Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Royalties on Volunteer Reading?

As I was perusing my blogs this afternoon, I came across a post on AbeBook's Reading Copy Book Blog talking about a blog post they'd read regarding SABAM (a Belgian responsible for collecting royalties money) trying to collect royalties from libraries every time a volunteer reads a book to a child. Yes, you read that right. When a volunteer reads a book that the library purchased, they want the library to pay royalties on it.  And it's not like these volunteers are doing large production readings.  No.  They are reading to children at a library story time.

I know that I'm not in Belgium, but it still makes my blood boil.  Yes, in this digital age it's important that writers, musicians and other members of the arts community don't get screwed.  But stopping a library from reading stories to kids to foster the love of reading?  Give me a break.

Don't they realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot?  For some, this story time is their introduction to books.  It's where they learn to love the written word and, hopefully, to become addicted to it.  As the writer at Reading Copy points out, these are kids that will grow up to be not only lovers of books, but purchasers of books.  In 15 to 20 years, and beyond, they will be spending their money on the latest sensation, anxiously awaiting the smooth feel of the cover, the weight of the pages within.  But SABAM is looking at today instead of tomorrow.

And, as I pointed out in my comment, it's more than just the money that the kids will spend by becoming bibliophiles.  Reading to kids, particularly from a young age, fuels the imagination.  Science Daily pointed, in an article from 2008, to a review in the Archives of Disease in Children.  The study concluded that children that are read to by their parents in an interactive manner are more likely to be better prepared for learning in school.  It speaks to describing the pictures, talking about the story and explaining things the child doesn't understand.  Now, I'm not sure about others, but the librarians that do story time around here read in exactly that manner.  So I'm going to extrapolate that it would work with volunteers reading to them as well as it does with their parents' reading to them.  Which makes these readings beneficial in many ways.

And I know this from experience that reading to kids helps kids be ready for school.  We've been reading to my eldest since he was born, thanks in part to Books from Birth (though, with the bibliophiles that my husband and I are, chance are we would have had quite a few books anyway).  We started bringing him to Story Time at our local library from the time he was 2 1/2 years old.  (My youngest started coming about then too - at two weeks old.)  My eldest was reading by the time we started going to story time.  He recognized words that a kid his age usually doesn't.  He's surprised teachers, librarians and other adults (including some of the ladies at church).  And right now, in kindergarten, he's reading at a 4th grade level.  I am convinced that if it weren't for the books that were read to him, and the way they were read to him, he wouldn't be such a fantastic reader.

As I pointed out in my comment, it's not just about being prepared to reader either.  Libraries open up a whole new world of things for kids to learn and explore, and story time helps them on the way to that.  My boys have heard stories about animals hibernating in the winter (including bringing their own teddy bears to put to "sleep" for the winter), about apples and how to make apple pie.  They've learned about different holidays outside of their own religion, and about famous people like Martin Luther King.  They've learned folk tales from other lands and stories from their own heritage.    Hearing stories of dinosaurs has made my youngest want to seek out more information about them.  Hearing Blueberry Girl be read made my eldest seek out other books by Neil Gaiman.  The stories that they've heard at the library have broadened their minds, sometimes to places I would never have thought to go with them.  And I don't regret it in the least.

Honestly, I think that what the SABAM is doing is far from stopping criminals.  Instead, I believe that it borders on the criminal itself.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.  It gives us a chance to share what we are reading, just finished reading and plan on reading for the next week.

What I've Just Finished Reading

I lovedlovedloved Murder on Music Row.  Hopefully, I'll be getting a review out for it (and many others that I'm terribly far behind on) within the next week.

What I'm Currently Reading

Helpless is one of the books that I won through Goodreads.com's First Reads and I'm trying to finish it up.
Torchwood: Rift War is a graphic novel, so that should go quickly.
Cinder is an audio book, so I'll be listening to that as I clean this week.

What I Plan on Reading This Week

Neverdark was sent to me to be reviewed, so I want to take care of that as quickly as possible.
Both Monument to Murder and Chosen (which is a graphic novel) are due back at the library soon, so I need to read them quickly.
The Dead of Night is the audio book version and I'll be listening to that when I'm done with Cinder.
Zombie Tag is a YA and a First Reads win, so that should be quick.
Smash Cut is my "adult" read, and a First Reads win.
Taste What You're Missing is my non-fcition read, and also a First Reads win.

I don't expect to finish reading all of them, but I should get through at least 3.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In My Mailbox (1)

I've seen In My Mailbox around for quite some time and never seemed to get organized enough to do it.  This week, I'm admitting that organization isn't for everyone and I'm going to do this anyway.

