Saturday, October 31, 2009

Share-A-Book Saturday (9)

This is something I found over on Just Another Book Addict =), and I thought I'd do my own. There are so many great books out there that get overlooked (especially if they've been out for a while)!

Every Saturday, you share (recommend) a book, preferably one that you haven't reviewed yet. It's just a way to get other books out into the blogging world. This is NOT a review.

Today I'm going to recommend The Light Princess by George MacDonald.

The fact that George MacDonald--a scholar as well as a preacher and writer--once read this fairy tale to his students instead of giving them a lecture says volumes about the man and his beliefs. It also says much about his faith in the power of stories. The Light Princess is a simple enough tale, clearly written for children--a princess at her christening is cursed by a wicked witch with lightness (she floats blissfully about the castle all day long, and gets into all sorts of adventures, as one can easily imagine)--yet it holds a powerful spiritual truth. Gravity, weight, sorrow, suffering--all of this the princess misses, but with all of these she misses love, for what is love without weight, without body? What is love without falling? She discovers this truth, of course, only at the last minute when a faithful prince loves her enough to die for her.

Sometimes it's not a ponderous lecture--or sermon--that we need in order to experience what incarnation is about. ( review by Doug Thorpe.)

Though not as old as some other fairy tales, this has to be one of my favourites. It was first published in 1864... but the story is as timeless as any other fairy tale. The princess in the title is indeed "light". After being cursed by her pissed-off aunt, she has no gravity... either literally or figuratively. She floats about the castle and doesn't take anything seriously. The cast of characters includes the king and queen, kind parents who are confounded by their daughter's condition; the aunt, a havoc-wreaking villain with a nearly unpronounceable name; and a prince from a neighbouring kingdom who is in search of a wife. Unlike many princes in fairy tales, this one isn't just a pretty-faced Prince Charming with little or no qualities of note. When was the last time, after all, that Prince Charming was actually willing to sacrifice his own royal neck for the sake of others?

It seems that there are a few editions of The Light Princess in circulation, and the quality varies. If you can get your hands on the Maurice Sendak-illustrated version, so much the better; the reviews on that edition seem to be quite good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins (12)

Friday Fill-Ins:

1. It was a dark and stormy night, and I was putting the final finishing touches on my breathtakingly glorious entry for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

2. The almost-overdue library books were on the verge of costing a lot of money in fines, and my husband was making dinner, so I offered to take the books myself.

3. Rushing out, I happened to notice a shadow lurking behind the wind-stripped rhododendron near the front door.

4. I tried to ignore it. I rushed to the car, feeling more nervous than I cared to admit, and threw the books onto the passenger seat. A sudden noise startled me. Was it...? Yes... I think I heard a howl!

5. Shhhh... I sat still, waiting, listening. Suddenly, a werewolf jumped toward the car, snarling and brandishing a ripped plastic treat bag.

6. "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!" the werewolf shrieked. I screamed, rolled down the window, and hurled a book at the werewolf. Then I started the car and drove off with a screech of tires that barely masked the werewolf's furious howl.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sleeping, tomorrow my plans include getting prepared for trick-or-treaters who know what day Halloween is (unlike that werewolf) and Sunday, I want to find that library book so I don't have to pay the fine; I just hope the werewolf didn't shred it too badly!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Word verification Balderdash (8)

This fun meme is hosted by Sheila over at One Persons Journey through a world of Books.
This is the weekly meme where anyone who wishes to play along can take those crazy word verifications they have had over the past week and apply a fake definition to them (much like how you play the board game Balderdash).

Here are this week's words:

bedis - noun - the resulting splashes on the floor when a person misses the chamberpot

consueni - noun - two or more people who bring about a lawsuit against the same party at the same time

enyau - noun - the headache that results from listening to too much of Enya's music

lyzing - noun - the twang you feel in your nose that accompanies the scent of a pungent cleaning product

recoma - verb - to fall into a coma for the second time

sespher - noun - a byproduct produced by burning incense in a censer

Booking Through Thursday (10)

Booking Through Thursday asks:

Suggested by Jennysbooks:

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”

Words/phrases that make a book irresistible to me:
  • beautifully written
  • haunting
  • love story
  • against all odds
  • there are no accidents
  • paranormal
  • a twist that changes everything
  • tortured hero
Words/phrases that would make me put a book back down immediately (or that would at least make me wary):
  • fans of Stephenie Meyer
  • violent and bloody struggle
  • Christian
  • political intrigue
  • debunking
  • evil liberals
  • gay agenda
  • impossibly handsome
What an interesting question! You know, I never really thought about this, even though I realize now that I do pick (or avoid picking) books based on what's in the blurb.

Thursday Thunks (8)

1. So Halloween is this weekend, if you haven't heard. Are you gonna open your doors up or not?

I'm going to open up the front door. I don't really see a reason to open multiple doors.

