Friday, June 29, 2012

Audiobook Week: Listen Up!

Last day of Audiobook Week, hosted by Devourer of Books. The final discussion topic is:
Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Find reviews? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

Right now, I get audiobooks from two locations:
  • The library- great source, and great price (FREE!!). Mostly, I get them from the Overdrive system three of my library memberships offer. Not sure if libraries you use (or can use), go HERE, click on the library search tab and enter your city or zip code.
  • I only recently signed up, and its a great value for money. You can get one credit a month for $15, which is almost 25% of buying your favorite book on cd, at the list price. Plus you don't have to import multiple cds into Itunes or your favorite music software. Only downside is they are currently owned by, so if you try to avoid Amazon, that could be an issue for you.
My first audiobook purchases I got were The Harry Potter series on CD and the Chronicles of Narnia series on CD (highly recommend both, by the way), I purchased mostly via the warehouse stores (Costco and Sam's Club), but also from Barnes and Nobles and Borders. Audiobooks on cd are still pretty high priced, but if you want hardcopies of them, try joining a warehouse store, or look out for coupons from your favorite bookstore. If you did join a warehouse store, you will likely still saving money buying one or two audiobooks, even after factoring in the membership cost (ex. Narnia set- list $75.00, WS price~ $40.00, Sam's membership- $40). Just, sayin'.

As for finding books at the library, mostly I consider books I'm already checking to see if they carry yet. But also ones which covers and titles get my attention, and then which blurbs then sound interesting. Those don't cost anything, so I'm not as picky for what I try as when I look at Audible. But that's how I found Finnikin of the Rock.

For reviews on audiobooks, I have trouble remembering which blogs do audiobook reviews. Usually, I refer to the two I do manage to remember, who review audiobooks regularly: Devourer of Books and Book Journey. Otherwise its been luck of the draw if I remember where I saw a particular audiobook review. Hopefully by the time my next credit rolls around, I can remember all the new audiobook junkies I've found this week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Audiobook Week- Mid Week Meme

Day three of Audiobook week hosted by Devourer of Books. Just a quick run through since I need to head off for work.

Current/most recent audiobook:

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, Narrated by Susan Duerden


It is an interesting story premise, but I am finding that I need to do something where little thinking (ie. no report or blog writing) to listen to it.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I am so glad I listened to Sheila and Jen's recommendation of this one!

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

I really enjoyed John Pruden, who narrates The Sisters Brothers. He had the perfect sound for an old West set novel.

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

1776 written and narrated by David McCullough

Your audio dream team (what book or author would you LOVE to see paired with a certain narrator, can already exist or not):

Keith David narrating Ragtime by Doctorow would be pretty grand, at least in my head.

Review: Gilt by Katherine Longshore #audiobookweek

Gilt by Katherine Longshore
Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
8hrs, 46mins
young adult, historical fiction
Audible purchase
4 stars

When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty is now caught between two men - the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Gilt is told through Katherine (Kitty) Tylney, a close friend and distant cousin of Catherine Howard, in the home of the Duchess of Norfolk. Now I did a quick internet search for Kitty, and she is a real figure, as she appears in the documents of the trial of Catherine Howard, but I wasn't able to find anything I did not know from reading Gilt. Suffice to say, it seems the documentary record for Kitty Tylney is a bit lacking. This, in my opinion makes Kitty an ideal narrator for the story of Catherine Howard. Longshore can play with her story more, while sticking to the facts as they pertain to the major players. Kitty was very believable, The history seems sound from what I remember of the last Six Wives book I read. Longshore's version of Catherine is a bit more conniving than I am used to seeing her, it was more what I would expect in a novel about Anne Boleyn. Thomas Culpepper had that same sleazy, skin crawling manner that his character had in The Tudors series. Neither was depicted in a sympathetic light, which is to be expected. However for a unique view, Catherine was depicted as the main architect of her downfall.

