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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Caddy Ever After

The fourth book in the series about the Cassons by Hilary McKay.

Seriously. Read these, or something. Start with Saffy's Angel. I won't say much about the plot, since it's the fourth book. Although I suppose I could tell you that Indigo uses his mad skills to great advantage. Also, when you're all done reading them, the fun doesn't have to end! No, no! Cuz Rose has a blog. Yessss!

In all honesty this one was pretty anticlimactic to me. But I'm sure (positive) that is only because I read the last one (Forever Rose) first. And this one is next to last. So.

Link to my previous Casson reviews.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Especially for Anna

...who is reading The Catcher in the Rye for her English class right now. Three links:

Catcher in the Rye intro

Catcher part one (through ch 15)

Catcher part two (through end)

John Green, award winning young adult novelist and self proclaimed nerd, made these videos. None is longer than 4 min.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Project Book Babe Report (Part 2)

Okay, this is the part where I realize I have only very few and very crummy pictures! I can't help but tsk at myself a little bit. Anyway... here is the author panel all set up (and my camera at it's max zoom -- I was NOT near the front)




Here is the book baby at Project Book Babe! hehe. Unfortunately I put this onesie through the dryer the next day -- idiot! *slaps forehead*
And here is all of us standing in line. Or I thought it was. It's actually missing my mom and Amey. Amey is taking the picture, and my mom is sitting on a wall trying to not get sick (it didn't work, but it helped stave off the illness until the next day).
So here is actually L to R: Pel (of Twilight Lexicon fame. Couldn't resist saying that. Yeah. We're like best friends. We've totally, like, talked a couple times.) and Be My Escape, then me holding Benjamin (who is blocking my awesome Everead shirt! which I thought I got a picture of but obviously didn't) and next is Dano and Luisa and Holly is up front.

Okay now back to the event report.

Author Panel: Was SO Funny. I was slightly disappointed that they didn't take questions from the audience, but rather had questions pre-done. Admittedly it probably saved time and I'm sure it saved quite a bit of hassle. But it also meant that they didn't bring up the house lights. You see, I was waving funny signs about at appropriate times (signs that said authors names with exclamation points, or SASSY! or LOVE IT) but I don't think anybody saw them. Also, by this point Benjamin had woken up. I think someone said something particularly funny and the audience exploded, startling the kid.

While I tried to put Benjamin back to sleep, the authors told great stories; I especially liked James Owen's story about how he retold and illustrated goldilocks and red riding hood when he was 5 and went around the neighborhood selling copies. The best part is that he was outbid for one of them recently on ebay!

I was so sad a few times that I couldn't yell or cheer (especially when Laini was talking about writers and processes, I so wanted to yell "Not for Robots!" or something) because I was holding a snoozing baby. The sacrifices we mothers make. . .

Raffle: There were SO many tickets! You know those big tubs that you can use for storage? The clear ones? We're talking 3/4 of the way full with little tiny carnival tickets. Like at least 6 cubic feet of raffle tickets.

I didn't win anything in the raffle, but Amey did. So, that was almost as good. :)

Auction: Holy cow! You would not believe how much stuff went for! Given, they were really only selling very rare Stephenie Meyer items at the auction in person (the online auction is stil going) Nothing, as far as I can remember, went for less than $1,000. J.S. Lewis seemed to be the natural auctioneer of the bunch. He was quite funny and good at getting bids. "Whoever is on the phone is gonna say yes!" and "okay I've got 31! [$3,100] Who is gonna give me 32? That's Magic Johnson's number -- who's gonna go to Magic? Got Magic, who is gonna take it to Shaq?"

Dinner with Stephenie and another guest of your choice just kept getting more and more expensive. Two bidders kept going well past $5,000. By the time they pushed it to $5,500 my mother started yelling "Two lunches!" Because, you know, if Stephenie could do two of them, that's a heck of a lot more money for cancer. While Shannon conferred with Stephenie, the bidding got up to $6,500. Then they announced that if both bidders (who weren't showing many signs of tiring) would go for $6,500 then they would do two lunches. So, yeah. Just one question: how would it feel to be Stephenie and know that you'vev got to impress someone who just gave $6,500 to cancer in order to have lunch with you?

Closing story: To finish off the event, the authors decided to tell a story. They would each contribute one sentence to the tale. Here is a video of the craziness that ensued. What you will not see in the video is that in the middle of the story the ushers started emptying the auditorium. What?! I know. The ushers were very nice and just doing their jobs, but I felt a bit gypped to have to leave before the event was over just because I was near the back of the auditorium. I resisted for as long as I could with the "holding a sleeping baby" excuse, but then someone jostled me and he wasn't sleeping anymore.

On our way out we picked up our super cool prizes -- in my case a signed book by Janette Rallison, and CDs of the artists who played at the event.

