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On the Front Lines of Your Life

***Sticky Post***

Have you ever wanted to be on the front lines, issuing the latest details of phenomenal events you experience on a daily basis? Have you been writing stories in your head as you walk down the street, ride the subway, or drive your car? Have you ever just wanted to express your opinion or explain why politicians are wrong about their proposal or simply wanted to have your say about a piece of literature, a news article, a television show, or other event?

If you have even thought about these stories or situations in the remotest way, you could earn cash and prizes for your story simply by becoming a part of the Field Report community.

Unlike reporters in the field, writers in the Field Report community are entertainers even though they are telling true stories about their lives. Writers, however, cannot just focus on their own stories and writing in this community, they also must review the writing of their fellow community members.

Ok, you’re wondering what the catch is or what the sign-up fee is. Here’s the best part, it is FREE to join and your only obligation is to review the writing of others. You must review five field reports on a scale of one-to-ten. This a dream come true for a writer–you can earn money and you can read the writing of fellow writers.

All community members are subject to a “blind” review process, which propels the best stories to the top of the heap. There are a number of different categories from breaking news to animal reports, and $1,000 is awarded every month to those writers selected in one of 21 categories.

A grand prize of $250,000 will be awarded to the finalists on Dec. 1, 2008 to one of the monthly winners.

So are you ready to share your life with thousands of other writers in a community? I say get started and earn money. If you have further questions about Field Report, check out the FAQ. Or check out the Quick Start Guide.

A postal worker in Oregon won $20,000 for her Field Report. What can you win?

CALL FOR Nominations: Book Blogger Appreciation Week

***Sticky Post***

Calling all readers and bloggers, it’s time for you to get your nominations in for Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2008, which runs Sept. 15-19 with the sponsorship of My Friend Amy. Here’s her post about the nominations.

Here are the 2008 BBAW Categories:

Best General Book Blog
Best Kidlit Blog
Best Christian/Inspirational Fiction Blog
Best Literary Fiction Blog
Best Book Club Blog
Best Romance Blog
Best Thrillers/Mystery/Suspense Blog
Best Non-fiction Blog
Best Young Adult Lit Blog
Best Book/Publishing Industry Blog
Best Challenge Host
Best Community Builder
Best Cookbook Blog
Best History/Historical Fiction Blog
Best Design
Most Chatty
Most Concise
Most Eclectic Taste
Best Name for a Blog
Best Published Author Blog
Best Book published in 2008
Best Meme/Carnival/Event
Most Extravagant Giveaways
Best Book Community site
Most Altruistic Blog
Funniest/Most Humorous Blog
Best Sci-fi/fantasy/horror/spec-fic blog
Best Commenter/commentator
Write In (contact Amy if you think there is a category missing)

Nominate up to 2 blogs per category and nominations must be sent to this email: BbawawardsATgmailDOTcom

Deadline is Aug. 31, 2008.

Feel free to nominate Savvy Verse & Wit.

Have fun. I’m excited. Guess what I’ll be working on? If you have any suggestions for the categories, please feel free to email me your nominations for that category and I may just jump on your little bandwagon.

HELP!!! Updated at 4PM

OK, It’s the BBAW Nominations Deadline! And I wanted to get at least one blog nominated for each category, but I unfortunately do not read blogs in some of these categories.

If you have time to help me out, please send me some suggestions for these categories:

BEST BOOK COMMUNITY
BEST BOOK CLUB BLOG
BEST THRILLERS/SUSPENSE
BEST NON-FICTION
BEST COOKBOOK
BEST HISTORY
MOST EXTRAVAGANT GIVEAWAYS

Thanks everyone!

TBR Piles and Parts of Book Shelves


Here are some photos of my TBR piles and books on the shelf. Enjoy! It’s all in the name of Weekly Geeks #14 Photo Tours

Check out these Weekly Geeks’ Photo Tours:
MizB
Kerry
Rebecca

TBR #1

TBR #2

Bookshelf #1

Finished Books

Ok, I have a number of shelves and a number of TBR piles, but I thought I would start by sharing these.

