Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Give-Away

Who doesn't enjoy winning a free book! If you would like to win a copy of this book, then go to The Boston Bibliophile and register to win! Good luck everyone!

Blog Award

Today has been a totally stress-filled and I have felt like screaming all day!! Trying to take my nearly turned 16 year old to get her driving license permit ended up being a nightmare and then I had more dealings with the high school - to read about my problems with the local high school, check out several posts on my Rightmyer Rants blog.

So, when I finally had a chance to escape from the hassles of life and enter the calming world of my fellow bloggers, I was humbled to realize that Stephanie from Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic had awarded me with a Brillante Weblog Award!

Here is what Stephanie wrote about Bobbi's Book Nook:
Bobbi from Bobbi's Book Nook is a relatively new-to-me blogger. But from reading her numerous and wonderful reviews, we seem to be very like-minded in our reading. She has great diversity in her reading, and I can see my TBR pile growing a lot from just visiting her blog!

I have only been blogging a very short time, so I'm totally overwhelmed that at least one other person enjoys reading my book reviews! Thanks Stephanie for your encouragement and support - it's really great to know there are other people with my similar tastes roaming the internet.

Today I am unable to following through with the rules for this award, but rest assured, this will be done over the weekend, once I have time to recuperate from my horribly long very bad day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Alice In Wonderland

If you are expecting a review of the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, I need to warn you up front, that's not what you're going to read. Now that you've been forwarned, let's get on with the review of one of my favorite classic books.

I have always been fanscinated by Lewis Carroll's tales of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. People today consider Alice in Wonderland a nice children's story, but upon closer examination, the obscure symbolism and meaning Lewis Carroll incorporates into the text is uniquely mature. But even though there are greater meanings behind the scattered prose, on almost every page there is something that will make you laugh out loud.

He tells the story from an innocent girl's point of view. I must admit, I have always been a little distrubed by his obsession with young girls, but I digress. Mr. Carroll uses a confusing and random plotline to create a satire of society. Some chapters need to be read multiple times to absorb what is actually going on. In the beginning, the story is very puzzling; on the surface, Alice is simply following the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole. This wackiness and disordered organization, although it may lead to making the reader confused, serves a higher purpose in understanding the story. Written in 1865, this book strongly emphasizes corruption and insensibility in society.

Overall, Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite books; I loved it as a child, but I have a greater appreciation of this classic now that I'm an adult. I actually wrote my college thesis on the implications of Alice in Wonderland on modern society, helping me gain a new perspective on how our society works. You quickly became accustomed to the writing style and began to appreciate the themes and messages it contains.

Everyone should read Alice in Wonderland at least once. Not only does it contain powerful themes about corruption and chaos in society that everyone can learn from. However, it should not be read only once, lest much of the meaning be initially misconstrued as unimportant nonsense. It must be examined thoroughly to obtain the most amount of personal growth.

Monday, July 28, 2008

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

When You Are Engulfed in Flames is the sixth book by David Sedaris. This book is a collection of essays on the comedic aspects of his life; in other words, it is typical Sedaris! Whether he is talking on NPR radio or writing an episode of The American Life, Mr. Sedaris turns every day life into humor.

"The Understudy" is a comical look at life with a adult babysitter, who happens to be crazy. From the woman's nasty slip to her "monkey fingered" back scratcher, I was howling with laughter by the time the parent's returned from a week-long vacation.

"Road Trips" is the hilarious story of being picked up by a driver who wants a blow job as payment. This sentence speaks for itself!!

"April in Paris" describes how he began catching flies to feed to April, his favorite spider. It epitomizes his wacky, wonderful vision.
"Most people would have found it grotesque, but when you're in love nothing is so horrible that it can't be thought of as cute. It slayed me that she had eight eyes."

"That's Amore" is an account of living next to a foul-mouthed elderly woman in New York who, when Sedaris meets her, tells him,
"mess with me, and I'll stick my foot so far up your ass I'll lose my shoe".

In "Solution to Saturday's Puzzle", Sedaris argues with a bitchy woman he is sitting next to on a plane and then sneezes while she is asleep, sending a throat lozenge shooting into her lap. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to start spitting things!

