I am going to be offline for awhile due to a bionic upgrade (aka knee replacement), but should be back in a month or so. Please send good vibes and happy thoughts my way! more details

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Mailbox (30)


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I have included links to Goodreads should you want more information on the books.

Received a copy of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look program. What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? Samantha Kingston gets a second chance after she dies. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death - and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.


Received Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood from a contest hosted by Danielle at her Opinionated? Me? blog. What does it really take to survive a catastrophic event and what kind of survivor are you? Figured it would be good to know how to survive long enough to read everything in my TBR piles! *L*

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa was the book I was anxiously awaiting all week! Had an official release date of February 1st, but they were shipped early. Was looking forward to reading it so much that it jumped straight to the top of my TBR pile, and I've already read and reviewed it! You can check out my review here. Has made my favorites list for the year so far!

So...what did you receive in your mailbox this week?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373210086
ISBN-13: 978-0373210084

Rating: 4/5
Source: Personal library


Book Blurb:
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny - one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

My Review:
So glad that this book lived up to all of the hype! Heard nothing but raves about this one, and since I couldn't wait to get my copy and read it, it jumped straight to the top of my TBR pile. Well worth it, as I loved almost everything about this book! The cover is gorgeous, the story is fast paced and interesting, and the characters are believable.

The main character is a teenage girl named Meghan. She lives on the outskirts of town, has always felt like an outsider, and it doesn't help that her family is poor. Meghan is about to turn sixteen, when she is humiliated at school by one of the popular boys that she's had a crush on forever. That scene brought back the horror that was high school, and reminded me how cruel teenagers can be. Thought that Julie really nailed the high school experience, and my heart broke for Meghan.

Then things get strange when she gets home. What happened to her mother? Why is her little brother acting so strange? And why is her best friend Robbie making such outrageous claims? Robbie and Meghan are supposed to be celebrating her sixteenth birthday, but instead set off on an unexpected adventure.

Really enjoyed this story. I thought Meghan was a believable character who reacted like a sixteen year old girl would when confronted with strange situations and horrible threats. It does get a little old when characters who supposedly lived normal human lives suddenly turn into superwoman and discover an unknown talent for kung fu or something. I liked that Meghan was scared and broke down in tears at times, but she was also strong, grew up fast, and discovered hidden strengths she didn't realize she possessed.

Gave this one a 4/5 rating as I enjoyed the plot, thought that both main and secondary characters were well drawn, and overall the book was very well done. I especially loved Grimalkin! I'm looking forward to the next book, The Iron Daughter, due out in August.

Be sure to check out The Iron Fey website or Julie's official website for more information.



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash (17)


Word Verification Balderdash is a weekly meme now hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia. He is a Balderdash genius, so be sure to stop by and check out his site!

Balderdash is a pretty easy game. You know all of those annoying word verifications you have to deal with when posting comments on certain blogs? Be sure to write them down, then play Balderdash by making up your own definition for the word!

Here are my words for the week:

Vultish: Having characteristics of, relating to, or of Vult, the 16th occupied planet in the Xenon Galaxy. 

Derske: Insulting term used to refer to one who acts like a dumb jerk, popular with elementary school children.

Minyl: Revolutionary new means of recording and storing audio on one inch wide, flat, oval-shaped minerals; primarily mica, jett, and black coral.

Sompbawg: Term referring to the thick, bog-like drink made from the fruit of the somp. Popular during medieval times, occasionally used as an insult to cast aspersions upon one's intelligence.

Catmedne: Medication used primarily in the prevention and treatment of Cat Scratch Fever. Side effects may include excessive clearing of the throat, uncontrollable urges to lick oneself, and extended periods of sleep.

Phtlypie:  definition?

Had so many good definitions suggested  last week for Chednely that I thought I would open the floor again. Anything come to mind for Phtlypie? I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with, as this word has so many possibilities!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Review & Giveaway! What I Know by Roger Emerson Fishman

Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter (October 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307454223
ISBN-13: 978-0307454225

Rating: 4/5
Source:  Contributor Joe Rohrlich


Book Blurb:
Only people at the bookends of life can truly tell it like it is. In "What I Know", a remarkable group of 10-year-olds and 100-year-olds share their insights on life with Roger Fishman to reveal unguarded truths and surprising wisdom.

