Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Victor

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~ Grab your current read
~ Open to a random page
~ Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~ BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~ Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine this week:

Sir Finrod could not believe his ears. "You would have him returned to you alive after today's deviltry?" he sputtered. He had been expecting orders for Lucius' Keep to be fired and his body left for the carrion foul [sic] to feast on.

~ page  17 of The Victor by Marlayne Giron

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Winner: Poster from Digital Room

Thanks to everyone who entered to win an 18"x24" custom poster from Digital Room! Random.org has selected the winner:

I will be sending your email address to Digital Room, and they will contact you shortly regarding your poster! Congratulations!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kristin Cashore Blog Tour & Giveaway: Getting to Know the Characters of Fire

Fire Tour logoI'm very excited to be the 8th stop on Kristin Cashore's Fire Blog Tour, where Kristin tells us a little bit about all the important characters in Fire, the companion novel to Graceling. Today's character just so happens to be one of my favorites, so I'm pleased to share more about him with you, courtesy of Kristin:

"Prince Brigan, Nax and Roen’s younger son and the Dells’ military commander, is also trying. Trying to prevent an inevitable civil war; trying to keep his brother, the king, focused; trying to fight off the looting parties that are the scourge of the mountains; trying to get to his appointments on time; trying to fall asleep at night and rarely succeeding. He would also very much like to have a try at breaking Fire’s neck. Sigh… too much to do…."

You can click on the tour logo above to read about the other featured characters on the blog tour, as well! There are many more to come! If you'd like to read my thoughts on Fire (I loved it!), please check out my review! If you're as excited about the release of Fire as I am and want to Tweet about it or tweet about this awesome blog tour, please use the #firetour tag as part of your tweet!!

You can also read a sample from Fire here:
Fire by Kristin Cashore

And perhaps you've noticed my countdown widget, noting the release of Fire on October 5th. Looks like this:

And maybe you'd like to show this little widget on your own blog? If you would, you can visit this link for the Fire widget!


I am able to give away one SIGNED COPY of Fire (to a winner in the U.S. only, sorry) as a part of this tour! How cool is that?! Here's how to enter:

+1 entry: Leave a comment telling me which character is your favorite on the tour so far.
+1 entry: Become a follower on Google Friend Connect
+1 entry: Tweet about this contest on Twitter (using #firetour and @Melsbookshelf in your tweet, please!)
+1 entry: Share this post on Facebook and leave me a link to your posting
+1 entry each: Stumble, Digg, bookmark this post on del.icio.us. (The buttons are all handy at the bottom of this post!)

Yes, I'm keeping this a little easier when it comes to calculating all the entries this time, but you can still earn up to 7 entries for this contest if you choose to do them all!

The last day for entries is Saturday, October 3rd at midnight. I will announce the winner on Sunday, October 4th and once I have mailing info, I'll be forwarding that along!

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Lost Chalice


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~ Grab your current read
~ Open to a random page
~ Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~ BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~ Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's mine this week:

However, at some point in the late 1960's, the national Carabinieri paramilitary police decided to get even more serious about art crime. On May 3, 1969, they formed an art and cultural heritage unit, and they were out to show results. The timing of Medici's debut as an international dealer couldn't have been worse.
~ page 35 of The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece by Vernon Silver

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: The Civilization Loop

Civilization Loop cover
Title: The Civilization Loop
Author: Jason R. Thrift
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi
Pub Date: September 2007, Publish America
Paperback, 338 pages
Book Source: Received a copy from the author


Man has unlocked the ability to travel through time. From the outset of this new discovery, man's fate was also sealed. Now it is a race against time, against choice, against the very past that humanity holds to. This story will take you through the mysteries that lie at the very heart of all that is civilization, from the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Egypt, to the ancient world of the dinosaurs, to the myths and beliefs of our current reality. What if you went back in time and discovered that the world we know was started by people from our present? A tale of good versus evil, man versus machine, life versus death, and God in between. Journey with Dr. Robert Peterson and his dedicated team on a mission to end all mysteries, and the chance to finally put to rest the greatest mystery of all time...

The Civilization Loop.

My Thoughts

First off, many thanks to Mr. Thrift for sending me a copy of his book, The Civilization Loop. As many of you may know by now, I will often read and review self-published books if they are about subject matter that interests me. When Mr. Thrift contacted me about his book, I was fascinated by the premise, not to mention the fact I always love a Sci-Fi read.

