Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

March 28

Comments: 3

Sunday Salon: Recently Read, Planned Reading, and Pens

by Ann-Katrina

Recently Read

My review queue is still a little backlogged, but I will set aside some time this week to go through it. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of some of the books I’ve this week.

Kin (The Good Neighbors Book 1)Kith (The Good Neighbors Book 2) Kin and Kith, Books 1 & 2 of The Good Neighbors, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh are graphic novels about a girl named Rue discovering her faerie heritage. To make things more interesting, her grandfather (on her faerie mother’s side) wants to take over her city and she’s the only one who can stop it. Although I’m not overly fond of the illustration style (it’s not bad, just not my preference and I’ve run into a few consistency issues), and although I’m not fond of the sometimes stilted prose, I find the overall story to be entertaining—so much so that I can’t wait to see what happens in the third book.

wtf by Peter Lerangis wtf by Peter Lerangis was a romp with a darkly humorous twist. If you’re into character-driven novels, then this really isn’t it, but it’s great mental popcorn. The story is told in short vignettes that follow the actions of six prep school teenagers over the course of one night involving a car accident involving a deer, drug deals gone wrong, and horny couples hooking up in front of strangers. Even with that tidbit, I should mention there’s nothing entirely explicit. Yes, those things are on center stage, but many of the gritty details are left out. Overall, good read.

The Clearing by Heather Davis The Clearing by Heather Davis is my favorite read this week. It’s beautiful and sweet and a bit sad. After leaving an abusive relationship, sixteen-year-old Amy moves in with her great-aunt Mae. While in her care, she discovers a mist lining the forest and through it a clearing where she meets the eighteen-year-old Henry. Over time, the two fall in love, but there’s one problem: Henry (and his mother and grandfather) are stuck in 1944. It’s then up to the two of them to decide if and how they will be together.

Planned Reading

I think I may have strayed into book limbo; a place where I want to read, but have hit a reading slump. In any event, I hope I get out of my little funk soon because there’s a busy reading week ahead.

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa SchroederThe Gardener by S. A. BodeenWhite Cat by Holly Black

Pens & Other Cute Things

Index Tab Stickers
(I love those little index tab stickers!)

I went shopping at JetPens again. I only needed to get some pen refills, but I came away with seven new pens and some adorable index tab stickers. You can read all about it (and see pretty pictures) at Today, I Wrote…

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January 17

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TSS: What Makes a Review Good?

by Ann-Katrina

I read a lot of reviews. They’re how I decide whether I’ll take a shot on something (in the event that the synopsis doesn’t completely grab me and shake me and say you must read me NOW in a really crazy voice).

I’ve read so many reviews that I know what makes a review helpful to me:

  • Overview of the story (beyond the back cover blurb, which can sometimes be deceiving)
  • Overview of the writing style
  • Overview of the plot and character development

And I know what doesn’t make a review helpful to me:

  • Blanket statements, such as I LURVE IT!! or I HATEZ IT!!!1, with no supporting explanations
  • Spoilers with no warning*. EPICFAIL.

Yes, I indeed know what’s useful and less so for me, but I’d like to see this subject from different angles. I ask, what makes a review a good, helpful review? What’s important to you in a review?

(* As a supplementary question, what constitutes a spoiler of the EPICFAIL variety?)

By the way, if you feel compelled to include examples of reviews you’ve loved, I will not stop you. In fact, I will likely thank you and offer you cupcakes.

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November 22

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Sunday Salon: Week End Round-up

by Ann-Katrina

Sunday Salon I’m lazing away this Sunday afternoon, about to dig into a patty and coco bread. The dark clouds outside are teasing me, but I still have hope they will open up and provide the perfect atmosphere to get my creative juices flowing. In the meantime, I figure now is the perfect time to offer the “where has Ann-Kat been?” update.

For a little while, I was sick (think delirious and semi-conscious) with the flu. It’s an experience I’d rather not repeat and luckily I’m all better now (yay!). The downside is that I’m racing to catch up with everything that’s fallen behind…

Writing

NaNoWriMo 2009 Participant I’m now nearly 16,000 words behind on my NaNoWriMo project, but I hope to fill most of the gap by the end of the day—cloud inspiration permitting.

I did, however, manage to get most of my NaNo board finished and discovered the face of my female lead along with a few secondary characters. Since I promised to bring this blog back to all things bookish, you can read all about the NaNo board (and my writing progress in general) at Today, I Wrote….

Reading

After finishing Wuthering Heights, from which my head is still reeling (Kidnapping and extortion? Really?!?), I’ve moved on to The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Fallen by Lauren Kate. I’m about a third of the way through both.

The Wind in the WillowsFallen by Lauren Kate

The former I remember from childhood; reading it as an adult brings some new perspectives. The latter is interesting so far, but I’ve already found a few items of contention—here’s hoping it will redeem itself by the end.

