September Wrap-Up

As my favorite month of the year draws to a close, I suppose it's time to officially wrap up Series in September! I had fun spotlighting The Southern Vampire Mysteries, The Walsh Sisters, The Dresden Files, Antsy Bonano, The Maggy Thorsen Mysteries, The Hunger Games, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, The Seekers, Anna Pigeon, and The Looking Glass Wars.  There's a host of other authors (Naomi Novik, Heather Webber, Diana Gabaldon, Wendy Lynn Watson, Tony Hillerman, James Dashner, Cornelia Funke, Cinda Williams Chima, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child) that I could have featured this month as well and I think I'm finally realizing just how many series I'm currently reading! Expect many of those authors to be blogged about in the near future though as they are all still very much TBR.  

This month also marked my first venture into digital reading - and I'll have an update on that and a Kindle review, which many have asked for, next month.  And of course, there was the awesomeness of Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  I really enjoyed connecting to other blogs throughout the week and here's a special welcome to those that first visited Her Book Self during that time!  I can't promise that this level of high velocity blogging will spill over to the rest of the year, but it has been a wonderful September and I thank you all for your comments and participation!  Thanks for following along for my most prolific book blogging month to date!  
Don't forget, too, there is still time to enter The Hunger Games giveaway!

Seeing Redd (Series in September)

Book: Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

Series: The Looking Glass Wars

Book Order: The Looking Glass Wars*  (1), Seeing Redd* (2), Arch Enemy (3), Plus The Looking Glass Wars Graphic Novels: Hatter M, Mad With Wonder, The Nature of Wonder
* indicates a book I have read

Welcome to Frank Beddor's fantasy series centered around an alternate version of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland. Alice Liddell - the young girl who became the inspiration for Carrol's writing - is really Princess Alyss Heart of Wonderland, a magical realm of invention and imagination.  Young Alyss escaped to Earth after her evil Aunt Redd murdered Alyss's parents and stole the Queendom.  Wonderland fell to chaos and it was up to the milliner bodyguard Hatter Madigan to find Alice in London and return her to her real home to defeat Redd and reclaim the throne.

I love the world that Beddor created in The Looking Glass Wars and I was thrilled to return to his universe in Seeing Redd.  In this sequel, Alyss is adjusting to her life as Queen of Wonderland.   The threat of Redd (and her assassin The Cat) is far from over and the suit families still vie for power.  Of course, danger from outside Wonderland is equally potent as Arch, king of Boarderland, constructs a plot against Alyss involving her own bodyguard Homburg Molly.

This book is a great mix of fantasy, action, and political intrigue. At times, the inspirations from the classic text shine through beautifully but The Looking Glass Wars series remains a darker sort of tribute to Carroll's work.  Beddor's characters are delightful and those who are unique creations (Alyss's friend Dodge, milliner Homburg Molly) mingle seamlessly with those altered from Carroll's books (The Cat, Hatter Madigan, the albino Bibwit Harte, and of course, the card soldiers).  In this version of Wonderland, imagination is the fuel for magic and Beddor proves to be quite the powerful wizard. 

 Do you have a favorite book that pays homage to a classic work?  Or perhaps a favorite retelling of a well-known story?

Track of the Cat (Series in September)

Book: Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

Series: Anna Pigeon Mysteries

Book Order: Track of the Cat* (1), A Superior Death (2), Ill Wind (3), Firestorm (4), Endangered Species (5), Blind Descent (6), Liberty Falling (7), Deep South (8), Blood Lure (9), Hunting Season (10),  Flashback (11), High Country (12), Hard Truth (13), Winter Study (14), Borderline (15), Burn (16) 
* indicates a book I have read

A few months ago mystery author Amanda Flower mentioned the name Nevada Barr to me as an author that inspired and influenced her writing.  Having never heard of Barr, I inquired further and Ms. Flower recommended the book Blind Descent to me, which I since found out was number six is Barr's Anna Pigeon Mysteries series.  Wanting to start at the beginning (for once), I decided to pick up Track of the Cat

This book begins with National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon searching for signs of a mountain lion when she discovers the dead body of one of her fellow rangers instead.  The authorities want to blame the death on a large cat, but Anna is convinced that the evidence supports a more sinister situation.  As she seeks to uncover the clues and motives behind what appears to be a murder, she uncovers a truth more dangerous and deadly than the predatory cats being blamed in the first place. 

Set in west Texas at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Nevada Barr does a great job describing the gorgeous locations in this novel.  Barr weaves the scenery and wildlife into the plot so that reading the book is akin to mentally traveling to the park.  Pigeon is a strong and capable heroine too.  She is intelligent and independent and I look forward to seeing her character grow and more of her back story to be revealed in further novels.  Though this is the only book in the series I have read so far, I'm very interested in pursuing the rest as each one takes place in a different National Park.  With sixteen books written so far, it looks to be quite the tour of American history and heritage.  
What book have you loved for having a great sense of place?  What books have taken you on mental vacations?  

The Last Wilderness (Series in September) - Plus Carbon Neutral Blogging!

Now next to "Where's the Series in September logo?" I'm sure the number one question on your mind with this post is, "What in the world is carbon neutral blogging?"  If you click the image above you can go to the website that will explain it all, but in short, with this post, a tree will be planted for this blog.  The idea is that the energy, and thus carbon, used to produce this blog is a drain on the environment.  However, a tree growing uses carbon dioxide and gives oxygen back to the atmosphere, thus the carbon consumed by the tree negates the carbon produced by the blog so my blog can be called "carbon neutral".  I know there's no way for it to truly be calculated, but I love the idea of planting a tree for my blog and since I am without a yard - I'm happy to let the Carbon Neutral Blogging folks plant one for me!  Anything that creates a greener world for all of us, is a great initiative in my book!  Which brings me to the series I'm blogging about today...

