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leah

Leah's Bookshelf

Likes: Horror, macabre, fairy tales, ghosts, hauntings, serial killers, zombies, werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires, time travel, orphans, clones, thrillers, classics, gothic

 

I like to read anything that tells a good story, duh ;) Genre doesn't really matter much but I tend to read dark fiction and fantasy the most. I skip chick lit and romance novels with a few exceptions for the extraordinary.

 

My ratings system:

5 stars - ADORED; plan to read over and over and over.

4 stars - ENJOYED; will likely read once or twice more.

3 stars - LIKED; may or may not read again ... someday.

2 stars - MEH; no plans to read again.

1 stars - I didn't enjoy the story and was lucky to finish.

0 stars - I couldn't or wouldn't finish for reasons that may or may not be listed in the review box.

Currently reading

The Oxford Book of American Short Stories
Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Ray Bradbury, Charlotte Gilman Perkins, Willa Carter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stephen Crane, Washington Irving, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, Nath
Progress: 225/768 pages

Five Hours Down, At Least Triple That To Go

Well I spent about five hours this evening going through my BookLikes blog and shelf. The import appears to be finished but it was not clean, that's for sure. Covers are missing and incorrect books added despite there being correct ISBNs for every book in my import file. Sigh. And while it's super cool that my reviews imported into the blog side of BL, it's not going to be much fun having to go back through all of them to remove extra spacing, remove links to Goodreads, add missing covers, etc.

 

Also, why the heck can't we comment on anything without having to connect to a daggone external network (like Facebook)? I don't want to publish my comments anywhere else, just on the review or status update.

 

Lastly, there definitely has to be integration between reviews and books on shelves. Otherwise, it's pretty pointless for me to use BookLikes. I want to be able to click to my review of a book on my shelf and click to someone else's review on their shelf. Then, when I click on the cover of a book, I'd like to see all the reviews listed under the meta data section. Possible? Certainly. But how long will it take to implement? (Yep I saw BL's announcement.)

 

Crossing my fingers if I stick with BL the kinks will be get worked out quickly, improvements will be made in a timely manner, and I'll have found my new forever home for my book cataloguing, reviewing and socializing.

The Mist In The Mirror by Susan Hill

The Mist in the Mirror - Susan Hill

Rating: 3.5 of 5

Call me old-fashioned or even simple-minded but, when The Mist In The Mirror's plot revolves around Monmouth investigating Vane's mysterious life and background then Monmouth's own mysterious childhood and family history, and none of those mysteries get solved by the last page, I'm disappointed. At the end I was left with way too much speculation, which is fun with some stories but I wanted no ambiguity with this one.

 

Overall, the story was slow-paced, crafted with spot-on 19th century settings and Gothic atmosphere, and featured interesting characters. It was just that dang ending...

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12) by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood) - Charlaine Harris

Rating: 3.5 of 5

 

I enjoyed Deadlocked more than Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11). There was a marked change of pace for Sookie and way more "navel gazing" than I remember in any of the previous books. However that might bore action-hungry readers of the series. Especially if those readers are looking for hot, naughty action. Something else that may annoy readers was the obvious rush to tie everything up for side characters and subplots. It felt a tad bit rushed in that respect.

 

Personally, I'm bummed with where I anticipate Harris is taking Sookie's relationships. The final book is due out May 2013 and, while I'm excited to read it, I'm also dreading where Sookie will end up and with whom.

Fingersmith by Sara Waters

Fingersmith - Sarah Waters

Rating: 3.5 of 5

 

The cover blurb of Fingersmith describes a "Dickensian novel of stunning thrills and reversals...A superbly plotted story of...heartbreaking betrayals," and that it was!

 

Only, it was filled to bursting with villains. Every character in the book, except the infants and poor Charley Wag, was out for themselves and, having been abused and betrayed by others, believed themselves justified in doing the same villainy to others. On the one hand, I could empathize with Maud and Sue; on the other, I loathed the pair of them. Don't get me started on Gentleman or Nurse Spiller, both of whom I wanted to suffer way more than they did.

