Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

Fan Art Up! - Alice

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week we welcome #3 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
She's blond.
She's British.
Her story is a bit of a drug trip.

That's right! From the 1951 Disney classic, she's....

Alice

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King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (2 stars)

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Mini-reviews are tweaked versions of reviews I wrote before starting the blog. It's a good way to show some love to older books (and keep me from panicking when I slack off and don't have anything new). The originals remain on Goodreads (unless it was, like, one sentence), and the new reviews get posted here in between reviews of books I'm currently reading. How to tell them apart? The mini-reviews get this cool intro paragraph. :)


King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Series: Allan Quartermain #1
Genres: Action/Adventure, Classic
Published on January 29, 2008 (first published 1885)
Published by Penguin Classics
Final Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:
The first great "Lost World" action-adventure-a precursor to Indiana Jones

H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines has entertained generations of readers since its first publication in 1885. Following a mysterious map of dubious reliability, a small group of men trek into southern Africa in search of a lost friend-and a lost treasure, the fabled mines of King Solomon. Led by the English adventurer and fortune hunter Allan Quartermain, they discover a frozen corpse, survive untold dangers in remote mountains and deserts, and encounter the merciless King Twala en route to the legendary hoard of diamonds.


Mini-Review:
If you've never heard of this book, I'll bet you've heard of Allan Quartermain before- from "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" if nothing else. This book is advertised as the grandfather of Indiana Jones and other Lost World thrillers, and that's pretty accurate.

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Updates: Dogs, Babies, Boats and Books

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Talk about a busy weekend! First things first: if you haven't signed up for my blogoversary giveaway, go enter now. There's a $30 Amazon gift card up for grabs. The giveaway ends June 2nd and then I promise I'll stop jabbering about it.
Now, about that busy weekend...

I was dogsitting Friday and Saturday and got three hours of sleep Friday night as a result. If only I had remembered the story about my parents' first dog sooner. If the dog is whining and crying and generally being a pain the whole night, it just wants to be close to you. Put the dog bed in the bedroom for a while or, in my case, let it sleep next to your feet on the couch. Silence the entire night. And then whining in the morning when the cat curled up next to me.

Saturday night was also babysitting, which was surprisingly easy- at least, compared to a certain troupe of troublemakers I sat for back in the day. I know some of you know the type and are shuddering at the memory. But no, this time was good. We watched "The Emperor's New Groove" (awesome movie), ate pizza and made brownies. :)

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Top 10 Books with Snow

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is blogger's choice and since my brain is still recovering from the busy holiday weekend and the heat, I pick:

Top 10 Books with Snow

  1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Welcome to Narnia, where it is always winter but never Christmas.
  2. Ice - Yes, the title is accurate. Arctic north, ice, snows, polar bears.
  3. Frankenstein - Despite copious amounts of snow, no one gets frostbite...or dies of exposure. Unfortunately.

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Discussion: Books Are Cats

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I have a mountain of books waiting to be read. Many of them have excellent reviews and I'm looking forward to them. Why, then, do I continue to buy other books and pick up books at the library, postponing the reading of titles I'm reasonably certain to like?

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My theory: because books are cats. Schrödinger's cats, that is. (Yes, I only know this term because of "The Big Bang Theory.")

Until I read the book, it has a 50/50 shot of being amazing or horrible. Thus, it is both amazing AND horrible until I read it. What if I crack the spine and it's DOA? That would be horribly disappointing. As long as I don't read it, the possibility of awesomeness remains.

The other, more probable, explanation is that I am a lazy, TV-watching book buying addict. ;)

Anyone else out there have a similar problem, putting off reading the books you hope to love?

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Fan Art Up! - Cinderella

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This week we welcome #2 in the Disney Series. (Pretend you haven't read the post title for a second.)

Here are your hints:
She's blond.
Her story is a blend of Martha Stuart meets Dancing with the Stars.
Her best friends are mice.

That's right! From the 1950 Disney classic, she's....