Charanavi and Animal Fortune-Telling

Masahiro Tsurumoto‘s Charanavi is a book I received from one of J. Kaye’s Book Blog Raffle. I’ve had fun with it ever since. The premise of the book is to explore your own personality and improve your relationships through animal fortune-telling.

This psychological theory was introduced in Japan in 2000 and has grown in popularity since then crossing language and cultural barriers. It gained popularity in the United States in 2003. It is now taught in college courses and among companies, which use it as a communication tool.

The book is a simple read and helps the reader easily locate their animal character based upon their birth date and simple mathematical formula. After quickly running through the formula, I discovered I am the Lovable Wolf or “living common sense.” Along with my animal character, I learn that I belong in the Earth group, which is equivalent to scissors. What does all this mean? I’ll let you read the book to figure that out, but I will tell you that it has a lot to do with how well communications progress between character groups.

The book continues to breakdown the Earth, Moon, and Sun groups into behavioral patterns, and for me as an Earth Group member, I tend to be goal-oriented and practical.

The book also aims to help readers learn how to navigate communication with their partners and loved ones based upon their animal characters and tendencies. In the latter portion of the book, there are practical guides to use in conversation, business settings, and at parties. There is even a chart to help a single male or female discover which animal personality is the best “love” match.

It’s been a fun book to read and learn about the animal personalities. I cannot vouch for its accuracy in terms of practical application. I recommend anyone interested in various philosophies or communication tools check this book out.

The Host

Stephenie Meyer‘s The Host is a fantastic science fiction novel for even those who do not read science fiction. While Meyer creates another world to immerse her characters in, the storyline is believable and captivating. Melanie Stryder, her brother Jamie, and Jared Howe along with all of humanity are thrust into a fight for their way of life and their humanity in Meyer’s first attempt at an adult novel. I hope this too becomes a movie someday.

***Spoiler Alert***

Melanie Stryder is a tough go-getter who is caring for her brother while on the run from the Seekers. She meets up with Jared unexpectedly, and they both mistake one another for a soul–or a human possessed by an alien soul. Jared, Jamie, and Melanie end up on the run together, sort of like an instant family in these desperate times. She falls in love with Jared and vice versa. However, once they are separated when Melanie seeks out her cousin Sharon, all hell breaks loose. Melanie is captured and implanted with the Wanderer.

Wanderer struggles to gain full control over Mel, but it becomes a loosing battle for some time. When she finally gets into a routine at her Calling as a teacher at the San Diego university, Wanderer begins to grow uncomfortable with her host and her seeker. The seeker constantly follows her and harasses her about whether she has learned about any other humans that Mel may have been with or hiding. Wandered grows weary of these interrogations and makes an attempt to head east to Tuscon, Ariz., where she will see her Healer, who attached her to Melanie.

On her way through the desert, Wanderer decides its time to pull over, get something to eat, argue with Mel, and then decipher the lines on a map from Mel’s memories to find a possible hiding spot for Jared and Jamie. Mel wants to be assured they are alive and to keep her promise to Jamie that she would return. Wanderer is not entirely comfortable with the plan, but succumbs to the urge because she has grown fond of Jared and Jamie through Mel’s memories.

Once Wanderer and Melanie enter the cave dwelling of the rebels, they both face serious harm and torture. Jared is angry and frustrated and elated to see Melanie’s body, but he is distraught that Wanderer is inside. Ian and Kyle, the brothers, are ready to kill Mel to prevent Wanderer from telling the Seekers where they are. The believe they are the last human rebels on the planet and they want to survive at all costs.

***End Spoiler Alert***

The interplay of the characters at the end of the book in the last 250 pages is infectious. You get caught up in the intrigue and the action. While the action is great, the evolution of the characters is fantastic in this novel. Wanderer remains true to herself and is altruistic to the end, and her anger toward Melanie softens and transforms. Melanie’s anger toward her softens and transforms as well; there grows an understanding between the two who share one body. Their friendship grows as does their affection for one another, and this friendship helps turn around the reactions and actions of the other humans in the caves.

