Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Salon (8/30/09)

Happy Sunday! The last sunday of August actually. How did that happen?

The Sunday

So, I guess it is time for a bit of a review of the month.

A bit of a slow month reading-wise. I did manage to complete one challenge this month, though. Yay. I have also signed up for another despite being far from completing the others on that sidebar. I just can't help myself when it comes to challenges.

Here are my books read this month:

64. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi
63. The Texicans by Nina VIda
62. Undercover by Beth Kephart
61. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
60. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
59. Back Creek by Leslie Goestch

Only 6! Have to pick it up a bit if I want to make much of a dent in my TBR pile. Lots of books still to be read and so many more I want to get a hold of!


Thanks to Lit and Life for bestowing upon me this great award. This one is a first for me. I love the panda. :) I feel like I have been a terrible commenter lately so I feel quite honored to get it.

I of course must pass this one on because I love comments, as most bloggers do. These lovely bloggers leave some of the best!

Be sure to visit them and leave them some comments! :)


I am going to leave you with a clip of one of my favorite songs that I got to hear live last night at the Depeche Mode concert in Dallas.  



Friday, August 28, 2009

R.I.P IV Challenge

Oh no, another Challenge I can't miss out on. Carl's R.I.P Challenge is one of the most fun and enjoyable challenges out there. I participated for the first time last year and had a blast reading the books I love.

I will be doing Peril the First. I will be reading four books starting September 1st through October 31st.

Possible books in my to read pile that will work:

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi (my current read)
Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld
Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger
Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

What I read:
1. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi
2. Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman
3. Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
4. Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones
City of Ashes
5. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham-Smith

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zombie Chicken Award

Thanks to Amanda of The Zen Leaf for passing on to me the Zombie Chicken Award. I love this one. 
The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...
For one, its zombies! And of course, it is given to those who believe in "excellence, grace and persistence". I do try for those, even if not always successful. :)

So, to avoid "the wrath of the zombie chickens" here are my five worthy bloggers to also receive this great award.

Natalie @ The Book Inn
Grace @ Books Like Breathing
Rebecca @ Lost In Books
Melody @ Melody's Reading Corner
Marie @ Boston Bibliophile

Thanks again , Amanda! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review- The Texicans by Nina Vida

The Texicans The Texicans by Nina Vida

THE TEXICANS tells the story of people trying to make it in Texas not long after it becomes a state. Aurelia, a Mexican with healing powers and Joseph, a Jew who comes to settle his brother's estate after his death are the main focus of the story but their are many more interesting characters that make appearances in this book. Their are runaway slaves, the Texas Rangers and settlers, and of course the Comanches and Tonkaways whose lands are being taken over by the settlers.

Nina Vida presents the stories very well and the lives they must have led in mid 19th century Texas. Joseph's journey is the most interesting and best portrayed. I think if the story was more about him only it would have been an even better read. Aurelia's story was okay, but in the end I didn't see a reason for its inclusion. I kept expecting more of a connection between the two, a romance that never occurred. I felt sorry for the two's hard life, which I am sure was more realistic to the time, but I would have liked another ending.

It was an enjoyable tale, well written and set in an interesting time.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

BBAW '09 Meme/Nomintation

In case you didn't know (and I don't know how you couldn't) BBAW is coming up soon. Nominations are in and the fun begins on September 14th.

1) What was the highlight (something that happened, a post, an activity, etc.) of BBAW for you last year?

Finding a lot of really great blogs that I didn't know about before. I was new to book blogging last year so it was a great way to see what made blogs popular and also a way to get others to visit mine.

2) What is one new blog you discovered during BBAW last year?

3) What tips would you share to help others get the most out of their BBAW experience?

Participate in the meme's, visit new blogs, leave comments! That is what it is all about. Have fun!

I can't believe I have been nominated for Best General Review Blog
Yay! Thank you, thank you! I am ever so grateful and excited about the nomination. 


Monday, August 24, 2009

More Great Books to Read!

I am so excited! 

