ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.

2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Salon 27 XII 2009 - 2009 comes to a close


Good morning, fellow Salon Members! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. I received some loverly books for Christmas this year: my uncle sent me The Annotated Alice in Wonderland, The New Annotated Dracula, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Anne Rice's Angel Time and the first volume in the Bloom County, The Complete Library series by Berkeley Breathed; my mom got me May Sarton's poetry collection The Lion and the Rose, John Connolly's The Gates and Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry; my sister got me a replacement copy of Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City as she absconded with my copy earlier in the year; my LibraryThing SantaThing, bookworm12, sent me Richard Russo's Empire Falls, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow and Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next, First Among Sequels; and my friend Kristin got me The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I bought myself a couple of books, as well: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Impulsive Imp by Howard O'Brien (Anne Rice's father), The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens and Soulless by Gail Carriger. My sister also helped me get a copy of Gregory Maguire's The Next Queen of Heaven from the Concord Free Press. So, I'm looking at a January filled with some great reading!
Looking back on my reading for 2009, I can honestly that I disappointed myself a little. After reaching such a grand goal of 100 books in 2008, I really thought I could do the same again this year. Well, I just squeezed in my 75th book of the year, and that's including 12 audiobooks this year, the most I've ever listened to in a year. So really, I only read 63 books this year. I think part of the problem was that I tried to throw myself into too many ready challenges right at the beginning of the year, so that I was feeling overwhelmed by them from almost the very beginning. Another was that I got so sick in March and didn't feel like reading anything for the better part of 2 months. Then in August, for whatever reason I only read one book, and then the same happened again this month (but December was an extraordinarily hectic month for me, so I'm letting that one slide). Overall, just a unusual reading year for me.

I did read some excellent books this year, though. My top books for the year:
  • January - Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
  • February - Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • March - Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
  • April - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • May - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • June - Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart
  • July - The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
  • August - The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  • September - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • October - The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • November - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • December - A Dog at Sea by J.F. Englert
My overall breakdown of my cateogories for the year:
  • Childrens - 6
  • Classics - 4
  • Fantasy - 2
  • Fiction - 17
  • Graphic Novel - 9
  • Horror - 1
  • Manga - 1
  • Mystery - 7
  • Non-Fiction - 3
  • Poetry - 1
  • Travel - 1
  • YA - 23
  • Total pages read (taking audiobooks into account, as well) - 19,456
I only read 5 off the 1001 List and 3 Agatha Christie's. Twelve books were audiobooks, and 13 were ARC's. One thing I'd like to do in 2009 is cut back on the number of ARC's that I'm requesting. I think I'm going to stick to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program, as that's where I started and I've got so many greats books of my own that I'd like to read, I think it would just be best to take a step back from the ARC's for awhile. Not my best reading year, but I guess it's not so bad either, when I start looking at it like this.

Looking ahead to 2010, I've set up some reading challenges for myself: a Baker's Dozen Challenge (13 books with the number 13 somehow in the title); If Neil Wrote It, I Want to Read It (basically, I want to work my way through most of Neil Gaiman's work this year as I've read most of his YA and kids stuff, but somehow have never gotten around to his novels...); my 1001 Challenge (1 book a month from the 1001 List); and my Agatha Christie Challenge (1 book a month). I've also joined the 1010 in 2010 group on LibraryThing, where you read any number of books in 10 categories of your choosing. What's good about many of these challenges is that multiple books will be able to cross over into other challenges. So, hopefully we'll be able to see how that goes for me this year. A little more flexibility in these challenges will be better for me in the long run. At least, that's my hope and I'm sticking to it for right now.

Not much else to report on this final Salon of 2009. I've still got the contest open for a set of J.F. Enlgert's Bull Moose Dog Run series of comedy mysteries. I hope everyone enters and then tells their friends about it. The series is a lot of fun to read, and I'd really like to spread the word! The contest will be open until Friday, January 8, 2010 and you can enter here.

