Friday, October 30, 2009

Dracula - Bram Stoker

Just in time for Halloween, I finished Dracula.

Last year I decided that it was about time I read Dracula. I had seen Leslie Klinger's The New Annotated Dracula and knew this was the version that I had to own. It was not before long that I realized this was the wrong version for my first time Dracula read. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE all of the information but the annotations were so lengthy and drew me in (cue: me flipping through the pages to read a note that was referenced 3 chapters earlier) it was going to take me 3 times as long to get through the book. I finally had to ignore most of the notes, knowing that I would be able to read them later.

My favorite part of the book would have to be the beginning, when Jonathan is at Dracula's castle. The descriptions are great, with just enough creepiness to get my heart pumping. I am ashamed to say that I was totally in the dark about how the book ended. I did not know what happened to Dracula, I actually thought the exact opposite happened. It was a surprising revelation as well as a fun one. It is nice (and a bit pathetic) to be surprised by the end of a classic.

I found it interesting that Dracula's connection with Mina reminded me of Voldemort and Harry Potter. The marks on the forehead and the mental connections that they had were similar enough that I began to wonder if J.K. Rowling had any inspiration from Dracula while writing HP.

I am so glad I can finally say that I have read Dracula. It was an interesting story that I waited way too long to finally read. Now that I have finished, I am excited the next Halloween I will dive in again. I wonder what kind of details I missed the first time around.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ruined: A Novel - Paula Morris

Ruined: A Novel is a ghost story, set in New Orleans, about Rebecca - a girl who has to stay with her father's friend while he is in China for a few months. I read Ruined: A Novel to get in the mood for Halloween. This book was quite enjoyable. It was a relaxing - not too creepy - ghost story. It was also packed with New Orleans facts, without being too "teachy" (you know what I'm talking about Dan Brown readers).

Morris paints a fabulous picture of not only the look and feel of New Orleans, but also the history behind the old money parties and lifestyle. Rebecca is a complete outsider in her school as well as in the town. She doesn't have any real friends until one day, while walking in a cemetery, she stumbles across a girl about her age who is a ghost.

The story, of course, had its twists and turns, and once a new plot was started it was fairly easy to see where it would lead. However, this did not stop me from quickly turning those pages to confirm my suspicions.

I really enjoyed this story as a mild Halloween read to get me in the mood for the season. It was fun to step into a world I have heard a lot about. New Orleans is a fascinating place to set a ghost story. It is rich in history, with the class issues and various religious beliefs to go with it, and Morris touched on all of these things.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Official Book Club Selection - Kathy Griffin (audiobook)

Let me start off by saying that I love Kathy Griffin. I never really paid attention to her until a couple years ago. I just happened to catch one of her acts and I have been hooked ever since.

I listened to the audiobook of Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin in the car to and from D.C. When I first turned it on, I have to admit I had my doubts. When you listen to someone do stand-up comedy, it is an interesting adjustment to hear them clearly reading something instead of doing an act from memory. However, by the second chapter, I think Kathy and I had found our groove.

It was really interesting to find out a bit about her family (she had brother in prison), as well as her divorce (I didn't even know she had been married). I also love to hear about how she really is around the famous people she talks all the crap about. Some of them seem to take it really well (Jerry Seinfeld) while others ban her from their shows. She also talks a bit about how her comedy as well as her show (My Life on the D List) have cost her some friendships.

Like I said before, I love Kathy. Sure, sometimes she goes too far, but I appreciate how real she is. She says what she feels and talks about what she sees, and she does it in a way that is hilarious. Her comedy is definitely not something that can be enjoyed by everyone, but if you are someone who can handle how vulgar and in your face Kathy is, I would absolutely recommend you pick up this book. I recommend her audiobook because Kathy is meant to be listened to, not read.

