Throwback Thursday (November 1) – Sphere

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Feel free to grab the Throwback Thursday button code from the sidebar to use in your posts.

Thanks for participating, and we look forward to seeing which books you choose to remember!

My Throwback this week is…

Sphere by Michael Crichton

Remember how there was a period in my life when I read all the Michael Crichton? Well, during that period, and for a bit after, I stalwartly maintained that Sphere was my favorite book, not just of Crichton’s, but in general. I wouldn’t say that anymore, and I honestly don’t even think it’s my favorite Crichton anymore, but I still really like it. So much so that when I did my great book purge before I got married ten years ago (because we were about to move into a 450 square foot apartment and I thought I couldn’t fit all my books — a decision I’m still regretting), it was one of the few that survived.

Sphere is the story of a group of scientists — of course — called in by the government to study a strange (and possibly alien) sphere found on the ocean floor. They go live in a pressurized deep sea habitat and poke around for a while, and crazy psychological and alien shenanigans ensue. All very scientifically, of course, as this is Crichton and that’s what he does best.

But don’t rent the movie. It’s rubbish. If you want to see a good movie about a group of scientists encountering aliens in a deep sea habitat, watch The Abyss. It’s a much better use of your time.

This is a blog hop! Link up your Throwback Thursday post below!


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Top Ten Tuesday (October 30) – Girl Power!

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! I haven’t participated the last couple weeks because the topic looked like it would require more than ten seconds of thought, and my brain couldn’t handle that. Plus, the metaphorical ducks have been all over the place lately (ie: not in a row). It’s apparently the time of life when all my thoughts are fragmented and crazy.

Okay, I’m not sure who I think I’m kidding there. My thoughts are always fragmented and crazy. This has only gotten worse since having children, and I anticipate the continued gradual decline of my sanity in the upcoming years. I will probably be completely incoherent in another ten years, so enjoy my semi-articulate rambling while you still can.

Anyway, on to this week’s topic, which is fun enough to drag me back into the world of People Who Participate in Things.

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Butt* Heroines (in no particular order)

Celaena Sardothien, Throne of Glass 

She’s the country’s most notorious assassin, she takes out men twice her size with her bare hands, and she survived a year in a death camp where most people last a couple months at most.

Althea Vestrit, The Liveship Traders series

When she doesn’t get the ship that is rightfully hers, she takes matters into her own hands by commissioning a ship that is both sentient and crazy, then takes on all manner of hardened sailors and pirates in her quest to get her ship back.

Petra Arkanian, Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow

She doesn’t let the fact that she’s the only girl in Battle School keep her from besting the boys, and she not only earns a spot on Ender’s elite team, but ultimately ends up commanding some serious military muscle back on Earth.

 Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games

 She’s not great at hand-to-hand combat, but give the girl a bow and arrow, and she will destroy you.

Rachel Adams, Defiance

Between her mastery of a Switch and her general refusal to go down without a (massive) fight, she’s not someone I’d want to cross.

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter

Don’t underestimate a girl with brains and a wand. I have a sneaking suspicion that Hermione could have figured out a way to defeat Voldemort even without Harry and Ron’s help, if she’d needed to.

Katsa, Graceling

I admittedly wasn’t the biggest fan of Katsa as a character, but I won’t argue for a second that as a master assassin, she was unstoppable.

Tally Youngblood, Specials

While Tally is a strong character throughout the Uglies series, I think she’s not a true force to be reckoned with until Specials, where she becomes downright scary.

Lisbeth Salander, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I’ll be honest. Lisbeth kind of terrifies me. I mean, I know she’s one of the protagonists and technically a good guy and all, but I still wouldn’t want to be stuck in a dark alley with her is all I’m saying.

Number Six, I Am Number Four series

Between her superpowers and her general toughness, Six is pretty much the biggest force to be reckoned with in this series. (I’m aware that Six from the movie in no way resembles Six as she is described in the book, but let’s just overlook that.)

So there you have it. Ten heroines that are way tougher than I could ever hope to be, because I am a Grade A Wimp. I was really proud of myself when I didn’t cringe while getting a flu shot last month. Yup.

