Dec 21, 2010

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
ISBN: 9781442412323
Grades: 9 and up


Thanks to the great Simon & Schuster Galley Grab Program I was able to get an eGalley of this collection of short stories by Holly Black. (Along with some other great books.) One of the hard things I have with short stories is that I don’t want to sit down and read them one after another.  While this it is a challenge, it is also a joy.  But it does make it hard to review a book that collects together so many various types of stories.  So far I have only read the first story, “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.” I enjoyed it so much I almost don’t want to read any more stories for fear that this one will escape me.


Besides The Sipderwick Chronicles, I have never read one of Holly’s books.  Even though there was no expectations “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” took me by surprise.  The story is available to read in full online at BSC; I highly suggest you check it out. This story caught my attention for many different reasons.  One of the reasons was that this story appears to be about one thing and sudden morphs into something else.  Go, read it! I don’t want to spoil anything.


***Review from this point on may contain spoilers***

I have talked about it before but that isn’t going to stop me from talking about it again.  I never know what I should or shouldn’t say about something that I have read.  As a reader I don’t like to know anything about a book before I read it. Sometimes I feel like even knowing the genre tells you too much! On the other hand I want to be able to talk about this “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” in an in-depth way, thus the need for spoilers.


“Matilda was drunk, but she was always drunk anymore.” This is the first line of the short story and honestly I was a little unimpressed.  I was kind of thinking we were going to get this whole little after school special feel going on.  But that isn’t what is going on.  What Holly Black is doing is writing one of the most interesting vampire stories I have read since Scott Westerfeld’s Peeps.  In middle school The Vampire Diaries was my favorite series of all time. It was the Twilight of my generation without the mass hysteria.  But like many things that dissipate with youth, so did my passion for the vampire story.  What I realized then, as many soon will realize for themselves, was that I wasn’t enamored of the vampire story, but the romance of it all.  I think what I loved the most about Peeps was it’s lack of romance, how it felt new and fresh and did vampire in a new way.


“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” does new vampire in an even newer way.  It takes some of the sensuality that draws us to the idea of vampires and makes a mockery of it.  The idea of Coldtown, a walled city where they keep the vampires, has a dystopian vibe to me. And it won’t surprise you that this is one of the elements I enjoyed about it. 

“She filmed the Eternal Ball, a party that started in 1998 and had gone on ceaselessly ever since. In the background, girls and boys in rubber harnesses swung through the air. They stopped occasionally, opening what looked like a modded hospital tube stuck on the inside of their arms just below the crook of the elbow. They twisted a knob and spilled blood into little paper cups for the partygoers.”

The Eternal Ball inside Coldtown is appealing and appalling at the same time. It reminds me of visions of hell, where you can live endlessly in sin and how it could get old very quickly. Yet from the outside looking in, part of you feels like you are missing out.  Part of you feels like you wish you were there.


I also thought Holly took a unique view on the process of turning into a vampire.  I always love fresh takes on old concepts.  Matilda is an interesting, unique, and strong female character.  I never quite new what was coming next with her. It all combined together to make this story feel so genius. 


Now that I have gotten a chance to blog about this first story before my thoughts about it disappeared, I am feeling very eager to read more stories in the collection. I think the variety of stories will be a nice change for me and expose me to new types of stories.  If you read “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” please share your thoughts with me!

Dec 20, 2010

Book Wish List

One of the best things about Christmas is telling everyone about all the books that you want and having it be semi reasonable that a few actually make it your way.  I am trying to do a really light Christmas this year.  My girls will be spending the holiday with their father and I don’t think it is good for them to be swimming stuff after we double up on the holiday.  So I have decided to make the best of the pre holiday time and get them just a few gifts.  I have also told Mr. X that I am not planning on exchanging gifts with him.  We will be getting some gifts for other people in our lives, but I already have too much STUFF in my life, and I really want to cut back.


Mr. X has already informed me that he no intention of following my suggestion.  This combines me with a mix of guilt and excitement.  Though I should consider it, I have decided not to waver on not getting him any presents this year.  Christmas gifts for me have been very sparse over the past few years, excluding last year.  My girls were really upset the year before last that I didn’t get more presents, so I made sure there was more than enough for me under the tree.  This year I hope they won’t mind if there is less for everyone.


But despite all that, I can’t help making my book wish list anyway.


The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Really great cover on this one. The snippets of summary I have read on this books makes it sounds like it is right up my alley.


Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony
Again it is all about the cover, though I am starting to think this makes me a little shallow.  Also I saw this listened on a dystopian novel list, though Joelle herself isn’t entirely sure she agrees.  Even the suggestion of dystopia is enough for me.  I think we use the term as an umbrella term because it helps us find the types of books we like to read.

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding
Recently read a review of this though I don’t remember hearing of it previously, it sounds like my kind of book.

The Returners
by Gemma Malley
I adored The Declaration and I think that both Mr. X and I would love this book. I almost bought it when I was on my road trip and I really, really wish I had.

Dec 19, 2010

YA Dystopian Challenge Wrap Up

I finished in the nick of time.  I hoped to read twice  as many books as a listed here within the timeframe of the challenge.  As much as I love dystopian fiction I worry a little that I am getting burnt out on it. I definitely need to read something that isn’t related to science fiction in any way.  I am just not sure what or when!

For this young adult dystopian challenge I read:
The Hole in the Wall

I finished Delirium at about 3am this Sunday.  It may have been cutting it close but it felt good to get it done.

The Sunday Salon–Reflections

I have probably said it enough here on the blog and on twitter, but this was not a good reading year for me.  Life just got in the way and reading has slipped out of the priority position.  I am working to remedy that.  When you find yourself reading less do you push yourself to read more, or just go with the flow? Reading is a habit, like many of the things we do daily.  I worry that if I stop reading I will fill up that time with a different habit.  On the other hand, I want to read for fun, sometimes if I force myself to read that feeling is minimized.  I think it is yet another catch-22 and I don’t really have a solution. When I want to watch TV or relax in another way I try not to feel guilty for not reading.  But I also want to make reading a habit again. I think one of the best things I can do right now is really search out those books that are a perfect fit for what I want to be reading right now.  This year that has definitely been a struggle, but I am determined to work on it more.


I am still trying to get more reading done before the end of the year so that I have some momentum going into the new year. A lot of people are reflecting on some of the books they enjoyed the most this year and I am going to take this opportunity to do the same.


When Going Bovine won the Printz award early in the year I drove straight to the library and checked it out.  Even though I read it almost 12 months ago, its humor and quirkiness have stuck with me throughout the entire year.  It was definitely a standout book.  The majority of the other books I read I cannot say the same for.


One of the major highlights of my reading year was the young adult dystopian novel by local author Ally Condie. I could gush in a rambling, kind of senseless way about how much I loved this book.  I don’t think it would help you very much because Matched is one of those books  that is so good it takes all your words away.  I really hope you get a chance to read it soon.


