The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks

Book: The Way of Shadows (Book 1 of The Night Angel Trilogy)
Author: Brent Weeks
Publisher: Orbit Books (Imprint of Hachette Book Group)
My Rating: 3/5 stars

I have been wanting to read The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks for months now, so when my Shelfari Fantasy/Science Fiction Book of the Month group recently chose to read The Way of Shadows (Book 1 of The Night Angel Trilogy), I was excited.

Azoth is a young boy who is for all intents and purposes, is a street rat. He has to fight for what little food he gets, is bullied by a stronger boy, and is a champion for a few that are even weaker than he is. He runs around with a group of children that are living under the same conditions, and he is desperate to get out of this situation. He dreams of becoming a wetboy (an assassin of sorts) after he encounters the most infamous wetboy, Durzo Blint. He begs Durzo to take him on as an apprentice and after a series of events, Durzo agrees.

Azoth's training includes weapons, poisons, and learning how to blend in with upper class society. He becomes friends with Logan, a prince who may one day become king. As with any story about kings, princes, and assassins, a power struggles ensues between kingdoms and a powerful antagonist is revealed.

I wanted to love this book, but I ended up just liking it. I thought Brent Weeks built the wetboy/apprentice relationship between Durzo and Azoth quite well. I enjoyed reading every moment of Azoth's schooling. I thought the character conflict about what it means to be an assassin was executed very well. About two-thirds of the way through the book, I became less impressed. Weeks continued to introduce characters and bring back characters from earlier in the book that I couldn't remember much about. It also seemed like he decided that because he was writing a fantasy book, he needed to throw a lot of magic in and all at once. There were inklings of magic early on in the book, but toward the end it just felt like he poured a whole gravy boat of magic into the story. It felt forced and really diminished what he had done early on in the book.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and I thought Weeks' first effort was a good one but not a great one. I have been told that all the characters he introduces in the first book begin to make more sense in the next two books in the series so I am definitely willing to give the second book a try. Azoth's story was compelling enough that I do want to find out what happens to him. I think Weeks has good storytelling capability overall, but I do hope the next book is less rushed and has more complete character development with the supporting characters.

Do Nothing But Read Day

June 27 is Do Nothing But Read Day! There are two days each year, and the next one will be on December 19.

I thought this was a great idea because I need to finish a book tomorrow, start reading another, and continue reading one more.

Tomorrow I will be reading:

The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson

...and if I finish The Tomb, I will read:

Book Three of Middlemarch by George Eliot
Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks
(These I will most likely start. I'm a terribly slow reader.)

What are you going to read for Do Nothing But Read Day? If you are interested in signing up, click HERE.

**I found this event through @Callista83 from SMS Book Reviews. Thanks for tweeting it!

Challenges 2010 Update - Read Your Own Books

It's mid-year and I'm forcing myself to reevaluate my Read Your Own Books Challenge list. Why you ask? Well, my "Own Books" keeps growing and so I keep reading books that aren't on my original RYOB list. I won't call this challenge an epic fail because I still plan on reading part of the list, but I am going to reduce it because I want the freedom to read what I feel like reading (which is also why I keep buying books I shouldn't--let's face it...everyone does this!).

So, here is my updated list (the books in Green are ones I'm keeping on my list for the rest of 2010):


  • The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower: Book III) - Stephen King
  • Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower: Book IV) - Stephen King
  • Wolves of Calla (The Dark Tower: Book V) - Stephen King
  • Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower: Book VI) - Stephen King
  • The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower: Book VII) - Stephen King
  • Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
  • Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Dragon Heart - Todd McCaffrey
  • Across the Nightingale Floor - Lian Hearn
  • The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien

Science Fiction

  • Against a Dark Background - Iain M. Banks
  • Freedom's Landing - Anne McCaffrey

General Fiction

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
  • The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios - Yann Martel
  • Dreaming Water - Gail Tsukiyama
  • Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
  • Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko
  • The State Boys Rebellion - Michael D'Antonio
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
  • Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein


  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  • The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway


  • Guilty as Sin - Tami Hoag


  • Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant - Akemi Kikumura
  • The Professor and the Mad Man - Simon Winchester
  • American on Purpose - Craig Ferguson
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Behrendt

In all, I'm reducing my list by 11 books. I'm a little sad about this, but trimming the fat is never a bad thing and the books will always be there next year!