I have finally gotten my hands on Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Intsruments series. A friend has lent me her copies and I can't wait to get started. I have been wanting to read these for so long.

Other books have also made it into my house in the past few weeks (all for review):

Soul Catcher by Leigh Bridger (LibraryThing Early Reviewer's)
Rumer & Qix by Kathleen S. Wilson (AME, inc)
Ghost in the Machine (Skeleton Creek) by Patrick Carman (author, Scholastic)

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page

Darcy Bookmark Winner


We have ourselves a winner!

Email me your address to marireadsATyahooDOTcom and I will get the bookmark to you ASAP.

Congrats, Heather!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Movie Review-Lost in Austen

LOST IN AUSTEN was on Ovation the other day but I didn't realize it until it was already on the third episode. I quickly set the DVR to record, turned off the T.V and caught up on YouTube. 

So, have you heard about this miniseries? I only heard about it recently, before joining the Everything Austin Challenge. Decided it would make a good addition to my list of all things Austen.

Series Info: First released in the UK on September 3, 2008 as a four part miniseries. Ovation first broadcast it in the US in January 2009.

From the (DVD)Back Cover: Amanda Price is sick of the modern world. She yearns for the romance and elegance found in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But she's about to get a rude awakening as one fateful evening, she is propelled into the scheming 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice while that book's Elizabeth Bennet is hurled into hers. As the book's familiar plot unfolds, Amanda triggers new romantic twists and turns within the Bennet family circle as she clumsily tries to help the sisters nab husbands and even captivates the tantalizing Mr. Darcy herself. But what about Elizabeth...and what will become of one of the world's greatest love stories?

My Review: I was really excited about the premise of the series. A modern day gal finds a door that just so happens to open into the world of Pride and Prejudice. The acting was great, the locations were perfect and the plot was good but for some reason I just couldn't get into it. Perhaps it was the way I was watching- stop and start on YouTube? I don't know, but there was something lacking and I can't put my finger on it.

What did I like? I really liked Alex Kingston in this. She was great as Mrs. Bennett. The changes to the story due to Elizabeth being gone and Amanda there instead were creative and somewhat believable as being part of the Austen world. I did love and laughed when Amanda has Mr.Darcy get in the lake and walk out a la Colin Firth. That was a highlight. :)

I really wished there was more about Elizabeth and how she was getting on in modern London. Also, a little less quick transitions between scenes. I kept thinking that I was missing parts (again due to watching on YouTube). I might have been. I really should get this on DVD and watch. 

Anyway, it was fun and I did enjoy. But like I said before, there was something missing that will keep me from considering this a favorite. 

A movie adaptation is apparently in the works. Wonder how that will differ from the series? 


Everything Austen Challenge

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Challenge of 2009 Completed

I have completed my first challenge of 2009! J.Kaye's YA Book Challenge. I could have finished it awhile ago considering all the YA books I read but I wanted to end on one of the books I had originally listed when I signed up. So, I am done and it was a lot of fun. Hoping there will be another next year!

Here is my completed list:

1. Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum
2. You Know You Love Me (Gossip Girl 2) by Cecily von Zeigesar
3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
4. Sandry's Book ( Circle of Magic) by Tamora Pierce
5. ttyl by Lauren Myracle
6. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
7. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
8. The Dead Girl's Dance by Rachel Caine
9. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
10. How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot
11. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
12. Undercover by Beth Kephart


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Review- Undercover by Beth Kephart

Undercover Undercover by Beth Kephart

Elisa has a way with words. Her metaphors and similes come in handy for the boys at her school who come to her for poems to pass on to the girls they pine for. She is the female Cyrano d' Bergerac of her school. She considers herself an "undercover operative", not quite on the radar of the boys or the girls, sometimes not even with her teachers, but always there watching and seeing things they don't. UNDERCOVER tells the story of Elisa as she discovers that she is not as "undercover" as she thinks she is.

Another beautiful story by Beth Kephart. I read HOUSE OF DANCE last year and loved it, and now I love this one even more. I am not much of a poetry reader, but this book has definitely got me interested in reading some. I loved Elisa's English teacher and how she helped her develop her talent of writing and also to find a love and understanding of other's poetry. That is what I need!

