Archive | April, 2012

Review: GODDESS INTERRUPTED by Aimee Carter

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she’ll have to fight for it.
 
Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.
 
As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.
 
Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

This book… Hmm. I had such hopes for this book. I’ve already reviewed the first book in the series, The Goddess Test, and at the end of my review, I listed a few things that I hoped to see in the sequel, mainly growth from Kate and Henry.

I mean, after all, Titans! Titans are cool. The explanation given by Carter is a bit confusing, but I didn’t care. The king’s name is Cronos, so he has to be pretty awesome.
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Happy Three-Month Blogversary To US!!!

High-five to us!

Woohoo!

It has been officially three months to the day when I first opened Bookshelvers Anonymous introduced myself to you all. Three months! That’s the accumulated lives of ninety to ninety-three houseflies (depending on whether said months are thirty- thirty-one-day months). That’s the length of an entire summer break.

Talk to any kid and ask him or her how long a summer break is. A really long time!


And you all have been excellent. In three months, you have:

  • Viewed my blog 1,340 times (give or take, since I’m writing this one day and publishing it later).
  • Sacrificed space in your inbox for me (6 of you).
  • Sacrificed space in your RSS Feed for me (some of you – don’t know how to check those stats yet!)
  • Followed me via GFC (59 of you)
  • Commented 61 times.
  • Provided excellent fellowship on Twitter (48 followers and counting!)
  • Taught me that there really is a country called Herzegovina (hello, my six Herzegovinian viewers – I see you!)
  • Pushed me to read great books (I promise, I’m going to read Night Circus and Eve!)
Really, it’s been so much fun. I can’t wait to learn more about you all and continue drooling over books with you. I also can’t wait to learn more about this whole blogging thing, because I’m very aware that I don’t know near enough. 
So, in celebration of this blogoversary, I would like to do three things.
First, I would like to promote my giveaway once again. As I said in the title, this is OUR blogoversary. I can’t afford to give books to all of you, but I can at least give you all the chance to get something cool.
Second, I’d like to hear more from you. What can I do to make this joint experience even better for you? What would you like to hear more about? Less about? Is there a book you’d like me to review? An aspect of shelver life you’d like to hear about? Is there a feature you’d like done away with or brought in?
Third, I have some really silly videos that make me giggle. What better way to commemorate a grand occasion than with laughter? (Please don’t judge me. Yes, I find these hilarious. Yes, I’m really five years old.)
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Cover Love #1

If any of you have been paying attention, I usually post reviews Saturday or Sunday, another post Monday or Tuesday that’s supposed to be for Wednesday but that I’m too impatient to wait for, a new Wishlist Wednesday meme on (obviously) Wednesday, and (when I’m feeling particularly inspired) a bonus post on Fridays.

However, I can’t always rely on my inspiration to buoy the end of the week, and poor Thursday is often so neglected by blogs, so I have decided that it’s high time I add a regular, bi-weekly Thursday post to my rotation. And if there’s one thing that will supply me with endless points of discussion, it’s pretty book covers.

I loooooove book covers! They’re so pretty and new and enticing. There have been books that have sold me on their promised based on the cover alone. So while I may not be an art student or a graphic designer, I promise you that I will have plenty to say.

For this, my inaugural Thursday Cover Love post, I have chosen…


The cover of Halo by Alexandra Adornetto!

Now, I know this book has gotten mixed reviews in some circles. I personally have never read it, nor do I know anything about the book other than what I can decipher from the cover.
But just look at it! Go ahead, drink it in. That cover is gorgeous, people!
A (presumably) human male leans against a tree, head bent slightly to lock gazes with a female angel in a dress with long, flowing locks. I picture them both as brunettes (hard to tell because of the silhouetting), but maybe that’s just me. Her hands are on his chest, a display of intimacy. Even more intimate is the way she tips her head back. His lips are parted, either in speech or in anticipation of a kiss. Perhaps both. They are having A Moment (capitalized all the way).
The sun, either setting or rising, brightens the space between their faces, casting a ring across the picture reminiscent of an angel’s halo. The blaze of light accentuates the tenuous space between them, heightening the tension, the anticipation. Above and around the couple, the golden light filters through the leaves of the tree that frames the scene and delicately illuminates the fragile structure of the angel’s wings.
At their waists is the title, Halo, as well as the author’s name in vintage script, protected by a curlicue border that seems as thin as fine gold.
It’s GORGEOUS. The color, the framing, the font, those FEATHERS! Ugh, I can barely stand to look at it, it’s all so wonderful.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think of this cover? What do you like or dislike? And what covers would you like me to drool over in future installments?
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That Awkward Moment…

When your manager accidentally refers to the clearance cart as the “hell cart” within earshot of a customer.

