When all else fails, I turn to Jane Austen!

For someone that loves to read, it can be quite difficult and irritating when reading a book just doesn’t grab my attention.  I typically read books for review, but here lately, I have had to sprinkle some books I want to read in between those I committed to reading for review.  However, even those books have been difficult to grab hold of my attention.  A while back, I wrote about ways to get out of a book slump and have found one more way to boost my reading, that I didn’t include in the list.

So, when all else fails, I turn to Jane Austen. It’s amazing how her writings always capture my attention (no matter how often I’ve read her books), and how I always get something different out of it. I don’t know why….but I just love her books!  I also love those books that are spin-offs from “Pride & Prejudice”, like “Georgiana Darcy’s Diary” (which is currently FREE), or memoirs about Jane Austen like “Cassandra and Jane”.  I equally love “Austen-esque” type of books, like “The Tutor’s Daughter” by Julie Klassen.

What motivates you to keep reading?

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Current Giveaway

10 Ways to Know If She’s a Book Lover

10 Ways to Know If She’s a Book Lover:

1.  Always has a book or e-reader in her possession.

2.  Talks about characters as if they real people.

3.  Considers shopping going to a bookstore and then finding a seat and reading….to see if it’s a good book for purchase ;)

4.  Would rather read the book than watch the movie.

5.  If the movie is seen, talks non-stop about what wasn’t in the movie, what should have been included, and how the book is so much better.

6.  Considers the best gift ever to be a book!

7.  Gives books as gifts, even to non-readers, in hopes that their book will spark a reading addiction.

8.  Says the best smell is the inside of a book, as opposed to the smell of a new car, new purse, or perfume. 

9.  Doesn’t get excited when meeting a celebrity….but gets giddy when meeting and talking with authors!

10.  Is a collector of anything related to books: bookmarks, paperbacks, book covers for e-readers, etc.

Do you know a book lover? Are you one?

Bay Area Book Club-A Year in Review

Wow, it is hard to believe we already had our last book meet of the year!!  We had a discussion about 2 very different books: The Mistress’s Revenge and Bleeding Kansas.  We also took part in a book drive for R.E.A.D. for Houston, a wonderful organization that distributes books to local shelter, schools, and communities where the need for books is great.  Lastly, we had an ornament exchange, that was a blast!!!   It’s been an incredible year and we are all so excited for the new opportunities and book discussions we will have in 2012!

Some highlights of our year:

  • Our group has been in existence for about 7 years.  It started with a membership of 3 and has expanded to a current total of 30.
  • We had the plesasure of meeting authors via skype:  A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff, Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, Hidden Wives by Claire Avery, Delivering Hope by Pamela McAffee, and The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent
  •  Our group met with the authors in person:  Dead Lift by Rachel Brady and The Barrett Solution by Robert Norris
  • We attended a special movie premiere of The Help in June.
  • We have been invited to a premiere party for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie’s release and are attending the movie screening. 
  • We now have a Facebook presence that is open only to our members, where we continue the conversations long after our book meet has ended.
  • We have done some social outings as well, like The Painted Potter and Painting With A Twist.
  • We also developed a better format to submitting book titles, which we vote on as a group for our Books of the  Month.
  • Bay Area Book Club is receiving honorable mention in a book, to be released in March, 2012: Book Club Cookbook, 2nd edition.

How To Choose Books for Your Book Club

I thought I’d share with you what our book club has recently done to help narrow choices for our Books of the Month.  Our book club started back in 2004, with just 3 members.  Now, 7 years later, we are a group of 30.  I remember when I first joined back in 2009, the organizer had decided to take a hiatus due to lack of members interest in the book club.  By then, there were about 20 members.  One member had RSVP’ed to attend a book meet and was the only one to show up!!  That’s a huge no-no!  So, I revamped the book club and started talking to members about what they wanted in a book club.  Some of the top reasons they wanted to join for the obvious: love to read, want to discuss with others about the books they’ve read, and to build friendships.   However, one major reason they wanted to join a book club was to be introduced to books that one would not otherwise read.  So, basically, we all wanted to venture out of our comfort zone and read some books that were from a different genre.  I loved that!!

However, with choosing books from a different genre, many of our members are really trusting each other to suggest a great book title in a genre she wouldn’t normally read.  When the book club was first formed, the Book of the Month was selected by the hostess.  However, it typically meant that the hostess and organizer were the only attendees.  There just wasn’t enough interest in the books chosen and the other members didn’t have a say in what they were going to read for that month.  Quite honestly, who wants to be part of a group where decisions are made for you and yet you still have to go out and purchase the book?? I know, I don’t.  And…it puts a lot of pressure on the hostess to pick a book she thinks everyone will enjoy reading.

