Friday, January 29, 2010

Challenge: Reagan Arthur Reading Challenge



A new publishing imprint?  Alison, what's that?

Six months ago, I would not have been able to tell you.  Through this strange experience called blogging, I have figured out that the big publishing houses, like Random House, Hachette Book Group, and Penguin, for example, have different subdivisions, called Imprints or Publishing Groups.  Usually, each subdivision has a specialty -- childrens books, non-fiction, lifestyles/cooking, or graphic novels.   Every once in a while, an editor shows such outstanding talent that she gets her own imprint. 

This week, Little, Brown and Hachette Book Group announced their new imprint: Reagan Arthur Books.  The imprint celebrated its launch with the new book The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris, which already has created so much buzz around the booking world. 

So much buzz that there is now a Reagan Arthur Books Reading Challenge, hosted by Kathy/Bermuda Onion & Julie/Booking Mama.  The task is simple.  Read books from this new imprint.  Once I saw the titles on their roster, this was a no-brainer!  Count me IN. 

There are currently six available titles (and many more to come):

The Unnamed
by Joshua Ferris
During their 20-year marriage, Tim and Jane Farnsworth have savored the fruits of his labor as a high-powered lawyer: they live in a beautiful home, they travel on exotic vacations, they don’t worry about money. Tim has battled a bizarre, inexplicable illness, but those episodes, while not exactly forgotten, have passed. Then it comes back, causing him to behave in a frighteningly new way, driving him out of his life and into a world and a self that he can’t recognize and Jane is helpless to control. How far will he go to fight his body’s incomprehensible desires, and what will they both risk to find the way back to the people they love?

A heartbreaking story of family and marriage, a meditation on the unseen forces of nature and desire, The Unnamed is a deeply felt, luminous novel about modern life, ancient yearnings, and the power of human connection



Marriage and Other Acts of Charity (Link for Review)
by Kate Braestrup
In her award-winning memoir Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup inspired readers with her deeply moving and deftly humorous stories of faith, hope, and family. As a minister, she regularly performs weddings. She’s been married twice and widowed once, and accordingly has much to say about life after the ceremony. In Marriage and Other Acts of Charity she turns her attention to the subjects of love and commitment. Part observation of modern marriage, and part meditation on how God and love figure in all our relationships, the book proves yet again why Braestrup’s writing is “inspirational in the best sense” (New York Daily News)


Doors Open (Link for Review)
by Ian Rankin
Three friends, sharing a bond of passion for art and collecting, conspire together to pull off a heist of several paintings from the National Gallery in Edinburgh. With the help of hired muscle and a forger to replace the stolen paintings, they are successful—and then learn that the aftermath is more complicated and treacherous than the crime



Black Hills
by Dan Simmons
Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, first encounters General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at Little Bighorn. He believes that the legendary general’s ghost entered him at that moment and will remain with him until Sapa convinces him to leave. Weaving the two men’s stories together, Dan Simmons depicts a tumultuous time in American history, culminating in an explosive finale at Mount Rushmore
Still Midnight
by Denise Mina
Alex Morrow is not new to the police force—or to crime—but there is nothing familiar about the murder and kidnapping she is investigating. Is this an amateur crime gone horribly wrong or something much more unexpected?

Review: The Dark Matter Directive by D. Charles Wilson


Don't read this book at night...or when you're alone...without every light on. The Dark Matter Directive isn't just creepy or spooky, it's downright scary!

The Jessing family home is situated in a typical suburban town called Brockton Falls, CA. Lately, some strange things have been happening in town, and there is a general feeling that things are not quite right. One night, Matt Jessing, the father of two boys, thought his eyes were playing tricks on him when he saw someone or something standing between his sons' beds. The following morning, all the mirrors in the house had turned black.

"...some say that if you look into a mirror and it turns black, that's when something from the other side has noticed you. It's why you should never gaze into a mirror in the dark - that's when they're watching."

Who is watching? What did it notice? What does it want? Eric and Kevin Jessing are not only brothers but they were born with a special gift. They may be conductors of evil, or they may be on this earth to deflect evil from the rest of us. They aren't sure, but for right now, they know that something is in their house, something is after them, and they have to make it right before time runs out.

D. Charles Wilson's writing is so powerful and so convincing that I couldn't help but be reminded of the first time I read Pet Cemetery. I could hear the footsteps, I could feel the cold air, and my heart was pounding with fear.

I love the relationship between the father and the two boys. I also loved the connection that the two brothers had with one another. There is more to The Dark Matter Directive than a scare-your-pants-off plot - there is a lesson in trust, family and love.

I haven't been able to figure out whether this book is meant for Ages 9-12 (as it says on Amazon)or grades 9-12. I would think that a 9 year-old would have nightmares, but I'm not a 9 year old boy, though, so what do I know?

About the Book:
The Dark Matter Directive by D. Charles Wilson
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 242 pages
Publisher: Lightkey; 1st edition (September 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981360106
ISBN-13: 978-0981360102



FTC Statement: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger 1919-2010


J.D. Salinger, best known for writing the legendary Catcher in the Rye, has died today at age 91. 