This year I have had the overwhelmingly exciting opportunity to read more ARCs than I ever have before. I am now a huge fan of eGalleys and their ability to aid me in accessing some of the upcoming dystopian works and other speculative fiction selections.  One book in particular I was beyond excited to read was Wither. Like Matched I have a bit of a biased connection with the author.  While Ally Condie lives in the same state as me now, Lauren DeStefano lives in the same state that I grew up in. So both authors are my current hometown heroes when it comes to dystopian literature.  Wither was a highly unique and dark portrait of the future that I highly enjoyed.


There were two other surprise books for me this year that I really enjoyed.  Elantris by Brandon  Sanderson was a great read for me by another local author.  I worried when I started reading his book that Sanderson would be too much fantasy for me, but Elantris was the perfect book for me to start with.  I loved the politics that were weaved throughout the book.  The other surprise book was Homeland by R. A. Salvatore.  I asked Mr. X his favorite fantasy book and Homeland was his choice.  Soon I will need to read the next book in the series entitled Exile and I am also waiting for the publication of the second Elantris book.


I see a lot of people suggesting it is too early to pick the best books of the year. What do you think? I won’t post an official list until I am done with my reading for the year, but it does get tricky to read as much as one would like during the holidays.  I think it is a good time to start thinking about the books that you enjoyed this year.  Especially when you take the time to consider things you read earlier to in year.


Today I will be working on the audio of The Passage again and I am hoping to finish some other book this weekend, though I have no clue which one.  I assume the one that I pick up that manages to distract me away from the internet. I am enjoying some guilt free quality time with myself.

Dec 17, 2010

The Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall by Lisa Rowe Fraustino ended up being a very challenging read for me.  I enjoyed it right from the beginning but the story began to lose my interest as it continued.  This was unfortunate because it seemed to be written in a style that I enjoyed but the book lacked a driving force that pushed me through  the book. The hardest part was the more I got into the book the less interested I became.  I kept thinking I was just going through a bit of a rough patch and the story would pick up.  But I became more and more disconnected with the events of the story.  Nothing felt pressing or relevant. 


This was by no means a horrible book, it just didn’t connect with me.  It has some unique elements, interesting storytelling, and a strong voice.  The story opens with a young boy sitting in his special place in the world.  A hideaway he called the hole in the wall.  The boy is seeing some beautiful, vivid colors swirling around him.  The image is striking and compelling.  The rest of the story could not evoke the same level of interest from me.


Summary from NetGalley:

Eleven-year-old Sebby has found the perfect escape from his crummy house and
bickering family: The Hole in the Wall. It’s a pristine, beautiful glen in the midst of a
devastated mining area behind Sebby’s home. But it’s not long after he’s found it that
his world starts falling apart: His family’s chickens disappear, colors start jumping off
the wall and coming to life, and after sneaking a taste of raw cookie dough he finds
himself with the mother of all stomachaches.


I read this book hoping that it would have dystopian elements. And maybe there were some dystopic themes, maybe in the vein of Holes.  The story is based on control and lies, but the themes get muddled with so many other details. There was a lot going on and a lot of characters passing in and out,  You could classify it as a big adventure.  And if I were a kid and this story happened to me it would feel pretty grand. 


At the end of the day I am not really sure what genre this story falls into and maybe that is part of the problem I had with it.  It didn’t feel like it was grounded in any one thing.  What I can say about The Hole in the Wall is that is a unique book, if you are looking for something different than what you have read before, this would be a good choice.

Dec 5, 2010

The Sunday Salon–Rambles

The Sunday

Good morning fellow bloggers and blog readers.  It isn't technically morning anymore, but Sundays tend to have that morning all day kind of feel.  Also, I haven't been up for very long. :)  I started my morning off with a bath and a cup of coffee.  I started Silver Phoenix there, which I have been meaning to read for a few months now, or maybe since I got it for myself sometime around last Christmas.


I am totally overwhelmed by all the house cleaning I have to do and how every single year I procrastinate on getting the tree up.  I said I would do it on Dec. 1rst and it is 4 days later and it still isn't done.  Sure, 4 days doesn't seem like a lot but then it blooms into more and more, and I am putting the tree up on Christmas Eve again.


I am doing an very small Christmas this year. There is very little anyone in the house needs and I have been desperately trying to declutter for the last few months.  And decluttering is what I should be doing right now.


I was reminded to take part in The Sunday Salon after reading a great post by Vasilly earlier today.  And then I got to talking to her on Twitter and now two hours have passed and I only have  a small portion of my post done. Vasilly and I had a fascinating talk about reading and writing in the public school systems and what we currently observe and what we would like to see change.  This has been a passion of mine for many, many years and it was refreshing to find someone willing to let me blather on about the subject.  One of the things we talked about was writing poetry with young children and I was reminded of one of my favorite writing books of all time.  It is called Starting with Little Things and I highly recommend it. A few years ago I even wrote a little post about it.


I would recommend this book, along with Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine, to ANYONE interested in writing, but especially to parents, teachers, and kids.  I was overwhelmed with how much this little book improved my writing.


Vasilly and I also discussed some great books that kids can read to connect with poetry in a new way. Two of our favorites were Love that Dog by Sharon Creech and Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson and I also loved Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes.  I love books that are about connecting kids with their creative voice.  Do you have any books to recommend like that?

My reading life has slipped, once again, into something weak at best.  I seem to go in trends when I want to do more audio or more paper, but lately I have been wanting to read the majority of my books on ebook.  I have been pushing through The Hole in the Wall from NetGalley for way too long now.  My goal was to finish it over Thanksgiving break at the latest.  But that didn’t happen.  Thanksgiving was more stressful than I even imagined and I am still recovering from it.


Last night I started a few more ebooks but I am struggling to really connect with something. I did start The Silver Phoenix this morning and I have mixed feelings about it, though it does look promising.  In some ways I am looking forward to next year as a way to kind of renew my reading experiences. 


What are you looking forward to about 2011?

Nov 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon–Thanksgiving Thoughts

The Sunday

It is a snowy Sunday morning here in Utah and Mr. X has just left to return home.  He has quite a bit of preparations to do before Thanksgiving and I am getting excited to have a holiday. I will be heading with my girls to celebrate our first holiday with his family on Tuesday.  There are a bit of nerves involved too.  I am sure all will go well.


I am making my girls an activity kit in case they get bored while we are away.  I don’t really know what to expect but I want to set aside some quality time with them anyway. This is the first Thanksgiving I have had with them in 4 years. To me, Thanksgiving is about family. I don’t have any family nearby, so I always let them go with their dad who was born and raised in this town. So this is all kind of new and I have a scavenger hunt and a few crafts in mind. I hope we find time to do at least some of them, but if we don’t need them all it means things are going well.


Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions? What time is your Thanksgiving meal? With my dad’s family we always had a Thanksgiving breakfast and a very late Thanksgiving dinner.  It is interesting how much the day can vary from family to family when the general centerpiece stays mostly the same.  Does your family  have any special foods they always serve? I think now that my family is transitioning, I am more curious about these things. I think family traditions make things extra special.  And as the girls are getting older than can be more involved in helping and making the best of it.


Holidays always end up being a catch-22 for me. I usually really want to read and relax but the visiting and festivities take up more time than I expect. I will be away for about 5 days and I think I should be able to get a balance of both.  One book I will definitely be reading is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  For whatever reason I still haven’t read the last book in the Harry Potter series though excluding the first one, I really enjoyed the rest of the series.  I didn’t dislike the first Harry Potter, it just didn’t hit anything inside of me.  Mr. X desperately wants to go and see the movie and I told him not until I’ve read the book. Luckily he has it there waiting for me.

Do you get much reading done over the holidays?  Sometimes I resent being an adult. I don’t like having to plan things; I don’t like being the one in charge.  When I was younger holidays were always about reading time.  I would read until the food was ready or until we had to head somewhere else.  But now I am the one cooking and prepping and there isn’t time to read.  I still emotionally connect holidays with reading time and feel a little sad when I don’t find time to do it.


Today I am getting some reading done too. I have been struggling finding the time and the inclination to read lately. Unfortunately this seems to be a sort of theme for the year.  I am trying to not feel too bad about this since life changes or at least shifts and we have different focuses at different times.  The irony of it all is that while working hard to motivate kids to read I have some how robbed myself of the privilege.


Today I will be listening to the audio of The Passage. I have heard mixed things about it and I feel mixed things about it myself.  Overall I think it was a great audio choice for me.  The book does feel a little bloated and I am a slowish reader anyway. I think I would have felt pretty frustrated if I was trying to read it in paper.


The book does have some unique elements but is a little too vast for my tastes.  It switches perspective a little too much and especially on audio it can be a little difficult to piece together.  That and I am just over 10% done with the book.  I know I would be totally overwhelmed looking at all the pages I had left to read if I had the book here with me.


There are two other books I am switching between in ebook format.  It is interesting because I got more serious about NetGalley and other ebook/egalley options when we got our Nook, but I have yet to read one of my NetGalley selections on the Nook.  Ebooks on the computer are both a blessing and a curse. It can be easier to fit in time to read while you may be doing other things, but it is also incredibly easy to be distracted away from them.  I like to read on my netbook with the lights off before bed.  I disconnect the internet and read a few pages. Last night I read about 50 pages of Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann before bed and then when I was done I just close the netbook.  It works really well for me, though I have heard a lot of people complain about reading on backlight screens.  I figure I do enough of it for blogs, twitter, and chatting, for some books I don’t mind either.  I will be reading more of Cryer’s Cross today.  I want to try and get half way through before the weekend is over.  I am really enjoying the book so far.  Has anyone else read it?

I was a huge fan of the book Wake, but I didn’t feel like Fade showed any growth in writing or character.  I was really disappointed in it. I still want to read Gone though I am not racing out to buy it.


Considering all that I was honestly a little apprehensive about Cryer’s Cross.  I didn’t have to be though.  It surprised me with how much I like the details of the character and the inclusion of the  quirky little moments we have almost every day that make life ours.  I have no clue where the story is going and I am really enjoy that aspec t of the book.


Finally I hope to make some more progress in The Hole in the Wall.  I am reading this book incredibly slowly for as much as I am enjoying it. I don’t know if it is the book’s fault or my fault that I can’t seem to return my attention to the book.  When I am reading it I feel fully engaged, but there is nothing really drawing me back in when I stop to do something else.   Not yet at least.  It is odd because there is nothing turning me off about the book. I like so many of elements, characters, and themes.  I guess that means it is me after all.  My goal is to get this book finished by midnight the day after Thanksgiving.  Do you think I can do it?

Nov 15, 2010

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

“Normal people didn’t perceive the otherworldly that hover in this world. It’s a Darwinist safety switch in the mind, something to help keep humans from screaming at shadows.  But deep in our souls, or our collective unconsciousness, we know those things we hesitate to define are there, walking among us.  We know, even if we don’t see.” 
–  Page 114 of Hunger


The concept of Hunger is like no book I have ever read before. It is genius and basic at the same time. The idea of the apocalypse has slipped from the pages of the Bible into common knowledge and while people know varying details of what they expect to come, there seems to be a sort of acceptance, if only on a mythological level.  Jackie Morse Kessler has found a way to tap into our basic understanding of the apocalypse to create a unique and compelling story.  With all the dystopian fiction I have read, it feels quite refreshing to find something that is different. Hunger feels new and refreshed from the same out dystopian story.


The line between apocalyptic and dystopian has blurred and both type of fiction have become popular under the single idea of dystopia. It may not be surprising that we have become obsessed with the horrors of the end of the world, and the possibility that hope will follow.  As we approach 2012, more and more speculation about the end of days comes to a head.  How is it that the Mayans have so much power over us now?  As a society we like the fear of place markers in time, it was about ten years ago when Y2K was on the minds of everyone, had people sitting on the edge of their seat watching the news.


No mater where you drawn your lines in the sand of speculative fiction Hunger is interesting. It hinges on the concept of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death seen within the pages of the Bible.  There horsemen are seen as harbingers; they foretell the coming of the apocalypse.

“We destroy,” Pestilence says. “That’s all we’ve ever done.” p. 147


Kessler pushes these Horsemen beyond mythology into reality and takes us on a surreal adventure.  “Lisabeth Lewis didn’t mean to become Famine.” And thusly the story begins. We learn that Lisabeth has an understanding of hunger, for she is anorexic. And the irony of this is the wash of the story.  The personal battles of such a disorder juxtapose well to the human consequences of famine and the other negativities of the harbingers.  But the book is quite slim for dealing with so many issues.  Especially trying to deal with the scope of the end of days, there is a lot of meat lacking.


Hunger does capture many of the dynamics between teens and the other people in their lives realistically, but I think there may be too much going on in this novel for the number of pages contained in it.  This could be a really well written story about the effects of anorexia on relationships, but the author wanted to push beyond that. And ends up a little over extended. The Horsemen are such a dense and interesting topic to focus on, yet the details of this are not fleshed out enough. Part of this is intentional, for Lisa knows no more about the experience of being a Horseman than the readers do. The author has tried to let the reader explore and discover in the same way as the main character, but unfortunately too much is left out.


