Bout of Books Readathon Challenge: Cover Love

This blog has moved to Ms. Buff’s Blog…  Please click through to enter the challenge.

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
Let’s talk cover love today.  I’ve admitted in the past to being a cover snob.  I love a pretty or interesting cover.  Often it’s the cover that gets me to buy the book.  I tend to be attracted to the more abstract covers, but sometimes ones featuring people grab me.
My favorite cover from this past year’s reads is the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.  Okay, I’m cheating a bit, but these are too gorgeous not to include all three.  J picked up this box set at Half Price Books sometime in 2010.  I love the colors, the raised gold lettering, and especially the constellations in the background.  These covers fit the story to a tee.
Honorable mentions:
The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman — These two fit beautiful together.  I get a sense of Fillory in each cover.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake — Look at those colors!
Sunshine by Robin McKinley — My cover actually sparkles and somehow it doesn’t seem cheesy at all.  Plus that little bit of red really calls to the vampires in the story.  Amazing!
Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux — Check out the zombie peeking at Allison through the books tacks. Very scary!
I also hold a place in my heart for funny or ridiculous covers.  I really love this selection.  Check them out!  Questions: Does anyone else have issues with where that pile of wood is on The Rifleman?  What is up with Retief’s codpiece?  Does anyone else agree that clowns are always scary, but extra so when it looks like one is trying to pick you up?  And is that a weedwacker or are you just happy to see me?  Extra creepy…
Now I want to hear yours.  What’s your favorite cover?  Or What’s the funniest cover you’ve seen?  Tell me in a blog post (linked in my comments) or in the comments section to win.
  • 2  $10 Amazon or Book Depository GC — Favorite cover and funniest cover
  • 2  Choice of book or series from my giveaway pile — Random winners
  • Must be a participant of Bout of Books to enter
  • Must leave a comment or link to your blog in my comments section
  • Prizes are open only to the US
  • Contest runs 12:01am CST to 11:59pm CST

Giveaway stash (note that all books are preloved, but in good condition):

  • Allison Hewitt is Trapped / Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux (2 books)
  • As the World Dies trilogy by Rhiannon Frater (3 books)
  • Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant (3 books)
  • The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall
  • The Girl from Junchow by Kate Furnivall
  • Consider Lily by Anne Dayton
  • Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
  • The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
  • Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
  • Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
  • An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell
  • Pinned by Sharon Flake
  • Serial by Jack Kilbourn and Blake Crouch
  • Mythology by Edith Hamilton
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Tudor Rose trilogy by Susan Wiggs (3 books)
  • The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

Good Luck and Happy Reading!!!!!

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Books


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Clear Your Shelf Giveaway



Click on over to my new blog for the giveaway…

Ms. Buff’s Blog

I’ve been saving up my books, looking for a great giveaway hop to join.  And here one just dropped into my lap.  Here’s the details:

  • Giveaway will be open Jan. 4th – 10th.
  • After the entries close, I will choose one winner at random using a random number generator.
  • The contest is open only to the United States
  • Please click on the rafflecopter below.  Any duplicate entries will be deleted.

The prizes: Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now check out these other great blogs:



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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized


I’m moving

On Christmas day I received a surprise gift from, a suspension of my blog.  Yep, a suspension!  I logged in like usual to work on some drafts and double check what I already had and this message popped up at the top:

“Warning: We have a concern about some of the content on your blog. Please click here to contact us as soon as possible to resolve the issue and re-enable posting.”

The click here was a generic email back to  No explanation, no nothing.  So I emailed and then freaked out a bit.  What did I do?  I sat and waited.  No response.  12 hours later, no response.  I checked the forums.  It seems this had happened to a ton of people, but no real explanations were given.  I waited some more and then called J freaking out.  He calmed me down and after checking into it, decided that it was time for me to move.  So he started the process.  Bought a domain name, got new emails, hosted on our server, and transfered almost everything into the new system.  I dove in and started to piece things back together.  99% of what I had here is now there.  I was setting myself up to thinking that I would have to start from scratch, but my lovely knows things…  hee hee.  So I got a new blog.

After two silent days, I finally received an email from

We currently need to limit the number of scheduled posts per site, and your site has exceeded more than 100 of these. Can you please edit your posts and limit those currently scheduled to a more reasonable number (less than 100)? Placing posts in draft status and scheduling/publishing them later is a workable, alternate method. An automatic system check is now in place for this. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience.

