January Wrap-Up

Every month I intend to create a bloggie wrap-up.  I swear to myself I’m gonna do it next month.  Then, the first of the month rolls around and I read Fyrefly’s and DevourerofBook’s, among others, and I say, “Ah CRAP! I forgot to do a wrap-up post!  Dang it!  Okay, I’ll do it next month, I swear…”  And you’ll know how many times I’ve actually followed through on that when I say, “Yay! This is my first monthly wrap-up post!”  LOL.

K, I have ADD bad.  I get distracted so very easily.  Sometimes it’s TV or gardening or doing stuff with the kids, and sometimes it’s computer games like SecondLife or World of Warcraft or the latest, face book apps.  SecondLife pulled me away from everything for about 5 months straight, and now I can’t remember the last time I was on.  With WoW, I’d learned a thing or two from SL, and so I didn’t go so long or so deep, but still I was absent for a while, traipsing through Azeroth.  Facebook games are so getting old, and I’m down to a few that have to be tended daily:  Farmville, the café game and the pet games.  I’m mostly still doing those because my mom is actually on facebook, SHOCK! and the kids play, too, so I play with them.

Where was I even going with that?  Oh, ADD… lol, I swear, that wasn’t on purpose!  Okay, I’m lost now… that was funny, and I laughed, and lost my train of thought.  Oh well, must not have been too important.  That’s why I like to outline things, and why I hate stream of conscious storylines.  I get lost enough in my own thinking, I don’t need to do so in a book!

Moving on…

I decided during Bloggiesta, that the best way to do a wrap-up post was to write it all month long, keeping track of commentors and other things that happen, so I started this post about a week after Bloggiesta, because I got distracted and it took a while to get back to it.  Maybe that’s where I was going with that up there. :-D

Maybe ADD is why I hate long paragraphs?  It feels like being trapped in a room with no windows.  I often skim through the middle of them, or just read the first and last lines of it and move on.

Moving on…

During the Month of January I:

Started my first book challenge, The Welsh Reading Challenge, because I wanted to read more books relating to my own heritage, but needed a little prod to do it and keep on track. The fact people joined the challenge was GRAVY :-)

Joined a total of 13 reading challenges, 11 of which are being tracked on my Reading is Challenging! page, as well as two more at LibraryThing:  The 75 Book Challenge, and the Books off the Shelf ChallengeThe Sookie Stackhouse Challenge was in progress, though I don’t know if I can call it progress, since I have YET to pick up the first book. Actually, I picked it up, read 2 paragraphs, then put it back down… don‘t tell BethFish :-D.  This is the most challenges I’ve ever participated in, and I don’t expect to complete them all, realistically, but I’m hoping!

Spent a total of 21 hours working on blog improvements as part of Bloggiesta.  Thanks, Natasha! And after all the work everyone else did and the mini-challenges I wanted to do but didn’t get to, I now have a longer to-do list than when I started!

Created The Welsh Reading Challenge blog.  After reading how other bloggers who host challenges have found a separate blog is a better way to keep it all organized, I started the blog for TWRC during Bloggiesta, and had it open and ready for visitors about a week later.  We’ve also got a couple sponsors, some mini-challenges in the planning stages and some prizes on the way :-) Too cool!

Started a weekly award called The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week.  I’m still trying to figure out the exact criteria for this, but right now it’s been for people who are doing something to make the world better.  Presenting Lenore received my inaugral award for her International Book Blogger Mentor Program, and She’s Too Fond of Books received the second for her post about Kiva.org and how micro-lending requires so little of us and can make such a difference in the life of someone overseas.

Joined the Tolkein Readalong.  I’ve been wanting to read the Lord of the Rings for a long time, but just needed the push.

Books read and reviewed in January:

Of Bees and Mists by Erick Setiawan ~ A magical and fantastic adult fable about love, self-respect and self-confidence, about doing what’s right and forgiveness.  I gave it 4 stars.  It counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

Fruits Basket, Volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya ~ I love the Furuba series, and volume 5 introduced Kisa, the tiger, and Hanajima’s little brother.  I gave it 5 stars.  It counted as a food title for my What’s In a Name?3 Challenge, Manga Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland ~ Atrocious, far-fetched and just plain BAD. 2 stars.  It counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge and New Author Challenge.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl ~ Filled me with warm feelings of childhood and chocolate, and was a pleasure to read cuddled up with Maggie.  I gave it 5 stars.  It counted for The Welsh Reading Challenge.

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr ~ I read this one with Mags, and since it was a re-read for me, I had Maggie sit down and write her first book review.  I did help her with grammer and spelling, but the words and thoughts expressed are totally Maggie… lol… including her expressing how much she disliked having to sit and write a review on a snow day from school when she could be outside playing.  Mags gave it 4 out of 5 stars.  This counted towards my We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine ~ Interesting reflection on life in our modern world and how our advances in technology are contributing to a decline in interpersonal relationships, as well as a disconnect from nature.  I gave it 4 stars.  This counted for my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge.