**Side-note about iTunes audiobooks:
I downloaded this audiobook from iTunes but I think it will be the only time I use their audiobooks. The entire book downloaded as one set/song so I couldn't just stop, listen to some music and skip to a specific chapter. This may not seem that bad but it seriously annoyed me. I don't know if Amazon audiobooks download the same way but I may have to stick with good ol' CDs because I really like to have some sort of idea what spot of the book I am in. Just something to keep in mind when downloading audiobooks.

Do you have any experience with Amazon/Barnes and Noble audiobook downloads?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

I waited and waited, wondering what would happen in District 12 after The Hunger Games. Finally, the day had come and I got to bring home my bright, beautiful book. Would it be worth the wait?

Absoutly! It was amazing...incredible!! Suzanne Collins definitely didn't let me down with Catching Fire. This book was everything I was hoping for and more. I bought it the day after it was released—knowing that I could devote 2 full days to reading/savoring it. I set it down only to eat, sleep, watch a movie with my husband, and get a haircut. I thought those momentary breaks would drive me crazy with anticipation—and they did—but I was surprisingly appreciative of them because they allowed me to stop and think about what I had read for a moment before I found out how the book ended. The thing that is driving me crazy is the cliffhanger, even though I knew it was coming.

This book completely captivated me. I am surprised that when I think about the book, I am not thinking about the ending and how I think the third book with turn out, I’m thinking about the middle pieces of the story that captivated me. (Okay, maybe I’m thinking about the end a little) But I was sitting, getting my haircut and all the women around me were talking about the most recent gossip in the magazines (gossip I hate to admit I would usually jump right into) but at that moment it didn’t seem real to me. In that moment, the memories of the book felt more real than the Hollywood drama. It was then that I realized how much the book had brought me into its story and I was okay with stopping for a few hours to get my haircut because I was still living the story in my mind and working out all the details. Isn't that how it is supposed to be?

I can’t wait to see how it ends.

P.S. This is a scheduled post, as I am still in D.C. I hope it worked :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Much Love for D.C.

Tomorrow my husband and I are off to D.C. He is running the Marine Corps Marathon and I am really excited for him. Every time we go to D.C. he looks around longingly at the people running, wishing that he could be one of them. Last time we were there he did bring his running shoes and I allowed him to take some time out of our morning to go for a run. Well, he is finally participating in his first marathon, so it is only fitting that it should be in D.C.

Unfortunately, the marathon falls on the same day and Dewey's Read-a-Thon, which I really would have liked to participate in. I would have loved to be a cheerleader and put my crazy book obsessing energy to good use.

The good news is I LOVE D.C. It is one of my favorite places, and since moving to NC I have been lucky enough to visit every year.

My first trip to D.C. was in 2006 and was actually the most special for many reasons. I was finally able to see all the monuments, the White House, and stay in a beautiful hotel, but it was also when I got engaged. My husband proposed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in the pouring rain (I am obsessed with rain).

We were running back to our hotel and stopped to take this picture when the rain let up for a moment.

Our next trip was right after we got married (2007) and I moved to NC (from CA...oh how I miss you California). We went with my mom and step-dad (who helped drive me cross-country).

My husband, mom and step-dad at the WWII Memorial.

Then, I went back in '07, this time with my best-friend and her December. The good thing about going in December is there is nobody there, but this is because it is insanely cold. I have never been as cold as I was walking around then. Still, it is beautiful when it is deserted.

Arlington National Cemetery decorated with wreaths and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall(which is usually packed with people).

Finally, my last trip was in November last year, the day after the election (it was awesome...I have the Nov. 5th NY Times and the Washington Post from D.C. - I know, I'm a dork)

My husband with his crazy (and amazing) mom, in front of the Capitol Building - it is beautiful in the Fall.

So now I am getting ready for my next trip to D.C. There is a good chance it will be the last one for a while (*sniff*), since I am moving back to CA next year, but we are planning to make it a memorable trip. I'll have pictures when I get back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My First Challenge!!