Many of the reviews I saw have talked about the love between Jared and Melanie and Wanda and Ian, but I think that this book is more about how many people judge books and people by their covers before they get to know and understand them.

Souls take over the planet because humans are too violent to truly enjoy their world, and by taking them over, the souls are doing humanity a favor. Humans view the takeover as an invasion as the souls take over bodies and push the personalities and human minds out of those bodies, essentially killing those humans. However, souls are not all bad and in many ways they do not realize the extent of the devastation they cause on Earth because previous hosts have been so different and less individualized–less human. Humans also are not all bad and prone to violence as Wanda learns with Ian and others in the book.

After reading Breaking Dawn, I sped through this book. I didn’t find any ruts in the narrative and the action was well worth the ride. The one drawback for me was the intractable characters of Sharon and Maggie, who do not evolve at all. They maintain their hatred of the Wanderer regardless of her altruistic behavior and her hardcore work ethic.

If you have reviewed The Host, please send me your link and I will add it.

Also Reviewed By:
Suey at It’s All About Books
Maw Books
Book Escape
Reading Adventures
J. Kaye’s Book Blog
Booking Mama
Marta’s Meanderings
Wrighty’s Reads

A Sweet Giveaway on BookRoomReviews

BookRoomReviews is giving away a fantastic prize with the help of “Sweet Life” author Mia King. Check out the details below:

What is better than winning this Fantastic book? How about winning TWO Fantastics Books and a Basket of Chocolate? Even better, Three people can win! For every FIFTY entries Mia will give away a big prize package of books and goodies( listed below). She has agreed to give out THREE baskets but we need you to get the word out about her book and this wonderful contest because the more people that enter means more people will win! Get it? Got it? Good! Here’s what you will win:

Valued at over $80, our “Life is Sweet” Hawaiian gift basket includes:

  • one small gold box of Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread Cookies

  • one gold box of Kohala Brownie Assortment

  • one petite box of Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road

  • one petite box of Combination (Dark and Milk) Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts

  • three Dark Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread cookies

  • one Original Biscotti with Milk Chocolate waves

  • one Original Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Waves

  • one signed copy of GOOD THINGS

  • one signed copy of SWEET LIFE

  • an assortment of temporary hibiscus tattoos, tropical key chains, monogrammed GOOD THINGS and SWEET LIFE pens, inspiring quote cards (you know I love quotes!), bookmarks, and more!

All of this comes in a lovely keepsake woven basket for you to store your favorite Mia King books.

For One entry leave a comment telling Mia why you would like to read Sweet Life

For a Second entry brag about this contest anywhere and link it back here in a separate comment!

For a Third entry Stumble, Digg, Tweet, or post in message boards about this contest and link or tell me about it back here in a separate comment!

Apologies to everyone else as this contest is limited to U.S. only. I will announce the winners on September 2nd when Mia King will be answering some questions about her book.

Go to BookRoomReviews and comment; don’t forget to spread the word.

Six Quirky Things About Me

I was tagged by Anna at Diary of an Eccentric, so here goes nothing.

Here are the rules:
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

Here are my 6 quirky things:

