Update: Time for Making Coffee - Unputdownables 48 Hour Read-a-Thon

Need Some Caffeine to Boost Your Reading Energy?

Let me preface this by saying that one of my Shelfari friends is attempting to teach me to brew a great cup of coffee thereby turning me into a coffee snob. He has already succeeded in teaching me that some coffee just tastes like dirt. I happen to have a bag of tasteless coffee now (no offense Whole Foods, but I don't like your Guatemalen or Rainforest Blend coffees) that I am using to make iced coffee to help keep my energy up through Wallace's Unputdownables.net 48 Hour Read-a-Thon. I'm still a novice and have a lot to learn--I'm still refining my coffee palette. :)
For those of you that asked how I make my coffee, here it goes:


The Tools of the Trade
Boiled Water
Coffee Grinder (the burr kind)
Whole coffee beans
A glass filled to the top with ice
Filter and filter cone
Pyrex measuring cup (optional--you can use whatever container you want to brew it in)

  • After your water is hot, run some hot water through the filter to get the paper taste out of the paper cone. It doesn't matter really if you use the brown or white filters unless you can really tell the difference. I run my water from the filter straight into the sink.
  • While doing this, grind some fresh beans (I use 3 to 3.5 tablespoons of coffee beans)
  • After the water is run through, pour your grinds in and and pour some hot water in the grinds. Stir it around a bit with a spoon. I've actually learned that the bubbles (see above, right picture) is carbon dioxide being released from the beans which is a good thing. It means it's fresher I guess and I think is called "blooming" (but don't quote me on that--I have to get back to reading so I'm too lazy to look it up today).
  •  Continue pouring water in until you get the desired amount of coffee you want to make.

  • I brew about 400 mL or about 3/4 cup of coffee with 3.5 scoops of beans (I don't like sludge I guess, but I don't like it too watery either)
  • After I finish, if I feel like a little flavor, I put in some flavored coffee creamer. this one is International Delights Caramel Macchiato (the low-fat kind...I do not like it very much--I will buy the fatty stuff next time). Most of the time I drink my coffee black, but I'm masking the "meh" taste of this coffee with some flavor!
  • Pour over a full glass of ice (mine is a 20 oz. and I have enough for seconds), stick a straw in, and enjoy!


Update on the Read-a-Thon

I have finished Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews and will be starting The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley. I'll also listen to a bit of Middlemarch by George Eliot today.

Finished! It was fantastic!



Reading these two next!



Update: Unputdownables 48 Hour Read-a-Thon!


Well, Friday evening was a bit challenging for me. I am taking care of my neighbor's dog for the weekend so I have three dogs in the house. I have whippet so they are skinny and don't weigh much, but they are fairly big dogs and if they were the normal dog shape I would estimate that I have around 180-200 pounds of dog in the house this weekend....and they are ACTIVE! So for three hours last night, they were play fighting "grizzly bear style" and running around outside. I have to watch them to make sure the dynamic is ok and a fight doesn't ensue. So, I didn't get as much reading done as I wanted to, but I still made progress (also note that I am a notoriously slow reader)!




Here are my plans/updates for the weekend:
  • Ample amounts of iced coffee (made fresh by the cup, not the pot by yours truly)
  • Snacks of course (that's a banana nut muffin)
  • Currently Reading: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
    • On page 169 of 260
  • Up Next: The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley and second half of Book 4 of Middlemarch by George Eliot

A Little Extra for You!

I also received my bookmarks from iPrint.com this week. Some of you that follow me on Twitter already know that my first attempt to buy bookmarks ended in a bust because I was dumb and failed to check the dimensions. I ended up with a 1" x 3" bookmark which I do actually use for small paperbacks, but isn't practical because you can't really see the print on the bookmark thus ruining any advertising value. After I got my new ones, I was glad I made this mistake because the new ones are simply AWESOME! I love them and highly recommend iPrint.com if you are wanting to get bookmarks for your blog.


