Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (9)

Book Blogger Hop

What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?

Oh gosh, how can you expect me to narrow it down to one?!

Well, if I really must, I suppose I'll go with Mastiff by Tamora Pierce, which is scheduled to come out in November. Not only do I love her books in general, but Mastiff is the conclusion to the Provost's Dog Trilogy with Beka. And I'm a sucker for a good ending ;)

Close runners up include Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers, City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, and (hopefully) Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore.

Feel free to post a link to your own blog in the comments,
and be sure to check out other blog-hoppers at Crazy-for-Books' blog!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Old Grey Mare, She Ain't What She Used To Be


I remember the first time I learned to spell. I was probably three or four years old, watching a preschool video that was all about words*, then running into the kitchen yelling, "Mom, MOM! Guess what?! C-A-T spells CAT!!!"

It was a simpler time. When a mere three letters was all you needed. Cat. Hat. Dog. Rug. Mom. Dad. Imagine my excitement when I learned how to spell my five-letter name!

And five was only the beginning. Soon I came across longer and longer words. Spelling became a gateway to reading and writing. And reading and writing were a gateway to creativity, to possibilities, to growing up...

But somewhere along the line, spelling became a lot more complicated. Well, when you're dealing with 11-letter words like "complicated", it's pretty inevitable.

You learn the rules. About how certain letters only make certain sounds (G always goes "guh" while J always goes "juh"), how it's always I before E (...except after C...or when it sounds like I), that T or S plus H makes a whole new sound (but it doesn't effect W at all), how E is a big bully that always makes the other vowels change when it's close**, and how these rules are concrete and non-negotiable.

Yeah. Right.

Lessons quickly shift from "these are the rules" to "forget the rules, they don't apply here". For, you see, there are double letters, and silent letters, and words (or names***) that inexplicably defy the rules. Still, you put your time in and studied your pants off for those spelling quizzes. You're writing words backwards and upside-down, left-handedly or in a mirror, using them in sentences that probably don't even make sense...****

And then, even after all that, you still manage to get some wrong.

For the longest time, I was sure that I had "andswered" a question. It wasn't until I started typing things up (OMG SPELL-CHECK!!!) that I was corrected. Then there's "defence", which is obviously spelled the same way fence is spelled, otherwise they wouldn't hold up those signs at basketball games. And, of course, as highlighted in the title, I've had problems with grey vs gray.

I believe my first encounters with the word were g-r-e-y. Whether that was on crayons or from a sing-along video*****, that was how I learned it. But once I decided to start using the word myself, that pesky red spell-check line would always show up. Even now Firefox insists that I change grey to gray. And yet, I'm still consistently writing grey. It just looks more...more mysterious, edgier, grittier, and at the same time more professional to me.

And I've acquiesced to it's request for the better part of my life. Until now.

For you see, in college I discovered the true scope of the internet. How it stretched across to different countries. Countries that seem to enjoy adding U to certain words, or having Z instead of S. Where defence is the norm instead of defense. Apparently Americans have their own way of doing things, even when it comes to spelling.

Now, I won't be changing my tune (or my typing) on all things—most of the differences are still pretty jarring when I come across them—but I have decided that grey (which is apparently much more common across the pond) will now go unedited. I'll be ignoring that pesky red line and leaving it be from now on.

So, what are some of your commonly misspelled words? Do you ever feel more at home with another country's spelling? And what about the rumors that silent letters are really French ninjas?

*Seriously one of my favorite movies growing up. And I can't even remember the name of it! It starred a dog named Groucho and an ostrich who were trying to find a friend and this treasure out in the dessert. They helped alphabetize animals at a watering hole, they helped the ghost of King Tut clean his pyramid by spelling what was in the displays... Man, I kinda wish we hadn't sold it/given it away/lost it.

**No joke, I literally learned the "rules" of E that way

***One kid in my class was Jeff while another was Geoff...yeah, try explaining that to 1st-graders!

****Each week we had to complete 5 exercises with our spelling words. These are a few that I remember. I guess it worked?

*****Wee Sing: The Wee Sing Train included the song The Old Grey/Gray Mare.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking A Break

I promise to read all of your blog posts.

