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Reading and Ruminations
The delicious breath of rain was in the air

Reading and Ruminations can now be found at

Please check there for new updates, book reviews, challenge progress, and general book talk.

Thank you!
The Sunday Salon.com Happy Sunday, Saloners! It's the end of the year, and it's also the end of an era here at Reading and Ruminations. As I've mentioned several times recently, Reading and Ruminations is moving to WordPress. It's basically already moved; my Sunday Salon posts are the only posts I've been making here in the last few weeks.

So I thought I would take today to kind of do a wrap-up of this phase of my book blogging life.

I started this blog in January 2005. My good friend bookloversdiary had begun keeping a separate blog for the books she read (she has another blog, which I won't name to protect her privacy), and it seemed like a good idea to me, too. So I came up with the wholly unoriginal username shootingstarr7, which wasn't much of a departure from my existing username, shootingstarr. My first post was a review of three different books: A Monarch Transformed by Mark Kishlansky (which to this day remains one of my favorite history books), Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and Hornblower and the Hotspur by C.S. Forester. As I was re-reading that first post, one thing became evident to me: my need for quality, full characters in a novel is not a new thing. My review of the Hornblower book discusses my love of the Hornblower character. It's interesting to note, though, that I was looking forward to moving on to the next book in the series. I own the full series, and never got beyond that third book. I never even started the fourth book, much less completed the series. Hm. I should consider going back to them.

I've also fallen out of the habit of reading non-fiction for fun. I should try to read more of it.

Anyway. As 2005 went on, I began blogging about books less and less, and in 2006, I didn't do it at all. 2006 was a pretty brutal year for me, though. I lost someone important to me to suicide early in the year, and it took me at least a full year to get over it, though I didn't realize at the time what horrible shape I was in. At any rate, this blog was silent. I came back to it in early 2007, but I didn't do too much with it. I did a few review posts, but almost nothing worth noting.

Something else happened in 2007: I discovered Library Thing. During the first few months, I didn't do much with it, but by April and May of 2007, I began adding all my books, and playing around with the site. In late 2007, I discovered the talk boards. And in turn, I began to rediscover book blogging.

I didn't start actively book blogging again until April 2008. I began to poke around people's blogs and see some great reviews, and it made me want to start writing my own reviews on a blog again (because you just can't respond the way you can to reviews on LT). And then I began to notice that some people were participating in this thing called the Sunday Salon. And the rest is kind of history. Posting to Sunday Salon forced me to remember to post every week, and I began to want to fill in the rest of the weeks with more posts. And I'm reading more now than I was a year ago. In 2007, I read 28 books, none of them particularly challenging. So far in 2008, I've read 48 books, with the hopes of finishing two more in the next few days so I can say I read 50 books in 2008. That's a great step in the right direction.

Because the Sunday Salon made me a more active, better blogger, it's really kind of fitting that my final post here at this incarnation of Reading and Ruminations be a Sunday Salon post.

2008 also saw some major changes to this blog. For starters, it got a name. Before I became part of the Sunday Salon, the title of this blog was "Reading Journal" or maybe "Shauna's Reading Journal." Not particularly interesting or inventive. I couldn't really tell you where "Reading and Ruminations" came from. I wanted something a bit bookish, and "Reading and Thinking" doesn't have much of a ring to it. Reading and Ruminations is a bit more polished.

I also tried to post a wider variety of content as well, though I don't think I succeeded in that as well as I would like. Ah well. Something to look forward for 2009 perhaps?

I'd like to take a minute to thank everyone who has stopped by this year to leave me comments and encouragement. I'd also like to thank those of you who took part in my giveaways this year. I've enjoyed meeting so many new bloggers, and I look forward to continuing our acquaintance in the future.

I was going to do a bit more of a 2008-specific retrospective, but I think I will save that for next Sunday's Salon post. So that's what we can look forward to for next week. A 2008 retrospective, and a look ahead to 2009.

