Monday, March 23, 2015

Books That Make You Go "Meh"

So I really just suck at this whole keeping up the blog thing. I think about it a lot. I want to write more. I want to talk more. I want to interact more. But, alas, it doesn't happen. Oh well.

Let's talk books, tho. Y'wanna? I *still* am having trouble getting into books lately. I finished AG Howard's Splintered series, and loved it. But other than that? It's hit and miss and a lot of 'meh's'. I haven't LOVED much past that. Maybe I'm expecting too much when I pick up a book? I want to be hooked, to love/hate the characters, to care what happens to them.

I started reading Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the Replacements and The Space Between. Paper Valentine left me wanting, but I was REALLY hopeful for Fiendish. After 126 pages I've decided to reshelve it for later. The writing is still good. But I'm not connecting whatsoever to anyone in the story. And, it's not a spoiler since it happens right away, this girl is locked in a cellar and is being overtaken by roots for ten years. At the age of seven. Gets out at the age of seventeen... and has no problem walking and talks as if she were seventeen... as if she'd lived her life normally. There's obvious magic at work with the entirety of the novel, but for some reason that just annoyed me.

It's like I'm having trouble connecting to anything I read. Hopefully that will change. Short of not reading at all, it can only get better, right?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ensnared {A Review}

Ensnared (Splintered, #3)Title: Ensnared
Author: AG Howard
Series: Splintered #3
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Source/Format: Own/Hardcover
Rating: 5 freaking stars

After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She's determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world--a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that's gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?

Goodreads-badge-add-plus 

I finished this series with a heavy heart. I have immensely enjoyed my stay in this world that AG Howard has created and was very sad to know that it was ending.

Starting the end of a series that I love is always so emotional for me. It's going to either make or break the love for me, as far as my undying love and devotion goes. But I usually trust the author to do what feels right, to have to story end true to the characters, to the plot. And this one? AG Howard succeeded... far beyond any expectations I could possibly have. I had no inkling which of many routes her characters would choose to make her take. But I was not disappointed.

I want to tell you all everything I loved about this book. But to do so would be to ruin some of it for you if you haven't read it. So here's what I can say (which mostly applies to the series as a whole):

  1. The imagery. Howard gave herself the task of creating vastly different worlds. And that's not like moving a setting in a story from Paris to the United States. We're talking going from the human realm, with which we are all familiar, to Wonderland, and then to Any Elsewhere. And each world had its own feel to it. They were characters in and of themselves. I could see them, I could feel them, I could touch them. I was there.
  2. The characters. They were 100% real... realistic. They could my brother, sister, parents, friends. I wanted them to be those things. I wanted them all to be happy, to be loved, to find themselves, to discover their own abilities, to cherish each other and what they had with one another.
  3. Chemistry. I have read very few authors who can write a scene so sizzling hot yet entail very little detail (for lack of a better word at this moment). Where a touch in the book can send shivers down my spine. A mere kiss being shared can make my own lips tingle.
  4. I'm not sure of a "heading" for this one, but everything that happened felt true to the story, to the characters. There were times I felt my heart ripping in two. There were times I cried. Times I laughed out loud (making the hubs look at me strangely, per usual). A few times I wanted to reach through the pages and strangle people, hug them, slap them, love them. 
Needless to say, I will be reading anything AG Howard decides to write. Going on blind faith... I'll just buy them without a care as to what they're even about. Even if it turns out to be her own take on the alphabet or dictionary, I won't care. She's that awesome. ;)

To keep it completely and utterly spoiler free, that's all I shall say. Other than if you haven't read this series, WHAT IN ALL THE WORLDS ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Plunging into the Icy Depths of Suckage

So I talked about here whether or not I was going to partake in any reading challenges this year. And while I'm still on the fence as to whether or not it's a "good" thing for me to do, I went ahead and did it. I claimed I wanted to read 50 books this year on Goodreads. And then this happened:

 
Seriously... Goodreads is already telling me I suck. *sigh*

But oh well. I laugh in the face of suckage. 

