Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baby-Sitters Club: Special Halloween Edition: Mary Anne

Mary Anne played it safe with a Raggedy Ann costume this Halloween. Logan was hoping she'd go for the "adult" version, but alas, she chose the softer side of Sears.

(click here for links)

Review: "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls"

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith
3 out of 5 stars

I actually read this book back in July (I know, I am so freaking far behind it's not even funny!) but I thought October would be a good time to review it. If you are a die-hard Jane Austen fan, I probably wouldn't recommend this one, because it is very much NOT Pride & Prejudice as you know it. I had actually looked for the original P&P&Zombies but couldn't find it anywhere, then I saw this one at HPB one day and decided to try it instead. I am excited though because I found the graphic novel version at the library the other day, so I'm going to read it instead! :)

Okay, so DOTD (not Day of the Dead) is set 4 years before P&P, so unfortunately, there is no Mr Darcy. We do have the Bennet sisters though and then there are some new characters that are fun and interesting. Master Hawksworth is a handsome young man who arrives to help Mr Bennet train his girls to fight the "Unmentionables" that have begun popping up. He seems like the perfect gentleman and Elizabeth and the other girls are immediately infatuated with him, but he does have a secret that comes out towards the end of the book. Also infatuated with Elizabeth is Dr Keckilpenny, who arrives with the soldiers in town and is intent on solving the Zombie Unmentionables problem. The Doctor is a good mine although a little scattered, as evidenced when Elizabeth ends up saving him several times from Z attacks.

Captain Cannon is another new character and is absolutely hilarious. He is sent to town with a group of soldiers to help combat the Z problem, which he does a pretty good job of, despite having no arms or legs. And as this is the Victorian era, wheelchairs are limited (non-existent?) so the good Captain is wheeled around in a wheelbarrow by his 4 "Limbs". And when he wants to do something, such as scratch his nose? He commands his left upper Limb to do so. Lol...I loved Captain Cannon. And....someone else in the book loved/loves the Captain too. Oooohhh....I won't spoil it for you though! :) I must say, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this as much as I did. The zombies were suitably disgusting and decaying, the fight scenes were energetic, and there was enough romance and swooning to appease a semi-Austen fan such as myself.

“A battle cry" Mr. Bennet said "is a warrior's calling card. Only it does not say 'Good afternoon. I have come for tea and crumpets.' It says 'Death has come for you! Flee or be killed where you stand!”

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!! 
Be safe and have fun!

(click here for links)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Baby-Sitters Club: Special Halloween Edition: Claudia!

Next up in the Halloween special is Miss Claudia Kishi, who fashioned a gorgeous peacock costume for herself using just thrift store finds and things in the bottom of her closet.

(click here for links)

Review: "Complete Tales & Poems" Classic a Month #10

Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
2 out of 5 stars

I was excited to read some Poe for my October classic, but I didn't really get into it as much as I thought I would. I think I started out with the wrong stories and that kind of set me back for the whole month. I know of a lot of his stories (from The Simpsons lol) but I've never actually read much. I did not read this entire collection, but picked out several that I was familiar with and a few I wasn't. I kind of wish I had read something else for October, but I'm not sure what.

I started out with The Purloined Letter, which is more of a detective story than mystery. It was very confusing to me and after I'd read it, I realized it was because it was meant to be the 3rd in a story line about one detective. Duh. So, then I decided to read The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is the 1st story of that line. I think I liked it? It was very gross in parts, describing the gruesome murders and such (highlight if not squeamish: "Their roots (a hideous sight!) were clotted with fragments of the flesh of the scalp."). The writing is very formal and stiff, it felt like work to me, if that makes sense? And, I hate to say this, but it made me feel stupid lol. I couldn't figure out the ending and that was irritating. So I decided to skip the middle story and move on to something I was more familiar with.

The Raven is such a lilting, flowing poem, you can't help but read it in that kind of sing-song voice. When I think of poems, I think of something like this, where the words slide over you and thru your heart and brain. I actually read this twice, first to just enjoy the rhythm and second for the meaning and story. For me, this is where Poe shines.

Leave my loneliness unbroken!-quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take they form from off my door!
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

The problem I have with most short stories is that I usually want them to go longer lol. And such is the case with The Tell-Tale Heart. I think I could have enjoyed a full story about this person going mad over an old man's filmy blue eye. Or rather, not mad, because as the narrator tells us, "you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs." There's a kind of humor to this story, a dry sarcasm at times, that I enjoyed very much.

The last story I read was The Black Cat, which I had heard was Poe's most terrifying piece. Well, it was. It was horrible! I'm basically going to give the whole story here, so if you want to read it on your own, I'd stop here! If you love animals, I would recommend NOT reading this one.

This quiet boy grows into a man with a great fondness for animals. He gets a bunch of pets, including a black cat, with his wife and loves the cat more than anything, until the man grows older and in a rage one day, injures the cat. (I really don't want to repeat the details, because it's honestly sickening.) The cat survives but flees from the man now, which makes him angry, and he finally kills the cat, hanging him in the garden. That night, the house catches fire and the man and woman barely escape. Months pass and the man decides (for some stupid reason) that he wants a new cat. He finds one at a bar one night that looks exactly like his old cat, including the "injury" his first cat received, except for a strange white marking around its neck.