Guest Post - Leeswammes' Blog

During Bloggiesta weekend a few weeks ago, Judith from Leeswammes' Blog asked me to write up a guest post for her blog. We had talked some in the past about Japanese and Asian American literature so I decided to write my guest post about my favorite books by Asian Americans.

Check out my guest post, "Carin B. on Asian American Writers" by clicking HERE.

Leeswammes' Blog is one of my favorite blogs to read because her reviews are always thoughtful and well-written, and she always reads really interesting books! She also posts some really fantastic looking recipes that never fail to make me feel hungry. Please take some time to peruse her blog when you head over there!

Follow Up Pt. 2: Inspiration! Suggestions Needed!

Yesterday, I posted the non-fiction recommendations of books about American History that I should read in my post, Follow Up: Inspiration! Suggestions Needed! Today, I am continuing the list of recommendations I received from family, friends, and fellow bloggers with the fiction books that people suggested I read. I even got a few suggestions for books for The Netherlands!

If you have any books that are not the typical American History that we learn in school or books about your own country that you think are worthwhile reads, please share them with me! I'm going to be on a mission in 2011 to expose myself to new things!

All descriptions of the books come from unless otherwise noted.

The Lonesome Gods - Louis L'Amour (recommended by my brother-in-law)
Left to die by his vengeful grandfather, rescued by outlaws, and raised by native Americans, Johannes Verne is strengthened by his love for two women and his ambition to survive on the Palm Springs desert. 

Lonesome Dove - Louis L'Amour (suggested by Farm Lane Books)
A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett (recommended by Farm Lane Books and Leeswammes)
What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.) 
~Review by Publisher's Weekly (listed on Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (recommended by Leeswammes)
Novel by John Steinbeck, published in 1939. Set during the Great Depression, it traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1940. The work did much to publicize the injustices of migrant labor. The narrative, interrupted by prose-poem interludes, chronicles the struggles of the Joad family's life on a failing Oklahoma farm, their difficult journey to California, and their disillusionment once they arrive there and fall prey to a parasitic economic system. The insularity of the Joads--Ma's obsession with family togetherness, son Tom's self-centeredness, and daughter Rose of Sharon's materialism--ultimately gives way to a sense of universal community.
~The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

Mudbound - Hillary Jordan (recommended by Farm Lane Books)
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, "Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."

Esperanza Rising - Pam Munoz Ryan 

(recommended by Chelle at The Prairie Library)

Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico--she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, & servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances--Mama's life and her own depend on it.

(recommended by Chelle at The Prairie Library)

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

Ride the Wind - Lucia St. Clair Robson (Allison at The Allure of Books)
In 1836, when she was nine years old, Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanche Indians. This is the story of how she grew up with them, mastered their ways, married one of their leaders, and became, in every way, a Comanche woman. It is also the story of a proud and innocent people whose lives pulsed with the very heartbeat of the land. It is the story of a way of life that is gone forever....

Fiction Novels based in The Netherlands

Girl with a Pearl Earring  - Tracy Chevalier (recommended by Leeswammes)
Set in 17th-century Delft, this historical novel intertwines the art of Johannes Vermeer with his life and that of a maiden servant in his household. From the few facts known about the artist, Chevalier creates the reality of The Netherlands. The parallell themes of tradesman/artist, Protestant/Catholic, and master/servant are intricately woven into the fabric of the tale. The painters of the day spent long hours in the studio devising and painting re-creations of everyday life. The thrust of the story is seen through the eyes of Griet, the daughter of a Delft tile maker who lost his sight and, with it the ability to support his family. Griet's fate is to be hired out as a servant to the Vermeer household. She has a wonderful sense of color, composition, and orderliness that the painter Vermeer recognizes. And, slowly, Vermeer entrusts much of the labor of creating the colored paints to Griet. 
~Kristin  M. Jacobi, Eastern Connecticut state University
~From Library Journal (on

Tulip Fever - Deborah Moggach (recommended by Leeswammes)
In Tulip Fever, acclaimed author Deborah Moggach has created that rarest of novels--a literary tour de force that is also brilliantly, compulsively readable. Not since Patrick Suskind's Perfume has a work of fiction so vividly evoked a time, a place, and a passion. 