Hope you all had a fantastic holiday week this past week, and I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Celebration this coming week.

Current Music: Vitamin String Quartet - Clocks

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday, all. Today is the first day since last Sunday that I literally have nowhere to be, and the first day in several months with no obligations of any kind (that I'm aware of yet). So how should I celebrate? By announcing the winners of my Barnes and Noble gift card giveaway.

First of all, thanks so much to all who entered! I had 27 total entrants, so I will round my donation to Room to Read up to an even $30. This money will go toward child education and literacy in Africa and Asia, so thank you very much for your support!

Now, for the fun part. There are three winners. The first is the winner of a $30 Barnes and Noble gift card; the other two each win a $15 gift card.

The winner of the $30 gift card is...
Terri of Reading, Writing, and Retirement!

And the winners of the $15 gift cards are...
Rebecca of Rebecca Reads!


Brittanie of A Book Lover!

Congratulations to all three of you. I will email you all later this afternoon to get your mailing addresses, but I don't anticipate that I will get anything in the mail until after Christmas.

On a completely different note, I've only managed to finish reading one book this week, but it was something of an accomplishment for me. Alias Grace has been on my shelves for a long time (five years), and I started reading it when I got it, only to be distracted (if I remember correctly, I was going through a period of serious depression at that time, so I didn't really have the ability to concentrate on anything). And so the book remained on my shelves for five years, just waiting to be read. So I started over earlier in the fall, and took my time with it. And now I've read it, and I enjoyed it a lot. My review is at Reading and Ruminations 2.0.

What about you? Do you have any books that have lingered on your shelf for years? And when you read them, was it worth the wait?

Since finishing that, I've moved on to American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. I've had it since it came out, but haven't had the chance to start it before now. It's turning out to be a pretty quick read for me. My goal is to finish it before Christmas, and then after Christmas I'm going to try to read two quick, easy books so I can reach my 50 book goal.

Also, next week's Sunday Salon will be the last post made here on the original Reading and Ruminations. You'll be able to find all my posts in 2009 at the new home of Reading and Ruminations on Wordpress. The link is: http://readingandruminations.wordpress.com/

Have a great Sunday!

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The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday, fellow Saloners! Hope you're all well, and that those of you in the Northeastern United States are starting to thaw out and get your power back. It's a little drizzly here, which is the most promising bit of weather we've had in weeks (we've been under a cloud of fog since late November).

So it's been a pretty eventful week here at Reading and Ruminations. Last Sunday evening, after my Sunday Salon post, an idle thought turned into something kind of big. In 2009, Reading and Ruminations will have a new home on WordPress. I've been less than satisfied with LiveJournal for my book blog for awhile, and the time has come to make a change. I'd toyed with the idea of making the transition a gradual one, especially since this LJ account has paid amenities that are supposed to last until next December. However, I set up the new account at WordPress last weekend and moved a few things, and realized that it would be too much work to do a year-long transition. So, by the end of the year, all of my posts will be made exclusively at the new Reading and Ruminations.

That's not to say I'll be taking this site down. All existing links to this blog will still work. It just won't see any new content after December 31, 2008. I'd complete the move sooner, but there are some final things that need to be wrapped up here, starting with my Barnes & Noble Gift Card Giveaway. I've already moved my 2009 challenges, as well as my Tuesday Thingers and Booking Through Thursday posts. I've moved a couple reviews, but I think it might be easier to just link to the reviews I made here. The Sunday Salon will probably be the last thing I move.

For those who would like to follow me at WordPress, the link to the new blog is:

In the meantime, a reminder about my giveaway: I am giving away THREE Barnes & Noble gift cards! Completely free! AND, I will be making a donation to charity for every entry made. There are currently 21 entries, which means my donation to Room to Read currently stands at $21. The giveaway is open until next Saturday, and I will announce the winners next Sunday.