Book: The Last Wilderness by Erin Hunter

Series: Seekers

Book Order: The Quest Begins*  (1), Great Bear Lake* (2), Smoke Mountain* (3), The Last Wilderness* (4), Fire in the Sky (5) 
* indicates a book I have read
Erin Hunter's Seekers series follows the story of three bears - no Goldilocks this time - Kallik, a polar bear; Toklo, a brown bear; and Lusa, a black bear.  The three cubs come from very different backgrounds but are drawn together, along with a very special guide, on a quest to save the wild.  Each sees the way that their environment is affected by humans and pollution and it becomes their quest to find a way to stop the destruction of the natural world.

As much as this is a story about environmentalism - hence the tie in to carbon neutral blogging - this series is also about friendship.  With stoic Kallik, grumbling Toklo, and happy-go-lucky Lusa, the ties between these bears and their unique personalities make for wonderful storytelling.   There are plenty of challenges they face throughout their adventures, and the action and suspense woven into each book creates a string of great novels.  This series is all the more enjoyable in that it subtly incorporates the theme of awareness for the conservation of natural resources.  

If anyone is interested in joining me in the carbon neutral blogging endeavor, I'd love for you to also post the image above to your blog and follow the instructions on their website.  (I know it states Arbor Day 2010, but I emailed and they are still planting trees!)  And if anyone else a favorite new tip for energy conservation, share those here too!

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (Series in September)

Book: In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith

Series: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Book Order: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency* (1), Tears of the Giraffe* (2), Morality for Beautiful Girls* (3), The Kalahari Typing School for Men* (4), The Full Cupboard of Life* (5), In the Company of Cheerful Ladies* (6), Blue Shoes and Happiness (7), The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (8), The Miracle at Speedy Motors (9), Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (10), The Double Comfort Safari Club (11), The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party (12)  

* indicates a book I have read

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is the sixth book in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and since it's difficult to review this book without mentioning previous events in the series, let me just say that this may have been my favorite book yet. 

In terms of more general information, the series is set in Botswana and the main character is an entirely endearing female detective named Precious Ramotswe.  Backing her up in the stories are Grace Makutsi, who scored the record ninety seven percent at her secretarial college, and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, proprietor and master mechanic at Tlokweng Speedy Motors.  Each character in the series is fully developed and Alexander McCall Smith brings Botswana alive.  These are books with a true sense of place, and the culture of the country shines through in the pages. 

The mysteries are never overly complex but remain entertaining in their simplicity, akin to the traditions of classic writers such as Agatha Christie.  Each book tells a full and unique story, but as the series continues the characters grow and develop and it is the thread of these maturing relationships that drives each book to be even more engaging than the previous ones (which were excellent in their own right).  

I think this series is overall wonderful and I find myself recommending it a lot.  For anyone looking for a charming mystery or anyone looking for a great book set in Africa, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a great place to start.  For now, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is my favorite of the series, but that could easily change when I read on and discover the next books in line. 

The Hunger Games (Series in September) - Plus a Giveaway!

Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Series: The Hunger Games

Book Order: The Hunger Games*  (1), Catching Fire* (2), Mockingjay (3) 
* indicates a book I have read

There's a part of me that's resisted reading this series because of all the hype surrounding it. Staring at the dramatic black cover of book one, with its striking golden bird, I wondered if the product could truly live up to the promise. Could this book really be as good as everyone has said?

I have to admit I have heard much more about The Hunger Games rather than hearing what The Hunger Games is about. The story is set in Panem, a dystopian version of America divided into twelve districts. Every year at a ceremony called The Reaping, young adults - one boy and one girl - from each district are chosen to fight to the death in a barbaric and brutal survival contest called The Hunger Games. The hero and heroine of the book are representatives from the coal mining District Twelve, Peeta Mellark and Katniss Everdeen. They are drawn together in their fright and disgust at the contest, but pulled apart knowing that friendship cannot last when there can only be one survivor.

It was the character of Katniss that drew me so deeply into this book. She is a great picture of adolescent strength and has a bright loving spirit that occasionally shines through the hard, rough exterior that her life and circumstances forced her to adopt. And yet, even with tinges of romance, this was not a girly book. It's a gritty, violent, suspenseful story of survival and battle - people against each other and the elements - but the emotional side of the story complements the action wonderfully.

As intense as Deathly Hallows and with a love story more believable than Twilight, it's no surprise that The Hunger Games has captured so many fans. This is a book that truly does live up to its hype, and like many, I can't wait to read the subsequent books in the series.

In celebration of Series in September and because I enjoyed this book so much, I'm going to give away one (once read, like new) paperback copy of it to a lucky winner!  The contest will be open internationally - or basically to any address that I can ship a book to within my price range.  (My apologies to those on the International Space Station, I don't think I can get this one to you...)  There will also be a reader loyalty bonus in that entrants who have previously left meaningful comments on this blog will be given one extra entry - I know who you are.  :)

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what interests you most about The Hunger Games, why you want to win this book, and your email address written in spam protected format (ex: herbookself AT gmail DOT com).  Selection from eligible entries will be made using  Winner will be contacted by email and will have three days to respond with a valid mailing address; otherwise a new winner will be chosen.  Contest closes on October 1st - or when Her Book Self reaches 100 followers, which ever comes later.  Let me know if I've forgotten any details or if you have any other questions.  Best of Luck!

Treasure Island (Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!)

Ahoy there me hearties!  It be a holiday fit fer the seven seas and if ye landlubbers are not  knowin' what I be speakin' of; then ye've not been properly interduced te Talk Like A Pirate Day!  This be the holiday to be celebrated on the nineteenth o' September and in honor of such a fine day I want to be tellin' ye all about the first book I be havin' the pleasure of readin' on me new Kindle!

