Sunday Salon

Welcome back everyone!  I know everyone is returning and recovering from BEA.  Despite the fact that I did not go to BEA, I took it easy last week when it came to my blog.  I had some prescheduled posts for Armchair BEA that were posted but I decided not to post any reviews just because there weren’t very many people around to read them!

I had planned to do a little book shopping to celebrate (not going to) BEA but I didn’t go all out.  I stopped at Half Price Books and picked up a few things Thursday during their Memorial Day sale.  I also got a TON of library book.

From Half Price Books:

The Sea, John Banville

The Night Watch, Sarah Waters

How the Garcia Girls Lost Thier Accents, Julia Alvarez

Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn

Breaking Her Fall, Stephen Goodwin

From the Library:

Dismantled, Jennifer McMahon

Annie’s Baby, Anonymous

The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie

The Summeer Before, Ann M Martin

Letter to my Daughter, George Post

What the Dead Know, Laura Lippman

Kristy’s Great Idea, Ann M Martin and Raina Telgemeier

Admission, Jean Hanff Korelitz

Dawn, Ann M Martin

Little Billy’s Letters, Bill Geerhart

This week I finished Waiting for Columbus, by Thomas Trofimuk.  I then read Columbine, by Dave Cullen (absolutely wonderful book!). Friday, I began The 19th Wife, by David Ebershoff, which I am enjoying so far.  I also read some Baby-Sitters Club books this week–The Summer Before and Dawn, both by Ann M Martin and a graphic novel adaption of Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M Martin, done by Raina Telgemeier.  So as far as reading, it’s been a very good week for me. 

I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done over the rest of this holiday weekend.  My husband and I are having a cookout tomorrow for Memorial Day so we have a lot of work to do over the next day!  I hope everyone is getting back into the swing of things now that BEA is over.  Have a great Sunday and Memorial Day!

BBC Post: Writing & Building Content

When I was a few years into college, I remember feeling so apathetic and frustrated with my major (early childhood education). I was at my wits end with what to do about it. I wasn’t even interested in working as a teacher when I graduated any longer, but I considered trudging through it anyway. Then my mom suggested I major in English because of my insatiable reading habit. I agreed on the sole basis of the reading factor. Little did I consider the amount of writing that would be involved!

Being a book blogger is sort of like being an English major in the sense that I blog primarily because I love to read, not because I love to write (I won’t say I hate to write but it’s definitely not one of my favorite things to do). I feel like I am much more apt to do the reading than I am to do the writing but, as we all know, writing is an integral part of blogging. One way I get past the boorish aspect is by watching TV when I blog. This probably isn’t conducive to having a thoughtful, well read post, but I can’t help myself. I also tend to employ some of the applicable pointers that I learned in college. For instance, I (almost) always try to start my reviews in a way that will draw people in as opposed to just starting with plot description. I admit, sometimes I am lazy or too uninspired and I don’t follow this rule, but it served me extremely well in college so I tend to use it whenever I can.

One thing I did NOT do in college that I do pretty frequently now is I usually start my reviews from the end and work my way up. This is the case for books I am really inspired about or that left a big impression on me. I always want to start off with dissecting my feelings and putting them out there but it doesn’t serve the reader if you don’t do a plot description first. This is important for those readers who have yet to read the book and are unfamiliar with it.

Speaking of plot, I never want to give too much away! I remember reading someone’s blog a few months ago and there was a review for an ARC I had recently received. Now, bear in mind that I usually skim reviews of books I haven’t (and want to) read because I don’t want to be surprised. But, as I was skimming the beginning of this review, it jumped out at me—one of the main characters died. I was really upset about it and it kind of ruined the book for me—I still have yet to pick up the book because I already know what is going to happen. Therefore, I make it a point to not include spoilers when at all possible. If I feel forced to include a spoiler, I try to mark it extremely well so a reader can’t accidently come upon it.

So there you go—some of the process for me when it comes to blogging. I am looking forward to reading the posts of fellow Armchair BEAers to see what you all came up with!

BEA Wishlist

So I can’t be at BEA today, which means I won’t be getting any of the new books there, but I suppose I can still lust over them, right?  I admit, I have spent some time drooling over the BEA site and cursing myself for not being there.  These are the books that caught my eye the most.

Charlotte Sophia: Myth, Madness and the Moor

By Tina Andrews

Charlotte Sophia was queen of England, wife of “mad” King George III, Queen Victoria ‘s grandmother, and in love with Johann Christian Bach. But neither her king, her country, nor her lover knew she was black.