You’ll be inspired by the lighthearted yet profound thoughts from 10-year-olds:
“Think of yourself as a dot on a line. The things behind you are already over, so always move forward down the line.”
“Integrity is doing good deeds when no one is looking.”
“It’s not about whether somebody will ‘be there’ for you. It’s all about whether you will ‘be there’ for somebody else.”

And you’ll find time-tested knowledge in the words of centenarians:
“In marriage, you have two sides to the bed: one where you fight and the other where you make up.”
“You’ve got to love, respect, and develop a genuine belief in yourself before you can be there to do that for anybody else.”
“In life, the one thing you can control is your word.”

Offering a variety of perspectives from these two unique groups, "What I Know" is, ultimately, a trove of universal truths from a diverse cross section of 10-year-olds and 100-year-olds with a wealth of experience.

My Review:
The full title of this book is What I Know: Uncommon Wisdom and Universal Truths from 10-year-olds and 100-year-olds. This is one of my favorite types of books as I love collections like this, be they from the famous or otherwise. This has the twist of offering life advice from either 10 years olds with a fresh perspective, or 100 year olds with a lifetime's worth of wisdom. And while the advice is credited to the proper source, we don't know if it's coming from the young or the old. There is a listing at the end, but not knowing where the advice was coming from was part of the fun!

The book is grouped into chapters, with a small bit of background and then interview with a centenarian at each chapter's beginning.  The subjects range from believing in yourself to friendship to perseverance. A little something for everyone.

Wanted to share some of my favorite advice with you:
You need to stay superattentive to all the things around you. Otherwise, you're probably going to get killed by an out-of-control car or motorcycle.

If you are thinking about having a baby, you better start preparing now by collecting lots and lots of sleep!

Honesty is the glistening star in the quiet night sky.

It's about learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Let me tell you: you are very weird; we all are. When you can find someone who's weirdness fits with your own, you better join up in mutual weirdness.

All good advice, but I admit that I tend to lean towards the skewed. Really liked the last piece of advice, as we're all weird and just have to find people at the same level of weirdness. *L*

Gave this book a rating of 4/5 as I enjoyed reading it. I was going to just skim through the book for a quick taste, but wound up reading it straight through!


Giveaway!
As promised, one lucky reader will win an autographed copy of What I Know! This is an adorable book, and I'm sure that whoever wins will absolutely love it!

The one thing that everyone HAS to do in order to enter this contest is leave a comment. Say hello, tell me your favorite color, suggest a book, share your favorite recipe...doesn't matter what the subject so long as you comment. :-)

Winners must have a U.S. mailing address. Sorry, but I promise that my next contest will be a little more lenient.

For extra entries: tweet, blog, or otherwise promote this giveaway and be sure to leave me a link. One extra entry for each link. No verifiable link, no entry.

Have some advice & wisdom of your own to share? That's an extra entry as well!

The contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday, February 9, 2010.

Please make sure to include those links! If you would like an email if you win, please leave an address. Otherwise, be sure to check back to see if you've won!

Thanks, and good luck!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Review: Manufactured Identity by Heath Sommer

Paperback: 305 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises (June 23, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606965506
ISBN-13: 978-1606965504

Rating: 2/5
Source: Author Heath Sommer


Book Blurb:
Months after his mysterious disappearance from a routine fishing trip, no one really expects over-the-hill Texas housewife Lory Latchley to find her missing husband - especially her husband. The Manufactured Identity is clinical psychologist Heath Sommer's ever-escalating immersion into the world of unlikely friends who each awaken to find their faithful companions missing without warning or reason. Desperate to find meaning in their pain, they are thrust by the auspices of fate into a common thread of mystery and human frailty. In the end, the fate of all may reside in the unstable hands of rookie pastor John Joe, but ultimately Lory and her new found partners will uncover a truth so unnerving it makes even infidelity look palatable.