2. You better open 'em cuz I'm coming... what are you putting in my treat bag?

I didn't buy the treats, so I don't know. Probably some pathetically small mass-produced chocolate thing. Not much of a reward for braving the swine flu threat and a rainy night, is it?

3. Since October is the bestest month for television (well for cable & dish subscribers it is) and there is a horror movie on at any given time of the day - are you sick of them yet?

I haven't watched any horror movies yet.

4. Which one of those movies can you watch over & over again?

Horror movies aren't generally something I watch over and over again.
Once you know what happens, there's not much suspense anymore.

5. Tell us about a Halloween scare you've had....

The big kids throwing flaming fireworks around (often at other people) always frightened me.

6. Did you watch the old Casper cartoons when you were a youngin? Well, back then they weren't old I suppose, but I'm sure you still understand my question.

"Casper, the friendly ghost. The friendliest ghost you know..." Of course.

7. Have you ever found a four-leaf clover?

Nope (is this a Halloween question?).

8. Haunted Houses... you know, the kinds you pay to get in and they chase you with chainsaws and severed heads.... do you like 'em?

Sure. I haven't been to one in ages, though.

9. Do you use cute cartoon type wrapping paper for Christmas presents or the not cutesy paper? Or are you one of those gift card and/or gift bag people?

I've used all kinds of things to wrap presents. Cartoon paper, elegant paper, recycled wrapping paper (if it's not too chewed-up), gift bags, tissue paper, newsprint, brown paper that I decorated myself... (What does this have to do with Halloween?)

10. How long do boiled eggs need to stay in the boiling water before they become hard boiled eggs?

Can you turn a boiled egg into a hard boiled egg by putting it in water? (Is this an Easter question?)

11. Jason is coming in through your front door... Freddy is coming through your back door... zombies are at every window of the house and Norman Bates is calling to invite you to dinner... what do you do?

Let myself be turned into a zombie, and then turn Jason and Freddy into zombies... and then go to dinner with Norman. That should be interesting...

12. Did you know that the scariest part of Halloween is giving all of your Reese's Peanut Butter Cups away?

Really? I thought the scariest part was the upset stomach from all the crap you eat.

13a. If you were to play a part of a haunted house (not the ghosts in the attic kind), what would you want to be?

I always thought it would be cool to be one of the people in the coffins who got to jump out and make people wet their pants.

13b. Have you ever played a part in a haunted house?

Yes. I was a screaming mummy.

14. If Thursday Thunks had a Halloween party, what do you think Kimber & Berleen would come dressed as?

I have no idea. But isn't an online Halloween party kind of pathetic? I mean... nobody can see your costume, so you're basically just dressing up and sitting in front of the computer.

15. Do you cook a turkey for Thanksgiving?

Not personally. But there's usually one at whatever family gathering I'm attending. (This question seems belated for us Canadians... We've already had our turkey day!)

16. Have you ever read a book that scared the pants off of you?

Hmmm... if I did, it probably wasn't a horror book. It would've been non-fiction... something I'd fret and worry about. I can't think of anything off the top of my head, though.

17. What's the predicted high temperature for today?

No idea. Probably around 10 degrees Celsius. I'm shivering here! (The furnace is slow to heat things up.)

18. Have you ever howled at the moon?

Not that I can recall. Maybe once or twice, in jest.

19.You are in an alley and a werewolf and a vampire are coming at you - one of them has to win. Which one do you want to bite you?

The werewolf. I already have some experience with turning into a crazy animal on a monthly basis, so aside from the extra hair, it probably wouldn't be that much of a change. (Plus, I wouldn't want to live forever. Werewolves aren't immortal, are they?)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review - Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Let me start off by saying that this book has nothing to do with that Kirsten Dunst movie of the same name. This Crazy Beautiful is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast; in this case, those two titular adjectives describe how other people see the two main characters.

Crazy Beautiful is told in alternating first-person points of view. Had I known it was also told using present-tense narration, I might have skipped it. But for some reason, it didn't bother me that much in this case. The writing flowed fairly well. Maybe that was because it had a stream-of-consciousness style to it that didn't really require perfect grammar to be intelligible.

Lucius Wolfe is the "crazy" part of the title, a 15-year-old who managed to blow off his arms in an explosion. I liked Lucius as a narrator. He had an interesting mix of self-pity and acceptance. Unfortunately, he confused me early on (page 2!) when he described himself, making mention of where his elbows "should be". From what I can tell after reading the whole book, Lucius only lost the lower parts of his arms, so this early description threw me. I spent much of the book wondering how on earth an above-elbow amputee did things like spike a volleyball and do laundry. I also thought his explanation of the explosion was incomplete. Yes, he told us what happened. But his explanation of why wasn't good enough. I thought there must be more to it, some earth-shattering secret motivation for Lucius doing what he did... but there wasn't. And since this "why" played an important role at one point in the story, not having a better explanation made this part of the plot seem somewhat unrealistic.

