Friday, December 10, 2010

Announcing...

We are happy to announce that our daughter, Baby M, was born at 9:21 AM on November 29th! M weighed 9 lbs. 1 oz. and was 20 inches long. We are all healthy and happy, and enjoying getting to know each other.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Rampant

I loved unicorns when I was a little girl. I was convinced - 100% convinced - that somewhere out there, unicorns were real. I remember going to see the circus one year when they were showing a unicorn. Despite the skepticism around me (from my older, wiser sister), I was sure that this was proof that unicorns were real. I don't know when I finally grew out of this belief, but I was probably much older than I should have been.*


Given this, it's actually surprising to me that it took me this long to get around to reading Rampant by Diana Peterfreund.
Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one attacks her boyfriend — ruining any chance of him taking her to prom — Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient Cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. However, all is not what it seems at the Cloisters. Outside, unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from bone-covered walls that vibrate with terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
Did I like it? Absolutely! The book was much darker than I expected - the unicorns were really bloodthirsty, the battles with the girls were high-stakes, and the threats from outside were disturbing. But Astrid and the other girls were take-no-prisoner heroines and I loved reading their story. I can't wait for the sequel.

Buy Rampant by Diana Peterfreund on Amazon.

* So, obviously, Team Unicorn, people. Team Unicorn all the way. And in case you have no idea what I'm talking about: Zombies vs. Unicorns.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review: Life from Scratch

Life From Scratch by Melissa Ford is about a woman starting life over. Rachel Goldman feels helpless - she's divorced, on leave from her unsatisfying job, and lonely in her little NYC apartment. She doesn't even know how to make an egg! So she starts at the beginning: she will learn how to cook and venture out on a few dates. To her surprise, the blog she writes to track her progress is a hit. But life is complicated and Rachel can't make herself forget her ex as easily as she can teach herself to make dinner.

This was a really charming, sweet read. Rachel is a likable heroine and the author has done an good job of making her and the other characters - even the Latin love interest (I pictured Javier Bardem!) - fully fleshed out, while keeping the tone very light. I also liked the structure of the book, with snippets from Rachel's blog at the beginning of each chapter (though I was surprised that the author didn't incorporate recipes into the book as well - maybe that would have been overkill, but it would have fit).

While Life From Scratch isn't a heavy book, it is an endearing story that I think many readers will enjoy. I look forward to the promised sequel when it comes out.

Buy Life from Scratch by Melissa Ford from the publisher, at B&N.com or on Amazon.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: The Magicians

Right off the bat, I'll say that I really liked The Magicians. Yes, it feels a little like the author, Lev Grossman, took a dozen popular books and mashed them together. But, at least for me, I thought it came out delicious and not derivative.

The Magicians is the story of an ordinary high school student, Quentin, who finds out he has magical abilities and goes to a school for magic (see: Harry Potter, et al). Once there, Quentin meets up with a group of like-minded students, all equally interested in magic and fun. They learn that there are other worlds (hints of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones, perhaps?) and, after some aimless young adult wandering, decide to find out if the magic land of their favorite childhood books (clearly The Chronicles of Narnia) is real.

Unlike these books, however, The Magicians is decidedly written for an adult audience. For one thing, the group of friends reminded me more of the murderous Bacchanalians in The Secret History by Donna Tartt than Harry and his buddies. For another, there is a distinct pathos about all of them. What's the point in trying when everything can be gotten by lifting a finger?

I think that anyone who read the Narnia books as voraciously as I (and Quentin, under another name) did will really enjoy this book. Or you might find it to be derivative garbage and hate it. But it's worth the read to find out.

Buy The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman on Amazon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Links

Two quick links for a Wednesday:

As heard (by me) on NPR: Save the Words, where you can adopt a word that is about to go extinct. (Warning, site contains sounds, if you are secretly reading this at work.)

My friend Laura has issued a challenge to me to take part in next year's Zombie Safe House Competition. I accept!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 11/16

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
Today's teaser is from The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, an author whose work I generally really enjoy. I've just started this one, so I don't have an opinion yet, but I have high hopes.
Antonina and Jan had learned to live on seasonal time, not mere chronicity. Like most humans, they did abide by clocks, but their routine was never quite routine, made up as it was of compatible realities, one attuned to animals, the other to humans.
From that lovely passage, one would never know this is a book about the Holocaust.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Complications

COMPLICATIONS by Atul Gawande is about surgery, written by a resident surgeon. It is also about how humans learn, make mistakes, learn more, make decisions, learn something new, make another mistake, learn about something else, and then, when things go right, make really good decisions that just maybe save another person's life.

This book is incredibly intense - especially the last story in the book, which made me nervous for days - but not too gory or graphic. I don't normally do well with anything that even has a whiff of gruesome about it, but I generally wasn't grossed out. (I will admit that I skipped one chapter, "The Dead Baby Mystery." I checked with my medical professional husband, who read this book years ago, if this chapter is really about a dead baby. It is, so I decided that in my present, about to be a new mom state, I didn't need to read that.)

Instead, I found COMPLICATIONS to be a fascinating look at something I'm not familiar with. It matters, of course, that Gawande is an excellent writer. It's not perfect, of course, but it is excellent.

Buy Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande on Amazon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Churches for a Sunday

Because it is Sunday, and because I haven't posted on this topic in a long while, I present a round-up of interesting churches (the buildings, not the denominations, FYI).

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Waukegan) [via archi dose]

Johnson Chapel at Trinity School

Not really a church, but still cool: Nobody Steps On A Church In My Town! Or Do They?

