Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Host (again)

TeaserTuesdays Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. You are asked to:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
4. Please avoid spoilers!


This week I feel like I'm cheating because I've already done a teaser from Stephenie Meyer's The Host once before. However, at that time I only made it through one chapter and didn't pick up the book again for weeks. So here I am reading it again (and getting much more into it now, for whatever reason) so you're left with another teaser... And I'm sorry, but it's a bit longer than what we're asked for; however, I think it's worth it!

She would have continued to argue with me, but we were interrupted. A scuffing sound, shoe against rock, echoed from somewhere back down the corridor.

I froze--every function of my body arrested but my heart, and even that faltered jaggedly--and listened. I didn't have long to hope that I'd just imagined the sound. Within seconds, I could hear more quiet footsteps coming this way.

From The Host, page 271.

Monday, March 30, 2009

MYSTERY MONDAYS REVIEW: Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg

MysteryMondaysLogoI "met" Margot Kinberg through Facebook, when she contacted me after some unsuccessful attempts to leave comments on my blog. (Thanks a lot, Blogger...) I believe she wanted to comment on my review of Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie. Christie is one of Kinberg's biggest writing influences, as I could tell from reading her first book, Publish or Perish...

Publish or Perish cover
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub. Date: Dec. 2008, Strategic Book Publishing
Hardcover, 212 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book after the author recommended it to me. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
What is the price of success? How far would you go to achieve your goals and what would you be willing to sacrifice? Enter the world of success at Tilton University, where publishing means everything, and some people are willing to do anything to get ahead. For graduate student Nick Merrill, the price of success is his life. For former police detective-turned-professor Joel Williams, Nick's murder is an irresistible puzzle as he discovers that more than one person stood to gain by Merrill's death. As Williams uncovers the truth, he finds that even those closest to Nick were willing to sacrifice him.

MY THOUGHTS

While not one of the most complicated mysteries I've ever read, I enjoyed Publish or Perish and am glad that Margot Kinberg contacted me. The book is an easy read, moves pretty quickly, and is definitely laid out in the manner of an Agatha Christie. Kinberg sets the scene with many pages devoted to the story before Nick's murder actually takes place, so you get a feel for all the possible suspects, and naturally there is more than one. Is it Nick's advisor who is accused of stealing Nick's software? Or is it Angel, the girlfriend who caught Nick with another advisor at Tilton University? What about Rose, who would do anything to win the fellowship that had been awarded to Nick?

Those questions lead me to my biggest issue with this book. It was too easy to figure out who the murderer was, in my opinion. In the end, it was almost too obvious who stood to benefit the most by Nick's death. Of course, that's mostly because of another *major* event that takes place, but I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who want to read this :-) I really liked the basis for the plot of this book--while I'm not sure if anyone would truly commit murder in these circumstances, it made for an interesting story. You really wanted to see certain people "get theirs" in the end. All-in-all I thought it was a good debut for Kinberg--minus one star for being too easy to figure out.

4 stars

What Are You Reading on Mondays? (3.30.09)

WhatAreYouReading? What are you reading on Mondays is hosted by J Kaye. Thanks for hosting! This is my first time participating, too! :-)

Last week wasn't particularly productive for me (2-1/2 books read), but I plead a busy vacation as the excuse. This week I am bound and determined to get through The Host, which I stopped reading after the first chapter. I'm not sure why, it just didn't grab me that day. I've read about 3 more chapters since then and am getting into the story more. But it's a chunkster--over 600 pages! So with that in mind, here's what I hope to get through this week...

Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg (I finished that yesterday, so a Mystery Mondays review is coming soon).

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Threshold by Bonnie Kozek (This is her debut book, published in December of last year.)

Sin and Vengeance by CJ West (West kindly sent me the e-book version of his 2005 novel, which is going to be made into a movie.)

And if I'm lucky... Uglies by Scott Westerfield (This was one of my purchases while on vacation last week. I love adding to my TBR pile!)

We'll see how I do. Hopefully work won't get in the way too much :-D

Sunday, March 29, 2009

REVIEW: Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan

Faerie Wars coverGenre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub. Date: 2003, Bloomsbury USA
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Henry Atherton thinks his life is spinning out of control. But nothing prepares him for the invisible portal in old man Fogarty’s backyard . . . and the unexpected stranger who comes through it.
Pyrgus Malvae, crown prince of the Faerie realm, is on the run. Too many people want the rebellious young heir dead: a scheming sorcerer, a powerful demon, the malignant leader of the Faeries of the Night, and maybe even a hidden traitor within his father’s court.
Henry and Pyrgus come from very different worlds, but it may be up to Henry to save all of Faerie from being conquered by the Nightside, even if it means crossing over to a magical realm where nothing is ever what it seems . . . and no one can be trusted.

MY THOUGHTS

I have to be honest... This book got off to a s-l-o-o-o-w start for me. I had probably read about a third of the book or more before things picked up. I can't say that Henry's backstory about his family situation added much to the book, either--it didn't seem very relevant to the plot, but rather a chance to introduce the idea of the possibility of having a parent who turns out to be a homosexual. And no, I am not suggesting there is something wrong with that, and I assume that Brennan gives us so much insight into Henry in the "real world" for characterization purposes. I just didn't feel that it fit in with the point of the story or Henry's role in it--helping Pyrgus to get back to the Faerie Realm. (So in all fairness, parents should know the topic of homosexuality is addressed in this book, as it is a young adult title, and should be prepared to discuss this with their children.)

