It’s weird how that works…

November 1, 2008 at 11:44 pm (General)

I just recently read Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear. The book is about a disease that is written into our DNA and later gets activated. It’s causing women to miscarry and the fetuses look grotesque… it turns into a world-wide epidemic. The story was quite fascinating… but what was even more interesting was a piece of synchronicity that occurred while I was reading this book.

The book was talking about how a lot of information about genetics was discovered by studying flies. That evening, I was talking with somebody about Sarah Palin, who, while talking about needing to do more for those with special needs, suggested we cut funding for things like… studying flies.

This happens to me CONSTANTLY, though. Something I’m reading about will occur in real life or something related to it will “cross my path”. Isn’t it weird how that happens?

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Need help improving my reviews (and my blog).

October 4, 2008 at 6:20 am (General)

I’m trying to improve my reviews, but I’m not quite sure how to go about doing so. In addition, I sometimes wonder: if I’m reading a book that tons of other people have read, do people really want to hear about it? I don’t know. It frustrates me.

So, I’m asking for a favor. Two, really.

1. If you have a few moments, please review the list of books I’ve read so far this year. If you have any questions or would like to see a review on a book that I haven’t reviewed yet, please let me know. I’d also love it if you’d read some of my latest reviews and let me know what you would like to know more about each book or anything I left unanswered (please leave those comments on this post).

2. How do you keep your blog fresh? And do you plan out what you’re going to do ahead of time? Do you rate the books? If so, how? Any other book blogging tips? I’m interested in how other book bloggers maintain their own blogs.

Thanks in advance for helping me out!

Here are the books that I’ve read so far this year:

  1. The Sweetest Gift by Jillian Hart (3/10)
  2. Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton (5/10)
  3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (10/10)
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (8/10)
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (9/10)
  6. Nothing Changes Love by Jacqueline Bard (5/10)
  7. The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman (7/10)
  8. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (9/10)
  9. Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis (9/10)
  10. Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea (9/10)
  11. Secrets of a Former Fat Girl(8/10)
  12. For the Love of Letters by Lisa Delany (8/10)
  13. The Good Body by Eve Ensler (8/10)
  14. He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan (7/10)
  15. Animal Instincts by Gena Showalter (7/10)
  16. The Best American Erotica 2007 by Susie Bright (8/10)
  17. Family Album by Danielle Steel (7/10)
  18. The Blonde Geisha by Jina Bacarr (8/10)
  19. The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle (7/10)
  20. The Giver by Lois Lowry (10/10)
  21. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (9/10)
  22. Area 51 (Book 1) by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  23. Calico Bush by Rachel Field (7/10)
  24. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (10/10)
  25. Area 51: The Reply by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  26. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb(8/10)
  27. Area 51: The Mission by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  28. Area 51: The Sphinx by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  29. Leonardo’s Shadow: Or, My Amazing Life as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Servant by Christopher Grey (8/10)
  30. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (8/10)
  31. The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff (10/10)
  32. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (9/10)
  33. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (9/10)
  34. Enchanted: Erotic Bedtime Stories for Women by Nancy Madore (5/10)
  35. Devil Who Tamed Her by Johanna Lindsey (6/10)
  36. Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner (8/10)
  37. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (9/10)
  38. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (10/10)
  39. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin (5/10)
  40. Area 51: The Grail by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  41. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (7/10)
  42. Area 51: Excalibur by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  43. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (8/10)
  44. Area 51: The Truth by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  45. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (7/10)
  46. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney (9/10)
  47. Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney (8/10)
  48. The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson (9/10)
  49. Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson (9/10)
  50. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (8/10)
  51. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (4/10)
  52. Talk to the Hand by Lynn Truss (8/10)
  53. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs (9/10)
  54. The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney (9/10)
  55. What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney (8/10)
  56. Living Gluten-Free for Dummies by Danna Korn (9/10)
  57. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher (8/10)
  58. The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams (8/10)
  59. Fit From Within by Victoria Moran (9/10)
  60. The Secrets of Skinny Chicks by Karen Bridson (9/10)
  61. The Nine Modern Day Muses by Jill Badonsky (8/10)
  62. Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists by Kay Greenlees (9/10)
  63. I Was a Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum (8/10)
  64. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney (8/10)
  65. My Name is Number 4 by Ting-Xing Ye (8/10)
  66. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot (8/10)
  67. How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot (8/10)
  68. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (8/10)
  69. My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson (8/10)
  70. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (8/10)
  71. The Eight by Katherine Neville (9/10)
  72. High Risk by Emma Darcy (6/10)
  73. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (8/10)
  74. Hunter’s Run by George R.R. Martin, Garner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham (7/10)
  75. The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton (9/10)
  76. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (9/10)
  77. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (10/10)
  78. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (10/10)
  79. My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer (7/10)

