Monday, August 31, 2015

Let's Talk About Goodreads

Welcome to my guest post today, I’m Catriona from Words of a Bluebird (link to my blog at the bottom) and I’m going to be having a little rant about the problems of Goodreads!

As someone new to the bookblogosphere, last year I was swept up in all the exciting new things that come with it. The lovely people, the interesting reading, the new book recommendations, and Goodreads.

Now, Goodreads seemed great at the time. You can have separate bookshelves, a reading goal which you can track throughout the year, and you have access to thousands of reviews of books you’ve already read, to see what other people thought about them. What could be wrong, right!

Like many others, I quickly began getting aggravated with the site, and here’s why:

The Rating System 
Because I rate with percentages, the Goodreads 5 star rating system just does not cut it. It is probably the most irritating thing I have found. It’s such a basic fault, I can’t believe they haven’t fixed this yet! As a site devoted to primarily reviewing books, why is it they only cater for people who can rate a book on this one, tiny scale?

I’m not trying to offend anyone here rating on the 5 point system is totally fine! But because I rate books on a 100 point system… Goodreads cannot be my primary source of reviewing (which is one of the reasons I set up a blog).

To give you an example, if you read 100 books a year, over 10 years you would have read 1000 books. On the Goodreads 5 star rating, that means you would have (on average) 200 books in each category, which makes it impossible to sort out the very best 10 or so books. Even if they had half stars, it would dramatically improve it!

Keeping Up/Awkwardness 
This could be my personal shortcomings with Goodreads, but I find it very difficult to keep up the shelves; it is very awkward to keep changing books around to different shelves from TBR to reading, to a specfic category.

Let me give you this scenario. You are having a little binge on booktube and the bookblogosphere, and you keep seeing all these incredible books that you want to read. So you grab a notebook and write down a little list as you see them. Now, you could either go onto Goodreads and find each of those 20 books and fiddle them onto your TBR shelf (provided you can get the damn search bar to find them), and then go to the store with your phone. Or, you could just bring the piece of paper, and cross the books off when you get them!

Goodreads offers no extra perks that you can’t get from somewhere else. Blogs for the reviewing and the connecting. Book journals for the TBR books. Planners (or the book journal) to keep track of which books you’ve read that year.

Trolls
I thought I would put this in here, although as a reader/blogger and not an author, I haven’t had any personal experiences with this before, except from observances. However, I am aware that there are people who just downvote to be spiteful I’ve even heard of authors setting up fake accounts and giving awful ‘reviews’ to other authors, and people entering multiple fake accounts to scam a giveaway. There are some truly horrific stories out there!

I could also go on to criticize how the reading challenge makes reading less pleasurable and more stressful, but I have not yet found this. I’m more pressured by the ‘I promised this author I’d have the review put up tomorrow, and I still have 100 pages to read’ scenario. If you don’t like the reading challenge, don’t have one next year, or just quit now. You don’t have to read a certain amount of books in a year, and you certainly shouldn’t feel pressured to do so!

However… 
For all its faults, Goodreads does have some redeeming features. The forums are very good for answering and asking questions, and it’s a great way for unpublished writers to meet with published writers, readers and publishers.

Futhermore, a lot of the groups are sweet, and great fun to join, where you can really have discussions with people who read the same books as you.

Unsurprisingly, there are many many rants about this subject, from annoyed readers to hurt authors, and here are three which I have picked out as some of the most interesting...

That’s the end of this post, I hope you appreciated where I was coming from, even if you don’t agree with the points I made.

You can visit me over at my blog www.majestink.wordpress.com, and I look forward to reading your comments!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Library Use Survey



In September, BBI is hosting the theme LIBRARY LOVE.

We would love to get info on how you use (or don't use) libraries.  

Fill out the short survey below by August 31st, and we will post the answers September 2nd on our Library Love introduction post.  Thanks!



Thursday, August 27, 2015

BACK TO SCHOOL: No School Reading For Me, No Sir


Today, I am excited to bring you our final guest post in honor of Back to School, courtesy of Rhea at Rhea's Neon Journal Book Blog.  She has taken a little different perspective, and it is one that you do not want to miss.

