Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bloggiesta, bloggiesta, bloggiesta!

Bloggiesta is back and it’s being hosted by Suey over at It’s All About Books and Danielle at There’s a Book.  In case you don’t know, the event is pretty much an annual blogathon. Bloggers dust off their to-do lists and spend the weekend accomplishing all the things they’ve been waiting to do. Plus, there are fun mini-challenges to keep everyone moving and motivated. The event starts this morning and ends Sunday night.  It’s not too late to join, sign-ups are here.

My to-do list:

  1. Write six reviews. ( 2 done, a million more to go.)
  2.  Back-up my blog.
  3. Take 20 pictures to use in later posts.
  4. Find a new theme.
  5. Finish two books. (What’s a book blog without the books?) (Finished one book, There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff. Now I’m in the middle of The Fault is in Our Stars by John Green.)
  6. Write a sticky post for April.
  7. Update blog pages.
  8.  Brainstorm at least 10 ideas for posts.
  9. Look at my blogging goals and see how far (or short) I’ve come so far this year.
  10. Participate in three Bloggiesta mini-challenges.
  11. Write two posts about something other than books.
  12. Figure out posting schedule for April.
  13. Find poems to share in April.
  14. Comment on 20 blogs. (10 down.)
  15. Figure out my blogging goals for April.

My list is a little ambitious but I started Bloggiesta a few hours early, so I’m off to a great start. Are you participating in Bloggiesta?

2nd Update

It’s day two and though I feel like I’m on a roll, I still have so much to do. I’m finding that once you start working on your blog, new ideas come to you and there’s this excitement about all the changes and new possibilities. With each new idea, that’s one more thing to do to my to-do list but I refuse to complain. Bloggiesta is the perfect time to put all of your ideas on paper.

Review: Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Chopsticks

Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

272 Pages

Published in February 2012 by Razorhill books, an imprint of Penguin Group

Source: Library

Gloria “Glory” Fleming is a world-famous pianist, who sells out concert halls all over the world. She’s also only seventeen. Her days are filled with practice as demanded by her father, Victor. It’s all she knows until Francisco Mendoza moves in next door. Now Glory’s world is filled with not only music but art, late-night movies, and text messages. She’s finally becoming a normal teenager. After a while, Glory falters because of her father’s demands and is unable to play anything but the song “Chopsticks”. Everything is not what it seems and when Glory disappears, it’s time for everyone –Victor and readers – to figure out what really happened in Glory’s life.

I picked up Chopsticks because I heard a lot of positive things about it on Twitter. The bloggers, who have read it, didn’t say much about it except that more people should read it. After reading this book, I understand so I won’t tell you much about the plot. Chopsticks  is a love story but also a mystery. The mystery isn’t easy to solve, which I love, so you’ll probably have to read it twice. But it is a fast read.  If you’re a reader who shies away from YA because of melodramatic teenage angst, there’s none of that in this book. Readers of all ages can enjoy.

Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral give this unusual teenage story a great format. It’s told through not only words but also postcards, text messages, newspaper articles, piano recital programs, and more. The format reminds me a lot of The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt. I was left wondering what kind of novel I should call this. Is it right to call it a graphic novel? I called Frankie Pratt a “scrapbook novel” but Chopsticks doesn’t fit that description. Maybe it should be called a “novel in collage”? Either way, I would love to see the authors write more novels in this new format.

If you’re looking for a great read in a unusual format, Chopsticks is your book. My rating: 4 out of 5.

Spring Reading Thing 2012

March 20, 2012 – June 20, 2012

Hosted at Callapidder Days

If you didn’t know that today was the first day of spring, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking out my window. It’s nice and cold outside, perfect winter weather. So it seems a little funny to be making a list of books I want to read for spring. I missed last year’s Spring Reading Thing, a seasonal “challenge”, and I refuse to miss it again this year.