In 1630s Amsterdam, tulip fever has seized the populace. Everywhere men are seduced by the fantastic exotic flower. But for wealthy merchant Cornelis Sandvoort, it is his young and beautiful wife, Sophia, who stirs his soul. She is the prize he desires, the woman he hopes will bring him the joy that not even his considerable fortune can buy.

Cornelis yearns for an heir, but so far he and Sophia have failed to produce one. In a bid for immortality, he commissions a portrait of them both by the talented young painter Jan van Loos. But as Van Loos begins to capture Sophia's likeness on canvas, a slow passion begins to burn between the beautiful young wife and the talented artist. As the portrait unfolds, so a slow dance is begun among the household's inhabitants. Ambitions, desires, and dreams breed a grand deception--and as the lies multiply, events move toward a thrilling and tragic climax.

Time to Vote! Book Read 'Round the World

Book Read 'Round the World
Time to get the Book Moving!
Promoting a worldwide book blogging community and cultural awareness

It's time to start the Book Read 'Round the World Event! If you are a Non-U.S. blogger, you are still welcome to sign up until the books leave my house and get moving to the first stop on their respective world tours!

Two books will be chosen because I have 14 people signed up for the event! There will be two separate groups of 7 (or more depending on if more people sign up this week). 

Here are the choices (If you have signed up, you can vote in the comments, send me a DM on Twitter [@bowlieb], or e-mail me at

The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Valy Chandrasekaran

The most absurd, hilarious, and ridiculous travelogue ever told, by two hit-TV comedy writers who raced each other around the world—for bragging rights and a very expensive bottle of Scotch

It started as a friendly wager: two old friends from The Harvard Lampoon, now hotshot Hollywood scribes, challenged each other to a race around the globe in opposite directions. There was only one rule: no airplanes. The first man to cross every line of longitude and arrive back in L.A. would win Scotch and infamy. But little did one racer know that the other planned to cheat him out of the big prize by way of a ride on a quarter-million-dollar jet pack.

What follows is a pair of hilarious, hazardous, and eye-opening journeys into the farthest corners of the world. From the West Bank to the Aleutian Islands, the slums of Rio to the steppes of Mongolia, traveling by ocean freighter and the Trans-Siberian Railway (pranking each other mercilessly along the way), Vali and Steve plunge eagerly and ill-prepared into global adventure.

The Ridiculous Race is a comic travelogue unlike any other, an outrageous tale of two gentlemen travelers who can’t wait to don baggy cardigan sweaters, clench corncob pipes between their teeth, and yell at their sons, “You lazy bums! When we were your age, we raced around the world without airplanes!”

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
In his latest, veteran traveler Troost (The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Getting Stoned with Savages) embarks on an extended tour of "the new wild west," China. Troost travels from the megalopolis of Beijing to small, remote trails in the hinterlands, the fabled Shangri-La and all points in between, allowing for a substantive look at an incredibly complex culture. He does an admirable job of summing up the country's rich history, venturing to Nanjing to learn about China's deep-seated animosity toward Japan; he also visits the Forbidden City, and the tomb of Mao Zedong, still very much revered despite his horrific record of human rights abuses. Gross disparity in wealth, omnipresent pollution and the teeming mass of humanity that greet Troost at every opportunity wear on him and the reader alike; the sense of claustrophobia only relents when he gets into more remote areas. Throughout, Troost is refreshingly upbeat, without a hint of ugly American elitism; he often steps aside to let the facts speak for themselves, and rarely devolves into complaints over the language barrier or other day-to-day frustrations. Those looking for tips on Hong Kong night life or other touristy secrets will be disappointed-few names are named-but readers interested in a warts-and-all look at this complicated, evolving country will find this a rich education. 
~From Publisher's Weekly Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
The Enchanted April is the story of four unique women in England, post-World War I. Two of these women go on holiday to a secluded villa in Italy, both currently suffering from empty marriages. The women attempt to find two others to share expense with, and meet up with a young socialite and elderly woman, and the four together seek rejuvenation from the beauty of their surroundings. ~Product description on

Read below for event details and the sign-up link:

Follow-Up: Inspiration! Suggestions Needed!