As an avid reader, books bring me back to certain times and places in my life.  My bookshelf is my history.  I first read The Catcher in the Rye when I was a Freshman in High School.  I was on a skiing trip with one of my close friends and her family in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  We were with her Aunt and her grandmother, lovingly known as Nanny to all that know and love her.  After dinner, there was no television or video games.  Instead, we each chose a book from the library and read underneath piles of soft quilts, listening to nothing but the wind outside and the crackling of the fire.  Nanny thought it was time for me to read The Catcher in the Rye, and I was actually shocked after reading the first few chapters that she would suggest such a provacative book for me!  I read many a great books during my skiing trips to the Berkshires, but none ever stuck with me as much as J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

There are thousands of supernatural books out there that throw around the word "immortality" but when looking at this one work, by this one author I can't help but think J.D. Salinger will forever be remembered through the story of Holden Caulfield. 

Where were you when you read The Catcher in the Rye? 
How old were you?
What did it mean to you?


Read more on J.D. Salinger at The Washington Post

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review: Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs


Cozy or corny?   A little bit of both, I'm afraid.

This was my book club's pick for January, and I have to admit, I was not excited about reading it.  In fact, I didn't even pick it up until the day before our book club planned to meet.   I had seen the book in the book shop and decided against reading it once I read the blurb.  But, one of the reasons I am in a book club is so I can read books that I normally would not read.  (The other reasons include wine and a few of the most amazing women I have ever met!)

I liked it more than I thought I would.

Georgia, Kitting Club's main character, is a single mom, who, against all odds, makes a comfortable living in New York City running a yarn shop with her pre-teen daughter, Dakota.  Despite not having any family nearby, Georgia and Dakota stumble upon their pseudo-family in what is lovingly known as their Friday Night Knitting Club.

There were certainly parts of this novel that were a tad too cliché for me.  Every age, ethnicity and socioeconomic character was represented, almost making this cast caricatures of the groups from which they come.   Add in the Romeo-type love story, and predictable ending and we have ourselves the formulaic chick-lit book.  Not that there's anything wrong with chick-lit! 

I finished it, though.  Not just because I was reading it for my book club, but because there was a  part of me that was enjoying what I was reading.  I wanted to see what happened to these characters, and I wanted to know if there was going to be a love story in there somewhere.  I found no struggle in reading The Friday Night Knitting Club in less than 48 hours.

Some of the characters I really hated, like Cat Phillips, the former best friend, turned back-stabber, turned needy rich woman.  I believe Kate Jacobs intended her readers to forgive Cat for her past sins, but I just couldn't sympathize or connect with her enough to do so.  If nothing else, Cat's relationship with Geogia allowed us to fall in love with Georgia even more - her strength, her wit, her talent.  There were other characters that I found easy to love, like Anita, Georgia's stand-in mother figure, and KC, Georgia's close friend who spoke with no filter and often became the comic relief of the bunch.   As much as I liked Anita, she was still a bit cliché with the wise woman, fortune cookie dialogue:
"...there's always a better time than right now and there always will be.  But right now is what we've got."

"No, everyone has to knit when they're here.  I promise you.  But not every person has to use yarn."

"We don't always get what we deserve...Sometimes we get more; sometimes we get less.  At least we get something." 
Anita was a spunky lady, though, without whom Georgia would not have grown as a person or as a character.  I found myself rooting for Georgia, and for her relationship with Darwin, the man who left her pregnant twelve years ago. 

As many criticisms as I have about this book, there is one more positive thing I must say.  Knitting Club was an easy, enjoyable read.  No, it wasn't a work of great literature, but it was a readable story that could very easily be made into a likable movie.  Critics have described it as the Steel Magnolias of Manhattan.  Switch out the beauty salon for a knitting store and I could agree with that.

Extras:

The Friday Night Knitting Club Website
where you can Read an Excerpt of The Friday Night Knitting Club
Kate Jacobs website
The Friday Night Knitting Club movie is in production, with Julia Roberts starring as Georgia Walker

About The Book:
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (January 18, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399154094
ISBN-13: 978-0399154096

FTC Statement:  I purchased this book myself. 

Personal Statement:  My apologies to the book gods for defiling this book.  I was reading late at night, got spooked by a bug, and accidentally smashed a stink bug with it.  The stench was putrid and could not be washed out, wiped out, or Lysol-ed out.  Therefore, it had to be destroyed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book To Movie: Trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I was just posting about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie Diary, and today I find out the very first trailer has been released!  I may be behind in this news, but it's news to me!





For more, visit the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie Website.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Release: The Mark by Jen Nadol



There are some really great books coming out in 2010 by debut YA authors, also known as The Tenners.  One of the books I have been keeping my eye on is The Mark by Jen Nadol (Bloomsbury, January 19, 2010). 

Sixteen-year old Cassie Renfield has seen the mark since forever: a glow around certain people as if a candle were held behind their back.

The one time she pointed it out taught her not to do it again, so Cassie has kept quiet, considering its rare appearances odd, but insignificant. Until the day she watches a man die. Mining her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person's imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.

