Monday, April 25, 2011

Music Monday: "Adagio for Strings" for The Letter by Evans

About the Book
Huge fan of Richard Paul Evans that I am, I can only read his stuff every couple months because it makes me so sad. The Letter was one of the saddest and most beautiful things I've read in a while. Check out my review of The Letter while you listen to the piece! (It will open in a different window)

Just like the book, I think this is one of the saddest pieces of music in the entire world. You be the judge! Please enjoy Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (it's over 10 minutes, but you'll get the idea if you only listen to some of it)

About the Artist

Samuel Barber (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was a super awesome composer, and this is one of his most widely known pieces. He's one of the few composers that I couldn't think of something off the top of my head to describe him. So according to Wikipedia: His music has been "lauded for its musical logic, sense of architectural design, effortless melodic gift, and direct emotional appeal". Couldn't have said it better myself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop
Hooray for the Book Blogger Hop!

This awesome meme is hosted by Jen at Crazy For Books! Each week, she asks a question and posts a linky for us to hop around to meet new bloggy friends! Yay!

This week's question:
 "If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?"
Well, yes...yes I do. I'm notorious for reading entire series just because the author did such a great job of painting a clear picture in my head of the world they've created. I also seek out books by the same author if I love the way the author writes. The first author that comes to mind is Richard Paul Evans. His stories rock my socks. I think I've read about 4 of them and will continue until I'm done with them all.

Other authors I've read multiples of: James Patterson, JK Rowling, Iris Johansen, Neil Gaiman.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out my Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway and my favorite self-made memes Library Thursday Blog Hop and Music Monday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Library Thursday Blog Hop!!

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Library Thursday is a weekly blog hop that I've started to:

1. Encourage people to support their libraries when they can

2. Meet new bloggy friends and grow your following

How to participate (UPDATED):
  • Create a Library Thursday post with a list, pictures or a vlog of your books. Or feature a cool picture of a library, or spotlight one of your favorite libraries.
  • Grab my button if you like it and include it in your post! Make sure to shout the library out that you went to!
  • Once you've created your post, link it to the linky at the bottom of my weekly post
  • Hop around to the other blogs participating and check out what other people are reading. Be sure to leave them a comment to let them know you were there, this is about making friends as well!
So guess what! I didn't make it to the library this week.  But here's a lovely picture of my favorite place anyway. OH and did you know that I won Book Love Blog's National Library Week Challenge with this very picture?!

Yep, I took that with my little iPhone! What did you guys get from the library this week??

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza! (Updated!)


Hey guys - thanks for entering. In two days, I received 300+ entries and would love to offer more prizes:

This hop ends April 25th at 11:59pm, so you'll have plenty of time to hop around!

My giveaways:

(2) Lucky International Winners:

$10 Gift Certificate to Amazon  or The Book Depository

And for my US bloggers, I've got some books you might like. There will be 2 winners. Choose one prize pack!

YA Prize Pack:

Numbers by Rachel Ward & Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

General Fiction Pack:

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman &
Master of the Delta by Thomas Cook
To Enter:
- Must be a follower
- Extra optional entries: +1 FB fan or Goodreads friend or Twitter Friend

NOTE: If you've entered before I updated this giveaway, no need to fill out this form! All others, please fill out this form :)

Have a great hop, don't forget to check out all the other amazing giveaways.

Teaser Tuesday: The Strain

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Miz B. at Should Be Reading.

My Teaser:
And she understood it then, unequivocally: something in there was going to eat her…”

Page 17, The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Haven’t done a teaser in a while but here’s a good one. Doubt I will be able to read this when it’s dark out!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review: Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood

Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood

Published: 1941, Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic
Borrowed from Library
Challenge: Twenty Eleven Challenge

More of the same in this one. Very cute story, loveable characters. All our friends from 'B is for Betsy' are back for Betsy's exciting year in the 2nd grade.