Yes, the clearance cart is less than affectionately referred to as the hell cart. It’s a sloppy, awful mess with merchandise at bottom-barrel prices. The cart sits outside the store to attract people inside, so we’re constantly running out to drag it in when it starts to rain. People show clearance items even less respect than they do normal items, so things are frequently stolen, broken, or just generally screwed up. Oh, and the wheels usually don’t work.

Therefore, hell cart.

It’s one of those things you’d probably never hear about unless you work in a bookstore… or unless you happened to be that customer. My manager’s look of shock was hilarious.

Consider this your special, behind-the-scenes look into bookshelver lingo.

You’re welcome.

Do you have a funny work story to share? Is there something you’d like me to talk about in a later post regarding working at a bookstore?

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Review: GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.
 
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
 
Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

I picked up Goddess Test from my store because it sounded interesting, because I love (love!) mythology, and because the sequel just came out last month. I read it in less than twenty-four hours and ran out to get the sequel. And yet I’m conflicted about this book.

Continue Reading →

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Three Month Anniversary Giveaway!

On January 28, I woke up and went about everyday life. But at some point during that day, I decided, “I want to start a blog.” I’d been reading all these other blogs, and everyone had so many interesting things to say, but daggum, I had interesting things to say, too!

So I started Bookshelvers Anonymous. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and I still don’t, but I’ve done what I can to learn. I didn’t know if anyone would ever read it, so I was free to ramble on about whatever pleased me. (And when I say anyone, I mean anyone. Even my parents don’t know about this blog. It was a point of pride for me to do the techy stuff without my dad’s help.) I rambled about books and reviews and Oscar videos and cute book covers and all sorts of things. And I’ve had so much fun doing it.
Now, you might say, what’s the big deal? It’s only three months. Ha! You idealistic people. I’m busy enough (and lazy enough) that I’m lucky if I can stick with something for three days, much less three months. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to responsibilities like work, family, church, etc., but for the rest, I direct you to my 5th grade marble collection, my harmonica (used only twice), and any exercise plan I’ve ever started.
Therefore, in honor of my very surprising three month blogoversary and in gratitude to all of you, I’ve decided to host a giveaway. The winner will receive a $10 book from The Book Depository. Now, I did some research, and just look at what great books cost only ten bucks!
Entwined by Heather Dixon, The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (paperback preorder only), Terrier by Tamora Pierce, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter, an many, many more!
Whew! I’m sorry I can’t afford more, but just look at all those great books. $10 will get you any one of them, or a completely different book of your choice. Al you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below and follow the rules:
  • You MUST be a GFC follower of Bookshelvers Anonymous.
  • You MUST live in one of the countries Book Depository delivers to.
  • And you MUST respond to me email within 48 hours of winning (so make sure that email address is correct!).

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Wishlist Wednesday

Totally the property of Pen To Paper

Yes, I’ve hopped on the meme bandwagon. I didn’t mean to, I swear! It just sort of… happened. See, Dani from Pen To Paper had this idea to host a meme where bloggers talk about a book that they’re just dying to read. Seeing as my Goodreads to-read list is currently at 105, this particular meme seemed like a good fit for me. As it says, this is a Wednesday meme, but I’ll only be doing it bi-weekly (not to be confused with semi-weekly) so as to avoid crowding when I start my bi-weekly Thursday meme (starting next week).

So what did I choose this week?

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore! 
I know, I know, it seems like this book is on all the blogs, but there’s a reason for that. First, it’s the third in a highly regarded series. Graceling and Fire were amazing. I might not have agreed with some of the heroines’ morals or choices, but the writing was superb, the action scenes were killer (no pun intended), and the romances were swoon-worthy. Bitterblue is the continuation of these stories.
Second, unlike Fire, which brings in an entirely new heroine and setting (only to later tie it back in to the first book), Bitterblue follows a character we already admire and love. I thought Bitterblue was great when I first met her, and I’m beyond ecstatic to catch up with her again, especially now that she’s old enough to have a mysterious loooooove interest.

Third… it’s my blog. I pick. Therefore, I choose that it shall be on my blog. Everyone else just has excellent taste to agree with me.