Cassie searches her past, her philosophy lessons, even her new boyfriend for answers, always careful to hide her secret. How does the mark work? Why her?

Most importantly, if you know today is someone's last, should you tell?


For more information or to read an excerpt, go to: The Mark by Jen Nadol

Review coming soon!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Technical Difficulties



Mad Cat

Alison's Book Marks is experiencing some technical difficulties. I apologize for any delay or disappointment this may cause you. I know it's hard not having your daily cup of me to start your day off right.

The problem is this: I have no computer. Let me rephrase that. I have a computer, but it hates me. I don't know why! I wipe the screen regularly, I don't sprinkle Oreo crumbs on my keyboard, and I don't let the kids play on it anymore. WHY? Why do you hate me so?

I'm no geek, but I've got my favorite geek (the Man) on the problem. He's at the geek store right now getting new parts. Something about a cable. I'm on the kids' computer now. I had to enter four different passwords to break through all the parental controls on this baby. The kids are not happy about my being here. The keyboard is kind of sticky, so I'm not thrilled about being here either.

I wanted to check in with you all and let you know I'm still alive and well. I have several reviews that I plan to post in the next few days: The Friday Night Knitting Club, The Swan Thieves, and The Dark Matter Directive (to name a few). So, keep your eyes out for those and other lit news.

To quote the Governator...I'll be back.


One more thing:  Does anyone see my coffee cup on the upper right hand corner?!?  I know my computer is messing with me, and I'm currently on a computer that isn't used to seeing much outside of pbskids.org, but where's my coffee cup!?!?!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary By Jeff Kinney


I don't know about your kids, but my 7 year old can hardly wait for the release of the live action Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, which is due out April 2, 2010.  Even more exciting is writer/illustrator Jeff Kinney is going to publish the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie Diary (Amulet Books, March 16, 2010)

For more, please visit:
The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary By Jeff Kinney

You can also visit the Diary of a Wimpy Kid website.

For first look photos of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, visit the Entertainment Weekly website.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wish by Alexandra Bullen



For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.
 
In a breathtaking debut from Alexandra Bullen, Wish asks the question: If you could have anything, what would you wish for?

I don't usually add other bloggers' book giveaways to my blog, but the coincidence of this one was just too strange.  I was checking out the new releases from this past week, and I came across Wish by Alexandra Bullen.  It sounds great, so I JUST added this book to my To Be Read list at Goodreads maybe ten minutes ago.  Afterwards, I did a quick Google search and discovered one of my favorite book blogs, Luxury Reading has a contest running right now.

About the Book:
Wish by Alexandra Bullen
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Point (January 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545139058
ISBN-13: 978-0545139052


Good luck!

Review: Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters


Jane Austen sci-fi fan fiction?  I don't want to sound like a party pooper, but Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters was too fishy for my taste.  It's like sushi - I thoroughly enjoy the first few bites, but I can't make a meal out of it.

From the same creative team of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, comes the latest Austen mash-up, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.  Staying true to the original plot, Ben H. Winters throws in man-eating giant lobsters, two-headed sea serpents, and plotting octopi - sea creatures which turned on the people of the earth thanks to an event referred to as "The Alteration". 

Yes, Winters gives us another tongue-in-cheek adaptation of one of Austen's most beloved novels, but keeps our wits sharp while turning Austen's England on its heels.  Even the ever-formal tea parties need a bit of cheeky change in this land of sea demons:

"On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse, or in extreme cases, if someone needs to be thrown overboard to satisfy the piranhas trailing the boat." 

What?!?  Did I read that right?  Oh, yes.  Yes, I did.  This is not the buttoned-up England of Ms. Austen.  Instead, Winters serves us a kill-or-be-killed survival mantra.

The parody works best during some of the more dramatic scenes.  For example, when Lucy Steele confides  in Elinor of her engagement, in the original, they take a turn about the room.  In Winters's version, Elinor is given a wonderful distraction from a fearsome two-headed beast.  Meanwhile, Miss Steele doesn't allow such an interruption to slow down her cadence and continues without pause.  This scene worked, and I thoroughly enjoyed Elinor's fight to the death with the sea monster.   Whenever Austen provided us with an important dramatic scene, Winters enhanced the drama with a few mutant sea creatures. 

About half-way through the book, however, it started to get a little too ripe for me.  Winters took some of my favorite scenes, and made a mockery of them. For another example, Mrs. Dashwood arrives to Marianne's sickbed, and Elinor exclaims, "Marianne lives, mother!  She lives!  And we have vanquished the pirates!  Happy Day!"  By then, the parody had stopped working for me. so by the time the wedding took place, complete with a penguin theme, I was ready for Sea Monsters to sink back into the ocean.

I wonder if I didn't allow myself to fully enjoy this book because it was too soon after reading the original.  Perhaps, if there were more time in between, I wouldn't have minded Lucy Steele's debut as a sea witch, and Colonel Brandon's octopus tentacles for a beard.  I kind of like the idea of Miss Steele being a witch.



