Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 2011 Wrap-Up

Okay, I know December isn't technically over yet, but I'm ready for it to be over, and we're pretty close!  So here goes:

My Bookworm Santa was a Secret Santa event hosted by Michelle at Book Briefs and Bree at The Magic Attic.  Much like any Secret Santa, our lovely co-hosts assigned each participant as another participant's Bookworm Santa.  The idea was to anonymously send your recipient an item from their wishlist, and then reveal yourself after 25 December.  It was a lot of fun!

I actually got to be Santa to two participants!  I don't want to reveal who they were, though, or what I sent, because I'm not sure whether they've been received yet.  Once I'm sure, I'll update this post. :)

As for what I received?  I got a copy of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, along with a few other goodies - you can check them out in my last post for In My Mailbox.  I don't know who my Santa was yet, but whoever you are - thank you again, so much!  I've been really wanting this book, and I love the journal and bookmark, and the little planner should come in handy.

I had also signed up to participate in RAK this month, an awesome feature hosted by the ladies of Book Soulmates.  I ended up not being able to send anything out for RAK, but I didn't receive anything either, so I don't feel as bad about that, haha.  This month ended up being more hectic than I anticipated, and has been a little more stressful financially than I anticipated, also.  Next month should be better, though.  :)

I'm hoping that January goes a little more smoothly for me, and I've got a lot going on for 2012 with the blog - lots of reading challenges to keep me busy!  I hope everyone had a happy holiday this winter, whether you observe a specific holiday, or whether you just enjoyed some time off from work and/or school.


Much like Harry Potter, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is likely not a book that really NEEDS a review at this point.  Everyone has either read it or heard about it, and even those who have not read it have an opinion on it.  The first time I read this, it was because a girl I worked with at the time told me I reminded her of Bella.  Naturally, I was curious to find out what she meant by that, but she also absolutely raved about the book, so I wanted to see if I would like it just as much.  As for me being like Bella - I guess we do have similarities, if you are looking at the awkward clumsiness, the fact that we are both somewhat more introverted and very pale.  I cannot, however, cook, and I do not have multiple boys fawning all over me at every turn. lol.  That was absolutely not my own high school experience, and even though I definitely look better now than I did back then, it is still not the case.

But I digress.

For those of you who haven't read (or...sigh...seen) Twilight - and for those of you who claim to, but actually haven't - here is a little summary.  Bella Swan is a teenage girl whose mother has remarried; her new stepfather is a minor league baseball player, so he is on the move a lot during the season.  Her mother stays in Phoenix with her, but Bella knows she'd like to be traveling with Phil; so she decides to move, to live with her father in Forks, a small town in Washington.  At first, she hates it - the constantly overcast sky, the seemingly constant precipitation, the way everything is too green.  And then she sees him.  Impossibly beautiful, irresistibly mysterious Edward Cullen.

He ends up being her lab partner in biology, and as with many stories of romance, he appears to really hate her at first, though he doesn't actually speak to her.  Then, after not showing up to school for a while, he returns and is unerringly charming.  Anyone with any experience in romantic fiction can see where this is going, even without reading further in the book - obviously, they are going to end up together.  The twist here is that Edward and his family are vampires.  They don't, however, swoop around at night, preying on the townspeople of Forks - as Edward explains it, they consider themselves "vegetarians" - they only feed on the blood of animals.

So, Bella starts spending pretty much all her time with Edward,  ignoring him when he tells her how dangerous it is to be with him.  Then, the first time she officially meets his family, a trio of nomadic vampires comes through the area; they recognize that she's a human, and after seeing the way Edward and his family move to defend her from attack, one of them makes it his singular ambition to kill her (he likes a challenge).