Despite all this Hunger was an enjoyable read and I was excited to be able to review it thanks to NetGalley.  There is something exceptionally exciting about reading a book before it is released and I was lucky enough to be able to do this with Kessler’s book.  Unfortunately, life got in the way a little and I wasn’t able to get the review up before the release date.  But as more time passes I feel I more impacted by the book than I initially thought I was.  It is interesting how sometimes it is only the passing of time that makes a book bloom.  This doesn’t erase the issues I had with the book, it just makes them less significant.


Unfortunately, even with the time that has passed the whole story of Hunger seems a little emotionally stilted.  It focuses too much on the forward progression and not on the reality of the moments.  But while the book may have too many elements and not enough detail, it does have a lot of unique details. They can continue to blossom in your mind, as they fail to do on the page. In a way, the story becomes more alive in the mind of the reader than it is on the page.


Hunger is the first book in  series and I am very eager to read the forth coming books.  Kessler has a worthwhile voice that brings depth to young adult fiction.


In closing I would like to share one of the most compelling aspects of this novel, the Thin voice. This was the inner voice that Lisa hears, her eating conscience, that counts her calories, reminds her she’s fat.  It reminded me very much of the voice that many teens have to face when dealing with body image and issues of self worth. This voice was almost haunting in quality and really brought a unique dimension to this story. 

A diet is temporary, the Thin voice said knowingly. Being thin is forever.

Nov 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon– Animal House

Well, I am extremely pleased with the events of my weekend. Besides an unfortunate migraine or two, it was all pretty amazing.  I had a very busy week at the school working on my reading program.  The Accelerated Reader program is finally off the group and people are starting to get excited about it.  All last week and this upcoming week I am going into the classrooms and reading the students How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.



This book is absolutely adorable, ties in with our theme for the year, and has an AR quiz.  The kids seem to be enjoying sharing it with me.  I am starting to build a relationship with them and many students will come up to me and tell me what they are reading or how many points they have earned.  After prepping and distributing all the supplies and reading to 7 classes I was ready for a relaxing weekend.


Well, relaxing wasn’t really what I got. On Saturday I got up early to go to a swap meet. It was a blast, but it meant that I didn’t get to sleep in.  Later in the day I also went to the pet store and got a free kitten.



I would like you to meet Murray. He is a 2 month old alien/yodaish looking kitten that looked very lonely all by himself at the pet store and therefore needed to come home with me.   Mr. X named him Murray after one of the characters in Flight of the Concords.


I am not exactly sure what I was thinking but now that Murray and the other animals are having a hard time adjusting to each other at 3am, I am pretty sure this wasn’t a good idea.


You see, Murray isn’t the first pet I have gotten recently.  It seems that getting second hand pets are a bit of trend for me. 


My daughters have been begging for a kitten ever since the new pet store opened and Mr. X took them in there and mentioned that maybe we should get a kitten.


I have been wanting an orange kitty for about 3 years now.  So I finally told the girls that if they had an orange kitty at the pet store we could take it home. We checked a couple of times, but no orange kitty.  Until Murray of course.  But here’s the thing…


Meet Milo.  I brought him home from my ex’s house last Sunday.  Here we are in the car driving home.  I went to pick up my daughters after their time with their dad and a little kitten greeted me at the door.  Milo, you might not be able to tell from this angle, is a very handsome cat.  He has some amazing markings.  Ends up he was looking for a new home, so we decided to try him out.


Here’s the thing though…. a few months ago I got a call from my ex offering me this little critter.P1012379





Meet Coco a one year old miniature lab mix.  She is a bit of a trouble maker but pretty good as long as I keep  an eye on her.  My ex had gotten her as a puppy but realized he couldn’t give her the kind of attention she needed.  So she came to live with me.  How could I say no? Otherwise the girls would lose their puppy.



Coco came to live with me and a grumpy guy named Guss.


The interesting thing about Guss is that he is a white cat.  You can see that clearly from this picture of him!


Okay, you can’t see it clearly, but really he is a white cat with black stripes, you can see some of his white under fur on his neck.  Guss is one of the most grumpy cats you will ever meet.  He hates other animals, so how do you tink he is feeling right now?


It may not surprise you that a few years ago I got a call from my ex saying that Guss wasn’t getting along with the rest of his animals and would I want him.  I left it up to the girls and they said they wanted him to come live at our house with me.  After all that though, he seems almost content to have all these visitors here now.  He reminds them to stay out of his way, he likes keeping to himself.


A few people asked to see pictures of my new kitty, so I thought I would share with the class. Milo and Murray have been fighting all day, but finally they are curled up quite near each other.  Murray doesn’t not like to be alone, up until now he has been curled up on me the whole time. 


In  the middle of all of this I have been reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano.  It has been a great treat to get the opportunity to start this YA dystopian novel before its release date.  I have been eager for it since I first heard about it and so far it isn’t disappointing.  Isn’t the cover amazing? And the concept is unique and I am curious to see where the book and the rest of the series will go.


The best thing about Wither is that it reminds me of one of my favorite dystopian novels of all time, The Declaration by Gemma Malley.  Yet it goes in a totally different direction.  I hope to find plenty of relaxing time to read as much of Wither as I can.


What have you read or will you be reading this weekend?  Are you starting to think about getting reading done for the end of the year? Do you have any challenges you still need to complete?

Nov 10, 2010

Green Book Campaign and 2017

My day was a lot busier than I had expected and I have not been sleeping well, all of this makes for a late review and I need to apologize to Raz at Eco-Libris for that. I was supposed to have this review up several hours earlier but sometimes life just gets in the way. I was supplied with The Carbon Diaries 2017 by Saci Lloyd by the publisher for the 2010 Green Book Campaign. I am honored to be a part of this event in the blogosphere (even if I did mulligan my portion of it.)  I was excited to read a dystopian book for this campaign because many environmental issues go hand in hand with dystopian fiction.  The environment is a major cause for many dystopian societies.   Reviewing a book in a series can be difficult because I never know exactly how much I want to say.  There is almost no way to talk about this book without spoiling the first one. I am going to talk about some of elements of the Carbon Diaries series as a whole.


The concept of the series is that carbon rationing has begun in Great Britain. Through both books we are able to see the impact of this.  The interesting things about these books is that 2015 (the time period for the first book) isn’t that far away. In ways it is easy to relate with the books and see how their events can relate to us. In other ways the books are so close to NOW, it just feels a little bit off base. Or maybe that is just our own wishful thinking.   In the opening pages of The Carbon Diaries 2017 the author shares with her readers an interesting story about what inspired her novels.


“About three years ago I walked past a newspaper stand and the lead story in one paper was  all about how we are going to fry, and in another how we are going to freeze to death unless we tackled climate change. I remember thinking ‘Whoah! Which on is it?’  before stepping about a roller-coaster research ride of heart-stopping bad news about how we’re messing up the world.  But the strange thing was, the more I found out, the less scared I got and the more I wanted to start fighting for the future.”


