Monday, June 28, 2010

Review: Love's First Light by Jamie Carie

One of the books I rotated into my reading was a book I won about a year ago from Allison's Attic of Books, called Love's First Light by Jamie Carie.  I hadn't even really heard much about the book, so I had few expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the nice read that it turned out to be!  Thank you to Allison for providing me with this book.

Synopsis:  Set in the time of the French Revolution, Christophe St. Laurent has just lost his entire aristocratic family to the revolutionary Robespierre.  Years after their annihilation, Robespierre still vows to have the head of any remaining aristocrats or their children, as he feels they have taken from the poor for much too long.  This forced Christophe into hiding, avoiding any possibility of running into Robespierre or his revolutionary followers.  One night as Christophe is out alone, he sees a beautiful young woman at a local cemetery, and after paying attention, notices her returning their night after night.  One day, the two lock eyes and feel a spark of interest.  The young woman was the widow Scarlett, pregnant and widowed by none other than Robespierre's younger brother.  The two fall in love, but the past lives and interests of them both could shatter their hope for a future together.

Review:  From the beginning, I really liked the easy manner in which Carie pulls the story together.  I found her sentence construction and story telling to be straight forward, yet engaging.  Honestly, it was an easy read that had me caring about the characters in such a way that I had to keep reading to know what was going to happen next. 

Although I know some of the history of the French Revolution, it was interesting to have a story that approached it, sympathetically, from the aristocrat's side.  This direction in story telling made me feel much more sympathy for those who lost their lives as children, who had nothing more than their family lineage to blame for their deaths.  I thought that Christophe's story, and the painful loss of his family made it all the more important for us as readers to see him happy again.  Having him fall in love with the equally saddened Scarlett seemed perfect, although the gap in their backgrounds definitely complicated the story and kept it moving.

Altogether, I found the novel to be a fun, engaging read.  Some of the "instant" falling in love sequences, when characters simply looked at someone and fell in love had skeptical me scoffing a little, but it was sweet.  I can't say that I know how that whole eyes locking from across the way and knowing you're in love thing would actually work, or if that exists, but it did seem to pull characters together that you genuinely cared about and wanted to see happy.  Who am I to drag my jaded views of love into the formula, right?  In the end, I would say it was a good, fast read, and an engaging story that I can recommend to anyone who enjoys a little historical fiction, and a clean, sweet romantic story.

*FTC Disclosure:  This book was won from another book blogger.  No monies were exchanged or earned for this review.

This book also counts as my 3rd and final book for the "Books I've Won Challenge."  That means I can officially say I've completed two book challenges for 2010!  I am pretty modest in the number of challenges and books I will commit to when I enter a challenge, so I can't say this is amazing, but nice to complete another challenge.  Thanks to Allison again for providing me with this copy of the novel to read!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Catch Up

Yet another week has come and gone, and I have been absent from my own blog for several days.  My reading slowed down, monumentally, when I started teaching my online class last week.  Thanks to the downturn in the economy, we were only given one class each, but they are crazy full!  I spent much of my week making phone calls to my students, and helping them figure out how to submit their work.  Week one is down though, so I should be getting back into a better routine now.

One cool thing that I had the chance to do this week was to be a guest post on Maria Grazia's blog, Fly High!.  She and I are both literature teachers, although she is in glorious Rome, Italy.  Maria Grazia has a love of all things Austen, and a delightful obsession with Richard Armitage (after seeing "North and South," who doesn't).  Stop on by to see the guest post, and to look around Fly High!

Finally, to end my week my BFF Doc flew in to spend her week off with us here.  Doc has been her two other times, and is like a sister to me, so it was fun to have her come over.  Yesterday we got up and drove down to Pearl Harbor (and miraculously got in, after trying several times without success), went to the Swap Meet at the Aloha Stadium (bought way too many purses), stopped at the Dole Plantation for Dole Whip (a delightful, pineapple bowl of frozen goodness), grabbed dinner in Haleiwa (famous North Shore), and then watched the sun set over Sunset Beach.  It was a really nice day, and although my feet are still sore and my face got a little too much sun, we had a great time.

As for reading, I'm still reading Catching Fire, and I'm not sure why it's taking me so long.  I'm also reading, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the 6th in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and a few other random reads I've been picking away at. 

What have you been reading, or not reading because you're out having summer fun?  When do you fit in your reading when you're out and about enjoying the summer sun?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Harry Potter Quandaries: A Non-Review of Harry Potter 1 & 2

As mentioned previously, I am going to be teaching Popular Young Adult Fiction this fall, so I'm rereading the Harry Potter books in preparation for teaching book seven.  Here's my issue.  My students who have read and loved Harry Potter, KNOW IT in and out, and will try to stump me with questions I can't answer.  Trust me.  That will be easy to do in my case.  I just don't remember the itty bitty details like they do! 

I have really loved rereading the books so far, and have been sucked back in by the magic that is Harry Potter all over again.  It has been "magical," for no better way of putting it. I'm also, finally getting to the first two in the Harry Potter Challenge that ends next month!  Rather than do actual reviews, I wanted to pose questions that I've had about the stories, and see if anyone can help me out.   Before I do that, let me just give a really quick run down of what is in the first two books:   

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry is introduced to the magical world, his own past, and his rivalry with Voldermort.  He faces off with the weakened, yet still powerful Dark Lord as they battle for the Sorcerer's Stone that had been guarded there at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he returns to Hogwarts to continue his studies, only to be surrounded by the mysterious turning to stone of fellow classmates and residents of the school.  Harry and his friends learn about the opening of a curious chamber, that a giant basilisk serving the Dark Lord resides, and where Harry would eventually go to save a dear friend.