I hope everyone has a great New Year's and happy reading!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book giveaway - A Dog About Town, A Dog Among Diplomats and A Dog at Sea by J.F. Englert

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J.F. Englert's latest installment in his clever Bull Moose Dog Run mystery series, A Dog at Sea, is going to be released later this year, and in celebration of the release, I'm giving away a set of all three books! You can read my reviews of the series here (A Dog About Town), here (A Dog Among Diplomats) and here (A Dog At Sea).

I'll be shipping the books through Amazon, so this giveaway is only going to be open to the U.S. this time. Also, because of Amazon's 4-for-3 deal, if the new book is included in this promotion after it is released, I'll even throw in a fourth book of the winner's choosing so long as it is covered under the promotion and is under $9.99. If the new book is not covered under the 4-for-3 deal, you'll just be getting the 3 books.

For a chance to win, just leave a comment to this post. If you would like more entries, follow my blog (if you are already, just let me know), link back to this post from your blog and tweet or mention this on Facebook! Just let me know that you've done each of these things and I'll throw your name in the hat again. (And not to worry - those that already left comments on the other post will still be counted!)

I'll leave this giveaway open until January 8, 2010 (that gives Amazon plenty of time to get the book in stock).

These books are really good and I'd like the word to get out as much as possible, so please let your fellow reader friends know about the contest!!

Good luck!!

75. A Dog at Sea by J.F. Englert

#75

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Title: A Dog at Sea
Related Series: Bull Moose Dog Run Mystery
Author: J.F. Englert
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780440245414
Publisher: Dell
Author Website: A Dog About Town
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5 stars
Finished: 12-22-09
Challenge: 75 Books 09

From Amazon:
A CANINE CRUISE. A STORM OF MURDER. A LABRADOR NAMED RANDOLPH: OVERWEIGHT, OVERLY INTELLIGENT—AND OVERBOARD…

For Randolph and his owner, Harry, a struggling artist, it was dog heaven: a pet lovers cruise filled with canine experts and gung-ho trainers—plus plenty of art lectures for Harry and midnight buffets for Randolph. The two have come on board to follow clues that they hope will lead to the whereabouts of the long-lost Imogen, Randolph’s mistress and Harry’s beloved girlfriend. But no one prepared Randolph for being put on a diet (the horror!), not to mention a new meaning for “poop deck”—or anything about murder. Especially when one victim gets killed twice.

Now, with a storm bearing down on the ship, Milton Tabasco, TV’s celebrated dog “mutterer,” threatening to drive him mad, and a mysterious stalker shadowing Harry’s every move, Randolph is running out of time to catch a killer. After all, this Lab was born to eat—not to swim.…

In the latest installment of J.F. Englert's clever Bull Moose Dog Run mystery series, A Dog at Sea, we find our narrator Randolph, an acutely intelligent black Labrador with a penchant for good literature and an expanding waistline, and his human, Harry, on what seems to be a harmless dog-lover's pleasure cruise headed for Curaçao. In reality, the cruise is a useful cover story for their continued search for Imogen, Harry's love and Randolph's true owner. As typically happens with Randolph and Harry, they find themselves involved, through circumstances beyond their control, in a murder mystery and Randolph takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of it all.

After the events of A Dog Among Diplomats when Harry and Randolph discover possible clues to Imogen's whereabouts, they decide to follow the clues to Curaçao to see if they can find her. Using the cruise as a cover for their real purpose, Harry and Randolph also decide to use their time to rest and recuperate. However, this idea is short-lived after what appears to be a suicide on board the ship leads Randolph to think that there is something more going on. Using what limited lines of communication are available to his canine self and the help of Cha Cha the New Yorkie, Randolph helps lead Harry to the necessary clues to help solve the murder in a final whodunit reveal that would have made Dame Christie proud. It is a story of professional ambition (at any cost), unrequited love, corporate sponsored tropical storms and psychotropic doggie treats on the high seas.