Treasure Island be the title of this tome and the writer be Cap'n Robert Louis Stevenson!  In this adventure set on the high seas, the reader be interduced to the young lad Jim Hawkins, who finds himself in possession of the map to an island filled with buried treasure.  Young Jim be recruited as a cabin boy and joins a crew of seasoned sailors lookin' to seek out the loot, and amid these salty dogs is the one legged cook - known by the fearsome name of Long John Silver. Yarr!  It be no surprise that Jim overhears Long John Silver plannin' a mutiny but the young lad must take it upon himself to thwart the plans of the filthy pirate, keepin' the treasure and the honest crew members safe.

Cap'n Stevenson does a fine job with this swarthy tale of swashbuckling adventure.  Older readers as well as the wee little ones will find this story to be a great way to be passin' the time while out at sea.  From the parrot that skwaks out "Pieces o' eight" to the singin' of the pirate song "yo ho ho and a bottle o' rum", this story be havin' all a buccaneer could want and rightfully earns its place as a classic.
So now I ask all ye blog readin' mateys to answer me this - what be yer favorite book featurin' pirates or other adventures on the high seas?

Quick disclaimer: I wrote this review specifically for Talk Like a Pirate Day. Please forgive my grammar and salty dialect as I only take one out of 365 days to actually talk like a pirate!  For more Pirate Day entertainment, stop by the official Talk Like A Pirate Day website and feel free to check out my Talk Like A Pirate Day archives from my previous blog here - there's some good pirate jokes as well as my rundown of great movie pirates!  As I'm fond of saying, I was a pirate before pirates were cool.
Yers til the ocean waves, 
The Dread Pirate Brody

BBAW - Future Treasures & The One Lovely Blog Award

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is wrapping up and today's reflection is to ponder Future Treasures - to look back on what we've most enjoyed about this week and to share blogging goals for the future.  I don't know that I have many blogging goals for the next year other than to continue on doing what I'm doing.  I've always lived more on the five month than the five year plan.  I suppose I could throw out another teaser for The Hunger Games giveaway that I will be hosting soon, but the first part of today's prompt is much easier for me.  I've enjoyed everything about Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  The writing prompts have been really fun and I love all the posts on the BBAW blog too.  Mostly, though I love the community spirit.  I feel that this week has introduced me to many new book blogs and has brought many new readers to Her Book Self for the first time. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by, and I look forward to connecting with you more in the future!

In the spirit of celebrating the book blogging community, I want to take this opportunity to share some love for my fellow bloggers and pass on a blog award that was given to me last month.  I was fortunate to have been awarded the One Lovely Blog Award by both Crazy Bookworm and Ramblings of a (Future) Librarian.  I love reading both these blogs and their reviews are always interesting and insightful!  Thank you both for recognizing Her Book Self and considering my blog to be as lovely as yours!  And as with many awards, the "rules" say to pass it on to up to fifteen other bloggers.

First I want to award this to Tif Talks Books and Angieville.  Swapping interviews was definitely a highlight of BBAW and I am so glad to have discovered both of these very lovely blogs! 

My next pick is Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook.  Doesn't that title just incite the need to check out that blog?  It's a compilation blog but there's always something interesting being discussed or commented on and it's nice to know there are others in the world who can conceive of something as beautiful as wanting to match a bookmark to a book!

And while I'm speaking of beautiful ideas, this award is also going to Tiny Library who won me over as a follower after posting a picture of bookshelves organized by color!  There are wonderful posts on Tiny Library about books and libraries, but those color-sorted shelves are certainly a sight to behold!

Which gives me another great segue because another great sight to behold is the site over at Misfit Salon.  I really love everything about this blog and Stephanie is a great review writer but if I were judging mostly on "Lovely"-ness, I'd have to pick Misfit Salon for one of  the most unique and creative headers I've ever seen.

Unique and creative also describe writer Helen Smith and her blog is wonderful.   She's the kind of author that seems generally interested in other bloggers, whether or not they've ever read her work.  A Kindle discount sealed the deal on me purchasing her novel Alison Wonderland, but truthfully it was Ms. Smith stopping by with a Happy Birthday comment on my blog that really made me *have* to read her work!  Of course, every time I stop by her site, I find myself wishing I lived in the UK...

Which brings me to the next recipient who is in the UK, Zee's Worldly Obsessions.  I know I've previously raved about Zee but her blog is just great and definitely One Lovely Blog!  I love too, how Zee frequently replies to comments.  Her blog is very friendly and conversational and when we're discussing things back and forth, I often forget how many miles (and a great big ocean) separate us.

And speaking of conversational, I want to also recognize Kerian's Thoughts.  I first "met" Kerian through Library Thing and she has excellent taste in books.  Hers are recommendations that I can almost guarantee I will love and I always enjoy discussing past, current and future reads with her.  Her blog is absolutely beautiful and I only wish she posted more frequently so I could read her great writing more often!  ;)

So I guess it's about time to stop....but speaking of Stop, I didn't yet mention The Book Stop!  Blogger curlygeek04 shares my eclectic taste in books and is also something of an example to me in understanding that it's okay to unabashedly love your Kindle! 

I know I could keep going, especially with all the blogs I've discovered this week, but with awards like these I feel they're a little more special if I choose fewer recipients.  This isn't just me pulling a random portion of my blogroll, but really thinking about bloggers who have One Lovely Blog!  Congratulations and hope everyone gets the chance to check out these great blogs!

Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week to all!  Thanks to everyone who has visited here for the first time.  Double thanks to those who have left comments and/or started to follow me!  I'll try to return follows but I'm a little behind checking out everyone's awesome blogs but please keep coming back, I love interacting with all of you!