I don't need to go on and on about how amazing and utterly engaging these novels are.  Really, I don't.  This is one case where hype doesn't seem to ruin the reading (at least it didn't for me).  However, I do want to talk about the things that confuse me, and have me asking questions.  I thought I'd post my questions here, and see if anyone has answers or theories for me!
  • In Book 1, Harry and his friends seem to know more about the Sorcerer's Stone and its location than many of the other faculty.  Is that just what we're seeing from our side of the story, or do you think more people know about it?  In other words, are the faculty privy to information about the stone?
  • How can anyone "rig" the Quidditch games by putting the spell on Harry's broom, and the crazy bludger?  If they're so smart, couldn't they just put a charm over everything in the game to prevent that sort of interference and cheating?
  • In Book 2, I don't understand how no one ever seems to know that Harry and his friends are sneaking off to learn more about the secrets at Hogwarts.  With all that magic, wouldn't someone catch them up and about the castle?  This sounds like a silly question, but I always wonder how they get away with exploring the school so much.
  • Correct me, or at least set me straight.  Dobby is part of a powerful, old magical community of elves.  Their magic is powerful, but can be kept by people as servants.  Are wizards just the natural, top of the food chain, so to say, when it comes to magic?
  • How in the world does Tom Riddle/The Dark Lord not know about the phoenix and his magical properties?  For being the most powerful wizard, I'm always curious how he forgets so much?  Was it because he was in the body of Tom Riddle for this particular scene, and as such, doesn't have all of his knowledge?
These might seem like silly questions, or like I'm finding fault with the stories, but I want to assure you, I'm not.  I have kind of wondered these things about the story and the magical wizards, but haven't ever had a place or time for bringing them up.  Well, now that I'm looking at the stories again, I wanted to ask these questions and see if anyone has a theory or answers that I've missed? 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review: Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

One night I clicked on  my Kindle, which admittedly I had not done in about a month (I know, gasp), and forgot that I had started Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris some time during the school year.  For whatever reason, that probably amounted to two gazillion papers I needed to grade, I stopped reading it at around chapter two.  Well, I picked it up about a week ago to see if I could remember the story, and got sucked right in.  In fact, in no time flat I'd picked the storyline back up again, and am right back into Sookie's crazy life.

Synopsis:  This is the fifth in the Sookie Stackhouse installment.  In book four, Sookie had helped Eric (head vampire of the area) regain his memory and fight off a bunch of witches.  In this installment, Eric has regained his memory and gone back to Fangtasia, and left Sookie to fend for herself against the Hot Spot weres.  Sookie's previous friend Alcide has popped back up, still interested in Sookie, but more so for her ability to help him look into the minds of his father's enemies as he fights to take over as the leader of the "pack" there in Hot Spot.  Sookie, who has grown more than a little tired of being pushed around by people, and left vulnerable to all sort of attacks, didn't care for Alcide's tactics.  In the meantime, people in Bon Temps were getting shot, but no one quite knew who did it.  As always, Sookie needed help in this novel to protect herself, but Eric will only tell her IF she tells him what happened between them...something Sookie would rather not spill the beans on.  Besides, would the secret leave Eric or Sookie more vulnerable?

Review:  Although I was pretty attached to the Bill & Sookie storyline early on, which had me ticked off when the stories progressed into different avenues and creatures, I can now see how the arc of the story might be coming together.  In fact, I've begun to feel like I'm watching an episode of an exciting new show with each book, and each book gets me closer to the finale.  I hope that's the case, and that I like the finale!

The writing in book five is catchy, and keeps you moving right along.  Some of the day to day details of cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, and personal hygiene can throw me off from the action, as they pop up and slow the story down, but I've come to expect these scenes and see them as some sort of reminder that Sookie really is a human being living her life.  I'm not a huge fan of werewolves (nope, not even in that sparkly vampire series), so it didn't change much here.   This installment really does center on Alcide and his clan, and while we do see Eric, Bill, and a few other well-known characters, it really is pretty much about the changes in clan dynamics going on for Alcide and his family. 

I have to say that I do really enjoy reading the Sookie Stackhouse books.  There is one part of me that gets frustrated by the "hot" female that every male notices and wants to protect (even though she plays off the victim, "freak who can read minds" card), but really I'm one tough broad act.  It seems like such a cliche, and a bad one at that.  I can't say that Sookie plays it off any better than any other lead female pitted against crazy males, but I do like her sass.  Yes, the vixen damsel in distress annoys me, but I don't know how I would fix it if I were Charlaine Harris.  In the end, Sookie really does need protection from some of these crazy characters, and in some sick way, you hope it's one of the hottie males you like at the moment.  Sad, but true.  Overall, I enjoyed this book, and can see that it might be a pretty pivotal story in moving us along to other books down the road.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based off of a purchased e-book version of the novel.  No monies nor review copies were issued.

Because I read this on my lovely Kindle, it actually counts as my 2nd in the E-Book Reader Challenge.  I can hardly believe I haven't read more on my Kindle, but know I'll be remedying that this summer!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The W's of Reading: The Great RE-read. When Do You Read it Again?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm going to be teaching a Popular Young Adult Fiction class this fall, which I'm super "psyched" about!  It's a lot of work pulling a brand new curriculum together, but it will be such a fun class to teach that I can't wait.  As I've been preparing, I'm re-reading the AMAZING Harry Potter novels, and just can't tear myself away.  I have other things I need to be reading, TBR books I packed with me, other books I'll be teaching this fall, and so forth, but I just can't pull myself away.  Who knew that a RE-read could be so delightful?

I have to admit that I really enjoy re-reading novels, which is why I have a collection of books that I own.  If I really love them, I will absolutely return to them again, even if it's a fast skim read.  (You know, the one where you skim the descriptions and head to your favorite scenes?)  There are, on the other hand, books I just don't want to read again, or know I'll never make time for again.  In thinking about why this is, here are some of the reasons or criteria I use in reading a book...again:
  • I will sometimes immediately skim back over the book one last time, because I just can't part with it.
  • Some books need to "settle" before I read them again.  I have a lot of books that I like to put away for a year, two, ten, and then pull them back out to enjoy them again.  They are like movies you've seen one too many times that begin to lose their impact. If I set them aside, they gain back some of their pizazz!  
  • I have to teach it.  Honestly, I read books differently when I know I'll be teaching them.  I annotate them differently, I question them differently, and I see things differently than the first time I read them.  Generally, I enjoy that extra reading so much more than I would have expected.
  • In some cases, I have a favorite scene I want to read again.  For instance, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I love the scene where Voldermort and Harry's wands lock and he sees those Voldermort killed.  I have probably read that scene ten or twelve times (and I probably cried 90% of those times).  I also feel that way about the "flooded road" crossing scene in Tess of the D'Urbervilles when Angel carries the four girls over the water.  Sigh.  They both are just SO good.
  • It's a tradition!  I used to read the Little House of the Prairie novels every year, starting during the summer, ending by Christmas.  For eleven years, I did that, and it was because I knew every scene, they were comforting to me, and felt like family.  Strange?  Nah.  There are just some books that fit a season, or a tradition that I can't get away from and want to get into more by reading the book again.
  • I love it and am totally obsessed.  What else is there to say.  There are some books that I love and am probably a bit obsessive about, and could read a million times and not care.  You Pride and Prejudice?  Some books just make you feel better.
Here I am falling in love with the Harry Potter books all over again, but what about you?  What gets you to read a book again?  Do you like to read a book more than one time?  What books could you read over and over again?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: This Family of Mine by Victoria Gotti

Okay.  I have to own up to a bit of a fascination for me, called the mafia.  Yes, this school teacher, lover of all things Jane Austen, and genius of old-school musicals has a fascination for organized crime.  Not just any organized crime.  I'm talking the Gambinos, the Gottis, the Sopranos (ok, so I do know the Sopranos are a fictional family, but thank you A&E for showing those episodes).  Let me back this up with a little explanation. 