I use the word "mystery" loosely here in describing the book. Englert's books are hard to categorize, but since there is a murder mystery in each book, this seems to be the easiest place to shoehorn them. The previous books are so much more than mere "murder mysteries" and A Dog at Sea is no exception. There is also the continuing mystery about Imogen, her whereabouts and the secrets surrounding her past. The books can also be labeled just as easily as comedies; Englert has a knack for creating memorable characters and his sense of humor is the perfect balance of dry wit and downright funny. I found myself laughing out loud through several parts of the book. However, what constantly surprises me in each book, and again A Dog at Sea is no exception, is Randolph's insight into the human condition. From his dog point of view looking out on the people around him, he is able to have a keener perspective on what makes people tick, and those human qualities are reflected back through him; his need for companionship, his feelings of loss and betrayal by Imogen, his loyalty to Harry. It's these very human emotions that Randolph feels that really make the books stand out for me; that in the midst of all the chaos of the murder and the humor sprinkled throughout the book, there are these shining moments of real emotion. I don't know; maybe I'm reading too much into the books, but I honestly feel that J.F. Englert has a really unique and refreshing way of telling Randolph's story and I'm hoping that we'll be able to read more of his adventures in the future.

A Dog at Sea will be released on December 29, 2009 through Dell.

To read more of Randolph's own views on the world, stop by his blog. Also, I'm giving away a set of all three Bull Moose Dog Run books here. And finally, you can read my interview with J.F. Englert from last year here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Salon 12 XII 2009 - Not too much to report except that we have a winner!






Good morning, fellow Salon Members! Ah, the holiday season. The spreading of good cheer. The holiday cards to be filled out and mailed. The shopping. The baking. The total lack of enough hours in the day to get it all done. Where does the time go? Have I gotten those reviews written that I was going to get done last week? Nope. Have I read any another book since last week? And, nope. Do I hope that I can at least get one more book in before the end of the year. I hope so!

On a positive note, I've got a winner for the copy of James Dashner's The Maze Runner that I was giving away; congratulations to Sarah! She was lucky enough to have her name pulled from the hat. If you didn't win, don't despair! I've still got a giveaway going for a set of J.F. Englert's Bull Moose Dog Run Mystery books here. Good luck!

So, not much else to report for this week. I'm sitting on my bed while I'm typing this Salon, and I'm looking at my bookshelves and realizing that it's time to do some serious reorganizing and purging. I know that I have several books that I will never read again and maybe it's time to clean those out. Plus, the shelves are getting a little unorganized, so I think I'm going to have to take a weekend after the first of the year and do some serious housecleaning on them. Take out the stuff that I know I won't reread and get it all alphabetized again. That will be a good project for a nice, snowy weekend. Anybody else feel the need to do some housecleaning on their books too?

Hope everyone has a great week and happy reading!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book giveaways! The Maze Runner by James Dashner and the complete Bull Moose Dog Run Mystery series by J.F. Englert

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Don't forget, I've got 2 giveaways currently on my blog. The first is for a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and the second is for a set of all 3 of the Bull Moose Dog Run Mysteries by J.F. Englert.

I'm closing up the James Dashner giveaway this Sunday, December 13, so don't forget to stop by to find out all the details about entering. The J.F. Englert giveaway will be open until January 8, 2010, so that Amazon has enough time to get the books in stock.

Good luck!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Book giveaway #2 - A Dog About Town, A Dog Among Diplomats and A Dog at Sea by J.F. Englert

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J.F. Englert's latest installment in his Bull Moose Dog Run mystery series, A Dog at Sea, is going to be released later this year, and in celebration of the release, I'm giving away a set of all three books! You can read my reviews of the first two books in the series here (A Dog About Town) and here (A Dog Among Dilpomats).

I'll be shipping the books through Amazon, so this giveaway is only going to be open to the U.S. this time. Also, because of Amazon's 4-for-3 deal, if the new book is included in this promotion after it is released, I'll even throw in a fourth book of the winner's choosing so long as it is covered under the promotion and is under $9.99. If the new book is not covered under the 4-for-3 deal, you'll just be getting the 3 books.

For a chance to win, just leave a comment to this post. If you would like more entries, follow my blog (if you are already, just let me know), link back to this post from your blog and tweet or mention this on Facebook! Just let me know that you've done each of these things and I'll throw your name in the hat again.

I'll leave this giveaway open until January 8, 2010 (that gives Amazon plenty of time to get the book in stock).