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In case it isn’t clear, I love reading. More than eating, and sleeping, and donuts, and coffee. Definitely more than breathing. And now that I’ve bared one part of my soul to you, here’s the other:

I absolutely loathed reading anything in school. I just couldn’t, you know? I couldn’t put my mind to it and I distinctly remember not ever wanting to even pick stuff up from the school library…Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Enid Blyton. None of this stuck with me and I’ve always hated reading something I’m forced to.

But woah, you guys, hold up. It was a completely different scenario at home, with my mother having made peace with the fact that I would probably never eat food in front of the idiot box. Like, you know, the rest of my family. It would always be Harry Potter, dinner and me. I read and re-read and re-read and read Harry Potter (all six of them) again and again and again though middle school and high school. Then HP and The Deathly Hallows was released in July 2007 and I had to wait until September for it to step into my outstretched arms. And the re-reading process started all over again

Of course, teenage girls craved glittery vampires in 2008, and I was bitten by the Edward Cullen bug. I saw the movie, went completely bat shit cray-cray, bought all the books, and sadly, HP was cast aside for awhile. Remember, all this while, I still hated reading school stuff. It irritated me to no end that Rick Riordan and Neil Gaiman were being forced on me, when all I wanted to do was run back to the Cullen Clan. Sigh. Horrible times, those.

And then came college. I took up learning Commerce and I got busy. Crazy busy. All books were kept aside and for two years, I managed to read nothing but a few books that were a part of my rather pathetic English curriculum in College. And yet, in the summer of 2014, I found a way to reintroduce books into my life, when I gave a big Fuck You to accounting and book-keeping and took up studying what I really wanted to study—Law.

Law and Literature are helplessly intertwined and thank god for that. Blogging introduced me to the kind of books I would never willingly pick up for myself. Reading NA was never my thing, MG to me was only Harry Potter from years 1 - 4, and YA, what YA? But getting out of school and Junior College was probably the best thing that ever could happen for me, reading-wise. I still hate reading books that I have to, but hey. At least I’ve moved on from the stage where I’d come home, cry to my mother and tell her I had another book to read that wasn’t Harry Potter. *winks*

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Featured Blogger: Ally of The Scribbling Sprite

Today please welcome Ally, who blogs at The Scribbling Sprite.


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What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?

"The Scribbling Sprite" actually started out as a username for random sites. I dabbled in writing; I was interested in mythical creatures. So I thought, what better name? When I decided to start a book blog I still thought it was fitting. 

How long have you been blogging?

About nine months!

Tell us a bit about your book blog. What makes it unique?

I try to incorporate a variety of posts, such as reviews, tags, discussion posts, memes, etc.

I also focus a lot on interacting with my readers. I reply to all of my comments, and if commenters have their own blogs I try to pay back the favor and comment on theirs. My favorite part of blogging is definitely the community. :)

Also, I always include content warnings at the end of each review.


What genres do you write about most, and why?

I try to review a variety of genres incuding Young Adult and Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Mystery/Thrillers, and Christian Fiction.

I love these genres and more, but YA Fantasy seems to be what I read most often.


Every blogger feels pressure at some point. What's something you feel pressured to do or not do on your blog? How do you deal with it?

I constantly feel pressure to take the easy way out. Sometimes it's hard to be consistent with posting and I just want to throw together a post in just a few minutes and say, "I'm done!" But I push myself to come up with well thought out content. It eats up more time, but pays off in the end.

What's one book you think everyone should read?

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. It's so heart-wrenchingly beautiful and unique. I think it really redefines what "Happily Ever After" means.

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

In library books? NO NO NO. Please do not!

In your own books? If you're not blotting out any words, I don't see why you shouldn't. I don't do this, but it might be kind of cool to reread a book and see all of your past comments.


What's your favorite place to read or blog?

I typically blog at my desk in my bedroom. I read....well....pretty much anywhere!

Is Amazon.com the evil empire? Discuss.

I don't think so. I enjoy shopping on Amazon. Especially for *cough* books.

A $0.01 book + $3.99 shipping = Cheap. And a full bookshelf for me.


Book shelfie time! Take a "shelfie" of your bookshelves and share it with us.