Cinderella

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Six-Month Blogoversary Celebration and Giveaway

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I can't believe I've survived six whole months of this book blogging madness without, you know, getting lazy or tired or too busy. Not that I haven't been all three of those things at one point or another- I have. Most of the time. ;)

But today I get to celebrate the fact that I didn't give in to any of those excuses and kept going. And you know what? It's been a blast! I met fellow book fanatics from all over. I entered the mysterious, addictive world of ARC's. I discovered a wonderful, friendly, thoughtful book community full of brilliant people that love reading. I also learned a bit of HTML and CSS in the adapting of the new blog design. Shiny! :D

And how am I celebrating this milestone? I'll tell you. By eating a buffalo chicken cheese steak. With extra hot sauce. There were onion rings, too, but they're no longer with us.

However, since you may not like extra hot sauce, I found another way for you to join in the celebration: my first official giveaway!

Up for grabs is a $30 Amazon gift card! I wanted to do something with the number 6 for my "six-month" blogoversary, but $60 seemed a tad high; so I figured it's half a year, thus $60 divided by half is $30. Smart. :)

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Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne (3 stars)

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Poison Dance is a prequel novella to Livia Blackburne's debut YA novel, Midnight Thief, due out in July this year. It's short and, as a result, skipped over scenes/information I would have liked to see; but it's a novella, so...I guess short is kind of required?

This copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief #0.5
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on September 24, 2013
Published by Lion's Quill Press
Final Rating: 3 stars


Synopsis:
James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin’s Guild. Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out—if he’ll help her kill a powerful nobleman. With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that’s forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison.




Review:
What I liked:
  • The world, or at least the little glimpse I got. I know there's a palace, corrupt nobles, an Assassin's Guild, trade caravans and taverns full of dancing wenches and drunken brawls. Sounds like a good start to a fantasy world to me. :)
  • On the whole, I liked the characters well enough. James, Bacchus, Rand a little more so than Thalia (for reasons stated below), and I would be happy to read more about them.

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Updates: Beach, BookCon & Blogoversary

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Lots going on this week! I'm in the midst of reading Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst and I just started Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin. So far so good on both.

The weather this weekend was absolutely beautiful which meant...beach walk! I talked my mom into taking the drive with me, and we walked a two-hour up and back stretch. The water was freezing, but there weren't many people and it was sunny and breezy and awesome. :D

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Top 10 Books About Friendship

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I think the best books about friendship are those that depict real relationships- friendships full of the trust and loyalty and understanding that we associate with the idea, but also full of struggles, arguments, jealousy and envy. The best books about friendship depict flawed characters who, despite their differences and disagreements, are there for one another.

Top 10 Books About Friendship
  1. The Bible - Okay, so there are tons of different friendships in here (and rivalries and arch-nemeses and everything in between), but I can't not include the book with the famous line: "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
  2. All Our Yesterdays - Never mind that some of these friends are trying to kill each other. This story involves friends at their best and worse.
  3. Written in Red - This story is all about the formation of friendships and how they change you. Okay, it's also about shapeshifting carnivores in an alternate, magical North America. But mostly friendships. ;)

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Discussion: Captain America Subplots

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This is kind of a geek post. Okay, it is a geek post.
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I finally saw "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" last Sunday with my mom for Mother's Day, and I really enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while there was a TON going on, and many explosions, the film didn't feel overstuffed. Without giving any  spoilers, Captain America 2 has the major plot line of HYDRA taking over SHIELD and at least two main subplots. Both subplots tied into the main plot and, more importantly, both took backseat for a good portion of the film. It was the equivalent of introducing a character in Act I of a play, knowing he'll be important later, and then moving him to the back of the stage, slowly fading into the wings. But you know he'll be back in the spotlight come Act II.

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Fan Art Up! - Snow White

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

I had so much fun on last week's, I had to do it again! For anyone who missed it, last week we had mini-versions of Medusa and Snoops from "The Rescuers" and Doug from Pixar's "Up."