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine ~ Reading this felt like a prolonged hug from creepy Uncle Stan at the family reunion, but was a necessary evil.  Still, I stand by my 2.5 rating, which is based more on the writing itself than the book’s subject material.  I wasn’t wowwed by Levine’s writing, though it had some beautiful moments.  This book counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein ~ I finished off this month with a comfort read and old friend.  Even though it was a third read through, not to mention the numberous times I watched the 1977 cartoon of it growing up, it still held my attention and kept me in suspense, a sure sign of a classic book.  5 stars for sure.  This was for the Lord of the Rings Readalong and counts toward my 451 Challenge.

People who Commented:

Bluestocking from The Bluestocking Guide
Kathy at Bermudaonion
Wendy, the Literary Feline at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
BethFish at Beth Fish Reads
Kailana at The Written World
Ita
debnance at readerbuzz
Care at Care’s Online Book Club (Hi, blogging buddy!)
Mona Everett
Aarti at B O O K L U S T
Annette
Sally906 at Sally906’s Reading Challenges
Sharon at Ex Libris
Eibhlin
Lynda at Lynda’s Book Blog
Ladybug at Escape in a Book
Aastacia
Amanda at Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker
Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit
Susan Evans at Well-Mannered Frivolity
Melanie at Cynical Optimism
Shannon at Flight into Fantasy
Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through Books
Janet at Fond of Snape
Vasilly at 1330v
Snowbell
Jack at Slightly off-center
Debbie at Debbie’s World of Books
Amber at Mommy Mania
Zee at Notes from the North
Meghan at Medieval Bookworm
Gina at BookDragon’s Lair
Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog
Jennie at Biblio File
Amused at Amused by Books
Michelle at Michelle’s Masterful Musings
Rebecca at Lost in Books
Lenore at Presenting Lenore
unfinishedperson at Unfinished Person
Marie at The Boston Bibliophile
Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books
Rhinoa at Rhinoa’s Ramblings
Traci at Traci’s Book Bag
Laza at Gimme More Books!
Grad at The Curious Reader
Sandra at Fresh Ink Books
BookMoot at BookMoot
Jackie at Literary Escapism
Janelle at Brimful Curiosities
Novroz at Novroz’ Life
Jennifer at Rundpinne
DanaB at Windows Wide Open
Nisé at Under The Boardwalk
Alayne at The Crowded Leaf
Violet at Violet Crush
Angie at Annie’s Home
JDaniel4’s Mom at JDaniel4’s Mom
Ann Marie
Joy at Joy’s Blog
Stephanie at Bad Mom
Emerald Yomi at Emerald Yomi
Debbie at Wrighty Reads (go lefties!)
Pippi at Pippi’s Postings
Memory at Stella Matutina
Petunia at Educating Petunia
Sarah at SmallWorld Reads
Lisa at Online Publicist
Myriam Kross
Guatami Tripathy at everything distils into reading
Ariel at Sycorax Pine
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Kay at The Infinite Shelf
jo at attalife
Dawn at For the Love of… Eloquence 
Kimberly at A Child of the King!
Mizhelle at Life Can’t Wait
Amateur Reader at Wuthering Expectations
Keely at The Un Mom
Rebecca Reid at Rebecca Reads
Molly at my cozy book nook
uninvoked at uninvoked 
Stacey at Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife
Lisa at Lit and Life
Vicki at Reading At The Beach
Callista at SMS Book Reviews
Farmlanebooks
Meg at write meg!
Marce at Tea Time with Marce
Jenny F at Have a Happy Day
Irene at Irene’s Desk
Wordlily at Word Lily
Beth at Weavings
Laurel-Rain Snow at Laurel-Rain Snow Creations

And that’s a total of 81 commentors so far (1/25)

Other fun facts:

Kitty Litter Cake (and Cat Litter Cake), Gary Larson (and The Far Side) and qoutes for The Book Thief are the most widely used search terms that bring people by, along with Confessions of a Shopaholic and Vampire Kisses bringing in plenty, too. “erotomania” surprisingly, brings in a fair share. Uh oh, do I have a stalker?

Fruits Basket Volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya

Kagura coverTitle:  Fruits Basket, Volume 5

Author:  Natsuki Takaya

Translator:  Althea Nibley

Paperback:  208 pages

Published:  2004

ISBN:  9781591826071

Challenges:  Manga Challenge, What’s In a Name?3 Challenge (food)

In this book we are introduced to Kisa Sohma, who is the tiger.  She enters the story when Tohru and Yuki are walking home and come across a drenched Haru carrying something in a blanket.  The bundle turns out to be a baby tiger, Kisa in animal form, and Tohru squeals “What a cute kitty!” in delight.  The “cute kitty” shows her how much she wants to be around people by chomping down on Tohru’s hand.  As it turns out, Kisa has run away from the Sohma house because she’s being made fun of at school.  She refuses to talk, and bites Tohru every time she tries to comfort her.  But Tohru’s persistance and kindness brings the girl around, and her explosive, “I LOVE YOU!!” accompanied by a warm, long hug turns her into a big sister in Kisa’s eyes.  Tohru’s past healing affection for Yuki, Kyo and Haru move them to compassion for Kisa and help her come out of her shell.