Now, for the whole point of these Sunday Salon posts: books! I finished up two books this week: The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth, and Let it Snow, a three story YA collection by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. I loved The King's Daughter. For me, it was everything that a historical fiction novel should be, and I tell you why here. And I thought that Let it Snow was a sweet, charming collection of stories, and I've reviewed it here. I've finished 46 books so far for the year, and I think I'm going to make my goal of 50 for the year. I'm currently reading two short story collections: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese. I'm going to finish reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood sometime in the next few days (I've got about 60 pages left), and then it's on to Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Don't forget to check out the giveaway!



England in the 15th century isn't exactly a stable place to be if you're royalty. The Wars of the Roses leave the throne bouncing back and forth between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians. Princess Elizabeth of York spends much of her time in and out of sanctuary, hiding while her father, Edward IV, defends his throne. After her father's death, her younger brother is crowned Edward V- and he, along with younger brother Richard, are sent to the Tower of London by their uncle, who becomes King Richard III of England. What happens to the boys after that is one of the great historical mysteries, and no one is able to say for certain whether one or both of them died in the Tower. The final outcome of the Wars of the Roses is determined at Bosworth Field, and Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, beats Richard III and becomes Henry VII of England. In an effort to legitimize his seat on the throne and end the wars once and for all, Henry marries Elizabeth.

The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth is Elizabeth's story. Elizabeth of York holds an interesting place in history: she is the only Queen of England to have been daughter, sister, niece, wife, and mother of kings of England. Yet she doesn't receive much attention- she certainly doesn't receive the same level of attention as the wives of her son (Henry VIII). But that doesn't make her any less important. It was for her sake that subjects were willing to accept Henry on the throne.

For me, The King's Daughter was everything that a historical fiction novel should be: it's a new take on a familiar story, and every single character is absolutely believable. I've mentioned that I studied history in college, and my interest has always been with British monarchs. But I don't know much about monarchs preceding Henry VIII, and this book made me want to run for my history books, and order books on monarchs that predate my books on the Tudors. My curiosity is piqued, and I want to know more.

One of the things I loved most about this novel is that it didn't fall into the traps that plague many historical novels: tawdry (and unbelievable) love scenes, and women with 21st century sensibilities. Certainly, there were strong women at the time. Henry's mother, Margaret Beaufort, was one of them- and Worth's portrayal of Margaret Beaufort is historically accurate. But Elizabeth herself was kind of a doormat in some ways, and that's okay. Worth doesn't portray her as weak and insipid, but as the type of woman who knows to pick and choose her battles- and she does so with dignity and class. And in regard to my first point, there is one scene I can recall in the novel that involves physical intimacy, but it's not particularly titillating. There were scandals and intrigues enough during this time that it's not necessary to invent more.

I highly, highly recommend this book. I will be reading Worth's other novels, and I will likely be doing it sooner rather than later. It's one of the best historical fiction novels I've read in a long time.

Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 4.5 stars
Pages: 388
Publisher, ISBN: Berkley, 9780425221440

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Current Music: Muse - Exo-Politics

I’ve been using Live Journal to blog about books for almost four years now, and for a time, I was very happy. Live Journal is the blogging service I’ve been using for my personal blog for more than seven years, and I’m still fully satisfied with it as a personal blog. However, I’ve been growing more discontent with Live Journal as my way of blogging about books. So, I’m going to try something new for a little while: I will be using both Live Journal and WordPress to book-blog for the next year. At the end of the year, I will decide which blogging service has suited my needs better, and the other will lie dormant.

I will not be double-posting everything. Reviews will be double-posted, but my Sunday Salon posts will remain exclusively at LiveJournal, at least for now. However, I will probably be making all of my Tuesday Thingers posts at WordPress. I haven’t yet made a decision about my Booking Through Thursday posts. I will, however, provide links between the two services so anyone who reads my blog on one service will not miss out on posts made on the other service. Likewise, giveaways will only be hosted on one service, though which service that is will be determined at another point.