The fight for the future is really prevalent in Llody’s books.  There is a realism in The Carbon Diaries 2015 and The Carbon Diaries 2017 that really rings through. The voice is extremely authentic. And I don’t think there is any better way to connect with the realities of in a teen than in diary format. One of the most striking elements about The Carbon Diaries 2017 is the unique diary/scrapbook feel it has to it.  These added visuals really added depth to the story.


Green book are probably you don’t think about very much, but maybe you should. If you are a book lover like me do you consider the resources that are being used to create this thing you love to possesses?   I also love that Saci Lloyd’s story goes beyond the pages of her book. Through her author note and the production of the book we understand her personal dedication to the environment.  On the back flap of the book it says “This book is printed on environmentally responsible paper, FSC Natures B19, 30% post-consumer waste.  In addition, the printing process and ink reduce VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions and use less energy.  The paper meets the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC is widely regarded as the best practice in forest management, ensuring the highest protections for forests and indigenous peoples.”

Nov 2, 2010

Teen Author Festival

From the moment I found out about the Teen Author Festival I knew I would be going. Provo is a bit of a far drive for me, so we sent a friend to the library when the tickets for the Scott Westerfeld keynote became available. Unfortunately, he was told the tickets to the free event sold out in 2 hours.  So no guaranteed seats for us, we were told there would be a stand by land and we planned on parking our butts into it an hour or so before show time.


Saturday morning came and I wasn’t feeling a 100%. Mr. X and I scrapped our early departure plans for a more relaxed morning.  We were running late but weren’t entirely sure we would have made it into the keynote address so we weren’t particularly worried. It was going to be a fun day and there were lots of authors to meet, and I had a bag full of books waiting to be signed.


Somehow Mr. X and I were both under the understanding that keynote started at 11am, but we were both blatantly wrong and arrived just in time to stand in the line for non ticketed attendees for a nominal amount of time. 
Mr. X at Teen Book Fest 

The other people in line seemed pretty excited too. There were a lot of teens, which was the whole point of the event, though it did make me feel a little on the old side.  We watched a few authors walk by us and check in at the table in front, it was also where we found our maps and schedules.  Mr. X and I were trying to plan out our schedule for the day, but a lot of the others waiting were chilling out, reading. Just like any good book festival attendee should do!


PA303052   PA303054


This was the first time the Teen Book Festival was held and the Provo City Library did a great job with it. They had a nice offering of panels; one for each hour after the keynote address of the festival. They were Fantasy, YA Lit, and Romance. If I had one complaint it was that there wasn’t a listing of who was on each panel but you had to see what panel an author was on by what time they would be on one and cross referencing it with the times of the panels. It wasn’t difficult but there ended up being a lot of page flipping while I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my day.


Nov 1, 2010

Ally Condie and Robert Frost

The almost-snow reminds me of a line from a poem we studied this year in Language and Literacy: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It is one of my favorites of all the Hundred Poems, the ones our Society chose to keep, back when they decided our culture was too cluttered.  They created commissions to choose the hundred best of everything: Hundred Songs, Hundred Paintings, Hundred Stories, Hundred Poems. The rest were eliminated. Gone forever. For the best, the Society said, and everyone believed because it made sense. How can we appreciate anything fully when overwhelmed by too much?

- Matched, page 29


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

Oct 31, 2010

Hey Guys!

Long time, no blog! I know, but life has been super busy. And I am considering that a good thing.

Today was a very good day. There are so many things to tell you about that I just don't have time to explain them all right now. One of the highlights of my day was definitely meeting Jennifer A. Neilsen. Have you ever heard of her? She is a Utah author whose middle grade book recently released. She explained the book to me as Series of Unfortunate Events meets The Spiderwick Chronicles, and really that sounded right up my alley. I have some great pictures that I took of her, but for the moment they are stuck on my camera.

I guess it would help if I told you the title of this book, wouldn't it? First, go get a pen and paper. Really....go!

Okay the title of Jennifer A. Nielsen's book is Elliot and the Goblin War. This book is the first in a series and has some amazing illustrations by Gideon Kendall.

There is so much more I want to tell you about my day. For now it will have to wait. I am horribly behind on all my blogging and I hope to rectify that fact soon. Sometimes when I get behind I feel a little bit too much like I am drowning though. You ever feel like that?

In the meantime, ponder this:
"When he was eight years old, Elliot Penster started and interspecies war."

Great first line isn't??? Hope you are all doing well. Leave me some comments and let me know you stopped by.

Yours Truly,

Oct 17, 2010

The Sunday Salon – Dystopian Diet?

The Sunday

My sleep has gotten a little bit wacky over the past few days. I have not been getting enough sleep at night which leads to weird nap times and then staying up too late again. So here I am, basically wide awake at 5:30 in the morning. The only saving grace is the fact that it is Sunday and not a more active day of the week. I have a lot of stuff to get done this week and I am trying to relax and be productive at the same time. I think that may be a conflict of interest.

The silver lining to this sleeplessness is that I have been steadily making my way through the audio of The Windup Girl. After it’s recent success and all the interest from many of my friends, I was beyond eager to read this book, but now I am trying to read it and I cannot get into it. The book is different from what I expected, though I am not sure what exactly it was that I was expecting. Usually when I am reading dystopian/science fiction books they connect with my own world. There are a lot of science fiction books where that isn’t true, but I tend to read books that connect with out world. And even though The Windup Girl is very much in our world, using names of places that I know, yet the whole thing feels so intensely foreign.

I have heard from a lot of people that this book is hard to get into. But on the other hand most of these people seem to think it is worth it. But for me, a book that takes so long to get into, no matter how wonderful almost isn’t worth it. A book that is hard to get into is failing in craft in some way.

It is definitely frustrating when you can’t get into a book you were excited to read. Not to mention that it took about 40 pages before the windup girl came into the story. After restarting and restarting the book because I couldn’t grasp much of anything that was going on, I finally decided to just push through the words. Now that I have made some progress, I really want to go back and review some of the earlier parts of the book.

Have you read The Windup Girl? What did you think about it?

The Lost Entwife is hosting a read-a-long for 1984 and we are supposed to be done discussing part one of the book (88 pages in my edition) later today. I still have quite a bit of reading to do, though I am loving re-reading this book. This book is so essential to the understanding of dystopia and is one of the most common books that is help up as an example, and sometimes even a definition, of dystopia. Re-reading 1984 is an exceptionally slow experience. I am trying to record note, thoughts, and research for each chapter so that I know I have a firm understanding of the details of the novel. I have also decided to try and do a post for the blog for each chapter of the book. I am worried about it getting a little tedious for my readers, so I am trying to brainstorm the best way to do this without being completely mind numbing.

