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My First Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday, sponsored by The Printed Page, is something I’ve seen floating around the blogosphere for some time, but since I am less organized than other book reviewers, I often forget to write down what books I got that week and where they came from. This week, I made a concerted effort!

Here are the fruits of my labor:

1.
(I won this at A Patchwork of Books)

2. From the author Jane Pupek (Thanks, Jane!)

3. Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach from the author for a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Blog tour in November.

***Another giveaway from Savvy Verse & Wit. Win a copy of The Safety of Secrets by Delaune Michel! Go here, follow the rules, and enter.

FYI Readers:

On Oct. 28, I’ll host an interview with Shannon Burke, author of Black Flies and Safelight, as well as a giveaway for Black Flies.

M. Ann Jacoby, the author of Life After Genius, will be touring Savvy Verse & Wit on Oct. 29, stay tuned for the review, interview, and giveaway!

My First Tuesday Thingers


Today’s question from Marie, The Boston Bibliophile: Series. Do you collect any series? Do you read series books? Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Religious? Other genre? Do you use the series feature in LT to help you find new books or figure out what you might be missing from a series?

My Series collections:

1. The Blood Books by Tanya Huff (I got hooked on these after watching the television show Blood Ties on Lifetime. I just had to get more of Henry!)

2. Anne Rice’s Vampire novels (I haven’t read all of them because I got discouraged with Blackwood Farm)

3. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (again vampires…hmm…is there a theme going on here?)

4. Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods (Oh, there definitely is a theme here…lol)

5. Alex Cross Series by James Patterson (though my mom has many of these books at her house)

6. Women’s Murder Club Series by James Patterson

7. Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich (which my mom passed along to me and I haven’t read yet; I got her hooked after reading Evanovich’s How I Write)

I guess you can say that I buy books that are in a vampire series! I don’t use LT to find them; I usually find them on the Internet or in the bookstore by accident. There may be other series that I own parts of, but these are the ones that are complete.

I really like the Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic series, but I borrowed those books from friends, though I wouldn’t be opposed to buying the series.

***Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of WingBeat by Marilyn Meredith.

My First Booking Through Thursday

This is the first time I’ve participated in Booking Through Thursday, but these questions peaked my interest. So here we go:

What was the last book you bought?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Name a book you have read MORE than once

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen; The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; Phantom by Susan Kay

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux; I never thought that people could be so mean to one person or that being mean to person could turn them evil, along with other things. I was very naive when I first read this book in middle school.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

I choose books in a variety of ways; I either have recommendations from friends or fellow book bloggers, my mom, etc. Or I browse the library or bookstore reading the summaries to find one that snags my attention. On rare occasions I will even pick a book up based upon its cover.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Fiction, hands down.

What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

Both are important for me. Without a gripping plot, I lose interest in the writing, and vice versa.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

Elizabeth Bennett, Heathcliff, and Edward Cullen

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Madre by Nathan Leslie

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland; I finished it last night!

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

Yes.

***Don’t forget to enter my contest for A Grave in the Air

Email me at savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com if you are interested in receiving Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland in the mail.

The Secret Meme. . .

Monica at Monniblog peeked my curiosity with her secrete meme, so I had to ask her what the questions were, but that meant I had to answer them myself.

If you are curious enough to know the questions, you will have to email me for the questions. Here are the answers:

1. Dewey
2. Anna
3. Anita Shreve (I know not a blogger)
4. Wendy
5. Gayle
6. Nymeth
7. Natasha
8. Amy
9. Dar
10. Suey
11. Shana (with books)
12. Julie P.
13. J. Kaye
14. Monica
15. Carl V.
16. Amanda
17. Becky
18. Stephanie
19. Stephanie
20. Sher
21. Bethany
22. Iliana
23. Darla
24. Trish
25. Marie
26. Uh…no one?!
27. April
28. No idea…
29. uh, my non-blogging husband. . .
30. Write reviews that move you and they will move me.

Come play along. It makes you put your thinking cap on!

Weekly Geeks: Favorite Books Published in 2008

This Week’s challenge is to list our favorite books that we have read and were published in 2008.

Here they are: (links to my reviews are included)

1. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson ( You knew this would be on this list)
2. The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams
3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
4. Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

I’m sure this list will expand, but up until this point these are the ones I’ve read that were published this year.

How about A Meme?!

Jill at The Magic Lasso tagged me for Six Weird Things About Me.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you (CHECK)
2. Post the rules on your blog (CHECK)
3. Write 6 random things/unspectacular quirks about yourself (CHECK)
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them (CHECK)
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog (I’ll get to it)
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is posted. (CHECK)

I’m not sure that I want to share my oddities, but here we go.