*Yes, I cleaned up the topic title. I have a six-year-old who tends to read over my shoulder.

 

Multi-Author Event: Tricks and Treats

Back LtR: Ruta Sepetys, Stephanie Perkins, Sonia Gensler, Victoria Schwab, Myra McEntire, Beth Revis.
Front: Tessa Gratton, Kat Zhang
Photo Credit: Sarah at Breaking the Binding

This weekend, our friendly neighborhood indie bookstore, Parnassus Books, hosted a pretty fabulous event. I actually heard about it a few months back at C.J. Redwine‘s launch party for Defiancewhere Myra McEntire was in attendance and gave me and a few other book bloggers a heads-up that something big was in the works for the end of October. So of course, I promptly Twitter-stalked* Myra until she gave me a definite date and time to mark on my calendar.

Then I realized that not only was it scheduled on the same day that we were going to be coming back from visiting friends in Arkansas, but it was also on the same day as our church’s Fall Fest, which the kids had told us in no uncertain terms that we had to attend OR ELSE.

So what’s the solution? Obviously, it’s to leave Arkansas at 7 a.m., drive six hours, make a super-speedy stop at home to grab a book for the event that had been delivered from Amazon while we were gone (and to take a gander at the über-nasty vinyl flooring in our kitchen that the owner of our townhouse decided to replace our wood floor with while we were gone — SURPRISE!), and then for me to go to the author event while my husband** took both of the kids to go jump in bouncy castles and get their faces painted and eat lots of cotton candy.

This may seem extreme, but I think the lineup of authors excuses the crazy, crazy day that was Sunday. Here’s who was there:

Tessa Gratton, author of the Blood Journals series

Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe series

Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door

Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch and the upcoming The Archived

Myra McEntire, author of the Hourglass series

Sonia Gensler, author of The Revenant

Pretty impressive, right? And I wasn’t the only one who thought so. The place was pretty packed, and while I probably had one of the farthest drives to get there (I don’t think anyone topped 6 hours, but then again, I didn’t poll everyone because that would be weird), I had a scant 30-minute drive home, whereas many others had to traverse state lines after it was over.

So what actually happened during the event?

Well, first they gave us candy, which is ALWAYS a good way to begin an event. Always. And this doesn’t just apply to author events. I bet everything from school board meetings to sessions of Congress would be more pleasant if they opened by passing around buckets of candy.

I will attempt to recap the highlights of the event for you, but first, a warning. I normally take copious notes at these sorts of things, but I didn’t this time because I woke up at 6:00 and drove six hours that morning and my brain wasn’t entirely present. So I’m going to recap this from memory. If When I screw up the details, feel free to let me know.

Ghost/Spooky Stories/Weird Research Happenings

Sonia: She’s pretty sure her dad’s house is haunted, and when she was little, she thinks she may have trapped a ghost in a closet, thus demonstrating her mastery over it. It didn’t bother her after that.

Myra: She went to New Orleans to research Infinityglass, and after taking pictures of Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar for inspiration, she looked at the photos and is pretty sure there are four ghosts in one of them. Of course, she didn’t bring the picture to show us, and so now I must bug her some more until she shows me.

Victoria: While living in London, she heard a story from a man who, while visiting an old house in some other country heard footsteps on the abandoned floor above him every night, like someone up there was having a party, but there was no one there. And when she got home to her house in London, she started hearing the same thing, except there was no abandoned floor above her. It was just the roof. (Others tried to convince her the footsteps were Santa, scouting the location, but she remained unconvinced).

Stephanie: Worked for a couple years in what she was pretty sure was a haunted library. She would hear bookish sounds like someone was moving books around while she was there alone, and came to find out that happened to all the librarians, with the same sounds coming from the same location, whenever they were alone in the library.

Beth: Didn’t have a ghost story, but once she took a group of students on a ghost tour of London, where the tour guide was being super-creepy and telling a story of a murderer who dismembered his victims and tied their body parts up in brown paper and string, and a student of hers broke into a hilariously inappropriate-yet-appropriate rendition of My Favorite Things.

