The Sunday Salon: Bad Bloggers

I’ve acquired enough books to go ahead and do a Bad Bloggers post! I can blame Debi for some of these, because we went book shopping together while she was in town :p And indeed I will.

Before I get to Bad Bloggers, though, a quick note on what’s been going on! I’m almost finished my office! And I swear I’ll have pictures up soon. I’ve taken this whole week off of work and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about that. It’ll be nice just to have some time to relax and read and get the office finished. I schedule these vacations for myself every 4 months or so so that I have some time off to look forward to :p It’s sort of a goal to look forward to I guess. When I go back to work, it looks like I’ll have my first private practice client too!! A little 7 year old boy. Can’t wait to get started!

Ok…now onto books:

Books Given As A Gift

8

Books Mooched/Swapped

31011

Books Bought

1245679

1. Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson – My dear, dear friend Debi gave me this one when she came down to visit me and I just can’t wait to read it 😀 Death is one of my favorite Sandman characters and this spinoff looks delightful.

2. Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith – This is one of the Canon Gate Myth books and I just want to read them all! So that’s why I bought this one :p

3. Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean – I absolutely love J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. I always have. Sorry Renay 😦 So I’ve had my eye on this “official sequel” since it was released and I was lucky enough to mooch a copy!

4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – And here’s the first point of this post! I’ve read quite a few reviews of this book, but the one that finally made me add it to the wishlist was Colin’s at The Book Pirate!

5. Bayou by Jeremy Love – 100% Nymeth’s fault. I hadn’t even heard of this one until she reviewed it, but once she reviewed it, it went straight onto my wishlist. And I loved it! But you know what…I can’t blame Nymeth completely…Debi made me actually buy it (yeah, believe that one 😉 so I’m giving her a point too!

6. Bone by Jeff Smith – Another one that Nymeth and Debi will share the blame for. Nymeth put it on my wishlist and Debi reminded me how much I want it at the bookstore. So glad I bought this one!! It’s amazing.

7. Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix – So excited about this one!!! It’s the second book in Haddix’s The Missing series. I loved Found so much and I would’ve never discovered that series had it not been for Becky. So I’m giving Becky a point for this one too 😉

8. Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted – I’ve been waiting for this one for a loooong time! Chelle put this one on my radar, so the blame goes solely to her.

9. Ash by Malinda Lo – Who is to blame for this one?? I don’t even remember who first put this one onto my list, but I know there’s been a lot of talk about it. Anyway, I preordered it and now it’s here!

10. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Can you guess who’s to blame for this one? Yep! It’s the super awesome Renay! She’s raved and raved about this one and I can’t wait to read it now! Debi has this one too so I can’t wait to compare notes with her 🙂

11. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld – Honestly, I’m kind of sick of reading Katrina books. I’m actually kind of sick of Hurricane Katrina in general. Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the storm and that’s all anyone has been talking about. But this one just looked too cool to pass up. Debi found it for me at the Borders on St. Charles Ave uptown when we were bookshopping and she bought it too! So I’m giving her another point 😉

If you’re playing along with Bad Bloggers this week, feel free to come back and leave a link to your post in the comments of this post!! I’d love to visit your page and see what you got and who you’re blaming 😉

Bone and Bayou: A Graphic Novel Review(s)

So with these two graphic novels, I actually read more this month than last…4 books :/ But I still may finish Fingersmith this month which would make it 5. Both of these were recommended by Nymeth and as is normal with her recommendations, they were both fantastic! I also have to put some blame on Debi for both of them as well because she made me buy them when I went bookshopping with her 😉 So when I do a Bad Blogger’s post they’re just going to have to both take points for them, lol.

bone1Bone Volume 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
2005
138 pgs.
5/5

For some reason, I always thought that I would dislike this series even though I had no idea what it was about. It’s one of those stupid things that I do. I make assumptions about things that I know nothing about. I guess I’m more close minded than I like to think I am. But then Nymeth reviewed it and I realized that it was totally different than what I thought it was. So I put it on my wishlist. Only when I saw the size of it, it honestly scared the shit out of me….there’s this big all in one version and that’s all I could find for the longest time. Well then Debi came in town and we went book shopping at Barnes and Noble! And sitting there in the children’s section were a bunch of individual volumes of Bone in COLOR so I just had to get volume one. Plus, Debi had been talking about it earlier because she was reading it and she made it sound so good. It is!!

