Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Blog Buddy!

I can't believe I forgot to post this...Veens named me a Great Blog Buddy!


Thanks, Veens! :)

The Dream King Challenge

After much thought (and encouragement from Laza), I decided to create a Neil Gaiman Reading Challenge. Here it is!

The Dream King Challenge will run from 1 January 2009 - 31 December 2009.

This is a partial list of Neil's works that I've compiled. Use it to help you choose your level of participation. There are four different levels:
Neophyte: Read one work and watch one movie
Acolyte: Read three works (from three different categories) and watch one movie
Devotee: Read six works (from six different categories) and watch one movie
Zealot: Read twelve works (from at least six different categories) and watch one movie

There will also be mini-challenges (with prizes!) and other fun activities during the year. If you'd like to join, leave a comment below or send an email to xjessideex [at] gmail [dot] com. There's even a challenge blog! It's really sad how excited I am about this, and I really hope other people sign up. :)

Diversity Rocks! Challenge


Click here for the main page.


Ali at worducopia came up with this challenge. The goal is to include more diversity in your reading. There are five levels of participation, and I'll be doing #2: The Overlapper. This means that I'm committing to include one author of color in each of my challenges (I could have picked 6, but I really like a challenge!). Visit the Diversity Rocks! Challenge Blog for more info.

2009 Blog Improvement Project


Click here for the main page.


Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is hosting The 2009 Blog Improvement Project. From her blog:
The 2009 Blog Improvement Project is a year-long challenge that will consist of twice-monthly activities to improve your blog. Every first and third Monday of the month I’ll post an activity here at Sophisticated Dorkiness that will related in some way to making your blog better. Each participant should spend the next two weeks focusing on that aspect of their blog. Possible topics include goals setting, writing better content, building community with readers, getting more readers, and blog layout and design.

If you choose to participate in this project, there is no obligation to participate in every challenge, and you can customize each challenge so it makes sense for your particular blog and goals. Think of the design as similar to Weekly Geeks — participate when it makes sense for you. This is a group effort, because getting better is always easier when you have a support system, but the ultimate commitment remains with you — how do you want your blog to be better by the time we get to December 31, 2009?

The Sci-Fi Experience


Click here for the main page.


Over the next two months, I'll be participating in Carl's Sci-Fi Experience 2009. The Experience is not a challenge, it's just a time to read some great books! I'm planning on reading Neuromancer, Ender's Game, and a few short stories.

Read and Reviewed:
Fables #11: War and Pieces

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas

I hope everyone had a happy holiday. I spent yesterday with my mom and stepfather (my sister was at her in-laws'; we'll see her for lunch on Sunday). Our tradition is to have a small dinner and open presents on Christmas Eve. Even though Mom swears that I'm not getting anything else, Santa always finds something to put under the tree Christmas morning. :) Then we have a late lunch with turkey (tofurkey for me!), mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, etc. Then Mom and I go to a movie while my stepfather works around the house. This year we saw Valkyrie, which was really good!

Now for pictures:
This is the stuff I got from my parents. We agreed to not spend a lot of money this year; Mom wanted our gifts to be handmade. I got a tin of popcorn (yum!), a cookbook (yum!) with a hundred dollar bill stashed inside (yay!), and a reusable shopping bag full of yarn, crochet patterns, and some new, smaller hooks (this was the gift left by "Santa"). See that blue pillow? That's what my mom made for me, and it is awesome. She called it a "quillow." It's the biggest project she's finished since she started quilting, and I'm so excited that it was for me! It's a pillow, but instead of stuffing, it's filled with fabric.
The fabric can be unfolded from the pillow (but it's still attached to the pillow fabric), and it turns into a blanket!
The top part is a terrycloth-like material. Mom made it so that I can take it to the beach with me and use as a blanket there. She also added a strap, so that when it's folded up like a blanket, I can carry books, sunscreen, etc. in it like a bag. I love it!

I also got some cool stuff from my Secret Santa through the Friendly Book Nook's Christmas Book Swap. My Secret Santa was Leah, who posts at The Friendly Book Nook.
She sent me some yummy chocolate and mint candy (which probably won't last long!), a foot scrub (which I could really use - being a teacher, I'm on my feet all day), a notepad (which is now sitting next to my computer) and a copy of Donna VanLiere's The Christmas Promise (which is now sitting on top of Mt. TBR). Thanks, Leah! :)

One last gift: I actually got this one a few weeks ago. My best friend and I went to an art show and I fell in love with one of the paintings there. Actually, several of them were great, and I really need to write a post about the artists we saw. But, there was one in particular that I just couldn't stop staring at. The painting itself was over $1,000 - way too much for me to spend. Luckily, we noticed that the artist, Timothy Michael, also had some prints for sale. He had ONE LEFT of the painting that I was so enamored with. I kept picking it and up and putting it back down again. Then this other woman started eying it, which made me nervous. I really didn't have the money to buy it myself at the time, so my BFF bought it for me as a Christmas gift. Bask in the wonderfulness of my first real piece of art:
I have no idea why I find this particular painting so great - it just really speaks to me. The color isn't great in this photo; if you visit Michael's website you'll probably get a better idea of how it's supposed to look. This piece is off to get framed, so that it can hang on my wall and make my other pictures jealous.

So, how were your holidays? Did Santa bring you lots of books and toys? I hope everyone had a safe and fun time with their loved ones. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Review: Let it Snow

Title: Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances
Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Genre: YA, Romance
Published: October 2008
Pages: 352
Rating: 9 / 10
Challenges: N/A
Awards: none

Synopsis (from the back cover):
Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.

