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!