Monday, June 29, 2009

Musing Mondays - June 29

Musing Mondays (BIG)Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about mid-year reading…

Now that we’ve come to the middle of the year, what do you think of your 2009 reading so far? Read anything interesting that you’d like to share? Any outstanding favourites?

I'm fairly happy with my progress. I'd like to be a bit further along but I've read some good books (and one really bad one). I'm coming along with the A to Z challenge. I only have seven more books to read for that challenge. The What's in a Name challenge is coming along nicely as well with four out of six read. For the New Author Challenge, I set a goal of twenty-five new authors and am at thirteen at this point. Considering my TBR pile, that challenge should easily be met. I've got two books going now by new authors (to me).

The struggle? The Casual Classics Challenge. This is one that isn't going well. I've got one "classic" ready for the letter "O" but other than that, I might be scrambling at the end of the year. I hate that.

As for my favorites? I think The Host, by Stephenie Meyer, has been my favorite so far. I also really enjoyed Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center, and Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster. I could go on and on and on.

Books Read in 2009

Should have done this back in January and added to it. . .


1. The Shephard, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry
2. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
3. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin


4. Whisper to the Blood by Dana Stabenow
5. The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
6. The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans


7. Dewey by Vicki Myron
8. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
9. Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
10. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray


11. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
12. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
13. Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center
14. Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder


15. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
16. I Was Told There'd be Cake by Sloane Crosley
17. Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster
18. Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney
19. The Ghost of Gettysburg by Philip Rogone (not reviewed)


20. Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler
21. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
22. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
23. The Next Thing on my List by Jill Smolinski


24. Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

25. The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer
26. The Late Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow
27. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell


28. South of Broad by Pat Conroy

29. Baby Bonanza by Maureen Child (not reviewed)
30. Spin by Robert Rave
31. After by Amy Efaw


32. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
33. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
34. Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
35. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
36. X Files; Ground Zero by Kevin J. Anderson
37. One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney


38. Tribute by Nora Roberts
39. The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall
40. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
41. Thirsty by Tracey Bateman


42.  The Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich
43.  Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (not reviewed)
44.  Foul Play by Janet Evanovich (not reviewed)
45.  Black Hills by Nora Roberts (not reviewed)


46.  Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber (not reviewed)
47. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
48.  Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah (not reviewed)
49.  A Gift to Last by Debbie Macomber (not reviewed)
50.  Happy Holidays by Janet Dailey (not reviewed)
51.  Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski

The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski is a very sweet book. I didn't know what to expect when I picked it but I'm so happy I did and now, almost a week after finishing the book, I'm still thinking about it.

The story is about June Parker. She has a relatively boring life. She works all day and watches TV all night. Her world is small in many ways, and gosh I can relate to that feeling. After offering a fellow "Weight Watcher" a ride home one night, June is in a car accident that killed her passenger. June lets guilt eat away at her until she decides to finish Marissa's list of "25 Things to do Before I'm 25". Even though June is in her thirties. The list has a few simple tasks such as going braless and a few tough ones, such as changing someone's life. By taking chances and putting herself into the world, June discovers who she really is and wants to be.

I enjoyed this book from the first page and it even kept me mostly occupied on my recent flights (see post from a few days ago. . . ). I find myself challenged to start my own list. 25 has come and is *ahem* long gone for me but I have a birthday coming up in six months. I might just have to write my own list. I'm not sure I can dare to go braless but I think I can come up with some challenges that just might change my life a little.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, is a very good book. I wasn't sure what to expect but I'd read some good reviews so I was hopeful.

The story is about a young girl named Flavia. She is eleven-years-old and lives with her father and two sisters in an old estate home in England during the 1950's. She has a passion for chemistry and a fondness for torturing her sisters with her experiments. When she happens upon a dying man in her garden, she sets out to solve the mystery of who he was and how he died. She and her trusty bike, Gladys, set off to gather clues and put the pieces together, always one step ahead of the police.

Flavia is a unique character. She's a child who thinks like an adult and yet is still a little girl, seeking a relationship with her father and grieving for a mother she never knew. I found the character to be more interesting than the mystery in some ways. I also love that she named her bike. It gives her a bit of quirkiness which I enjoy.

