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Archive for September, 2010

Quick Note

September 30, 2010 4 comments

Sorry for my absence this week, my lovely readers!  I seem to have been struck by the flu early and spent most of the week delirious with fever.  I’m back at work today, but you probably shouldn’t expect any in-depth posts until next week, as I have a lot of catching up to do at work and with grad school homework.  Thanks for hanging in there with me in the meantime!

Categories: Just for fun

Friday Fun! (Welcome, Thanks, and Ramblings)

September 24, 2010 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  I want to pay a special welcome and hello to my new subscribers acquired over the course of BBAW.  I know personally the overwhelming number of new blogs I was exposed to myself, so I’m honored you found me interesting and unique enough to stick around.  I want to let you know that this has been an off couple of weeks for me on the blog as things are a bit rough personally right now.  Normally my posts are a bit better written (at least I think so), and a bit more frequent, so, sorry about that.  Thanks for hanging in there!  I also want to say thanks to my friends who’ve been there for me the last couple of weeks in various ways.  If you guys happen to be reading this, I want you to know that you rock.

Fall weather has finally come to Boston, and I am so grateful.  With fall you get cool weather but no nasty storms to deal with.  It’s the best of both situations.  I have yet to go apple picking, but I did have cider for the first time of the season last night.  (Ok, ok, hard cider, but it still counts).  Grad school continues to be evil and suck the life from me.  I can’t wait until I can be just a librarian instead of a librarian and a grad student.    Tomorrow I’ll be volunteering at a local food event with my friends Nina and E.  Hopefully, it’ll be nice weather.

Next week should see an uptake in the number of reviews.  I’m currently about half-way through The Dark Tower, and it’s such a chunkster, I plan on reading a short, quick read after it.  I also plan on having some me time on Sunday, which besides exercising and cleaning my apartment will most likely include curling up on the couch with my kitty and watching a movie.  I know.  I am so exciting.  In any case. Reviews.  You will have them next week.

Happy weekends everybody!

The Evolution of My Wishlist

September 23, 2010 10 comments

Before LibraryThing, book blogs, and PaperBackSwap entered my life, I didn’t really have a book wishlist.  Oh if I had gotten into a series I’d keep my eye open for the release of the next one or if a friend recommended a book to me I’d put it on hold in the library, but that was about it.  Back then I’d generally go browse the library or a bookstore and just grab whatever looked interesting and that was that.  My reading was much more hit or miss back then.  I’d periodically find a book I really enjoyed, but most of the time it was average or “yuck, this sucks, but I don’t have anything else to read right now, so there you go.”  This meant that, believe it or not, I’d been an avid reader for years, but didn’t really have a firm grasp on what type of books I enjoy.  I’d read anything I could get my hands on just for the sake of reading, because that’s how it was when I was a kid.  We were poor, and so I had to make do with whatever books I could get my hands on.  This mentality had firmly carried itself over into my adulthood.

Then I started recording what I read on LibraryThing, blogging my own reviews, and discovered book blogs.  I created a wishlist in LibraryThing and started adding pretty much any book that sounded even mildly entertaining to it.  I then added them to my PaperBackSwap wishlist until I hit the limit (which is in the hundreds).  I couldn’t believe how many books I wanted to read! I then had the phenomenon of a tbr pile of books I own, not books I’d checked out from the library.  I was sitting looking at them this week, and it struck me.  There are as many books in my tbr pile as I’ve read so far this year, and I could think of at least a few on my wishlist that I wanted to read more than a few of the ones in my tbr pile.  Then something someone pointed out to me a couple of months ago rang through my brain.  They pointed out that reading is my hobby, and I shouldn’t feel bad for spending money or time on something I enjoy so much.  Well, why have I been spending time and money on books that I don’t want to read as much as other ones?  Why have I felt obligated to?  Because I might like it?  Reading is my hobby; it’s not my job.  It’s not homework.  Why have I felt this obligation to branch out into types of books I don’t tend to like just because others have liked them?  I’m not saying I shouldn’t ever branch out.  That’d get dull.  But if you saw my tbr pile and my wishlist, you’d realize that I was branching out about 50% of the time.  That’s a bit too much in my opinion.  20 to 25% is more like it.