When I first started graduate school about seven years ago, it was in a scholarship program in northern Idaho that was literally nine hours from my home, which made it impossible for me to go home over weekends or holidays.  One LONG Fourth of July weekend, I hit the local video store, since I would be trapped in a school-provided dorm room for much of that time, and decided to finally check out the famous trio of films known as The Godfather I, II, & III.  I was frightened, and more than a little appalled, but also strangely intrigued by my seven hours of mafia movie mania.  I finally understood all the cultural references!  Slightly inappropriate for the extremely conservative, calm family I was raised in, but oh so fascinating.

Several years later, I found the ever delightful Growing Up Gotti, which was a reality show about Victoria Gotti and her three teen sons.  Victoria is the daughter of the famous New York mob boss, John Gotti, who was the famous boss of the Gambino family.  His daughter and three sons were so engaging to watch, and all I could do was think about what they knew, thought, or felt about organized crime.  Honestly though, I loved their sense of family, their snarky bantering, and the large Italian dinners; I really just wanted to stop by, sit down, and have a Diet Coke and a chat.  Now you understand why I shrieked with delight when I found out Victoria Gotti had an autobiography.

Synopsis:  In this complex autobiography, Victoria Gotti opens her own life story with that of her father and mother and the troubled homes they came from.   Placed in a unique situation, as the daughter to the infamous, late John Gotti, and sister to brother John A. "Junior" Gotti, who also served time in prison, Victoria finally took to paper to defend her family.  Showing the troubled beginnings of both her parents, as well as her own impoverished youth, Victoria tells a story of a father who was part of a group of men who defended their community and took care of things themselves, rather than ever involving the authorities.   On the one hand, her father was this man who was generous, courageous, and enduring in his fight for the culture he was raised in, while on the other he had a nasty temper, was disengaged, and slightly narcissistic.   Victoria then tells how she met, married, and had her own family, built on a lie that was her own husband's involvement in organized crime, and her father's dislike for her now ex-husband.  Her own family of three sons was hard won, with a lengthy list of serious health conditions that should have left her without any children of her own.  Not only did Victoria have her three children, but also endured the hardship of family members in prison, the constant threat of losing her home, and her own career to consider under the harsh scrutiny of her given name.  Through all of these unique circumstances, Victoria's story shows itself as one of a major tell all, ready to be frank with a world that thought they knew the whole story already.

Review:  Victoria Gotti's story of her family growing up, and later marriage and family of her own, had me enthralled from the opening chapters of the book.  Not only could I not put it down until I had read every last page, but I also found myself understanding elements of her upbringing that I thought I would never be able to wrap my head around.  John Gotti is not painted to be some Mike Brady who walked in the door every night, ready to teach and moralize to his children.  He definitely was a strong father figure in their lives, but one that was tough, wouldn't take excuses, and was judge and jury in many cases that no one was privy to.  I got the sense that he protected his family and their way of life, but was the definite head over them all.  Victoria's own life story was gut-wrenching and had me cheering her on.  Through all of her problems, health and otherwise, her one desire was to be a mother.  She got her wish, but watched as her father was sent off to prison and later died of throat cancer, her younger brother "Junior" was sent to prison, and her own husband was shockingly sent to prison for his own criminal activity, but not before her marriage became volatile and she had proceeded to divorce the man her father had warned her about.

I really loved reading Victoria's story.  There is something so strangely wrong, yet empathetic about the mafia, with their family ideals and fight against the stereotypes of Italian-Americans leveled at them for generations.  As wrong as organized crime is, with its selfish control of monies earned in dishonest endeavors, and judge and jury for behaviors deemed unacceptable, there is also something fiercely protective about the mafia that tries to protect its own at whatever cost.  I think that Victoria is an amazing woman, with a definite strength to carry herself out of her family's infamous past, to raise three sons on her own, and to continue to struggle to provide for the shambles of a life her ex-husband left her in.  I can't say that we know to what extent Victoria really knew about her family's criminal activity, but it is obvious that she was a part of the culture enough to know that her father would protect her, and that her family was her most important asset.

Told like all autobiographies, this life story is one I think was well-written and that gives a personal inside look at an infamous family.  Personally, and irregardless of my own fascination with the mafia, I would recommend this autobiography as one that will tell a story of a culture and family that won't soon be forgotten.

*FTC Disclosure:  Review based off of a library copy of the book.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

What can you say about a book that has been raved about by just about every person you know?  First off, I have to say that it's generally a bad thing when everyone else has said how good something is, because it has something to live up to.  Another bad thing about popular books is when you know they are leading into a series that hasn't finished yet.  What do you do?  Do you wait until they're all over so you can read them all at once, or do you hurry and join in so that you get the fun anticipation of waiting for each new release (you know, like the whole Harry Potter fix we all ached for)?  Well, I decided a long time ago that I wanted to read these books, but had my worries.  Thankfully, Dar over at Peeking Between the Pages let me know that she hadn't read the series yet either and would read The Hunger Games with me.  That pretty much did it for me, and the two of us set off to tackle this popular book together, as newbies to the game!

Here's a quick summary of the book, if you're one of the last to have read me:  "Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place."  (Amazon)

Having admitted to my fears about reading such a popular book, I will also admit that I thought the book got off to a slow start.  I realized that the author had to set up the premise of the book, and the society that Katniss lived in, but I felt it struggled to get things moving.  Of course, once the actual Hunger Games began, I was pretty eager to keep reading.  The survival element of the game was hard to take, as I'm not a survivalist, nor camper of any form; therefore, I pretty much felt like a loser, and a character in the games that would have died during the first ten minutes.  Katniss's prowess in the forest, and her ability to care for herself were impressive, to put it lightly; she always seemed to know exactly what would keep her alive, and could anticipate what outside viewers of the game wanted to see (because there have to be viewers in a game, even when it is as sick as this game).