The new cat loves him and follows him home and the guy likes first. Soon he feels like the cat is mocking him with his love and wants to hurt this cat too, but can't bring himself to, out of guilt from the first. One day, the man and his wife go down to the cellar for something and the cat accidently trips the man on the stairs. This enrages him and he raises the ax (I have no idea why he had an ax) in anger at the cat, but his wife stops him. You'd think that would be the end right? Nope. The man turns on his wife and buries the ax in her head. Yeah. What's with this story?

He decides to put her in one of the walls of the cellar and plaster her up. After that, he goes in search of the cat to "take care of it" too, but it ran off so the man is happy at last. A few days later, the police show up and take a look around, looking for the woman, but don't find anything. The guy is totally calm and a little over-confident: when they are leaving the cellar, he is babbling and says something about "check out these well-constructed walls" and knocks the one where his wife is hidden. Suddenly, there's a horrible yowling and crying. The police pull the wall down and there, sitting on the dead woman's head, is the cat. WTH?? Why did I read this story? Why didn't the wife do something when her husband killed the first cat? What's with Edgar Allan Poe? I've read some things that he was seriously damaged, but this is jacked.

(Picture courtesy of RedRibbonRoses)

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Awesome Heroines

Before I get into things, I just want to say that I hope everyone in Hurricane/Storm Sandy's path is okay or at least going to be okay! There are some terrifying images out there and my heart is with all of you out there. <3

Today's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke & The Bookish features awesome heroines...some of my choices are actual superheroes and some are just kick-ass ladies! :)

1. Hermione in Harry Potter -I love Hermione so much. She starts out as this goody, goody teacher's pet who freaks when people break the rules. Her friendship with Ron & Harry helps her grow and mature in the best ways the end of the series, she is still that super smart chick who knows how to find the answer to any question, but she is also willing to break those rules that she followed so closely now. She's loyal, caring, stubborn, sensitive, funny, strong, and just a really cool person. I want to be Hermione when I grow up.

2. Belle in Tales of an Extraordinary Girl -Belle is a superhero in the literal sense: after a freak accident leaves her with mutant powers, she must learn how to deal with them and decide if she's going to use them for good or evil. These new powers don't curb her quick-witted, sarcastic attitude though and that's part of the reason I like her so much lol.

3. Katsa in Graceling -okay yes, she has some odd views on marriage and men but I still think she's pretty cool and definitely in the superhero realm. Plus, she gets Po. :)

4. Skeeter & Aibileen in The Help -these two women quietly kick butt and take names. Literally. And literary. (Literarily?)

5. Claire in The Morganville Vampires -Claire is right up there with Hermione in the smarts and bravery. Going to college at 16, fighting vampires, saving her loved ones and herself constantly, creating super-computers. Yep she's awesome.

6. Katniss in The Hunger Games -does this really need to be explained? Supporting her mom and sister, volunteering, fighting, winning, fighting some more, winning some more, getting the guy, killing the other guy.

7. Mrs Weasley & Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter -I love both these ladies, on and off the screen. Both courageous, smart, stubborn women and wonderful actresses. And in Harry Potter? Five words: Not my daughter, you bitch. And four more words: Have a biscuit, Potter. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Baby-Sitters Club: Special Halloween Edition: Kristy!

I scheduled something extra fun for this week to make up for my slacking the last few weeks. :) I present to you: what the Baby-Sitters Club would wear trick or treating!

First up is Kristy, who would obviously go for something tomboy-ish and not girly at all. With the World Series just ending (I think, I don't really follow baseball) Kristy decided to go as a major league baseball player. And even though she was mistaken for a boy all night, she was still happy with it.

(click here for links)

Review: "Killing Mr Griffin"

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
3 out of 5 stars

I was excited when I won the banned book giveaway over on WriterQuirk which included two Lois Duncan books: Killing Mr. Griffin and Summer of Fear. I remember reading some of her books as a teenager and how terrifying they were, so I wanted to see how they stood up now. I started with this one, because I know I read it, but didn't remember too much about it. Just that some students kidnapped a teacher and ended up accidentally killing him. I have to say, I did enjoy it but it wasn't nearly as scary now lol.

This book was originally published in 1978 (which I could not believe!) but she republished it in 2010 and tried to update some of the technology and word usage. Honestly, I don't see the point. She added a few instances of them using Google or iPods or cell phones, but then didn't change how Dave made Jello from a box for his Grandma. Who makes box Jello?? Those little cups are so easy and yummy, why bother? I think, in this case, the updates weren't necessary and kind of distracted me. Read the original version if you can!

Okay, so we start off at a normal high school in Arizona (I think?) and seemingly normal high school students, Susan and David. Susan is kind of a nerd, not popular, no friends, typical shy, quiet girl. Dave is a smart, popular guy, senior president, and Susan's crush. They're complaining together about their English teacher, Mr Griffin, who is super-hard on everyone. He gives no breaks, no extra time, and no A's. Everyone hates him and everyone has thought about hurting him somehow, but only Mark has the courage (insanity) to actually do something.

