Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

  • I am currently reading a book that I picked up (and graciously got signed!) at Dragon*Con! This one looks like a scorcher! I had to shuffle through a couple of pages before I found G-rated sentences for my teasers. Stay tuned for what I'm sure will be an exciting review!

    "He had to get his head back in the case and forget about Bluster. It was possible a local might have snapped and turned into a killer."
    --page 78, Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    And the winner is...!

    Busy Bee!

    You have been emailed, and I am waiting for her choice in books! Thank you to all the new followers! Stay tuned for new reviews and upcoming giveaways!

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    A Giveaway for BBAW!

    I've got quite a few books sitting around that I would love to give away. Some of them are gently used, and some of them are new. Here's the list:

    For the paranormal romance lovers:
    • Red Fire by Deidre Knight
    • Dark Protector by Alexis Morgan
    • Howling Moon by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
    • If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl
    • The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
    • Night Falls Darkly by Kim Lenox
    • Timeless Moon by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
    For lovers of other genres:
    • The Last Oracle by James Rollins
    • The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner
    • Missing by Sharon Sala
    I can definitely find some other books to give away as well! Here's how to play: subscribe to my RSS feed and leave me a message letting me know that you did! Easy, right? I would totally offer more entries for following me on Twitter, too, but I am not sure quite how to do that! Maybe someone more experienced with giveaways can help me out here! This is only my second one.

    For every 25 entries/comments, I'll add another winner! To start out with, there's just 1. I will update each time another winner is added. This giveaway will end on Friday, September 25th at 11:59 p.m. EST. My apologies to the international readers--this is open to the U.S. only.

    Wordless Wednesday

    I was so excited to meet my absolute favorite author, Peter S. Beagle at Dragon*Con in Atlanta!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Interview Swap: Evening All Afternoon

    This is my second BBAW, and I think that the one thing I've participated in this year that has made my BBAW better than last year is the interview swap! I was lucky enough to have two different interview partners, and I think they are both great! I look forward to reading more from both of them!

    First is Emily from Evening All Afternoon! Emily reads quite different books than I do, but we found that we have knitting and the tendency to be wordy in common! I asked Emily a few questions(in bold), and her answers follow! My responses to her are in italics.

    What got you into book blogging? What do you like most about it?

    I got into it by kind of a long and circuitous route, so prepare yourself! A few years ago, my partner David and I were keeping a joint blog: on Mondays he would post a haiku, then on Tuesdays I would post a book review, on Wednesdays he would post a photograph, on Thursdays I would post about my knitting, and so on. Gradually he started focusing on other interests (specifically web design), and so I was keeping a knitting-and-reading blog. Then I started the Family Trunk Project, which is my big knitting-design art project-cum-business in which I design a garment based on each member of my family tree, and self-publish the patterns. So then I had a place specifically for my knitting-related blogging, and I wanted a designated place for my book-blogging too - a place where I could get as bookish as I wanted, and not worry that I was boring all the knitters who just wanted to talk about lace socks or whatever. So David designed the Evening All Afternoon site, and the rest is history.

    As for what I like most about it, there are so many things! I love the conversations and shared reading projects that it engenders, and I also love being challenged to think more deeply about my experience with a book. I find that I get a lot more out of my reading now that I'm writing a little essay about each book I finish. Hearing other peoples' diverse opinions on the same book often makes me think. And, to cap it all off, blogging is a regular writing practice, which makes me a better writer. It's a win-win-win!

    I love the shared conversations, too! This interview swap has been so interesting for me, and one of the best things about being a blogger, in my opinion.

    What is the first book you can remember reading as a kid?

    It's funny, because the first book I remember reading, isn't a book I remember! Right after I started reading myself (rather than being read to every night by my parents), my dad bet me that by the end of the week I would be reading a certain book without help. At the time it seemed so overwhelming - there were lots of words on every page, along with the pictures. But he was right; by the end of the week I could read it. That memory is so clear to me, but I don't remember the specific book. The only things I seem to recall are that one of the characters was a purple cat, and that it had a white, hardback cover and was longer side-to-side than up-and-down.

    But as far as the first books I remember really loving, I was a huge fan of the Emily of New Moon and Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery (and everything else she wrote). I'd still love to visit Prince Edward Island one of these days.

    I love the way you describe the book that you remember reading! It's very cool that you had parents who challenged you in that way. My dad used to read to me, but I don't remember the first book I read by myself. I wish I had a distinct memory of that first book.

    I see that you're a knitter! I am, too! How long have you been knitting? Do you think you spend more time at your book blog or your knitting blog?