I'd say the characters and plot were generally above average, though there were some typical flaws. As for characters, there are a few in this novel that are pretty enjoyable. My favorite is probably Pyrgus' sister, Holly Blue (aka Serenity)--she's full of spunk and very likeable. Mr. Fogarty is an interesting old man, too. I was surprised to find out his former "occupation," and I'll leave it at that. Brennan leaves you with no doubt who the good guys and bad guys are in this book--those "bad guys" are downright evil!  The plot is pretty good, with enough twists and turns (once the story got going) to keep it moving, though it is unfortunately not without a few cliched and conveniently-timed events. While the general story is actually rather dark, there is humor interspersed to lighten the mood at appropriate times. All-in-all I liked this book well enough that I plan to read the sequel, The Purple Emperor.

 3 stars

Pages Read Challenge 2009

PagesReadChallenge
So after organizing my challenges into a summary post, I decided to join a third one today--the Pages Read Challenge hosted by Kathrin at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic. :-D But really, it's almost as if I'm cheating because this challenge is based on EVERYTHING I read this year.

Never having counted the number of pages read before, I'm taking a shot in the dark at what I think I'll read 1/1/09 - 12/31/09... 30,000 pages. We'll see how it goes! Take a look below to see how I'm doing...

Jarka Ruus by Terry Brooks (416 pages/416 total)
Tanequil by Terry Brooks (368 pages/784 total)
Straken by Terry Brooks (384 pages/1,168 total)
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (111 pages/1,279 total)
Culture Warrior by Bill O'Reilly (224 pages/1,503 total)
The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall by L. J. Smith (592 pages/2,095 total)
Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie (271 pages/2,366 total)
Term Limits by Vince Flynn (656 pages/3,022 total)
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (208 pages/3,230 total)
Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark (304 pages/3,534 total)
The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy (214 pages, 3,748 total)
Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick (204 pages, 3,952 total)
The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak (304 pages/4,256 total)
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy (368 pages/4,624 total)
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (304 pages/4,928 total)
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (304 pages/5,232 total)
The Maidenstone Lighthouse by Sally Smith O'Rourke (224 pages/5,456 total)
At Risk by Patricia Cornwell (224 pages/5,680 total)
Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie (255 pages/5,935 total)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (374 pages/6,309 total)
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (272 pages/6,581 total)
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (272 pages/6,853 total)
Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan (368 pages/7,221 total)
Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg (212 pages/7,433 total)
The Host
by Stephenie Meyer (624 pages/8,057 total)
Sin & Vengeance by CJ West (368 pages/8,425 total)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (448 pages/8,873 total)
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (384 pages/9,257 total)
No Place For a Lady by Maggie Brendan (304 pages/9,561 total)

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (328 pages/9,889 total)
Deadly Exchange by Geoffrey Gluckman (337 pages/10,226 total)
The Crimes of Paris by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler (384 pages, 10,610 total)
The Dawning of Power by Brian Rathbone (696 pages, 11,306 total)
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman (477 pages, 11,783 total)
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (325 pages/12,108 total)
Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (389 pages/12,497 total)
Willow by Julia Hoban (336 pages/12,833 total)
Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett (271 pages/13,104 total)
The Chameleon Conspiracy by Haggai Carmon (365 pages/13,469 total)
A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman (477 pages/13,946 total)
Murder In Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie (284 pages/14,230 total)
Need by Carrie Jones (306 pages/14,536 total)
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (409 pages/14,945 total)
Sophie's Dilemma by Lauraine Snelling (334 pages/15,279 total)
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder (441 pages/15,720 total)
Naked In Death by J. D. Robb (271 pages/15,991 total)
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (332 pages/16,323 total)
Frostbite by Richelle Mead (327 pages/16,650 total)
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (443 pages/17,093 total)
Dreamstone by P.A. Hendrickson (529 pages/17,622 total)
Wings by Aprilynne Pike (290 pages/17,912 total)
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (291 pages/18,203 total)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (237 pages/18,440 total)
Foundling by D. M. Cornish (313 pages/18,753 total)
A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman (463 pages/19,216 total)
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb (380 pages/19,596 total)
Marked by P. C. & Kristin Cast (306 pages/19,902 total)
Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder (441 pages/20,343 total)
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (485 pages/20,828 total)
For Glory by Elisabeth Lee (333 pages/21,161 total)
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (371 pages/21,532 total)
Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland (324 pages/21,856 total)
The Jewel of Gresham Green
by Lawana Blackwell (415 pages/22,271 total)
That Summer by Sarah Dessen (198 pages/22,469 total)
Boston Scream Pie by Rosemary & Larry Mild (180 pages/22,649 total)
The Manning Brides by Debbie Macomber (475 pages/23,124 total)
T'aragam by Jack W. Regan (286 pages/23,410 total)
Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander (394 pages/23,804 total)
Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer (329 pages/24,133 total)
After the Fire by Belva Plain (291 pages/24,424 total)
7th Heaven by James Patterson (376 pages/24,800 total)
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (453 pages/25,253 total)
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (541 pages/25,794 total)
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby (292 pages/26,086 total)
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (352 pages/26,438 total)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (471 pages/26,909 total)
Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham (665 pages/27,574 total)
Keeping The Moon by Sarah Dessen (228 pages/27, 802 total)
A Deadly Habit by Andrea Sisco (270 pages/28,072 total)
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (390 pages/28,462 total)
A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist (347 pages/28,809 total)
The Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Baron (326 pages/29,135 total)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (652 pages/29,787 total)
A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi (339 pages/30,126 total)
**Goal Reached on 7/30/09**
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (82 pages/30,208 total)
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (279 pages/30,487 total)
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (375 pages/30,862 total)
Fade To Blue by Sean Beaudoin (201 pages/31,063 total)
Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch (283 pages/31,346 total)
Fire by Kristin Cashore (461 pages/31,807 total)
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (250 pages/32,057 total)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (391 pages/32,448 total)