BBAW - Forgotten Treasure: Hurt Go Happy

Welcome back to everyone celebrating Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  I'm feeling pretty appreciated and I hope all of you are too!  :)  Today's theme is Forgotten Treasure and the goal is to highlight a book that has not gotten much buzz from book bloggers.  I was really tempted to use this post to share more about Maid of Murder or The Muse of Edouard Manet, but since I've already blogged about both those books and interviewed their awesome authors (with thanks again to the lovely Ms. Flower and the always entertaining Mr. Clifford) - I thought I would pull a treasure from my pre-blogging days and highlight a book that, in my opinion, never got the spotlight it deserves.  My Forgotten Treasure is the book Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby.

Thirteen year old Joanne "Joey" Willis has been deaf since the age of six. Her mother Ruth wants her to function in the hearing world by reading lips and adapting to school life with special sound monitors, but despite Ruth's efforts, Joey struggles to fit in and feels isolated from her classmates as well as her family.

Things change when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell (Charlie) and his baby chimpanzee Sukari who both speak American Sign Language. Charlie begins to teach Joey ASL, opening up a whole new world of communication for her - against her mother's wishes. Sukari and Joey form a unique bond but when Charlie's situation changes, it is up to Joey to speak up for Sukari and protect the life of her new found friend.

Hurt Go Happy is a captivating and believable novel, with details based on true events. The characters are richly drawn and ready to pull readers in from the very first chapter. Ginny Rorby expertly describes problems involving the culture clash between deaf and hearing people and also weaves several other serious issues into her story, including: animal rights, teen friendships, fitting in at school, family conflicts, homelessness, and abuse. Highly emotional and overwhelmingly powerful, Hurt Go Happy is an amazingly well written book.
I must admit, the cover first drew me to this book.  I love chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and apes and monkeys of all sorts.  But the title and book description took it from an eye-catcher to a must purchase.  I took a sign language class in college; the syntax of the title reminded me of ASL structure, and I was thrilled to know that the book also dealt with deaf culture, a subject that I learned a lot about in school but rarely encounter in YA novels.  I actually ended up reading this one as a read aloud with my husband (who shares my fondness for Great Apes) but neither of us was expecting the powerful, emotional, and amazing story we discovered.  I can't say enough good things about this book - though perhaps I should warn that it may jerk out some tears - so I will just say, emphatically, if you have not already done so: Read this book!  Blog about this book!  Tell others about this wonderful book! 

(If you're one of few that's already encountered Rorby's great work, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it too!)

BBAW - Unexpected Treasure

As Book Blogger Appreciation Week continues, today's theme is "Unexpected Treasure" and bloggers are promted to discuss a book or genre that they read on the recommendation of a fellow blogger.  This one's a bit of a challenge for me as I don't often keep track of how or where I first hear about the books I read, and really, people would be hard pressed to identify a genre that I haven't read. 

There are instances, though, where a book will linger on my TBR list for far too long, until other people start talking about it.  It starts with a few casual mentions, some early buzz, and then it gets to the point where publicity overflows and  I've heard about the title from so many different places that I can't even say where I heard it first.  And then, eventually, I read it. 

This was the case for me with The Hunger Games.  It's been sitting on my shelf, alongside Catching Fire, unread for a year or more.  Before the book blogging community starts rallying with pitchforks, I knew it was planned as a trilogy and I really wanted to wait until all three books were published before I started to read the series.  And then there's the issue of hype.  When everyone I talk to raves about something as "THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD!!!" it sort of makes me not want to read it.  My expectations are raised so high, that I wonder if the product can ever live up to the promise.  As soon as Mockingjay came out, I was almost turned off the series entirely, as I desperately tried to avoid spoilers.  But since some of that buzz slightly settled, I finally did pick up The Hunger Games

I want to save my thoughts and review of this book (and series) for next week where I will be highlighting it as another entry in my Series in September meme, but I could not think of a better book (that I have not already blogged about) to highlight as my Unexpected Treasure.  I'm sure I would have read this book eventually, but it was my fellow bloggers that prompted me to read it now.  And I'm very, very glad that I did.  Despite the hype, and my own hesitations, this book won me over.  So much so that I will be hosting a giveaway of it in the near future!  I'm not sure if I want to design this as a 100-follower giveaway or just gift it away to a lucky reader that has not yet read it, but stay tuned to Her Book Self for more details.  As with my previous contest, there will likely be some type of reader-loyalty bonus, so if you're interested in scoring a win, following, reading and commenting can only help you out!

BBAW Blogger Interview - Tif of Tif Talks Books

As part of the festivities for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, today is Blogger Interview Day!  Whether through a computer glitch or my own error, I was actually given two interviews to conduct but rather than regret the extra effort, I'm thrilled that the experience has put me in touch with two seasoned book bloggers whose wonderful work I may otherwise have not discovered!  Please join me in welcoming to my blog Tif of Tif Talks Books!  (And be sure to also check out my interview with Angie of Angieville!)

Hi Tif!  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tif and I'm a book blogger! I'm sure you actually want to know more about me, so here's a really quick synopsis of myself . . . I'm a reader, a wife, a mother of 2. I love to write, to read, and try to be creative. During the day, I'm an Academic Advisor at a local university, an advocate of many things, and try to squeeze in as much reading as possible whenever I can! And, have I mentioned that I love to read?!? That about sums me up!

How long have you been blogging? How did you get started as a book blogger?

This last May, I celebrated my 3rd blogiversary! Those many years ago, I had many friends who were blogging about family and crafts and cooking, but none of those fit me. I have always enjoyed reading and writing, and it just made sense to blog books! The rest is history!!

Describe your blog in five words or less.