Great article by Ben H. Winters: How I wrote Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Book Trailer:




About the Book:
Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books; Original edition (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594744424
ISBN-13: 978-1594744426

**A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher
 What was that again?!?  That was just one line of many that I had to re-read, just to make sure I was understanding it correctly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book To Movie: The Last Song

Check out the trailer for the new movie, The Last Song:




I'm already tearing up, I can't wait to read this book!!!!

Enter here for a chance to win a copy of The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Follow Me: An explanation in Detail



In 2010, I will try and run at least one book giveaway per month.  In addition to books, I have some pretty cool swag to give away - posters, bookmarks, and other author-signed goodies! 

I want everyone to have a fair shot at winning these contests, but I need you all to comply with the first of the Giveaway Guidelines
- Become a Follower. 
- Post a comment with your e-mail address
- Open only to residents of US and Canada (no P.O. Boxes, sorry!)
- Add an extra entry for any of the following (Twitter my giveaway, share my giveaway on Facebook, or post about my giveaway on your blog.

If you are signed up on Blogger, you have a list of "Blogs I follow" on your Blogger Profile. (You can access your Blogger Profile on your Dashboard.) Is my blog listed there? If not, I can't officially enter you to win any of my giveaways.  If you're not signed up on Blogger, please do so.

PLEASE NOTE: You do not need to have a blog to have a Blogger/Google account. So, even if you're just a reader, sign up!


How do you add Alison's Book Marks to your "Blogs I Follow" list?   There are two ways.
1.  You can click on the Follow button over there on the left sidebar.  Click on Posts, then add to Google.  Follow the rest of the instructions. 
2.  If my blog still isn't showing up in your "Blogs I Follow" list, you can add it manually by clicking the ADD button at the bottom of the list, copy and paste my home page url.  http://www.alisons-bookmarks.com/


If you are still having trouble, send me an e-mail, and we'll figure it out together!  APSkap@comcast.net

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

IndieBound: IndieNext January 2010


The first IndieNext book list of the new year is online today! Go to IndieBound and check out the hot new books for January, including great paperback releases, Indie Notables, and even video trailers.

Alison, why do you post the IndieNext lists on your blog?

I don't know how they do it, but IndieBound's lists reflect the best of the best in publishing. If I'm short on time, and I am in need of something new and different, I pop into my favorite Independent Book Shop and go right to their IndieBound shelf. It never fails me.

The January 2010 list is probably my favorite list so far.

So, click on the Indie link, find a great book, and visit your local Independent Bookseller!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Giveaway: The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks




Seventeen year old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.


Today I was at the store killing some time and thumbed through a copy of The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.  I couldn't decide whether to buy it or to check it out of the library.  Lucky for my readers, you can enter to WIN A COPY instead!


Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have TWO copies of the new paperback edition of The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.  Contest runs from today through Sunday, February 7, 2010.

Here are the instructions on how to win:

1.  Become a follower (Click on the Subscribe button over on the left, or on the link for more.)
2.  Post a comment below with your e-mail address.
3.  Open only to residents of U.S. and Canada  (no P.O. Boxes, sorry!)
4.  Add an extra entry for each of the following:  Twitter about my giveaway, Link to my giveaway from your blog, and/or Share on Facebook.

I will be reading and reviewing The Last Song, but since I have not done so yet, please click on the link below to read an excerpt and read some of the other review links below:

5 Minutes For Books
A Lovely Shore Breeze
Unmainstream Mom Reads
I Smell Books








Check out the Reading Group Guide.
Author Website:  Nicholas Sparks

About the Book:
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (February 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446547557
ISBN-13: 978-0446547550

Book to Movie Review: Sense and Sensibility



I read Sense and Sensibility...so I had to see the movie.

Jane Austen should have been a playwright!  I have yet to see an Austen movie adaptation that I didn't love.  This just proves to me that her novels are so full of rich dialogue and engaging drama that if the movie is done well, which Sense and Sensibility was, it could be done as beautifully as the novel. 

I loved the acting, the accents, the costumes, the estates, the grounds, all of it!  I don't care whether the shots of Cleveland and Norland** were real or movie magic, I believed every square inch.  I thought Mrs. Jennings and Sir John on screen were hilariously funny, and Kate Winslet was perfection as Marianne, and Alan Rickman is brilliant, as always.  I got completely caught up in 18th century England. 

I saw the 1995 film adaptation, which was directed by Ang Lee (yes, THAT Ang Lee), and the Oscar-winning screenplay was written by Emma Thompson herself.  The movie also won a Golden Globe for best film and best screenplay.

A short list of the cast:
Marianne Dashwood - Kate Winslet (who won the SAG award for Best Supporting Acress)
Elinor Dashwood - Emma Thompson
Edward Ferrars - Hugh Grant
Colonel Brandon - Alan Rickman
John Willoughby - Greg Wise

From imdbEmma Thompson's first draft of the screenplay consisted of 350 hand-written pages. The final draft was a culmination of that and 13 other drafts which were written over four and a half years.