Other things in Fruits Basket, Volume 5 – Ayame… oh, Ayame! makes a visit, much to the consternation of both Kyo and Yuki, the latter telling his older brother he’d rather see him sink to the bottom of the lake than “bond” with him, to which Aaya replies, “I See!  We’ll ALWAYS be together as brothers then!”  LOL.. poor Yuki! 

We meet Megumi, Hanajima’s little brother, when the Prince Yuki Fan Club girls visit “wave girl’s” house in an attempt to find Hanajima’s weakness so they can get her out of the way of their destroying Tohru.  Megumi, like his sister, also has a power.  He can use a person’s name to curse them.  The girls run screaming from the strange siblings house in fear.  It’s also revealed in this scene that Hana has been a bit jealous of the Sohmas for taking Tohru away but, unlike the Fan Club girls, she understands if you love someone, you have to be willing to let them have their own life and other friends and not try to possess them.

Fruits Basket, volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya is one of my favorite Furuba books so far.  The characters are becoming more defined, and she’s relying more on the story and character interactions than on the slapstick shtick of the first couple books.  Not that I don’t find it hilarious when Kyo flies off the handle at Yuki, and I LOVE it when the cat ears and tail come out… Mags and I always giggle about that… but it’s more of a life and friends story that I feel a sense of becoming a part of their world, which always makes the best books, whether they’re regular novels or manga and graphic novels.  *sigh*  I give Fruits Basket, Volume 5 5 out of 5 stars.

Bloggiesta Progress Update #4

started at 7pm today

Pedro

Well, it’s been a busy day away from Bloggiesta today.  Mags and I went to eat at her favorite restaurant, The White House.  We read a bit of Fruits Basket volume 5, then went to the library for their showing of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.  It was a cute enough movie, but I wanted to leave more than once.  It’s just… IDK… childish? annoying?  I did, however, love the monkey, Steve, as well as the police officer who I think was voiced by Mr. T.  I had to laugh when I said, “Hey, that’s Mr. T!” and Maggie said, “Who?”  I remember a time when the answer would have been to either do my best “I pity da foo'”, or say “B.A. Baracus”, however today my answer was, “You know, the Night Elf Mohawk.”  Ooh, yeah… lol.  I picked up some books for The Welsh Reading Challenge, too, and then we were off to the grocery store for the ingredients for Taco Casserole, which I ended up NOT making because I was too dang tired.  We stopped at Hardee’s for an industrial sized cup of coffee for me and a hot chocolate for Mags.  We sat there and finished Fruits Basket, for which I’ll write a review and schedule it for later.

I’m hoping to manage to get at least 3 more mini-challenges done tonight before going to bed, and then hopefully finish them all tomorrow. 

AND I just realized the mini-challenges I did yesterday were from last Bloggiesta, but it’s all good.  I needed to do them, anyway.  I still want to get through them, too, but that doubles the amount of challenges… not sure I’ll get them all done in that case :-)

So first challenge tonight at Emily’s Reading Room.  It’s about setting up Google Alerts to keep track of trends in searching for topics to do with your blog.  Personally, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do for me, so I set up a couple with “The Kool-Aid Mom, thekoolaidmom, In the Shadow of Mt. TBR, Mt. TBR, and Welsh Reading Challenge”.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.  According to @pussreboots and @bookladysblog, it also lets you know when the phrases you put in the alert are mentioned on the web, whether they link to you or not.

Next, I went to Books, movies, and Chinese Food‘s mini-challenge to create an elevator pitch for my blog.  Here’s what I came up with: 

In the Shadow of Mt. TBR is a fun and informative blog where The Kool-Aid Mom reviews books, posts humorous memes, occasionally rants, and has fits of ADD randomness.  Come on over and sit a spell in the shade, have a good laugh and contiue on your Web-browsing journey feeling refreshed!

Was kinda tough to write, but I’ll be surprised if I ever remember it when someone asks about my blog… lol.

For my third challenge this evening, I went to The Book Lady’s Blog Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Set Goals for 2010.  Rebecca has sooo many great ideas there, and my main goals that I’ve set for myself this year are:

  • Get back to posting daily, whether a review, meme, or random post.  I had gotten distracted by playing the computer games, and got out of the habit.
  • I plan to make a monthly reading plan and sticking to it.  I made one for January, but I’m already starting to whine and want to cheat… there’s just SoOoOOoo many good books out there!  But I really WANT to make the ARC-alanche pile disappear, so I’m staying with it.

Okay, so now I’m onto my fourth mini-challenge and that’s with Bookalicio.us’s Bloggiesta Mini Challenge:  Footers.  I caught some chatter about this one on Twitter last night and wanted to make sure I got it done.  To be honest, I’ve never done anything copyright related, so this is a completely new thing for me.

*tick-tock… time passes… spring, summer, fall, winter…I now have a headache…*  I don’t know how to do this stuff.  It looks like I have to pay for the copyright thing, and I can’t figure out how to do a footer.  I’ve looked all up and down the control panel in my dashboard, and I can’t find a thing to do a footer.  I can’t figure out how or where the plug-ing for it is, and even if I could, I think I tried to do some WP plug-in once before and found out I had to upgrade my account to use them.