I decided to dedicate this year’s SRT to my many stacks of unread books. This idea came to me yesterday after “finding” an under-bed shoe storage filled with books. I think that’s one of the great things about Spring Reading Thing is that participants are encouraged to make goals. It’s not just the amount of books to read but anything else you can think of.

One of my goals is to read at least fifteen of my own books within the next three months. It doesn’t have to be the fifteen books on this list but it needs to be fifteen. I’ve own The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot since its publication in 2009. I even pre-ordered it and still haven’t read it. If I don’t read it by the end of this challenge, I’m going to give it away to my local public library. Which leads me to my second goal:

  • Give away at least ten books by June 20th. If I don’t miss the 30+ books under my bed, I won’t miss the ten that I plan on giving away. I’m thinking of this as my own bookish spring cleaning.

Last but not least is to have at least one read-along with my daughter. She’s ten and hasn’t read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett yet. It’s been a reading tradition of mine to read it every spring. I already bought her the book and movie version. Now it’s time to read it to her. Maybe I’ll give her a package of seeds to go with it. I think she’ll like that. If the read-along is a success, we can add Natalie Babbit’s Tuck Everlasting in June. It’s one of my favorite summer reads.

My pool of books:

  1. Head Off and Split by Nikki Finney (poetry)
  2. Land to Light On by Dionne Brand (poetry)
  3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (non-fiction)
  4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (non-fiction)
  5. Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (middle grade)
  6. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
  7. A Mercy by Toni Morrison
  8. Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech (poetry)
  9. The Humming Room by Ellen Potter (middle grade)
  10. Sula by Toni Morrison
  11. Alcestis by Katharine Beutner
  12. What Looks Like Crazy on An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
  13. No Regrets Parenting by Harley A. Rotbart (non-fiction)
  14. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
  15. Among Others by Jo Walton (young adult)
  16. The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier
  17. Wonder by R.J. Pollacio (middle grade)
  18. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (young adult)
  19. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (middle grade)
  20. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (middle grade)
  21. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon (middle grade)
  22. Cousins by Virginia Hamilton (middle grade)
  23. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (non-fiction)

So that’s what I’m planning this spring. Have you started thinking about your spring reading? Are you joining Spring Reading Thing this year?

Indie Lit Awards

This morning the winners of the Indie Lit Awards were announced. This year, I was on the poetry panel along with Serena, Lu, Anna, and Jeanne. Congratulations to all the winners.

Biography/Memoir

Winner: Little Princes by Conor Grennan
Runner-Up: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

GLBTQ

Winner: Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger
Runner-Up: Huntress by Malinda Lo

Fiction

Winner: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Runner-Up: Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney

Mystery

Winner: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Runner-Up: Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski

Non-Fiction

Winner:  Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckhoff
Runner-Up: Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe

Poetry

Winner: Catalina by Laurie Soriano
Runner-Up: What Looks Like an Elephant by Edward Nudelman

Speculative Fiction

Winner: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Runner-Up: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Sunday Salon

Good morning! It’s dark and rainy in Southern California. It’s been this way since yesterday and I won’t complain. I love wet winter days.  Our winter has looked more like summer but with the first day of spring around the corner, hopefully spring will be our winter instead. I shouldn’t see butterflies and junebugs in March. It’s just not right.

With it being so early in the day, the possibilities feel endless though I know that’s not true. Today, I’m hoping to finish up 11/22/63, a book that has creep me out so much that I can never could go straight to bed after reading parts of it. I also have some major studying to do since I have two psychology tests this week.

This week I’m least grateful for:

  • Not writing enough blog posts. Every week I make plans to write several blog posts and no matter what, time slips away from me. This week I’m going to try harder.
  • Not finding a new place yet. I’ve been looking but I haven’t seen much. It doesn’t help that my mom certain family members are very picky.
  • That I didn’t read much last week.