From there it was dinner and driving and talking on the phone to friends who had been able to get tickets to the private reception afterwards! All in all, it was a fabulous success and awesome experience. I've heard rumors of it becoming an annual event -- here's hoping!

Okay, did I cover everything? Anything else you want to know?

Friday, April 24, 2009

The spell of a good book

Me: "Darn it! She's too good!"
Jacob: "What?"
Me: "I said, 'Darn it! She's too good!' Laini Taylor. I have to know what happens!"

I tried to put Silksinger down several times yesterday. I finished it around 1 a.m. Review to come. Am going to take a nap.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mistborn: The Final Empire

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

This book was totally awesome! I'm glad Jacob challenged me to read it.

Favorite things:
  1. Really cool magic system (which actually, mostly, obeys natural laws)!
  2. Not a Hero Epic (hooray for originality)!
  3. Quite funny indeed (see Cool Quote of the Moment archive)!
  4. Had surprises I didn't guess (but that were totally plausible)!
  5. Had a bit of romance (you know I'm a sucker for romance).

Okay, so the Hero Epic happened a thousand years ago. Now, the world needs to be saved from its former hero. The book is an awesome mix of a heist novel and a fantasy novel. Vin is our leading lady -- she's got to come into her own and learn how to use her Allomancy. Kelsier is our leading man and he has a serious grudge against the Lord Ruler. It doesn't help that the majority of the people are completely repressed and beaten down. So. How are they and the rest of their crew going to overthrow the Final Empire?

Also, just in case you didn't know, Brandon Sanderson is the Chosen One. That's right. He will be finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Fortunately for us, he has already finished the Mistborn trilogy.

This one is recommended for adults, and some teens too. There is quite a bit of violence in it, and some minor cursing, as well as some major family issues. I'd put it on an appropriateness level with Ender's Game.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inside the Slidy Diner

Inside the Slidy Diner by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Jaime Zollars.

This is a weird one! It's about a greasy spoon restaurant called The Slidy Diner, where all kinds of weird and gross things (that are definitely not up to code!) happen. But some pretty cool and funny things happen there too.

One of the things that makes this book weird is the text. It's almost poetry. In fact, I think it is poetry, but just the tricky kind. You think there is going to be regular rhyme and meter, but nope! The meter instead is a little bit uncomfortable -- yet fascinating, like the diner itself.

The illustrations are the same way. They're almost beautiful. . . except they're totally gross! The one that grosses me out the most is on the page that says "...stay away from the ladyfingers. They really are." Eeew! My favorite illustration, however is on the other side of that spread.

In short: it's kinda crazy and kinda creepy, but. . . I like it!

I'd love to see a Bookie Woogie review of it. hehe.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Challenges. . . and Battles!

Okay, that puzzle for the contest was totally fun. You should try it.

A couple of other exciting tidbits: I did quite the happy dance when I got a mysterious package yesterday... containing...(oh, I'm excited just TYPING about it!) Blackbringer and Silksinger! Blackbringer comes out in paperback on May 14, and Silksinger will be published September 17. I'm seriously thrilled to read it and review it for you.

But I can't do that just yet. Jacob is "asking for a challenge. . . or a battle!" (oh Strong Bad, we love you). He challenged me to read a book that HE picked, before I read anything else. So. Right now I'm reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson and I'm loving it. I'm going to have to pause to read The Maltese Falcon though, now that Jacob is done with it. I mean, I'm hosting a book club for it! I HAVE to read it. And I want to.

So what should I challenge Jacob to read? I'm kind of thinking Eclipse would be good. . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Puzzle Party contest

So I'm totally planning on participating in this!

It starts Thursday the 16th (so, tomorrow) at A Patchwork of Books, and ends with a grand prize of more than 24 books: the entire Spring 2009 lineup from G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Count me in!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Up and Coming

Ashley in red, Alysa in blue.

It looks like this year will be a good one for book sequels. I decided it was high time I make a list so I can keep track of when I should put all of these on hold at the library. Yeah! Woot woot! Feel free to add to it any books coming out soon that you're excited about, sequels or otherwise. Just post them in comments and we'll add them to the list!

* Fablehaven book 4, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull: March 24, 2009 (penultimate) Ooh, I just read the first one. It was pretty sweet.
* Percy Jackson book 5, The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan: May 5, 2009 (final in the series) Am so excited for this! Click on the label Percy Jackson Books to see all of our posts about the series and author.
* Pendragon book 10, The Soldiers of Halla by D. J. MacHale: May 12, 2009 (final in the series) Hm, I haven't read any of these. Are they good, Ashley? Ten books seems like a lotta books! In my opinion, the series could've been condensed to five, but I'm still excited for the tenth. It sounds like it's going to be a big departure from the last nine, which will be exciting. :)
* The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale: June 9, 2009 (Not a sequel, but we're excited!) Oh I just get more excited every day! Today I was looking up how many pages long it's going to be and then grabbing other books off my shelf and comparing page counts to see roughly how long it's going to be. "Imagine the ball landing in your glove..." as my P.E. teachers used to say.
* The Keys to the Kingdom book 7, Lord Sunday by Garth Nix: June/July 2009 (final in the series)
* Catching Fire, sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: September 1, 2009 I CAN'T WAIT! I'm really hoping for an ending on this one. Suzanne Collins, I promise I'll read book three, just give me a little bit of denoument!
* Books of Bayern, Forest Born by Shannon Hale: September 15, 2009 And she'll be touring back east for this one! Keep your eyes on her website for event details. She is SO much fun to see in person.

