Monthly Archives: December 2008

Chapter 1 Conclusion

How quickly a year just slips through our fingers. It will be 2009 in 2 days, and I can’t believe how much having this blog has changed my life. I know that sounds really corny. Don’t worry, this post isn’t going to be a cheese-fest remembrance of my year as a blogger.

I have a LiveJournal account which I use to keep tabs with friends and update on my personal life. I started this blog with no initial purpose. If you look through my first 10 or so posts, its all chaotic with my reviews, anemic attempt at learning French and random mish-mash of knitting posts. It wasn’t until I narrowed my focus to just reviewing books that my blog really took off, and now here I am 11 months later (I started The Novel World at the end of January). I’m going to be hosting my first reading challenge in 2009, I receive books for review pretty frequently in the mail, I read ARCs for my library system, I’ve befriended many other bloggers in the tubes of the Internet, and have learned a lot about myself through all the books I’ve read this past year. I jumped around a lot with genres, and authors. Some books I plowed through, some I took my time with. Each book felt like a little romance, a little date with a mix of adventure. Some were more adventurous than others. Some were cheap duds.

I’m 6 books shy of reading my 100 books in a year goal. But hey, I came in pretty damn close, so I call it a win-win for me!

Here is wishing you all a Happy New Year’s! 2009 will be a year of surprises, new goals and aspirations and a brand new load of books to be read and reviewed and given away!

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Internet Footnote #4

Fans of Alexander McCall Smith might already know about this website, but I’m throwing it out there anyways.

This is another serialized web-novel, via the UK’s Telegraph.

The premise is really creative. As the Telegraph put it:

Alexander McCall Smith is writing his first ever online novel Corduroy Mansions exclusively for Telegraph.co.uk. A new chapter will appear on this page each weekday for the next 20 weeks. The best-selling author welcomes your suggestions as the story unfolds.

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith is so far in its 70th Cahpter, but don’t worry, the chapters are short, quick and fun reads.

McCall Smith (I’m never sure how to address author’s with 2 last names) is the author of The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency, a mystery series that is quite popular at my library system. After reading through a few chapters of Corduroy Mansions, I can see why.

You can sign up to recieve e-mails of each updated/new chapter. YOu can listen to the chapters on Itunes, or just read them on the telegraph website.

Internet Footnote #3

www.gimp.org

I heard about this website from one of my fellow librarians at work. Its a great alternative for people who, like me, can’t afford Photoshop. It is also for people, also like me, who don’t need all the extra features that come with photoshop, but still want a good and reliable program for picture editing. When you go to this website, you can also download this software from www.download.com, you will have access to a world of photo editing techniques and features that Microsoft Photo Editor does not have. Many of the features are similar to Photoshop, but not nearly as confusing to navigate. You can layer pictures for supreme editing, crop, color, blur, sharpen, etc. Its a great tool, its FREE, and very user friendly.

The official product description from Gimp:

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It is a powerful piece of software with capabilities not found in any other free software product. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert-quality photo-retouching program, an online batch-processing system, a mass production image renderer, or an image-format converter. GIMP is modular, expandable, and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image-manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

The Looking Glass Wars – Review

The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor, is the first in a triology that takes a darker look into Alice’s world of Wonderland.

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy) Beddor takes a creative look into the beloved fictionalized world creatived by Lewis Carrol back in the early 1900s. I came across this series by accident, and I’m glad I did. I love the original Alice in Wonderland, and this book gives the characters more depth, and more diversity.

In this book, Alyss Heart is princess of Wonderlandopolis. On her 7th birthday party, her aunt Redd invades the castle,and kills both of Alyss’ parents. This forces Hatter Madigan to take Alyss through the Pool of Tears, a sort of vortex that took the two into a different world. In the new world, Alyss becomes separated from Hatter Madigan, winds up in an orphanage before being adopted by the Liddell family in England. Alice befriends Charles Dodgson, so soon becomes a sympathetic ear to Alice’s tales of her past. He turns her story into what we all know and love as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. As Alice gets older, she begins to forget her previous life in Wonderopolis until one fateful day when someone beloved from her past finds her and brings her back to her roots.

This book is a young adult fiction series, so it does have its corny moments, and some of the humor is either over the top, or just unoriginal. The twist of events of Alice to Alyss is a fun read, and the division of Alyssians and those loyal to Redd makes a nice play on politics and the instrinsic human traits of greed, survival and ambition.

FINAL GRADE: A

The Looking Glass Wars
by Frank Beddor
Puffin, 2007
ISBN 0142409413
400 pages

Book 2: Seeing Redd

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard – Review

With the close of Harry Potter, fans have been eagerly awaiting the latest release of the newest JK Rowling book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Standard Edition A small compilation of 5 tales, each followed with a analysis by Prof. Dumbledore. The tales themselves serve as allegories, each tale teaching values lessons on sharing, tolerance, intellect and common sense. The commentary by Prof. Dumbledore was a lot of fun to read, because he was able to pick apart the story, and talk about the “moral of the story.”

The book is a very, very, very quick read, with 1in margins on the sides and 2 inch margins on the top and bottom, there really isn’t that much font, or that many words to read. The stories are entertaining and have counterparts in Aesop’s fables. This is a great read for younger children, 4th or 5th graders. I’m not sure older readers will enjoy it as much.

FINAL GRADE: A

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
by JK Rowling
Children’s High Level Group, 2008
ISBN 0545128285
111 pages.