Our group then started our voting process.  This is where members submit book titles, along with the synopsis, and everyone votes on the book she would like to read.  Typically, the book in second place is selected for the following month because some books won by simply one vote.  That process has worked well for the past 2 years, until now.

Because our group has grown so much and we have very active members, it was important to give everyone as much information about each book suggested for a Book of the  Month.  It also helps everyone know which books to suggest, as well.

Because we vote online, we are using a new format that will be used with each book submission. This will allow members to gather more information on each book and have a better idea if this is a book she wants to read.  Also, while some books are great to be read individually, not all are great books to discuss because there just wasn’t a whole lot of substance.

 

 

 

Books to Consider for a Book of the Month Should:
1)be thought provoking

2)have a well developed plot with some unpredictability

3)have well developed characters

4)story moves at a good pace

5) be a 4 or 5 star book rating on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or Library Thing.

Submit Book Titles with the Following Information:
1. Have you read this book? (Book must already have been read by the member submitting the title)
2. On a scale of 1-10, would you rate this book as an 8 or higher?
3. Has this book been on any lists? If so, which ones?
4. Name of Book:
5. Author:
6. Pages:
7. Genre:
8. Themes/Issues:
9. Is this book available in paperback? To help curb costs, it is preferable to have books in paperback already).
10. Direct Link to Synopsis:

Books missing information will not be eligible to be voted on.

Once the book titles with the following information are submitted, a poll is created so that members can vote on the book she wants to read as a Book of the Month.  The book with the most votes is selected.  The information provided is a great way for members to know a little more about the books, especially if she hasn’t read the book before.  Because while we all want to read something different, it certainly helps to know a member has read it and gives her seal of approval :)


Members are now following the criteria below to suggest book titles. It is our first time to do this for our 2012 books, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes for us.  How does your book club suggest book titles?  I’d love to know!

Thrifty Thursday-It’s Back!

I had been thinking of not continuing this feature on my blog, as I know there are plenty of blogs out there that already do this.  Who wants to keep doing what everyone else is doing???  However, I thought I’d add some interesting books I haven’t seen or been hearing great reviews on, as well as any books I have personally read that I absolutely enjoyed, too!

One of my weekly favorite things to do is to download free books on my reader.  I have quite a few books and wonder if I may actually have time to read them all considering that new freebies are listed each week.  However, I am a mood reader.  I read certain books depending on the kind of mood I am in.

Sometimes I want to read a little mystery, a feel good story, a thriller, a romance storyline, or Christian book.  If you are a bibliophile, then chances are you completely understand.  I liken my reading choices to clothes:  not everything looks great every day and you have to be in the mood to wear it.

For Kindle

For Nook

For Kindle

For Nook

For Kindle

For Nook

For Kindle

For Nook

***There is no guarantee that by the time you decide to download these books that they will still be free.  My suggestion to you is to download them as soon as you can and then you can decide when you want to read them.

 

The 2 books listed below are currently on sale for $2.99!! That is a really great deal considering I purchased The Lace Reader for $9.99 over the summer!

For Kindle

For Nook

For Kindle

For Nook

Happy Reading!

What’s In a Name?

I never thought I’d multi-read, but lately I have been.  I am currently reading Sweet Sanctuary on my Nook, The Violets of March in paperback, and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings on my iphone.  This is usually because it allows me to read anywhere, anytime, when I can.  I am loving these books, but The Violets of March has really started out with a bang.  I am finding myself taking my time reading this one because I want to savor each moment with the characters….and this hasn’t happened to me in a long time with a book I’ve read.

Reviews on all 3 books, plus a few others I just finished reading, will be posted within the next couple of weeks.

In The Violets of March, there is a character that theorizes a man will stay married or divorce after so many years based on his first name.  This isn’t the whole premise of the book, but it really got me thinking about names and book titles.  I am a huge name person.  I love learning about the meaning of a name and finding out where it derived from.  I was certainly not one of those moms that picked a name because it was cute or trendy…and definitely not because I just ran out of time and ended up picking a name at the hospital.  No, I searched, processed, imagined by babies being adults with their name, and simply just wanted them to each have their perfect name.  I remember when I was pregnant with my second born that I was adamant about picking a name from a whole different pool of names.  I figured that if a name hadn’t been good enough for my first born, it certainly wasn’t going to be good enough for my second born either.

The same goes with choosing books I haven’t heard of before.  Even though I do receive books to review and see which books have become a best seller, I am still intrigued about finding that special book that is squished between best sellers and suggested book titles.  While I don’t typically judge a book by its cover, I do judge a book by its title.  A book title for me is like the first sentence of a book…it is what draws me in to continue reading it.