I can’t do anything about the books I already have.  I acquired them, so I’m going to read them, but I could do something about my wishlist.  So I went into my PaperBackSwap wishlist and ruthlessly went through, eliminating books that I’d tossed on there without much thought.  What’s left is books I genuinely want to read, and yes, a couple of them are branching out of my norm.  They stayed because they sounded genuinely intriguing, not because they sounded mildly interesting.  I can only read so many books a year.  Why spend time on 0nes that don’t grip me?  That don’t affect my perception of the world?  Life’s too short.  I should enjoy every second of it I get to spend reading for fun.

Movie Review: Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy (2010)

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Images of Donna Sadowsky with Faith.Summary:
This documentary follows the adoption of Fang Sui Yong, an 8 year old Chinese girl, by the Sadowsky’s, a Jewish family from Long Island.  The filmmaker seeks to highlight the particular issues faced when adopting older children internationally.

Review:
This is one of those films that shows how difficult life can be, and that sometimes there is no good choice.  There’s only the iffy choice that’s a bit better than the alternative.  Sui Yong (who now goes by “Faith,” so I”ll call her that for the rest of the review) didn’t want to leave China.  She was quite happy living with her foster family, and had never seen a white person before.  This is all the film tells us at first, so you immediately wonder, why can’t Faith stay with the foster family?  It turns out that foster families can’t adopt the children they’re caring for in China, and it is unlikely Faith would have stayed with them for her whole childhood.  Additionally, Faith is special needs with a club foot and dropped wrists.  Her foster parents state that she would face great difficulty in China, being treated as an outcast.  Her foster parents want her to be adopted.  They see that her future in China is very bleak.

That doesn’t mean that her transition to the US went perfectly, of course.  The culture shock Faith faces is severe, even if just looking at going from hearing Mandarin and Cantonese to hearing English all the time.  Donna Sadowsky is obviously a tough love type mom, believing that being firm will be the fastest way to help Faith acclimate.  Personally I believe she was a bit too tough.  Some of the learning could have been made into a bit more of a game.  More understanding could have been shown for her special needs.  But I only saw a brief film of two years of the time they spent together.  It’s almost impossible to tell Faith’s personality from that much film.  Maybe they tried taking it a bit easier on her, and she slacked off too much.  Maybe the doctors told them Faith could do certain things that it turned out she couldn’t.  It’s hard to tell.

An interesting element of the film is the fact that the filmmaker, a one-woman team, speaks Mandarin, and so translates sometimes for the family.  This of course means that she has a direct impact on the story she’s documenting.  It’s quite interesting to watch and to consider how much documenting a story impacts it.

Overall, this is a very interesting documentary.  Many people are hesitant to adopt older children.  This film shows that it can be done, as well as the great need for families for older and special needs children internationally.  It brings up interesting questions regarding international and transracial adoption, as well as demonstrating how quickly the American consumer culture impacts children.  I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in international adoption or the issues related to it.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: PBS website

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

September 21, 2010 8 comments

Spaceships.Summary:
Humanity survived the second Bugger invasion by pure luck.  Now they’re determined to be prepared for a third invasion and actively train children in Battle School, seeking the child who could be the commander to save humanity.  They think Ender, with his ability to perceive and understand null gravity spaces, just might be that commander, but Ender isn’t so sure.

Review:
Card has created a rich, complex, entirely believable future where individual sacrifice is vital to the survival of the human species.  This goal makes the adults’ treatment of the children in Battle School justifiable and allows Card to create a story where children are simultaneously treated as adults and misled by them.  Adults will recognize the feeling of being pawns to those in control of society.  Children and young adults will appreciate that the children characters are treated as adults in smaller bodies.  It’s a fun narrative set-up.