This is a book that I will literally fight with customers to get my hands on once it comes out. As soon as it arrives in the back, I’m snagging it, with a loud raspberry to release dates. Okay, I’m not sure if that’s ethical/legal, so maybe not, but you get the idea.

What about you all? What book are you just DYING to get your hands on?

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Are Classics A Lost Cause?

Are classics a lost cause? Were they ever viable off the life support of public school reading lists? What IS a classic, anyways?

Confession: Despite being a bookshelver and an English major, I despise most classics. Loathe, actually. To me, “classic” meant some boring, incomprehensible book that some hoity-toity professor with tenure decided was worth time boring us to death over. Usually, such a book involved some wacked-out analysis of feminism, incest, Freud, or class warfare. (Why no, I’m not bitter and disillusioned, why do you ask?)

However, I realized that such a definition would not serve for this discussion, so I did a little digging.

Once upon a time, a French literary critic named Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, hereafter referred to as Charlie, asked the same question we are asking now – “What Is A Classic?” His answer?

“The idea of a classic implies something that has continuance and consistence, and which produces unity and tradition, fashions and transmits itself, and endures…. A true classic, as I should like to hear it defined, is an author who has enriched the human mind, increased its treasure, and caused it to advance a step; who has discovered some moral and not equivocal truth, or revealed some eternal passion in that heart where all seemed known and discovered; who has expressed his thought, observation, or invention, in no matter what form, only provided it be broad and great, refined and sensible, sane and beautiful in itself; who has spoken to all in his own peculiar style, a style which is found to be also that of the whole world, a style new without neologism, new and old, easily contemporary with all time.” (Wikipedia gathered the quote for me.)

For all of you thinking TL;DR (that’s “too long; didn’t read” for you not hip in the know), the summary is that a classic is something that endures through time, that teaches the reader a valuable lesson about himself or the world around him, and continues to instill such learning and arouse passion through the course of time.

Here, I think, is where our lit classes often fail us, because rarely are children shown how great such a book can be. Instead they’re told, “It’s a classic; therefore, it’s good. Read it. You’ll like it.”

When was the last time you saw a parent force the kid to eat a food and the kid reply, “Gee, Mom, I’m sure glad you made me try those asparagus tips! They’re awfully tasty!”

Just about never.

When kids come into my store for classics, it’s because a teacher has given them a reading list. They’re being forced to read books that are presented to them as “classic,” which probably brings up the same caustic definition in their minds that I presented at the very beginning of this post. They don’t want to read these boring old books where everyone talks funny! And by “kids,” I mean everyone from elementary-schoolers to grad students.

If a classic is to have a chance at all with kids, two things must happen. First, I believe it should be updated in one way or another. Now, I don’t mean all copies of Hamlet should be replaced with Lion King storybooks. But which book do you think a reader is most likely to pick up?

This?
Or this?
Second, the reader must be allowed to choose. The books I loved most as a kid were the ones I found myself – the classic Beauty and the Beast, the full and unabridged Treasure Island, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I picked them, not teachers or professors. Even if schools aren’t willing to give kids full autonomy, partial autonomy is still possible. Some schools, instead of giving kids a list of ten books they must read, instead give the kids a list of thirty and tell them to pick ten. The kids pick things that interest them, the teachers still get to feed their students classics, and who knows? Maybe the kids will even start swapping books with fellow classmates, because what’s more contagious than a good book (just ask Harry Potter and Hunger Games)?
In my opinion, so many classics hang around because some old fuddy-duddy says they’re classics and no one bothered to question it. Or, more likely, they were fresh and innovative for the time, but that time has passed (more on that in a moment). So what are we stuck with? James Joyce’s Ulysses. Everything by Ayn Rand. Proust. That awful American Colonial novel that even my professor admitted to hating. Books that may be innovative for their time, may say something deep and meaningful and philosophical (thereby satisfying Charlie), but that in the end are atrocious to actually read for pleasure!
I mean, does anyone ever toss Ulysses to a friend and say, “Hey, this book has great characters, a killer plot, and man, what a twist ending!”? No! Yet that’s what we evaluate other books on, books that aren’t protected under the sanctimonious label of “classic.”

Charlie had a glimmer of this himself when he quoted Goethe (and I’m quoting Wikipedia quoting Charlie quoting Goethe):

“Ancient works are classical not because they are old, but because they are powerful, fresh, and healthy.”

That’s the key, isn’t it?