In My Mailbox (03.29.09)

InMyMailbox
In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. As always, thank you for hosting it! This week we were on vacation but when we returned, I had two books and a set of bookmarks waiting for me!

Threshold cover
One of my arrivals was Threshold by Bonnie Kozek. I was contacted by Author Marketing Experts and this is one of the titles I chose to review. Here's the synopsis from BN.com:

Honey McGuinness hasn't weathered the storm of life; she's been chewed up and spit out by it. Although she hasn't exactly landed on her feet, she's a strong, enigmatic, and untamed creature-with more than enough juice to play with the big boys.

When a haunting past becomes too painful, she moves to Skid Row where she hopes to disappear among the forsaken and forgotten. But things don't work out like she hopes. And when she finds her friend Billy lying in a pool of blood with a tape recorder strapped to his waist, she is sucked right back into the slough.

To avenge Billy's murder, Honey risks it all. She goes undercover and follows a trail that leads her straight into the murky, seedy world of sex, drugs, and greed-a sinister and depraved world of panacea and oblivion that holds particular seduction for a gal like Honey. In the final round, bloodied and defiled Honey hooks up with a big lug of a cop who's willing to lay down his life for hers-if both of them live that long.

Deadly Exchange cover
The other book I received was also courtesy of AME, Inc: Deadly Exchange by Geoffrey M. Gluckman. Here's the synopsis from BN.com:

Only weeks remain before Lectures and More, Inc., a company representing the world's top motivational speakers, launches its latest technological advance: a mind-altering radio frequency device sold as a work-site enhancement product. The deceptively altruistic Ulrich Rogers spearheads the company and its reeducation programs, incorporating the presentational prowess and charm of Jennifer Chance, a world-renowned motivational speaker. But as the lies that make up her life begin to unravel like threads on a poorly sewn garment, it becomes evident that nothing is as it seems.

Jennifer alone holds the key to unveil Rogers's plot to hold America hostage using Lectures and More's newest device. Plunged into a twisting chase to escape the clutches of Rogers and his former espionage henchmen, Jennifer seeks help from Frank Revere, an enigmatic former government counterintelligence agent. But the question of who to trust continues to dangle in Jennifer's mind. Thousands of lives hang in the balance, but a deeper deception lurks in the shadows …

And last but certainly not least, I received the bookmarks I won from Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot! Aren't they beautiful?

Bookmarks photo

Sunday Salon (03.29.09): Week In Review

Photobucket
Well, this week was not a particularly productive one as far as reading and reviews are concerned. As you probably know, the hubby and I were on vacation at his dad's house in Florida. On top of that, I also had a trade show over in Orlando for three days, so I didn't get as much time for reading and reviewing as I would have liked. I read 2-1/2 books and reviewed one of those so far: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris. I will be reviewing Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan later today, and hope to finish reading Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg, as well. 

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

I did manage to keep up with a few of the memes, as well, and particularly enjoyed completing my Thursday Thunks survey that was compiled from questions by participants of last week's post.

Photobucket
I was also thrilled to receive the Zombie Chicken Award from Mishel at mis(h)takes! Whoever came up with that award deserves an award for creating it! Please visit my post and check out the fabulous bloggers--I would overcome zombie chickens just to read their words. :-)

Other things currently ongoing... I am continuing to try to improve and market my blog. It's been a slow process this week, but I've gotten to work on it since we made it home yesterday afternoon. This week's Weekly Geeks project couldn't have been timed better for me! I have tried to be good about linking other people's reviews to my own, and now WG will help me out even more. :-) I've also been adding my site to search engines and blog directories like crazy! And I've really learned a lot in the process... A big thanks to Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot for suggesting a review index when I last blogged about my blog improvement project. I came up with a pretty little button for my left sidebar and added it to my site--the list is alphabetized by author. Eventually I'm going to add several useful link buttons like that one to my header, I just have to figure out how to do that first! :-D I'm also going to see about de-cluttering my sidebars where I can, though I think adding the link buttons to the header will take care of a lot of that for me. If anyone else reading this wants to visit my blog and offer any suggestions for ways to improve it, I'd appreciate it!

Until next Sunday, happy reading!

© Melissa Owens of Melissa's Bookshelf

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-12: Linking Reviews

WeeklyGeeksButton
This week's Weekly Geeks task revisits the idea of linking our book reviews to each other, something that Dewey, whom I never had the good fortune to "know" in the book-blogging community, recommended. Here are the instructions:

1. Write a post encouraging readers to look through your archives (if you have your reviews in a particular place on your blog, point them there), and find the books that they have also written reviews. Tell them to leave a link to their review on your review post. For example, I've written a review for Gods Behaving Badly and Jane Doe leaves a link to her review of Gods Behaving Badly in the comments section of my review.
2. Edit your reviews to include those links in the body of the review post.
3. Visit other Weekly Geeks and go through their reviews. Leave links for them.
4. Leave a note somewhere on your blog to let people know this is your new policy.
5. Write a post later this week letting us know how your project is going!

