Blast from the Past

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So I am working on something fun, programming wise. While doing that, I found a cool photo.  This was my tbr in late 2009. And apart from the book in the middle of hornsby and gangs of new york, I have read all of them!
Do you have these snapshot memories of previous books? Please share below.

Armchair BEA: Introductions


Design Credit: Amber (Shelf Notes)

1. Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? Where are you from? How did you get into blogging?

My name is Nicole, and I’m a 30-something Californian surrounded by two adorable cats and a tall, bearded, video-gaming geek.

I’ve been blogging for about 15 years, which sounds crazy. I was into Xanga, livejournal, angelfire/geocities… Wow! That’s a lot of my life on the internet. Whoops! Originally, I started writing online in a fanfiction genre (how funny is that?!?) and then that morphed into an online social commentary magazine for our Cohort program at the Honors college and then reviews. I’ve also done crafty and mail art blogs.

2. Why do you loving reading and blogging?

I love reading and blogging because I’ve been reading since I was three, and writing shortly after. It just seems natural to share my love of books and inky pursuits—especially since it may help others find things they may like or open a conversation.

3. What is one book everyone should read?

I think everyone should read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It is incredibly humbling and shows just how important reading is to children and how it can shape your destiny.

4. What is your favorite genre and why?

I have a hard time picking one. I like YA because there are so many wonderful authors out there, but my first love is Literary fiction. I read almost anything, except really romancey-romance, westerns and some fantasy. It’s hard to pick just one, but I love literary fiction, especially contemporary (after 1970).

5. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what author would you want to bring with you? Why?

Well, if I wanted to be amused, it would either be Jen Lancaster (she was so nice to my husband when we met last year), or Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess rocks my socks). But, if it was to have really amazing conversations and workshop-type stuff, I think it would have to be Joyce Carol Oates. If it is was for pure fun,  Richard Castle, because he is pretty yummy. LOL

Spring Cleaning

I went through my phone this weekend and cleaned up 3 gb of photos. That felt sooooo good, and now I finally have room on my phone. Total win.
Then, I got these over the weekend:

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Yahtzee, because I was feeling nostalgic- I spent about a billion hours playing from the age of 8 to 14, Nimona because it was autographed, Seating Arrangements because I told you all about my love affair with Maggie’s second book (Astonish Me) and Rat Queens Vol 2 because it needed to happen.

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And I got some great mail today, too. But I have to shout out to JetPens.com, because I placed an order last week for onionskin-thin air mail paper and envelopes, as well as a glue stick, Frixion markers and Stabilo pens…and everything is marvelous so far. I wish I could buy the jetpens.com store, lol.
Anyway, that was my Tuesday that felt like a Monday, mostly because of my job.
How was your day?

Paging the Blair: A Review of Ann Packer’s The Children’s Crusade

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Tolstoy has been quoted that ‘All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Thus, is the paradox of the family in Ann Packer’s The Children’s Crusade. When publisher, Simon & Shuster, was offering advance e-copies of this book in exchange for an honest review, I knew that, as a Packer fan, I needed to read this (I loved her previous books, especially The Dive from Clausen’s Pier; The Children’s Crusade is one of the best books I have read recently and I did not want to finish the book and leave the characters.

The property upon which the family home in Silicon Valley is purchased by patriarch, Bill, in the 50s. Soon he and wife, Penny, raise their children Robert, Rebecca and Ryan in the home. After the birth of their youngest, James, something is definitely different with Penny. As she retreats to her art, leaving the family home to pursue her art in the shed on the property, Bill is left to parent his 3 Rs and James. The children grow up, leaving the family home in their own time, but coming home for special events. Soon, though, it is not enough to just be in the shed, and Penny retreats to Taos in order to focus on her work. And, as the 3 Rs settle close to the old home (Ryan even lives in the old art shed on the property with his family), the lone J searches for something far away from the home. After Bill’s passing, an edict is made—the family house will only be sold if at least one child AND their mother, Penny, can come to an agreement. And, years later, the most un-prodigal son returns to the home to get the family convinced the home to be sold—but will he be able to bring himself to speak with Penny to make it happen?

Ann Packer examines the pull of the family home, and the concept of FAMILY within The Children’s Crusade. The sweeping novel takes place over five decades and is such a treat to read. Packer’s trademark character-driven plot, contains a rich and complex set of characters, but creates a compelling story filled will different voices that might argue, but that lend value to the story.

It was hard to pick a favorite—each of the Blairs is my ‘favorite’ character for different reasons. Bill is the kind of father I wish everyone would get to have. While he also enabled some behavior that may not have been ideal, he really puts his  best efforts forward to not only a successful medical career, but to getting his children the attention they need. But, at the cost of his marriage.

The house is also a character in this novel, and without the property, I do not know if this would have been as enjoyable to read. Perhaps there is something to be said about the family home in physical form is just as important as the idea of family, itself. I was also concerned with the people who were renting the house from the family before James returned.

I really took a lot of time to focus on The Children’s Crusade and I really enjoyed the entire book. This book will consume your reading list in the best way.