Eclectic, Fun, Spontaneous, and Genuine

You listed Harry Potter and Wicked as two of your favorite books. If Harry and Elphaba were in a fight, who do you think would come out on top?

I am totally going to cheat on this answer!! Neither Harry nor Elphaba are actually violent by nature and truly fight for the common good of their magical worlds. I actually see them on the same team, fighting side by side, both coming out on top between the battle of good and evil . . . at least in my world! :)

I love your feature of Fairy Tale Fridays! How did that idea develop? How do you choose the fairy tales you read? (Badge at right from Tif Talks Books courtesy of Ye Olde Faery Shoppe)

More than a year ago, I read The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This book spurred an interest in fairy tales, and re-visiting or discovering the original tales that inspired Connolly's work. I had no memory of such violence that appears in the tales and thought it would be fun to explore them further now that I am an adult. Along the way, we have also explored lesser known tales and those featured around the globe. It is fun to see how culture influences the tales, and how some morals reverberate no matter where in the world you may be.

As for how I make the choice of the weekly pick . . . completely random!! I am sometimes inspired by my fellow participants and/or bloggers, books I come across at the library, and some days, I truly will randomly pick a story from the list of classics, having no idea where it will take me or what it will be about!

Along with Tif Talks Books, you host an author directory called Literary Locals. Who is your favorite local author? Do you go out of your way to choose local works or do you generally find them by chance?

The Literary Locals author directory was inspired by my monthly feature that I started back in January 2009 by the same name. Unfortunately, due to my current time constraints, the site is still under construction. I hope it to go completely live no later than January 2011.

I love to support local authors, a tradition that was influenced by my grandfather. It only grew when I worked at a local independent bookstore while attending graduate school and that featured a multitude of local and national authors. Since then, I have lived in a multitude of other states, but I always tend to gravitate towards the authors of the Northwest, the place I truly call home. I have a hard time choosing a specific author as my favorite, but a few that really stand out to me are Pete Fromm and Christopher Paolini, both from the great state of Montana!

How can other bloggers add local authors to your directory? How can they use it to find authors local to them?

Bloggers, readers, and even authors themselves can be added to the directory by filling out the survey linked on the Submit Your Local Author page. The reason in the delay of the launch really comes down to enough content to let it go live! I encourage you to share your authors with me!

To find authors local to you, you will be able to select the state you live in and authors will be listed alphabetically. Select the author and more information will be provided. This is one of the items that is still in the works, so once it is completely launched, more information will be provided on how to use the site.

If a random stranger only had time to read three posts on your blog, which three posts would you point them to as your favorites?

This is one of the hardest questions I have ever had to answer!!!! I think if I had to narrow it down, I would go with a few recent ones that I had the best time writing . . .

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Literary Locals: June 2010 . . . Visiting the Home of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Fairy Tale Fridays: Hansel and Gretel

What would you say is the most rewarding experience of being a book blogger?

Hands down, the community! I love knowing that I always have someone to turn to for great recommendations and to just talk books at any time of the day or night! I love how others get as excited as I do about new releases or old favorites! And, I love knowing that I am not alone in my passion for books and literacy!

Anything else that you want Her Book Self readers to know about you and Tif Talks Books?

I just want to say thank you so much for having me!! The blogger interviews are my favorite part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and it has been a pleasure getting to "meet" you and I know that I will be back for more! Afterall, I am joining you for your Series in September!!

And, last but not least, I want to encourage everyone to enter my current contest, where the love of classics hits the fashion world in my Wonderful Wonderland Giveaway!
Thanks Tif, and keep up the wonderful work!  And check out the flip side of this interview where Tif interviews me too!

BBAW Blogger Interview - Angie of Angieville

As part of the festivities for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, today is Blogger Interview Day!  Whether through a computer glitch or my own error, I was actually given two interviews to conduct but rather than regret the extra effort, I'm thrilled that the experience has put me in touch with two seasoned book bloggers whose wonderful work I may otherwise have not discovered!  Please join me in welcoming to my blog Angie of Angieville!  (And be sure to also check out my interview with Tif of Tif Talks Books!)

Hi Angie!  Tell us a little about yourself both in- and outside of the blogosphere.
Well, my name really is Angie and I spend chunks of my life reading and reviewing all sorts of books. As a result, I get very little sleep and occasionally wonder how productive I would be if I got more. But then I toss aside the thought immediately. Life’s too short to sleep too much and miss out on all these wonderful stories. I have a soft spot for YA, urban fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries. In real life I'm married to an audiophile/photographer who (thankfully) is no stranger to obsessive hobbies. I'm also Mom to two made-of-awesome squirts—a 6-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. I work as an editor for an educational publisher. I love my job and spend most of my time researching and writing about people and cultures from around the world. I got my masters in English literature and am particularly partial to the Victorian period. I spent a few years teaching freshman composition at my local university and, even though I love being an editor, I still miss teaching every day.

Congratulations on making the shortlist of nominees for Best Young Adult Book Blog!  Angieville certainly deserves the win, but if you had to choose one of your fellow nominees to win the award, who would you pick?
You don’t pull any punches, do you, Lisa? Honestly, the other four blogs are go-to blogs for me for very different reasons and it’s impossible to pick one overall favorite. Sorry! It may sound like a copout but it’s true. Presenting Lenore conducts awesome interviews that I always look forward to. Her questions pack a punch. Steph Su Reads is just excellently written and her final say on a book review can push me over into having to read a book right now. Forever Young Adult is the freaking bee’s knees and I go there to laugh my head off and snark the day away. And Pure Imagination is just frankly a happy place to be and we share a taste for dystopia and urban fantasy. When we first saw the shortlist, the five of us joked about how that guest list right there would make for the best slumber party EVER. And it really would.