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I’m Y.A. and I’m O.K.

July 20, 2008 at 10:11 am (General, Young Adult)

There’s an article in the NY Times today called “I’m Y.A. and I’m O.K.” talking about the hazards of having a book labeled as Young Adult. As many of you know, I write YA reviews for the Paperspine blog. I sometimes have a difficult time deciding what is and what is not YA fiction. Some books that are considered YA, I read it and think “That was only YA if you’re thinking of ‘young’ adults as in an adult who is younger, like 18 – 22 or something.” Some “adult fiction” I wonder “Wait… why wasn’t this listed as YA?” Authors are afraid to be listed as YA because it hurts sales but, as mentioned in the NY Times article:

Many adults don’t realize how much the Y.A. genre has changed since their days of reading teenage romances and formulaic novels. “A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. is the Garden of Eden of literature,” said Sherman Alexie, whose first Y.A. novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” won the National Book Award for young people’s literature last year. Even the prestige of that award didn’t make him impervious to the stigma. “Some acquaintances felt I was dumbing down,” Alexie said in a phone interview. “One person asked me, ‘Wouldn’t you have rather won the National Book Award for an adult, serious work?’ I thought I’d been condescended to as an Indian — that was nothing compared to the condescension for writing Y.A.”

I have to say that some of the BEST books I’ve read have been YA books. In fact, some of the more popular books amongst book bloggers – and even non-book-blogging adults are YA – see also the Harry Potter books, the Twilight books, even The Book Thief.

I understand why they separate these books out as YA… sort of. But, it does sometimes make for a frustrating experience when I’m looking for a book – on two counts, actually. The first frustration is trying to figure out where my book might be. These things aren’t really “advertised” as young adult, so sometimes I’m in the “adult” section, get frustrated, go to some sort of “help desk” only to be told that the book is YA. The second frustration comes from the fact that, in a bookstore, I am a browser. I want all my fiction books to be in one place. Apparently, I’m an anomaly because most bookstores and libraries are set up with “romance” sections, “sci-fi” sections, “mystery” sections, and, yes, “young adult” sections. Very frustrating.

But, mostly, I’m curious about why there’s such a negative perception STILL about YA? And how do you define what IS and what ISN’T YA?

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If you’re participating in a numbers reading challenge

June 22, 2008 at 11:58 am (100 book challenge, General)

If you’re participating in a “numbers” reading challenge (and by that, I mean x books in y amount of time – like the 100 books in a year challenge), what do you count? Do you count everything? Fiction? Non-fiction? Books with short stories? Diet books? Craft books? Recipe books (surely I’m not the only one who sits down and reads these cover to cover)?

For the past several months, I’ve ONLY been counting the fiction books that I’ve read. Part of my reasoning for doing the 100 book challenge was to encourage me to read more fiction – non-fiction has never been an issue. But, I will say, I usually read one or two books each week (some weeks, I read SEVERAL) that “don’t count” for one reason or another. I haven’t, for instance, been counting diet books. I haven’t been counting really any non-fiction (not since the first few, anyway). I haven’t been counting craft or recipe books.