Several from arch daily:
Pushing La Sagrada Família Forward, about the long process of getting Gaudi's famous cathedral built.

Tampa Covenant Church by Alfonso Architects

AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Honor Award for the Field Chapel

De la Piedra Chapel by Nomena Arquitectos + Ximena Alvarez

Which one do you like best?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 Random Books (with mini reviews)

The horror! I missed a day yesterday. Oh, well. While I won't have an unblemished posting record this month, I am definitely moving back into the swing of things. I still need to power through the backlog of reviews I need to write, though.

This is inspired by the meme I see around all the time, where one puts your iPod on shuffle and writes down the first 10 (or 25, or what not) songs that come up. Instead, I used the LibraryThing app I have on my blog (top right column) and picked the first 10 books that came up. I did cheat a little and exclude my husband's textbooks that came up, as I have nothing to say about them!

Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book: A Primer for Adults Only by Shel Silverstein: I think I got this from a friend years ago. It's just a silly funny book. And yes, adults only, even though it's Shel Silverstein.

Flying Colours (Hornblower Saga) by C. S. Forester: This is my husband's book - he has the whole series - and I've never read it. But I watched the Horatio Hornblower miniseries with him and loved it. It doesn't hurt that I have a bit of a crush on Ioan Gruffudd in it.

Orca by Steven Brust: I first read Brust when I picked up The Book of Jhereg from the advice of a bookseller (yay! bookstores!). I really liked it and continued on with the series, including this one. (This looks like it's out of print as a stand alone title, but it's available in the The Book of Athyra anthology.) The series gets darker as it goes but it's enjoyable for anyone who likes their fantasy with a heaping dose of magic and swordplay.

Zorro: A Novel by Isabelle Allende: I read this re-telling of the Zorro story by famed author Allende for book club. I remember enjoying it, but that's about it.

Irish Sagas and Folk Tales by Eileen O'Faolain: This looks really out of print, unfortunately. I loved this book when I bought it on a summer school trip to Ireland as a high school student.

Sarah: A Novel (Canaan Trilogy) by Marek Halter: The first in a trilogy, of which I have not read all three. I liked this one quite a bit though. It's historical fiction based on the Bible and well-written.

At Home in Mitford (The Mitford Years, Book 1) by Jan Karon: I think I have confessed my love of Karon's Mitford books here before. They aren't good, by any stretch, but I like them for what they are. There's a new book out in her second series about Father Tim (In the Company of Others), which I keep forgetting to get.

The Brand-New House Book: Everything You Need to Know About Planning, Designing, and Building a Custom, Semi-Custom, or Production-Built House by Katherine Salant: I bought this on a whim one day, curious what I as an architect would think of a book written for the layperson on the subject. I found it to be helpful, actually, though not perfect. Still, if you are contemplating building a house, I suggest finding a copy.

Angelas Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt: Doesn't everyone own a copy?

Intrusions by Ursula Hegi: Another gift, from a college friend who is a huge Hegi fan. It's an odd book, with a novel within a novel and characters that interact with "real" people. I can't compare it to Hegi's other novels, but I thought it was interesting.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 11/9

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
For something different for today's Teaser, I am sharing from Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande.
When things go wrong, it's almost impossible for a physician to talk to a patient honestly about mistakes. Hospital lawyers warn doctors that, although they must, of course, tell patients about injuries that occur, they are never to intimate that they were at fault, lest the "confession" wind up in court as damning evidence in a black-and-white morality take.
I am reading this for book club, as I so often happens when I read outside of my comfort zone.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Arts and Bookbinding

I noticed on The Rejectionist that this past weekend was the NY Art Book Fair. I love books as art.* I know this may seem like a clash with what I wrote yesterday, extolling the virtues of eBooks, but I don't think the love of books as objects and books as reading materials are necessarily linked.

One of my earliest exposures to books as art was through the amazing bookbinder and artist Barbara Mauriello** and the The Center for Book Arts.
The Center for Book Arts is committed to exploring and cultivating contemporary aesthetic interpretations of the book as an art object while invigorating traditional artistic practices of the art of the book. The Center seeks to facilitate communication between the book arts community and the larger spheres of contemporary art and literature through exhibitions, classes, public programming, literary presentations, opportunities for artists and writers, publications, and collecting. Founded in 1974, it was the first organization of its kind in the nation.
One year, due to bad weather or some scheduling mishap, my family was among the few people who went to the Center's yearly open house. That year, instead of just watching the artists work on books and make paper, my sister and I got to try it out for ourselves. It was a fantastic experience. I think my mom still has some of the beautiful marble paper and prints we made. I know the Center offers classes, so if you are interested in book art and in the NY area, I suggest you check them out.

*So much so that I should really go back though all my posts and create a tag for this subject, so as to not bog up my generic Books tag.

** Who is, in full disclosure, a good friend of my family.

All images courtesy of the Center for Book Arts.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

eBook Thoughts

Last week, I was waiting for a friend of mine and, while waiting, was reading on my nook eReader. He hadn't seen it before and after making appropriate noises about the case (which I made) asked me whether I saved money by having one. Not at all, I had to tell him. I may pay a little less per book for new books, but I more than made up for it by buying so many more new books. I still love used books sales, and I prefer to have nice hard cover copies of my well-loved novels, but for day to day reading, ebooks had really spoiled me.

