Monthly Archives: September 2010

You were right about romance novels; I was wrong (sort of)

Dear Sommer, bestest friend in the www (whole wide world):

I know I can be a joykill. When you talk about your new issue of Romance Digest (is that the title?) and all the new romance novels coming out, I know you can practically hear the gagging in my mind as I envision old-school romance bodice-rippers and lovely euphemisms like “sheathe his sword.” Oh yeah, I went there. You know the ones I mean:

Now I don’t plan on picking up any titles like this any time soon. Can you imagine?! I read all over the place. Would men walk up and, thinking I’m game, rip my low-cut corset that barely covers my breasts off me? Can’t take that chance.

However, I know not ALL romance novels are like this – and hell, every once in a while? Why not? This particular cover made me think of a Friends episode where Joey finds a copy of such a book under Rachel’s pillow and follows her around asking to warm coffee up on her red-hot loins.

A couple weekends ago, I read/listened to three romance novels: Something Blue by Emily Giffin, Vision in White and Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts. And whaddyaknow? I loved them. In fact, I won’t tell you how in between my Vicodin-induced nap because of my poor hurt shoulder, I read like a maniac. Or that I took one of them to a football game, only to get laughed at by the security guard when he checked my bag.

I also won’t tell you how reading these books has spawned a desire to read more of these books in the future. Because that would be like sort of admitting I was wrong, and I wasn’t wrong. They were fun to read. They were engaging. Might have even made me wish I owned a diamond. Just a little one. And maybe a Prada bag. I may have even dreamed in Tiffany blue…

But. (Of course there has to be a ‘but’ – we’re best friends. You should know me well enough by now). As addictive as these books were, there were parts of each that drove me insane.

Darcy Rhone in Something Blue made me want to slap a baby (no, not your baby. I love that sweet baby girl). Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t say it made me want to slap a baby. That’s rude. And violent. Darcy, though, was rude. Maybe not violent but certainly rude. Chick sleeps with her fiance’s best friend, gets pregnant, and is then furious when she discovers her best friend and fiance have been bumping uglies. (I swear I’ve heard that somewhere… probably in a book). Plus, she lies to everyone about the circumstances of her breakup and leaves everyone behind to mooch off her writer friend in London (all while shopping daily and not paying a dime of rent). Even though she has some sort of near-religious conversion; well, not at all religious, her friend straight up tells her she’s rude and self absorbed… even then, I couldn’t get past disliking her strongly.

Nora Roberts, at least, handles her characters a bit better. They are likable. You feel as though you know them. She also writes a lot of series, and I like series. The books can be a bit hard to believe (four friends grow up, each perfect for one-fourth of a wedding-planning business: a photographer, pastry chef, florist, and bossy bitch-I mean-planner. Really?) But I liked them. In fact, they brought me back to my college days when I read Nora Roberts after my mom would pass them on to me. No wonder I was obsessed with Martha Stewart Weddings and kept a scrapbook of nice wedding invitations, floral arrangements, and magazine rip-outs of dresses. I was the target audience for Nora. She was brainwashing me, and I was all in, veil, strappy satin off-white shoes, and all.

The biggest problems I found with Ms. Nora Roberts’ books were the tie-ins. The florist is a true romantic, with a wonderful family, parents celebrating an anniversary. She falls in love with Jack, a commitment-phobe, and when he walks into a room, her smile “blooms.” Subtle hint, there, right? Blooms – like a flower – like a florist – like EMMA, our main character. That got old fast.

The other issue is Roberts really works to write independent female characters who are only really independent when faced with a man ordering them around. Then – Miss Independent, Miss Self Sufficient – the character battles with her lover, telling him in no uncertain terms, she won’t be ordered around. Almost every main character was like that. I just finished listening to the audiobook of Red Lily, another of her novels. Same thing. It’s not that I think these types of women don’t exist; I just wish romance novelists would include different types of women.

Ah well.

