My Books. My Life.

"Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire~

That’s How I Blog Challenge December 17, 2009

Filed under: Challenges — Michelle @ 7:10 am

As much as I want to join every challenge I see, I am trying to pick and choose carefully. I’m trying to pick challenges that actually align with my 2010 reading goals.  So I think this is going to be the last challenge I sign up for.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been enjoying Nicole from Linus’s Blanket‘s weekly That’s How I Blog interviews with other book bloggers. I’ve also mentioned that there is a 20-min book club at the end up each show. And I think I’ve even mentioned that there is a challenge associated with this. Do you really not know where I’m going with this? (reference anyone?). So here it is in Nicole’s words:

The tweeps have spoken!One of the things that I love about Twitter is that you get to mingle with other book bloggers and fab book people, and you always have the opportunity to get involved- whether it’s in a discussion on the topic du jour or in on the planning stages of the next book event.  The latest on Twitter, it’s a mind reader.

For each That’s How I Blog! show that I do, there is a Twenty Minute Book Club.  I love having the opportunity to discuss what I’m reading with other readers- any chance I get- so I am so excited that this part of the show has been such an overwhelming success.  The idea for a challenge had scurried across my brain and then scurried right on out.  I really wasn’t sure that there would be enough interest, but this past week I logged onto Twitter and found that a challenge had been requested for Twenty Minute Book Club! Fabulous!

Yay! for people wanting to read along with me, since I have bascally committed myself to potentially 52 books next year, guests willing!  Of course, you don’t have to participate at the same level.  There will be five different levels of participation for this challenge, which will run December 29, 2009 until December 29, 2010.

Why This Challenge?

The purpose of this challenge will be to read the books being discussed for the Twenty Minute Book Club portion of That’s How I Blog! It’s a great opportunity to share a reading list with your fellow readers.  In addition to the show there will be a Google Wave for each book we discuss (no cliques here, contact me for wave participation) and twitter discussion with hashtag #20minbc.

Challenge Dates

December 29, 2009 until December 29, 2010. Sign-ups to end on March 29, 2010.

Reading List

Here you will find the most up-to date Reading List for That’s How I Blog!. Check back at the beginning of each month for 4-5 new additions to the list.

Levels of Participation

Once you choose a level of participation you’re locked in- that is unless you want to read more books!- then you can go up a level. :-) (I borrowed that from S.Krishna’s Books, so choose carefully!)

I will post a MckLinky so that you can link to 2009 which you have read and reviewed and want to use as substitutions.  Make sure you get your links up before the end of 2009.

Aluminum Level – 4 Books (2010 Only, No Substitutions)

Silver Level – 13 Books (May substitute 1 book from 2009)

Gold Level –  26 Books (May substitute 4 books from 2009)

Diamond Level – 39 Books (May substitute 7 books from 2009)

Platinum Level – 52 Books (May substitute 10 books from 2009)

Other Stuff

You might want to:

  • Crossover with other challenges, that is perfectly fine.
  • Print and unabridged audio books are acceptable.
  • Participate even if you don’t have a blog- just leave a comment to let me know that you are playing along.
  • Post reviews on your blog, or e-mail me your thoughts on the book.
  • Re-read a book that you have read before.
  • Count a book that you have read before as long as you have a review for it.
  • Not feel obligated to read the books in any particular order.  You may complete the books at anytime during the year.
  • Call-in and participate in The Twenty Minute Book Club.
  • Watch for mini-challenges and the prizes for each category to be announced at the start of the challenge.
  • E-mail me or leave a comment saying you’d like to be a guest on the show, thereby contributing to the book list.
  • Ask me lots of questions because I am totally winging this challenge thing.

You must:

  • Have fun!

Sign Up, yes?

Link to your post or a post where you mention your intention to join this challenge and your participation level.  You may also include books you have already read and will possibly use as substitutions and/or a list of books that you are particularly looking forward to reading so far.  Easy peasy!

I am going to join at the Aluminim (4 book) level with hopes that I read more.

And with that, my 2010 challenge-joining has come to an end (unless of course I find some awesome challenge in the middle of the year).  Now on to challenge reading and living vicariously through those of you who are able to join all the other fabulous challenges.