The picture isn't the best quality because I used my phone for it, but I can tell you that all the writing is clear and I can definitely read it wall. I also included my bookmark fail just for a laugh (I mean, if you can't laugh at yourself, then life is pretty depressing, right?!!). You may now mercilessly mock me! Hehe!






Friday Coffee Chat (4) - Are you Pottered Out?



Are you Pottered Out? 

OK, before you pull out your pitchforks and beat down my blog door, let me preface this post by saying that I am a Harry Potter fan. I am not ashamed to admit it, and I actually think that in 50 years J.K. Rowling's masterful series will become a YA classic that is passed down from generation to generation. I love Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and all the gang at Hogwarts. However, Harry, is a grown man now and should have left Hogwarts long ago, but here we are in 2010 still rereading the books constantly 13 years after they first started being published and anxiously awaiting the last two films. I have to admit, I am feeling "Pottered Out." 

Last week we talked about whether or not we would ever boycott an author we fundamentally disagreed with (I am not talking about banning books--just personal boycotting) and the prevailing thought was that sometimes we do fundamentally disagree and might avoid those authors, but we would never call for a full-out ban on their works. Some even said they would try to read their books to understand where the author was coming from. 


This week I want to talk about if there are any books that have been so overexposed in the media and have had so many copies sold that you just want a break from hearing about them for awhile--instead of saying "burned out", I am terming this feeling as being "Pottered Out."

There are a few books and authors that get SO much attention that I just sometimes want a break from them. Harry Potter is wonderful, but I have friends that ONLY read Harry Potter it seems like. They are either listening to it on audiobook, rereading it for the bazillionth time, pining away about how the film isn't out yet, or anxiously waiting in line for the midnight showing of the next film. I love Harry as much as the next girl, but it's like having a boyfriend who just won't let you have a night out with the girls. 

How about Dan Brown and his Robert Langdon series (you know...Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code)? I don't count myself among Mr. Brown's fans, but a few years ago The DaVinci Code was all the rage. Every time I turned on the television there was some show about Mary Magdalene and and the Holy Grail for it seemed like a few years! 

Or how about the Twilight Saga? I'm just at the point where I'm ready for some of this stuff to fade into oblivion because there are so many other books out there! Sure these books have created readers out of people who scoffed at books before, but I feel like that burned out candle whenever I hear about them now. I'm just ready to move on and read something else. I really don't want to hear about Robert Langdon and Edward and Bella for another ten years. My brain might just explode as it's ready to do with Harry Potter (keep in mind that someday I WILL reread the Harry Potter books because I think they are fantastic, but it will be when the craze dies down). 

So my question to you Friday Coffee Chat readers is:
  • Are there any books that you've really just had enough of hearing about because they are just too overexposed (even if you like them)?
  • What books do you think are headed in the direction causing burnout for readers?
...and to Fiona from The Book Coop...you know I love you and you are one of my favorite bloggers so please remember this and give me a running start before you chase after me with the above mentioned pitchfork! ::runs and hides::


After you comment, make sure you visit Jennifer at Girls Gone Reading. This week for Friday Coffee Chat she has a guest post from Tanya Egan Gibson, author of How to Buy a Love of Reading. Her book talks about how a young woman grows to love stories after she initially says she's never met a book she liked.

Esperanza Rising - Pam Munoz Ryan







Book: Esperanza Rising
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan (click on the author's name to go to their webpage)
Publisher: Scholastic
262 pages
My Rating: 5/5 stars

A few months ago, I asked my readers to recommend books about American History to me and Chelle from The Prairie Library recommended Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. I was a little skeptical with it being a Juvenile Fiction book but decided to keep an open mind and checked it out of the library. Chelle could not have been more right. This book was fantastic--so much so, that it is making my short list for the best book I've read this year.