    Awesome! Always good to meet another knitter. I learned when I was ten, but didn't do anything with it back then. I picked it back up and taught myself everything beyond the basics after I graduated from college (2004). Then I started designing about three years ago. My first published design was in the Spring 2006 Knitty, and things kind of took off from there.

    I definitely spend more time working on knitting- and design-related stuff than book-related stuff, since garment design is what I'm trying to do for my living at the moment. But I spend more time on my actual entries for my book blog than the entries for my knitting blog. Generally speaking, they take a lot more thought. Knit-blogging is more about pretty pictures, process-related checkups, and debating with myself about ways to deal with setbacks, whereas my bookish entries are more about analyzing my reactions to literature, pinning down how different effects were achieved, and so on.

    I love Knitty! I'm working on one of the projects there right now. Please send me a link so I can check out your project! I love that you tell your family's stories on the website along with your creations. Your designs are beautiful! I think it's awesome that you take stories in exchange for your patterns as well! I love the idea, and I think I might send you a story or two just because!

    I'm very impressed by your proficiency in French! How long have you been studying? It's really awesome that you're working on reading literature in the original language! Would you advocate reading a novel in the original language, or do you like translations as well?

    Thanks! My progress is slow now that I'm no longer in school, but the occasional French novel helps. I took it up in my second year of college, after reading Proust in English and completely falling in love with In Search of Lost Time. It's one of my life goals to read him in the original one day, with good understanding. Right now I do okay with modern French novels, which tend to be more colloquial. But old-fashioned, proper French has about a million obscure verb tenses, and I can never keep them straight. My friend Marie Christine says that most young French folks don't even know how to use them anymore, so maybe I shouldn't feel bad!

    As far as the original versus translation, I read a TON of books in translation. I love it, especially if you can find the work you're looking for in an excellent translation. I started paying attention to translators back in high school when I discovered that I mysteriously hated Constance Garnett's translation of The Brothers Karamazov, but loved Andrew McAndrews's translation of the same book. (This was before the beautiful Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Dostoevsky started coming out.) So I'm all about reading in translation, but I think if you can read a little bit in the original language it's really good, too, if only because it gives you a sense of what a difficult job translators have, and how much is changed and lost when something is translated. Even trying to translate a few lines of the novel I just finished really brought that home to me. I have so much respect for people like Natasha Wimmer, who did the AMAZING English translation of Roberto Bolaño's 2666.

    I've encountered the same issue with reading translations. Some I love, some I hate! I think I would probably have to start with Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" if I were ever to try reading something in the original.

    This is your first year participating in BBAW, right? What are you most looking forward to?

    Yes, it's my first year! I just think it's such a cool idea to have a community-driven celebration like this; so much of the time we don't take time to recognize all the meaningful, hard work we put into the not-for-profit things we do. Book blogging doesn't make me any money, but (cliché though it sounds) it enriches my life in so many ways, and so do the book blogs I read and the bloggers behind them. I applaud My Friend Amy for seeing the need to take some time out and acknowledge that, and I'm just looking forward to being along for the ride! And maybe discovering some great new blogging friends.

    It seems like you mostly read classics and more serious novels. (As opposed to me--I read mostly fluff!) What books are your guilty pleasures, the books that you read in the bathtub?

    Oh, if only I still had a bathtub! Seriously, going without one was the sad compromise my partner and I made when we bought our current (otherwise awesome) place. Someday...

    Back on topic, though, I have a penchant for Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and other mass-produced girls' serial fiction from the 1930s-50s. I'm so fascinated by how blatantly formulaic they are - the Stratemeyer Syndicate (which produced the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels) had super-strict guidelines about what should be happening in each chapter and almost on each PAGE of the books, and the ghost-writers just churned them out to specification. And there were all these specific rules - like, Nancy could only be knocked unconscious once per book, she had to be chaperoned while doing certain things though not others, there was supposed to be a plug for her previous book in Chapter 2 and a description of her appearance in the first five pages...they were controlled to a really bizarre extent. I'm repelled, and yet strangely attracted, by this idea of a kind of fiction factory - it's so 1984. And I also love the cheese factor in the books - the endless descriptions of lovely clothes and hearty meals that obsessed kids' authors of the 50s, and how Nancy possesses every skill and piece of esoteric knowledge known to mankind, which she whips out in service of the latest case. Totally hilarious! I also get a kick out of Mabel Maney's satires of those books (The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse, The Case of the Good-For-Nothing Girlfriend), featuring lesbian heroines Nancy Clue and Cherry Aimless. Maney nails the tone, spot-on.

