Thursday, April 24, 2014

Literary Link Love: April 2014

It's time for another literary link round-up!!  I have less links for you this month, but they are still filled with awesome!

If you are a real, true book lover, then I think you can relate to these 23 best parts of being a book lover.

The Internet is Making Kids Stupid -- A bit of an extreme title, but I do believe that it brings up some good points to consider.

Is your book club looking for ideas for your next read?  Check out this list of favorite reads from 2013 to get some ideas.

Pie-hole, nerd, boredom ... who knew that authors coined these terms and more?!?

Which book reader species are you?  It is no surprise that I fall under the Compulsive Book Lover!

I can't go all month without finding a fun Harry Potter reference!  This time, it is 28 Reasons Fred and George Are the Best Characters.

I adore these minimalist posters from our favorite fairy tales.  My personal favorite is Little Red Riding Hood.

I want my very own treehouse library!!

Book-alicious Mama shared Top 20 Reasons to Read.  You may see a familiar name there (hint:  it's me!).

Shelf Awareness had a very interesting article about being Biliterate:  Rewiring the Way We Read.  Definitely a quick must-read!

Ever wonder how well-read you are?  Buzzfeed put together a little test to help you decide.  I only scored 17, but I really believe that there are some obscure titles on this list.

I adore this graphic with the quote, "Reading can seriously damage your ignorance."  Yep!

Do you need a good laugh?!?  Then, you need to watch this video, Ranting About Books.  Hilariously good!

Don't forget that April is Drop Everything and Read month.  Heck, how about you participate in Dewey's Readathon to help celebrate?  I plan to (more coming tomorrow)!

Awesome list of links, right?!?

Which literary link was your favorite?  Did I miss anything super good?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky

Kozlowsky, author of the acclaimed Juniper Berry, returns with a new release in The Dyerville Tales.  In the latest tale, we meet Vince, a boy left in an orphanage after a fire destroyed his home and his family.  His mother was confirmed dead after the fire, but he is determined that his father still lives because no remains were found.  When Vince receives notice that his senile grandfather (Vincent) has passed away, he vows to attend the funeral at all costs because his father is bound to be there.

Throughout the book, we experience parallel stories:  Vince's journey to Dyerville for his grandfather's service and Vincent's outrageous tales from his earlier years.  In one tale, there are battles of blizzards and criminals and mean ol' guardians.  In the other, the battles are against trolls and witches and unbelievable magic.  Both meet obstacles, yet both experience unforgettable friendships and love.  Both leave me satisfied at the end, though one took me a bit by surprise.

The Dyerville Tales starts out slow, but once both story lines are introduced, I quickly became invested in both stories.  I found myself rooting for Vince and Vincent.  And, when I read the final page, my heart filled with warmth.  I'm hoping we get to revisit these characters again!  In the meantime, I need to find my copy of Juniper Berry and read it to tide me over!

The Dyerville Tales just hit bookstores yesterday, so be watching your local haunt for this one!

Thank you to Waldon Pond Press for a review copy of The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky. 

Have you experienced the adventures of The Dyerville Tales yet?  If so, which one was your favorite?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Maunder: Get Your Armchair Ready!

I interrupt this Monday for a special announcement!  
I will include my usual reading updates 
in the next edition of Monday Maunder.

For many of my long-time readers, you all know that Armchair BEA is an event that I have been pushing for the last four years.  This year, the big event will be celebrating five years and I will be advocating for you to join in the fun once again!!

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
What exactly is Armchair BEA?

Armchair BEA is an online blogger conference that parallels Book Expo America in New York City.  We offer daily discussion topics focusing on blogging and books, twitter parties, an instagram challenge, and LOTS of sponsored giveaways.  Participants can also expect to see special behind-the-scenes photos and videos from our on-line correspondents.

Where can I find Armchair BEA?

Google +

The Google+ community is new this year and offers us an additional interactive piece that we have not had in previous years!

When is Armchair BEA?

Mark your calendars for Monday, May 26, 2014 through Saturday, May 31, 2014!

How about some additional helpful links?

If you are interested in being a sponsor, click here.

To register for the event, click here.

If you want to help out and join our cheerleading team, click here.

To see the team that makes this event possible, click here.

Do you have additional questions?

Let me know!  You can post them here in the comments section, tweet me, or email me.  OR, you can reach me or another team member through the Armchair BEA website, social media links, or email (armchairbea at gmail dot com).

Do you plan to participate in Armchair BEA this year?  If you have participated in past years, what was your favorite part of the week?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was recently chosen for one of my book club reads.  I had heard a lot of hype around the book, but I never found myself desiring to read it.  Despite that, I still picked up this book, all for the love of my book club.

As an infant, Victoria was abandoned by her mother and bounced around foster families all her life.  At one point, she believes she has found the home and family for her.  Unfortunately, it does not work out and she is put back into the system, living in group homes until her emancipation at the age of eighteen.  She finally has the chance to start over, a chance at a new beginning.  A possibility arises that may just help her to make this start - working with a florist, creating beautiful arrangements with deep meaning through the language of flowers.  Will she be able to make it work or will she fail yet again?