I hope you’ll all bear with me as I experiment with the two services to see which is the best fit for my needs. Over the next several days, I will probably begin posting some of my existing reviews to WordPress.

You can find my new book blog (also titled Reading and Ruminations) here.


The Sunday Salon.com

This isn't going to be a very cohesive post. I've got a lot going on and even more on my mind.

First things first: I am having a Barnes & Noble gift card giveaway! You must enter on the entry post, which can be found here. There are a couple rules, but the main stipulation is that it's only eligible to those in the United States. I'm donating a dollar for every entry to Room to Read, a charity that promotes childhood literacy and early education around the world. There are three gift cards up for grabs: one for $30 and two for $15 each. The giveaway ends December 20th, and I'll announce the winners on Sunday, December 21st.

Loss and grief have been a major theme of my week this past week. On Monday, as you all know, we discovered we lost Dewey, who has done so much for the book blogging community. She was a vital part of this community, and I know we'll all work together to continue the projects she started. I didn't know her the way so many of you did, but I still feel her loss.

More significantly for me, though, one of my brother's best friends died Thursday night. The coroner believes he died of an accidental overdose of painkillers- he was taking prescription strength pain killers because of a car accident, and he used a pain relief back patch as well. And apparently the combination was lethal. I've had a hard time focusing on much of anything since we received the news on Friday afternoon. My brother has had to be the person to tell everyone, and he's not yet had a chance to grieve. I know that he'll do it in his own time, but in the meantime, my mother and others are kind of pressuring him. And that's not helping him, either.

As you can imagine, I haven't gotten much reading done in the last two days, and unfortunately, real life obligations are going to trump reading obligations for the next few days as well. I'm still working on finishing The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth. I'm hoping to finish it Wednesday, with a review posted Thursday or Friday. Beyond that, well, we'll see what happens.

Hope you all have a good Sunday.

Edited to add: There are some changes coming to Reading and Ruminations; please see my post here.

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Current Mood: working working


1. Do you have a favorite author?
I do. I'd definitely consider Jane Austen to be my favorite. I know a lot of people have a hard time with her, but reading Pride and Prejudice when I was 17 was the catalyst for turning to literary fiction and classics rather than continuing to read nothing but mass-market literature, which is what I had been reading to that point. And while I don't have a problem with people reading mass-market fiction, I think I'm much better off for reading more quality literature.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?
I've read all six of the major novels, but I'm slacking when it comes to her minor works, such as her short stories. I own almost everything (save Lady Susan and The Watsons), I just haven't read it yet.

3. Did you LIKE everything?
Honestly, no. I don't love Mansfield Park. I love to go back and re-read her books, but MP is never at the top of my list. I found most of the characters to be grating and the main character, Fanny Price, just didn't interest me in any way. I really should re-read it. I might get something out of it now that I didn't when I was 18.

4. How about a least favorite author?
This is possibly very unfair of me, but William Faulkner. It's unfair because I really haven't given him much of a chance. I tried to read The Sound and the Fury when I was in high school. I got so frustrated with it that I gave up thirty pages in and have since sworn off everything he's written. I need to give it another chance, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?
None that I can think of off the top of my head. Maybe Mark Twain. I feel like I should like him, but after two forced readings of Huckleberry Finn, I'm in no hurry to read anything else by him.

What about you? Which authors do you love? And which can you do without?

Don't forget to check out my Barnes and Noble gift card giveaway!

Current Music: Muse - Stockholm Syndrome


Victoria Gardella Grantworth is a debutante. She's a little older than the other debutantes, since she spent the first two seasons of her eligibility in mourning (for her father and grandfather). And rumors abound that her ball will be attended by none other than Phillip de Lacy, the Marquess of Rockley. Handsome and wealthy, he has avoided society and debutante balls before Victoria's. However, Victoria has other stresses to contend with. She has inherited a talent for the family business, and she is the newest Venator of the Gardella family: she has been chosen to slay vampires. She is aided in her quest by her great-aunt Eustacia, the previous Gardella Venator, Eustacia's partner Kritanu, and Max, an Italian Venator who doesn't think Victoria has what it takes to really focus on the job at hand. The novel follows Victoria as she tries to navigate London high society while fulfilling her sacred duty.