Mark is a dark, mysterious guy who gets close to no one but seems to know everything about everyone. He has a personal vendetta against Mr Griffin and manages to smooth talk Jeff & Betsy, jock & cheerleader, into joining him in a wild kidnapping scheme to teach Mr Griffin a lesson. They concoct their plan at the local burger shack and decide to bring Dave and Sue in as well. For some reason, they both get swept up into Mark's magnetism and agree to go along.

Each chapter is told by a different person's point of view (except Mark) so it's interesting to see how Mr Griffin sees his students, talking to his very pregnant wife. He's pushing them to get the best out of them. As a former college professor, he knows how horribly unprepared high school students can be and he wants to fix that. I know I had a huge shock when I went to college. In high school, they teach you such a strict format of writing papers: 5 paragraphs, 3 sentences in the intro & conclusion, 5-7 sentences in the 3 body paragraphs, etc...Then you get to college and they're like "I need a 10 page paper on the ramifications of World War II in the automobile industry and how it connects to present-day Ireland". And this is you:

Mark's plan is carried out and the kidnapping happens. Then, things get interesting. Each of the other kids struggles with their part in this and what it could mean if they get caught. Mark is happy to push it further, leaving Mr Griffin overnight alone, but Dave & Sue are too worried and go to set him free...only to find that he has died. Then, things get REAL interesting. As they all try to cover up their actions and continue their normal lives, things start to unravel around them. While it's pretty obvious to see how this story is going to end, it's still full of suspense. The ending did feel rushed to me though and that was a slight let-down in an otherwise enjoyable read.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Update on My Resolutions

It's coming to the end of the 10th month and the end of the year is looming closer (I am so not ready for the holiday season) so I thought I'd do a quick recap of my resolutions that I made for this year and see how I'm doing. And if I need to pick up the slack anywhere these last 2 months. :)

So here are my goals that I made for the year:

I like the idea of having a word theme for the year so I've decided my word is "ORGANIZE". Organize my house (hanging pictures on our walls finally!), organize my books (new bookshelf?? I wish/hope!), organize my blog (at least 2 a week), etc...

1. Use libraries more 
2. Read one "Classic" book per month 
3. Do not buy books unless they're going to be read 
4. Buy books without looking up the reviews first 
5. Reread books
6. Keep a reading journal (blog)
7. Read less, enjoy more

And my progress:

We have been doing fairly good on the Organize front. We do have some pictures up on the walls finally, I did redo my books (I still need to do a shelf tour!), and my blog has been doing fairly decent (except for recently boo). But...we could do better. I still haven't hung up the awesome book pictures my mom got me for Christmas (I need dark brown frames) and we need to take some stuff to the Goodwill (this weekend?!).

1. I still go nearly every weekend, but the last 2-3 haven't been very productive. I tend to get too distracted by shiny things (books, people, Pinterest...) if I'm there by myself lol. And my sis has declared it "booooooring" so she won't go anymore.

2. Yes, I am!! :) See my "Classic a Month" tag to the right for all my reviews so far. I am very pleased with myself for doing that and am definitely going to continue it next year.

3. My to-read shelf has grown quite a bit, oopsy. I actually blame blogging for this. If I wasn't finding all these awesome new blogs to read, I wouldn't see the reviews and think "hey, that sounds cool, I should get it!" So it's all y'alls fault! ;)

4. Not so much, because of #3. But I have picked up several random reads at the library and it's worked out fairly decently. (For example: Definitely Not Mr Darcy)

5. Yep, always. :)

6. I've got 115 posts for 2012 so far compared to last year's 70, so I'm obviously blogging more and pretty happy with that. On the other hand, I haven't had an actual review since the 8th of October and that makes me Sad Panda. So I am going to try to get caught up again (although I'll probably never get fully caught up, because I still have books from April to review gah!) and get ahead on my BSC books. I want to be well prepared for the holiday season and not slack off this year, especially at the end of the year, when I will have a whopping 11 days off work!! Woo! :)

7. I don't think I'm reading less, but I do feel I am enjoying my books still. I am right on track to make my Goodreads goal of 130 books, but I'm not sacrificing content for that speed. I think the classics have a lot to do with that, again I am so happy I started that this year. And I encourage you to do a similar goal if you aren't already and find yourself in an endless loop of vampire-werewolf-young adult-emo-teen-drama-13 books in a series-books like I did!

So, that's me! Did you make goals/resolutions for the year? Have you stuck to them or did you totally blow them off? Are you already planning goals for next year? Are you ready for the holiday season or totally unprepared like me?? ;)

(one of my very favorite bookish pictures: Jennifer Zwick "The Reader")

Thursday, October 25, 2012

TILT: Book Posters Take 5

Things I Love Thursday: I actually counted them this time and even made a handy little tag "Book Posters" so you can go see them all at once! :)

You Can't Buy Happiness, But You Can Buy Books and That's Kind of the Same Thing by We're All Mad Here --ain't that the truth lol.

Mo Willems' Pals Read on ALAStore --wouldn't this be cute in a nursery? Love it.

Miss Piggy & Kermit Read found on the Muppets Wiki --I love that Miss Piggy is dressed up like a librarian and you know she's going to "let her hair down" later with Kermit lol...(bonus: there are tons of other posters on there, including "Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner at Tiffany's" :))

Retro Book Cat by Visuaria --this person has a bunch of other cool book posters too! Would be fun to get 3 or 4 on a wall.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

TILT: Decorating with Books

Today's Things I Love Thursday is all about decorating your home...with books. :) 

Bookshelf Quilt on The Book Collector --gorgeous, simply gorgeous.

