...or why books and tv rank higher than sleep

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's Hop & Follow Time Again! 7/30

I can't tell you how happy I am that it is Friday and my albatross known as LSC557 Research & Evaluation in Library & Information Service is off my back!
Once again it's time for Jennifer @ Crazy For Book's book blogger hop where we can go out and explore what's out there in the book blogosphere. Each week my too be read list just gets bigger and bigger thanks to the great bloggers I've encountered.
Also, please check out her giveaway to celebrate Penguin Books 75th anniversary (Happy Birthday Penguin!). She's giving away a book of your choice from this list
To answer this week's question: My favorite new to me author is Brunonia Barry. Not only is she fairly local (from Salem) but her writing style is just so easy and similar to Alice Hoffman. She's a wonderful storyteller.
It's also time for Parajunkee's Friday Follow. This week she's featuring Amelia from The Authoress, who has a great point of view. It's refreshing to see what teens think about books and taking time to write reviews.
So please check out the hop & follow.

Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

Cronin, Justin. The Passage. Random House. New York. ISBN 0345504968. 784pp


It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.


I've actually been putting off this review for a few weeks. Partially because I've been overwhelmed with this massive research proposal due today for school. Mostly because I've been struggling with how to review this book.

First of all: the size of this book is pretty daunting. If you have an e-reader I would recommend downloading it. Not only is it cheaper, but it's much easier to carry around with you.

I've read countless reviews before buying The Passage from people proclaiming this was the best book of 2010. I bought it not sure what it was about other than it was dystopian and involves vampires. I love dystopian books and I love vampires. Can't go wrong with something that combines the two!

I guess the best way to describe the book is to call it a combination of The Stand, 28 Days Later, and with some elements of Lost thrown in. For me it was a roller coaster ride of epic proportion. I was sucked in from the very beginning. Yet, there is a lot going on in the book, and it's not very well described at times. Certainly there are some huge time leaps in the book and it's not made clear that it's a leap in time. You also don't always know who's point of view you are seeing. The Passage leaves the reader going "huh?" at times. Certainly there were points in the book that I was bored and hoping it got better. Each time I was ready to abandon The Passage for something lighter and fluffier, it became great again. I think Cronin was trying to keep his reader guessing and wondering where or what is going on. To not feel comfortably settled in the world he created.

I have to warn you - there is a lot of stuff going on and not much is explained. Additionally, the elements that are explained don't necessarily make sense. I was very disappointed in the ending. Allegedly there is a planned sequel in the works, which will hopefully clear up a lot of confusion. Overall this is a thrilling read, but you will be confused at times. If you can get past that it's worth it.

I did like the book, and I do recommend it for those who are willing to just "go with it". It's just not an easy book to read, and I think it is something you need to be prepared for in advance.

Rating: I'd give this a 7.75/10

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fellow True Blood Fans

What do you think of the season so far? I'm especially interested if you've read the books (I haven't).

While I am enjoying the fact that Tara is finally getting back to the sassy Tara of season 1, Sookie has a bit of brevity with her spunk, and stangely enough I'm amused by the Franklin storyline - I can't say that I'm jazzed about season 3. The gore is starting to become gratuitous and I'm really bored by the Jason and Sam storylines.

I don't know. I think that maybe they just have too much going on and maybe it would be better if there were less active storylines. I also really dislike Bill this season. It's funny how some characters you love one season grate on your nerves the next. I found myself fast forwarding through Tara's scenes last year, but I am enjoying her this year. I really enjoyed Jason's storyline last year, but find him tedious this year. Is it this convoluted in the books?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some nerdiness my fellow "bookies" will understand

So just a minute ago I totally threw my husband off-guard by conferencing him in with Alex the Cox Cable man. See I totally forgot that tonight Pillars of the Earth begins on Starz. Now, Pillars is tied for my favorite book of all time and I've been pretty giddy that they did a miniseries.

Side Note: It goes to show you just how stressed/depressed/out of sorts I have been to forget about this.

Thank goodness my cousin made a comment to me about it or I would have missed it. Unfortunately we don't have Starz. And I'm not authorized on our cable account (never get around to finding the pin #). So that's why I had to conference in my completely confused husband and tell him to repeat after me "I want to order Starz". Then I disconnected him and finished my order. Voila!