A friend recommended The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason by stating that it was like a cross between a Jane Austen novel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As someone who loves both, I had to overcome my usual disdain of mass market romances to order this book. But I did, and I enjoyed the book. It was different than I'd expected it to be, and the comparison to Buffy certainly wasn't mistaken. Gleason highlights many of the same themes that were prevalent in early seasons of Buffy, in terms of doing her job while maintaining a facade of normalcy.

For me, there was one major problem with the novel: Victoria's mother and her two best friends. These three women are almost a caricature: nosy, cackling old biddies with one thing on their mind: marrying Victoria off to the marquess. Certainly, there were "matchmaking mamas" eager to marry their daughters off to any eligible member of the ton. But to have three characters constantly together with not an ounce of sense between them was really grating. Oh, they all meant well, but the image formed in my head of these three women made them all quite annoying.

I will be continuing the series, mostly out of idle curiosity. And I'd recommend the book to fans of historical romance and vampire novels; it's well-written, and the story is good. However, those looking for a more serious read should probably give this book a pass.

Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 3 stars
Pages: 347
Publisher, ISBN: Signet, 9780451220073

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Current Music: The Perishers - Sway

In honor of the holiday season, I figured it was time to host another giveaway. Once again, I will be giving away three Barnes and Noble gift cards! One will be in the amount of $30, the other two will be $15. Here are the rules:

1. You must leave a comment on this blog entry.
2. The comment must include the following information:
-your name (blog names or online aliases are okay)
-a URL for your blog, or your email address (this is so I can contact you if you win; I will not use your email address for any other reason. It is okay to write your email address out, ie., readingandruminations AT gmail DOT com)
3. Please tell me which books you like to read when the seasons change and it gets cool here in the Northern Hemisphere. This information tells me you read the rules (plus, you never know what good recommendations will pop up).
4. Unfortunately, this is only open to the United States and people with APO/FPO addresses. I will probably do another giveaway in January or February which will be worldwide.

You must include the first three things in order for your entry to count.

As an additional incentive, I will donate $1 for every entry made to Room to Read, an organization which promotes literacy and early education around the world.

THIS CONTEST IS OPEN UNTIL SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20, 11:59 PM (PST). I will announce the winners on Sunday, December 21. That's nearly three weeks.

Good luck!


What's the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it?

The most popular book in my library is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which is in 37,389 libraries and is the most popular book on Library Thing. I have read it, and I enjoyed it very much (but I am not one of the 364 reviewers). It wasn't my favorite of the Harry Potter books- I think Prisoner of Azkaban will always be my favorite.

Of the top ten books on Library Thing, the only one I don't own is The Da Vinci Code.

What about you? Which are the most popular books in your library?



Another day, another challenge to join! This time, I'm joining the 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge. It should be a breeze to do this one, as I read quite a few YA books as it is.

The rules are:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
2. Read 12 Young Adult novels. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
3. Challenge begins January thru December, 2009.
4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.

I'm going to hold off on listing them for now, but they will be listed on this post.


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Current Music: Coldplay - Violet Hill

Well, I started out the month of November with high hopes for accomplishing a lot of reading, and it all kind of... fizzled. But I think I managed to get some quality reading in, and I know there were some blog posts that I enjoyed making.

I managed to finish five books this month, which was way off from my hopeful estimations at the beginning of the month. I reviewed four of them, and a review of the fifth may yet be coming. They are

The fifth book was The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason. I really should review it, especially since I want to get into the habit of reviewing everything I read. But I haven't yet.