I give up… I think I’ll go lie down and watched Stargate for a while.

***edit*** I added a Copyright widget, so I got it worked out.  I’m gonna do the feedburner, too.

The Sunday Salon ~ Reading Can Be Such a Challenge!

 The Sunday Salon.com

Okay, I’ve been sitting back this last week and evaluating my last year in reading and blogging.  I’ve come to the conclusion that my mama was right, I need more organization!  LOL…  Seriously, I think I need to do a monthly proposed reading list and see how close I get, as opposed to a yearly one.  The yearly one ended up with me in the sprints for the first half of the year, then almost nothing from June through November, then sprinting to the end for the last six weeks.  I did actually make it to 75 books, with one to spare, even, but was it quality reading that way?  Some of the books I’ve read I don’t even remember, except what’s in my blog posts.

Which is another thing…  I used to think I was blogging reviews of books for other people to read, but I think I’m the one who has benefited the most from them.  I can look back to a book I read in 2008 and get an accurate feel for how I liked the book.  Sometimes, I don’t really even remember reading the book at all.  So blogging is as much for my benefit, if not more.

So, 2009 was my first full year of reading and blogging (In the Shadow of Mt. TBR began in June of 2008) and I tried to join a few challenges, to varying degrees of success.  First off, I completed the 75 book LibraryThing challenge, and I’ve already joined it for 2010 (The Kool-Aid Mom cracks the whip!).  I’ve also joined LibraryThing’s Books Off the Shelf challenge, a challenge to read books you already own *what a concept!*.  I’ve started out with the conservative goal of 35, but I think I’ll hit higher than that.  You can find my thread here, The Kool-Aid Mom’s Wet Dream of 35.

My reasoning for believing this will be a low figure is because I intend to clear out my intimidating stack of ARCs that have sat and loomed over my right shoulder for almost a year (before that, they were a smaller stack of books on the desk to my left, but after we couldn’t find the phone anymore, I decided to move it).  It mocks me, points out my failures, and never lets me get a moment’s peace.  So, 2010 is the year I will slay this beast once and for all!

**?**?**?**?**?**?**?*    Was that over the top?    *?**?**?**?**?**?**?**

And it is in this spirit of conquest that I have decided to join Teddy Rose’s ARC Reading Challenge 2010 at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time.  I’ve recently updated my ARC-alance Pile page to reflect where I am right now, and It’s a list of 65, which leaves me only 10 extra in the 75 books to play with.  Also, if I do the Manga Challenge again, then I’ll either go over the 75 (which is a good thing)  or I’ll have to take the manga’s out of the 10.  AND, I’m in the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge, which I signed up for 2 books, and it ends in June.  So, I’ll probably go over…. oh, crap!  forgot a book… fixed.  66 ARCs to read… you do the math on the rest of all that, I have a brain ache.

So, other challenges…

I read about Beth Fish’s What’s in a Name? 3 Challenge on BermudaOnion’s 2010 Challenges post and thought it sounded cute.  Basically, it works like this:

1 book from each of the following categories:

  1.  
    1. A book with a food in the title: Clockwork Orange, Grapes of Wrath, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
    2. A book with a body of water in the title: A River Runs through It, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, The Lake House
    3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: The Murder of King Tut, The Count of Monte Cristo, Lady Susan
    4. A book with a plant in the title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Wind in the Willows, The Name of the Rose
    5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Out of Africa; London; Between, Georgia
    6. A book with a music term in the title: Song of Solomon, Ragtime, The Piano Teacher

Making a total of 6 books for this challenge.  I’m going to try to get as many of them to overlap with my ARC challenge, but I’ve only gotten 3 that I can for sure make work:  The Crying Tree will fill #4, The Mysterious Receding Seas will cover #2, and Strange But True, America:  Weird Tales from All 50 States takes care of # 5.  I’ve been debating where “Father” counts as a title, since that’s not the man’s name, in which case I can read My Father’s Paradise for #3.  And would Spiced count as “A book with a food in the title”?  If I can slip those two in, then I just have to find a music term… WAIT!  The Organ Grinder‘s Monkey takes care of #6 :-D

So what’d’ya think?  “Father” and “Spiced” count?

The Sookie Stackhouse Challenge continues through June 30, 2010, and is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  As it stands I still have my original TWO (so pathetic!) books to read.

  • Dead Until Dark
  • Living Dead in Dallas
  • And I guess I’ll go ahead and go for the Manga Challenge.  Mags will demand I continue to read Fruits Basket with her, so I might as well fill a challenge with it.  LOL, too bad I don’t have ARC mangas :-D

    The goal is to read a minimum of 6 mangas. There will be the odd prize throughout the year and bonus points if you manage to watch at least one anime film or 3 episodes of a series.