Jennifer Ikeda is a fine narrator for Gilt, she brings in a little bit of an accent. It took me a little be to get used to her voice, but looking at her bio, it makes me wonder if it was because she's Californian. It may be all of my BBCAmerica and british movie watching that has tuned my ear to catch the difference from a real accent. After a little while, whatever issues I had resolved themselves, and I enjoyed listening to her narrate Kitty's world. I would definitely keep my eye out for other books she narrates.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So you want to review audiobooks....

Day 2 in Devourer of Books Audiobook Week. Today's topic is:
Discuss the essentials of audiobook reviewing. What do you make sure to include? What do you want to see when you read other people’s reviews?

In audiobook reviews, I try to cover the same things I'd address in a normal book review- what I liked and didn't like about the book. But since it is an audiobook, I also make sure I address the performance. I'll mention what worked for me, and what didn't. I also try address if the I think the performance may have influenced the rating I give, and if I think the print edition might be a better route to go.

When I read other peoples' reviews of audiobooks, I look for similar thing. What they thought of the story and what they thought of the narrator. Both of these elements are need for audiobook reviews. Just like an actor can have a great performance in a bad movie, or a great screenplay can be performed by badly cast actors, the same is true with audiobooks. You don't really want to listen to some actress who sounds like she's 12 narrating an adult romance novel, do you? That's the kind of thing a reviewer can cover, which might not be quite so obvious in a library or Audible sample of an audiobook.

Is there anything you like to see in an audiobook review?

Podcast- Poem of the Day

Poem of the Day podcast by Sonibyte

I have been listening to podcasts since I got my first Ipod seven years ago. If you aren't familiar with the term, a podcast is basically a radio type of show, distributed via a syndicated feed. Some are more like news shows, some specialize on a certain topic (ie. Tudor history or the Whedonverse), and some are like blog or vlog posts.

Then there are some where literature in the public domain is recorded for listeners. Poem of the Day is one of these types of podcasts (although it is not limited to the public domain works). Every day, subscribers can download a new poem for your enjoyment. I have never been one who was very big on reading poetry, but this was a great way to listen to a variety of poets. The recordings are very professional sounding, but it is of no cost to you. It includes poems from Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Shel Silverstein, and I believe even some Shakespeare has been included in years past.

Interested in trying it? You can subscribe through your favorite podcatcher, or RSS reader through the link above. If you use I-Tunes, search for Poem of the Day in the Itunes Store, and look for the one by Sonibyte. Or you can copy the RSS link above, then under Advanced> Subscribe to Podcast, and paste it into that box.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

The Rose of Sebastopol: A Novel by Katharine McMahon
Historical Fiction- Crimean War
Audiobook, read by Josephine Bailey
Borrowed from the library
In 1854, beautiful, adventurous Rosa Barr travels to the Crimean battlefield with Florence Nightingale's nursing corps. A headstrong idealist, longing to break out of the rigid confines of life as a young lady, Rosa is determined to make a difference in the world. For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa's cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from her fiance, Henry-a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon her arrival at his lodgings, she makes a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared without a trace. Following the trail of her elusive cousin, Mariella's epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol, where she encounters Rosa's dashing stepbrother, a reckless cavalry officer whose complex past-and future-is inextricably bound up with her own. As Mariella's quest leads her deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, her ordered world begins to crumble, and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness, and love.

I enjoyed the story that is woven through The Rose of Sebastopol. We get a sense of what people at home heard and thought of the war, but also what it was like living and working in the war zone. It is told in dual narrative, with the primary narrative told during the Crimean War, and the secondary narrative consists of Mariella's memories of past events. If you have trouble following multiple timelines, this book may give you difficulty. Part of Mariella's tale of past events can be of her life just before she heads to Italy, from when she meets Henry, and later when she meets Rosa. Eventually the "present" timeline, and the rememberances of life just before she leaves for Italy catch up together, so there is one less time frame to keep track of. Since I had an audiobook, I missed having a printed copy that I could flip back and check at times.