I promise to comment on some of them.

I promise to pass along your contests.

But right now I need to get back on track. So I'm announcing a break from Google Reader (and thus other blogs) until Saturday. Unless I get some reading finished before then...

I promise I'm alive, and I'll be back soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a Bloggiesta!

Hosted by Natasha of Maw Books Blog

I probably would have been better off doing this last weekend...or the weekend before. Ya know, when I pretty much had the house to myself? Still, I've been toying with the idea of doing some more work around here. The updates so far have me at pleased, but I'm still kinda wanting ecstatic!

So here are my goals for the weekend:
  1. Work on (more) new graphics
    They're up and ready for previewing!
  2. Look into setting up a Blogoversary contest
    Prospects are looking good!
  3. Work on Twitter/Facebook links
    <- Check them out!
  4. Look into post templates
    Decided against it at this time.
  5. Read (Finish Zan-Gah books this weekend!)
  6. Prepare guest posts
  7. Work on some "rainy day" posts
  8. Clean out Google Reader - blogs that are no longer posting
  9. Organize Goodreads bookshelves
  10. Look into blog promo items like bookmarks/business cards
    Decided against it at this time - maybe when I get a job.
  11. Put together a plan and calendar of future posts
    Organized all my reviews and started planning ahead into March with Jenn's Organizing Tips!
  12. Make an About Me page
  13. Read some more...
Well, I think that's that...Now to get to work! Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

If We Burn, You Burn With Us!

This review is for those who have read the first two books in the trilogy, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, or don't mind knowing some of what happens in them. Mockingjay, however, will remain spoiler-free.

The Hunger Games
Book 3
By Suzanne Collins
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

The war has begun.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen is still alive. With District 12 reduced to ashes, her friends dead or captured, and her dreams haunted by her latest run in The Hunger Games, it's not surprising that her brain's a little jumbled. Unfortunately her recovery can't take too much longer.

The leader has been picked.

District 13, a civilization thought to have been destroyed 75 years ago, is once again leading the charge against the Capitol. Those in charge need Katniss to be the figurehead of the rebellion, the Mockingjay.

Everything comes down to this.

Problem is, Katniss is tired of being told what to do. She's tired of the lies, of the planning behind closed doors, of the betrayal. But she's also tired of the injustice, the inhumanity, the indecency that she and her loved ones have suffered. Neither side is innocent, but which one will she choose? And can she live with the lesser of two evils?

The Mockingjay will soar.

This is still pretty raw, but I'll try my best to be tactful and sincere in my review. If you've read the trilogy so far, you'll no doubt have connected with Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, or any of the other characters. I doubt you would have continued this far otherwise. After all, the subject material isn't exactly inviting.

Friday, January 14, 2011

An Award!

I'm lucky enough to have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by Mandy at Literary R&RAfter spending so much time putting the new design together, it really means a lot. Thank you so much, Mandy!

Rules of the award are:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Tell us 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they have won!

Well, with Part 1 down, here's Part 2:

1. I watch WALL-E nightly to fall asleep. I think it has to do with the lack of dialog, coupled with the simple storyline.

2. My dad just had heart bypass surgery last week. He's doing really great so far, and I'm hopeful for a smooth and speedy recovery.

3. My favorite video game is Pokemon! I'm lousy at anything run-and-jump, so a turn-based RPG is right up my alley! If I had to choose a favorite pokemon...I don't think I could! But Eevee ranks pretty highly ^_^

4. I majored in Creative Writing in college. I know, it'll probably have me living out of a box, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted!

5. My computer still runs Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. I know, I'm still in the dark ages, but it works and that's all I need right now!

6. I used to play volleyball when I was in elementary and middle school. By high school I'd fully committed to marching band, so my schedule was full. When I started out, I used to serve the ball underhanded, and one time I hit it so high it went through the building's rafters. Let's just say, my serves had a lot of speed built up when they hit the player/court ;D

7. I'm a Hoosier by birth, but my mom had Oregon sand brought into the hospital room, so the first "earth" I touched was from Oregon. Does that make me a 6th generation Oregonian?