Let me just say that The Civilization Loop does not disappoint. I started this book yesterday and just finished it up this morning; and although I really didn't want to stop reading it last night, in the end I had to get some sleep! I don't know about the rest of you, but I always find the theory of time travel and its consequences (time paradoxes) to be fascinating, yet mind-blowing. In my opinion, Thrift has done an incredible job of presenting it all in his book--a gripping story that will have you questioning at least the possibility of time travel for mankind. Not only do we revisit the Pyramids and ancient Egypt as noted in the synopsis, but Thrift was also ingenious in working Roswell's Area 51 and the lost city of Atlantis into the story. I won't say more than that, however, because I don't want to give away too many spoilers. Interestingly enough, Thrift has also chosen to mix a little bit of God with science, so to speak, and while this may offend some readers, I found it refreshing and very natural.

This book is not without its flaws, though I will say that they are mainly typographical and could be fixed by good editing, as is the case with many self-published books. The story itself is riveting and while various typos and awkward phrases were occasionally distracting, I did not feel that they took away from the overall story. Personally, I highly recommend The Civilization Loop if you have any tendencies towards Sci-Fi and/or time travel--it was well worth the read.

My rating: 4 stars

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your review listed here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Giveaway: The Popularity Rules

While this book may not have been for me, I think that many of you will enjoy The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald. So for that reason, I am holding a contest and the winner will receive my copy of the book! And yes, this contest is open internationally!

Here's how to enter (1 comment with all entries is preferred, though not required):

+1 entry: Comment on this post telling me why you want to read The Popularity Rules
+1 entry: Become a follower on Google Friend Connect (+2 entries if you already are) and let me know that you have!
+1 entry: Become a follower on Twitter (@Melsbookshelf) and let me know you have.
+2 entries: Comment on my review of The Popularity Rules and let me know that you did in your comment on this post
+2 entries: Tweet about this contest and be sure to let me know you have.
+3 entries each: Digg, Stumble, or bookmark this post on del.icio.us and let me know you have (bookmarking tools are conveniently located at the bottom of the post).

Please be sure to include your email address in your comment, as it makes it easier for me to contact you if you are the winner! :-)

This contest is open until midnight on September 30th. I will let Random.org choose the winner and I will announce the winner on October 1st. Good luck!

Review: The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald

Popularity Rules coverTitle: The Popularity Rules
Author: Abby McDonald
Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit
Pub Date: September 24, 2009, Arrow Books (UK)
Paperback, 473 pages
Book Source: Advanced copy from the publishers


Rule 1: All's fair in love, war and popularity...

Kat Elliot is no social butterfly: she's spent her life rebelling against phony schmoozing--and it's led her nowhere. Just as she's ready to give up her dreams and admit defeat, in steps Lauren Anderville. One-time allies against their school bullies, Lauren and Kat had been inseparable. Then one year Lauren returned from summer camp, blonde, bubbly and suddenly popular, and Kat was left to face the world alone.

Ten years later, Lauren's back. She wants to make amends by teaching Kat the secret to her success: The Popularity Rules. A decades-old rulebook, its secrets transformed Lauren that fateful summer. And so, tempted by Lauren's promises of glitzy parties and the job she's always dreamed about, Kat reluctantly submits to a total makeover--only to find that life with the in-crowd might have something going for it after all.

But while Lauren has sacrificed everything to get ahead, is Kat really ready to accept that popularity is the only prize that counts?

My Thoughts

OK, I have to be honest. This book is an example of why I don't generally read Chick Lit. I realize that sounds harsh, and I apologize for that, but I don't know how else to express it. I found the story and the characters to be very superficial and for much of the book I was absolutely annoyed with Kat. As I am so far behind on my review reading, I was tempted to call it quits on this book and pass it along after reading a few chapters, but I decided to persevere. And you know what? The book did improve for me and I found myself sucked into the story. Not only that, I imagine that regular readers of Chick Lit will really enjoy The Popularity Rules.

Despite some obvious predictability with the storyline, Abby McDonald has produced a well-written, sharp, and at times amusing story of Kat's foray into popular circles. My issue with stories like this is that I find myself getting depressed and disappointed when characters act the way Kat and Lauren did. I like to think that people in general are better than they are portrayed to be in books that focus on popularity and how to find success. Maybe I am overly optimistic and give people too much credit, or perhaps it's because I personally have never been (or aimed to be) part of the popular, "in" crowd.