    Wow! I never knew that about Nancy Drew novels. I'm really not surprised, though. I read Nancy Drew as a kid, too. My favorites were the Trixie Belden books because her name was Beatrice. I was always so jealous that she got a cool nickname and I didn't!

    I love the title of your blog from Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird! Would you say that he is your favorite poet, and is this your favorite poem?

    I don't think it's my absolute favorite poem, but I do really love it. I find almost every line to be so evocative and beautiful. When I was looking through my favorite poetry for blog titles, I realized that a lot of my most favorite poetry (Theodore Roethke's The Lost Son, H.D.'s Other Sea Cities) is longer, and kind of builds on itself, so there aren't as many single lines that pack as much punch. A lot of my favorite poetry is also pretty dark. Brilliantly evocative of a certain mood or character, but not a mood or character that I particularly want to associate with my blog, you know? I'm wild about "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," but I hope I'm not very similar to its speaker!

    Ooh, I love T.S. Eliot! I thought for the longest that my dad was joking when I said something wasn't fair, and he said "T.S. Eliot!" I'll have to look up the other two that you mentioned. I love poetry, but don't read anywhere near enough of it, in my opinion.

    Since you love reading and look for a well-turned phrase, are you also a writer? If so, what do you primarily write?

    Blogging is pretty much my writing practice at the moment, but I do have sort of a writerly bent about it. I try to structure my entries like conversational essays - tie the ends together, use words in a conscious way, craft lively, readable prose that flows easily. I'm not sure right now if it's practice for something bigger, or just an end in itself.

    I do also write essays as part of the Family Trunk Project - family history, based either on research, oral history or my own memories. I think my favorite piece so far in that project is the one about my paternal grandmother, Betty Jean McNeil.

    I've already mentioned that I really love your stories about your family members! My mom would love your site because she's into genealogy. I bet she would be inspired by it! I think I am as well. *Heads off to start writing about family*

    What are your wishes for the future of your blog?

    More of the same, really! I hope I can continue connecting with kindred spirits in the wide world of book-bloggers, having interesting conversations and reflecting on my own experiences reading books. Recently I went back and looked through some of the first literary blog posts I wrote, and they brought back elements of those books I had completely forgotten. I think that's so cool! I love having a record of my thoughts about reading as time goes by.

    Great point! I like being able to look back on my thoughts, see what was going on at the time, too. Good luck on having more of the same! It was such a pleasure interviewing you!

    Interview Swap: Gossamer Obsessions

    Have I mentioned that I love BBAW interview swaps? So much so that I did not one, but two! In addition to Emily at Evening All Afternoon, I also met AnimeJune of Gossamer Obsessions! June and I share a love of Peter S. Beagle and romance novels. Here are my questions for her in bold, her answers, and my responses in italics.

    What is the first book you can remember reading?

    ANIMEJUNE: That's a reaaaaaally difficult one. I would have to say The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. I started reading early and before that my mother would always read to us (starting with Narnia). I think I remember the Paperbag Princess the most because my mother said she was a lot like me. :)

    I'm not familiar with that one! I still love kids/young adult books, and I'm going to have to look it up. Thumbs up for Narnia, too!

    I see you're on Twitter! How has it changed the way you blog, if at all?
    ANIMEJUNE: Twitter has changed the way I review books in the sense that now I can comment on books AS I read them. Since I put my Twitter widget on my blog, now people can read my up-to-the-page reactions as they surf my other reviews.

    That's a really great way to use Twitter. I've got a widget on my blog, but I don't usually tweet while reading. Great idea! Mind if I steal it?

    What do you think are the best and the worst things about Twitter?
    ANIMEJUNE: I actually communicate a lot more with my fellow bloggers on Twitter than I do my e-mail or comments, so that's one of the best things. When I have a lightning-flash thought that is maybe a little too short to warrant an entire e-mail, I can say it on Twitter and respond to other people. It's all on one page without having to go to separate blogs. Maybe that means I'm internet-lazy. I don't know.

    The worst thing about Twitter? I haven't exactly discovered it yet. I'm sure something controversial will come up eventually. That's how things normally happen on Ye Olde Internets.

    I tend to communicate with other bloggers a lot on Twitter, too. I usually let people know that I've posted via Twitter. I wonder sometimes if Twitter makes me more concise. Somehow, I doubt it! I think my worst thing about Twitter is how much time I spend there. It's quite addictive.