Would counting these things be cheating? Would you count them? I’m thinking of counting them, because, hey, I read them. I feel frustrated when I see my number being so low (of course, I do try to remind myself that I have already read more books this year than many people will in their entire adulthood… it doesn’t help) because I KNOW I’ve read more than that. Also, although this is a contest with myself… I feel frustrated when I see people reading tons of short books to up their count (aka I’m not the only one reading this many books in a year). And while it’s GREAT that people want to read more… and not everybody reads quickly… I dunno. I guess I just feel frustrated and annoyed by the whole situation. I feel like I’m being penalized for wanting to have some sort of “rules” as to what I count. I also feel like… well, most of my books are 400 or more pages (with a few exceptions) and that almost feels like I’m being penalized as well.

I’m kind of lost as to what I should count and what I shouldn’t count. This really has very little to do with what “officially” counts and what I feel comfortable counting.

I guess my question, after that long rambly post, is this: what do you count for your challenge? And, how did you determine that? Did you decide on the “rules” ahead of time? Or do you just count ANY book you read?

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Books Read (so far) in 2008 (beginning of June update)

June 8, 2008 at 12:49 am (100 book challenge, General) (, )

Here are the books that I’ve read so far this year:

  1. The Sweetest Gift by Jillian Hart (3/10)
  2. Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton (5/10)
  3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (10/10)
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (8/10)
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (9/10)
  6. Nothing Changes Love by Jacqueline Bard (5/10)
  7. The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman (7/10)
  8. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (9/10)
  9. Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis (9/10)
  10. Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea (9/10)
  11. Secrets of a Former Fat Girl(8/10)
  12. For the Love of Letters by Lisa Delany (8/10)
  13. The Good Body by Eve Ensler (8/10)
  14. He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan (7/10)
  15. Animal Instincts by Gena Showalter (7/10)
  16. The Best American Erotica 2007 by Susie Bright (8/10)
  17. Family Album by Danielle Steel (7/10)
  18. The Blonde Geisha by Jina Bacarr (8/10)
  19. The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle (7/10)
  20. The Giver by Lois Lowry (10/10)
  21. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (9/10)
  22. Area 51 (Book 1) by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  23. Calico Bush by Rachel Field (7/10)
  24. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (10/10)
  25. Area 51: The Reply by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  26. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb(8/10)
  27. Area 51: The Mission by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  28. Area 51: The Sphinx by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  29. Leonardo’s Shadow: Or, My Amazing Life as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Servant by Christopher Grey (8/10)
  30. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (8/10)
  31. The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff (10/10)
  32. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (9/10)
  33. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (9/10)
  34. Enchanted: Erotic Bedtime Stories for Women by Nancy Madore (5/10)
  35. Devil Who Tamed Her by Johanna Lindsey (6/10)
  36. Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner (8/10)
  37. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (9/10)
  38. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (10/10)
  39. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin (7/10)
  40. Area 51: The Grail by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  41. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (7/10)
  42. Area 51: Excalibur by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  43. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (8/10)
  44. Area 51: The Truth by Robert Doherty (9/10)
  45. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (7/10)

    If you have reviewed any of the books that I have posted about on this blog, please feel free to email me at thisredheadreads@gmail.com with the link to your review and I will add the link to the post for that book.

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    Book city!

    May 12, 2008 at 5:32 pm (Articles, General)

    Seattle: book city, USA?

    We Seattlites do read a lot. I think there’s several reasons behind this:

    • We have an excellent library system.
    • We have a lot of bookstores. (Seriously, it’s very bad. I used to be a cook at a bar. Almost all of my tips went to books. Yep, I’m a geek.)
    • We have weather conducive to reading. Lots of times it is drizzly and all you want to do is curl up with a good book and come coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. (Mmm… hot cocoa.)
    • We have a lot of smart people and a lot of geeks. This is more influential than you might think. We have book geeks, computer geeks, gaming geeks… so many geeks. And guess what? Most of them read regularly.
    • We have a pretty good transit system. I see a lot of people who, in other places, might be driving. But here, they’re on the bus, peacefully reading. (Any ideas on how to avoid motion sickness from reading on the bus? I do it until I know I’m about to get really ill, then I stop. It’s annoying.)
    • We are a pretty solitary bunch.  An article and a seven-minute documentary about “The Seattle Freeze”.

