Category Archives: On Book Reviewing

I’ve moved!

I’ve finally taken the plunge and set up a real site for my book reviews. From now on, you can find me at Melody & Words!

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My Monday Mailbox

First of all… Happy Columbus Day, everyone! Let’s all raise our glasses to imperialism and dumb luck!

In My Mailbox was begun by Kristi over at The Story Siren. The idea is that I tell you what I’ve received this week, whether for free, from the library, or through a good old fashioned purchase. I’m also including the publisher’s blurb and my reason for wanting to read the book.

The Warrior Prophet and The Thousandfold Thought
R. Scott Bakker
The original, enthusiastically acclaimed Prince of Nothing fantasy series continues with a griping novel of Holy War and court intrigue. . . The apocalyptic holy war comes to a head and casts into question all the action that has taken place before in this conclusion to the groundbreaking Prince of Nothing series.

I’ve already read both of these, and plan to post a review soon. I ordered new copies because I gave Jack’s set to my brother for his birthday!

The Judging Eye
R. Scott Bakker
Widely praised by reviewers and a growing body of fans, Bakker has already established the reputation as one of the smartest writers in the fantasy genre-a writer in the line stretching from Homer to Peake to Tolkein. Now he returns to The Prince of Nothing with the long awaited The Judging Eye, the first book in an all-new series. Set twenty years after the end of The Thousandfold Thought, Bakker reintroduces us to a world that is at once familiar but also very different than the one readers thought they knew. Delving even further into his richly imagined universe of myth, violence, and sorcery, and fully remolding the fantasy genre to broaden the scope of intricacy and meaning, R. Scott Bakker has once again written a fantasy novel that defies all expectations and rewards the reader with an experience unlike any to be had in the canon of today’s literature.

This is the beginning of another series, based on what occurred in the Prince of Nothing trilogy. I’m excited to finish it before Bakker’s next book comes out!

Perspectives on Social Media Marketing
B. Bonin Bough and Stephanie Agresta
Perspectives on Social Media Marketing addresses 89 of the most compelling and important issues that marketers face on a regular basis when it comes to social media, providing advice and insight on how to deal with each issue from the perspective of two thought leaders in this arena: Stephanie Agresta from Porter Novelli and B. Bonin Bough from PepsiCo. Together, they discuss what social media is, how it has changed the marketing landscape, how to implement a tactical and strategic social media plan across your organization, how to best measure the ROI of a social media campaign, and more.

At work, I have become one of the social media “experts,” and I’m looking forward to developing my craft after reading this.

The No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit
Aspiring novelists don’t need an MFA in creative writing, a book agent, an airtight plot, or a winsome cast of characters to get a novel written—they don’t even need to know what they’re doing. All that’s needed is a little determination and this high-octane kit to kick motivation into overdrive and inspire users to produce a 50,000-word book in an exhilarating, invigorating month long Noveling Adventure.

I’m waiting to crack this open until after I’ve read the original book (pictured), which should arrive soon. Can’t wait to review these for NaNoWriMo!

What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on these deliveries?

Still Reading

7:45 am
Readathon is nearing its end, but I’ve decided to make up for time lost sleeping. That’s right, folks–I’m ready for another day of nonstop reading. I haven’t yet hit my goal, so I’ll keep you updated as I go.

9:00 am
Tink and I went on a nice long walk, and I listened to several chapters of Crime and Punishment. I’m hoping to finish it today. First, though, I want to get through The Graveyard Book… if only to get to the next Gaiman book I have waiting for me at the library!

7:00 pm
OK, so, that didn’t go as well as planned. Jack and I ended up doing some much-needed house cleaning. We also welcomed into our lives a new bookshelf! Weighing in at 4 feet tall and 2.5 wide, she is a welcome (and beautiful) addition to the family.

I have managed to get some reading done, in between admiring my bookshelf-assembly skills and reorganizing my entire library. I’m nearly done with both The Graveyard Book and Crime and Punishment. And tomorrow I’m planning on reviewing my readathon books before the weekend fades into a muddled haze.

I think this will be my final entry for this year’s readathon. Thanks to all who followed my posts and cheered me on–I had a great time, and I’m already looking forward to next year! Is it too soon to start a TBR list?

Readathon-ing!