I'll give you an example. Yesterday morning, I woke up very early (one of the hazards of being pregnant, I've found, is how hard it can be to sleep in). I had just finished one book and, as is so often the case, was uninterested in the TBR pile next to my bed, or any of the other books on our shelves I've never read. So I picked up my nook and looked at the Wishlist I had created there. One title stuck out at me - The Magicians by Lev Grossman - so I bought it. A few minutes later I was happily curled up in my comfy chair reading it. All this, before the sun had even come up all the way.

I still love physical books and I can't ever imagine not being surrounded by them. But I have unabashedly become a fan of ebooks, and I foresee that as time goes on, I will buy even more of them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Architecture Links

From Architecture Record 2011 America’s Best Architecture Schools. My undergraduate college, the University of Virginia, wasn't ranked (boo!) but my graduate school, the Southern California Institute of Architecture was ranked in several categories, including #2 for Design. Way to go, Sci-Arc!

Never a good sign: 2-ton chunk of UC Santa Barbara ceiling collapses. I bet the architects and their consultants are scrambling right about now.

Possibly the most interesting architecture article I've read in a a while: Design Within Reach: A blind architect relearns his craft at The Atlantic Monthly. [via Building Content]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday!

I get ridiculously tired these days, as I near the end of my pregnancy (4 weeks to my due date!), so Friday is very welcome. Fortunately, I only have another week of work before my maternity leave starts. I was originally going to work a little longer but sanity - and my doctor and husband - prevailed and now I get a break before the baby comes. At least that's what I'm hoping for, though every time I tell someone that, it seems they respond about how their first came 1, 2, 3 weeks early!

While I'm talking about babies, I thought I'd share this photo of me at just a few weeks old.


From left: my older cousin trying to console me, my grandmother, me (the one screaming), another cousin (6 months older), and my sister, trying to figure out how she ended up with this little baby hanging around. Fortunately, we grew up to be very good friends.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Covers

Huffington Post's Coolest Book Covers of 2010 (via Shelf Awareness). I'm not familiar with any of these books, I'll confess (though I've read a couple of the authors) but I always love hearing the behind the scenes take on a cover.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Persona Non Grata

Persona Non Grata is the third book in Ruth Downie's Medicus series, after Medicus and Terra Incognita (links go to my reviews).

In this installment, Ruso, a medic in the Roman army, heads home to Gaul in response to a letter from his family, with his "barbarian" lover Tilla in tow. Once home, he finds out that no one really wants him there. Things go from bad to worse, as they always seem to do around Ruso, when the creditor he's trying to negotiate with is murdered in Ruso's home. Further complications arise: Tilla gets caught up with the wrong crowd (aka Christians), Ruso's half-sister falls in love with a gladiator, and his stepmother keeps trying to fix him up with their wealthy neighbor.

I loved the first one and liked the second one, but thought it had lost a bit of its luster. Now with the third book, I was a little bored. It took me a while to get through it, as I kept losing interest (partly due to my own lack of interest in reading in general, I'll admit). For starters, I felt more annoyed by Ruso and Tilla's exploits than intrigued. Ruso is so hapless, it was hard to root for him. And, out of her element, Tilla seemed a little shrewish, not the feisty heroine from the first two books. There were also many, many secondary characters to keep track of. In the midst of this, the mystery seemed to get lost.

Other readers, especially those in a better reading mood than I, may disagree. I still highly recommend the first book and think there was a lot to like in this one (the setting, in particular). I just expected something more.

Buy Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie on Amazon.

I did really like this slideshow on the author's website of some of the real places in this book.

Note: I received Persona Non Grata from LibraryThings' Early Reviewer program.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 11/2

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
Today's teaser is from The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be by Armin A. Brott.
My wife and I thought about a home birth for our second baby but ultimately decided against it. While I don't consider myself particularly squeamish, I just couldn't imagine how we'd avoid making a mess all over the bedroom carpet.
My husband bought this for himself, on the advice of friends, and I read it, too, just for fun. I don't plan on reviewing it, but thought it was enjoyable enough to share this snippet.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaBloPoMo: Day 1

Since I stink as a book blogger these days, I thought I'd see if participating in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) would help kickstart me back into being a better blogger. Even in my blogging heyday, I never posted daily, so this might be interesting.

I am not, sadly, participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. With baby due December 3, I just can't do it. And to be honest, being pregnant has made my arm injury flare back up (not surprisingly) which means that I can't type that much. This is actually one of the contributing factors to my lack of blogging.

Anyway, if any of you are participating in NaNoWriMo, I can't wait to hear all about it. I loved participating the past two years and winning last year felt great. I highly recommend doing it to anyone who likes writing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interesting Links

My links today are sort of all over the place, but are more about architecture than books.

Via Shelf Awareness: Near the Library, D’Espresso’s Bookish Coffee Bar.

Via (sort of surprisingly) Go Fug Yourself:
10 music videos set in libraries and bookstores.

Via archinect: Should you build your own home? Loved this! FYI, home in this context, refers to your website, not to an actual house.

At the NY Times, AT HOME WITH PATRICK DOUGHERTY: Building With Sticks and Stones. I've written about the artist previously.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 10/12

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
As frequent readers may have noticed from the lack of anything going on here, I'm in a slump. Since I think the universal cure for a slump is well-loved classics, I'm browsing my shelves these days looking for something that seems appealing. Over the weekend, I read an old favorite: Friday by Robert A. Heinlein. This week's Teaser:
As I left the Kenya Beanstalk capsule he was right on my heels. He followed me through the door leading to Customs, Health, and Immigration. As the door contracted behind him I killed him.
This isn't my favorite Heinlein by any stretch, but it's a quick and fun read (especially if you skim the typical Heinlein lectures on everything from politics to astrophysics and avert your eyes from the outdated sexual politics).