My Review:
Not really sure what to make of this book. The synopsis sounded interesting enough, but it was a very confusing read for me. Put this book down several times only to pick it up again, as I was determined to figure out what was going on. This one was a struggle for me to read, and now to review.

We have a prologue with two men in the desert, but I've found that most prologues don't make sense until after you've finished the book, so take them with a grain of salt. The proper story starts off by introducing us to a man who wakes up on a park bench, not sure how he got there and whether or not he's been mugged. Chapter 2 introduces us to Lory Latchley, whose husband has been missing for two weeks. We find out in chapter 3 that the man from chapter 1 is Curtis Rowly. At this point, I'm not sure what Lory and Curtis have to do with one another, but figure that the chapters will alternate between these two and will eventually make sense.

After 5 chapters, we come to Part 2 of 4. What a minute...who's Addy? Who's Ann? John Joe? Pete? So many new characters being introduced, and none of them seem to be related in any way. What happened to Curtis and Lory? Who are all of these new people? Do I need to take notes?

The writing is a little choppy and the story doesn't flow as smoothly as I like. Some of the descriptive passages were a little confusing, and I needed to read them a few times to try and figure out what the author meant. It also felt like some parts were missing or inconsistent. For instance, someone who was referred to as missing is now suddenly dead. When did that happen? Sommer is obviously an intelligent person and knows his stuff, but this book just didn't work for me. All of the bouncing back and forth between the large cast of characters kept throwing me, as I had to go back and reread parts to remind myself who was who.

Maybe I simply wasn't the right reviewer for this book, as it was a struggle that left me unsatisfied when finally finished. Other reviewers have sung the book's praises and raved about it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. Gave it a 2/5 rating as while I finished it, I didn't really enjoy it. Sorry.

About the Author:
Doctor Heath Sommer earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Idaho State University and holds an additional degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development. A native of Sacramento, California, he has enjoyed many opportunities for public speaking and regularly conducts workshops/gives lectures on psychologically related as well as theologically related domains. In addition to his literary interests, Dr. Sommer specializes in the assessment and treatment of trauma, anxiety, and marriage, family, and child development. The success of his breakout suspense novel, The Manufactured Identity, has lead to the publication of two more novels in The Manufactured Identity Series, The Grand Delusion, and The Human Obsession due for release in 2010.



Saturday, January 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (29)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I've included links to Goodreads in case you want more information on the books.


Received a copy of Exit Music from a contest held by Pam over at Mom's Mutterings. I love Ian Rankin's Detective Inspecter Rebus! He makes me think of a Scottish Andy Sipowicz for some reason. :) It's late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong.


Received the audio version of 9 Dragons from a contest at J.Kaye's Book Blog. I like Michael Connelly, and have read a few of his books featuring Harry Bosch in the past. Sounds like a good one! LAPD Detective Harry Bosch is off the chain in the fastest, fiercest, and highest-stakes case of his life.


Picked up a copy of The Seven Rays at the library. I've read mixed reviews on this one, but it sounds too intriguing to pass up. Really like the cover as well.  ...things get out of control and Beth is seeing people's pasts, their fears, their secrets, their desires. The images are coming at Beth in hi-def streaming video and she can't stop it. Everyone thinks she's crazy and she's pretty sure she agrees with them.


Get anything interesting in your mailbox this week?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash (16)



Word Verification Balderdash is a weekly meme originated by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books, and now hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia.

You know all of those annoying word verifications you have to do when posting comments? Well, playing Balderdash with the words makes everything a little more fun! Just write down the word verifications you come across while posting blog comments, then play Balderdash with them by making up your own definition for the word!

Here are my words for the week:

Sneedion:  A dedicated fan of rapper and producer Sam Sneed. Sometimes confused with Sneadions, fans of one of the top golfers in the history of the game, Sam Snead. This has led to a few awkward and uncomfortable fan conventions in the recent past.

Swific:  The satisfaction felt after cleaning one's house with Swiffer products.

Snowsher:  The flying snow from snow plows that are driving too fast, usually covering just shoveled sidewalks and driveways; a gusher of snow.

