Sunday, 30 December 2012

Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013

Since I'm doing nonfiction books this year I was really excited to see a poetry reading challenge. (Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a memoir challenge!) But only two books? Really? This challenge is hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit. And unlike the other reading challenges it has additional non-reading challenges. Here's more info:

Rules for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013:

1. Create a post on your blog stating your intention to read poetry in 2013 and sign up in Mr. Linky. If you don’t have a blog, simply leave a comment about reading poetry in 2013.

2. Choose one of the following options to complete the challenge:

Read and review up to 2 books of poetry throughout 2013 and leave the full link to each review in Mr. Linky.

Participate in at least 3 Virtual Poetry Circles throughout the year.

Sign up to feature poetry on your blog for April’s National Poetry Month as part of Savvy Verse & Wit’s Blog Tour.

Feature one poet per month on your own blog.

Or some combination of the above.

3. Complete your goals between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013.

Romance Reading Challenge 2013

I've been waiting for a romance reading challenge that wasn't subgenre specfic. I was hoping it would be for more than just 5 books but maybe I'll find another one after this or just read more than five books. This romance reading challenge is hosted by The Bookworm. Here's more info:

I started the Romance Reading Challenge in 2008 and I always enjoy hosting it. I want to say a big "thank you!" to all who join, it's a nice thing to see this challenge generate interest and inspire people to read a little romance.

 Without further ado, here are the rules:

 1. The challenge runs from January 1st, 2013 through December 31st, 2013.

 2. "Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.

 3. Choose at least 5 novels to read. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine. All kinds of books count, ebooks and audiobooks too. If you are looking for suggested reading see Best Romance Novels Today or Romance Novels on Wiki or check out Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts, to name a few.

 4. Read your book selections at your own pace in 2012 then post the link to your review(s). You don't need to have a blog, posting your reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing counts as well. If you do have a blog and are joining us, please consider linking back to this post either with text or with one of the buttons provided below to help spread the word.

 I hope you will join us! Happy reading :)

2013 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

What’s your reading goal for 2013? If it’s to read more books, then this is the reading challenge for you! There have been almost 400 readers who wanted to outdo themselves so far. Are you up for the challenge?

Reading Challenge Details: Runs January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013 (books read prior to 1/1/2013 do not count towards the challenge).

You can join at anytime. Sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.

The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2013 than you did in 2012. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. You can move up a level as often as you’d like but no moving down.

Books can be any format (bound, ebook, audio).

Novellas that are at least 100 pages in length, as well as full-length novels, will count for this reading challenge.

Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.

Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads or LibraryThing.

Levels: Getting my heart rate up – Read 1–5 more books

Out of breath – Read 6–10 more books

Breaking a sweat – Read 11–15 more books

I’m on fire! – Read 16+ more books

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

2013 Nerdy Non-fiction Reading Challenge

Yes! Another nonfiction challenge! Here's more info about this challenge:

Welcome to the 2013 Nerdy Non-Fiction Challenge!!

Last year I got the urge to read more non-fiction books after all that dystopian and fantasy I read, so I created this challenge to help motivate me to do just that in 2013.

If you want to participate, feel free. If there's another non-fiction challenge going on that you would rather do, then go for it! My goal here is really just to encourage you all to read more non-fiction this year. I'm hoping to pick at least 10 of the categories and read both an adult and a children's book in each category. We'll see how it goes.

Geek: 4-6 books in at least 2-3 different categories
Dork: 7-10 books in at least 4-5 different categories
Dweeb: 11- 14 books in at least 6-7 different categories
Nerd: 15+ books in at least 8+ different categories

* Health, Medicine, Fitness, Wellness * History- US, World, European, etc. * Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy * Technology, Engineering, Computers, etc. * Business, Finance, Management * Sports, Adventure * Food- Cookbooks, Cooks, Vegan Vegetarianism, etc. * Autobiography, Biography, Memoir * Art, Photography, Architecture * Music, Film, TV * Self Improvement, Self Help, How To * Home, Garden * Science-Nature, Weather, Biology, Geology * Anthropology, Archaeology * Animals-Insects, Mammals, Dinosaurs, etc. * Family, Relationships, Parenting, Dating, Love * Crime, Law * Poetry, Theatre * Politics, Government, Current Affairs * Literary Criticism/Theory * Cultural Studies * Travel * Crafts

 * It is not necessary to pick your categories ahead of time, but try not to read more than two books in each category so you can broaden your horizons.
 * The categories I listed are just suggestions. If you have a different category you'd like to add, let me know!
 * When you write about the challenge or read/review a book, come back here and link up or leave a comment and tell me what you read and what you thought of it.
 * If you're participating in a different non-fiction challenge, please feel free to still link up. It's always fun to see what other people have read in the different non-fiction categories.

2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge

This is another one of my favorite reading challenges! Here is more info on the challenge:

Welcome to the 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge hosted by Megan Likes Books and Auntie Spinelli Reads! This is my first time EVER hosting anything, so I'm quite excited! The lovely Megan came up with the idea for this, so all credit goes to her (well, I made the purty button!). There are so many awesome sub-genres of paranormal books, that it's easy to find one you like and stick with it. So that's why I decided to make a reading challenge with the goal of reading about all kinds of paranormal creatures.

The goal is to read at least one book featuring each of the following paranormal creatures:
Demons W
Other (ie: sirens, unicorns, centaurs, timetravel etc.)

