Wednesday, 30 September 2009

BBW: Of Mice and Men

Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Publisher: Penguin
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 4/5

Novella by John Steinbeck, published in 1937. A beautiful but dark piece of literature set in the enchanting Salinas Valley in California, it depicts the struggles of two swampers, one mentally slow and the other his virtual commander. In this masterpiece, Steinbeck writes a fantastic tragedy. It should be read by all...

Despite the length of this novel, it contains a powerful plot that will leave any reader heart-broken. The author describes the settings in such detail you can almost smell the alfalfa. As far as the plot goes, he leaves room for your imagination to fill in the blanks and gives the plot life through drama and issues that any worker would face during the early 1900s. Of mice and men, it is a must-read for any reading level.

The setting is based in the early 1900s, where Lennie and George, the two main characters, work for a new employer on a swamp. The author creates great detail not only through words, but also through the actions of other characters. For example, the author never once mentions Lennie's mental disability. Instead, he uses actions and dialogue to show that he is. John Steinbeck is a magnificent author.

Want to know why it was banned/challenged?
Click {Here} to find out!

BBW: Lord of The Flies

Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Publisher: Perigee Books
Reading Level: Young Adult/Adult
Rating: 4/5

William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.

What an incredible first novel, a story of civilization, how humans create it and how easily it can be destroyed. It deals with fear, and the atrocities it can make people commit. Golding wrote often about the connection between humanity and civilization. Does civilization make us human? This story can mean many things to many people, making it wonderful fodder for literature classes and idle pondering. What did You think of it?

Want to know why it was banned/challenged?

Click {HERE} to find out!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

BBW: To Kill a Mockingbird

Title: To Kill a Mocking Bird
Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Reading Level:Young Adult/Adult
Rating: 5/5

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

I am completely awed by this story. Harper Lee has done an excellent job bringing this 1930's Alabama childhood to life. I can see why To Kill a Mockingbird has won the Pulitzer Prize, garnered an Academy Award for the movie version, and ultimately became a timely classic enjoyed by many generations.

I was simply floored while reading this novel in High School. This book was what made me want to read the classics. To Kill a Mockingbird is a piece of our American history that depicts racism and prejudice, childhood innocence, and the perseverance of a man who risked it all to stand up for what he believed in.

Want to know why it was banned and challenged?
Check out why {Here}!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Celebrating Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week!
This is the week we celebrate the Freedom to Read!

Over the past eight years, American libraries were faced with 3,736 challenges

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

This week we will be discussing/reviewing some of my favorite banned books! I encourage you to pick up a banned or challenged book this week and celebrate our right to read!

What are your favorite banned books from the American Library Associations Top 100 banned/challenged books?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Gym and Slimline

Title: Gym and Slimline
Author: Emma Burstall
Publisher: Random House UK
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 2

Percy likes sorting out other people's problems, but her own life is a shambles, with a terrible secret addiction. Can she kick it and win back the love of her husband?

Patrice, wealthy but damaged, wants another baby, but husband Jonty isn't interested in sex. Is it her imagination, or is he getting too close to the husband of one of her new friends?

Carmen is living dangerously, determined to get pregnant by her cold, treacherous boyfriend. She doesn't see what is under her nose until it's nearly too late.

Suzanne adores her sexy second husband, but is she neglecting him for her job? And has she realized what is happening to her teenage daughter? New best friends. Their friendship is about to be tested to the limit.

I picked up this book from the library in hopes of it giving me some motivation to get to the gym. It has given me a goal to get a gym buddy...

This books wasn't really the escape I was hoping for. I read to get out of the daily life problems, and this book was chalked FULL with problems and issues normal people deal with every day. Some of you may like it. But, it wasn't really my cut of tea. I feel bad for giving it a 2 because I really don't know what I should rate this book.

It was an easy read, and enjoyable at times. But there for a bit I was thinking, I don't wanna read this anymore cause it's depressing and I do enough of that in MY life...I need an escape!!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

'The Host' Headed for the Big Screen

Today we get word from Variety that Stephenie Meyer’s novel The Host has been acquired by producers for adaptation to the big-screen. The 600-plus page science fiction-romance novel is the first adult novel written by Meyer.