I liked the new twist to this dystopian novel, even though it felt familiar, and can understand its appeal.  I'm a little hesitant to say that I wasn't as over the moon as everyone else seems to have been, but do think it was a great read.  To be honest, I can see that the next installment Catching Fire might be a bit more exciting to me, as I can't really see where things are going, and can't wait to find out what is going to happen for Katniss.  I'm glad that I've read The Hunger Games, and am now on to the second book, which will be followed by the third installment, Mockingjay, in August.  I suppose that now was the perfect time to jump on board.

In hindsight, I feel a bit of remorse that I didn't read this book right out of the gates, before everyone else got to it and hyped it up for me.  I happened to read The Forest of Hands and Teeth last year before I'd heard anything about it.  Because I had no idea what the book was about, or even what anyone thought of it, I walked into it and felt like I'd been hit by a truck once I figured out the scary twist.  Would I feel that way if others had fed into it before I got to it?  I don't know.  I suppose that is always the fear of reading any book that others "really" like.   You might discover the joy for yourself, and you might find the experience has been softened a little. 

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based off of my own purchased copy of the novel.

The Hunger Games  counts as my 7th in the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge.  For more information about the novel, see:  The Hunger Games.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase

What a great week here in Hawaii.  After not feeling well, and just being run down from the moment I got here, it is nice to finally be looking forward to getting out in the beautiful sun for awhile!  In two weeks, my best friend "Doc" will be flying in for a week-long break from med school. Then, the night she flies out, my other good friend Kris will fly in for a week-long visit.  While I'm sure I have some appeal for my friends, I feel much more confident that this beautiful environment is the real "final straw" on their decision to come visit.  (No, I'm not offended at all.  At least I get them here to visit!)

Reading has been really good for me this year.  As you might recall from years previous, I don't always do so great in the summer.  However, since really trying to reach my daily 10,000 step quota (which it took me over a week to finally accomplish here), I've been able to combine reading and walking.  I know.  It sounds crazy, but I really love grabbing a book, and taking off for a walk. 

On that note, of walking and reading, during the 48 hour marathon I finished up Strange Neighbors, which I read over the course of several long walks.  It was a fun read, and allowed my imagination to run a bit wild!

Synopsis:  Merry McKenzie was determined to live her own life, single and in the big city of Boston, as a nurse.  However, upon moving into her building, she not only meets a hunky pro baseball player that she learns has some paranormal tendencies, but so do most of her neighbors!  Strange things happen, such as shape shifting, bewitching, and vampire action.  Merry loves her freedom, but develops strong feelings for her ball player neighbor.  How will she manage losing her freedom, and all the weird behavior she sees in not only the people who live in her building, but from her own boyfriend?

Review:  To put it simply, I found this book to be cute and engaging.  The relationship between Merry and her ball player Jason, picks up so quickly that you really do start flipping through pages to see where they are headed.  Also, the number of quirky neighbors and things we learn about their lives and, in some cases, their connection to Merry, give the story a lot of energy.  I found the story to be cute, fast moving, and easy to connect to.

The only drawback I found was in the quick connection between Merry and Jason, which left over half of the book for some new angle to pop up to keep the tension going.  I thought the author handled this challenge well, by creating other tensions between the couple, because of all the paranormal activity that popped up to weird out our main character.  In some ways, I think the sexual connection between the two characters was also supposed to keep you reading, but until things were up in the air between them towards the end of the novel, I felt like "he caught her, now what."  Don't get me wrong.  The book is a really cute escape read, and if you like a mixture of paranormal creatures that live in the same world, then this book is perfect for mixing all of those elements.

*FTC Disclosure:  This book was provided by Sourcebooks for review only.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing me with an opportunity to review another fun book!  Strange Neighbors came out on June 1st.  Check out Strange Neighbors for more information on purchasing the book for yourself.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bloggiesta: Finish Line

I'm a little early posting my wrap up, but I can't take another minute of fixing things!  Yes, I'm ready to get offline and go for a walk tonight, and then do some reading.  I do have to say thank you though to Natasha, and all the bloggers out there for your association.  I really do look to you all as good friends, who I get inspiration from, and book stacks that rival my library's!  Thank you for your encouragement and friendly comments and greetings.  During the school year, I feel sad that I fall out of the loop, so it's nice to catch up with everyone this time of year and to feel a part of this great community.

Okay.  I'd like to first acknowledge a couple of mini-challenges I completed.
  1. Over at 2010 Blog Improvement Project, I went through and drafted up my original to-do list.  As I got started, I used some of the items on some of the checklists to consider what posts received the most comments or traffic, and why.  Listen, I realized that my overall goal is NOT traffic driven.  My overall goal is to read and then write honest and engaging reviews, as well as to engage in conversations that are pertinent to readers and/or the blogging community.  It seems to me, that books that were packed with issues, received the most comments.  Also, books that I wrote passionate reviews about.  What did that tell me?  I need to make sure that I allow my voice to come through in what I write.  It's not going to every day, but that's what I learned from my evaluation. 
  2. I also worked on my Review Policy, and used Girls Gone Reading as a guideline to reconsider what I include.  I tried to keep my review policy succinct.  I'm not sure how many publishers are currently going to each blog to look at this review policy?  I get SO many emails now-a-days, with books up for review, and I doubt they actually have even looked at it.  So, here is what I did.  Using the suggestions, I bullet-pointed many of the main points that a publisher might seek out.  Unlike these wordy posts I'm putting up over the past couple of days (ha, ha), I decided to be succinct in what I would do, accept, and like.  I hope it works!
All right!  Time for this wordy girl to get to my statistics, and to show you my final list!