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 10/5

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
This week's Teaser is from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.
[A moral position] begins in the heart of a character and grows from there. Tell the truth and write about freedom and fight for it, however you can, and you will be richly rewarded.
I've been reading this book for some time now, somewhat because I've been in a general reading slump, but also because this book lends itself really well to being read in snippets.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Update and Links

I've read maybe 10 pages from a book this week. I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating on anything more complicated than Glee or a game of sudoku. My brain has turned to mush. Can I blame being pregnant?

Other people are doing interesting things, though, so I will just share them and hope you will forgive me for being such a poor blogger. Some are architecture, some are books, some are both.

From Archi Dose, I present two cool new blogs: Round Houses and Things Organized Neatly. Both are exactly what the packaging says and are worth checking out.

The Top 10 Bookstores in the US from Flavorwire [Via Bookslut]

I though this article was interesting, even though I'm not Jewish. I do like fantasy, though. Why There is No Jewish Narnia Warning: contains minor spoiler for The Magicians by Lev Grossman.) [Via Nancy Werlin at Whatever]

Author Douglas Coupland helped design a national monument in Ottawa to Canadian firefighters who died in the line of duty. Yes, Douglas Coupland, the author of Generation X, etc. So much for my excuse why I can't finish editing my novel. [Via Bookslut]

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BBAW - Future Treasures

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I am responding to a daily question about books and blogging. Please visit the BBAW website for more answers from other bloggers.


We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

I've been too busy this week to really appreciate BBAW, unfortunately, but I'm looking forward to catching up on all the great posts stacking up in my RSS reader and finding out what I missed!

My blogging goals for the next year are simple: keep going! As many of you have already read, my husband and I are expecting our first child this December. I anticipate that my life is going to change dramatically when our little girl arrives. I'd like to keep blogging, though, so I will do my best to learn how to fit it in to my new schedule.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW - Unexpected Treasure

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I am responding to a daily question about books and blogging. Please visit the BBAW website for more answers from other bloggers.


We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger. What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?

One book I read recently on the advice of a fellow blogger was Dissolution by C.J. Sansom which I read after reading the review on The Infusion. That wasn't particularly outside of my comfort zone, though, as I really love historical mysteries.

I also read, this year, The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti, after reading many positive reviews about it from other bloggers. As you can see from my review, I wasn't terribly impressed with it, though.

If I had an "unexpected treasure" this year, it's not coming to me, unfortunately.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 9/14

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
This week's Teaser is from Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie.
The buildings were grander than anything she had seen before, but the streets smelled just as powerfully as every other town of fish sauce and fresh bread, frying, warm dung, sweaty bodies, and brash perfume.

"Come on, Tilla, or whatever your name is," urged Marcia over the clatter of a passing handcart.
This book is set in Roman Gaul, not Roman Britannia, like the first two books in the series (Medicus and Terra Incognita). I'm enjoying the change of scenery.

BBAW - Interview with Cathy of Kittling: Books

This year, As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I was paired for the interview swap with Cathy of Kittling: Books. Since Cathy has been blogging for a while and is, I know, pretty familiar in the book blogging world, I decided not to focus my interview on "getting to know you" questions or on general questions about her blog. Instead, I decided to focus on getting her advice to the long-time blogger (like, for example, me!). I hope you enjoy the interview.

I highly recommend a visit to Kittling: Books to read Cathy's interview of me - as I write this post I haven't seen what Cathy wrote and, based on how interesting her questions were, I am really curious to read the interview!



When and why did you start Kittling: Books?

I started three blogs in June 2008, Kittling: Books, Kittling: Travel Tales, and Kittling: Personal Observations. Kittling is a Gaelic word which means "anything that strikes [my] fancy", and I thought divvying my interests into three different blogs would suit them best. I was wrong.

It was very difficult to find the time to keep all three maintained. The more I got into my primary passion (books), I realized that the people who read blogs wanted to know something about the blogger's personality. So, instead of being a split personality, I shut down the other two blogs and spiced up the content on Kittling: Books by using the writing, humor and photography from the other two.

As to why I started down the blogging path... I had a book group on Yahoo groups with which I became very dissatisfied. I decided that, if I was going to talk to myself, I might as well do it in a venue that allowed me a bit more to play with: writing with photos and videos and the like. It turns out that I didn't talk to myself for very long, and I couldn't be happier. There are some wonderful people out in the blogosphere.


How has your blog changed since you first started?

When I first started, Kittling: Books consisted mainly of book reviews and little else. Dead boring. I started lurking in a few blogging groups at Library Thing, and the people there did a great deal in educating me about content, about what blogs were out there, about what sort of things were looked for in book blogs. I started visiting blogs to see what they were talking about, and I began experimenting to see what worked for me, and what didn't.

Now I'm not afraid to put myself out there, to let my personality out-- whether it's in the way that I word my reviews, or my photos that I share, or the occasional adventure out on the trail that I share. I think Kittling: Books is pretty much me... in Internet form.


How do you keep the blog fresh both for your readers and for you, as its creator?

I've found it rather amusing that, in the world of book blogging, the posts that generate the least amount of comments tend to be-- you guessed it-- book reviews.

It didn't take me long to realize that I really didn't want to talk to me, myself, and I on my blog. I didn't have a problem generating contact on my other two blogs with my photography and other posts. Kittling: Books was really my favorite child, and what I had to do to change it and keep it fresh was to turn loose of the fear.