Since the last time I posted I was able to finish two books. Both of these will count for the YA dystopia challenge I joined. I finished Matched, which was amazing. For now I am waiting to review it because I was hoping to head to an event with Condie but it seems like I may not be able to make it. Look for my comments towards the end of the week either way. The other book I finished was Hunger. Originally I wasn’t going to use this towards the challenge because I started it before the challenge started, but it took me so long to finish I decided to include it anyway. The book was good though, that wasn’t the issue with finishing it. Life was the issue! A review of Hunger will be up very very soon because the book will be released on Tuesday! I found it to be a unique book and was surprised with how much I liked it.

Do you make the best of your Sundays or do you already feel like the weekend is slipping away? I have a lot of reading and housecleaning to get done today. But I also have a lot of sleep to get in too. I better slip into dreamland before the sun comes up now. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend and a super relaxing Sunday.

Oct 10, 2010

Stuck in the Middle Again

I am once again stuck in the middle of several books. Some of them are even the same books I was in the middle of last time this happened. I definitely need to schedule myself some computer free reading time from now on.  I have too many books I want to read, too many reviews I want to write, too many challenges I want to participate in.


I have been doing a lot of book lists to see what I have been reading and what I should be reading. Here is one I write a few weeks ago.

  1. Rae by Chelsea Swiggett (currently reading) FINISHED
  2. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
  3. The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (started)
  4. Book I haven’t finished yet (Cherry Heaven, Never Let Me Go, The Iron Heel) FINISHED Never Let Me Go
  5. Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (need to track down)
  6. Perdido Street Station by China MiƩville (audio, saving for steampunk challenge starting Oct. 1)
  7. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (started)
  8. Epic by Conor Kostick
  9. Exile by R. A, Salvatore (audio)
  10. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (group read/steampunk, waiting until Oct. 1)


I still really want to read most of these books I have not made process in any of them besides finishing Rae. In the next few days I really want to finish Matched and Hunger, both dystopian YA. I would like to finish Mississippi Trial, 1955 and The Clockwork Three, both by Utah authors.  And there are many more books I would like to be starting and challenges I would like to be working on.  Like before I think that getting a book finished will really help motivate me some, unlike before I am not in a rut, I have just been super busy. It is up to me now to find the time to read even though my life is busier than ever before.


Do you have to set aside time to read or does it just fall naturally into your life?

Oct 9, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Now that I have found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?”

Matched, first line

The book fair is over and I feel like I have a few moments to myself. For more than a week I have been dreaming about reading Matched by Ally Condie, but I haven't been able to find the time. I have set this weekend aside as a way to recover from the hours of work I put into the book fair. I am at a cabin on the lake to relax for a day or two. It is nice to feel apart from the world, to feel like I am getting away.  Especially since my dystopian reading has fallen to the wayside for a few moments while the rest of life frantically demands my attention.


It is interesting to be at a place like this and think about concepts like utopia and dystopia. When there are just a few people set apart from the world like we are here, it is easy to believe that utopia is attainable. Both utopia and dystopia play with the idea of hope, they both try an conceptualize hope for the future, one through the possibility of growth and change and the other by modeling this.

Oct 6, 2010

Scholastic Book Fair – Day Two

Well, I had a set budget for the book fair and I kind of splurged a little. All I can say for myself is that it IS a fundraiser so I it is going to a good cause. The hardest part about working at the book fair is that all the book lovers congregate around the cases and start reading the backs of books. You hear, “This sounds good!” “Did you see this one?” No, no, no! My budget doesn’t want to hear that!


My co-chair pointed out two books to me that I would have definitely looked over otherwise. We both love to read, especially YA and MG books, but we mostly focus on different genres. Which is nice, because we tend to fill in each other’s gaps. She like fantasy, ghost stories, and other Halloween/horror type books. I, on the other hand, focus on science fiction and more general fiction than she does. Overall, we generally end up looking at most of the books and know what they are about.  The two books in particular that she pointed out to me caught my eye as well, but looked a little too fantastical for my interest. I didn’t even bother reading the back of them.


This is not the cover that the Scholastic book fair has. The cover we saw just has a feather standing upright and some mist.  It is definitely more eye catching for me than this cover. This cover has almost no appeal to me. 


My friend picked up Kandide and the Secret of the Mists and started reading the back to me. It instantly connected with me. With ideas of dystopia, identity, vanity, self worth, and other elements of fiction that are interesting me right now.


“When a tragic accident leaves her less than perfect, her own mother casts her away to a treacherous world where strange beasts roam the dark, lifeless forest and even stranger Fae rule the land. Kandide must battle hideous creatures, as well as her own internal repulsion for the 'Imperfects' she is now like, if she is to survive.”


This world of the Imperfects fascinates me and definitely reminds me of some of the dystopian themes I have seen explored in other books. And even though this book wasn’t remotely close to being on my wishlist, it ended up in the stack of books I intended to buy.  I often struggle with fantasy books, though I have been pushing myself to try and read more of them and I really think this one is a perfect fit for me. I hope that the book ends up being as interesting as the premise sounds.


The next book that was pointed out to me is The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki. The interesting thing we discovered about this book was that it would really appeal to both male and female readers, but we felt like the cover would really alienate boys and keep them from even reading the back cover.  We both love the cover of this statue girl holding a book, but it is too soft and feminine to appeal to readers of both gender.


It can be frustrating knowing that boys generally will not even glance at a book that looks like it is for girls, while girls seem more interested in a broader spectrum of books.  Connecting with male readers seems to be a continuing struggle in education and with parents.  There are lots of great books out there that would probably interest boys if they were just packaged a little bit differently.


“Eddie Fennicks has always been a loner, content to lose himself in a mystery novel by his favorite author, Nathaniel Olmstead. That’s why moving to the small town of Gatesweed becomes a dream come true when Eddie discovers that Olmstead lived there before mysteriously disappearing thirteen years ago.”


My co-chair kept saying, “This is a boy book, this doesn’t look like a boy book. Why doesn’t this look like a boy book? Oh look! There’s a dragon on the front. You can’t even see it until you read the book. How am I going to get people to know this is a boy book?”  She is the mom of a now grown reluctant male reader, so she really connects with the need to find books that will not only interest boys, but will have the type of cover art that appeals to boys.


Michael Buckley, the author of the Sister’s Grimm series, has a new book series out that is very male oriented and appeals instantly to the majority of male readers. I am honestly surprised that we haven’t seem more books from this series in the checkout stand, but I heard of boys really enjoying them. The Nerds series starts with the aptly named NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. And we are selling both books 1 and 2 at the book fair.  Although I have been trying to stick firm to my budget, I couldn’t resist the urge and both books ended up in my buy pile today.


These books look really fun to me. When I was flipping through them I loved the artwork done at the headers. It is similar to the circuit board motif you can see in the Nerds title on the cover.  This reminds me of another book I bought at a fair last year, Cyberia.  It also reminds me that despite my best intentions, I haven’t finished it yet.  I even saw that Cyberia was nominated for  an award recently. Hopefully I will get Cyberia, Nerds, and my other book fair selections finished in a timely manner. It is something I need to work on!