Diffenbaugh surprised me.  I was expecting a fluffy, surface read.  What I received was a deep-rooted emotional story that was so much more than a tale about flowers.  It was a story about love and loss, acceptance, and how we perceive ourselves and others.  I shut this book feeling fulfilled.  It is no happy ending, but it is a realistic one that will leave you wondering and considering the message you are sending to others.  A Language of Flowers is a must read!

Have you discovered The Language of Flowers?  What was one of your favorite flower and its meaning?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Journal Circle: Challenge Check-In

Last month, I posed a challenge to you for our monthly Journal Circle . . . to journal a minimum of 10 days, possibly using the list of prompts that I provided.  It is now time to check in and see how we did!

Before we delve too deep, however, let's remind ourselves of the list of prompts.
  1. Why do you journal? 
  2. Talk about your day. 
  3. Make a list. 
  4. Doodle. 
  5. Clip something from a newspaper. Attach it into your journal and respond. 
  6. Choose one . . . my mother, my father, my daughter, my son, my grandmother, my grandfather, my spouse . . . 
  7. The year I was born. (Check out this website to help you record some memories!) 
  8. Listen to a song. Write about how it made you feel, where it took you, any memories you associate with it, etc. 
  9. Discuss a current read that has impacted you in some way. 
  10. Green.

Now, this is where I must confess . . . I did not even write in my own journal 10 times this past month.  I wrote almost every single day, but my journal took a hit and I did not complete my own challenge.  I did incorporate a number of the prompts when I did write though, including #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.  My favorite prompt was the list.  I wrote a list of things that made me happy.  That one put lots of smiles on my face, especially considering I included this little note I found laying around my house courtesy of my children . . . 

I may not have completed my own challenge, but I am still continuing to truck along and will continue to shoot for a minimum of 10 entries per month.  I have finally realized that I don't have the time to necessarily write every single day, but I do know that I can be writing a lot more than I currently am.  I really love when I am journaling!

Did you participate in the challenge?  How did it go for you?  What was your favorite prompt?  Would you like to do this little challenge again, but with a different set of prompts? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

Last month, Kristen at We Be Reading celebrated DWJ March once again - a month devoted to the great author, Diana Wynne Jones.  Kristen was the one who first introduced me to DWJ, and it was her read-along this year that influenced my reading of my latest DWJ book, Enchanted Glass.

We are first introduced to Andrew, a young professor on the night his grandfather dies.  After inheriting his grandfather's home and all its possessions and responsibilities, Andrew is determined to write a book.  However, his magical past has completely different plans for him.

That's when we meet Aidan.  In a week's worth of time, this young boy's grandmother dies, he is shipped off to foster care, he is pursued by strange beings, and escapes, landing on Andrew's doorstep.

With the assistance of the household employees and community members, Andrew and Aidan set out to discover their real magical purpose before disaster strikes.

DWJ brings us the beauty of magic through her unusual beings - lovable and villainous - as well as her amazing characters.  Her imagination takes us to lands that her mere human readers can only wish to inhabit.  Her unforgettable characters are ones we hate to leave behind after turning that final page.  Enchanted Glass is no different.  It's a sweet story that leaves me with only one complaint -- why can't there be a sequel so I can keep discovering more behind these characters?!?

Have you met Andrew, Aidan, and the rest of the community surrounding Melstone House?  Who were some of your favorite characters?  What did you think of this tale?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Maunder: My Life in Pictures (1)

For today's weekly check-in, I have decided to switch things up a little bit.  I will briefly share my current reading status for those that desire the bookish news, but then I am going to share with you my other hobby.  Let's get to this . . .

Over the last week, I finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and started reading The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky.  I am also towards the end of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline on audio and am currently reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling with my kids.

Now for my other hobby ... I have always had an interest in photography.  I started shooting pictures with a 35mm when I was in elementary school, had a good stint after college, but then stepped away from it for a number of years for a variety of reasons.  After my father passed away, I was given a few of his photography things and my passion has been rekindled.  I have been out and about on photography walks, taking little hikes, and discovering the beauty of everyday life and everyday things.  I thought today I would throw myself out there and share a handful of my latest shots.

What are you reading these days?  What are your hobbies beyond the books?  Any other photography fans out there?  Which of these pictures is your favorite?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chew #1: Taster's Choice by John Layman

I have heard so much chatter about Chew by John Layman that I decided I had better pick it up and give it a try.  I obviously did not pay much attention to the details, however, because as soon as I started reading I was in shock and a bit of disgust.  Let me give you a quick, spoiler-free synopsis to give you an idea . . .

Tony Chu has an unique talent that he keeps to himself.  He is what is called a Cibopathic - an individual who can see things by ingesting them.  Sometimes, these things are as simple as the orchard that an apple came from.  Other times, it can be the butchering of an animal.  And yet, there are times that he can see so, so much more, and it is then that his talent comes in handy for his job with the Special Crimes Division of the FDA.

Chew has a very different and intriguing concept, but it is also one that is violent and gruesome.  There were a couple of parts that literally made me gag while reading.  I think it is the combination of food and gore that caused this reaction because the gore usually does not affect me as it did in this book.

The question is . . . Will I continue to read Chew?  I think so.  The concept is grossly fascinating.  The next time I will be better prepared for what to expect.  I will likely take my time in reading them though.  I think this is a series you have to slowly savor; not devour without time to digest.  I will likely not try to read this one while eating either!

Have you tried Chew?  What did you think?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring 2014 Releases from Arbordale Publishing

I recently shared with you the fall releases from Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell Publishing), and now it is time to share their most recent titles released this spring.  Get your wish list ready so you can write these down!

First Fire:  A Cherokee Folktale by Nancy Kelly Allen

In First Fire, Allen shares a Cherokee tale that explains why some animals get their colors and why they have certain physical features.  I personally loved seeing the addition of diversity through a Native American tale in this round of releases.

Click here for more information.

Daisylocks by Marianne Berkes

Berkes, author of The Tree That Bear Climbed and Anybody Home?, brings us a new release following the life of a daisy and the perfect environment for it to thrive.  With a reference to the classic Goldilocks tale, Daisylocks discovers a place too hot and too cold, and so much more.

Click here for more information.

Animal Helpers:  Aquariums by Jennifer Keats Curtis

Curtis returns to her Animal Helpers series with a look at life underwater.  As in her previous books in this series (we have read Wildlife Rehabilitators and Zoos), you can expect wonderful photographs of life in an aquarium as well as great information for young animal lovers in your life.

Click here for more information.

Kali's Story:  An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis

Curtis has been busy with not one, but two releases from Arbordale Publishing this spring.  In Kali's Story, we follow the path of an orphaned polar bear after he loses his mother until he finds a new home.  This true story shares Kali's journey through up close and personal photographs, making readers easily fall in love with the young bear.

Kali's Story:  An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue wins both my daughter's favorite book as well as my own!

Click here for more information.

The Shape Family Babies by Kristin Haas

Haas brings us an unique mathematical tale in The Shape Family Babies.  Mother Rhombus and Father Rectangle are pleasantly surprised with tripletts.  One looks like mom.  One looks like dad.  The third has qualities of both mom and dad, but is something else entirely.  I also found myself pleasantly surprised by how well this geometric tale worked and how much I enjoyed it.  The true indicator of the success though is demonstrated by how frequently my daughter returns to this book again and again.

Click here for more information.

Polar Bears and Penguins:  A Compare and Contrast Book by Katherine Hall

Let's be honest.  Polar bears and penguins are some of the most adorable animals.  In Hall's book, we get a double dose of their cuteness by examining what makes them the same and what makes them different.  I think you might be surprised at what you might discover.

Click here for more information.

The Beaver's Busy Year by Mary Holland

Have you heard the saying, "busy as a beaver?"  I have, but have never really understood why it refers to a beaver.  That mystery has now been solved by Holland's book!  I now know how busy beavers are all year round.  It's actually quite fascinating!

Click here for more information.

A Cool Summer Tail by Carrie A. Pearson

A Cool Summer Tail follows in the footsteps of Pearson's previous book, A Warm Winter's Tail.  Readers discover through the views of animals how they stay cool during the warm summer months.  With little humorous illustrations of humans using animal ways, there is so much to discover throughout this story.

Click here for more information.

Sea Slime:  It's Eeuwy, Gooey, and Under the Sea by Ellen Prager

Sea Slime is all about slime under the sea . . . where it can be found, what it is used for, and what animals utilize it.  As the subtitle suggests, it is eeuwy and gooey, yet quite intriguing.  The illustrations, courtesy of Shennen Bersani, are an added bonus to this tale, making this a fun and informative read.

Sea Slime wins my son's favorite award!

Click here for more information.

Another great round of books from Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell Publishing)!  Don't forget to also click on the links above to check out the supplemental activities to aid in going beyond the books.  These books just keep on giving!

Thank you to Arbordale Publishing for review copies for each of these books.

Have you had the opportunity to enjoy any of these titles yet?  If not, which one(s) are you most interested in?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant is the final installment in Veronica Roth's trilogy that started with Divergent and was followed by Insurgent.  We finally get to find out the fate of Tris and Four.  We finally get to find out the whole truth behind the factions.  We finally get to have some closure.

I have no intention of sharing details of Allegiant for fear of spoiling everything for those that have not yet read any portion of the trilogy.  Instead, I will just share a few of my general thoughts . . .

(1) Allegiant switches things up by alternating between narrators (i.e., Tris and Four).  I found this to be confusing, and oftentimes, had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to remind myself who's head I was in.

(2)  I found the ending to be predictable.  I don't really have a strong opinion in the positive or negative about this ending.

(3)  I found myself taking forever to get through this book.  I could not read Divergent fast enough, but my interest waned as I progressed through the trilogy.

As a quick conclusion, Allegiant was simply okay for me.  I think I began losing my connection with Tris in Insurgent, but it only got worse in this final book.  I enjoyed the mystery of Four, but the enigma of his character faded with the change in narration.  I turned the final page and only felt meh.  I guess I just wanted more.

Were you satisfied by the ending of this trilogy?  Or, were you desiring more like myself?