Esperanza Rising is about Esperanza, a wealthy young Mexican girl that has grown up on a ranch called El Rancho de las Rosas during the era of The Great Depression. When her father is killed by bandits, she, her mother, and their servants are put in a precarious position. They cannot maintain the ranch without Papa and so the servants--Hortencia, Miguel, and Alfonso decide to move north and seek agricultural work in America. A series of events requires Esperanza and her mother to flee Mexico as well, and the five make their way to Southern California and begin working the fields to make a life for themselves. Life is hard for Esperanza because she is used to a life of luxury, but she feels the pressure to perform duties just like anyone else in order to avoid the shame and embarrassment of not knowing how to do the work. She works hard and undergoes a transformation as she adjusts to her new life.

I loved this book for a few reasons. The book is gives a voice to migrant workers and is told beautifully. I think with the current climate in my country regarding immigration, this book is very valuable to understanding the mind of an immigrant worker. The book personifies the resilience and perseverance of immigrants in the United States despite working and living conditions that were less than desirable. These immigrants came to America in search of a better life which the country was known for. The poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty showed the welcoming of newcomers to America with these words:
"...Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 
People flocked to the U.S. in search of this idea of prosperity. The characters of Esperanza Rising embody this hope of prosperity while encountering the everyday challenges that were typical during The Great Depression. Overall, whether you are of school age or an adult, I think this book is a great way to understand the mindset of many immigrants throughout history in the United States. I absolutely loved this novel and think that the subject matter could not be more relevant in American society today. I highly recommend reading it so that we can start a better dialogue in the United States about immigration policy.

I thought this was a book that offered a chance to have discussion and dialogue about a current event, so if you are interested, please click the 'Read More' to view some links and my take on the issue. Also, feel free to leave links in the comments if you have a viewpoint on this. My only request is that we keep the conversation civil.

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Unputdownables 48 Hour Read-a-Thon!



Ready for a Read-a-Thon?

Wallace at Unputdownables.net is hosting a 48 Hour Read-a-Thon this weekend (Friday evening through Sunday night). I definitely have time to read this weekend so I am signing up to whittle down my giant TBR stack!

Here are the rules:
  • Choose a few books that you will attempt to finish this weekend (Friday evening through Sunday night).
  • Post your TBR Read-a-Thon books on your blog so your readers can see what you are attempting for the weekend.
  • Challenge your readers to read along with you! (It’s OK if they don’t, but might be fun if they want to choose at least one book to participate with).
  • Join the discussion all weekend long at #bookblogchat on Twitter.
  • Post updates on your blog about what you are reading and what you have finished (full reviews can come later, but this will let your readers know what you are reading so they can either read along or look forward to your reviews!)
  • Visit other blogs that are doing the read-a-long. Post comments and follow your fellow bloggers.
  • Make sure you sign up at Unputdownables with Mr. Linky with a link to your first post so we can follow your progress!
  • *If you don’t have a blog but want to participate: Sign up with Mr. Linky, just don’t add a website (or you can link to your Twitter or GoodReads page).*
If You’re Not In, but Want to Support:
  1. Check out the blogs that are participating in the Mr. Linky list on Unputdownables.net
  2. Visit those blogs and leave comments and encouragement
  3. Add to your own TBRs as you see what others are reading!

My Read-a-Thon List

  


I am also wanting to listen to and read-a-long to:



In reality, I will probably only get one book done, but my big goal is to have two done by the end of the weekend. I am a notoriously slow reader so encouraging comments will definitely be appreciated! I may actually start this challenge during the day on Friday because I may have roofers at my house so I will have to vacate the premises and go somewhere to read!


Guest Post #1 - Book Read 'Round the World: Rikki from Germany Shares Her Book Hobo Experience



The Enchanted April = Red Pin
Journeyed from Nuremberg, Germany to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Distance Traveled = 4102 mi./ 6601 km.


Guest Post #1
Rikki from Germany
I just received word from Sandie at Imagination Cafe that she received her package from Rikki at The Bookkeeper so I can now post Rikki's guest post about her experience! After you finish reading, make sure you go check out Rikki's wonderful blog as well!


_____________________________________________________________

I am Rikki from The Bookkeeper (http://www.rikkidonovan.com) and I was the first in the group for The Enchanted April. I received the book from The Book Depository, so there were no surprises in the package (except for what will the bookmark be like?).