In the long run, I’m pleased I picked up so many romance novels this month. Of course, that may have been why I consumed more chocolate this month than in the last 6 combined. Let’s not even talk about how many Oreos have been eaten in this house.

And I guess that’s the best part of romance novels; they are pure girlish fun. Candlelight dinners. Suites at the Waldorf Astoria. Champagne. Chocolate. More champagne. Kisses that make your knees weak. I can handle that. In fact, I may pick up a few more at the library tomorrow evening. I blame you – 100%.

Now, when are we going to go catch the newest chick flick? I’m waiting. You get a babysitter – I’ll stuff the Junior Mints in my bag.



Any other romance readers out there? Any must-have titles? Why do you like romance novels? Or why do you hate them?


Life is good… life is good… life is good

This is my new mantra. Ok, it’s not all bad. Life IS good. Natalie, my friend over at Coffee and a Book Chick awarded me the Life is Good blogger award. Thank you, Natalie. The day I received this was sort of a low one for me, and I perked up right away. And I feel absolutely awful because I’ve been such a bad blogger lately. I apologize for my sporadic posts. I have been reading posts, but time has been short the last few weeks. I started a new job, both teaching and advising. My schedule is split, and it’s taking me some time to get used to my new routine. Plus, my new boss had no on lined up to train me, yet expects me to know the ins and outs of the job without anyone telling me. Nothing like trying to discern what you don’t know you don’t know. Anyway, I have reviews in the works but can’t seem to finish a single one. I’ll work on it.

What I love about blogging – beyond the simple pleasure of sitting down and discussing books I love and hate – are the people I’ve met. Iliana at bookgirl’s nightstand first encouraged me to start a blog, and I’m thrilled I was able to do the same for Natalie. If you haven’t checked out her blog, do so. She’s also got a readalong on right now for The Historian, one of my favorite academic thrillers. Consider joining her.

The award below requires I answer some questions and then pass the award on. Here goes:

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

I don’t wish for anonymity in this space, but I have realized that many readers/bloggers only know me as picky girl. I am certainly that, but my name is Jennifer. All my close friends and family call me Jenn. Of course, many times people who know me will introduce me as Jenn, which is fine, but it’s sort of disconcerting when I meet someone new or speak with someone on the telephone who calls me Jenn, and I don’t know them. You guys, though, are welcome to call me Jenn. I teach writing and literature at a local university and also just hired on full time (after doing adjunct work for a year) as a faculty advisor. I love what I do, which is partially why I am sometimes absent from the blog. The prep work and grading can be daunting.

2.Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

I wear sunglasses when I drive – even when it’s overcast – so I can give “angry eyes” to bad drivers without risk of confrontation. I may also sit in between two merging lanes so people cannot cut in front of me. I have a teensy weensy bit of road rage… Ok, a lot of road rage, but inconsiderate drivers really get my back up.

3.What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

I see a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater, one-eyed, one-horned flying …. oh, seriously? Even though I’m nearing 30 (gah!), I just see a young woman. I don’t think I’ll ever feel my age – at least I hope I don’t.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Gin and tonic with extra lime. It’s the perfect drink for the hot Texas summer. And recently, Bud Light with Lime or Miller Chill. I am soooo not a beer girl, but this summer has been brutal.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I tuck into bed in something comfortable, reading or watching a movie – usually reading. Or I go to Marshall’s to perform what I call catch and release. I walk around with something and then, having decided it’s not a necessity, I put it back – and no, for those of you who have worked retail, I don’t set it just anywhere. I put it back where it belongs. My momma taught me well.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

Hm. I’m really happy where I am right now. I’ve tossed the idea of a Ph.D back and forth, but I don’t feel as though I am missing something without it. I would much prefer to spend my life and my money traveling. In addition to reading, it’s my absolute favorite use of time. I’d like to visit many more countries than I already have, and I’d like to have the financial stability to do that.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?