1. This challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
2. You must have a blog to able to participate, since reviews must be added to the linky.
3. When you sign up with the linky, please put the link to your post about joining the Paranormal Reading Challenge.
4. You're welcome to list your books beforehand or just add as you go.
5.Sign-ups are open until December 1, 2013
6. At the beginning of each month, I will post a kick-start post, each month featuring a different category of paranormal creature. This post will also include a linky to include your reviews from that month.
7. Each review you link will qualify you for an entry into the monthy giveaway and if your review includes the feature paranormal creature of that month, you get a bonus entry.
8. Each book can only count for one category, even if it contains more than one paranormal creature. For example, Twilight contains both vampires and werewolves, but you can't use it for both the vampires and werewolves/shifters categories.
9. Everyone who completes the challenge will be entered into a grand prize giveaway at the end of the year.
10. If you read multiple books from one category, feel free to add them to the linkies. Don't stop at just one!
11. Book can count for other challenges.

Each month, we'll be featuring one of the creatures on the list at both Megan Likes Books and Auntie Spinelli Reads.
January - Vampires
February - Angels/Nephilim
March - Fey
April - Demons
May - Aliens
June - Zombies
July - Witches and Wizards
August - Mermaids
September - Dragons
October - Ghosts
November - Werewolves/Shape-shifters
December - Other

2013 Book to Movie Challenge

This is always my favorite challenge of all! Here's info about this challenge:

Alright folks! Today we have another exciting new first for Doing Dewey! I will be hosting my first ever reading challenge, the 2013 Book to Movie Challenge. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to review books and the movies which they’ve been made into. It’s a tough job, but someone has to let us book lovers know which movies are going to fulfill our dreams of watching our favorite books come to life and which movies are going to ruthlessly shatter those dreams!

To enter, just click through to the linky at the bottom of this post and link to a post on your blog mentioning the challenge and the challenge level you’re attempting. You can change challenge levels at any time and the challenge levels are as follows:

Movie Fan - read 3 books and watch their movies
Movie Devotee - read 6 books and watch their movies
Movie Lover - read 9 books and watch their movies
Movie Aficionado - read 12 books and watch their movies

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Credit for the logo, to which I artistically added writing, goes to the Ozark Dale County Public Library.

2013 Essay Reading Challenge

Why was my Books Read list so low this past year? Because I read far more nonfiction than I did fiction but rarely included those books in my Books Read list. So in 2013 I will counting and posting reviews of nonfiction books as well! Here is more info about the first challenge I have signed up for (Note I will count it by books of essays not by individual essays):

Welcome to the fifth annual Essay Reading Challenge! If you’re an avid essay reader, or just want to expand your reading horizons a bit, this is the challenge for you. If you’re thinking, “What would I read?” – check out this post: Recommended Reading for the Essay Challenge – and “Why read essays?” 

 ~ This challenge runs from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

 ~ If you read a book of essays, that book can also apply to any other challenges you are working on.

 ~ To sign up, choose a goal of reading 10, 20, or 30 essays, and then write a challenge post.

 ~ Copy your challenge post’s link into the Mr. Linky on this main challenge page.

 ~ You don’t have to list your essays ahead of time – just have fun reading throughout the year.

 ~ This main challenge page will stay in my header for the whole year. Come back and link any reviews you write.

 ~ In the past, I have offered a giveaway prize for participants. Since our financial situation is still uncertain, I have decided not to offer a giveaway this year.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree Ever!

This is from Pinterest and was shared with me on Facebook. It's the best tree ever! (In case you can't tell, it's made out of books.)

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I have heard so much about this book in the past several months, but for some reason I just let it sit on my shelf unread. Why did I do that!? It was nothing short of magical! I suppose it's because there has been a lot of hype around this book. I didn't want to start reading and wonder why everyone else thinks it's so good. Instead, it has become my favorite book EVER! 

When I first chose this book for my read-a-thon, I wondered if it woas truly be about real magic. I say real magic because the main characters are "illusionists" who do sleight of hand magic. Or that's what they want the public to believe. Actually they are exceptionally talented magicians, very similar to wizards. Celia is the daughter of a famous magician and Marco is an orphan that was chosen by the magician's rival. The two are trained for years then forced to participate in a magical challenge with the Le Cirque des Rêves (Circus of Dreams) as their arena. What they don't know is the rules of the challenge, that they are bound to the circus, and the challenge itself. There can only be one winner and when they fall in love, it complicates matters tremendously. As their competition grows more and more complicated and dangerous, they realize that the circus itself and its many employees are in danger as well.

 There are many characters and subplots in this story, but what's most fascinating is the night circus itself. I'm usually not a person who enjoys descriptions of settings, but the circus isn't just a setting, it's a character. The entire story takes place in the Victorian times of 1873 - 1903. This is a time period that I absolutely adore. After reading the book, I just can't imagine the night circus being in any other time period. Also there are elements of steampunk in the book!

 Erin Morgenstern is a very gifted writer and describes things of dreams. I am stunned at how she can take such a fantastical image but describe in such detail that it becomes something easily seen in my head. She uses every sense, making the circus come alive by describing sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and smells. She makes Le Cirque des Rêves so breathtaking. I want to go to The Night Circus!