I was also very fortunate to host my very first author visit in November. I had the pleasure of hosting Dianne Ascroft, the author of Hitler and Mars Bars. She shared her thoughts on war and the role it played within her novel. Considering that the post was a few short days before Veterans' Day here in the United States, it was certainly relevant.

In their own way, each of the books I read was very good. But I think my pick for the best book I read in November has to go to Thirteen Reasons Why. For me, it was the most powerful book I've read all year. Maybe it's because of how strongly I relate to Clay and the horrific situation he finds himself in, or the raw nerve that it strikes for me. But none of the others, not even Living Dead Girl, came close to touching me the way this book did.

I stand firm in my belief that older teen girls need to read Living Dead Girl, though. As should parents. And I think ALL teenagers need to read Thirteen Reasons Why. It's incredibly important to be aware of how you behave and the things you say.

For the month of December, I really just have one goal: I want to read 6 books. That's all I have left in my goal for 50 books for the year. And I would really hate to get so close and come up short.

Current Mood: determined determined

The Sunday Salon.com

It's been a few weeks since I last posted to the Salon. It's been a bit of a busy two weeks, at least in my real life, if not so much here in book-blogger land. I joined two more challenges for 2009: The 100+ Book Challenge and the Pub Challenge. I also took some time on Wednesday and Thursday to post a little bit about me. During this time period, I only posted one review, for The Uncommon Reader. Real life hasn't been terribly cooperative with my reading lately. I'm really hoping it will pick up a little in December, but who knows?

Right now, I'm currently reading The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth. It was sent for me to review, and it will be released on Tuesday. I'd like to get it done and get the review posted before Tuesday. I'm enjoying it so much. It's about Elizabeth of York, the only woman (so far) to have been daughter, sister, niece, wife, and mother to kings of England. Though a great deal of attention is paid to the wives of Henry VIII, his mother is rarely the subject of literary attention. I've studied the Tudors, and British history in general. And reading this book is making me want to go bury myself in an academic library and read more about her, as well as other historical British monarchs.

For me, that's almost the best indication about whether an historical fiction novel is any good- does it make me want to do more research? If the answer is yes, I tend to think the author has accomplished something. I've read many historical fiction novels where the inaccuracies make me want to cringe and cry, and I'm so focused on the negative that I don't get that research itch. But when I get the research itch, that's a good sign. Now, it could be that, when I go back and read some nonfiction on the subject, it makes me realize that there are major faults with this novel. But I'm really hoping that's not the case here.

That's not to say I have to have total accuracy when reading historical fiction. If I'm looking for total accuracy, I read actual history books (and don't get me started on lazy research and historical inaccuracies in those books). If the story is engrossing, that's more than enough for me. I think it's like my plot vs. character stance. I don't have to have total accuracy (though I do cringe at gross inaccuracies) as long as the story is compelling.

What about you? What are some of the things you look for in historical fiction? And what are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?

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Current Music: Leona Lewis - Better In Time

One of the best things about book blogging is the chance to meet other people who love to read as much as I do. I'm learning which bloggers have similar tastes to me. Some bloggers make me laugh, others inspire me to try out new books and authors. And over time I feel like I know you all, just because I've read and enjoyed your blogs so much. But sometimes I worry that my own personality doesn't come through very well, so I wanted to take a few minutes and tell those of you who read this blog about me.

My name is Shauna, and I am a lifelong California girl. I'm currently in my mid-twenties, and am finishing up my BA in History. I minored in English, which pretty much leads everyone to one conclusion: "So you want to be a teacher, then?" This is, of course, erroneous. I love my chosen subjects very much, but nothing about them inspires me to shut myself in a classroom with 20 or 30 children for hours a day. I know teachers are important; I've had several excellent teachers over the years. I do not have the patience to be one.