The world-building is excellent.  The complex scenes of the Battle School, Battle Room, and videogames the children play are all so clearly drawn that the reader truly feels as if she is there.  Readers who also enjoy videogames will particularly enjoy the multiple videogame sequences in which the narrative action switches focus to the videogame.  This isn’t just for fun, either.  It’s an important feature that comes to play later in the book.    In fact, it’s really nice to see videogaming being featured in a future as something important to society and not just recreational.  It’s a logical choice to make in scifi too, as the military is moving increasingly toward using weapons that are manned by soldiers behind the lines with videogame-like controls.

These fantastic scenes are all set against a well-thought-out human society reaction to multiple alien invasions.  In spite of the threat of a third invasion, there is still violent nationalism brewing under the surface.  Politicians must worry about their image.  Dissenting voices can be heard on the internet.  The teachers of the Battle School must worry about the retributions for their actions, even as they make the choices that will hopefully save humanity.  The people in this future are still people.  They act in the sometimes stupid and sometimes brilliant ways people act.  They don’t miraculously become super-human in the face of an alien threat.  I really enjoyed this narrative choice, as I get really sick of the super-human trope often found in scifi.

The ending….I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make up my mind on how I feel about the ending.  I definitely didn’t guess it ahead of time, which is a nice change, but I can’t decide how I feel about it.  The fact is, I liked part of it, and I didn’t like another part of it.  I think I may have found the ultimate message a bit too idealistic, and Ender too gullible.

*spoiler warning*
Here’s the thing.  The Bugger queen claims that the Buggers didn’t know that humans were sentient creatures, and Ender believes her, but I call bullshit.  Humans and Buggers built cities that were similar enough so that humans could live in Bugger buildings.  In spite of being drastically different from an evolutionary stand-point, it’s still obvious that humans were sentient enough to build cities and spaceships.  That should have been a warning sign.  So ultimately, I view the queen larva and message to Ender as a last-ditch effort to come back from the brink of extinction and beat humanity, and Ender fell for it.  Of course I don’t want to argue for the extinction of an entire species.  I’m a vegetarian.  I’m pretty much against the killing of species of any kind, but the fact remains that the Buggers attacked humans twice.  What were they supposed to do?  Sit back and let themselves get wiped out?  I’m not one of these nutters who says don’t kill the polar bear attacking you, and in this case, the polar bear had already attacked twice.  I like the message of a possible peaceful coexistence, but I don’t think it was very realistic in that world, and I was left feeling that Ender didn’t really learn anything from his experience. 
*
end spoilers*

Overall, however, Card has achieved near perfection in telling a unique, scifi story.  The world is entrancing and draws the reader in, and the reader is left with multiple philosophical questions to ponder long after finishing reading the book.  It is a book I definitely plan on re-reading, and I highly recommend it to scifi and videogaming fans.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

BBAW: Future Treasures

September 17, 2010 7 comments

Treasure chest opening.Although it’s officially the end of BBAW, my participation is definitely going to extend by at least a few days.  Since I was sick and generally having a crappy week, I didn’t get to go visit other blogs to the extent that I wanted to, and that’s at least half the fun of BBAW!  So I plan on doing that over the next few days.  Expect to have belated visits from me on your blogs, folks.

Today’s theme is to share what we enjoyed about BBAW and future goals for our blog.  I have to say, what I’ve enjoyed the most is just how nice everyone has been!  Everywhere I’ve gone for BBAW–my own blog and others–everyone is just so supportive and nice and excited.  It made me so pleased to be part of this mish-mash, loosely tied community.  Whether or not you all like reading the same books I like or the books I can’t stand, it is abundantly evident that we all love reading, and we love books.  We love reading fiction and nonfiction.  About vampires and about spirituality.  We love reading paperbacks, hardbacks, and electronic copies.  But what ties it all together is that we love reading, and we love talking about the stories we’ve read and the things we’ve learned.  It’s so nice to find a social place online to share one of my favorite hobbies with other people, and although I was viscerally aware of the community of book bloggers, participating in BBAW really revealed it to me for the first time.