 Here are a few of my favorite passages:

"Because everything requires energy...We must put in effort and energy into anything we wish to change." pg 20

 "A label assigned to identify you either by this institution or your departed parents is neither of interest or value to me. If you find you are in need of a name at any point, you may choose one for yourself." pg 23

 "Secrets have power," Widget begins, "And that power diminishes when they are shared...Writing them down is worse...This is, in part, why there is less magic in the world today. Magic is secrets and secrets is magic, after all...Writing it down in fancy books that get all dusty with age has lessened it, removed its power bit by bit. It was inevitable, perhaps, but not unavoidable." pg 173

The Night Circus is a book that I will want to reread again and again. I find very few books are like this. I would love to see The Night Circus made into a movie, but it would have an incredibly high standard to live up to. I do admit the entire book is in the flavor of the Harry Potter books yet uniquely different.

I do have a couple minor gripes. I wish we had gotten to know Celia and Marco better while they are in training. They are a bit cardboard like at first, but do eventually become very vibrant and complete characters. My second, is that sometimes entire years are skimmed over. I am particularly confused on how a year suddenly passed after a specific minor characters death. I'd explain more but I don't want to give away spoilers.

I gave it a rare Photobucket

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Feature & Follow Friday

Question of the Week: Happy Father’s Day! Who is your favorite dad character in a book and why?

Answer: Chris Garnder in The Pursuit of Happyness, even though technically I never finished the book.

Featured blogs this week:
Candace's Book Blog
Patch of Sky

Want to be a part of Feature and Follow?


To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

  • (Required) Follow the Feature & Follow hosts {Parajunkee and Alison Can Read}
  • (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  • Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  • Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
  • Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
  • If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
  • If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

  • Friday, 15 June 2012

    The Thin Pink Line by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

    I wanted to like this book. I really did. Unfortunately, I hated it. I don't mean I disliked it. I really and truly hated it.

    Jane thinks that she is pregnant and after telling her boyfriend, she starts her period. Instead of telling him the truth, she decides to fake a pregnancy and soon discovers that the world loves a pregnant woman. She fakes being pregnant at work and worst of all with her own family. She manages to pull this stunt for a whole nine months.

    Publisher's Weekly claims, "Jane doesn't start out as the most likable of characters, but she changes so much over the course of the novel, and is so charmingly audacious, that readers
    will be rooting for her-and wondering what she'll do at the end of the nine months."

    Bullshit. Jane ends up even more selfish and psychotic than she starts. The only way that she changes is that she admits that she is crazy. The only thing I do give her credit for is making the right decision regarding her new boyfriend Tolkien. At least she didn't drag him into her awful clusterf*ck of lies.

    Baratz-Logsted even makes Jane suck at her job. No editor in her right mind would think that a novel about a woman who sleeps with 10 guys and wants to pick one to be the father to her child would be a bestseller. I'm far from a prude but does Baratz-Logsted have any concept of morals?

    Even worse than the character of Jane is the unbelievable way this books ends. I've seen some improbable endings before but this one is by far the most ridiculous. It's like Baratz-Logsted didn't want poor Jane to face reality so she created an ending that gives Jane a get-out-of-jail-free card. The ending was so disappointing that I was in a bad mood for the rest of the day. I've never had a book make me that angry before!

    This is truly the worst book I have ever read. But since I was actually able to finish it, I'll give it an extra star. I only wish I had jumped to the ending sooner because then I wouldn't have wasted so much of my time. Photobucket

    Why am I sharing a trailer of the movie Labor Pains? Because this is what Baratz-Logsted's book should have been like. The storylines are so similar that I wonder if the scriptwriter read The Thin Pink Line and thought of all the ways she could make the story better.

    Monday, 21 May 2012

    Girl in Need of a Tourniquet by Merri Lisa Johnson

    At first, I hated the first half of this book. If I had a nickel for everytime I rolled my eyes, I would have been able to pay for the book. Normally I am a fan of poetic-like prose, but not when it interferes with the story. I often say that the true meaning of a poem is only known by it's author and the same applies to parts of this memoir. Sometimes the metaphor and symbolism of what Johnson was trying to say is known only to her.

    In the second half of the book, her metaphors and symbolism are more coherent and understandable. Sometimes I was even impressed with the beauty of her prose. In the latter half, she seems to care more about the story and less about writing fancy.

    Overall, it just came off as melodramatic. However, it is the nature of borderlines to be melodramatic so this makes sense. I liked the parts where she wrote about her diagnosis and family life. Unfortunately, this was only in the last third of the book.

    I got tired of reading about her on again off again lesbian affair. If she got this undone by a breakup I thank God she never went through anything truly traumatic such as the death of a loved one or being diagnosed with a terminal disease. I don't deny that she suffered (the nature of borderline personality disorder is to suffer over suffering) but as someone who had my parents and my husband die all die within 3 years and have since been the single parent of four children, I just want to scream "Get over yourself already!" I want to say "Write when you've actually gone through something that nearly every person on the planet hasn't gone through. Everyone gets dumped!" I just don't understand why the story focused on her relationship so much.

    I wish the book was less about her on again off again relationship and more about her life growing up and about her actual recovery. I felt as if her recovery from borderline personality disorder was just implied. Johnson never explains how she recovered. Did she recieve dialectical behavior therapy? Was she hospitalized? How long did it take? None of these questions are answered. I was really frustrated when Johnson started diagnosing her sisters with borderline personality disorder rather than writing about her own recovery.

