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Showing posts from October, 2011

Why I Love...Paperback Books

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With the new development of gadgets that allow you to access books with the simple touch of a button, the entire way that we read has shifted.  We now have the ability to carry around thousands of books in one single device.  While I like the convenience of this trend, I just can't jump on board.  For that reason, this edition of "Why I Love" is dedicated to the paperback book, otherwise known as my favorite book form/format.

I am probably one of the few "literary-driven" people left who does not own an e-reader of any kind.  My sister (who doesn't read nearly as much as I do) got one for Christmas and, while I did enjoy playing around on it, I was so much more excited to receive an actual book.  One that I could grasp, physically flip through, and smell.  These are all traits that I cherish when I think about books or reading.

I like to hold onto books (I carry one with me at all times and normally read multiple books at a time) and feel the weight they g…

Teaser Tuesday...Oddities in Portland

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This week's teaser is going to be a little different than the normal installation.  I was in Portland at one of my favorite coffee shops this last weekend catching up with my German professor from undergrad and a dear friend, Jenna.  After our elixir of life get-together, Jenna and I decided to hit up one of my favorite used bookstores in the area (not Powell's...that's on the other side of town) and browse through the book-packed rooms of the establishment.  While on this adventure, I came across Portland Noir, a collection of contemporary short stories written by local authors, edited by Kevin Sampsell.  So, because this isn't a traditional book, I will be teasing a line from every selection!  Here goes:

Karen Karbo "The Clown and Bard"
"Now Charlotte's lying on my bathroom floor, wedged between the hot water pipe and the toilet.  Is it laying or lying?  Charlotte would know.  She has a master's degree and a daily subscription to the New York Ti…

Amanda Rogers aka Portia de Rossi (Book #16...or 17...I can't count)

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"It seems to me that it's only since around 1970 that the concept of diet and exercise has existed in the way it does now, which is based on exertion and restriction being the key to weight loss, and yet since then, we have seen an increase in obesity in countries that have adopted it.  (These are also the countries where the fast-food industry boomed during that time.)  The diet industry is making a lot of money selling us fad diets, nonfat foods full of chemicals, gym memberships, and pills while we lose a little of our self-esteem every time we fail another diet or neglect to use the gym membership we can barely afford." (302) ~ Portia de Rossi
It's interesting, but I've never really thought about dieting as an industry as the above except from Portia de Rossi's memoir, Unbearable Lightness:  A Story of Loss and Gain, declares it to be.  And, honestly, I have to say that I agree with her.  There are so many different fad diets out there that claim you'l…

The Help and a Lesson in Fighting for What's Right

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"You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important."
After putting off Kathryn Stockett's The Help for months, I was finally forced to read it for one of my many (and ever-growing) book clubs.  Thank you Misty (and whoever from the group suggested it be our next book)!  I think I put off reading it for so long because of how much it's been touted since it's publication.  There has been so much hype and so many people saying how fantastic it is that I was terrified it wouldn't live up to it.  That it would fail at impressing me and leave me even more jaded with public opinion (cue Justin Bieber).  However, now that I've read it, I can honestly say that this novel DOES live up to everything that's been said about it.  It's absolutely wonderful!  It is sharp.  It is witty.  It is sad.  It is infuriating. It is so much.

The novel takes place in the early 1960s and centers around three women:  Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter.  Two of these characters, Aibile…

Why I Love...Flawed Characters

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It feels like Wednesday's come around all the time now...and you know what that means:  "Why I Love..."  This week's topic is one that can go so many different ways and include so many different things.  But, for the sake of this post, favorite types of characters, I have to say that I love when a character is not perfect, has flaws, and still manages to capture my heart.