Last month, I was flipping through channels on the TV and came across, "America, The Story of Us" on The History Channel. It was so interesting that I put out a call for my friends, family, and fellow bloggers to help me find books that are not the traditional Colonial American History learned in school in my post, "Inspiration! Suggestions Needed!" I also asked my international book blogging friends to tell me about books they recommend about their countries.

I've compiled a list of people's responses and will definitely be adding some of these (if not all of them) to my ever-growing To Be Read list. Because the list and descriptions are fairly long, I will post the Fiction recommendations people gave me in Part Two of the post tomorrow!

All the product descriptions/reviews come from unless otherwise noted:

A People's History of the United States - Howard Zinn (recommended by my brother-in-law)

Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency.
Addressing his trademark reversals of perspective, Zinn--a teacher, historian, and social activist for more than 20 years--explains, "My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)--that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth."

If your last experience of American history was brought to you by junior high school textbooks--or even if you're a specialist--get ready for the other side of stories you may not even have heard. With its vivid descriptions of rarely noted events, A People's History of the United States is required reading for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the rich, rocky history of America.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History - Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (recommended by my brother-in-law)

Claiming that most textbooks and popular history books were written by biased left-wing writers and scholars, historian Thomas Woods offers this guide as an alternative to "the stale and predictable platitudes of mainstream texts." Covering the colonial era through the Clinton administration, Woods seeks to debunk some persistent myths about American history. For instance, he writes, the Puritans were not racists intent on stealing the Indians' lands, the Founding Fathers were not revolutionaries but conservatives in the true sense of the word, the American War Between the States (to even call it a civil war is inaccurate, Woods says) was not principally about slavery, Abraham Lincoln was no friend to the slaves, and FDR's New Deal policies actually made the Depression worse. He also covers a wide range of constitutional interpretations over the years, particularly regarding the First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth amendments, and continually makes the point that states' rights have been unlawfully trampled upon by the federal government since the early days of the republic. Though its title is more deliberately provocative than accurate, Woods' attack on what he sees as rampant liberal revisionism over the past 25 years proves to be an interesting platform for a book. He's as biased as those he rails against, of course, but he does provoke thought in an entertaining way even if he sometimes tries to pass off opinion as hard facts.

This quick and enjoyable read is packed with unfamiliar quotes, informative sidebars, iconoclastic viewpoints, and a list of books "you're not supposed to read." It is not a comprehensive or detailed study, but that is not its aim; instead, it offers ideas for further research and a challenge to readers to dig deeper and analyze some basic assumptions about American history--a worthy goal that Woods manages to reach. --Shawn Carkonen

Nisei: The Quiet Americans - Bill Hosakawa (recommended by my cousin)
Hailed at the time of its publication in 1969, Bill Hosokawa's "Nisei" remains an inspiring account of the original Japanese immigrants and their role in the development of the West. Hosokawa recounts the ordeals faced by the immigrant generation and their American-born offspring, the Nisei;the ill-advised government decisions that led to their uprooting during WWII; how they withstood harsh camp life; and their courageous efforts to prove their loyalty to the United States.

Americans have lost touch with their history, and in Lies My Teacher Told Me Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying eighteen leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.

In this revised edition, packed with updated material, Loewen explores how historical myths continue to be perpetuated in today's climate and adds an eye-opening chapter on the lies surrounding 9/11 and the Iraq War. From the truth about Columbus's historic voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders, Loewen revives our history, restoring the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.

Thought provoking, nonpartisan, and often shocking, Loewen unveils the real America in this iconoclastic classic beloved by high school teachers, history buffs, and enlightened citizens across the country.

Farewell to Manzanar - Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (recommended by Scrabblequeen)
During World War II a community called Manzanar was hastily created in the high mountain desert country of California, east of the Sierras. Its purpose was to house thousands of Japanese American internees. One of the first families to arrive was the Wakatsukis, who were ordered to leave their fishing business in Long Beach and take with them only the belongings they could carry. For Jeanne Wakatsuki, a seven-year-old child, Manzanar became a way of life in which she struggled and adapted, observed and grew. For her father it was essentially the end of his life.

At age thirty-seven, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston recalls life at Manzanar through the eyes of the child she was. She tells of her fear, confusion, and bewilderment as well as the dignity and great resourcefulness of people in oppressive and demeaning circumstances. Written with her husband, Jeanne delivers a powerful first-person account that reveals her search for the meaning of Manzanar.