I have always, always been an overachiever (even though I procrastinate). If you could sign up for it in high school, I did. One-Act Play, UIL, journalism, yearbook, band, twirling, choir, youth group, honors classes. Oddly enough, though, I wasn’t a sit-in-the-front-row sort of student. I am funny about space and always sat in the back of the class if possible.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?

My first trip to Italy. I was 23, fresh out of college, had never been on a plane, and had worked and saved for that trip as a graduation present to myself. The very first church I walked into in Rome was like nothing I had ever seen and blew me away, particularly since it didn’t look like something special from the outside. I remember laughing uncontrollably because I couldn’t in my life have ever imagined anything so beautiful and enormous. I’ll admit a few tears followed the laughter. People told me travel would change my life, and in that moment, I knew it was true.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

I think my true self comes through. I’m not a funny person, though sometimes humor comes out in my writing. I am what I am – passionate about what I love, not afraid to speak my mind. Sometimes I think blogging makes me more myself because I am writing and feel really free, sort of like sitting next to a stranger on a plane – except I would never talk to a stranger on a plane.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

I can’t stand talking on the phone! It doesn’t mean I don’t ever because of course I do, but I would rather sit down and read. I am usually so tired after a full day; more talking is the last thing on my mind. My friends know sometimes I don’t talk to them for a while because I feel so guilty I haven’t answered when they call. It’s a vicious cycle.

As for passing this award on to six others, a few of my favorites have already received it, and I know a few others don’t really do the whole award thing, so… I’ll list six of my favorite blogs, six whose material is always interesting, thought-provoking, humorous, and just plain fun. Check them out, show them some love. Comment! If you’re lurking, introduce yourself; same goes here. I’d love to have more people to talk with about the books I review, whether you’ve read them or not.

A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook – I actually cannot remember if I stumbled across Matt’s blog first or Iliana’s. I love them both. Matt’s blog is quiet, thoughtful, and spot on. Plus, he loved East of Eden, so we can get along.

bookgirl’s nightstand – Iliana has been such an encouraging voice, and I’m so excited to meet her at the Texas Book Festival. Iliana has great short reviews and also includes info and photos of the beautiful journals she creates. It’s always a treat to see her posts in my feed.

with extra pulp – Elena is an Australian book blogger and again, one of the first I found. She’s edgy, fun, and posts about all sorts of fiction. Plus, I love her perspective from halfway across the world.

books i done read – Hilarious. Irreverent. Smart. Just read her.

dead white guys – Ditto the above.

Dolce Belleza – Quiet and thoughtful. Those two words best describe DB’s site. Quiet – not in the literal sense. I always feel her posts are so well thought out. You won’t regret visiting.

nonsuch book – Yes, I know I cheated and that this makes number 7. I couldn’t help it. Frances’ blog is one of my favorites purely for book design. Of course, she also has incredibly well-crafted reviews, but it’s not often I find bloggers as enamored of book design as I am. She’s always posting books I have to flag and put on a wish list.

Thanks again, Natalie! And congratulations on receiving the award from two bloggers.

Happy reading –

jenn aka picky girl

Review: Stitches by David Small

Sometimes the medium of a story is so much more important than how that story is told: Stitches, illustrator David Small’s memoir, is one such story.

Set in a mostly-wordless black-and-white format, Stitches is about the author’s childhood, one in which speech is the last form of communication the family utilizes.

Instead, Mom slams cabinets and weeps quietly behind closed doors. Dad batters a punching bag, and Ted, the brother, plays the drums. What does David do? He, too, is voiceless, and only warrants attention through his many childhood illnesses. Dad, the doctor, puts his young son through all sorts of experimental treatments – shots, enemas, neck cracking, and multiple x-rays, hoping to help his sinus problems.

David’s only escape from his passive-aggressive mother and radiology-happy father is coloring and drawing. His figures become friends, a way to escape. However, David’s escape is simply another form of silence, separating himself further from his family.