1. I hate when people go into my purse without permission, and this includes my husband.
2. I hate cooking meals for one, and usually I will eat cheese
3. I adore art, but can’t paint a stick figure
4. I always talk to my dog, though I’m sure he thinks I am crazy
5. I secretly enjoy watching Survivor even though I say I hate it and will never watch it again.
6. I’ve always wanted to play violin, professionally. I’ve never played.

Here are the six people I have tagged:

1. Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
2. Shana at Literarily
3. Dar at Peeking Between the Pages
4. Amy at My Friend Amy (Yes, I know she is taking a break)
5. J. Kaye at J. Kaye’s Book Blog
6. Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot

Weekly Geeks #16


Weekly Geeks #16 challenge was to interview a fellow Weekly Geek about the book s/he just finished reading, and I was paired up with Mel from The Indextrious Reader.

Here’s my Interview with Mel about Flower Children by Maxine Swann:

1. Flower Children by Maxine Swann seems to take a unique look at the impact the 70s and free love has on children who were coming of age at that time, did you find the perspective true to life?

Despite growing up in the 70’s, I was very far from having hippie parents! But I found that the characterizations seemed realistic and the action flowed from those characterizations very naturally. So, yes, I believed the narrative voice, especially when the children were younger; as the two girls became adolescents in the final story, I wasn’t as taken by them.

2. How would you describe the narrative?

The story unfolds in discrete chapters, which switch back and forth from first person (the voice of second daughter Maeve) and third person. I wasn’t actually sure I really liked that approach, maybe all one or the other would have flowed better. It might also have been interesting to see the family through the first person eyes of each of the children.

3. Some reviews on Amazon have characterized the novel as a string of short stories, did you find this to be the case?

Absolutely. The chapters, although following one another in chronological progression, were definitely separate stories which could stand alone. And therefore I did find some stronger than others — as I mentioned, the story with the two girls as adolescents didn’t have quite the same dreamy, reminiscent tone as the others.

4. Do you often read novels set in the 1970s or that time period?

Actually, not really. I don’t search for them, anyway, and I’d guess that my faint surprise at reading about the 70’s in this one means it’s not a regular occurrence.

5. Who would you recommend read this book to and why? Or would you not recommend the book, and why?

I think that children of the 70’s would find a lot of familiar touches, even if you didn’t grow up in the country with hippie, divorced parents from extremely eccentric families… Really, probably anyone with an interest in American fiction or domestic fiction from a bit of a different viewpoint would like this. It is full of free love and pot though, so if that bothers you, perhaps it’s not the book of choice.

6. What were your favorite parts or elements of the novel?

I enjoyed the voice of Maeve, and the dreamy feeling in the first couple of stories especially. It captured that random childhood freedom which I certainly had, to wander alone or with friends most of the day without having to be fearful or worried about strangers. In the first story, the author describes the two young sisters laying flat and still in a field long enough for a buzzard to show interest, and then suddenly sitting up thinking it was about to dive at them. This image repeats itself in the final story when the sisters return to their home as adults, and it really works.

7. Were the characters believable or well-rounded?

The two girls were pretty clear, but aside from the big sister views of the two younger brothers you don’t find out much about the boys. I would have liked a little more background and spirit to the mother; she was a bit vague for me. Their father, on the other hand, was quite a character, with each story filling out his profile a little more. When the kids go with him to their grandparents’ in one story, you find out where he gets all his eccentricities from — his whole family is made up of oddballs. Overall, they were all drawn clearly enough to feel like real individuals who I wanted to keep reading about.

5. You mentioned that you are not caught up on reviews, do you find that your reading and reviewing obligations are overwhelming at times or do you like the challenge of catching up?

Every once in a while I feel overwhelmed, but all this reading and blogging is supposed to be fun, so I don’t stress out too much. I don’t feel obliged to review everything I read, or blog every day.

Some other random questions for Mel and their answers:

1. I wonder how you came up with the title of your blog and if there is any significance to the title.

I made up the word “Indextrious” as a blend of index and industrious, because I’m a librarian who likes cataloguing and indexing and picky things like that!

2. On Book Blogs, you belong to the Travel the World group, is there a particular reason you were drawn to that book group and how has your experience with the group been?

I’ve just joined so have no stories to share yet. I’m interested because I like reading international fiction and seeing things from other viewpoints.

3. Taking on a lot of reading challenges seems time consuming, how do you find the time to work through all those challenges at the same time?