Now that that's over, it's time for me to pass things off to 15 others. Well, if I can think of that many! I'll try my best. If you've got time, why not give them a look?

Oktopus Ink
Steampunkery & Book Reviews
Shut Up! I'm Reading.
You're Killing Me
A Life Bound By Books

Honestly, so many others have gone to "Award-Free" blogs, that I'm a bit pressed to find 10 more! 
So, I'll leave it at that. And I'll leave it as optional for them to pass it along. While it's a good idea in theory, so many of these awards have gotten spamish, that I'm tempted to go Award-Free myself.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great weekend!

Book Blogger Hop (8)

Book Blogger Hop

Why do you read the genre that you do?
What draws you to it?

I read mainly Fantasy. This then trickles down into the subgenres of Urban Fantasy, Paranormal (Romance), Supernatural, Fairytales, etc.
I also enjoy reading a lot of Fantasy directed at YA.

Now for the big question...

For me, reading means escape. It means taking a step out of my boring/depressing/stagnant life and jumping into someone else's for a while. While it's nice to have some similarities between characters and myself, I want something new, exotic, fantastical. I don't want to be reminded of normal life, I want to be whisked away and not think about it.

High Fantasy takes me away to a world where anything is possible. In worlds where magic is in charge, everyone seems to have more of a fighting chance. Sure, there's sometimes some tricky vocabulary to tackle, but once that's done it's easy to forget everything and become lost in the pages.

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Supernatural books tend to be rooted in our world, but contain fantasy elements. I love werewolves, vampires, wizards, witches, demons, angels, superheros, villains, and the like because they take a small part of what I'm familiar with, but have so many more possibilities. When I'm reading these, it's hard not to glance around for traces of magic lurking just out of vision.

Young Adult fiction reaches me because in many cases I'm still young and inexperienced. Though I'm 5-8 years older than a lot of the characters, I still feel I can relate to their problems, their questions, their pain. And in that way, I'm with them through their triumphs, too.

So to me, reading is an escape.
It's exciting, it's eventful, it's not anything I'll ever experience.
Except through a book.

What about you? What do you read, and why?

Feel free to post a link to your own blog in the comments,
and be sure to check out other blog-hoppers at Crazy-for-Books' blog!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting A Bit Deviant

By now some of you have probably noticed some new graphics popping up here as of late.

It all started with the Whisper Stories In My Ear Challenge hosted by the Bewitched Bookworms. They had this amazing Audiobook Impressions icon to highlight their reviews. I used it in my first review, but decided that no matter how cute it might be (and I assure you, it is MAJORLY cute), it didn't quite fit The Wolf's Den...

And so I set out to create my own unique icon, in honor of both the audiobooks I would be reviewing and the Bookworms' challenge. A few hours of work later and there it was, ready and rearing to go!

Of course, making this one was so satisfying and so much fun that I had to find something else to make! Next up were icons for the In My Mailbox meme from The Story Siren and Crazy-For-Books' weekly Book Blogger Hop, followed shortly by a new banner to match! (So, of course, if you're reading this on a feed-reader, come see!)

Though the final images were created by me, all of them are collaborations of stock images found on DeviantArt. I can't thank these selfless artists enough, not only for capturing or creating masterpieces, but for sharing them with the community.

What follows are links to the original artwork and their artists. Be sure to give them a visit and check out the rest of their art!

Whisper Stories in My Ear

In My Mailbox

Book Blogger Hop

I'm currently looking into adding some more graphics around here so keep your eye out for some exciting future changes!

Oh, and lastly, if you're curious about my past and future deviousness, you can check out My DeviantArt Page! Oh, and feel free to share your own profiles below. Have a delightfully devious day!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This is No Place for a Girl on Fire

This review is for those who have read The Hunger Games or don't mind knowing what happens in it. Catching Fire, however, will remain spoiler-free.

Catching Fire
~Catching Fire~
The Hunger Games
Book 2
By Suzanne Collins
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Katniss and Peeta have won the Hunger Games. For the first time in its 74 runnings, two tributes were allowed to win—to survive. They thought the worst of it was over.

Who knew so much could be triggered by a handful of berries?