Bottom line: While it wasn't for me, I imagine Chick Lit fans (and fans of the movie Clueless, for that matter) will enjoy The Popularity Rules. There is also a web site for the book that you can check out! It will be released on September 24th in the UK. A special thanks to Ruth with Random House UK for sending me an advanced copy.

My rating: 3 stars

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to include a link to your review, please leave a comment below!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Giveaway: 18"x24" Poster from Digital Room

DigitalRoom.com is giving all of you a great chance to win an 18"x24" photo-quality poster! Please follow the links for more information about poster printing and digital printing by Digital Room!

Just for hosting this giveaway, I will be fortunate enough to receive one of these prints myself, and I can't wait to choose the image I want to have printed! Admittedly, I am still torn as to what I want to have made... a picture from our wedding?

Or perhaps one of the amazing shots we captured on our recent trip to Amicalola Falls?

The possibilities are endless, as you will see for yourselves! What do you have to do to enter this contest? Glad you asked!

First off, this offer is offered only to US Residents. Your poster will be shipped for FREE by Digital Room, using UPS ground.

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what you would like to have a poster made of if you were to win the contest! Please also leave your email address so I can give that information to Digital Room, in order for them to contact you regarding your poster!

This contest will close at midnight on Saturday, September 26th and I will announce the winner on September 27th! Good luck to you all!

Friday, September 18, 2009

My 300th Post: Thursday Thunks a Day Late

Welcome to the September 17th version of Thursday Thunks!
(which we always seem to post on Wednesday)
Where we make you think a little bit before you blog!
This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen, the number one thousand twenty seven and the color of leaves in the fall.

1. My daughter (aka Demon #1) informed me the other day that her hugs were worth a million dollars. Would you give up hugs - giving and receiving - for the rest of your life, for a million dollars?
You know, I don't think I would. There's nothing like a good hug. I don't see how I could keep myself from giving/receiving hugs!

2.Have you ever been bitten by a member of the canine family?
Yep, but not so hard as to break my skin.

3. What is your favorite color of jeans?
Blue :-p

4. What is something that has changed in public schools that you wish was the norm when you were in school?
No idea. I don't know any kids in school now, and it's only been about 10 years since I graduated from high school.

5. What is your news source?
FoxNews.com and whatever I find when searching Google.

6. What sort of people do you think read your blog?
All kinds! But most particularly, book lovers :-)

7. If I told you that I had a headache, you would say..........???
Are you hungry or dehydrated? (That's usually my problem.)

8. You go to a buffet style restaurant, what is the first food you put on your plate?
Probably a salad. Isn't that usually at the start of most buffets? So technically, lettuce would be first...

9. If you were stranded on a desert island.... no, we aren't asking that again. Lets put a twist into this. Would you volunteer to be dropped off on a desert island, to be picked up in a month? And you don't get to bring those 3 items, either.
Heck no! Doesn't sound like any fun at all!

10. When the sun sets, what are you usually doing?
Probably relaxing with the hubby and watching TV/surfing the net. Unless it's Tuesday... then I'm at work.

***Note: I just realized that this is my 299th post. Oops. :-) I had another post scheduled on the 23rd that hasn't yet published. But thank you for the congratulatory wishes all the same!***

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review: Ripley's Believe it Or Not: Seeing Is Believing

Ripleys CoverTitle: Ripley's Believe it or Not! Seeing Is Believing
Genre: Nonfiction
Pub date: August 2009, Ripley's Entertainment
Harcover, 256 pages
Book Source: Advanced copy from the publisher


This all new 6th title in the best selling Ripley's Believe It or Not! annual series, is a compendium of incredible bizarre facts, stories, interviews and features all presented in a stunning bright new design.

This year's book also features icons that guide readers to astounding video clips on our new fully-integrated website, where they can see some of our subjects in action. Also, a dramatic eight-page gatefold section presents some extraordinary performers of the past, and additional black and white Ripley archive photographs feature throughout the book.