As for my future goals for my blog, I want to keep the posts flowing at a nice, consistent rate.  I hope to eventually find another weekly feature in addition to Friday Fun that works for me.  So far, nothing else I’ve tried has garnered enough thoughts from me to warrant a weekly posting or it’s been too much work to do every week.  Additionally, I know it may be hard to believe, but I haven’t been able to afford to do a giveaway yet.  Hey, I’m a broke student.  So, I hope to do my first giveaway in the next year.  I’m planning on doing one through the Book Depository so it can be open to my international readers as well!  That’s pretty much it.  Stay consistent and personable.  Find a good second weekly theme.  Do a giveaway.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did participating in BBAW!

BBAW: Forgotten Treasure

September 16, 2010 13 comments

Partially open treasure chest.Sorry to have missed yesterday’s topic!  I’ve been ill this week, which unfortunately meant only the pre-scheduled posts made it through…until today that is!  Today’s BBAW theme is to highlight a book that we wish would get more attention/would be more well-known.

It was honestly kind of difficult for me to pick just one book.  I’d say around 1/3 to 1/4 of my reading is random obscure scifi/dystopian novels that I wish would get more attention.  Actually, I wish dystopias would get more attention in general.  I think they’re such an excellent way to explore issues and philosophically think about possible outcomes to modern decisions.  In fact, I think the world would be a better place in general if everyone would just stop and seriously think before making decisions….but that’s another topic for another blog post.

Artistic depiction of a person laying in a pool.In any case, there’s a book that I read this year that I’ve certainly never heard mentioned before anywhere–Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside (review).  I knew I loved it, so it made it to the Wolfy Recommends page, but I had no idea how much it would stick with me.  I can’t tell you how many times since I read it that I’ve gone back in my head to that world to ponder all the implications.

The World Inside is relatively short.  In fact, you could almost call it a novella, and it is easily read in one sitting.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain a full story, however.  The World Inside examines the issues of pro-life versus pro-choice and overpopulation by looking at a future in which most of the world is vehemently pro-life, and the impact that the massive population has had on the world, society, culture, and individuals.  Silverberg imagines a future in which the world can handle a massive population via “urbmons”–incredibly high-rise buildings that contain the equivalent of entire nations.  Stacking people up on top of each other like this makes it possible to devote most of the rest of the world to food production.  Silverberg therefore is able to fully develop both the culture within the urbmons and the culture that produces the food.

Whether Silverberg is for ever-increasing population or not is deliciously unclear.  His future is a world where all privacy is absent.  Where diversion from the norm is unacceptable.  Offenders get only one chance then they are “sent down the chute” aka given capital punishment.  It is a world where all life is welcomed, yes, but at what cost?  The solutions to overpopulation he presents are ones that make sense, but he also clearly shows the costs on the individual.  Life as a whole is valued so much that the individual is discounted.  On the other hand, he uses the farming culture to show how always choosing the individual over the whole could also be perceived as unfair or barbaric.

This book is an intriguing, eye-opening read.  It is nearly impossible to put down once you pick it up, and I believe it would do wonders to opening true dialogue between the opposing viewpoints on world population/overpopulation.  No matter what your viewpoint is on the issue, it will do wonders to expand your mind and make you think.  That’s why I love dystopian literature, and that’s why The World Inside is an excellent taste of the genre.  Plus, its length makes it easily accessible to those who might be nervous about trying dystopian lit for the first time.  I highly recommend it, and I hope to start seeing buzzing about it in the book blogging community.

Buy It

BBAW: Second Treasure: Interview Swap

September 14, 2010 2 comments

For the second treasure of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, we get the opportunity to interview a fellow book blogger.  I was randomly assigned Courtney of Stiletto Storytime, and she was an absolute pleasure to work with.  She’s a 20-something children’s librarian, currently a stay-at-home mom.  Her love of encouraging a love of reading at all ages shines through on her blog.