Starting now, I'm attempting a series. I'm continuing with the Disney theme. And the series shall be: Disney characters in chronological order! Not every Disney character ever. That would take too long. Just characters from Disney movies/TV picked at random from increasingly recent years. :)

So, without further ado- again, apologies for the quality- ladies and gentleman, I present, from Disney's first full-length animated feature in 1937:

Snow White

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 stars)

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Mini-reviews are tweaked versions of reviews I wrote before starting the blog. It's a good way to show some love to older books (and keep me from panicking when I slack off and don't have anything new). The originals remain on Goodreads (unless it was, like, one sentence), and the new reviews get posted here in between reviews of books I'm currently reading. How to tell them apart? The mini-reviews get this cool intro paragraph. :)


Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Fairy tale retelling
Published on January 3, 2012
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Final Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


Mini-Review:
I've read a number of Cinderella retellings, but this is different from the usual. The setting is Asia with a dash of cyberpunk, and the main character is an enslaved mechanic (instead of an enslaved housekeeper).

Being fairy tale-based, you know romance will be a factor, but this romance doesn't try to steal the spotlight. It steps back at appropriate moments.

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Updates: Book Winnings and Dog

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Despite lackluster reading, it's been a good week. I got up earlier and used the extra time to make some headway on my goal to read the entire Bible this year. The bookmark mocks me and makes it readily apparent how far I have to go. But I finished Frankenstein! Finally.

I did productive things on my new smartphone. :) No, seriously, product producing, not just Twitter and games. I found a task list app I like and I'm finally practicing my severely rusty Spanish with Duolingo. And I took, ahem, "practice photos" with the camera to prepare for BookCon and other assorted future book events. Such as this one:

Meet Shadow!
I also had downright strange good luck and received emails saying I'd won three different giveaways! Technically, I got the emails two weeks ago? But the two books I won arrived this week, so close enough.

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Top 10 Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I used to be horrible at putting down books. I finished everything regardless of how disinterested I was. Now, I put them down easily- usually on the first page. I read a paragraph, say nope, and toss it aside. However, if I'm halfway through the book, I'll probably finish. For various reasons. See examples below.

Top 10 Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't


ARC Review Copies:

The Tyrant's Daughter - did not enjoy it. The main character made me want to shake some sense into her. But it was a NetGalley review copy...I felt compelled to finish and write my review.



Defy - see above.

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Discussion: Low Diversity in YA

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Recently, a campaign for more diversity in YA books went viral. Twitter, Tumblr, the whole shebang. I'm sure many people have already said everything on this topic in far more eloquent terms, but I needed to write this post to gather my thoughts. 

First, I really want to see more data. All the charts/graphs I've seen come from published samples. I'd love to see a comprehensive study starting with the literary agents and slush piles. I wonder how many manuscripts are submitted with "diverse" characters? Why are they rejected or accepted? How many are submitted to editors? Why are they accepted/rejected by the publishers? How well do they sell? And for what reasons? 

Writers now seem to be in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" pickle. They're condemned if they don't write characters of color/LGBT/disability. They're condemned for stereotyping or writing too ambiguously if they do. I think it's important to keep campaigns like this positive. We shouldn't force writers to write characters one way or another for the sake of diversity statistics. What we should do is encourage writers of today and tomorrow to work hard and write the stories they want to tell. As my school teachers always said, if the book you want to read isn't out there, go write it.

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Fan Art Up! - Disney Villains & Dogs

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Fan Art Up! is a weekly feature hosted by Tabitha @ Not Yet Read.

This is my first time trying this meme, which, per creator Not Yet Read's site, "is dedicated to showcasing our fan art inspired by entertainment media, whether it's books, movies, anime, comics, etc." It's also my first time drawing anything in forever.

So, hopefully for your enjoyment, I present this week's fan art: Medusa and Mr. Snoops from Disney's "The Rescuers" and a little doodle of Doug from Pixar's "Up" that sits on my desk at work and makes me smile. Apologies for the quality. Drawing in pencil + taking a shaky picture + limited Pixlr editing. Fail.