Ovents:  An open and observable event with a strong press presence, usually arranged by an overly enthusiastic public relations specialist.

Chednely:  definition?

I'm going to leave the last definition up to you. I sort of like this word, but nothing came to mind for Balderdash. So....what do you think would be a good definition for Chednely?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

100 Followers Contest Winners!


Want to thank everyone who entered the contest to celebrate my 100 followers milestone! And a double thanks to those creative souls who wrote a haiku! I'm really impressed, as they were beautiful!

Here's a reminder of the books that are up for grabs:

Truly, Madly ARC by Heather Webber
The Recipe Club by Israel & Garfinkel
0 To 60 by Susan Slater
Defenders of the Scroll by Shiraz
Spellbinder ARC by Helen Stringer
Under This Unbroken Sky ARC by Shandi Mitchell
Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake - claimed by Pam
One Amazing Thing (TBR)
Penguin Luck (TBR)

Have consulted the mighty Random Number generator and he has spoken! So without further ado....

The winner of contest #2 for verified followers is:  Tif from Tif Talks Books! Congratulations Tif!



The winner of the haiku contest #3 is:  Michelle from The True Book Addict! Yea Michelle! Michelle wrote a beautiful haiku about her love of historical fiction:

My heart is stolen.
History has taken it
on a quest through time.

Congratulations ladies! Please email me your address and your top two choices from the book list. If by some fluke you both choose the same book, it will be first come, first served and email #2 will receive her second choice. Send the email to Alexia561@yahoo.com within the next 72 hours and I'll get your books out to you ASAP.

Thanks again to everyone who entered! Please know that I appreciate each and every person who reads my blog, but especially love those who choose to follow! :-)







Monday, January 18, 2010

Book Review: Three Days To Dead by Kelly Meding



Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Dell (November 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553592866
ISBN-13: 978-0553592863

Rating:  5/5
Source:  Personal library


Book Blurb:
They’ll never see her coming. . . .When Evangeline Stone wakes up naked and bruised on a cold slab at the morgue - in a stranger’s body, with no memory of who she is and how she got there - her troubles are only just beginning. Before that night she and the two other members of her Triad were the city’s star bounty hunters, mercilessly cleansing the city of the murderous creatures living in the shadows, from vampires to shape-shifters to trolls. Then something terrible happened that not only cost all three of them their lives but also convinced the city’s other Hunters that Evy was a traitor - and she can’t even remember what it was.

Now she’s a fugitive, piecing together her memory, trying to deal some serious justice - and discovering that she has only three days to solve her own murder before the reincarnation spell wears off. Because in three days Evy will die again - but this time there’s no second chance. . . .

My Review:
Saw this book constantly being discussed on several different blogs as well as on Twitter. Everyone raved about it to the point where I had to buy a copy of my very own! They were all right, as this book is amazing! Really like a book that grabs me on the first page, and this one grabbed me with the very first paragraph:  I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born. Vividly. Waking up on a cold morgue table surrounded by surgical instruments and autopsy paraphernalia, to the tune of the medical examiner's high-pitched shrieks of fright, is an unforgettable experience. How great is that paragraph? Makes you want to run right out and buy a copy, doesn't it?

Evy Stone was a bounty hunter who tracked down monsters. She is resurrected into the body of a young human with no idea why she was brought back and no Welcoming Committee waiting with an explanation. Evy must try to solve the mystery of her murder, figure out why she wound up in the body of an innocent, track down any information she may have possessed that could have lead to her murder, sort the good guys from the bad, and just possibly save the world. All while the clock is ticking down to her second death. No pressure, right?

Thought that this was an original story with great characters. I really liked Evy, thought the secondary characters were well done (loved Smedge), and the overall story flowed nicely. The action was fast paced and I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish reading as I couldn't wait to see what happened next! That pushed my rating from a 4 to a 5/5! Meding is a very talented author and I loved this story! Am now a loyal Kelly Meding fan, and can't wait for her next book! Go. Buy this book. Now!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week In Review

Had a busy week last week, so thought I would do a quick wrap up post.