That's what I'm going with, anyway. To be fair, I would have been at 0% and x amount of books behind no matter what number I set for myself, since I haven't read a single book this year (outside of picture books, of course, as I have small children and considering it's what I do for a living... lol).

So... 

Happy reading to you all and may you reach your goals.  :)

Smiles,
B

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Keeping the Moon {A Review}

Keeping the MoonTitle: Keeping the Moon
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: September 1999
Source: Own
Rating: 3 stars

The Scoop from Goodreads:

Colie expects the worst when she's sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast -- first for being fat and then for being "easy" -- Colie has no friends at home and doesn't expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along

Goodreads-badge-add-plus  

I found this in my drafts. Wrote it when I read the book back in October, just never completed the actual post. So... yeah... here ya go. :)

So I was looking for something to read over the weekend. Ever since I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I've had a hard time with finding something I liked. I read, and disliked, Gone Girl (feel free to throw things at me... and it wasn't just the ending I didn't like). I tried to get into Girl of Fire & Thorns, but just couldn't. I read a good portion and realized I just wasn't that into it. Some day I may revisit it. I tried Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, and found myself just simply not caring. I thought it was strange and uninteresting. I tried a few pages of a few other books, but nothing was grabbing my attention. As I was browsing my bookshelf, I realized I had a Sarah Dessen book on there I hadn't read. I thought "I can always get into these, no problem." So I picked it up.


And I did enjoy it. I really like Dessen's writing. It's simple and beautiful. And, for the most part, I really liked the characters in this one. Let's start with Colie (actually, it's Nicole. Sparks. Nicole Sparks. I wonder if that similarity was done on purpose?). She's a lost soul. Truly. Once she and her mom finally settled down in some place, her mom and her both lost weight. But while her mom went on to be a successful weight loss-related product spokesperson, Colie is left feeling alone and broken. She's only ever had people be mean to her and she doesn't know how to cope/deal/let go of it all and just be herself. She is sent to live with her eccentric Aunt Mira in Colby. She meets Norman, who is a collector of all things with which he uses for his artistic creations. He's also a painter and a really sweet guy. She also becomes friends with her neighbors and coworkers (she gets a job at a restaurant where Norman is a cook and these two gals are waitresses), Morgan and Isabel. Morgan is a peacemaking, trustful person, while Isabel is a straightforward, tell-it-as-it-is type person.


So, there's a brief description of the main characters. There's no major drama, just your typical run-of-the-mill type things. But there's a lot of self-discovery and realizing what's important and what's not. And while all of those things are done well, there were a few hiccups for me with this one.


One: The Fat Years. Maybe it's my own sensitivity, but Colie loses 45 pounds. And I'm by no means saying that being 45 pounds overweight is a good thing. It can wreak havoc on your health. But, calling it "The Fat Years"? I don't know. For some reason that phrase just made me cringe... every time I read it. Every. Single. Time.



Two: Preachiness. There's always a lesson in a Sarah Dessen book. Always. But I just feel like this one was a little preachy in that sense. Not-so-subtle. I like subtle when reading a novel when it comes to lessons. So Mira had a conversation with Colie and it was obvious she was specifically trying to point things out to her to help her along. And same with other characters. Not that these things didn't need to be said, I just felt like it was a bit too "out there." Make sense? (In all fairness, I think Dessen has improved on this tremendously throughout her writing...)


Three: Cluelessness. There was quite a bit of it. Mostly on the part of Colie. This is VERY minor and has no bearing on how I feel about the book as a whole, tho. Just something I wanted to point out. I'm sure I was pretty clueless at that age as well, but dang. Sometimes I wanted to reach through the pages and just spell it out for her. (That goes against how I feel above, tho, doesn't it?)



All in all I really enjoyed this one. Mostly it was the second hiccup. It just took me out of the story more than I'd like. Keeping in mind it's one of her earlier works, I will still get excited over new ones she has comes out. Like Saint Anything. (Out May of this year... woot-woot!)