Obviously, since there are other books, you know she doesn't die.  But I won't give away details; for one, if you've only seen the movie, you should know that the events in the book unfold very differently from the film, and there are quite a lot of things that were left out.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Speak with the Dead

Speak with the Dead:  Seven Methods for Spirit Communication by Konstantinos is exactly what it sounds like - kind of a how-to manual on communicating with the dead.  He outlines seven different methods, detailing what kind of equipment would be needed, if any, and what kinds of results one could expect.  He also talks about his own experiences with using these methods.  The methods themselves start out with the "easiest" and most well-known - using a tape recorder to capture electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, and increase in involvement or difficulty until you get to the seventh method, holding a séance.  He also provides a list of suggested further reading on the subject of spirit communication, and directs the reader to his website for some of the audio and visual samples he's collected himself.

I know this is a kind of book that people will give you side-eye for reading, but I'm really interested in this kind of thing, and I absolutely believe in the existence of an afterlife and ghosts.  Do I believe all of the descriptions of the afterlife Konstantinos has claimed to receive from the dead?  I take it with a grain of salt.  It sounds reasonable, but it seems unlikely for someone to get such detailed information like this.  Of course, he has been doing this for quite a long time now, and I haven't seriously tried it for myself, so what do I know?  Most of my knowledge of spirit communication is from watching the TAPS investigators on Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International, which is a little different.  They use only the scientific methods, which Konstantinos begins with in the book, but the later chapters deal with more spiritual methods that rely heavily on your mental focus, such as scrying and telepathy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In My Mailbox #9

It's been a little while since I've posted for In My Mailbox, but here it is!  IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, where bloggers can share any bookish loot they've acquired over the past week (or so).

So!  Here's IMM #9, which includes some more Black Friday books and also my Bookworm Santa gifts!

From my Bookworm Santa

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
& other goodies!

From Half Price Books

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by Suzanne Harper
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Dune by Frank Herbert
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
A Lady of His Own by Stephanie Laurens
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan
The Icebound Land by John Flanagan

I also got my Moo cards in the mail!  And that is Part the Third of my Black Friday haul, and also the first time I've actually done some editing in the video - so if it's a bit choppy, I apologize!  I also want to say thank you again to everyone who entered my giveaway, Spreading the Gospel of Austen and also to my Bookworm Santa, whoever you are!

So tell me...what was in your mailbox?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spreading the Gospel of Austen - Giveaway Winners!

Good morning, all - and a happy belated birthday to our dear friend, Jane!  Yesterday was the anniversary of Jane Austen's birth, and the day when I was going to publicly announce the winners of the giveaway, but I didn't actually get a chance to make the blog post, so here it is today.  Sorry about that!

As a refresher, there were four winners for this giveaway - three from the US and one international!  The main prize package (US only) was a new, signed paperback copy of Jane Austen for Dummies, along with a button and a pocket mirror.  The second US prize package was paperback copies of Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park, along with two buttons (with interchangeable ring and pin backs).  The third US prize package was paperback copies of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, and also two buttons with the interchangeable ring and pin backs.  The international prize was paperback copies of Emma and Northanger Abbey.

For the winners of the novels, I tried to pair one more well-known work each with one perhaps lesser-known work, so hopefully you haven't read at least one of them before!  And even if you have, I've found that there's something new to be discovered in each re-read - or maybe you know someone else who hasn't read it yet, and you can further spread the Good Word.  ;-P

So, without further ado, here are the winners, as selected by Rafflecopter:

Noel has won the main prize, ladyinread and Jenna (from Fans of Fiction) have won the additional US prizes, and Yto is the international winner.  A big congratulations to all the winners, and a huge thanks to everyone who entered!  I'm really grateful for everyone who participates, because that's what makes the giveaway both possible and successful.

Winners have all been notified by email, and prizes will be sent out as soon as possible - each winner will receive another email once their package has been sent.