I thought my enchanted childhood was pretty original until I read this book. There were some events that literally paralleled some of my fondest memories of grade school. Ie. (small spoiler here, but doesn't ruin the story) their first grade teacher Miss Grey moving up a year with them and being their teacher again for the 2nd grade. That happened to me between 3rd and 4th grade! And Betsy wishing for a younger sibling around the 2nd grade? That's about the same time I wished for one too! Whaaat?! Get out of my head, The Betsy series!

My teeniest, tiniest complaint, is the introduction of the little sister. Where did this child come from? Did they adopt her? Did Betsy not notice her mom was preggers? And is the child's name 'Star', for real?

Despite the ambiguous childbirth, I give Betsy and Billy 3.5 out of 4 stars. Recommended for parents to read to their children and book readers of any age who enjoy stories from a simpler time!

Ten Good Things on a Monday: Halloween Edition

Ten Good things on a Monday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Nimble Nina & Arduous ARGH @ Brush Up on Your Reading!

Ten things I love about Halloween

1. An excuse to eat obscene amounts of candy

2. Fall Foliage and cooler temperatures 

3. Halloween episodes of The Simpsons and other such cartoons

5. Vibrant Fall Colors

6. Having a reason beside my birthday to wear a tiara

7. Um, this!
8. Little babies in costumes! Especially when they’re dressed up as Pumpkins, Cats or Bees!

9. Halloween themed parties / Decor


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2009
Borrowed from co-worker
Challenge: Twenty Eleven Challenge
Paperback, 266 pages

Taken from Amazon:
The publishers of Chris Cleave's new novel "don't want to spoil" the story by revealing too much about it, and there's good reason not to tell too much about the plot's pivot point. All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple--journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday--who should have stayed behind their resort's walls.

As soon as you start this book, you meet Little Bee and you know you're going to love her. The first few pages are actually quite brilliant. This book was beautifully written, with so many quotes that I just loved. The story was truly heartbreaking and the characters are memorable. Wth that said, I'm not sure why I'm sort of middle of the road on this one.

Before I got to the (seemingly rushed) ending, around page 150 or so, I would've given this book a perfect rating. But as the characters developed more and the story rolled on, I wasn't as convinced that this book was flawless. One of the most interesting characters only lasts a couple chapters and I find myself wishing that that character remained in the story longer. I had issues feeling for the other MC Sarah, and I really loved Little Bee and would've preferred for it to be her story and her story alone.

I think this book could've been shorter, or the events that transpired could've been spread out a little more. The event that occured on the beach to make the 2 women's paths cross, was absolutely terrifying. I wish that we would've found all that stuff out later in the book. Once I knew what the huge secret was, I felt that like the story was over.

All in all, I give Little Bee a 3 out of 4 stars. This is a heavy, heavy story that you might want to read in the dead of Winter or any time if you like that sort of thing. Recommended for fans of Adult fiction, intense drama and 

Music Monday: "Uprising" for Among the Free

About the Book
I read this entire series over a few weeks or so a couple years ago. It was my introduction in dystopian novels and I loved it. In short, the Shadow Children series (by Margaret Peterson Haddix) takes place during "a time in which drastic measures have been taken to quell overpopulation". Luke is a 3rd child born in a world where there can only be 2 children, by law. Families have 3rd children but hide them. Luke finds other 3rds and the story progresses from there. In the final book, Luke starts a rebellion. What better song to go to this book than Uprising by Muse?

"They will not force us. They will stop degrading us. They will not control us. We will be victorious!"

About the Artist
Muse holds a special place in my heart because they were the one of the first alternative bands I got into when I was in college. While their sound has changed a lot since then, they still remained true to their roots by keeping their electronica infused beats with occassional distorted vocals. Their sound is considered Space Rock and they are influenced by bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and Queen.

Check out more from Muse on their official website!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: Numbers by Rachel Ward

Num8ers by Rachel Ward 

Genre: YA Fiction
Paperback, 336 pages
Won in giveaway
Challenge: Hogwarts Reading Challenge

Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem's world is about to explode! 

