Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ambitious Edition: Sea by Heidi R. Kling (@heidirkling)

Title: Sea
Author: Heidi R. Kling
ISBN: 0399251634
Release Date: 6.10.10

The Usual Questions:

Is this the first in a series?
I think this is a standalone.

What is the basic concept?
Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother's accidental disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen year old California girl Sienna "Sea" Jones reluctantly travels with her father's volunteer team to six months post-tsunami Indonesia. During her stay at the orphanage, she meets scarred and soulful Deni who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they can't be together, so why can't she stay away from him? And what about her old-best-friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why is her psychiatrist father so secretive about her mother's plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to the truth. And Sea's real adventure begins.

Is the cover art favorable?
It's good. I'll probably form more of an opinion about it when I read the book.

What are some of the author's other works?
This is her debut novel.

Check out Heidi's Blog
Follow Heidi on Twitter (@heidirkling)
Friend Heidi on Facebook
Friend Heidi on Goodreads

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You're The Expert: Who Would Make A Better Gallagher Girl?

In Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter, there is a line somewhere (that I can't find again!) that talks about how the GGs were debating who would make a better Gallagher Girl: Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars?

So, I'm curious, who would make a better Gallagher Girl (girl that goes to top secret spy CIA school)?

Buffy Summers?
or Veronica Mars?


Feel free to start a healthy debate.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Santa Letter ('cuz you know he reads IHM)

Dear Santa,

I haven't been naughty per se. I've been donating to charity and helping out my friends when I can. I've been painstakingly honest too. That's got to count for something, right? I know I probably should have spent more time cleaning house, but you know better than anyone how hard that is for me!

Anyway, if you deem me worthy enough to be on your NICE list this year, I have a few requests:

  1. Girl in the Arena by Lisa Haines (because of that awesome book trailer I can't stop watching)
  2. A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (because I hearted Beastly and this one has to be good!)
  3. Another Faust by Dina and Daniel Nayeri (because it sounds sooooo good)
  4. The Merlin Prophecy by Meg Cabot (because Avalon High in a graphic novel sounds divine)
  5. I <3 Macarons by Hisako Ogita (because... well, I heart macarons?)
  6. Hoopnotica: Hoop Dance Basics (because working out with a hula hoop sounds strangely appealing)
  7. Clarity by Jimmy Eat World (because I need it.  I NEED it.  I NEEEEEEED it. Please :o))
  8. A popcorn popper.  (not a big fancy schmancy one, but I'd like it to plug in.  pleeeeeeeeeeze)

I hope my list isn't too presumptuous based on my level of NICE this year...  
Good luck with keeping those elves reined in and those naughty malodorous reindeer too.  Oh, and I think you should surprise Mrs. Claus by calling up Heidi Klum and asking her to do a ProjRun special for updating Mrs. Claus's look.  I'm sure she'd love it. (And I could use the Brownie Points {Elven Points?} for suggesting it)

May the Season's Joy Be Upon You Always,

I Heart Monster

Book Inspection: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Plot Sketch: You'll probably want to skip this part if you haven't read The Hunger Games, but you can skip over to my inspection of that book if you haven't seen my whiny complaining about it yet. START: Finally starting to settle-in at the Victor's Village, six months have passed and Katniss and Peeta live three houses away from each other. There is no perpetuation of their romance, but no movement on a romance with Gale either. Katniss is determined never to marry and never to have children who may be primed for The Reaping. She continues to hunt and meet Gale every Sunday he's not coal-mining. One day she comes home and has a surprise visitor, President Snow. He basically tells her that she has to keep up appearances with the romance between she and Peeta, or everyone she loves, starting with Gale will be executed. So they head off on their Victory Tour, pretending to be "star crossed lovers" and incite rebellion in their wake. Unintentional, but still done, the Capitol retaliates by announcing the catch for the Quarter Quell (the special 25 year mark Games) which is that the tributes for this year's games will be gleaned from the pool of existing victors from each District. Guess what? That means Katniss is a shoe-in. She's going to the Games, again, and Peeta is too. So, this is the story of a second Games.

Verdict: I Heart It. Most of my detail-focused beefs were corrected in this volume. I think that where death is concerned and painted as such a certainty, the story should not be told from the first person, especially when you know there's at least one more book to come. The writing is adequate, but the plot itself in this installment was more captivating than the last for me which is what tipped the balance toward an I Heart It rating rather than a No Love one. I actually found myself caring about these characters, but shaking my head at their stupidity. It seems like from the first three chapters I had this book figured out as to how it should go and it followed the plot
I predicted almost exactly. If you liked the Hunger Games, I don't see how you could not like this sequel because it is definitely an improvement. Some call it a cliff-hanger, but I disagree. It's pause is at a natural break in the story and a great place that doesn't leave you wondering what actually happened in the book. You're filled in on the pertinent details, so you won't find yourself super disappointed that there's not more story right away. Eager for more? Sure, there's definitely more story to come. But I can wait until next year for sure.