So the bright spot on my cruddy week is to pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy Pillars of the Earth tonight with my beagle boys. I might even sample the rum cake I am making for a girl's night tomorrow night.

Hopping and Following- July 23rd edition

It's Friday and once again it's time for Crazy for Book's Book Blogger Hop.
This week's question is: Tell us about the book you are currently reading.
I just finished The Passage by Justin Cronin, and I'm going through a not so good time right now, so I really needed something fluffy and mindless.
So I'm reading The Five Greatest Warriors by Matthew Reilly. It's the third installment in his Jack West Jr series. It's an adventure novel that combines race to the death, quest for world dominance, and trying to save the world from destruction. If you're into that sort of thing, I highly recommend you read The 7 Deadly Wonders (the first book).
Meanwhile, Parajunkee is hosting the Friday Feature & Follow. Each week she selects a blogger to feature. This week's spotlight is on VampAngel . I've been a follower of hers for a while now because I like her candid reviews of books, and you gotta love a gal that is a fellow fang fan.
so check out the hop & follow to get to know some pretty great people in the blogosphere!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When I'm Not Reading

I can't believe it's been 12 days since I've posted. Things have been pretty busy here with work, school, and personal issues going on at home that I get too depressed even thinking about. Plus I've got a sinus infection - so not much fun to be had here.

To get back into the swing of things, I figured I would start with participating in "when I'm not reading", which is a new meme hosted by Missie @ The Unread Reader . It's nice to learn what fellow book bloggers are into besides books and blogging.

For me, when I'm not reading I am often working on my genealogy. I am fascinated by the stories of what life was like in the past, particularly in regards to my family. Unfortunately I do not have much beyond names and dates for a lot of my family but I have been truly fortunate to meet some great people that share my interest (and even some long lost cousins).

Right now, I'm on a hunt to unconver some old medical records for my Great Grandmother's cousins Christina and Charles Hodde. They were siblings and both hospitalized at the Massachusetts School for the Feeble Minded (later known as the Walter Fernald School). I'd like to know why they were institutionalized, because back then it could have been for anything. Also, they were institutionalized at a time when US mental institutions were truly horrible places (and MA institutions were among the worst). The Fernald School participated in some nasty experiments in the name of eugenics and I would like to know if my relatives were test subjects.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Every Monday, MizB over at Should be Reading asks a question. This week's question is:
Can you read amidst distractions? (tv, others talking, sporting events, etc)

Absolutely! I don't know if it's a talent (probably not) or a skill I've honed throughout the years (most likely), but at least 75% of the time I've got something going on in the background while I am reading. I read during commercials, while Mike is watching tv, while I am waiting in line, while I am outside with the dogs (barking and neighbors screaming), or countless other reasons there is noise going on around me. I'm pretty good about being able to tune things out; however very loud conversations and yelling are almost impossible for me to ignore unless it's a very good book.

Meanwhile in the blogosphere, Sheila over at Book Journey hosts a weekly "What are you Reading" Monday. The downside of this meme is that I come away with entirely too many books on my ever expanding wish list. There are just so many people out there in the community that read fantastic sounding books.

This week I am still plugging along with The Passage by Justin Cronin, but hope to be done this week. I'm also reading Book 1 of The Snipesville Chronicles, "Don't Know Where, Don't Know When" by Annette Laing that she so nicely sent me a copy of.

I couldn't tell you what I am planning to read next. I have a really busy next couple of weeks coming up with school and unfortunately research journal articles are going to have to take precedence over novels :-(

So what are you reading? And can you do it with distractions?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hopping and Following Again! July 9th

Happy Friday everyone!! It's time again for Jennifer's Book Blogger Hop @ Crazy For Books, and Parajunkee's Friday Follow.

For those who aren't familiar with the Hop/Follow process, just click on the links and check out other bloggers. It's a great way to see what is out there, meet new bloggers, and support each other.

Make sure to check out the featured Friday Follow Blog - The Unread Reader

Jennifer @ Crazy for Books has a twist on this week's Hop. She wants us to talk about our favorite authors and why they are our favorites.