Producers Nick Wechsler, Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz have used their own money to acquire the screen rights to Meyer’s The Host. The book is, “a love story set in the near future on Earth, which has been assimilated by an alien species of benevolent parasites that call themselves “Souls.” One such soul, the Wanderer, is fused with a dying human named Melanie Stryder, in an attempt to locate the last pocket of surviving humans on Earth.” The adaptation is set to be written and directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca and The Truman Show).

Variety reports that the producers have been trying to acquire The Host for a while now, lobbying Meyer and her UTA reps with “a significant offer, a strong vision for the project and a collaborative spirit.” Meyer eventually said yes to them (persistence CAN work). Writer/director Niccol came into consideration for the adaptation when Meyer was asked what her favorite sci-fi movies were, with a couple of the replies being Gattaca (which Niccol wrote and directed) and The Truman Show (which Niccol wrote).

Meyer has been heavily involved in the screen adaptations of the Twilight series, and the producers of The Host are hoping for the same thing from the author: “We wanted Stephenie to be involved in the adaptation and have her endorse and be part of the creative decisions… ‘Twilight’ has proven she knows more about what works than most.”

Do you like The Host, and if so, what do you think of a movie being made out of it?

No release date has been set for The Host as of yet.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Books vs. Movies

I was reading an article in TIMES that I know we will all enjoy!

I'll let you decide which is better.

Tis the season when Hollywood gets literate. Since the Oscar deadline coincides with New Year's Eve and a bookish pedigree is a sure way to get Academy members' attention, studios turn to acclaimed novels for their holiday fodder. But there's a risk involved. Ask any reader who has seen the movie version of a favorite novel, and the answer will usually be, "The book was better."

That's because readers of a novel have already made their own perfect movie version. They have visualized it, fleshed out the locations and set the pace as they either zipped through the book or scrupulously savored every word. Often they have even cast it. In the late 1930s, by the thousands, readers of Gone With the Wind demanded that Southern rogue Rhett Butler be played by that damn yankee Clark Gable. Readers are a very possessive bunch. So in taking a novel from page to screen, movie adapters must tread carefully, like a new visitor at Lourdes.

The time has long passed when popular fiction was almost inevitably filmed by Hollywood and when, as in the 1940s, seven of the 10 Best Picture Oscar winners were based on novels. Today graphic novels inspire as many big-budget crowd pleasers as the old-fashioned unillustrated kind. Which means that somewhere someone is saying, of the Fantastic Four movie or even Sin City, "The comic book was better."

Books don't have to be serious to be adapted, as the many movie versions of Elmore Leonard novels attest. But since they're often how people experience a story first, debates will always rage over the merits of each version. We're here to add kindling to that fire. Three books, three movies. Which ones win? You'll decide.


CHALLENGES: Hello? It's only, like, one of the most acclaimed pieces of literature ever (although director Joe Wright had never read it). Those who love it love it a lot. To others, it smells a bit like homework. Not to mention that this is the third adaptation, including one of those BBC behemoths.

HOW THE BOOK WAS BETTER: It's hard to match wits with the woman who wrote, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." The movie doesn't try. It opens on a sunrise. The book is much funnier, the dialogue much cleverer, the social satire more nuanced. Oh, and some Austenites are spitting mad because the movie ends with a kiss.

HOW THE MOVIE IS BETTER: There's a lot more of the grit of everyday life in 18th century rural Britain that was commonplace to Austen but is new to us. Animals wander through the house. There's mud everywhere. Also, it ends with a kiss.


CHALLENGES: Right off the bat, the screenwriters had to commit sacrilege by tinkering with a beloved children's classic. They also had to wrestle with a strongly Christian plot that flirts with Sunday-school didacticism and had to keep kids interested despite a noticeable lack of exploding spaceships.

HOW THE BOOK WAS BETTER: Director Andrew Adamson Hollywoodizes Lion with a dreary, rote chase scene and "punches up" C.S. Lewis' dialogue with a pair of tiresome beavers with Cockney accents who engage in sitcom-style banter.

HOW THE MOVIE IS BETTER: Whereas Lewis let World War II stay in the book's background, the movie opens with a stark, scary shot of Luftwaffe bombers pummeling London. It's a daring stroke that brings out the dark strata of loss and violence that lay beneath the story. Lewis also soft-pedaled the book's climactic battle between the forces of good and evil; the movie makes it the kick-ass set piece readers have always wanted. "It'd be a crime not to show a fight between a centaur and a minotaur," says screenwriter Christopher Markus.