    Congratulations on being published! I am a bit jealous you've got enough perserverance to finish a novel! : ) Anything to say about the writing of your novel? Where can we find a copy?
    ANIMEJUNE: I have been published, but not in novel format, sorry. My first publication was a novella called "My Brother's Own Words" that was published in the March/April 2007 issue of Cicada Magazine (the YA sibling to Cricket Magazine). As for the writing of it - funny story. Waaay way back in August 2005, I had my wisdom teeth removed. For an entire three-day weekend I ate nothing but Tylenol 3 and Neapolitan ice cream and I guess it turned my story-filter off, you know - the tiny voice in your head that says, "You can't write about that, it's too weird!"

    So I wrote and finished a novella over that weekend about a boy whose father is human but whose mother is a parrot, a boy who has feathers for hair, and can only repeat what other people say. I sent it in to a few magazines and got speedy rejections, then I sent it in to Cicada. I didn't hear back from them until January 2006, in the form of a yellow postcard that said they'd received the story and would evaluate it later. Months after that, I was accepted! And FINALLY, in March 2007 it was published. Two years for a novella. It really brought it home to me how slow the publishing process is. You can probably find a copy in your local library, if they keep collections of magazines.

    I'm still impressed. Good for you for being persistent. I love the premise of the story! It sounds like it was a long process to wait to get it published. Thanks for sharing the story--it encourages me in my eventual search for publication.

    Who are the authors that influenced your writing the most?
    ANIMEJUNE: Well, I read a lot of fantasy before I started reading romance, so I'd have to say Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, and Kate Elliott. They wrote these grand, sweeping epic fantasies that brought to life worlds that seemed familiar, but were deliciously, intriguingly different once you got to really know them. Alice Hoffman is currently one of my influences - I love to read her books before I write something myself, because I adore her writing style and would love to absorb as much of her style as I can so I can use it myself. She's the one who inspired the way I like to mix the weirdly magical with the mundane.

    Some of my favorites! I love Robin Hobb & Tad Williams. Have you ever read Irene Radford? Gayle Greeno, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Goodkind, Lois McMaster Bujold? I'll have to check out Kate Elliott & Alice Hoffman! I am always looking for new authors to read, of course!

    I have to ask: vampires or werewolves?
    ANIMEJUNE: If I had to choose, vampires. I've fallen out of touch with paranormal romance, although I'm gradually reading more of them, so I'm not actually a fan of vampire or werewolf romances. At least not yet. But in terms of other media like television and movies, vampires win - mostly because after 100 years of cinema, Hollywood can't seem to produce a werewolf transformation that doesn't look completely ridiculous (although Underworld came close).

    Good answer! I totally agree with you about werewolf transformations.

    Other than reading and writing, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?
    ANIMEJUNE: Uhh...I watch a lot of movies and television. I love stories and I love to be surrounded by stories. I guess that makes me pretty boring. Oh, I do love singing. I've sung in my university's mixed chorus for about five years now - I'm a Soprano II - and that's always fun. I have a really loud voice so I'm always assigned to the edge of the choir, halfway between front and back. If a choir were a football team, I'd be the linebacker.

    Nice description of your voice! My aunt was just like that. Sounds like fun!

    Best book you've read so far this year?
    I've had about three A+ romance reviews this year, which is pretty lucky for me. The one that edged out all the other ones (even if it was only by a hair) was Laura Kinsale's "For My Lady's Heart." It was my first medieval and the characterization and detail just blew me away. In genres other than romance, I'd say Alice Hoffman's "The Probable Future." She writes these gorgeously lyrical subtle fantasies, where magic is slightly part of the story but really it's how the characters and the setting come together, tenuously joined by magic.

    That is a lot of really great books. I don't know that I could pick out 3 that were that great this year. Now I'm really going to have to pick up some Alice Hoffman!

    Other than book bloggers, is there any group of bloggers you read--cooking, authors, etc.? Any recommendations for new reads?
    I follow I Can Has Cheezburger.com for the LOLcats, and Julie James' blog is cool (she wrote "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" and "Practice Makes Perfect" - and I would suggest those for new reads, they are very funny contemporary romances). Another website I follow religiously is ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com . It's a comedy website where characters such as the Nostalgia Critic review bad movies from the 80s and 90s with such scathing humour.

    Yay, LOLcats! I love them, too. I could spend so much time looking at the kittehs! Have you ever checked out Notalwaysright.com or Postsecret.blogspot.com? Those are a couple of my favorites, too.

    Congratulations on being nominated for a BBAW award! Good luck in the polls! Is this your first time being nominated/shortlisted?
    ANIMEJUNE: Yes, indeedy. I'm very honoured.

    I look forward to hearing about whether you won or not!