 

It took about 250 pages before anything happened that I did not foresee. I wasn't bored at all, but I was compelled solely out of curiosity as to how the whole long con would play out rather than actual caring for anyone in the story. The ending was fast and pretty which surprised me given the 500 pages leading up to it. Still, it was satisfactory.

 

Waters is now firmly on my must-read list.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

Rating: 4 of 5

 

First-time read of Something Wicked This Way Comes: it was as good as I expected. And I'm in awe of Bradbury's imagery yet again. The way he wrote everything, everything, so alive and vivid, right down to the dang grass. Dark was uber creepy; I was biting my nails during the parade / in-town search for Will and Jim scenes. While the thing that undid the carnival surprised me in its simplicity, I was satisfied with the ending.

 

Definitely deserves its "classic" status.

At Dawn by Jobie Hughes

At Dawn - Jobie Hughes

Rating: 4.5 of 5

 

At Dawn was that hidden treasure rarely unearthed: a story so relatable, so personal, I wondered if the author possesses telepathy or some psychic ability which allowed him to tap into my life, my innermost thoughts and feelings.

 

Did I agree with everything Stratton Brown did or said or assumed? Hell no. But I understood him, and I suspect many readers will. How many children from highly dysfunctional homes promise themselves they will never turn out like their parents, only to do just that? Breaking the cycle whilst following one's passion isn't an easy journey.

 

I'm giddy and surprised by how good this book was: it grabbed me right from the start and I did NOT want to put it down. Fully realized characters, perfectly paced, provocative themes, and deeply moving. Seriously good stuff.

 

Side note: This is not Young Adult; it's straight up literary fiction with profanity, domestic violence, and a few somewhat explicit sex scenes.

The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body by Frances Ashcroft

The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body - Frances Ashcroft

Rating: 4 of 5

 

Okay, so I think I'll have to read The Spark of Life at least three or four more times to fully understand everything Ashcroft covered. It was fascinating to learn the history of electricity and I couldn't get enough of Chapter 9, "The Doors of Perception."

 

Even for non-scientists, like moi, there is much to learn from The Spark of Life despite its scientific terminology and explanations. What I loved most about the book was how much it made (is making) me think and wonder.

 

The freakiest part of the whole book was pages 309-311 when Ashcroft shared her desire for "a more intimate connection" between the brain and a computer. To paraphrase, she'd like the ability to physically connect her brain to a computer in order to instantly access memories and important information. She admits this is "currently only science fiction. But science fiction often has a way of becoming science fact." Anyone see this episode of X-Files? I'll pass, thank you very much.

 

Notes to self:

 

  • "Ion channels are truly the 'spark of life' for they govern every aspect of our behavior (p.5)."
  • Channel dysfunction is responsible for many diseases.
  • Luigi Galvani first discovered 'animal electricity' = galvanism
  • Thomas-Francois Dalibard, not Ben Franklin, was the first to demonstrate that lightning is an electrical discharge.
  • Alessandro Volta invested the first electric battery = volt (unit of electrical potential)
  • "We too are electrical machines and the electrical currents lie at the heart of life itself (p.33)."
  • Opposite charges attract one another. Similar charges repel. (p.36)
  • Electrical signal travels almost the speed of light: 186 million miles per second; nerve impulses at 0.07 miles per second. (p. 37)
  • Bioelectricity
  • Ion channels are the gatekeepers of the cell.
  • Queen of Poisons = aconite or aconitine which comes from monkshood (wolfsbane) a pretty plant with a tall spike of blue helmet-shaped flowers. (pp. 75-76)
  • Some species of rhododendron = grayanotoxin. Bees feed on those flowers, people eat those bees' honey = 'mad honey syndrome' (p.77)
  • "'The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy' - Paracelsus (p.81).
  • "Electrical eel, torpedo (sting ray) (p.122)

The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies #3) by Pittacus Lore

The Rise of Nine - Pittacus Lore

Rating: 4 of 5

 

Woo boy, the last few chapters of The Rise of Nine had me on the edge of my seat, demanding "This better not end yet!" at least three times. New legacies, cool Inheritances, a badass mega villain, and jam-packed with even more action than book two.