The Gauntlet:

At what location does most of the story take place?
I guess it mostly takes place in The Capitol

What is the main character's name?
Katniss Everdeen

Does I Heart Monster like the main character?
She's as strong and capable as ever, but I wonder about her IQ... seriously, she's dense sometimes. I like her, but I want to slap her. Know what I mean?

How long did it take I Heart Monster to finish the book?
about eight hours

Did I Heart Monster get stuck at any points in the book? If so, why?

Is this a good read for Monster?
Yeah, if I can get him to read The Hunger Games (which I think he'll probably really like)

What, if anything, would I Heart Monster change to make the book more interesting?
I'd change the narrative. First person just doesn't work for this story.

What was I Heart Monster's favorite line?
It must be very fragile if a handful of berries can bring it down.

How many chapters were in the book?


Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1 edition
Publish Date: September 1, 2009
ISBN-10: 0439023491

Acquire It:


  • Galleysmith created these awesome buttons so that you can declare which team you're on... Gale or Peeta. I'm so totally Team Gale it's not even funny. Thanks for creating great buttons, Michelle (even though you are Team Peeta)! Follow her @galleysmith on Twitter.
  • Read some other reviews of Catching Fire at Steph Su Reads and My Favorite Author. All great book blogs by the way, so check them out if you have the chance.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Terms: o-r-o-t-u-n-d, orotund

orotund \OR-uh-tuhnd\ , adjective:
1. Characterized by fullness, clarity, strength, and smoothness of sound.
2. Pompous; bombastic.

I have been cursed to stalk the night through all eternity, he went on, his voice orotund, carrying all across the playground.
-- Michael Chabon, Werewolves in Their Youth

Just once he should resist citing Melville's orotund pronouncement that "genius, all over the world, stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round."
-- James Atlas, "The Great Reminiscer", New York Times, September 3, 1995

. . .a down-at-heel philosopher who no longer thinks but gabs, the bore at the dinner table, growing more self-absorbed and orotund and cynical with each glass of wine.
-- "Melting in Sri Lanka", New York Times, March 29, 1987

Orotund derives from Latin ore rotundo, "with a round mouth," hence "clear, loud," from os, oris, "the mouth" + rotundus, "round." It is related to oral.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giveaway: Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Guess what? It's my birthday! So, to celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway for Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters. I'm still reading this one, so you'll get my review in a bit, but I thought you guys might want to have a chance to win it. Here's how you enter, fill out the form below with your name, email, and that's it! No extra entries, it's straightforward and easy and everyone has the same chances of winning. Check out the book trailer below! Open worldwide. Ends 12/10.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Operative Factors: is a very easy to follow flow chart which you can use to figure out if you need an apostrophe, are using an apostrophe correctly or incorrectly, or to confirm that sneaking suspicion that someone else is.

I know how to use an apostrophe, and so do you, but sometimes it just doesn't look quite right and this is a great resource for those of us who second-guess ourselves, and our punctuation, especially when it's 2am and you have no idea why you're up writing a blog post.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ambitious Edition: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (@jkagawa)

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
ISBN: 0373210086
Release Date: 2.1.10

The Usual Questions:

Is this the first in a series?
This is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

What is the basic concept?


Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Is the cover art favorable?
Yes. I really love this cover.

What are some of the author's other works?
Thinking this is her first book.

Read an exerpt from The Iron King.
Preorder The Iron King from Amazon or Book Depository.
If you visit Julie's website, you'll hear the playlist for the book (I'm enjoying it right now actually), which includes everything from Kelly Clarkson to Nine Inch Nails to Taylor Swift.
Follow Julie on Twitter (@jkagawa)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You're The Expert: Used Books As Gifts

The holiday season is upon us my friends. With Black Friday less than a week away, I have some questions for you about your book gifting and receiving preferences! I personally don't mind receiving used books as gifts. I don't however, purchase a book, read it, and then pass it along as a gift. I kinda feel like that is cheating (not that it is, it's just the way I feel).