As a young man, a family friend notices a growth on David’s neck and advises his mother it be checked out. What follows is probably the absolute worst part of this graphic novel. His parents wait three-and-a-half years before doing anything about it. David is told he has a cyst; a simple operation will remove it. Two surgeries later, David is left with an incredibly-long scar down the left side of his neck and one vocal cord, rendering him silent, although, as he says, it is “no longer a matter of choice.” He learns to cope but tunnels deeper into his self because “when you have no voice, you don’t exist.” For ten years, he can speak in nothing above a whisper.

The novel is heartbreaking, and it angered me to see the willful neglect on behalf of David’s parents – no matter how troubled they were. How he manages to survive and thrive is a testament to the human spirit. This is one of many graphic novels  I have read in the last few years, none of them happy. I’m not sure if the medium makes it easier to depict the anger, grief, frustration, and shame or if it is simply a means to an end. Regardless, Stitches is raw but effective, specifically in that there really aren’t many words, reinforcing the impotence David feels first, as a child and second, as a teen who cannot speak. Drawn frame-by-frame with an obvious nod to cinematography, the quiet isn’t pleasant but menacing, and the illustrations are incredibly successful in their execution. I recommend this book to those with an interest in graphic novels or a special interest in memoirs – just make sure you have something cheerful lines up right after it.

Other reviews:

S. Krishna’s Books

Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

A few weeks ago, at the library, I saw a really interesting book cover: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I didn’t pick it up as I have been insanely busy, and my book bag was already overflowing. However, when I saw the Texas Book Festival site and got so excited about the author list, I knew I had to go back and pick up Leviathan as Scott Westerfeld will be in Austin in October! There are also other bloggers whose opinions I respect (like Amanda at The Zen Leaf) who rave about Westerfeld’s series, The Uglies.

Leviathan is set during World War I, and much of it is historically accurate. Westerfeld’s genius, though, is in changing how these events take place, and I was fascinated pretty much from page one. I’ve learned since reading this, the technique is called ‘steampunk.’* The major dividing line between the two sides is not simply political. Instead, the Germans, Austrians, and Russians are Clankers – they create and depend on huge metal, industrial machines to defend themselves. Alek, the son of the assassinated archduke, is thrust from a cush life with simple defense training in a mechanical Stormwalker into defending himself and several servants bound to protect him. Alek’s questionable lineage makes him a threat to the forces wanting to take the place of the archduke. Running from his own people, Alek is forced to look at life in a much different way, made unbelievably clear to him when he comes into contact with the outside world.

The British, not yet in the fight, believe themselves to be more enlightened. Termed the Darwinists, the British rely on new crossbred animals to defend themselves. Scientists look to animals to find strengths and abilities and then use these  to create super animals, such as the leviathan (have I mentioned my love affair with this word? I love it). Filled with hydrogen by other smaller working animals, the leviathan is an air ship, similar to a blimp. Deryn Sharp, a young woman whose father was obsessed with flight, is determined to be in the British Air Service. Young women are not allowed, however, and Deryn must disguise herself and prove she is capable enough to man the ship. When Leviathan comes under attack and crashes in Switzerland near Alek’s secret hiding place, both Alek and Deryn come face to face and forge an unlikely alliance, as the two sides with distinct ideologies (Clankers and Darwinists) are distrustful and skeptical of one another.

This story was fascinating to me: the Darwinist animals and their purposes were interesting (although the implications were somewhat troubling), but the descriptions of them were beautiful as well. The book is illustrated with beautiful work by Keith Thompson and though I loved the illustrations, Westerfeld’s words truly built these creatures in my mind. The mindset of the two sides was evident and understandable – the Darwinists are seen as intervening where they should not be, creating “beasties” for the sole purpose of exploitation. The Clankers are seen as wasteful and unimaginative. Both sides have excellent points, which I think will further be explored in the sequel.