One biggest problem with this audiobook how the chapters end. I would be sitting, listening happily along, and expect the chapter to continue, except it goes launching into a new one. I am not sure if the author wrote it that way, or if the narrator read it in a way where the phrasing sounded like the chapter should continue instead of stopping. This might not have bothered me much, except that I would say at least half of the chapters in the novel ended that way. The other major problem I had with the book is Mariella's voice. When she would get to thinking about how Henry is, or where Rosa was or some decision she has to make, she starts to sound whiny, weak and spoiled. I simply can't stand whiny, weak female lead characters, and this began to get to me. It may have been exaggerated, since I was listening to the book, but not seeing it in print, its hard to say how much. It may also be done to exaggerate the difference between Rosa and Mariella, since Rosa is decisive and fearless, but if this is the case, it could have been done so Mariella didn't sound so weak.

Some of the events covered in the last disk or two seemed hurried, and thrown in almost like an afterthought when compared to the long period in getting to the Crimea and looking for Rosa there. Some of these events would have made the story more interesting, in terms of the characters and their relationships with each other, but being hurried in near the end, they felt more contrived.

In the end, I rode the middle, giving this audiobook 2.5 stars. If you wish to try the novel, I would recommend you skip the audiobook, and try the printed version.

Audiobook Week: 2011-2012, Your Audiobook Year

Devourer of Books is hosting Audiobook Week, for June is Audio Book Month. There are daily discussion topics and giveaways for participation. Check out her blog for linky lists of participants.

Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.
I've been listening to audiobooks for a while, but only in the last year have I been using them to discover new titles. In high school, I tried some for the library for the required summer reading lists, but these were cassette tape times for audiobooks, and the ones I found were selection from books, and not even an abridged copy. When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out, I started buying them for the books I already had read, and enjoyed. Not long after I heard about Librivox and downloaded a few from there. But it was this past fall and winter when I started borrowing titles I had not read before from the library.

I can drive a lot for my work, anywhere from half an hour, to two hour one way commutes. I also tend to focus on my work better when I am listening to something. So instead of my current music playlist, I started listening to audiobooks during my drive and research trips. They are great for get a little reading in while having to do something else, and many times the wait for the audiobooks were much less than the ebook copies. Some had been books I'd been waiting for. Some that I've checked out are ones I heard about on blogs, or sounded interesting, so I just figured What the Heck... and checked them out. This randomly trying various books has let me try various authors, or genres I don't really read (contemporary, for example).

I'll be posting more discussion topics, and a few audiobook reviews throughout the week, so I hope you check them out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ALA Edition of Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a traveling meme. Burton Book Review has been hosting it for the month of June.

ALA (American Library Association) Annual Conference is being held this year in Anaheim, CA. It is open to the public, and since it is only an hour from where I live, I decided to go for a day. Boy was it worth it!

I was hoping for an ARC. But they had finished copies for her signing, super cheap! That made the whole trip and parking madness worth it! I probably should try to finish The Tiger's Wife first.

Finished copies:
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - signed (I wasn't there Friday when she signed the arcs for the second book and I didn't ask if any were left)
Faery Tales & Nightmares by Melissa Marr - signed
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - signed (I already had, but unsigned. And it was super cheap)
A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd
LA Theater Works productions of Romeo and Juliet, Copenhagen by Michael Frayn and Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler

Advance Read copies:
The Diviners by Libba Bray - Signed
Wards of Faerie by Terry Brooks
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway
The Mongoliad by Bear, Bear, Brassey, deBirmingham, Moo, Stephenson and Teppo
Sanctum: Guards of the Shadowlands by Sarah Fine
The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr - signed
Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (sampler)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Taini Taylor (preview)

Assorted swag. I also bought a package of Banned Book Week bookmarks to giveaway during Banned Book Week