See, I have this wishlist that is all about books, and I usually make sure that my family knows that I don't need brand new books, so whatever they prefer to buy is fine with me. They also know that I'd like them to be in good condition - I don't want it to be all dog-eared and dirty. But tell me what you think. I am always intrigued by your answers ad expertise on matters such as these!
  • So, do you gift used books?
  • Do you mind receiving used books as gifts?
  • Do you have a preference to give/receive used but not new the other as gifts or vice versa?
  • Tell me your general take on gifting books.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy by Ally Carter [Book Inspection]

Plot Sketch: Cammie is at it again. This time, she's got a bigger problem than love on her hands... she's got to pass her CoveOps pop quiz. The Gallagher Girls are headed to Washington DC with a mission. Get to the Ruby Slippers without being tailed by a certain time. Do it. Now. She thinks she's accomplished the mission, but in reality, she's spilled all of her mission details to her tail, a cute boy in a baseball cap who offered to walk with her. This failure introduces you to the mysterious Zach, and offers up an important question to the girls. Could there indeed be a spy school for boys? They get back to the Academy and start doing spy work of their own to find out, and the rest of the story unfolds from there.

Verdict: I Heart It! Loved the first installment, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You even more than I hearted this one. There were some points in this book where I went, "C'mon now girls, I thought you were supposed to be spies. You're JUST NOW figuring this out?" But it's still a great book and it's still a fun read. I'd say it's got a bit of your typical second book awkwardness going on for it wherein the author tries to establish a potential for more stories while staying true to the world they've created in the first installment. I didn't giggle nearly as much as I did in the first one, but like I said before, it's still worth your time.

The Gauntlet:

At what location does most of the story take place?
Gallagher Academy

What is the main character's name?
Cammie Morgan

Does I Heart Monster like the main character?
Yes. She's quite likable.

How long did it take I Heart Monster to finish the book?
probably a lot longer than it should have - I read it during the Read-A-Thon. Around five hours I think.

Did I Heart Monster get stuck at any points in the book? If so, why?

Is this a good read for Monster?
Probably not. This is more girl power than he usually likes. (Not that he's like sexist or something)

What, if anything, would I Heart Monster change to make the book more interesting?
I'd move the first parts of the plot along faster.

What was I Heart Monster's favorite line?
"What is it, Gallagher Girl?" He asked, sliding his hands into his pockets. "No snappy comebacks? Nonexistent cat named Suzie got your tongue?"

How many chapters were in the book?


Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; Reprint edition
Publish Date: December 23, 2008
ISBN-10: 031602712X

Acquire It:

  • This book is the second in a series. The first is I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You and the third is Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover.
  • Check out Ally Carter's website for more info on these books.
  • Follow Ally on Twitter (@officiallyally).
  • There's even a Wikipedia entry about Ally.
  • The first book, I'd Tell You I Love You..., has been optioned for a film by Disney which IMDB lists as In Development for release in 2012.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Minimal Investment: Your Astrology Guide 2010

Your Astrology Guide 2010: Rick and Jeff's Tips for the Year
by Rick Levine & Jeff Jawer,
Authors of Your Astrology Guide 2010

March 21-April 19

Conscious Self-Restraint

It's imperative that you cut back your activities, for effective pruning allows new growth to flourish. But you may bump into deeply rooted resistances as you attempt to play a larger role on the stage of life. The contradiction now is that you are at your most brilliant and nothing can hold you back, yet paradoxically the walls of reality continue to close in. You cannot get away with shooting from the hip, even if you're confident of your aim. The full enterprising power of Aries is yours when you accept the limits of society that require more precision this year. Whether you like it or not, you must slow down to get what you want.

April 20-May 20

Look Outside the Box
Your potential to transform your life is incredible this year -- but your resistance to change is equally great. You don't have to tear apart what's working well or take crazy risks that are likely to fail. All you need to do is stretch your boundaries and allow alternative perspectives to hang around for a while to see if one might eventually fit. It's as if a strange visitor has arrived at your door -- so strange you'd prefer him to leave as soon as he arrives. But thanks to your kind heart, you let him stay the night . . . and end up discovering a close friend. Similarly, you will find happiness this year as long as you remain open to surprises.

May 21-June 20

Fear Not the Darkness
You can no longer be the champion of avoidance, Gemini, and that means you're playing in a whole new ball game. If others accuse you of being shallow, it's just because they don't understand how fast your mind works and how it jumps from one thought to the next. Now, However, something has changed, and it may at first seem scary. Instead of planning your escape routes, you are content, even eager, to search for hidden metaphysical wealth that was previously obscured from the light of consciousness. Overcoming your own resistance to fully feeling your emotions enables you to uncover buried treasure that can enrich your life for many years to come.