Aurora Belle is (obviously) the "beautiful" in the title. Like Lucius, she's also a new student at their high school. Unlike Lucius, she makes friends easily... probably because she's just so darn perfect. Aurora drove me nuts. She was boring. She was so "practically perfect in every way" that her name really should have been Mary Poppins. I didn't enjoy her sections of the narrative, and I don't think they were necessary. Lucius was a far more interesting character, and I think the book could have been told entirely from his point of view without losing anything. All we learned from Aurora's narratives was that she felt an attraction to Lucius when nobody else did. But since we know that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, we already know that this character is supposed to feel that way... and so telling the story from Aurora's point of view became kind of unnecessary.

Ultimately, the fact that this book is a fairy tale retelling is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. For example, I'm willing to somewhat overlook the fact that Aurora is so perfect; because she's essentially Belle, she's supposed to be stunningly beautiful and kind to everyone (even though this seems a bit out of place in the setting of a modern-day high school). So the slightly unrealistic characters I can forgive. But as for the plot... At times, it seemed to suffer from trying to fit into the mold that had already been established by the original fairy tale. There were parts that seemed forced. And on the other hand, the parts where the author did deviate from the fairy tale seemed contrived. I didn't buy the ending at all. The author set up an ending (one that would have followed the mold of the fairy tale) but then didn't seem to have enough courage to follow through. What did happen felt contrived and incomplete: a cop-out, really.

I'm not sure if I would recommend this book. I enjoyed it in the beginning, but as the story went on, I just found too many problems. The ending was a disappointment, and felt rushed. It's too bad, because I feel like there was potential here. If the author hadn't tried so hard to fit the story into the Beauty and the Beast mold, it might have worked. But this odd mix of unrealistic (bordering on stereotyped) characters, weak motivations, and harsh realities didn't really work for me.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Overall: 2.8 out of 5

Favorite Fictional Character (6)

This week's favourite fictional character is a bit of a strange one. He's from a series of books (the fourth is to be released next year). I've only read the first two. I fell in love with the character in the first book. I wish now that I'd just stopped there, because I didn't like the character in the second book. What character is this? It's Gen, the eponymous thief from Megan Whalen Turner's Newbery Honor book, The Thief.

Gen (short for Eugenides) is an insolent, clever young man. When we first encounter him, he's in prison. He's taken out by the king's magus, who needs Gen's skills for a special quest. The book is narrated by Gen, and I just loved his voice. He comes across to others as a bit of a "bad boy" (he is a thief, after all), but through his narration we come to see that he's actually a pretty cool guy... certainly someone you'd want to have on your side. (And I'll admit, I did have a bit of a crush on Gen when I first read the book years ago.)

Unfortunately, I didn't like the direction the author decided to take the rest of the series. The second book was told with third-person narration, so Gen's cheeky voice was gone. In addition, the misfortunes that the author put upon poor Gen turned him into a sullen, wounded hero who ended up making decisions that -- based upon what had happened in the story -- left me scratching my head. It's one thing to watch as an author kills off a favourite character... but it's much more disappointing to see that character "die" because they've turned into someone you don't even recognize.

So Gen of The Thief is one of my favourite characters. Eugenides of The Queen of Attolia (and subsequent books)... not so much.

The Favorite Fictional Character meme was started by Ryan G. at Wordsmithonia.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Tuesday... Where are you? (1)

I am in a high school with an almost impossibly perfect girl and a boy with hooks for hands. The students are putting on a production of Grease.

Crazy Beautiful, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I am in the afterlife, witnessing the state of souls between their earthly incarnations.

Memories of the Afterlife, edited by Michael Newton

This meme is hosted by raidergirl3 at an adventure in reading.

Teaser Tuesdays (10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Today's Teaser:
I vow, hearing Shell-Necklace Boy continue to speak now to Aurora Belle in his insidious fashion, that I will become her Gallowglass.

Whatever happens, I will stand beside her.

~ page 26 - Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Flawed Attack

I'm so tired of book groupies harping on people who give bad reviews. One of their most common attack phrases is, "If you think you can do better, write your own book!" That really bugs me, for a number of reasons.

First, it's a personal attack. It usually has little to do with the book and more to do with someone feeling insulted. Just because you like a book that other people have panned doesn't necessarily mean you're stupid. It just means your tastes are different.

(Plus, if you go around challenging people to become writers, they just might take you up on it. And then you'll have to eat your words if they write something good!)

Second, many of us could do better. But not everybody wants to be a writer. Some people are content to just be readers. And that's perfectly fine. What's not perfectly fine is to imply that, as a reader, you must like every book in existence. That's simply not realistic, and it denies the fact that we are all individuals with different opinions and tastes (and aptitudes for syntax).

Third, you don't need to be a writer to know when a book is just plain bad (unfortunately, being an editor doesn't seem to help much in some instances, either). Imagine that you go to a restaurant and order a fancy meal. But when you get your food, the salad tastes moldy, the chicken is rubbery, and the dessert is burnt. You don't need to be a five-star chef in order to know that your food tastes bad. Similarly, you don't need to be an author to know when a book is garbage.