What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

I've learned how to have fun with my blog! When I first started all I could think was "how am I going to get people to read this?" When I DID get people to read my content it became less of a chore and more of an enjoyment. I learned to love interacting with other bloggers and my readers!

Do you judge a book by its cover, or its lover?

Its lover. I never decide to read a book solely based on its cover. But I'll carefully consider the opinion of a fellow blogger or reader I trust.

One book you like that no one else seems to, or vice versa?

I really enjoyed Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, despite its many negative reviews.

To DNF or not to DNF?

Not if I can help it. But if you're really not enjoying a book, why waste your time on it? There are too many GOOD books out there for you to be spending time on the ones you can't get into.

What's one book that intimidates you?

Les Miserables.

I've tried, and...haven't made it past the 14th page. :(


If you could go to any literary destination, where would you go?

I almost put Hogwarts, but alas, there would not be much fun in that for a non-magical muggle like me, unfortunately.

But I think it would be fascinating to visit the Inkworld (of Cornelia Funke's "Inkheart").


How about non-book related hobbies? What do you do when you don't feel like reading?

Don't feel like reading? What??

Hmm...I think I stated this above, but I dabble in writing fiction. I also enjoy drawing (mostly using pencil and charcoal) on occasion.


What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

Oh, that's tough. But one of my favorites would have to be the Anne of Green Gables miniseries with Megan Follows.

What are 3 favorite posts or reviews you've read by other book bloggers?

"You Shouldn't Care That I Love My Kindle" by Heather
"And They Lived..." by Christine
"Opinion: Writers Deserve More Respect" by Brett

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

The All-Rounder

Your responses showed you fitting into three different personalities:

Involved Reader: You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.

Exacting Reader: You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like - so you're very particular about the books you choose.

Eclectic Reader: You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.

I'd say this is accurate!


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Thank you for joining us today, Ally! 
Remember to check out Ally's blog, The Scribbling Sprite
and leave a comment or question.

Monday, August 24, 2015

BACK TO SCHOOL: Books That Inspired My Love of Reading


Today I am excited to share with you a special guest, Jessica from Scrap Paper in honor of our Back to School month.  Please give her a warm welcome!

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Back To School – Books That Inspired My Love of Reading 

I fell in love with reading from a very early age. I was always "that" child who had her nose stuck in a book. My passion for reading was inspired through my schooling years by a wide range of books. I have hand-picked six books that I feel became the cornerstones of my passion.

Primary School 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams - This book is my earliest memory of a book making an impact on me. I was a cuddly toy collector and used to believe that they came alive at night. Reading a book that confirmed the realness of the toys I adored made me rejoice, and probably encouraged my cuddly toy obsession way past an acceptable age! As a little girl reading about the Velveteen Rabbit's journey towards realising what it means to 'be real', I don't think I truly understood its profoundness until I was much older.

A quote that sticks with me from the book is from the Skin Horse who says:
"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real."

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis - As well as believing that my cuddly toys came to life, I used to imagine that I was in another land/world. The imaginary land that I spent the most time in was definitely Narnia. I hoped and prayed that one day I would open my parent's wardrobe and Narnia would appear.

Middle School 

The Philosopher's Stone by J.K.Rowling - Everyone knows the boy who lived. I think anyone from my generation (90s) would say that this book defined our childhoods. Harry Potter was my age when I first started reading the books and to follow his journey as I myself was growing up, was an incredible experience. As Harry's thought darkened and the novels grew longer, my thoughts grew more profound and my stamina coped with the additional pages!

Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman - This book was when my love for the fantasy genre truly began. After reading His Dark Materials I permanently went to the fantasy section of W H Smiths, hungry for more. This book also unfortunately fuelled my imaginary friend obsession. I had a daemon follow me around for a couple of years ... I was quite a lonely child!

High School 

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison - I began reading Georgia Nicholson's series as I first discovered the opposite sex. Georgia's failings in attracting boys became my own and made me feel better about being a complete and utter loser in love.

Animal Farm by George Orwell - This book was the turning point in my GCSE choices. I vividly remember studying this book and thinking that I wanted to study books like it at University - fast forward to 2014 and I graduated with an English Literature degree. This book showed me the depths and layers of meaning that can be unearthed from the pages of a book.

