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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Armchair BEA - Wrap Up

Designed by Amber of Shelf Notes

My first Armchair BEA is coming to a close, and I'm very pleased at how it went.  I didn't know what to expect, but was so excited at all the interaction that took place!  I found several new blogs to follow, and got many great comments from interesting and like minded people, it was just a fun time overall! And I posted 6 days in a row! That's a record for me I think!

I even made my own button which I'm pretty excited about but which had nothing whatsoever to do with Armchair BEA! Yeah, I'm goofy and I know it! *dances a bit, then gets embarrassed, blush*

TSBbutton photo 6a274b52-7fbd-42f5-8450-a28a76b04c3c_zpseb9f4ffa.png

Here's my week in review, be sure to check out the giveaway if you haven't already, I'm offering up your choice between 4 different Young Adult/Teen books that I've really enjoyed and would love to share with someone!

Introduction - In which you can see my hair behaving pretty well and I answer some questions.

Author Interaction - Where I *squee* about meeting Ann Aguirre in person and talk about how Twitter is such a great author interaction facilitator.

Short Stories and Novellas - I mention what a not-fan of short stories I am, then proceed to tell you about some that I really do like! (Kevin Hearne FTW!)

Choose Your Giveaway - I'm offering your choice of 4 different Teen/YA books that I really enjoyed and hope you might too!

Middle Grade/Young Adult Books - A walk down memory lane with those Middle Grade favorites that I grew up with and still think on fondly.

Thank you so much to everyone that commented, I still need to reply to some of you and try to visit more people, it's been a wonderful week and I hope to see you all around!  Group Hug!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA - Middle Grade/Young Adult Books

I'm going to take a step back in time today and share with you some of the books I grew up with that made me such a fan of reading. I'm so excited by the selection of books available to kids today, that adults can also enjoy. While I think the range is so much greater now, especially in Fantasy and Science Fiction, I did still have my favorites, and here they are.  I'm pretty sure these would all be labeled middle grade now:

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma.

(Because hello, talking animals and a REALLY SCARY OWL!)

First published in 1941, Walter Farley's best-selling novel for young readers is the triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. From Alec Ramsay and the Black's first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old.

(My love of horses lasted a long time, it never really ended actually, and it HAS to be this cover because of the sky.)

Wolves and panthers and bears roamed the deep Wisconsin woods in the 1870's. In those same woods, Laura Ingalls lived with her Pa and Ma, and her sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a snug little house built of logs. Pa hunted and trapped. Ma made her own cheese and maple syrup. All night long the wind howled lonesomely, but Pa played his fiddle and sang, keeping the family safe and cosy.

(I think this may have been the start of my enjoyment of historical fiction.)

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!

(I really need to go back and read these again!)

Everyone loves Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. She lives in an upside-down house and smells like cookies. She was even married to a pirate once. Most of all, she knows everything about children. She can cure them of any ailment. Patsy hates baths. Robert never puts anything away. Allen eats v-e-r-y slowly. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has a treatment for all of them.

(I really thought it would be fun to have Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle as a neighbor!)

Emily Luccock is looking forward to living at Sugar Hill Hall...She remembers her aunt and uncle's grand old mansion well. But this time things are different. Her aunt's once bright and lively home is now dead with silence. Evil lurks in every corner and the dark, shadowed walls watch and whisper late at night. Emily is desperate to uncover the truth about what is happening at Sugar Hill Hall. But time is running out, and she must find a way to save the people and home she cares so much about.

(I actually requested this one when I was sick and Dad made a special trip to the library for me.)

There are more of course, Black Beauty, and I was a fan of Trixie Belden, and I did read some Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, but I switched up to more adult reading pretty early on in my bookworm career, sneaking pages of some of Mom's romance novels long before I really should have! I'm loving all the Young Adult and Middle Grade books that are available now and read them unashamedly, even at 40! There's no such thing as too old if it's a story that you enjoy!

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me, and I'd love to hear what your favorites were, or if you share some of the ones above with me!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Armchair BEA - Choose Your Giveaway!

It's giveaway day! 

I have chosen 4 Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Alternate History books that I really enjoyed, each the first in their series, and I will let you decide which one you want to win!  I will offer these either as a US Kindle or Nook copy, or a physical copy from Book Depository available to anywhere Book Depository will ship, winners choice.  Read on to see what each is about.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Keep Your Head Down.
Don't Get Noticed.
Or Else.

I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution...

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.

Enter here!