Forgive Me Father... {A Top Ten Tuesday Post}

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they provide a Top Ten topic for you to create your list, then you share it on their post so others can find you. :)

  ♥ Top Ten Bookish Confessions

This week's is a freebie, which is a good one to get back into it with, I suppose. :) 

  1. I've never read a "classic" outside of required school reading. And even then, I only remember reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I swear I had to have read more than that throughout high school and college, right? I remember attempting to read Oliver, but only getting 7 pages in multiple times over and just hoping against hope that the movie was close to the book. And anytime someone says "If you had *insert teacher's name here*, then you had to have read *insert title here*," I'm like "No, I really haven't read it." And I had great grades... I can't figure this one out. lol
  2. I am not a huge fan of reading outside. *ducks for cover* Seriously. Sunlight. White pages. Reflection. Ouch. Plus, I get distracted very easily by all the outdoor sounds.
  3. I refuse to read in the bathtub ever since I dropped The Witch of Blackbird Pond in the tub when I was in fifth grade. Yep. That's a long time with no bathtub reading. And I still own that exact water-logged copy of that book... so I'll have evidence to show my kids when I tell them no and they ask why. Okay... I won't tell them no. I'll just tell them they have to choose a book they don't "care" if they ruin? lol
  4. I can no longer read Nicholas Sparks. I used to love them. And I enjoyed the movies I've seen that have been based on his books (whether I've read them or not). But recently I attempted it (as in sometime in the past six-ish months). And all I could think was, "Yep. He's going to meet her and fall in love. But they're going to have some sort of complication from their respective baggage they've brought with them. But they will work it out and live forever happily." And while this is a very broad generalization, I'm sure, I just felt like it was formulaic and I don't think I want that anymore. Yes, the story itself will be different... different people/situations/etc, but the layout seems the same.
  5. Sometimes, I don't like to read. This past year I've discovered something about myself. I do love reading. And I love books. And I love authors. But sometimes... sometimes I just don't want to read. I don't want to think that much or for that long. There are times when I just don't have the mental capacity to process a book and all its happenings.
  6. I'm getting better at being less judgy of book-to-movie adaptations and seeing them as entirely separate entities. I *still* want everyone to read the books (preferably first, not after the movie), and I still want all the important stuff to be conveyed through the film, but as I tell my kids "You can't always get what you want." :)
  7. I read, and liked, the entire Twilight series. But then... they made the movies. And... yeah. I wouldn't consider myself a "Twi-hard" or whatnot, but still. *shudder*
  8. I did not like Gone Girl. The book. Didn't see the movie, and don't plan to. But I sincerely thought the book wasn't good and felt gypped. I mean, I wasted time on reading a book that everyone raved about. The writing annoyed me and there wasn't a single likeable character. And no redeeming traits whatsoever.
  9. It's been two months since I've read a book I haven't read before. Seriously. I reread (audio) AG Howard's Splintered and Unhinged in anticipation for Ensnared (which I now own but have yet to actually START), but I haven't read an actual new-to-me book in over two months. I think I must be dying.
  10. Sometimes I lie about books. What I mean is that I'm really pretty picky about who I will let borrow my books. So sometimes, when someone says "Hey, I really want to read *insert title here*, could I maybe borrow it if you own it?"... I'll say no. I don't own it. Someone else has it already. It's at the bindery. My dog ate it. ANYTHING so as not to put that book in the hands of the person asking. I know, I know. I could just say no, I don't lend my books out to the likes of you. But I'm not for hurting people's feelings if it can be avoided. And besides, I always offer to track it down through the library for them to borrow. At least then it won't be my book they are getting food on, dog-earing the pages of, or throwing around like a rag doll. (Or, in my worst experiences and probably what made me this way: not returning my Huck Finn book (and then pretending she had no clue what I was talking about) or getting cigarette ash in the middle of my Harry Potter book... seriously not joking... cigarette ash! Nothing against smokers, but I don't smoke and I don't want cigarette ash in my books... *sigh*. )
 

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Little of the Storytime Life {Snowmen}

http://www.myshelbylibrary.org/storytimes.php

For more on what A Little of the Storytime Life is, here's the original post. :)

(Posted late because I was sick at the end of last week... whoopsie!)
This week, I actually did two separate storytimes. I had my regular storytime and I did storytime for a local preschool (I do that once a month for this particular preschool). Both were snow-based storytimes, but with different crafts. :)

The books:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/819667.Snowmen_at_Night?from_search=true  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2114794.All_You_Need_for_a_Snowman There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!
Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro


Snowmen at Night is one of my absolute favorite winter books. There's an entire series out there, but this was the first. It's so much fun to read out loud and the pictures are great. We took the time to talk about the winter activities going on throughout the book and whether or not they thought their snowman would go out and have fun while they were sleeping.

