel)

2012 Speculative Romance Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books that I'm reading for the 2012 Speculative Romance Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 6 books.



2012 Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it. This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books I'm reading for the 2012 Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 24 books.





2012 Horror and Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it.  This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books that I'm reading for the 2012 Horror and Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read 24 books.





2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it.  This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

These are the books I'm reading for the 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge.

My goal is to read between 11 and 20 books.





2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge Log

(Note: I am backdating this post so it doesn't show up as a new pot when I write it.  This will be linked to from a separate page that will list my logs for all my challenges.)

Below are the books that I have read for the 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge.

My goal for this challenge is 200 books


2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I love books.  I buy them, win them, are gifted with them, on a very regular basis.  Unfortunately, I get books more often than I read them.  So I have a HUGE TBR pile on my shelves.  In an effort to work my way through some of the backlog, I'm going to participate in the 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge.







Challenge guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL.
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!
Levels:
1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

Hosts:
Evie from Bookish -http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - http://www.nicoleabouttown.com/ @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - http://www.handsandhome.ca/ @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life - http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/ @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading - http://whatchyareading.net @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read - http://missiontoread.com/ @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea - http://booksbiscuitsandtea.blogspot.com/ @alouetteuette
Christa from Hooked On Books - http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction - http://fansoffiction.blogspot.com/ @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision - http://mermaidvision.wordpress.com @mermaidvisions

Wrap-up POST Schedule:


January - Donna (Theme: Let It Snow + Book Cover Challenge)
February - Nicole (Theme: Un-requited Love/Love Gone Wrong + Advice Column Challenge)
March - Rie (Theme: Green or Pinched + Green Cover Challenge)
April - Bonnie (Theme: Easter + Mini Challenge)
May - Christa (Theme: MayDay - Disaster Books! + Cover Disaster Challenge)
June - Jenna (Theme: Camping + Sentence Challenge)
July - Rie (Theme: International Day + Cover Comparison Challenge)
August - Angel (Theme: Summer Memories + Send Your Fav Character On Vacation Challenge)
September - Nicole (Theme: Life Changing Books + Mini Challenge)
October - Caitlin (Theme: Thanksgiving Theme + Share-A-Book Challenge)
November - Vicky (Theme: Spooky Halloween + Book Puzzle Challenge)
December - Evie (Theme: Xmas Bliss + Book Bachelor Challenge)




I'm starting out with A Friendly Hug.  I may move up as the year goes on.  It'll just depend on how many new books drag my attention away. Click on the picture above to go to the sign-up page!

2012 eBook Challenge


Sarah at Workday Reads is hosting the 2012 eBook Challenge.  I'm joining this one in the hopes that I'll have something (at some point this year) that I can read eBooks easily on.  Otherwise, I suspect I'll be spending time reading a few books on my netbook in bed at night.  But I do like a challenge, so I'm signing up, regardless.

You can click on the picture above to get to the sign-up page.  If you're curious about the guidelines for the challenge, take a gander below (taken directly from the sign-up page).

Challenge Guidelines:
  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. Anyone can join, you don't need to be a blogger. If you don't have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
  3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
Levels:
  1. Floppy disk - 5 ebooks
  2. CD - 10 ebooks
  3. DVD - 25 ebooks
  4. Memory stick - 50 ebooks
  5. Hard drive - 75 ebooks
  6. Server - 100 ebooks
  7. Human brain - 150 ebooks
At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. If you forget, feel free to add your reviews in the following month. Any reviews submitted will be entered into the draw for that month.


Since I'm not sure what my eBook reading will be like for the upcoming year, I'm going Floppy Disk for now.  But I am hoping to change it to a higher level later in the year.

Who's going to join me?

Review: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle


The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Rich had picked this book up from the library several weeks ago and told me that I had to read it as soon as he closed the back cover. I'd been putting it off for awhile, having several other books that were higher on my priority list (requests that needed to go back to the library). Yesterday, I decided that it was the time for me to settle in and read it.

