Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekly Geeks: 2010-11

The weekly geeks question this week:
For this Weekly Geek installment, I'm asking you to think back to the moment when you realized "I am a reader!" The moment you felt that desire to read everything! The moment you knew you were different than most of those around you and that this reading thing was for real.

- Tell us what book you were reading when that moment occurred.

- Review the book. (You can even re-read it if you'd like and actually have time.)

- If you can't pin it down to one book, what other books define this moment in your life?

- What is it about that (or those) book(s) that caused you to feel this way?

- Do you have a story that goes along with this moment? Please do share.

- And just for fun, if you are able to, post a picture of what you looked like when this important event happened!
It's hard to have a specific moment. I think I was practically born loving to read. Or at the very least loving to be read to. Is there anything better than having your mom (or dad) read to you? Associating their voices with those oh-so-magical words on the page?

I could talk about Little House in the Big Woods. Or Winnie the Pooh. Or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Or Ramona the Pest. Or Anne of Green Gables. I think I could manage a story for them all. I could talk about head cheese, the smell of chocolate, the wonder of Father Christmas, the hums of my favorite bear, the joy of finding a kindred spirit, or the fact that I think Ramona should definitely marry Henry Huggins when she grows up. Who says worm engagement rings don't last forever and ever?

But. I think I'll choose to talk about Gone With The Wind. I read it around the time I was in seventh grade. I'd seen the movie much earlier than that. Around third grade. And I fell in love with this book. I loved it. It wasn't enough to read it once or even twice. I read it over and over and over again. It was definitely a comfort read. And it remained my favorite, favorite book for a couple of years. I did eventually grow past it. But it will always be a special book to me.

I don't think the movie does it justice. Because the movie just doesn't get it. It really doesn't capture the spirit of Mitchell's novel. I would love, love, love to see this one remade at some point.

This is a book that you can read countless times and still walk away with something new. Or maybe it's just that as a reader I changed a lot through the years. Growing from twelve to thirty.

You probably don't even want to know my thoughts on the "sequel" Scarlett.

Behind the Scenes: Perfect Chemistry

Today I reviewed Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. (I've been in the mood for YA Romance lately, and this one definitely satisfies!!!)

I've got THREE book trailers to share with you.

The 'official' Perfect Chemistry Rap Video

The Making of the Perfect Chemistry Rap Video

Rules of Attraction a companion/sequel to Perfect Chemistry

Blogging Whys

Do you have any tips on how to stay motivated? Or tips on how to lessen the blogger blues?

One way I keep myself excited about blogging is by playing around with blog design. I don't plan on changing the look of Becky's Book Reviews any time soon, mind you. Because I'm still happy with this design, this template, this layout. But oh the process it took to get there. It was something! Especially with the header!

But Becky's Book Reviews isn't my only blog. And oh how I've enjoyed playing around (lately) with Young Readers, Operation Actually Read Bible, and this blog, Behind the Scenes. I think redesigning (for me) is a therapeutic way for me to cope. Almost like shopping. But much much cheaper! You can redesign your blog for free as many times as you like until you feel just right about it again!

Here are a few places to go on the web if you do want to play around with your blog's look.

Many do ask that your template be minima (either blogger's minima or one of the three column minima templates you can find if you look). But sometimes other templates do work with these. You just have to experiment.

I also like blogger's new template designer. You can easily change your layout in the new template designer. Choose just how many columns you want (and where you want them). It removes some of the dirty work. You don't have to worry about losing widgets and gadgets and items in your sidebar! You can see the end result without commitment! The preview box lets you know exactly what it will look like. But nothing is final until you hit "apply to blog."

The only downside that I've noticed (so far) is that these new templates aren't viewable in older browsers. Your blog is still viewable. It's just very white.


Do you have any tips you'd like to share?! Leave a comment!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Behind The Scenes: When Mike Kissed Emma

Today I reviewed Christine Marciniak's When Mike Kissed Emma. You can visit with Christine on her blog, The Simple and the Ordinary.

The book trailer for When Mike Kissed Emma:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Behind the Scenes: The Wonder Book

Today I reviewed The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is one of my favorite authors--Little Pea, Little Hoot, Little Oink, and all those Cookie books.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Frances O'Roark Dowell

Today I reviewed Frances O'Roark Dowell's newest book, Falling In.
I did find a video interview with Frances O'Roark Dowell. The video was a project for a fourth grade class. She does talk about Falling In!

BTT: Reading Breaks?

btt button

Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)

It depends. Sometimes it's in a book's favor for me to take a break, sometimes it isn't.

I read more than one book at a time. I don't pretend otherwise.

For example, right now:

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge (library book) (MG)
You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay (library book) (YA)
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (classic)
Catching Fire (YA)

In the almost-reading-but-not quite pile:

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson
Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Sometimes I take a break because another story has grabbed me more. Sometimes I take a break because another book is "due" soon. (Blog tours. Library Books.) Sometimes I'm just not clicking with a book. Other times I'm just too ambitious. I start ten books in two or three days and can't keep up that pace!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Activity 10 (Spring Break Reading Challenge)

Karin's last activity is to write about five winter-related books:

White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean


Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears.