Would any of these books make it into your buy pile? I hope Wednesday ends up being another great day at the book fair!

Happy reading!

Oct 5, 2010

Scholastic Book Fair – Day One Favorites

I am sitting here at the book fair before another long day of work. We are having a very successful book fair so far this time and it is really exciting to see people buying books for their children.  I just wanted to write a quick post talking about some of our best sellers.  One of the best thing about book fairs is being exposed to new books and having conversations with other book lovers.


One of our teachers loves the Missing series and we have been able to use her endorsement to sell quite a few of the books in the series. The Scholastic book fair has the first three books in this series all in hardback. People seem to be


excited about buying them, but also about sharing the experience of reading with others. I haven’t gotten to read Found yet, I have been wanting to and this book fair has made me even more eager to do so.  Haddix is a really popular author around here and we spend a lot of time recommending books that aren’t even available at the book fair.


Of course I have been pushing The Clockwork Three by local author Matthew Kirby so we are sold out of those. It is nice to see that people are interested in the books I have to share with them.

I adore the cover to this book. The Scholastic book fair edition doesn’t have the three characters on the front. I think I like this other cover a little better, but the artwork is striking on both covers. Today we even brought in an article about the author and how he came to write the book.  Haven’t had a chance to glance at it yet, but hopefully I will soon.


Every year we have a new “There was an old lady who…” book out. At first I thought they were cute but they are getting kind of old to me, but not for the other people around here. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves has been flying off the shelves. I can see the appeal of teaching with these kinds of books, but I am not dying to have them for my personal collection. I like the type of books that you can sing rather than read. My girls really love it when I sing them books. But it seems like the more Old Lady books there are the more lax they get about making the words fit into the original tune.  Do you like these kinds of books?



Do you know what scanimation is?  Even though one of my daughters got Gallop for their birthday, I did not know the moving images within had a special name. The best thing about Gallop is how durable the scanimation is to prying little fingers. Well, we have an amazing book at the fair this year and the expense isn’t keeping people away! “Twas The Night Before Christmas is our new holiday themed scanimation book. Unlike Gallop, this book has colored scanimations. The book is $18 but still flying off the shelves. People seem so excited to buy it that the price isn’t concerning them at all.

Oct 3, 2010

The Sunday Salon – Challenges

The Sunday

It is being another lazy Sunday here for me. I have so much going on right now I am having a really hard time relaxing.  Even when things are lazy it doesn’t mean they are relaxed. I finally reached a true state of relaxation last night while catching up on some episodes from the last season of Bones. As nice as that was it also ate up a huge chunk of reading and cleaning time. Now Sunday is here and the weekend is headed out the door. I have so much left to do!


I am also trying to plan for the rest of my reading year and look at what I have already read.  This year I joined more challenges than I ever have before. I am taking today to check in on my progress with them and think about what I need to read before the end of the year to accomplish them.


The first challenge is the Support Your Local Library.  I will definitely not meet my goal of reading 50 library books this year because I have barely read 50 books TOTAL in 2010 so far, but also, I have decided to take a break from going to the library because I have so many wonderful books to read at home. I have read more books than I have listed on that post, so I would like to go back and update it. But I don’t expect to finish this challenge this year.


There is still a slim chance that I will read 100 books this year, but it doesn’t seem likely. As the year gets closer to ending I am putting more intentional focus on making time to read and sticking with my goals. It has been a bit of a meandering reading year for me. I spent a lot of time picking up books and not finishing them. I spent a lot more time away from home than I ever do. And I also ended up changing a lot of my other habits which made it harder to listen to as many audiobooks as I usually do. Of course, all the book I finish this year will be added to the list.


The Cybils Award Challenge is probably another impending failure! Why did I join so many challenges in 2010? I really thought that these challenges would refocus my reading and add some variety to my book choices, but life ended up getting in the way of all that! I joined the Cybils challenge at a level where I have to read 1/4th or 3/4th of the books nominated and I joined for two categories. That ends up being A LOT OF BOOKS!! There are about 140 books on the young adult science fiction and fantasy 2009 Cybils nomination list. To read a quarter of those would still be 35 books. If I count the books I read previous to the challenge starting and considering what I have on my TRB I *might* be able to make that by the end of the year, but I doubt I will be able to do it for BOTH young adult AND middle grade. Though, this challenge, more than any other, really did push me to read different books than I would normally select. Still to read for this challenge:


  • Middle Grade
    - Skeleton Creek
    - (possibly) Softwire #3 (have it and the previous books, but I would have to read all 3)
    - Sent (same as above, would have to read first and second book)
  • Young Adult
    - Bones of Faerie
    - The Carbon Diaries 2015
    - DupliKate
    - Fire
    - The Hunchback Assignments
    - Sacred Scars
    - Silver Phoenix
    - Zenith


Have you read any of these books from my TBR? Which one would you read first?


I joined the Terry Pratchet challenge and have not read a single book for it yet. Of course, in theory, there is still time. But how I am going to fit it in with my other intended reading, I am not quite sure. I was supposed to read 10 books written by Pratchet and unless something drastic happens I don’t seem me accomplishing that. I am also struggling with what Discworld book to read first. One person says this one, another says that one. I wanted to try and read them in order another person wasn’t sure that was a good idea. I am feeling a bit wishy washy about the whole thing.


The 42 Challenge was an exciting challenge for me to embrace. I have finally accepted that I love science fiction and this challenge was about just reading/viewing 42 separate pieces of sci fi. Originally I wanted to try and stick with books on this but I may have to include movies as well if I don’t get to my total by the end of the year. This is going to take sitting down with a notebook to really figure out what I want to list for the challenge.


The Young Adult reading challenge is an easy one for me since the majority of books I read are young adult. It is just a matter of going back and listing all the books that qualify for this! And most of my TBR for the rest of the year will fall into this category.


I was really excited about the PoC Challenge when it was first announced. But I kind of lost steam with it, as I did with reading in general and I really hope to finish strong and meet my minimum goal to read 7 books in 2010. So far I have read 2 books that classify and that leaves me with needing to read 5 more.

  • Mississippi Trial, 1955 (currently reading)
  • Green Boy
  • Silver Phoenix
  • Un Dun Lun
  • Nancy Farmer book, maybe The Ear, The Eye, The Arm


It is starting to occur to me that maybe I joined a few too many challenges this year. Does that happen to you? The worst part? I am not even done listing all the challenges! Do you ever join a challenge and wish later that you hadn’t? I am not sure I can think of a single challenge I wish I didn’t join but I do wish I joined a few less.  Next year I am going to try and join fewer challenges and focus on those with a specific focus or smaller time frame.