Sometimes reviews pointing out the shortcomings of a book (or a restaurant) are necessary. If we weren't allowed to give bad reviews, we'd all have to sit there, smiling, while we choked down rubbery chicken with a side of sautéed genre fiction. And what's enjoyable about that?

Monday's Question of the Day (9)

Monday's Question of the Day is hosted by Eleni at /-LA FEMME READERS-/

What fairytale or Disney movie would you love to see re-created in a book?

My Answer:
This seems like a bit of an odd question, since most fairytale and Disney movies are based on books to begin with!

But I do enjoy fairytale retellings, so I guess that's essentially what the question is asking about. I'm not sure what hasn't already been done. Recently, I've seen retellings of Beauty and the Beast (Crazy Beautiful, Beastly), Cinderella (Ash), and East of the Sun and West of the Moon (Ice).

I've always liked story of The Snow Queen. A novelization based on that would be cool -- although I think I might've seen one of those around recently, too. (As for movie adaptations, it's not Disney, but the 2005 version of The Snow Queen is beautiful. It's like a painting come to life.)

Musing Mondays (10)

Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page...

Do you take notes while reading – either for your reviews or for yourself? How/where do you make these notes (on the page, post-its, scrap paper, notebooks etc)?

I rarely take notes. It disrupts the flow of my reading. However, if a book is so bad that it's disrupting its own flow, I might take notes (so I can use them for my review). The last time I did this was when I read Blue Moon. There was no flow to the writing, and so many grammatical errors, that making notes about all the problems was probably the only enjoyable part of reading the book.

If it's an awesome book with an engaging story, there's no way I'll be taking notes. I'll be so caught up in what I'm reading that it won't even occur to me to grab a pen and paper.

What are you reading on Mondays? (1)

This event, hosted at J. Kaye's Book Blog, is designed to list the books you finished last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you want to finish this coming week.

Finished this past week:

Hush, Hush
by Becca Fitzpatrick
My review is here.

Currently reading:

by Ingrid Law

Memories of the Afterlife
edited by Michael Newton

To be read (or at least started) this week:

Crazy Beautiful
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In My Mailbox (5)

Since Chapters split up my order, I got some of my books last week and the rest of them this week. Lots of non-fiction... I haven't read any in a while (I kind of miss it).

Here's what I got in fiction:

Crazy Beautiful
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I've been waiting to get my hands on this one for a while. I like fairy-tale retellings, and this one's nice and short. Hooray for books that don't give you carpal tunnel from trying to hold them up while you read in bed!

The Dust of 100 Dogs
by A. S. King

I heard about this one via book blogs, and I thought it sounded quirky and unique. I don't really know that much about it, but I'm looking forward to reading it!

Here's what I got in non-fiction:

The Akashic Experience
by Ervin Laszlo

I've read a few of Laszlo's books, and I find them absolutely fascinating. This one features contributions from "20 leaders in culture and science of their interactions with the Akashic field". His previous books had quite a bit about quantum physics, which I find absolutely fascinating.

Messages from Michael
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

I haven't read any of the Michael teachings (in book form, anyway). This one has been around for a while; this is the 25th anniversary edition.

Memories of the Afterlife
edited by Michael Newton

I've read Dr. Newton's other two books on life-between-life regression. They were so interesting! This one is case studies from other practitioners who use Dr. Newton's techniques. I've looked at the table of contents, and I'm kind of excited to read this one; it looks like there's some good stuff in there. (And this book is just pretty. You can't see it from the picture, but there are swirly vines on the cover that are a slightly different texture. The flowery motif is carried through onto the pages as well.)

What was in your "mailbox" this week?

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

SNS (Stupid Narrator Syndrome)

Perhaps it's just the books I've been reading lately, but I've noticed a bit of an epidemic. "An epidemic of what?" you might ask. The condition is called SNS, or Stupid Narrator Syndrome, and it seems to be striking characters in young adult literature* at an alarming rate.

There are three common variations of this condition. I'll outline each of them briefly:

1. SNS with co-morbid cluelessness
Examples: Aislinn (Wicked Lovely), Abbey (The Hollow)

If these characters were in a movie, they'd be the ones innocently walking straight into the clutches of the villain while the whole theatre screams, "No! Don't turn that blood-smeared doorknob!" These are the characters who are always the last to know, who figure things out long after everyone else, who can have the answer staring them in the face for hundreds of pages without triggering the little lightbulb in their heads. And when they finally do get it, the reader's reaction is pretty much, "Well, duh."