What fear? That my blog had to be about books, books, and nothing but books. When I shut down the other two blogs and began using bits of their content on my book blog, things began to liven up. Then I began to see these weekly features on other blogs, and I wondered if I couldn't do something like that myself.

And then I began to get burned out because I thought I had to post every single day. I made the decision to take the weekends off, and also to schedule posts ahead of time as much as possible.
Now most of my posts are scheduled, so I don't feel "deadlines" breathing down my neck, and even though I'm not posting seven days a week, the number of people reading my blog continues to grow.

So... I would say that the best way to keep your blog fresh for you and for your readers is to do what's best for you-- and a lot of times that means getting rid of the fear. Be willing to experiment!


You have several features on your blog, the most well-known being Scene of the Blog. How do you decide to start a feature? How do you keep them going and keep them fresh?

Funny that you should ask me this, Lorin, since I've been playing around with the idea of starting my own reading challenge in 2011!

How do I decide to start a feature? With Scene of the Blog, I think I was inspired by an excessive amount of time spent watching Home & Garden Television (HGTV). I love floor plans, elevations, interior design... and one day I caught myself putting all this in context with book bloggers. So many of us tend to be introverts, much more comfortable working behind the scenes than out in front of the camera. I know I am! But would introverts be more willing to participate in a feature that asked them to show just the area in which they blogged... a feature that allowed them to stay behind the camera?

I thought that the answer would probably be yes, so I began doing research. I couldn't find similar features on other book blogs, and when I asked about it on Twitter, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and that's how it all began.

Scene of the Blog is still going strong, and its premise has so much structure that it stays fresh. No two book bloggers' spaces look the same!

I have tried other features, and they don't always work... or they work for a limited period of time. When the inspiration is gone and no one is responding to them, don't be afraid to let them go. The act of letting one tired one go usually sparks at least one new idea for me.

Many thanks to Cathy for being willing to answer my questions!

Please visit the BBAW website for more interviews from other bloggers.


Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW - First Treasure

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I am responding to a daily question about books and blogging. Please visit the BBAW website for more answers from other bloggers.


We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year!

One of my favorite blogs that I've discovered in the last year is My Porch. While it is not a new blog (looking at his archive, Thomas has been blogging since 2006) it was new to me this year.

The interesting thing is that I think there really is not much overlap in book taste between us. He tends to like older British fiction (lots of Persephone Press books, etc). His favorite childhood book was probably my least favorite! I read a lot of sci fi and fantasy; I don't think he reads any of either.

Yet, despite our differences, I really enjoy reading his blog. We do have a lot in common (a shared love of the Ivory Merchant film adaptation of Room with a View, for example) and a background in design (architecture for me, urban design {I believe} for him). I love his eye - I love the posts on wonderful illustrations and book jackets. And I love reading his reviews, even when I doubt I will actually ever read the book.

I you haven't read My Porch before, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Update 9/10 & Giveaway Winner

Most Fridays, I update my library and share what new books I bought or received during the past week.

Last weekend (a holiday weekend here in the US), husband and I went through our shelves. We got rid of handful of books and put over 250 books in storage. It was a huge task, so on Monday we decided to reward ourselves ... by buying books! Addicts, I know.

We have decided to try to confine ourselves to buying fewer but better books - like nicer hard copy versions of the falling-apart paperbacks and other well-loved books we have - and buying e-books for things we know we'll only read once. For example, we got a nice hardcover set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I got a hardcover of my favorite Stephen King book, The Eyes of the Dragon.

I also received Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie, from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. This is the third book in her Medicus series, after Medicus and Terra Incognita (links go to my reviews).

In other news, I've picked the winner of my 2nd Blogoversary Giveaway! Using random.org, I've picked entry number 3.
Congratulations to Mary!
She chose Dead in the Family, which was one of the first e-books we got for my new nook this summer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Dissolution

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom is the first book in a new (rather, new to me, but published several years back) historical mystery series set during the reign of King Henry VIII.
The year is 1537 and England is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the king and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is murdered in the monastery of Scarnsea on the south coast of England, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar general, summons fellow reformer Matthew Shardlake to lead the inquiry. Shardlake and his young protégé, Mark Poer, uncover evidence of sexual misconduct, embezzlement, and treason, but when two other murders are committed, they must move quickly to prevent the killer from striking again.
I really got a lot out of this book. There was an almost equal mix of politics and history in with the mystery and I think I learned a lot about the politics of the Anglican Reformation. This is not to say that I "liked" it the whole way through - the politics were dirty and it could be uncomfortable to read about attacks on the church that left the common people bloodied. But Dissolution is well-written and has an excellent story. I think it will appeal to mystery readers and those who like their historical fiction a little on the brainier side (brainier than, say, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory).

Buy Dissolution on Amazon.

Thanks to Laura at The Infusion for bringing Dissolution by C.J. Sansom to my attention with her review.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Contest Ends tonight!

Today is the last day to enter my blogoversary giveaway! It's a free book - what do you have to lose? =)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Update 9/3

Most Fridays, I update my library and share what new books I bought or received during the past week.

Actually, it's been a really long time since I've done a real Friday Update. It's been so long, in fact, that I've already reviewed or otherwise posted about a lot of the books I've gotten since my last one. So I will just be sharing some of my newest acquisitions here today.

The Children of Men by P.D. James: This is one of those books I've meant to read many times. I've read one other book by James (Devices and Desires) and enjoyed it. But that was a mystery and this is sci-fi, so I imagine it will be quite different.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Trilogy #3) by Suzanne Collins: OF COURSE I bought this the day it came out. And of course I've already read it. I'd be fired from being a book blogger otherwise, right? Someday maybe I'll even think of something to say about it that hasn't already been said.