Reviews

My review queue is backlogged a bit, but I hope to have that sorted just after the holidays. Some of the books awaiting review include The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett, Dawn by Kevin Brooks, and Soulless by Christopher Golden.

The Man Who Loved Books Too MuchDawn by Kevin BrooksSoulless by Christopher Golden

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much was enthralling. I thought I was in for a true crime read, but it was more a journalist’s memoir of the book collecting world and the misguided lengths to which one man would go for his passion.

I managed to get up a mini review of Dawn since I read it for the 24 Hr. Read-a-Thon, but I do need to get a proper review online. This book certainly deserves one.

I expected to like Soulless a bit more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it. Then again, I’ve always been fond of those B zombie movies with cheezy overacting and that’s the feeling I got from the book. Plus, it had an original premise in how the zombie apocalypse started. There are some book notes up (and a Sunday Sketch depicting a scene), but like the others, this deserves its own full review.

Arrivals

Thank goodness the book fairy didn’t forget about me while I was infirmed. A number of books made their way across my threshold and I’m excited to read all of them. The list includes:

Finch by Jeff VanderMeerDefenders of the Scroll by Shirazi sold Andy Warhol (too soon) by Richard PolskyRaiders' Ransom by Emily DiamandMadapple by Chrstina Meldrum

Soon I’ll get a proper “recent arrivals” post up along with synopsis for each of the titles. But for now, that ends my Sunday Salon week end round-up. You have been updated. :)

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October 11

Comments: 2

The Sunday Salon, Sunday Sketch 0.7, and RIP IV Short Story Sunday

by Ann-Katrina

I felt like the monster truck announcer guy writing that title–Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Anyhoo, moving right along.

Just got back from the store and since it’s so difficult to leave the store without purchasing at least one book, I decided to get four. (There was some logic in that sentence when I heard it in my head, but it escapes me at the moment.)

New Books Oct. '09

I nabbed the Norman Rockwell and Michelangelo books because I like art and I figure someone who likes art can’t have too many books on the subject. The Real Life Renovating I picked up, not because I plan on renovating anything (as if getting electrocuted installing a new ceiling fan wasn’t fun or anything), but because the pictures were phenomenal and it would help greatly in visualizing homes for my characters. And I got the Baby Animals book because…well…they’re baby animals, *squee*.

I’ve already read both the Norman Rockwell and Baby Animals books and discovered that I really would have loved to share a cup of coffee with Mr. Rockwell and that baby giraffes, when they’re born, drop seven feet to the ground—what a way to start your life.

Sunday Sketch 0.7

I’m going to cheat a little bit…

Instead of doing a scene from one of the books or stories that I’m reading, I’m going to do a sketch from the Baby Animals book because…(do we really have to go over this again? They’re baby animals, *squee*.)

I wanted to draw the baby rhino because 1) he’s adorable, and 2) they rarely receive love for their cuteness because they kind of stop being cute when they’re all grown up, but then I saw the baby field bunny.

Field Bunnies Sketch

I was tempted to color it, but I decided to save that for another day.

RIP IV Short Story Sunday

In order to get my short story fix, I incurred a book avalanche. Yeah, you heard me correctly. You remember that neat stack of books I created for my 24 hour read-a-thon book pool? Well, the book I wanted to read was halfway down the second stack and I decided it might be fun to try my hand at Jenga. It didn’t work out so well. At least I’ll have an easier time restructuring my book pool should the need arise.

Since I was out and about for a bit today, I only had enough time to read one short story: The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds from M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman.

Scary this story was not. It was, however, quite charming in a cute way. It took all the familiar nursery rhymes we heard growing up and transformed it into a noir whodunit featuring Little Jack Horner as the private dick and Humpty Dumpty as the victim.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get in at least a few more tales from this book, if not all of them.

Now…I’m going to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and going to bed. :)

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September 13

Comments: 4

[TSS]: Sunday Sketch 0.5 (Anton Grey and Rebecca Brown from Ruined)

by Ann-Katrina

Ruined by Paula Morris Cover This week’s Sunday Sketch is a bit late because I’ve been swept up by the book for most of the day. And the weather has been delightfully cooperative—dark, eerie rainstorms.

I’m about halfway through and it has been smooth sailing. I’m soaking up the spooky—and oddly romantic—atmosphere and I’m surprised at how much I’ve learned about New Orleans. I’m mentally booking a trip.

For this week’s sketch, I decided on Anton Grey and Rebecca Brown because I’m liking their dynamic so far. (And it’s super quick because I’m anxious to get back to the book. :D )

Anton Gray and Rebecca Brown from Ruined

Next week, I promise to spend a bit more time and create a more detailed sketch. For now, I’m off to read!

P.S. If you haven’t already entered, I’m holding a Book Giveaway—5 winners will receive a copy of this book.

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