This is actually something that I've been trying to do for awhile, and I did go back and edit former reviews to include other bloggers' reviews that I was able to find from my subscriptions. Now of course, there's no way I've managed to subscribe to all the amazing book blogs out there, so I'm sure there are many of you reading this who might have a review of one of the books I've reviewed, but I don't have your review linked... 

So please, use the "Reviews" label in my label cloud to visit my reviews and add links to yours in the Comments section. I'm looking forward to getting those lists updated!

Friday, March 27, 2009

REVIEW: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Club Dead coverSeries: Sookie Stackouse #3
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Pub Date: April 2003, Ace Books
Format: Mass Market, 272 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Sookie Stackhouse is having man trouble. Her vampire boyfriend, Bill, has been distant and inattentive lately. Then he announces that he is going on a business trip, which clearly is more than it seems. After a werewolf tries to abduct Sookie at work, Bill's boss, Eric, tells her that Bill fell under the sway of his--Bill's, that is--ex, a sexy vamp named Lorena, and has been kidnapped. Eric wants Sookie's help in getting Bill back, and despite her hurt over Bill's betrayal, Sookie agrees to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to find her wayward lover. Eric has persuaded Alcide, a dashing werewolf, to get Sookie access to Josephine's, aka Club Dead, the local hangout of Jackson's supernatural element. In between dodging kidnappers, the advances of amorous Eric, and her growing feelings for Alcide, Sookie has to find out who kidnapped Bill and figure out a way to rescue him.

MY THOUGHTS

Well, as promised here is a review from one of the books I finished while here in Florida on vacation! I've already mentioned it, but Club Dead is my favorite of the Sookie Stackhouse books, so far. I'm not sure if that's because the writing and storyline have improved, though. I hate to admit it, but I think my preference for this book stems from the fact that I find Sookie and Bill's relationship annoying, but this time around he's hardly in the book at all. To be honest, I really wish that Sookie and Alcide had made a match of it, but I realize that's not where Harris is going with these books. And on top of that, I rather liked the fact that Eric was thrown into the mix more this time, too. For some reason, Bill's character just doesn't do much for me. I was also sorry that we didn't see as much of Sam and some of Sookie's co-workers in book 3, but certainly appreciated some of the new characters that were introduced.

I felt that this book was faster paced with more action and excitement than the first two. As mentioned, I liked that Harris shook things up with Sookie and Bill's relationship a little more. I also get a kick out of "Bubba" the vampire, who just so happens to be a famous singer that didn't really die, but was brought over.

4 stars

Other reviews of Club Dead:

Zombie Chicken Award! :-)

Zombie Chicken award
OK, this is seriously my favorite new award I've seen popping up around the book blogging world. A HUGE thank you to Mishel at mis(h)takes for nominating me! I'm truly touched that she would fight zombie chickens just to read my blog. :-) No, really--read the rundown:

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...

So without further delay, zombie chickens couldn't stop me from reading words written by these fine people:

Kristi, aka The Story Siren
Steph at Reviewer X
Debbie of Wrighty's Reads

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reviews Down the Road...

Reviews are coming, I promise! I've finished a couple of books while on vacation so far. I may try to write up a review of Club Dead, book 3 in the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, tomorrow. So far, it's my favorite of the series--they improve each time! I'll also be reviewing Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan soon. It got off to a slow start for me but picked up after several chapters and I'm planning to continue reading the series... More on those two titles in the next couple of days!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to start reading my next book, Publish or Perish by Margot Kinberg. I've managed to keep up with my reading and blogging better than I thought I would while on vacation/working a trade show!

For now, I bid you all good night and happy reading!

Thursday Thunks (03.26.09)

Thursday Thunks is hosted by StraightJacketMom. Welcome to this week's version--here's the rundown straight from their site:

We pick a subject, and your job is to interpret it anyway you want. Write about it on your blog... simple as that. Maybe you can interpret it as a picture - we don't care!
Please only leave a link if you have written a Thursday Thunks post. Please mention us in your post, and link back to the blog here.
Don't forget to go visit the other participants' blogs. Read and comment about all their Thursday Thunks! Thats what all this is about afterall, isn't it? We'll have so much fun and become lifelong friends....

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by THE THURSDAY THUNKERS, the color brown and the number 1.

Remember last weeks last question? Well... every question submitted is this week's Thursday Thunk!!

1. What is your favorite type of soda (if you drink soda)? Coke Zero or Fanta Zero

2. Do you believe in astrology? If so, what does your sign say about you? Nope, I always feel like I'm a mix of all the signs. (Though I do have a lot of my Capricorn tendancies.)

3. Who is John Galt? How sad, I don't know (though I feel like I should--and I'm not going to cheat and look it up.) I know a Jen Galt, though :-)

4. What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep at night? Kiss my hubby goodnight.

5. Who's your Daddy? Lol... Felton D. Bartlett Jr, or Bart for short. A "hell of an engineer" that graduated from Georgia Tech. :-) An actual rocket scientist, believe it or not.