Great Wine Made Simple: Straight Talk from a Master Sommelier by Andrea Robinson: Husband bought this but I think it looks good.

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, et al.: Husband also bought this but I was already familiar with it and encouraged him to do so. It's just fantastic. Highly recommended for graphic designers and anyone else with an interest in design.

Reminder, the deadline for entering my anniversary giveaway is approaching. Don't forget to sign up by 9/8!

Happy Labor Day to everyone in the USA - and happy weekend to all!

Let's read some Science Fiction

I was poking about and found this great post from io9's Sci-Fi University: A syllabus and book list for novice students of science fiction literature. I love reading lists. I'm terrible at using them, as I never want to feel like I have to read a book and it always seems like I've read barely a fraction of the books listed, but I love them anyway.

(On a related note, they also have 25 Classic SF Movies of which I've seen most. I find it suspicious, though, that several of the movies are form the last few years. Doesn't something have to be older to be classic?)

Anyway, this reminded me that the Hugo Awards are due to be handed out and I have read none - none! - of this year's nominees for Best Novel.

2010 Hugo Nominees for Best Novel
I think Boneshaker and The Windup Girl look the most intriguing. Anyone have a recommendation for where to start on this list?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Links 9/02/10

Just read a great appreciation of Robert Heinlein by author Jo Walton: “Out far, and onward yet!” Heinlein’s future history stories of the thirties and forties. It's part of Tor.com's celebration of all things Heinlein, in honor of his new biography. [Via Whatever]

I quote from my friend and fellow blogger Laura: If you were a superhero, you'd need to have this as your fortress of solitude. Of course you might not come out to fight crime. She is referring to The Giant Fort Of Books.

From Shelf Awareness: a cool bookcase/sculpture. As they put it, this makes on "look at the square states in the middle of the country with new appreciation."

On a non-book related note: those of you who are the right age/demographic, you might get as big a kick out of today's date as I did. In which case, you should check out Go Fug Yourself today and their celebration of all things Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Steve, Donna, and David.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Waiting Wednesday 9/1: Life from Scratch

For my installment this week of eagerly anticipated books, I'd like to share one that's not even listed on Amazon yet!
Nine months after Rachel Goldman's divorce, she gives birth to a cooking project as well as a blog that helps her find her voice that was missing during her married years. Life from Scratch is about not only learning how to grab your own happiness, but also, how to fry your own egg.
Life From Scratch by Melissa Ford will be released December 1, 2010.

I do have to say that the title of this one sounds a lot like another book I've seen out on the shelves recently: Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette. From the descriptions, though, the books sound totally different.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Packing for Mars

As I suspected I might when I put Packing for Mars on my Wishlist, I just loved this book. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach is funny, interesting and informative.

Packing for Mars is about what space agencies (mostly NASA, but Europe, Russia, and Japan's agencies as well) do to put humans into space. Launching a rocket seems like the easy part in comparison to figuring out how to get a toilet to work in zero-G. Roach clearly did her homework; she talked to both scientists currently working and those who have worked on these issues for previous missions. Her research took her from simulated missions in the arctic to the infamous "vomit comet" (the parabolic flight that simulates zero-G).

As you can imagine, coming from the author of a book about dead bodies (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers), there are some gnarly bits in this book. There were a few passages, particularly the ones dealing with the corpses space agencies use to test crash safety, that tested my resolve in reading. But Roach handles even these parts with humor and grace.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science or space. Roach is a terrific science writer and I really enjoyed Packing for Mars.

Buy Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void on Amazon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: Melting Stones


I'll confess that I read Melting Stones several weeks ago and then returned it to the library, so my review may be a little non-specific.
Residents on one of the islands south of Emelan have sent a call for help to Winding Circle temple: Their plants and trees and the animals that live around them are mysteriously dying. From Winding Circle come two familiar figures: prickly green mage Rosethorn, whose plant magic will help her decipher what's ailing the plant life, and Briar's former student, the stone mage Evvy. With them comes the eager, nervous Dedicate Initiate Myrrhflower and Luvo, a being best described as a walking, intelligent rock. All are pulled into the island's mystery when Evvy is caught up by the wild spirits loose in an immense bubble of molten rock. Can they evacuate the island in time--or will they try to shift a volcano?
A housekeeping note to begin with: when I wrote my Tamora Pierce wrap-up I thought that Melting Stones was a stand-alone book in Pierce's Circle universe. I think it may actually be a sequel to Street Magic (The Circle Opens, Book 2) or Will Of The Empress, neither of which I've read. So there were a fair number of references to people and events I knew nothing about. I didn't have any trouble following along, though.

While I found Melting Stones to be an enjoyable book, I did find it to be a little young - while it is classified as Young Adult, I think that Middle Grade readers may enjoy it more than a teenager used to the advanced themes present in much of today's YA. Part of that is that Evvy, the main character, felt very young to me, despite the awful circumstances she's lived through.

In general, I think that fans of Pierce's previous Circle books will enjoy Melting Stones, but that it probably isn't strong enough to pull new readers (particularly new older and adult readers) into the series.

Buy Melting Stones in paperback on Amazon now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Shadow Bound

I figuratively picked up Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison when it was offered as a free download for my Nook from Barnes & Noble.