Charlotte Doyle is a 13 year old girl, just out of finishing school in England, and on her way back to her family home in Providence, RI. Her father has arranged passage for her on a ship belonging to the company he works for, arranging for two other families to travel at the same time. But when Charlotte arrives at the boat, she finds that the other families are unable to travel and she will be the loan female on a boat full of men. What follows is a tale that moves from fear to adventure and takes this well-brought-up girl from her high society beginnings into a world she could have never imagined.

Overall a good story, the beginning seemed a bit slow to me. It took me awhile to warm up to Charlotte and her story. It wasn't until the mutiny were ready to begin that I really became enraptured and knew I would want to finish it that night.

The writing was very evocative, making it easy to mentally put yourself on a sailing ship in the 19th century. I could feel the cramped quarters, the sparseness of the cabin that Charlotte is first settled into. The main characters are very well written, each with their own quirks. The minor characters in the story aren't quite as fleshed out (many of the sailors seem indistinguishable from one another), but it doesn't detract from the overall story.

The book is a fairly quick read, one that I finished within about 3 hours. It's good for a rainy afternoon when you want to lose yourself somewhere that is far removed from your cozy chair.



View all my reviews

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal--and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life


True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal--and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life
True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal--and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life by Kevin Sorbo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



With the sheer number of books that I've read since January, saying that True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal - and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life was the best book that I've read this year is saying a lot. I haven't been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, but when I'd read a blurb about this book through one of my library newsletters, it intrigued me.

For many, Kevin Sorbo was Hercules. This included, to a large degree, himself. When he was struck down at 38 with strokes that affected his thinking, his balance and his ability to live the life he had, life becomes an uphill battle for Kevin and those that love him.

I'd been expecting this to be a true autobiography - telling everything from childhood to present day and the complications from the aneurysm would only be a small part of it. Instead, he only touched briefly on his earlier days and that, primarily, was to set up the changes that he had to make in his life. It really did focus on what this illness did to him and the difficult he had making the changes that were necessary to keep him alive.

Kevin isn't the only one to write about what happened to him. Interspersed throughout the chapters written by Kevin are chapters written by his wife (Sam), his mother and many other friends along the way. They gave a good glimpse into what the outside world was seeing while Kevin was dealing with his own issues.

I think part of why this book may have resonated so strongly with me is because of my own battle with a disease that doesn't allow me to live the life I want - depression. It's often been hard for me to accept that it's ok to slow down some days because of the weight that depression drops on my shoulders. Seeing someone with the physical and mental strength of Kevin Sorbo having to deal with those same issues reminded me that accepting isn't giving up.

I also loved reading about Kevin and Sam and the love they share for one another. It's rare in Hollywood to see love that lasts. But their love... it's been tested in a stronger fire than being on the set surrounded by sexy co-stars or having fans that are willing to do anything for the favorite stars. They hadn't been engaged long when Kevin was hospitalized for the aneurysm, but they managed to stay together through the roughest times. Sam admits that if Kevin hadn't had to endure this, they may not have survived together. He was a work-a-holic that put in 18 hour days and unthinkingly expected her to make the changes to fit into his life. But his illness taught them both a lot about each other and made their relationship stronger. I hope never to have to deal with the same kind of trial-by-fire, but I do hope to have that same kind of love with Rich for the rest of my days.

What amazes me most is that he was able to keep this secret for so long. In this entitled world, where everyone feels it's their right to know everything about those who have achieved fortune and fame, being able to keep a secret of this magnitude is mind-boggling. It took a lot of courage for him to write this book and I'm very glad he did.



View all my reviews

Review: True Blue


True Blue
True Blue by David Baldacci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I've owned the hardcover of this book for awhile, but hadn't gotten around to reading it. When I was looking for an audio to listen to while I was cleaning, I came across the playaway and thought now would be the perfect time to listen to it.

True Blue is the first book by David Baldacci that I've read, but I'm not going to let it be the last. He kept the right level of suspense through the whole story, with periods of slower moments interspersed between the tense moments where you wonder what's going to happen next.

I'll admit, this book did put a little fear in me. It shows how easy it is for just two members of the government to ruin the lives of many - almost without getting caught - and those lives they ruin have no recourse.

The characters were incredibly interesting. Mace is an incredibly strong character. A bit impulsive sometimes, but I like that in a character. I love that she's not giving up on clearing her name, not giving up on getting back on the police force. She's got a great relationship with her sister, as well as her new employer. And the way that she and Roy Kingman develop their relationship is just fantastic.