6. Jelly beans or Jelly Bellies? Oooh, tough decision. Jelly Beans I think.

7. What do you think about yellow car? Why car manufacturer actually made yellow cars? I hate yellow cars. They look like bananas on wheels.

8. Holding on or Letting go? Letting go. I've learned to do that more over the years and I'm slowly getting better at it.

9. What kind of underwear, if any, do you wear? Hahahaha. Panties (you have no idea how much I hate that word, but they are what they are) and a bra.

10. Who is your daddy and what does he do? OK, I'm about to snort from laughing so hard on this one--basically I already answered it in #5, though technically he's retired now. But what's so funny is that that line is part of an ongoing inside joke for me and the hubby.
11. Spring - is it here yet?? Amen to that--it's definitely in Florida!!

12. Does Google Streetview scare you? A little bit. One of these days we'll be able to watch people moving around. Stalk much?

13. What is your favorite brand of ice cream? Eating out--Bruster's. From the store--Edy's.

14. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Mint Chocolate Chip!!!

15. Do you ever get tired of your everyday routine? Yes, frequently. I mean, it's a routine after all...

16. What inspires you? Music, beautiful scenery, books, intelligent conversations with brilliant people, nature

17. It’s springtime-do you spend more time outdoors? Indoors, but only because I have a job that keeps me indoors. And I don't care to sleep outside...

18. When do you think Bud will let us see the DVD of him and the french twins? Who?

19. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you, and why? Oh dear, this was my question... I think I'd have to go with Hawaii--isn't the "why" part obvious? The idea of perfect weather year-round is very appealing.

20. Why do you blog? Because I love to read and share my thoughts with anyone who cares to read them. I enjoy developing my site and growing as a reader and blogger. I also have a personal blog that I have used as sort of a diary, but also a way for far-away friends to keep up with me. I wish more of them had blogs of their own!!

21. What are electrolytes and why are they good for us? Aren't they something that Gatorade replenishes? They sort of keep us in balance and mentally stable, that's really about all I know...

22. Do you twitter? Why or why not? Yes, I recently gave in to that. I use it as another outlet to promote my blog and meet fellow bloggers--particularly in the book-blogging community. (Yes, I called it a community.)

23. What did you dream last night? You know, I remember that I had some vivid dreams (at the time) but darned if I can remember them now...

24. What is the strangest thing you've eaten? Escargot, I suppose.

25. What was the last picture that you took? One of the hubby and me at High Tides near Daytona Beach. It didn't turn out so great (I hate self photos) so my father-in-law took another one for us :-)

26. what is your favorite part of spring? The flowers and nice temperatures. And everything turning green again. I love that!

27. what is one thing that you did this past week that no one knows about? Now that's tough. Here's a stupid answer, though, as it's the only thing I can think of that I did by myself--I bought a bag of peanut M&M's for a snack today, but never got around to eating them. Wow... Exciting...

28. What kind of bandages do you typically have in your household? The clear kind, brand doesn't really matter.

These were great questions! I enjoyed answering them. What a great way to do Thursday Thunks. :-) And thanks to Thursday Thunks for posting on Wednesdays because it gave me the time to work on it and set it to auto-post in the morning!

© Melissa Owens of Melissa's Bookshelf

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: Faerie Wars

TeaserTuesdays
TEASER TUESDAYS is hosted by MizB and asks you to:

~ Grab your current read.
~ Let the book fall open to a random page.
~ Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
~ You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
~ Please avoid spoilers!

Here is mine, from page 125 of Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan: 

Even without her body she felt a chill. There was something going on between her father and Black Hairstreak, negotiations that were supposed to heal the ancient rift between Faeries of the Light and Faeries of the Night.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Musing Mondays (03.23.09)

MusingMondays
So this is my first time participating in Musing Mondays, which is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page. This post is coming to you thanks to the ability to set up auto-posts in advance with Blogger. And I have to thank Rebecca for posting this on Sunday so that I was able to go ahead and write my entry for Monday :-) See? I promised I wouldn't leave you totally high and dry while I was on vacation!

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about bookstores…

How many bookstores do you frequent? Do you have a favourite? If so, which one and what makes it so?

I really had to answer this question because I L-O-V-E bookstores. I also felt like it was a good time to make a confession: I'm a bit of a bookstore snob. For five years I worked for Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, which is a sister company to the B&N stores all of you are familiar with. Many of their newer stores have the look and feel of a B&N, but with the addition of school spirit apparel, textbooks, and everything else that's more unique to a college bookstore. So because of this, I am naturally partial to Barnes & Noble for my book-shopping. I just love the atmosphere, decor, and smells of a B&N. Borders and Books-A-Million just don't do it for me and never have.

That being said, I also love used bookstores! I love the opportunity to trade my books in for other well-worn books. Currently, I frequent Yawn's Bookstore in Canton, GA. They have a great little set-up for both new and used books and I was thrilled to discover it several weeks ago with my mom! They also have their own publishing company, which I thought was pretty cool! I haven't checked out any of those authors yet, but I plan to soon!

Great question for MUSING MONDAYS!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Library Loot (03.22.09)

LibraryLoot
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by A Striped Armchair and Out of the Blue that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Well, some of you may remember my post about the library from several days ago. And if you don't, you can see that I've conveniently placed a link for you to check it out. =P

Of course, my point is that I said I wasn't going to check anything out until I made a list in my own stack of books. Clearly, if I'm writing this post now, I must have lied. Yes, it's true... I broke down earlier last week and stopped in to get the three books I was allowed to check out for the first trip: My Lord John by Georgette Heyer, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, and Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan. They are all due a couple of days after we get back from Florida, so I can already see myself having to renew at least one of them, as I'm currently reading a book from my own collection. I'll probably try to read Faerie Wars while we're here, too, though, if I have enough time...