Be amazed at the dentist with no arms, the snake that swallowed a wallaby, an
underwater sculptor and a four-eared cat! For the legions of dedicated Ripley's fans, and anyone else on the planet who loves unbelievable facts and jaw-dropping images, the latest annual in this successful series is a feast of delights.

My Thoughts

What can I say about this book? I don't know about all of you, but I love reading facts and figures about all kinds of things, and that's what Ripley's Seeing Is Believing is all about. This is definitely not a book to absorb in one sitting--I rather think my head might have exploded, trying to absorb some of what I was seeing! Instead, I think this is a fun book to have sitting about to pick up and read passages at random. Reader beware: some of the tidbits are not for the faint of heart! (And that includes some of the pictures.) Here are some samplings of what you'll discover:

POISON LAKE: On August 21, 1986, a highly concentrated amount of carbon dioxide bubbled to the surface of Cameroon's Lake Nyos and suffocated 1,746 people and thousands of animals as far as 15 miles away.

AGE GAP: In 2006, 104-year-old Wook Kundor of Kuala Berang, Malaysia, married her 21st husband--a man 71 years younger than herself.

TIRE RIDE: A cat survived a two-and-a-half-hour truck journey by clinging onto a spare tire. Gil Smith drove 70 mi (113 km) from Gilbert, Arizona, to Kearny, unaware that his cat Bella had climbed onto the tire beneath his truck.

Crazy stuff, right? I thought this was a highly interesting and amusing book, and I'm looking forward to learning strange new facts every day!

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Ripley's Seeing Is Believing:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW: Interview with Amanda at Stack of Spines

I'm excited to be a part of the blogger interview swaps as part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week. My partner in crime for this event is Amanda from Stack of Spines. Please be sure to check out her awesome site (not to mention her interview with me today, as well!)

Welcome to Melissa's Bookshelf, Amanda! Why don't you tell us a little about yourself? Anything at all--bookish, or not :-)

Well, to start, I'm a huge science nerd and dog lover who lives in Columbus, Ohio. Go Buckeyes! I have two Weimaraners and they are practically my kids. My husband and I volunteer with a rescue group and anyone that knows me will tell you I'm an advocate for adopting shelter dogs. I've been married for about a year and a half to a wonderful guy and we coach swimming together, which is how we met 4 years ago. And it's pretty obvious I love to read, right? :)

What made you decide to start your book blog? How long have you been blogging now?

I have a personal blog that I've been posting on and off for about a year, and I found myself posting more often about books and what I was reading. On top of that, friends and family started asking more and more frequently for recommendations, so I decided to branch off and devote a blog just to books. I've been a book blogger for just about two months now, so I'm relatively new on the scene.

What genres do you like to read and review on your blog?

I read a little bit of everything. Too much of any one kind of book quickly makes me bored with reading. I try not to read too many of the same authors back to back either, for fear of seeing repetitive patterns. During my commutes to work, I usually have a non-fiction CD in the car that are on a wide range of topics. Occasionally I'll revisit a Young Adult novel that I missed out on years ago. Most of the time though, you'll find me reading semi-popular fiction published in the last 20 years.

What kind of a review/rating system do you use?

I keep track of ratings through GoodReads.com but I don't include ratings on my blog. My goal is to pique the interest of others through my reviews, so at this time I don't feel the need to include number of stars along with my impression of the book. If certain parts of a book bug me, I say so; if certain parts move me, I try my best to do the book justice.

What are your favorite reads of 2009 (so far)?

Oh goodness! Where do I start? Columbine is hands down my favorite non-fiction. It is so incredibly researched and well done. Atul Gawande's Complications and Better are close behind. I also loved The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, The Thirteenth Tale, Pillars of the Earth, The Last Bridge, and The Road. They all have interesting and curious characters in common.

What memes and features do you participate in? Which one is your favorite?

I really like Miz B's Teaser Tuesday where you share a sentence or two from a random page of your current read. Most of the time when I am perusing for new books, I want to know something unique without revealing too much. Teaser Tuesday does just that. Also, I recently started my own meme, Flashback Friday. I won an Advanced Copy of After You by Julie Buxbaum and the main character Ellie is described as always having a book associated with certain big events in her life. I am similar in that I can usually remember what I was reading when something prominent or memorable happened. So, Flashback Friday is all about sharing a book you were reading at an interesting time in your life and telling a little about both.

How do you market your blog?