Thanks again to all who participated in Spreading the Gospel of Austen!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merry Christmas, Teddy Beddy Bear

My mom was going through Christmas books, I guess to see if there were any she might take to work for her class, and she came across one of my old books:  Merry Christmas, Teddy Beddy Bear by Don E. Plumme and illustrated by Morgan, Inc.  Teddy Beddy is Adam's bear, and they do everything together.  One day, Adam's mother takes them downtown to see the big Christmas tree, and they get to look at the toys in the department store while they're there.  A sales clerk sees how shabby Teddy Beddy is and shows Adam all the brand new bears.  Teddy Beddy starts to worry - does Adam want a new bear for Christmas?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is a memoir of the almost two years Kaysen spent at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Belmont, Massachusetts.  A short read, the book is set up more like a series of vignettes than as a straight read, as the chapters are not really set up in any particular chronological order.  It feels a little disjointed at times, disorganized in an organized way, which I think is fitting for a memoir about mental illness.  She also includes some scanned pages from her hospital files.  As this is a memoir, the people and events in the book are of course true, but names and some identifying characteristics have been changed for the book.

Maybe this is telling of me, but I really love this book.  I loved it the first time I read it, and I loved it again in re-reading.  I've gone through multiple periods of depression myself, and I think a lot of people have moments in their lives where they wonder if they are going crazy.  I know I have those moments.  Sometimes when I'm feeling that way, I like to revisit books like this - in part to remind myself that other people have gone through similar rough times, so I'm not as alone as I might feel.  Also partly to reassure myself that things could probably be worse, and at least I haven't gone so far off the edge that I've needed "a rest."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #10 - Girl, Interrupted

Has it been a week already?  Things are so hectic right now - it's the last week of classes, then next week is finals week!  So this is going up late - but it's still Tuesday, haha.  Anyway, Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  To join in, just post a couple teaser sentences from whatever book you're currently reading - but careful not to include any spoilers!

Right now I'm re-reading Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.  It's been quite some time since I've read this one, but I enjoyed it the first time and I enjoy the movie.  So here's a little tease for you:

"After Lisa Cody got her diagnosis, the Lisas started making more trouble.  'Acting out,' the nurses said.

We knew what it was.  The real Lisa was proving that Lisa Cody wasn't a sociopath.

Lisa tongued her sleeping meds for a week, took them all at once, and stayed zonked out for a day and a night.  Lisa Cody managed to save only four of hers, and when she took them, she puked.  Lisa put a cigarette out on her arm at six-thirty in the morning while the nurses were changing shifts.  That afternoon Lisa Cody burned a tiny welt on her wrist and spent the next twenty minutes running cold water on it." (p. 59)

Okay, I know that was more than one or two sentences.  lol.  I can't help it!  What are you reading?  Leave a link to your Teaser Tuesday in the comments!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In My Mailbox #8

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  Share what you've acquired over the past week (or so), whether it be something you received for review, were gifted, won, or something you purchased.

I really wanted to share all of my Black Friday Half Price Books haul with you guys, so this is sort of a continuation of yesterday's IMM post.  So if you didn't see my post yesterday, and you're curious what else I got, check it out here!  Either way, here is another video for you all, in which I say the words "batch," "which" and "really" a lot.

So, to recap from the video, or if you aren't watching the video but still want to know what I'm sharing today, here's the list...


Kathleen:  The Celtic Knot by Siobhan Parkinson
Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan by Mary Pope Osborne
Dreams in the Golden Country: The Diary of Zipporah Feldman, A Jewish Immigrant Girl by Kathryn Lasky
Sparks by Laura Bickle
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Enchanter by Sara Douglass
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares
Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares

So that's it for Part the Second of my Black Friday purchases; tune in later on this week for the next of them! Did you get anything this past week?  Let me know in the comments, and feel free to leave a link to your IMM post if you have one!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In My Mailbox #7

I didn't get to do a post for In My Mailbox last week, but here it is now!  This is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, to share what has been won, bought, or otherwise received over the past week (or so).  As I mention in the video, I did get a few things in the mail the other week, but I also went to Half Price Books on Black Friday - if you've seen any of my other IMM posts, you may have noticed that I have a tendency to go a little crazy at that store, and this time was no different.

Changeless by Gail Carriger
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Thanks to Kim at Baggins's Book Blabber for hosting the giveaway!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Thanks to Dani at Pen to Paper for hosting the giveaway!