Farewell to Manzanar has become a staple of curriculum in schools and on campuses across the country. Last year the San Francisco Chronicle named it one of the twentieth century"s 100 best nonfiction books from west of the Rockies.

Specimen Days - Walt Whitman (recommended by Chelle at The Prairie Library)
Specimen Days, published in 1882, provides an extraordinary picture of an aging poet reassessing the path of his long life, one intrinsically linked with the trajectory—and traumas—of the nation he cherished so deeply. Its diary-like entries, is a prose compilation of a life lived richly and in the service of others, as well an enduring portrait of a monumental writer. Specimen Days reveals the remarkable course of Whitman’s life and accomplishments, starting with his boyhood spent roaming the coast of Long Island, to his days as a writer and observer of the cities of New York and Brooklyn, to his volunteer work as a Washington field nurse during the Civil War, and finally to his serene nature writings and travel diaries as an older man. Whitman’s book of memories resounds with striking sections on war, nature, people, and travel. Composed by arguably the finest and most original of American poets, Specimen Days is an underappreciated autobiographical masterpiece by one of America’s most important writers of any generation.
~Synopsis from

Please feel free to add more recommendations in the comments!

Chunkster Books!

I am currently reading a few chunkster books at the same time which is accounting for my lack of reviews. It's a little frustrating, but I tend to read books that are no shorter than 500 pages so it's a treat when I get to read one that is 300-400 pages long. For some reason, I picked up three books that are all quite long at the same time this time:

This is the second time I'm attempting a read-through of Middlemarch. I loved Silas Marner...I really want to love this book too. I gave up after Book 4 the first time I tried reading it. It's quite a dense novel! This time, I have two reading partners--my Shelfari friend and I are reading it with The Literary Lollipop. We are a little behind her, but she posts great summaries and we're all having a good time talking about the book. I just finished Book 2 yesterday. You should check out the posts at The Literary Lollipop!

I am also still working on reading The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose. I had to put this down last week to start reading Middlemarch. I am a little over halfway through the book and would love it if I could finish it by this weekend. I am loving it so far. It's really informative and gives a good perspective of what a soldier went through in the Pacific during WWII. I am generally not a military history kind of person, but I need to learn more and I loved Band of Brothers and The Pacific mini-series that both aired on HBO. Until I finish and post a review, you can read about my experience at the Hugh Ambrose book signing and watch this video on The Pacific mini-series:

This trailer I found on YouTube and is an Australian TV ad for The Pacific. Amazing! Thank you Australia for such a nice tribute to our servicemen and servicewomen!

..and here is the extended American Trailer:

Last, I am reading The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. It is Book One of the Night Angel Trilogy. It's my fun read--something that I can read through quickly that I enjoy. I have to read at least one fantasy book while I'm reading this heavier fare! I hope to be done with this by the end of next week.

Question: Do you read something fun to break up a heavier read? Do you normally read chunksters or books that are shorter? 

On Leeswammes' Blog: International Book Blogging Event!

A few people have expressed to me that they would like to participate in an international blogging event, but cannot participate in the Book Read 'Round the World event I am running on my blog. Well, look no further! My friend Judith is running an event for book bloggers from around the world that will feature guest posts on her blog! She particularly is interested in book bloggers from Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia


As a book blogger, I enjoy meeting people from other countries and to discuss books. But what do we actually know about each other? What’s it like to be a book blogger in a far away country? Do you have access to the books you want to read? Do you have electricity failure or internet disruptions? Do you have limited time for blogging because you’re working full-time? Or do you have a housekeeper and plenty of free time?

And where do you read? Is it warm enough to sit in the garden under a tree, or is it much too warm or cold for that? Where’s your favorite book store? What’s your favorite national author?

I’m so curious to know more about you all, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So, would you like to participate in an international event? It’s going to be called Book Bloggers Abroad. Each week, I’m going to ask one guest blogger to answer these questions, preferably with some pictures (not necessarily of you, but of your favorite place to read, your book store, etc.). It’s a great way to tell us about yourself, your country, and to get new people find their way to your blog.

I hope to run this event for 15 weeks. If there is a lot of interest, we’ll run for longer, and maybe repeat some countries (with different participants).