Time Spent:  17 Hours...Can you believe that?
Mini-Challenges:  2

  • Last year I spent 10 hours. I think that I'd like to at least match that or work up to 12 hours?
  • I'd like to catch up on my Google Reader. Although I have lots to do here, I often feel like this time of year is my only real time to reach out and visit and comment on other bloggers' sites. I'd really like to see what's going on with all of you, my blogging friends! Sounds silly, but so necessary to the health of my own blog.
  • Write four book reviews.
  • Finish working on the new pages I've created.
  • Write up a better Review Policy.
  • Fix the "About Me" page with better information that is professional, yet friendly. :)
  • Figure out how to fix a few problems this new page has, such as everything being centered automatically.
  • Create blog rolls. I have SO many blogs that I follow on my Google Reader, but only reflect about 10% of them on my actual blog. I'd like to include a scrolling blog roll for others to look at if they would like. ***Does anyone know if there is a good way of listing all your blogs that you visit?***
  • Work on tags so I don't have duplicates.
I still have some things to work on, as you can see, but with 17 hours under my belt, 3 1/2 of which went into a blogroll that failed and had to be retyped, I feel good about what I accomplished.

Thanks again to Natasha for putting this together, and to everyone who has stopped by to give me encouragement.  You all are the best.  Let me know what you think, and if you see any issues with links, etc.  Now, I'm off to go for a walk!  Aloha, and Mahalo!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bloggiesta: Update 1

Last night I was finally able to kick my blogging efforts into high gear.  I've bounced around a bit in my work, trying mainly to play with the new header on my blog, and to get the look throughout into something more uniform to my tastes.  I have to say, I really like the new design feature they have with blogger now.  It really helped me tweak a few things.

As far as my list, here is what I have accomplished:

Time Spent:  7 Hours
Mini-Challenges:  0, but I want to try to remedy that later tonight
  • I read through four of my folders in Google Reader, but I'm still over 600!  Wow.  I have more reading to do.  :)
  • 0 Book Review, but they're coming.
  • Finished my About, Contact, and Review Policy pages.  No small thing, let me tell you. 
  • Fixed some issues such as centered text by changing my template around a bit.
  • I tried to figure out how to include a Google Reader Widget, but was unsuccessful.  I'll keep working on the blog roll issue.
I have a lot still to work on, and will pick back up in a bit.  I'm ready for a break, and to head out into the gorgeous sun before it sets for the night!  Aloha!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bloggiesta: Yes, I'm Starting Late

I'm off to a bit of a late start, but am ready to start diving into some of my goals this year for the 3rd Edition of the Bloggiesta, as hosted by Natasha at Maw Books Blog.

As mentioned several posts ago, I recently started some updates on my blogs, so I've already been having my own mini-challenge here at One Literature Nut. However, this challenge gives me the chance to link up with other book bloggers to get feedback on things I'm shifting around. I'm not great with "code" and other such lingo, so it's nice to have other bloggers walk me through some tricks and tips!

Here is what I have planned for this challenge:
  • Last year I spent 10 hours. I think that I'd like to at least match that or work up to 12 hours?
  • I'd like to catch up on my Google Reader. Although I have lots to do here, I often feel like this time of year is my only real time to reach out and visit and comment on other bloggers' sites. I'd really like to see what's going on with all of you, my blogging friends! Sounds silly, but so necessary to the health of my own blog.
  • Write four book reviews.
  • Finish working on the new pages I've created.
  • Write up a better Review Policy.
  • Fix the "About Me" page with better information that is professional, yet friendly. :)
  • Figure out how to fix a few problems this new page has, such as everything being centered automatically.
  • Create blog rolls. I have SO many blogs that I follow on my Google Reader, but only reflect about 10% of them on my actual blog. I'd like to include a scrolling blog roll for others to look at if they would like. ***Does anyone know if there is a good way of listing all your blogs that you visit?***
  • Work on tags so I don't have duplicates.
Well, I have lots of work to do, so I'm off. Tonight, I'm going to be sending out a couple of blog-related emails, and then working on those new pages I created. We'll see what I get accomplished!

Thanks for everyone, ahead of time, for the push to be better! I'll check back later with an update.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lots to Do: Movie Mini Reviews & Bloggiesta

What an interesting week. I'm in paradise, got in some wonderful R&R by participating in the 48 Hour Challenge, read The Hunger Games for the first time, and then got a head cold that had me begging to chop my head off. How do you get a head cold in Hawaii?!? Well, apparently, germs don't care where you're at when they attack. I also got a phone call from back home where I have my mom's cat kenneled (yes, he lives with me because the process of getting him here to Hawaii would have been too stressful), to tell me that the eye we just thought he was blind in might need to be removed. Talk about a sad moment. So sad. Here's a picture of the little rascal, in his favorite position when I'm home grading papers. I really hope they don't have to remove it.

Enough about life! I have much to be grateful for, and like everyone else, can take it all one thing at a time.

Reading came to a screeching halt after the 48 Hour Challenge, but I have had the opportunity to watch some films here or there that I wanted to share.

Princess Kaiulani: I mentioned that I had wanted to see this film about one of the famous princesses of the Hawaiian monarchy. Princess Kaiulani was one of the last reigning princesses of Hawaii, who after the annexation of Hawaii by the United States, continued to fight for the freedoms of Hawaiian peoples up until her death at the age of 23.

The film was beautiful in its scope, wardrobe, and scenery. Although over dramatic at times, and reminiscent of a made for television drama, I did enjoy the movie and found it engaging. There does seem to be a strong political message in the film, that mirrors a lot of the tension that I've seen here in Hawaii with native rights for land and governance. This tension is oddly contrasted with the absolute joyful memories attached Hawaiian statehood that often has me confused. In considering these two historical events, the annexation of Hawaii and its statehood, it seems that in one case there was no say, and in the second there was a desire to at least have rights as part of the country they were a part. I'm glad the United States issued an apology for annexing Hawaii the way that it did, but can understand the turmoil that still exists, especially as native lands are turned into commercial properties.

Overall, I would say that it is a great film to get an overlay of some of the history of that time. The love story is made up, from what I understand, and a bit much. Sadly, I'm sure the writers and directors of the film felt it needed a love story to engage the viewers, but it actually had me a little confused about history I'd already heard about. I would read Mike Hale's concise, well-written review of May 14, 2010 in the New York Times if you'd like to learn more about the movie. Good movie with some accuracy, but dramatized and with an agenda that leaves you feeling ambiguous.

Long Way Round and Long Way Down: Ewan McGreggor (famous actor of Moulin Rouge & Star Wars) and his best friend Charley Boorman, motor bike fanatics, decided to travel from London to New York City by way of Russia back in 2004, and then from Scotland to South Africa in 2007. I had seen snippets of the show on cable and put it on reserve on my mile long Netflix Queue. Its number came up, and I started watching it and couldn't stop. In fact, I couldn't send the discs back quick enough to watch the next episode!