Tessa: Also didn’t have a ghost story, but once upon a time she gave herself an impressive accidental cut with a kitchen knife, then instead of immediately bandaging it, she decided to do an impromptu experiment on whether or not vinegar really does slow coagulation. Using tupperware, because she is not crazy enough to pour vinegar onto her bleeding wound.

Where do they get inspiration?

Stephanie: Inspiration for Anna came in a dream, dramatically retold to us by her obliging husband, in which she saw Étienne St. Clair waiting for her on some steps in front of a white dome, and she knew she loved him and was in a boarding school, and he was American but with an English accent. She woke up and wrote it all down, and thus the book was born.

Beth: Wanted a murder mystery in a confined space with explosions, and her first idea of setting it on a cruise ship was hokey, so she put it in space.

Sonia: Had always been intrigued by 19th century boarding schools, and during a visit to one in Oklahoma, she got the idea for a story.

Myra: Wrote the first chapter of her book, and in asking herself why, at the end of the chapter, the man knows Emerson’s name, she eventually landed on her time travel theme after dismissing all the paranormal elements that she’d heard of before.

Victoria: In The Near Witch, she wanted to write a fairy tale where setting was as much a character as the people, and she also wanted to feature witches because she thinks they’re awesome archetypes.

Tessa: She settles on an emotional reaction she wants to elicit, then figures out what story would best accomplish that.

On the writing process:

This can really go all over the place. Some have a set process, some change it up. Some write linearly, some write scenes here and there. Some write a bit every day, some do nothing for days at a time then crank out 10,000 words in a flood of inspiration. Some crank out a first draft in a month, others take over a year. Basically, as long as the finished product is a book, there is no wrong way to write.

Also, if you want to make a career of writing, then just keep writing books. If the first one doesn’t sell, write another. And another. Beth Revis wrote 10 novels in 10 years before getting her publishing deal.

On the querying process:

Be professional, follow agents’ submission guidelines, and listen to the common querying advice that writers give on their blogs. As simple as that sounds, apparently those little things put you ahead of the pack.

On crossing genres:

None of them want to be put in a box, and several of them have other, unpublished novels in genres vastly different from what they’ve published. They just write what they’re interested in.

After the Q&A (during which local authors and event audience members Ruta Sepetys and Kat Zhang also weighed in a bit), the authors chatted, signed books, and were just generally fabulous. They also fangirled all over each other and traded copies of their own books for signing, which just drives home the point that authors are people and readers and fans too. It was fantastic to get to hang out with most of them, see some lovely blogger friends, and finally meet Sarah from Breaking the Binding (who drove 4 hours each way for the event), which was good considering she’s the one who gets subjected to the crazy randomness of my brain on a daily basis, and therefore it was about time that we actually meet.

So, once again, I leave you with the information that Nashville rocks and our authors are fabulous. And for those authors that aren’t Nashvillians (which was all of them except for Myra and Victoria), please come back, because we’re fun here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at my ugly kitchen floor some more and try to morph it into something acceptable using the powers of my mind.

*Not really. Okay, maybe a little.

** He’s the best ever.

Review and Guest Post: The Reluctant Bachelorette Blog Tour

The Plot (from Goodreads)

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it’s up to the viewers–not her–to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke’s an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she’s up to, it means revenge.

But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

My Thoughts

This book reminded me of an early-2000s rom-com, and I mean that in the best possible way. It was fun and light, and yes, occasionally far-fetched, but that was okay.

Assuming that you accept the premise of the book — that Shelter’s Bachelorette would have been cast and promoted without ever getting permission from the bachelorette herself, and that Taycee would then have no choice but to play along — it was a good time. I liked Taycee, and she kept me entertained even when she was neck-deep in a hairbrained scheme that made me want to yet, “Not a good idea!”