Please visit Leeswammes' Blog to leave a comment to sign up for her event or e-mail her at jh303015 (at) gmail (dot) com. 

It looks like it will be great fun! I hope you'll join her in creating a more visible worldwide book blogging community!

Event Update! The Book Read 'Round the World

UPDATE! Book Read 'Round the World
Promoting a worldwide book blogging community and cultural awareness

I just wanted to let everyone know, that the sign up for The Book Read 'Round the World event is still open. I have North American, European, and Oceania participants that have already signed up, but I am still looking for some more participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. If you are a book blogger and are interested in participating, please sign up for the event.

I have also decided that the book chosen will have to be travel related since the book we choose will be taking a worldwide journey.

I would like to have all the participants chosen by the end of next week (June 26) so that I can purchase the book and get the event started.

Are you on the fence about signing up? READ THIS!

I am also working with an author to get a signed copy of his book to give away to one lucky participant! I will announce the book and author when things are finalized.

Read below for event details and the sign-up link:

Book Signing - The Pacific Pt. 2

Yesterday I wrote about my morning at The Mighty Texas Dog Walk in my post, Book Signing - The Pacific Pt. 1. I left all of you hanging with me "speeding" (a relative term in a Prius) to Fredericksburg to get to The Pacific book signing event with author Hugh Ambrose. I really didn't want to be late because military people are well...they are sticklers for time! I figured there would be a lot of military people or military families there so I really didn't want to upset anyone or have anyone pointing at me like I was being disrespectful.

My drive to Fredericksburg was thankfully, uneventful. The rain cleared up and the Central Texas Hill Country showed it's beauty. Despite my stress, I actually enjoyed the ride out there, and I was actually able to make it on time! I walked very briskly into the National Museum of the Pacific War (The Nimitz Museum) with my prepurchased copy of The Pacific and was directed to the room the event was being held. I was one of the last people to get there so I got one of the last seats in the back rows of the room. The event was held in the George W. Bush Gallery West Exhibit Hall, a temporary exhibit gallery (that was featuring Face to Face Exhibit--a series of busts of WWII veterans). I was lucky when I got there because Hugh Ambrose had not yet arrived--his plane was delayed (in what I'm assuming was San Antonio), so I actually got there just in time. I had the opportunity to speak to a few people who had read the book and had also read the other books that the HBO series, The Pacific, was based on. The book that got the most praise was Eugene B. Sledge's war memoir, With the Old Breed. One man in particular talked about how good Hugh Ambrose's book was and also had high praise for Sledge's book. It made me even more excited to be at the event. I hadn't had time to read the book before the event so I felt REALLY unprepared, but still really honored to be able to attend.

Mr. Hugh Ambrose arrived not long after I took my seat, and he began talking about his experience in researching his book. I am going to paraphrase some of the things he talked about (I don't have any direct quotes--just notes from the day):

  • His love for history and war history came from his father, Stephen Ambrose, who would take him around to different historical sites and would tell him stories as a boy.
  • His research career began as an graduate assistant for his father (he was his father's TA while he was in graduate school).
  • Hugh Ambrose started research on The Pacific in 2000 which resulted not only in the publishing of the companion book but also a documentary titled Price for Peace.
  • He felt that storytelling was more important than just exposition and noted that Bruce McKenna liked Robert Leckie's book, Helmet for My Pillow (one of the memoirs used to produce the HBO series of The Pacific) because it connected Robert Leckie and Eugene Sledge's story--in the television series and Hugh Ambrose's The Pacific, the two do meet and exchange words).
  • When Ambrose read Eugene Sledge's letters from the war, he felt there was a story to be told in addition to Sledge's book, With the Old Breed. He also said that Sledge's book was arguably one of the best memoirs of WWII.
  • Ambrose also featured Lt. Austin C. "Shifty" Shofner in the book who was imprisoned in a POW camp in the Phillipines during the war. He planned the only successful American team escape from a Japanese POW camp (see Times-Gazette article mentioning this). Shofner's story was not included in the television series.
  • The other soldier featured in the book that was not in the television series was Ensign Vernon "Mike" Micheel who was a Navy pilot in the war. He flew in the Battle of Midway and numerous other missions during the war (see Jax Air News article). Because the Pacific War was largely fought on island in the Pacific Ocean, Ambrose felt a Navy story should be prominently featured in the book to give a more complete picture of the war. 
  • He also said that knowing what the Japanese would have done in WWII had they won was essential to winning the war and referenced the Rape of Nanjing.
  • He also said while he was researching Sgt. John Basilone (one of the five men featured in the book), he found that most of the stories about him were wrong. One in particular was a story about him losing his shoes and running around barefoot through battle on Guadalcanal were not true. 
  • He also told some stories about being involved as a consultant on the production of the HBO series and talked about what pains the entire production crew took to recreate accurate sets of the battles.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book signing. There were probably over 100 people there. Since I was in the back of the hall, I was one of the last people in line and Mr. Ambrose allowed me to take a picture of him. He even showed interest in my blog which I thought was really nice! I felt really honored that he took a few moments to talk to me despite my being horribly unprepared to ask him questions.