Questions

To make it easier for me, Carin provided me with a few questions about Germany, so I wouldn't be left to my own devices. The questions I answered (Sandie Lee will probably be surprised about my ramblings) were:

1. Since most of the non-native English speaking bloggers I know are blogging in English, I wonder what most people in your country read. Do most people read books that are published in German only, or are people in general fluent enough in English that they can read either English or German books?

Most people in Germany definitely read books in German only. A lot of people speak English, but not at a level where they feel confient enough to read books in English. There are not many books, I think, that have not been translate, so basically there is no limitation in their reading material. However, if one chooses to read books in English it is now not a problem anymore to get any book you like in its original version.


2. If someone were to visit Nuremberg, what is the one thing you would tell them they cannot miss doing or seeing, and what would you tell them to absolutely avoid?

The one thing that people ought to see is the old town of Nuremberg. It was more or less completely destroyed during WWII and has been rebuilt very beautifully. One sight that shows this is the church of St. Lawrence. There is a photo of it taken after the war showing only ruins and rabble and now it looks grand and impressive again.

There is really nothing anything that I would advise a visitor to absolutely avoid, but I'd suggest instead of going to the tourist restaurants around the market square to go to a country inn outside the city to experience the delicious real Franconian home cooking - as heavy and unhealthy as it might be.


Shopping!!

After reading the book I went shopping for Sandie Lee. This was fun. I wanted to buy mainly book related items with a German touch which is quite hard over here, believe it or not. It seems the German language is turning into a hodgepodge of German and English (called Denglish over here) and shops sell more items with English writing on them than German. Anyway, after looking around for some time I found some nice book related items and a fridge magnet. Additionally I went into a few bookstores to collect their free bookmarks (all in German surprisingly) and added them to the loot. A pretty card on top of it all and then I was done.


What I got was a book with "Lieber Lesen" on it (I'd translate this as "[I'd] rather [be] reading"), a metal bookmark with the poem Loreley by Heinrich Heine and a fridge magnet with the Nuremberg castle. I bought the magnet in the most tourist-y shop you can imagine right in the city center on the main market square. You can see the castle and its surrounding buildings and even though it is an illustration it looks quite like the real thing. The bookmark I bought at Thalia, a bookstore I showed you in abundance some time ago (http://www.rikkidonovan.com/index.php/2010/07/16/book-locations-the-bookstore/). The bag I bought at a  place called Hugendubel, a book shop I plan to show you soon.


I love the idea of this Book Read 'Round the World event and can't wait to see what all the other participants have to say about the book and about the experience.

One Sentence Review

Oh, a very short review of The Enchanted April? This is hard because short is not my style, :-). But I will try...:

"Travelling broadens the mind". No book has shown this in a more charming and delightful way.

In My Mailbox (89)



(hosted by The Story Siren)
(Sadly, this awesome mailbox is not my real mailbox. I found this on Photobucket courtesy of Fancybre)




Woo! I finally have enough books and other swag to post another In My Mailbox post! I'm so excited! I'm currently on a Book Buying Ban for the month of July, but I was sneaky and managed to get a few things anyway without breaking my rules. Here is what I acquired this week!


From Vintage Anchor:
 
I won a t-shirt from Vintage Anchor (@VintageAnchor) when I entered one of their Twitter contests! I love this series and the movie was so good I saw it in the theater twice!
Check out their website HERE
Follow them on Twitter



From PenguinPbks:

I also won a contest from Penguin Paperbacks (@PenguinPbks) through Twitter when I answered a photo question about their mini-tour. The posted a picture of their car on the side of the road and asked where it was. I answered "Big Sur, CA and Pacific Coast Highway" and won!
Books Received
Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
(I thought I was going to just receive Big Sur, but the awesome people at Penguin sent me three books!)

Check out Penguin's website HERE
Follow Penguin Paperbacks on Twitter




From Jennifer at Crazy for Books:
 
My last acquisition was Murder in the Abstract by Susan Shea
It was autographed by Ms. Shea and included a nifty bookmark. I can't wait to read it!
I won this book through a giveaway on Crazy for Books blog. Thanks Jennifer! Thank you Ms. Shea!