The most famous quote from Animal Farm is 'All animals are equal - but some are more equal than others'. I would rephrase this sentence to 'All books are equal - but some are more equal than others.' In other words, there will always be "those" books that affect us more than others, it doesn't mean they are better than other books, it just means that they imprinted on our hearts and minds.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Featured Blogger: Bri of No Books, No Life

Today please welcome Bri, who blogs at No Books, No Life.

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What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?

I feel like when I'm not currently reading a book my life doesn't feel as full or enjoyable. I think that people who don't read aren't living life to the fullest and will regret it later.

How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for about 5 or 6 months but I have been posting reviews on Goodreads for over a year.

What's one book you think everyone should read?

I really think that everyone should read the Extraction series by Stephanie Diaz. I really enjoyed the whole series and I really think that more people should find it and read it! Its really not as well known as it should be.

Do you judge a book by its cover, or its lover?

Most of the time I find myself picking up books because their covers lure me in. Whether it looks really beautiful or if it looks extremely creepy, 90% of the time that is what will lure me in!

To DNF or not to DNF?

I always try to finish a book no matter what. I feel like it is unfair to just give up on it for whatever reason but I have DNF-ed one or two books in my lifetime. I always feel bad when I do it though.

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

My favorite adaption is The Hunger Games. Everything seemed to be just as I imagined it in the book and that made me love the book even more!

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

The All-Rounder

Your responses showed you fitting into three different personalities:

Involved Reader: You don't just love to read books, you love to read about books. For you, half the fun of reading is the thrill of the chase - discovering new books and authors, and discussing your finds with others.
Exacting Reader: You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like - so you're very particular about the books you choose.
Eclectic Reader: You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors. 


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Thank you for joining us today, Bri! 
Remember to check out Bri's blog, No Books, No Life
and leave a comment or question.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Featured Blogger: Muhammad Saad Khan of DePorridge

Today please welcome Muhammad Saad Khan, who blogs at DePorridge.

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How long have you been blogging?

A month

What genres do you write about most, and why?

I usually read YA,general fiction,classics,fantasy and sci fi.But I also read any ARC that I win/receive. 

What's one book you think everyone should read?

The Quran 

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

no

Do you judge a book by its cover, or its lover?

Both

If you could go to any literary destination, where would you go?

Hogwarts

How about non-book related hobbies? What do you do when you don't feel like reading?

Soccer and MOOCs

What's your favorite or least favorite book to movie adaptation?

The Fault in our Stars

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

Eclectic Reader

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Thank you for joining us today, Muhammad Saad Khan! 
Remember to check out Muhammad Saad Khan's blog, DePorridge
and leave a comment or question.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Featured Blogger: Arabella of The Genteel Arsenal

Today please welcome Arabella, who blogs at The Genteel Arsenal.

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What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?


The blog title came about because I liked the Dr Who quote about libraries being the greatest arsenal you could ever have and another quote from Terry Pratchett about bookshops being like genteel blackholes that know how to read. I think of libraries as being genteel arsenals, that arm readers against all the challenges life can throw at them.

How long have you been blogging?

Since 2009, maybe earlier, I have changed platforms since starting and I am no longer really sure when I started, it may have been 2008.

Tell us a bit about your book blog. What makes it unique?

It is unique because it is my opinion and my reaction to what I read. I guess it is also a bit eclectic, my interests are really broad ranging and sometimes I blog about books related to work. I am just really curious, so read a lot, any genre or any topic.

What genres do you write about most, and why?

Mostly contemporary literary fiction, with some classics and non fiction. The non fiction is mainly history or natural history but it could be anything really. When I am working in young adult libraries I read and review YA and kids literature but YA becomes sporadic when not employed in those environments. I also read the occasional steampunk and crime but my taste in crime tends towards the quirky, authors like Christopher Fowler or Ben Aaronovitch.

Every blogger feels pressure at some point. What's something you feel pressured to do or not do on your blog? How do you deal with it?

I feel some pressure to respond to comments but I do try and make a point of finding time to respond and to visit other blogs and leave comments although sometimes I just like to visit blogs and not feel I have to comment.