In the first series, the men traveled from London to New York City, by way of places such as the Ukraine, Mongolia, and Eastern Russia's Road of Bones. Whenever the men couldn't find lodging, they simply set up their tents, ate prepackaged meals, and filmed their thoughts and feelings from wherever they were staying. They did have a group following them in vehicles that packed camera gear, medical supplies, and additional camping gear, but for the most part you just watch Ewan and Charley interact with their different environments and the lovely people along the way. The journey was inspiring and scary to watch, but so engaging that I couldn't watch it fast enough!

The second series follows the men from Scotland, down through Italy, across to North Africa, on down to South Africa. Once again, the trip was grueling to watch, and the first half of the journey through North Africa made me wonder why they had bothered this time around, with the sand storms and heat. Once they got farther into Africa and were able to interact with wildlife (that would have made it impossible for me to sleep in a tent) and amazing people.

I HIGHLY recommend this series. In fact, I can't recommend them highly enough. I've been watching the second series with my mother, and every day she asks if we have a new disc waiting. We were both sad to see them come to an end, as it was a beautiful, and even startling reminder of how alike we all are as human beings. This is an exciting, and moving series to watch.

Finally, I wanted to say that I've decided to join in the Bloggiesta that is coming up this weekend, June 11th through the 13th. This event is hosted by Natasha at Maw Books Blog, who does an excellent job. After the 48 Hour Challenge last weekend, I wasn't so sure I wanted to dive into another one so soon, but after switching things around here on my blog, and falling terribly behind in reviews, I decided it would be a great opportunity for me to keep working on things here to get my new blog look really up and running the way I'd like. I have pretty modest goals, but here is what I'd like to work on:
  • Write four book reviews
  • Finish working on the new pages I've created
  • Write up a better Review Policy
  • Fix the "About Me" page with better information that is professional, yet friendly :)
  • Figure out how to fix a few problems this new page has, such as everything being centered automatically
  • Create blog rolls. I have SO many blogs that I follow on my Google Reader, but only reflect about 10% of them on my actual blog. I'd like to include a scrolling blog roll for others to look at if they would like
  • Work on tags so I don't have duplicates
Well, there we have it! As usual, I can't write a short post, so my apologies for being such a wordy girl. I'm off to get a walk in and hopefully to do a bit of reading today. How are things in your world?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Construction Zone & Review: The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

As you might have noticed, there is a big of "blog" reconstruction going on here lately. I'm getting some help to spruce things up, and move things about. Admittedly, I struggle with this area of blogging, so I'm working with someone to help me do a little update. My apologies if you see things shift around a bit over the next week or so!

Before I left for Hawaii, I pulled out a copy of The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri that I had kicking around on my shelf for a little bit. The school year had just ended, I had been struggling with on and off headaches for days, and finally had a reprieve. Out of curiosity I pulled out this novel and started it to see what it was about, and before I knew it I had finished it. Yes, it was a fast read for me, but really it grabbed my attention and didn't let it go!

Synopsis: The basic premise for this story is centered around young Kate Robinson who after being horribly wounded in love, took off for Ireland to visit the home country of her forefathers. While there, she landed in the small village of Glenmara, where she was taken in by widow, Bernie. While there, Kate was not only taken in by Bernie, but also by her entire community of lace makers. The women taught Kate the basics behind lace making, and while the women sewed, they revealed more about their varied home lives, and deep needs of their families came through. The journey of each lady in the lace making group, as well as Kate, found voice in this quick moving story. For some, they found ways of strengthening their marriages, others, in leaving troubled relationships, and in several cases, new love was found and encouraged. Regardless of the direction of their lives, progress and strength seemed to be realized from the friendships forged in the lace making.

Review: While the story sounds very familiar, like other tales of quilt makers, cooks, or seamstresses wherein a group of women teach a younger novice about a craft and life, there was something fresh and comforting about this story. Kate was a strange contradiction of weaknesses and strengths that I think might be a bit more true to real women than in previous stories of this nature. Although she sometimes shocked me with her openness to emotion, I realized that Kate represented a different type of woman who doesn't need dramatics to show her pain or to grow. It was an interesting idea, to see a woman in pain, but find strength from it in less obvious ways.

Overall, I found The Lace Makers of Glenmara to be this delightful "Quiet Man" meets "American Quilt" that had me charmed from the opening page. The writing was engaging, the characters interesting, and the story endearing. There is romance, young love, later love, family love, painful goodbyes, and beautiful renewals in this story. Overall, it was a different kind of life story than I have read in awhile, and I was thoroughly charmed by it from the beginning.

*FTC Disclosure: This review was written from a book won from LibraryThing's Eary Reviewer program. No payment has been issued for a written review, nor money exchanged for services.

This review counts as my 3rd in the TBR Challenge.

Monday, June 7, 2010

48 Hour Challenge: Finish Line

I finished up the 48 Hour Challenge tonight. I spent more consistent time reading today, but will admit to not getting in as much time as I would have liked. This challenge was productive though, and I had a chance to read a pretty popular book that's been kicking around, The Hunger Games. It was a pretty good read, even if two chapters from the end, my mother yelled at me from the kitchen, "Put the book down now. It's time to eat lunch!" Admittedly, that was not a good moment to take a break, but I managed.

To wrap things up though, here are my statistics:
  • Hours Spent Reading: 12 hours
  • Books Completed: 3 1/2
  • Pages Read: 1, 223 pages
  • Hours Online: 5 1/2 --includes chat time w/ Dar about The Hunger Games
Here are the three books I finished:

I also got part way through:

Overall, I didn't quite reach my goals, but for as zombie-like I've been about sleep, I think that's pretty good! Now, I'm off to read some more before bed. Can you imagine? Thank you to MotherReader for hosting yet another great 48 Hour Challenge this year. Whether you joined in to read or not, I hope you've had a great weekend and read something great yourself!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

48 Hour Challenge: 24 Hour Check In

So maybe I should only check in every 12 hours? I'm trying NOT to freak out by my complete inability today to really do marathon quality reading. Because I have just arrived in Hawaii, my mother, rightfully so, wants to spend time with me...minus my books. I read for several hours in the morning, before we left for Kaneohe to watch "Princess Kaiulani" at the theater. It was an interesting movie. It was sad, but interesting too. I'll have to post a review later.