I first heard about Shelf Discovery: Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading last week and immediately knew that it was something I had to read. I feel like somehow I missed so many of the books that other people read and loved when they were growing up. I have been slowly making my way through many of these, scattering them through all the other books I am reading, but it is not going as fast as I had hoped.

Then I saw that Booking Mama is hosting the Shelf Discovery Challenge. It's PERFECT! This is exactly what I am looking for to get the extra boost I need.

By checking out Amazon's handy "Look Inside" feature I see that the book is broken up into different categories. I think I am going to try to make each book from a different category.
I may change one of the books but I think this is what my list is going to look like:

1. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
2. Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan
3. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
4. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
5. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
6. I can't decide between:
The Clan of the Cave Bear
by Jean M. Auel
or Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Any suggestions?

Here are the basics from Booking Mama, check out her blog to get all the details and sign up.

The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 - April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a "book report" to share your thoughts with others!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Loot!

Yay for finally being able to post about giveaways, which means I have more chances to win. So, here is my first giveaway post. Most of these I found at Jo-Jo loves to read!!! Thank you Jo-Jo!

J. Kaye's Book Blog is giving away an audio book of A Seperate Country by Robert Hicks

Both Bookin' with "BINGO" and The Sweet Bookshelf are giving away The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.

all about {n} is giving away The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes.

And finally, Passages to the Past is giving away The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger.

That First *Click*

A few months ago, I was perusing the internet and I stumbled across a blog. Now, this wasn't just any blog, this was a book blog. A book blog?! I didn't even know that something like this existed! How could it be that something so wonderful, so magical,, was out there just waiting to answer my every book obsessed wish? Then I saw it...blogroll...hmmm that looks interesting...*click*...oh my! That first click opened up a whole new world for me. All these blogs, with all these book reviews and something I had never heard of before...challenges!

I was like a little kid who found the Halloween candy stash. I consumed and consumed, afraid that if I turned away for a moment my stash would disappear. That is how my husband found me...completely immersed in my candy stash blogs, face covered with chocolate, fingers frantically clicking through posts and blogs, a sugar rush that would last for days.

The first few days are a bit of a blur, I spent every waking hour clicking through blogs, adding bookmarks, and taking notes on books I wanted to buy. By the end of the week, my eyes crossed every time I looked at the computer. I took a few days off to recuperate, and reminded myself that there was in fact still a world outside of these blogs I had come to know and love.

When I finally allowed myself to turn on the computer again, I was confidant I understood the importance of moderation. I had created a healthy relationship...okay fine, healthy obsession, with these blogs. I would read them quietly, watching for books I would enjoy or new blogs to follow (yes, I had finally discovered Google Reader...ahhh the joy) and the relationship/obsession worked well for me, but slowly I began to want more. I was no longer satisfied to sit back and watch...I wanted to participate. I wanted a blog of my own!!

Did I dare? Oh...I dared! So here it very first blog, where I will share my book obsessed experiences and finally join a few challenges. So...Welcome!

Monday, October 19, 2009


I like to talk…a lot. I also love to read books, so naturally I talk about books. Most of my friends and family don’t share the same obsession with books that I do so I usually end up talking about my new favorite book while they nod along. This blog is a way for me to discuss my love for books with people who can fully appreciate and understand my feelings.

My reviews are very honest and basically what I would tell you if you came up and asked me about a particular book. If I don’t like the book I will definitely explain that but I also try to understand what would make someone with different tastes enjoy it and discuss that aspect as well.

You can also read most of my reviews on Amazon and LibraryThing.

Contact me: abookhoarder (at) gmail (dot) com

Authors and Publishers:

If you would like me to review a book please email me. Accepting a review book does not guarantee a review. If the book and I just are not getting along I may not finish it and therefore won’t write a review. However, just because I finish a book and write a review does not guarantee the review will be positive. My reviews are honest but I try to be open to different styles as well.

Preferred genres: historical fiction, current events, memoirs, young adult, literary fiction, contemporary fiction, general non-fiction (including politics, sociology, and gender studies).