The Cusp of Dreams

Diana E Sheets

The dark saga of our time: salesmen and women desperate to close deals in order to pay their rent. To survive they will do almost anything. For these men and women there is no reprieve.

Jasmine

Albertine Dolores Beacham

Jasmine, a rebellious seventeen-year-old, is in love with Kirk Lanera. When she becomes involved with him and his friends, who pull pranks and cause trouble, she is disowned by her parents and forced to leave her house. With Kirk, Jasmine leaves her family and travels to New Orleans , where Kirk’s longstanding sexual advances become more persistent and culminate when he rapes Jasmine. When she refuses to have sex with him again, he abandons her, leaving her to roam the streets on her own.

Tamara’s Child

BK Mayo

Nominated for 2010 IPPY Award

The emotional journey of a pregnant teenager who finds herself in a bizarre and deadly battle over the custody of her child. A captivating, thought-provoking, and socially relevant read.

The Afflicted Girls: A Novel of Salem

Suzy Witten

Something terrible happened in Salem Village in 1692 . . . but it isn’t what you think!

This debut historical novel offers a startling new theory of the Salem witch-hunt certain to put this 300-year-old unsettled mystery to rest. Centering her story on Salem Village and its inhabitants, exploring their dark household corners as if she is solving a crime, author-researcher Suzy Witten adeptly details how the disintegration occurred while spinning familiar facts in new directions, with the mysterious “afflictions” finally explained.

WINNER 2010 IPPY SILVER MEDAL for Historical/Military Fiction

A Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist

The Battle for New Orleans : The Casino Wars

Jimmie Martinez

New Orleans has a reputation as a city of loose morals, strip joints, and partying. But it lacks a large, Las Vegas-style casino. Things are about to change when the citizens decide to legalize a land-based casino.

What new BEA books are you lusting for?

The Sunday Salon

I’m a little late with my TSS today.  My husband and I just got back from a relaxing weekend at my parent’s lakehouse.  I had planned to spend a lot of time reading but I spent more time sleeping and hanging out with my family.  I did manage to finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson.  I am distraught that it is the last in the trilogy.  I left it at my lakehouse for my dad and sister to fight over because they were both begging me to borrow it and neither one was backin down.  I then started Waiting for Columbus, by Thomas Trofimuk.  I decided to read it after reading softdrink’s review and hopefully I finish it tomorrow so I can return it to the library because it’s almost a week overdue.

Now I know I can’t be the only one missing out on BEA.  Unfortunately I had too much going on to consider a trip to New York .  I keep telling myself that getting married was worth it! J  But I plan to still enjoy BEA regardless of not going.  First off I will be following the Armchair BEA Central blog.  It will be featuring different topics throughout BEA so check in there to join in on the fun.  Secondly, I am going to invest in a little retail therapy to console myself.  My husband may not agree with my plan, but I am going to go and splurge on some books a la No BEA, Books Anyway, which was a book buying binge during last year’s BEA for those bloggers that couldn’t make it.  I plan on going to my local Half Price Books as well as a local indie bookstore.  The good news is that I won’t have to worry about cramming them all into my suitcase! (Are those of you going to BEA taking an extra suitcase?!)

Also, there is a twitter party going on for those of us missing out!  Here are the deets:

  • Thursday, May 27 from 8-10 PM Eastern Time
  • Hashtag: #ArmchairBEA
  • Chat topics to include the galley we most wanted to pick up at BEA, bloggers we’d most like to meet, authors we’d most like to meet, and panels we’d like to hear at BEA (if we were there, that is!)
  • Prizes will be grouped into swag bags including these goodies:
  • Shadow Hills buttons and bookmarks (signed)
  • Farworld by J. Scott Savage posters (signed)
  • Mistwood bookmarks (some signed, some not, I have about 50)
  • Shade bookmarks (signed)
  • Whisper bookmarks (signed)
  • Wings bracelet and button
  • Claire De Lune postcards
  • Body Finder SWAG (signed)
  • The Dark Divine bookmarks

Like I said, I hope to finish my current book by tomorrow but who knows if that will happen because I have a lot of stuff to do.  Happy Sunday everyone!

