Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To Spook or not to Spook

I've been reading Spook by Mary Roach for maybe a week now, and I think I have to put it down. I enjoyed it at first, but now I keep finding myself glazed over and bored. Too bad - I was really looking forward to this book. Don't you just hate it when a book you had high hopes for disappoints?

I think I'm going to pick up Mistress of the Art of Death now instead. I've heard great reviews of this one, and I think maybe I'm just more in the mood for fiction.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

I guess the best way to describe how Heart-Shaped Box made me feel is to put it into the context of the hurricane. I started the book several days before Ike showed up, so I was fully aware of the scare-factor. Friday evening, as Ike was moving in and the wind was picking up, I tried to curl up with the book to "relax." Bad move. I had to put it down, because I was already scared enough with the gusting winds that I couldn't handle the anxiety of the book on top of that.

If you're in the mood for a good chill, Heart-Shaped Box is perfect. Hill doesn't dilly-dally. The book starts getting creepy within the first few chapters. There were parts that had my eyes wide with fear. That said, I feel that the first half of the book is scarier than the second half.

What impressed me most about the book is how real the characters were. The main characters are not the type I would normally choose to read about; the main character was the aging lead singer of a Black Sabbath-type band and his girlfriends tend to be on the young side and were typically groupy, stripper-type girls. They're gritty. But by the end of the book, I really, really cared what happened to Jude and Marybeth (aka Georgia). The book nearly brought me to tears several times (but maybe that was the stressful month I've had...).

I thought this book was great and give it 4 stars.

This counts as book 2 for the RIP III challenge.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekly Geeks #18 and other stuff

Weekly Geeks theme this week is to catch up on "something." (There's more to it, but I'm trying to be concise.) I've already caught up on my book blogs, and I did it over the weekend, so that counts. I also plan to catch up on the rest of my Google Reader, both on my "home" account and my work account. Things have been so out of whack since Ike that I have quite a bit to catch up on. I'm also planning to catch up on my reading, in general. You'd think that with having no power for over a week that I would have gotten a lot of reading done, but no. I was just too distracted to want to do much of anything. I didn't even knit or crochet! I'm not actually sure what I did! Anyway, my goal is to finish Heart-Shaped Box this week and start either Spook (which I picked up at Book People in Austin today) or Mistress of the Art of Death, which I found on the bargain table at Borders recently. That will get me caught up on the RIP III challenge.

I'm bummed that I can't participate in the read-a-thon this go 'round. I have to work that day. Maybe I'll sign up to be a cheerleader in the evening.

We went to Austin this weekend to get away, since we were still without power. We came back home to no power, but we got it back within 30 minutes of our arrival. Yay! I'm so looking forward to curling up with a book tonight!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I haven't read more than a handful of book blogs in the past week, thanks to dear old Ike, so I just, sadly, marked them all read. Hopefully now I can start fresh and keep up.

We made it through the hurricane ok here just outside of Houston. We're still without power, so I'm checking in here and there at work. I've hardly read anything at all since last week - maybe a chapter of Heart-Shaped Box. Hopefully today I'll get some reading in...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekly Geeks #16

This week for Weekly Geeks, I interviewed Bart from Bart's Bookshelf about The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and he interviewed me about Tithe. Here are both interviews.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Somer: Do you think the storyline in The Invention of Hugo Cabret could have effectively stood on its own, or do you think its success was wholly a product of the illustrations?

Bart: Hmm... Good question! There's no doubt that there would need to be some work added to the story as, so much of it is conveyed in the images, and despite the size of the book, it is actually quite a slim story (and I don't mean that in a derisory manner as it is only intended to be a short story, not an epic!) even with added text though, I think it would suffer, as the story itself is about a visual medium (film). It'd be a bit like a recipe book without pictures, it'd work, but...

Somer: Do you think that your impression of the book as an adult is different than that of, say, a 10-year-old boy?

Bart: Yes, I don't think (at least I know I would not have at 10!) a ten year old would appreciate the detail in the artwork, and the cleverness of it's execution in quite the same way ;) However I think that as an adult, in that appreciation, I miss out on the simple "Cor! this is cool"-ness (or whatever phrase the hip-kids are using) of it all.

Somer: Avoiding spoilers, as I have yet to read the book, what was your favorite part?

Bart: The art-work, easilly the art-work, you really do have to sit down and 'read' the book to appreciate it fully, you can stand in the bookshop and look at it, and ooh and ahh, all you like, but the moment you sit down to read and see it working properly, it takes it to a whole other level of brilliance.

Somer: This book is huge, and the size could be intimidating to a reluctant reader. How would you convince a young reader to pick it up?

Bart: I don't know, after Harry Potter and Twilight, are big books as intimidating as they used to be? Even if they are, it's not an intimidating book when you start to flip through it, the vast majority of pages have no text on and those that do have nice large print and lots of 'white-space'. I'd probably ask them to just have a look at the pictures on the first few pages, honestly if you can get them to do that, you won't need to do anything else.

Somer: Have you read anything else by Brian Selznick (or illustrated by Selznick), and, if so, how does Hugo Cabret compare?

Bart: No, I've not read anything else he has been involved in. 