This giveaway will be open from Thursday 5/29/14 - 6/3/14.  Please use the rafflecopter form below. Note: The cover of the book may vary depending on the format chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks again for stopping by!
 I can't wait to share a book with you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Armchair BEA - Novellas and Short Stories

I am not a lover of the short story.  I prefer a good full length novel and I can't really say that I have ever truly discovered an author through one of their short stories or novellas.  It's just not enough room to really get me on board. However, I am coming to enjoy them when it is by an author I already like, set in a world I already know with characters that I'm already familiar with that expounds on part of the story that I was wondering about, or just a side happening that they've been able to make into something more.

Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid) is really good at this, with his growing number of novellas adding to the main story, a side quest, or an explanation about why a character is a certain way or how they came to know what they know.  I have enjoyed all of the short stories and novellas in the Iron Druid series and am definitely up for more!

In general for me, if I have that back story and character knowledge already in my head, then I'm happy to read a short.  If not, I may read it, and it may be fine, but it probably won't stick with me, unless the idea is just really compelling.  I'd like to highlight Cascade Point by Timothy Zahn (a Hugo winner from 1984) as an example of that.  Unfortunately I'm not seeing a readily available version of it as an e-book, mostly just used paper copies on Amazon, so you might be able to find it that way if it sounds interesting to you.  I'm wishing I still had my copy so my husband could read it.  I was surprised he hadn't already because he's more the Sci-Fi Guy and I'm more the Fantasy Girl, but in this case I was ahead of him! ;)

Cascade Point is a story about an interstellar voyage gone awry. Mankind has figured out how to access wormhole entrances called "cascade points," which drastically reduces the amount of time needed to travel between stars. The process of navigating through these wormholes requires the presence in precise quantities of a substance called "ming metal." It also requires an excellent navigator as orientation and velocity upon entrance and exit of the wormholes determines not only where, but when you will arrive. Travelling in this way is very hard on navigators. Once the wormhole is entered a person's visual field is changed; you see mirror images of yourself stretching away to infinity in all directions. Most people cross from one cascade point to another unconscious because it is too unnerving to experience while awake.

Cascade Point struck me as such an interesting idea, and what really made me think was when the navigator in the story would see his reflections stretching away, in different uniforms, one as an admiral and he wonders what that parallel self did to become that, then he watches it move away from him down the line of reflections over the years.  It just really struck me as a fantastic visual for what many people go through in their lives, wondering what they might have done differently and how that would have played out. Would it hold up if I read it again?  Hard to say, but at the time it was something new and different to me and really grabbed my attention, sticking with me ever since.

Maybe I just need to read more from the Hugo's list!  I would love to hear more suggestions on short stories or novellas that have really stuck with you, especially those that are stand-a-lones, not part of a series. 

Thanks again for dropping by!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA - Author Interaction

And here I said that I don't post pictures of myself very often!  This is two in two days!

This is myself with one of my favorite authors, Ann Aguirre (Sirantha Jax, Razorland).  She is also the only one of my personal faves I've actually met in person and I was very excited! Next to her you can see Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha trilogy that I'm looking forward to, but haven't gotten into yet.  This is from last Fall's Fierce Reads tour that also included Gennifer Albin and Jessica Brody.  It was fantastic, they answered questions and spoke of their own writing experiences, were funny and down to earth ladies that I'm happy to have met and look forward to reading their books. 

Author Interaction.  It's something that up until the last couple of years, I had never thought to experience.  Authors have been doing book tours/signings for a long time, but it was rare that one that I read would be doing a signing anywhere near me, hence why above you see my first one!  That has all changed with the advent of social media.  Now there is nothing between you and your favorite authors if they take part in Twitter or Facebook, or any number of other outlets, which several of mine do.  I can't tell you how exciting it is to be in a Twitter conversation with not one, but two of your favorite authors, plus a few other authors you've heard of, but not read yet, including you just like you're all sitting around a cafe table, having lunch and talking about books!  It's fantastic just to be able to say directly to them, hey, I really love your work, and to know that they, and not an assistant or department of assistants is hearing you.  That is special to me, because if you really love a book, you've connected with the person who wrote it, and to be able to voice that to them directly gives me a great feeling!

I would say that most of my interaction has taken place on Twitter, a little bit on Facebook.  It really depends on the author and what they enjoy using the most.  Here are a few that I follow on Twitter, and with several I've had at least one "hey, you're great!", "thanks a lot!" type of interaction:


They don't all have time to reply, like us, they are real people and have lives to lead.  I know I'm bad about using Twitter a lot, then not using it at all for awhile, I've seen some of them do the same.  Can you even imagine how many tweets @StephenKing has directed at him all the time?  So I've mentally schooled myself to not be sad if I don't get a reply, and it makes all those times that I do that much more special!  Sometimes it's just fun to watch the content they put out there.  Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid) posts great pictures of himself at places and with people, his expressions just crack me up!  He is also very funny in general, and maintains a Twitter account for Atticus' dog Oberon @IrishOberon. 