Bibliophilism Book Rug on Pamela Paulsrud --I wouldn't even know where to start making this lol.

Book O'Clock on CafePress by BiblioGifts --I need this clock so I can know when it's time to read. :)

Bookshelf Planters on Plant Talk --if I could grow flowers, I would do this. Alas, I cannot grow flowers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top 10 Authors in Goodreads

I decided to do this week's Top 10 Tuesday Topic (say that 10 times fast!) slightly different, just because I couldn't make up my mind on which genre lol. I let Goodreads pick for me, the top 10 authors that I read the most (in my 4 1/2 year history on there). :)

1. Ann M Martin--this should be no surprise, with a whopping 60 books.

2. Luann Rice (15)--I used to read her books allllll the time. They were like crack, along with Anita Shreve and Jodi Picoult. My favorites were the Hubbard's Point plots, which kind of wove people and times and places all together thru 5 or 6 books.

3. Gena Showalter (12)--mmm...Lords of the Underworld is one of my favorite paranormal series.

4. Sara Shepard (10)--Pretty Little Liars...I read the first 7 all in 1 month lol. I obviously liked them, but I'm not sure how I feel about the continuation with book 9. It just seems like she is trying to get as much money as possible.

5. Charlaine Harris (10)--same for Miss Sookie Stackhouse. I read the first 10 in 3 months yikes, but the last one I read was nowhere near as good as the others and I kind of gave up.

6. JK Rowling (9)--she, on the other hand, can write as much as she wants on Harry Potter and that world and I will eat it up.

7. Brian K Vaughan (9)--he is one of my favorite graphic novelists. He's written some/all of The Runaways, Buffy, Y: The Last Man...and those are just the ones that I've read by him. Plus, he has a really creepy picture on his Goodreads account.

8. JR Ward (9)--my other favorite paranormal series, Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yum. :)

9. PC Cast (8)--House of Night has gotten kind of meh, but I still want to finish it. Unfortunately, I think I'll need to do a reread before I get to book 9. And I'm already doing that right now with The Immortals and I just don't have the energy for another massive reread right away.

10.Richelle Mead (8)--I have mixed feelings about Vampire Academy and Bloodlines too, same as HON, but I can't seem to stop reading them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Special: Baby-Sitters Club All Grown Up! Stacey!

It's time for that boy-crazy, uber-sophisticated, perm addict, diabetic, math nerd, BSC treasurer Stacey McGill  to grow up! How did she turn out? Well, let's find out! :)

(click here for closeup view & details)

Stacey officially started going by Anastasia in college, when she moved to New York for good. She felt it went better with her tres-chic new look. She finally got rid of the permed hair and went for a softer, more natural wave that suited her almost all-black wardrobe. Black is slimming you know and in NYC, all the cool kids wear it. And Stacey Anastasia is definitely a cool kid. Featured on TheSartorialist blog on the streets, she was soon discovered by a top modelling agency and her future began to take off. Thanks to her diabetes, her "naturally slim" figure helped her land many top jobs and modelling gigs. Her incredible likeness to actress Blake Lively led to a 6-episode stint on Gossip Girl as Serena's evil twin. Soon, Anastasia was everywhere: runways, billboards, TV, magazines, you name it. Anastasia dropped out of college her sophomore year and never looked back.

On the outside, Anastasia seems totally happy and collected, but on the inside, she's kind of a mess. She's been married twice and engaged no less than 6 times, so she's obviously got some commitment issues. It all stemmed from her father's supposed abandonment (he died from a heart attack when she was 17. Her mom always said those horrible work habits would kill him one day.) She's constantly looking for that replacement father figure. Well, parents of former baby-sitting charges are not the right place to look, as Charlotte Johansen will tell you. And Jenny Prezzioso. Anastasia has had a string of affairs with controlling workaholics and drugged-out bad boys, including several well-known celebrities, but none of them make her happy.

Claudia always told her that choosing boys over her BFF's would catch up with her and it finally has. She has a semi-monthly Sunday brunch with Claud and meets Mary Anne for a fancy dinner (MA insists on going to one of the big celebrity hangouts every time) when she's in town, but that's about it. Her one true girlfriend is, surprisingly, Laine Cummings. Laine knows how hard it is to live and work in NYC, having become a successful businesswoman in a man's world (literally, she's the head buyer for Barney's men's line). She may not approve of some of Anastasia's choices, but as long as she stays away from her man, they're all good. 

Anastasia claims she is happier with mostly male friends, that females are too catty and always jealous of her, but her former BSCers know the truth. She may be a NYC girl, but her heart is still in Stoneybrook, having sleepovers in Kristy's McMansion and gossiping about that gross Alan Gray. Plus, her mom still lives in their newer old house and they miss each other like crazy. They try to get together at least once a month, but with Anastasia's super busy schedule and her mom's new family (she remarried a few years after Stace graduated HS and had a late in life baby boy named Jack-Claire Pike now baby-sits him lol) it doesn't always happen. They talk and text constantly though and her mom is very proud of her career (her personal life, not so much). Anastasia knows she is always welcome back in Stoneybrook though, as long as she leaves the NYC attitude in the city, and she may take them up on that offer one day. When she starts getting wrinkles and the Botox stops working.