My Review: This is such an amazing book. It's actually a collection of three books in one - "The Jubilee Express," by Maureen Johnson, "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle," by John Green, and "The Patron Saint of Pigs," by Lauren Myracle - but all of the characters and stories overlap. It's a unique way to write a book, and I loved reading about how the events in one story affect the outcome of another. It's a holiday book, and a teen romance, so of course all of the stories have happy endings, but they're all great journeys. The characters themselves are all very real, and remind me of people I was either friends with in high school, or wanted to be friends with. There's also tons of humor - the Flobie Village collection reminded me of Radar's parents' Black Santa collection in Paper Towns, and the idea of cheerleaders snowed in at a Waffle House made me giggle. This is a great book, not just for Christmas time, but for anytime you need a warm-fuzzy pick-me-up. Out of the three authors, the only one I hadn't read before was Maureen Johnson, but I'll definitely be picking up a few of her books now. Any recommendations for ones to start with? I was thinking of either Suite Scarlett or 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Other Reviews:
Alea
Fyrefly
Nymeth

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

Booking Through Thursday: Wintery Books

Today's Booking Through Thursday question(s):
What I want to know today is … what are the most “wintery” books you can think of? The ones that almost embody Winter?
My new "wintery" book would definitely have to be Let It Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle (review coming soon!); it's actually three books in one, and they all revolve around a snowy night in a small mountain town. As Simple as Snow, by Gregory Galloway, also takes place partly during the winter, and it also has "snow" in the title. Another book that reminds me of winter, strange as it may seem, is Jane Austen's Emma. There's some pretty important scenes in the book that take place during and after a gathering in the wintertime. I'm sure there are others, but I can't think of them right now. :)

But you don't have to take my word for it. Visit btt for more opinions.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Review: The Year of Living Biblically

Title: The Year of Living Biblically
Author: A. J. Jacobs
Genre: Humor, Religion
Published: 2007
Pages: 388
Rating: 10 / 10
Challenges: N/A
Awards: none (yet!), but it has been optioned for a movie

Synopsis (from the back cover):
Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.

The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal, and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes. The Year of Living Biblically will charm readers both secular and religious. It is part CliffsNotes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.

My Review: This is one of my favorite books I've read this year. I read it fairly quickly, but due to time I'm just now getting around to reviewing it. Basically, the book is a series of stories about Jacob's year-long attempt to live according to the rules in the Bible. So many times while reading this, I laughed out loud. I also dog-eared quite a few pages, because there were so many quotes I wanted to repeat to other people or mention in this review. This could get long - and it's not even all the passages I marked!

On avoiding "unclean" women during their menstruation:
It's one thing to avoid handshakes during flu season. But to give up all physical contact with your wife for seven days a month? It's actually quite exhausting, painful, and lonely. You have to be constantly on guard - no sex, of course, but also no hand holding, no shoulder tapping, no hair tousling, no good-night kissing. When I give her the apartment keys, I drop them into her hand from a safe height of six inches.
"This is absurd," she tells me, as she unlocks the door. "It's like cookies from seventh grade. It's theological cooties."
I tell Julie that I can't pick and choose what I follow in the Bible. That'd negate the whole point of my experiment. If I'm trying to get into the mind-set of the ancient Israelites, I can't ignore even the most inconvenient or obscure rule. I also point out that I didn't send her to a red tent.
She's not amused. "I feel like a leper."
"Actually, leprosy in the Bible is a mistranslation. It's more likely a generic name for skin disease. Some even claim it's syphilis."
This is the wrong response. It's a vestigial reflex from my days as an encyclopedia-reading know-it-all: Whenever I run out of things to say, I crowbar random facts into the argument.
Coincidentally, this passage is the reason I put The Know-It-All on my wishlist.

On cheering up a friend who's been having a rough week:
Next time I'm at Esquire, I stop by his office with a bottle of Kendall-Jackson red wine.
"Here," I say, handing it to him over the desk.
"What's this?"
"It's because you're depressed. The Bible says to bring wine to the heavy of heart."
"The Bible says that?"
"Yes. It also says that you shouldn't sing to people with a heavy heart. That'd be like rubbing vinegar in the wound."
"So you're not going to sing to me?"
"No."
David seems grateful for the wine, and no doubt for the lack of singing as well. I love it when the Bible gives Emily Post-like tips that are both wise and easy to follow.
On stoning adulterers and Sabbath violators:
My plan had been to walk nonchalantly past the Sabbath violator and chuck the pebbles at the small of his back. But after a couple of failed passes, I realized it was a bad idea. A chucked pebble, no matter how small, does not go unnoticed.
My revised plan: I would pretend to be clumsy and drop the pebble on his shoe. So I did.
And in this way, I stoned. It was probably the most polite stoning in history - I said, "I'm sorry," and then leaned down to pick up the pebble. And he leaned down at the same time, and we almost butted heads, and then he apologized, then I apologized again.
Highly unsatisfying.
Today I get another chance. I am resting in a small public park on the Upper West Side, the kind where you see retirees eating tuna sandwiches on benches.
"Hey, you're dressed queer."
I look over. The speaker is an elderly man, mid-seventies, I'd guess. He is tall and thin and wearing one of those caps that cabbies wore in movies from the forties.
"You're dressed queer," he snarls. "Why you dressed so queer?"
I have on my usual tassels, and, for good measure, have worn some sandals and am carrying a knotty maple walking stick I'd bought on the internet for twenty-five dollars.
"I'm trying to live by the rules of the Bible. The Ten Commandments, stoning adulterers..."
"You're stoning adulterers?"
"Yeah, I'm stoning adulterers."
"I'm an adulterer."
"You're currently an adulterer?"
"Yeah. Tonight, tomorrow, yesterday, two weeks from now. You gonna stone me?"
"If I could, yes, that'd be great."
"I'll punch you in the face. I'll send you to the cemetery."
He is serious. This isn't a cutesy grumpy old man. This is an angry old man. This is a man with seven decades of hostility behind him.
I fish out my pebbles from my back pocket.
"I wouldn't stone you with big stones," I say. "Just these little guys."
I open my palm to show him the pebbles. He lunges at me, grabbing one out of my hand, then flinging it at my face. It whizzes by my cheek.
I am stunned for a second. I hadn't expected this grizzled old man to make the first move. But now there is nothing stopping me from retaliating. An eye for an eye.
I take one of the remaining pebbles and whip it at his chest. It bounces off.
"I'll punch you right in the kisser," he says.
"Well, you really shouldn't commit adultery," I say.
We stare at each other. My pulse has doubled.
Yes, he is a septuagenarian. Yes, he had just threatened me using corny Honeymooners dialogue. But you could tell: This man has a strong dark side.
Our glaring contest lasts ten seconds, then he walks away, brushing by me as he leaves.
Long passage, I know, but I can totally see that as a scene in the movie.