Instead, my love of books has led me to a different field: the public library. I'm a part-time library assistant at the small public library here in my hometown. Though I've only been at this library for four months, I've been in the library field for more than three years now, and I know that this is where I want to be. I love being able to help people find the right books, whether they're looking for non-fiction and information, or just a nice story to curl up with for an evening.

In spite of, or maybe because of the history major, most of my "fun" reading is fiction. I don't read much genre fiction, with the exception of historical fiction. I occasionally read mysteries, but most of my reading is literary fiction. I also read a lot of young adult fiction. There are some really excellent books and stories coming out in the young adult age level, so I try not to discriminate just because the books are aimed at teenagers (though there are some really poorly written novels and series aimed at young adults; I think some of the things being published for young adults are downright toxic). But literary and historical fiction really are my first two choices when it comes to reading material. I do read some non-fiction, but not a lot. Most of my non-fiction reading is about history, though I am starting to dive into memoirs bit by bit.

In the great battle of Plot vs. Character, I am Team Character all the way. I can excuse plot holes if I'm invested in the characters, but I cannot excuse flat, lifeless, or cardboard characters, no matter how strong the plot. Ideally, I like a combination of the two, but if I have to live with just one, I'd rather have characters than plot.

When I review books, I try to provide a summary of the book in my own words; these are usually poorly written. I also try to explain why I loved (or didn't love, as the case may be) the book, and what connection, if any, I felt to the book. Even if I didn't care for a book, I always try to highlight something positive about it; more on my reviewing policy can be found here.

Well, I hope that gives you a little bit of insight into who I am. Please feel free to comment with any questions; I love getting comments!



Today's question- Blog Widgets. Do you use them? Do you have them on your blog? Do you know what I'm talking about? :-) A blog widget is that list of books "From my LibraryThing" and such, that you'll sometimes see on someone's sidebar. If you use it, do all of your books show up or do you have it set to only show certain books? Do you have a search widget, which would allow your blog readers to search your library? Have you ever made a photomosaic of your book covers? You can find widgets and photomosaic information on the "Tools" tab in LibraryThing.

I know what the blog widgets are, but I do not have one. I don't think they're LJ compatible; at least, they didn't used to be. The only information I could find on LJ-blog widgets is from 2006, and looks like WAY too much work (I'm all about simplicity; my HTML skills are pretty minimal). However, I do link to my Library Thing account in several places: on my top bar, on my links list, and on my user information page.

If anyone knows of an easier way to make the blog widgets work on LiveJournal, please feel free to share the information. Or, link me to the appropriate place. Whichever.

I do have a widget on my Blogger account, but I don't use Blogger anymore. I had an account there for a school project, but now it just links to my account here on LJ.

Current Mood: cold cold


I'm joining another challenge for 2009: The Pub Challenge. It actually shouldn't be too challenging. I request a fair amount of ARCs, and even if I didn't, I work at a public library. Reading 9 new releases throughout the year won't be too hard. Anyway, here are the rules for the challenge:

1. Read a minimum of 9 books first published in 2009. You don’t have to buy these. Library books, unabridged audios, or ARCs are all acceptable. To qualify as being first published in 2009, it must be the first time that the book is published in your own country. For example, if a book was published in Australia, England, or Canada in 2008, and then published in the USA in 2009, it counts (if you live in the USA). Newly published trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks do not count if there has been a hardcover/trade published before 2009. Any questions on what qualifies? Just leave a comment here, and I’ll respond with the answer.
2. No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the ‘pub.’
3. At least 5 titles must be fiction.
4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
5. You can add your titles as you go, and they may be changed at any time.

My books for this challenge will probably all be fiction, but we'll see. I literally never know when the urge to read a good history book will strike me.