The ALA has their schedule of the Midwinter and Annuals through 2017, so if one of them is coming around your way, I would highly recommend it. Exhibit only passes are cheap and gets you into all the booths. And most of the arc signings are free (Penguin was giving the Prodigy arcs as a gift with purchase of Legend for the signing, which is why you don't see it on my list. I just got Legend & had it signed a couple months ago, and the price here wasn't quite cheap enough for me to repurchase).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mount TBR Challenge Checkpoint #2

Soo... I've still not made it to far up my Mt. Vancouver challenge. I've only got to book 5 of 25. Which would be 962.4 miles of the 4,812 miles elevation. But I'm hoping I can have some lazy time with a few in a read-along or two this summer.

And now, a little poem using the tiles read, and up to five extra words:
At The Kingmaking of The Princes of Ireland, The Book Thief was Catching Fire from A Clash of Kings.

Mt. Vancouver - Completed:
1. The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick
2. Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
6. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
7. Kindred by Octavia Butler
8. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
9. Naked Heat by Richard Castle

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games series #2
young adult, dystopian, post-apocalyptic
My own purchase
4.5 stars

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.

I really loved this book. I stayed up until 2am Saturday night just so I could finish it, and it was really hard to not start Mockingjay Sunday morning (two library books told me I shouldn't). I was glad to see Gale again (Yay, Gale!), and how life back in District 12 had changed for Katniss after the Games. Becoming a nationwide celebrity, means that she has to watch how she acts, which is difficult for her since her previous constants in her life have changed. Becoming a symbol for the rebellions is unexpected for Katniss, and trying do her best to discourage the rebellions proves to be a harder task than competing in the Games.

Katniss still maintains her strength in protecting those she cares about throughout the novel. One thing that struck me in this is how Collins did a bit of role reversal in Catching Fire. It seems like frequently in novels, the serious romantic feelings tend to originate in the female character, but in The Hunger Games series, it the male leads that come into their feelings first, and Katniss is blindsided when she learns of their feelings. I just found it interesting, it fits well for the completely un-boy crazy Katniss.

The story will keep you reading with it's plot twists, especially when you get to the last half of the novel. The worse thing is it has one of those cliff hanger endings (although, it may have been before that was the in thing to do), so you may have the urge to start straight in with Mockingjay.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just a note

Things may look odd, but it is just because I've been trying to set up a free blogger template. One that turns out not to work at all in the current system. Please, excuse any wonkyness

Friday, June 15, 2012

Review redux: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Young Adult, Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic
My own purchase

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I previously talked about The Hunger Games last fall for Banned Books Week. You can see my previous thoughts here.

I enjoyed this as much the second time around. Collins built a great world- regions of the former United States rising up against the new central government, and failing. Part of the punishment inflicted on the districts is to pick two teens from each, to perform in a battle to the death, every year. Tied with keeping the poorer districts poor, and the excesses and extravagances of the Capitol, Panem is cruel and vindictive government.

Katniss is an ideal modern heroine. She is smart and dependable, taking responsibility for making sure her family is fed since she was eleven. At sixteen, when we enter her world, she is not vain, and does not care about having kids. She just wants to survive. She can use the stereotypical girl behavior, if it suits her needs, but it isn't her.

I still think the movie makers did an awesome job adapting the novel. With the reread, and having just started Catching Fire, I think I get why they changed some of the most noticeable things. I look forward to the DVD release in August so I can compare some more.

TGIF: Most valuable book

Forgive me for two memes in two days, but I'd been waiting for Book Blogger Hop to have a question like this, but found another one asking it! I will have small review up later today.

This Friday's Question:
Most Valuable Book: From your personal collection of books, which ones hold the most value to you - is it signed by the author? or maybe it's your favorite story of all time? Share it with us.

