TSS ~ Bloggiesta and a Bitch Slap

The Sunday Salon.com
Good morning, bloggie world :-)  The sun is shining bright and warm… through my window it’s warm, outside the temps are brutal.  I’ve been very productive with Bloggiesta housekeeping, mini-challenges and stuff, this weekend and I feel good.  I even finished a book, went to the grocery store, library and breakfast yesterday.  It’s just been a busy weekend!

Of course, it’s not all roses, either.  I have teenage people living here.  One who’s almost 17 and has recently returned to the mentality of a TWO year old, telling me “NO” and actually trying to stand on that.  Then there’s the 15-year-old who seems to have forgotten how to speak English, but is fluent in WHINE-ESE.  I bought a box of Cream of Wheat for the first time in about 12 or 13 years and she’s dying to try it.  But, instead of reading the box’s directions or waiting for help, she starts making it like instant oats.  She came in with the dessert bowl full of dry mix asking, “Is this how you do it?”  NO, it’s not how you do it… that’s enough to make a pot of the stuff!  *heavy and frustrated sigh* So she stormed off to her room, demanding I let her know when I’ve finished cooking her breakfast.  Grrr…..

Teenagers… dontcha just wanna BITCH SLAP them sometimes?

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Here’s a cool thing I wanted to pass along:

Introducting the International Book Blogger Mentor Program 2010

Lenore at Presenting Lenore is starting an International Book Blogger Mentor Program to help those who live outside the US and Canada be able to read and review the newer books that they’d otherwise not be able to receive as most publishers and blogging contests aren’t open to them.

Any book blogger who blogs in English about books and lives outside the US and Canada can apply. Each month I will pick one blogger to send 2-3 of my most recent review copies to.

I myself have always held my contests open to anyone, anywhere, so long as they have an address to send to, because I know it’s gotta suck to see a book you’d love to have, only to find out you’re geographically ineligible.  So Lenore’s idea is pretty cool :-)

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Random rant….  Why is it that SPAMMERS suddenly think I’m a randy, philandering, inadequately equipped middle-aged man?  Judging by my INBOX… the one’s that my spam filter thinks I WANT to read, I’m in the market for Extenze… GAWD, I HATE those commercials! I want to rip that chick’s face off and monkey-stomp her… grrr……… AND that I’m in need of Viagra or the cheaper substitute.  The latest additions to my inbox are:

I missed you at the bar” – really?  That’s probably because I wasn’t there.

Why Wait have an affair with a cheating wife today” -  K, erm… I like to eat fish at the dinner table, cooked and with tartar sauce, NOT in the bedroom… or any other room they might want to hang it.  And eww… JUST… EWwwwWWWwwww… Not that there’s anything wrong with that, right Jerry?

Engagement Ring. Make your proposal memorable.”  Apparently, not only am I a randy cheater with a tiny willy, but I’m lookin’ to get hitched, too!

I’ve been deleting all these messages, then emptying the trash, but maybe I should keep ‘em for a while, then share them all in a blog post.  WordPress’ Akismet filter seems to work better than Yahoo’s, maybe they should work together and then I won’t get such craptastic emails.  But, then again, what would I have to laugh at?

Listening to Bodies by Drowning Pool

Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham

Title:  Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure

Author:  Royce Buckingham

Hardcover:  232 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons (div of Penguin Young Readers Group)

ISBN:  9780399250026

PJ put on one of his father’s spare POLICE jackets. “C’mon, we’re already here.  Besides, you said it takes an hour round trip to get to the border crossing and back.  Any smugglers would probably still be forty minutes away.”

PJ was reaching to put the car into park when something moved in the darkness.  A patch of shadow shifted against a background of dark trees.  As soon as he noticed it, it was gone.  “What was that?” he said.

“What was what?” Sam said, staring into the forest.  “I can’t see a thing.  It’s pitch-black.”

PJ reached down and flipped the headlight switch.  The sudden light glared on a dark, husky human shape in front of the car.  It waved a club-shaped object and brought it down onto the metal hood of the cruiser.

Wham!

“Smuggler!” Sam yelled.

PJ’s foot was still on the gas pedal.  He jammed it down instinctively, and the car lurched forward.  There was no time for the figure to move.  Thud!  It went down like a bowling pin and disappeared beneath the bumper.

PJ hit the brakes and the police cruiser jerked to a stop.  He took a deep breath and quickly locked the door.

“You hit him!” Sam cried.

“I know,” PJ breathed, staring into the woods.

“He’s under the car!”

“I know!”

“What if he’s a farmer or something?”  Sam said.

“You’re the one who screamed that he was a smuggler.”

“How do I know who he is?”

“It’s your stupid little town!”  PJ snapped.

A low, pained growl rose from beneath the car.

“He’s alive,” PJ said, relieved.  “Let’s get out of here.”

“We can’t leave him,” Sam said.  “There’s no way he can be okay after you smushed him.”