CHALLENGES: Filmmakers had to consult on changes with author J.K. Rowling (who's usually quite agreeable); appease every kid who has read, memorized and worshipped the book; put Goblet's 734-page bulk on a severe diet that slimmed the plot without starving it; find a strong narrative line that, as director Mike Newell says, you can "hang stuff on like a necklace"; and make a movie that fit into the seven-novel structure but could stand alone as a ripping yarn. "Goblet of Fire was by far the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life," says screenwriter Steve Kloves. "It took two years to make that work--mostly trying to decide what to leave behind."

HOW THE BOOK WAS BETTER: True Potter fans say Goblet luxuriated in fascinating detail (about Hogwarts and Voldemort lore) that the movie was obliged to ignore.

HOW THE MOVIE IS BETTER: It telescopes the book's first 100 pages into a thrilling 20 min. The whole movie zips through the narrative like the Hogwarts Express, transporting viewers from the mundane to the magical in no time flat.

What do you think? Which is better?

portion of article from TIMES

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Smart One and The Pretty One

Title: The Smart One and the Pretty One
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publisher: 5 Spot
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 3/5

Thanks to The Hachette Group for sending this book to review.
A special thanks to my sister Amy for the review.

Smart, successful Ava Nickerson is closing in on thirty and has barely had a date since law school. When a family crisis brings her prodigal little sister Lauren back to Los Angeles, Lauren stumbles across a forgotten document -- a contract their parents had jokingly drawn up years ago betrothing Ava to their friends' son. Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decies to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to reenter the Nickerson sister's lives. And always-accountable Ava will soon realize just how binding a contract can be...

This book was charmingly smart and funny. The two sisters were easy to relate to and often reminded me of my own relationship with my sisters. This book had a bit of every emotion in it -- love, hate, anger, pitty, resentment, insecurity, you name it. It is definitely worth your time if you like modern romance novels. I would love to see this one turned into a movie, too!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Flood Child

Title: Flood Child
Author: Emily Diamond
Publisher: Chicken House
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 3/5

Flooded England, 2216 ... England has changed for ever: most of it is under water. Worse, bloodthirsty pirates prowl the shores, and when they kidnap the Prime Minister's daughter it looks like war. But out of this drowning world comes Lilly Melkun, a girl determined to put things right, with the help of a pirate boy - and an extraordinary treasure from the past, with the power to change the Future...

Flood Child has a Twelfth Night kind of feeling to it. A girl cuts her hair off and pretends to be a boy to safe her village. I waited 200 pages for something to actually happen. It was good though. I enjoyed the story, even though at times there were things happening that didn't fit with the story I felt. I really wanted there to be a romantic aspect with Lilly and Zeph, and it seemed like there might be. Yet there wasn't. I'm just a sucker for anything romantic. Cute book. Could have been an amazing story with some revisions and plot/character developments. But good just the same. Interesting story. Not my favorite though.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

Title: Make Ahead Meals for Busy Mom's
Author: Jane Doiron
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Reading Level: Everyone
Rating: 4

Many thanks to author Jane Doiron for giving me her book to review!

Make Ahead meals are not just for Moms who work outside of the home. It's a way of cooking that helps all families, big and small. It all comes down to a little planning. Make a meal or two in advance when you have some extra time. Then you'll be rewarded with quick, delicious home-cooked meals when you really need them!

If Easy Fast Recipes are what you need, then THIS is your cookbook! There are plenty of yummy recipes to choose from for every taste buds.

I'm excited about the Mini Bacon Quiches, Italian Sub Spiral Wraps, Teriyaki Chicken Wings, Cinnamon Bread, Pumpkin Coffee Cake, Brownie Cookies, Baked Manacotti, and Mini Meatloaves!

I'm not a mom, but I still don't have the time or cooking experience to make elaborate meals. Yet, I do want something that is good and good for us. I don't have to look any further. This is the book! Bon Appetit!

Don't forget to visit Jane's Cooking Blog

Thursday, 17 September 2009

And the winner is.....

I am so excited for this giveaway!

And the winner of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell is....


Please send me your mailing address quick so I can get it sent out to you! Congrats!

We'll be having another giveaway soon with multiple copies for many more winners. Keep checking back! Thanks to all who entered, and keep your fingers crossed for next time!

I used to generate the winner

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Last Day to Enter

Today is the Last Day to Enter to win Julie and Julia by Julie Powell! I pick a winner tomorrow Sept 17th!!