Bone is the story of three…well, bones…who have been kicked out of Boneville because of the greediness of one Phoney Bone. While trying to find their way around, they get lost and my favorite bone, Fone Bone gets separated from his two friends. He finds himself in a land that is very strange and is confronted by the cutest damn character in the world, a tiny little bug that looks like a leaf named Ted. Ted tells Fone Bone that he’s never heard of Boneville before, but he knows someone named Thorn that may be able to help him. But before that can happen, Fone Bone is confronted by two evil rat creatures that want to turn him into a quiche…or a stew…there’s an argument that takes place over that. I’m realizing now that I could continue to summarize the whole book, but I’ll save some surprises…but basically, Fone Bone is trying to find his friends and get home while not getting eaten by scary (but kind of funny) rat creatures all while being helped by a girl that he’s head over heels with and her grandmother who races cows. Yep, it’s great! I’ve already ordered the second volume.

This is the kind of graphic novel series that I just absolutely love. It’s terribly cute, it’s hilarious at times, it has a really engaging story that kept me turning the pages so that I read it in one sitting, it’s very touching at times, and I wanted more more more!

BayouBayou Volume 1 by Jeremy Love
2009
160 pgs.
5/5

Bayou is a totally different kind of story. This is a dark story, but it has it’s moments that put a little smile on my face in between the sadness. Nymeth put this one on my radar as well. Debi and I found this one together when we were shopping and didn’t know what to do because we both wanted the one copy that they had :p The problem was, she already had $60 worth of books in her hands (sorry I’m throwing all your business out there Debi :p) So I solved her dilemma and took it, lol.

Bayou takes place in Mississippi in the 1930’s. A young girl named Lee starts off the story by telling us “The bayou is a bad place. Ain’t nuthin’ good ever happened there.” A year prior, Lee was sent down into the bayou to retrieve the body of a black man that was hung. She was paid three dollars to do this. While she was down there, she saw a man with butterfly wings and has been terrified of the bayou ever since. A year later, her white friend, Lily, loses her locket in the bayou and asks Lee to help her get it. Lee refuses. Lily is afraid of getting abused by her mother, so she makes up a story that Lee took the locket and dropped it in the bayou. When Lily goes to look for it, something bizarre happens. A giant man comes out of the bayou and eats her and Lee is there to witness it. But none of the town folk believe her. They all think that Lee’s father killed her, and he’s imprisoned for it and will likely be hanged. Lee crosses into the bayou once more to enter into a dark fantasy world to avenge her father and her friend Lily and prove his innocence.

Bayou was just amazing. The art is unlike any I’ve ever seen before in a graphic novel. It blew me away. It’s in tones of brown and yellow and green. Very murky just like bayous are. And it’s perfect for the story. This is a murky story. The line between reality and fantasy is constantly blurred. There is no clear distinction between the two. I’ve never read anything quite like it. And of course, it tackles the hurt and pain of racism expertly. It doesn’t tiptoe around the issue at all. It addresses it head on and directly and shows the honest truth of what happened and what still happens, really, today. One that I think everyone should read!

bayou-1

City of Refuge by Tom Piazza

City_of_Refuge_med1I have to start out this review by letting you all know that I have not finished this book. But rest assured that I will! And I’ll give you the full report then. But I agreed to host this book for the wonderful TLC Book Tours today, and host it I shall! What I have read of this one so far is amazing. It’s also a painful book. All too painful because it’s all so real and brings back so many memories that were forgotten.