Scoundrel by Zoe Archer
Queene of Light by Jennifer Armintrout
Child of Darkness by Jennifer Armintrout
Veil of Shadows by Jennifer Armintrout
Kathleen:  The Celtic Knot by Siobhan Parkinson
Boxed set of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe and Everything
Mostly Harmless
So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

And that's it for today at least!  I'll do another video tomorrow to share some more of my haul from the bookstore.  Have you gotten anything new and bookish?  Tell me in the comments or leave a link!

Love Your Body

Love Your Body by Louise L. Hay is a small book of positive affirmations designed for you to say out loud to yourself every day; there is an affirmation for many different parts of the body, and there is a blank page for each as well, so you can write in your own thoughts and affirmations to go along with the ones Hay has come up with.

For a self-help book, I actually do not think Love Your Body is at all helpful.  I'm sure affirmations work for some people, but the ones Hay provides in this book are mostly all the same few things repeated for every single body part she goes through.  I thought this was supposed to be full of affirmations to help someone be better able to try and accept the parts of themselves they dislike, and to eventually develop a more positive self-image through the continued use of the affirmations.  But since there is very little in each affirmation that is even relevant to the body part being "focused" on, I fail to see how it should help.  Some of the affirmations aren't even for body parts - there is one for breath, and quite a few for various internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and bladder.  Here's an example for you - the affirmation for the spleen:

"My only obsession is with the joy of life.  My true identity is one of peace and love and joy.  I choose the thoughts that create joy for me in every area of my life.  My spleen is healthy and happy and normal.  I am safe.  I choose to experience the sweetness of life.  I love and appreciate my beautiful spleen!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2012

Okay, I might be starting to overdo things with the 2012 reading challenges, but I figure since I can use one book for multiple challenges, maybe I am not being TOO crazy?  Oh well.  Anyway, this challenge is hosted by (of course) Book Chick City, and all you have to do is read at least 12 books from the mystery/suspense genre!  Easy, yes?  I could easily use twelve Nancy Drews for this, but I won't.  That would feel like cheating to me. lol.  But I might use one or two.  More only if I get desperate to complete the challenge. XD  There is a second level as well, where you would read at least 24 mystery & suspense novels, but I'm just going to shoot for the twelve and see how that goes.

If you want to join in with this challenge as well, just click here to sign up!


Tempest by Julie Cross is the first book in what will be a trilogy about a young man, Jackson, who can time-travel.  It is an innate ability he has, and the only people who know about it - or so he thinks at first - are himself and his science-geek friend, Adam.  He and Adam do "experiments" to try and learn as much about the physics and the concept of time-travel as they can, and Adam encourages Jackson to keep a journal of notes about each "jump."  One thing they have noticed from these experiments is that nothing Jackson does when he goes into the past ever changes the future - their present.  But when two men burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, in her dorm room, everything changes.  They seem to know who he is and what he can do, and Holly is shot.

Jackson jumps, but something's different, because this time he can't get back.  All he can think about is trying to get back to 2009 to save Holly, but not knowing how, he is determined to learn all he can about his abilities.  What he ends up learning is that there is much more going on than he ever could have imagined - and much more is at stake than just Holly's life.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

RAK: November Wrap-Up, December Sign-Up

I had a very quiet month for RAK - I didn't receive anything, but that's okay.  I had a great haul in October, and I did win a few excellent giveaways in November, so I was definitely still getting books!  

I only got to send one book out this month.  I sent The Prestige by Christopher Priest to Hanna at Booking in Heels.  I didn't get a response to the email I sent her, so I had no idea whether she'd received it or not, but when I went to check her blog so I could make the link on this post, I saw that she did get the book.  So I am very happy for that!  I was really worried it may not have gotten to her.  By the way, you should definitely check out her review for it - if you read mine, you know that while I didn't NOT like the book, I also wasn't too crazy about it, but she definitely got more into it than I did!  So go and get another opinion on it. =)

If you haven't done RAK before, and you aren't sure yet what it is, it stands for Random Acts of Kindness.  It's a really wonderful monthly program hosted by the lovely ladies of Book Soulmates, where you can post a link to your wishlist for all to see, and someone may send you something from it!  