I was so intrigued by the basis of this book. A girl that can see people's DEATH DATES?! How can this book NOT be awesome! Alas...

Here's a book with solid characters and a ho-hum plot. The strength of the characters alone is what kept me reading this book. I was really disappointed with the events of the book but was so invested in the MC that I had to know how it ended.

Unfortunately, there were no redeeming moments. Similar to my disappointment with the book Trapped, nothing really HAPPENED in this book. The major event that drove the entire story felt rushed. I feel like we spent 10% of the book developing the characters and then 75% of the book running from the major event and like whatever percent is left with some sort of forward motion.

Beside the upsetting story, I have go to say that these were some of the most interesting characters I've ever seen in a YA. Jem was hard to chew and she remained as such. Somehow, the author made her accessible through all of that. Her relationship with Spider was actually pretty sweet and I ended up rooting for him to break through her shell.

All in all, I give Numbers 2.5 out of 4 stars. I'm pretty m'eh about the book generally but give it a go if you are intrigued. Recommended for fans of the gritty mature end of YA fiction as there is a lot of foul language and some "adult situations".

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Library Thursday Blog Hop (17)

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Library Thursday is a weekly blog hop that I've started to:

1. Encourage people to support their libraries when they can

2. Meet new bloggy friends and grow your following

How to participate (UPDATED):
  • Create a Library Thursday post with a list, pictures or a vlog of your books. Or feature a cool picture of a library, or spotlight one of your favorite libraries.
  • Grab my button if you like it and include it in your post! Make sure to shout the library out that you went to!
  • Once you've created your post, link it to the linky at the bottom of my weekly post
  • Hop around to the other blogs participating and check out what other people are reading. Be sure to leave them a comment to let them know you were there, this is about making friends as well!
My books this week:

Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
Betsy and Billy by Carolyn Haywood
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

I tried to take a picture or two while I was in the library without looking like a tourist. But I've only got this one haha. I will try to take others the next time I am here.

What did you get from the library this week?? Don't forget to link up IF YOU'VE MADE A LIBRARY THURSDAY POST. I've been getting some links that lead to people's blogs only. Haha?! Whaaaa?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: The Gift by Richard Paul Evans

The Gift by Richard Paul Evans

Genre: General Fiction / Christmas/Spiritual
Published: Simon & Schuster, October 2007
Hardcover, 331 pages
Borrowed from library

Nathan Hurst hated Christmas. For the rest of the world it was a day of joy and celebration; for Nathan it was simply a reminder of the event that destroyed his childhood until a snowstorm, a cancelled flight, and an unexpected meeting with a young mother and her very special son would show him that Christmas is indeed the season of miracles.

“The most important story we will ever write in life is our own – not with ink but with our daily choices”

How lucky am I that I got to read 3 amazing books in a row?? What can I even *say* about this book? I just loved it so much. Although it didn’t feel like a Christmas story (beside the fact that it took place during Christmastime), it had all the Christian ideals behind it. A young faith healer can heal people by touching them. The only catch is that he gets extremely sick each time he does it. He chooses to because there are people who need healing, and inside his heart, he cannot deny them what they so need.

"Our thoughts are not arrows haphazardly shot out into the cosmos. They are boomerangs."

Each chapter begins with a line or two from the MC, Nathan Hurst’s journal. I think we were supposed to hate him at first or maybe even think he’s strange. But I always liked the guy. In fact, there weren't many characters in this book I could've done without. I especially loved Collin, the faith healer (of course). What he was able to do was remarkable, but Evans continued to paint him as the child he was.

"I feel like all I've had are McRelationships"

I don’t know where the time went or how I read through it so fast, but this book was indicative of Richard Paul Evans’ writing style. This is a strongly Christian book but we aren’t hit over the head with it. It’s accessible to people of any creed. I give The Gift a whole-hearted 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to people of faith, and anyone who doesn’t mind a tear-jerker!