City of Refuge takes place in New Orleans during the days just before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. It mainly follows the story of a white family and a black family living in two very different parts of New Orleans and living under very different circumstances. The white family is upper middle class, lives in a nice area uptown and has the means to evacuate. While they suffer loss, most of their loss is replaceable. The black family lives in the ninth ward, one of the poorest areas of New Orleans where many people do not have the means to evacuate. Their loss is tremendous and while it includes material possessions, it also includes lives that cannot be replaced.

I have to give major kudos to Piazza for writing such a strong, powerful, emotional book. Living in New Orleans, I get tired of reading so many books about Katrina, but Piazza just gets it right. He knows this city, he loves this city. I felt like he was one of us…he is one of us. It’s the best retelling of the events of Hurricane Katrina that I’ve read so far and it’s fiction. It’s certainly based on real events though. The timeline and the surroundings and neighborhoods are 100% accurate.

Many people were quick to judge those who stayed and lost their lives or suffered extreme loss saying that they should’ve left when they had the chance. The thing is, not everyone has the means to evacuate down here. And the city nor the federal government provides the means for the entire city to evacuate. There is also the fact that it can take over 24 hours to evacuate to a town that normally takes 4 hours to get to and the storms normally don’t even hit us. Most of us evacuate anyway, but that’s because we can. Piazza is a voice for our city. He gave an insider’s perspective, an advocate’s voice to those who can’t voice themselves. And I thank him for that. I hope he gets all the acclaim in the world for this book! He certainly deserves it.

If anyone wants an accurate picture of what Hurricane Katrina was like for those of us that experienced it, I urge you to read this book. My story is much like that of the white family’s story in this book, but there are others who were much less fortunate and are not here to blog about it. The fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up in just two days and we will finally be moving back into our house in a couple of weeks. We’re blessed for that! Some people still haven’t been able to touch their houses.

On September 10th, Tom Piazza will be doing a talk show on Blog Talk Radio. I hope some of you check it out!! Here’s the link to the website. I’ve also submitted a request for a guest post from him and I hope to get that eventually!

R.I.P. IV (Seriously?!)

rip4300The (Seriously?!) refers to the fact that I can’t believe that this is already the fourth RIP challenge!! It’s actually my third, but I started blogging shortly after the first! I say this about so many challenges, but I really think that this may be my favorite challenge out there. To begin with, we have such an amazing host, Carl!! You have to be an absolute lover of Halloween and all things Autumn to pull this one off and that’s exactly what Carl is! He puts me in a fantastic mood for a couple of months every year with this challenge! And needless to say, I’m teeming with excitement again! I’ve come up with a HUMONGOUS pile this year of books for the pool. I’ll be doing Peril the first and reading (at least) four books for the challenge. And I’ve come up with 55 to choose from :/ I’m going to try to only read from my TBR pile with the exception of Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry which I’ll definitely be buying when it comes out 😉 I’ll torment you all with the covers:

DebiDay!

The last two days were just incredible! Debi from Nothing of Importance (horribly named blog) and her family *her amazing family!* came down to New Orleans to visit me!! Now for those who don’t know already, Debi isn’t just a really cool blogger, she’s one of the most incredible people that I have ever known and I still can’t really believe that I got to meet her and her family! It’s like a big dream really. Debi is exactly what you would imagine her to be…no scratch that, she’s more than what you could ever imagine. She’s so incredibly sweet, so incredibly AWESOME, and she gives the most incredible hugs in the world 🙂 She’s warm, she’s open minded, she radiates joy, I just love her!! It was so sad when I had to say good bye 😦 But we swore that we will meet up again and we’re talking about BEA next year!

Like I said, she came down with the whole family! Her husband, Rich is an awesome guy! He’s one of those people that can find something to appreciate in every little piece of life. From lizards to ferns to who knows what else! And he’s an awesome dad. You can just see how much his kids love him. And he’s a beer drinker! In fact, he was nice enough to bring me a six pack of beers brewed locally in New York which I’ve already sampled 😉 Just a fun guy to hang out with.