Of course, it's not about trying to get a ton of free books - if you want to receive, you should be willing to give a little, too.  So if you sign up, you should browse through the other wishlists and make someone else's day!  If you sign up, please post the RAK button on your blog so others who would like to participate can easily find their way.  Then, at the end of the month, make a post (like this one) to share what you've given and what you've received.

Click here to sign up!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #9 - Tempest

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading.  To play along, just post a couple of teaser phrases from whatever book you're currently reading!  Just be careful not to include any spoilers - we don't want to ruin the fun of reading the book for ourselves!  Right now, I'm reading an ARC of Tempest by Julie Cross:

"Hours later, I was right back in my spot by the tree, writing down everything I could manage.  It was a desperate attempt to stay connected, grounded to reality.  Plus, this way there'd be a written explanation of my recent adventures for Adam or the future Adam, if someone found me lying dead somewhere." (p. 36)
It was harder than I thought, to find a quote for this book that wouldn't have too much of a spoiler in it!  Tempest is set to release in January of 2012.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Guest Post at Pedantic Phooka!

Hey, everyone!  I had the honour of doing an interview for Pedantic Phooka, and she has also posted my review of Embers by Laura Bickle.  Go visit her and check out my guest post as well as her own reviews!  

Thank you, Hol, for inviting me over to your blog! :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Memory of Earth

The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card is the first book in his Homecoming Saga.  People have been settled on the planet Harmony for millions of years, and everyone is in the care of the Oversoul, a kind of machine that "watches" over them from space and that they worship as a deity.  Its mission was to protect the people on Harmony from their own destruction, as their ancestors were the few survivors of the destruction of humankind on Earth, but its influence is beginning to weaken.  The Oversoul sends a vision to Wetchik, setting in motion events that may or may not save the city of Basilica.

I thought The Memory of Earth started off a little on the slow side, and the pace never really picked up too very much, but what did build throughout the book was intrigue.  There are murder plots, mysterious rituals, prophecies, and  the great mystery of the Oversoul.  The religious theme runs strong through the entire story - people who submit to the Oversoul are rewarded, and those who go against it are inevitably punished - but I didn't think it was necessarily preachy.  I've read that the series is based in part on The Book of Mormon (which is likely, since Card is a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints), but I never felt like that was all I was getting out of the story (though since I'm not familiar with the Book of Mormon, it's also possible I just didn't have the frame of reference to make the parallels).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #8 - The Memory of Earth

Time for another Teaser Tuesday, hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading!  To play along, just post a few sentences from the book you're currently reading - but be careful to not include spoilers!  Right now, I'm reading The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card.  It started off a bit slow, but it's beginning to pick up now, so I hope it ends up really good!  So far, my favourite character is Luet, a seer.  So while this is not the most exciting thing in the book so far, it made me smile when I read it, and I hope there will be a lot more of her to come!

" He was alone with Luet.
 'I shouldn't have spoken to you before,' she said.  

'And you shouldn't speak to me again, either,' suggested Nafai.  
'Some people hear a lie when they're told the truth.  You're so proud of your status as the son of Rasa and Wetchik, but obviously whatever genes you got from your parents, they weren't the right ones.'   
'While I'm sure -you- got the finest your parents had to offer.'  
She looked at him with obvious contempt, and then she was gone."   (p. 43)

Post a link to your teaser in the comments!  And on another note, I've created a Formspring account for the blog; there's a link under the Connect sidebar widget.  If you have any questions about the blog, books, or about me in general, feel free ask me there if you'd like!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox #6

Welcome to another In My Mailbox, a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren!  This is a chance for everyone to share what they've acquired in the past week, whether it be something they won, were gifted, or bought for themselves.  And today I have an awkward video for you all!

So, to recap...

Dark Seeker by Taryn Browning
Thanks to Tiffany at For Those About To Read for the giveaway, and thanks to Taryn for signing and sending out the book!

We All Wore Stars by Theo Coster
Thanks to Library Thing for providing this through LT Early Reviewers and to the publisher, Palgrave MacMillan for sending it to me!