Friday, October 12, 2012

And The Winner Is....

Everyone!! :)

Maribel, The Avid Reader, Ellice, & Bookworm Belle...
YOU get a book and YOU get a book and 
YOU get a book and YOU get a book!

Yep, that's right...since I had such a small turnout (which is totally okay) I decided to send all four entries a fun Halloween package! =D So please send me your address at and I will get your packages sent out this weekend! Thank you all for entering and sharing your happy Halloween stories! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

TILT: Halloween Book Goodies

I'm all about Halloween this month, so it's only natural that my Things I Love Thursday centers around the spooky. :) Oh and don't forget about my giveaway!! Ends Friday at noon.

The Witch Next Door Vintage Book sold by SunnyTrove --it'd be so fun to pick up a bunch of vintage Halloween books, don't you think? And this one is a great price!

Handmade Halloween Mini Scrapbook by StudioEmmy --this is so cute! I'd love to get this and fill it with past years' costume pictures!

Legend of Sleepy Hollow Book Safe by UnseenCurios --now this takes some talent. They said they handcut these all! Wow! I can't even cut a square out of a book evenly lol.

Little Witch Vintage Book sold by MoonkittensTimeline --which witch is scarier? :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Giveaway! Spooky Halloween Books! 2 Chances!

Yay! Time for my second giveaway! :) This is going to be a Halloween/spooky books theme and USA only. I am very sorry international peeps, but I want the books to get there fast so they have time to read before Halloween if they choose. I will be doing another giveaway probably in December that will be open to everyone again!

This giveaway is going to have TWO winners, yep TWO! I have 2 awesomely spooky Christopher Pike and 2 RL Stine books to give out, so each person will get the following:

1 Christopher Pike book (my choosing)
1 RL Stine book (my choosing)
2 Owly-Fun Bookmarks (one for you & one to share)
1 Handwritten note from me :)

And of course, we have to have some rules here...this isn't a dystopian fantasy world you know. ;) How to enter and rules:

1. Must be 18 years or older OR have your parents' permission, since you know, I'll need your address.
2. This is open to USA readers only!
3. You must be following my blog to enter...because that's kind of the point of giveaways right?
4. Comment on this post to officially enter...tell me your favorite thing about Halloween.
5. One comment/entry per person please.
6. Contest will run from Noon CST Tuesday, October 9, 2012 thru Noon CST Friday, October 12, 2012. This is a short and sweet giveaway.
7. I'll use Random.Org to pick 2 numbers to coordinate with the amount of entries and winner will be announced on Friday around 3:00 pm. (If I happen to only have 1 entry, congrats, you get both books! lol)
8. I will ship the winners' packages out on Saturday (provided I have the addresses) and provide a tracking number if needed. Packages will go out priority shipping. Once packages are shipped, I am not responsible for replacing lost or stolen.
9. If I do not receive one/both of the winners' addresses within 2 days, I will pick another winner and so on.
10. When the winners receive their books, they must read them thoroughly and enjoy the shivers. :)

Please feel free to email me at or Twitter message me @seejennread if you have any questions!!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Older Books You Shouldn't Forget

Today's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke & The Bookish is a rewind, so I decided to go back and do last week's since I missed it. Here's my Top 10 books you shouldn't forget about, in no particular order or theme (apparently my theme is "children's/YA with a little bit of fiction and a classic thrown in" lol.)

1. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck --this book kicked off my "Summer of Steinbeck" and it remained my favorite throughout. It won me over with its simplicity and description and I hope it never goes out of style.

2. Hunky Dory Dairy by Anne Lindbergh --this would be considered a Middle Grade book probably and is my favorite childhood book. I read it when I'm sick (like last March with strep!) or feeling sad or just need some nostalgia. I would also consider Lindbergh's People of Pineapple Place one not to forget.

3. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen --this may seem like an odd choice, but I really love this book. It is very reminiscent of Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, which I also love, but with a bit more updated feel.

4. The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M Martin --I guess this should have been #1 for me, huh? :) If you've read any of my blog before, you will know why this is on my list. Or if you were a young girl/teenager in the late 80s/early 90s.

5. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks --a great adventure story for both boys and girls. The first one came out in 1980 (great year!) and I loved the first 3 in the series. I actually didn't know there were 2 more after that. I have this first one that I picked up recently and can't wait to revisit it.

6. The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright --oh, I loved this book as a kid! It was so scary!! I still have my copy, with its cheesy purple Scholastic cover. :)

7. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene --a classic children's series, that should be on everyone's list at some point, in my opinion. I didn't realize they were so old, starting in 1930! I used to have a ton of these, along with The Hardy Boys, but I don't have any now.

8. The Doll People by Ann M Martin --these are fairly new books, the first was released in 2000, but I don't think a lot of people know about them. They're a cute Children's/Middle Grade series, I gave the first one to my youngest sister last Christmas and she really liked it.