    There was nothing consistent about the book (like a true borderline). Sometimes I wanted to roll my eyes at the ridiculous melodramatic prose but at other timess she did the impossible and described her emotional suffering in a way that I could understand.

    I liked the quotes from other books and articles. Johnson gives us a bibliography of these so you can read the books and articles in their entirety.

    In the end, there was too much of some things (the on again off again relationship) and not enough about borderline personality disorder, which was why I wanted to read the book in the first place. The ending was rushed and I was left finding it hard to believe Merri Lisa Johnson recovered at all.

    My rating Photobucket

    My Story by Marilyn Monroe

    I loved this memoir. I say memoir not autobiography because it is not an autobiography. An autobiography begins at birth and covers one's entire life. A memoir covers only a part of one's life.

    It is my understanding that this book wasn't published for more than a decade after being written. Also that it was ghostwritten by Ben Hecht. While there is no way of knowing how much of this book is true, I certainly hope it is. The woman in this story is a strong, intelligent, persevering woman who had a hard childhood and managed to overcome so much.

    While she ended up being the most famous actress of all time, it wasn't handed to her. She had to work very hard for her fame. Unfortunately her fame is as a sexy, blond bimbo bombshell but the woman in this book seems very different. In fact, you get the idea that Norma Jean was actually frustrated that she was treated like a sex object and not a whole person. She clearly longed to be taken seriously as an actress. And despite being one of the most glamourous actresses in Hollywood, she was quite poor and owned only a few dresses. Sometimes she wanted a job just so she would have money to buy food!

    The memoir ends just as she reaches the fame she longs for. There are hints at her emotional and mental issues. She admits to being molested and feeling abandoned by her mother. All the hints of borderline personality (and dare I say narcissism) are there, but just how they impacted the actress is hard to say. At least from her point of view. All other books about her are not her own words. Nothing is as good as her own point of view.

    While this book does satisfy answers about who Norma Jean was before she was Marilyn Monroe, in the end it leaves you with more questions than answers. However, the fact that it leaves you wanting more means it's pretty darn good.

    My rating Photobucket

    Wednesday, 28 March 2012

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    I hesitated reading this book because it has received mixed reviews and Collins has been accused of copying Battle Royale, but when I saw that Stephen King had given it a raving review (who write a similar book titled The Running Man) I decided that it must be good.

    And it was. I have to admit I didn't have all that high of expectations but this book met them, even exceeded them in parts. Many of the reviews that I read were negative because they didn't like Katniss. She is described as selfish and unlikeable.

    Really? A girl that volunteers to take her sister's place in a fight to death is selfish? I also don't entirely understand why she was seen as unlikeable. Some say it was because she was too hard on her mother, but after her father's death her mother failed to step up to the plate to be a parent. Katniss had to hunt illegally or let herself and her family starve. She risked being sentenced to death for illegally hunting and trading. Yet many still call this girl selfish.

    In the games themselves, Katmiss teams up with the youngest contestant to help her survive. Then later teams up with Peeta, the boy also from her home of District 12. While I can see how many would label some of her behavior with Peeta as selfish, the truth was she did what she had to do so that they both could survive. Was it morally questionable? Certainly.

    But I think that is what makes this book so fascinating. How can you remain moral when you are forced into a game ran by the government where you must kill 23 other kids? Is there right and wrong when it comes to survival?

    Another aspect of this book that seemed to rarely talked about is how Collins does an incredible job of describing Katmiss's post traumatic stress disorder. Towards the end of the games, Katmiss quite literally starts to lose her mind. After the games is over she suffers severe post traumatic stress disorder.

    Now don't go and accuse me of spoiling the book and giving away that Katmiss wins. The book is told from the first person point of view, so you know from the very start that Katmiss wins.

    Another reason Katmiss could be seen as selfish is because she doesn't quite handle the love triangle she finds herself in with tact. However, I found this to be very realistic. I know most people read romance to see two people live happily ever after but this book shows that like real life, love isn't always tied up with a big bow or guaranteed. God forbid fictional romance should be like real life, right?

    My biggest complaint about the book is that Katmiss and Peeta never actually stand up to the government that they hate so much. Instead of using the moment to give the government what for, Katmiss chooses to take the safe route and avoid pissing them off. I suppose again, this is the way reality really is, but considering the theme of the entire book the one thing you want more than Katmiss to survive is to tell the Capitol off.

    A minor complaint is that the first half off the book comes of as kind of narcissistic. Perhaps this is another reason people see Katmiss as being unlikable. She acts like she's hot shit for a bit but I blame the writer not the character. Collins makes the story too focused on Katniss during the first half. The theme "everything is about me" gets old fast. It isn't until the games begin that Katmiss stops talking about herself so much. The writing Collins does is much better once the games actually begin.

    Another minor complaint is how the book ends. But it makes me want to read the next book in the series. See after winning the games, you must become a mentor to those that are in the future games. Also the Capitol may still be pissed off at Katniss. And lastly, the issue of the love triangle isn't exactly resolved. I also wonder if Katniss continues to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and what her life will be like after the games.

    Indeed, the blurb for Catching Fire indicates that some if not all of these questions are answered. Or maybe they aren't all completely answered until the third book Mockingjay. I know I will read them both. I also greatly enjoyed this genre and think I will add a dystopia reading challenge. It's not normally a genre that I read.