But it's great to be going to the library again!!

The Sunday Salon (03.22.09)

SundaySalon
Well, this week's Sunday Salon post will be (sort of) short and sweet. The hubby and I have been lounging in bed with the laptops this morning while his dad and stepmom sleep in, so naturally I've been trying to keep up with some blogging and blog-reading, though truth be told I should probably be reading a book!! :-) But it's nearly time to get up and get moving--we're going to an art festival today, which should be fun!

Here's my week in review...

I read and reviewed 4 books last week--not too bad since I had to go back to work and had a lot less reading time! In case you missed the reviews or would like to revisit them, here they are:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (the best book I've read so far in 2009!)

I also discovered some great new books, as you can see in my Friday Finds post.

And I just posted about some books received In My Mailbox this week.

And as I mentioned last Sunday, I've just started a mini-revamp of my blog this week... A new URL: http://www.melissas-bookshelf.com and a new look! I liked my old template but I was ready for a change and wanted to go back to a three-column layout that was easier to read than it was on the old template. These are just the first (key) steps in my little blog improvement project that I'll be doing for the next few weeks/months. I've seen so many other blogs out there with great ideas and sites that are well-organized, so I'm trying to work on mine to make it as reader-friendly as possible :-) So naturally, if anyone has any feedback for me, it is always welcome!

I don't know how much reading I'll get done today, but I did bring several books to try to get to while we're here in Florida. It will just depend on how busy we stay while we're here--though I will have a trade show eating up a lot of my time Tuesday - Thursday. At this point, I am hoping to get 2 books read while we're here :-)

In My Mailbox

InMyMailbox
As always, thank you to The Story Siren for hosting this! Sadly, last week I couldn't participate since I didn't get anything, but this week I received two books! And I know others are coming soon, too--one or two could be sitting in my mailbox from yesterday, for all I know, but now that I'm down here in Florida it's a moot point for the week :-) But here's what I got a couple of days ago:

Publish Or Perish coverMargot Kinberg tried to leave a comment for me on my blog a few weeks ago and had problems, but we've actually ended up being good Facebook buddies now. :-) I just received her mystery, Publish or Perish, this week and am looking forward to reading it!

After The Funeral cover Come to think of it, I think Margot wanted to comment on a review I gave of an Agatha Christie Mystery... And I just received another Hercule Poirot to add to my collection: After the Funeral. Of course, I still had a sizeable stack of unread books before these arrived, and I'm still expecting more! (Though some of what will be hitting my mailbox this week are review copies.)

But for me, that's a pretty good "In My Mailbox" week--just getting anything at all! I'm jealous of all of you who have so many books that arrive week after week :-) 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vacation!!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let you know that I'm heading down to sunny Florida for vacation (and a trade show) so I probably won't be on here as much as I usually am. (In fact, I shudder to think what my Reader is going to look like by the end of the week, lol.) I'm hoping to get some reading done while I'm gone, though, so you may see a review or two or maybe even a meme.

Just wanted to be sure that you knew I haven't fallen off the face of the earth :-)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

P.S. What do you think of the new layout? It's still a work in progress but I love the color scheme... Any thoughts or tips would be welcome!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Finds

FridayFindsFriday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Speaking of which, you really should be reading her blog. Check it out! I've got three books that I added to my wish list this week...

Amaranth Enchantment coverThe first addition is The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. I have read so many good reviews of this book that I finally had to add it to my list earlier this week. Here's the synopsis:

When Lucinda Chapdelaine was a small child, her parents left for the royal ball and never returned. Ever since, Lucinda has been stuck in perpetual servitude at her evil aunt’s jewelry store. Then, on the very same day, a mysterious visitor and an even more bizarre piece of jewelry both enter the shop, setting in motion a string of twists and turns that will forever alter Lucinda’s path. In this magical story filled with delightful surprises, Lucinda will dance at the royal ball, fall under the Amaranth Witch’s spell, avenge her parents’ death, and maybe—just maybe—capture the heart of a prince.

The Makedown coverMy second find this week is The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari. I read a review today by Luanne at A Bookworm's World and decided I had to read this. Who doesn't like a good laugh? Here's the synopsis:

Anna Norton used to be fat. Correction: Anna Norton used to be a fat, nerdy, overeater with low self esteem. When she moves from suburban Ohio to Manhattan at age 23, her life does a total 180. With guidance from her boss, an unlikely Fairy Godmother in the form of a chic caterer and excellent cook, Anna loses all the weight and--though still not quite Kate Moss--finally drops her inferiority complex, brushes the crumbs off her skirt, and enters the world of feeling good, looking good, and...finally having sex.

When Anna meets Ben, the man of her dreams (and of every other person's dreams who isn't blind) she almost can't believe she is dating the Ken Doll. Deep down, she is still the chubby nerd who wrote in a diary called Hello Fatty. But not everything is perfect; her hot boyfriend is a huge flirt, and every leggy blond who crosses his path is a threat to Anna. She just can't escape the feeling that Ben is way out of her league and that everyone thinks she is dating up and he's dating down. It gets so bad, she decides she will do anything to make these women go away.