 

Present tense first person POVs from Four/John, Six and Seven/Marina (switch in POV is set off by different typefaces), so at first it may confuse some readers which POV is which since characterization hasn't improved all that much.

 

But what the book lacks in character development it more than makes up for in engrossing plot and tons of action. Fans of the series will no doubt devour book three and count the days until book four.

I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Legacies (Lorien Legacies) by Pittacus Lore

The Legacies - Pittacus Lore

Rating: 4 of 5

 

I bought The Legacies (The Lost Files #1-3) last year right around the same time I received my pre-ordered copy of The Rise of Nine. For fans of the Lorien Legacies these "Lost Files" are a must read, and fans will breeze right through them; I did, in just a few hours. Since the characterization in this series hasn't been its greatest attribute, these backstories really helped develop Six, Nine, One, Two, and even the son of a Mog general.

 

I look forward to reading Secret Histories (The Lost Files #4-6) in July/August 2013.

Organize Your Whole House by Editors of The Family Handyman

Organize Your Whole House - Family Handyman Magazine, Family Handyman Magazine

Rating: 4 of 5

 

Grabbed Organize Your Whole House at the library thinking it would simply be a visual reference and/or inspiration for my upcoming organizing projects (kitchen, garage, bedroom closets). Once I began reading from page one I quickly realized it not only provided color photos but step-by-step DIY instructions for building the storage /organization systems. Yeehaw!! Not only that, the money I will save by doing it myself, especially for my garage and closets, will be between $1,000-$2,000. Now I can't wait to get started on my projects.

 

Another observation, a few of the projects might require (be safer with) two people and about five of them will require an intermediate knowledge of carpentry. Not brain surgery, though, and the instructions were concise yet detailed so I could follow along just reading them without my eyes glazing over. (I usually don't "get" these types of projects until I'm actually doing them.) It was also helpful to know at the beginning of the project description exactly which tools would be needed, a materials list AND a cut list.

 

Side note: It was encouraging that almost all of the photos were women working the projects.

Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern

Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life - Julie Morgenstern

Rating: 4 of 5

 

Something finally clicked for me while reading Organizing from the Inside Out. Over the last 10 years, after reading mountains of pages on organizing my life, this was the first author who helped me figure out where my once orderly and well-managed life went hinky.

 

Morgenstern advised to work with natural habits and tendencies instead of against them. For example, if I constantly have a pile of books beside my bed instead of the reading chair in the library, it's probably time to put a bookshelf close to or next to my bed rather than forcing myself or hoping I'll eventually keep all those books just in the library.

 

I appreciated Part One (Laying the Foundation) and Part Two (Secrets of a Professional Organizer) almost as much as the how-to, activity-focused Part Three (Applying What You've Learned) and Part Four (Tackling Time and Technology). Morgenstern included lots of examples which I always like to see in a how-to book. And I've already made several copies of Appendix A, "Organizing Your Project worksheet."

 

Projects/areas covered in detail (with examples for each step of her "program" as well as estimated time needed to complete the project) include:

 

* Handbags, briefcases

* Suitcases

* Traditional offices and filing systems

* Home offices

* Cubicle workstations

* Mobile offices

* Home information centers

* Attics, basements, garages

* Bathrooms* Bedrooms

* Closets

* Kids' rooms

* Kitchens

* Living rooms

* Photographs

 

Pay attention to the book's title, though, as it truly does put a strong emphasis on pinpointing why your past attempts at implementing organization have failed or, in other cases, why you haven't ever even attempted to get organized. If delving into the reasons behind your actions and habits turns you off, then skip this book.