I have to admit that I am currently reading The Pacific and I haven't quite finished yet. I did watch the series and am rewatching it to go along with the book. The book is fairly dense, but I like it because I like the details. I am also watching some of the extras that are available to watch on and YouTube (The Pacific: Anatomy of a War features a short Hugh Ambrose interview clip). I hope to be done reading the book in the next week or two and have a review posted soon thereafter. What I have read and seen, I really appreciate. I think it really honors the men and women that serve in our military, and I am thankful for that. 

Thank you Mr. Ambrose, for my first autograph ever!

Bloggiesta Wrap-Up Post: Crossing the Finish Line

It's the last day of Bloggiesta. I'm a little torn--I've loved every moment of this weekend. I've met so many new bloggers through Twitter and have even got help from Vanessa at Book Soul Mates in making my first form for my Book Read 'Round the World Event. I don't think I've ever spent such an extended period of time on my blog (other than when I first set it up) so I feel like I've really accomplished quite a bit this weekend.

The only things I had left on my To Do List I accomplished today. The only two items left were:

  • Write a few backup posts
  • Continue brainstorming on a series post that isn't meme related
In regards to my backup posts, I feel like I sort of failed. I didn't write very many (only two which I actually plan on publishing this week), but I have thought a lot about other topics that I can write additional posts about and use for the future. Let's just hope I keep on task and follow through on it!

If you are interested in seeing my other accomplishments, please go to my previous posts about the Bloggiesta event:
There was one thing that was an EPIC FAIL for me -- keeping track of my time. I have no idea how many hours I spent on the event. It was a lot! I spent most of the weekend working on things. Most of them won't be readily noticeable either. I also still have a mental To Do List that I would like to continue working on before the next Bloggiesta because I am SO doing this again!

Thanks goes out to Natasha at Maw Books Blog for hosting Bloggiesta and all the other mini-challenge hosts for all their work to make Bloggiesta a success! It was a great event and made me feel really excited about blogging!

I can't leave off without any mood music, so here it is...a couple of songs for you to enjoy the end of Bloggiesta. The first is Los Lobos' version of La Bamba, the second is Los Lonely Boys' song Heaven, and the third is the best version of Volver, Volver I could find on YouTube (Los Lobos does an awesome one, but there were no good videos on YouTube). Enjoy!

Mood Music

Event! The Book Read 'Round the World

The Book Read 'Round the World

Hello all you international book bloggers out there! Lately I've been wanting to connect with more international book bloggers because I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of their blogs. So, I thought I'd try to connect with some by organizing an event! 

I would like to send a book around the world and have people report back to it by doing guest posts on my blog (and post on their blog about the experience as well). Depending on interest, I am not opposed to sending more than one book out and having two groups (Book A and Book B...etc.). 