    My rating Photobucket I was tempted to give it only three stars because of the ending but I was so impressed with how Collins included the post traumatic stress disorder that I bumped it up to four stars. I can't wait to see the movie!

    Monday, 26 March 2012

    Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi

    I found this memoir completely by accident. I was looking for an Ally Mcbeal soundtrack at my library when this book came up in my search. I had always been a fan of Portia de Rossi. I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen and had an amazing style. I knew she is also the wife of Ellen DeGeneres. On Ally Mcbeal she played a bitch very convincingly but eventually got pushed out of the limelight by Lucy Lu's character, Ling.

    I had no idea that Portia de Rossi suffered from anorexia.

    I picked up the book in the library and flipped through it. I landed upon a page where Portia described herself as someone who wasn't beautiful. I was in complete shock that she had such serious low self-esteem. Here was someone I had idealized and she hated herself.

    I took the book home and read it cover to cover in one night. It was that good. But it was not an easy read. Portia goes into detail about what went through her mind as she descended deeper and deeper into anorexia and became more obsessed with losing weight. There was no generic description of "I starved myself and exercised excessively." I read some other reviews where people complained about the details. I on the other hand found it fascinating. I just kept reading and shaking my head at how Portia would turn a simple meal into a complicated mathematical problem of how much she had to exercise so she wouldn't accidentally gain weight.

    There is also the story of how Portia hid being a lesbian and was in constant fear of being found out. She was terrified that if she was outed that she would lose the career she had worked so hard for. Eventually, Portia learns that being a lesbian is tied to her feelings of self-hate and partly the reason why she is anorexic.

    Sadly she nearly killed herself in the process. If it wasn't for her loving family, Portia probably would have eventually died. The climax of her disease was when she collapsed while filming her first starring role in a movie. However, it is not that image that sticks in my head. Portia describes a day after having dinner with her family where she panicked so much about gaining weight that she started to do sprints in public wearing high heels.

    My only complaint about the book is that Portia rushes through the end. Her recovery from anorexia is described only in a chapter or two. She touches briefly on why her disease emerged in the first place but I really wish she had gone into why she was anorexic and just what she had to do to recover.

    The most moving moment in the book is when she tells her family that she is a lesbian. I cried at the reaction of her brother and laughed a little at the reaction of her grandmother.

    In the end, this is one of the best memoirs I have ever written. How she was able to recall the details of her own mind I will never know. Some say this is the best book on anorexia to have ever been written. I have never read any other memoirs on the topic, but I have a feeling they will never capture the detail about how an anorexic mind works the way Portia de Rossi has.

    My rating is a very enthusiastic Photobucket

    Thursday, 2 February 2012

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

    I started out loving this book. And then I disliked it. And then I hated it. The last fifty pages were dreadful. In the end, I honestly think the book was a lot of hype.

    First of all, the mystery of Harriet's disappearance wasn't that hard to figure out. I knew what had happened to her from the very beginning. And I'm not good at solving mysteries. It's a fact that I have never won a game of Clue in my life. So the mystery of what happened to Harriet was pretty weak.

    The mystery of the serial killer they end up solving because they were investigating the disappearance of Harriet was pretty awesome though. I loved that part of the book. I happen to be fascinated by serial killers. So I'm making a mental note...well written only get mystery novels about serial killers. (And hopefully unlike this novel, there isn't a dreadfully boring frame story about taking out a crooked businessman. More on that later.)

    One of my complaints is that it was far too easy for Lisbeth to get information. I understand she's one of the best hackers in the country but is there ever any information that she can't get? It was also never explained how she was able to come up with extremely personal information. For example, did Mikael email about the many women he has slept with a full decade before the internet was invented? Lisbeth is a socially backwards and unapprochable person, so certainly she didn't go around interviewing people about who she was investigating. I just find it seriously unbelievable that she could dig up all the personal information simply by hacking.

    I did appreciate the fact that it wasn't her that finally made sense of the clues and was Mikael who was hired to solve the mystery. I honestly thought Lisbeth would end up solving the mystery instead.

    The character of Lisbeth is absolutely fascinating. I would to love to read a book about her that just focuses on her life story that isn't a mystery. Those are the kinds of books that I prefer to read. I may attempt to read the sequels simply for that storyline.

    One thing that I thought was completely unbelievable was that the serial killer, who had gone to extensive lengths to hide all evidence of any of his crimes for decades, carelessly left some of his tools and some blood in a place where other people could have had a key. I suppose over a period of decades he would be bound to slip up eventually but this slip was just completely unrealistic and unbelievably convenient.

    So the mystery of Harriet was solved and the mystery of the serial killer was solved, but the author decided to spend the last 50 pages telling how Mikael saves his magazine, takes down his arch nemesis (the crooked businessman), and regains his credibility as a journalist. Who freaking cares!? I have to be honest. I skimmed the last 50 pages because I was bored out of my mind.

    Another thing I didn't like about the book was how Mikael had no shame that he was having an affair with a married woman. Is this not morally reprehensible in Sweden? Is it normal to just tell a person you're meeting for the first time that you keep a married woman as an occasional lover?

    Speaking of morally reprehensible, the decision that the family makes after solving the mysteries and what to do with the information about the serial killings is questionable to say the least. I can imagine that some people in book clubs and the internet have gotten into some serious arguments about whether or not what they did was acceptable.