    Well, the bonus will help A LOT, since we’ve been watching xxxHolic (I’m dying to get my manga for it, but it got lost in the mail… boo!), Oh! My Goddess season 2, and plan to watch Negima, as well as a few other anime serieses… serii? just series? SHOWS.  lol.  And they watch Fruits Basket anime constantly, so I’m good to go on the bonus ;-)

    Planned books at the moment:

    1. Fruits Basket volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya
    2. Fruits Basket volume 6 by Natsuki Takaya
    3. Fruits Basket volume 7 by Natsuki Takaya
    4. Ranma 1/2 volume 1 by Rumiko Takahashi
    5. Ranma 1/2 volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi
    6. Vampire Knight volume 1 by Matsuri Hino

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Okay, so in an attempt to start out this year a bit more organized, here is my planned reading for January (Subject to change at a whim, though I’m going to try to be stronger than whimsy ;-) )

    1. Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan – This was the Barnes & Nobles First Look book sometime last summer or so, and I’ve been “reading” it since then.  Okay, so I’m trying a little harder to actually read it now, but still… every time I crack the spine a gazillion interruptions fly in.  I feel like Elias being annoyed by the bees.  And when I’m left alone, and it’s nice and quiet, I get about 3 paragraphs read before falling asleep.  I swear, I’m shocked I don’t have a permanent crease mark running down my face like a vertical hold pattern!  It’s a really cool book, I just seem to keep slipping into unconsciousness with it.
    2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland – I got this book back in FEBRUARY as a LibraryThing Early Reader book.  FEBRUARY.  10 months ago.  I feel like I’m going to go to LT Hell for this, and it gets worse…
    3. The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green by Terra Wellington – A BONUS book in the February (or March, not sure anymore) LT ER round.
    4. The Blue Notebook by James A Levine – Won in the March batch of LT ER program.  This book thoroughly fascinates me and I’ve been wanting to read it… but just not done so.  Did I mention I have reserved seats for LT Hell?
    5. Holy Roller by Julie Lyons – Snagged in the April ER batch.  I don’t even look at the ER list at this point, because I feel horribly guilty for taking books that have sat so long, and other people never even get a book.  Yeah, I’m at the right hand of the MC in LT Hell.

    These are the ones I plan to get through this month.  You can see why they’re so urgent, as well.  If I get through these 5, I plan to read The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy and Strange But True, America by John Hafnor, as I have copies of these to give away.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Oh yes!  and don’t let me forget about Bloggiesta! Last year, I didn’t officially participate, but I did do a lot of the activities.  So this year I’m gonna throw my sombrero in the ring and partic-a-icpate.  This year’s event will be from January 8th-10th.  Here’s a quick description from the Maw Books Blog announcement page:

    Some of you may be asking what is Bloggiesta?  In short, it’s a blogging marathon.  An opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.  Break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two!

    I’m gonna grab some tortilla chips and medium-heat salsa to munch along for the event, just to keep in the spirit of things.  Maybe I’ll even make Saturday here Taco Night… mmm… better yet, make my own taco casserole :-D  * homer drool drool homer drool *  ‘K, now I’m hungry.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Edited to add:  I solved my trouble with which books to put in the What’s In a Name?3 Challenge’s food and title title.  Since I’m doing the Manga Challenge, I’ll be reading Fruits Basket books and Vampire Knight, so those will cover the WIaN3 needed titles.

    Also, I’ve added another challenge to my reading for 2010.  I’m hosting it, as well, and that is The Welsh Reading Challenge.  I’m planning to read 12 books for that.  I’ve realized that if I get ALL my challenges done this year, I’ll have nearly 100 books read by the end of the year.  I can do it, but it’ll mean sticking to it all year and not getting bored, or distracted, or sidetracked, like I am prone to do.  The REAL challenge for me in 2010 will be to stick to my schedule and stick with it.  I think it’ll be good for me. :-)

    Fruits Basket Volume 3 and 4 by Natsuki Takaya

    KYO KYO!!!!Title:  Fruits Basket, Volume 3

    Author:  Natsuki Takaya

    Paperback:  200 pages

    ISBN:  9781591826057

    Challenges:  Manga Challenge

    The third installment of Sensei Takaya’s delightful manga series that gives the reader a window into the life of the cursed Sohma family and how Tohru Honda, a sweet and naive young orphan they’ve taken in and with whom they’ve shared their secret that some in their family are possessed by the vengeful animal spirits of the Chinese zodiac, features the rebellious cat-posessed Kyo Sohma on the cover.  Kyo is probably one of my favorite characters, he is certainly one of the funniest, and this book introduces another of my favorites:  Hatsuharu, the bull.

    The book begins with a school race, which the highly-competitive Kyo sees as an opportunity to beat his ultimate rival and cousin, Yuki Sohma, the rat.  The pictures had Maggie and I laughing out loud in public places, trying to keep ourselves under control but often not able,   class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=””>Kyo with his cat ears, fangs, eyes and tail with electric energy swirling around him as he focuses on thoroughly trouncing “That damn rat Yuki” in the race was hilarious.  It’s during the race that Haru shows up and challenges Kyo to a fight, during which Black Haru comes out and makes sexual innuendos about what he’s going to do with Tohru.