It's time for the annual Victory Tour, where the winners are to visit each District and deliver inspiring speeches about their triumph in the Games. It's a time of celebration masking dread as the masses are reminded that they're half-a-year closer to another reaping. But with these tributes' victory hinging on an act of love (or possibly defiance), the Districts are teetering on the edge of rebellion.

When President Snow stops by for a chat, you know you're in trouble.

Katniss is already dealing with an internal war of her own. Gale, her best friend since forever, has made it clear that he wants to be something more. Peeta, on the other hand, has been something more, but how much of that was real and how much was just to survive? But before she's able to sort out her feelings for either, President Snow hands her an ultimatum: Convince the masses that she's still madly in love with Peeta, or Gale dies.

Quite the send off.

Determined not to have any more lives ended by her actions, Katniss prepares herself for a long tour. District 11, the home of her fallen friend, Rue, is the first stop, which brings up a whole slew of other emotions. But when even a small gesture of gratitude and honesty can spark a rebellion, Katniss will have to keep her emotions in check if she wants to keep those around her safe.

Then again, perhaps her emotions are just what the nation needs...

Equally brutal, but for different reasons. Where the first book was mainly about a horrifying competition, the second shows the beginnings of war. From the disparity between the empowered few and the enslaved masses—parties where guests fill their stomachs then vomit to do it again and again versus families starving to death—to the Capitol's attempts to control any dissidents—mainly through fear and violence—this book definitely has a darker tone about it. And you thought kids killing each other on live TV was dark...

In My Mailbox (9)

It's been quite a while. I hope the New Year has been treating you well so far. And now it's that time again...

In My Mailbox
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren
(Book covers are linked to their Goodreads pages)

In the Past Two Months I've...

The Fellowship of the RingThe Two TowersThe Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring ~ J.R.R Tolkien
The Two Towers ~ J.R.R Tolkien
The Return of the King ~ J.R.R Tolkien
From Goodwill

BorderlineThe SynthesisLegacy
MasquesWolfsbaneA Princess of Landover
Borderline ~ Bonnie Rozanski
Powerless: The Synthesis ~ Jason Letts
Legacy ~ Kate Kaynak
From their respective authors
Masques ~ Patricia Briggs
Wolfsbane ~ Patricia Briggs
A Princess of Landover ~ Terry Brooks
For Christmas (from my Dad)

And Won
Two FREE Audiobook Downloads
From Bewitched Bookworms
Demonglass (ARC) ~ Rachel Hawkins
From Amanda of Another Book Junkie
Thanks gals!

So, tell me, what's in your mailbox?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Katniss, the Girl Who Was on Fire

Well, I may very well be the last person to have finally gotten ahold of this book. Sure I've seen it on the shelves, heard the hype, and read glowing reviews, but it took me quite a while to finally get this. I think I was mostly spurred by the fact that the third and final book was released this fall. Being able to read all the books in a series, without the threat of year-long cliffhangers, is so much more appealing to me than starting a series right off the bat (not that that prevents me from reading a majority of my books...).

So, last October I placed a hold at my library for all three books. And I finally got them in December.

Not only will I be reading this one for myself, but it was also chosen for Diffindo's Bi-Monthly Book Club. And boy, am I looking forward to discussing this one...but more on that later. This will also count for Bewitched Bookworms' Whisper Stories In My Ear Challenge, since I listened to the audiobook as well.

The Hunger Games
~The Hunger Games~
The Hunger Games
Book 1
By Suzanne Collins
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

At 16 years old, Katniss Everdeen has to admit that the odds have never been in her favor. With her father dead and her mother in a near-catatonic state, it's been up to her to keep the family alive these past five years. Sure, it's been tough caring for her sister and mother, but between hunting, foraging, and making sacrifices she's managed it alright so far.

But in the span of one breath everything changes.

The Hunger Games are an annual competition waged between the 12 Districts of Panem. Part retribution for their failed rebellion, part entertainment spectacle, the Capitol forces each District to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to compete on live TV. The winner gains wealth and glory, not only for themselves but for their entire district. The rest are killed in the process.

In District 12, the poorest district, tributes are chosen primarily by lottery. But when her sister's name is called, Katniss steps up as a volunteer.