June 21-July 22

Aim for the Top
It's better to be ambitious this year and struggle in the pursuit of your goals than to passively respond to whatever life brings you. Even if you run into obstacles, meet them on a course of your own choosing. Taking charge and pushing forward -- sometimes awkwardly and sometimes with grace and confidence -- are the next steps to assuming a leadership role. Your power and passion grow when you have strong allies and adversaries. Seek out those with talents you admire so that you can learn from the best. Step outside your comfort zone; you'll discover that it's not foolish to take risks. There are enormous rewards when you invest in your own excellence.

July 23-August 22

Ask for Help
You expect great things from yourself, Leo, and you can work quite hard once you make a sincere commitment. This is why you must now think carefully about any promises you make -- to yourself or anyone else. There are powerful forces at play that can lure you into believing that anything is possible. It's true that this year brings great potential, but exhausting yourself trying to achieve the impossible dream is not a sensible strategy. Heed the counsel of wise friends and seasoned professionals before making any life-changing decisions.

August 23-September 22

Fearless Warrior
Challenges to the core truths you cling to can be a source of irritation and a cause of physical, mental, and emotional fatigue. The battles you face, though, are not with outside forces but within yourself. It's time to reexamine the ideas that have kept your life in order for years, but may be holding you back. What worked in the past won't necessarily be effective now. The desire to return to familiar places in your mind is understandable, but it's not likely to be productive. Certainly, you need times to retreat and take refuge in comfortable concepts. Catch your breath when you can, yet remember: You'll grow much stronger by moving ahead than by turning back.

September 23-October 22

Rise to the Challenge
Although relationships can offer you a newfound sense of freedom this year, they can also distract you from the discipline you need to organize your life. The decisions you must make this year are not easy ones. You may have to be ruthless when evaluating what and who should be cut out of your life, but pruning is absolutely required to ensure maximum growth. Your overall success during the coming years will be based on your ability to pay careful attention to your long-term goals rather than short-term successes.

October 23-November 21

Innocent Expression
Looking foolish is not your idea of a good time, but giving yourself permission to express yourself freely can be extremely rewarding now. Surrendering some self-control to reveal your emotion can feel risky, of course, but it's a great way to open your heart and enhance your creativity. Making mistakes is not the road to failure but the laboratory of invention. You can surprise yourself by discovering new talents when you put away the heavy hammer of self-criticism. Being honest while also being kind is a gift to yourself and those around you. If your explorations veer off course and threaten your stability, seek wise counsel. There are angels around you who look like ordinary people, yet will gently guide you back on track.

November 22-December 21

Be Here Now
There is so much work ahead as you strive to make the most of your future. Running out on previous commitments won't bring you happiness; delivering on your promises will. Try not to seek adventure in the same old dreams of world travel. This year, you can take an incredible journey of the mind without leaving home. Open yourself to new philosophies, learn about new technologies, and re-create your future by being more conscious in the present moment.

December 22-January 19

Field of Dreams
Your journey this year could be one of extremes as the most visionary planets -- Jupiter and Uranus -- light up your life with exciting new perceptions while the most conservative ones -- Saturn and Pluto -- keep stepping in to turn down the volume of your enthusiasm. You can avoid bouncing from high hopes to deep disappointment by giving yourself time to assimilate and consider your dreams. Slowly roll them over in your mind, do some research, and talk to those you trust to help you find ways to shape them into reality. Then commit to work with patience and persistence. Remember, conceiving a brilliant idea happens in an instant, but giving birth to success takes a lot longer.

January 20-February 18

The Joy of Sharing
The emotional heights will be higher this year and the descents lower, yet you must fully experience these peaks and valleys if you hope to find a middle ground between the opposing forces pushing and pulling on you. Although you cannot avoid the changes that continue to unfold, you're also blessed with an open mind that eagerly looks beyond the current difficulties. Don't waste too much energy resisting the inevitable. Instead, focus on the exhilaration you'll feel once you've overcome the obstacles and your life is heading in a new direction.

February 19-March 20

Go the Distance
The highs and lows you experience this year accentuate the contrast between your greatest hopes and darkest fears. Expansive Jupiter in your sign makes your life seem so big that even the smallest act can appear to take on enormous importance. You may be exhilarated by this wild ride at times, but in the end it can be exhausting and confusing to rise so quickly and fall so fast only to rise again. Moderating your reactions with a bit of philosophical detachment reminds you that the current drama is just one moment in a life rich with experiences that you've encountered before and will likely meet again.

The above is an excerpt from the book Your Astrology Guide 2010 by Rick Levine & Jeff Jawer. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2009 Rick Levine & Jeff Jawer, authors of Your Astrology Guide 2010, (Sterling, July 2009).

Author Bios
Highly-respected astrologers, sought-after consultants, and frequent lecturers, Rick Levine and Jeff Jawer have each written countless magazine articles, authored several books, and have been featured on radio and TV programs throughout the United States and Europe.