    Valentine’s Day happens in this book, as well, which brings Kagura back… much to Kyo’s displeasure.  Hatori, the Sohma family doctor, is introduced and Momiji makes another appearance and invites Tohru, Yuki and Kyo to the Sohma family spa for White Day.  Momiji, the rabbit, is another one of those funny, slightly naughty, characters who likes to look pretty.  The trouble is, though, the dress-wearing, fingernail-polished, blonde is a BOY.  Also, the interactions between Kyo and Momiji is reminiscent of the baby brother tag-a-long and annoyed older brother.  Kyo often noogies, pinches and restrains the over-zealous Momiji, who cries and whines loudly to any who’ll listen that he’s being abused by Kyo.

    The final page of the book still makes me laugh, and I’ll often repeat it back to Mags, who will break out in groaning laughter and rolling her eyes.  Shigure shows Haru the little cosplay maid outfit he’s bought for Tohru as his White Day gift saying, “I can’t wait for her to call me Master wearing this.”  To which Haru replies, “Just Make sure you don’t get arrested, okay?”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ShigureTitle:  Fruits Basket, volume 4

    Author:  Natsuki Takya

    Paperback:  216 pages

    ISBN:  9781591826064

    Challenges:  Manga Challenge

    Fruits Basket, volume 4 begins with a new year at school and the addition of Haru and Momiji as first years at Yuki, Kyo and Tohru’s high school.  Akito, the abusive, frightening, mercurial head of the Sohma family visits the school, specifically to see Tohru.  He tries to come off as being kind, but it’s even scarier than when he’s his normal evil self.

    Tohru is meets another Sohma in a shocking way when Yuki’s older brother, Ayame, crawls into her clothing in his snake form.  Ayame’s visit is an attempt to get closer to his brother, but Yuki seems to dislike and resent him.  Ayame’s visit also brings a reunion  of the Madubachi Trio (The nickname of Shigure, Hatori and Ayame as a group in high school) and stories of their escapades when they were in school.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    As a series, Fruits Basket is fun and light, with a bit of sexual humor and the occasional homosexual undertone.  Ayame owns a dress shop that may be a  “>cosplay store, and may or may not be in love with Hatori.  Haru also makes a comment about Yuki being his first love.  There is also violence, some amount of mysticism and Tohru’s ancestor worship with her mom’s picture… a Japanese thing, I know.  But, all in all, the story, writing and artwork tickles my funny bone and Maggie loves reading it with me, which is one of the best thing about them :-)

    Sunburnt and Weary, I Return…

    100_0159Waves.  Wind.  Sun.  Seagulls.  Maglit berserking a flock of seagulls (NOT the 80s rock band made famous by their weird hair and referenced by Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction).  It all proved too much for my ADD to overcome.  I had dreams and visions of doing damage to my ARC-alanche pile!  But, I only managed to read a little over 100 pages of Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle-Man McGinty Told Me

    I put the choice to Maggie, (who, btw, wasn’t at all interested in silly little books, even FB!) “Should I start with Uncle Chestnut? or Uncle Neil?”  She said, “The one with the moon on its cover.”  So, my book choice was made by a 10-year-old and based on the book cover… lol.

    Neil

    So, for those of you who’ve read it, I’m at the part where Mr. Pizza just got the visit from the man in uniform.  The kids were playing kickball and the score was 42-0, but I don’t know if they’ll play on.  I’m really enjoying it.  It’s a book that reminds a grown-up what it felt like to be a kid, especially if you were the kind of kid like Tamara… a “trouble” kid. (I’m raising both hands, that’s definitely me).  Reading this book, I find my mind wandering back to all those friends, especially the ones who were only there during the summer (Nick, Angel, Heather, and so many others… funny how, as a kid, we’re never concerned with last names!).  I was seriously hoping they’d solve the McGinty on 3rd AND up to kick by putting in a “ghost man” like we did.  Ghost man rules, though, your ghost men can only advance one base, they can’t go from 1st to home.  But, alas! they threw in the giant as a pinch runner.  Boo!  :-D

    Well, back to reading and I need a shower.  I have sand between my toes, in my hair, and I’ll betcha it’s in my drawers, too!  It gets everywhere.  I swear, I have no idea how beaches survive if everyone brings home as much sand as we do! lol!

    ************************************************************************************************************************************************

    Oh, I almost forgot!  THIS was waiting for me when we got home:

    Book Loot

    The books are:

    1. Untamed by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast ~ Book #4 of the House of Night series
    2. Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan
    3. The Inheritance of Loss byKiran Desai
    4. God Sleeps in Rwanda by Joseph Sebarenzi with Laura Mullane
    5. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
    6. Love Letters from Cell 92 by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    7. Fruits Basket, volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya
    8. Cowboy Bebop:  Shooting Star, volume 1 by Cain Kuga
    9. Fruits Basket, volume 4 by Natsuki Takaya

    It looked like the book fairy exploded all over!  Gwen had got home before us and dumped the mail on my bed… lol.  Adding to the book loot was a check for $100 and 4 coupons for free candy bars from Mars.  Dang!  I should go to the beach more often!