On forbidden foods:
"Do you know if the piecrust is made with lard?"
"I don't think so, but I'll check."
"Thanks. I can't eat lard."
"Allergies?"
"No, Leviticus."
On praying:
"I love saying prayers of thanksgiving," I say, "because it makes me more grateful for life. But I still have trouble with the prayers where you're glorifying God..."
"You're on thin ice there," [Yossi, Jacob's spiritual adviser] says.
He told me: Stop looking at the Bible as a self-help book. That is the way I view it a lot of the time. I ask myself, "How can religion make me more joyous? How can it give my life more meaning? How can it help me raise my son so he won't end up an embezzler or a racketeer?"
But religion is more that that. It's about serving God. Yossi tells me this story:
Two men do their daily prayers while at work. One spends twenty minutes in his office behind a closed door and afterward feels refreshed and uplifted, like he just had a therapy session. The other is so busy, he can squeeze in only a five-minute prayer session between phone calls. He recites his prayers superfast in a supply closet.
Who has done the better thing?
"The first," I say.
"No," says Yossi. "The second."
The second guy was doing it only for God. He was sacrificing his time. There was no benefit to himself.
I think: That's interesting. Prayers are a good way to teach me the concept of sacrificing my time for the higher good. I'll become a more selfless person. A better person.
And then I realize: I'm back to self-help again. I can't escape it.
Jacobs later realizes that praising God also acts as a way to keep egos in check: if He created the universe, what right do you have to boast about your own, meager-in-comparison, accomplishments?

There are tons of other stories I'd love to share. Jacobs visits a variety of sects to learn about their take on Christianity and Judaism, which (as a Religious Studies minor and roommate to a Jehovah's Witness) I found very interesting. He also takes on a "slave" (unpaid intern), something that was copacetic in Biblical times. The whole book is amazing, no matter your religious affiliation, and I highly recommend it.

Other Reviews:
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Bookish Bent (A. also discusses the book here and here)

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

Twas the night before Christmas Eve...

For some reason, the holiday spirit hit me in a big way yesterday. I spent the evening hours baking and making eggnog!


And, since I know how much everyone appreciates really easy cookie recipes, here you go:

Lemon (or Strawberry) Bites:

Ingredients:
1 box of cake mix (the lemon works best)
1 container of Cool Whip or other whipped dairy topping
1 egg
powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix the cake mix, Cool Whip, and egg in a large bowl. The batter will be very sticky! Using a spoon (or your hands, if you prefer), drop balls of batter into the powdered sugar and roll them around until they're covered. Place on a greased baking sheet about 1.5 - 2 inches apart, and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. The strawberry ones don't take as long to bake, for some reason, so keep an eye on them. They should be fluffy and brownish on the bottom. Let them cool on a baking rack, and enjoy!

Sesame-Ginger/Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies:

These cookies start out as the same batter!

Ingredients:
1 egg + 1 (extra) yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, mix the egg + yolk, vanilla, and salt. Mix the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add the egg mixture, and pulse or mix on low speed until well blended. Add the flour and continue to pulse/mix until smooth. Divide the dough in half and place into two separate bowls.

For the Sesame-Ginger: Mix in 1/2 tsp. ground ginger and 3 Tbs. minced crystallized ginger. Form into a 9 inch long log, then roll in 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.

For the Chocolate Hazelnut: Mix in 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips. Form into a 9 inch long log, then roll in 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice dough 1/4 inch thick, and place slices on the cookie sheets about 1/2 inches apart. Bake 12 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown. For even baking: about halfway through, rotate cookie sheets from top to bottom and from facing the front of the oven to facing the back. Cool on a baking rack, and enjoy!

My mom gave me this recipe; she says you can use other mix-ins and coatings. If anyone experiments, please leave me a comment so I can hear what combination you used. The Sesame-Ginger, as strange as it may sound, is actually really good!

As for the eggnog, I got that recipe from Susie Bright's Journal. She's currently guest-blogging on BoingBoing, one of my favorite blogs, but I found the recipe through Modern Cottage, which has tons of great recipes and crafts.

Happy Christmas, everyone! I have a few book reviews I'll be posting later, then I'm off to my parents' for traditional family stuff. Happy baking!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: Assassination Vacation

Title: Assassination Vacation
Author: Sarah Vowell
Genre: History, Travel, Humor
Published: April 2005
Pages: 258
Run Time: 7 hours (6 CDs)
Rating: 8 / 10
Challenges: N/A
Awards: none

Synopsis (from the back cover):
Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road tip like no other - a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue - it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and - the author's favorite - historical tourism.

Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are lighter diversions into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult.

My Review: I love Sarah Vowell. I loved her in The Incredibles, and I love listening to her on NPR (that link has a few excerpts from the audiobook, btw). I'm not terribly fascinated by history, but this book made me a lot more interested. Vowell points out weird similarities and connections between Presidencies (the Robert Todd Lincoln curse was especially amusing) and spends her time dragging her friends and family members to various assassination-related tourist spots. It may sound strange, but it works. I listened to the audiobook on my way to and from work, and it made the drive a lot more interesting. Vowell's voice really adds to the enjoyment - her writing is amazing and funny, but hearing her read her words makes the experience even better. Her delivery is so deadpanned, I don't think it would be the same with another reader.