Check out Susan Shea's website HERE
Visit Jennifer at Crazy for Books


Thank you to everyone that helped me circumvent my month long book ban. I'm not gonna lie...it was super fun to manipulate the system! Hehe! 

What did you get in your mailbox this week? Leave me a comment!

Friday Coffee Chat (3) - Would you boycott a book or author?


Would you ever boycott a book or author?

Last week we talked about whether or not we judge books by their cover, and for the most part everyone said, "Absolutely!" It was an interesting discussion--one that publishers I'm sure have to think heavily about since it is one of the primary ways they get people to buy books. Since we readers seem to be an opinionated bunch I am wondering whether there is any reason you would ever boycott a book or author.

There are few examples I can think of where people have moral objections to a book's content and an author's personal beliefs that have caused very strong reactions in the last 20 years. In conjunction with my Friday Coffee Chat question, Jennifer at Girls Gone Reading has written a post on Banned Books to discuss. When you finish reading and commenting over here, make sure you visit her blog to look at her post!

There are two books/authors that have come up in conversation with my friends in recent weeks. The first is the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Let's just admit it. Most of us have read it and if we haven't, we all pretty much know the entire story anyway because of all the Twihards out there. 



The big argument I keep seeing for boycotting the books is that Bella does not have healthy relationships with men. She becomes obsessed with Edward and goes into her waking coma in New Moon when he leaves, she cleans house all the time, and Edward is very controlling, etc. This has caused such a stir that one of my family members posted her misgivings about the series on Facebook before she had read the books. Some of my other friends have also posted articles regarding this aspect of the books.

Personally, I read them. I'm not a Twi-Hard or whatever you call them. I don't yearn for Edward or Jacob, but I didn't have an issue with the books. I thought they were just a light, fluffy read that I got through quickly. I enjoyed them and thought the story was engrossing, but I don't think it made me clean my house any more or wish I had a guy that stared at me all night in my bedroom. My defense of the books is that they are fantasy--Bella did after all have homicidal vampires that were after her oh so angsty but delicious blood. I told my friends that if vampires were a) real and b) after my angsty but delicious blood, I might want a sparkly vampire to protect me too! In the end, I don't understand the intense love or the intense hate for the series because I've already moved on with my life and am reading other books.

Orson Scott Card is another author that I've seen a lot of people boycotting because of his stance on gay issues. According to Wikipedia, Card has written that he believes laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books but that he doesn't advocate "harsh personal treatment of individuals who are unable to resist the temptation to have sexual relations with persons of the same sex." (Wikipedia) Before you get all up in arms about his statements, please take note that Orson Scott Card is a Mormon and is a member of the LDS church so his statements are not out of line with what the LDS believe (at least to my knowledge they would agree with his statements). I have to say that I don't agree with his stance at all, but I haven't boycotted his books, nor do I think that the Ender's Game series had all these homoerotic moments or anti-gay messages (which I guess some people have actually analyzed the books for). As much as I am pro-gay rights, I am also pro-freedom of religion and freedom of speech. I think that Card has the right to voice his beliefs and I do not think his statements are all that shocking since he is religious. I can just agree to disagree with him and still enjoy what he has to write because I actually really enjoyed the Ender's Game series.

However, there are certain people who I know I have had issues with in the past--Roman Polanski for one. He is a filmmaker and I think I may have only seen one of his movies that I know of (The Pianist for those of you wondering). I am not interested in seeing more of his films since he is accused of drugging and raping an underage girl. Honestly, I can't think of an author that I have boycotted though for their personal beliefs (besides the obvious political pundits that put books out--you guys are destroying my country. Please stop!). Am I off my rocker because I have some moral issues with someone like Polanski, but not Meyer or Card? 


My question to all of you this week is:
Would you ever for any reason boycott a book or an author based on a book's content or an author's personal beliefs? (And I'm not talking about genres that you just aren't interested in. It has to be something that you fundamentally disagree with.)