I have always been an independent thinker, one that thinks outside the box, doesn’t always go with the mainstream, and certainly doesn’t do anything because it’s popular.  I suppose that is why I am drawn to all kinds of people and love working with a variety of populations.  So, it’s only natural that when I am selecting a book to purchase, it’s not going to be the book that everyone is reading.

If I’m at a bookstore:

How I choose a book is quite dependent on the book title.  It’s what grabs my attention and whispers to me, “Read Me”.  If I like the book title, then I will read the synopsis in the back of the book.  I never read a book based on the reviews included in the book because what book is out there that will have a negative review on its own book???  Never.  Exactly!  It’s just more fluff and I want to know what it’s about.  When I buy an actual book, it isn’t because I am wanting to read it right then.  I usually have a stash of books at home that I will gleam through and see which book I want to read then.  However, purchasing a book is quite different.

If I am purchasing a book on my Nook:

Being a blogger, I also enjoy reading reviews of books that I haven’t heard of and those will usually peak my interest to simply purchase the book on my Nook.  I have to admit though, I have become quite the book collector of purchasing freebies.  It’s quite addicting to download free books and have them in my library to read at a later time.

Reading a Book I’ve purchased:

I am a bit strange when it comes to reading a book I already have purchased.  I view books like clothes, it’s not always the best time to read it and you have to be in the mood for it.  So, I typically have a wide range of books that include mystery, romance (chick-lit), Christian fiction, biographies, and YA.

I read The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent with my book club last year.  It was an excellent read that we all enjoyed discussing.  We were absolutely thrilled to learn that Kathleen Kent had written a prequel to it, titled The Wolves of Andover.  Now, I have to admit, the title just didn’t draw me in and certainly didn’t do justice for the storyline.  However, Kathleen has recently changed the title to The Traitor’s Wife, which is absolutely fitting and is a book I definitely would have gravitated to.  It is the perfect title for a book that I absolutely enjoyed reading and we all enjoyed discussing the book with Kathleen Kent, too!

So, what does the name of book mean to you?  How do you select a book when you are surrounded by books in a library or bookstore?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

How To Get Out of A Book Slump

 

Have you ever found yourself actually bored from books?  I have and am slowing emerging out of this slump I’ve been in for the past few weeks.  After starting a book and reading through the first chapter, I’d find myself just not engaged in the storyline.  I’d then start another book, and the same thing would happen.  I just couldn’t seem to find anything remotely interesting.  Free books, review books, recommended books, even audible books, and still nothing.  No spark, no joy, just pure boredom.

What was going on???  So after I have spent time analyzing this situation, I have to come to realize that possible reasons.

Reason #1:  Not enough down time between books-  I do need some time to grieve my characters and let the ending stew a bit in mind.  Yes, I do miss the characters (not just the ones that die), but I generally get to liking a character then the story ends.  So, I need time to just miss them and simply process the storyline before moving on to another book.  It’s kinda like seeing an amazing movie and then seeing another movie back to back.  The second movie doesn’t stand a chance because I am still thinking about what happened in the first one, I am tired, need a bathroom break, and maybe some more popcorn.  Regardless,I do just need to pause for a moment.

Reason #2:  Same subject, different story- Have you noticed that there are times when you will gravitate towards books and realize there is a theme?  I have.  I went from reading Historical fiction, chick-lit, sister stories, and suicide books.  Okay, I am not suicidal.  However, I did read The Paris Wife about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife.  In it, it includes Ernest’s suicide.  So, then I read a blog and saw another memoir about suicide and decided to read it.  So, without realizing it, I was reading books with a certain theme to it.  I have also found that I need a break from the same kind of books and this includes those that are not necessarily sad.

Reason #3:  Feeling pressured-  Since starting a blog, I have felt the pressure to keep my blog up to date with book reviews.  I am not getting paid for any of it, this is not a volunteer or full-time position for me, but I still feel responsible to readers, authors, and publishers.  So, there have been times when I just feel overwhelmed with not only reading a book, but also writing about it, too.  I also hate to admit, but if I receive a book for review and it is not something I can even manage to read a little bit, I just don’t read it.  I am not a paid reviewer and realize this isn’t probably the best way to handle this, however I just can’t muster the attention skills I need to read a seriously burnt cupcake or cupcake without the icing.

Ways To Survive a Book Slump:

1.  Simply take a break from reading or hearing novels-  If you have to read, read a magazine, do a crossword puzzle, read your Bible, and journal write.

2.  Read from a genre you typically don’t select from-  If you don’t normally read crime novels, try it.   Perhaps you only read mystery novels, try a chick-lit novel or memoir.

3.  Return to the classics!-  Why not?  Going back to the great literary writers as Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, and Jane Austen are just a few of my favorites!

4.  Do the opposite-  If you have a reader, then read a hardback/paperback novel.  If you normally read from hardback/paperback novels, then try an audible book.  Be creative.