Since I'm still relatively new, most of my audience is composed of family and Facebook friends. I recently joined Twitter and have found quite a few other book bloggers there. No billboards just yet!

What makes your blog unique from other book blogs?

For me to become interested in a book, it doesn't take much. Sometimes I notice a catchy title or cover art, or a unique premise or storyline. I try to write reviews similar to those I like to read, and far too often I've had a book spoiled by a review with too much plot detail. I try my best to post reviews that discuss the book as it relates to current events and how it affects my life, and don't necessarily reiterate information you could find on the inside cover. Often I assume others have a basic understanding of the book premise and strive to interest them without telling too much of what happens.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to start a book blog (or any blog at all)?

I believe this applies to most things in life -- have fun and be yourself! If you set out trying to be anything else, the blog will feel like a chore rather than a rewarding outlet. Some days I don't feel like blogging, so I don't make myself. I'd much rather wait and come back when I am inspired. It's better that way.

Happy Reading!


Thanks for swapping interviews, Amanda!

Monday, September 14, 2009

BBAW: Spotlighting Favorite Blogs!

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week, everyone! Today's BBAW-suggested topic is spotlighting those blogs that didn't make it to the shortlist of nominations... What a great idea! So I thought I would share five of my many favorite blogs with all of you. I hope you'll visit them and that they become some of your favorite sites, too! (If they aren't already, that is...)

Ink and Paper ~ Jo has done a fabulous job with her blog. It's not only beautiful, but a wonderful resource for readers who enjoy the fantasy and paranormal genres. I look forward to her reviews, knowing I'll probably be adding another book to my TBR list. Jo also runs a really cool feature called Belle's Library, showing us pictures of amazing libraries around the world. Oh, and not to mention she's just a really sweet person, in general! So pop on over and check out her awesome blog!

Reverie Book Reviews ~ I've had the pleasure to meet Vania, the extremely talented mind behind this blog. She writes great, detailed reviews, has made me add ridiculously many books to my TBR list, and is an incredibly talented photographer on top of it all! She has a separate site devoted to her photography and I urge you all to check it out, as well: Vania's Life Captures.

Queen of Happy Endings ~ Alaine's blog quickly became one of my favorites when I ran across it earlier this year. She reads a wide variety of books across several genres and I know I can trust her recommendations. I'm happy to call Alaine a blogging buddy and hope you all will take this chance to visit her awesome site!

A Patchwork of Books ~ Amanda is the sweetheart behind this awesome blog. She reads a lot of YA, MG, and children's books, along with some adult fiction sprinkled in--a great variety! I always enjoy reading reviews from bloggers who are also librarians--they have access to some great reads and Amanda provides a great perspective on them, so be sure to visit her blog!

{Insert Book Title Here} ~ Christina's blog is a great resource for YA reads. I enjoy her reviews and always look forward to what she is reading and reviewing next. If you need some ideas for your next YA read, I highly recommend checking out this blog!

So there you have it, everyone. Five of my favorite blogs that didn't make the shortlist for BBAW. These bloggers all work hard to make their blogs awesome and fun to read, so I think the deserve some recognition for all their efforts! Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: Blood Promise

Blood Promise coverTitle: Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: August 2009, Penguin Group
Hardcover, 502 pages
Book source: BN.com


How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir's Academy was the deadliest ever in the school's history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He'd rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

My Thoughts

After finishing the third book in Mead's Vampire Academy series several weeks ago, I was really excited for Blood Promise. After finishing this fourth book, I can only say that I was rather disappointed with the turn the story has taken. However, I also know that I am most likely in the minority with this opinion.

I think my biggest issue is that everything just felt so predictable. In my usual fashion, I will try not to give away any plot lines or spoilers, but suffice it to say that Rose's quest to destroy Dmitri in his Strigoi form, her other discoveries along the way, and the ultimate outcome of events just felt so cliche and typical for a vampire romance that I found myself let down a bit from this series. Blood Promise definitely still has a page-turning quality that kept me reading, but I suspect at least some of that feeling was simply from the hope that the story would turn around and surprise me a little.