But Sym's uncle Victor is even more obsessed--and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves.

Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White


The wind and snow blow so hard, you can't see your hand in front of your face. Your heating fuel is nearly gone, and so is your food. How do you survive?

Five fourteen–year–olds face this desperate situation on a deadly journey in Antarctica. It is 2083. They are contes–tants on a reality TV show, Antarctic Survivor, which is set up to re–create Robert F. Scott's 1912 doomed attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole.

But in 2083 reality TV is not just an act. Contestants literally relive – or die during – the simulations of events. Robert Scott and his team were experienced explorers and scientists, but their attempt to reach the Pole proved fatal. What chance does the Antarctic Survivor team have?

This action–packed, riveting adventure – full of fascinating direct quotes from Scott's journals and other accounts of the expedition – is both a heart–wrenching drama from the past and a disquieting glimpse into the future.

Rash by Pete Hautman


Consumption of alcohol: Illegal.

Football and other "violent" sports: Illegal.

Ownership of guns, chain saws, and/or large dogs: Illegal.

Body piercings, tattoos: Illegal.

It's late in the twenty-first century, and the United Safer States of America (USSA) has become a nation obsessed with safety. For Bo Marsten, a teenager who grew up in the USSA, it's all good. He knows the harsh laws were created to protect the people. But when Bo's temper flares out of control and he's sentenced to three years of manual labor, he's not so down with the law anymore.

Bo's forced to live and work in a factory in the Canadian tundra. The warden running the place is totally out of his mind, and cares little for his inmates' safety. Bo will have to decide what's worse: a society that locks people up for road rage, or a prison where the wrong move could make you polar bear food.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer


When an asteroid hits the moon, Miranda must learn to survive the unimaginable . . .

Shackleton's Stowaway by Victoria McKernan


On October 26, 1914, Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance set sail from Buenos Aires in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in exploration: the crossing of the Antarctic continent. The crew stood on deck to watch the city fade away. All but one.

Eighteen-year-old Perce Blackborow hid below in a locker. But the thrill of stowing away with the legendary explorer would soon turn to fear. Within months, the Endurance, trapped and crushed by ice, sank. And even Perce, the youngest member of the stranded crew, knew there was no hope of rescue. If the men were to survive in the most hostile place on earth, they would have to do it on their own.

Victoria McKernan deftly weaves the hard-to-fathom facts of this famous voyage into an epic, edge-of-your-seat survival novel.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Link to Stars

Elizabeth Bluemle has posted a list of what books have received stars (upon thars) so far in 2010.
She has also created something on LibraryThing to help people keep up!

Spring Break Readin Challenge Activity #9

Today's topic is all about genres.

I'm a glutton for genres. I can't choose just one genre to love and adore. I can't even pick three. No, I'm a glutton for almost all the genres. Well, except for westerns and mysteries. I don't care for westerns because, well, westerns have guns and horses and the like. How many westerns have I read to date? One. So maybe I'm being slightly unfair. But still. It only makes sense to carry over my allergy to westerns from tv (and film) to books. Right?

Back on topic, what genres do I love the most. (Notice how I added that little 's'!)

  • historical fiction
  • historical romance
  • historical fantasy
  • fantasy
  • science fiction (most, most especially dystopias, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, etc.)
  • romance
  • realistic fiction
I also love classics. But I'm not sure if classics is really a genre?!

I do tend to read in batches. Some months are heavier in certain genres than other months. But I could never read just one genre of book.

I think 2010 (so far) has seen a bit more historical fiction than normal. But I bet it averages out by the time the year is over!

Behind the Scenes: Cosmic

Earlier in the month, I reviewed Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Well, I just found the book trailer.

Cosmic is just one of the books being promoted in the "Awesome Adventure" campaign:

Behind the Scenes: Mysterious Howling

There is a fun little companion site to Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. You can watch a book trailer--which is great fun for giving you a feel for the book itself. It also is a great way to glimpse some of the interior art! Though you can always browse inside the book itself. And you can even play Squirrel Spotter.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Here Burns My Candle

The book trailer for Here Burns My Candle:

Liz Curtis Higgs website.

Spring Break Reading Challenge Activity #8

Today, Karin would like progress reports!

What have I accomplished this week? Not as much as I'd like. But still. A good bit. I reviewed each of the books I listed in my goals post. These are titles that I needed to catch up on.

Mare's War by Tanita Davis
A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin**
Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker*
Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor*
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham

And I read and reviewed these titles:

After Ever After
by Jordan Sonnenblick
Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Olive's Ocean by Keven Henkes
Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

And I've read these titles. I'm not sure if they'll be reviewed this week or next:

My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson
Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison
Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Probably two will get reviewed this week, and some may carry on over into next week.

In addition to reading, I've been busy with my blogs. This site got (another) design. And Young Readers did too! I really like it so far!