As for Debi’s kids, I’m obsessed with them! Many of you know Annie already. Annie blogs over at Words by Annie and let me tell you that Annie was just what I pictured she would be. She’s a really awesome, incredibly smart, beautiful, super cool girl! She reminded me so much of myself when I was her age (except for the obvious differences). I had a lot of the same interests as she does, reading, writing, a cool dress style ;), straying from the norm in a good way. She’s just incredibly awesome!

The boys are so freaking cute!! Gray and Max are my new best friends :p They’re as boyish as boys get and they just made me want to be a little boy again. There were times during the trip when Debi would tell them they had to be quiet or stop doing something and I would not help the situation at all because I would just look at Max or Gray and we’d just start laughing.  I couldn’t help it. I loved meeting them. And they love to read!! You should see how quick Gray flies through his books! And Max had put a good dent in his Zelda manga by the time I had left too! Too cute for words.

So now you know all about this incredible family that I can’t believe actually exists. Seriously, I want to just keep them in my pocket and carry them with me everywhere I go. They’re that cool! I bet you’re wondering what we actually did! I’ll try to keep this brief because I can see it’s already getting kind of long. And I apologize for the lack of pictures. My camera was dead 😦 But Debi took tons and she told me she’d send me a disc with all of them, so I’ll get them eventually! Debi and the family got in town late Saturday night, and I had to work all Sunday morning. So the anticipation was killing me!! That and my nerves! I was so nervous about meeting everyone! But I got off of work at 3 o’clock on Sunday, knocked on Debi’s hotel room door and my nerves instantly disappeared when she answered 🙂

The day was actually gorgeous which is odd for August in New Orleans, so we took advantage of the nice weather and walked around the French Quarter for a couple of hours just to do some sight seeing. And there were plenty of sights to see!! We drank beer on the streets since you apparently can’t do that anywhere else, and went into Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, and walked around the French Market. Debi spit on the Andrew Jackson statue in Jackson Square (kidding 😉 After that we headed uptown to Magazine street and had a delicious dinner at Ignatius which is actually named after a character in A Confederacy of Dunces! The little boys each ate alligator sausage for their dinner 🙂 Rich had crawfish etoufee, Debi and Annie had red beans and rice, I had a ham and cheese po-boy with a cup of gumbo, and Debi and I split a bread pudding for dessert while the kids all had root beer floats! After that we squeezed in a 30 minute trip to Borders (of course) before they closed and then headed home for the night.

Monday was a full day and another gorgeous day!! We started the day at Morning Call where we had beignets and cafe au laits for breakfast and there are lots of fun pictures that were taken there 🙂 Can’t wait to see those! After that we headed off to Barnes and Noble which was actually quite the comical trip. I walked out with four books, Debi’s family walked out with three bags! Who knows how many books were in them, lol. Stupid Chris got the kids all excited about going to the zoo after that, so we pull up to the zoo and it’s closed 😦 Who closes a zoo on Mondays?! So then I mention the aquarium (which the kids got excited about) not thinking that they’re all connected, and of course, they’re closed too. So we did the next best thing, we walked around a cemetery 🙂 This is a big thing for tourists in New Orleans because we bury our dead above ground! We do this because it floods so often here and if they go below ground, they’re gonna come up. So we walked around a beautiful cemetery for awhile and took some pictures and then drove around and I showed them some of the damage from Katrina. It’s actually looking good though! We’ve come a long way! Not near as many broken down houses as their used to be!