For those new to your blog, describe Angieville in five words or less.
Bibliophilia on display.

Retro Friday Review is a meme started on your blog focusing on reviewing books from your past.  What has been your favorite revival of a previously read book?  Have your opinions of a well-loved book ever changed upon rereading?
I’m gonna have to go with A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb for this one. I first read that one over four years ago and rarely, if ever, encountered anyone else who had read it. I loved it so much, though. Found myself thinking about favorite scenes and passages all the time. It stuck with me and I really felt it deserved a wider readership. So I featured it in a Retro Friday post a few months ago and was absolutely tickled with the response, both from people who had read it and also wanted someone else to talk about it with and from people who had never heard of it but wanted to check it out right away. And they did! And they loved it, too. And they reviewed it on their blogs! And it was just exactly what I hoped to accomplish with Retro Fridays. 
I have occasionally put down a book because I was not enjoying it and was pretty sure it was me and not the book, my mood negatively affecting my ability to enjoy it. I’ve then picked it up later, in a better frame of mind, and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I haven’t often picked up a beloved book and found it lacking the second (or third or fourth) time around. Thank goodness. I tend to give my whole heart to a book and not in pieces.

You also have a lot of interactions with authors on your blog.  What was the most interesting or surprising thing you learned about an author from an interview or guest post? 
I’ve loved all the author interviews I’ve had the opportunity to participate in on my blog. I interviewed Sarah Rees Brennan a few months ago and was really struck by her response to my question about the importance of creating real, sometimes unbearably painful family relationships in her books. She talked about how she loves a good romance as much as the next person, but that it’s interesting that family didn’t play as large a role as you might expect in young adult novels featuring teenagers coming to terms with their own independence in the context of the people they’re attached to for life. Sarah said she wanted to write about how families come together in times of trauma and she closed with a line that has stuck with me, “There are all kinds of love stories to be told.”

We share eclectic tastes in our reading and it's great to find another blogging who appreciates such a wide range of books.  Do you ever have strange leaps in genres when you're choosing what to read next?  What's the oddest pair of books you've read back to back?
Sometimes it’s the only thing that saves me, making a radical jump in genres. I’ll finish an absolute stunner of a book and have the worst time coming out of the world! It’s then that I either pull out an old favorite or immerse myself in something completely and utterly different. The oddest pair of books I’ve read back to back is definitely The Book Thief by Markus Zusak followed up by Laura Weiss’ Such a Pretty Girl. I was emotionally wrung out upon finishing the superb The Book Thief and honestly didn’t know where to turn after that. I ended up turning to a book I would otherwise probably never have picked up because it dealt heavily with child abuse. But something about the raw state of mind I was in after finishing The Book Thief made me respond to a wonderful review I read of Such a Pretty Girl. I went and checked it out from the library that evening and fell completely and effortlessly in love. They’re both important novels in such very different ways.

We also both share a love of reading aloud!  Are there certain books that you find lend themselves better to being read aloud than others?  What to you makes a great read aloud book?
Definitely. I think the most mutually enjoyable reading aloud experience we’ve had together was our stint with the Harry Potter series. They just have a great cast of characters and enough action and charm to keep two people grinning at each other continuously. It certainly gave me a chance to polish my range of character voices so that I was ready to start over again with my son. He says he always knows who’s talking before it actually says it in the text because he recognizes the voice. This thing makes me incredibly happy.
Other favorites have been Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series and Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief books. Both are distinguished by casts of engaging and awesome characters, extremely well fleshed out worlds, and not a little humor and derring-do.

On August 23, you proudly displayed a Team Gale badge on your blog and yet on August 25, it was Team Katniss.  Now that some time has passed since finishing Mockingjay, are you sticking with Team Katniss?  Would a reread of the series return you to Team Gale?  Can you explain any of this to those who have not yet read The Hunger Games series?
Unquestionably. The thing is—I can get into the whole Team Gale/Team Peeta debate with as much fervor as the next reader. I get a kick out of trading well-meaning barbs back and forth on twitter and crossing my fingers for the outcome I want for months on end. But the reason I changed the button on my blog upon finishing Mockingjay was quite simple. The whole team thing was fun while it lasted. But it wasn’t the point of the series. And, in Mockinjay, Ms. Collins made that point so beautifully and unabashedly that I could have stood up an applauded. It was always about Katniss. Thus the change.

You stated that your two kids - Will and Piper - are named after book characters.  Knowing you like both young adult and classic literature, I'm going to take some wild guesses and say Will is from Will Parry of the His Dark Materials series and Piper is after Pip from Great Expectations.  How far off am I?  
Ooh. Good guesses! Wrong on both counts, but I do love the idea of Pip for a boy. Great Expectations was my first Dickens novel and I have always loved it. Will is actually named for a couple of characters and one author. Will Stanton from The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper, Will Ladislaw from George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and the Bard himself. Now he hasn’t read the first two yet, but he has had some experience with Shakespeare. A friend asked him the other day who he was named after and he said, “Shakespeare.” The friend looked at him blankly and Will said, “You know, the playwright. Twelfth Night? Taming of the Shrew?” An even blanker look from said friend. That’s my boy.

My little girl is actually named after a character in a much more recent novel—How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I read that gorgeous book in a single day and woke up the next day and read it all over again. The Piper in that book is a bright light amid the darkness and it is impossible not to love her. I loved her, I loved the name, and I feel the same way about my Piper.