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Current Music: Lifehouse - Broken


On an ordinary day, the Queen of England discovers a library bookmobile when out walking her dogs, she checks out a book more to be polite rather than from any real desire to read. However, she feels obligated to read the book, and with the help of a servant named Norman, discovers a wide world of books waiting to be read and enjoyed. And slowly, this obsession with reading begins to take over her life- to the point where she resents duties she once tolerated. Her servants and advisors, and to a small extent the public at large, view this desire to read as a habit which should be squashed, and in more than one place, wonder if she is going senile. As the Queen spends more time reading, she also spends more time ruminating on reading and writing, and how these things fit with life experiences. And by the end of the novel, she has come to something of a surprising conclusion.

When The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett first came out in hardcover last year, I missed it. But I won the paperback copy from Library Thing's Early Reviewer program, and quickly read it. And let me tell you, I loved it. The Queen of England is an unlikely but charming heroine, and her addition to the rank of bibliophiles is humorous and light-hearted. I was struck by how random her choices seemed in places. She selected some books simply because they were available early on; later, she was more willing (and able) to tackle and understand some of the classics.

At the end of the story, I really only had one thought: it was fun. I had a lot of fun reading this novella. Bennett's portrayal of the Queen is sly and witty. She comes across as being far more accessible than she does in real life (though it is never stated outright, the implication that this is Elizabeth II is clear). And it is the people around her who were stuffy and overbearing. None but Norman, her astute companion as she delves into literature, understand her new desire to read- and many look down on her for it.

This book is light and entertaining without being fluffy; I definitely recommend it!

Buy this book on Amazon

Rating: 4 stars
Pages: 120
Publisher, ISBN: Picador, 9780312427641

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As I mentioned in my Sunday Salon post this week, I've signed up for the 999 Challenge on Library Thing for 2009. If I do each category without any overlaps, that will put me at 81 books for the year. So I figured, why not go for it and complete a full 100?

As a public library employee, it's vitally important that I'm aware of what's going on in the book world. I'm regularly asked to make recommendations to customers, and I regularly put in my two cents for books that we order (whether or not those two cents are welcome is another matter entirely, but we have ordered some books at my request). So I try to read as much as I can (mostly fiction, as non-fiction tends to recommend itself when it's needed)

Since 2009 will be the first year that I am not enrolled in school at all (what a wonderful feeling!) I decided it would be the perfect time to take on the 999 Challenge, and so the 100 book challenge naturally follows suit.

Beneath the cut, I've listed all the books I plan to read for the 999 Challenge, and left some blank for the remaining 19 books it will take to reach 100. If you're interested in participating, see J. Kaye's blog post here. I will be updating this post throughout the year with any changes to the list, and I will also be adding links to all my reviews as the year goes on.

My 2009 ListCollapse )

So my goals for 2009 are:
-100 books
-30000 pages
-30 books from the 1001 Books list (1st or 2nd edition- doesn't matter)
-Reviews for all 100 books!

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I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

I missed most of last week's kerfuffle, and only read about it afterward. But like most other BTT participants, this is how I see it: the most important thing I can do as a reviewer is share my honest opinion about the books I've read. It shouldn't matter how I've gotten ahold of the book. I do acquire books from a wide variety of sources, and I feel free to review them all in any way I choose. For an author (or publisher) to expect positive reviews only isn't fair to them or to the people who read my blog.

That being said, I do try to look for positive things in each book I review to highlight. It would be unfair of me to slam a book just because I didn't care for it. Someone else might love an aspect of the book I didn't like. So even if a book isn't a good match for me, it might be a great match for someone else, and I'd like to encourage those people to give it a chance. I'm not sure that what I'm saying here is making sense, but the point is that I try to be fair- perhaps to a fault.

In light of what happened last week, though, I did put up a disclaimer. I haven't had a problem yet; so far, I really enjoyed the books I've read and reviewed at the author's request (there's a third that's next in my reading pile, but I don't anticipate getting to it before the Thanksgiving holiday). But I'd rather not end up in the position where I'm having to defend myself against an angry author. That wouldn't be fun for anyone (and I know it wasn't fun for those who were involved last week).

What about you? Where do you fall on the issue?