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Feature and Follow: Book Buying Before Blogging

Before book blogging, how would you find out about new books, or did you?

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Scholastic Book Fair: the day you especially did not want to stay home sick

When I was a youngin’, I learned about new books through the Scholastic Book Fair! As soon as the book catalog was sent home with students, I became antsy with anticipation. I’d spend the evening circling the books I wanted to purchase, and my mom would send me to school with a check to cover the cost. I think this was the only time I ever “discovered” new books. You see, as a kid, I was a bit of a habitual reader. I would discover an author or series, and I would stick with it.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

My go-to authors were:

  • Jon Scieszka– the Time Warp TrioThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse
  • Louis Sachar– Sideways Stories from Wayside School and of course, Holes
  • Jack Prelutsky– all his poetry books, but especially A. Nonnymouse Writes Again! and The Dragons are Singing Tonight
  • Robert Munsh– Again everything that came out during my childhood, Paper Bag Princess, Pigs!, Love You Forever, Purple Green and Yellow
  • R. L. Stine– Goosebumps, Give Yourself Goosebumps (which were the choose your own adventure series), and oh gosh, FEAR STREET!!!
  • Shel Silverstein– EVERYTHING! I also had his poems on tape, and I listened to them on repeat, repeat, repeat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (series) by Nancy McArthur
  • The Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Bailey School Kids (series) by Marcia T. Jones, Debbie Dadey, and John Steven Gurney

Do you see a theme here? Almost everything I read was a series. I wonder if I burned myself out on them, and this is why I cannot finish a series now.

Angusthongsandfullfrontalsnogging

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging made me laugh until tears streamed down my face

In high school, I was on my own to discover new books. And this is actually pretty strange to me. All of my friends were book nerds too, but we rarely talked about books unless that book was Harry Potter. There was one exception– I turned a friend onto The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books. These books were hilarious! But…I never finished the series.

Most of the time, I would walk in to Barnes and Noble, armed with $70 of allowance money, and I would spend then entire day roaming the bookshelves. I would pace in front of the young adult section for covers and titles that caught my eye and summaries that kept my attention. People weren’t as avid readers of young adult books back then, so I don’t recall the selection changing too often. Still, I felt like I re-read those summaries and stared critically at those covers every time I went to buy books. Despite the lack of reviews or book chatter, I always seemed to love the books I picked out.

Feature and Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

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Feature & Follow: On Writing

Are you also a writer and of what genre, or did you ever consider writing?

I am not a writer, but I do write every day in some fashion.

Sometimes I write posts for this blog. Sometimes I scrawl my soul across pages of my “Shakespeare Never Tweeted a Sonnet” notebook. Sometimes I write letters to a friend. Every month, I write an Accounts Receivable narrative for my company’s board report, but ugh. And, sometimes I get swept up in my creativity and write page after page about the characters and the world that has been lingering in my imagination for a few years now.

Of course I considered writing as a career. That’s why I majored in English. I favored creative non-fiction– I love reading it as much as I love writing it– but, I had no idea what I would do with an English degree. I think I was more smitten by the romance of writing anyway. Outside of personal diddies like a blog post or a diary entry, I definitely lack the discipline it takes to craft a story. I spend more time thinking about trying to write than actually putting pen to paper and letting the ink bleed through.

I attempt to write with abandon every November during NaNoWriMo, but even that intimidates me! I usually give up after day three, but I’m still going to try it again this year. You never know… A rag-tag crew of airship pirates has been occupying my thoughts for five…maybe six years now. One day I will have the courage to give them life.

Feature and Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

 

 

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That time I did a Follow Friday on a Saturday: Japan!

Yesterday, I did not go to work. I woke up at 9:00 in the morning bathed in warmth and the sun’s rays. It felt like a magnificent Saturday morning. Alas! It was only Friday. This is a much better scenario than thinking the day is Friday, but in reality it’s only Thursday (or worse, Wednesday). I did forget about participating in Follow Friday, but this week’s question was too fun for me to pass up.

Spring Break: Where would be your favorite destination spot if you could join the Spring Break festivities?

First, this would require me to still have a Spring Break. Adulthood is such a drag! But, if I could choose any place to visit for a Spring Break, I would go to Japan.

Hanami by Eric Monfort

Hanami by Eric Montfort

1. I would have a Hanami (花見)– Hanami means “flower viewing”, and they take place when the cherry blossoms are flowering. I’ve read that many people get together and have picnics in parks, but even to walk amongst the trees and their delicate flowers would be a delight.