What's one book you think everyone should read?

That's hard but for girls I think Jane Eyre is a must read.

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

Definitely yes, only in books you own, although I rarely do it myself I do sometimes underline and occasionally make a personal observation. I really love some of my second hand editions where previous owners have made their own observations and responses, for me they add to the character and appeal of the book. I also feel that it is wrong to fetishize books and get all precious over keeping them pristine. While I feel it is right to value and look after books I also feel there is nothing wrong with showing your love by interacting with the text and wear and tear that goes with reading a text over and over again. A paperback can be replaced, it is not a medieval manuscript.

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

In my library at home or sitting in a cosy coffee shop.

Is Amazon.com the evil empire? Discuss.

Yes I suspect Amazon is the evil empire for a number of reasons, just one big one is the monopoly they seem to have built with buying up other retailers and the fact that their pricing has damaged the smaller bricks and mortar independents, some of whom provide amazing service and product knowledge that will be really missed if it disappears. I personally make a point of supporting good independents but that is not to say that I don't buy online, I do but I tend to support smaller online providers.

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

I have learnt not to be afraid of being myself and saying what I think.

Do you judge a book by its cover, or its lover?

Both, I guess. But don't you just hate it when you buy a book for the cover and what is between the covers actually disappoints?

To DNF or not to DNF?

In theory I believe life is too short for bad books, in reality I find it very hard to give up on a book.

What's one book that intimidates you?

James Joyce Ulysses and I feel bad for never being brave enough to start it. 

If you could go to any literary destination, where would you go?

Northern England, Haworth and the Yorkshire moors of the Bronte sisters. I have visited once before but would go again if opportunity arose. I would also love to visit Whitby, made famous as the landing place of Dracula.

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

Rarely does a movie do justice to a book but I think Emma Thompson's adaptation of Sense and Sensibility was just brilliant.

What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

Not surprisingly this was the result:
The Eclectic Reader

You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors. 


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Thank you for joining us today, Arabella! 
Remember to check out Arabella's blog, The Genteel Arsenal
and leave a comment or question.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

BACK TO SCHOOL: School-Related Books

BBI+Back+to+School

Emma from Words and Peace is here today to bring us a very bookish topic related to Back to School.  Read on and get your TBR list ready!

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So happy to be participating in Back To School at Book Bloggers International!

Whether you have children, grand-children, or not, you can't escape the special flavor in the air in mid-August to September. It's time to go back to school, to get back on track to learning, possibly to set your own goals, and of course keep an eye on all the new books for the Fall.

So I was curious to see what my own Goodreads shelves were telling me about school and learning.

As I revisit the books I read with school/learn in the title, it really strikes me they all have to do with love. Actually, shouldn't it be the very first goal of learning? How to love? Unfortunately, our current Western system of education does not seem to emphasize that part. 

Here are the books I have read with school/learn in the title: Click on the covers to access the Goodreads page

The School for Wives

The play The School For Wives is a classic for all French students, so I must have read this when I was in my early teens. It was written in 1662 by Molière, think the French Shakespeare. It's a comedy that "depicts a character who is so intimidated by femininity that he resolves to marry his young, naïve ward and proceeds to make clumsy advances to this purpose. It raised some outcry from the public, which seems to have recognized Molière as a bold playwright who would not be afraid to write about controversial issues."

inside the school of charity

Inside The School of Charity was actually written by a friend of mine in 2009. Drawing on her journals from living inside the enclosure of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (a community of twenty Cistercian nuns) for three months in 2003, her reflections on the unexpected challenges and insights that emerged during that time, and on her own experience as a professional woman, wife, daughter, and mother, Trisha Day delves into the questions of how the centuries-old wisdom of monastic life can challenge, inspire, and guide those living outside the monastery. Filled with stories from her own life and fascinating details of daily life in the monastery, her book is sure to strike a spark with all those seeking to live in a fully human and Christ-centered way. I reviewed it on this blog

In the School of LoveIn The School of Love is an anthology of Early Cistercian texts (published in 2000) The Cistercian Fathers and Mothers quoted here lived in the 12th-14th centuries. They invite us into a 'school of Love', into the domain where the heart knows what the mind can never grasp.     I recall with great pleasure reading 

The Joy of LearningThe Joy of Learning and the Love of God in my early twenties. This collection of essays was published back in 1961 by a Benedictine monk and scholar who spent all his life researching and writing, tons! His essays are fascinating, full of erudition.     