    The entire theme of the book seems to be about what is morally acceptable and what isn't. Is it morally acceptable to know about a serial killer but not share that information with the public? Is it morally acceptable to break the law to get information about a businessman that is breaking the law? Is it morally acceptable to continue a book for another 50 incredibly boring pages after the mystery has been solved?

    My final complaint is about the incredibly weak climax. They had finally tracked down the serial killer and there is a faceoff between the killer and the team of Mikael and Lisbeth. Now most thrillers have some sort of epic battle. Maybe I have been spoiled by over the top fight scenes in Hollywood thillers but the climax in this book was so underwhelming. Not to mention that Mikael gets captured in the first place because like a dumbass he knocks on the serial killer's door to confront him. After the killer tried to hunt him down and shoot him! WTF? How stupid can you get?

    Overall I hated this book more than I loved it. My rating Photobucket

    This might be one instance when the movie might actually be better. (I'll post that part of the review at a later date.)

    Get Steampunked! 2012 Reading Challenge

    I know, I know. Another challenge!? But I've been learning about this whole steampunk thing and I'm discovering it's something really, really cool. The clothes, the jewelry, the music, the art, the gadgets, and of course the literature, which I will focus on here. (All of the other sweet steampunk stuff I find you can view at my Tumblr.) I'm new to the genre so I think I'll stick with the Geared level (5 books).

    The challenge is hosted by Bookish Ardour. Here's more info:

    Here we are again with Get Steampunked!, the second year running and hopefully it will be just as good a year as last! There are some differences this time, thanks to a new year, new place, and some experience. Have a read below, if you have any questions ask away, and the most important part of it is to have fun.

    What Is Steampunk?

    If you’re not sure what Steampunk is think of stories that are Victoriana in style, but futuristic as well with steam powered gadgets and machines made out of the spare parts around you. Zephyrs, blimps, and steam trains are some of the vehicles you’d see, ladies and gents in Victoriana dress. Or the other extreme where it’s the industrial side of Steampunk, the dirty almost cyber side of it.

    Check out these websites for a better idea – Steampunk Workshop, Steampunk Lab, Steampunk Emporium, Aether Emporium, and SteamPunk Magazine.

    For ideas of what to read we have a list of 15 books to get you started or for inspiration.

    The Deets
    • Running Dates: 1st of January – 31st of December 2012
    • When Can I Sign Up: All the way up to the last two weeks of December!
    • Crossover Genres: Gaslight Fantasy (an example is His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman)
    • Mr Linky: To use the Mr Linky you’ll need to click on the graphic then enter your link. These will be updated and posted into this page every couple of weeks or so.
    • Further Details: Crossover challenges are fine, you can change levels at any time, this is eBook, short story, and graphic novel friendly, and you don’t need a blog to join in (read further for details).
    The How To
    1. Choose Your Level: These are listed further down and you can change levels at any time.
    2. Grab The Badge: Place it somewhere on your blog, profile, or in a signature where possible and link back (main page or this page, it’s up to you).
    3. Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (only if allowed) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
    4. Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic and enter your link!
    5. Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube, Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment!
    1. Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional! But if you do review we’d love for you to share them by submitting them on the Review Page.
    2. Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the Completion Post page!
    Challenge Levels
    1. Geared – Choose 5 books to read
    2. Cogged – Choose 15 books to read
    3. Goggle Mad – Choose 30 books to read
    4. Victorian Lord/Lady – Choose 50 books to read
    5. Inventor – Choose 75 books to read
    6. Zephyr Pilot – Choose 76-135 books to read
    7. Steampunked! – Choose 136-200 books to read
    Extra Challenges

    If you feel like that extra kick to your reading challenges here’s several you can choose from.

    • World: Choose a country as your theme, reading only books from that country or where it’s the setting. For how high you go you can choose more than one country;
      • Level Geared and Cogged: Choose one country
      • Level Goggle Mad and Victorian Lord/Lady: Choose two countries
      • Level Inventor to end of Zephyr Pilot: Choose three countries
      • Level Steampunked!: Choose four countries.
    • Gender Battle: Read books only by female or male authors. Another alternative is to read equal amounts of both.

    Monday, 30 January 2012

    Game of Thrones Readalong Post #2, #3, and #4 (full book review)

    I didn't finish A Game of Thrones before the final hour of A Winter's Respite Read-a-thon, but if it hadn't had been for the extra push of the read-a-thon I wouldn't have finished it in time for the ending of the read-a-long! (Say that 3 times fast!)

    A Game of Thrones is a novel about just what the title says. The story is about the kings (and queens) and how they complete for the Iron Throne. Marion Zimmer Bradley herself says, "It is perhaps the best of the epic fantasies." It is the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. Amazon describes it as "George R.R. Martin's high fantasy weaves a spell sufficient to seduce even those who vowed never to start a doorstopper fantasy series again." This is certainly true because normally I hate this genre!

    What makes this novel the best is that the story is told from two different perspectives simultaneously. The first is as a historical account and the second at an intimately personal level. We see what it is like to be a king, the king's hand, a knight, a warrior, a child, and most of all, an outcast. There are so many different points of view in this novel and there is a character in this story that everyone can fall in love with.