Click on the Picture to enter

Monday, 14 September 2009

Featured Author: Sophie Kinsella

One of my very favorite authors is Sophie Kinsella. The first book of hers I read was Confessions of a Shopaholic. My friend Kristen K. gave it to me. On the plane ride home, I was laughing so hard I was getting looks from the other passengers. I loved every minute of it. Good thing she wrote a whole series! Let me introduce you to Sophie Kinsella!

Author Bio

Madeleine Wickham (born 12 December 1969) is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances.


When she was five she decided that she was Scottish and took to wearing kilts every day and dancing reels around the house.

Her new addiction is Cadbury's Giant Chocolate Buttons.

She's always had a secret yearning to read the news on TV.

Her latest fab purchase is a replica retro American payphone for her kitchen.

She has never done a bungee jump and never plans to.

In honor of REMEMBER ME?, here are Sophie’s Top Five memories:

Having my children has got to be top of my memory list: my three sons, Freddy, Hugo and Oscar. I have a mixture of very vivid memories — the births, the first sight of each newborn, that piercing little cry — and then lots of blurred memories: night feeds, the snuffling sound of a hungry baby, that fresh-bathed baby smell, the moses basket on the bed, flowers everywhere. These memories all seem to run into one another — the first weeks of a baby scramble your brain!

My wedding. I got married in a traditional Oxford college chapel and it was all very English and Four Weddings-like. The funniest moment was just before the ceremony, when I suddenly decided i needed to visit the bathroom. My dress was so massive and flouncy I had to take the whole thing off, so I was rushing into the bathroom in just my veil, underwear and shoes, just as the chaplain knocked onto the door to see if I was ready. Thank goodness my bridesmaids were there to head him off...

Swimming in the sea. I adore the sea, and when I think of the perfect holiday moment, it's an afternoon in the south of France, years ago. I'd gone with a whole gang to an island off the coast near St Tropez. The sea was turquoise and the sun was shining and I can remember swimming around with my sister Gemma and feeling life was pretty much perfect.

My first kiss. This has to be up there, just because it was so funny. I was walking across the common to my friends' house, aged thirteen. With no warning, my friend's brother just pulled me aside into some trees and kissed me. I can remember thinking "Ooh, we're kissing like they do on TV". Then we walked to his house and watched Star Wars, and neither of us ever mentioned it again. He went to the States for the summer and by the time he came back I had a boyfriend, so our love affair lasted approximately five minutes!

Doing a backwards somersault. This is a strange one. The reason it's a top memory for me is that there's no WAY I could do a backwards somersault now - but I used to do gymnastics, and I did them all the time. So in my memory, I know what it's like to jump into the air, rotate confidently and land with a flourish. But sadly, only in my memory!!

Sophie's Books:

Madeline Wickham's Books:

Desirable Residence (1995)
The Tennis Party (1996)
The Gatecrasher (1998)
Cocktails for Three (2000)
Swimming Pool Sunday (2004)
The Wedding Girl (2004)
Sleeping Arrangements (2004)

All info can be found on Sophie's Official Website

Friday, 11 September 2009

The Beach House

Title: The Beach House
Author: Jane Green
Publisher: Penguin
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 4/5

Sixty-five-year-old Nan Powell has lived comfortably and happily in Nantucket since the suicide of her husband, Everett, so she is thrown for a loop when she learns that she is in danger of losing her beloved house. After weighing her options, Nan decides to turn her home into a bed-and-breakfast. The guests she gets for the summer are all at a crossroads in their lives in one way or another. Daniel has just separated from his wife and is facing something he has denied for years; Daff is recovering from the heartbreak of a divorce and getting a much-needed break from her anger-filled 13-year-old daughter; and Nan’s son Michael is on the run from a disastrous affair. Nan finds herself opening up to her guests and enjoying their company, but she is shocked when she discovers a person close to one of them has a startling connection to her. Peopled with likable, flawed, realistic characters and moving seamlessly between them.

I loved this book! It was one of those perfect beach reads, no pun intended. I wasn't at the beach, but on my couch here in rainy Scotland. I had been eying this at the book store for weeks, and finally just grabbed it. I'm so glad I did. There were many stories in one. It's not just about 2 people, but of many all drawn and connected by this beach house. Makes me want to live in New England. Very enjoyable read! I'll be looking for more Jane Green novels!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Giveaway: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

I am so excited about this book! As I was getting ready to buy myself a copy, I realized we haven't had a giveaway for awhile here on The Sweet Bookshelf! I want to give one lucky reader out there a copy of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell!