I have a whole bunch of favorite authors, depending on the genre. My all time favorite since childhood is Louisa May Alcott. Not only was she also from Massachusetts (although born in PA), but her books represent happy childhood memories for me. And her female characters were so well developed and showed there was more to being a girl that being silly, prissy, and lacking adventure.

As an adult, my favorite author is Bernard Cornwell. I just love his approach to historical fiction. His characters are so lifelike. He takes his readers on an adventure through history while incorporating fictional elements for storytelling. His interpretation on the Arthurian legend is amazing. And he doesn't delve too much into "bodice heaving" and "Loin stirring" that a lot of historical fiction has. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with erotica or romance novels. It's just that if I want to read those books, then I pick out those books. When I'm reading historical fiction, I want to learn something while enjoying a story. I always learn something new when I read a Cornwell book, even when I'm reading a book on a topic I know a lot about because I've spent a lot of time researching over the course of my school work.

Other favorites include: Jim Butcher (his Dresden books are so much fun to read), Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth is my favorite book), Jane Austen (her social commentary in her novels is nothing short of genius), Alice Hoffman (I adore the whimsical and magical elements to her stories), and so many more.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - July 8th

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly random question about books and reading, and a good way to gain some insight on bloggers. This week's question is:
Do you have friends and family to share books with? Discuss them with? Does it matter to you?

I am very fortunate that I have people in my life to share books with. My family in particular loves to share books. For me, it's a reminder and an amazement at how alike we are because we gravitate to a lot of the same books.

A common present is a book or gift card to Borders or B&N. My Dad often gets books that I am dying to read and if he isn't out of books to read he will usually let me read it first because I read faster. Unfortunately my reading speed has slowed down significantly since I started grad school. I think right now my Dad has 4 books of mine that he is currently reading.

I don't have many friends that I share books with, but lately I've seen an increase in friends who read. I don't know if it's because I'm expanding my horizons to include readers, or if I'm having a positive influence on people I have known for a long time ;-). I have a book club where we sort of discuss the book we read for about 5 minutes, but by and large I don't get to voice my opinion on books much. I wish I got a chance to talk about them more, but I guess that's why I started blogging.

As far as whether or not it matters, I have to say that yes it does. Like I said, the fact we share books is a great reminder of how alike several members are with me in my family. Books are such a huge part of my life (I'm in library school for a reason!) and I like being able to share my thoughts and opinions on books, and hear the opinions of those who also read. I don't know a better way to expand my reading horizons. Thank goodness for the book blogosphere!

Oh and I've joined Book Blogs. Check out my page and friend request me if you'd like.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - July 7th

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine . This a chance for us to share what new releases we are looking forward to.

My choice this week is The Distant Hours by Kate Morton to be released on November 9, 2010 by Simon & Schuster.
I've read and enjoyed both of her previous books, The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton has a wonderful knack for creating a setting that instantly transports the reader into the world of her characters. The books almost have a fairy tale like feel to them despite not being fairy tales at all. Maybe it's the quintessential creepy castle-like home in the books, or the eccentric characters found in the story. Regardless, the author is a talented story-spinner and I look forward to her future endeavors.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: The Doomsday Key (Sigma Force Series # 6) by James Rollins

Rollins, James. The Doomsday Key (Sigma Force Series #6), Harper Collins, New York. 564pp. Isbn 9780061231414


At Princeton University, a famed geneticist dies inside a biohazard lab. In Rome, a Vatican archaeologist is found dead in St. Peter's Basilica. In Africa, a U.S. senator's son is slain outside a Red Cross camp. The three murders on three continents bear a horrifying connection: all the victims are marked by a Druidic pagan cross burned into their flesh.
The bizarre murders thrust Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force into a race against time to solve a riddle going back centuries, to a ghastly crime against humanity hidden within a cryptic medieval codex.
Aided by two women from his past--one his ex-lover, the other his new partner--Gray must piece together the horrifying truth. But the revelations come at a high cost, and to save the future, Gray will have to sacrifice one of the women at his side.
That alone might not be enough, as the true path to salvation is revealed in a dark prophecy of doom...