Okunion Cemetery on Mount Koya from Jordy Meow

Okunion Cemetery on Mount Koya from Jordy Meow

2. Take a hike on Mount Koya– After spending a day hiking mountain trails, you can experience a temple lodging by staying at one of the Buddhist temples.

Old Town in Takayama

Old Town in Takayama

3. Travel back in time in Old Town in Takayama– The houses that line these streets are preserved from the Edo Period (1600-1868). Take tours of sake breweries, enjoy a cup of coffee at a coffee house, or even take a tour of houses to see how people lived during the Edo Period.

Kenrokuen from trako_aus

Kenrokuen from trako_aus

4. Visit Kenrokuen– Kenrokuen in Kanzawa is considered to be on of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens. While you’re there, you can also visit a tea house and watch a tea ceremony.

Nagoya Castle from Yevgen Pogoryelov

Nagoya Castle from Yevgen Pogoryelov

5. Daydream in Nagoya Castle– because how could you say no to a quintessential touristy thing like touring a castle?!

Japan is on my bucket list, so really I’d be happy to visit even in the dead of winter. Where is your dream Spring Break destination?

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee’s Views and Alison Can Read

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Follow Friday: What Books Did Santa Bring?


Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! What books did Santa stuff your stocking with this holiday season? Do a holiday book haul for us! If you don’t celebrate just show off your books that you got this week. Pictures!!!

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

In the summer of 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop. Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record. A Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.

All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.

By now my mother has caught on that I’m a huge Bill Bryson fan, but I was still surprised to find myself holding this book on Christmas morning. I knew I’d read this book eventually, but I never dreamed that I’d own it a few months after it was released. My frugal nature makes owning new releases a rarity. I’m really hesitant to start reading this book though. It has the word “Summer” in the title, and it’s the dead of winter. Embracing American nostalgia seems more appropriate on a warm, summer day with an ice-cold glass of Coca-Cola or a mouthful of watermelon flavored Hubba Bubba. Someone tell me I’m nuts and get to reading because Bill Bryson books are great in any season.

Whiskerlists: The Kitty Classifieds by Angie Bailey

When the humans are away, the cats will play . . . online

Do you ever wonder what your cat does when you’re not home? Is your keyboard covered with mysterious paw prints? Well, your feline friend might be hiding a secret Internet addiction: whiskerslist. The kitty community is more connected than ever with this online hub that brings together cats looking to sell lousy pet toys, rant about their humans, search for a soul mate (or quick hookup), and much more.
With more than 160 hilarious classified ads written for cats, by cats, whiskerslist reveals the inner lives of our furry companions like never before.

The only thing I love more than Bill Bryson books are cats. Have you seen my #crazycatlady hashtags on Twitter? So, my mom scored another win when she gifted me with a book about the feline version of Craigslist. After Fargo and I have a session of chase-the-laser-point, we settle down and read a few Whiskerlist ads.

Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat by Caroline Smith (Collector’s Edition)

Illustrator by day, surrealist by night, Ted Geisel created a body of previously little-known work during his leisure hours that he called his “Midnight Paintings,” and which is now known as “The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss.” This irrepressible and soulful collection redefines Ted Geisel as an iconic American artist. For sixty years, his “Secret Art” allowed Geisel to expand his artistic boundaries without the confines and pressures of commercial deadlines and influences. These paintings afforded the peaceful distraction that he craved, and through this work, the tenets of surrealism—surprise and juxtaposition—energized his sensibilities.

This volume exuberantly juxtaposes Geisel’s “Midnight Paintings” with his best-loved children’s books because this was how Dr. Seuss constructed his creative life—his days devoted to literature for children, his nights to letting his mind and palette wander to even stranger shores. Inevitably, Geisel created images in his private artworks that would find their way into his literary projects. Though he fiercely protected his “Secret Art” from criticism during his lifetime, his intention all along was for these works to be seen when he was gone.

 The collectors edition come with this 320 page “coffee table book” about Dr. Seuss and his artwork, a poster sized colored print, and three smaller black and white prints.

Of all the gifts I received this Christmas, The Cat Behind the Hat was probably my favorite. The gift-givers thought the artwork was kind of neat, but they were uncertain if I would like it. I meant to tell them this gift was perfect, but words failed me.

Barnes and Noble Gift Card. I like to think of this as potential books. Maybe it’s Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Maybe it’s Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Or maybe I’ll make a tradition out of buying science books. Last year I purchased A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking. Maybe this year I’ll try Death by Blackholes: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Sky’s the Limit! (Actually, it’s $25).

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View!