Learning True Love There's a story close to my heart behind this book. When I was a child in a tiny French village of 250 inhabitants, at one point some people came to settle in a rather dilapidated house. They were very peaceful and very kind. I learned later they were Buddhists, and had been persecuted for their way of life and their actions, as they had helped many people escape Vietnam. The woman in the cover had very long black hair. Then she became a Buddhist nun. Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam are her memories, and she talks among other things about her years in my village, which she calls 'potato village'. 

And Here are the books on my Goodreads TBR list with school/learn in the title: Here the themes are more diversified: languages, reading, and nature, basically my most favorite hobbies! 

PolyglotKATO LOMB (1909-2003) was one of the great polyglots of the 20th century. A translator and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world, Lomb worked in 16 languages for state and business concerns in her native Hungary. She achieved further fame by writing books on languages, interpreting, and polyglots. Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, first published in 1970, is a collection of anecdotes and reflections on language learning. Because Dr. Lomb learned her languages as an adult, after getting a PhD in chemistry, the methods she used will thus be of particular interest to adult learners who want to master a foreign language.
Mezzofanti

Multilingualism is on the rise in the coming decades, as many as two billion people will learn English as a second language. The next stage up from multilingualism is the domain of the hyperpolyglot or superlearner: someone who claims to know at least six languages. But what does it mean to know a language? Can a person claim to speak a language fluently if it isn't their mother tongue? What role does culture play in learning languages? In Mezzofanti's Gift: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners (2013), an accessible and enthralling book, Michael Erard discusses the upper limits of the brains capacity to learn languages and sheds light on the hyperpolyglot phenomenon, from the Italian cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who was said to speak as many as seventy-two languages, to the superlearners of the 21st century.
How to be a Heroine

How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much (Feb 2015)
While debating literature’s greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation—her whole life, she's been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre.
With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies—the characters and the writers—whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today. And, just as she excavates the stories of her favorite characters, Ellis also shares a frank, often humorous account of her own life growing up in a tight-knit Iraqi Jewish community in London. Here a life-long reader explores how heroines shape all our lives.

My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It (2013)
Backyard JungleFor James Barilla and his family, the dream of transforming their Columbia, South Carolina, backyard into a haven for wildlife evoked images of kids catching grasshoppers by day and fireflies at night, of digging up potatoes and picking strawberries. When they signed up with the National Wildlife Federation to certify their yard as a wildlife habitat, it felt like pushing back, in however small a way, against the tide of bad news about vanishing species, changing climate, dying coral reefs. Then the animals started to arrive, and Barilla soon discovered the complexities (and possible mayhem) of merging human with animal habitats. What are the limits of coexistence, he wondered? To find out, Barilla set out across continents to explore cities where populations of bears, monkeys, marmosets, and honeybees live alongside human residents. My Backyard Jungle brings these unique stories together, making Barilla’s yard the centerpiece of a meditation on possibilities for coexistence with animals in an increasingly urban world. Not since Gerald Durrell penned My Family and Other Animals have readers encountered a naturalist with such a gift for storytelling and such an open heart toward all things wild.

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Back to school, to learn how to love and how to live. I encourage you to look at your Goodreads shelves and see what the words school and learn tell about yourself, about your past and your future. Feel free to share, if it's not too private.

Emma at Words And Peace and France Book Tours @wordsandpeace

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Featured Blogger: Marina of Till the last word

Today please welcome Marina, who blogs at Till the last word.

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What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?

it means that we should read every book until the end, there are some books that aren´t really exciting while you are reading them but in the end it makes it worth reading.
also, it has something to do the fact that I cant start a new book until I finish the previous one.


How long have you been blogging?

3 months, it´s been really little, but I am planning on keep going.

Tell us a bit about your book blog. What makes it unique?

i don´t think UNIQUE is the right word. I would say that it makes it interesting that I don´t have a special genre that I publish about, so you will find different reviews about many books.