"Forgiveness does not require us to close our eyes but rather to truly open them"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Music Monday: "Bodies" for The Hunger Games

About the Book
Okay, what can I say about this amazing book beside "omg I love it so much aaaah"? I've been trying to think of a song that would best describe any part of it. I thought of (and this is not much of a spoiler) the moment all the Tributes are at the Cornucopia waiting to run to get their supplies. So please enjoy Bodies by Drowning Pool. It's kind of loud so don't have your speakers blasting if you're reading from work or something :-D

About the Artist
Drowning Pool is an awesome alternative metal band from Texas. Their sound has changed a lot since lead singer, Dave Williams died suddenly in 2002. This is actually one of the only songs I listened to by the band and have yet to check out their more recent stuff! Are you surprised that I, Lazy Girl opera singer,  like metal bands?! Don't be! I love all music :) Check out more from Drowning Pool here!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review: B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood

B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood  

Genre: Middle Grade, Classic
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published: Harcourt Inc., 1939
Borrowed from Library
Challenge: Dusty Reads Challenge

What a delightful book! At a short 120 pages, this classic takes us all through Betsy's first year in school. I loved it because it was written during a simpler time and is told in a straight forward way. Even though this is a middle grade book, it's definitely something parents can read with or to their children without getting bored.

The best thing about it is how charmingly predictable the little plot lines are. You know that when Betsy wants to donate a turkey to the old street merchant, and can't figure out how, she will end up making it happen. Or you know that when the tea set she'd been eyeing for her bestie Ellen is missing from the store, her mom bought it for her.

I wish I had read this book when I was in the first grade - but im glad I got to read it now. All in all, B is for Betsy gets a hearty 4 out of 4 stars! Recommended for middle graders or parents who enjoy reading to their children.

Ten Good things on a Monday (15)

Ten Good things on a Monday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Nutritious Nina & Ample ARGH @ Brush Up on Your Reading!

I can't believe this is my 15th good things post! I feel like I've done every possible list imaginable but of course I haven't. The most fun I've had so far was listing cartoons and television shows I grew up on. SO I think I will attempt to list 10 shows I enjoy as an adult:

Ten Awesome TV shows

1. Friends
I just finished watching all 10 seasons (thank you NetFlix!) so it's fresh in my mind. Amazing show, could watch this at any time of the day.

2. Charmed
 Another show I was late to the party on...watched all the seasons on my DVR - twice last year.  Magic, awesomeness, HOT guys, chicks who kick butt...what didn't this show have??

 A mere blurb on my favorite show of ALL TIME couldn't possibly suffice. I cried like freaking baby when the series ended. LOST obsessed? That I am.

4. Snapped
 Okay don't judge, but just the same way that I like to read political thrillers and suspense thrillers, I enjoy watching True Crime tv. This show usually takes about 30 minutes to tell a short story of  who murder and deception that REALLY happened. They often times have the woman who did the killing on the show to talk about it!

5. The Simpsons
 Okay so I used this show already but I still watch it as an adult. It will be a sad day when The Simpsons ends.

6. Wheel of Fortune
 A personal favorite gameshow of mine. I've watched it since childhood and love that it's still going strong! And I'm really good at it, and I was on it when I was 19 :-O

7. Glee
 This is a no-brainer. Even if you weren't a musical kid in high school, this show is awesome.

8. Flashforward 
Okay, so they cancelled it after its first season but there was a solid story line for at least 10 episodes. I would've liked to see it go on for a couple years.

9. The Jimmy Fallon Show 
I thought this talk show was excruciatingly awkward when it first started. I guess that's because it was. But as Jimmy Fallon started falling into his own rhythm, I knew that every time I'd watch, there'd be belly laughs abound! Some of you guys might appreciate his "Robert is Bothered" segment.

10. Big Love
I haven't seen the final season so don't leave any spoilers in the comment section! Aaaah! But, this show is so awesome. I could watch it for an entire weekend and not even notice!