I learned a lot from Assassination Vacation, but the best part of reading it was being able to recognize the names when they came up later. Synchronicity: William H. Seward, most famous for "Seward's Folly" (aka Alaska), was also the target of an assassination attempt the same night as Lincoln's shooting at Ford's Theater. Seward was also a one-time resident of Eatonton, my current place of residence. My Drama Club is participating in "Eatonton Days," and one of the scripts I've read mentioned Seward, which made me think of Vowell, which sent me to Wikipedia for more info. Unfortunately, Seward's time here was so short-lived, it doesn't even warrant a mention. Sad. On the bright side, maybe one day Vowell will decide to expand her road trips to include obscure communities in random historical figures' pasts. If that day ever comes, I'll be more than happy to show her around town.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

2009 Science Book Challenge


Click here for the main page.
Rules:
* Read at least three nonfiction books in 2009 related somehow to the theme "Nature's Wonders". Your books should have something to do with science, scientists, how science operates, or science's relationship with its surrounding culture. Your books might be popularizations of science, they might be histories, they might be biographies, they might be anthologies; they can be recent titles or older books. We take a very broad view of what makes for interesting and informative science reading.

* After you've read a book, write a short note about it, giving your opinion of the book. What goes in the note? The things you would tell a friend if you wanted to convince your friend to read it--or avoid it. Naturally, you can read some of the existing Book Notes for ideas. You might like to read our Book-note ratings for ideas about how to evaluate your books.

* Don't worry if you find that you've read a book someone else has also read; we welcome multiple notes on one title.

* Get your book note to us and we'll post it with the other notes in our Book Note section. Use the book-note form or the comment form to get in touch with us.

* Tell other people about the Science-Book Challenge: http://ArsHermeneutica.org/besieged/Science-Book_Challenge_2009


I heard about this challenge from Eva, and she has a great list of possible reads. My list for right now includes:
1. Misquoting Jesus, Bart D. Ehrman
2. The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan
3. The Edge of the Sea, Rachel Carson

Book Awards II Challenge: The Uglies Trilogy

Titles: Uglies, Pretties, Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA/Science Fiction
Published: October 2005, October 2006, September 2007
Pages: 425, 370, 372
Rating: 8 / 10
Challenges: Book Awards II Challenge
Awards: Uglies was nominated for the 2006 BBYA (ALA's Best Books for Young Adults) list

*Possible Spoilers*

Synopsis of Uglies:
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license - for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
Synopsis of Pretties:
Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun - the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom - is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life - because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.

Synopsis of Specials:
"Special Circumstances":
The words have sent chills down Tally's spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor - frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally's never been ordinary.

And now she's been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it's easy to tune that out - until Tally's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.


My Review: I actually read this trilogy a couple months ago (I read Pretties during the last Read-a-thon, and Specials not long after), but haven't had a chance to review it since then. It's an interesting series, about a future world in which everyone has an operation that makes them attractive at age 16. Our protagonist, Tally, can't wait for the surgery. She's the last one in her group of friends to get the operation, and while she's waiting for her turn, she meets Shay, another "ugly" who wants to run away rather than become pretty. The series focuses on the theme of beauty, unsurprisingly, especially on the idea that it can come from the inside. I enjoyed the world Westerfeld created; everything sounds plausible, technology-wise, and the teenagers even have their own slang, which I believe adds to the realism. Some of the characters got on my nerves as the series went on; by the third book, I wanted to strangle Shay, even though I'm pretty sure I was supposed to feel for her because of the way she was - inadvertently, for the most part - betrayed by Tally. But on the whole, I enjoyed all three books and I'm sure other lovers of sci-fi would, too. There's a fourth book, Extras, that takes place well after this series. It sounds like an interesting extension of the world, and I'm curious to read it. The film rights to Uglies were purchased in 2006, but no release date has been set. I think this would make a pretty cool movie, if the special effects were done right.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

Winter Reading Challenge


Click here for the main page.
Rules:
December 21st marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. As the days grow shorter and colder, the nights longer, it is a perfect time to curl up by the fire with a hot cup of tea and a good book. I have so many books in my To Be Read pile that I decided to continue on with a seasonal challenge.

The Winter Reading Challenge runs from December 21st, 2008 through March 20, 2009. There are 13 weeks in Winter and I will probably end up reading one to two books per week. Some of the books may cross over into challenges that begin 2009.

This is going to be a very casual challenge much like the Fall Reading Challenge, so please join me.

The rules are very flexible:

1) Choose any number of books you would like to read and post them on your blog.

2) They can be fiction and/or nonfiction including e-books and audiobooks

3) They can overlap with other challenges.

4) Sign up on Mr. Linky. I'm still trying to figure out Mr. Linky so will let you guys post your links yourselves when you have your lists ready.

5) In a few days, I set up a link where you can post links to your book reviews


Sigh. I wasn't going to join anymore challenges. I keep saying that I've joined too many, and I need to stop. But Veens mentioned this one (along with a few others) and I decided, well, since it's just reading what I was planning on reading anyway, it's not really that bad. Plus it overlaps with other challenges, hooray! So, here are the books that I am planning on reading between now and March 20th:

1. The Last Days of Dogtown, Anita Diamant
2. The Willoughbys, Lois Lowery
3. Matrimony, Joshua Henkin
4. V for Vendetta, Alan Moore
5. 300, Frank Miller
6. The Doll's House, Neil Gaiman
7. Coraline: The Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman
8. Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
9. The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
10. Neuromancer, William Gibson

I'll probably end up reading more than that, but 10 seems like a good number to start out with.

Read and Reviewed:
Fables #11: War and Pieces

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sunday Salon - 21 December 2008

This has been the most relaxing weekend I've had in about five months. Why? Because we started our Christmas break on Friday! Two weeks of blissful freedom from moody teenagers, essays written in chat-speak, and that one annoying coworker who doesn't have an indoor voice. I celebrated Friday night by going to Athens to party with my friend/coworker Seth. We tried to hit up the Terrapin Brewery Tour but got lost (it's a nondescript white warehouse with little outside lighting and NO SIGN) and ended up getting there too late. Maybe next week. To compensate, I bought a refurbished PS2 (Seth also works at a GameStop part time and used his discount) and Kingdom Hearts. I just started last night and I'm already to Deep Jungle, my second-favorite world (after Halloween Town). I'm trying not to use a strat guide until I get to Oogie Boogie's house, because that's the only place I can remember in the game that you can't get back to later.