Good luck!!

Book giveaway #1 - The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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I had the opportunity to meet James Dashner last month, and due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to buy a second copy of his new book, The Maze Runner, in order to get a signed copy. But this works out in your favor! Because, now that I have 2 copies of the book, I have one to share. So, I'll be sending off my extra copy to one lucky reader. All you need to do is leave a comment here. And for extra entries, follow my blog (if you are already, just let me know), link back to this post from your blog and tweet or mention this on Facebook!

I'll leave this open until next Sunday, December 13, 2009.

Good luck!!

Sunday Salon 6 XII 2009 - November Wrap-up, Looking Ahead to December and Giveaways!






Good morning, fellow Salon Members! I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving! I spent a loverly day with my mom, who made a 22lb turkey for the two of us. Yes, a 22lb turkey for two people. Because it was on sale and would have been a waste not to buy it. I have had so much turkey in the last couple of weeks that if I don't have turkey again until next Thanksgiving, it may be too soon!!

I thought October had been a good reading month for me, but November proved even better. Twelve books! Part of that was because I was house-sitting for my mom for 2 weeks in November and that always gives me a lot of time to read (no distractions like I have when I'm at home) and the other part is that I picked up on an old guilty pleasure again, X-Men comics. I've been reading X-Men comics for over 30 years, and while my interest waxes and wanes periodically, I always come back to them. This time however, I've been picking up the collected trade paperback editions, getting entire story lines at one time. Nothing of any great literary value, but fun brain candy all the same. Looking back on November, here's what I read:
For the most part, everything that I read this month was good. The Looking Glass Wars stuff is always a good read, and with the third book finally released, it was great to be able to sit down and read the entire series through. The X-Men stuff, again, is nothing staggering in the literary sense, but still fun escapism all the same. A Christmas Carol is a yearly read for me, so I really shouldn't count it, but I do. It's one of my favorite Christmas stories, and with the release of the new Disney animated film this year, I've enjoyed it that much more. I am going to try to read one of Dickens' other Christmas stories before the end of the year. I had never read A Light in the Attic before (in fact, I think the extent of my Shel Silverstein knowledge to this point was The Giving Tree) and when this new anniversary edition was released, I picked up a copy for both myself and my sister, who loves Silverstein. Well, I hate to say it, but I don't know that I'll ever pick up another again. Maybe I just missed out on him as a kid, so I don't have that attachment to him now, but I wasn't all that impressed with the poems, and quite frankly I found some of them to be downright disturbing (especially the ones about kids dying). Maybe I'm just missing the point, but not for me at all. Ella Minnow Pea was another reread for me; I had originally check it out from the library, and enjoyed it so much that when I found a copy of it at a used bookstore during my last trip to Chicago, I picked it up to read on the train ride home. Finally, many of my friends have been telling me that I would love The Time Traveler's Wife, not only because it is a extraordinarily written book, but because it takes place in Chicago and I'd recognize most of the locations in the book, and they were right on all counts! It topped my reading for the month as my favorite book!!

You're probably noticing some skipped reviews up there, and I'm hoping that I can get to them today. They'll be up by the end of the week for sure.

December is going to be another slow reading month for me, I can tell already. There is just so much to do with the holidays and all. Like I said, I do want to try to get in one more Dickens Christmas story, and I have two books that I will be reviewing, Elle Newmark's The Book of Unholy Mischief and J.F. Englert's latest, A Dog at Sea. Beyond that, maybe a couple more X-Men collected editions? Nothing too heavy, that's for sure!

Now, for the giveaways! I had the opportunity to finally meet James Dashner last month, and since I didn't have a copy of his new book handy (The Maze Runner, it was a my house and I was house sitting for my mom), I just went ahead and picked up another copy for him to sign (and again, no camera, so no picture! Curses!). Well, the good news for you is, I'm giving away my other copy to a lucky reader! My other giveaway is a full set of J.F. Englert's books (A Dog About Town, A Dog Among Diplomats and A Dog at Sea). Stop by and enter!

That's all for this Sunday. Happy reading, everyone!