2. SNS with co-morbid recklessness
Examples: Bella (Twilight), Nora (Hush, Hush)

These are the characters whose SNS is characterized by stupid behaviours which often seem like nothing more than a way to drive the plot forward. The way these characters behave is pretty contrived... unless it's common to jump off of cliffs to try to trigger auditory hallucinations or to give away your new winter coat in skid row in order to get directions. This variation of SNS also manifests as girls trying to be with guys of questionable safety. The reader usually knows the guy is bad news. Sometimes the girl does, too. But that won't stop her from trying to be with him if she has this form of SNS.

3. SNS with co-morbid denial
Examples: Ever (Evermore), Jessica (Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side)

This variation is similar to the first, in that the evidence is staring the character in the face. However, rather than being completely clueless, these characters are in denial. They see what they want to see. They're often written as skeptics, who drive readers crazy because they're in denial for so long that you just want to scream, "He's a vampire! Deal with it, already!" Some characters (e.g., Jessica) recover from this form of SNS quickly when presented with sufficient evidence, while others will stubbornly cling to their skepticism until the reader has become convinced the denial is nothing more than a poorly used literary device.

The problem with characters suffering from SNS is that they're often used (to frustrating effect) in order to drag out the narrative. They're also somewhat insulting; they're a sign that the author doesn't think very highly of his or her readers' intelligence. A mystery isn't much fun if the reader has already figured everything out; watching the slow narrator put together the pieces of the puzzle isn't usually entertaining (although there are exceptions).

What's your opinion of SNS? Is it a condition that does little harm? Or is it something that authors should strive to eradicate? What other characters can you think of who suffer from one of the three variants of SNS?
*My intention is not to mock any particular author. I'm just pointing out a pattern I've noticed in my recent YA reads. I actually enjoy some books with characters suffering from SNS!

Review - Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush #1)
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Date: 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 391
Format: hardcover
Source: Indigo


Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

It seems like I've been waiting for this book for so long. Now that I've finished it, I feel somewhat (but not completely) satisfied. I guess it's sort of like getting a salad for dinner when what you were really craving was a steak.

On the whole, I enjoyed the story. I liked the concept of fallen angels, and it's something I hadn't seen a lot of before (but I bet that's going to change now!).

The pace was fairly good. I didn't find myself wanting to rush through too many parts of the story. Most scenes were relevant and weren't just filler. Fitzpatrick's writing style was easy to read and I didn't find too many problems (aside from the missing paragraph break on page 320 that tripped me up for a good 60 seconds; a missing paragraph break combined with a lack of speech attributions is confusing!).

The characters were a mixed bag for me, though. Nora was a passable narrator, but she suffers from what I like to call SNS (Stupid Narrator Syndrome). I hate it when I'm reading a book and I figure things out long before the narrator does. Nora also spends most of the book vacillating between being afraid of (and repulsed by) Patch and thinking she's attracted to him. At times, I wondered if the author even knew where she wanted Nora to stand on the issue.

I did like the villains (even though I knew who they were long before Nora clued in), and I liked the fact that there was more than one. I wasn't crazy about Vee, Nora's best friend, because at times she was even stupider than Nora (I know they're supposed to be impulsive teenagers, but really... some of the stuff they did -- or overlooked -- was just ridiculous).

As for Patch... Well, he was my favourite character in the whole thing. Yes, I guess I'm a Patch groupie. But here's the thing: I wouldn't want to date him. It seems that a lot of male characters in YA are either adored or loathed based on their dateability. Readers (mostly young women) want to put themselves in the main character's shoes and live vicariously through them as they enter into a relationship with the hottest, most perfect guy imaginable. That certainly isn't the case here. Yes, Patch is swoon-worthy. He's hot. He's protective. He drives a cool car. But he's also kind of a jerk. He thinks way too much about sex. He's the kind of guy you'd never want your daughter to date. In real life, he's the kind of guy that you should run away from. But in literature, that makes for an awesomely enjoyable character.

All in all, I did enjoy the story, and I'm not sorry I read it. And I'll be looking forward to the sequel, Crescendo.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Overall: 3.8 out of 5

Share-A-Book Saturday (8)

This is something I found over on Just Another Book Addict =), and I thought I'd do my own. There are so many great books out there that get overlooked (especially if they've been out for a while)!

Every Saturday, you share (recommend) a book, preferably one that you haven't reviewed yet. It's just a way to get other books out into the blogging world. This is NOT a review.

Today I'm going to recommend The Haunting at Cliff House by Karleen Bradford.

From the moment she sets foot in the forbidding house high on the cliff, Alison senses a mysterious presence in one of its rooms. There she discovers an ancient diary belonging to a girl who lived in the same house, centuries before. What does this girl want...and why is she so sure only Alison can help her? (Product description from

Does anyone else remember when the Scholastic book club flyers would come around at school? I used to be allowed to get a couple of books. The Haunting at Cliff House was one of them (I got the edition with the rather cheesy '80s cover that you see on I absolutely loved it! I think I was probably around 8 or 9 when I read it. The whole setting was just delicious. The story was set in Wales, so along with that comes all those cool Welsh names. The name of the house, for example, is Pen-Y-Craig.