9. Sweet Valley High/Twins/Kids by Francine Pascal --I know these are basically trash, but they're such good trash! Every teenage girl should be able to get sucked into Jessica & Elizabeth's perfect size 6 world. And it makes me sad that these books are so hard to find at HPB and such! Is somebody hoarding all these books, like me with the BSC?? Lol...I have maybe a dozen or so of mine left, but I'd love to find some more sometime.

10.Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block --oh how I loved these books in high school, in all my angsty, misunderstood glory. They made me feel normal and that's a hard thing for most HS kids.

A quick heads-up: my Halloween Giveaway will be going up at noon (CDT) today and will last thru Friday at noon. Be sure to check it out! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: "Coraline"

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
3 out of 5 stars

It's October, the weather is turning cooler (much cooler for us Texans this weekend!!), Halloween is right around the corner, and ghosts, witches, & goblins are in the stores and on TV. It only feels right to read spooky books this month and I decided to start with Coraline. :) It has been several years (4+) since I've read this, so it was like starting over for me! I tried watching the movie when it came out on DVD and absolutely hated it. I don't know why.

I think I'm going to reread The Graveyard Book next and then maybe some Christopher Pike. Oh and I'm reading Edgar Allen Poe for my classic this month and should have several reviews up for that in the next few weeks. What are your favorite spooky books and movies for this time of year? Do you like the super scary books like Stephen King or are you a big coward like me and stick to the kid books? :) We watched Practical Magic yesterday afternoon, but our favorite Halloween movie is, of course, Hocus Pocus. (If you don't own this one, it looks like you can watch it all on YouTube!) And, since this has turned into a half update post...I'm thinking of doing a quick spooky book giveaway this week! I have a couple of extra Christopher Pike books so I thought it'd be a good time to give them away. It will probably be US only (I'll do a bigger one at Christmas!) so that I can get them sent out super quick. So look for that post tomorrow! Yay!!

Okay, on to the review! Coraline is a creepy story, yes, but it's more of an adventure too. Our titled character is a young girl (maybe age 7-8? It's not real clear) who has just moved into a large split-level house with her parents. She likes to spend her time exploring the large backyard and begging her mother for day-glo green gloves and froggy rainboots. Coraline is forced to stay inside one rainy day and so, at her father's suggestion, decides to explore the inside of the house. She counts all of the doors and discovers one that is locked. When her mother finds the key and opens it for her, she is disappointed to find that it is bricked up and once went to the flat next door, which is currently vacant. Her mother leaves it unlocked and Coraline goes on her way, but she can't stop thinking about that door.

Later on, Coraline again finds herself in front of the door and upon opening it, is (not so) surprised to see that it goes into a long hallway now. Walking thru she sees that she is somehow back in her flat, with her grandmother's old furniture and everything. But it all seems slightly off. Then she sees her mother. Or rather, her Other Mother. This woman sounds, looks, and acts just like Coraline's real mother, but she has flat, black, button eyes and there is something sharp and sinister about her. Same with her Other Father, although maybe not quite so much. Her Other Mother tells her that they have been waiting for her and want to do all the things her real parents don't have time for: play games, eat yummy treats, let Coraline wear whatever she wants, and really just pay attention to her. There is just one catch: Coraline must get new button eyes as well. That part really freaked me out lol.

Coraline declines, politely, and goes back to her own home, where she realizes her real parents seem to be missing. She knows that they are somehow trapped in the other land and that she must work up the courage to go back over there and save them. Luckily, she is not completely alone...she has a smart, sassy, talking black cat to help her and show her the Other Mother's true nature.

She wants something to love, I think. Something that isn't her. She might want something to eat as well. It's hard to tell with creatures like that.

Coraline's adventure to save her parents is funny in parts and terrifying in others. She comes to realize that she doesn't want "anything and everything" like her Other Mother is offering. No one really wants that. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn't mean anything? What then? She is a smart little girl, brave, resourceful and a real delight to read about. This is a quick read with illustrations scattered throughout that are guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies. And if you're a weenie, like me, you will read this in the middle of the afternoon on the couch with lots of noise going on lol. But if you are brave, like Coraline, tuck yourself in under the covers, late at night, with just one small light and prepare for delicious shivers up your spine.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: "Baby-Sitters' Island Adventure: The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #4"

Baby-Sitters' Island Adventure: The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #4 by Ann M Martin
3 out of 5 stars

My copy got chewed on a bit by....something. :/ Ick. I'm just going to say it was my sister's cat who liked to chew on Barbie's hands and feet when she was little, because otherwise...ew. Anyway, time for another Super Special in BSCLand! And you know what that means: some crazy, convoluted plot that would never, ever happen in real life. :) Apparently Dawn and Claudia have been taking sailing lessons at the local rec center. Because Stoneybrook is on water now. It's like the Simpsons' just grows whatever it needs to make the plot make sense at that specific time lol.