There are so many characters that fit this description, but my ultimate #1 flawed character has to be Severus Snape.  From the time I started reading the Harry Potter novels, Snape held a special place in my heart.  Everyone was convinced, and tried to convince me, that he was evil and a terrible person, but for some reason I had this gut feeling that he wasn't as bad as he was made out to seem.  I held onto that opinion and that undying love completely paid off.  I think that his final scene in the novels was one of the most difficult for me to deal with.  Yes, he had his faults, but underneath…

Teaser Tuesday...Fighting for What's Right

Today's teaser comes from Kathryn Stockett's The Help.  I've had this book for nearly six months now and have kept meaning to read it, but for some reason I always chose something else.  I think I was scared that the book wouldn't live up to the hype.  Thankfully it was chosen by one of my book clubs and I've had to start reading it.  So, without further ado, here's the teaser:

"I cry and cry right there in front of everybody.  I look over at Minny, and she laughing.  Funny how peoples show they feelings in different ways.  I wonder what Miss Skeeter would do if she was here and it kind of makes me sad.  I know ain't nobody in town gone sign a book for her and tell her she brave.  Ain't nobody gone tell her they look after her." (467)

If you haven't read The Help yet, please do so!  My review should be posted in the next day or so.  I've got about fifty pages left.  Happy Tuesday!

Pittacus Lore Strikes Again! (Book #16)

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“The key to change is letting go of the fear.”
I've been waiting for Pittacus Lore's The Power of Six to come out since I finished I am Number Four a few months ago.  And boy was the wait worth it!  Personally, the second installation to the Lorien Legacies was so much better than the first in the series. 

The book starts by introducing a new member of the Garde, Marina.  Marina has been living in an orphanage in Spain with her Cepan, Adelina, for several years.  The two of them are at odds because of Adelina's attitude toward the role they have been destined to play since being shipped off of Lorien.  Because of this, Marina has constant questions about her legacies and the other members of the Garde and feels like she is completely alone in the fight to save her home planet.  Adelina has done nothing to assuage these fears and questions.

The reader is also taken back to where I am Number Four left off.  We see the journey of Six, John, and Sam.  We know what they'r…

Imma Gonna Write a Novel, Pa!

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"Writing a novel is like heading out over the open sea in a small boat. It helps, if you have a plan and a course laid out." 
~John Gardner I've always said that I want to write a novel...a good one (hopefully).  Really, I'd like to have a career writing novels, drinking good coffee, and traveling, but I just can't seem to bring myself to sit down and write it.  I've got ideas; loads of them.  Yet, somehow every time I sit down to write nothing comes out.  Just blah and a blank page...mostly.  It's really a disease that I've had for as long as I can remember.  Well, I take that back.  When I was in elementary and early middle school I would write short horror stories.  This was due to the fact that, at the time, I was OBSESSED with R.L. Stine books.  Not the Goosebumps series, but the Fear Street ones.  The ones meant for an older audience :)  Obviously that's not the vein I want to go in now.  I'd like to think that my taste i…

Jasmine...It's a Sweet Scent

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I posted a teaser for Jude Deveraux's The Scent of Jasmine yesterday and managed to finish the book yesterday evening.  And, I have to say, the book was a pleasant surprise.  Most romance novels have a set in stone formula, which this one does stick to, but for some reason I found this book much more compelling than most.  I've read some of Deveraux's other novels, but none seem to stick out in my mind.  This one does that.

The book follows Catherine Edilean Harcourt, lovingly referred to as Cay, and Alexander McDowell's adventure across the Southern states.  Cay has inadvertently placed herself in Alex's protection after helping him escape from prisoner for a crime he claims he's innocent of committing.  Along the way they encounter obstacles which must be overcome.  They discover certain truths about each other and their respective circumstances.  They grow as people. 

I think what I like most about this book was the characters.  Cay was funny, thoughtful, sm…

Why I Love...Harry Potter!

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“We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.”
It's that time of the week again for my contribution to "Why I Love."  I thought long and hard about this edition because there are so many series that I love, but, in the end, the choice was obvious.  So, my choice for favorite book seriesgoes to...drum roll please...Harry Potter.  I mean, come on!  How can you go with anything else?!

I remember not wanting to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon when it first arrived on the scene.  And I didn't.  It wasn't until a fateful camping trip during the summer before college, well after the third book had come out, that I managed to finish both of the books I had brought with me before the weekend was over.  Because of this I had to scrounge around the camper for something stashed away by my mom.  Low and behold, I found Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber o…

Teaser Tuesday...Smelling of Jasmine

After reading the truly heartbreaking memoir by Mary Karr, The Liar's Club, I had to choose something light and easy.  Because of that, I present an excerpt from Jude Deveraux's The Scent of Jasmine:


"Puzzled by what she'd said, Alex began to hurry across the fields, and Cay stayed with him.  After they'd been running in a zigzag pattern for nearly twenty minutes, Cay was tempted to remove the cloak and her gown and run in her underwear.  And if she did that, she'd use the Scotsman's knife to cut her corset strings.  Right now she needed to breathe deeply more than she needed a tiny waist." (46)

Amen, Sister!!

