Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Just an FYI that my classes have started again so my posting schedule might have to change.  Expect at least two days a week and I'll hopefully get to continue reading fun stuff along with not as fun stuff.  For now, enjoy the cute kitty.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New in September!

Payback Time by Carl Deuker (September 6) 
Crazy by Han Nolan (September 13)

King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett (September 14)


Z by Michael Thomas Ford (September 7)
The Genius Wars by Catherine Jinks (September 27)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop
It's Friday which really does make me wanna dance!  So I'm joining in on the Book Blogger Hop.  The Hop is a weekly book party hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.  Click the logo for more info!

 I love all these blogger interaction opportunities!  I never realized how prevalent they were until I started blogging.  You guys are a pretty awesome group.

 This week's BBH question:  
Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

I do use a rating system, but it's incredibly simple.  I started reviewing my books on Shelfari and have stuck with the basic 5-star system, though mine is a little less black and white.

I don't have my system posted (oops!) so I'll outline it here super quick: 
1-Didn't like it; 2-Liked it a little; 3-Average; 4-I liked it; 5-I loved it!
I'll also include a .5 if I'm wishy-washy about a title. 

The system encompasses my overall impression of the book and is definitely subjective.  My reviews are (usually) more thorough and even though I might have liked the book I'll include notes on things that bothered me.  Also, if I didn't like a book I'll include its good points.  As S.R. Ranganathan's Five Rules of Library Science note, "Every book its reader."  I'm happy to give a simple rating and let others choose to read or not read based on my review or compare it to other reviews and make their own decision.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


So e-books.  I’ll admit, I’m intrigued, curious even, but I’m not about to trade out my entire library for a digital edition where available (unlike my music collection which is now more useful and enjoyable as a result of its digitalness).  Why?  My name is Jenn and I am a book-o-holic.  The proof: afriend of mine gives me a gift card to a bookstore for my birthday and Christmas specifically to “feed my addiction.” Yes, he’s an enabler, but he’s my enabler.

E-books are a pretty cool thing.  I’ve read a few and have used them for assignments, but as I said above, I’m a book lover.  Some say it’s a romantic notion to talk about the way books feel or smell or the joy of finding the right one.

My tendency is to scan shelves looking for interesting spines to make a selection.  I’ve admitted before that I do tend to judge books by the cover too, but I don’t see how the act of searching a shelf or display really translates to the digital world.  Yes you can scan through book covers like album covers on an iGizmo, but there really is much more to it than that.  There’s something about finding the right book and having in your hand. I love passing some of my favorite books to friends and family after I’ve enjoyed them, but digitally that’s not allowed. 

Anyway, one problem I’ve found with scanning covers like albums is that you get no real sense of the book.  I’ve added books my TBR pile based on descriptions and covers only to find that they didn’t really interest me.  If I were to purchase a ebook based on those factors, about half the time (maybe even more), I'd be disappointed and couldn’t even pass it along to someone else you might enjoy it.

Need an example of how cover browsing doesn’t work? Borders claims to have over a million ebook titles to browse, but, let’s face it, the narrowing features kind of suck.  Ebooks >> teens >> fiction = Ruby Lu, Brave and True, a funny and charming chapter book about an eight year old magician.  Uhhh....what?  Also I don’t want to look through pages and pages and pages and pages of titles.    Books on a shelf have a limit and, for the most part, are shelved in the correct area.  So what about all those books that don’t appear on shelves? Hopefully they have really good marketing campaigns so I learn about them.  Also through the blogs I follow, I learn about a lot of interesting new books.

Of course, he's in his jammies!
Finally, judging from all the book-buying that goes on as listed in  IMM posts and from my last trip to the bookstore with friends (2 people = 8 books), books aren’t as close to extinction as some like to imagine.  I will agree that the book as we know it is undergoing a change, an evolution, if you will, but evolution does not equal death. Even Captain Picard still has printed books that he actually reads when every known piece of knowledge is loaded on the computer (Yep, I realize I just totally upped my nerdy-ness and should start watching something besides Star Trek: The Next Generation in my free time).

So I might end up with a digital  book reader someday, but for now I’ll stick with books just the way they are. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

IMM is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  She was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.  Since the idea is to share titles, I'm including everything.  

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan  
Airball: My Life in Briefs by L.D. Harkrader
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Matilda by Roald Dahl


Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci 
The City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Audio)
Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale
Fire by Kristen Cashore

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Hyperion, 2010
ISBN: 9781423113386
528 pages
4.5 out of 5

Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers.  While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family.  Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set--has his sights on the Kanes.  To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

First off this is the first book I've read by Rick Riordan.  Because of this I cannot compare it to the Percy Jackson series, which might be a good thing.

This type of novel requires lots of research, and although I wouldn't know if he tweaked anything (I'm a bit rusty on my Egyptian gods), the background information perfectly sets the stage for the story.  The author's note helps to make it feel authentic and you wonder if Carter and Sadie are out there somewhere having further adventures.  This type of background encourages continued reading of the series.  The action moves the story forward and although there is necessary "down time" for explanations and understandings the book is well paced.

The story is told from the perspective of each sibling in turn.  Carter and Sadie each have unique voices, but there were times when they were muddled.  To be more specific, Carter sometimes sounds like Sadie and vice versa or Sadie used terminology that didn't exactly come across as British.  This is minor in the grand scheme of things.