Adam Thorne's brother traded in his humanity to gain power and immortality. He became a wraith, one of a growing number menacing the country, and in doing so killed everyone Adam loved. Adam is determined to get his revenge and to take out the wraiths. Talia O'Brien is on the run from the wraiths, against whom she has a mysterious power, the gift of her Fae father. When Adam finds Talia, he rescues her (or was that kidnaps her?) and enlists her in his fight against the wraiths. Sexy times bound, good and bad guys get killed, and it was altogether a fun book to read for summer. I thought the prologue was unnecessary but otherwise enjoyed reading this light book.

Buy Shadow Bound on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 8/17

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
This week's Teaser is from Dissolution by C. J. Sansom. After reading a review on Laura's blog for this book (which she found via TT!), I knew I'd have to read it.
Pepper grinned.

'Well, 'tis true that the people in church respond to the priests' Latin mummings without understanding them.'

I shrugged. Such sentiments about the Latin Mass were not yet orthodox, and I was not going to be drawn into religious debate.
I am really enjoying it so far, but the cradle Catholic in me is having a very hard time with this one.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm

Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye and the Arm is a bizarre and interesting novel. Zimbabwe, 2194: when General Matsika's three children wander venture out on their first solo trip outside of their restrictive home, they end up missing - kidnapped, just as the General had feared. So their parents' hire a trio of unusual detectives, the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, each named for the mutation that gives them special abilities, to find them. The detectives are just one step behind the children, always catching up to them just as they are taken or escape to the next place.

It is a hard book to define - it's mostly science fiction, with traditional folk tales and some fantastical elements mixed in. I can see a lot of different younger readers enjoying this, as it really covers several genres. I found the plot to be a little repetitive, because of this constant cat-and-mouse chase, but I enjoyed getting to see the many different aspects of Farmer's Zimbabwe. Although I didn't feel compelled to pick the book up, when I was reading it, I found it quite engaging.

This book was a Newbery Honor awardee in 1995.

Buy The Ear, the Eye and the Arm on Amazon.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Update: My Big News

Instead of updating my library this week, I thought I'd update you all on something going on in my life. I don't often share personal information on this blog, but I thought it was time I shared a little. My husband and I are pleased to announce that we're having a baby! I am due December 3rd. We are, as you can imagine, just thrilled about this and are eagerly looking forward to meeting our little girl.

In the meantime, don't be surprised to see a few baby-related book reviews here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: Something Rotten

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde on is the fourth book in the Thursday Next series. If you haven't already read The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots, don't even attempt to start with this one.

In Something Rotten, Thursday Next returns to the real world (well, as reall as it gets in these books) with her son and Hamlet in tow. She learns that bad guy Yorrick Kaine has joined forces with the omnipresent Goliath Corporation to oust the aging English President. As Prime Minister, Kaine wields has used his mysterious influence to pass bizarre laws and stir up hatred of Denmark. Thursday gets her job back at SpecOps to try to defeat Kaine, get her husband Landen back, and try to prevent the end of the world.

It's all very complicated, as I think all the Thursday Next books seem to be, but this one did feel a little more rushed than the first two. But I liked this one more than The Well of Lost Plots (#3).

Buy Something Rotten (a Thursday Next Novel) by Jasper Fforde on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: 8/10

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
It isn't exactly my current read, but a book that we recently bought and I think is interesting: The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam.
The essence of this book can be distilled down to one central idea.

Visual thinking is an extraordinarily powerful way to solve problems, and though it may appear to be something new, the fact is that we already know how to do it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Dystopian Lit?

Interested in why I, and many others, find dystopian fiction so interesting? Then check out this post from Presenting Lenore: Dystopian Reader Views - What fascinates you about the genre?, part of her Dystopian August series.

Links & Wishlist: The Architect's Portfolio

Via NPR's Monkey See blog, Galleycat's Worst Negative Book Review Clichés: I was fine until I hit #5, "I just didn't *care* about the characters." I'm pretty sure I say that in every other negative review. Oops!

It's been a long while since I had to do a portfolio, so The Architect's Portfolio: Planning, Design, Production by Andreas Luescher looks like a good resource.


My husband and I went to see Inception this past weekend. I'm not sure I understood it, but I thought it was great. And one of the main characters is an architect! I definitely recommend it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My 2nd Blogoversary!

arch thinking is two years old today! My very first post was on 8/8/08 - such a nice round number. While I always planned to do a lot of book reviews, I thought then that it would be more of a general interest blog. These days, I don't discuss much other than books and I like it that way. Sometimes I feel like I should write about art and architecture more, but generally I feel like there are a lot of better writers out there who have that covered. Plus, as an architect, I have a pretty good outlet for those interests, whereas this is my space to write and talk about reading and writing.


Just like last year, I'd like to hold a special giveaway to celebrate the occasion. The rules:
  • Choose any book (up to $30 in value) that I have reviewed or discussed in the past year (that's August 8, 2009 to August 8, 2010).
  • Tell me in the comments on this post why you chose it.
  • I will pick one reader who will win the book of their choosing!**
  • Contest is open for one month, until September 8th.
  • Please read the fine print.
Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog and being such a great community!

*Fine print: I will send the winner an Amazon (or other online seller) gift certificate for the value of the book plus $3.99 for standard US shipping. This contest is open to anyone, but you will have to pay for any shipping above that amount.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wishlist: Packing for Mars

I watched The Daily Show from Monday last night and loved Jon Stewart's interview with Mary Roach, regarding her newest book, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.
Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can't walk for a year? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 4,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations -- making it possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA's new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Packing for Mars takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.
While I wasn't blown away by the previous book by her I've read (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife), the conversation with JS about this one was so hysterical, I am going to have to read it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: The Good Thief

I finally finished reading The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti recently, having put it down several times to read something else, but not having quite given up on it. I've read many positive reviews of this book. I mean, hey, The New York Times loved it. So I wanted to keep going. But I just didn't click with this book. I thought it was, to be honest, odd, with a confusing ending.