What I want to know: What will Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling write next? Yeah! Totally. Speaking of which I still need to read The Tales of Beedle the Bard...

*Silksinger, sequel to Blackbringer by Laini Taylor: September 17, 2009 If the first one was any indication, it's gonna be good. Oh, and Blackbringer comes out in paperback May 14!
*Lips Touch, by Laini Taylor: October 1, 2009 This one is a short story collection. Awesome! But ugh! They're both so far away! Can't we have one earlier? haha.
*I, Q: The White House, sequel to I, Q: Independence Hall by Roland Smith: can't seem to find the release date, but I hope it's soon!
*The Maze Runner, by James Dashner: October 6, 2009. Also not a sequel, but looks like it is going to be good. Very cool premise.

*The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: November 3, 2009. Okay, how could I forget this one?! It's the beginning of the end of the sneaky books! (So named because they are very sneaky in getting you to read the next one, and they are all HUGE.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rash of Reviews

Okay, so I read a book a while ago, and started a little post about it. But I didn't get time to finish the post before I read another book. So I started a little post about that book. But I didn't get time to finish the post before I read another book. So I . . . you get the picture. And now all of these little posts have become like little itchy bumps on my arm! And I just have to scratch them before I can do anything else!

So. A rash of reviews:

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson. Oh, I do want to own this book. The minute I finished it I knew I wanted it in my collection. It is a delicious romance that is hilarious and poignant. I found it much more comparable to Twilight than books advertised with the phrase "If you liked Twilight..." See, I'm a sucker more for the clean romance than the vampires. Now, the romance goes more from Twilight through to Breaking Dawn all in the course of one book. So... there is no actual bodice ripping per se, but married me likes it better than single me would have. And, okay, this book is so funny! It's got little wordplays and comic disasters and oh, it is so much fun. My mother will love it. I made Aislin read it. Any thoughts, dear?

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It is so controversial. Either you love it or you hate it. There is so much swearing! Just like everyone says there is. And there is some other pretty distasteful stuff too. But I really wanted to read it and form my own opinion of it. The verdict: lukewarm. I guess I'm one of the few fence-sitters. Holden has a very authentic voice. I saw so much of him in so many different people I know. It is hard to believe he is a fictional character. And hard to believe the people he describes are fictional as well. And hey, the events seem really real, too. Now, I'm glad that my life has very few similarities to Holden's. But it was very interesting to look into his life. And also very interesting, afterward, to watch the commentary about the book by (my favorite youtubing author) John Green. Part 1. Part 2.

Skellig by David Almond. I think David Almond has a thing for birds. He wrote one of my all time favorite books of this last year: My Dad's a Birdman. This one, Skellig, came first, though and categorized as YA fiction. In fact it won the Printz award (like the Newbery for YA). And it was really good, so I can see why. It's pretty poetical and symbolic, yet totally literal enough that you'd get a lot of good stuff (including a pretty gripping story) out of it even if you didn't care about what all those birds flying around mean. I learned a bit more about Arthur Itis in this book than I would've guessed. Umm... what else? It was really good. Okay next scab...
The Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. Totally cute. And original. Yet very comfortable. This is a retelling of the 12 dancing princesses. Which is pretty cool, since I'm not super familiar with the tale, so I was able to be surprised a bit along the way. And our hero! Oh! He is so sweet. And talented. There are two types of talented heroes: the type that can inexplicably do everything really well (read: Edward, Rom, etc.) and those that have some really awesome skills that they use to get the job done. Like the totally awesome knitting-gardening-soldier who is our hero.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. The name says it all. It's a book about the secret wildlife preserve for fabled creatures. Creatures that Kendra and Seth didn't even know existed until they went to visit their grandparents. This is a fun adventure. And I've heard the next books in the series just get better and better. Which I'm okay with, because I was sort of wanting to kick some of the people in this one sometimes. It all turned out for the best, though. And, hey! They're making it into a movie eventually.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Project Book Babe Report (Part 1)

April 1 -- Fly to Phoenix

April 2 -- Volunteer at the Elementary School's book fair! Fun!