Since returning home this afternoon, I spent another couple of hours reading Hunger Games for my online chat with Dar, from Peeking Between the Pages, about our reading. It's been fun reading it with someone else who hasn't read it either!

This evening we had a bit of a chat about the novel, since we're both about half way through book one. Here are a few things we wondered or discussed:
  • We both found the beginning set up to be a bit slow, but only because we had been told how fantastic it was, so we were waiting for all the excitement!
  • I wondered where the Team Gale and Team Peetra pops up? We both have our guesses about why other bloggers are forming "teams" around these characters, but we're not 100% sure just yet!
  • We talked about the element of romance in YA fiction. I had seen a post or discussion about YA fiction needing a bit of romance to really succeed. We talked about whether that was true or not. I can't say we came to a conclusion, but it's interesting to consider?
  • The titles are now making more sense.
  • We talked about the whole dystopian feature to the novel, what it says about society in general, and how we fight for social standing and survival.
  • We did make some predictions about the end of the "games" as we wonder if the author would be mean to us or not. (I'll leave it at that, as I don't want to give anything away to those who haven't read it! Who knows. Dar and I might not be the last!)
  • We then talked about whether we'd be up late finishing or not. I think that unless we fall over asleep, we might both be up reading for a bit!
Because of our lovely discussion, and my tech break to update and such, I've spent several hours online this evening. I'll quickly update my stats, go for a quick walk in the cool night air here in Hawaii, and then get back to reading!
  • Hours Spent Reading: 6 Hours
  • Books Completed: 1 and 1/2
  • Pages Read: 500...Wow. Not very good!
  • Online Time: 4 1/2 Hours
  • Hours Into Challenge: 24!!!
At this half way point, I can see I have a lot of reading to do! Tomorrow will be better though, as we have plans to stick close to home and lounge about. That makes things easy for me to get more reading done though. Wish me luck! Off for a quick walk, and then I'm back to do a bit more reading until I fall asleep with my book over my face.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

48 Hour Challenge: Hour 14 Check In

Okay, so it's a little past the 10 hour mark I said I'd report in, but that's all right. Can I just say that I think I have narcolepsy or mono? Ha, ha. Since getting here to Hawaii, all I've done is sleep, and I mean SLEEP. I started reading for about 30 minutes last night, and then fell fast asleep. I finally gave up and went to bed. Since getting up this morning though, I was determined to finish my first book before writing my update post.
Here are my stats:
  • Hours Spent Reading: 3 1/2 hours
  • Books Completed: 1, Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase
  • Pages Read: 354
  • Online Time: 45 minutes
  • Hours Into Challenge: 14 hours
Not a great start, but at least I was honest about my complete inability to be an around the clock reader! After about 10 hours of sleep, I think I'm ready to be a bit more focused today. I'm heading out to go for a walk (which I love to do when I read...I call myself the master walk-reader), and then I promised my mom we'd head out to a matinee today. That will also allow me to go pick up Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, since from what I understand, I'll instantly need to read it after The Hunger Games. I'm actually reading these with Dar, from Peeking Between the Pages, and she's already started The Hunger Games, so I better get going! Mahalo to everyone, and I'll check back in later. I hope your own reading is going well today.
Goals for today:
  • Read for at least 6 to 7 more hours
  • Finish The Hunger Games & purchase book two
  • Take my mom to a movie today, as that's her one true wish since I arrived!
  • Later tonight, circulate the web and Twitter to see how everyone else is doing.
  • Beg another mango off of my neighbor? :)
Here are a few of the flowers in my mom's yard that I just couldn't resist snapping a picture to share!

48 Hour Challenge: Starting Point

Tonight I'm getting started with the 48 Hour Book Challenge being held by MotherReader. This is a great event, and one that each reader can use to simply read a few more good books, to catch up on reading challenges, and even to read to give money to charity. I would love to read for charity, but hadn't set anything up ahead of time, so I'm just going to try to cover books that I need to read for this fall, as well as books I've been wanting to read for quite some time.

Since I'm getting started a little later than I originally anticipated, I think I'll only be reading for a few hours before I go to bed. Sorry, but I'm not one of those folks how can stay up around the clock. Yes, I'm a bit of a pansy now!

Here are the details of how I'll be reading and posting over the next 48 Hours:
  • Reading Time Goal: I'd like to read for 20 hours. Yes, that's mild, but probably realistic for me.
  • Posting: Because we have a bit of time to cover, I think I'll just post about every eight to ten hours. That way I don't kill readers off with all of my posts!
  • Books Read: Honestly, my only real goal is to read Hunger Games and Catching Fire with Dar, from Peeking Between the Pages. I'm so excited to join her in this, as I think we're quite possibly the only people on the planet who haven't yet read these books!
  • Starting Time: 8:30 pm, Hawaiian time
Well, I'm off to get some reading done. I'm going to try to finish Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase, an ARC I have to finish up. After that, who knows what I'll be reading. I do have a great list to choose from though!

Whether you're participating or not, happy reading! I'll be back in the morning to post my first update.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Review: My Delicious Life With Paula Deen by Michael Groover

Aloha! I've arrived to my mom's place in the islands, and boy am I a happy camper. The mad rush that precedes a vacation or long trip can be maddening, but I have such nice friends, that I'm feeling really calm now (thanks Sarah & Doc, you both are the best).

Anyway, over Memorial Day Weekend, I did have a little time to lay low and not do much of anything...but anticipate the mad rush coming my way. I had checked out the autobiography of Paula Deen's husband, curious about this "late-in-life" romance between the famous celebrity TV chef and her boat captain husband. Autobiographies don't seem to take long for me to read, so I had this one put away in just a few short hours, and to be honest, I'm still not sure what I think.

Synopsis: The basic premise of the autobiography is to set up and introduce Michael Groover's marriage to famous Paula Deen. A strong man in his own rights, you get an early sense that this man is not one to enjoy the limelight, but loves the crazy life that he has built with Deen. Michael grew up on the Georgia coastline, in the city of Savannah. As a life-long resident, his love of Savannah, the south, and of the sea are ever prevalent in his upbringing and story. His own professional life started on the water, where he worked his way up to captain. On the personal side of his life, he married young and had a son and a daughter. That marriage eventually failed, leaving him seemingly eager to be a bachelor for the rest of his life. His desires to be a bachelor didn't curb some of the "hard living" that we might consider of a boat captain. Michael talked about drinking hard, being with women, and living alone...all until Paula chased an errant dog into his yard.