If that isn't a labour of love, I don't know what is. 

I was one of those kids (*ahem* adults) who practiced thanking the Academy in front of my bedroom mirror.  I love movies as much as I love books.  Truly, if I had to pick one medium over another, I don't think I could do it.  Unfortunately, my two favorite mediums of entertainment don't often mesh well together.  When a book is made into a film, the end result is usually disappointment.  Sense and Sensibility is one of those rare exceptions. 

**I found the website of where the exterior and interior shots were filmed for Cleveland estate:  Ham House, Richmond, Surrey, England, UK  Norland shots were filmed at Wrotham Park, Barnet, Hertfordshire, England, UK. Who needs movie magic when you film in England??

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book To Movie: PBS Masterpiece Classics



PBS Masterpiece Classics will be running several classic book-to-movie adaptations this season.  Click on the links below to go to the PBS pages to watch movie trailers, cast lists, synopses, and other extras.

Jane Austen's Emma
Airing January 24 - February 7, 2010





Jane Austen's Persuasion
Airing February 21, 2010 on PBS
(I love this picture of her looking backwards)


The Diary of Anne Frank
April 11, 2010
Holocaust Rememberance Day



Set your DVRs!

Many thanks to Debbie for passing on this information to me, so I could share it with all of you!

Review: Sense and Sensibility


Really, how does anyone critique Jane Austen?  I first read Sense and Sensibility in college, and I enjoyed it then, but not as much as Persuasion or Emma.  After the second reading, my preference for her latter work remains. 

I decided to re-read Sense and Sensibility in order to refresh my memory of the story before reading Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (review coming soon).  

Sense and Sensibility is the story of Mrs. Dashwood, a recent widow, and her three daughters, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret.  Elinor, the eldest daughter, is the sensible one, choosing to remain reserved and aloof, leaving an air of mystery in her feelings toward Edward Ferrars, regardless of the undeniable connection.  Marianne, on the other hand, is emotional and dramatic, wearing her heart on her sleeve and holding nothing back when she sees her Willoughby, a man who seems just as enthusiastic and emotional, yet is suspicious for being so.  Marianne ignores poor Colonel Brandon, another sensible man, yet one who is much more dependable and trustworthy.  Change, surprise and twists occur, of course, threatening the happy ending of the two Miss Dashwoods. 

I couldn't help but gain much more the second time around, as I did with my second reading of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.  Did I get more out of the book because I'm older and have experienced more?  Is my reading at my own pace, instead of squeezing it in before the next frat party, lending to my appreciation of Austen's language and prose?  Or am I simply more aware of the subtle social commentary Jane Austen extends to her readers, appreciating her play on words?  I would have to say all of the above.

There is no way I could have appreciated just how clever Jane Austen was when I was younger.   Paying particular attention to the scenes with the supporting characters, like Fanny and especially Mrs. Jennings, I found myself truly becoming absorbed in the story and its rhythm.   You could just feel how uncomfortable Elinor was when Mrs. Jennings and Sir John were in the room!

The most difficult part of reading this book was the edition I chose to read.  Instead of grabbing a paperback copy at the book store, I took down my leather-bound Jane Austen: The Complete Novels, Deluxe Edition (Library of Literary Classics).  There was no lugging that thing around with me to the coffee shop!  (Score one for the Kindle)


Now, off to watch the movie...

Bloggiesta: Wrap-Up Post



See ya, Pedro!

First, many thanks to Natasha at Maw Books Blogs, for hosting a great challenge.  

I had a rough weekend.  While I accomplished several of the mini-challenges listed below, I had some technical and creative difficulties.  For example, I wrote my new Review Policy, but I can't figure out where to put it on my layout.  So, it's finished, but no one can see it. 

There are a few projects that will be on-going, and I am calling in reinforcements to help me.  I like to read and I like to write, but I can not read and write html code! 

But, let's not focus on what I DIDN'T finish, let's take a look at what I DID finish, shall we?

Here is a recap of all the minil-challenges I took part in this weekend:

Pam from Bookalicio.us – There is nothing worse than seeing your post on somebody else’s blog. Talking about blog copyright and what you need to be doing to protect yourself.

Beth from Beth Fish Reads – Using categories & labels to find what you’re looking for

Jackie from Farm Lane Books – Do not lose it all! How to back up your blog.

I added my own "Share This" widget.  This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, and something that I've been able to help other bloggers with.  It took me two hours to figure out, hopefully it won't take other bloggers half as long!

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions. You know you got them!  (I have more below)
Part A - Many thanks to Kate at The Never Ending Shelf for patiently trying to help me add tabs. The tabs for easy navigation aren't so easy to add to this blog. I'm still working on it, but I had to thank Katie for all her help!

Jill at Fizzy Thoughts – Just when you thought the feed reader was halfway managed Jill asks you to visit other bloggers. Google Reader is a little out of control, I need to clean it up.

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions. You know you got them! I wrote my review policies and FTC Statements. I still have a few items on my list of resolutions that will be on-going.