I think I would have said that this was one of my favourite books way back then. I know I read it multiple times. Sadly, my copy is stuck in the crawlspace (I think), and it's out of print, so I can't read it again at the moment. But if you happen to come across it in the library or in a used bookstore, pick it up and give it a shot.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Firsts (4)

The first line can make or break a reader’s interest. Just how well did the author pull you in to the story with their first sentence? To participate in this weekly book meme is extremely easy.

  • Grab the book you are currently reading and open to the first page.
  • Write down the first sentence in the first paragraph.
  • Create a blog post with this information. (Make sure to include the title & author of the book you are using. Even an ISBN helps!)
  • Did this first sentence help draw you into the story? Why or why not?
I'm reading Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick at the moment. Yes, the following line is the first line of the book; it's a prologue that takes place in 1565:
Chauncey was with a farmer's daughter on the grassy banks of the Loire River when the storm rolled in, and having let his gelding wander in the meadow, was left to his own two feet to carry him back to the château.
Sometimes I like prologues, and sometimes I don't. There seem to be more of them around now (I blame Twilight), and not all of them are really necessary. But the prologue in this book sets the stage nicely and provides a bit of intrigue. I haven't finished the book yet, but I can already see that the prologue was relevant to the events in the rest of the story.

I'm thinking that that first comma is misplaced, and it's bugging me a bit. But I didn't notice that when I read it the first time, so I'm not going to get too worked up about it. (I go into editor mode far too often... often to the detriment of my enjoyment of a book!)

Friday Fill-Ins (11)

Friday Fill-Ins:

1. The crickets sing, "Why do we chirp at everything?"

2. I'd like to be wherever you are.

3. I want to get far away from the madding crowd (I wasn't sure what a "madding crowd" was, so I looked it up; it seems like something you'd want to get far away from).

4. I knew that it was too good to be true; this was a dream.

5. But as for me, I simply am.

6. A long line of farmers and fishermen is the ancestry I come from.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading some more of Hush, Hush, tomorrow my plans include trying to find pictures for my next IMM post and Sunday, I want to contact extraterrestrial life and ask them for a tour of the galaxy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Word verification Balderdash (7)

This fun meme is hosted by Sheila over at One Persons Journey through a world of Books.
This is the weekly meme where anyone who wishes to play along can take those crazy word verifications they have had over the past week and apply a fake definition to them (much like how you play the board game Balderdash).

Here are this week's words. Please don't perroph; I tried my best:

bunsors - noun - the areas on your bottom that hurt when you sit on a hard chair; bunsors are also implicated in bottom numbness

concuse - verb - to accuse someone of a crime of which you have already been convicted

legufza - noun - a pizza-like flatbread made with pur
eed legumes

murophys - noun - a type of insect that crawls on the wall and scurries out of reach whenever someone tries to catch it

perroph - verb - to vomit in the manner of a Chihuahua

riarad - noun - a literary saga that is often read in reverse for comical effect

Booking Through Thursday (9)

Booking Through Thursday asks:

If you could ask your favorite author (alive or dead) one question … who would you ask, and what would the question be?

This is a tough one. I don't really have a favourite author.

I might ask Charlotte Brontë or Jane Austen if they were percolating any ideas for new stories when they died. It would have been interesting to know what might have been, had these ladies not died at such young ages.

Thursday Thunks (7)

1. If you were to start a meme (or a second or third), what would you call it and what day would you pick?

I've actually thought about doing this. But I haven't come up with any really good ideas yet, and I have no idea what day I'd pick. Maybe Saturday, because it seems kind of short on memes.

2. When a celebrity endorses a product, do you really believe they like it/use it?


3. Why don't zombies ever just eat each other?

Don't they eat brains? Would other zombies even have brains to eat? They don't act like they have brains...

4. If you were an elephant, would you rather roam free or be in a zoo?

Sad to say, I'd rather be in a zoo. I wouldn't want to be poached!

5. The doorbell rings on October 31st, do you answer it?

Only if I haven't run out of candy.

6. If you see a piece of paper on the ground while out & about, do you pick it up? If so, do you look to see what it is?

No. It rains so much here that it would probably be soggy and unreadable.

7. If Jon Gosselin and Octomom got married and then their own reality show, do you think she would try to get pregnant again for better ratings?

Only if she's as dumb as a brick and hasn't learned anything.

8. If Thursday Thunks was to be put on hold or quit completely, would you be sad?

A little disappointed, yes. Sad? Probably not. There are plenty of other memes with which to waste occupy my time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Favorite Fictional Character (5)

It seems that many of my favourite fictional characters are from movies or TV. This week's favourite is from a TV miniseries called The 10th Kingdom (that was later turned into a rather mediocre novelization). And that character is: Wolf.