1. I make plans and don’t always follow through right away, sometimes not at all.

2. Sometimes I would rather be alone in the woods screaming

3. I write poems in my head while reading books

4. I love odd numbers, especially 21, 7, 3, and 5

5. I am fascinated with the paranormal

6. I am Olympics obsessed this summer…

6 Bloggers I tagged: (please don’t feel obligated)

1. Marie at Boston Bibliophile

2. Suey at It’s All About Books

3. Darla D at Books & Other Thoughts (though I know she is on vacation)

4. Katherine at A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

5. Tina at BookShipper

6. Dar at Peeking Between the Pages

Breaking Dawn

Stephenie Meyer‘s Breaking Dawn is the last book in the Twilight series and is a jam packed book of 750 pages. Edward and Bella are some of the best characters I have come across in a vampire series in some time, and Jacob just rounds out the group. The supporting characters in the series are varied and just as captivating. Breaking Dawn begins where book 3, Eclipse, left off. This is not my favorite of the novels, and if you are a Twilight fan you will read it regardless of my review, but if you are looking for pure escapism and a good, though outrageous story, this book is for you. I still think a good 200-300 pages could have been pared out of this novel and sections reworked to make them tighter and more evolutionary in terms of character development.

***Spoiler Alert***

We resume Bella and Edward’s story with the wedding. They are getting married; she has begrudgingly agreed to it. There is not a whole lot of description of her dress or much of the preparations other than to say that Alice has gone all out. Since Book 1 in Breaking Dawn is from Bella’s point of view, it should not surprise readers that the descriptions of her dress and other things are sparse. Bella is not a frilly type of girl. On their honeymoon, they make love like married couples, regardless of their age or agelessness. While I expected everything up until this point, I was not expecting these characters I love to be as static or flat as they were throughout this section of the book. The plot plodded along and the characters went through the motions, but there was little tension, passion, and feeling between these two.

The first twist in the book was predictable from my stand point because it was foreshadowed early enough on in the book with seemingly misplaced stories about immortal children. Bella and Edward conceive a child, but no ordinary child–she is half human, half vampire. This is nothing new. I have read the genre for some time, and this is a “legend” that has been worked into a number of novels, though many writers prefer to think of vampires as unable to sire children with or without human lovers.

Renesmee, their daughter, was predictable in her need for blood. I surmised this early on in Bella’s ordeal carrying this child. The child’s name is elementary and sappy according to many Internet blogs I have read thus far, but I can tell you that it fits perfectly with Bella’s character, though I’m surprised that Edward did not chime in with his opinion on the matter. The immovable force that is Edward is largely absent from this novel, which made it disconcerting and diminished the evolution of this book. A lot of this first section of the book could have been condensed into a tighter package, and the characters of Bella and Edward should have retained some of their tension and passion-play from the previous books, even though they are now man and wife.

The ordeal with carrying the baby to term should have been wrought with greater conflict between the newlyweds than it was. Most of the time Edward was passively sitting beside his wife, helpless. While this shows his inability to solve all of Bella’s problems and to always protect her, it was a bit too much of a character shift. It should have evolved; we should have felt his resolve slip away as he grew more resigned to Bella’s fate and her decision.

I liked the interactions between Rosalie and Bella–that was a twist I had not expected. I did not expect Bella to turn to Rosalie in this respect or if she did, I did not expect their bond to be so steadfast and hardy. What a great addition and new dynamic to the expanding Cullen network.

Book 2, which is from Jacob’s point of view, threw me for a loop because I was expecting a section from Edward, the father of Renesmee. Instead, Meyer brings us back to our good friend Jacob and his feelings after his “alone” time in the wilderness. His point of view is lively and more on track with the character development Jacob experienced in the first three novels. This section had me riveted more so than the first part of the book. Yes, Jacob still loves Bella in the most passionate and unrequited way, but you can’t turn those feelings off, especially if you are a teenager and have raging hormones. Those expecting Jacob to just shut those feelings off is deluding themselves. Just because the “love of your life” marries someone else, does not meant that you can forget about them or turn off your feelings.

The best part of this section of the book is the debate about free will and the collective mind. . .which is better to have for battle and living one’s life? The battle for free will is strong throughout the series, particularly with Jacob and the shapeshifters. Jacob believes in free will, which is why he can no more order Seth and Leah back to La Push than order himself to forget Bella. However, while he admires and supports the ideal of free will, he is still bound by his nature. He must imprint and to imprint upon Renesmee was inevitable because Bella always thought of him as family regardless of her love for Edward. Jacob finds imprinting on young children disturbing, but now he is forced into a similar situation as Quil. This dichotomy is fantastically played out in the La Push community and particularly among Jacob and several other shapeshifers. In terms of the best written sections of the book, those can be found in Jacob’s point of view.