    Blog and RUN :-D

    Today Mags and I are going on a long trip to Michigan City, which is about 2 hours from here, and spending the day at the beach with people from our church.  Gwen was going to go with us, then the opportunity came up for her to go to the zoo with some friends, so she’s going to Ft. Wayne, instead.  So, I will have a bit of time on my hands, as well as a distracted brain. 

    Now, we’re supposed to pack a lunch, but I still haven’t gotten to that.  No, in fact the question that kept me awake last night was, “What books should I bring?” 

    Books.  as in plural.  for a day trip.  LOL.

    So, after much deliberation, here’s what I think I’ve settled on:

    Uncle ChestnutThe Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut by Paul Nowak ~ This is an ARC-alanche pile resident, and about 100 pages, so I should be able to get through it today.

    NeilNeil Armstrong Is My Uncle by Nan Marino ~ I’ve been dying to get to this book but haven’t been able to because I was being “responsible” and reading books for blog tours.  Yay for beach days! (also and ARC-alanche resident)

    ciscoViva Cisco by Patrick Shannon ~ This one is another ARC-alanche resident, and it’s a book of short stories about crazy talking animals living together in a city of their own the jungle.  Sounds fun!

    home repairHome Repair by Liz Rosenberg ~ another ARC-alanche book, I’m on page 60 and getting ready to meet Jonah.

    FB3Fruits Basket, volume 3 by Natsuki Takaya ~ Yes, Maggie’s MAKING ME TAKE IT!  lol…

    .

    .

    .

    Books that almost made it in my bag were The Rapture by Liz Jensen (thought it’d make me look good with church people.. :-D ) and Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper (I really, REALLY want to read it!)

    I’ll blog if I was overly optimistic when I get home, but now I must hurry and make my lunch!

    The Sunday Salon ~ In THIS Corner, Wearing the Blue Trunks…

    The Sunday Salon.com

    And now for a mostly video Sunday Salon… Well, we did read Fruits Basket, volumes 1 and 2 this week… So now for some fun stuff.

    We went for a walk out in the gorgeous day yesterday… it was a little on the warmish side, but not too bad.  We decided to go to Hardee’s for supper and took Missy with us…

    Right now, Missy is sitting by me in her bed with her ears cocked up and a very excited look on her face (and a tail that’s going 30 miles a minute ;-) 

    On a normal walk to Hardee’s, we walk the main streets, but with Missy in tow, we have to walk down what we call Ex-Lax Alley.  There are about 6 or 7 dogs in the yards on that alley, and Missy gets so excited that she never makes it out without… erm, “Paying the TOLL.” 

    Missy’s very interested down there in her bed… I should cam her when one of these vids are on.  The dog in the next vid, I think, is a boxer or a pit.  He’s gotten out a couple times and is fairly good natured.  I still pick up Missy and carry her when he gets out, though.  Nice doggy though he may be, she’d still just make a two-bite brownie for him!

    and the next video is a group of dogs that Missy USED to be friends with…. apparently they’ve had words and are now Frenemies or something…

    It was surprising to me that they were no longer doggy-pals.  She’s either getting crotchety in her old age (all of 4, I think) or the dogs just don’t like her no  more, but she’s running out of pals!  Just the Jack Russell next door, named Spike, and that’s it.  Poor sad lonely friendless Missy :-(

    LOL.. and NOW, as we were almost to Hardee’s, I was telling Maggie about how many views Missy’s videos have gotten compared to theirs… a fact that she firmly believes is Gwen watching them 500 times.  I joke around with Maggie, who’s the youngest, that Missy is, IN FACT, my baby and that the dog is my favorite “child.”  Maggie always play-fights with me and Missy when I say it, and this time Gwen had to chime in with her two-cents.  Maggie gave it back to her with interest! (It’s all play and fun, btw, no one got hurt).

    And then we made it to Hardee’s, got our food and went home.  The End.  LOL.. I did have a vid of Missy getting her food, but my messy dining room was visible in the background so I deleted it.  She loved her food, though, and ate it with great relish.

    And now… off to make supper.  Maggie has requested Meatloaf.  Yum!

    Fruits Basket Volume 2 by Natsuki Takaya

    Fruits Basket volume 2 by Natsuki TakayaTitle:  Fruits Basket volume 2

    Author:  Natsuki Takaya

    Softcover:  200 pages

    ISBN:  1591826047

    Challenges:  Manga Challenge

    From the back cover:

    A family with an ancient curse…
    And the girl who will change their lives forever…

    Ever since Tohru Honda discovered the Zodiac secret of the Sohma clan, her eyes have been opened to a world of magic and wonder. But with such a great secret comes great responsibility. When her best friends Hana-chan and Uo-chan come to the Sohma house for a sleepover, Tohru has her work cut out for her keeping the “Cat” in the bag and the “Dog” on a leash.

    Mags and I started to read just a chapter or so last night and, before we knew it, there was one lonely chapter left.  The clock read 12:30 am, and we had church to go to, so we saved those last few pages for today.  Okay, the cover has Yuki Sohma on it, aka Prince Charming, Prince Yuki, Rat Boy and Damn Rat (the last one is Kyo’s pet name for him), and Maggie’s lip marks have permanently tarnished Sohma-kun’s face.  She’s eager for us to finish with book three, which has Kyo on the cover, so she can kiss all over him, too, and then make book 2 and book 3 fight over book 1.  What a deal, not only do we get books to read, but they’re dolls and action figures, too.  LOL!