So, for those unfamiliar with IMM, this is a weekly meme started by The Story Siren to showcase what books you've received.  You can do this on whatever time table you like - Weekly, Monthly, Daily, Bi-Weekly... whatever floats your boat.  Because there are a lot of book bloggers (myself included) that get a lot of great books that we don't always have time to read.  It's a way to let the world know that these great books are out there and that we want to read them... eventually.  For more information about IMM, click on the picture above to be taken to The Story Siren's page.

Now, on for the good parts... the books!

Received in the Mail - Contest Books
All of the above books were received in the Goodreads.com First Reads program.

Received in the mail for review

This is the first time I've ever been solicited to review a book, and I'm pretty excited about it!  I haven't had a chance to pick it up and read it yet (I'm trying to get some library books out the door before they go back unread), but expect it soon.

Received Contributor Copy

I'm listed on Goodreads.com as an author!  Or I will be, once my application to connect the Amber DiTullio on this book with my Goodreads profile.  It hadn't really hit me until I saw my name listed under authors.  Can I stop for a *squee*?

This book is independently published and contains essays written by members of the LJ Idol Community on Livejournal.  What is LJ Idol?  Part writing contest, part reality show with twists and turns.  It is currently in it's 8th season.  I contributed (under adpaz) but had to bow out early because of real life issues.  The writing is always superb and the entries will make you laugh, cry, think and shake your head.  And probably a lot more.

eBooks purchased from Amazon.com (links are for my Amazon Affiliate Program)

Several of these, as you can probably tell, were books purchased for my kids.  I need to do a lot of reviews and ratings for these!

Books checked out from the Library

We had my eldest's first State Pokemon Tournament yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to browse as much as usual.  These three will (hopefully) help feed my graphics novel need for a few days.

If you've read any of these books before, I'd love to hear what you have to say about them in comments!  With the sheer number of books that I have, it's sometimes difficult to decide where to go next, so recommendations are a plus!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I used to be good with website coding.  I swear I was.  But ever since my kids sucked my brains out of my head by virtue of them being born, I can't remember too much.  So I'm asking for some help from the other book bloggers (or other bloggers, for that matter).

I want to pretty up my blog posts.  I've been porting everything over from Goodreads directly, but it doesn't include vital information, like the genre of the book or a summary of what the book is about.  It does link back to the Goodreads page, but I don't want my readers to go have to go back over there to find out what the book I'm reviewing is about.  I can just pull the info and put it in separately (like I did with my latest review for Tall, Dark and Hungry) but it looks bland.  I like the separate boxes that some of you use but I have no idea how to do them.  I don't have a problem with manually typing information in, but I need to know what I'm typing and that's where I break down.

So.... is there anyone out there who can give me tips and pointers, point me toward websites or widgets or anything else that might help me move my little blog away from boring and toward brilliant (some far, far day in the future)?  Anything that anyone has to offer will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

REVIEW: Tall, Dark & Hungry by Lynsay Sands

Title: Tall, Dark & Hungry by Lynsay Sands
Series: The Argeneau Vampires
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Audio Book from my local library
Published: November 1, 2009
(From Goodreads.com) Terri had flown from England to help plan her cousin's wedding, but paying for a New York hotel room was like giving blood But she had an alternative: the new in-laws were offering lodging.Of course, the Argeneaus were a certifiably odd bunch. There was the sometimes chipper, sometimes brooding Lucern ? a ?vampire romance? writer. There was the wacky stage actor, Vincent. She couldn?t imagine Broadway casting a more ravenous singing-and-dancing Dracula. And then there was Bastien. Of this unique cast of characters, he seemed the tallest, darkest and hungriest ? and his effect on Terri was decidedly delicious. Just looking into his eyes made her want to serve up her innocence on a silver platter. And she had a feeling the love feast was about to begin.
My Review

I'm very grateful that my library has most of Lynsay Sands' Argeneau series for digital download. It's generally a quicker way for me to get my hands on the books and, in the case of the audio books, I can get other work done while I'm listening.

I was at a slight loss when I started listening to Tall, Dark & Hungry. I had listened to the first two books, but I just couldn't get my hands on the third. Usually, I don't let that bother me, so I downloaded the audio book anyway. I don't think not know the details of the previous book prevented me from enjoying this one, but it did take me a little longer to get all the players straight in my mind.

Now on to the book itself. This book was FUN. It started as a comedy of errors, in which Terri's decision to come early in order to help her cousin, Kate, and her future husband, Lucern, plan their wedding happened to coincide with her cousin's need to fly out of town for her publishing job. Rather than stay at Kate's empty apartment, Terri is invited to stay at Bastien' (Lucern's brother) penthouse. But of course, Terri's not the only one staying there. With the wedding coming up, Bastien and Lucern's cousin, Vincent is crashing there. As is Kate's co-worker, Chris. Chris was supposed to be on the trip that Kate was called away on, but he broke his leg and couldn't really take care of himself so...