"But what about BOOKS?" you say? Well, I'll tell you. This is a picture of my current Mt. TBR:


These are the books that I'll be trying to get through in the next two weeks, in addition to the Kingdom Hearts-playing, prepping for next semester, and reviewing the books that I've already read and haven't gotten around to yet:


Not quite as large a stack, and there are a few books (checked out from the library) that aren't pictured.

So, my goals for this break are:
1. Read some books. I'm not attaching a numerical value to this goal; I just want to decrease the size of that first pile before I go back to school.
2. Review some books. I'm shooting for 10 reviews - that's one every day during the week. We'll see how that goes.
3. Play some Kingdom Hearts. I'm not going to beat it in two weeks, and I'm not going to try. I just want to enjoy it and relish the awesomeness of the game itself.
4. Finish up my 101 things to do in 1001 days list. I'm currently on 18. Eep!

Hope everyone has a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc, and a happy New Year! :)

Graphic Novels Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
1. Choose a level of participation:
Minor: Read 6
Major: Read 12
Masters: Read 18
Doctorate: Read 24

2. Challenge begins Jan 1, 2009 and ends Dec 31, 2009. You may join at any point during the year.

3. Can I Overlap? Titles may overlap with any challenges and your list can change at any time.

4. Join the Blog!


Of course I'll be doing the Doctorate level. :) Here's my list so far:
1. V for Vendetta, Alan Moore
2. 300, Frank Miller
3. The Hard Goodbye, Frank Miller
4. A Dame to Kill For, Frank Miller
5. The Big Fat Kill, Frank Miller
6. That Yellow Bastard, Frank Miller
7. Family Values, Frank Miller
8. The Doll's House, Neil Gaiman
9. Dream Country, Neil Gaiman
10. Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
11. A Dream of You, Neil Gaiman
12. Fables and Reflections, Neil Gaiman
13. Brief Lives, Neil Gaiman
14. World's End, Neil Gaiman
15. The Kindly Ones, Neil Gaiman
16. The Wake, Neil Gaiman
17. A People's History of American Empire, Howard Zinn
18. Palestine, Joe Sacco
19. Death: The Time of Your Life, Neil Gaiman
20. Death: The High Cost of Living, Neil Gaiman
21. Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us, Chynna Clugston
22. Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen, John Layman
23. Coraline: The Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman
24. The Dangerous Alphabet, Neil Gaiman

I should just call this the "Neil Gaiman (and some guys) Graphic Novel Challenge."

Read and Reviewed:
1. Fables #11: War and Pieces

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coraline cards (last post about them, I swear)

I finally found them all! The Yahoo! Movies one was a real pain...I kept searching the movies homepage, but it was actually hidden in with the stills from the movie. Argh.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I almost forgot...

I got two books in the mail today: Matrimony, thanks to Veens, and The Willoughbys, thanks to Chris! I also got my Lifetime Membership to LibraryThing (my profile will be extensively updated over Christmas break!) from Florinda!

Thanks, guys! You made this day awesome! :)

More Coraline alphabet cards!

Updated as I find them...

A is for Ain't it Cool News
B is for Bullz-Eye
C is for Collider
D is for Dread Central
E is for Eclipse Magazine
F is for FEARnet
G is for Geeks of Doom
H is for Happy News*
I is for IGN
J is for JoBlo
K is for KOL (Kids AOL, not this KOL, which would have been really random and cool)
L is for Latino Review
M is for MTV
N is for Neil Gaiman, of course!
O is for Obsessed with Film
P is for Premiere
Q is for Quick Stop
R is for Rotten Tomatoes
S is for Sci Fi Wire
T is for Twitch
U is for UGO
V is for VFX World
W is for Worst Previews
X is for X-Realms
Y is for Yahoo! Movies
Z is for Zap2it

* might just be my new favorite website :)

Stuff I found on Google Reader today...

For some reason, there was a plethora of awesomeness in GR today, and I wanted to share it with all of you.

First, today is Jane Austen's 233rd birthday! Celebrate by visiting Austen Blog to learn how you can win some Austen swag.

Neil Gaiman had lots of interesting links today, too. In addition to pimping out the amazing Coraline movie website, where you can make a button-eyed picture of yourself:
(I went with the "bookworm buttons," in case you were curious), he also mentioned that there are now 26 different alphabet cards scattered across the internets to promote the movie. "N" is at his site; I'll be looking for the rest as soon as I finish typing this post. ALSO also, the Coraline movie people sent various bloggers incredibly wonderful handmade boxes filled with paraphernalia. This blog's box came with a letter addressed to Dewey; I hope she received her box before she passed, because I know she would have loved it! Carl also got one, and was nice enough to post pictures.

Speaking of book-related web-wide treasure hunts, Scott Sigler has a new book coming out (which you can listen to free as a podcast or read as a PDF; visit his site for more info). There are twelve promo posters for Contagious out there. The list of participating sites can be found here. I think this is an incredibly genius marketing strategy. It certainly got my attention!

Next up: I wasn't going to join any more challenges (I've already signed up for next year, in addition to the I'm already participating in!), but Eva made the Science Book Challenge sound so interesting, I had to reconsider.

And finally, there's a trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine:



I didn't really enjoy the comic book "Origins" story that the movie seems to heavily rely on (I prefer my Wolvie to be a man of mystery), but I'll still be there opening night, because this looks interesting. A little full, character-wise, but interesting.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Buy Books for the Holidays!

I posted previously about my decision to buy books for the holidays, and now there's another reason to do it: The Kool-Aid Mom is having a Books Bucks giveaway to help support bookstores this holiday season. Visit her site to enter and to find out how to get bonus entries. Hint: blogging about it is one way. :)

This will probably NOT be the last Twilight-related link I post. They're too funny! I can't stop!