    So book 2 picks up after Tohru’s been staying… or shacking up as her aunt and cousins call it… with Shigure, Yuki and Kyo, and in this book her two best friend’s Hanna (she has electrowave powers) and Uo (who used to be a Yankee, which is like a gang girl, I guess) come for a sleep over.  This can prove disastrous if the guys aren’t careful, since an embrace from the opposite sex, accidental or on purpose, can cause them to transform into their zodiac animal.  Also in this book is a cross-dressing Yuki, a half-German boy who likes to wear girls clothes (Yuki was coerced, Momiji dresses that way because he likes to look pretty), New Year’s banquet, and Tohru is summoned to the Sohma estate to meet with Hatori, the one who erases people’s memories when they find out about the Sohma family curse.  Lots of sugar and love from Tohru and lots of animosity and rancor back and forth between Yuki and Kyo, with a smattering of perv-ishness from Shigure.

    Oh yeah… and a herd of cats.

    If you want to watch the whole vid, it’s cool. The song’s great, Mags and I will randomly sing it without realizing it… occasionally at the same time, weird. But the parts I’m after is from 2:29 to 4:58, OR for an even shorter snippit, 3:29 to 3:46 for just the “Kyo and the herd of cats” part.

    Fruits Basket volume 1 by Natsuki Takaya

    Fruits Basket 1Title:  Fruits Basket Volume 1

    Author:  Natsuki Takaya

    Paperback:  216 pages

    ISBN:  1591826039

    Challenges:  Manga Challenge

    From the back cover:

    A family with an ancient curse…

    And the girl who will change their lives forever…

    Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home.  Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.  Discover for yourself the Secret of the Zodiac, and find out why Fruits Basket has won the hearts of readers the world over!

    First off, a caveat:  This is my first manga, and my first review of a manga book.  I’m not exactly sure how one writes a review for manga.  I could read a bunch of reviews then write it, but I’d probably end up regurgitating what I’ve read, then.  I don’t even know if the title is supposed to be italicized like novels, and can’t exactly use a quote from the book since it uses pictures to tell the story.  But, here goes….

    I first heard about Fruits Basketfrom a friend who said his niece loved it.  I’d been circling the manga pool and dipping my toe in every time I went to the book store, but had not as yet jumped in.  I’d also been sampling anime with Maggie, and so I thought this series would be a great place to start.  This book was originally published in Hane to Yume magazine in 1999.  It was finally published in English in 2004 by TOKYOPOP (if you click the link, you can read the first chapter online).  It is also a 26-episode anime series, AND an online petitionpleading FUNimation to make a second season of the show (I’ve signed, btw ;-) )

    So, right from the start, I know I’m going into a beloved series and am fairly safe in thinking I’ll like it, which, of course, I did.

    The story is about how orphaned Tohru, who has never fit in anywhere, comes to stay with the Shigure, Yuki and Kyo Sohma, members of a family who suffer from a strange curse that transforms them into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.  It’s a book about transformations, both the humorous, and often inconvenient, physical transformations of the Sohmas themselves (and embarrassing, especially since transforming back to human form renders them naked).  It’s also about how Tohru’s kind and quiet spirit affects them, causing them to mature and let go of some of their anger and bitterness, and to grow in affection and acceptance of one another.

    Maggie’s Review:

    I really love-love-LOVE Fruits Basket!  Yuki and Kyo are cute and it’s so funny when they fight.  Yuki’s mysterious and it’s funny when Kyo gets mad (which is all the time) and gets cat ears, eyes, teeth and tail and hisses at Yuki.  I like the whole Zodiac thing.  It’s funny, especially when Shigure is acting like a pervert :-D  Kagura is CRAZY!  She’s in love with Kyo, and she shows it by destroying him and beating him up and flipping him through the wall.  One thing I did NOT like about it is that it’s got a lot of cuss words in it.

    Maggie is funny, she says she doesn’t like the cuss words, but she sure does laugh a lot at them.  BTW, the cuss words used are Damn, Dammit, and Bitch and Bastard are used once in the second book when Kyo and Uo are playing a card game (both have anger issues).  No F-bombs, or other strong words are used.  The books are labeled for teens, which I didn’t catch until after she’d watched the whole anime series, read book one and got halfway through book two. 

    and now, a few moments of love’s reflection by Kagura Sohma :-D

    and, after writing this, I realized that, technically, Vampire Kisses:  Blood Relativeswas my first “manga,” though it’s not really manga because it reads like a normal American book, not right to left.  It’s the right-to-left reading of FB that’s made it so dificult for Mags to read on her own.  I’m sure a few books in and she’ll be okay.  Also, since she won’t let me put FB on BookMooch or PBS… she’s already made off with the book… I guess she’ll be re-reading it on her own, which should help her manga-reading abilities.

    Well, off to Hardee’s for dinner and to finish up FB vol 2 :-D

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