Now the odds are truly stacking against her. Her handler for the competition is an idiot and her mentor is a drunk. One of those she is pitted against is strikingly similar to her sister, while another was her one-time savior. As her life is pitted against other youths with more resources and more training, she doubts that her meager hunting skills will prove useful.

Still, one's luck has got to turn sometime, and who knows, Katniss may prove to be more of a contender than she thinks.

Going into this, you know it's going to be a tough book. I mean, the main premise is kids, as young as twelve, being picked out in a lottery (called "the reaping") and set to kill each other for the country's enjoyment. It's not even a scenario where it's an accident that erodes the kids' psyches over time. No, it's a government running the show and using this gory spectacle to keep their subjects in line.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Off The Shelf Challenge

Alright, I think this will be the third and final challenge for me this year.

Off The Shelf!
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

This challenge meshes really well with The Bucket List challenge I already signed up for, so I'm pretty excited to get the chance to set and meet more goals.

I'll be trying for the On A Roll level of dusting off 50 books this year. Of course, I own far more than that, so here's the list of all I have to choose from:

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
Kingdom of the Golden Dragon by Isabel Allende
Forest of the Pygmies by Isabel Allende
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony
Dragon on a Pedestal by Piers Anthony
Crewel Lye by Piers Anthony
Golem in the Gears by Piers Anthony
Vale of the Vole by Piers Anthony
Heaven Cent by Piers Anthony
Man from Mundania by Piers Anthony
Isle of View by Piers Anthony
Question Quest by Piers Anthony
The Color of Her Panties by Piers Anthony
Demons Don't Dream by Piers Anthony
Harpy Thyme by Piers Anthony
Geis of the Gargoyle by Piers Anthony
Roc and a Hard Place by Piers Anthony
Yon Ill Wind by Piers Anthony
Faun & Games by Piers Anthony
Zombie Lover by Piers Anthony
Xone of Contention by Piers Anthony
The Dastard by Piers Anthony
Swell Foop by Piers Anthony
Up In A Heaval by Piers Anthony
Cube Route by Piers Anthony
Currant Events by Piers Anthony
Pet Peeve by Piers Anthony
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben Winters
The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron
The Seven Songs of Merlin by T.A. Barron
The Fires of Merlin by T.A. Barron
The Mirror of Merlin by T.A. Barron
The Wings of Merlin by T.A. Barron
Warrior by Marie Brennan
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs
Masques by Patricia Briggs
Steal the Dragon by Patricia Briggs
When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs
Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs
The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks
Wizard at Large by Terry Brooks
The Tangle Box by Terry Brooks
Witches' Brew by Terry Brooks
Princess of Landover by Terry Brooks
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
Deception Point by Dan Brown
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher
Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card
Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card
Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Out of the Blue by Caroline Clemmons
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
Fire Bringer by Dave Clement Davies
The Sight by David Clement Davies
Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Book of Night With Moon by Diane Duane
Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
Magician's Gambit by David Eddings
Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings
Enchanters' End Game by David Eddings
Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
October Sky by Homer Hickam
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones
Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Diplomacy of Wolves by Holly Lisle
Vengeance of Dragons by Holly Lisle
Courage of Falcons by Holly Lisle
Red Hot Fury by Kasey MacKenzie
What The Dickens by Gregory Maguire
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Nerilka's Story by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey
The Renegades of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall by Anne McCaffrey
The Dolphins of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Dragonseye by Anne McCaffrey
The Masterharper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
The Skies of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
A Gift of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey
Dragon's Kin by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
Eldest by Christopher Paolini
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler
The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe
Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin
Armed & Magical by Lisa Shearin
The Trouble With Demons by Lisa Shearin
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud
Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
Confessions of a Demon by S.L. Wright

Giving me over 100 books to choose from! Yeah, I own waaaaayyyy too many (unread) books. I'd love to get all of these read, but I'm hoping to become employed, so I doubt I'll be able to do more than 50. Besides that, I only read 45 books in 2010, so upping it to (at least) 50 is a logical step for me.

Any ideas where to start? Leave a comment below, and wish me luck!

Keep track of my progress here or on my Reading Challenges page.