The mystery is intriguing and the author nicely weaves in backstory to make it more complex. I've heard rumors that there may be more books about Flavia and I look forward to reading them. This is not a young adult novel but teens could easily read the book. There isn't anything to take offense to. It should appeal to all mystery fans, especially those who like clues coming together to form facts.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vacation Reading? Or not. . .

I've been out of town a lot the last few weeks, weekend trips to see family and Vegas for a wedding (sadly not my own). You'd think I'd get a lot of reading done but it's pretty hard to read a novel while driving. If I could, I would, but I feel the safety of the other people on the road, plus my desire to live to see another day, trumps my need to read.

Books on tape? Good option but unfortunately they aren't for me me. They put me to sleep. Really. I've tried but they make me soooo sleepy. Again, being awake is good for the health of myself and others when I'm behind the wheel. I'm better off singing along (badly) to 80's pop songs. And Broadway musicals.

What about flying? Yes! I can read while on an airplane! I flew to Vegas but those short flights are so distracting. You go up, you go down and I have to be alert, in case the pilot misses the runway or something. I am easily distracted and find that I have to be well into a book if I'm going to take it on an airplane. It's rare for me to be able to start a new book because of all the distractions. I did pretty well reading on the way home but not so much on the way there.

What about in the hotel? Sure! I can read when hanging out in my hotel room, not a problem. If I have time. Funny thing was I never seemed to have the time this trip. I finished one book and started another but that was in short bursts here and there. It seemed like every time I'd get settled in to read, I'd get called by one family member or another to go do something. Plus it was Vegas! I can't sit in my room the whole time.

Speaking of Vegas, I don't think they sell books there. There was a nice shopping center right next door and there wasn't a bookstore in sight. I guess the casinos don't want us reading when we could be wasting our money in those terrible slot machines (I want my $40 back). Stupid machines. The Star Wars machine? Totally didn't recognize my loyalty. If it had, surely it wouldn't have taken my money so quickly.

My point? As much care as I put into selecting books for vacation, it's pretty much a waste of time. Unless I'm on a cruise, I'm not going to have time to read. Anyone else have trouble reading on vacation?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - June 16

Today's teaser is from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. In this teaser, Flavia is exploring her mother's room while she has a chance. She's looking for clues but I'm not going to tell you what for.

From page 150:

Hadn't he just told me that the police had taken Father away? Why on earth, then, would he expect to find him here in Harriet's dressing room?

Musing Monday - June 15

Musing Mondays (BIG) Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about award winning books…

Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller/Booker/Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour? (question courtesy of MizB)

I wouldn't use the word compelled. I don't choose my books based on their awards because I know how many wonderful books are out there that don't get recognized. I look for an author that I'm familiar with or a subject that interests me first. If an award winning books fits that criteria, then I will happily read it. The only award that I really pay attention to is the Newbery Award because I love children's literature.

I set a goal a few years back to read four classics or award winners a year. I didn't specify which award so that I'd have more variety. That being said, while I recognized that the award winners were well written books, I didn't necessarily enjoy them any more than another book.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched is the third book in a series revolving around Lizzie Nichols and her friends. I was really excited to finally read this book as I enjoyed the other two very much. In this installment, Lizzie is caught between two men, all while dealing with changes at work and with her family.

The story starts with Lizzie happily announcing to Chaz, her engagement to Luke. Unfortunately this occurs the morning after Lizzie and Chaz kissed. She's eventually torn between the man she thinks is her perfect man and the man who makes her stomach flip- flop. Oh, if we could all have such problems!

This is a bit of a formula "chick-lit" novel and I have to confess that I love that about it. Meg Cabot injects so much humor and character to her novels that you can't help but smile as you read along. This is recommended to any reader who enjoys a nice, happy, love story.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - June 11

There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)

But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.

What niche books do YOU read?