This is roughly how it will work:
  • I will purchase two brand new, shiny paperback books that we choose as a group
  • I'll read the book within 1-2 weeks (no War and Peace length books of course) and send it on to the next person on my randomized list
  • The package sent must include: the book -AND- a local treat of some sort that cannot be found anywhere else (it can be something as simple and cheap as a postcard or bookmark, or could also be more expensive like a book by a local author or something like that)
  • Before you send the book onto the next person, you must sign the inside cover with the name of your City/Province(State)/Country
  • Write two facts on a piece of paper about your City/Province(State)/Country to send in the package as well

So you are interested in joining?!!
  • To participate you must be willing to pay international postage to send the package onto the next person 
  • Commit yourself to finishing the book within a reasonable period of time (no longer than 1-2 weeks). 
  • Review the book on your blog and write up a post about the experience for my blog (you can also post the experience on your blog). Don't worry, it will be a short post (What you received in the package including the facts the previous reader sent you, a short summary of your thoughts on the book, and where the book is headed next)
Because it takes time to read a book and then have it mailed to another country, the group will have to be small so if there is a lot of interest I may have multiple groups (with the option for a different book). 

This event is also open on a limited basis to U.S. book bloggers, but the goal is to get bloggers from all over the world to participate so only a few U.S. bloggers will be chosen. If you are interested in joining or helping in any way, please fill out the form or send me an e-mail at carin.buffington[at]gmail[dot]com. 

Click Here to Sign Up! (signups are closed)

Please also leave a comment on what book(s) you think would be good for this event.

Book Suggestions

Book Signing - The Pacific Pt. 1

Before I get into my post about Hugh Ambrose's book signing for The Pacific, I most definitely want to tell you about how I spent the day before his appearance at the Nimitz Museum. It was one of the best days I've ever had in the 10+ years I've lived in Central Texas.

April 17, 2010 began with the Mighty Texas Dog Walk. The walk benefits Texas Service Dogs and is held every year in Central Austin. This year the goal was to beat the world record which was held by England whose event totaled 10,762 dogs. How could Austin possibly beat that number?!! I wondered myself when I registered for the event at a local Petsmart just a few days before it was going to be held. My bib number was 2003 and my friend Karen's was 4897. In addition to those low numbers, it was supposed to pour rain for most of the day so I was sure that turnout wouldn't be very high. I packed my dog Max into the car at 6:30 am and we drove the 30+ minutes to Downtown Austin to find a parking space. We were definitely one of the early birds, but there were vendors that were handing out lots of goodies for the dogs right before the starting line.

I met up with Karen and her dog Mhina and a little after 8:00 we raided the vendor tables for free dog treats, reusable shopping bags, coupons, and then started the three mile trek through downtown. Austin is very dog friendly, and it was so great to just see all the people walking with their dogs. We even saw a family walking with their eight Chihuahuas in a stroller! Eight! I couldn't believe it! As we crossed the starting line, the MC actually called out my dog and asked what he was. I proudly told him that Max was a whippet (I didn't tell him that he was a crazy whippet...which he TOTALLY IS), but I felt special for his being noticed. Max and Mhina were both really well behaved and they walked like champs. Karen and I got to visit throughout the walk which was pretty leisurely because people and dogs always want to socialize. There were volunteers in the road at water stations that gave the dogs and people water. Best of all, the weather was awesome! It was nice and overcast which kept it cool, but it didn't rain at all while we were walking. After we finished, we picked up more goodies from the tables and then walked to my car. I gave Karen and Mhina a ride to their car and right when she got into her car it started pouring rain! We really lucked out! Max was exhausted (he normally doesn't really get up until about 1:00 pm), and I drove him to my friend's apartment so she could watch him for the rest of the day while I drove to Fredericksburg for the book signing.

I didn't hear whether or not the walk broke the world record for most dogs walked, but I did read on the Texas Service Dogs May Newsletter which said that we did in fact beat the world record with a total of 11,256 dogs walked! My dog, Max is a world record holder! How exciting is that?!!

My dog Max

I didn't have a lot of time to visit with my friend or even eat lunch because I planned extremely poorly and realized that Fredericksburg was an hour and a half drive from her apartment. I panicked a little because I had been looking forward to the Hugh Ambrose signing for over a month. I had faithfully watched the first few episodes of The Pacific on HBO after having waited eight years for Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to make it (they made Band of Brothers in 2001 which is one of my favorite films/series of all time). 

I didn't want to miss it or look like a total chump walking in late to a book signing (which most likely included many veterans or family members of veterans) so I hopped into my car and sped to Fredericksburg (ok police officers--I didn't really speed much because I drive a Prius) hoping that I would make it in time.

...Did I make it? Come back tomorrow to find out!

In the meantime, look at my pictures from the event and check out my friend Karen's entry about it at her blog, Arborescence.

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