How to Organize (Just About) Everything by Peter Walsh

How to Organize (Just About) Everything: More Than 500 Step-by-Step Instructions for Everything from Organizing Your Closets to Planning a Wedding to Creating a Flawless Filing System - Peter Walsh

Rating: 3.5 of 5

 

How to Organize (Just About) Everything: More Than 500 Step-by-Step Instructions truly covers "just about" every dang thing a person would need to organize. From the common, "37 Conquer Clutter," to the rare, "472 Fight an Ebola Outbreak," I daresay if you want a general overview on how to organize or plan it, the steps are in this ginormous guide.

 

I found the action plans too broad for my style, but I guess "broad" had to be expected from a book covering such a wide range of activities. Contents were organized into:

 

* Get Organized

* Life's Nitty Gritty

* Daily Debris

* Heart & Home

* Yard & Garden

* Storage Solutions (I found several nuggets of useful info)

* Education & Career

* Business & Work (I found several nuggets of useful info)

* Financial Plans

* Family Affairs

* Food & Entertaining

* Celebrations & Events

* Community Works (I found several nuggets of useful info)

* Travel & Adventure

* The Unexpected (This is where Terrorist Attacks, Ebola, etc were listed)

* In Your Dreams

 

And the Index was quite useful.

 

I'd recommend this book more to the person looking for a quick, all-in-one reference guide for a specific project than the person looking for an in-depth how-to.

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye - A.S. Byatt

Rating: 3.5 of 5

 

Of the five stories in The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye I enjoyed "The Story of the Eldest Princess" and "The Glass Coffin" the most. However, the other three were just okay.

Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness (Scott Pilgrim #3) by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness - Bryan Lee O'Malley

Rating: 3 of 5

 

Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness offered more of the same that I enjoyed in Scott Pilgrim #1 and #2.

 

Fave quote, "She punched the highlights out of your hair!!"

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori McWilliam Pickert

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners - Lori McWilliam Pickert

Rating: 4 of 5

 

When I decided to homeschool my daughter I didn't realize I would first have to unschool myself. Needless to say, it's been and still is an ongoing process, my unschooling. Spotting Project-Based Homeschooling on my library's shelf was serendipitous; I needed the specifics almost as much as the confidence boost.The most helpful aspect of the book, for me, was the "things you might do" section.

 

The only downside was most of the book's examples focused on young children in group environments. I would like to see more samples from older children and teens (age 12+), and a closer look at that age group working solo.

 

My notes:

 

"ideas > work > representation > sharing >feedback > reflection > new ideas > more work >new representations > sharing what we've made with others (p 126)"

 

Daughter decides what matters. I help her experience a project's beginning, middle and end: "the initial questions and wonderings; the collecting of experiences and artifacts; the research and investigation and making of representations; the reflection and self-assessment; and, the sharing with others." My job is to help her ask her own questions, judge her own work, and decide when she's finished (pp.132-133).

 

"Keys for finishing: Show up. Commit to making the time and using the time; Use small goals to accomplish big goals; Set yourself up to succeed: put a system in place; aim for learned competence (p. 134)."

 

Explore further at http://www.project-based-homeschooling.com

Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill

Rating: 3.5 of 5

 

Impressive for a debut novel; above average when compared to other ghost stories. Heart-Shaped Bo is definitely worth a read for fans of paranormal stories about unlikable characters and redemption. That, Jude/Justin being a major d**k, was the biggest obstacle for me. Eventually I was able to get past his d**ckyness though.

 

My favorite parts of the book: the atmosphere and the dogs.

 

Note: This was my first experience with Joe Hill's writing. In all honesty, I enjoyed the sneak peak at 20th Century Ghosts more than Heart-Shaped Box. If "The Last Breath" is any indication, I can't wait to read 20th Century Ghosts!