The romance in this story was sweet and innocent, squeaky-clean without feeling false, and I stayed fully invested in Taycee and Luke’s stories all the way through. I did think Taycee was a much better developed character than Luke, since I never really understood his motivations for several things, or why he changed his mind on certain topics, but he was still a likable character whom I wanted to root for. I also wasn’t completely sold on Luke needing a few chapters in his POV, as I thought Taycee’s POV was probably sufficient, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying it. I really liked the development of some of the bachelors; even though they weren’t the most fully fleshed-out characters ever, they brought an assortment of personalities and quirks to the story that added a lot of entertainment value. I wish we got to find out what befell several of the unsuccessful bachelors after the conclusion of the show, but much like on actual reality shows, the spotlight is reserved for the winner.

Overall, The Reluctant Bachelorette was a clean, lighthearted, funny, and entertaining read that I highly enjoyed.

Content Guide: No offensive content.

Guest Post by author Rachael Renee Anderson - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In a perfect world, only the good would exist. But this world isn’t perfect, so unfortunately, along with the good comes the bad and the ugly. It’s just the way it is. Well, I’m a believer of the good. A firm believer. Like all movies and books that depict how good ultimately conquers evil, I’m one that believes good will one day overpower evil. And I look forward to that day.

I also think small acts of kindness can have a far-reaching rippling effect in this world–like that of a rock thrown into a pond. A girl I knew in high school will always be a great example, even proof, of that fact. She was beautiful and popular, and it wasn’t until I spent time with her that I realized it wasn’t her beauty that made her popular. It was her kindness.

She went out of her way to say hi to people, and coupled with that hi was always a compliment. “Hey, cute shirt!” “I love your hair today!” “Great job on the _____ test!” Whatever it was, she always had something nice to say. Something genuine.

And THAT is why people loved her. She made them feel better about themselves, happier–a happiness that would then transfer onto others. Hence the rippling effect.

Likewise, bad and ugly things can ripple, too. Negativity and cruelty drags people down. It has the power to hurt, maim, disintegrate. It does NO good–not in any environment, be it work, home, school, or writing. I’d like to say that I’ve never said or done anything mean to anyone, but unfortunately, that’s not true. Over the years, though, I have come to realize that finding and pointing out the good in others is what makes me the happiest.

So I have a challenge for you: For one week, only say positive things to your family, coworkers, friends, children, etc. I guarantee that it will not only make them happier and better people, but it will make you a better and happier person. And by so doing, you will conquer a little bit of the bad and ugly in this world.

Visit the other stops on the Blog Tour!

Tour Giveaway (shared rafflecopter for entry) – October 1st to 31st:
-Grand Prize
Print copy of The Reluctant Bachelorette (Ebook for International winner)
$15 Amazon Gift Card
Copy of the DVD Sneakers (US only)
-Print copy of The Reluctant Bachelorette
-3 Kindle Ebook Copy of The Reluctant Bachelorette

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Throwback Thursday (October 25) – Ender’s Shadow

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.

You don’t have to be a book blogger to participate! You can put up a Throwback Thursday post on your non-bookish blog; or if you don’t have a blog at all, just use the comments to tell us about a book you remember fondly.

Here’s how it works:
1. Pick any book released more than 5 years ago. Adult, YA, Children’s; doesn’t matter. Any great book will do.
2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it. Make sure to link back to The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books in your post.
3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Feel free to grab the Throwback Thursday button code from the sidebar to use in your posts.

Thanks for participating, and we look forward to seeing which books you choose to remember!

My Throwback this week is…

Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

I’ll make this super short and sweet, because we’re getting ready to go out of town in [checks clock] 20 minutes. And I haven’t finished loading the car.

I featured Ender’s Game a few months back, which is my favorite sci-fi book/series ever. This is the companion novel — the same story told from the POV of a different character. And while some would say that the thing that makes Ender’s Game great is the twist ending, and how is it possible for a companion novel to be good when you already know the end, I think this book is equally great, just for different reasons. Ender’s Shadow is more action-driven than Ender’s Game, and while many of the characters overlap, different ones take the spotlight. Plus, this one has a villain who is just…chilling. I love this book, and the series that came from it, lots.

This is a blog hop! Link up your Throwback Thursday post below!