I've also started another challenge:

It's The End of the World III

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

YA Romance Reading Challenge

I've joined the YA Romance Challenge.
April 1, 2010 - November 30, 2010


Behind the Scenes: Carrie Ryan

Today I reviewed The Dead-Tossed Waves. The follow-up to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Both books do have official book trailers which I'll share below!

Carrie's official website. Carrie's blog.

You might also be interested in reading my review with Carrie Ryan.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth:

The Dead-Tossed Waves:

Have you read either book? What did you think? Are you looking forward to The Dead-Tossed Waves? I'm always curious to hear what you think!

It's The End of the World Challenge

The books I read:

1. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
2. Ship Breaker. Paolo Bacigalupi.
3. Fever Crumb. Philip Reeve
4. Enclave by Kit Reed
5. The Line. Teri Hall.

You can sign up for the challenge (I'm hosting) at the sign-up post at Becky's Book Reviews.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Break Reading Challenge Activity #5

Today's activity for the Spring Break Reading Challenge is to talk about obstacles.

I think it's all a matter of balance. And there are times where I get a bit unbalanced I admit. But sometimes it is just a matter or priorities. And some things are more important than others! I don't regret for one second the time I spend with the people I love, the people I cherish. Yes, reading is fun and good. And blogging is a joy to me. But when it comes down to it. Relationships are more important! So I won't be listing those types of distractions as obstacles!

TV. I can get distracted by TV at times. Not all the time though.

Phineas & Ferb's Mix and Mingle

Phineas & Ferb's Squirrels in My Pants

Little Brothers

I sometimes watch All My Children. But I don't feel the need to watch it every single day. You can still keep up just by watching a few a week.

DVDs and Movies. I do get distracted (again in a good way mostly) with these. I love watching some of my favorite TV shows on DVD. Like Ally McBeal. Stargate SG-1. Star Trek Next Generation. Alias. And I love watching movies. Well, some movies at least! I love literary movies. The kind on Masterpiece Theatre. Austen adaptations are fun most of the time! Musicals. I love, love, love musicals. I also love older movies, classic movies. Cary Grant wows me, for example.

Internet. I definitely love blogging. And I spend some time doing really important, really necessary things online. Like email and blogging. But other times I wonder where my time went. How I could have spent two or three hours doing nothing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Key to a Good (And Uncontroversial) Cover?!

Perhaps I'm not the first to notice this new trend in book covers. But look what I did find...with only minimal effort. (Well, at least striped socks are getting a bit of a break.)

Time You Let Me In. Naomi Shihab Nye. 2010.

Lock and Key. Sarah Dessen. 2008.

Green. Laura Peyton Roberts. 2010.

Fetch. Laura Whitcomb. 2009.

Suite Scarlett. Maureen Johnson. 2009. (Paperback).

Scarlett Fever. Maureen Johnson. 2010.


Dark Secrets 1: Legacy of Lies/Don't Tell. Elizabeth Chandler. 2009.

Incarceron. Catherine Fisher. 2010. (US and UK)

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. Wendy Mass. 2008.

Split. Swati Avasthi. 2010.

Smudge's Mark. Claudia Osmond. 2010.

Tell Us We're Home by Marina Budhos. 2010.

Do you know of any I've missed?

Behind the Scenes: Tangled

I found this author interview with Carolyn Mackler for her new book, Tangled.

Spring Break Reading Challenge Activity #4

Today's activity is about blog design and widgets. Karin is wanting us to share what we'd like to be able to do on our blog.
  • Is there something you really want to create, but don't know how?
  • Would you like your blog design to be different?
  • What about organization? Is there something about the arrangement you want to change?
Just this past weekend I started playing around with the blog design of this blog, Behind The Scenes With Becky. I created a header. I changed the background. I added "recent posts" from each of my three "main" blogs to the sidebar. I've added my oh-so-pathetic follower widget as well.

Of course, this isn't my main blog at all. I have three "main" blogs: Becky's Book Reviews, Young Readers, and Operation Actually Read Bible. One of the main reasons I have three separate "main" blogs is because the content of each is different and specific. But content aside, I have three "main" blogs because I'm addicted to blog design. I couldn't imagine just having one to play around with. I enjoy making my own headers, making my own challenge buttons, choosing different backgrounds, using Color Palette Generators and Mosaic Makers somewhat addictively. And Blog Bulk. Well. That place is evil or awesome depending on your point of view :) And Our Blogger Templates is great as well.

Musing Mondays (March 15)

Musing Mondays2Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about picture books.

Do you have a favourite picture book, either from your own childhood, or reading to you children?

I have *so* many favorite picture books. Some are from my own childhood. Some are newly published! I'll just share a few from each category with you now! I'm trying to stick with books that pop right to mind. If I were to browse my blog, I'm sure I'd think of fifty that just *have* to be on my favorite and best list. (I DO review picture books regularly after all on Young Readers!)

Umbrella by Taro Yashima

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins

The Gorilla Did It by Barbara Shook Hazen.

Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler

Go To Bed, Monster! by Natasha Wing