They decide to have a race to Greenpoint Island and back, with instructors. Isn't it odd how Claudia is always so athletic in the Super Specials, but it's never mentioned in the regular books? She can ski, sail, ice skate, rock climb, snorkel, run marathons, bicycle the Tour de France...okay, maybe not quite, but seriously? She's good at something else besides art and stuffing her face with junk food and her parents never seem to notice it. I guarantee Super Genius Janine can't do that stuff. Sucks for Claudia. Ah well. Dawn and Claud are pretty much neck and neck in the race, until Claudia's crazy outfit screws her up. (Maybe that's why her parents don't notice the good stuff. They just think: "Oh, she pulled a Claudia again.") Here's What Claudia Wore to go sailing: She'd put on a tank top and baggy drawstring pants. Over the top, she was wearing a button-down shirt of her father's. The sleeves were rolled up, but none of the buttons were buttoned. She was also wearing big earrings that she had made herself. Claudia is quite artistic. So the thing is, she looked good but, as it turned out, she was not dressed for sailing. I did two different outfits, just cause, and I added a sailor hat, because you know Claudia would have been rocking that. The outfit coordinator really missed the boat on that one. (Hah! Get it? Boat? I crack myself up.)

(click here for details)

When Claudia loses by a smidge, she immediately challenges Dawn to a rematch. Kind of channeling her some competitive Kristy there. They don't have to sail with instructors anymore, but they do need someone else along. So Dawn decides to invite her brother Jeff, who just happens to be visiting from Sunny Cali for the weekend. And Claudia agrees to take Jessi's sister, Becca, because...well, I don't know why. But this leads me to Jessi's subplot.

Jessi's parents are going out of town for the long weekend (3 days) and, get this, they are letting Jessi watch Becca and Squirt (the baby brother Super Genius in the making) by HERSELF. FOR THREE DAYS. OVERNIGHT. Now, you may have forgotten how old Jessi is since the last book, so let me remind you: she is ELEVEN YEARS OLD. Not twenty-eleven, not eleven plus four years, but just eleven. Are you freaking kidding me??!! Everyone seems to think this is perfectly normal, there is no mention of the Pike family checking up on her or anything. What the heck are they thinking? I am just flabbergasted.

Okay, I'm done ranting. Back to the story. Becca brags to all her friends that she gets to go on a trip with those super cool girls in the BSC and Haley Braddock is understandably upset, so Claud tells her she can come too. To make things fair, Dawn picks another person for her boat: Jamie Newton. Aaaannnnd...back to the ranting. Jamie is 4 years old! What is wrong with these people??!! Ugh ugh ugh. They end up switching people around, so Dawn has Jeff & Haley and Claudia has Jamie & Becca, and decide to just race to the island, then have a picnic and let the kids play and then come back.

In the week leading up to the race, Dawn is taking this totes serious: working out like she's going to a swim party later (ignore the oddly inappropriate laughtrack on that vid!), loading up on carbs, and focusing solely on the race. Unfortunately, she becomes so focused that she forgets to give Mary Anne a message from Logan, which leads to a huge fight between the two lovebirds. MA is so pissed at Dawn she tells her she never wants to see her again. Man, MA can get vicious when she's angry. And I really think she's going to end up regretting that later. ;)

Alright, let's move this along at a quicker pace, shall we? Day of the race, kids ready, snacks ready, boats ready. No one bothered to check the weather, but hey, it's only 3 miles to the island and this is the BSC. They're totally capable of handling anything and everything. The race gets started, it's neck and neck, kids are having fun, an hour goes by. I know absolutely nothing about sailing, but 3 miles in an hour seems totally feasible to me, shouldn't they have been at the island already or at least in sight of it? Anyone want to correct me? Racing, racing, racing and all of a sudden there's a huge storm a brewing. The wind picks up, waves get choppy, and it's pouring now. The kids are a little freaked, but Dawn & Claud are calm and taking care of bidness. Jeff is a big help, tying stuff down under the tarps and such.

Then *crash* huge wave over Dawn, Jeff, and Haley's boat, water is leaking in, and they're going down fast. Luckily, they all have life vests on (the only good thing those parents did for this trip) and everyone is okay. But they have to bail, so into the ocean they go and all 3 make it over to Claudia's boat. Said boat is not big enough to take on 3 more people (how small are these boats??) so they have to hang on the side Titanic style. Everybody is a little freaked out, understandably, but they keep it under control and finally see land ahead. They drag themselves up onto the island, do a little exploring, and Claud realizes that it is not the one they were headed for. They're stranded. Do you think this story came about from one too many Gilligan's Island reruns? Just a thought. If you are a big fan of the TV show LOST, I would like to send you to Ciara Xyerra's review on Goodreads at this time. It is highly amusing and I have never seen an episode of LOST.

It seems like not a lot happens after this, so let's fast forward again: they find a cave, build a fire, Haley throws a hissy cow when the boat gets washed away, Jamie gets sick, like really sick, Claud invents a water holder and finds a piece of glass to signal a plane with, Dawn takes care of Jamie but feels useless, Jeff is a huge help for a 9 yr old, Becca just kind of goes along with everything. They're stuck there for 2 days, it's really scary, they don't know if they'll get rescued, Jeff cooks some fish.