And don't forget to check out my giveaway, Spreading the Gospel of Austen, to enter for a chance to win either a signed copy of Jane Austen for Dummies or two of Jane Austen's novels!  The giveaway will end on 16 December and is open internationally.  Thanks for stopping by, and let me know what's in your mailbox!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Embers by Laura Bickle is the first in her series about Anya Kalinczyk, an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department.  But fighting fires and catching up to the people who start them?  That's only her day job...Anya is also a Lantern - a kind of medium who has power over the element of fire, and can not only see and speak to earthbound spirits, but can also devour them.  Nights are spent helping during exorcisms with a local ghost hunting group.  Anya has managed to keep both these aspects of her life separate, but this becomes impossible when she realizes that clues left at the scene of each fire set by a serial arsonist seem to be connected to an occult ritual of some kind.  She was ready to walk away for good from the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers - and the group's handsome technophile, Brian - but now she needs their help to put the pieces together and stop the arsonist before all of Detroit ends up burnt to the ground - or worse.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Narnia Reading Project 2012

Okay.  So I may be overdoing it a little with signing up for so many challenges, but I came across The Narnia Reading Project this morning, and thought "what the heck."  This is the series that introduced me to fantasy fiction, and having recently revisited the genre in a big way, I've fallen in love all over again.  Why not re-read the series that began it all for me?

This "challenge" is hosted by Rikki at Rikki's Teleidoscope, and it's not really a challenge in the strict sense of the word, which is why I guess it's really the Narnia Reading Project.  There's no set deadline or anything like that - just read the books, and head to the Narnia Reading Project post to discuss!

Do you want to find your way back to Narnia (or visit for the first time) in 2012?  Lucky for you, you don't need rings or a wardrobe or any kind of magic, really...just head over to the main post linked above and sign up for the Reading Project!

1.  The Magician's Nephew
2.  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #7 - Embers

Welcome to another Teaser Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading!  It's easy to play along, just post a few sentences from whatever book you're currently reading - but be careful not to include any spoilers!  I just started a new book last night,  Embers by Laura Bickle:

"The basement spirit was stronger than she'd thought.  She imagined the owner of the house facing this thing alone, and bristled at its arrogance.  Power like that could have crippled or killed the old woman.  As for what it had done to the pickles...blasphemy." (p. 10)

Yep, anyone who knows someone Polish/of Polish descent knows we love a good a pickle!  I'm only up to chapter three in this book, but I had to tear myself away from it to make sure I at least tried to get some sleep last night.  That is to say, I'm really enjoying it so far!  It's an added bonus that this book is set in Detroit, and the main character, Anya, lives in Hamtramck - my father's mother was from Hamtramck, so even just reading the background and description is fun for me.

What are you reading right now?  Link to your teaser in the comments!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Smuggler's Treasure

The Smuggler's Treasure by Sarah Masters Buckey is the first book in the American Girl: History Mysteries series.  When I was a kid, I really adored American Girl, and even now that I'm definitely on the "and up" side of "for ages 10 and up," I still enjoy the books for a fun, light read.  The Smuggler's Treasure is the story of a ship captain's daughter, Elisabet Holder.  It's two years into the War of 1812, and Elisabet's father has been captured by the British.  Her mother has been long dead, and her father's accountant believes her father may be dead now as well, so she makes the long trip by sea from Boston to New Orleans, to stay with an aunt and uncle she's never met - her only living relatives.

Arriving in the strange new city is, for Elisabet, like going to another country - the Louisiana Purchase has only just occurred recently, so the residents are still very much French or Spanish at heart.  On top of this, she finds out that she is expected to work in her aunt and uncle's bakery as a shop assistant; this is very different from living in Boston with her father, where she went to school and had servants to wait on her.  When she learns news of the ship that took her father prisoner, however, and is determined to rescue him from the British, she soon learns the value of friendship despite social class boundaries.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox #5

Happy Sunday, everyone, and welcome to my fifth post for In My Mailbox - a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren!  This is a really fun way to connect weekly with your fellow bloggers, and if you're nosy like me, it's lots of fun to see what books and bookish things everyone's gotten their hands on in the past week!  While the meme is titled "In My Mailbox" though, you can show off items that you got in other ways as well - be it from the library, purchasing in person, maybe something you were gifted, etc.  It's show and tell for bookworms!