The Good Thief is about twelve year-old Ren who is missing his left hand and was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. One day Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to give him Ren. But Benjamin is just a thief, looking for an apprentice. Or maybe he's not, and there's more to this story.

If you like Dickens, I think you'll enjoy this book more than I did. For me, there were just too many coincidences, too many quirks. The elements are all there, I just didn't really like the way it was put together.

Buy The Good Thief: A Novel on Amazon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Review: Charmed Life

Charmed Life is the first book in Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci series and the first book I have ever read by her.

Orphans Cat and his sister Gwendolen, a young witch, are summoned to live with at Chrestomanci Castle, home of the powerful enchanter who regulates the use of magic in the parallel worlds and his family. When the Chrestomanci doesn't acknowledge ambitious Gwendolen's talent, she decides to wreck havoc on the castle to make him pay attention. Poor Cat is haplessly dragged alone for the ride.

I know DWJ has legions of fans, but I wasn't really impressed by this book. There were basically no sympathetic characters - Gwendolen is clearly just a shrew, Cat is a patsy, we hardly know Chrestomanci and his wife, their daughter is obnoxious, and their son barely registered as a person. The only person I liked in the book was Janet, and she's not in most of the book. Does Wynn Jones have something against kids? For a kids book, I found the children characters to be really poorly developed. I resented that the female characters were either harpies or doormats, but the male characters didn't fare much better.

As I said, I know this author has a lot of fans. I loved the movie Howl's Moving Castle, so maybe I will seek out the book, but otherwise, I doubt I will pick up another one of Wynn Jones's books again.

Buy Charmed Life on Amazon.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Never Let Me Go trailer

I just watched the trailer for Never Let Me Go, based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro (my review of Never Let Me Go) and started crying about 2/3 in. Maybe I'm just a big sap, but I think it looks really moving.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review: Chalice


There's no wind up to reading Chalice by Robin McKinley. No soft start, no easing into the world. McKinley just starts.
Beekeeper Marisol has been chosen as the new Chalice, destined to stand beside the Master and mix the ceremonial brews that hold the Willowlands together. But the relationship between Chalice and Master has always been tumultuous, and the new Master is unlike any before him.
There's not much action to this book. There's more atmosphere than anything else. It was good, but something about it left me cold.

Maybe, and it pains me to say this, maybe I just don't know about Robin McKinley anymore. Her books are all different - different worlds, characters, plots - so why do I sometimes I feel like I've just read the same book again? I think it's McKinley's voice. She has a really strong voice, clear and concise, that carries through everything I've read by her. I've written about this before, actually, but I don't know why it bugged me reading Chalice.

Other bloggers (including Presenting Lenore and bookshelves of doom) really enjoyed this book. Maybe its all about having the right frame of mind.

Buy Chalice on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: 7/27

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!
Today's teaser is from Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.
They hanged her, as the did murderesses then, on the roof of the Horsemonger Lane Gaol. Mrs. Sucksby stood and watched the drop, from the window of the room I was born in.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: The Lightning Thief

I had never heard of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan before the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief was made into a movie earlier this year. I didn't see the movie but I heard good things about the book at the time, so when I saw it on sale on my Nook, I bought it.

This is a really fun middle grade book. I enjoyed reading it - no surprise since I have loved reading myths and legends since I was in middle school myself. Percy is a fun character to spend time with and Riordan does a great job of making the world he inhabits seem believable.

My only quibble with the book is the relationship between Percy's mom and her husband and how that is wrapped up at the end. But otherwise, I though this was a fun book that any young reader would enjoy.

Buy The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Amazon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Architecture Links for Friday

Short and sweet, to end your week:

Yes, I would live inside a bookshelf. (at Gizmodo).

More architecture FAIL at Huffington Post, via Go Fug Yourself. (That may be the least grammatically correct sentence I've ever written, FYI.)

Years ago, my sister bought me a reprint of Shelter by Lloyd Kahn.
Shelter is many things - a visually dynamic, oversized compendium of organic architecture past and present; a how-to book that includes over 1,250 illustrations; and a Whole Earth Catalog-type sourcebook for living in harmony with the earth by using every conceivable material. First published in 1973, Shelter remains a source of inspiration and invention. Including the nuts-and-bolts aspects of building, the book covers such topics as dwellings from Iron Age huts to Bedouin tents to Togo's tin-and-thatch houses; nomadic shelters from tipis to "housecars"; and domes, dome cities, sod iglus, and even treehouses.

The authors recount personal stories about alternative dwellings that illustrate sensible solutions to problems associated with using materials found in the environment - with fascinating, often surprising results.
It is a really fascinating book, so I was pleased to find out (via ArchiDose) that the sequel, Shelter II, will be reprinted later this year. I am very interested in taking a look when it comes out.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting Wednesday 7/21

Two books coming out in the next year by some YA heavy hitters:

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
Collected here for the first time are all of the tales from the land of Tortall, featuring both previously unknown characters as well as old friends. Filling some gaps of time and interest, these stories, some of which have been published before, will lead Tammy's fans, and new readers into one of the most intricately constructed worlds of modern fantasy.
Out February 22, 2011.

Pegasus by Robin McKinley
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
Out November 2, 2010.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.