Mr. Sedaris writes best about acute embarrassment and seems to enjoy humiliating himself. He describes the "Stadium Pal", an external catheter that enables sports spectators and truck drivers to urinate into a tube and then collect the urine in a bag. He tries it, but admits that peeing while checking into a hotel or discussing his drinks order with a flight attendant isn't easy.

In the essay "What I Learned", he is reflective and biting as he looks back and realizes
"... what we, in our certainty, could not have fathomed - is that stuff comes up. Weird doors open. People fall into things. Maybe the engineering whiz will wind up brewing cider, not because he has to, but because he finds it challenging. Who knows? Maybe the athlete will bring peace to all nations, or the class moron will go on to become president of the United States -- though that's more likely to happen at Harvard or Yale, schools that will pretty much let in anybody."

If you love to laugh and enjoy reading hilarious essays, don't miss David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames - it is a true treasure!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Last Lecture

It saddened me to learn, that halfway through my reading The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch died. My heart goes out to his family and friends, especially his three little children.

I was honestly worried that this would be exactly the sort of book that I can't stand. You know the story, guy knows he's dying and writes the perfect ending to his life. I have seen the video of The Last Lecture on the internet, but I just wasn't sure how it would translate into the written word.

Fortunately, Pausch doesn't try to justify The Last Lecture on the basis of his being a Wise Dying Man. The beginning and the end of The Last Lecture are the real tear-jerking parts: we meet Pausch, we meet his family, and we learn about his upcoming death. At the end we hear, for just a moment, about the tears that he and his wife have shed before (and after) bed - after the bedroom door has closed and the kids are asleep. That's one of the most heartbreaking parts of it all: Pausch's children don't yet know about his illness; the parents are waiting until he becomes symptomatic to tell them. In the meantime he's preparing: delivering a last lecture to impart some life lessons, getting his life insurance in order, buying a sports car, going on fun trips with his wife - having a good time, and trying not to think too much about his own death.

When I first started reading, I was angry with Pausch because he was devoting so much time to performing his last lecture - time he was taking away from his wife and children. He left his wife - on her 40th birthday no less - to actually give the speech in Philidelphia. What if that was the last birthday she was ever going to have him? But later I came to realize that what he left his family is far more important than missing the possible last birthday of his wife.

Between the watery-eye parts is a set of straightforward and eminently practical life lessons for the reader:
"... write thank-you notes ...
... try harder than the other guy ...
... be honest with everyone ..."

Each moral is backed by a story from Pausch's own life, lessons he is teaching in the form of:
"someone out there was good enough to do me this favor, so now I'm passing it on to you."

This small books contains 61 chapters, each relating to life lessons Randy Pausch wants to give his three children. One pleasant aspect of the book is that it isn't at all about how his illness has made the author re-evaluate his priorities. Pausch didn't change his values one bit. He was an optimistic, energetic, go-getter all his life. He gave up his career to be with his family because his family comes first not because his work isn't important to him. His activities define him and his work formed a large part of his activities, but his work can be carried on by others while being a father and husband can only be done by him. The cancer changed his life around but it didn't change what he thought was important.

My favorite line in the book is:
"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want".

There are many other bite sized bits of wisdom, but this one is sticking with me for personal reasons. Haven't we all longed for something that we didn't get? It's not that what Pausch says is new but because he's in a hurry to live, the sense of urgency he creates gets the lessons through all the more effectively.

This little book looks at a big dreamer, a man intelligent enough to see bigger than most people ever see, and to allow readers to gain just a little understanding of the rules by which he lived his journey - his life. Indulge your "inner child" and buy this lovely book. Or, buy a copy for a teen you know. It's worth the money.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Lecturer Dies

I was saddened today to learn of the passing of Randy Pausch. After being on the waiting list for months to read his book, The Last Lecture, I finally picked the book up yesterday. Although I haven't finished the book yet, I thought it was appropriate to give you a link to his website: The Last Lecture. If you have not heard of Randy Pausch or his last lecture, please check out this wonderful man!