    It all leads to a bookish culture, I think.

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    Memories of a Sixth Grade "Readathon"

    April 26, 2008 at 8:56 pm (General) (, )

    In sixth grade when our teacher announced that we’d be having a “readathon”, I was so excited. We were told that we could bring snacks, pillows and blankets (if we wanted to), and, of course, we could bring any books that we wanted to read.

    Although I did bring a snack, I didn’t care so much about eating it. I was just excited to have a whole day to read. This was probably the first time in my life that nobody said “Okay, you’ve read enough. Go do something else,” after several hours of reading. We were even allowed to read through recess. (This was a constant argument between the “playground duties” and myself – if I was outside, it should have been enough. I felt I should have been allowed to read. They thought differently. Hence, no reading during recess.) I brought two books to read. The first book I don’t remember – it was probably whatever book I’d checked out from the library recently. This doesn’t mean it was a bad book, just that I don’t particularly remember what that book was.

    I do remember the second book, though: Family Album by Danielle Steel. My mother had given me the book for Christmas. Remember that at this point, I was eleven years old, maybe twelve. I think she either took the recommendation of somebody else or just picked it up off the shelves and only read a page or two – if that. Otherwise, what was she thinking?

    This book was probably a bit too mature for most sixth graders (or at least, their parents would have thought so – sixth graders when I was a sixth grader were much more “aware” of certain things than sixth graders were when my mother was a sixth grader). In this book, among many other things, a young girl runs off, joins a commune, participates in an orgy (several, actually), spends a lot of time high on drugs, and ends up pregnant. She later ends up with her best friend’s father – while she is still in high school. Gay sex is described – not in extremely graphic details, but had my mother known, that right there would have prevented her from giving me the book. One of the girls in the family is a complete slut and dresses like one. Really… what was she thinking?

    Anyway, when I started reading that day, I didn’t know much of what the book was about. My teacher wasn’t thrilled, to say the least. We had a minor argument that ended in “Next time, bring something more age appropriate.” The problem was that I had already read pretty much everything that was “age appropriate” in the school library – and she knew it – so she let me keep reading. Since we were scattered about the library, wherever we wanted, I chose a smallish spot in a little nook near the checkout desk. It kept me apart from most of the other kids – and shielded me from any noise they made. It was just me, my book, and a decent amount of time to read. I read until the end of the day and nearly missed my bus – my teacher had to come find me because I was so engrossed in my story that I hadn’t noticed everyone else had left.

    A few weeks later, my mother confiscated the book. “This book is too old for you. You can have it back in a few years.” I stared at her a bit dumbfounded – didn’t she remember that this was the book she’d given me just a couple of months prior? Of course, even if I had mentioned that, my mother probably wouldn’t have remembered or believed me. And, if she would have believed me, she wouldn’t have let on. I think she probably knew, but I can’t confirm that. Why did she suddenly change her mind about the book? Had she just noticed what was in it? If not, why did she give it to me in the first place – and then change her mind? I didn’t know then. And I still don’t know.

    But every time I come across that book, I’m reminded of that delightful day in sixth grade when I was given a whole day just to read.

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    First post

    April 6, 2008 at 5:33 pm (General) ()

    I’ve been meaning to start a book blog for quite some time now, I just “hadn’t gotten around to it”. Well, now I have. Urgh… intros are always so hard, aren’t they? Want the facts?

    My name is Misa. I’m currently older than 25 but less than 30. I live in Seattle with my husband and our four furkids. This is my first WordPress blog, but I’ve used Blogger and LiveJournal before. I read a lot, so much so that many of my friends say that I don’t read books, I absorb them. I spent far too long reading almost non-fiction almost exclusively, but I found that I missed reading stories, so I’ve drifted back into fiction. Aside from that, I don’t know what to say here. Like I said, intros are hard. You usually learn more about the blogger through their posts, rather than through their intro. So I’ll end this here, and get on with the blogging.

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