Um…I rarely finish challenges! I just do them for fun and for community.

Mel’s Interview with Me about Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

  • This book sounds like it has an interesting structure. Did it tell the story from 4 first-person viewpoints, or a third person overview?

There are 4 POVs in the novel from each of the female characters. It was great to hear the inner thoughts of each character in their respective chapters, and I don’t think a third person narrative would have capture what the women were thinking and feeling as well as the current structure.

  • Were the characters recognizable as distinct individuals? Which of the women did you feel the most connection to, and why?

The characters are distinct individuals with varied pasts and concerns. For example, Sharon Gold is the Jewish, northerner and she is preoccupied with fitting in and in one case she discovers that she has nothing in common with the Jewish wives club members, but has more in common with Kim, Wendy, and Donna. I actually did not feel an affinity with any of the characters. I loved hearing about their respective fears and concerns, but I did not feel connected to any of the women. However, I could identify with the each woman’s struggle to belong.

  • Have you read many books set around the Vietnam War? If so, how does this compare?

I have read other Vietnam War novels and nonfiction books in college. One of my favorite authors is Tim O’Brien who wrote In the Lake of the Woods, The Things They Carried, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, July, July, Tomcat in Love, and Northern Lights. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam is a non-fiction work I read for class by Frances FitzGerald, but I don’t believe that I read it cover to cover. We also read Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann. I’ve also read the following poetry books as well: Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa and Song of Napalm by Bruce Weigel. I’m sure there are other books I’ve read as well, but these are the ones that come to mind.

I would say that the majority of the books I’ve read about the Vietnam War focus upon the male perspective of going to war, being in the war, and coming home and dealing with its effects. Mrs. Lieutenant is the only book I’ve read that deals with the impacts the war had on the wives of these soldiers and how they dealt with the prospect of being left behind and possibly never seeing their husbands again. It also provides a female point of view of war in general and the wives’ obligations as part of the military.

  • Some reviewers have drawn parallels between the setting of this book and that of the Iraq War. Considering that, do you think this would be a good read for those either pro or con about the current war? What about non-Americans?

I think this book would be a great fit for those who either are anti- or pro- Iraq or Vietnam War. It provides an inside look at the emotions stirred up by conflict and wars that are not easily understood. Non-Americans interested in American history would find the book interesting as well. But in a broader sense I find this to be a human interest story, a struggle of women with the emotions they have about war, losing their husbands, and traditions kept during that time period by the military.

  • Do you feel from reading this book and interviewing the author that it is heavily based in her own experiences? Does knowing about the author’s background beforehand add or take away from the reading experience for you, generally?

I knew about her background before reading the book, and I don’t think that it detracted at all from the novel because both viewpoints are presented about the war, as well as some more ambiguous viewpoints about the war. For some, serving was a duty, while others saw officer’s training as a means of escaping the draft or biding time until the war was over. Phyllis Zimbler Miller did indicate that this novel is heavily based upon her experiences as Mrs. Lieutenant, but she does not let her personal experiences color the characters she has created.

  • Did you have a favourite part or find something especially memorable that you’d like to share?

I cannot pinpoint my favorite part of the book, only because it would give away too much for one of the character’s stories. But it is a doosey and it caught me off guard.

And a couple of general questions, if you want to answer them:

  • I see from your blog that you are a writer. How does blogging fit into your writing life?

Blogging is a great relief from my daily writing at work. It’s creative, but it isn’t where my passion lies. Poetry is something I write most often, though I am working on some fiction pieces and a novel. I have a hard time juggling my many interests on occasion and one interest may surface as the dominant writing pursuit from time to time. I enjoy blogging because it is a community experience and it always provides me with new books to read.

  • What are some of the things you have found most fulfilling about having a book blog? More books for the TBR, finding like-minded people…??

Oops, I already partially answered this question. I like the community aspect of blogging and meeting new bloggers with a variety of interests and writing styles. It’s great to read some of the more humorous stories people blog about, but it is also great to read reviews of books I haven’t discovered yet or even books I have discovered. I enjoy reading reviews that are opposite of my own as well because it provides a different outlook on what worked for that reader and what didn’t work for me and vice versa.

I hope you enjoyed this Weekly Geek, and if you have, you should sign up for the next round. I had a great time chatting with Mel at Indextrious Reader, and she was kind enough to spread the word about my contest for a copy of Mrs. Lieutenant to her readers as well. Thanks, Mel.

***Please do not forget to enter the Mrs. Lieutenant Contest, Deadline is Sept. 14.***

***Diary of an Eccentric has a contest for The Almost Moon and The Choice; Deadline is Sept. 30.***

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.