The attraction is obvious from the start for both Terri and Bastien, but they are both gun-shy. Add in frequent misunderstandings, Bastien's need to keep the fact that she's a vampire from her, and the craziness of the wedding, it's a wonder that the manage to get together at all! And it has one of the funniest sex scenes that I've ever read. It was difficult to keep my chuckles from my kids as I listened and cleaned.

Of all the books, this one was by far the most enjoyable of the series thus far. I loved listening to each chapter, finding out just what could go wrong next. I'd recommending picking up the other three first (A Quick Bite, Love Bites and Single White Vampire) but it will be worth the wait to get to this one.

Review: Eternals Volume 1 TPB

Eternals Volume 1 TPB
Eternals Volume 1 TPB by Charles Knauf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had originally been introduced to the Eternals through Neil Gaiman. (But then again, much of my new found love of comics is because of Neil Gaiman.) I didn't know that they were a reworking of a classic Jack Kirby set of heroes or that there was more to them than a fantastic story woven by one of my favorite writers. But I need to save this gushing for another day, when I do my review of Neil Gaiman's Eternals (since I reread it recently).

Eternals has been in my mind since I first picked it up, wanting to know what happened next. When I happened across the two sequel volumes by Charles Knauf (To Slay a God and Manifest Destiny) during a sale at my comic distributor, I had no choice but to pick them up.

While the story isn't as well woven or engaging as Gaiman's first new outing for them, they were still interesting stories to read. Watching the various Eternals come to terms with who they are, and why the Celestial was there, what it was doing... it did keep me turning pages.

The artwork was very well done, helping to tell the story as it should. There were some wonderful nuances of expression or background that I love to find in graphic novels, letting the reader know that the writer and/or artist is paying attention.

All in all, they were a good couple of books. I'll probably reread them again as well, especially since I own them. I may be able to give a better review the next time around, catching more than I did this time.

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Review: Always Remember to Tip Your Ninja: And Other Maxims for the Clinically Absurd

Always Remember to Tip Your Ninja: And Other Maxims for the Clinically Absurd
Always Remember to Tip Your Ninja: And Other Maxims for the Clinically Absurd by Jeremy C. Shipp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know why I go out looking for new books when I have so many already on my reading list. But I do because I firmly believe that you can never have too many books. And the good thing with going overboard with eBooks is that I can find a lot of interesting books that are listed as free. I don't have to find room on my shelves, I can feed my addiction and it isn't costing me a penny. How great is that?

This morning, I was doing my usual perusal of possible free books that would make it into my owned pile when I came across Always Remember to Tip Your Ninja: And Other Maxims for the Clinically Absurd by Jeremy C. Shipp. I was in need of a little chuckle, so I bought it. And even though I should have been spending that time getting my boys ready for school, I couldn't resist flipping through it. Luckily, it isn't a long book so I was able to take care of my kids and finish a book that started my morning with laughter.

Within the electronic pages of these books, I found absurd statements, brilliant puns, and a few moments of, "Now how would that work?" There were very few that didn't elicit a chuckle and more than a few that caused out right laughter.

Is it great literature? Of course not. It's not trying to be. But for a book of humorous absurdities and plays on words, I can't ask for better. Now I can't wait for my husband to get home so I can press it into his hands with the command to read.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Dinosaur vs. Bedtime

Dinosaur vs. BedtimeDinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of Bob Shea and his books. We bought Big Plans after the boys kept taking the book out of the library every chance they could. So when my heart-sister, Barb, sent along Dinosaur vs Bedtime for my youngest (who is going through a dinosaur phase), I was excited to break it out and read it.

And none of us were disappointed. This book is much shorter on words than Big Plans, and for this book, it works. It tells the story in short bursts, showing scenes familiar to any parent of a toddler. Dinosaur faces off against many foes that are thrown in his way - spaghetti, bath time, talking grown-ups. In each and every case, Dinosaur is triumphant. And he has high hopes when he fights bed time. But as any parent knows, eventually, bed time gets the better of energetic little dinosaurs.

The artwork is simple and fun, bringing out the important points (from Dinosaur's point of view). And the words on the page are large, just begging to be yelled in an announcer voice. You just can't help yourself. This book is one that can't sit by and be told passively. It's a book to be experienced. And with the staccato bursts of words and multitudes of roars, it's something that kids can get involved with as well. My three year old loves to yell out the roars while my six year old loves to call out what Dinosaur is up against next. It truly is a book that we, as a family, love to read together.

If you'd like to hear Bob Shea tell the story behind how Dinosaur vs Bedtime was written, along with listening to him read it himself, you can find it here on Vimeo.

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Waiting on Wedensday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme from Jill at Breaking the Spine.  It's a chance to spotlight upcoming releases that we wish were out nownownow!  This is my first time participating in WoW, but I'm hoping it will be far from my list.

My pick for this week is:


Release Date: May 1, 2012

Summary from Goodreads.com:

He's b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sade Kane can’t seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. 