And don't forget, tomorrow is Jane Austen's birthday! I'm sure I'll end up watching Pride and Prejudice to celebrate.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recipes!

I'm a big fan of posting recipes, especially when I find one that works really well or is especially yummy. Well now, Bethany from B&b ex libris has given me a whole new reason to post my favorite recipes: cooking-themed giveaways!

I just participated in a cookie swap yesterday; here are the two recipes I used that turned out to be pretty popular:

Easy Flourless PB Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Hersey's kisses

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the peanut butter, sugar, and egg in a bowl. Using either your hands or a spoon, drop balls of dough onto a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper, but that's not necessary). Unwrap the kisses and pop them onto the center of the ball. If you prefer your cookies to be chocolate-free, skip the kisses and use a fork to create a criss-cross pattern on the top of the cookie. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Yum!

Cranberry Macaroons

Ingredients:
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
zest of 1 orange
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk the first six ingredients together, then toss with the coconut. Using a spoon (this tends to messy and sticky), drop blobs of batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until the edges are golden. Double yum!

My other favorite recipes (for real food) can be found here and here. Now I'm off to test out some of these other recipes I've seen posted...

The World Citizen Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
There are six different levels of participation, and seven different categories of books to read. See Eva's post for complete details.
The challenge runs through 2009, and there will be mini-challenges and prizes each month.


I'll be participating in The Postgraduate Level, which means I'll be reading one book from each of the seven categories (Politics, Economics, History, Culture or Anthropology/Sociology, Worldwide Issues, and Memoirs/Autobiographies). Here are my tentative choices so far:

Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin
American Lion, Jon Meacham
The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman
The Audacity of Hope or Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama

I'll post a more definitive (and complete) list later.

UPDATE: The List (will add to it as I find more books)
The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman (Economics)
Song for the Blue Ocean, Carl Safina (Worldwide Issues)
Zlata's Diary, Zlata Filipovic (Memoirs/Autobiographies)

What Book Am I?




You're Prufrock and Other Observations!

by T.S. Eliot

Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you've really heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



Actually, my friend Ashley often teases me because of my esoteric allusions (which no one but myself ever understands). I should have been a pair of ragged claws. Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. . .

Quiz found via Vasilly.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Which Reindeer Are You?




You Are Blitzen



Always in good spirits, you're the reindeer who loves to party down with Santa.



Why You're Naughty: You're always blitzed on Christmas Eve, while flying!



Why You're Nice: You mix up a mean eggnog martini.



An eggnog martini sounds gross, but I did have a gingerbread martini this week that was pretty tasty.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best. Ornament. EVER!

I have this tradition with some of my friends from the MAT program I completed this summer. There are six of us who managed to get teaching jobs near Milledgeville, where we went to grad school, and every week we get together for dinner and tales of teaching (the good, the bad, and the ugly). A few weeks ago, we decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, rather than having everyone worrying about getting a gift for everyone else in the group. I unhelpfully listed "books" as my desired gift, because I'm a voracious reader and really not that picky. Lo and behold, my friend Annie pulled my name out of the hat (literally!) and pretty much picked out the perfect gift:


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which I've been wanting to read anyway) as a GRAPHIC NOVEL. It's too awesome, and I'm insanely pleased by it.

"But wait," you say. "What's that small green folded thing in the bottom right-hand corner?"

That, my blog-pals, is the second-awesomest thing I got tonight. See, every week, we pick a different restaurant. This week, someone suggested Chinese. Not my favorite, but lord knows I talk them into eating Mexican enough, so whatever. I actually really enjoyed my Spicy Bean Curd, and I have enough leftovers for the next 2-3 days. We were leaving to pay, and I noticed that there was a Christmas tree near the cash register decorated with origami ornaments. On closer inspection, I realized quite a few of them were Yoda! I asked the guy at the register if I could buy one, and he told me to take one off the tree gratis, provided I come back to eat again. How great is that?

A closer look:



And just cause that guy was so nice: if you're ever in Milledgeville, Georgia, and looking for a place to eat, I highly recommend Lieu's Peking Restaurant. Maybe next time I'll talk him into teaching me how to make one of these myself.

Booking Through Thursday: Time is of the Essence

Today's Booking Through Thursday question(s):
1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?
I definitely don't get to read as much as I would like to, at least not right now. Thankfully, this semester will be finished in a little over a week and I will have two glorious weeks of reading freedom. There are so many books I want to read; that's partly why I join so many challenges, so push myself and also to be introduced to new books and authors. I enjoy comfort reading (when I have the time) and I do have a few back-issues of Marie Claire that I need to get to. What I really miss, though, are comic books. I used to be able to pick up my new comics every Wednesday, but now that I live in the middle of nowhere, with no nearby LCBS (local comic book shop), they're really hard to come by.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Visit btt for more opinions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feelin' lucky

So, I wasn't going to join any more challenges. But then I heard about the A - Z Reading Challenge and said, "Well, I'll probably read at least 52 books next year anyway; why not?" And then I read about the Dewey's Books Reading Challenge and said, "Well, it's for Dewey, so I need to do it." And then I joined up on My Year of Reading Dangerously just because. Sigh. I am going to be a very busy reader next year. Well, at least I'll have plenty to do this summer...

You know how people always say that good things happen in threes? Well, I recently won THREE book giveaways! Jill at Fizzy Thoughts sent me a copy of The Last Days of Dogtown, which she reviewed here. It's been bumped up to the top of the TBR pile. I also won a copy of The Willoughbys from Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on and a copy of Matrimony from Veens at Giving Reading a Chance. I need to spread the love and luck by hosting some giveaways of my own, I think. :)

Random bonus links:
Pride and Prejudice, facebook-style
And the inspiration: Hamlet, facebook-style

Too funny.

My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
Read 12 books you deem "dangerous." between January 1st and December 31st 2009. They may be banned or challenged books, new-to-you genres, books that seem to inhabit a permanent space on your stacks, or authors you're afraid of. The possibilities are endless! If it's dangerous to you, it's challenge-worthy to us!