Our society’s list of classics must be allowed to evolve and morph. We’ve done some work in pulling away from the pitfalls of the Western Canon, which tended to favor dead white guys. Now we have diversity in the form of Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, Eileen Chang, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, N.K. Narayan, and others.

But so many of these (to me, anyways) still glorify structure over story. That’s why I inwardly cheer every time a student comes in to buy Hunger Games or Holes or another “modern classic” for school. These are books that revel in quality writing, spectacular characters, and riveting plot. They also fulfill Charlie’s qualifications for being labeled a classic. They make us think, they fill us with passion, and they reach us lessons about ourselves and our world.

So no, I do not think classics are a lost cause, provided that they are neither pushed down our throats merely for the sake of being a so-called classic nor are allowed to malinger in complacency by never-updating and never presenting itself anew.

But enough of my thoughts. What do YOU think? How do you define a classic? What do you think is wrong or right with the way classics are presented to the general public today? How would you change the status quo? And what books would you give the label of “classic” to?

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Like My Pretty, New Design?

Well, so do I!

Friends, I stand before you one of the most technologically unsavvy young people on the face of the Earth. I’m part of the Apple generation, a group of people who are used to one-click options. That’s the nice thing about Blogger’s offered backgrounds and such. I just click on the pretty picture of books and poof! Insta-background! Same for Twitter. One click for a picture, another click to change the color. Easy-peasy.

But I knew I couldn’t stay with my one-click options, no sirree. It’s not professional. I may be an amateur, but I don’t want to look like one.

So I cannonballed into a Google search to try to find an easy way to spice up my blog.

Now, with a certain lack of savviness also comes an almost irrational fear of icky things like malware and Trojans and wooooooorms. Ew. Thankfully, the Web hosts a bunch of people who want traffic more than they want my information, because traffic means ad money. Yay capitalism!

Google was teeming with all sorts of sites offering creative blog and Twitter backgrounds, headers, buttons, etc. It was a little overwhelming, especially since so many were cute, but just not me.

There were so many headaches that other naive amateurs can relate to. I found a cute background, but it didn’t have a matching header. One did have a matching header, but I hated the header! Okay, a cute background, but how the heck do I make the background fit? AAAAH! It’s off-center! Whew, it fits, but I still need a header. Why do all these headers suck? They’re too small! Here’s a nice one… no, no survey, thank you. Maybe if I can just stick a cute little image next to the title that’s already there… Okay, fine, Blogspot, have it your way.

Headaches, I tell you, headaches! And don’t even get me started on that queer little creature that is “coding.”

But finally, after two days of scouring sites and wrangling with looks, I think I’ve found something I’m happy with, and I wanted to share credit.

The Cutest Blog On The Block provided my blog background. (It’s called Love In Literature.)

Makin’ Cute Blogs gave me a ridiculously easy tip on how to center my header (once I found one.)

The Background Fairy gave me my blog header (Vintage Newspaper With Bird), my Twitter back ground (Vintage Newspaper), my navigation bar buttons, and the individual bird on my Twitter background. (For the record, I really love that bird. I need to name him/her.)

Beta Templates helped me figure out how the heck to change my post title color (the blue was clashing.)

Handmadeology showed me how to correctly scale my header, enter in my title, and get it looking pretty on my blog.

Free Twitter Designer helped me figure out how to take my little birdie and position it correctly with my newspaper background to work on Twitter.

The CoffeeShop Blog gave me remarkably simple instructions on how to enter custom navigation buttons into my bar, rather than try to tweak someone else’s code (word to the wise, if using a transparent layer, save as PNG, not JPEG). I also learned how to create the pages that the buttons link to as well.

Tada! I’ll probably still tweak a bit, because I’m a perfectionist, but I’m pretty pleased with myself. I also need to do a few more structural changes on the blog.

Now that I’ve bragged like a gramma with baby pictures, what do you think of the changes? Do you have any suggestions? Anything else you’d like to see? Also, please come visit me on Twitter and tell me how you like that background as well!

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Review: SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Ooooh, I love me some Robin Hood! No matter how he’s portrayed or who’s portraying him, he’s my guy. Errol Flynn, Cary Elwes, Jonas Armstrong, that cartoon fox, it’s all good. Because of his mischievousness, dashing ways, and sense of adventure, Robin tends to steal the show in any adaptation of his story, relegating the other Merry Men to background players.

Not so in this story.
Continue Reading →

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