Click HERE to go to Jennifer's post on Banned Books at Girls Gone Reading

  


Update! Book Read 'Round the World


Where in the world is Book Hobo?


Lost on Planet China = Purple Pin
The Enchanted April = Red Pin

After spending the last one to two weeks in the U.S. and Germany, both books are currently in transit to their next locations! Here are the stats:

Lost on Planet China
Cedar Park, TX USA to Trowbridge, Wiltshire England
Date sent: 14 July 2010
Distance travelled = 4826 mi. / 7767 km.


The Enchanted April
N├╝rnberg, Germany to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada
Date Sent: 19 July 2010
Distance travelled = 4102 mi. / 6601 km.


Lost on Planet China is currently on it's way to Carly at Writing from the Tub. Carly is currently hosting a giveaway for Torment by Lauren Kate on her blog. The giveaway is international and is open until August 1. Go check out her blog and enter to win!

The Enchanted April is on it's way to Sandie Lee at Imagination-Cafe Blog. Sandie Lee is currently hosting a contest for a Landon Donovan autographed soccer kit. So if you have kids that love soccer, have them go and register for Klub Krumbs. After they register, they can then go to the Contests area and enter to win this awesome kit. World Cup fever is not over yet! The contest runs until August 15.


Reviews for both books have also been posted by their first reviewers! 

Rikki from The Bookkeeper is planning on participating in Blogfest 2010 so make sure to check her blog for new giveaways soon! She also does a weekly feature where she compares German and English book covers. Click HERE to read her latest post!

The Eyes of Willie McGee - Alex Heard

Book: The Eyes of Willie McGee
Author: Alex Heard
Publisher: Harper (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
404 pages
My Rating: 4/5 stars


Earlier this year, my interest in American history was piqued when I was watching a History Channel show on the United States. I realized how complex our history is and how the history we are taught in school is just really not sufficient enough to understand the true American experience. It is because of this that I signed up for The Eyes of Willie McGee book tour on Crazy Book Tours. When I saw the book it immediately piqued my interest because while I have read a few novels about the African American experience in the U.S., I had never read any non-fiction about it.

Willie McGee was a young African American man who was accused of raping a White woman named Willette Hawkins in 1945. He was quickly tried and convicted for the crime despite the evidence being largely circumstantial. The Civil Rights Congress got wind of his conviction and the circumstances surrounding it and decided to take action. A group of attorneys funded through the CRC appealed McGee's conviction not once, but twice in an attempt to free him. Their appeals ultimately failed and McGee was executed in 1951 in Mississippi's travelling electric chair.

While reading this book, both Willie McGee's and Willette Hawkins' stories fascinated me because they were in similar situations in society. At the time it was almost unthinkable for an African American to get a fair trial in the South, and I was surprised to read at how low women were viewed according to the law as well. The evidence presented against McGee at trial would not have been enough for him to be convicted in a court of law in the United States today, and I definitely felt a sense of injustice while reading McGee's struggle to avoid execution for the crime he was accused and convicted of. However, I was surprised to find myself equally appalled for Willette Hawkins who was treated quite unfair by today's standards as well--one of the requirements for rape at the time was that a woman had to fight back as hard as she possibly could--and her testimony was called into question as to whether or not she was actually raped based on this. To me, they were both victims of a society that viewed them as inferior and therefore didn't deserve justice.

What I found very interesting in the book is how the Communists in the U.S. were so involved in civil rights. I had heard some about it while in school, but I didn't realize to what extent they were involved. They were such a polarizing figure at the time (remember McCarthyism was just around the corner) that even the NAACP wanted to avoid being associated with the Communist funded Civil Rights Congress. After reading this book, I applaud the CRC's efforts to save Mr. McGee (even though I felt uncertain about his innocence or guilt even after finishing the book). He and so many others like him deserved to be treated as full citizens without discrimination and receive fair trials when accused of a crime. I am so glad that people were willing to stand up and fight for those that were not allowed to fight for themselves. I believe that the stories of these African Americans' suffering was not in vain because through their suffering and the work of those who sought to bring real justice to the American system, our society has changed for the better. It is so unfortunate that all these terrible things had to happen for people to realize that skin color is not a factor in being a human being and all should be treated with dignity.