For my year of reading dangerously, I decided to try new authors and genres. Some of these will be authors that I had previously scoffed at or dismissed due to their wide-spread popularity. Others are just something new for me to try.

1. The Tenth Circle, Jodi Picoult
2. James Patterson
3. a romance novel
4. Stephanie Plum
5. Nicholas Sparks

Any other suggestions?

Dewey's Books Reading Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
There are two ways to join this challenge:

1. Pick one book from each of the 6 years that Dewey has archives of. You can access her archives by clicking on the archive link in the sidebar of her website. It’s a dropdown menu. For instance, you would read one book that she reviewed in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 for a total of six books.

2. The other option is to read 5 books that Dewey reviewed. These can be from any year and I’m guessing that each of us has at least 5 books on our TBR list because of Dewey!

And the rules:

1. Choose either option 1 or 2 from above.

2. Commit to read your books (either 5 or 6 depending on which option you choose) throughout 2009. The challenge will end on December 31, 2009 but we’ll go ahead and unofficially start it right away! We’ll officially start it on January 1st, 2009.

3. Check back to the challenge blog that we’ve created, Dewey’s Books, often as I’ll put up Mr. Linky’s for reviews and I’ll mention prize giveaways!
I'm going for option 1. My pool of picks so far:
2003: The Corrections
Everything is Illuminated
2004: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
2005: The Birth of Venus
2006: Outlander
The Misfits
Speak
The Kite Runner
Madame Bovary
Lord Vishnu's Love Handles
2007: Einstein's Dreams
Ice Haven
It's Like This, Cat
Rant
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Penelopiad
2008: Nation
33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Totally Joe
The Book Thief

A - Z Reading Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
Option A: Read authors A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Option B: Read titles A to Z. Commit to reading 26 books theoretically speaking.

Option C: Read both authors A to Z and titles A to Z (52 books; this is the challenge Joy created)

Option D: Read internationally A to Z (books representing 26 different countries) (The books could be from international authors (writers from that country); however, it's fine if a book is only set in that country. If need be, instead of countries one could use cities, states, regions, etc. The idea is to use proper place names. If you'd like you could even use a few fictional countries.)

Option E: Read 26 Alphabet books. Embrace your inner child and go visit the children's section!

Sign ups begin December 1, 2008. (The challenge does NOT start until January 1, 2009, but early sign ups are definitely encouraged!) The challenge closes to new participants on June 30, 2009.
I'll be going for option C - thank goodness we can overlap with other challenges! :)









































































































































Book Title Letter Author Name
  A  
  B  
  C  
  D  
  E  
Fables #11: War and Pieces F  
  G  
  H  
  I  
  J  
  K  
  L  
  M  
  N  
  O  
  P  
  Q  
  R  
  S  
  T  
  U  
  V  
  W  
  X  
  Y  
  Z  

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Sunday Salon - 7 December 2008

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last TSS post. Today I decided to post about my challenges. The year is coming to an end, and it's time to reflect on what I did in 2008 and set goals for 2009.

The challenges that I joined this year are:
* The 1% Well-Read Challenge - I've read 5 books, reviewed 4, and have 5 left to read. Yay!
* The Book Awards II Challenge - I've read and reviewed 1 book, and have 9 left to read. Yikes!
* A Midsummer Night's Challenge - I read and reviewed both books for this challenge. Yay!
* The July Book Blowout Challenge - I met (and exceeded!) my goal of reading 10 books during the month of July. Yay!
* Life Books Challenge - I have not read the three books I chose for this challenge. Yikes! I'd still like to complete it, even though the challenge is long gone. The books sound interesting, and I love the challenge concept.

The challenges I have signed up for in 2009:
* 100 Shots of Short - no time limit, no required books, just reading 100 short stories
* The Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge - read three books dealing with food, travel, or culture
* The YA Book Challenge - read 12 YA books
* The Year of Readers - donating money to a literary charity

Wish me luck! :)

The Year of Readers



Click here for the main page.
What it is:
It’s an easy concept (which is probably why I thought of it). You pick a literary charity that you want to support in 2009. You sign up to be part of The Year of Readers, get people to sponsor you and just start reading whatever you like. If you’re going to read next year why not join and help a bookish charity at the same time?

I'm already sponsoring The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy through work, so I decided to choose Reading is Fundamental for this "challenge." For every book I read in 2009, I'm going to donate $1.00 to RIF. If my reading trend continues, I'll have donated over $100 by the end of 2009.

Young Adult Book Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
* Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
* Read 12 Young Adult novels. You may list your chosen books any time during the year. Change the list if needed.
* Challenge begins January thru December, 2009.
* You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.


My list:
1. Aquamarine, Alice Hoffman
2. Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway
3. Bingo Brown's Guide to Romance, Betsy Byars
4. Enthusiasm, Polly Shulman
5. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Ann Brashares
6. Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood, Ann Brashares
7. Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood, Ann Brashares
8. Taffy Sinclair Strikes Again, Betsy Haynes
9. Taffy Sinclair, Queen of the Soaps, Betsy Haynes
10. Taffy Sinclair and the Romance Machine Disaster, Betsy Haynes
11. Blackmailed by Taffy Sinclair, Betsy Haynes
12. Taffy Sinclair, Baby Ashley, and Me, Betsy Haynes
13. Taffy Sinclair and the Secret Admirer Epidemic, Betsy Haynes
14. The Truth About Taffy Sinclair, Betsy Haynes

14 / 12 - I'd say I'm done! Some of those were really short, though, so I probably shouldn't count them as a whole book. Plus, it's not like I'm going to stop reading YA for the rest of the year...

The Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge



Click here for the main page.
Rules:
*The challenge runs from January 1 to March 31. (No cheating and starting before!)
* You must read three books. After that, it's up to you how much you want to read.
* The books must: have a food name in the title OR be about cooking/eating OR have a place name in the title OR be about one (or more) person's travel experience OR be about a specific culture OR be by an author whose ethnicity is other than your own (see, I squeezed it in!)
I'll leave it up to you to choose how the three books you read fit the criteria.
* They must be middle-grade on up, but can be either fiction or non-fiction.