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Where is you warm weather reading nook?

Hopefully warm weather for most of us is here soon… so tell us about your favorite outdoor reading spot. Or take a picture!

I wish I could take a picture of my favorite outdoor reading spot, but it’s looking shoddy right now since it’s overcast and half-melted piles of snow lay everywhere. I’ll show it off this summer so you all can get the full effect of its awesomeness.

I live on a lake. Okay okay, I live on a canal that links two lakes together. But, if I peer two houses down to the left, I can see the lake, so it’s kind of like living on the lake, right? Once the weather gets warm and sunny, I drag a plastic lawn chair down to the edge of the canal, plop down, and read. Usually my boyfriend follows with his fishing pole and tackle box, and he’ll spend his afternoon catching small bass and catfish and bluegill. He’s good company when he fishes because he usually doesn’t interrupt my reading unless he wants to show off his catch or he needs help pulling a hook that a catfish swallowed. Every once in a while, some kids in canoes will come down the canal or a family will float by on their pontoon boat, and they’ll wave “hi” and ask if the boyfriend has made any good catches. It’s pleasant.

Usually I have to call it quits when the sun starts to set because the mosquitoes come out in droves, and I am a delicacy to mosquitoes. Once, my boyfriend and I took turns reading aloud poems from a Charles Bukowski book while sitting outside at night. He had not a single bite on his body, but I got loads. And! I was wearing long socks, jeans, and a hoodie because I just knew I would get bite. They ended up biting me through my jeans, and I had to douse myself with Calamine lotion. It was awful. Instead of heading outside at night, I   usually prop the back door open so I can listen to the bullfrogs and the Sandhill cranes and the cicadas while I read.

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View!

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Follow Friday: What Supernatural Creature Do You Wish Existed?


If you could choose one supernatural being/creature to really exists what would it be and why?

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for elves. These creatures have taken on many different roles throughout folklore and literature, so it’s kind of hard for me to decide which type of elf I wish were real.

The elves and the shoemaker

In Grimm brothers’ story of The Elves and the Shoemaker, elves are helpful creatures who are very handy cobblers. Shoes are inexpensive these days, so it’s easy to purchase replacements. However, isn’t it dreadful when you have to retire your absolute favorite pair of shoes because you’ve worn the sole down? If these types of elves existed, all you would have to do is entice them with some warm clothes to mend a worn sole.

LegolasTolkien’s version of elves are supposed to be beautiful and wise and total bad asses. Maybe my reasoning for wishing these types of elves existed is superficial, but I’d be a very happy lady if elves bore a striking resemblance to Orlando Bloom. He totally inspired me to write awful fanfic, and I may or may not have had this picture printed out and tacked to my corkboard in high school.

Then there is your standard Christmas elf. I mean, they make presents. And they smile. And any friend of Santa is a friend of mine. At some point in elf lore, they gained a bad wrap. It was believed they afflicted humans and especially livestock. But, does Buddy the elf seem like he wants to smite cows? No. He just wants to spread Christmas cheer through song! Also, true story: for my Accounting final, I wrote an essay about how Santa should switch from a periodic inventory system to a perpetual inventory system. I made the argument that it would be less time-consuming, so his elves could dedicate their time to other things they’re passion about…like dentistry.

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View!

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Book I Wish I Could Unread

If you could “unread” a book, which one would it be? Is it because you want to start over and experience it again for the first time? Or because it was THAT bad?

The Good – These are the books that I wish I could unread because I loved them so much. I wish I could experience them for the first time again.

  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, duh! Although, to be honest with each time I read the book I always discover something new, so in a way it’s kind of like I’m reading it for the first time.
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Bad – This describes my high school required reading experience. I don’t want to unread these books because they were horrible necessarily. I want to unread them so that I can read them with a fresher perspective. Required reading was such a chore. Nothing about the experience was inspiring. The books were mostly dull from my 15-year-old perspective. The discussions were dull because only two or three people read enough of the book to even have a discussion. And then the teachers ruined it all by giving us daily quizzes to see what of the story we retained. That’s no way to inspire an analytical reader. These are some of the books I read in high school that I wish I could unread:

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Brave New World bu Aldous Huxley
  • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksander I. Solzhenitsyn

The Ugly – These books may or may not have caused me to throw a literal temper tantrum while alone in my room. I wish I could unread them for good.

  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Grendel by John Gardner
  • the last two books in the Twilight Series. I’ve officially been halfway through book 4 for a year as of two weeks ago.
  • The Republic by Plato (Who makes 14-year-olds read this stuff?)