From there we headed over to the lakefront and sat by Lake Pontchartrain for a little while and the boys played in the mud and made me nervous that they were going to fall in the lake 🙂 They didn’t. It was gorgeous out there with the breeze coming off of the lake. Just a perfect day! We were all getting hungry at this point, so we headed back uptown to eat at Cafe Rani, one of my favorite little local restaurants that offers some cool outdoor seating. Everyone seemed to enjoy what they ate! And we took a picture there especially for Ana, but I’ll share it with all of you here. This is me, Debi and Annie:

photoThey were trying to get Max to finish his macaroni and cheese so I suggested that we could go get ice cream if he took a few more bites 😉 So that’s what we did next. We went to Sucre which is this amazing dessert shop that sells these beautiful gourmet desserts that you almost don’t want to eat because they look like art. But they also have delicious gellato and sorbet. I got the blueberry peach sorbet which was amazing, both of the boys got rasberry sorbet, Annie got the triple chocolate gellato, and Rich and Debi split the cafe au lait gellato. It all looked delicious and I think we all sampled each others 🙂 After that we just walked around Magazine street for awhile. Debi wanted to see my office and I was excited to show it off, so we went and saw that. And then we headed back to the hotel and Debi, Rich and I had a couple of drinks while the kids swam in the pool. And then it was done. And it was just perfect! I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better time!!

I feel refreshed now from this visit. I think it’s just what I needed! Thanks Debi 🙂 I’m actually looking forward to putting up some blog posts in the next few days. I have a review coming up for a tour on Thursday, I should also have a review up for Bone, definitely another Bad Bloggers post, and I have to do my RIP IV post!!!!! Yay for RIP!!! So I’ll see everyone soon!!

Bad Bloggers! And A Thank You!

First up are all the books that have entered my house since my last Bad Bloggers post. Seeing as I haven’t been posting at all lately, I think that 7 books isn’t bad at all! Here’s the loot:

Books Bought

56

Books Mooched or Swapped

12347

badbloggers

1. Never Slow Dance with a Zombie by E. Van Lowe – This one was a pre-order. It’s sort of a perfect storm for me :/ It has a perfect cover, an awesome title, it’s YA, and IT’S ABOUT ZOMBIES!! So I had to get it…you see the torture that I’m put through??

2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman – I saw this one on Shelf Awareness and had to go out and buy it right away. A reference to Harry Potter was made by George R.R. Martin and that sealed the deal. Now I just have to finish City of Refuge and Fingersmith (yes, I’m STILL reading that…kind of) so that I can start this one!!

3. Heart to Heart ed. by Jan Greenberg – This one looks so cool! Did someone review this one or did I just stumble upon it? If I owe someone blame for it, please let me know! It’s a book of poems and very short stories that children did based on famous artwork of the 19th and 20th century. Can’t wait to read it!

4. The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci – Finally, a point! Becky gets a point for this one! Of course, I’ll have to read it for the Printz challenge eventually anyway, but when I reviewed Dylan Fontaine, she told me that I definitely had to read this one because I would love it. And I’m sure I will!

5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson – I got this one from the library a long time ago, but story of my life, I had to return it unread. And then I started following Maureen Johnson on Twitter and learned of just how awesome of a person she is! So I went ahead and got a copy on Paperback Swap. Looking forward to it!

6. Simon Says by Elaine Marie Alphin – Total impulse swap here. Paperback Swap recommended this one to me and it sounded good. I’ll let you know if it is.

7. Where We Are, What We See ed. by David Levithan – I’m so so so so so excited about this one!! I’ve actually been wanting this one for a really long time. David Levithan put together this collection of stories, poems, essays, photographs and art by some of today’s most talented youth. I think it’s so great that he gave these kids a chance to get published that they otherwhise wouldn’t have had. I’m really looking forward to it!!

If you did a Bad Bloggers post this week or if you plan on doing one, please link over here in the comments of this post!!

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As for the thank you, you people are all really incredibly too kind. Here I am getting down on myself about how I never seem to blog anymore and everyone must hate me and then I get 5 (FIVE!!) Book Blogger Appreciation Week Nominations! I seriously can’t thank you all enough. I got nominated for Best Speculative Fiction (Sci-fi, horror, fantasy) Blog, Best Graphic Novel Review Blog, Most Chatty, Most Eclectic Taste, and Best YA Blog. Seriously, thank you all from the bottom of my heart! And congrats to all of you other amazing bloggers who were nominated for awards as well! I can’t wait to see the shortlists! And this post wouldn’t be complete without thanking the miraculous Amy for putting this whole thing together!!