Finished the Bloggiesta last Sunday, but hadn't completed all of my goals. Spent Monday tweaking my background and coming up with a new header. Took awhile, but I'm pleased with the results. And I now have a test blog so I can play with the design in the future without worrying about messing up the code somehow.

Had a few people ask about the tabs I have under my header. The main site I used was a post I found at Markandey's Blog, but I remember tweaking the code and constantly previewing the results until I was satisfied. I changed the background color for the tabs and made it an open box instead of closed. It's been awhile since I added the tabs, but I do remember being amazed that it actually turned out!

Am trying to embrace my Google Reader. To be honest, I wasn't even aware that I had a Reader until I took a look at it for one of the Bloggiesta challenges. Who knew? While it does make reading all of the new posts  easier, I still prefer going to the blogs directly. I like seeing the blog designs and the fun sidebar information and all. Did get rid of two blog rolls and set up separate categories on my reader, but it's still a work in progress. Find myself going to the blogs anyway in order to leave comments, but it has cut down on my overall time spent blog hopping.

Finally caught up with my followers and commenters. I like to visit everyone's blog who is nice enough to comment on mine, but was surprised by the number of people who have a blogger profile but no blog of their own. I try to follow everyone who follows me whenever possible. Apologies if I've missed anyone, but if there's no link... On a side note, went into shock when I saw that an author of a book I am lusting after is now following my blog! Julie Kagawa is following my blog! *fans self* She has an awesome book coming out next month called The Iron King, and I've already pre-ordered my copy. Can't wait to read it!

Still working on the whole balance thing. Twitter has suffered, as I've been catching up on the blog posts I missed reading during Bloggiesta, as well as working on my TBR pile. Then I got sucked into Farmville after months of mocking it. *L* Find it's easier not to sign into Twitter as I tend to lose track of time whenever I tweet, but I miss the instand connections. Guess it's still a work in progress.

Let's see...what else? Finished an awesome book called Three Days To Dead, but still need to write my review. Everyone who raved about this book was right! Highly recommended! And my 100 Follower contest ends tonight. Love all of the haiku poetry submitted! I'm really impressed with the results.

Not as short a wrap up as planned, as I tend to ramble. So...how was everyone's week? :-)


Saturday, January 16, 2010

In My Mailbox (28)


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I have included links to Goodreads should you want more information on the books.


I received an ARC of Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.  It's described as a spine-tingling, mesmerizing thriller about a husband whose wife disappears, along with everything he thought he knew about their life together. Sounds intriguing!



Received a review copy of Explorer X-Alpha from the author, LM Preston. From the book blurb:  For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime, for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment.

Hope you received lots of great books in your mailbox this week!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Word Verification Balderdash (15)


Word Verification Balderdash is a weekly meme started by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books.

You know all of those annoying word verifications you have to do when posting comments on certain blogs? Well, playing Balderdash with the words makes everything a little more bearable and fun! Be sure to write down the word verifications you come across while posting blog comments. You then play Balderdash with them by making up your own definition for the word!

Here are my words for the week:

Pygeout:  To binge, gorge, eat immodestly, or overindulge in eating whilst a member in good standing of the aristocracy. 

eQuint:  New electronic device to assist harried mothers in the raising of quintuplets. Features include nap schedules, menu suggestions, bath rotations, etc.

Hooluter:  One who causes or aids in the pollution of Hooville.

Extanta:  Exciting new medication to aid in the treatment of RRS (Restless Reading Syndrome) where the patient is unable to concentrate and finds themselves reading several different books at once. Still in the trial stages, awaiting approval from the FDA and Library of Congress.

Opsith:  Urban slang for "opposite."


Did you come across any fun word verifications this week? I seem to be getting real words lately, which takes some of the fun out of playing! *L*



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What do you think of the new design?

Was inspired by all of the changes I saw taking place during Bloggiesta, so thought I would tweak my header and background. I'm pleased with the header, but not sure if I'm going to keep the background. Think it may be a little bright, although I do like the texture and the hint of words. Please let me know what you think, as I'd love some feedback! Found a couple of great sites that really helped me out:  Tips For New Bloggers and GR Sites.