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

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)

Weekly Geeks #10


I have not participated in Weekly Geeks as much as I would have hoped, but lives get in the way sometimes. Anyway, I decided to post on this week’s topic: The Magazines We Read

Here’s the rules:

For each magazine you want to talk about, here are a few questions. Answer as many or as few as you want.

1. Name of magazine.
2. Do you subscribe or just buy it now and then?
3. What’s your favorite regular feature in the magazine?
4. What do you think your interest in this magazine says about you?
5. How long have you been reading this magazine?
6. Is there any unique or quirky aspect to the magazine that keeps you reading?

So here it goes:

1. Writer’s Digest

I have subscribed to this magazine off and on, mostly on since I was a pre-teen. I’ve been writing even longer than that. What this magazine says about me is that writing is an important part of me. I love the monthly contests with sentence prompts and the feature articles, which can vary from novel writing tips to whether an MFA is worth it.

2. Poetry

I’m a poet who has subscribed to this poetry journal for about three years now. I love the poems in it, though the translation issue sometimes falls flat for me. I love reading the latest poems from people we know, like Billy Collins, but also from people I don’t know.

3. Poets & Writers

I have had a love hate relationship with this magazine throughout the last eight years. i subscribe and unsubscribe, but currently, the editor is on target with me. The latest issue is about summer reading. What’s great about this magazine is that it is not only about writing, it’s also about the latest books, poetry or fiction, that are out on the market and what living poets and writers have to say about their craft and the state of literature and publishing today. What this says about me is that I enjoy reading as much as writing, and that I am concerned about the state of the literature and the market.

4. AGNI

This literary journal is part of my own private war. I’ve always wanted to be published in this journal to prove a point to an old professor of mine, but thus far, it has not happened. I have subscribed to it for a couple of years at a time, but mostly I just buy it in the bookstore once in a while. I continue to look through it to find my niche. I will win this battle some day.

5. The Virginia Quarterly Review

This is a journal that I have not subscribed to, and will probably continue to just pick up when I find an interesting issue in the bookstore. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I have read issues over the last five years. This is the journal that published the “lost” poem of Robert Frost in 2006.

I’m sure there are other magazines and journals that I have forgotten about because I only get them sporadically when they have an interesting issue that I happen upon in the bookstore.

What magazines and journals are you reading?

Word Nerd Questionnaire

Word Nerd Questionnaire

1. At what level would you describe yourself as a writer (for instance, just starting to take myself seriously; searching for a graduate program, etc.)?

I would love to finish a novel. I have three started, and none are finished. I am a published poet with several poems published in online and print journals.

2. What genre(s) do you write?

Poetry, novel, and short story

3. How do you fit writing into your life right now?

Usually on Wed. nights because the Hubby is off at class.

4. What is your goal for this project (June 1-Aug. 31)?

To finish a novel or get so close I can taste it.

5. What steps do you plan to take to reach that goal?

Set aside more writing and editing time, make definitive efforts to keep to a schedule

6. How do you reward yourself (or how would you like to be rewarded) when you meet a goal?

A stop at the library or bookstore for a book I am dying to read. Chocolate or cheesecake are good as well.

7. What writing craft books do you have/like?

I have a ton of writing books, but the 3am Epiphany has helped with my writer block.

8. Any craft books you’re interested in checking out?

I’m open to most any book, particularly those dealing with the long haul of writing novels, though I cannot outline to save my soul. I would really love to get the Art of Fiction by Gardner.

9. What inspires your writing?

My muse; honestly, I have no idea…things I observe in life

10. How would your author’s blurb read?

Small town girl with big dreams writes larger-than-life stories

11. Tell us about your family (partners, kids, pets, etc.)

One husband, one dog, two cats; that’s enough; some great and not so great friends.

12. Have you ever participated in Nanowrimo (finished or not!)?

twice, never finished. (one of the unfinished novels is a result of Nanowrimo)

13. What can you do to make it easier on yourself to meet your goal for this project?

Set an achievable writing goal for three days out of the week.

14. What are you looking for in terms of support from a writing partner (ex. Exchanging work for critique, being held accountable for meeting a word count goal, etc.)?

critiques and being held accountable to the writing times

15. What crafty pursuits do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Photography and scrapbooking

16. What other hobbies/past times do you like?

Reading and tennis and hiking

17. What non-writing-craft books have you enjoyed?

Pride & Prejudice is my favorite.

18. What else would you like to share with us?

I cannot wait to get started.