This week I’m most grateful for:

  • The fact that I don’t have many things not to be grateful for.
  • That I have a plan b. (Not the birth control.) I’m a huge believer in always having a second plan to fall back on just in case my first plan fails. Sometimes I’ve even had a plan c and d. So if I can’t find a decent place soon, I’ve already started making plans on how to fix my apartment more to my liking. I’m pretty excited.
  • The photos that my aunt and grandmother sent for my daughter’s family tree project. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a picture of my late grandfather who passed more than a decade before I was born. They also sent me a picture of my great-grandmother who died around the same time. My paternal family and I aren’t close so I’m grateful that they sent me these photos that I can share with my kids and they can share with theirs when the time comes.

So that’s what I’m thankful for. What are you thankful for? What are you reading this weekend? 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday. What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

Last week I read:

  • Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka
  • Speaking of Art: Colorful Quotes by Famous Painters by Bob Raczka
  • Today and Today: Haiku by Kobayashi Issa and G. Brian Karas
  • Fresh American Spaces by Annie Selke
  • Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
  • East of the Moon, West of the Sun retold by Naomi Lewis
  • Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung
  • Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin
  • Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim
  • All Aboard: Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine by Monica Kulling
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Listen to my Trumpet! by Mo Willems
  • Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter
  • Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas
  • Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

So far this week I’ve read:

  • Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet
  • Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom! by Kelly DiPucchio

I’m currently reading:

On my nightstand:

  • The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss by Kathleen Krull
  • MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
  • The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits
  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  • Pie by Sarah Weeks
  • Cinderella by Max Eilenberg
  • Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

What are you reading this week?

TSS: Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (And Dark Chocolate)

Amy Thomas

304 pages

Published in 2012 by Sourcebooks

Source: Publisher

Can one question change your life? I’m willing to bet a twenty-five-piece box of Jean-Paul Hevin bonbons on it.

I don’t read foodie memoirs often but there was something about Paris, My Sweet that I couldn’t pass up when the publisher offered it. The book chronicles a year in the author’s life as she makes the big decision to move from New York to Paris to work for a designer label. Before the move, Thomas worked for a newspaper and ran a blog called Sweet Freak. She spent nights club hopping with friends and her days working and visiting bakeries all over New York City. She was young, single, and had an obsession for Paris so taking the opportunity to move there was a no-brainer, right?

Well, not exactly. The problem with Paris though is that Thomas moves there knowing almost no one. She spends much of her free time alone, visiting various bakeries. Her French is pretty much at a third-grade level and it’s hard to find a decent single man or a friend. I found the parts about the author’s struggle honest and refreshing. Who hasn’t wished that they could live in a new city for a short amount of time? I know I have but I only lasted a month before returning home.

Even with the problems, Thomas realizes that there’s almost nowhere else she would rather be. Life is so different in Paris than in New York. There’s the fashion, the people, and also the culture which all comes across so realistic for readers. I realized that when Thomas tells readers how eating at your work desk is a no-no. You’re expected to leave your desk and go out to eat for the two lunch hours you get daily.

This is a foodie memoir so I should at least mention the food. Thomas has a major sweet tooth, so visiting various bakeries daily throughout her year in Paris is a must. She writes about these places and let readers in on the lives of these bakers and their shops. I enjoyed knowing about these strangers and why they make their signature dishes. I could practically imagine the atmosphere, the spring days, and the food. Whether Thomas is writing about macaroons, the cupcake craze in Paris, what makes French toast so delicious, or the power of chocolate chip cookies, you’ll be willing to follow the writer any place she goes. It doesn’t hurt that in the back of the book, Thomas gives the address to every place she visits in Paris and New York.

I do have to admit that after awhile, I did get tired of the book. I think maybe the last 10-20 pages could have been taken out or shortened.