Update: I slept on it and when I checked it this morning, the background seemed too bright. I found a more muted tone to try, as I still like the textured look. Will try to walk away, then come back to see how I feel. Yea? Nay?

Thanks!


Book Review" Maze Runner by James Dasher


Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385737947
ISBN-13: 978-0385737944

Rating: 4/5
Source: Public Library

Book Blurb:
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade - a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up - the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

My Review:
Saw this book on several different blogs last year, so picked up a copy at my local library. Read it last fall and really enjoyed it, but never finished my review for some reason. As I enjoyed the book, I'd like to now finish and recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy fiction!

It's a bit of a mystery, as we don't know why the young boys are sent to the glade and what they are supposed to accomplish. I've seen some reviews compare this story to Lord of the Flies, but aside from featuring boys, I don't see any other similarities. The Gladers are not uncivilized, and have a nice system set up in order to survive while trying to solve the puzzle of the maze.

This was a fun, original, action packed story. Gave it a rating of 4/5 as I really enjoyed it. The ending was a little abrupt, but set things up nicely for the next installment. Dasher is a very talented, creative writer who has written the start of a really good trilogy!


Monday, January 11, 2010

In My Mailbox (27)



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I have included links to Goodreads should you want more information on the books. I usually post this on Saturdays, but got so caught up with the Bloggiesta that it totally slipped my mind. But I'm so excited about what I received in the mail this past week that I can't wait to post it! Better late than never, right? :-)


This is the mailbox goodie that I was the most excited to receive! I've been lusting after Beautiful Creatures ever since I first heard about it on various blogs. Everyone raved about it and it sounded sooooo good, but I was on a book buying ban so could only hope & pray that I would win a copy somewhere. And I did! Woo hoo! Won a copy from Tina at Fantastic Book Review, complete with swag sent from the authors! Was so excited to receive this! Tried to take a picture, but not sure if you can see everything. I received the ARC from Tina, and the swag included a BC sticker, 2 rubber wrist bands, a gorgeous bracelet with the chinese symbol for Hope, 2 BC dog tags, a photo, a Slim Jim, and some candy.  I tried to include a close up of the bracelet, but it didn't turn out very well. Hope you get the general idea, as I really like it!


Picked up a copy of Gena Showalter's The Darkest Night from my library book sale. They have a cart at the entrance with books either pulled from the shelves or donated. Paperbacks are 25 cents (5 for $1!) and hardcovers are 50 cents, so I always leave with at least one book. This is book 1 of her Lords of the Underworld series, so thought I would give it a shot.


Also received three samples of Advocare Spark energy drink from Julie at My Own Little Corner of the World blog. I saw them featured over at Sheila's IMM post and mentioned that I was curious about how they tasted. so Julie was kind enough to send me some samples. Thought that was incredibly nice of her! Haven't tried them yet as I'm still getting over a bug, but looking forward to a taste test! I received grape, fruit punch and mandarin orange flavor. Thanks again Julie!

Very, very happy with my mailbox last week! Got a book I"ve been drooling over, a library bargain, and some cool samples to try! Happiness is goodies in the mail! :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bloggiesta Wrap Up



Think that this was a very productive weekend, and I'm so glad I decided to participate in the Bloggiesta. Thanks to Natasha and all of the challenge hosts for putting this together! They all worked very hard, and it's really appreciated!

Finished a few more challenges: the blog directory challenge at Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile, the cheat sheet challenge at There's A Book, the anchor text challenge at Galleysmith, the rainy day challenge at Beth Fish Reads, the clean up your feedreader challenge at The Book Lady's Blog, and the copyright challenge at Bookalicious.

Never made it to the Blogging Tips group on Ning, but can do that when I have more time. Also haven't made up my mind about a separate disclosure policy, if I really want to make a button, and if I should change my layout. All in all it was a very, very productive Bloggiesta! I'm exhausted, but pleased.