Which brings me to: THE SEQUEL!! I didn’t know anything about this book when I picked it up and certainly didn’t realize there was a sequel, scheduled to appear in October, until I got to the end – a total cliffhanger. When I went in search of the sequel, I realized it wasn’t out yet and was more than a little miffed that Westerfeld would leave me in such a bind. In other words, I LOVED this book. It is an excellent, fun read, and I would recommend it to adults and children alike.

Last and not least, I loved the female roles in this book. Deryn is a feisty, spunky character with great dialogue and an inner drive that is admirable. Plus, she likes science. In fact, she gets totally wrapped up in it:

How old Darwin figured out how to weave new species from old, pulling out the tiny threads of life and tangling together under a microscope. How evolution had squeezed a copy of Deryn’s own life chain into every cell of her body. How umpteen different beasties made up the Leviathan – from microscopic hydrogen-farting bacteria in its belly to the great harnessed whale. How the airships creatures, like the rest of Nature, were always struggling amongst themselves in messy, snarling equilibrium.

Deryn makes no apologies for her preferences and passions, but she certainly gets a kick out of one of Leviathan’s passengers. Dr. Barlow, a female relative of Darwin, makes a surprise appearance on the airship, shocking Deryn, who thus far has only seen that a woman must hide her true identity to do what she loves. Dr. Barlow is stubborn and intelligent and a leader in her field. It was exciting to see such strong female characters, even if one is in disguise. I trust Westerfeld will address this further as the series moves along. Leviathan is an action novel, fun for all ages; pick it up, and watch for my review of Behemoth, the next book of the series.

*Steampunk is really quite fascinating, with origins in many familiar classics authors. I once wrote an essay on the marriage of science and fiction in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The beginnings of the idea are there. Alternate history is really what it’s all about, but it’s also about the scientific discoveries during the late 19th century and early 20th century, which allowed writers, inventors, and artists to open their imaginations to a world previously unknown to them. Another aside: I heard on NPR this morning that Charles Babbage actually invented the first computer in the mid 1800s. Who knew? (If you did and think I’m really lame, please don’t tell me in comments. Thanks.) 🙂

Other reviews:

The Book Smugglers

The Zen Leaf

BBAW Wednesday: Unexpected Treasure

It’s there in the blog title: pi-cky. I’m not easily swayed. I’m stoic, a brick wall, if you will. I’m judgmental of books and characters and titles and covers. (I know. You don’t want to be friends with me anymore. I don’t blame you.) So when asked for Wednesday’s theme of Book Blogger Appreciation Week if another blogger has influenced me to read outside my comfort zone, my gut reaction is No way!

However. I have to say that without Dolce Belleza, I may never have finished (and actually enjoyed) Brothers Karamazov. I probably wouldn’t be waiting eagerly by the mailbox for my copy of Madame Bovary for the readalong with Frances from Nonsuch Book if she hadn’t made it sound so enticing. It’s not that I have any dislike for classics: I teach English. I love the classics. There are, however, pockets of literature I just don’t want to read. The last six months, bloggers far and wide have discussed books and authors that intimidate them. I’m not intimidated; I just know me well. Love Jane Eyre; hate Anna Karenina. Love Huck Finn; hate The Scarlet Letter. That’s my prerogative, so yes, bloggers may have had something to do with some of my directed reading. I’m ok with that.

Those examples are direct influences, though, and I must say, there have been more indirect influences as well. Sometimes I read a review and jot down a title, forgetting to write down the blog. Or I follow a link to another blog I don’t regularly follow. Maybe a Twitter article looks interesting, and I follow that rabbit hole. It happens often. Last week I read Leviathan by Scott Westerfield (I’ll review it this weekend) and absolutely loved it. That was purposeful. I wrote down the title and searched for it at the library but have no clue what or who made me jot it down.