Wolf is the main love interest in this long (seven hours!) miniseries that aired back in 2000. He was played to perfection by Scott Cohen. Wolf is at once sexy and goofy, a werewolf who's constantly trying to keep his animal instincts in check (he visits therapists and reads self-help books to try to do this), and who finds himself torn between the woman he loves and the queen he owes (she sprang him from jail, where he'd been imprisoned for "sheep worrying").

Wolf was my favourite character when I watched the series years ago. I don't remember much about it now, other than that I really enjoyed it. It may be time to pull out the DVDs again so I can remind myself how much I liked the series and why Wolf is one of my favourite werewolf characters.

The Favorite Fictional Character meme was started by Ryan G. at Wordsmithonia.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays (9)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Today's Teaser:
"Why are you looking at me like that?" I challenged.

He tipped forward, preparing to stand. "Because you're nothing like what I expected."

"Neither are you," I countered. "You're worse."

~ page 80 - Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Heartfelt Award

Thanks so much to Kath at Bookworm Nation for the Heartfelt Award!

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.

Rules: Put the logo on your blog/post. Nominate up to to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside. Be sure to link your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

I'm going to pass this lovely award on to the following lovely bloggers:
Becky at The Bookette
Juju at Tales of whimsy...
Charlotte at The Book on the Hill
Jill at The O.W.L.

Monday's Question of the Day (8)

Monday's Question of the Day is hosted by Eleni at /-LA FEMME READERS-/

In school, most of the time we read classics, which one did you enjoy the most and which one did you hate?

My Answer:
I didn't really like most of the stuff we had to read in school... especially in high school. I remember hating The Sun Also Rises and Great Expectations. There were a couple of books I read in elementary school that I really liked: Cue for Treason and Word to Caesar by Geoffrey Trease.

But as for the book I enjoyed the most and the book I hated the most, both were introduced in my first-year university English literature course. We had to read Jane Eyre (which I loved) and Joseph Andrews (which I loathed -- and still loathe -- with a passion). Overall, I hated that course... but I'm glad that it introduced me to Jane Eyre. Otherwise, I might never have read one of my all-time favourite classics.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In My Mailbox (4)

This week, I actually got some books in my mailbox! Literally. I ordered seven books (yeah, I got carried away). The order must've been too big to ship all at once, so it was split up. I got two of the books on Friday (so I guess the rest will show up next week... and I'll have something to put in my next IMM post!). The two books that I received were:

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Yes! I finally got my hands on this one. I started reading it on Friday night. I haven't gotten too far yet, though. (And now I'm in the middle of three books, the other two being Pride and Prejudice and Savvy. They're all so different, though, I shouldn't have any trouble keeping them straight.)

Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox

I'd heard about this one, and it sounded somewhat interesting, but I didn't have a burning desire to read it or anything. However, I came across it in the bargain section and I just couldn't pass it up. Why not? Could you pass up a hardcover for 95 cents? (I kid you not. It must've gone back to the warehouse as a "damaged book" at some point because the dust jacket had a nick in it along the spine. But heck... for less than a dollar for a hardcover, I'm not about to complain!)

What was in your "mailbox" this week?

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Share-A-Book Saturday (7)

This is something I found over on Just Another Book Addict =), and I thought I'd do my own. There are so many great books out there that get overlooked (especially if they've been out for a while)!

Every Saturday, you share (recommend) a book, preferably one that you haven't reviewed yet. It's just a way to get other books out into the blogging world. This is NOT a review.

Today I'm going to recommend Half Magic by Edward Eager.

Edward Eager has been delighting young readers for more than 40 years with stories that mix magic and reality. Half Magic, the most popular of his tales about four children who encounter magical coins, time-travel herb gardens, and other unlikely devices, is a warm, funny, original adventure. The title refers to a coin that the children find. Through a comical series of coincidences, they discover that the coin is magic. Well, it's not totally magic--it's only (you guessed it) half magic. That means there's a certain logic to the wishes one must make to generate a desired outcome. Imagine the results emerging from inaccurate efforts: half invisible, half rescued, half everything! (Product description from

I read this book a few years ago. The library had gotten in a few of these reissues of Edward Eager's books. I read a few of them, but the one I really remembered was Half Magic because of its unique premise: a group of children find a magical wishing coin that only grants half a wish (which means that if you want a full wish, you've got to be a little creative with your wishing).

I remember these books being quaint (and a little bit dated; feminists probably wouldn't like them, but they were originally written in the 1950s). But the children were curious and playful and were great characters with which to share an afternoon or two. The books are intended for younger children (Amazon lists the target ages as 9-12, which is probably about right), but I still found these books (especially Half Magic) to be very enjoyable.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lost in Translation?