Tithe by Holly Black

Bart: What made you read Tithe? Was it the book itself or had you read some Spiderwick stuff?

Somer: I don't actually remember how Tithe originally made it onto my TBR stack. I think the cover must have caught my attention at some point, and I added it to my Amazon wishlist. I got the book as a Christmas gift in 2006 (thank you, LibraryThing tags!). Libba Bray (author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and sequels) has raved a lot on her blog about Holly Black, which also influenced my decision to read Tithe. Even though I realized Holly Black co-authored Spiderwick, it really didn't have anything to do with my decision to read the book at all.

Bart: How would you describe the atmoshere of the book? (Scary, disquietning, moody etc.)

Somer: Overall, Tithe is very dark. The main character, Kaye, is a high-school dropout with a troubling homelife. That sort of sets the tone for the whole book. 

Bart: What was your favourite bit and why?

Somer: I always have a hard time with this type of question. I really enjoyed the entire book. I think my favorite parts were any of the parts set in the faery realm because I like the departure from reality.

Bart: And what as your least favourite bit and why? (I'm thinking here not so much of something that was wrong or did not work, but more of something did exactly what the author wanted it to and either scared you or squicked you out etc. :o) )

Somer: Well, I don't want to give spoilers, so I'll do the best I can. To tell you the truth, my least favorite aspect of the book is the switching of the princes in the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. This is an important part of the book, but I had a really hard time keeping track of which courth Nephamael and Roiben actually belonged to and which queen they were serving. But that may have just been me. 

Bart: And finally, who would you recommend read this book to and why? And/or who would you not recommend the book, and why?

Somer: Anyone who enjoys urban fantasy would likely enjoy this book. Fans of Libba Bray, who haven't already discovered this would probably like it. Kids who have outgrown Spiderwick. I wouldn't recommend this for tweens, as it's just a bit too gritty (speaking as the mom of an almost-12-year-old). Teens, yes, but I would probably want my daughter to wait until she was 13 or 14. Mainly because there are some mature themes (a mom that parties a lot, some sexual content (though no actual sex that I can remember)).

Friday, September 5, 2008

The 39 Clues

I just read this article about The 39 Clues, Scholastic's new series that combines reading, online gaming, and card collecting. I was already thinking this sounded like something Eli might actually get into (he likes to read, but it really has to grab him!), and then I saw that the first book in the series will be authored by Rick Riordan. Yes! Eli has loved the Percy Jackson books so far (we're 1 chapter away from finishing Sea of Monsters, and I've already brought home The Titan's Curse from work). I think we may have a winner.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart

I enjoyed this book by Leah Stewart. Sonia and Cameron became friends when they were 14 years old and quickly became inseparable - in fact, they often referred to themselves collectively as "Cameronia." In the beginning of the book, Cameron is living in Oxford, Mississippi where she is the assistant for an aging historian. A letter from Sonia sparks the curiosity of Oliver, Cameron's boss, and, when Oliver dies, she finds herself charged with the task of delivering a wedding gift to Sonia from Oliver. Over the rest of the book, we learn all about Sonia and Cameron and the downfall of their friendship. Stewart does a fantastic job of recreating the love between two closer-than-close teenage girls, as well as the love between the girls and various other characters. I felt like I knew both Cameron and Sonia by the end of the book.

I listened to this on my commute, so this is my impression of the audiobook. The narrator was ok, but at times, the book felt a bit slow, and I think this was a product of the narration. I also didn't think the narrator's Southern accents were particularly convincing, but this was a minor complaint.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Short Story Sunday...err Monday

I forgot yesterday that I had planned to devote my Sunday reading to short stories, so, since it was a long weekend, I decided to do it today instead. I read a handful of stories from Nocturnes by John Connelly.

1) "Mr. Pettinger's Daemon" - mildly creepy; short enough that I don't want to tell anything about it other than the title for fear of giving away details
2) "The Erlking" - This one reminded me a little of The Book of Lost Things. A little creepier than "Mr. Pettinger's Daemon."
3) "The Inkpot Monkey" - This one has a traditional theme, I think, but I can't think of another story like it off the top of my head. An author with writer's block acquires an unusual inkpot, which cures him of his affliction, but at a price.
4) "Some Children Wander by Mistake" - This one was the creepiest of the bunch. Clowns. Enough said.

I think I'll wrap up the evening by reading a bit of Tithe, which I've gotten about halfway through since Friday. I brought home Heart-Shaped Box from work in case we got hit by the hurricane (we didn't see even a drop of rain), so that's next up.

Michelle Moran book giveaway

Lezlie at Books 'n Border Collies is hosting this awesome book giveaway!

Grand prize: Personally autographed hardback copy of Michelle Moran's new book, The Heretic Queen, sequel to Nefertiti. Also included is a hardback copy of Nefertiti with an autographed bookplate.

Second prize: paperback copy of Nefertiti with an autographed bookplate

First prize: Paperback copy of Nefertiti

To win, visit Lezlie's blogs and comment on the giveaway post. You can get more entries by posting on your blog and referring people back to Lezlie's blog. (So, if you head over after reading this post, please say I sent you!)