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Dewey Decimal Challenge – Official Post

Okay,

So here is my official post for my Dewey Decimal Challenge for 2009.

I created a separate page to keep track of all the Challenge happenings.

This is the first challenge I’ve ever run, but I feel pretty confident about the overall plan. The goal is to read 10 books, 1 book from each Dewey Century in the span of a year. You can organize your reading plan anyway you want. Between January and December 31st I’ll have random topics and activities following each Dewey Century from 000 to 999 in that order.

Rules and Sign-up are located HERE

Dewey Decimal System Challenge

I know in one of my last posts I said I would avoid joining challenges, only to join the Library Thing 999 Challenge, and now here am I, wanting to start my own challenge.

I’m only 12 pages into a book about the history of libraries and it reminds me of a goal I had for myself back when I first started High School. I wanted to read every single book in the library before I graduated High School. I even checked out 5 books, one from each section (nonfiction, children’s, adult, etc). The first nonfiction book I read was of a scientists from Texas who swore he was abducted by aliens. My goal frittered out after that book.

I’ve decided that in 2009, I’m going to revive this lofty goal for myself, but with a few modifications. Instead of trying to read every single book, I’m going to follow the Dewey Decimal System, and read 1 book from each Dewey century. That would also help me cover my nonfiction books for my 999 Challenge. If anyone else wants to join me in this challenge, let me know, I can try to come up with some fun monthly topics and points of view of that month’s Dewey category.

So, the Dewey Chain goes as follows:
000 – Generalities
100 – Philosophy and Psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social Sciences
400 – Language
500 – Natural Sciences + Math
600 – Technology
700 – The Arts
800 – Literature and Rhetoric
900 – Geography and History

EDIT
I have created a webpage dedicated to this challenge. If you are interested in joining, please go HERE for full rules and sign-up.

New Years Resolutions and Challenges

So, one of my New Year’s resolutions was going to be to NOT join any reading challenges. I have a terrible time keeping up with them, and somehow end up avoiding books specifically for those challenges when I have the option of two books. I think I may still be traumatized from the past 7 years of mandatory reading via school.

Anyways, the Library Thing 999 challnege caught my eye. It seems broad enough that books I read will just happen to fall into the selected categories.
The rules are simple:
This group is to help you track your progress on the 999 challenge – 9 books in 9 different categories, all read in 2009. For an added challenge, try completing your books by 9/9/09! You pick the categories yourself, just post here and let us know how you’re doing. I’ve started a separate page on my blog to track these books. I want to try and read 100 books again next year, so this will get me 80% of my goal!

The Bookshelf Meme

Belle of the Books tagged me for Eva’s Bookshelf Meme. I haven’t filled one of these out for months. Looks like I was long overdue.

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.

And now, tell me about:

The book that’s been on your shelves the longest:
This is a toughy. Does this mean read or unread? I tend to donate my unread books that collect dust on my shelves. My oldest book that I still carry around with me is The Princess and The Goblin. I picked up a discarded library edition from my middle school when I was in 7th grade.

A book that reminds you of something specific in your life The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffengger reminds me of when my boyfriend and I started our long distance relationship 2 years ago.

A book you acquired in some interesting way
Most of my books are acquired the same way, either library book sales, or they were given to me as gifts. Nothing particular stands out though. A few of my books I’ve gotten in the mail for review, those are always fun!

The most recent addition to your shelves
Eve: The Story of the First Woman

The book whose loss would traumatize you the most
The Princess and the Goblin, only because I think its slowly going out of print. Everything else I can always buy another copy of if I really want it.

A book that’s been with you to the most places
Um…Most of my Neil Gaiman books traveled with me from apartment to apartment during college.

A bonus book that you want to talk about but doesn’t fit into the other questions I have a couple of Babar book in French that my friend brought back for me after her summer stay in France. I love Babar, I grew up on those cartoons as a child.

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Well, if you haven’t filled out a meme in a while and feel like you want to talk about your bookshelf, feel free to tag yourself and start typing!

If You Eat, You Never Die – Review

If You Eat, You Never Die. (Tony Romano) 12/23/2008

Review:

Chicago Tales If You Eat, You Never Die by Tony Romano is a wonderful collection of stories about an Italian-American family, The Cummings (Comingo) growing up in Chicago during the 1950’s. The perspectives of each chapter alternates between the different characters, but is usually told through one of the brothers, Giacomo and Michael. Occasionally there is a chapter told by their mother, father, wives and children. These chapters I enjoyed the best. The women in the family are strong willed, if not over bearing, but full of heart and good intentions. Romano examines different types of relationships through the Comingo family line. The writing is playful, sarcastic and the dialog is very realistic. Romano stays true to history as the children age throughout the chapters.

The stories trace the lives of the brothers as the grow up from young children, to full grown adults. The stories are heartfelt, with morals to each story. From the simple stories of Michael refusing to eat dinner so that he won’t gain weight for his wrestling team, to Giacomo seeing a good friend of his do something disturbing just for a motor bike. The stories are very real, and I found myself get teary eyed through many of the chapters. For immigrant families, I think this collection is a good choice because many of the emotions that parents and kids feel are all the same. The parents try to cling to tradition while the children try to grow up “American.” The struggles and past lives of parents that children usually never know about.

This a quick read full of insights into life and relationships. I recommend it for the Holidays, just when you start to get sick of your relatives. Its a good way to realize that everyone has a story to tell.

FINAL GRADE: A

If You Eat, You Never Die
by Tony Romano
Harper Perennial 2008
ISBN 0060857943
272 pages

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