My review for The Last Lecture should be posted sometime next week. For now, my thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, his children and his family. God Bless ....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birthday Wishes

We love you bunches,
Mom and Dad


It took me a long time to find the book cover for the copy of Dracula that I own. There are so many different verisons of this book on the market, but the one I own is the complete, uncut verison - the way Bram Stoker originally wrote it.

The novel is mainly composed of journal entries and letters written by several narrators who are also the novel's main protagonists - Jonathan Harker, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray Stoker and Lucy Westenra. The story is supplemented with occasional newspaper clippings to relate events not directly witnessed by the story's characters. The tale begins with Jonathan, a newly qualified English solicitor, journeying from England to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle, in the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania. At first seduced by Dracula's gracious manner, Jonathan soon discovers that he has become a prisoner in the castle.

Not long afterward a ship, named the Demeter, runs aground on the shores of Whitby, England, during a fierce storm. According to the captain's log, strange events had taken place during the ship's journey. This was the ship Dracula used to escape from Transylvania.

Soon Dracula is menacing Jonathan's devoted fiancée, Mina, and her vivacious friend, Lucy. We soon meet Renfield, an insane man who purposely consumes insects, spiders, birds, and other creatures to absorb their "life force". Renfield acts as a kind of motion sensor, detecting Dracula's proximity and supplying clues accordingly. Reinfield is one of my favorite characters because of his weird behavior.

Lucy begins to suffer from a mysterious illness and Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam is called upon to treat her. Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of Lucy's condition but refuses to disclose it, knowing people may think he is crazy if he starts to speak of vampires.

Dracula soon learns that Van Helsing and the others are plotting against him, and he takes revenge by visiting — and biting — Mina at least three times. In the book, Dracula is killed by Van Helsing who shears through Dracula's throat and then stabs him in the heart. Dracula crumbles to dust and his spell on Mina is lifted. The book closes with a note about Mina's and Jonathan's married life and the birth of their first-born son.

For any die hard vampire fan, this book ends dramatically better than many of the films verisons of this story. I first fell in love with vampires when I saw the 1931 film, Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. This book is a classic and well worth the time to read!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Be Read 2008 Challenge

Here are the books I've chosen to read for the To Be Read 2008 Challenge:

January 2008 - "T" is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
February 2008 - Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
March 2008 - 7th Heaven by James Patterson
April 2008 - Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
May 2008 - Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton
June 2008 - Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber
July 2008 - Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
August 2008 - Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
September 2008 Brisinger by Christopher Paolini
October 2008 - Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
November 2008 - Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton
December 2008 - Princess Diaries X: Forever Princess by Meg Cabot

Classic Challenge

The Classic Challenge

Classics: We love them, we hate them, now we are going to challenge ourselves to reading more of them. Because there are so many different types of classics, different genres are acceptable and encouraged--for example, novels, short story collections, non-fiction, poetry, essays--I'm open for other suggestions!
OPTION 3: Read FIVE classics with any combination of at least TWO different countries and TWO different genres (see above for genres).

BONUS!! (optional)

As you can see, I'm requiring FIVE classics for six months. For the sixth book, I would like the participants to offer suggestions for books that may not be considered classics but that you think should be or books that you think will be a classic one day. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I'll compile a list of the suggestions and you choose a book from the list and make that your sixth read. I realize this means you may have to wait to make your list if you choose to participate in the bonus round, but I'm hoping this is a modern twist on the old classics challenge.
The books I have read (or plan to read) for the Classic Challenge include:

--Robin Hood - 1883 by Howard Pyle (American) (Legend, Fantasy)
--Frankenstein - 1818 by Mary Shelley (British) (Horror)
--Alice in Wonderland - 1865 by Lewis Carroll (English) (Fantasy)
--The Christmas Carol - 1843 by Charles Dickens (English) (Fantasy)
--Dracula - 1897 by Bram Stoker (Irish) (Horror)

--Twilight - 2005 by Stephenie Meyer (American)

Short Story Book Challenge

The books I have read for the Short Story Book Challenge include:

--Blackberries, Blackberries
--Dates From Hell
--Prom Nights From Hell
--Strange Candy
--Zig Zagging Down a Wild Trail
--Everything's Evenutal

Non-Fiction 5 Challenge

Non-Fiction 5 Challenge

I have completed the Non-Fiction 5 Challenge. The books I read for this challenge include:

On Writing by Stephen King

The Truth About Hillary by Edward Klein

The Madness of Mary Lincoln by Jason Emerson

John Adams by David MuCullough

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Free Give-Away

Here are some free give-aways from several book blogs I read:

Dewey is giving away some free books, so check out her site by clicking the link.