Really WordPress, what the hell?  You change something and instead of mentioning it or warning, you just suspend my blog.  Of course, I sent this to J and he thought it was just absolutely ridiculous.  So we are sticking with moving to my own domain.  There may be a few posts still on here as I signed up for some giveaways in January and the other blogs already have address, but I will be primarily checking my new blog…  Come follow me over there (It’s still a little dusty, but will be fixed soon)

Ms. Buff’s Blog


Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Writings


Year End Break

It’s that time of year, when I leave the blogosphere for a few weeks.  I love taking this time to decompress, organize, reflect, and plan ahead.  I will also be updating my columns to reflect upcoming events and 2013 reading challenges.  If you happen to log on during this process, it might look a bit messy, but rest assured it will be fixed by the first week in January.  Plus I’m in freezing Indiana with the family.  I want to spend time curling up with a mug of tea, a few cookies, and the boys while watching a movie.  I’ll be back after the first of the year (tenatively Jan. 6th…)  To everyone out there reading my blog, if I don’t see you in person…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Life


The Sunday Salon #39

The Sunday

Listening To: Enjoying the last of the Christmas music, although our local radio channels just play the same 20 Christmas songs over and over.  I have to retreat to my iPod.  I really wish we had Sirius in the cars.  The Indie Christmas channel is just awesome.

Book finishedThe Selfish Gene, Batman: Earth One Preview, The Magician King, The Son of Neptune

ReadingNone; taking a break for family activities and Christmas.  Will resume my reading with the start of 2013.

On the Nightstand: January 2013 reads

From the kitchen: Since I’m at my mom’s house, I’m not cooking.  But I did make sure to stop by the store and pick up some interesting wine for us.  I’ll let you know if it was any good.  And I’m planning on making an appetizer of baked brie, caramel, and pecans for Christmas Eve dinner.

On the Web: Reading all the year end book blogger posts and getting ideas for next year’s reading challenge.  I think I’ve finalized my list.

Watching: Whatever my mom and stepdad are watching, which means a lot of sports and reality shows.  I may have to retreat into my bedroom and pop on some scifi or Doctor Who just because.  Maybe the boys’ will join me for some Doctor Who.

Wondering: If we will have a white Christmas?  It’s been awhile since it snowed on Christmas and didn’t just turn into slush or sheets of ice.

From Nature: I’m really not liking the cold.  I want to go back to my climate of 50s in December.

Shopping Scores: I finished my Christmas shopping on Thursday, just in time to miss the crazed last minute shoppers and trying to do it with the boys around.  I did have to enter Toys R Us and the mall, but it wasn’t that bad.  I entered the mall right where I needed to go (I actually remembered where the store is) and got in and out within 15 minutes.  Pretty good time.

Project: The boys and I have tie dye shirts and Christmas cards to make.  We’re planning on doing them today, but who knows.  I wonder how this will go.

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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Sunday Salon


Day Zero Project Update: Week 63-66

Instead of daily posts, I thought it would be a lot easier for me and you if I did weekly update posts.  These will track my progress each week.  I will highlight what I’ve done, what I want to do, and any interesting tidbits.  Sometimes I’ll add pictures and/or links.  Hopefully these posts will keep me accountable to me list…

What I Did

1. Go to 5 concerts (1/5) — Free tickets to see Live 105’s Not So Silent Night featuring Grouplove, M83, Tegan and Sara, Passion Pit, and The Killers.  Merry Christmas to me!

9. See 101 new movies (91/101)

  • The Dictator — Had a few funny parts, but the rest was so-so
  • Love, Wedding, Marriage — Pretty subpar romantic comedy…
  • 21 Jump Street — Way funnier than I thought it would be
  • Our Idiot Brother — Not as bad as everyone said, but I do love me some Paul Rudd
  • 12 Dates of Christmas — ABC Family cheesy awesomeness
  • The Game — Fincher’s second film.  Really good mind bender.
  • The Hobbit — In IMAX 3D!  Holy Crap!  Amazing!

12. See all of IMDB’s Top 250 movies  (25/250)

  • 119. Blade Runner — Always a great science fiction movie.