What genres do you write about most, and why?

currently, I am writing a lot about science fiction, but I don´t have a preference.

Every blogger feels pressure at some point. What's something you feel pressured to do or not do on your blog? How do you deal with it?

sometimes I feel the pressure about writing more, because I think it´s not enough. I didn´t really get over it, I just accept that I don´t have enough time.
and other thing is if I am good in what I do, to "deal" with it I give my reviews to other people so they can give me an opinion. I really learn a lot


Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

HELL NO!! except it is an autograph

What's your favorite place to read or blog?

the kitchen, i feel more confortable there jaja

What have you learned from other bloggers or your readers?

I learned that people prefers new releases rather that classics.

Do you judge a book by its cover, or its lover?

sometimes, it depends on the cover jajaaj

To DNF or not to DNF?

not to DNF

How about non-book related hobbies? What do you do when you don't feel like reading?

I watch a lot of series and movies. and I also go to the gym


What is your reading personality? (via quiz at http://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/)

The Eclectic Reader

You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.



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Thank you for joining us today, Marina! 
Remember to check out Marina's blog, Till the last word
and leave a comment or question.

Monday, August 10, 2015

BACK TO SCHOOL: Starting the New Year with a Wonder-ful Book


Let's give Meghan a warm welcome today as 
she shares a particularly wonderful book with us!

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Starting the New Year with a Wonder-ful Book:  R.J. Palacio’s Wonder

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Hello everyone! I’m Meghan from Living a Life in Books.  I’m a mother of a beautiful little girl, a middle school Literature teacher, and a lover of great books (specifically middle grade and YA).  I’m here to share the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  If you haven’t heard of the book Wonder, then you’re in for a treat!  It’s about a fifth grade boy named August Pullman who was born with facial differences that cause him to be stared at wherever he goes.  Sometimes kids even run away from him.  Due to a number of surgeries, he has been home schooled--up until now.  As Auggie starts school for the first time, he learns a lot about friendship and himself during his fifth grade year.

Wonder is the first novel I read and studied with my sixth graders because it encompasses so many great ideas and literary elements.  Broken up into into six different perspectives, we hear Auggie’s, his older sister’s, his new friends’, and even his sister’s friends’ points of view.  From a literary standpoint this allows for a lot of discussion on character development as well as point of view and plot.  From a much deeper level, it allows for an exploration of the perspective in life.  

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What I really love is that Wonder is about acceptance and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes--and not just in Auggie’s.  As readers, we make assumptions pretty quickly about some characters (just as we do in life), but then we hear their story, their side. Suddenly things make a little more sense, maybe we were a little quick to judge, or maybe we were right in our initial judgement.  Nonetheless, it’s a lesson on getting all the information and taking a step back from your own life and seeing what it’s like for someone else.  

I start the year with this book because in our school, sixth grade is when students start switching classes and things get crazier. The students are switching classes each hour, they have lockers, they aren’t walked from one class to the next, and they have a lot more freedom than they have ever had before. The cliques, which already were starting in prior years, become more solidified and it just gets tough to be a kid. My students need this at the start of the year.  It is the theme that carries us throughout the year in Literature. I end each class with the reminder, “Choose Kind and Make Good Choices.”  Choose Kind is the anthem that Wonder readers have embraced and I embrace it for my classroom. Make Good Choices is just my own good piece of advice that I hope they take with them into life. I read aloud the short companion piece Julian’s Story to help round out that perspective and we discuss. Acceptance is tough in middle school.  It’s hard to accept yourself, to accept others, and to accept change. Kids need help guiding them through and I hope that this wonderful book can help them do that.  

Wonder really does make for a positive start to the school year.  Whether you’re a teacher looking for a class novel or read aloud, a parent on the lookout for a great novel for your 4-7th grader, or anyone else for that matter, this book will make you want to change the world one child at a time.  It’s heart wrenching to read as a parent and an educator, but uplifting at the same time as you witness the growth in the characters.  I also recommend checking out the website devoted to Wonder and the Choose Kind initiative.  If you’re interested, there is also an interview on youtube with R.J. Palacio as she discusses Wonder and its importance and impact on the lives of children who have facial difference.