The other story line focused on Lissa but it felt like such an afterthought that I never found myself particularly interested when reading about it. Perhaps it was because Rose was not in the thick of things with her, but Lissa's own story seemed a little disjointed, as if it was added in to make sure we didn't forget about her. Finally towards the end of the book, everything started coming together more and making sense (not to mention finally getting more exciting). Ultimately, I think if the book had been even 100 pages shorter, it wouldn't have hurt the story too much and would have cut out some of the more draggy stretches. Now to be fair, there were several scenes and characters I enjoyed and thought really added to the story. We learn a lot more about spirit users in this book, as well. And the romantic in me does enjoy the possibilities that could come in book five, however much I might find that part of the story unsurprising. In the end, despite being a little disappointed with Blood Promise, I do intend to continue the series.

My rating: 3 stars

Other reviews of Blood Promise:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your site listed above, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My ABC's

I was tagged by Austenfan at Reality Bites... Fiction Does it Better! for this ABC meme and figured, why not join in the fun? So here we go!

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Share your ABCs
3. Tag three people at the end by linking to their blogs
4. Let the three tagged people know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
5. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag

Here goes. . .

Available or single? Taken! Married since May of last year.

Best Friend? The hubster and my parents.

Cake or Pie? Depends on what kind! But more often than not, cake!

Drink of choice? My mother's sweet tea or water. And the occasional Coke/Fanta Zero.

Essential item for every day use? How about deodorant? Speaking of which, I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said "Real Men Don't Use Deodorant." Ick! Glad I wasn't riding in that truck...

Favorite color? Pink!

Google? You bet! Everyone should Google!

Hometown? Born in Williamsburg, VA. Grew up in Yorktown, VA.

Indulgences? Books & jewelry

January or February? January! My birthday month (and my hubby's, too!)

Kids and their names? None (yet).

Life is incomplete without…? Love.

Marriage date? May 17, 2008.

Number of siblings? 0

Oranges or apples? Apples. I've never been able to get into oranges. Now clementines? That's another matter, just not for this question...

Phobias and fears? Spiders!!!

Quote for the day? I am totally cheating and using a random quote generator (because I'm lazy this morning): "I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room." ~ Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)

Reason to smile? One of my good friends is getting married this weekend and we're going to her wedding!

Season? Fall and Spring. I just love the colors!

Tag 3 people: I apologize if you've already done this...
Toni at A Circle of Books
Lissa at Lissa's Long Yarn
Vivienne at Serendipity

Unknown fact about me? Hmmm... I took piano lessons for 12 years when I was growing up.

Vegetable you hate? If beets are a vegetable, that's what I'm going with here.

Worst habit? Does shopping count?

X-rays you’ve had? None

Your fave food? So many possibilities here.... Thai, Italian, steak, chocolate, strawberries... Part of the problem is I'm hungry--must eat breakfast!

Zodiac sign? Capricorn

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

Title: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Gothic
Pub Date: August 2009, Dorchester Publishing Company
Mass Market Paperback, 324 pages
Book source: Received for review from the author (Many thanks!)


What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows, of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent-and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death...

My Thoughts

While I initially had some difficulty getting into this story, by the time I was a couple of chapters into it, I could not put the book down. Well, unfortunately, I did HAVE to, but I didn't WANT to. The title is so very appropriate, as well--this truly was a "strangely beautiful tale." There is no better way to describe it!

To begin, Hieber's writing is really quite lovely--she has a way with words that is enjoyable to read. There were frequently dialogues of subtle wit that I appreciated, and at many times the writing was lyrical. It may not always be consistent, but the writing is generally very good. Add to that a story that was ultimately gripping and fascinating, and I think you have an all-in-all great read. Here we have a paranormal story dealing more with visions and ghosts, coupled with a brewing romance that really spurred me along while reading. Honestly, I was probably more interested in how the romance would turn out than the rest of the story, and perhaps that's why I have to admit that I'm still not quite sure how the paranormal elements all managed to resolve themselves. I'm thinking a re-read will be in order sometime down the road.

I enjoyed the characters, though I did often get annoyed with Percy Parker's self-pity (to be fair, it was very in line with her character). In the end, however, she came into her own, much to my satisfaction. All of the members of The Guard (headed by Alexi) are unique and have their own personalities that tend to stand out. Overall, I thought Hieber developed and presented her characters very fittingly into the story. I think that lovers of mystery, the paranormal, or romance would enjoy this book. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in a series, and I definitely look forward to reading the next story!