Enter the Makedown. The reverse makeover. As Anna was made up, so will Ben be made down. Where she went from shabby to chic, he will go from prince to frog. Anna will sabotage his hotness for the sake of her own sanity, and to bring this man into more of what she considers her own league. Enter Nair to induce premature balding, Sears catalogs to inspire bad dressing, and secret additions of cream to her cooking and SKOR bars in granola bar wrappers to induce weight gain. Hilarity ensues, but in the end, Anna must find out if Ben's makedown will save their relationship, or end it.


A Reliable Wife coverMy last find for the week is A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Somehow, I never really heard much about this book until I read a review at Paperback Frenzy today. It really sounds like a book I'd enjoy (particularly thanks to Julie's review)! Here's the synopsis:

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

So what are your finds this Friday??

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Thunks

ThursdayThunksI just found out about this meme today, thanks to Kristina of Kristina's Favorites, so I thought I'd participate in this week's edition of Thursday Thunks:

We pick a subject, and your job is to interpret it anyway you want. Write about it on your blog... simple as that. Maybe you can interpret it as a picture - we don't care! Please only leave a link if you have written a Thursday Thunks post. Please mention us in your post, and link back to the blog here. Don't forget to go visit the other participants' blogs. Read and comment about all their Thursday Thunks! Thats what all this is about afterall, isn't it? We'll have so much fun and become lifelong friends....

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen, the color carnation pink and the number 54321.

1. The last flight of stairs you walked up/down - were they carpeted? Yep

2. Green or purple grapes? Green... Purple/red grapes have bitter skin that makes me cringe.

3. Do you like Peeps? Not particularly

4. The smell of Vicks - like it? No!

5. Do you put decorative cling-ons on your windows for different holidays? I used to when I was little, but not anymore. (Of course, at first I was thinking Star Trek Clingons when I read that, lol.)

6. Finish the sentence - I spent too much money on lunch .

7. Which celebrity should be flown into outer space or placed on a desert island? Only one?? How about Sean Penn... Or Tom Cruise... Or Barbra Striesand

8. Would you support schools changing the "open" time? Such as 10am - 5pm, for example? I don't know, it never really bothered me when I was growing up and now I don't have kids so it doesn't matter much to me now, either.

9. Do you go fishing? Not on a regular basis, but I have been fishing in the past.

10. What question should we ask next week? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you, and why?

Be sure to check out the site and other people's posts as well!!



© Melissa Owens of Melissa's Bookshelf

REVIEW: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Adoration of Jenna Fox coverGenre: Fiction, Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pub. Date: 2008, Henry Holt and Co.
Format: Hardcover, 266 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I borrowed my copy of this book from the library. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Who is Jenna Fox?

Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a year-long coma, and she's still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. Her parents show her home movies of her life, her memories, but she has no recollection. Is she really the same girl she sees on the screen?

Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. Along with the memories come questions--questions no one wants to answer for her. What really happened after the accident?

MY THOUGHTS

Well, it's no wonder that no one wants to answer Jenna's questions... It brings up a pretty big ethical discussion--is what Jenna's parents did to save her right? Moral? Human? Really loving? From the start of the novel, I thought it was pretty clear what had likely happened to Jenna Fox after her accident. Not down to the letter, but I had an idea--especially after some discussion that Jenna had with one of her classmates in the special charter school she was attending.

The discussion of medical ethics and bioethics is a big part of this book. The idea of Bio Gel is fascinating, if not entirely believable, but hey, this is a book set in the future, down the road from where we are now. OK, I hate giving away anything about the plot, but with this book it's rather hard not to. Pearson writes an incredible story--it's another one that grabbed me from the first page and kept me turning pages until I finished it. And another thing I loved about this book is the thinking that it provokes regarding said ethical issues. The ending (even before the epilogue) certainly provokes questions of the ethical nature of what has been done to Jenna and could be done to others.

Bottom line: I enjoyed this book. It was generally well-written, with a slightly different format instead of the usual chapter 1, 2, etc. The portrayal of Jenna is believable, though there are times when I wonder how she understands some complicated concepts but has to review definitions of simple words. I suppose that's Pearson's way of stressing what is really going on in Jenna's mind as she rediscovers herself. I've also never been in a coma for a year, so I have no idea what it would be like to try to function again after so long. Pearson also does a great job with the other characters in the story--you really get a sense of what they're like. I love how she frequently focused on what people's eyes say, as opposed to what may be coming out of their mouths. There may be a "sci-fi" feel to the story, but there's so much more to it than that--it's a study of identity, self-discovery, bioethics, relationships. I'd recommend this book to anyone.

 4 stars

Other reviews of The Adoration of Jenna Fox:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday

WaitingOnWednesday" Waiting on" Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Catching Fire cover Well, assuming you've read my review of The Hunger Games from earlier today, is it any surprise that Catching Fire is now at the top of my W.O.W. list? Too bad it's not being released until SEPTEMBER 8!!! Oh well, I managed to wait for the last few Harry Potter books in between their releases, so I'm sure I can wait for this one. I'm a big girl. :-)






Just Take My Heart coverAnd even though I was less than impressed by Mary Higgins Clark's last mystery, I'm looking forward to her next one, due out April 6th: Just Take My Heart.




What are you waiting on this Wednesday??