There were a few problems with the book, mainly a scenes that aren't quite true-to-life. But I was able to overlook those to enjoy the book as a whole. I wouldn't mind seeing these characters again.



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Monday, November 21, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: JSA: All Stars


JSA: All Stars
JSA: All Stars by Geoff Johns

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This was a very interesting graphic novel. The Injustice Society attacks the JSA, but they are under the control of a demon called Legacy. The original members of the team - Hawkman, Flash, Wildcat and Green Lantern (or Sentinel) - are taken my the IJS while those that are left, all of whom are legacies to the names they hold, need to figure out how to stop them. Oh... except for Sand. His silicone body has actually been fused into glass. The Spectre appears, telling them that this demon feeds on their psychic pain so they need to go confront the pains of their past.

So far, pretty standard graphic novel set-up. It's when we get to see the characters face their issues that the real brilliance of the graphic novel comes to the fore. For each character, there is color spread taking up 3/4s of the page. The bottom quarter has two paragraphs of information. The first is for the new version of the character and the second is for the originator of the name. Then we see a story about the new character confronting their past in their own way and it is followed by a story involving the old character.

I thought it was very clever of them to set it up in this way. It gave those younger readers (or newer to comics such as myself) a better sense of those that passed the torch. I now had a glimpse of Terry Slone, the original Mr Terrific, where I'd never before known he existed. I got to see the original Hourman bring a murdered in the armed forces to justice and realize that his true power doesn't come from the Miraclo that gives him his strength but from himself. For these glimpses alone, I'd have to say that this is probably my favorite new-read comic this year.

I was also impressed with the artwork. The drawings for the legacies were modern. They fit well with the current timeline that they were exploring. But the drawings for the older comics... it wasn't 100% like the older comics from the 40's and 50's, but it evoked that feeling in me. I felt like I was actually reading two different comic books - one from now and one from my father's childhood. It really kept me in the moment.

The end of the story went back to the traditional pattern of good guys together beating the bad guy and rescuing their friends. It took some special insight to do it (and I don't want to share too much because of spoilers, sweetie), but it felt believable. It's one that I probably wouldn't mind owning. And it makes me want to see if I can get my hands on some of the original JSA stories so I can read a bit more about these originals.



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Review: The Black Book of Buried Secrets


The Black Book of Buried Secrets
The Black Book of Buried Secrets by Mallory Kass

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



When I finished this book, all I could think was, "This is The 39 Clues version of The Demigod Files." And I say that as a good thing. It was a great way to reacquaint oneself with the major players before the Cahills vs Vespers series starts, plus is a great jumping off point for learning more about certain figures in history. Now, as far as I know, there is no great family of Cahills that have been maneuvering the world for 500 years (and if there was, since I'm not a Cahill, I wouldn't know, would I?). But it is interesting to think what various historical figures would have done in their search for the clues. (I don't think it's been addressed, but I could imagine Agatha Christie's disappearance would have been because of a clue hunt.)

It's a good book for when you have short bursts of time in which to read. Each part is only a few pages long, yet it still packs a ton of information into each bit without it feeling overwhelming. Like I've said in the past, I think the 39 Clues series is a great one for getting kids interested in history and historical figures. It tells just enough about them to whet the appetite and leave kids (and adults) anxious for more. I've got several people that I don't remember hearing about that I'm going to be reading up on thanks to this book.

There were two parts of this book that I enjoyed above all others - the introduction, written by Rick Riordan and telling the story of the first face to face meeting of the Cahills responsible for putting the story of the 39 Clues out there in the hopes of protecting Amy and Dan. It was a fun read and I loved having a different look at the authors.

The other were the agent reports. Written as short vignettes rather than factual information blurbs, it helped bring the reader back into the world of the 39 Clues very easily. But then again, I really like good fiction.

I would definitely suggest waiting until after you've read the first ten books before picking up The Black Book of Buried Secrets, unless you don't mind being spoiled. It doesn't give away every little bit but it does have some pretty major spoilers throughout. It's not a necessity to read before you start the Cahills vs Vespers series, but I do think you would thank yourself for reading it.



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