I'm really grateful that this avenue of contact is open, it has given me a real and immediate method of showing my appreciation to some people that I respect and admire but never thought I would get to interact with.  So for all the drama social media makes possible, I think it has also given us this valuable connection between author and reader that was harder to come by in the past.  I know it's meant a lot to me, and I really appreciate those authors that have made themselves available to their fans in this way!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Armchair BEA - Introduction

Hello!  I'm so excited that you're visiting me!  This is my first Armchair BEA so I'm still trying to figure out what it's all about.

I don't often post pictures of myself, but I thought an introduction post was the place, so there I am, right over there!  That was one of my better hair days, it's rarely that well behaved! ;)

It's question time!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

My name is Melissa though I go by Shaunesay or Shaunie in the blog/internet world.  It seemed like a good idea at the time!  I'm an Inventory Analyst in the real world, and a book junkie the rest of the time.  Well, all the time really, I mean with all the smart devices we have and library apps, I can sneak a page in now and then!  According to my post history, I've been actively blogging since 2008, wow!  I originally started it to follow a friend, and didn't really do much with it for quite awhile.  Then I discovered book blogs, and finally knew what to use the silly thing for!  I'm coming to you from the Bread Basket of the US, Sunflowery Kansas!

What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ .

Lately I've been reading Urban Fantasy the most, but I'm also a fan of Romance, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Non-Fiction is my least read category, but there are a few that I've found to be fantastic!  I love to read because it adds another dimension to my life, allowing me to have adventures I would never otherwise have, and travel to places I'll most likely never go, in times that are past, never were, or are yet to be. 

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year?

This is such a hard question!  I think I'll have to go with Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey for my favorite book this year so far, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon for last year, though I could easily recommend so many more!

Spread the love by naming your favorite blogs/bloggers (doesn’t necessarily have to be book blogs/bloggers).

There are so many great blogs out there that I admire!  I am so intermittent in my blogging, I can only imagine the time they put in on them!  Here are just a few that I enjoy:

My Shelf Confessions

West of Mars

Amberkatze's Book Blog

All Things Urban Fantasy

    Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 

    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

    George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

    “A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” 

    Thanks again for stopping by!  Have a great week!

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

    Bout of Books 10 - May 12-18, 2014

    Bout of Books

    It's time for Bout of Books 10!

    10 is a milestone, it means you've done this a few times and you know what you're doing. Not only that, if it's worth doing 10 times, it's worth doing many more, and anything that promotes reading is worth doing a million times in my book, or any book for that matter! I'm excited to be taking part in Bout of Books 10 and we'd love it if you joined us!

    What is this Bout of Books, you ask?

    The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

    My Goals

    I've had a rough and busy couple of weeks, so my goals are to relax and to enjoy my reading.  As I'm getting older I'm moving towards enjoyment over quantity.  Not that I'm not excited to log all those books finished, but somewhere along the way I realized it had become more about how many could I finish and my relaxing past time had turned into a chore, so I'm trying to turn it back into what it should be, an oasis in my busy life. :)

    Currently Reading



    Pages: 487
    Time listened: 15:32

    Saturday, May 03, 2014

    Wild Born (Spirit Animals #1) by Brandon Mull

    From Goodreads:

    Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ...and on you.

    I really enjoyed this first book in the Spirit Animals series: Wild Born. I'll admit it, I chose it for the cover, but also because I've enjoyed Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series, and because I saw that book two is by Maggie Stiefvater whose Raven Cycle I've been into recently. I checked out the audio from the library, read by Nicola Barber who did a wonderful job.

    I would classify this series as middle grade, similar to that of Mull's Fablehaven series, and would recommend it to anyone who loves animals as companions.  It features four different children from different lands and backgrounds who have been chosen by the legendary fallen spirit animals to fulfill a huge responsibility.  They all have things to work through in coming to terms with their spirit animals and finding where their strengths lie, it's not necessarily a perfect bond at first sight. 

    I love this concept of the spirit animals, this would really have spoken to me as a kid had these books been available!  I'm certain there would have been much pretending going on in this world during the summers at my grandmother's house!  I definitely look forward to listening to Stiefvater's contribution to the series, with #3 coming from Garth Nix.  Also adding to the series will be Shannon Hale, Tui T. Sutherland, Eliot Schrefer and Marie Lu.
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