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker:

Lurv a la Mode ~ Romance Book Wyrm ~ Stacy's Place on Earth
Darque Reviews ~ Babbling About Books, And More!
The Discriminating Fangirl ~ The Tome Traveller's Weblog

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see a link to your site listed above, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~ Grab your current read
~ Open to a random page
~ Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~ BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~ Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's mine this week:

Sitting near the back, Percy tried to become invisible. However, pale as she was, transparency was impossible. She wished she could join those around her, the dead floating through the walls.

~ page 47 of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fire ARC Winner!!

Drumroll, please.... We have a winner! Congrats to:


Please send me your mailing information and I will get this book right out to you. Congrats again and happy reading!!

(If I don't hear back from Pam within 48 hours I will choose another winner...)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Audiobook Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea coverTitle: A Wizard of Earthsea
Author: Ursula K. LeGuin
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Pub Date: this ed. March 2003, Phoenix Books (orig. 1968)
Audiobook Source: iTunes


Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

My Thoughts

As strange as this may seem, I sought out a book by Ursula K. LeGuin because of one of those crazy online quizzes--this one in particular was supposed to determine which fantasy author's works I most "identified with." My result was Ursula K. LeGuin and I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never even heard of her until that moment. I stumbled across this audiobook on iTunes and figured it was the perfect opportunity to give LeGuin a try.

In the end I'm glad I did, and now I intend to try to get my hands on more of her books. LeGuin's start to the Earthsea series definitely has the feel of classic fantasy. This was the first time I had ever listened to a fantasy novel instead of reading it, and while I found it was a little more difficult to keep up with things at times, it was definitely enjoyable to listen to. This particular audio rendition must be fairly old--it sounded as if it was copied from an old recording and the reader sounded like a storyteller, as opposed to the perfect readings that you find on audiobooks today. It's hard to explain the difference, but it really did not sound as if the reader was reading straight from the book, and I found that to be a plus when listening.

As for the story, it is a bit of a different take on wizards and their quests. Ged's quest is not so much to save a world, as it seems is the case with so many fantasy books, but rather to clean up a "mess" that he made as a boy in training to become a wizard. Of course, along the way there are other side adventures and we watch Ged grow and mature through the years. The story is a bit dry, but the writing seemed fairly colorful and flowed nicely. All-in-all I thought it was a great example of fantasy literature and certainly a worthwhile read.

My rating: 4 stars

If you have reviewed A Wizard of Earthsea and would like to see a link to your site listed here, please leave a comment with the permalink to your review!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire coverTitle: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fiction
Pub Date: September 2009, Scholastic, Inc.
Hardcover, 391 pages
Book Source: BN.com


Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol--a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

My Thoughts

How shall I start except to say that I devoured this book today. While I haven't thoroughly read all of the reviews out there, not wanting to spoil the book for myself, I had seen mainly glowing reviews and a few dissenting opinions, as well.

All I can say is that for me, this book worked. In general, I didn't find the first person present tense to be too awkward, with a few exceptions. But what Collins does so successfully (in my opinion) is that she simply grabs you with the story and I just didn't want to put this book down. I thought the pacing was excellent and I never felt like the story was slow at any point--I was always trying to read as fast as I possibly could to find out what was going to happen next. The plot twists were thrilling and kept me at the edge of my seat.

And oh, these characters! Naturally, the primary focus is on Katniss and Peeta, but Collins also does a fine job with the supporting cast, in my opinion. From Gale, to Katniss's mother, to Haymitch, to the clueless citizens of the hated Capitol, Collins has created characters and a story that will stick with you long after you put the book down. Yes, the wait for book 3 (when's it due out?) may likely kill me, but I'll do my best to wait as patiently as possible. (The ever-growing TBR pile will probably help with that.) I can honestly say that I enjoyed Catching Fire just as much as I did The Hunger Games. In fact, reading Catching Fire may have gotten me out of the reading slump I feel like I've been in for awhile now--it seems to have lit a spark that makes me want to pick up another book already.

My rating: 5 stars

Other reviews of Catching Fire:

If you have reviewed this book and would like to see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday Thunks (09.03.09)

Welcome to the September 3rd version of Thursday Thunks!
(which we always seem to post on Wednesday)
Where we make you think a little bit before you blog!
This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen, the number one thousand twenty six and the color of the dirt spot you need to wipe up on your kitchen floor.