On top of that, this is a very sweet story about a young girl discovering who she is, her strengths and loves, and then finding the courage to share with others openly.


YA Book Challenge
AtoZ Challenge


Monday, August 17, 2009

Scotland Yarn

Scotland was such a great trip. Besides seeing really cool places I also found yarn! Yay, yarn! In Edinburgh I found a really nice yarn shop near the GrassMarket. K1 Yarns Knitting Boutique.

I was really wishing that I had some knitting with me after going in. The place was really cozy and welcoming. A nice place to sit and knit. Everyone inside were very friendly and I found some really great yarn there. Not really Scottish but from the UK. Good enough. :)

Artesano 100% Alpaca 4 ply

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Salon (8/16/09)

My summer is now officially over. Tomorrow I head back to work. No kids yet, but they are coming soon. This week will be spent in meetings and arranging our classroom, also getting to know my new co-teacher. So, even though I am finally home I have a feeling my online time will still be limited. The next two weeks will be busy.

My last trip of the summer went well. Got to show a friend around San Francisco over a weekend, welcomed my niece into the world, and got to visit with family and friends. Depeche Mode canceling their concert was the only disappointment. I am hoping to get tickets to see them in Dallas. This will be added to my list of shows I will be going to this fall. ACL Festival, U2/MUSE, SYTYCD Tour...

The first two weeks of August have been great but slow readingwise. I don't think that is going to change, unfortunately. Besides school, I have my friend's shawl to finish knitting before her wedding in September.

Upcoming Review:

Undercover by Beth Kephart

Current Read:

The Texicans by Nina Vida

Coming Soon:

Two Brothers-One North, One South by David H. Jones
Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

*** I am giving away a bookmark I brought back from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Click here and enter. Open until Friday. Lots of pictures from my visit there as well.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Jane Austen's Bath and Giveaway

"Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?"

As most of you already know, I visited Bath before heading north into Scotland on our trip last month. Bath was amazing. Absolutely beautiful, very picturesque. It felt like I was in another time (when I ignored all the tourists milling about). The main reason for adding Bath to our (my) itinerary was to get a chance to visit a place that Jane Austen placed her characters in in a couple of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Jane Austen Center
The first day we were there we just walked around and took in the sights around our hotel. We had just flown in and taken the train from London so we were very tired and not too in the mood for Jane Austen sightseeing just yet. That didn't happen until after I visited the Jane Austen Centre and learned more about the areas she haunted and the places around town that are mentioned in her books. 

With camera and my copy of Northanger Abbey in hand I set out to locate some of those places...

Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge

Catherine Morland walks down Pulteney Street where she has "comfortable lodgings" with the Allens.

The Pump Room
The Pump Room

“Every creature in Bath, except himself, was to be seen in the Room at different periods of the fashionable hours; crowds of people were every moment passing in and out, up the steps and down; people whom nobody cared about, and nobody wanted to see; and he only was absent.” 

Assembly Rooms
The Assembly Rooms (The Upper Rooms pictured)
I love the scenes that take place here. It is where all the action is in the evenings- balls, concerts, cards and tea.

"It was a splendid sight; and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel herself at a ball...”

One place I did not get a picture of because it was pouring down rain, was the graveled path where Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth declare their love for each other at the end of Persuasion. We did walk down the path from the Royal Crescent to  Street. It was a very romantic walk, hand in hand with the hubby. :) I did get this photo of the Royal Crescent.

Royal Crescent

I did manage to bring back with me a small gift to share with one lucky person. I really wanted to bring something a little bigger but my backpack limited my souvenir buying. :)

So, if you are interested in this really cute Mr. Darcy bookmark (recognize that portrait?) and the postcard just leave a comment here and you are entered. If you are participating in Stephanie's Everything Austen Challenge, let me know and you will get two entries. 
Giveaway ends 11:00pm CST on Friday, August 21st.

Happy reading!

