Monday, July 20, 2009


There are a few other things demanding my attention right now, so I'm going to take a break from this blog for a few months. I've actually been needing to do this for a while, but keep saying to myself, "When I'm caught up on all my reviews, then I'll take a break," or, "When I complete this challenge or that challenge..." Like that's ever going to happen. Cold turkey is the only way to go.
Having said that, it does cause me a bit of anxiety to leave too many loose ends that may haunt me during my break, so I will take care of a little business before I fall of the face of the blogging world for a time:

I received a couple of awards that I want to say thank you for:

Yvette Kelly of True Crime Book Reviews gave me the Humane Award. Check out her awesome site that (obviously) focuses on true crime books. She has a directory of new books of the genre coming out, directories by author, title and genre, and of course reviews. I think I've mentioned to her before that I'm too much of a baby for most true crime selections, but I still enjoy reading her reviews and getting some ideas for gifts for friends and family who like true crime. Stop by True Crime Book Reviews for a visit, but be careful--if she likes your blog, she will "stalk" you!

Also, Amanda from The Zen Leaf gave me the Kreative Blogger Award. Check out Amanda's experiences at the ALA conference in Chigaco. Let me just say that I am jealous! I'll have to go to the conference someday. Along with this award, I'm supposed to name seven things I love (besides the obvious, my family and reading):

1. Hiking
2. National Parks
3. Homemade Chex mix
4. Steve Carell
5. Brit Lit Chick Flicks
6. Solitude
7. Pudding

A few thoughts about some of the books I've read to date:

The Epic of Gilgamesh, author unknown. I really could do a big, long post on this one so I may come back to it someday. I first listened to the "new English version" by Stephen Mitchell. It was a great way to familiarize myself with the story, which, although very brief, carries with it some universal themes that I found pretty engaging. This audio version includes the reading of an essay by Mitchell (who points out that he did not translate this; he just retells what he gathered from other translations) that digs deeper into the story and brings up a lot of ideas to contemplate.
I then read the Penguin Classics version translated by Andrew George. I loved this version because it pieces together translations from the various tablets the story has been found on, and adds some variations of the epic from different time periods.
One question though: How am I supposed to be frightened by a monster named Humbaba?

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford A quick, sweet read about a Chinese boy who falls in love with a Japanese girl in Seattle during WWII only to be separated by the internment of the Japanese-Americans. This was a great selection for a vacation (especially since I was in Washington at the time). It's somewhat predictable, but sometimes that's what hits the spot. I could see this being a good movie.

Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery It was a big shock for me that I didn't love this one. I felt like I got swept through a few years of Anne's life a little too fast with not enough details of day to day happenings. I was also pretty irritated by Phillipa. She drove me crazy. Anne sees something in her that I don't. Fortunately, the ending makes up for what the beginning lacked. Oh, Gilbert (sigh.)

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery Back on track with this one. Sure, all of the crotchety old ladies sort of meld into one in my head, and Anne is just too good (how can she actually say she likes the whole Pringle clan who is viciously plotting her downfall?), but I am entertained all the same and it just makes me happy. I do however wonder how there can be so many grumpy characters amidst one of the most beautiful settings in literature. You would think they would all be high on the beauty of Prince Edward Island! But I'm glad for the humor they provide.

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond I just checked and I took 18 pages of handwritten notes while reading this book. I have to take notes on books like this or it would just go in one ear and out the other. Diamond's main premise (which he drives home again and again, which is great for someone like me) is that history followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among their environments, not because of biological differences among the peoples themselves. He goes into detail about what those environmental factors were, and goes on to show how this occurred in various parts of the world. I don't think I've ever thought that Europeans conquered other societies because they were racially superior, but it was enlightening to read of his theories as to why they were the ones to acquire "guns, germs, and steel." I have no expertise in the subject matter he presents, so I can't really make any critical comments on his theories, but I did find it quite fascinating and readable.

Larklight or, the Revenge of the White Spiders or, To Saturn's Rings and Back by Phillip Reeve The title is quite revealing as far as the tone of this children's book. Quirky, swashbuckling, original, humorous, great fun. My son read it as well, and liked it (once he got past the spiders.) Another series that I would love to continue with, but am not sure if it will be a priority. This would be a fun read-aloud.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen Every rose has its thorn, and this one has some prickly ones. Of course, one would expect this from a book with accounts of the Holocaust. The twist is the link with the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Did I like the merge? It was powerful and disturbing, definitely original. I'm not sure if I would recommend this to anyone or not. I have such a heavy feeling just thinking about it. I had problems with classification: Fantasy? Young Adult? I don't think this novel fits into either category. It's very real and it's about an adult. (???)

Extras by Scott Westerfeld I was forewarned that this fourth installment of the Uglies series did not have much to do with Tally and David, and it's been a while since I read the other three, so I did not have any issues with a new cast of characters in a new city. I loved (hated?) the idea of a reputation economy in one of the new cities to emerge post-Specials. Asa Fuse is desperate to improve her "face rank" in a society where popularity is everything. All she needs to do is "kick" a good story, and all of her problems will be solved. It lagged a tiny bit in the end, and I had a hard time envisioning the way everything looks. Part of the thrill is the "page-turner" quality, but I would have appreciated a little more description. But then again, maybe it was there and I just skimmed over it in my rush to find out what happens. Good stuff! Want to read everything by him.

I plan to jump in again around Readathon time. I wouldn't miss that for the world. Or calendar issues. Please let it be on a good weekend.


  1. Oh no, Shelley! I'll miss your blog! But I think you're right: the only way is cold turkey.

    I haven't read Gilgamesh yet, but Humbaba does make me smile!

    My favorite Anne book is actually Rilla of Ingleside, so it's not even about Anne! I hope you enjoy the series.

    I've started Guns Germs and Steel in audio but it wasn't working for me. Your mini-review has gotten me excited to give it another go. It does sound interesting.

    I just read Uglies and I thought it was a bit "page-turner"-ish at the expense of other things, but it was still good, I thought. I look forward to the rest of the series.

  2. Have a good break, Shelley! We'll be here when you get back! Because we know you'll come back. How could you stay away from us forever? :-)


  3. Have a great break. I'll miss your blog, but I'm glad you're looking at jumping in around Read-a-thon time. :) I hope you get all the stuff settled that's going on right now.

  4. Briar Rose- yeah, that one was heavy. Disturbing, even. I think I'd call it young-adult, speculative fiction?

  5. Have a wonderful break! We'll still be here when you get back. :)

  6. I'm going to miss popping by and reading your reviews...but I can completely understand about needing a hiatus. I hope that all goes well for you and we see you soon.

  7. We at BBAW are trying to contact you!

    Please email mypalamyATgmailDOTcom for information about YOUR Book Blogger Appreciation Week nomination.

    And Congrats!!

  8. We at BBAW are trying to contact you!

    Please email mypalamyATgmailDOTcom for information about YOUR Book Blogger Appreciation Week nomination.

    And Congrats!!