PJ shook his head.  “Dude, I just ran over a guy in a borrowed police car.  My instincts tell me to drive far away and never speak of this again.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, pages 16-17

Goblins! by Royce Buckingham has been some of the most fun 200-some pages of reading I’ve had in a while.  The characters are normal, average teens who are called upon to act in extraordinary ways to save each other and to protect their world from the goblins of the UnderEarth. 

One of the things I like about this book is that there are no 100% evil bad guys in the book, they’re a mix of good and bad.  While PJ would prefer to stay out of things, he chooses to step up and take responsibility for his actions and for Sam, who was left in his care by his father.  Sam wants adventure, and bites off a lot more than he can chew, but nevertheless manages to prove he has a heart of a warrior.  The goblins have silly, descriptive names like “General Eww-Yuk,” “Slurp,” “Slouch,” “Thick,” etc,  enjoy eating humans, fighting, humans as well as each other, are dumber than a bag of hammers, yet they are extremely inquisitive and quick to learn and adapt.

Another thing that I liked about Goblins! is that the writing is simple, the details are just enough to make things easy to picture but not so thick that it bogs you down.  At times it reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and at other times Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Besides having a highly imaginative setting and great actions scenes, including 7 foot bugs-versus-human battles, it also has a great sense of humor.  It is a book with teenagers as the heroes and main characters, so the surliness and sarcasm of the age often shines through.  For instance:  When Sam is brought before General Eww-yuk by the goblin Bargle

“Have you talked to it?” Eww-yuk asked.

“Yes,” Bargle said.  “It barks the words ‘screw’ and ‘off’ … over and over.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, page 71

I think this book is ideal for the tweenage-early teen years, 9-14, and probably more for boys than girls, though I think Mags will enjoy and laugh at it.  I’d also like to warn that this book does contain the deaths of central characters that readers may get attached to, so if your reader is potentially sensitive to this, then you might want to wait. 

For being one of the most enjoyable, reality-suspending, relaxing books I’ve read in a long time, a book that wasn’t teaching the reader or delivering a message (if it was, I didn’t notice at all), a book that was just like losing 25 years and being on the playground again…  I give Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham 4 out of 5 stars.  It probably won’t win any awards, but it is pure pleasure.

 

Don’t forget to sign up to win a copy of Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure in the Great Goblins! Giveaway. Contest ends 11;59 pm, May 31st, with the winner to be announced on Monday, June 1st!

Read-a-Thon ~ I’ve been Chosen by the House of Night

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First off, I want to say Thank You! and throw smooches and hugs at all the RaT cheerleaders :-) You are much appreciated ;-) And I’m glad everyone’s enjoying my button… you know me, I like to mock ‘em and shock ‘em :-D

Also, I “finished” Empire Falls and How to Be a Villian today, but they were unfinished reads already began before today. I read about 20 pages and 80 pages in them, respectively, and about 15 in The Magician’s Nephew So I’ve only read about 140 pages altogether, including what I’ve read in Marked. S.Krishna and a few others blow me away with their tweets ever 20 minutes, “Finished another book!” Gack!

But It’s not a contest… *deep, cleansing breath* :-D

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Okay, so on to Marked… I don’t know where I’d heard of the House of Night series, maybe from one of the publisher’s newsletters, but when I did, something about the books screamed for me to read them.

I’ve been thinking that I might want to include some of the more popular books in my reading and reviewing for two reasons: 1) It’s part of the Zeitgeist of our culture, so I need to read them so I can keep up with the conversations, and 2) Reading and posting reviews of the more popular books might increase my blog traffic. The House of Night series popped out as possibly being a more popular set of books. AND, they’re about vamps, and I like vamp books. :-D

So far, I’ve read the first 3 chapters of the first book in the series, Marked, and I get it. It’s more of a social commentary… an allegory of our culture… and “vampyre” is the concept being used, but I think “homosexuality” is really what the authors are saying.

Zooey is an average, just-wanna-fit-in, middle child, sixteen year old in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Her mom, who used to wear make-up and have fun, is now married to a church Elder who’s more concerned about what people will think of him than if Zooey should go where she can get what she needs.

When her step-loser (as she calls him) sees the sapphire-blue crescent moon given to her by the Vampyre Tracker that marks her as a Vampyre, he tells her he’s not surprised her bad behavior has brought this crisis on her. He tells her, “Get behind me, Satan,” and tells his wife and her mother to call the clueless family psychiatrist and the church Elders to come over and “cure” Zooey.

To all of this Zooey replies that scientists have proven than it’s a genetic change that happens to some teens, and is not brought on by a vamp’s bite or by a person’s “bad behavior.”

Of course, his reply is, “God’s knowledge surpasses science, and it’s blasphemous for you to say otherwise…”

Yeah, okay…. I get it. On the one side, yes, people can get very cruel about things, Christians or otherwise. Parents, too, can be absolutely clueless about what’s going on with their kids.