The Sigma Force Series is one of my guilty pleasures, and one I share with my Dad. I love the fast paced action this series brings, along with its incorporation of history and some sort of current topic into the story. In this case, the book combines The Doomsday Book, GM foods, saints, prophecies, and a mysterious plague with its usual fight to save the world from destruction and chaos.

I enjoyed the book overall, but thought it was really slow paced in the middle of the book. There was just too much going on and imho too many cliches. I just wasn't into the book as much as I have gotten into his others. The book did pick up towards the end, and left me satisfied, but I truly felt as though I had to work to get to that point of satisfaction.

I do recommend the series, starting with Sandstorm and hope this book was just a blip on an otherwise solid series.

Rating: 5/10

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire (Hunger Games Series #2). Scholastic Inc. NYC. 2009. 400 pp, ISBN 0439023491

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
I was so disappointed that the e-book version of this book wasn't available for nook download when I finished The Hunger Games because I couldn't fathom waiting to return home from vacation to find out what happened next in district 12. It's now available in e-book, but I ran out and bought this as soon as I got home. This sequel did not disappoint.
If The Hunger Games was about tenacity, Catching Fire is about consequences. Despite her new home and plenty of food, Katniss isn't able to enjoy her victory. Throughout the book she struggles with the consequences her defiance against the Capitol has brought on herself, those she loves, and throughout Panem.
Katniss in Catching Fire is beginning to understand the importance of standing for something, and she is faced with a level of cruelty at the Capitol that she is just beginning to understand. I felt this was a much more grown up book than The Hunger Games, and it was certainly darker. I felt the love triangle was a bit tedious at times in its immaturity, but overall this was a solid sequel.
Rating: 8.5/10

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Inc. NYC. 2008. 374p. ISBN 0439023483

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place

This series was on the fringes of my radar since January at the ALA midwinter conference. The Scholastic booth was giving out copies of Catching Fire, the follow up to The Hunger Games. My friend Nicole had recommended it to my friend Matt to read. Matt was trying to read more YA books, and Nicole mentioned this was the hottest thing going for the YA crowd.

Fast forward to May. I was looking for something easy and light to read on the plane to Nashville, so I grabbed The Hunger Games from the library. I could not put this book down. I was up reading late into the night on vacation trying to find out what happened next.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot for those who haven't read it yet. Basically the setting for the book is a future version of North America that has been renamed Panem, and is divided into 13 districts. Decades earlier, there was an uprising in district 13. That district had been destroyed and each year as a reminder to the remaining district, there is a reaping. The reaping is a lottery where a boy and girl from each district are selected to represent their district in the hunger games - a televised event where you must be the last one standing to make it out.

The book is hardly cheerful, but it was so well written and gripping that the subject matter isn't as heavy as you would expect. There is savagery abound in the book, but there also is defiance, humor, tenderness, a love triangle, and plenty of suspense. The character of Katniss in particular was incredibly well developed and as a reader I was riveted by her. I don't often get that sucked in to a book.

Review: 9.5/10

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hop, Hop, Follow - July 2nd

It's Friday again, can you believe it? and once again it's time for Jennifer's Book Blogger Hop @ Crazy For Books, and Parajunkee's Friday Follow. I didn't think I would be able to participate this week because of all the things on my plate, but I'm happy to say I've made some time!

If you are interested to find out what's what, just click on the links and check out other bloggers. It's a great way to see what is out there, meet new bloggers, and support each other.
Jennifer @ Crazy for Books has a twist on this week's Hop. We're supposed to introduce ourselves, and talk about how we started blogging. So allow me to introduce myself:
I'm Jenn (or Jennifer - whichever) and I started blogging pretty recently. I had to subscribe to a bunch of library-related feeds for a collection development class, and came across a lot of great blogs by librarians reviewing books and talking about their work. Abby the Librarian in particular inspired me, and I decided that it would be a fun thing to do. Additionally, I get asked a lot for book recommendations and so I thought this was a great way to keep track of what I read and what I liked/disliked.
Some of the great bloggers I discovered this week are:
- Stacy @ A Novel Source
- Kathy @ Inside of a Dog
- Heather @ Buried in Books
- fellow library school student Googie @ Bookworm in Training
Wishing you all a safe, relaxing, and fun filled 4th.