Pam from MotherReader - Blogging is about community, so check out this Comment Challenge (watch for a Mr. Linky to be up on Saturday for you to complete this challenge).  I spent a lot of time commenting on blogs this weekend, and it showed me that I need to work more commenting time into my week so I can catch up with other bloggers.

Chelle from Tempting Persephone – You have some great content. But can people find it? Here’s showing off the best of the best.  I changed some things around to include my favorite review of the week on my left side-bar.  My book recommendation of the week will link directly to my favorite reviews.

Ruth from Bookish Ruth – Have you ever had your blog anaylzed? Now’s the chance!  My score was not too shabby; however, I'm going to keep it to myself and let everyone know how much I've IMPROVED in the next month or so.  I've taken lots of helpful hints from other bloggers on how to improve my scores!

Write New Reviews:  I need to write 5 New Reviews this weekend and get caught up.  I wrote 4/5 reviews this weekend.  Again, I didn't hit my goal, but not too shabby either.

Here are the mini-challenges that I worked on, but are still on-going:

Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? – What the heck are favicons and gravatars and why you should have them. I found out what they are...but I still don't have them. I worked on these, though, for about an hour before I realized I need to complete a few items off my 2010 resolution list before I can truly complete this task.

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions. I still have a few items on my list of resolutions that will be on-going.




All in all, I spent around 16 hours on my blog this weekend.  I still had time to entertain friends, visit with family, and watch a little football (against my will).  I have 4 pages left to read of my next book, so off I go to what I know best -- paper and ink. 

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bloggiesta: Day 3






Good Morning, Pedro!

I got my coffee and my books.  That's always how I like to start my Sundays! 

Today is Day 3 of  the Bloggiesta Challenge, hosted by Natasha at Maw Books Blogs.   Yesterday was a tough day for me.  While I spent a lot of time working on the Bloggiesta, I had some technical difficulties, and creative roadblocks.  Thus, I did not necessarily complete projects, but I am a lot further along in getting them to completion.   Some very good friends came over last night, so I feel refreshed this morning and ready to work.

First a little re-cap.  Here are the mini-challenges I have worked on and/or completed up to this point:

Pam from Bookalicio.us – There is nothing worse than seeing your post on somebody else’s blog. Talking about blog copyright and what you need to be doing to protect yourself.

Beth from Beth Fish Reads – Using categories & labels to find what you’re looking for

Jackie from Farm Lane Books – Do not lose it all! How to back up your blog.

I added my own "Share This" widget.  This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, and something that I've been able to help other bloggers with.  It took me two hours to figure out, hopefully it won't take other bloggers half as long!
Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions. You know you got them!  (I have more below)

   Part A - Many thanks to Kate at The Never Ending Shelf for patiently trying to help me add tabs. The tabs for easy navigation aren't so easy to add to this blog. I'm still working on it, but I had to thank Katie for all her help!

Jill at Fizzy Thoughts – Just when you thought the feed reader was halfway managed Jill asks you to visit other bloggers. Google Reader is a little out of control, I need to clean it up.



Here are the mini-challenges I will be working on today:

Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions. You know you got them!  I HAVE to write my review policies and FTC Statements.  I want to  put a few tabs into my blog for easy navigation, but today, I'm calling in the experts for help (my brother-in-law, who is a god in all things geeky.)!


Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? – What the heck are favicons and gravatars and why you should have them.,,,  I want a favicon!  Again, I'm calling in the experts on this one.  I know what I want my Logo to be, but I think I'm going to take out the camera (my second passion next to books) and make my own.  It would not only be poor form, but illegal to improperly use someone else's image.  The only way I can be sure of that is to create my own.  Wish me luck. 


Here are the mini-challenges that are on-going:

Pam from MotherReader - Blogging is about community, so check out this Comment Challenge (watch for a Mr. Linky to be up on Saturday for you to complete this challenge).

  -  Whenever I have suffered technological or creative meltdowns this weekend, I take a few minutes to cruise around our community and comment on some other blogs.  The only downside is I'm finding even more great things to do...I'll put them on my list for Bloggiesta 2011

Chelle from Tempting Persephone – You have some great content. But can people find it? Here’s showing off the best of the best.

Ruth from Bookish Ruth – Have you ever had your blog anaylzed? Now’s the chance!  (When I'm all finished updating my blog on Sunday, I'm going to get a blog score, which I will share with everyone - good or bad.  I'm keeing my fingers crossed!)


Write New Reviews:  I need to write 5 New Reviews this weekend and get caught up.  I already have post-dated 3, but I need to get 5 more in the tank before the weekend is over!   I am not nearly as behind as some other bloggers (22 reviews behind??) but I am writing them...slowly but surely. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bloggiesta: Day Two



Everyone say good morning to Pedro! 

Today is Day 2 of  the Bloggiesta Challenge, hosted by Natasha at Maw Books Blogs. 