There's a Whole Lotta Lying Going On (Book #15)

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Mary Karr's The Liar's Club was a very interesting read.  I started reading this book at the end of September (along with about two others) for YET ANOTHER book club I've joined (I think I'm becoming a book club junky).  This one is actually a campus book club made up of students and faculty.  We meet once a month or so to discuss the book and eat food (the bonus of this club).  That being said, the club started this book over the summer and I picked it up on September 19th after my summer department meeting.  Needless to say, I had a later start than everyone else.

The book is actually a memoir about Karr's rather traumatic childhood.  This poor girl grew up with an alcoholic father, an alcoholic and CRAZY mother, and had some pretty horrific things happen to her.  From being raped by a neighbor boy to nearly being killed in a car accident with her mother, from being molested by a male babysitter to nearly being detained in Mexico for crossing the border illegally…

Why I Love...Elizabeth Gaskell

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Throughout the literary world, there are several authors who are severely underrated.  I don't really know why or what causes such authors to be considered "not as good" as those high-brow, canonized writers of literature, but, without fail, those poor, under appreciated authors somehow manage to eek out a loyal following.  So, in honor of the hidden gems in the literary world, I am honoring my favorite underrated authorfor this week's "Why I Love..." edition.

That being said, cue the wonderful, talented, and severely underrated Elizabeth Gaskell.  Who? most ask.  Well let me tell you!  Mrs. Gaskell, as she's often referred to, is a British writer from the Victorian era.  Most notable are her novels:  Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters.  She's also quite notable for writing the first biography of Charlotte Bronte.  The majority of her work deals with social issues and the likes.  However, she is also a quite accomplished writer of Go…

Texas Trash

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Sometimes you just need a romance novel to lose your mind in.  Thank you Diana Palmer for providing me with something mindless and fun to read in Nora.  Of course, as nearly all romance novels do, Nora follows a pretty predictable pattern:  boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy sets out to get girl, boy gets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl make up and live happily ever after.  It's pure romance gold! 

Nora follows Eleanor "Nora" Marlowe out West from her comfortable, sophisticated, SNOBBY home in Virginia and chronicles her time spent in Tyler Junction, Texas.  Here she meets Cal Barton, who might not be exactly what he seems, and quickly falls in love with his rugged persona.  There are ups and downs, social constraints, personal heartaches, legal deals gone bad, secrets kept and told, and so much more.

You really don't have to stretch your imagination far in these novels and that's exactly why I pick them up.  After spending years reading "college&quo…

What Color Was I Born On?

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Daniel Tammet meets Kim Peek (the inspiration for Rain Man)
Absolutely fascinating.  Thought-provoking.  Interesting.  All of these describe Daniel Tammet's Born on a Blue Day:  Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant.  I picked this up for my Page by Page online bookclub, after originally passing it by in the first place, and am glad that it was the chosen book for the month.  I learned so much about the mind of a high-functioning autistic and was enthralled from the beginning.

In Born on a Blue Day, Tammet sets out to explain how his mind works.  He thinks in colors, numbers and shapes.  All aspects are unique and all hold a special place in his mind and heart.  To see (or read) exactly how he approaches life and different situations was eye-opening.  The process he has to go through every second of every day is mind-boggling and heroic!

The parts of the book that made me most angry were those where Tammet described how he was tormented by his peers throughout school…

Teaser Tuesday...Poor Johnny!

Excerpt from Jerome Charyn's Johnny One-Eye:  A Tale of the American Revolution:

"They tied me to a pole, took paintbrushes out of their britches, dipped the brushes into the caldron, and started slabbering me with tar.  I was like a hog that had to be basted on a hot spit.  The tar went into my eyelashes, into my hair, into my armpits, into the webs of my fingers, into the fork between my legs, covered my member with a black well.  I hollered holy murder.  My body was an island of burning skin." (70)

I've been trying to read this book for awhile.  One day I hope to finish it!  So far, I'm on page 74 of 479.  My bookmark's been in that spot for awhile...