I am torn on the issue, too. On the one hand, I do believe that God can do anything. He can heal people of incurable diseases, one of my good friends was healed (against all the doctors prognoses) of ovarian cancer. He can change the nature of a person, the habitual thief can be touched and steal no more. He can change a person’s desires, too, and an alcoholic or smoker can lay down their vice and never look back or suffer a twinge of withdrawal. I know people who have experienced these things.

On the other hand, it is the job of those around these people to judge them as a freak, criminal, or worthless, only to love, befriend and support as a fellow human being. Providing a person is not harming another, it is not our business what they do in their own private moments.

*drags the soapbox away and stores it back in the closet*

Any way… lol… back to reading. I am enjoying the book Marked.

What are your thoughts or book selection being partially influenced by popularity and the hope of increasing blog traffic? Selling out?

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ page 27, the start of Chapter Four

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Title: New Moon
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Paperback: 563 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: 2006
ISBN: 9780316024969

“Bella, we’re leaving… I mean my family and myself.” Each word separate and distinct.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll come with you.”

He took a deep breath and stared, unseeingly, at the ground for a long moment. His mouth twisted the tiniest bit. When he finally looked up, his eyes were different, harder – like the liquid gold had frozen solid.

“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.” He spoke the words slowly and precisely, his cold eyes on my face, watching as I absorbed what he was really saying.

“You… don’t… want me?” I tried out the words, confused by the way they sounded, placed in that order.

He looked away into the trees as he spoke again. “Of course, I’ll always love you… in a way. But… I’m tired of pretending to be something I’m not, Bella. I’m not human.” He looked back, and the icy planes of his perfect face were not human. “I’ve let this go on much too long, and I’m sorry for that.”

“Don’t.” My voice was just a whisper now; awareness was beginning to seep through me, trickling like acid through my veins. “Don’t do this.”

He just stared at me, and I could see from his eyes that my words were far too late. He already had.

“You’re not good for me, Bella.” He turned his earlier words around, and so I had no argument. How well I knew that I wasn’t good enough for him.

 

In New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, I was forced to witness the horror of Bella and Edward’s breakup. I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!” But then reason washed over me as I realised this was just page 71, and I still had nearly 500 more pages to go, not to mention two more books… maybe good ol’ Steph has something planned. So I put the anger monkey back in her cage, turned the page and read on.

So, in the absence of my Edward, Bella kind of implodes on herself, going about the routines of life without awareness. I believe this state is called dissociative depression, or in layman’s terms, “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.” Until one morning Charlie (her father) threatens to send her back to live with her mother. The sudden threat of leaving the world in which Edward and her inhabited as a couple snaps her awake, and promises Charlie she’ll be better.

With the thought of reestablishing something normal in her life, Bella tries to reestablish relationships with her school chums. But when she’s in Port Angeles with Jessica walking to McD’s Bella experiences a moment of deja vu in a dark alley with four strange men. Along with a sense of threat and danger Bella hears Edward’s voice inside her head admonishing her to run. The discovery that adrenaline and risky behavior brings on an auditory hallucination, Bella turns to extreme (for her) recreation. She gets a couple motor bikes and rekindles a friendship with Jacob Black, who fixes up one of the bikes for her (the other’s for him) and teaches her how to ride.

This is when everything in the book goes screwy. Jake, as you may or may not recall, has really got a thing for Bella, and is in serious like-almost-obsessed-love with her. And Bella begins to start to think “Oh, well! If I can’t have Mr. Right… I guess I could settle for Mr. Handy!” Ugh! Every time I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!” But then I remembered there are still two more books and about 250 pages left, so I put the anger monkey back in her cage, turned the page and read on.

I really love, and am addicted to, the Twilight books. I have to wait for Eclipseto arrive in the mail from another BookMooch member before I can go on, but I think I can hold out for a second on it… I hope.

I did have a few issues with New Moon, though. First off: The whole “damsel in distress” thing is wearing a little thin for me. When she doesn’t have the friendly neighborhood vampires to protect her, the werewolves take up the standard to keep ickle widdle Belwa safe! It’s beginning to chafe.

and yes, Second: Werewolves? Vampires just didn’t have enough bite to keep reader interest? She had to go WEREWOLF?

Which brings me to my Third irritation: Is Bella really that stupid? or was Meyer’s dragging out the story for as long as possible? It took Bella two hundred pages to figure out Jake was a werewolf. I had that one figured out in like ten, tops. When she’s in the meadow and the “giant bears” show up, I knew right then what they were, AND remembered Jacob’s story he told her on the beach of La Push in the first book. But she was all like, “Duh? I think those bears look a bit more like dogs than Grizzlies… I know, they might be mutant wolves or something!” When I read that, I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!”

Okay… I want my copy of Eclipse, NOW!

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