Along with your fabulous blog, you're active on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.  What do each of these sites add to your blogging experience? Can you share your links so we can find you on all of them?
I joined GoodReads right about the same time as I started blogging. My husband was the instigator in both cases. He knew I would love the cataloguing and socializing aspect of GoodReads and he knew, even before I did, how quickly I would take to blogging. I’ve met so many other readers through GoodReads, many who don’t blog or follow them, and so I’m grateful for that additional venue in which I am privileged to interact with such interesting, smart people. In a couple of particularly special cases, I’ve met people who live not so far from me at all and we’ve been able to become friends in real life as well as online.
I discovered twitter through my husband as well. He is my internet guru. And I was quickly and happily engulfed in the waves of witty tweets. I love being able to drop in and out as my schedule demands and I love the lovely links and pithy comments people send out into the twittersphere. They often make my day and point me to posts, sites, and articles I might never otherwise have found.
I have a complicated relationship with Facebook and I think we’ll just leave it at that.
You can easily find me through the social media icons on the right hand sidebar on my blog just under the Search field.

Thanks so much for the interview and congratulations again on your nomination!  Best of luck and Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week!
Thanks so much for having me, Lisa. I had a blast!
And be sure to check out Angieville for the flip side of this interview swap where Angie interviews me!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

September 13-17 is Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  If you're a fellow Book Blogger, I hope you feel appreciated!  Though I heard about BBAW back in May, I didn't choose to nominate Her Book Self for any of the awards.  In hindsight, I suppose it would have been fun to throw my hat in the ring for Best New Blog, but at that time I really didn't know if I would enjoy maintaining this blog and I didn't know if anyone would ever actually read this blog.  So needless to say, I chose not to enter.  But fear not, as a Cubs fan, I have plenty of practice in saying, "There's always next year!"  I still want to recognize this week though and take part in some of the festivities!  Stay tuned for an interview with a fellow book blogger, another blog award, and of course now would be a great time for you to peruse my blogroll and stop over to show some love for all the other awesome book bloggers out there!
This year's BBAW logo and theme: A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs

A Cup of Jo (Series in September)

Book: A Cup of Jo by Sandra Balzo

Series: Maggy Thorsen Mysteries

Book Order: Uncommon Grounds* (1), Grounds For Murder (2), Bean There, Done That (3), Brewed, Crude and Tattooed (4), From the Grounds Up (5), A Cup of Jo* (6)
* indicates a book I have read

Sandra Balzo brews up a great mystery in A Cup of Jo the latest in her Maggy Thorsen series. When Maggy orders a huge inflatable coffee cup emblazoned with the Uncommon Grounds logo to promote her coffee shop, it seems like a great idea... until a body is found inside the giant decoration.

With motives all around and suspects close to heart, it's up to Maggy to sort through clues while trying to maintain a booming coffee business. Trouble has a knack for following Maggy, though, and the twists and turns in this mystery are as abundant as the quirky characters. Balzo fills her Wisconsin town with a great supporting cast of friends and fiends ensuring that Maggy's tale is heartwarming, hilarious, and perfectly puzzling.

The challenge is on for the reader to solve the murder alongside Maggy Thorsen. Armchair detectives everywhere will definitely want to cozy up with A Cup of Jo.

This is another series that I've been reading rather out of order.  I picked up A Cup of Jo not realizing how many books I had skipped in the series, but it was still a great story and I appreciated that Balzo's writing seemed more sophisticated farther along in the series.  I'm sure I'll fill in the gaps with the middle books someday, but each story can easily be appreciated as a standalone tale too.

Kindle, Cake, & Ice Cream

Happy Birthday To Me!

Antsy Does Time (Series in September)

Book: Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman

Series: Antsy Bonano Novels

Book Order: The Schwa Was Here*  (1), Antsy Does Time* (2) 
* indicates a book I have read

Every once in a while a book is so good that I don't want to read it's sequel.  Something in me insists that the book shouldn't even have a sequel because the first one was so enjoyable that I can't fathom another book following it.  But every once in a while, I end up very glad that certain books do have sequels, because every once in a while book two is undoubtedly good enough to share a shelf with its predecessor.  Such was the case with Neal Shusterman's novel Antsy Does Time, the sequel to The Schwa Was Here.  

Anthony "Antsy" Bonano is a witty, wisecracking, sarcastic, street smart, New York neighborhood kid.  As narrator of The Schwa Was Here, Antsy introduced readers to the functionally invisible Calvin Schwa in a story that was as sweetly endearing as it was hilarious.  In the sequel, Antsy is back and makes a new friend, Gunnar Umlaut.  When Gunnar reveals that he only has six months to live, Antsy responds with a heartfelt gesture and donates one month of his life to Gunnar - complete with a signed contract.  The small act of goodwill turns out to have huge repercussions, though, and soon Antsy (the newly appointed "Master of Time") is in way over his head.

I can't really pick which of these two Shusterman novels I like better, but for those that enjoyed The Schwa Was Here, don't hesitate to dive into Antsy Does Time.  Shusterman does a terrific job capturing the voice of a teenage narrator.  Where the first book introduced Antsy, this book has him growing up a bit and it was great to watch his character develop further and see the seriousness behind his sarcasm. 

Do you ever put off reading books based on your expectations of them?  Has a book ever really surprised you by being way better (or way worse) than you predicted?

"A Sequel"

"A sequel is an admission that you've been reduced to imitating yourself."
~Don Marquis 

I thought this an appropriate quote for Series in September.   Truthfully, I think the very best sequels are those which extend and expand their companion works rather than imitating them, but I also find Marquis's sentiment quite amusing.  Are there sequels you've read where you felt that the author was pretty much just imitating him/herself?