24. Keep a journal for this project

28. Blog 1001 times — 50 this time period   (709/1001)

32. Finish 30 reading challenges (25/30)

  • Telling Tales
  • Books2Movies
  • Science Fiction
  • What’s in a Name 6
  • Back to the Classics
  • Mixing It Up
  • 2012 Goodreads Challenge
  • Historical Fiction

37. Pass 250,000 pages read for my 1,000,000 pages challenge (109,486/250,000) 

Overall Progress



Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Day Zero Project



Persuasion Readalong — Sign Up Post


From Unputdownables:

Some Facts About the Read-a-Long:

  • You do not have to be a book blogger to join.
  • We will be reading the book in January (four weeks), with the first discussion happening on Friday, January 4th/ the book is  roughly 235 pages (depending on which edition you read) so that’s roughly 59 pages a week; about 8 pages a day.
  • Don’t be intimidated. We will be going at a slow pace and discussing the book throughout our reading. The discussions are quite fun, and make the reading process very enjoyable!

What is Persuasion about?  

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love? (via


The following is the reading and posting schedule for this read-a-long. Please note, we will be reading roughly 59 pages per week (about 8 pages a day). Because it is always easier for us to stop at chapters (rather than on page numbers, because of different editions), I’ve had to round to the nearest chapter each week. Please look at the week’s page amount to best plan your reading in order to keep up.


Beginning Friday, December 29th and ending Friday, January 25th. 


Week #/ Where to Stop (For example, in week one STOP and place your bookmark at Volume One Chapter IX.)

Week One/ Volume One, Chapter IX
Week Two/ Volume Two, Chapter II
Week Three/ Volume Two, Chapter IX
Week Four/ The End


Post #/ date discussion post will be up on blog:

Start up Post/ Today!
Week One/ January 4th
Week Two/ January 11th
Week Three/ January 18th
Week Four/  January 25th (Final Review)

** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each week to share your thoughts in the comments section of the weekly Read-a-Long discussion (see below for more information).**

How it Works:

  1. Each week, on Friday, I will post my thoughts about the week’s reading. You will have from Friday through the following Thursday to post yours. If you are stuck on what to comment about, you can respond to my post or others’ comments. Regardless, you MUST check in each week (two weeks without a response and you will be taken off of the list — see below for details on why). You may have only one “off week” (which may not be the last week of reading for obvious reasons) and still be kept on the list, but you must let me know in the comment section by saying something like, “This is my off week — I am catching up!” Please note that, in order to be counted, your offering to the discussion must be about the current weeks’ reading, not about past weeks. ***For all week’s discussions please refrain from posting ahead, even if you have read ahead, as to not spoil the book for others***
  2. As these Read-a-Longs grow, so do the amount of people who participate – yay, all the more fun!!! Also, all the more keeping track of who is still reading. As you know – if you have been absent from discussion for two weeks, you will be removed from the list. However, now, in order to get back on the list, you need to a.) Have missed no more than two weeks of discussion, b.) Let me know you would like to be on the list again, and c.) Consistently be part of the discussion for the next two weeks after requesting to be put back on the list. Am I trying to be mean? Absolutely not! I LOVE having you all read a long. It is, however, a lot of work to keep track of who’s still reading. To keep taking names off and putting them back on the list becomes tedious. Most importantly though, consistency is good for the group; we tend to get to know each other through discussions and rely on the conversation to keep us reading. Since I don’t do these read-a-longs to gain followers (I do them because the benefit of reading certain books with a group of dedicated people is often superior to reading them alone), I prefer to have a committed group – even if it is smaller. Reading with undedicated people is worst of all, which is why I care less about numbers and more about dedication to the book and the discussions. (Bonus! At the end of each read-a-long, those who have completed the entire read-a-long are eligible to be entered into the giveaway that correlates to the book… another reason why it is important for me to keep up with who is reading.)
  3. If you are a blogger, feel free to post a link to your blog if you are posting about each of the each week’s reading. If I, or other readers, have extra time we will gladly try to visit your blog; however, you must make sure to share your thoughts here on this blog, and be part of the main conversation or your comment will not be counted. This is to make sure that our conversation is easily accessible to everyone who is reading, and also to keep it from becoming disjointed.
  4. Comments from the previous week’s reading will be closing Thursday afternoon(before the next discussion takes place on Friday). If you would like to be part of the discussion, please remember to comment before then.

I must join this one, even though I just read Persuasion this last year.  It’s my favorite book of all time, I love rereading it and finding a new perspective or a new favorite line.  Plus, rereading a favorite is a great way to start my 2013 reading.  Would you like to join me?  Jump on over to Unputdownables to sign up!

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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Book Reviews


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The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Title: The Magician King (Magician #2)

Author: Lev Grossman

Publisher:  Viking 2012

Genre:  Fantasy

Pages: 416

Rating:  5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Fantasy; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it!