REVIEW: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games cover Series: The Hunger Games #1
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Pub. Date: October 2008, Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover, 374 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

MY THOUGHTS

What can I possibly say about The Hunger Games that hasn't already been said by other reviewers out there? I will say that when I first heard of the book, I was a little skeptical, but after reading review after review that gave nothing but praise, I finally decided I had to read it. I picked up my copy last week and finally started into it Monday. Sadly, work interfered with my reading, but despite that I finished it last night. I can honestly say it was probably the best book I've read so far in 2009. It certainly puts a new spin on Reality TV!!

I loved pretty much everything about the book--the way it was written, the characters' names and development, Collins' descriptive portrayal of the people and places, and lastly, the way this first book was wrapped up. Oh my, does it leave you hanging, dying to read the next book! This was another of those books where I felt like I was almost involved in the story firsthand. My heart pounded anxiously as Katniss met various challenges during the Games. I felt like I really knew her and Peeta, the two "tributes" from District 12. The plotting was just great, too. Books like these make me wonder how I will ever come up with something so creative to write about, myself! It's not as if all of Collins' ideas were unique, but put them all together and you have a captivating, adrenaline-pumping, and all-round incredible story.

I could not stop thinking about this book after I read it. Just the possibility of what we could become is mind-blowing; we'd be going backwards and forwards at the same time if we ever ended up like Panem and its Districts. Last night, I was even telling my husband and my parents about this book, even though I knew there was not the least likelihood that any of them would ever read it. I seriously cannot WAIT for the next book, Catching Fire, to be released in September. I'm already planning to add Suzanne Collins' other books to my TBR list.

 5 stars

Other reviews of The Hunger Games:

My Friend Amy ~ The Book Muncher ~ 1330v
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? ~ As usual, I need more bookshelves
My Favorite Author ~ The Chick Manifesto
The Book Reader ~ The Book Vault ~ Readergirlz
Ms. Yingling Reads ~ Wrighty's Reads ~ Becky's Book Reviews
Presenting Lenore ~ Ink and Paper ~ In Search Of Giants
Page 247 ~ Melody's Read Corner ~ At Home With Books
Bookluver - Carol's Reviews ~ Serendipity
Diary of An Eccentric ~ Devourer of Books ~ The Little Bookworm
Beth Fish Reads ~ Stephanie's Written Word
And Another Book Read... ~ Pop Culture Junkie

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my readers and everyone stopping by today! Hope you all have the luck of the Irish today!! (Don't forget to wear green!)

Unless I risk getting in trouble at work to finish reading The Hunger Games (or a miracle happens), you probably won't see a review from me today. But I'll likely participate in a meme or two in the meantime.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Library...

So, on the one hand I feel a little embarrassed to write this post, but on the other I'm rather excited... I've lived in my current town for two years and until today, I had never set foot in our library. I know, sad, right? Well, I finally went in on a whim this afternoon to get a card and I was pleasantly surprised! The building is pretty new and looks to be a very nice facility. I took a little bit of time to walk through and explore but didn't check any books out. It seems a little small, but with a decent-sized YA section and a surprisingly large children's area that has its own separate room. If the hubby and I decide to have kidlets one day, it will be a great library for them! 

Anyway, I browsed a few sections and while the overall collection didn't seem huge, they do have one book that I never would have expected to find. I would have checked it out today but I have so many books I need to read that I decided to hold off... That book is My Lord John, by Georgette Heyer. It was her last book, which she didn't finish before her death, and it was published posthumously. Perhaps in another month or so I'll treat myself and check it out--it looks like no one's checked it out in years, so I don't imagine I'll have a problem getting it!

The second best part of all this? I can start participating in Library Loot! :-D

REVIEW: Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie

Appointment With Death coverSeries: Hercule Poirot #19
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub. Date: Orig. 1937, this ed. 2007, Black Dog & Leventhal
Format: Hardcover, 255 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my 
                                                    opinions are my own.

"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

Hercule Poirot overhears a young man saying these chilling words, then days later, the man's stepmother, known to all as a sadistic tyrant, is found dead. But beyond a puncture would to the wrist, the exact cause of the woman's death is unknown - and murder is only one possibility. In his meticulous fashion, the exacting Belgian sleuth interviews each of the victim's beleaguered family members, then becomes interested in other members of the vacationing party: a doctor whose hypodermic syringe has gone missing, a domineering English matron, and an energetic young woman with an interest in the victim's son. While few mourn the dead woman's passing, suspense mounts as Poirot closes in on the circumstances surrounding her murky death.

MY THOUGHTS

Once again, Christie has written a mystery with an ending I didn't see coming. This time, I can't decide if I think she left enough clues to lead to the culprit, however. Normally, I find myself saying "oh, yeah!" as I read the outcome, but this time I thought it was a little shaky. But, as usual, Christie does a beautiful job fleshing out the characters of a well-rounded cast, with plenty of doubt cast among almost all of them. I changed my mind a few different times as to the possible outcome, but still didn't get it right!

I love that Christie devotes pages and pages of detail leading up to the murder, rather than just starting the book out with the murder then recounting everything that had happened through the various characters' eyes. I find myself always paying close attention to what is happening and storing away possible useful information, just waiting for Poirot to start his investigation. This particular book also had an epilogue that I thought was interesting and I appreciated it for this story. Despite what I think may be a lack of evidence to point towards the culprit, I think that anyone who likes mysteries would enjoy this book. Agatha Christie never fails to please!

 4 stars