Seriespalooza December 13, 2009

Filed under: Challenges,Currently Reading — Michelle @ 5:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

Michelle at Galleysmith is hosting Seriespalooza this week – a week dedicated to finishing the series we’re in the middle of or starting new series we’ve been meaning to get to.  Here is what she has to say about it:

One of my very favorite things about reading is reading books in a series.  I adore getting to know characters and watching as they progress from point A to point Z over time.  But, if you are anything like me, as much as you’d like to read all the books in a particular series you also run into other obligations or constraints.Well, I’m here to tell you that now there’s going to be a time to dedicate yourself, and your reading habits, *only* to the books in a series (or multiple series).

For the week starting December 14  through December 20 I’ll be holding Seriespalooza, where participants will read only books in a series they are either currently reading or are wanting to start.  It’s a relaxed affair where you can read at your leisure so there isn’t any pressure. It’s just a great excuse to dip into the pile of books you want to read instead of those you may have scheduled to read as a result of other obligations.

As part of the fun, over the course of the week I’ll be posting exclusively about series books and authors.   Not only that but you can follow all the fun using the Twitter hashtag #seriespalooza. Oh and because no party is complete without presents I’ll also be dipping into my bag of tricks to award prizes for people who are participating!

So as soon as I finish Hate List today (a book recommended by Michelle actually), I will begin The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. It’s been bothering me that I never finished this series. I didn’t love the first two books as much as everyone else, but I do want to see what happens. This week is giving me the push I needed to finally read the third and final book.  As it’s 800+ pages, I don’t think I’ll be getting to anything else during the week but I’ll keep you updated if I do.


Canadian Author Challenge 2010 December 10, 2009

Filed under: Challenges — Michelle @ 9:05 pm
Tags: ,

Jennifer from Mrs. Q: Book Addict is hosting her first challenge.  Here is what she has to say:

Canada is a culturally diverse country with two official languages and many ethnicities. Many of these influences are found in Canadian Literature. There are a number of notable writers and I thought this challenge would be interesting.

This challenge will run from January 1 2010 -December 31, 2010.

There will be four different commitment levels.





When signing up please specify which reading level you plan to challenge yourself with. You do not have to be a book blogger to accept the challenge.

You do not need to specify a list when signing up, the goal is to find new books and authors to read.

I’m hosting this challenge, because it’s one I would want to join myself. I am Canadian and I’ve read a lot of great Canadian literature. I also have a lot of Canadian books on my shelves and I thought this would motivate me to get them read.

I am not Canadian, but I did grow up less than hour from the border so I feel some connection to Canada and I have been meaning to check out some Canadian authors.  Most notably, Margaret Atwood, which I amazingly have yet to read.  I am going to sign up at the 3 level because I’m afraid of planning all my 2010 reading through challenges, but I hope to hit a higher number.

Everyone go sign up and join me!


South Asian Author Challenge November 18, 2009

Filed under: Challenges — Michelle @ 7:35 am

It is time to start picking challenges for next year and the first one I’m joining is S. Krishna’s South Asian Author Challenge.  I have always enjoyed the South Asian novels that I have read and I am embracing this opportunity to read some more.  The two requirements are: (1) The author must be of South Asian descent and (2) The book must be about South Asia in some way.   The rest of the rules can be found here and the sign up can be found here.  I am joining at the 5 book level and it runs throughout 2010.  Some of the books I’m considering are:

Books I’ve had lying around the house

  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

(Note: I cannot for the life of me get a good closeup with my camera. Anyone want to buy me a new one for Christmas?)

I also want to read something by Salman Rushdie and at this moment I’m thinking it might be Midnight’s Children.  So that leaves me with one more.  If you have a favorite South Asian author  or book, let me know in the comments.

I’m also trying to get Ben to join because he loves South Asian literature as well.  And I’m hoping he can guest blog for his reviews.


Everything Austen #3: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and GIVEAWAY November 14, 2009

I finished Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my third item for the Everything Austen challenge) this week.  Here is the blurb from the publisher:

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up to find herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?

Not only is Courtney stuck inside another woman’s life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. For her borrowed body knows how to speak without slaying the King’s English, dance without maiming her partner, and embroider as if possessed by actual domestic skill.

But not even Courtney’s level of Austen mania has prepared her for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of nineteenth-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condom-less seducers, and marriages of convenience. Enter the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, a suitor who may turn out not to be a familiar species of philanderer after all.