Here are the mini-challenges I completed yesterday:
Pam from Bookalicio.us – There is nothing worse than seeing your post on somebody else’s blog. Talking about blog copyright and what you need to be doing to protect yourself.
Beth from Beth Fish Reads – Using categories & labels to find what you’re looking for
Jackie from Farm Lane Books – Do not lose it all! How to back up your blog.
  • I added my own "Share This" widget.  This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, and something that I've been able to help other bloggers with.  It took me two hours to figure out, hopefully it won't take other bloggers half as long!


Here are the mini-challenges I will be working on today:
Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog – 2010 Resolutions. You know you got them!  I HAVE to write my review guidelines, FTC Statement, and put a few tabs into my blog for easy navigation!

   -  Many thanks to Kate at The Never Ending Shelf for patiently trying to help me add tabs.  The tabs for easy navigation aren't so easy to add to this blog.  I'm still working on it, but I had to thank Katie for all her help! 

Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? – What the heck are favicons and gravatars and why you should have them.
   -  I have figured out what favicons and gravatars are, and I want them.  Unfortunately, I am on Blogger instead of Wordpress, so no gravitars for me.  And I know what I want my favicon to be...I just have to make sure I'm not infringing on anyone's copyright before I start to use it.   I wish this bloggiesta could go on for another week, just so I could "brand" myself a bit better.  I wouldn't say this mini-challenge is complete...more like on-going.

Jill at Fizzy Thoughts – Just when you thought the feed reader was halfway managed Jill asks you to visit other bloggers.  Google Reader is a little out of control, I need to clean it up.
   -  I have added some Google Alerts and made some folders for my Google Reader.  Don't ask me which blogs are in my must read folders and which are just for laughs.  I can share with you that Cake Wrecks is in my just for laughs folder.  I love that blog! 




Here are the mini-challenges that are on-going:
Pam from MotherReader - Blogging is about community, so check out this Comment Challenge (watch for a Mr. Linky to be up on Saturday for you to complete this challenge).
  -  I've been a commenting MANIAC this weekend.  More comments to come from me...hopefully some of my readers are checking out these other blogs and commenting too.  Come on, guys, make me look good.  :)

Chelle from Tempting Persephone – You have some great content. But can people find it? Here’s showing off the best of the best.

Ruth from Bookish Ruth – Have you ever had your blog anaylzed? Now’s the chance!  (When I'm all finished updating my blog on Sunday, I'm going to get a blog score, which I will share with everyone - good or bad.  I'm keeing my fingers crossed!)
  • Write New Reviews:  I need to write 5 New Reviews this weekend and get caught up.  I already have post-dated 3, but I need to get 5 more in the tank before the weekend is over!

IndieBound: January 2010


Check out the new Top Ten Reading Group List. I hope my (ahem) book club checks out this list. There are so many great books to choose from!

Also, you might want to check out the new IndieNext list for January 2010, which has several books already on my To-Read list:
Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
The Swan Thieves by Elisabeth Kostova

Check out the full list for even more great titles. Whenever I'm in need of something new, I always turn to IndieBound! It's the best of the best. Please support your local independent bookshops. You can search for one in your area at the IndieBound site.

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ready, Set, Bloggiesta!


Today is the start of Bloggiesta 2010, where bloggers come together to do some housecleaning, blog improvements, and simply make our blogs better. Many thanks to Natasha at Maw Books Blog for hosting this great challenge!

So, here are my own mini-challenges. Some ideas I have gotten from Maw Books Blog Mini-Challenge list. Others are my own resolutions, if you will. I may add to this list as I find out more great ideas throughout the weekend. As I complete a mini-challenge, I'll update this post to let you all know how I'm doing. Wish me luck!

1. Clean up Google Reader

2. My 2010 Resolution. If I do nothing else this weekend, I MUST write my New Review Guidelines

3. Add some new Widgets (including a "Share This" button)
- Check out my new fancy "Share This" button down below! Nice, huh? That only took me two hours. Ugh. I'm getting the geeky stuff out of the way first.

4. Write 5 new reviews

5. Add a button and list all my book reviews from 2009
      Part ASilly me.  I had to un-tag and re-tag almost all of my old posts in order to do this.  I am 90% sure I'm ok with my tags at this point, thanks to the Labels/Tags Mini-Challenge at Beth Fish Reads.  (Nothing mini about that two-hour challenge, let me tell you!) Thanks, Beth!

6. Update my FTC statements/Amazon Associates status

7. What are favicons and Gravitars? I'm going to figure out the answer to that question and see how I can get me some of those! (Thanks, Trish from Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin')

8. I need to Back Up My Blog. (Thanks to Jackie from Farm Lane Books for this mini-challenge) The Man has been telling me to do this for months!
-  Back up is complete!  Now, I will no longer be afraid to mess around with my blog.   Let the real Bloggiesta-ing begin! 

9. As someone who has already had content stolen, I really need to learn how to protect myself from copyright theft. I'm joining Pam from Bookalicio.us on the quest to get my footers right.
-  I have added a copyright tag to both post pages and feeds!  Yep, another hour?  GONE.

10. The main reason why I joined this challenge was to be a more active member of the Book Blogging Community. Thanks to MotherReader for this mini-challenge, where I will comment on at least 5 NEW blogs each day of this challenge.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: Mudhogs by James Dalton


Fun!