Back on the mainland: Mary Anne feels like the worst sister ever and cries a lot; Logan calls to comfort her but is still angry with her; Stacey is stuck in NYC with her dad, he won't let her leave because there's nothing she can do, she gets mad & writes an angry, "divorced kid" letter when he finally lets her go; Kristy tries to cancel the Krushers game with Bart's team and he calls her out on being over-dramatic, but then watches the news and realizes it's serious and takes it all back; Mallory and family take a big boat out every day to search, because apparently they're expert sailors now too, they find wreckage from Dawn's boat and think the worst; Jessi has to call Aunt Cecilia, who is evil and mean and stubborn and a total dictator (according to Jessi), she comes rushing into town and freaks when she finds out Jessi is home alone (finally!!), takes over everything in the house, blames Jessi for letting Becca go sailing even though it was her parents, and gives us some foreshadowing that Aunt Dictator (they have a real nickname for her later on, but I can't remember it) is here to stay.

The shipwrecked kids finally get rescued, tears and hugging abound, there's a news conference with the mayor, Jamie is cured at the hospital and ready for his next adventure with those wacky baby-sitters, Mary Anne & Dawn make up, Mary Anne & Logan make up, Stacey & her dad make up, Jessi & Aunt Cecilia do NOT make up but have a mutual understanding of their hatred, there's a bunch of sappy letters at the end, and that's it for this Super Special. Next up is Stacey All Grown Up! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

TILT: Banned Book Week Edition

Today's Things I Love Thursday is brought to you by the letter B for Banned Books...take a stand against censorship. Read the books YOU want to read, who cares what others think? Even 50 Shades of Gray lol...if it gets you reading, then that's great!

Last year, I listed my 4 favorite books on the Banned Book list. This year, I want to list a few that I am looking forward to reading or have already read this year.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee --my favorite classic that I have read this year was banned for "offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group". I think people missed the point of this book. It's not "fer racism", it's "agin it".

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky --with the movie coming out, I'm sure this will be on the banned list again next year. In 2009, it was banned for "anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit". I can't wait to get this one. :)

3. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck --challenged constantly, but most recently in 2007 for being "a worthless, profanity-riddled book".

4. Lady Chatterly's Lover by DH Lawrence --banned completely in at least 7 countries, wow. That makes me want to read it even more lol. On my to-read shelf.

5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles --I didn't realize I had so many of these already on my shelves :) This one was challenged for being a "filthy, trashy sex novel".

Other books on my list that have been banned according to Goodreads: The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, James & The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

And now, how about some Banned Book love...Pinterest-style. :)

Freadom Poster found on (not sure if that is correct)

I Read Banned Books Embroidery Pattern on UrbanThreads --I would love to have this on a book bag! So cool, I may need to buy it.

A Truly Great Library... found on Stout/Kramer --I agree. I can't tell you how many times I've been offended by those trashy romance books. Hah, I kid, I love those trashy romance books.

I Read Banned Books Sticker by BookFiend --say it loud, say it proud, say it on your vehicle. :)

I just love this pic so much, I'm going to use it every year. :) 
Courtesy of the Lisa Simpson Book Club Tumblr

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: "The Future of Us"

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
3 out of 5 stars

I had this crazy long dream this morning that I traveled back in time to high school but still had all my knowledge of the future/present. It was really weird, I was able to change all kinds of things. Maybe I was thinking of The Summerhouse before I fell asleep or something, I don't know. But anyway, I thought it would be a good time to review this book, since it's kind of connected. Plus, it's next on my (long, long) list. :)

It's 1996 and Emma & Josh are next-door neighbors, former best friends. Josh gives Emma a free AOL CD he got in the mail for 100 hours of free Internet and Emma logs on to her Facebook page. Except Emma doesn't have a Facebook page, Facebook hasn't even been invented yet, and the Emma on her page is 15 years older and deeply unhappy. Sounds like an interesting premise right? I was really looking forward to this book when I first heard about it. I mean, how many of us are totally addicted to our Facebook now? I know I am. I've already checked it like 4 times just writing this much of this review lol.

This book started out really good. Lots of great flashbacks to 1996. I'm the same age as Emma & Josh now, so I was 16 also in 96. Ugh, that was a long time ago. (FB check=5) It was great to read about all those things from then like Walkman's, VCR's, Dave Matthews Band, Wayne's World. And remembering aaalllll the AOL CD's we used to get in the mail (we used to try to think of fun crafts to use them for) and the god-awful long time it took to actually dial-up to the Internet. Lol...I think if you were around in the 90s, you will enjoy this book for the most part. But younger teens and kids in the future I think just won't get it. If you remember when Pluto was a planet...

I flinch. What the hell happens to Pluto?

Okay, aside from the nostalgia factor, which really saves this book, we have the story of Emma & Josh. Emma was very hard to like. She was pretty shallow, only concerned with what great husband her future self had. When she finds out he's not all that great, she decides to change things. And keeps changing things, a growing chain of events that could potentially screw up her future forever. Josh, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with his future and doesn't see any reason to change things. (FB check=6) They're both only interested in who they end up with and it comes across as very narcissistic. I mean, if you were able to log onto your FB 15 years ago, wouldn't you be checking every single person you've ever come in contact with?? I do that now, sometimes! Not to mention: sports teams, politics, bands, movies, everything in your "Likes" page, etc...and just to have fun, let's take my music & movie/tv likes and see how they compared to 1996.

Let's see...Toy Story, Dazed & Confused, Young Frankenstein, Camp Nowhere, Buffy, Foster's Home, Roseanne, & MXC...not bad. Music: Joan Jett, Mozart, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, GNR...16 year old me would have approved I think. :)