Pick up your copy in hardcover, ebook or audiobook today from your favorite retailer!

GothamGal on Kicking Tush &Taking Names (Rat Queen’s Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery)

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GothamGal is a devoted comic fan. Reading comics from an early age (TinTin, Archie, Katie Keene and much more), she has recently revisited her old interest and is branching out into the streets of unread comics and graphic novels! While she favors DC Comics, Marvel is slowly winning her over—but Vertigo, Image and IDW have so many new things to offer, she might just say she’s a comic fan—with no labels. She fights for literature, education and the right for ALL to read comics!

I’ve made no secret of my love of Image Comics—they’re great value. The first issue is never more than $10.00, so it is a great way to try a series before spending the money on either a monthly subscription or more trade paperbacks. Image is also bringing in some of the best and brightest in regards to stories and art, and the all important talent.  Rat Queens is one of those stories that, if at a major comic label, may have succumbed to being cancelled—and it THRIVES at Image Comics.

20150524_201840Betty, Hannah, Dee and Violet are the Rat Queens, a ragtag bunch of women who make their way through the world by the skin of their teeth. Called to the town of Palisade, they are assigned a mission—in order to pay back the town for results of their latest ‘adventure.’ However, the mission quickly goes south, and the team soon realizes the whole thing is a trap. But, will the Rat Queens be able to solve the mystery and save the town? Or, will they fall victim to the same enemy that others called to help have fallen victim to? Will this be the end of our favorite fantasy fighting team?

I’m not a lover of the fantasy genre. However, the talented storytelling aspects, coupled with the art made me interested in Rat Queens. There are really great, witty lines and a hint of sarcasm that makes me feel very close to the characters (I can be too snarky for my own good). I also like the jokes and jabs and things like Dungeons and Dragons.

It was hard to pick one favorite character—each of the Queens has her own multicultural background. They are all different, and yet they work together and accomplish things that no other people or species are able to do—and they do it with teamwork and their own brand of whooping tushie!

The storyline is well-written, without being dumbed down. And I love the fact that, while each of the main characters is true and honest to herself, there is no convenient option to take that would make the story less entertaining.

Rat Queens is NOT for your average twelve-year old—it is most definitely a mature comic that deals with mature topics. However, it also depicts strong, dimensional women and alternative lifestyles and religions, as well as violence, a bit of crass humor and sarcasm. While this came out in 2014, I think that if I were a teenager now, I would be totally down for reading Rat Queens. I would hope that friends I might meet in high school or college would either be familiar or open to Rat Queens—I do know that, as an adult, I have a great group of friends who are as in love (if not more) as I am with this quartet of warriors!

Pick it up from your favorite retailer in paperback today, for UNDER $10!

The Danseur : A Review of Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me

51FmTQnR1kL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ I have always been interested in ballet, especially since an ill-fated and VERY short career in dance class as a child. Since then, I have read a lot of books and watched shows like Dance Academy (which I love so very much and cannot wait for the movie shows up, thanks to Forever Young Adult for getting me into the show AND the movie news). So, when I saw Astonish Me on the buy 2 get the 3rd free at a local bookstore, I snagged it. And, ended up devoting too much time to this book, and did not really read anything else while reading it.

Joan has a seemingly happy ‘retirement’ from her days of ballet, as she settles in California with her husband, Jacob, and her son, Harry. She had been a ballerina in the 70s, travelling the world; most people do not know she is also responsible for assisting in the defection of Arslan Rusakov from Russia. As the years move on, and as Joan’s son becomes closer and closer to the girl (and Joan’s protégé) next door, and a prodigy in the dance, Joan’s carefully created world begins to unravel—especially when a secret that threatens the very fabric of her family comes out.

I loved reading Maggie Shipstead’s novel; Astonish Me is her second novel and features a clear voice, masterful storytelling and a world so riveting that it made me stop reading other books as voraciously as I normally read them (I’m a multi-book reader at all times, usually), just so I could focus on Maggie’s book. I was so excited to visit the world created.

Harry and Chloe (the aforementioned girl next door)  are just around my age, so it was great to take the snapshots of their lives in chapters and remember the way it felt to be [X{} age at that time. I felt for Harry, especially as he was younger and an adolescent.  As he got older and pulled into the dance, it was less easy for me to get sucked in.

Chloe was a character that I wanted to hate, but seeing the way her mother interacted with her, as well as the way Joan taker her under her wing, I realized that she grew and became less awful—just like girls tend to do as they grown into women.

I was saddened to read that something I was anticipating (waiting for the other toe shoe to drop, per se) did end up happening, but I really enjoyed that the characters dealt with it in a realistic way.

Additionally, the different times features two different couple stories, and could function well as well-developed stories on their own.

I cannot wait to read Shipstead’s debut, Seating Arrangements based on my love of this novel. I really think that ballet fans, as well as fans of good writing will enjoy Astonish Me and allow themselves to get lost in The Danse.

This book is available in hardcover, trade paperback , ebook and audiobook from your favorite retailer—check it out today.