Confessions was a nice, quick read.  I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it (I really wanted to love it since I planned on doing a giveaway, but it is what it is).  The first-person narrator took a long time to get used to (I don’t like being stuck in people’s heads), but the idea is interesting.  How many of us Austen fans have not dreamed of living in Regency England and attending balls, being courted by rich suitors, and traveling to Bath.  But in these fantasies, have any of us considered the harsg realities – how do you bathe? what happens when you get your period? how are you treated when you are sick?  These are the things Courtney experiences (along with the balls and the suitors and Bath).  It made me glad that I can sit in my 21st century apartment reading about Jane Austen’s era instead of actually experiencing it.

And now for the giveaway!

Since Everything Austen is all about the giveaways, I will be giving away my copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen addict to one lucky winner.  All you have to do is leave a comment below saying one thing you would do (or dread doing) if you woke up in Regency England.  For an extra entry, tweet about it or mention it in a blog post and let me know.  The contest will be open until the end of the month (Midnight EDT November 30) and is open to international readers.  I will announce the winner in my November Books post.  Good luck!


Discovering Betsy-Tacy #5: Heaven to Betsy and Maud Hart Lovelace Challenge Wrap-up October 31, 2009

Heaven to Betsy

Knowing she looked pretty now, feeling successful and gay, Betsy smiled.
“How do you like high school?” she asked.
“I like it.  Do you?”
“I think it’s just Heaven.”
“Heaven to Betsy!” he said.

When I first considered reading the Betsy-Tacy books, Emily told me that I had to at least get to Heaven to Betsy to make my decision about them even if it meant skipping earlier books to get there.  I didn’t skip any books, but I have been anxiously awaiting the high school books.  The Earlier books are fine, but definitely meant for young readers.  Emily was right.  Heaven to Betsy was simply wonderful and could be enjoyed by anyone.

Heaven to Betsy is the first of the older Betsy-Tacy books.  I got my hands on one of the new editions that bundles it with Betsy in Spite of Herself (which I’m itching to read but making myself finish some other books first).  In Heaven to Betsy, Betsy is just starting her first year of high school.  It opens with her away from home for the summer and feeling very homesick.  When she returns, she finds out her family is moving and she will no longer live across the street from Tacy.  Tib has moved back to Milwaukee by this time.  All of these changes put Betsy in a “mood.”  But this all changes when she starts making new friends and becomes very, very interested in boys.  All of her adventures as a teenager left me grinning from ear to ear as I read.

Reading about Betsy’s high school years really didn’t seem that different than my high school years.  Passing notes, talking on the phone, gossiping, and hanging out with friends.  “The Crowd” as Betsy’s group of friends was called was similar to the group I hang out with (including the swapping of affection).  Of course, my friends and I had an even less creative name and just referred to everyone as “The Group” which was sometimes broken down to “The Boys” and “The Girls.”  Betsy experiences her first crush, her first kiss (on the cheek), and her first heartache.  Growing up in 1900s Minnesota didn’t really seem that different than growing up in 1990s Michigan was for me.

The Rays are such an amazing family.  Mr. and Mrs. Ray have the kind of marriage that must make even happy couples jealous.  And what wonderful parents they are – always listening to their children and understanding their troubles.  When Betsy and Julia want to become Episcopalians, their Baptist parents see that they are serious and allow them to make that important decision.  This book also made me wish I had a sister.  Although I love him, my brother was no Julia.

The Rays home seems so cozy and inviting.  I want to have a home like that someday.  I love the idea of Sunday Night Lunch.  Anyone can stop by and Mr. Ray does the cooking.  A night for friends, family, and fun.  Go here to check out a real life Sunday Night Lunch.

At first, I was afraid that Tacy was getting left behind as Betsy experience high school, but throughout the book you can tell they are still close and the book ends with a touching scene of the two of them.

I can’t wait to keep reading these books.

Maud Hart Lovelace Challenge Wrap-up

By finishing Heaven to Betsy, I have completed the Maud Hart Lovelace Challenge (my first completed challenge ever!).  For this challenge, I read:

  • Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
  • Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
  • Heaven to Betsy

My favorite book was, of course, Heaven to Betsy, but I enjoyed them all.  Thanks to S. Mehrens of A Library is a Hospital of the Mind for hosting this challenge.  If you want to read other reviews,click here.