(Quotes are all from Northanger Abbey.)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review- Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Knots and Crosses Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Knots & Crosses is the first book in Ian Rankin’s Detective Rebus series. It definitely starts with quite a bang. Young girls getting murdered and no clues to connect them that they can see, mysterious notes showing up in Rebus’ mail, a gritty city as the background and the detectives to match, plus an interesting background story for the main character that pulled me in. I had a hard time putting this one down once I got started.

I picked up Knots & Crosses on a recommendation for a book to read set in Scotland. I wanted something to read that I could picture the places I had been and seen. This was perfect; murder, mystery, detectives and a good character study. I will definitely be continuing with this series.


AtoZ Reading Challenge

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Review- Back Creek by Leslie Goestch

Back Creek: A Novel Back Creek: A Novel by Leslie Goetsch

Back Creek is the story of Grace, the summer after graduating from high school. For most, this would be a time filled with friends, parties and fun before getting ready to leave for college, but for Grace it is different. She is a homebody, lives in her books and prefers only the company of Cal across the creek. When she sees a boat speeding down the creek one early morning, she has no idea that it will not be the only shock of the summer and the catalyst for her to do something more.

Set in 1975, Back Creek takes place in the year that I was born. Despite this I had no problem relating to Grace and understanding what she goes through this summer. I definitely felt for her as she unexpectedly has to deal with a borderline alcoholic father, an absent mother, her returned sister that had left five years before, a death, and the boy she loves but is still dealing with memories from the war.

“Amazing Grace” is what Cal calls her and it is very evident that that is what she is as she gracefully deals with her family and friend. This was a great coming of age story. I truly enjoyed every bit of it.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey (Modern Library Classics) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I really liked this book and even more so now after being in Bath a few weeks ago. It was great to have a real place in my head when reading the scenes in Bath. Of course, that is not what I liked best about Northanger Abbey. What I like best is Catherine Morland. I love her obsession with novels, gothic horror novels at that, and her naivete when it comes to the people she meets.

The characters are absolutely perfectly portrayed- the innocence of Catherine, the selfish and greedy Isabella Thorpe, the sweet and kind Eleanor Tilney and her handsome gentlemanly brother, Henry. Their father does very well at convincing Catherine in her silly notions that their home and family are straight out of the novels she enjoys.

This was a fun and entertaining story, not as serious as Jane Austen's other novels. Not my favorite but definitely one I will enjoy reading again.


Everything Austen Challenge
Classics Challenge


Monday, August 3, 2009

Bath Book Buys

I managed to come back from Scotland with books. More books than I left with and I bought them all the third day we were in Bath. I spent an afternoon on my own wandering the streets of Bath and found myself in Guildhall Market. So much stuff in here to see including discounted used books. Well, I of course had to go and look. I found a copy of Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin (perfect Scotland reading) and Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs. I also bought a copy of Northanger Abbey at the Jane Austen Center. Which I started reading on the night train to Scotland after leaving Bath.

There was a book waiting for me at home as well that actually came in the mail. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi sent to me by the author for review. I have been reading great reviews of this one!

What did you all get this past week?

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Salon (July Recap)

July has been a good month, with traveling to Scotland, still being on summer break and books read. I have read a pretty good bunch of books this month. 

Scotland was amazing. I saw some great castles and other sights that were amazing. The photo is of Sterling Castle, our first castle on our trip through Scotland.

Books Read in July:

58. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
57. Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong
56. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
55. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
54. The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
53. Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
52. Eighth Grade Bites: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer

I thought I would have had more books read on the trip but I was so busy most days and nights. Only 7 books read this month. Look for my review of Northanger Abbey soon and also a post about my time in Bath enjoying all things Austen. I brought back a small gift from the Jane Austen Center to give away.

Well, I am off again tomorrow. The next two weeks will be spent in California with family. Second trip there this summer. My younger sister is expecting her first child and I am hoping that she will deliver the week I am there. Another niece to spoil. :)

Book Reviews to look forward to in August:

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
Back Creek by Leslie Goetsch