10:15 am
Happy readathon, everyone! I’m very excited to be able to participate again this year. I’ve started in on my list by completing 72 pages (out of 215) of The Purity Myth. I’ll keep you updated as I go!

11:20 am
I’m at page 101 of The Purity Myth, and now I’m going to take a “break” and walk Tink… though my iPod (and Crime and Punishment) may come along too!

12:10 pm
Tink and I had a lovely walk; she romped about while I listened to a few chapters of Crime and Punishment.

Julia Keller recently made a case in the Chicago Tribune for reading multiple books at once, a stance with which I wholeheartedly agree–I could never choose just one! She observed a simultaneous-reading phenomenon: she is often struck by the similarities between two disparate novels that she is reading. I, too, have often noticed this. In fact, just now, there was a quote in Crime and Punishment that completely coincided with my view of issues presented by The Purity Myth. Who would’ve ever related the two!

2:30 pm
After a quick break for lunch, I got back in the game and am now on page 145 of The Purity Myth. I’m contemplating going to the library to pick up a few holds–like I need to add to the TBR stack!

4:45 pm
I’m powering through The Purity Myth–I should be finished within the hour. Tink and I took a short break to play fetch, and I didn’t miss the chance to listen to some Crime and Punishment! A weird combination, chastity and madness. Or perhaps not.

The lovely mail-lady brought two more books for me today, but I’m pretty bent on finishing my library stack first. Wish me luck!

6:00 pm
I finally finished The Purity Myth, and I can’t wait to review it–hopefully next week. After a quick cup of tea, I’m getting back into The Graveyard Book. I’m already hooked on this story and its characters!

I was reading outside on my patio, but the mosquitoes were beginning to bother me. I’ll head outside once more before it gets dark to take Tink on another romp in the woods. She’s not much of a reader; she’s spent much of the day lying on the floor, with her eyes closed, snoring gently. Not much different from her everyday routine!

9:00 pm
I just finished Sheery’s minichallenge, and it was great! I love word scrambles. My answers are below… don’t peek if you haven’t done the challenge!

1.yfferil enal
Firefly Lane

2.aste fo eend
East of Eden

3. retwa orf pntshleea
Water for Elephants

4.ot lkli a ckomgnrbdii
To Kill a Mockingbird

5. het gtaer ysbtag
The Great Gatsby

6. yrhra tetrpo dna eth lyhdtea wollsah
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

7. ht e rat fo nrgcai ni eht nair
The Art of Racing in the Rain

8.eth mite reslveart efwi
The Time Traveler’s Wife

9. eht rlig ithw eht gnodar ooattt
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

10.ydira fo a mypiw idk
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

11.a kwrlnei ni emit
A Wrinkle in Time

12. het rpoal sxprese
The Polar Express

13.vole dewlak ni
Love Walked In

14.reehw eth dwli hingts rea
Where the Wild Things Are

15.eht ginnhsi
The Shining

16.dnohogigt oonm
Goodnight Moon

17. vwtienrie hwti a pvmarie
Interview with a Vampire

18. eht cretse file fo eesb
The Secret Life of Bees

19. eht raesch
The Search

20. het pelh
The Help

Now it’s back to The Graveyard Book… I’m at page 60 of 307, but it’s going very quickly!

11:30 pm
It’s getting late, and this entry is getting long! I took a break earlier to go pick up Jack from his short weekend of playing ultimate. I brought Crime and Punishment along, though. Now I’m at page 119 of The Graveyard Book, and I love the line art interspersed with the words… it adds to the ghostly feel of the story. Can’t wait to review this one in time for Halloween!

11:55 pm
I’m now on page 134, and I’m ready to take a bit of a nap. Keep reading, everyone! I’ll catch you in a few hours.

Great Books Week: Desert Island Reading List

I’ve been watching Great Books Week from the sidelines, and with today’s challenge I decided to jump into the fray.

If you were stranded alone on a deserted island, what five books would you want?

I immediately began thinking of the books that I name as my favorites when asked. But this question goes deeper that listing which books made a great impression on me. If I only had five books to read and re-read for the rest of my life, what would I choose?

The Poisonwood Bible
I’ve re-read this one many times, and I’m due for another soon. I love everything about this book, from the setting and the characters to Barbara Kingsolver’s delicious prose.