I just saw the synopsis for the French version of Alyson Noël's Evermore (it's called Eternels). From the description, it sounds a lot like Twilight:
Avant l’accident, Ever Boom était une adolescente comme les autres. Elle a perdu toute sa famille dans cet épisode tragique, et reçoit soudain un terrible don : celui de lire dans les pensées des gens, de voir leur aura et de connaître leur vie en les touchant. Elle se renferme alors sur elle-même et évite le contact. Les élèves du lycée la regardent comme une bizarrerie, la pointent du doigt… jusqu’au jour où elle rencontre Damen Auguste. Damen est mystérieux, plein de charme et terriblement beau. Toutes les filles du lycée se le disputent mais c’est à Ever qu’il s’intéresse. Or c’est le seul être dont elle ne peut pas découvrir les pensées. Et personne ne sait réellement qui il est ni d’où il vient. La seule chose dont Ever est sûre, c’est qu’elle est profondément et irrémédiablement amoureuse de lui.
I love the term "bizarrerie"! I wish we used that in English. But the last line really made me think of Twilight. Basically, it says:
The only thing that Ever is sure of, is that she's deeply and irremediably in love with him.
That sounds strangely familiar... doesn't it?
About three things I was absolutely positive:
First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
I mean, yes, Evermore is basically just Twilight with immortals substituted for vampires. But this is pretty blatant.

Still, I'm finding myself curious about this French edition. I found the original English so badly written that a translation might actually be an improvement. However, at over 15 euros plus shipping (which is more than I paid for my English copy back when it first came out), I'm not that tempted to find out.
Have you ever read more than one version of a book (the original language and a translation)? Which did you prefer? Was one better than the other, or were they pretty much the same?

Friday Fill-Ins (10)

Friday Fill-Ins:

1. So are we going to Disneyland?

2. The same old thing is what's up ahead.

3. I love to use my imagination.

4. Potatoes of some sort are often part of my dinner.

5. I walk a fine line between sanity and insanity.

6. Hope is the true elixir of life!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a nice shower and washing the day off of me, tomorrow my plans include wishing mail was delivered on the weekends and Sunday, I want to explore subterranean caves and discover new species of light-sensitive creatures that will one day take over the world when they master the art of making sunblock!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Word verification Balderdash (6)

This fun meme is hosted by Sheila over at One Persons Journey through a world of Books.
This is the weekly meme where anyone who wishes to play along can take those crazy word verifications they have had over the past week and apply a fake definition to them (much like how you play the board game Balderdash).

Here are this week's words:

ababutin - noun - a brain chemical that, when out of balance, predisposes people to obsessions with 1970s Swedish pop groups

alaersec - noun - an additive used in alcoholic beverages that provides the "dry" taste

conalist - noun - a person who studies the geometry, strength, and efficiency of ice-cream cones

glatios - noun - a muscle in the face, primarily responsible for creating dimples in the cheeks

rhyrmi - noun - a very short rhyme, consisting of two or fewer words (the difficulty of producing a one-worded rhyme has led to the near extinction of the rhyrmi as a form of poetry)

vintsh - adjective - a portmanteau of "vintage" and "kitsch", used to refer to anything old and tacky

Booking Through Thursday (8)

Booking Through Thursday asks:

We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

I rarely get rid of books, though I should. They tend to build up and make my bookshelves sag. I don't get rid of many non-fiction books (and I have a lot of those). I'm more likely to get rid of fiction titles that I've already read (because I'm not a re-reader). I used to donate them to the library, thinking they'd appreciate some almost-new books that they could put in their system so others could enjoy them, but they'd just turn around and sell them for a few cents. The used bookstores want to give you credits (which I'd never use, because whenever I've been in the used bookstores around here, all I see is a million copies of supermarket paperback romances). So I haven't gotten rid of any books in a while... and I'm starting to run out of room.

Thursday Thunks (6)

1. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses,
And all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Why was Humpty Dumpty sitting on that wall?

Probably because he had such a big ego that he thought he was better than everyone else... and wanted to look down on them.

Either that, or he had a death wish.

2. If Mother Goose and Father Time had kids, what would they look like and what would they be named?

Aren't they both old? How could they even have kids at their age?

3. Does Barbie have kankles?

My Barbies didn't.

4. Have you ever been featured in a magazine?

Nope. What would I be featured for?

5. Did your parents keep a baby book for you? If so, how often have you looked through it?

My mom started one for me. It's not complete. I've looked at it a few times over the years.

6. If someone dropped off a case of candy bars at your front door, what kind of candy bar would you want? (Berleen's question from Insanity Cafe.)

I wouldn't want any. I don't like commercial candy. (I don't have a huge sweet tooth, anyway. I'd rather have some organic fruit.)

7. Rub-a-dub-dub,
Three men in a tub,
And how do you think they got there?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker,
They all jumped out of a rotten potato,
'Twas enough to make a man stare.

What happened to the rotten potato? Further more, if they jumped out of a rotten potato, do you think they stink?

I've never heard this version with the rotten potato. The one I know is:

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three.

I like my version better. The metre of the potato version is... weird. That line seems stuck in there for no good reason. So the potato probably didn't exist in the first place (except maybe on a quantum level) which means that nothing happened to it... because it was never there.

And I don't think you can smell like a quantum potato, rotten or otherwise.