For purely historical value:

Surpised? If you have trouble reading it, it is Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. My uncle lived in San Francisco for a while, and this was one of the books he had. It is a second edition of the Foreign Language Press from 1967, and has a US Distributor: China Books & Periodicals stamp on the title page. My mom has no idea why her brother had it, but this one was well traveled and I think he was the history buff of her family. I've never read it. I just like it for the age, condition and reflection of the history of the time.

For signed books:
My first first signed copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I loved the book, and was so glad to get it signed.

Honorable mention:
1964 hardcover of Gone with the Wind
three Shakespeare plays publsihed by Macmillan between 1900-1925
Shakespeare Birthday Book published 1929

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is runn by Crazy for Books. This week's question is: Do you belong to a book club, either online or in real life?

A: I am trying to get a book club started on an art forum that I visit. Several people were really keen on suggesting books for it, but so far they haven't been keen on participating. I don't belong to a real life book club. I wouldn't know the first thing about how to find one in my area, other than vague ones at the local Barnes and Nobles or the summer only one at the library. And then I would be very stubborn is a book was chose that I refuse to read. So there might be problems (my neighbor, who does some book clubs, told me I should join them when I told her I don't like being forced to read certain books).

Friday, June 8, 2012

#ArmchairBEA Day 5- Experts Say

Its the last day of ArmchairBEA, for today, the prompt is:
Today's topic is Ask The Experts. In your post, ask the visitors to your blog for blogging advice. What did you always want to know about blogging but were afraid to ask? Now is the time! Alternatively, if you've been blogging for awhile, you've probably learned a thing or two. Whether you stumbled upon a something that makes blogging easier or made a mistake you'd never want anyone to repeat, share your experience and wisdom with others.
I've been mucking around with websites for my hobbies for eight years now, and livejournal use for nearly as long, so I will provide tips on things I've learned and noticed over the years.

  • Learn basic html- The 'What you see is what you get' (WYSIWYG) editors of Blogger, Livejournal, Tumblr, and Wordpress are limited in their usage. So much can be done with html, if you only bother to learn it. It is really easy, and it makes your blog 100% customizable, especially when you learn about Custom Style Sheets (CSS). If you don't know it, or need a refresher, Lissa Explains it All is a fantastic and easy to use resource. Also, finding a book on the subject at your local book store is an excellent offline resource. A bonus is, that once you learn some html, it is a skill set you can list on your resume.
  • Do not imbed music into your blog & limit flash and java script usage- Probably one of the most complained about things I've heard from the dolling community on website design is auto-play music. They are large files, and slow down loading speed. Same with using too many javascripts and flash additions. If I can't get a blog to load reasonably on my dsl connection, its not worth revisiting.
  • THOU SHALT NOT HOTLINK- Hotlinking is bandwidth theft. Everytime you load a page, bandwidth is used to display the content. Some people pay for their webhosting, or upgraded Photobucket accounts, so they are paying real money for a certain amount of storage and bandwidth. You know how Blogger has the "Insert Image> Or add an image from the web" option? Do not use this unless the image is in an account you control (ie. your Picasa, where all your Blogger pictures are kept). It will just use the link you provide and not reupload it. There are many people, if they find some to be hotlinking (or by default have coded into their site), will upload at best a graphic declaring the using this image to be a bandwidth thief. At worse, some use some extremely Not Safe for Work images. You really don't want those showing up on your blog. If you want to link to book covers, Goodreads has some awesome blogger/website tools. Open a book's page on Goodreads, and look in the sidebar until you find the 'Share this Book' section. Click 'Your Website', and pick any of the top four selections. That way, if someone enjoys your review, they can click on it, and add it to their Goodreads list.
  • Don't Spam your Twitter followers- If people follow your twitter, they know when you are hosting giveaways, hops or when you are updating. There is no need to retweet every tweet made to advertise you event. Those are to get the attention of people who don't follow you already. Don't constantly post links to buy stuff at amazon, every pintrest post, or every single Formspring post. Have you every had 5+ people you follow on twitter answering Formsquare questions at the same time? Then you know what I'm talking about.
  • Less is more in sidebars- Do you really need ~all~ of those things in your sidebar(s)? If your sidebars are twice as long as the content on your blog, they are way too long. Tags/Labels are essential for readers to find certain older posts, but if the vast majority of the ones you use are only used once, you might want to reorganize them. Blog buttons are super huge in the book blogs, when compared to the pixel art world. Pixel artists use 130px x 55px and 88px x 31px as the most common standard size. And they are plenty big enough. That being said, all other advertising images (for hops, readalongs, etc) should be reduced in size as well. Limit your blog rolls, put them on a seperate page, or better yet, make a twitter list. Make the things for following your blog (twitter, goodreads links, RSS subscriptions, GFC, etc) in a place of priority at the top of a sidebar, and not halfway down the page.
Well, this turned into more of a novel than I intended to be. The TL;DR of it: If people can't load the page, they can't read the blog