Alex Heard does a fine job of explaining the racial climate during the 1940s and the extent to which the CRC and Communists were involved in fighting for civil rights. Toward the end of the book, Heard writes about a demonstration in Washington D.C. in which a young soldier asked, "...why all this fuss over one life," to which another visitor answered, "Sometimes, one life becomes a symbol of a million lives." (p.316) Reading Willie McGee's personal story gave me a greater understanding of the African American struggle to gain equal rights in America.

I recommend this book to people who are both wanting a to read a detailed account of one man's struggle and understand the greater influence of the Communist involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (which I found fascinating).

Related Websites
Harper Collins' The Eyes of Willie McGee page (includes a video about the book--also contains stock footage of the case)
The Eyes of Willie McGee webpage


This book was received for review through:
Crazy Book Tours

Friday Coffee Chat - Do You Judge a Book By Its Cover?


Do you judge a book by its cover?

Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading and I have decided to work on Friday Coffee Chat together from now on so after you read my post, go check out her post on "Book Covers...Are They Art?". 

After our discussion last week on, "Are you a book snob?", I thought I would discuss a related topic this week. A few comments were made that yes, we sometimes are book snobs, and we sometimes judge when people read books we don't find worth reading. By that same token, we sometimes get judged for the things we read be it Young Adult, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Comics, Romance, or Science Fiction. We had a great discussion and if you want to read how people felt, click HERE to go to the post. The comments were great and everyone was really insightful AND honest. 

Some of the comments last week made me start thinking that since we sometimes judge people when we see them reading a book that doesn't appeal to us, do we sometimes judge a book by its cover? I have also most definitely fallen into this category. Too many times have I looked at a book and been like, "Only weird nerdy people would read that," or "Geez...Fabio XIV is on the cover! Who would read that?" 

There are a few books I have definitely been proven wrong:

  


Ten years ago, my husband BEGGED me to read Ender's Game. We were newlyweds so of course I couldn't refuse him, but really inside I was thinking, "What a nerd! Only weirdos read books with spaceships on the cover!!" I read it so that he wouldn't rethink marrying me and guess what? I read both it AND the next book in the series (Speaker for the Dead for all you who are wondering) in one weekend. They were fantastic! I have since read Ender's Game two more times as well, and I hardly ever read a book more than once. The other book I judged by its cover (c'mon Bantam...you really could have done better) was A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Again, it was my husband that told me, "You have to read this!" Being the good wife that I am (insert snarky comment here..hehe) I said "OK," but inside I said, "This is such a dude book. Only guys read books with weird drawn on lions on the cover." It was another book that I was blown away by. I love it. It's in my Top 5 Books of All-Time. 

Then there are the books with the gorgeous covers with stories that are so boring they just make you want to go into a waking coma for months like Bella in New Moon (I'm owning it book snobs! I read the Twilight series!). The only book I can remember being like this was The Fifth Book of Peace which to me was The First Book of Torture. I didn't finish it. I wasn't interested in the story, but boy, was that cover pretty.


I am definitely not saying that it was a bad book, but it just really didn't speak to me on any level at all. Maybe I'll give it another try someday (I do still own it).

So my questions for you Friday Coffee Chat readers are:
  • Do you ever judge a book by its cover? 
  • Have you ever read a book you thought would just be horrible that you were pleasantly surprised after reading?
  • If you have had these experiences, how did it change your book buying habits?
  • Do you judge people less if you have read a book with a corny romance cover, or a super hot vampire girl/guy, someone with a cape on, or any other thing that you just initially turned your nose up at and ended up enjoying? 

Also, remember to check out Girls Gone Reading's "Book Covers...Are They Art?" post. She has some really great covers on there!