Book Three, which is from Bella’s point of view, is all over the place, and Meyer had a ton of ground to cover. Bella was expected at the Volturi when she was finally transformed into a vampire, but a vision appears that suggests that that visit may be unnecessary since Irina spied Renesmee and assumed she was one of the forbidden immortal children. This sets up a whirlwind of events in which Alice and Jaspar vanish for parts unknown and the rest of the family rounds up as many vampire friends as possible to witness the growth and maturity of Renesmee to prove to the Volturi that she is not an immortal child, but a half-breed.

While there are many things in this section that I found far-fetched even for a fantasy novel, like Bella’s ability to stave off hunger and behave contrary to all other newborn vampires, I did enjoy Bella’s struggles with her mind shield and her bravery in trying to save all of those she loved. I think the struggles before and after the Volturi arrived would have been more poignant if she had collapsed or expressed some deep thirst for blood.

Finally, the build up of suspense while Bella and Edward and their friends waited for the Volturi was fantastic, though the descriptions and intimate details of all the friends and their pasts may not have been necessary. However, for a breach of vampiric law this substantial, bloodshed of some kind should have been called for, at least for Irina’s death. She was part of the Cullen family or so the Denali clan claims. The discussion and minor battles between Bella’s mind shield and Jane and Alec were not enough to satisfy the tension that had built up over the last month in the Cullen household.

***End Spoiler***

Happily ever after was an inevitability between these characters, and as a writer, I can understand wanting to satisfy the expectations of as many readers as possible, which is a difficult if not impossible task. I commend Meyer for trying to pack so much into the novel, and I think that the path she choose for them was appropriate. Bella is much more likable as a vampire, though she is still sometimes utterly ridiculous in her actions. I can see how she never really fit in as a human and was a perfect fit for the vampire family. Edward remains the same as he was in the other books, though more lustful. However, his endearing remarks to Jacob were a bit premature for me. Jacob’s development throughout the series is nearly complete, but he has further to go. If there were to be another book in this series, it should be about his evolution and his role in Renesmee’s life.

Finally, I wonder what the cover has to do with the title, Breaking Dawn (which I assume relates to the breaking dawn of their new future together as a family), and the book itself. The white queen could be Renesmee or it could be Bella, but who is the blood red pawn? Is the pawn Edward or is the pawn Renesmee. The white statue of the queen suggests vampire to me, while the red pawn suggests shapeshifter or human. Any thoughts dear readers?

Also Reviewed By:
It’s All About Books by Suey
Becky’s Book Reviews
Book Escape
Book Room Reviews
The Bookworm
Maw Books
The Written Word
Diary of an Eccentric
A Patchwork of Books
Book Addiction

If I have missed you, please send me your link and I will add it.

Book Buzz List…or Eye-Popping Reads

I was tagged by Book Escape.

List three categories of books. 3 MUST Read Books, 3 Keep Your Eyes on These, and 3 Look For These Soon. Keeping with the theme, I am going to tag at least 3 bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 3 more bloggers. It will be fun to see how the lists change as it goes around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing as they go around the blogosphere. Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.

3 MUST Read Books:

1. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson (My Review)
2. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
3. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

3 to Keep Your Eyes On:

  • Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer
  • Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg (My Review)
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

3 Look For These Soon:

  • Cross Country by James Patterson (Due in November; looks like the series will continue and this series is much better than the other co-authored books have been)
  • The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran (Moran’s Nefertiti was great and I’m looking forward to the next book)
  • The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Now, I’m supposed to pick three bloggers to join in.

1. It’s All About Books (Suey)

2. Diary of an Eccentric (Anna)

3. Books & Other Thoughts (Darla D)