With that said, if you’re ever going to visit either Paris or New York, you need to bring Paris, My Sweet along. You won’t regret it. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday Salon: Gratitude and a Question about ARCs

 Morning! Today is supposed to be 80 degrees. I’m a fall/winter person so I’m not exactly enthusiastic about the weather. Oh well. I plan on spending most of the day indoors, doing homework and reading. I finished one book yesterday, started another one last night, and plan on reading a third book, Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal this afternoon.

I have a question. Why Be Happy won’t be in stores until Wednesday and the copy I have is an ARC. I love adding quotes to my reviews to illustrate a point or to let readers know about the language of a book. What I want to know is, do you use quotes from the unfinished copy? I usually do but I’ve been thinking about that lately. Should I start asking publishers for a finished copy or just keep using quotes from the unfinished copy?

—-

This week I’m least grateful for:

  • The stress that my math class put me through. I’m glad that crap is over.
  • My kids’ dad. I’m glad that crap is over too.
  • Eye strain. *sigh* I can’t get on the computer for longer than a hour or two before my eyes start hurting.

This week I’m most grateful for:

  • My math class is over! Yay! Who knew that one class could make me feel so bad?
  • Music! Right now I’m listening to a ton of artists from Beyonce to Kelly Clarkson, Rebecca Ferguson to Jill Scott along with a little Young Jeezy.
  • New glasses. My eye strain is forcing me to get new glasses for the first time in more than two years.
  • My daughter’s family tree project. Every fourth grader at my kids’ school has to do a family tree project. We’re using Ancestry.com to complete our project along with interviewing various family members. It’s been such a great experience. I even found a great-great uncle that I didn’t know existed along with my great-great-great grandfather’s World War I draft papers. We still have two more weeks until Piper’s project has to be turned in. I can’t wait to see what else we find. So far, we have seven generations of family noted.

What are your plans for today? What do you think about using unfinished ARCs for quotes in book reviews?

Freedom Friday

Good morning! It’s a cold windy day here in Southern California. The sun is out, the birds are chirping and my mood couldn’t get any better unless I won the lottery! After struggling for weeks with my math class, I found out that I can drop it! Thank God. I plan on learning the material on my own, at a much slower pace. I feel so much lighter. Now I can find the time to review books.

Last week I started reading Catherine Chung’s Forgotten Country. It’s the story of two sisters who couldn’t more different from each other. As I was telling Candace this morning, it’s a quiet book. I love the language of it. After Forgotten Country, I plan on reading Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas, a non-fictional tale about the author’s love of Paris.  It seems like a perfect time to read it after posting about my word of the year, wanderlust.

With February and my math class behind me, I’m trying to figure out my goals for March. Here’s what I know so far:

Yes, it’s a lot of goals but I feel like I’m Wonder Woman and I can do anything right about now. So what are you reading this weekend? Do you have any goals for March?

Wanderlove

You may not know this but my word for 2012 is Wanderlust. I’m not a person who often travels but this year, I want to get out and explore the world around me. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out about Wanderlove.

Wanderlove is a site that collects and displays pictures from places all over the world. Whether you enjoy traveling or you’re just an armchair traveler, one glance at the site and your imagination will fly.

The site is the brainchild of Kirsten Hubbard. Kirsten is also an author whose debut novel of the same name is being published on March 13th by Random House. The book is the story of a teenage girl who dreams of traveling around the world and gets her wish. Right now there’s a contest going on and Kirsten has been asking for submissions for the site. As a bonus, if you submit a picture of your travels whether an exotic place or just your backyard before March 5th, you’ll be entered to win a special copy of Wanderlove. To enter, send your picture to wanderbooks at gmail (dot) com.

This may sound silly but there are a few indie bookstores in my city that I haven’t visited yet. Plus, there’s a section of my city called Retro Row that I’ve haven’t been to in years. There’s even an old-fashioned movie theatre that plays art films during the day and The Rocky Horror Picture Show at night. Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I should make a special trip down there really soon.

Since we’re on the subject on traveling, what’s your favorite place to travel to? Is there some place that you dream of travelling to but haven’t had the chance yet?