Stats
Mini Challenges completed: 14
Comments made: 46
Reviews written: 3
Advance posts written: 2
Ideas for future posts: 4
Series posts completed: 14
Goals completed: 15

Bloggiesta Goals 2010
• Catch up on my reviews. done
• Write backup posts for a rainy day. done
• Work on series posts. done
• Clean up tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc. done
• Update my About Me page. done
• Update my review policy. done
• Clean up & update my challenge lists. Link up posts w/hosts. done
• Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve my blog.
• Find out what a gravatar is, and get one if it's cool! done
• Edit blogrolls. done
• Set up a Favicon. done
• Add a signature. done
• Investigate Google Docs. done
• Comment on other Bloggiesta participant's blogs. done
• Write email templates for review offers. done
• Work on buttons.
• Decide if I need a stand-alone disclosure policy.
• Add a drop down box for labels. done




Bloggiesta Update #4


Keep finding more new updates to play with rather than working on my current goals. So easily distracted! *L* Let's see...since my last update, I've finished a few more goals and added a widget for Alexa rankings. Aside from liking the name, am told that it's another important blog ranking site. My rank is over 2 million right now. Whatever...I still like the name. :p

Finally added the magical meta tags! Think the hardest part was coming up with the description and keywords I wanted to use. Also did the vanity alert challenge hosted by Emily at Emily's Reading Room and the label challenge hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. Been playing with changing my header, but not happy with the results so will keep tweaking. Reworked my review policy and the About Me posts as well. Please let me know what you think of my review policy, as it seems a little long. Thanks!

Stats
Mini Challenges completed: 8
Comments made: 33
Reviews written: 1
Advance posts written: 1
Series posts completed: 14
Goals completed: 10

Bloggiesta Goals 2010
• Catch up on my reviews.
• Write backup posts for a rainy day.
• Work on series posts. done
• Clean up tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc. done
• Update my About Me page. done
• Update my review policy. done
• Clean up & update my challenge lists. Link up posts w/hosts. done
• Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve my blog.
• Find out what a gravatar is, and get one if it's cool! done
• Edit blogrolls.
• Set up a Favicon. done
• Add a signature. done
• Investigate Google Docs.
• Comment on other Bloggiesta participant's blogs. - in progress
• Write email templates for review offers. done
• Work on buttons.
• Decide if I need a stand-alone disclosure policy.
• Add a drop down box for labels. done




Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bloggiesta Update #3


In between household chores, have managed to complete a few more challenges. Signed up for the Comment Challenge hosted by Pam at MotherReader. Have already commented on over 10 new blogs and really like the idea of committing to at least 5 comments a day.

I also completed the Set Goals mini challenge hosted by Rebecca at The Book Lady's Blog and the Dead Link challenge hosted by Karin at Karin's Book Nook. Both were very helpful challenges!

I replaced my Recent Comments widget as I couldn't fix the original one. It was just a white box, so I found an alternate. I don't like the looks of the new widget as much as the old one, but at least this one works! Also added a few new widgets thanks to the great directions from a site called Blogging Tutorials. Spent more hours than I want to admit wrestling with the widgets before I found this site, but was determined to make it work! Too bad I hadn't found this site first! And while I was customizing my Blogger layout, noticed that they now had several new options that I wasn't aware of, so trying a few of them out as well.

Stats
Mini Challenges completed: 6
Comments made: 28
Reviews written: 1
Advance posts written: 0
Series posts completed: 14
Goals completed: 7

Bloggiesta Goals 2010
• Catch up on my reviews.
• Write backup posts for a rainy day.
• Work on series posts. done
• Clean up tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc.
• Update my About Me page.
• Update my review policy.
• Clean up & update my challenge lists. Link up posts w/hosts. done
• Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve my blog.
• Find out what a gravatar is, and get one if it's cool! done
• Edit blogrolls.
• Set up a Favicon. done
• Add a signature. done
• Investigate Google Docs.
• Comment on other Bloggiesta participant's blogs. - in progress
• Write email templates for review offers. done
• Work on buttons.
• Decide if I need a stand-alone disclosure policy.
• Add a drop down box for labels. done



Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge - Set Goals

One of the mini challenges in this year's Bloggiesta is to set goals for the coming year. I posted some New Year's Resolutions for my blog not too long ago, but thought I would clarify my goals a bit more. This challenge is hosted by Rebecca at The Book Lady's Blog.