I kind of wanted to try doing a video post for this meme every week, but I'll just be doing a regular post today  since I've just got one thing to share with you guys, and I want to make it fairly quick.

So!  I had entered a giveaway hosted by Pixie at The Bookaholic, and won a copy of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater!  It came in the mail this past week, and I'm so excited to have won it - I've seen tons of great things about this book and the author, so I had been wanting to read this for quite a while now.  Thanks again, Pixie!  :)

What did you all get in your mailboxes?  Let me know in the comments!

Spreading the Gospel of Austen Giveaway

That's right, I have finished reading and reviewing Jane Austen for Dummies by Dr. Joan Klingel Ray, and that means it is time to post this Jane Austen-themed giveaway:  Spreading the Gospel of Austen!  I've seen Jane Austen popping up quite a bit lately in the blogosphere, so when I went to the book signing at this year's Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America here in Fort Worth, I had a new copy of Jane Austen for Dummies signed by the author to give away to one lucky Janeite in the US!

That is not all, though!  While I was browsing the local vendors at the convention, there was one booth set up for a shop called Meryton Marketplace - they had a lot of really cute Austen-themed merchandise, including t-shirts, aprons, buttons, magnets, and jewelry!  I picked out some items for myself, and they also were so generous as to donate some items for this giveaway!  You should check out the rest of the products by Emily Adams on Fire as well - even if you aren't a huge Austen fan, the rest of the website's shop looks like it has a little something for everyone!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jane Austen for Dummies

Jane Austen for Dummies by Dr. Joan Klingel Ray is, of course, a part of the ever-growing line of " --- for Dummies" books.  Dr. Ray is a former president of the Jane Austen Society of North America and teaches courses on Austen at university.  This book is full of information about everything Austen - her life, her writing, and her family.  It also provides a great deal of information about life in general during the Regency period, which (as you likely know) is the time during which Jane Austen lived.  Dr. Ray also includes something of a Jane Austen tour guide in one chapter, listing Austen-related places to visit in England (as well as directions on how to get to each place and a URL to the location's website, if one exists).  There are also Top Ten lists and some ideas for discussion for a Jane Austen reading group.  The set-up of the contents is designed so that a straight read-through is not necessary.  You can skip around if you want, to read just the information you're looking for, and anything within each section that might require more information for a better understanding is marked by giving (in parentheses) the chapter where that information can be located.

Don't let the title throw you -  if you are making the choice to read Jane Austen or to read more about her life, then obviously you have excellent taste and are no dummy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Follow Friday #6

Follow Friday is back again!  This is a weekly meme co-hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read and Rachel at Parajunkee.  Each week, both Alison and Parajunkee feature a blog as well - this week's featured blogs are:  The Book Nympho and Mother Lode. So go check them out!  This is a great way to connect with your fellow bloggers, and get to know them a little better as well, perhaps - since a part of Follow Friday is answering the question of the week!

This week's question is:

In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran's Day, tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world (fictional or real life).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

50 States Reading Challenge, 2012

Okay.  So.  I totally thought I would never do any reading challenges, because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to really commit to any (schoolwork can be stressful and time-consuming, as we all know!).  But here I am, committing myself to what is now three challenges for 2012.  First I came across the Mt TBR Challenge hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block, and then yesterday I signed up to participate in the Science Fiction Reader Challenge hosted by Leslie at Working for the Mandroid.  And now I am also raring to go with the 50 States Challenge, hosted by Tasha over at Book Obsessed.  Here's hoping I can keep up!

What IS the 50 States Challenge?  It's exactly what it sounds like (maybe - it's exactly what I think it sounds like, anyway)!  Read at least one book that is set in each of the fifty states.  Re-reads are fine, and books read for other challenges can also count toward this challenge.  As with probably every year-long challenge, this one will be running from 1 January 2012 until 31 December 2012.