What do you have to do to be entered you ask? This is easy!
Just leave a comment with your email address!

If you would like an extra chance at winning this novel:
+1 become a follower and let me know about it.
+1 if you advertise this giveaway on your blog, either on your sidebar or a post!

Please let me know all in one comment please! Good luck!! Contest ends Thurs Sept 17th

Title: Julie and Julia
Author: Julie Powell

Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell's attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 days. The result is a masterful medley of Bridget Jones' Diary meets Like Water for Chocolate, mixed with a healthy dose of original wit, warmth, and inspiration that sets this memoir apart from most tales of personal redemption.

When we first meet Julie, she's a frustrated temp-to-perm secretary who slaves away at a thankless job, only to return to an equally demoralizing apartment in the outer boroughs of Manhattan each evening. At the urging of Eric, her devoted and slightly geeky husband, she decides to start a blog that will chronicle what she dubs the "Julie/Julia Project." What follows is a year of butter-drenched meals that will both necessitate the wearing of an unbearably uncomfortable girdle on the hottest night of the year, as well as the realization that life is what you make of it and joy is not as impossible a quest as it may seem, even when it's -10 degrees out and your pipes are frozen.

Inspired and encouraging, Julie and Julia is a unique opportunity to join one woman's attempt to change her life, and have a laugh, or ten, along the way.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Bookish Questions

Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Love them all. I judge a book by it's cover, so whatever cover I like best I'll buy! If it's a series that I adore, I need the hardback!

Waterstones, Borders or Amazon?
I love all three. There is a Waterstone's in my town of East Kilbride so I usually go there. If I can't find something I'll go to Amazon (a lot of US released books don't make it to the UK). When I am in Glasgow for the day I always stop by Border's and read and pick up some books there.

Bookmark or dog-ear?
Bookmark, ALWAYS. I don't care if it's a band-aid or a piece of toilet paper. I always use a bookmark.

Amazon or bricks-and-mortar?
Love the actual store. The atmosphere is what I'm looking for. I can spend hours there.

Alphabetize by author, or alphabetize by title, or random?
Random, by size. Tallest to shortest. Unless they are part of a series, then they have to be neighbors.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep! Always. If I feel like doing some spring cleaning, I donate to the library what I don't want to keep on my shelf any longer.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?
Keep! Why would you want to throw away the dust jacket? It is the cover. When I read it though, I take the dust jacket off and set it aside so I don't ruin it.

Short story or novel?
Novels, definitely. I’m never against a good short story, I enjoy many...but I really like series where I can enjoy a long adventure with the characters.

Buy or borrow?

Both. I love to buy, and I love the library. I give myself a set budget per month of only £20 (3 books) to buy books. Anything else I want to read, I get at the library or I save for next month's £20!

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?

All three. I love to see what other's are reading. My sister has a knack for picking THE BEST books. Anything she likes, I know I need to read. I love reviews that don't give spoilers away. I love browsing. I will go into the book store, and just let the books call to me! Browsing is my favorite. I find the best books that way.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Both. I love tidy endings. It's nice to have a resolve. But, in The Hunger Games Trilogy there is some cliffhangers! I hate having to wait for the next book. But it's part of the enjoyment. Dissecting the book, and form your own theories and wait to see what happens!

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
Nighttime. I love to read before bed. I have trouble sleeping also, and so it's company for the long nights.

Stand-alone or series?
Series all the way! I love stories that can continue! I love stand alone books as well. Just because it's a series, doesn't mean I'll like it. Shannon Hale has a great way of tidy endings in stand alone books.

Favorite series?
The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, Fablehaven

Favourite children’s book?
Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg and Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand both by Gail Carson Levine.

Favourite YA book?
The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Favourite book of which nobody else has heard of?
The Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull, I am so surprised that no one I know has heard of it! IT IS SOOO GOOD!!!!!

Favourite books of all time?
Ella Enchated by Gail Carson Levine, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, ANYTHING by Sophie Kinsella!

Favourite book to recommend to an 11-year-old?
Wings by Aprilynne Pike

What are you reading right now?
The Beach House by Jane Green

What are you reading next?
The Flood Child by Emily Diamond

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

How Saying Yes to Depression Leads Us Into Healing

Title: How Saying Yes to Depression Leads Us Into Healing
Author: Melissa Sarazin
Publisher: LuLu
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 3/5

A special thank you to the Author, Melissa Sarazin, for sending me her book to review!