When I was asked to review this book, written by 10 year-old James Dalton, I was thrilled. How impressive is it that this is James Dalton's third book published by Outskirts Press?

Mudhogs was written when James was 8 years old and tells the tale of three pigs on the search for what they love most in this world...mud. They look far and wide and learn a few things along the way.

I have had Mudhogs for a few months, but haven't been able to review it, because, to be quite honest, I don't know where it is. My boys keep stealing it off my desk! If that isn't a great review in and of itself, I don't know what is.

For my seven year-old, it's inspiring. The book may be a little too young for him, as he is now reading chapter books, but he was more than willing to read this book over and over again to his little brother. Why? Because it was written and illustrated by someone that could be in his class! The lesson for him is beyond the written page.

For my four year-old, it's simply fun. He couldn't care less if it was written by an 8 year-old or an 80 year-old. He thought the pictures were great, as do I. It's the simplicity of the drawings that make it work, much like the Mr. Men and Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves. The story is a perfect length for a bedtime story, and it's about mud. What's not a four year-old to love?


About the Book:
Mudhogs by James Dalton
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (October 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1432745603
ISBN-13: 978-1432745608

*A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Bloggiesta 2010: I'm IN



Many thanks to Maw Book Blogs for hosting the 2nd Annual Bloggiesta, and my first.

What the heck is a Bloggiesta? In short, it's a three day challenge, where bloggers are committing themselves to improving their blogs, writing reviews, reorganizing layouts, and catching up on some housekeeping items that we have been pushing to the bottom of our Blog To-Do Lists.

So, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, if I'm not playing with the kids, I'll be working on my blog...with the door closed...and my iPod in.

One of my Blog Resolutions for 2010 is to not be so anti-social in the blogging community. It's hard to find the time for my own blog, but there are tons of really fun and talented book bloggers out there, and I think after 6 months, it's time I open myself up to this great community!

If you're a blogger and are interested in sprucing up the blog, and getting some great tips from other bloggers on improving your blog, sign up at Maw's Book Blog and join us!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The first book of 2010 -- FIVE STARS!

I hesitate in giving my first review of the year such overwhelming compliments, because it's setting the bar awfully high. I can't help it. Great story, unbeatable writing, and characters that stay with you long after you put the book down. All the things that go into a great novel, and Zafon perfected each one. I wouldn't expect anything less from the author of one of my favorite books of all time, The Shadow of the Wind.

When I finished The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, I couldn't wait for The Angel's Game to be released; however, I was warned not to read them too close together. They are not a series, necessarily. I have learned that there is a much larger story, in which there are four separate tales. Instead of publishing all four stories into one monster of a book, Zafon broke them apart into four separate novels. The Angel's Game is one of those four novels, but they could be read in any order.

I fell in love with The Angel's Game when I read the first lines on the first page:

A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.


We enter into the world of 1920s Barcelona and into the life of David Martin, a young writer born into a life of poverty. He has a mentor of sorts in Pedro Vidal, a celebrated writer who is past his prime. Martin learns the business of writing, and is given great opportunities by Vidal. To return the favor, he secretly re-writes the manuscript of Vidal's great novel, with help from the assistant, Christina, with whom he falls in love. Both Pedro Vidal's great novel and David Martin's first real novel are published at the same time to very differing opinions. In great despair, David Martin enters into a contract with a mysterious publisher, Andreas Corelli. The story takes strange and unpredictable turns keeping the reader guessing and turning the pages, all while being presented with Zafon's beautiful prose.

David Martin struggles with his three great loves - the love of a woman, the love of the written page, and the love of his own self - all the while attempting to unravel a mystery that may lead to his demise.

I absolutely, positively, loved this book almost as much as The Shadow of the Wind. Zafón revisits many of the same characters and places, like the Sempere and Son bookshop, and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. These two things seem to be the the constant, the center around which everything else revolves. A book about books, a bookshop, a place of forgotten books. Everything else is action and mystery. Just when the reader thinks there is too much unknown, we are taken back home, to one of these places, and it all begins to make sense again.

One of my favorite lines in the book was from David Martin when he entered the book shop:

"He held the shop door open and showed me in. I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling."


Ah, yes. The smell of books. This is a man who loves books. If you are a lover of the written word and are seduced by letters on a page, pick up The Angel's Game, due out in paperback on May 10, 2010.

Book Extras:
Read an excerpt of The Angel's Game here.
See the Reader's Guide here.

Book Trailer:


Carlos Ruiz Zafón is actually known as a Young Adult author in Barcelona, where he has published several books. The Prince of the Mist will be published by Little, Brown in English in the US and released on May 4, 2010.


You may also want to read the NY Times book review of The Angel's Game

About the Book:
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (June 16, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385528701
ISBN-13: 978-0385528702

FTC STATEMENT: This book was purchased by me to be a part of my personal library.
Pin It
© copyright 2009-2013 Alison's Book Marks, a Book Marks Media, LLC production


Alison's Book Marks has an affiliate relationship with IndieBound and Amazon.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin