Monthly Archives: September 2012

Can a Book Be Too Beautiful for Digital?

I had a small eye surgery yesterday which has left my left eye swelled shut so this will be my only post for a few days. 😦 Reading and writing can become pretty difficult with just 1 eye! Thank goodness for dictation! Here goes….

I read an article on NPR earlier in the week that brings up the subject of digital versus paper versions of books. (click here to read the article) The article centers around Gillian Cross’ children’s version of Homer’s The Odyssey. It’s a beautifully illustrated book.

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I read digital, paper and audible books and love each type. I try to pick the media that will allow me to enjoy the book to the fullest. I prefer larger books and biographies to be audible (read my post about audible books here), some books digital where I can highlight and write notes, but I always cherish my paper books the most.

I love when the cover is like leather or the pages are torn and worn like an old journal. I love cover art! (click here to see my post on covers) One of my favorite books to hold was The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern. It has a beautiful cover and those worn pages I love.

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I agree with the NPR article. Some books are just too beautiful to miss in paper.

Which book do you consider too beautiful for digital?


Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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After reading this book I felt like standing up, clapping and hollering Bravo! Bravo!

From Goodreads:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

This book is so popular and has been mentioned so many times everywhere, that my expectations of actually enjoying it were pretty low. I dutifully stayed away from reading any reader reviews so that I wouldn’t be swayed or accidentally read something that might give away the secrets that lie in the pages of this book. I think that was key! If your thinking of reading this, I encourage you to do the same. So for this review I’m going to be extremely vague.

It’s not what you think. Even after you start reading, you will think you know what’s going on but you won’t. Enjoy it! It will remind you of being at a murder mystery theatre or playing a game of Clue. Did you ever see the movie What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford? How surprising it is the first time you watch it? This book is like that!

The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star read for me was the ending. The last bit, I’d say the last 8th of the book, seemed rushed compared to the rest and the ending didn’t quite satisfy me.

Despite that, this is a stellar read! Bravo! 🙂

View this book on Goodreads.

View this book on Amazon.


The National Book Festival – Experiencing the Author Pavillions

The best thing about the National Book Festival is the opportunity to see and hear authors whose books we all cherish. We weren’t able to enjoy as many authors as I had hoped but next year I’ll plan differently to maximize the number of author I get to see.

The first author we listened to was Walter Isaacson in the History/Biography tent. Mr. Isaacson has written many books about great men who have accomplished great things. His speech at the Festival centered around three great men including Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and of course, his most recent subject, Steve Jobs.

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He told us how these three very different men had some things in common including their love for beauty, simplicity and curiosity and their ability to, as Steve Jobs would put it, “think different”. He told of Franklin’s salient traits of tolerance and common ground. He spoke of Jobs’ determination to make the best product he could make. He explained how they followed their passion and were a part of something larger than themselves.

He was impassioned by his subjects. He was humorous at times, telling some of the stories of his days following around Jobs. He had a good message for the youth of today, or all of us for that matter, that following your passion, being a part of something you truly believe in, can be your greatest gift.

After each author finishes speaking there is a Q & A session where they take a few questions from individuals. The questions asked centered around Steve Jobs. Mr. Isaacson was professional with his answers.

This was a great author to start off our day!

Since my son came with me, we devoted much of our time to authors he enjoyed in his elementary years. We listened in as R. L. Stine entertained little ones at the Family Storytelling Stage. He told them a story encouraging their participation along the way. Mr. Stine has a new Goosebumps series, Goosebumps Most Wanted, coming out. You can read my review of the first book in the series here.

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Our next stop was the Teens & Children tent to see Lois Lowry. When we got there Walter Dean Myers was finishing up his speech and starting the Q & A session. I wasn’t familiar with this author but you could tell he was popular by the sheer number of people crowded into the tent. From the questions that were asked we could tell this author has inspired many youth.

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We thought the crowd was huge for Walter Dean Myers. That crowd swelled for Lois Lowry who is obviously beloved by many. Her new book, a part of The Giver series is due out soon and was actually for sale at the Festival. I found it interesting that she wrote The Giver, which has been put in the sci-fi or dystopian genre, but doesn’t consider herself a reader of that genre.

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The last author we caught for the day was Donna Britt. I was not familiar with her but could quickly see that she is a strong female voice. She told the heartbreaking story of her brother’s death and the impact it had on her. The background behind her actually fell over and almost hit her during the first part of her speech. She was very graceful and didn’t let that incident deter her from delivering her message.

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It was wonderful to see all these great authors converge in one place!


Book Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

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Gory and sarcastic, The Infects has a slew of teenage zombie mayhem.

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

I’m going to start off this review my mentioning the cover which is awesome! It really grabs your attention. Love it!

The story itself is a fairly simple one with a few new twists on the zombies we all know and love. The first third of this book was a little slow going as we get to know the main character, Nick, aka Nero. It picks up though and gets some action packed fun when the zombies take center stage. The group of teenagers Nick finds himself with are very diversified. The humor is sarcastic with plays well the the teenage theme. Think zombie fighting Breakfast Club. There’s lots of great music, tv and movie references, some of which, are extremely funny. I loved the Silence of the Lambs reference. Some of the phrased used are inventive and funny as well – teen boys hoping to be “cougared to death”.

I would have liked the back story and reasoning behind the zombie infestation to have more depth. A little more thought to how it began and ended would have made a big difference. I didn’t really care for all the character nicknames as some were beyond a little cheesy.

All in all a good teen zombie read if you like to be a little grossed out and get a good chuckle or two.

This book was provided for review by Netgalley.

View this book on Goodreads.
View this book on Amazon.


The National Book Festival – A First Experience

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Well, we’re back from the National Book Festival! We were hot, sweaty and more than a little tired, but we had a wonderful time!

This week’s posts will center around our trip. To start off, I’m going to post some information about our overall Festival experience. When I decided to go to the Festival I began searching online to see what others had to say about their previous experience so I could be more prepared. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of information out there. Now that I have the first time under my belt, I’m primed and ready for the next trip.

The Festival takes place on the National Mall. This is a great location! Everything is laid out so well in the center of the Mall. There’s easy access to all the tents. It does make for a lot of walking! Comfortable clothes and shoes are a must. It was dry and hot and the Mall walking paths were very dusty. If it had rained it would have probably been muddy in places. For some reason they had all of the benches taped off, so for seating during resting periods we had to sit on the ground. This was fine as the Mall’s grassy areas are lined with trees and made for cooler, shady areas to rest. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for this and didn’t bring a blanket or anything along for us to sit on. We worked it out though. Next time I’ll remember the blanket. It was hotter than we expected. We packed some drinks and snacks in a backpack and I’m so glad we did! We ate lunch at one of the refreshment stand set up along the Mall. $9.75 for chicken finger, fries and a drink. Not too bad, but drinks alone can add up pretty quick. As hot as it was, we were glad we brought extra drinks with us. They had loads of port-a-pottys set up so there were no worries about finding a bathroom. Of course, you could always go in to one of the Smithsonian buildings to eat, take a bathroom break, or just take a break from the heat of the Festival. We didn’t visit any of the building. We’ve already been a half-dozen times and the thought of walking there and back and having to go through security seemed too exhausting.

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When we arrived at the Festival it was around 9:30 am. Since things really didn’t get moving until 10 am, this was a great time to get a seat to see our first author of the day. Throughout the fair are information tents that provided pink bags, map/schedule/author bio books and Festival posters. We stopped there and picked up those things first then grabbed our seat to see the first author in the History/Biography tent. All the tents are well labeled and the map they give you is extremely simple to use. There are volunteers everywhere and they are extremely helpful. After we listen to our first author we walked around to see some of the other tents. We checked in with other authors as the day went on. The genre tents get extremely crowded and seating is very limited. Popular genres/authors are standing room only. We weren’t able to secure a seat after the first one.

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There are a lot of tents geared toward kids with lots of activities and things to keep little one’s busy. In this weeks upcoming posts I’ll provide more information about our experience in these tents.

Books are available to buy in a large tent. It was very crowded and we ended up going in and coming right back out. Books are the regular price so there were no great deals to be had. However, some titles were for sale that are not yet available in stores. We opted to bring the books we wanted signed with us in our backpack.

Each author was assigned a time slot for signing books. In the book signing area lines formed before each signing tent which were numbered. Each author is assigned to a numbered tent. The lines were extremely long! We did get one book signed. It only took 2 hours. It was worth it. I’ll tell all about in an upcoming post.

We left dirty, tired and sweaty. For this trip we really had no real expectations. It was ok if we didn’t see every author we wanted to and it was ok if we didn’t get any books signed. We went for the experience. Next time I’ll have a strategy. I’ll probably pick the tent has the most authors I’d like to see and stay put. There’s always the next year. Right?

Check back all this week as I share my Festival experience.


On the Bus

On the bus and ready to hit the road to the National Book Festival.

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Happy Fall Y’All

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Getting Excited About the National Book Festival

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Book Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

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This legal thriller will have you questioning just how far a family is willing to go to protect their own and at what cost.

From Goodreads:
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

I love legal thrillers and the courtroom drama they provide. In Defending Jacob, we get this drama from the unique perspective of Andy Barber, being both a DA and the accused murderer’s father. It’s uniqueness comes from Andy providing the courtroom commentary and also offering a behind the scenes look of what is taking place.

Andy and his family have a lot to deal with. Their lives are uprooted by the turmoil of Jacob’s trial. They lose friendships, their standing in the community and the ability to live normal lives. Fears and doubts about themselves and Jacob cloud Andy and his wife’s judgement. They are hopelessly flawed which makes them seem that much more real.

The book was suspenseful and surprising. Twice I thought I knew how the story was going to end and both times I was pleasantly surprised with a twist of storytelling that changed the dynamics.

If you enjoy legal thrillers and want a thought-provoking drama, this is a great choice.

View this book on Goodreads.

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Book Review: Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

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Low Pressure is a highly entertaining, suspenseful novel that will having you guessing until the very end!

From Goodreads:
Bellamy Lyston Price was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy’s fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene as well as her memory of one vital fact that still eludes her…

Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a novel based on Susan’s murder. It’s her first book, and it’s an instant sensation. But because the novel is based on the most traumatic event of her life, she’s published it under a pseudonym to protect herself and her family.

But when a sleazy reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers that the book is based on a real crime, Bellamy’s identity – and dark family secrets — are exposed. Suddenly, she finds herself embroiled in a personal conflict and at the mercy of her sister’s killer, who for almost two decades has gotten away with murder…and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.

Sandra Brown has created a fantastic set of likable characters in this newest novel. Unpretentious rich girl Bellamy has repressed childhood memories of the day her sister was murdered. She’s written a novel, Low Pressure, in an effort to bring those memories to the forefront and bring the suspicion she has that the wrong man was accused and found guilty of the murder. She teams up with her sister’s then boyfriend, Dent, an airplane pilot and self-proclaimed bad boy, to solve the mystery that still surrounds her sister’s death.

There are many twists and turns during Bellamy and Dent’s investigation. Bellamy has to face some nasty truths about her sister and by digging up the past she’s put both her and Dent’s lives in danger from quite a few shady characters.

Many chapters end with a cliff hanging sentence which made me not want to put the book down. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen in the next chapter. There’s a nice steamy love scene in this one which does not disappoint.

For me the best thing about this book was I had no idea who the real murderer was. I knew who I thought didn’t do it but didn’t figure out who did until it was disclosed in the book…a very rare thing.

One request from the author…I want to read Bellamy’s Low Pressure!

This book was provided for review by Netgalley.

View this book on Goodreads.

View this book on Amazon.


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