Genres I tend to stay away from: Christian fiction, romance, poetry, and erotica.

I am currently not accepting e-books.

I will not sell an ARC—I hoard all books equally.

I will do my best to review a book in a timely manner. However, reading is my hobby, not my career (if anyone wants to hire me as an “official reader” or make something else up that I can do to read and make loads of money I’m game) and it may take me 2-3 months to post a review. I will try to post ARC reviews on or around the release date.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Bit About Me

I am a confessed book hoarder. I hoard books shamelessly, with little thought to others. It is an addiction—it is a disease.

It started slowly, friends and relatives would ask about a book I had read, or ask to borrow it, and I would buy them their very own copy. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to loan mine out, I just understood the joy of receiving a book for your very own for no reason at all. It was a gift from the goodness of my heart. I was the book fairy.

Then something awful happened—I lent out a book to a close family member and never got it back!! When I confronted this person, I was told the book he read belonged to someone else and he had already returned it! I tried to reassure myself, surely this person realized the mistake and being that it was another family member I would simply ask that person about it and the situation would be remedied. Well the book really did belong to that person—it was a paperback, not the hardback that I had lent.

Panic ensued!

What had happened to my book? Would it ever find its way home?

It has been two years and I fear it is now lost forever.

Only one other time have I lent out a book that did not find its way back to me. However, that was less dramatic being that I lent it to my mom over a year ago and she just hasn’t finished it yet. All hope is not yet lost.

Now, I understand the uncommonness of the first situation but it does not help to stifle the panic that washes over me when I think about allowing someone to read one of my books. As soon as I hear the question “Have you read any good books that you can recommend for me?” I find myself imitating a skittish rabbit, my twitchy eyes constantly in search for an escape route. I know how swiftly that can lead to “Can I borrow it?”

That question sends me into a panic equivalent to my dad catching me sneaking in after curfew.

“Oh…um well…see Dad I was driving home with Mary and she got a…a flat tire, yeah and well we didn’t have any cash left on us after going to the mall so I had to sell my book just to get money to pay for the taxi ride home. So that is why you can’t borrow my book.

I don’t know if it is worse for me to lend out a book and have to imagine the disregard the borrower is treating it with or to have to witness the reality of the situation. I often finish a book that I particularly enjoyed and try to convince my husband to read it. On the rare occasions he actually does take me up on my suggestion, our excitement is quickly smothered by my constant nagging every time he touches the book. “Don’t leave it lying face down.” “Don’t dog-ear the pages.” “Don’t even think about eating Doritos while reading it.”

These are the things that have lead to my realization that I have issues, and the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The question is do I really want to change my hoarding habits?

Sure, I wish I was inherently more generous, one of those people who can give without a moments regret, just to see that happy receiving face. But would I ever get to that point? I doubt it. Of course I would love to get rid of the intense anxiety that comes from having to constantly think up reasons a person can’t borrow a book they know I finished reading last week. There is also the anxiety that comes from thinking about the future—what happens when I have kids? How will I react the first time my child comes to me with those sweet doe eyes and sticky fingers and wants to touch one of my books?! Of course I will have to buy a “family set” of the Harry Potter series because I know those hands aren’t coming near my personal set. Is this selfish hoarding an attribute I am proud of? No, of course not. Do I think I am going to change my ways? Not anytime soon.

Book hoarding is a part of me. When I pick up Harry Potter to read it for the nth time, it carries with it the memories of all our previous encounters. Each book is full of memories for me. Tear stains on the final pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the one time I allowed myself to dog-ear a page (when Darcy professes his love to Elizabeth), the wrinkles in the back cover of Lolita because I brought it to the beach and a wave came up high enough to catch my towel.

Staring at my bookshelf is like flipping through a photo album. I may not lend my books out or give them away when I have finished reading them but I will give new ones as gifts and make heartfelt recommendations with the hope that one day someone will have such a connection that they will proudly display that book on their shelf to be reminded of the feelings it aroused every time they glance at it.