The diversity of the siblings is also a wonderful element to the story.  The Kane parents are of different racial backgrounds and the children reflect them both: Carter is dark-skinned like his father, while Sadie is lighter-skinned with her mother's blond hair.  The interjections of how Carter has to dress and act a certain way because of his skin color is an interesting addition which adds to the story and increases his relate-ability to a variety of readers.

The Red Pyramid is an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone in the market for this type of story and maybe even some who aren't.  Of course, this is just the beginning and I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spies and Terrorists Oh My!

Sleeping Bear Press, 2008
ISBN: 978158364688
302 pages
5 out of 5

Step-siblings Q (Quest) and Angela are thrust into the work of the U.S. Secret Service and the Israeli Mossad when Angela realizes that she's being followed, and Q learns the secret about Angela's real mother--a former Secret Service agent who was supposedly killed by a terrorist group.  But who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?  I,Q readers are immersed in current issues affecting the world in this edge-of-your-seat, modern-day mystery adventure.

I loved this book!

The story takes place over three or four but it's ridiculous ho much happens.  As the description says, there's Secret Service and Mossad, and terrorists. The description caused some concern that the title might prove to be typical of this type (I'm thinking of those books that claim to have a lot, but fizzle just as they get interesting).  This one definitely surprised me, in a good way.  The story is not what you might think.

As the short time-frame indicates, this book is well paced and has interesting characters.  Readers will appreciate the lack of parents in this novel.  They are there, loving, and good parents, but it fulfills the wish of every kid to have parents that just disappear and let them be for a while.  Q is a great narrator and Angela is the character that spurs the story.   Even with the emphasis on Angela, this book is perfect for boys.  Spies and intrigue is a perfect way to catch their attention.   Finally, the short chapters make for smooth, easy reading.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Challenge and Bookstores

Another challenge...this one I made a page for here.  Enjoy!

Also, this weekend I'm going to my favorite bookstore in Jekyll Island, Ga.  It has both used and new books, but the next coolest thing is that it's a house (well formerly an infirmary for America's rich and famous of days gone by).   Each room has a different theme and there's always new and interesting, one-of-a-kind gifts.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Special Delivery

The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer
Delacorte Press, 2006
ISBN: 9780440421344
178 pages
4 out of 5

Vernon Culligan had been dead to the town of Draydon, Virginia, so long that when the crusty Vietnam vet finally died, only one person noticed.  Twelve-year-old Gabe grew up in the foster care system until a social worker located his Uncle Vernon two years before.  When he comes home to discover that his uncle has died of a heart attack, he's terrified of going back into the system--so he tells no one.  The next day, he discovers a strange not in his mailbox: I have a secret.  Do not be afraid.  And his uncle's body is gone.

Thus begins a unique correspondence destined to save the two people that depended on Vernon for everything.  Through flashbacks, we learn about Gabe and Vernon's relationship, and how finding each other saved them both from lives of suffering.  But eventually, Vernon's death will be discovered, and how will Gabe and the mystery note writer learn to move forward?  The Mailbox is not a story about death--though it begins with a death.  It's also not a story about Vietnam vets, although the author works with Vietnam veterans and wrote this novel, in part, to illuminate their sacrifices and suffering.  The Mailbox is a story about connections--about how two people in need can save each other.

The beginning of the novel caught me off-guard because Uncle Vernon speaks with a dialect.  But like any other novel with dialect, it's easy to read once you get used to it.  As the description says the story is about connections: Vernon and Gabe; Gabe and Webber; Gabe and Mr. Boehm; Vernon and the mystery writer.  These characters are very believable and I liked getting to know them.  Gabe is especially well-written and embodies not only the awkwardness of his age, but also the awkwardness (and occasional fear) of his situation.

There is a second plot line discussing Uncle Vernon service in the military.  The majority of these scenes are revealed as Gabe's memories of living with his Uncle.  It's both beautiful and sad.  Unfortunately, this plot line is dropped during much of the action of the story; I actually forgot about Uncle Vernon's army days.  But perhaps Gabe did too.  A twelve-year-old isn't exactly going to dwell on his uncle's army days.

From my point of view, the only shortfall was the ending.  It wrapped up a bit too neatly for my taste.  It was not a bad ending, I'm just not big on perfection, especially in realistic fiction.  It doesn't take away from the novel--in fact, the ending is one of two scenarios you hope for.  It's just a personal preference.  Overall, it's a great middle grade novel that I would definitely recommend.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In My Mailbox

IMM is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  She was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.  The idea is to share titles so I'm including everything, even the girly stuff.  But I promise I won't bore you with textbooks!

Since summer classes are over and I'm free for about two weeks, I went a little crazy with the books. 


ARC Foundlings: (My former boss received these regularly so she created a bookshelf for us to snag them if we were interested.  These are the two I snagged recently.)

Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness


Peak by Roland Smith
Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown by Daniel H. Wilson
I Kiss Girls by Gina Harris

Borrowed (This is where I went a little crazy):

Nightwalker by K.V. Johansen
Roy Morelli Steps Up to the Plate by Thatcher Heldring
Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin
Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
I,Q: Independence Hall by Roland Smith
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

So that's what I got!  How about you?