Interesting question. My answer would have to be travel guides. At the moment, I'm reading travel guides to Italy. I'm planning a trip and am currently obsessed with finding out as much information as I can. That being said, I can guarantee it will be a short lived obsession, like everything else. I don't have a long term niche. I flit around from passion to passion.

In the past fifteen years or so I can list a few niche books that I've read. I have a stack of books on Hawaii. When I went a few years ago I knew everything about the islands. I have a good collection of books on tropical fish because when I bought my aquarium I wanted to be well educated. I have books on dog training but I've never focused on them.

I don't think that reading travel guides is at all unusual though. I wish I had a better answer!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler

I happened upon Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler in a very random way. I was on the hunt for a book that started with a "K" for the A to Z Challenge. I decided not to re-read the book that I had planned and wanted something new. I'm glad I did.

The book I have is a three- in - one. The original trilogy, released in 1995, was combined into one big book. At first thought, I would read the first book and then just put the book away for a while. Yeah. That didn't happen. The story wasn't close to being over at the end of the first book, it wasn't even close to having closure. And then there was the end of the second book. Wow. Talk about a cliff hanger! There was no possible way I could have just put the book back on the shelf without finishing all three stories.

The stories are good. They are young adult books and are a very easy read. The story caught my attention and kept me going. The books revolve around Ivy, a new girl in school, who falls for the star swimmer, Tristan. Besides her crush, she is trying to make friends, and deal with her mother's new marriage, her young brother, and her step-brother Gregory. After a horrible car accident kills Tristan, he becomes an angel watching over Ivy. She needs a lot of watching out for. The car crash wasn't an accident and strange things keep happening. Slowly she begins to put the pieces of Tristan's murder together and she wonders if she was the intended victim.

While not everyone will enjoy the simplicity of this young adult novel, I do recommend it to those who like a little mystery, a little fantasy, and a little romance. It has all three.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - June 9

This week's teaser comes from Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler. I finished the book on Sunday and the full review will be posted tomorrow. I enjoyed it.

In this teaser, Ivy and her younger brother Philip are trying to get over the loss of Tristan, Ivy's boyfriend, after a car accident. Philip is beginning to talk about seeing angels.

From page 101

Maybe, Ivy thought, having lost Tristan, Philip was scared of losing her, too. Maybe that was why he had warned her several times about the train climbing up the ridge to get her.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Life Gets In The Way

Life hasn't gotten in the way of reading or anything, it's just gotten in the way of blogging. This blog has suffered and I don't even want to talk about my picture blog. I'm so ashamed.

So reading. . . what a subject. I could talk books for hours but frankly nobody wants to hear it. I'm either really boring or just way too passionate. This year started out rough in regards to reading. I had a few too many books that were just "ok". I'm not going to go so far as to say I didn't like the books, but they didn't excite me. I was starting to re-think all the challenge stuff. I thought that might be the problem. Maybe having "assigned" reading like in high school damaged my joy of the written word. I'm happy to say it didn't. My books and I are very happy together once again. I've been on a roll. I've read some really good books these past couple of months. Honestly? I'm always happier when I'm reading light and fluffy, fun, comfortable books.

I've also added to my book collection. By a lot. My "new" discovery of library and used book sales has increased my To Be Read pile. My shelves are practically groaning with all the weight. I'm even trying to find a home for my fish (and the tank) so I have space for another bookshelf. It's fairly pitiful, especially considering I'm not a speed reader.

I'm starting a new book tonight and I'm practically giddy with the thought of it. I just love to read. That's what it's all about. So I promise to get back into a good blogging routine and continue to bore people with my obsession.

Musing Mondays - June 8

Musing Mondays (BIG)Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading time…

Do you have a set reading time (before bed, perhaps)? Do you read more at night or during the day? Is there a day of the week, perhaps, that you set aside to catch up on reading?

I do have times that I set aside for reading. I read during my lunch break every day. That's one time I really look forward to. It's my time and it's quiet. I can usually get in a good 1/2 hour of reading if I don't have to run errands. I try to read before bed too. I don't always get much read at that time of day but I do try.

As for other times, they aren't designated. I carry my book everywhere with me so opportunities pop up now and then. The best time to read? On a cruise!