    What I loved the most about the novel was Martin's stories about the females. Some were weak and forced to submit to their kings, but a few were not only strong, they were heroines. One of my favorite characters was Arya. She is a young princess that preferred wielding a sword over a sewing needle like was proper in her day. Catelyn was a queen who reminded me of Athena in that she wisely offered advice about battle to her son who became the child leader of their army. But the most fascinating woman of the tale, who learns the price of dark magic, is featured on the cover of the book in the photo. Her name is Daenerys. While Daenerys does pay a price for dark magic, it is because of this, the true magic that runs through her blood is awakened. If I were to tell you what kind of magic that was, it would spoil the book.

    My only complaint about this incredible book is that since it is a series, the story isn't wrapped up and the loose ends tied neatly. Instead the ending leaves you hungry for more. A Game of Thrones isn't light reading either. At 807 pages (not including the Appendix detailing the family trees) it is truly epic in it's scope. The characters are hard to keep track of at first. Some of the characters you grow to care about do not live. At the middle it started to lag and I grew frustrated, even bored. But then one death comes suddenly and with that death many of the kingdoms spiral into chaos. I think that was what was most fascinating. How one person affected the fate of literally thousands.

    The book is called A Game of Thrones, but it does not end with a winner. Instead, you are set up for the next book in the series. It is at the same time frustrating and exhilarating. I especially loved the ending of A Game of Thrones and it left me eager to read the next book in the series.

    (For a partial review, see Game of Thrones Readalong Post #1 where I talk a more about the male characters and the tv show.)

    My rating Photobucket

    Friday, 27 January 2012

    Using A Winter's Resprite Read-a-thon to Finish A Game of Thrones

    I signed up for A Winter's Resprite Read-a-thon and completely forgot about it. However, I did not forget about A Game of Thrones. I have been reading the novel still, I just have been so overwhelmed with other things that I got behind. Well, there's still some time left in the read-a-thon. I'm going to use that time to finish A Game of Thrones!
    This month has been really horrible for reading. I didn't reach my goals at all. Hopefully, I can finish A Game of Thrones and move on to the next book in my very large TBR pile! It's all about making reading a priority and daily activity!

    The Tarot Cafe Vol. 1 by Sang-sun Park (book review)

    This all started because my son loves graphic novels. I was at the library looking for a specific book my son wanted when I came across the series The Tarot Cafe. It had never occurred to me before to find some graphic novels related to witchcraft. I know many people laugh at the idea of a graphic novel and claim that they are just comic books. My own feeling is that anything that combines art with telling a story is pretty amazing. I decided to not to prejudge and take a look at a few graphic novels that I had found.

    The Tarot Café is a manhwa by Sang-sun Park and is published by Sigongsa in Korea, and distributed by Tokyopop in the United States. There are seven books in the series. This review is of Vol. 1 only.

    The art in this graphic novel is breathtaking. It involves gorgeous, androgynous characters that are very detailed. No character is alike. Some of them dress in Victorian style clothing while others in S & M clothing. The artwork is very feminine and girly. My only complaint is that the male characters are too androgynous. You won't find a man's man in this story.

    The story is about a tarot card reader named Pamela who meets four different characters split up into four short stories. These include a wish-giving cat who is part human, a blind vampire, a fairy, and alchemist.

    Each short story is about love and has the same plot line despite the differing characters. The character that has seeked Pamela for a tarot reading has fallen in love with someone forbidden. The story line gets repetitive and boring. What is interesting though is that three of the love struck characters are males.

    The use of tarot cards in the story is brilliant. I have studied tarot reading for years and Sang-sun Park using their actual meaning in the readings. In fact, Sang-sun Park makes the tarot cards so intricate to the story that she wouldn't be able to tell it without them. Each story begins when the character comes to Pamela for a reading and it told using flash back. I never thought that you could use the method of flash back in a graphic novel but it works very well in this book.

    While each story has the same plot, the details of the story are quite different. All the of the stories have the same theme of sacrificing for love and discovering something about oneself in the process. I wish I could give more details but the stories are so short that I would give away too many spoilers. The stories appear simple, but they really aren't. There is depth to them but it's really after reading the story that you realize how much was there.

    Because of this, I have a new respect for the graphic novel. The writer/illustrator has to be able to tell a story using pictures with very little words. I can understand how this is easily done with action stories but to do it with a love story takes real skill.

    I would like to read the rest of the series to see what other amazing and unique characters Sang-sun Park creates.

    My rating Photobucket

    I started to read the second graphic novel that I got but it was so horrible that I couldn't make it past the first chapter, so rather than write a whole new post I'll review it here. It's called Spell Checkers Vol. 1 and is by Jamie S. Rich, Nicholas Hitori De, and Joelle Jones. The book has been accurately described as Mean Girls meets The Craft. I do have to admit that much of the dialogue is kind of funny...if you lower your maturity to 13 years old. A few examples include "Sleep with one eye open and your legs closed, you slut!" and "Love the new do. What do you call that? 'My chemically treated romance?'"

    The main characters are immature, extremely vulgar, and parodies of the meanest, most popular girl in school. In the book, they start to lose their powers and can no longer do things like cast spells to get 100% on a test. Maybe losing their powers helps them get more redeeming qualities but I hated the main characters with such a passion that I couldn't stomach the rest of the book.

    I decided to look at the last few pages to see how they had changed. They blow up a building and one girl cries "We are the gods of hellfire!" Then another girls says, "You're more like the god of fire crotch, Cyn." Hmm...clearly they decided to become better people. Well, there's always Vol. 2!