From the moment the two met, it wasn't necessarily love at first sight, but Michael did find Paula really beautiful. It also seems she was one flirtatious lady who worked her way into his life. Their relationship developed over a couple of years as her career started to take off, but both were afraid to commit to anything, and Michael's daughter was less than enthused to see them together. We all know how the rest went, since they did end up together (thus the autobiography). The remainder of the book discusses how they've dealt with her fame, the places they've traveled, and how they work through the tough times together.

Review: While an interesting read, because I love reading about people and their lives, the story and its delivery were a bit jarring. The writer who helped Michael put the autobiography together did a good job of helping us hear Michael, as it felt conversational in a lot of ways, but it was that conversational style that also made it feel awkward. I'm not sure if it was jarring because of the gap between what I knew and thought about the two of them, and what he presented as the truth, or if it was just that the two of them really were as rough around the edges as they said in the opening of the book. Either way, I found the stories of sexual encounters, licentious living, and passing gas to be less entertaining and more distracting from the underlying story of two people who had found one another later in life...and happened to be on television.

I really like Paula Deen, and have even seen many of the Food Network specials that have featured Paula and Michael on their wedding day, in Europe, and in the Caribbean. Together, they seemed like the perfect team. She was fiery and loud, he was calm and quiet. She joked around with awkward sexual innuendos, he smiled quietly and looked the other way. Then you read the book, and find that she is just like that in real life, to the point that she sometimes embarrasses Michael. He is also pretty fiery, getting into a couple of near altercations with rude people wanting to cash in on Paula's fame, and up front about his conservative opinions about "Yankees" and gays. He admits to having his eyes opened about good people, of all sorts, and his opinions changing, which is nice. It does seem though, that in a lot of ways that his way of addressing things is grabbing at straws. I got his flavor, and that he is his own man, excited about his bigger than life future with Paula Deen, but I have to say that the delivery was odd. I really wanted to embrace this down-home delivery and life story, but it really had me wanting to read sections out loud to someone to see if they scrunched up their face as often as I did.

If you like Paula Deen and Michael, by all means pick up his autobiography to learn more about this unique couple. I would just say that you might learn some things that you wished you hadn't. (You know, it's strangely like catching your mom and dad in bed together. Awkward.) I think that more about HOW they blended their lives together, how they overcame their fears, and less about their strange actions and behaviors that make them so outrageous and lovable to one another would have been much better. Still, read it if you love them, and if you like Michael's voice then you'll enjoy the book.

*FTC Disclosure: Review is based off of a library copy of the book.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The W's of Reading: What Goes Into An Honest Review?

I'm getting ready to head off to Hawaii to visit my mother (Yipee!!!), and in thinking about books and reviews, I started thinking a lot about what I've read so far this year. I have to say, that I can't think of many books I haven't genuinely liked, which leads me to wonder about the range of my own reviews. Do I write negative reviews?

This question popped up after I read Pam's blog entry "How to Write a Negative Review," over at Bookalicious, and I've seen it discussed on Twitter a time or two. It really got me to thinking about my own "trustworthiness" as a book reviewer. Am I honest with my readers? Do I tell it like it is?

Here are some of my own concerns & thoughts:
  • I know that I sometimes sugar-coat my negative feelings. I don't necessarily come right out and say, "Wow! I hated that book." I'm always concerned that an emotional reaction is coming from one of my own life experiences that shouldn't predicate another person's own thoughts. One example of this was in my review for The Actor and the Housewife. I was so concerned that my reaction came about because I wasn't married, that I tried to explain away my own doubts about the outcome of the novel. (Also, I didn't want to give away the ending!)
  • I tend to only be extremely negative about a book when I feel that it is grossly ignorant, erroneous, or hurtful in some way. While some liked the book, I despised the motives and delivery of Skinny Bitch, a diet book, and for once didn't mince my words.
  • Many times, I question whether I disliked a book, based on my own prejudices and tastes. For instance, when I read books that include educators or counselors, I can be a bit more critical than I normally would, and can be thrown off by behaviors I find in opposition to what I have know to be true. I struggled with this when I read Lockdown, even though there was much more to the story than the behavior of the professionals to consider. We can all get hung up on small details that then cause us to dislike a book, and I for one know I've done it many times.
  • Playing off of the previous bullet point, I know that there are types of books, that when well delivered, I love...regardless. For instance, I really enjoy "chick lit" and have for many years. They tend to deliver an escape factor that I enjoy, as well as seem to connect to my "dating" life in many ways. We all like what we like, and often seek ourselves in the text. I really enjoyed Rumor Has It and didn't hesitate to say so. Because I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, it was easy to wax poetic, and I hoped my readers would understand my enthusiasm!
  • The hardest question to answer is whether, when you review for a publisher or author, you are scared to give an honest opinion for fear of damaging a repartee with them. I know I have felt that way before, maybe not liking a book as much I had hoped. In those cases, I've had to take a step back and really consider what I liked or didn't like about those books, and be professional about my review. This could even be the case when a good friend praises a book to the skies, and then you dislike it. I'm not as nervous to tell a friend why I did or did not enjoy the book, but it can still be uncomfortable.
  • The last question I've asked myself is what do I do with the books that I disliked so much that I quit reading them? I should be reviewing them enough to say, "Hey, I just couldn't continue on with this book, and here's why!" I've seen many other great, well-respected bloggers do this, and need to start doing that. Because books I don't enjoy often get returned, it looks like I'm mainly reading books that I DO enjoy. That's really not the case.
In the end, here's what you CAN expect from me. I will most likely continue to read books that I like. You will very rarely see me rip a book to shreds, because ultimately, I really respect what authors have done to put a book in front of me, and want to give it my honest consideration. That doesn't mean I think all books are great. Sometimes I just didn't like a storyline, because I didn't care much for the topic; I won't dog it for my own tastes, but I will be honest about not being as "into it" as I am with others. I don't "rate" books on my blog, but will always try to give a little good and bad behind a book, because don't they all have some of both?

I would definitely check out Pam's post on this subject to learn more about how to write that negative review! I agree with her that a well-written negative review can really give you a greater sense of trust in the reviewer.

What do you think? What holds you back from writing a negative review? What has led you to your most negative reviews?