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Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano (3 stars)

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Five Days in Skye is not my usual read. Contemporary, romance, inspirational...did I mention romance? Yeah, not my usual read. But I picked it up free on my Nook after reading a few reviews and decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. It's light, highly predictable chick lit, but it was enjoyable and was just the change of pace I needed at the time. I was afraid it would turn out to be one of those "overly telling, thought/prayer every other sentence" inspirational romances (which is as much fun to read as any other overly "telling" book...that is, not), but again- pleasantly surprised.

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano
Series: n/a
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Inspirational
Published on June 10, 2013
Published by David C. Cook
Final Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:
Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.


Review/Thoughts:
  • The protagonist, Andrea, is a mostly level headed career woman with an eye on a promotion and no time for or interest in romance.
  • The lead guy, celebrity chef James MacDonald, is a little too good to be true, but he's not perfect; he has some issues. At the same time, he's a nice guy. And he can cook. You kind of have to like him for that, right?

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Updates: May it Begin

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Not too much to report this week. It's the beginning of a new month! I survived another round of dogsitting. My new (first ever) smartphone came in the mail, so I've been busy trying to figure that out. Thus far, though, I'm pretty happy with it. :)

And to celebrate, I used it to take a picture of my first book buy of the month! (That's right, April's book buying ban is over.) I still haven't read anything by Rosemary Sutcliffe, but I've heard several glowing reviews about her work and, at just $1, I couldn't resist.

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Top 10 Book Covers I'd Frame As Art

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A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is all about the art of book covers. I don't know much about art, but there are definitely some book covers I love. So, enjoy!

Top 10 Book Covers I'd Frame as Pieces of Art

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Discussion: The Comic Niche

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I love novels. I love films. I love storytelling in general, and comics are a storytelling medium. Granted, I've found I prefer most superhero stories in cartoon or movie form; but I still keep an eye out for stories that capture my interest, especially in comics with good writer/artist combinations.

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) event, an annual event every first Saturday of May when lots of comic book companies provide free sample issues for comic stores to distribute. My local comic shop also accompanies this event with major sales throughout the store, like 40% off most stock, which makes it the one time of year I always buy comics for my little collection. ;) As I was waiting to enter the store, I started listening to those in line around me. Most seemed to be regular comics readers, enthusiasts even, but it got me wondering: were they also readers of novels?

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Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2 stars)

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Mini-reviews are tweaked versions of reviews I wrote before starting the blog. It's a good way to show some love to older books (and keep me from panicking when I slack off and don't have anything new). The originals remain on Goodreads (unless it was, like, one sentence), and the new reviews get posted here in between reviews of books I'm currently reading. How to tell them apart? The mini-reviews get this cool intro paragraph. :)


Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Series: The Palace Chronicles #2
Genres: MG, Fantasy
Published on September 30, 2008
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 2 stars


Synopsis:
"Somewhere in the world I have a tiara in a little box. It is not safe for me to wear it...It is not safe for me even to tell anyone who I really am. But I know -- I have always known."

Cecilia knows that she is not just another peasant girl; she is actually the true princess, in hiding until the evil forces that killed her parents are vanquished. A commoner named Desmia is on the throne as a decoy.

As she gets older, Cecilia finds it harder to study statesmanship and palace protocol secretly at night and then pretend that she has nothing on her mind other than scrubbing the gruel stains out of her best apron by day.

Cecilia knows that it is time to take charge. Along with her best friend, Harper, she flees to the capital city, determined to reclaim her throne and face the danger head on.

When Harper and Cecilia reach the famed Palace of Mirrors, they discover complications: Princess Desmia believes an entirely different version of the story.

Acclaimed author Margaret Peterson Haddix returns to the charmed world of Just Ella, where a princess-in-hiding and a pretender to the throne discover that nothing is as it appears.


Mini-Review:
A princess in hiding decides to step out of the shadows and take control of her kingdom. She has trained and prepared for this day all her life, and now, as war continues to devastate her country, despite the dangers that await, it is time. Sounds good, right?

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