I love this community – from the subtle hints to the out-and-out nudges, I enjoy being a part of it. Have I been influenced by a book blogger? Most certainly. And I thank you all for it.

jenn aka picky girl

BBAW Interview – Jenn Interviews Jenny

I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but there are a ton of Jennifers in the blogosphere. I’ve also seen variations on the theme, Jen, Jenn, Jenny. Well, I was lucky enough to be paired with another Jennifer, who goes by Jenny, in the BBAW Interview Swap. Jenny’s blog Take Me Away is a real treat, and it was completely new to me. Now I’m even more glad I participated. She reviews a really wide variety of books, which of course I love. Head on over there and check her out, but first check out our interview:

  • Your blog is so cheery. I love the background and the title. When did you start blogging? Did the name of your blog just  come to you? How often do you get an itch to switch things up?

Thanks!  I started blogging in July of 2008.  But really, if you look at the entries back then I posted very sporadically and wrote only one or two lines.  I think I posted so infrequently because I felt like I didn’t have much to say.  It was probably a year after that when I started doing more with the blog.  As for the name, I wanted something unique that explained what books do for me.  I think they “take me away” sometimes to another world/place in the book, but also take me away from the stress and issues in real life as well.  I’m usually pretty complacent when I have something I like.  The only thing I’ve been itching is to change my layout to one with real photographs, but I probably won’t do that for a while.

  • I love your profile pic. So you have a nook. Do you love it? Why did you switch over to an ereader? (Ok, this is selfish since I don’t have one and am really curious).

Yes, I love it!!  It’s funny though because I didn’t really “switch over” to an e-reader… I just have it in addition to my many other books!  We are into technology and new things in my house so that was probably one of the reasons we had to get one.  Then my hubby tried out reading a book on there and liked it so now we each have our own, lol!  I love that you can buy books for cheaper and get them whenever you want.  Middle of the night and want to buy that book you’ve been dying to read?  Okay!  (Not that I’ve ever done that, but still).  I find the e-readers much easier to hold because I’m always moving around and re-adjusting when I read a regular book.  And it’s convenient to carry with me (especially if I’m reading a big book b/c it always weighs the same on the nook!)  I really don’t think I necessarily like one form of reading better than another… they’re two totally different experiences and I enjoy them equally on the e-reader or with regular books.

  • What is the funniest/strangest place you’ve ever been caught reading?

Hmmm… I’m not really “caught reading” anywhere interesting… maybe I’m nowhere interesting in the first place, lol!  I’m sorry… I’ve thought about it and I can’t really think of anything really funny!  I have read in the kitchen while cooking or in between stirring, lol, or while sitting at a red light.  I’ve read waiting in line places.  But in general, I don’t like reading when I’m out and about because I don’t like when people try to talk to me about it, hahah! JR: Full disclosure: reading while cooking and in between stirring IS pretty interesting. I guess as readers, we just think of it as normal. 🙂

  • Do you have a favorite book? If so, what is it and why?

This is a tough question (even though I know I asked you this in like 3 different forms, lol!)  It changes frequently.  Right now I think A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  Anyone who reads my blog knows about my /obsession/ for all things NYC so books that take place there (past or present) I love.  I just really loved the characters in this book though.  It’s essentially just about a girl growing up in early 1900’s Brooklyn but it’s so heartwarming.  For a long time I considered Wuthering Heights my favorite which is so completely different.  But what I liked about that book was the passion I felt it has.  For more contemporary books I love Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls.  I also loved I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb but I think I need to re-read that one of these days to confirm because it’s been a while. =)

  • Do you think the books we read define us? If so, what do you think your reading list would say about you?

I don’t necessarily think the books we read define us, or at least not in an obvious way.  I read so many different books/genres too that I don’t know how someone would use that to define me.  I do think, though, that we often are drawn to certain types of books/stories that we can relate to at that moment or that we have certain reasons for wanting to read what we do.  My reading list would probably say that I have varied interests, I want to learn about all different types of things, but I also want to find others to relate to.  It might also say that I use reading as a form of escape from stress!

