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
  • 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, 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'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.