Blog Hop: Favorite Things

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: What is the most fun part/aspect of being a book blogger?

You know sometimes you read a book or watch a movie and you just have lots of FEELINGS about it?  And then you want to explore why, and discuss every aspect of why you loved it, or (sometimes even more) why you hated it, or why you almost loved it but somehow it just didn’t quite come together–and then it all circles around in your brain and you feel super passionate about it and you just want to share all this feeling and insight and analysis somewhere…

Or maybe that’s just me.  But having a somewhere to put all of that–yeah, that’s my favorite part of being a book blogger.  When I’m so angry with the end of Heartless, or I want to gush about the mad wonderfulness of the final Fairyland book, or I’m just so delighted to find a Star Wars reference in a fairy tale retelling…well, I do tell my friends “in real life,” but I like that I can type it up and put it out into the world too.

Other book bloggers, what’s your favorite part? 🙂

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Book Review: The 5 Love Languages

Carrying on my reading of psychological and spiritual reading (because they feel related in my mind), I picked up The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It’s not quite either spiritual or psychological (maybe the latter sort of) but it seems to fit into the same general area.  I read one of the sub-versions of this book (there are several) years ago, and I like the concept immensely.  In fact, I liked the book immensely–for 11 of 12 chapters.  Let’s explore, shall we?

Almost everyone I’ve talked to had some familiarity with this book or at least its concept, so maybe you do too–but essentially, Chapman unpacks the ways we give and receive love, or perhaps we perceive it.  There are five essential categories, or languages, used to express love: affirming words, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and positive touch.  People generally resonate most with one of these, their “native language,” and feel most loved when love is expressed in that language.

At the risk of overusing the word, I love this concept.  Of course I love the idea of taking something as amorphous as expressing love and making it actionable, practical and specific.  That’s kind of how my brain works.  It’s like the difference between “do good” and “volunteer at a food closet.”  “Do good” is a philosophy, while the latter is something you can go out to do tomorrow.  Similarly, being conscious of and acting upon the love languages is an immediate and specific action within a relationship. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: One (Wo)man’s Trash…

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: What do you do with books you no longer want? Do you donate them? Do you take them to a half-price bookstore? Does a friend or family member benefit?

This doesn’t happen very often to me, because I only buy books I believe will “wear well,” as my good friend L. M. Montgomery once said.  The vast majority of the books I read come from the library, so the ones I buy I expect to keep for the long-term; I fully expect that a good percentage of my books will someday (in fifty or sixty years, you know) be sorted out by my heirs.

But sometimes books don’t have quite that staying power, and a book that I loved for a season no longer seems like one I want to give shelf space to.  And I guess it happens often enough because I do have a policy around it–all unwanted books are donated to the library.  I take so many out, it seems only fair to put some back in.

My favorite book cycle is when I buy a book at the library warehouse sale (because at a dollar each, sometimes I do buy those unread), read it and then donate it back to the library.

What do you do with no-longer-wanted books?  I don’t read digital books myself, but do you find the arrival of ebooks is affecting this question, or impacting how often you have books to discard?

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Book Review: Heartstone

I’ve rarely heard a better premise than Pride and Prejudice retold with dragons.  So I guess it’s not that shocking that Heartstone by Elle Katharine White couldn’t quite live up to hopes.  I enjoyed it–someone else might love it–but I didn’t quite love the book as much as I loved the concept.

Heartstone centers around Aliza Bentaine and her sisters, living in a faux-England where magical creatures abound, some friendly, many not.  A band of Riders comes to their small village to fight the horde of gryphons plaguing the area, and among them are the charming Brysney, who swiftly falls for Aliza’s sister Anjey, and the arrogant Daired and his dragon.  And we all kind of know where this is going, right?

That knowing-where-it’s-going may be why I didn’t love this book as much as I hoped to.  Every character and most plot elements exist in a one-to-one relation to Austen’s original book.  There’s some fun in seeing how White re-imagined Austen’s plotline in this new, monster-ridden world…but it was never quite innovative enough to really capture me.  I mean, it is clever that Anjey gets swiped by a gryphon rather than catching a cold.  But it still seemed like we lost too much without gaining enough to compensate. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Fool Me Once…

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you read a book you ended up hating, would you stay away from future books by that author, or would you give them a second chance?

This would probably depend on why I hated a book.  If it was something that seemed fundamental to the writer (bad writing, a tendency towards dysfunctional relationships…) I’d be more likely to stay away.  An author who writes stilted dialogue is likely to have that persist across books.  On the other hand, if the issue seems to be specific to that book (irritating main character, disappointing ending…) I’d be more likely to try again.

There are authors I love who have also written books that I hated–or at least, strongly disliked.  Cynthia Voigt’s A Solitary Blue is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read, and yet I dropped her Jackaroo halfway through.  Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series is THE best series I’ve found in the last ten (fifteen?) years, and yet I haven’t much liked anything else I’ve tried from her.  I love Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and was hideously disappointed by Heartless.  In all these cases, I read the book I liked first, which then led me on to the less satisfying ones–but they’re clear evidence that one bad book doesn’t make really good books impossible.

So perhaps that means I ought to give disappointing authors another chance.  But that has been known to burn me!  I’ve read three books by E. D. Baker, and all three had exactly the same problem (shallow characters with lack of emotional life).  I should have learned my lesson after The Frog Princess, but The Wide-Awake Princess and A Question of Magic had such intriguing premises!!  But never again.  And Meg Cabot has gone forever on my black list after the Abandon Trilogy (well, her books–she’s probably perfectly nice).

I guess how this really plays out is that if I disliked a book, I won’t be seeking out other books by the same author (unless they were previously amazing).  If I somehow encounter another book by them anyway, I’ll be wary but might be willing if there’s something about it that overcomes the bad indicators.

Do you revisit authors who have disappointed you?  Or are there just too many other books out there to gamble again?

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