Quentin Coldwater should be happy. He escaped a miserable Brooklyn childhood, matriculated at a secret college for magic, and graduated to discover that Fillory—a fictional utopia—was actually real. But even as a Fillorian king, Quentin finds little peace. His old restlessness returns, and he longs for the thrills a heroic quest can bring.
Accompanied by his oldest friend, Julia, Quentin sets off—only to somehow wind up back in the real world and not in Fillory, as they’d hoped. As the pair struggle to find their way back to their lost kingdom, Quentin is forced to rely on Julia’s illicitly-learned sorcery as they face a sinister threat in a world very far from the beloved fantasy novels of their youth.
I am completely in awe of this book right now.  I finished it over an hour ago and am still waiting to decompress.  My first thought was “Wow that was harsh”  but in a good way.  This series reminds me a lot of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.  It has some wonderful fantasy elements, but also great discussions on philosophy and religion and life.  And they both take a turn for the dark at some point.  Yet, the dark made the stories more real, more grounded, even as they are set in very fantastical realms.
With the first book, I got a bit annoyed at Quentin and his whole “I am destined for something greater” attitude.  It was a bit too teenage angsty.  By the end of the first book, I was starting to get over it, but I still was a little annoyed.  In this volume, Quentin grew into his own.  He started to truly understand his place in the world (or worlds as the case may be) and I really grew to like him.  Plus we meet up with some old friends (and not so much friends) along the journey.  I loved seeing the characters deal with new and challenging obstacles.  I even started to like Poppy by the end of the book.
My only issue with the book has to do with the format.  The abrupt jumps between the present and Julia’s past were a bit jarring.  They definitely took some getting used to.  I had to keep reorienting myself to time and place.  It was messing with my reading brain.  Even though it bugged me a bit, I still loved being able to see what happened to Julia while Quentin was at Brakebills and beyond.  Her story really brought everything together in the end.  An excellent read.
The Magicians:
  1. The Magicians
  2. The Magician King

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews


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Batman: Earth One preview

Title: Batman: Earth One preview

Author: Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

Publisher:  DC Comics 2012

Genre: Graphic Novel; Superheroes

Pages: 27

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Fall into Reading; Mount TBR

How I Got It: iBooks free download

Batman is not a hero.He is just a man.

Fallible, vulnerable, and angry.

In a Gotham City where friend and foe are indistinguishable, Bruce Wayne’s path toward becoming the Dark Knight is riddled with more obstacles than ever before. Focused on punishing his parents’ true killers, and the corrupt police that allowed them to go free, Bruce Wayne’s thirst for vengeance fuels his mad crusade and no one, not even Alfred, can stop him.

In the tradition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Superman: Earth One, writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank re-imagine a new mythology for the Dark Knight, where the familiar is no longer the expected in this long-awaited original graphic novel from DC Comics.

After reading this little preview of the longer Batman: Earth One volume, I might actually read some of the superhero comics.  So far, I’ve stayed away.  But I really enjoyed the idea of The Dark Knight.  While I love Adam West’s slightly zany Batman, the darker side of Batman has held much more pull with me.  Plus this volume is beautifully drawn.  Everything is a bit dark, but very clear and readable.  Enjoyable few moments.
Mount TBR
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews


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The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Title: The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins

Publisher: Oxford 2006 (30th Anniversary edition)

Genre: Nonfiction — Science

Pages: 523

Rating:  4 /5 stars

Reading Challenges: Dewey – 500s; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it

Richard Dawkins’ brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
This 30th anniversary edition of Dawkins’ fascinating book retains all original material, including the two enlightening chapters added in the second edition. In a new Introduction the author presents his thoughts thirty years after the publication of his first and most famous book, while the inclusion of the two-page original Foreword by brilliant American scientist Robert Trivers shows the enthusiastic reaction of the scientific community at that time. This edition is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today.
This is such a dense book.  Although I must say that I really enjoyed it.  Okay okay, I started to nod off here and there.  Basically those chapters that dealt with DNA and the really long explanations of genetics caused me to nod off a bit trying to read this before bed.  Once I got to the chapters on the applications of genetics on human behavior, I perked right up.  Those chapters sustained my interest through the rest of the book.  I love Dawkin’s way of explaining using a ton of analogies.  This really did help me understand the topic.  After reading this one, I am debating about when to read his other books.  I’m intrigued, but I might need a month or two to decompress.

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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews


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