  • Lily, your Jack Russell, is adorable. I have a Yorkie who can be a bit jealous of my reading time. What does Lily do while you’re reading?

Lily is funny. Usually she just lies next to me or my hubby on the couch.  She’ll cuddle up right next to my leg so I pretty much can’t move once I get into position unless I move her too.  Or sometimes she’ll want attention and she’ll bring me her ball to throw.  (She’s small enough that we can get away with playing fetch in our tiny home, lol).  Then she’ll bring me the ball over and over.  LOL

  • On the tail end of that last question, are the people in your life readers? Is your husband a reader? If so, do you guys have similar taste in books?

Most of the people in my life /are/ readers but it’s funny because it wasn’t always that way.  My husband always has a book he is reading… though he doesn’t read as many books as I do, he certainly reads way more than the average person nowadays.  He really just started reading more in the past few years.  Both my parents are readers and I am their library (for real, lol) and even though they both enjoy reading, they never really read a lot when I was growing up.  And my sister is a big reader (she is a language arts teacher in middle school) but she doesn’t specifically make time to read as much as I do.

  • How has blogging changed you as a reader, if at all?

Blogging has changed me as a reader in that I am /usually/ more conscientious of what I’m thinking and feeling while reading the book instead of waiting until I’m done and not being sure what to say.  I’ll remember key things I want to point out or mention in my review.  I also am learning what elements of a book I like and don’t like whereas in the past I would have had a more difficult time identifying that piece.  I tend to read newer books nowadays too.  But I’m also trying to scale back a little and not read so many books for review and focus more on just what I want to read and when because the last thing I want is for my reading/blogging to become a chore!

  • I read in one of your posts that you were a fan of the Babysitter’s Club series. So was I! Have you read the new book that is out? It’s supposed to be a prequel to the series.

Yay!  I loooved the babysitter’s club!  I actually have not read the prequel yet… I’ve only read two reviews for it — one was good but one was bad.  I may get around to it, but I think I’d be more interested in re-reading some of the series. JR: I’ve read mixed reviews, too. I really wished Murray would have written a book about what the girls would be like now. THAT I’d read.

  • Blogging is time consuming. (My poor readers may have noticed I have not posted in forever). How do you balance life and blogging? Any tricks to newer bloggers like me?

Ah, yes… I wish I had the secret… balancing life and blogging is something I’m constantly working on.  I see blogging as more than just reading a book and writing a quick post.  It is staying on top of bookish topics, networking/building a relationship with other bloggers specifically through reading other blogs and commenting, maintaining some type of consistency to my posts, etc.  It’s rough and sometimes it gets out of hand and you have to scale back.  Then at other times it seems like nothing is going on.  The month of August was rough for me reading-wise so I feel like I didn’t post much.  I keep a google calendar for reviews that have to go up (like blog tours) and it’s a good visual for me to see how often I’ve posted and what type of posts they’ve been (reviews, discussions, etc.)  I currently have 5 reviews typed up and ready to go and I’m thinking that’s the way to do it, but that’s the first time I’ve had that many.  I think it’s really about changing things up and trying different things but always keeping in mind that life comes first!  I also keep a to-do list for blogging and everything else in general (on a weekly planner) and it helps me stay on top of everything I need to do.

  • Lastly, working for CPS is, I am sure, rewarding as it is demanding. Does your job ever dictate the type of books you will or won’t read?

Yes, it can be!  It really doesn’t affect my reading much at all.  I know some people in this field who won’t read anything remotely related to the stuff we deal with because they want that escape.  Even though reading is often an escape for me, I will still read books about child abuse or other related topics etc.  I think it’s helpful too to look at things from another point of view (like the family) more so than I would when I’m working.

Thanks so much, Jenny! It was really fun doing the swap and not only learning more about you but discovering your blog. There is so much out there in terms of individual bloggers, I hate knowing I am missing the good stuff. It was so nice to (virtually) meet you.