My list:
1. Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes
2. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Gentlemen of the Road - Michael Chabon

100 Shots of Short Challenge


Click here for the main page.
Rules:
The challenge is a simple one - no time limit, no specific titles, just the goal of reading 100 self-picked short stories as and when possible.
I'll be adding the titles below as I read them. My goal is to finish by December 31, 2009.


My list:
1. "The Cold Equations," Tom Godwin
2. "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," Jack Finney
3. "Everyday Use," Alice Walker
4. "Lamb to the Slaughter," Roald Dahl
5. "The Masque of the Red Death," Edgar Allan Poe
6. "The Nine Billion Names of God," Arthur C. Clarke
7. "The Pedestrian," Ray Bradbury
8. "The Storyteller," Saki

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Delurking December


Shauna is inviting everyone to participate in Delurking December:
I'm designating this month as Delurking December! Consider giving the gift of your comments to bloggers whose blogs you read regularly or happen upon. Please help spread the word!
So if you've recently received a really random* "Jessi was here!" comment, now you know why. :)

* Alliteration = happiness!

Weekly Geeks #27: Dewey


Becky had a great idea for Weekly Geeks #27:
I was thinking that it might be nice for those bloggers who are Weekly Geeks to pay tribute to Dewey in the next week or so. To take the time to post to their blogs a "Weekly Geek" post about Dewey--maybe share their favorite posts from her site, maybe share a memory or two about participating in weekly geeks, the bookworms carnival, the 24 Hour Readathon, or one of Dewey's challenges, maybe just share a favorite memory of Dewey in general, what they'll miss most, how they'll remember her, etc. I'm going to post mine today--but bloggers anywhere and everywhere are encouraged to post whenever they want. Please come back to this post to leave your link. I'll be rounding up responses.
My favorite thing about Dewey was the the way she brought us all together and made us a community. I first became "acquainted" with her through the Read-a-Thon. So far, I've participated in two - first as a cheerleader, and then as a reader (and cheerleader). Her enthusiasm and encouragement were inspiring. The 'Thon was pretty much my introduction to the world of book blogging, and I cannot express how appreciative I am to Dewey for that. Through her, I've met some amazing people and been exposed to new ideas, experiences, and, of course, books.

I came late to Weekly Geeks - my first contribution was for #9, which worked out well since I had also recently signed up for a few challenges. But my absolute favorite theme was #26. I had always shied away from blog-hopping in the past, but I decided to give this one a try. I'm so glad I did, because I met more interesting people through that activity than anything else I've done as a book blogger (with the possible exception of the most recent Read-a-Thon). Dewey's ability to help create and foster that sense of family was a blessing for everyone, and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to take part in that experience.

A few weeks ago, she sent me an e-mail to tell me who I was playing Secret Santa to, and referred to me as her "Primrose twin" (because our street names, despite being on opposite sides of the country, are similar). Now, every time I drive home I think of her. It seems strange that someone I never met in real life could have such an impact on my life. To be honest, I'm still a little in shock that she's no longer with us. When I read her husband's post about Dewey's death, I was stunned. I had no idea she was sick, but I'm glad that she is no longer in pain. I was always a little in awe of Dewey - she was just such a presence, and always seemed so tireless. My heart goes out to her friends and family; I can only imagine what they are dealing with. I'm glad that Dewey's projects are being continued - I'm sure she would have wanted that. Andi did a great job of expressing the importance of our little community, and I don't think I could say it better. Dewey was an amazing person, and we're all going to miss her.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: 5 for Favorites

Today's Booking Through Thursday question(s):
1. Do you have a favorite author?

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

3. Did you LIKE everything?

4. How about a least favorite author?

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?
My absolute favorite author is Jane Austen. I've read all of her published novels and her three unfinished ones, but not her juvenile fiction (although I would love to get my hands on it someday). I enjoyed all of her novels, and I wish Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sandition had been completed because I'm sure I would've liked them as well. As fragments, they're not bad.

I don't have a least favorite author. There are a few books I've read that I didn't really enjoy (one of the Op Center novels by Tom Clancy - I can't even remember which one it was!) and others that I was just sort of "meh" about (The Ruins). I haven't bothered to read anything else by those authors, but that's more because I stick to what I like rather than out of any sort of active dislike. So there's not really an author I wanted to like, but didn't, either. Although I really wanted to like The Last Temptation of Christ, which I started reading for the 1% Well-Read Challenge, but I just had to stop. I loved the movie, but the book just wasn't holding my attention. I'll probably try and read it again some other time, but for right now, I'm giving up on it.

But you don't have to take my word for. Visit btt for more opinions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Memory of Dewey

Stephanie and Bethany have created buttons in honor of Dewey:

Prop 8 - The Musical

One of the high points of this year's Dragon*Con was hearing George Takei gush about his then-upcoming wedding to Brad Altman. It was adorable, to say the least. Sadly, less than two months after he and his partner of 21 years exchanged vows, Proposition 8 was passed. American't had an immediate response to the vote, and now's there's a Funny or Die video with a similar feel:



P.S. - If you thought NPH was awesome in that, do yourself a favor and check out Dr. Horrible.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Remembering Dewey...

Like most of us, I was shocked to read about the passing of our beloved Dewey. I had no idea she was ill, and a part of me still can't believe she's gone. Several people have already begun planning ways to remember her:

* Becky at Becky's Book Reviews has suggested that we pay tribute to Dewey in this week's Weekly Geeks post, so expect a remembrance post from me this Saturday.
* Raych is seeking Dewey-loving artists to create an RIP Dewey button.
* The 18th edition of Bookworms Carnival (the theme of which is "memoirs") has been dedicated to Dewey.
* Florinda has done a great job of rounding up all the individual tribute posts to Dewey and posting the links on her blog.
* Lisa Roe has offered to pass along condolences to Dewey's family.
* And there are more ideas at this BookBlogs page.