1. Finish all of my reading challenges. Disappointed that I only completed one challenge in 2009, and am determined that 2010 will be my year!

2. Post on a more consistent basis. Right now it's sort of hit and miss, and I'd like to have a more set schedule for my posts.

3. Stop lurking on so many blogs and comment more. I love it when I receive comments, so am sure others appreciate it as well.

4. Have a minimum of 3 "rainy day" posts waiting in the wings for when I'm too busy to write a new post.

5. Reduce the number of books in my TBR stacks.


Will add any future goals as needed, but think that this should do it for the year. Wish me luck!


Bloggiesta Update #2 - completed 2 more challenges!


Yesterday started out productive and I prepared several posts for my weekly series, but got distracted by Twitter and blog hopping last night. Did manage to write acceptance and rejection email templates for review offers, so at least they will be consistent now.

Finished two more mini-challenges! I now have a Flavicon thanks to the helpful advice from a Flashback challenge over at Hey Lady, Whatcha Reading? And I backed up my blog as per the instructions from Jackie at Farm Lane Books. Still haven't gotten to several other challenges I want to do, but trying to pace myself today. As it's Saturday, will be bouncing on and off the computer as need to catch up on housework.


Stats
Mini Challenges completed: 3
Comments made: 15
Reviews written: 1
Advance posts written: 0
Series posts completed: 14
Goals completed: 4

Bloggiesta Goals 2010
• Catch up on my reviews.
• Write backup posts for a rainy day.
• Work on series posts. - done
• Clean up tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc.
• Update my About Me page.
• Update my review policy.
• Clean up & update my challenge lists. Link up posts w/hosts. - done
• Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve my blog.
• Find out what a gravatar is, and get one if it's cool!
• Edit blogrolls.
• Set up a Favicon. - done
• Add a signature.
• Investigate Google Docs.
• Comment on other Bloggiesta participant's blogs. - in progress
• Write email templates for review offers. - done
• Work on buttons.
• Decide if I need a stand-alone disclosure policy.

Am learning quite a bit, and found several good ideas I want to incorporate on my blog from other Bloggiesta participants. This is fun! :)


Friday, January 8, 2010

Bloggiesta update #1 - Blog Graded!


Well, I think I've gotten off to a decent start. Decided to begin my adventure with a mini-challenge from the last Bloggiesta: Grade Your Blog hosted by Bookish Ruth. Thought I would grade my blog at both the beginning and the end of Bloggiesta, then compare the scores. Hopefully, my grade will improve!


Well, I just ran my blog through the grader and received a score of 90! I was surprised, as I didn't think it would be such a high grade! It suggested I add both a meta description and meta keywords, and that I had too many images. I'm going to look into this meta business, but not going to reduce my images as I like my pictures. Had a few other suggestions I'm going to explore as well. Think I can bring my score up to a 95 by the end of the weekend?


Mini Challenges completed: 1
Comments made: 6
Reviews written: 1


Have spent the last few minutes bloghopping around the Bloggiesta and find my list of goals growing! Everyone has such good ideas that I want to try on my blog as well! Will include updated goals on my next update, but am now imspired so want to work on a few things...



It's Bloggiesta time!


It's Bloggeista time! Found out the cute little guy up on top is named Pedro. Stands for Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize. Very clever!

This is my first year to participate, so I'm not 100% sure what to expect. Have a few goals I'd like to accomplish, and there are several mini-challenges I want to do as well. Here are some of my goals for the weekend:

• Catch up on my reviews.
• Write backup posts for a rainy day.
• Work on series posts.
• Clean up tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc.
• Update my About Me page and my review policy.
• Clean up and update my challenge lists. Link up posts with hosts.
• Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve my blog.
• Find out what a gravatar is, and get one if it's cool!

That's just for starters! I plan on visiting other Bloggiesta participants during the festivities, and may be inspired to start other projects as well. Will be writing updates throughout the weekend on my progress and about any mini-challenges I join.

Now where did I put the tortillas and salsa? :D

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