What do you do when you are half way around the world away from your family and you discover you are suffering from depression? Where do you go to get help? Do you run back home? Or would that just complicate the situation more? This is the story of one woman's journey of self discovery. What made her finally realize that she was mentally unbalanced? What choices did she have? And which ones did she choose? Travel with her from the depths of despair as she takes each step toward getting back to a healthy, empowered, and magic filled life.

This book has an Eat, Pray, Love feeling (which I love!) I know the feeling of being in another country, with no family, and loads of changes...that is happening to me this very minute! This book isn't just for those who are depressed but those who want to make changes in their lives. Who might be unhappy with the way things are going, and/or the feelings they have on a regular basis.

I enjoyed the emphasis on journal writing because I have been keeping a journal since I was 11 and have recently stopped, because everything seemed to be coming out negative. It's a short book. Worth the read. If I were you, I would pick it up. It's MORE than a self help book. There are loads of stories and the author's own experiences...which make it a great read, and not just something to help.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Catching Fire

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

OH MY GOSH! This book is so amazing! It is EVERYTHING I hoped it would be. I've been waiting 11 months for this book to come out, and finally it is here. I woke up and was waiting outside the book shop before they opened. I was getting my copy first!

There is so much action, politics, and love in this book! Katniss & Peeta are my favorites hero's to date in ANY book I've ever read. I don't want to spoil ANYTHING for you, so I won't say any more. If you have not read The Hunger Games, NOW IS THE TIME! You're sure to LOVE this series as much as I do! I can't wait for book 3! I'll go crazy with waiting!!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Movie Reviews

I know we all enjoying reading. That is what this blog is about. My husband loves movies as much as I love books. How about any of you?

My husband has a new Movie Review Blog:

Let me tell you about it! My husband Luis, is 37 yrs old Euro-Latino. He was born and raised in Venezuela but his parents are Portuguese and live there now. He now lives in Scotland (with me) working for a computer company. He has a great taste in movies, and has a knack for picking good ones! We love going to the movies on the weekend. Luis has to have his popcorn, diet Pepsi, and a hot dog. We enjoy the whole experience of the cinema. Please join him at
35mm Reviews!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Why Read The Classics?

I have asked my friend Heidi from Austen Knows Best to be my guest blogger today! Thanks for being with us today on The Sweet Bookshelf Heidi!!

Long-time friend Mary—I can’t believe we’ve known each other for 18 years!—has asked me to write a guest post for her blog The Sweet Bookshelf. I’m honored and thrilled to be asked, and I smile at my topic: The Importance of Reading the Classics. I’m not sure she knew just exactly what she was getting into by asking not only a librarian, but one who also was an English major undergraduate. I certainly have my views on this, and I am delighted to share them!

To start off with, I should probably warn that I am two-sided on this issue. Not that I haven’t made up my mind about it. I just have two views which, without closer inspection, would look to be in complete opposition. Yes, that is right. I am for the reading of classics, and I am against the reading of classics.

Let me define my definition of a classic, since varying teachers, professors, librarians, authors, and others of the book world tend to alter and contradict what they believe a classic is. When I refer to reading the classics, I prefer the old-fashioned notion which means novels written prior to at least 1950 (though preferably before the 20th century) which have stood the test of time. They did not peter out into obscurity, and they are fairly accessible compared to their distant relations that struggled for breath and recognition as the decades wore on. That right there provides for a very large collection, which is why I do not like to categorize books from the last 50ish years because to me they are contemporary and have not been around long enough to prove their status as classic.

This, of course, is not to be confused with my phrasing “What a classic!” when referring to books that portray or convey various things in ways that greatly appeal to me. Some examples: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I do realize those are all Juvenile-YA titles, but that’s the kick I’ve been on for the last few years…or my whole life.

So with the clarification of classic, I can move on to why yes and why no. First, the yes.
These books have stood the test of time and I think that helps them deserve some consideration on our part as to why and how some of them have. Why did people keep reading these titles? What fascinated (or disgusted) people over the years? There must be something about these books that kept them being talked of—even if it was from complete hatred of the book!