Courtney the Book Blogger

I wouldn’t be interviewing you today if you didn’t start blogging about books.  When and why did you start book blogging?
I started blogging in December of 2007. I had just graduated with my MLIS and gotten a job with the Charlotte Public Library System as a Children’s Librarian. The library I worked at shared a main desk between children’s services and adult reference so I found myself really doing a little bit of everything straight out of library school. I also found myself reading voraciously to try and pump up my reader’s advisory skills. So I decided to start a blog about what I was doing at that time. It began with book reviews and storytime plans…and moved into a little bit of anything that interested me. Stiletto Storytime really began as a way for me to keep track of this new adventure I was beginning and also a way to record my reading and reviewing in a more personal and at the same time public manner. It’s now become so much more than I ever imagined.

Has it been what you thought it would be or something entirely different?
I have to say it’s been beyond what I imagined. When I began there weren’t nearly as many book bloggers out there as now. And the concept wasn’t even really something I was aware of. I was kind of doing my own thing and then found others doing the same. I had some inspiration in sites that I followed that were book related, I would have to say that my Jane Austen roots led me to sites such as Austenprose and that really inspired me. It was nice to find other people obsessed with “Masterpiece Theatre” and Jane Austen. I thought…wow..I’m not alone!  Now looking back I never dreamed of having my blog lead me into writing myself or of traveling to New York for a convention just for Book Bloggers. These have been things that I never could have imagined at that time.

What genres do you usually cover on your blog?
I cover a wide variety of books because I read a wide variety of books. I love classical literature but also am really interested in young adult, literary fiction and historical fiction. Gothic and dystopian specifically are some of my favorite genres as well. And of course children’s books. It’s hard for me to really limit myself to one area so I don’t.

Are there any genres you don’t like to read or review?
I read paranormal to a degree but I am not really into romance or really deep fantasy. I generally don’t read self help or non-fiction on topics that don’t interest me personally.

Say an author, agent, or publishing house contacts you about an ARC, book tour, etc…  How do you decide whether or not to participate?
Well first I ask myself if this is something I would enjoy reading and my readers would enjoy hearing about. Then I check my blog schedule to see if the date is open. Sometimes with ARCs I am really looking forward to, I will read and post in advance in order to cover more than one release on a certain day. I also try to keep track of what is coming out and when to get my ARCs and also manage my review dates, author guest posts and other content.

You’re participating in a few reading challenges, including, but not limited to, 2010 Debs, 2010 YA reading challenge, and A to Z challenge.  How do you decide what challenges to participate in?
The challenges are a way for me to have fun personally in my reading. Since I have become a reviewer, I always feel the need to be reading and reviewing new works but the challenges allow me to read what I want and to have some flexibility. I also really like completing challenges and reading towards a goal with other people. You’ll notice a lot of my challenges are Jane Austen related, classical literature or Young Adult since these are my personal favorites. .

Do you limit the number of challenges you participate in?
I try to keep it doable and make sure that I am not in so many that I am overwhelmed. I want it to be fun.

What made you decide to include the “Little Man Reads” page featuring photos of your son with books and his current read on your blog?  Or where did you get the inspiration for that page?
‘Little Man Reads” is just my way of trying to lead by example and remind everyone to read with and to their children. It’s such an important message for me. One that I based my library career on and I just think that I need to show that I practice what I preach in that area. I also love to show what books he “loves” at different times. Some times he doesn’t mind what we read but then at other times he has his favorites and only they will do.

What goals do you have for your blog in the future?
I just want to continue to help people find books that interest them and have fun reading along the way. I guess I’ve never really been in it for the number of followers or hits, I just want to connect with people about books. It’s kind of like being a digital librarian now that I work from home.

What makes you not only decide to subscribe to another book blog but stick around in the long term?
For me it has to have content that I am interested in and also have a special something that keeps me coming back. I also really like people who know their areas of interest. I like people who dig deep into what they love. Passion like that can be contagious and inspiring.