April 3 -- Make awesome EVEREAD t-shirts for me and mom, and Book Baby onesie. Gather cardstock and markers for the making of awesome impromptu signs.

April 4 -- Project Book Babe!
8:55 a.m. Leave home (my mom's home, that is). We're headed for the valley of the sun.

11:15 a.m. Pick up cousin Amey for day of awesome fun! She flew out from St. Louis to see her favorite: Shannon Hale! She also brought a few copies of the first chapter of her novel, which we read until

Noon-ish Meet Danobanano, Nena Cullen, Alice Whitlock, Pel, and Be My Escape for lunch! Okay, so we were late, and they had already eaten, but they were sweet enough to chat while we scarfed some food and tried to feed the Book Baby (his little homemade onesie was so cute! unfortunately I put it through the dryer...) at AZ Mills Mall.

1:00 Head to Marcos De Niza High School! Stand in line.

1:15 Still standing.

1:45 Still standing. They were letting in groups of ~50 at a time.

1:55 Still standing. Oh! The Bronze and Platinum lines are short, so we can go ahead of a bunch of other people! Nice!

2:00 Event is supposed to be starting, but there is still a loooong line outside. Forgot the baby's bottle and must run out to the truck to get it. Pass by cousin Amey (still in line since she had a Gold ticket).

2:10 Shannon Hale comes out on stage to tell us some jokes and that it will be a couple of minutes since there is still a line out there. Send mother to lobby for raffle tickets. Shannon Hale and others chase someone running with Stephenie's prom dress across the stage, drooling and screaming.

2:20 ish Event begins (see hilarious intro of Shannon Hale by J.S. Lewis in previous post).

Jon and Shannon introduce the musicians, first Adam Kump and then "our only qualification for musicians was that they had to be named Adam. We had to go to California..." Adam Watts Band. Thankfully Adam Watts Band played a slow one in there and it put the Book Baby to sleep. Bless you! I even managed to get him transferred to his stroller and strapped in properly without waking him up.

The authors come out for a rousing rendition of Aretha Franklin (originally intended to be a lip-sync but James Owen decided he would sing if it meant he didn't have to dance). Awesome dance moves! Head to Shannon's blog to see a play-by-play of her falling to her knees and rocking out on her air guitar during the free-dance portion. Also present were pregnant Laini Taylor dancing it up despite her belly and the sequined Janette Rallison. Jon Lewis is rocking out and Brandon Mull goes into the free dance too soon, but it looks great so its all good! Stephenie Meyer, flanked by PJ Haarsma and Dean Lorey (or was that Chris Gall? crap) slides across the back of the stage to loud cheers.

Next, Shannon introduces the author panel while tables are being set up behind her. She begins first with the fact, though that Frank Beddor can't make it since his kids have high fevers; and Stephenie Meyer won't be able to come as promised. . . in her bunny suit. There was a mix up at the dry cleaners, and the bags got switched. She ended up with someone's scarecrow costume, and it's very unflattering and scratchy, so sorry. Shannon proceeds to introduce everyone telling us "little known facts" about each author (Boot-scootin' boogie champ? First to eat yogurt through his nose? ...yeah). It looks like everything is good to go and Shannon turns around to help with the tables. Oh, look! A big empty space with the nametag Stephenie Meyer in front of it!

Shannon laughs for quite a while before she can compose herself. "It's because she so insignificant!" she covers. "Can I be expected to remember everyone?? No, it's because she needs no introduction." She goes on to tell us about how none of the other authors are allowed to look Stephenie in the eye, and they call her "your Grace." You see, she's been jumpy this year, so there should be no noise when she comes out on stage. "Absolute silence!" she demands, and finally introduces "Stephenie Meyer!!!"

Tune into the next post for info about the author panel and pictures!!! In the mean time you can look at the write-ups by Shannon, Janette, and Laini.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

No big surprise...

Project Book Babe was totally awesome!!!

J.S. Lewis and Shannon Hale were the MCs. John introduces Shannon: ". . . and I would say she is beautiful, too, but her husband weighs 290 pounds and I don't want my arms ripped off." Haha!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Big Read 2009: The Maltese Falcon

Our local library, along with the National Endowment for the Arts, is sponsoring The Big Read! This year my community is reading The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

I think the idea of having the whole community read one book is awesome. I like the idea that I could say "So, what page are you on?" to a random person in the grocery store and start up a conversation. A big part of why I read the books that I do is so that I can talk about them. That is one reason I read many new books, and probably the only reason I've read some of the classics. I want to know what all the fuss is about, so to speak. And, you know, toss in my two cents.

So, find out what your library is reading for The Big Read this year! I know my mom's library is doing Esperanza Rising; that's a good one. And if you want to read The Maltese Falcon, we should talk about it! Maybe I'll do a post where we can chat about it in the comments thread or something, later this month. And if you live near me, I'm having a party at my place on Apr 24! You can email me for details.

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