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

my-most-excellent-yearMy Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
2008
403 Pages
4.5/5

So this review may stir up some hard feelings and a bit of controversy, but I want you to keep on referring back to my rating of this book. I really loved it! Honestly, I loved it. I’ll get to the controversy bit in a little while. But first, I’ll let you know what it’s about. My Most Excellent year is narrated by three high schoolers who all come from different backgrounds. Tony Keller is a young boy who lost his mother at a young age but has remained close with his dad and shares a passion for baseball with him. He has a heart of gold and gives a little bit of himself to everyone who he comes in contact with. His best friend is Augie Hwong, our second narrator, who becomes sort of an adopted brother to Tony. Augie plays on the soccer team but his true love is broadway and all things femme fatales. He’s dramatic, over the top and well loved by everyone.

And then there’s Alejandra Perez, the new student at their high school who is the daughter of an ambasador and has therefore had lunch with numerous presidents and congress people. She’s also the love interest of Tony and Augie’s new idol once he finds out how much of a diva she is.

The book is told through journal entries that each of these three characters write. Each person writes their entries to a different person. Tony starts all of his entries “Dear Mama,” Ale starts all of her’s “Dear Jacqueline” for Jacqueline Kennedy, and Augie dedicates his entries to a different female star each week. We follow them throughout their “most excellent year”, their freshmen year of high school. And it’s an awesome story.

The story centers around first love in all of it’s forms. Tony and Ale are falling for each other, while Augie is discovering he’s gay while falling for a fellow soccer player. In the meantime, Augie and Ale are preparing for the school play, Kiss Me, Kate. This is a problem that presents itself for Ale because her family has always expected her to go into politics. She feels that they would never allow her to pursue her true love, which is the theater despite her enormous talents in that department.

Tony has something of his own that’s occupying his time. He’s discovered a six year old boy that hangs out at all of his baseball games named Hucky Harper and he’s soon to learn that Hucky is deaf and lives in a group home. He goes home with Hucky one day and quickly becomes attached to him and adopts him as another brother. Hucky has a love for Mary Poppins that borders on the insane. He watches his tape of Mary Poppins every chance he gets, but he doesn’t seem to realize that she isn’t real. He wants her to visit him. And Tony has a tendency to try to make people’s wishes come true. Interesting story follows.

There’s a lot that happens in this book and I could tell you plot summaries and sub-plot summaries all day, but I won’t. I’ll just tell you to READ IT!! It’s an awesome book!! Here’s where my problem lies though…….IT’S TOO COOKIE CUTTER!!! I wish I didn’t have to say that. I really wish that I didn’t. But all of these kids were perfect. And even though they didn’t necessarily come from the perfect family dynamic, everything always wound up perfect. When Augie came out and announced he was gay, it wasn’t an issue for anyone. Not for his family, his friends, not for him (except for one little scene with his dad but his dad told him he was being silly), not for anyone at the school! Now trust me. I give MAJOR kudos to Steve Kluger for writing this because maybe it’ll influence high school kids to be more accepting if they read this. But I went to high school. I had a friend who came out in high school and he went through HELL. Sure, there were those of us who accepted him, but it wasn’t just another day for him. I don’t know. It’s not just the gay thing. Everything in this book was just too perfect and fit together way too nicely. And it would be so nice if the world were like that, but it’s not.

Maybe I’m just a total pessimist. I truly don’t think there’s anything wrong with a book like this. That’s why I didn’t take away points from it because of it. It’s a feel good book. It’s fiction. And it sure did feel good to read. But it would never happen in a million trillion years in real life. I can promise you that. I like a little angst in my books and a not so perfect ending…that’s all :p But having said all of that, this was a fantastic book :p

This is also one of the two finalists for the Nerds Heart YA tournament!!! And I can certainly see why it made it here. Nymeth and I are judging the finals, so I’m just waiting to see what it will go up against. I honestly think it’ll be a close call. Can’t wait to find out who the winner will be!! Stay tuned!