The Sun Also Rises
Perhaps it would be better to choose a longer Hemingway work, but this remains my absolute favorite from him. I savor the ending in particular; many times, I have picked up the book just to read the last page.

The English Patient
This book is relatively new to me; I only read it last year. And I immediately wondered why it took so long. I loved the story, and I became very emotionally involved with the characters.

The Complete Collection of William Shakespeare
I had to include a collection! Maybe then I would finally read every play by Shakespeare, one of my literary goals. At the very least, the gilded pages might be used to signal a rescue plane.

Watchmen
This was the first graphic novel I read, and it may remain the greatest. It contains a rich and complex story that only ripens upon re-reads. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good story.

All of this makes me realize that I am due for several re-reads! Did someone say “reading challenge”?

Fall into Reading 2010

After several rainy days last week, this past weekend was gorgeous, and I spent several lovely hours reading in the great outdoors while camping in southern Maryland. However, the reddening leaves and the cool nights reminded me that my favorite season is upon us, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate fall than by having a reading challenge!

“Fall into Reading” was created by Katrina over at Callapidder Days as a fun, low-pressure reading challenge open to anyone and everyone. It will take place from September 22 to December 20, 2010, and the rules are simple:

* Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this fall. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)

* Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky.

* Get reading! The challenge goes from today, September 22nd, through December 20th.

* Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!

* Write a post about your challenge experience in December, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how Fall Into Reading went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this fall (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.

Because I am addicted to Goodreads, I’ve created a list that I’ve also copied below. If you’d like, you can vote on my list (I’ll be monitoring it to see what you’d like me to read and review), or you could create your own.

But without further ado… my list!

1 The Purity Myth: How America's... The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women
by Jessica Valenti
2 The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
3 A Moveable Feast A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
4 Macbeth Macbeth
by William Shakespeare
5 Alice's Adventures in Wonderla... Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll
6 Crime and Punishment Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
7 The Nobodies Album The Nobodies Album
by Carolyn Parkhurst
8 Fly Away Home Fly Away Home
by Jennifer Weiner
9 The Crossing The Crossing (Border Trilogy, #2)
by Cormac McCarthy
10 Cities of the Plain Cities of the Plain (Border Trilogy, #3)
by Cormac McCarthy
11 How to Read the Air How to Read the Air
by Dinaw Mengestu
12 Push Push
by Sapphire
13 The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
14 The Judging Eye The Judging Eye (Aspect-Emperor, #1)
by R. Scott Bakker
15 I'd Know You Anywhere I’d Know You Anywhere
by Laura Lippman
16 Paradise Paradise
by Toni Morrison
17 Unaccustomed Earth Unaccustomed Earth
by Jhumpa Lahiri
18 Interpreter of Maladies Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri
19 The Namesake The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri
20 The Dogs of Babel The Dogs of Babel
by Carolyn Parkhurst
21 Lolita Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov
22 Moby-Dick or, The Whale Moby-Dick or, The Whale
by Herman Melville
23 Madame Bovary Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert
24 Super Sad True Love Story Super Sad True Love Story
by Gary Shteyngart
25 The Brief Wondrous Life of Osc... The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Díaz
26 Vanity Fair: A Novel without a... Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero
by William Makepeace Thackeray
27 Lonely Planet Thailand Lonely Planet Thailand
by China Williams
28 Lonely Planet Southeast Asia o... Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a Shoestring
by China Williams
29 A Geography of Secrets A Geography of Secrets
by Frederick Reuss
30 Room: A Novel Room: A Novel
by Emma Donoghue
31 Freedom Freedom
by Jonathan Franzen



Pre-gaming for Readathon

After a rainy week like this, all I want to do is curl up on my couch with a cup of tea and a good book. Maybe that’s why I’m so excited about next weekend—I can’t wait for Dewey’s 24-hour fall readathon. And so, the list of books I’m daydreaming about finishing:

The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women

by Jessica Valenti

The United States is obsessed with virginity—from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women.

Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes—ranging from abstinence curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials—place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism.

Valenti sheds light on the value—and hypocrisy— round the notion that girls remain virgin until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex.

The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.

A Moveable Feast

by Ernest Hemingway

Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft.

It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Dave McKean)

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

So, what are you planning for readathon?