Book Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Tiffany Baker

Grand Central Publishing

368 pages

Truly is an abnormally large person.  Even before she was born, her size was the topic of conversation, with the issue culminating in her mother’s death during childbirth.  From that point on, the odds are stacked against Truly.  She is unwanted by almost everyone, not to mention the fact that she is constantly in the shadow of her gorgeous and popular sister Serena Jane.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County spans decades.  Throughout Truly’s schooling and continuing on throughout her adult life, Truly is an outcast.  She has only a few close friends–one being Amelia, the mute girl that grows up as a sister to Truly.  Their friendship is as close as can be, which plays a huge role towards the end of the book.  In fact, there are certain choices Amelia makes during the course of the book that cause major ramifications for both women and that was what struck me the most about this book.

Serena Jane was another interesting factor in Little Giant.  She grew up as the popular girl with her peers fawning over her constantly.  Her life takes a wrong turn though when she loses her virginity and becomes pregnant.  The father of the child is Robert (Bob Bob) Morgan IV and he and Serena Jane get married out of high school and lead what appears to be a “normal” life.  What Serena Jane does when their son is just a few years old is another circumstance in the book that gave me pause.  As with Amelia’s situation, I could empathize and sympathize despite the reprehensible behavior both women exhibited. 

Did I like this book?  I’m still not sure, to be honest.  Obviously there was a lot for me to reflect upon, which is great, but I thought Little Giant was slow at times and I don’t think I ever got fully involved.  Maybe my problem was that I was unable to connect with Truly.  A lot of times I didn’t understand her actions and it left me frustrated.  I have been wanting to read this book practically since it was releasecd, so I am glad I read it but I’m not bowled over by any means.

This book counts towards The Debutante Ball challenge.

Other Reviews:

The Book Lady’s Blog

Booking Mama

BermudaOnion’s Weblog

Caribous Mom

Devourer of Books

5 Minutes for Books

This book was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes.

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie

Berkeley

336 Pages

Welcome to the Classics Tour stop highlighting The Golden Age of Detectives.  There are three reasons I read this book.

  1. -I bought it around this past Halloween after seeing it on a display there.
  2. -I have been meaning to read Agatha Christie for awhile now, so this tour was the perfect chance to do it.
  3. -I have been yearning to read mysteries for the past month now.

So you see, reading Murder on the Orient Express killed a lot of birds with one stone. 

First off, you should probably be aware that thus is a Hercule Poirot book, meaning that it centers around the detective by that name, also featured in many of Christie’s other works.  Hercule is traveling home after an investigation aboard the Orient Express when, all of a sudden, the train is brought to a halt, both literally and metaphorically.  You see, they are stopped by a huge blizzard around the same time as an American businessman is killed in his room.  It becomes apparent straight off that the killer has to be someone that is actually on the train.  Poirot is quickly appointed as the investigator of the murder and he sets forth searching the train as well as interviewing the other inhabitants.

Obviously I have no wish to spoil the storyline for you.  I will just say that a lot of strange clues are unearthed and the actual culprit was not whom I expected.  The one person whom I suspected almost straight off the bat seemed culpable from almost the beginning but at the same time I figured it would have been too easy had I discovered the killer straight off, so I figured I had been wrong. 

I think Christie does a great job of weaving together a good mystery, although I only have this one book to go by.  It was absolutely charming and a quick, engaging read.  It induced me to try to read more of Christie’s books, so I have reserved her very first book from my library, which I understand is also a Hercule Poirot book. 

Also, I discovered a fun Agatha Christie challenge! The Agatha Christie Reading Challenge  is a perpetual challenge hosted by Mysteries in Paradise and the goal is to read all of Christie’s books in the order in which they were written.  From what I understand, there are 87 books out there, of which I believe 60 some are actual novels while the rest are short story collections.  I very well could be wrong on this though.  Apparently she also wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, but whether those books are part of the challenge, I cannot say.  Either way, I do hope to read as many of Agatha Christie’s books as possible, although I plan to skip the short stories and the romances.

What about you?  Are you a fan of Christie’s?  If so, what books of hers are your favorites? 

Book Reviews:

A Library is a Hospital for the Mind . . .

Mysteries in Paradise

I bought this book from Barnes & Noble

Mailbox Monday and Library Loot

Generally I include my Library Loot and Mailbox Monday in my Sunday Salon post but this week I forgot, so I am doing a joint post for this week.

In terms of the library, I got two books.

The latter is for The Debutante Ball challenge hosted by Swapna at S Krishna’s Books and Jen at Devourer of Books.

The other two books I received in the mail.

This one was a win from Jill aka softdrink from Fizzy Thoughts.  Thanks Jill!

This one is a review copy that won’t be published for another month or two.  Not my usual fare but it looked interesting. 

What did you get this week?

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