Young Adult Books is giving away some Kung Fu Panda books; deadline for registering is July 15th.

Kool-Aid Mom
is giving away a $20 Borders gift card, but you must register before July 31st.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stephenie Meyer Mini-Challenge

I have completed the Stephenie Meyer Mini-Challenge. I have read all of Stephenie Meyer's books:

--The Host
--New Moon


As I've stated in my last two posts, I am re-reading the Twilight series in preparation of the August 2nd release of Breaking Dawn. Readers captivated by Twilight and New Moon will also love Eclipse, the third book in Stephenie Meyer's riveting vampire love saga.

Isabella Swan - Bella - once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a "bad" vampire continues her quest for revenge. In this book, Bella is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob. Will her decision cause an increased conflict between the vampires and the werewolves? The obvious love triangle between the three reaches a cresendo and I caught myself rooting for all sides.

Bella's high school graduation is quickly approaching, and she is forced to make a decision between remaining a human or being changed into a vampire. Edward wants Bella to remain human, but Bella wants to join Edward in immortality while she is still young and beautiful.

After missing Edward through much of New Moon, I was excited to have him back in the forefront. His love for Bella has intensified and you can actually feel the love through the romantic prose that has made Ms. Meyer's work so irresistable.

This book is a must read for anyone who loves Twilight and New Moon. Eclipse is edgier and more action packed than the first two books and it is all leading up to, what Ms. Meyer's says, is the finale of the series.

Postscript: Although Stephenie Meyer has stated in interviews that Breaking Dawn will be the series finale, according to her website there will eventually be another book to add. Midnight Sun is the tentative name of this book and it will be a re-working of Twilight from Edward's point of view. It will be interesting to read the same story through his eyes because Edward is simply a more complex character than Bella.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

100+ Book Challenge

Up for a serious challenge? Then come join us! Our goal is to read 100 or more books in one year.

New Moon

Stephenie Meyer's sequel to Twilight is called New Moon. Isabella Swan - Bella - celebrates her birthday with her boyfriend Edward and his family, a unique clan of vampires that has sworn off human blood.

But the celebration abruptly ends when Bella accidentally cuts her arm on broken glass. The sight and smell of her blood makes the Cullen family pull away from her before they are tempted to make a meal of her. After all is mended, Edward, realizing the danger that he and his family create for Bella, sees no option for her safety but to leave.

Although this book is a very good read, I didn't like it as much a Twilight. I think the main reason is because I like Bella and Edward as a couple, and they spend the majority of this book apart from each other. However, we do get to see the character of Jacob and I have grown to love him as part of this unusual love triangle.

Bella and Jacob have adventures that are wild, dangerous, and teeter on the brink of romance, but memories of Edward keeps Bella's emotions in check. An unusual twist in this book quickly morphs into danger, especially when Bella uncovers the true identities of Jacob and his pack of friends.

If you're reading this story because you like vampire stories, you will be disappointed. As I stated earlier, Edward's only in about a quarter of the book. When he is around, however, his presence is appreciated. Many readers will look at Bella's behavior during her her time with the "wolves" as bizarre and entirely unbelievable, but I see her as being in pain over the loss of her true love.

Again, this is not a vampire story. The fact that vampires were not around in this book may turn some readers away - not me. I did enjoy the unique take on werewolves, but I felt that since we had seen so much of the vampires in the first book, that we should have seen and felt more of the werewolves in this book.