1. Your thoughts on truck drivers?
Nonexistent (my thoughts, that is)

2. Did you hear Michelle Duggar is pregnant for the 15th time? (but that will be kid #19 if you lost count....)
Seriously?! Why am I not surprised? That's all I'll say on that, though.

3. Have you ever done something to hurt someone intentionally... just for the sole purpose of hurting them because you thought they deserved it? Maybe a paybacks a bitch sort of thing?
No, not that I haven't fantasized about it a time or two, though.... he, he, he...

4. Is there anyone in your life that when you go to their place of residence, you just walk in without bother knocking? Does anyone just walk into your house without knocking?
My parents' house! But they usually ring the doorbell at our place, go figure.

5. Whats in the trunk of your car? Do you even have a clue?
A couple of those empty boxes you get at wholesale stores (in this case BJ's) and maybe a golf umbrella???

6. When you go to a family holiday get together (such as Christmas or Thanksgiving), about how many people are there?
Um, on my side usually around 12 or so. On my husband's side, around 8 or 9.

7. What is in your kitchen sink right at this very moment?
A dirty pan or two.

8. You go to a store to buy an expensive item... say $150. You pick up that item and a couple other this n' thats. You get to the register and the expensive item rings up at $40. The cashier doesn't seem to notice and tells you your total. Do you go with what they say and pay it or do you question the price difference? You know you would question it if your $40 item rang up at $150....
That's funny, this just happened to a friend of mine. She didn't say anything because the cashier had been talking to someone on her headset and figured that since they didn't cause the mistake, she wouldn't say anything this time. As for me, it's happened before and I did say something, but it was in the system at the lower price and they didn't really try to look into it. Honestly, I probably wouldn't say anything these days, though, I dunno...

9. Do you fold your underwear or do you just toss it in a drawer?
99% of the time I toss it in.

10. There is a Harley-Davidson giveaway. Chances are $100 and they are only selling 250 tickets. Do you buy one?
He** no! I couldn't care less!

11. Who is your favorite Disney character?
Sleeping Beauty or Ariel, it's a tough choice.

12. It's September - most of the weekly sitcoms/dramas are starting new seasons again. Which one are you most looking forward to?
The Big Bang Theory right now, and I'm hoping Heroes is better this season, in January it'll be Lost and 24.

13. You are at a grocery store and are on your way out to your car with your cart full of grocery bags. On your way to your car you see a black kitten in an empty cart. What do you do?
Probably nothing. I'm a terrible person, I know. What can I do but tell someone else anyway? I plead cat allergies...

14. Is there anything that you do for a hobby that you are asked to do for friends/family that most people would hire a professional to do? (example: cake decorating, fixing cars....)

15. Are we there yet?
I think so.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ARC Giveaway: Fire by Kristin Cashore


That's right, everyone. I am giving away my ARC of Kristin Cashore's Fire to one lucky winner (because I loved it so much, I'm planning to buy the hardcover when it comes out October 5th). And I'm not going to make you wait too long to get it, either... This contest is open only until 8pm EDT on Labor Day--that's Monday, September 7th. Assuming I get mailing info in a timely manner, I will get the ARC out in the mail to the winner on Tuesday, September 8th.

Here are the rules (you can leave one comment or several, but you know fewer comments makes it easier on me!):

+1 entry ~ Leave a comment telling me why you want to win my Fire ARC
+1 entry ~ Become a follower/friend on Google Friend Connect (if you already are a follower, that's +2 entries!) and leave a comment letting me know
+1 entry ~ Become a follower on Twitter (I'm @Melsbookshelf)
+3 entries each ~ Stumble this post, Digg this post, bookmark it on Del.icio.us (the buttons are located at the end of this post, making that super easy) and leave a comment letting me know you have!

Be sure to include your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win! Good luck to everyone!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Contest Winners!!!

I'm excited to announce the two winners of my 300 Followers Contest!! There were a total of 565 entries, can you believe it?!

First up, our winner of the book valued at $10 or less from Book Depository:

Valorie @ Morbid Romantic!!

And our GRAND PRIZE winner of a $25 online gift card for Amazon.com or BN.com is:

Jennifer @ Rundpinne!!!

Congrats to you both!!!! I've sent you emails, so I hope to hear from you soon! If I don't hear back from you within 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.