Whatever the reason for a book slump, trying something different is always a great way to meet new authors.  For those of you like me, reading is very important.   It has helped me with my insomnia and so each night I read.  Whether it be a few pages or a few chapters, reading has been my sleeping aid.

Currently, I am reading a  paperback novel and on my Nook, I am reading Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Sounds rather fitting, doesn’t it?

 

Happy Reading everyone!

The Sunday Salon: Free vs. Purchased….

Having an e-reader, I have the opportunity to read fabulous books for FREE.  Many of these books are from authors I have not heard of and book titles I may not otherwise have known about.  There is definitely an upside to downloading free books, besides the cost factor, some of these books have really been a great way to introduce myself to new authors.  I’ve enjoyed reading books from authors, such as: Julie Klassen, Heather Wardell, Ruth Ann Nordin, and Elizabeth Bass to name a few.

The downside to free books is that it has kept me away from reading other books, such as Listen by Rene Gutteridge, The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner, and Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews.  Yes, those are books I have already purchased and have yet to read.  I am beginning to miss those New York Bestseller’s books that intrigue me each time I walk by the book aisle at Walmart or Barnes and Noble.

There are only so many hours in a day and most of my time is spent with family, so there is not a whole lot of time I actually spend on reading.  Thankfully, I am an avid reader and can read rather quickly.  However, I have found that if I start a book too quickly after finishing one, I don’t enjoy that book as much.  I think I have to give my brain time to sort through the ending of a book, grieve the characters (if I loved the book), and spend some time processing the story.  Yeah, I am a book geek.  I dissect a lot….perhaps it goes back to my analytical skills and writing so many papers in college.

I am curious…have you been able to balance your freebies with your purchased books?  How has it been for you?

One thing is for sure….there is always a great book waiting to be read!!  Thankfully, I have an overflow of great books to choose from and am very glad that I have the choice to read any book I would like and still have more waiting for me.

Learning to Say No!

When I first made the decision to stay home so that I could be a full-time mom to my daughter, I didn’t realize that I would unconsciously take on more tasks (that were self-induced) to keep my mind busy.  Staying home is a true gift and I appreciate and value every day that I spend with my daughter.  However, I found myself needing “mommy time”.  So, I looked on Meetup.com and found a local book club in the area that I could join.

I absolutely loved the idea of meeting women and talking about books that we had just read.  Shortly after joining, our book club organizer decided it was time for her to step down and gave me the choice to become organizer or she could just close the group.  I have never been a part of a group of women where there is such a sense of sisterhood and joy.  I just couldn’t bear to see the group close, so I stepped up as organizer and on my way I went.

The book club naturally progressed to having causal outings, where we’ve attended movies, plays/musicals, gone shopping, painted, and even did ceramics together.  It has been so much fun and it has been so exciting to see friendships develop between members.  Now that the book club has grown, I realized I could not manage every area of the book club.  So, I created a leadership team, consisting of book members who graciously volunteer their time and help the book club continue to be personal, engaging, and fun.

Because I have been leisure reading more than I had ever read before (since I became a SAHM), I thought having a blog was just a natural progression for me a book club organizer and reader.  I wanted to write about books I had read, provide reviews, and interview authors so that readers could see the different sides to writing and learn more about the author.

I started my blog shortly after the new year, and was soon open to new and exciting adventures with books.  Through my blog, I have met incredible authors, read books I otherwise would not have read (and enjoyed!), and had opportunities to review books before their published date.  It has been an exciting journey…especially since I love to read!

With that, I have connected with various book sites for bloggers, where I can read books for free ( in exchange for a review) and have authors/publishers contact me directly requesting I read and review their book.  Well, who can turn that down???  Obviously, not me!!!  Being so excited to have these opportunities as a new blogger, I basically accepted every book to read and review (in the genres I prefer), found myself working against deadlines to publish reviews, and feeling pressured to blog regularly like other bloggers do.  I hadn’t mastered what other bloggers have learned to do: set boundaries and learn that it okay to say, “no, not now”.

Because I have a very understanding husband, he listened to me one night as I complained about everything I had to with my blog and reading.  Quietly he listened and then asked me the most basic question that I failed to ask myself, “why can’t you say no?”.  In my eagerness to read every free book available to me, meet authors who have been so generous with their time, and meet review deadlines for publishers, I forgot how to say, “no.”.  That simple word, two letters, a universal word that is understood by everyone….NO.

I realized that I have choices.  I can say no to reading every book presented to me, I do not have to write a blog entry for the sake of writing something, and I do not have to publish my reviews on every site known to man.

I remember a graduate professor once asking our class, “who are you?”.   And, today, I realize, I am a wife, mother, friend, and when I can, I love to read and write.  In that order.