FYI October 30, 2009

Filed under: Challenges — Michelle @ 6:28 pm

I am going to begin moving my previous posts over from my old blog. I’ll be starting with the most recent and working back all the way to the beginning. I’m going to make the timestamp match the original timestamp so they won’t be that apparent. I have no idea if they will still show up in your readers – my guess is they will so I apologize for that if you use a reader. I’ll be doing it slowly so you won’t get 300 posts all in one day.

EDIT: They do not show up in Google Reader so that solves that mystery.


Shelf Discovery Challenge October 28, 2009

Filed under: Challenges,Young Adult — Michelle @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

When I first heard of Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick, I knew I had to get it.  And as soon as I got it, I knew I had to return to these books.  I’m actually a little young for a lot of the books in here.  The collection is really for children of the 60s and 70s (not me who wasn’t even able to read until the late 80s), but thanks to growing up in a small town and having access to only a small town library (it was actually an old house), I did end up reading a lot of these books.  And I would pretty much read anything I got my hands on.  I have often told the story of reading Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret in second grade and having no idea what a period was the entire time (it dawned on me years later what the book was actually about).

But I missed on on a few that I really should have read.  So when I saw the Shelf Discovery Challenge hosted by Booking Mama I knew I had to join.  I’m going to use this as an opportunity to read some of those books I missed out on as well as revisit some classics I haven’t seen in years.

The Challenge  (from Booking Mama):

The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 – April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a “book report” to share your thoughts with others!

And here are my six books (subject to change):

  1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  2. The Westing Game
  3. Jacob Have I Loved
  4. Bridge to Teribithia
  5. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  6. Little House on the Prairie

Wish me luck as I travel back into my childhood.


Discovering Betsy-Tacy #4: Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown October 27, 2009

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace

This is the last of the younger Betsy-Tacy books, before Betsy grows up and goes to high-school and beyond.  Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are now 12 and they are starting to grow up.  They can go downtown on their own (hmm…wonder where the title came from) and they take an interest in the theater for the first time.

The book takes us through some more adventures with the trio and like Over the Big Hill, it is more of a fluid story than the first two books.  This was another Read-a-Thon book and it was really a great one for the evening hours.

My favorite thing about this book was all of the “modern conveniences” that are introduced.  The Rays get their first telephone (which I imagine to be a lot like my family getting it’s first computer when I was 10 or the internet when I was 14 or even that first car phone my dad had that came in a bag).  And best of all – there is a HORSELESS CARRIAGE!  And it can go 16 miles per hour!

I must say that I really enjoyed this one, but I am most excited for the later books.  I’ve started Heaven to Betsy and I’m just loving it.  Boys, clothes, gossip – all in 1906.


Read-a-Thon Recap October 25, 2009

Filed under: Challenges — Michelle @ 11:49 am
Tags: , , ,

After some much needed sleep, I bring you my final summary.

  • Books Read: 2 (and 11 pages into a third)
  • Pages Read: 582
  • Hours Participated: 18
  • Pages per minute: 1.9 (although I didn’t spend every minute reading)
  • Mini-challenges entered: 6
  • Blog Posts: 6
  • Tweets: 70 (wow – did I annoy my non-readathon followers or what?)

I had a blast.  Thank you to all the cheerleaders who left me comments and tweets to keep me going.  I am trying to individually thank you all throughout the day.  It has inspired me to sign up as a cheerleader for at least a little while next time.

This was my first Read-a-Thon and I learned a few things.  (1) I should choose short books to keep me motivated; (2) I need to plan meals in addition to snacks and snacks should be healthier; (3) It’s ok if you take breaks – some hours I only read for 20 or 30 minutes.

I was reading for charity.  My husband and I both planned to donate $10 in addition to our usual gift to his parents’ Breast Cancer 3-Day Fund.  Unfortunately, we only managed to finish a combined 3 books.  So that’s only 30 dollars.  Next time we do this, we’ll do it by page number or some other stat.

I will definitely be doing this again in the spring.  Follow Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon to learn when the next event will be.

I had a great time interacting with everyone – both people I’ve “known” for years and people I just met yesterday (my google reader just increased exponentially).