Courtney The Librarian

You, like me, are a librarian.  Do you see your book blogging as innately connected with your career or a separate hobby?
I have always kept my blogging separate from my career as a librarian. When I was working in the library, no one knew what library I worked at from my blog or even my first name for that matter. I just gave out my first name last year. I always wanted to keep in separate because my blog is based on my opinions and feelings and it’s a very personal space in a lot of ways. I don’t want to expose too much so I keep my last name to myself for the most part and my son is called “little man” whenever referred to.

Your area of concentration is public libraries’ children’s services.  What made you choose this area of concentration?
Well I thought after being a 18th-19th century British English major, that in library school I would go academic and keep the same concentration but once I got into library school I became obsessed with children’s services and the idea that you have to build a reader young. Yes, I want people to read classical literature but if I don’t help children simply like the act of reading in general…well that’s not gonna happen. So I started at square one. I may still be trying to lead them to classical literature, I am just sometimes only doing it in “baby steps”. Public libraries drew me in because that’s where I knew I could make the most impact. It’s where I could share my love of reading with kids who might otherwise never be exposed to books. My first library job was in a low income urban area of a large metropolitan city, I wanted to work with the kids that didn’t have books at home. I wanted to make a difference.

Currently, you’re a full-time mom.  Do you foresee going back to work at libraries?  Why or why not?
I don’t really see myself going back into traditional librarianship. First off, I want to raise my son and hopefully another child sometime in the near future. I want to be at home for them and be hands on. I want to take them to storytime and bake cookies in the afternoon or make a fort. I love being a stay at home Mom and feel blessed to do so. Secondly I have been very lucky to have opportunities in professional reviewing, freelance writing about books  and even the possibility of writing a children’s series come my way so I feel drawn to those areas now in my career. I see my future more in that sphere than back in the library setting.

Courtney on the Deserted Island

The classic, you’re stranded on a desert island and can only take 5 _____?

  • Books: The Bible, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Monk by Matthew Lewis, ,
  • Movies: You’ve Got Mail, Gone with the Wind, Steel Magnolias, Jane Eyre (Cyrian Hinds version), Pride & Prejudice (1995 Colin Firth version)
  • TV shows: True Blood, Masterpiece Theatre, Top Chef, The First 48, Intervention
  • Foods: Tacos, White Chocolate Covered Oreos, A Cobb Salad, A Turkey BLT with Avocado, Vanilla Ice Cream

Many thanks to Courtney for the wonderful interview exchange experience!  Please be sure to check out her blog, as well as her interview of me.

BBAW: First Treasure: The First Book Blogs I Encountered

September 13, 2010 12 comments

Glowing treasure chestHello to those visiting for Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  To my loyal readers, in case you missed the note in Friday Fun, this week is Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) in which  people who blog about books come together, post on topics related to the theme, and award prizes to various types of book blogs.  This is my first year participating, and I must say that I feel like it’s the formal introduction to a community I’ve gradually become a part of over the last year.

The theme for this year’s week is “A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs,” so each day’s theme is a “treasure.”  Today’s is all about either a new blog you’ve discovered since last year’s BBAW or the first book blog you encountered.

Last year at this time I was blogging about books, but not in the in-depth way I do now.  I started this blog as a place to voice my opinions on various things (mostly so I wouldn’t annoy the crap out of people I know irl).  That’s clearly how my blog got the name.  I was already entering my books read into LibraryThing and writing mini-reviews there, but I found myself wanting to say more, so I figured I’d start reviewing some of the books I read on my blog.  Some changed to most changed to all and suddenly I found the whole book blogging community.  My blog definitely isn’t exclusively a book blog.  It’s still my opinions.  I just happen to read a lot of books and have quite strong opinions on them, so reviews show up a lot.

Anyway, that’s not the question today, is it?  I’m really not sure if it was Jessica’s The Bookworm Chronicles or Meghan’s Medieval Bookworm that first crossed my radar, alerting me to the concept of a book blog, so I’ll talk about both of them!