If you're not familiar with Lucille Colandro's series of books about a lady swallowing things, then I'm not sure where you've been. Based on Goodreads (which I'm certain is never wrong *cough* *cough*), There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow was the first of hers. Of course, it all stems from the original poem/song "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly"... but no one ever dies in Colandro's books. The lady swallows all of the things and then burps or hiccups (let's be honest... vomits) out all the things she swallows... in this case, a snowman! The kids love seeing what she might swallow next and we talk about whether or not they would eat those things. We also talked about whether or not that was the best way to build a snowman. Which was a great lead-in to All You Need for A Snowman. :)

All You Need for a Snowman turned out to be a bigger hit with the preschool kids than I anticipated. They loved telling me all the other things that were needed to build a snowman. In hindsight, I think this would make a great felt board story... or create some sort of felt board activity to go along side it. I think they'd enjoy that as well.

The two crafts I did this week were Pinterest finds. We created melted snowmen in regular storytime and we did coffee filter snowflakes with the local preschool. I precut the pieces for the melted snowman and wrote "My Melted Snowman" on a piece of blue construction paper for each kid. During storytime, I put a glob of white fingerpaint on their blue paper and gave them a paintbrush. They smeared the snow (you know, paint) all around and then they stuck on their snowman pieces where ever they wanted, since it was melted.




And if you've never done a coffee filter *insert anything* craft with kids, you're missing out on an easy-peasy activity. All you need, really, is a coffee filter, markers, and a spray bottle. Scissors if you want a certain shape (heart, snowflake, apple, pumpkin, leaf, sun... the list could go on and on and on and on and on...). Color coffee filter; spray with water; watch it spread. That's it. Let it dry and then hang up. :)

Have you any good suggestions for snow/winter books and crafts? I'm always looking for new ideas to incorporate.

Smiles,
B

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Little of the Storytime Life {Snow}

http://www.myshelbylibrary.org/storytimes.php

For more on what A Little of the Storytime Life is, here's the original post. :)


The books I chose to use for this week:

It Feels Like SnowCleo in the SnowSnow

It Feels Like Snow by Nancy Cote
Cleo in the Snow by Caroline Mockford
Snow by Uri Shulevitz

There are an abundance of snow/winter books out there. Next week I'm doing snowmen, so this week I wanted to stick with books that weren't about snowmen.  

It Feels Like Snow is a bit longer than I usually go with for my storytime books, but it's cute. And we talk about the body parts - her toe throbs, nose tingles and her elbow clicks. And the snow gets ankle, knee, and waist deep. So it's a great way to introduce/practice body parts.  

Cleo in the Snow is awesome for the younger crowd. It doesn't have a great story to it, but I do love the contrasting colors against the white snow. It does rhyme, although it's spaced oddly throughout the pages so the first time I read it I actually didn't catch that it rhymed. There's a lot of talk about what's in the pictures and what's going on, since there's not much story to it.

Snow isn't one that I actually read this week. We had, fittingly, some snowfall and plummeting temps this week, so my storytimes were very sparse. While I enjoy the book, knowing the few kids that showed up it didn't seem like the book for them.

We made snowglobes out of construction paper and paint this week. The kids had a lot of fun doing it and, since there were so few, I was able to do it along with them each time. Here's a few of them...
As usual, I told the kids they could put the snowglobe together however they wanted - complete snowman, falling apart, however they chose. They had a great time gluing it together and then painting the snow.

Are there any snow/winter books for kids that you've come across and loved?  

Xoxo,
B