    As for artwork, the characters are drawn using very basic manga. The art is disappointing. The whole book is disappointing. You'd think between three authors, they could have created something better than this.

    My rating Photobucket

    Sunday, 8 January 2012

    Game of Thrones Readalong Post #1

    • January 8: Progress post #1; Pages 1 (Prologue) - 189 (End of Jon)
    I didn't quite make it to page 189. I have read up until page 119 but I think I have read enough to give a partial review. I have to admit I was so nervous about this book. I still have bad memories of trying to read Lord of the Rings and feeling so overwhelmed by all the characters, places, and battles that I just gave up.

    This book is much easier to follow but not completely easy. I think there are too many characters and the constantly shifting points of view sometimes leaves me baffled. What is surprising though is despite so many characters, there is not a single cardboard, cliche character in the group. Each character is unique and likeable. What's also surprising is there are points of view from men, women, and even children of both genders. I think this is what makes the book so good. One chapter may be from a veteran warrior while the next is told from the point of view of a teenage princess. What can a bit jarring is how young many of the characters are. It's culture shock to read about a thirteen year old girl getting married or a fourteen year old boy preparing to dedicate himself to the life of a chaste warrior.

    What surprises me more than anything is that the book is character driven, not plot driven. This is the first fantasy adventure book that I have truly read. I only read a few chapters of Lord of the Rings and since then I think it has been my stereotype of what fantasy adventures are like that has kept me from attempting to read this genre again. I don't want to read page after page describing different battles. It turns out Game of Thrones is nothing like that. While battles and royal politics are certainly part of the plot, Martin's style is the exact opposite of a dry history lesson.

    My favorite part in the book so far, and it is probably because I am a girl, was the consummation of the marriage between Khal Drogo and Daenerys. Khal Drogo is a fierce king of a barbaric people that kill and rape without mercy. Daenerys has been betrothed to Khal Drogo by her brother in hopes that Khal Drogo's army will help him regain the throne that was taken from his family. Daenerys is a young innocent teenager and Khal Drogo speaks only one word of Common Tongue and that is the word "no." As a reader, I fully expected Kahl Drogo to just violently take her but instead it was a tender love scene that was better than any Harlequin novel I have ever read.

    My biggest complaint is that I don't understand who's story this is. Who is the main character? I think there are two and they are Eddard Stark (Ned) and Jon Snow, but I could be wrong about that. I am truly excited to read the rest of this book and find out. I find myself rooting for Jon to be the hero of the entire book. I always love an underdog.

    I am also anxious to watch the HBO series based on the book. I decided to watch the first episode as well. I didn't go any further because I didn't want the book to be spoiled. The first episode pretty much covered all that I had read so far. However, the pacing felt too rushed and there is very little character development. The book is by far better, but aren't they always?

    The tv show was different plotwise only in minor ways, but since it's only an hour long so much had to be left out. Far fewer characters are in the show so it is easier to follow, but this actually kind of bored me. Or maybe I was bored because HBO reduces some of them to stereotypical cardboard characters. In the show, the character of the Imp wasn't cardboard but did come off as kind of gimmicky. The tv show also focused on Khal Drogo and Daenerys but completely ruined the love scene because he is violent not tender like in the book.

    Sometimes I only understood what was happening because I had read the book. An example is when Daenerys is told "You don't want to unleash the dragon" by her brother. Without the context of the book, you have no clue what this means. I thought there were a few scenes that were more powerful in the show than in the book though. This included when Ned and Robert reunite and when Bran gets injured. Reading about a boy falling and seeing it happen are emotionally two very different things!

    Here's more info if you would like to participate in the Game of Thrones readalong:

    The December Wolf Hall readalong has inspired me to tackle another long book that I’m scared to start by myself: A Game of Thrones. I loved the show and Kwame loved the book so I asked for volunteers to read it with me this January. The awesome Jenn from Booksessed responded and we’ve decided to get more people involved by hosting a readalong! We’ve spread it over 4 weeks so hopefully we’ll get through it together.

    How to Participate:

    • Enter your blog site on this post. (If you don’t have a blog, just add a comment and start reading!)
    • Optional: Write a post to drag more readers into the fray with us
    • Optional: Stick the button in your sidebar! :)


    (Page numbers from my paperback copy, I’ve put the names down to help you find it in your book but it’s not too important to get it perfect)

    • January 1: Reading starts (or has started already)
    • January 8: Progress post #1; Pages 1 (Prologue) - 189 (End of Jon)
    • January 15: Progress post #2; Pages 190 (Eddard) - 395 (End of Daenerys)
    • January 22: Progress post #3; Pages (Bran) 396 - 617 (End of Tyrion)
    • January 29: Final progress post; Pages 618 (Sansa) - 807 (End of Daenerys)

    Saturday, 7 January 2012

    Follow Friday #3 (Belated)

    Question of the Week: Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

    Answer: Dozens! I buy books all the time that I intend to read but never do. My bedroom is literally covered in bookshelves!

    Featured blogs this week:
    Pawing Through Books

    Book Den

    Want to be a part of Follow My Book Blog Friday?


    To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

    1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee &amp;amp; Alison Can Read}
    2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
    3. Put your Blog name &amp;amp; URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
    4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
    5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
    6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
    7. If you’re new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.