White Night (Series in September)

Book: White Night by Jim Butcher

Series:The Dresden Files

Book Order: Storm Front* (1), Fool Moon* (2), Grave Peril* (3), Summer Knight* (4), Death Masks* (5), Blood Rites* (6), Dead Beat* (7), Proven Guilty* (8), White Night*  (9), Small Favor (10), Turn Coat (11), Changes (12),  Plus assorted short stories
* indicates a book I have read

Harry Dresden has the honor of being the only wizard listed in the Chicago phone book, and in White Night he's back for another suspenseful adventure.  The chivalrous sorcerer can't stand seeing a lady in trouble so when a string of apparent suicides among a group of female magic practitioners comes to his attention, Harry decides to look deeper at the events.  He definitely doesn't like what he sees when all evidence starts to point to someone close to him as the prime suspect.

As a Chicagoan, I'm particularly vulnerable to loving this series.  Jim Butcher effortlessly captures the heart and soul of The Windy City and readers familiar with the locale will delight in witnessing Harry accurately refer to, visit, and wreak havoc across their favorite sites.  Of course, even those who have never been to Chicago can appreciate visiting the city through Harry's eyes and the humor, suspense, and adventure woven through Butcher's writing are a treat to all readers.

The books in The Dresden Files series are probably best when read in order.  There are many references to previous events in this novel - and many jokes based on those events - and the complex relationships of the characters can't adequately be explained in summary style.  However, I really feel this is a series that has improved with almost every book.  Storm Front, the first in the series, was a great read when I first encountered it, but looking at how far the series has come, it's arguably the weakest novel of the group.  Dead Beat, book seven, might be my favorite in the string, but White Night was an excellent work and even after nine Dresden novels, my appetite for Jim Butcher's Windy City wizard is still eager for more. 

So now I'm wondering, what do you think about reading books that are set in the city/town/area where you live or work?  Any examples of an author or book that did a great job capturing the spirit of the place you call home?

Anybody Out There? (Series in September)

Book: Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes

Series: The Walsh Sisters

Book Order: Watermelon (1), Rachel's Holiday (2), Angels* (3), Anybody Out There?* (4)   

* indicates a book I have read

Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes begins with an amnesia plot in which Anna Walsh - one of the Walsh sisters whose adventures are chronicled in other books by Keyes - awakens in her family's home in Ireland with scattered pieces of her life in place. Rather than a cliche novel focused on Anna regaining her memory, a sentimental story unfolds as Anna must move back to New York and put her life back together piece by piece.

This is the third book I've read by Keyes and so far it is my favorite. The writing was emotional without being overly sappy and the secondary characters peppered the plot with humor and kept a lighthearted tone to a serious story. Technically, this is the fourth entry in Keyes's series about the Walsh sisters, but it is also an excellent stand-alone novel.

I like that this series is not exactly a series.  Each book tells its own story but all of them are connected by the relationship of the Walsh sisters, with every book focusing primarily on just one sister.  While most of the characters appear in multiple books, there's no real need to read all the books to understand or appreciate the others, and there's also no need to read them all in order.  Do you read a series starting with book one or do you occasionally skip around?

Club Dead (Series in September)

Book: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

Series: Southern Vampire Mysteries; aka Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries; aka Those Books that Started the Show "True Blood"

Book Order: Dead Until Dark* (1), Living Dead in Dallas* (2), Club Dead* (3), Dead to the World (4), Dead as a Doornail (5), Definitely Dead (6), All Together Dead (7), From Dead to Worse (8), Dead and Gone (9), Dead in the Family (10), Plus assorted short stories   
* indicates a book I have read

Club Dead, the third book in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, begins with trouble in paradise for psychic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse and her vampire boyfriend Bill. Bill has been wrapped up in a secret project and Sookie feels pushed aside when he leaves town, not even telling her his destination. Soon however, Sookie finds out he's in trouble and the dangerous vampires he is involved with - as well as news of the new female in his life - drives Sookie to track Bill down.

This book provided a nice change from predictability in that Sookie was cast more in the role of rescuer rather than damsel in distress (although she did wind up in peril eventually). I liked the addition of new characters and the development of some that have lingered in the background a bit and I think that one of Harris's greatest strength in this series is her characters. Sookie is a strong and likable heroine and even when the reader doesn't agree with her actions or decisions, she is still a character to root for.

I may be in the minority among fans of the genre, but personally, I like paranormal romance books for the paranormal more than the romance. I like the involvement of vampires, werewolves, psychics and shape-shifters. Also, it is the mystery aspect, more than the love stories, that has kept me interested in this series, and I remain intrigued as to where Sookie's adventures will lead her next.
I haven't actually seen any episodes of the show True Blood that is based off this series of books.  I've heard varying reports about how closely the show follows the books, but if anyone else wants to weigh in on the comparison I'd love to hear more thoughts.  For those that are unfamiliar with the books or the series, Harris bases her vampire mythology on the premise that vampires have "come out of the coffin" and live among humans as (mostly) accepted citizens.  The vamps no longer need to feed on people thanks to the development of a synthetic blood substitute called True Blood, hence the name of the hit TV show.  Overall, I like the lighthearted feel to the series and appreciate Harris's unique take on urban fantasy.

Series in September

Welcome to Her Book Self's first monthly theme: Series in September!   My goal is to use the month of September to focus on reading books that are part of a series.  This might mean picking up on where I've left off in a string of mysteries or starting a new fantasy trilogy.  For those readers that are fans of standalone novels, don't tune out this month since I've found that there are several books that, despite being written as part of a series, work perfectly well as succinct stories and I'll be sure to make note of such in my reviews.  Also, September happens to be a month full of other festivities that will be featured here including Book Blogger Appreciation Week, Talk Like A Pirate Day, and... well, maybe it's a certain someone's birthday this month too!  If any other book bloggers want to join me and create something of a meme for "Series in September" - whether it's for one post, a weekly theme, or a full month - I put together the image above that you can feel free to use on your own blog posts, and be sure  to drop a comment here with a link to your post(s) as well! 

Welcome, September: my favorite month of the year!