The discussions that spawn from reading classics are another great reason to read. Every one has an opinion. Why not share it? Classics, having been around for so long, have a much better chance at being read by more people around the world over a longer period of time. You can not only read what someone thought of Dickens’ novels in his day, but in all the 180+ years since. The connective discussions are wonderful to take part in and to learn from.

I personally find it amazing that literature which has been around for decades or even centuries can and is related to society and circumstances in our day. I have always been a fan of universal themes, and classics abound in them. It is probably one reason they have stood the test of time. You can see books in our generation that have those and are heading down the road to eventual classics status (like the aforementioned The Giver). Connecting with others through reading is one of the main reasons, I think, that we read—and classics provide an excellent resource for us to do so.

As for my opposition to reading the classics? Well, that goes more in hand with forcing anyone to read what they do not enjoy. (Shannon Hale has an excellent take on this, and I mostly rallied to her cause and views when I first heard her speak of it in 2006.) Where would this happen? School, of course. Poor teachers who must reach a broad range of students and select books that might appeal to all. If it didn’t appeal to you, tough luck. I fortunately lucked out in most of the choices my teachers came up with. Half of them were books I had planned to read on my own anyhow, so it gave me an excuse to read them sooner. Plus, I was a new discoverer of classics and hungered for more of this genre. Up to that point, I got my reading recommendations from “Wishbone,” so I was ecstatic to have my teachers introduce more options to me.

But what of my poor classmates? Those who preferred other genres and those who (gasp!) didn’t like to read? Those books were nightmares for them! They didn’t understand the language, whereas I—being raised reading King James’ English—wasn’t phased by it. Plots were too intricate, characters were too many, and outcomes often made them feel as if they’d wasted days of their lives to end up with nothing fulfilling or uplifting. In short, they just didn’t “get it.” And because they hated the experience, they could not form any opinions of the book, only opinions of the forced reading of it.

Remember how I said the classics have universal themes that bind people together in their discussions of them? That is still needed, and for that I understand, sanction, and herald the importance of having people read the classics. But give them more of a choice! Tailor to their needs until they’ve acquired a taste for it. You don’t give a starving man a banquet for his first meal. A bit of bread and water, some meat eventually. Work him up to it. The same should be done when getting people to read the classics. In the library world, we call it Reader’s Advisory. It’s many a librarian’s hope to work people up from the “lower” books (which serve their purpose) to the more intellectually stimulating with their universal themes that await discussion.

Thousands upon thousands of classics, and yet we still recommend some of the most droning, depressing, drudging works that could exist among the classics. I guarantee there will be any number of classics that someone will dislike and even hate in their lifetime. I certainly have my fair share. We want people to discover those; they must discern for themselves, and sometimes those are the ones we can talk most passionately about. But give readers stuff they will enjoy at the beginning. When a baby first eats solid foods, we don’t force down their throat the stuff they spit back out. We give them something else more palatable to them. But as the child gets older, we are more firm and insist they eat the less delectable when we know it’s good for them. They may not like it, but they’ll benefit from it. It is the same with the classics, and other literature, too.

Along the same food analogy, though, keep giving them choices. And rewards. I hated Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, but I got a lot from it and right after was rewarded in getting to read Shelley’s Frankenstein. I had my choice between Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Toni Morrison’s Beloved (though not my definition of classic, it was considered as so by others and still required reading that summer). Though I was pretty sure I’d be rather bored by both, I knew I could handle the content of the former better than the latter. As I was taught more of the classics, I was also taught how to pick and choose what I would gain most from.

Eventually, with good introduction and training, you send the reader off on their own to make reading choices for themselves. If they do not like the spinach books, they do not have to read them. But a wise reader will know that the carrot books are also nutritious and personally enjoyable to them. Some readers will go for the all-junk-food book diet. They will find enjoyment, no doubt. And can even sustain life on it. But it will not be as full and fulfilling a life without a well-rounded, balanced book diet that includes the classics.

What do YOU think?!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Vintage
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 5

This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible, but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare's struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

I just finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife about 15 min ago, and I am in awe. Sheer awe. This book is a work of art really. There were times when I felt like I was peering into the lives of normal people (like me) with all the mundane tasks, and heartache's that life dishes out. Yet this tale is so unique and believable with it's extraordinary circumstances. The writing is in a class of it's own. It is beautiful. An elegy to love and loss. Amazing.

I can't wait to go see the movie. I'm off tomorrow, I think I'll go by myself, and enjoy this beautiful story of Henry and Clare.
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