There were some hints of future issues between the Cullens and Jake's clan and I hope we see them. The next book in this series is Eclipse. So, if you loved Stephenie Meyer's debut novel, Twilight, then this is a must read.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Stephenie Meyer's first novel - Twilight - is a lovely fantasy where readers discover a pair of lovers who are supremely star-crossed. Isabella Swan - Bella - adores beautiful Edward, and he returns her love.

But problem with this story is that Edward is a vampire. He craves the scent of Bella's blood and at any moment, the intensity of their passion could drive him to kill her. He is constantly worrying about the danger he puts Bella in just by being near her. But, Bella would rather be dead than part from Edward, so she risks her life to stay near him.

This novel burns with the erotic tension of Bella and Edward's dangerous and necessarily chaste relationship. Ms. Meyer has achieved quite a feat by making this scenario completely human and believable. The precision and delicacy of Ms. Meyer's writing makes this a wonderful novel beyond the limitations of the horror genre.

The character of Bella is so beautifully written, she could be the girl next door. Ms. Meyer purposely does not give a detailed description of Bella, choosing instead to let the reader envision their own ideas. Edward is wise beyond his years and it's his carefully monitoring of their relationship that endears the reader to fall in love with him at the same time Bella does.

I had no preconceived notions about this book, and started to read it after seeing a fabulous review in Entertainment Weekly. Before the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. By the time I finished Twilight, I was begging for a sequel. Thankfully, for my sake, New Moon and Eclipse had already been released, so I rushed to the book store to buy these next two books in the series.

I haven't had a marathon reading session like this since I picked up the first four Harry Potter books. Ms. Meyer handled the developing relationship between Edward and Bella with the mark of a seasoned professional, not a first-time novelist. There are no graphic sex scenes (this is a YA book after all) and there is no foul language; both of these are rare qualities in modern literature.

This was such a remarkable and refreshing story. I am anxiously awaiting the August 2nd release of Breaking Dawn, the next book in the series. And just because this is a YA book, don't get the idea it isn't for adults. I am 45 years old and I am currently re-reading all 3 books (for the 3rd time each) in anticipation of the next book!

Postscript: This book is a review for the Stephenie Meyer Mini Challenge.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Books I'm Looking Forward To

Becky from Becky's Book Reviews and Renay from Herding the Cats are asking participants to make a list of books that they really, really want to read.

1.) Make a post talking about books that are coming out that you're looking forward to reading or buying.
2.) Include why you are anxiously awaiting those books. Include love for previous works in a series, love for an author, love for a random review that caught your eye and now you have to have those books or you'll DIE.

Notes: the books have to be those of the unreleased variety at the time your post is written. Images encouraged if available!

Here's my list of upcoming books I can't wait for:

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (4th book in the Twilight series) - released August 2, 2008. Ms. Meyer is one of my newest "favorite authors" of the past few years. The Twilight series is about the American girl next door - Bella - and her long-time boyfriend - Edward - who just happens to be a vampire. There is also Bella's best friend - Jacob - who is a werewolf. I have had a love of supernatural books since I read Stephen King's Salem's Lot when I was 12 years old.

39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) released September 9, 2008. Mr. Riordan writes one of my favorite children's book series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. 39 Clues is a new series which will have a total of 10 books.

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (3rd book in the Inheritance Cycle) - released September 20, 2008. The Inheritance Cycle started with Eragon and Eldest, which are exceptional books, considering Mr. Paolini was a young teenager when he started this series.

Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell (15th book in the Kay Scarpetta series) - released October 7, 2008. Ms. Cornwell is one of my favorite authors and I love her Kay Scarpetta books.

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton (7th book in the Merry Gentry series)- released November 4, 2008. Ms. Hamilton is my number one favorite fiction author. She writes the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and the Merry Gentry series.

Just After Sunset by Stephen King - released November 11, 2008. Need I say more? Mr. King is the undisputed King of Horror and I have been reading him since I was 12 years old.

Other books I am looking forward to - release dates unknown - include:

Fablehaven #4 by Brandon Mull

Southern Vampire Mysteries #9 (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris

The Hollows series #7 (Rachel Morgan) by Kim Harrison

Women of the Otherworld #10 by Kelley Armstrong