The final challenge I have to focus on this year is the YA D2 challenge which focuses on young adult dystopian books. Considering my recent book purchases, this should be easy for me. Now it is only a matter of finding the time. I only have to read 5 books for this challenge and some of them overlap with other challenges I am participating in. Even though this challenge has just started I have enjoyed it so much. I love going around seeing what everyone is reading and what they are excited about. I love how much exposure challenges like these bring to dystopia. Here are some of the books I have to read:

  • Bones of Faerie
  • Matched
  • Dead-Tossed Waves
  • Crashed
  • Green Boy
  • Clone Codes
  • Ransoms’ Revenge
  • Zenith

I have so many books for this challenge in my personal library it is insanely hard to choose what to read. I figure I can pick anything I want to read, I just have to stick with it and not jump from book to book as I have been prone to do lately. Going around and seeing other people’s lists has made me realize I forgot some books I really should have listed and are reminding me of other books I have been wanting to read. It is going to be a fast and furious few months when it comes to reading these books and visiting the blogs of the other participants.


The final challenge I joined this year is the Steampunk Challenge. It is less of a concern at this exact moment because it is a year long challenge and I have until next October to get everything read. But there are some books I want to get read this year! Here are some of the books I will be focusing on:

  • Boneshaker
  • The Windup Girl
  • Soulless
  • Clockwork Angel


As you can see I have TONS of reading to do. What about you? Are you planning on taking it easy for the rest of your reading year? It can get a little hard to find all the time that you need around the holidays. I am hoping to power through and get back to reading over 10 books a month until the end of the year. It is going to be a challenge for me, but I was there before and I can be there again. Sometimes it is hard to adapt your life to include all the things you love AND reading.


Today I am going to try and finish up The Clockwork Three.  The title and cover are great and I heard rumors that this book can classify as steampunk. I am not quite sure if that is the case or not but I will decide by the end of the book and it looks like an enjoyable read either way.

Oct 2, 2010


There are some people who are struggling to understand exactly what steampunk is. To understand it is pretty straightforward but to try and explain it gets a little more convoluted. The basic concept of alternate history is relatively easy to explain, but once you start getting past that people tend to get lost.  Wikipedia let me to the word anachronism to aid in the understanding of steampunk. I think it perfectly encapsulates what makes steakpunk fiction unique.






  1. something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, esp. a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time.
  2. an error in chronology in which a person, object, event, etc., is assigned a date or period other than the correct one.




You want to read steampunk, share your opinion and reviews with like minded people? You want to get recommendations from others because you have no idea where to begin? Join the steampunk challenge and share the experience!


The challenge runs from October to October and there are no obligations other than to have fun discovering a genre and let other participants know about what you find.


I was thrilled when I found out about this challenge from Carin. I ran right over and signed up! Honestly, steampunk culture and art interests me more than the fiction, but I am willing to give it another try. My issue with steampunk is that it is rooted in historical fiction, which bores me beyond belief. You know, I really don’t WANT to be bored by these types of novels, but I am. It’s just the way things work sometime. But there are so many books I have been wanting to read anyway that would classify as steakpunk I am excited about the whole thing.  This challenge is nice and easy bcause it is a long time frame and minimum commitment. I have been encouraging as many people as I can to join, simply because I think it would be fun. I also want to make sure I thank Rikki for hosting this challenge.  Head on over, you still have time to sign up. Already have a lot of enthusiastic participants making suggestions and sharing links.


Just like normal there are a lot of books I want to read for this. Unlike normal, I seem to have plenty of time to actually get them read. This challenge is also adding quite a few books to my wishlist, so if I get any of those they will be added to the pile! :)  The list for now is as follows, in no particular order:


The Windup Girl
Perdido Street Station
The Difference Engine
Mortal Engines


These are the titles I am definite on and there are a few more that I am considering. Since I have struggled with this subgenre before I am worried about planning ahead to read too many books and then not being able to get into them no matter how hard I try. But this is a good starting place.


Are you a fan of steampunk fiction? What would you read? What would you recommend?

Oct 1, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year




What, you ask, is the most wonderful time of the year? Is it Christmas? Nope! Is it Thanksgiving? NOPE! My favorite time of year is better than any holiday because it comes TWICE every year.  Do you know what it is? It’s our book fair!!!


I am thrilled to be doing another Scholastic book fair at my daughter’s school. We managed to get more books than we ever have before and I am very excited.  In case you were wondering, here’s a picture that basically give you the whole idea of how our book fair is set up this year.



You can kind of see the other book fair lady in this picture and all that really does is make me happy that I was the one taking the picture.  There are so many reasons to love the book fair.  There are the books. And the….books. And more important than that is getting these kids excited about books and reading. At our school we work really hard to find the right book matches for people, especially ourselves! No, we love helping the students out whenever we can and with the re-launch of our Accelerated Reader program we are focusing on really having the parents come in and buy quality books for their children.


But you’re right, I probably do have my eye on one or two books this time.  I even already have one home by a local author to preview and recommend to all the students, teachers, and parents who come through here. That book is called The Clockwork Three and it has a pretty amazing cover.


I really hope that I get to meet Matthew Kirby sometime soon. I love finding Utah authors in our Scholastic book cases and this book sounds really amazing.  I have already been pointing it out to the teachers and they are eagerly my response to it.


The pressure to enjoy this book is a little high right now but I am pretty sure it is going to be fantastic. So maybe Mr. Kirby will get a pass this time. *grin*


The only unfortunate thing about this book is that I am really trying to push the AR books  and this isn’t one. But I GUESS we can make an exception this time.  Hopefully it will be wildly successful and have a test soon.


The next book on my list has been interesting me for about a year.  I haven’t heard very many good things about it, P1012615mostly about too many authors in too small of a book but it is still peaking my interest so I will soon be a proud new owner of  The Clone Codes. Have you read this book? I would love to see some of them and share them with my readers. Also, I talked about how great The Clockwork Three cover was, what do you think of The Clone Codes cover?  The one thing I noticed is that where it is on the cart and the art doesn’t really pop at the book fair. Even though I was looking for it my eye passed over it a few times.


Unfortunately I there doesn’t seem to be much interest in this book so far from the teachers. The advantage it does have is that it is an AR book and it is worth a decent amount of points. Our quarter is coming to an end pretty soon and every student’s points will reset. I am hoping to see them achieve as much as they can over the next 20 days so we can start this program off successfully.



I am pretty excited about this new series by Michael Buckley, the author of the Sisters Grimm series.  So far there are two books out in the NERDS series and I would really like to have both of them. 


I was flipping though these books and the details in the headings really caught my eye and made me feel like they were my kind of thing. They seem like they will have at least a little bit of technology in them.  Have any of you read these books? I would love to see some reviews.


Do you go to book fairs? What kinds of books do you generally by?

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