I actually attended undergrad with Meghan.  We were casual acquaintances via mutual friends, not to mention the fact that our university was medium-sized, so you grew to know most people by sight.  I saw her talking with our mutual friend on twitter, and we got to talking again.  I admit I was curious, because I knew Meghan had moved to England to get married right after undergrad.  Talk about a transition!  Via twitter, I went to her website and was immediately intrigued by it.  Here was an opportunity to discuss books in an academic fashion; something I was sorely missing in my post-undergrad life.  Plus, since I knew Meghan before I saw the blog, I was able to see how much personality and personability impacts a blog.  Meghan’s reviews are academic and professional, but she never goes so far as to lose her own voice and personality.  Reading her blog is truly like discussing a book with your friend down the hall in the dorm who’s at the top of all her English or Medieval History classes.  That level of intellect and personability is exactly what appeals to me in book blogs.

Now Jessica I stumbled upon using WordPress’s tag surfer.  Basically, it finds other recent posts on WordPress that the writers tagged with the same tags you use.  Jessica had just started her blog when I stumbled upon her, but I was immediately intrigued.  It was again for the combination of intellect and personality; however, this time I was mainly interested in the glimpses into a British gal’s life who is approximately the same age as myself.  All of Jessica’s posts are very British, and I find that endlessly fascinating.  For instance, she takes the time at the beginning of each review to casually discuss the various interesting tidbits she knows about the author or the work or the impact the work has had on the world before delving into the plot and her thoughts on the book.  I think of reading Jessica’s blog as similar to visiting a country cousin who lives on a pleasant dirt road and always has a spot of tea and cookies (er, biscuits?) ready for when you arrive.  Jessica is also very personable, taking the time to respond to all the comments on her posts.  She’s one of those people who I wish actually lived down the road from me so we could be friends irl too.

I’ve of course found more blogs in the book blogging world since these two lovely ladies, but the ones that have longevity in my GoogleReader are the ones that are similar–they’re smart and personable.  They don’t worry about branding; they just are themselves.  Bright, intelligent, witty people who you are pleased to know online and wish lived close enough to have tea with periodically.

Friday Fun! (Announcements Galore)

September 10, 2010 5 comments

Hello my lovely readers! I actually have a few exciting blog announcements for you today!

First, I set up an aStore. An aStore is your own personal section on Amazon full of items you recommend. I have five categories: books, movies, tv shows, videogaming, and household. Every single item in my store is something I’ve personally read/watched/played/whatever and would give at least 4 out of 5 stars to. Since it’s just recommendations, you’re still buying the items from Amazon or a third-party seller, not me, but I do get a small percentage of the profit as a thanks from Amazon for referring you to them. There is a link to the store on the right sidebar of my blog, so if you want a centralized list of trust-worthy reading/viewing/playing recommendations with easy 1 or 2 click buying, please check it out! It’s good for me and good for you. It’s a win/win.

Next, I realized how embarrassingly odd and disorganized my categories were. I was still pretty much using the same ones I set up the first couple of weeks I was blogging before I really realized what I’d be posting on a regular basis. I didn’t even have genre categories for my plethora of book reviews. How annoying for you guys! I mean, say you like the dystopian reviews, but there was not category for that. Blergh. So, I totally revamped the categories. Not only did I add genres, but I also made these Friday Fun posts and Imminent Arrivals and TBR posts their own categories. It’s exciting and organized and it made me happy! Be sure to check it out, and please let me know if there are any categories that you think don’t make much sense. What makes sense to me might not make sense to people that aren’t me, after all.

Hokay, finally I wanted to give you guys a heads-up that next week is going to be a bit different as I’m participating in Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW).  Basically, it’s a week every September since 2008 that exists “to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading.”  It consists of themed posts, visiting blogs new to you, and awards!  It’s an awesome idea, and major props to Amy of My Friend Amy for coming up with it.  I just missed it last year, and I’m excited to participate this year.  So next week in addition to my regular schedule of reviews there will also be the BBAW daily posts.  Each day will have a different theme like the first book blog you read, so it should still be interesting for my readers who aren’t book bloggers.

That’s it for announcements!  I hope you enjoy the store, the categories, and the BBAW posts next week.  :-)

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