Thursday, June 7, 2012

#ArmchairBEA Day 4- Beyond the blog

So, you enjoy writing do you? Would you like to be involved elsewhere on the interwebs or possibly start writing for your local paper? Perhaps you'd simply like to start drawing an income from your blog? Today we will be sharing tips that will help you move your blog forward or perhaps your own personal goals of writing and making an income from what you love to do. Today we'd love you to share your top tips for getting beyond your blog! Have you done any freelance writing? Are you monetizing your blog and how so? How do you make connections outside the book blog community on the internet? If none of these apply we'd love for you to share a fun aspect about your blog or life that may be completely separate from books!

This is a tough topic for me. I never liked writing in school; never wrote in a journal or diary. I certainly never wanted to write a novel or other creative writing piece. Monetization of my blog, I don't do that. 1) As I still use the free blogger website, there is no cost to run it. I can't justify monetizing a hobby site where I have no out of pocket cost. 2) Successfully monetizing a blog is really hard. A hosting account averages around $100 a year. Browsers have ad-blocking add ons and people read blogs in RSS readers, so unless an add is in the body of the blog post, they won't see it. So other than becoming an affiliate with some store that has a web presence, How likely is it that I would recoop 25% of my hosting? Not good. Perhaps when I get my blog transferred to my hosting (I do have it for hobby stuff) I will reconsider it. One perk that my webhost offers (others may, but I'm not familiar with them), is the option to donate directly to the cost of hosting the site. I have belonged to a couple of pixel art forums who use the same hosting company, and both have used this discreet button:

This is a handy tool, because if someone really cares for the welfare of your blog/website, and wants to help you cover the cost, they can click the link and donate via paypal. That money goes directly to your account statement with the hosting company (Dreamhost in this case). It can only be used to cover the cost of your web host. If you self host, check the information from your hosting company to see if they offer this.

And now for something unexpected...

Something I do (largely) outside of books and blogs. I'll touch on two of my other hobbies:

- Pixel Art: If you were around and saw my last Top Ten Tuesday post, I mentioned I hang out at DeviantArt sometimes. About eight years ago, I wandered into the pixel art-dolling commuting (headed there from a Harry Potter fan forum of all places). I learned how to make little graphics using programs like Paint or GIMP. There is a whole world of digital art out there. I mostly stuck with non-isometric pixel art and digital dolls (if you are familiar with ball-jointed-dolls and how people paint and make outfits for them, its similar idea, just digital). If you are interested, you can see a few at My DeviantArt.

- Genealogy: The year I graduated high school, my dad and I started working on researching our family tree. We started with getting pictures and stories from my grandparents, and then we visited the LDS Church's family history centers (associated with their church locations around the country) and the few online resources there were at the time. Now, LDS church has many of their resources available online at Family Search, for free. Every so often I will help with indexing, which is what moves this great resource. I do use Ancestry from time to time. From what I've found, my most recent immigrant ancestor came over to the US just before Ellis Island opened. And most of the rest have been here (US and Canada) since the American Revolution, or before. If anyone wants to geek out on genealogy, we can talk in comments.