Lost on Planet China - J. Maarten Troost

Book: Lost on Planet China
Author: J. Maarten Troost
Publisher: Broadway Books (division of Random House)
382 pages
My Rating: 5/5 stars


It is the start of Book Read 'Round the World and I am the first stop on the tour! Our group voted to read Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost, and I have to say, this was a fantastic pick for the event. I will be mailing the book to Carly at Writing from the Tub in England next, so check back in a few weeks for a link to her posts on the Book Read 'Round the World event HERE.

J. Maarten Troost decided to go to China because it was simply the place to be. The country is developing rapidly and is possibly the world's most exciting country to be right now. A well-traveled man, Troost did not expect to be such a fish out of water in this mysterious country, but from the moment he walked off the plane, he was thrust into a world that was foreign in every sense of the word. His initial impression of the country was only the prevalence of pollution and communism, but he forged on to learn about a country that saw him only as a laowai (Caucasian foreigner). He was limited by his inability to understand and read the language and relied on contacts he had made throughout the years to help him on his journey so there is never a time when he truly felt comfortable in his surroundings. His journey took him across the entire nation: from Beijing to Hong Kong and all the way up to Harbin, Troost wanted to experience it all, and in the end, he left China a changed man.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. China is such a dynamic nation that has become a world industrial leader. Sure the country has its problems. There is the looming cloud of pollution that sits over every city due to China's passion for coal and Communism envelops the country on many levels, but above that the country is changing so fast that if you blink your eyes you might miss something profound. Troost's writing about this change is quite insightful even as it seems to boggle his mind. As a Westerner, Troost definitely has some preconceived notions about the country and in a lot of ways his ideas are not without merit. The Cultural Revolution was not friendly to the history of the nation nor its people on a large level. However, as Troost meets and talks to other Westerners and locals, he finds out the true complexity of the country and the resilience of its people.


Harbin, China (ChinaHighlights.com)
There are moments that challenged me as the reader--when I read a travel book I want the author to be open to the ideas of the place he's visiting. At times, Troost seemed rather negative about the experience but when I thought about it, I appreciated his honesty because there were some situations that were quite difficult to get through. I asked myself, "What would I do in the same situation?" and the result would most certainly not be handled with the humor with which he tended to handle himself. Many times there was nothing Troost and his  companions could do but laugh or make comments tinged with a little sarcasm to each other. In the end, it didn't bother me because despite the cultural and language divide, Troost ultimately took a journey that seemed to have a profound impact on him. I like it when travel books accomplish this very thing, and I look forward to reading Troost's other books, The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages.

**Book Read 'Round the World Questions for Carly at Writing from the Tub**
(Others in the Lost on Planet China group are also welcome to answer these questions)

  1. How did you feel Troost represented Westerners? In particular, did you notice how he described people from the UK? 
  2. What was your favorite place that Troost visited?
  3. What was the thing that surprised you most while reading the book? 
  4. If you could ask J. Maarten Troost one question, what would it be?

Check out this video from J. Maarten Troost's travels to China


Oh My Blog Award - Soundtrack of My Childhood!


Rikki from The Bookkeeper has awarded me the Oh My Blog Award! I think this award might be my favorite to date simply because of the hilarity that can ensue. She has tried to get me to do (e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, make up, etc) and post it after I told her I took a picture of myself without makeup and I look like Sloth from The Goonies...so yeah...don't ask because I'm not going to post it! Haha!

Here are the rules:

  1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER!
  2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award:
  • Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus.
  • Write about your most embarrassing moment.
  • Write a "Soundtrack of your childhood" post.
  • Make your next blog a ‘vlog’/video blog. Basically, you’re talking to the camera about whatever.
  • Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, make up, etc) and post it.
      3. Pass the award on to at least three, but preferably more, awesome bloggers. Don’t forget to tell them.

I will pass this most awesome blog award onto:

Also, make sure you visit Rikki at The Bookkeeper! She has a great blog!


Now, on to the Soundtrack of My Childhood! Click "Read More" to see my blog mixtape.


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