To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent’s shadow... or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld...

While many don't think the Kane Chronicles are as good YA reading as The Heroes of Olympus, I still really enjoy them and can't wait for the next chapter in the Kane sibling's journey.

Review: Secret Agent Josephine's ABC's

Secret Agent Josephine's ABC's
Secret Agent Josephine's ABC's by Brenda Ponnay

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Based on the title, I was expecting a far different book than what ended up being presented. I was expecting a fun search through the alphabet, finding letters in places the child wouldn't expect them. Instead, what I was given was a pretty standard, run of the mill alphabet book.

Each page showed a single, large letter with a picture of whichever word the author was using to show off that letter of the alphabet. In smaller letters below the letter and picture it would tell what the letter stood for (For example, on the page for V, there is the letter V in the center, a vacuum to the left partially obscuring the letter and in parenthesis and small type below it, it says, "V IS FOR VACUUM").

While the author didn't do traditional words for each letter (on Q using quetzal and on U using underwear), several are ones that I'd come to expect through the many, many, many alphabet books that I've read to my boys over the years. There are so many other A's out there beyond Apple and Ant. I enjoy finding different ones.

The artwork wasn't bad. Each page is a golden background with a large, lighter shade sunburst in the middle. The letters are in Times New Roman font and colored a brick red. Each item that is chosen as an example of the letter has eyes and a mouth (including the underwear, which is slightly disturbing). The only change beyond the example is where on the page it's placed. Sometimes it's the the side of the letter, sometimes above, sometimes behind. But for the most part, the elements are the same. In some ways, this is good - it provides continuity for younger children just learning their ABCs. But it also borders on the boring. The whimsical examples really are the only thing that saves it from being so.

All in all, it wasn't a bad ABC book, but it was far, far from what I'd expected. I was hoping for fun with the alphabet and instead got the same old, same old.

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Review: What The Fox Learnt

What The Fox Learnt
What The Fox Learnt by Aesop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever since I bought my Kindle, I have been searching through the free books to find some to read to my boys. They boy are enamored with Mommy's latest toy (though more because of the apps that I have downloaded than the books). I also feel that it gives me a chance to mix it up a bit when it comes to reading to them at bedtime.

They were both familiar with some of Aesop's fables, thanks to story time and random books pulled from the library shelves. But they hadn't heard any of these stories involving Fox before. The four stories contained within are short - a page or two of writing each with a beautifully drawn picture to go with each story - so we were able to get through all four stories relatively quickly.

The first story is The Fox and the Crow, where Fox gets crow to drop some bread that he'd like to eat by complimenting her wonderful singing voice. The moral for this one is, "Do not trust flatterers."

The second story is The Fox and the Goat, in which Fox tricks Goat into coming down into a well. Fox had fallen and, rather than ask for Goat's help getting out, tricks Goat into coming in with him then climbs out over Goat's horns. This moral is, "Never trust a man in difficulties."

While the first two stories showed Fox tricking others, the second two are more humbling for the crafty being. The third story is The Fox and the Grapes, which is the only one that I was previously familiar with. In it, the Fox is trying to reach grapes that are out of his reach. When he realizes that he won't be able to get them, he leaves mumbling about how they are probably sour anyway. While the phrasing of the words - "It is easy to despise what you cannot get" - didn't make as much sense to my boys, the idea behind it was one they struggle with.

The final story is The Fox and the Cat. This was, by far, my favorite of the set. Fox is bragging how he has so many different ways to escape the hunters, while Cat admits he only has one. When they here the hunters coming, Cat hides among the trees. Fox, however, is struck with indecision on which of his escape tricks will work best and ends up getting caught and killed. The moral, "Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon," is one that resonates with me because I'm often confronted with far too many things to that need to be done and, in my indecision over where to start, never get to any of them.

While the words of the moral are a bit above my three year old's understanding, the rest of the story is very easy for him to understand. The bite-sized portions also keep his attention better than some of the longer stories do. It's one that he has asked for repeatedly. My six year old understands quite a bit more of it, but the stories are too short for him. So this is one that is usually pulled out at nap time rather than bedtime.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.  It's a chance to let our readers know what we've been reading over the previous week and what we have on deck for the upcoming week.  I hope you enjoy this little glance into my reading world.


I actually have not finished anything this past week.  I've been a bit behind on my reading, though I'm hoping to catch up some.

Current Reads and Audios


Bloodlist (The Vampire Files, Book 1) by P.N. Elrod
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1) by Marissa Meyer


Torchwood: Rift War by Paul Grist
Helpless by Daniel Palmer

Reading to the Kids

Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

I'm not sure yet what I plan on reading when these are finished. I've been trying to organize some things on my Goodreads to help me figure out what I want/need to read.  So hopefully by next week, I'll have some planned reads listed as well.