These may work their way into the blog. I'm trying to think of a layout design. And I'm thinking of reading some history associated with periods that affected my ancestors, like the influenze pandemic of 1918. But not much.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Networking:: Armchair BEA

Day 3's topic is networking off line. I'm afraid I'm not very good at this. I met a couple people at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books who are out in the Inland Empire area, where I live, and I've run into them at a few events out this way, once I learned about this great place called Mrs. Nelson's, one being one of the librarians for a near by city system. But mostly this is to recognize them and say hi. As I mentioned in my introduction, I am terribly introverted, so striking up a conversation is not natural to me (I never know what to say to the authors at the signings, especially when I haven't read their books yet).

My city is not a very literary city. We don't have any independent book stores that sell new books, except for the highly specialized ones (ie. church related book store) which I have no interest in. We have one Barnes and Noble, and they almost never have any author signings, and usually its author of books I have no interest in, or a local author published by a small publisher, that I never hear about their book again after the event has passed. I think the most interesting literary thing was probably when the local museum opened up an exhibit on Rin Tin Tin to tie in with the release of Susan Orlean's book, since he was from the area. And again with the whole introvertedness, I've not tried attending their book clubs.

My local library systems don't do very many events with authors, so I've been heading to the Ontario City Library, who has held a couple YA-MG events in the last month, and Mrs. Nelson's Bookstore. Not the most convenient, but sure beats heading to the Grove where it seems like most author events are held.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ArmchairBEA- Best of 2012

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is Best of 2012- favorites so far or hopeful favorites to come. I'm not sure just how many of these are actually new this year (not many I expect), so its just based on what's been read.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) When She Woke The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking The Book Thief Starcrossed (Starcrossed, #1) Legend (Legend, #1)
Finnikin Of The Rock Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia, #1)

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of these books. I already recommended Starcrossed to others, who were equally engrossed in the story.

The following books are expected out by the end of the year, or came out this year and I've not gotten a chance to read it yet, I expect great things from them

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2) Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) Reached (Matched, #3) The Necromancer's Grimoire (The Elysium Texts Series, #2)
The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, #8) The Song of AchillesDreamless (Starcrossed, #2)

Leave me a link if you don't log in with a way that provides it, so I can return the visit. Have fun at the twitter party tonight. I won't be able to attend it most likely, as I will be going to the Fierce Reads tour stop at Mrs. Nelson's tonight.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Armchair BEA: Introduction

I decided to give Armchair BEA a try this year, even though I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing. So we all will be finding out together. Well, I do know it does not involve an insanely expensive trip to NYC for the actual convention.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
My name is Sarah, but I will answer to sawcat as well. I live in Southern California. I've been blogging about books for a little over a year now, although I've had a blog over on Livejournal for several years now. I started this book blog after talking about it with some fellow Shelfari members who also have blogs.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
I just finished Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn and am listening to The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon. But my favorite read so far this year has been Finnikin Of The Rock by Melina Marchetta.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
I work as an archaeologist. I am also very introverted and quiet. If I met you on the street, I would not be trying to chat you up. My movie and music collection rival my book collection, although my music collection is far more eclectic. I'm also more than slightly obsessive over Doctor Who since New Who arrived from across the pond. I have two twitter accounts. The one on the side is more bookish, while @sawcatsims is my primary one, with more fandom and sports related content, and GetGlue.

Where do you see your blog in five years?
Really, I have no idea. Hopefully I will not have completely ignored it by then. My involvement in hobbies goes in waves. Sometimes I'm all about one hobby and neglect the others for a while.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why? Prince Edward Island. I loved the LM Montgomery novels that I read, and PEI always sounded so idyllic. I grew up in a major metropolitan area, so the grand open spaces aren't quite as easy to find, and many of our rivers have been concrete lined, so any natural body of water always get me.