    Is this your first BBAW, or are you an old hat?
    ANIMEJUNE: This is my first BBAW, although since I'm only one year behind the so-called "old hats," I don't know how significant that is. I didn't do it last year because I was a pretty solitary blogger back then. It's only been this year that I've actually started networking with other blogs and accumulating readers. The first year I was reviewer I reviewed mainly for myself, but I've discovered it's much more fun to be a social blogger.

    I forget that it's only the second year for BBAW! Does that make me an old hat? It seems like it's been going on longer than that for some reason. I participated last year right after I started my blog, and it was a great experience. I love being a social blogger as well. It's been a really rewarding experience, forming relationships and in some cases meeting people in real life at BlogHer.

    What are you most looking forward to for BBAW this year?
    ANIMEJUNE: There's absolutely too much to look forward to. I'd have to say, maybe an end to the whining that's been going around on the internet. So maybe people and bloggers are griping about BBAW's faults, when they forget about how much it's accomplishing in only the second year of it's inception. People need to chill.

    Well said! I hope you enjoy this year's BBAW. I know I've enjoyed interviewing you, and I look forward to reading more of what you have to say about books!

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    A Life Well Read

    As an avid reader, and even more as a book review blogger, I have stacks and stacks of books. My bookshelves overflow! I've tried methods of keeping up with my books before. I've kept little notebooks that I wrote down books I'd like to read in. I kept notebooks with personal reviews of books that I've read. I log my books on Goodreads.com. I'm always looking for a good, efficient way to keep track of my books.

    I was offered a chance to try out this lovely book tracking system myself. I love how it has all the different elements that I want in one place. I am notorious for losing track of my things! It's also compact, so it doesn't take up a lot of room!

    It is beautifully made--very sturdy. I must admit that I'm generally quite hard on my things, but I don't have any fear that this will stand up to my abuse! It's also really aesthetically pleasing. I am not really a very girly girl, and there are flowers on the box. I really like the design, however. It's classy. Of course, it probably helps that it's teal and I love any shade of blue! It comes with a nice, heavy pen that feels great in your hand.

    All in all, I really like A Life Well Read system! It's beautiful, practical, sturdy, and just right. From now until October 11th, you can purchase it at a 25% discount. Just click on the link at the top of my blog on the right hand side to take you to the special promotion page! Holiday season is fast approaching, and it would make a great gift. I hope my readers enjoy the system as much as I do.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Dragon*Con Authors

    I went to Dragon*Con last weekend. It was my first time at a sci-fi convention. I went expecting to see some of my favorite stars.

    And I did! I saw Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock. He's such an interesting man outside of acting! He does photography, and I am excited about looking up his work. His photography projects sounds simply fascinating! William Shatner crashed the end of the panel, in typical Shatner style. It was fun. I am not as excited about the Shat as I might have otherwise been as he owns a horse farm in Kentucky and has been in at least one of the horse shows that I have been in the audience for in the past.

    I also saw Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard! He is such a funny man. He was sincere, and so polite. He thanked everyone for their questions. He would have stayed the rest of the afternoon to just answer questions and have conversations with fans if he had been able, I think! I would so love to meet him on a personal basis and spend time with him.

    What I didn't expect was how many authors would be there! I accidentally accosted Susan Sizemore because she had a Knit Wit ribbon on her badge! Sherrilyn Kenyon was there, although I didn't see her. I had a chance to meet Diana Gabaldon who was wonderful and gracious and had a grandmother with my name! I saw Charlaine Harris, but did not make it into the line in time to get her autograph. I also saw new writers of paranormal romances, mostly. Rita Herron's name springs to mind, although there was someone else as well. I also discovered a new book about killer unicorns!

    The most awesome experience was meeting my favorite author, Peter S. Beagle. If you haven't read The Last Unicorn, please go pick up a copy now! The movie made from the novel is the one thing that I think I can point to in my life and say that it was the most influential thing in regards to molding my readerly interests. I love fantasy novels, and I think that The Last Unicorn is the one book I have read more often than any other.

    I had no idea that Mr. Beagle would be at Dragon*Con. I was so excited once I found out by chance that he would be signing shortly thereafter. I purchased another of my favorite books that he's written and waited for my turn to speak to him. I told him that he was such an influence on me. He noticed that I was from Kentucky and asked if I knew two notable Kentucky writers that he had attended Stanford with. I knew of both of them and had taken a class from one. The other has recently passed away. I got to be the one to break the news about his old friend's passing to him. As a friend pointed out to me, I will be memorable. I was very, very sorry to have to tell him the news, though.

    I am so glad that I had a chance to attend Dragon*Con this year, and I look forward to future years! I went expecting one thing, and experienced something totally different, unexpected, and wonderful!