Rick Levine, co-author of Your Astrology Guide 2010, writes's daily horoscopes, which can be seen on and many other Web sites. He is the founding trustee of the Kepler College for Astrological Arts and Sciences, a four-year educational institution in Seattle, WA, where he lives.

Jeff Jawer, co-author of Your Astrology Guide 2010, writes weekly romance horoscopes for and and was a longtime columnist He is a co-founder of the Association for Astrological Networking and the United Astrology Congress. He lives in Redmond, WA.

For more information, please visit

Sound interesting to you? Why not give the whole book a whirl? It's available for purchase at Amazon and Book Depository, and would make a great Christmas gift!

P.S. Happy 2nd Birthday to A.H. and M.H. the coolest twins I know! I like being friends with you two!

We are thankful for digital cameras. They make keeping memories and sharing experiences so much easier than they were ten years ago. I heart snapshots, and I heart my photos, so I am super grateful for the digital camera.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our Terms: c-a-l-l-o-w, callow

callow \KAL-oh\ , adjective:
1. Immature; lacking adult perception, experience, or judgment.

Those who in later years did me harm I describe as I knew them then, and I beg any reader to remember that, although I was hardly callow, I was not yet wise in the ways of the world.
-- Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost

George Black Jr was grateful that during his protracted courtship of Betty, his future father-in-law 'bore my callow unsophistication with benign indulgence'.
-- Richard Siklos, Shades of Black

They watched in awe as Revere, at first a callow and unambitious youth, began to develop into a serious young man dedicated to books and devoted to his father.
-- Sherwin B. Nuland, "The Saint", New Republic, December 13, 1999

Callow is from Old English calu, "featherless, bald."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nonfiction Inspection: How To Be Famous by Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt

Title: How To Be Famous

Subtitle: Our Guide to -Looking the Part -Playing the Press and -Becoming a Tabloid Fixture
Authors: Heidi Montag & Spencer Pratt
Topic: Fame
Chapter Titles: Your Point of Entry, Spencer's Guide to Playing the Villain, Heidi's Guide to Playing the Bombshell, Pretty on the Outside!, The Paps are Your Friends, Tell Your Story, Couple Power!, Building Your Brand, Getting Word Done Is Your Job, By Heidi, Famously Ever After, Epilogue, In Case of Emergency
Format: Hardcover

Precis: How to be Famous is a guide to the formula used by Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag on how they got famous for... well... being famous. Their formula seems to mostly consist of walking a well-balanced line where you don't cross into taboodom, but you get as much overexposure and drama involving yourselves as possible. They talk about the Jennifer Garner method of trading up your partner. The Angelina Jolie method of getting the one you want. The beneficial parts of being a (please excuse my language) bitch and villain and backstabbing your way to the top are also mentioned. They talk about how the sum of two parts is greater than the whole and back it up with the formula Speidi > Spencer + Heidi. I mean, these guys should know, right? Because they are reality TV stars who made themselves one of the most photographed and talked about couples in Hollywood, so who better to teach you how to become famous than the people who became famous while not using any talents or accomplishing anything extraordinary. And just think, all this for less than the price of 5 US Weeklies.

Verdict: I Heart It. Read this like a guide to get famous, and you'll be sorely disappointed. Read this like the humor that its intended to be, and you'll laugh. I guess that if you really wanted to be famous (but by reading this it only reiterated to me that I do not, in fact) there are some tips that you could pick up along the way. There are about ten gazillion pictures in this little book, so the reading isn't heavy at all. It's just a matter of determining how much Speidi you can look at in one sitting that will determine when you will put it down. This would make a great gift for that social climber you know or that wannabe Hollywood starlet next door. Just sayin' since Christmas is around the corner.

Acquire It:

Changing Hands
Book Depository

Special Addendum:
I watched the first 5 episodes of the first season of the Hills as required by my pesky challenge set forth by Ella. This includes the episode in which Heidi crashes Lauren's Teen Vogue party and makes a really bad scene. You know, it wasn't total torture watching these, but I haven't gone back to finish Season 1 or even really thought about it unless I hear or read a story on the characters online. I'm glad that Ella made me watch a little, because now I at least have a pop culture reference to go to, but folks, this isn't quality television. Lauren (who Heidi refers to as the "good girl" in the book above, but strangely doesn't use names) is pretty annoying if you ask me. It's as if she thinks she's above interndom, but she's totally not. Heidi I found to be completely agonizing. I mean, landing an assistant job at an event planning firm is not easy to do. She doesn't realize how lucky she was there. But I guess if you have aspirations to become famous just for being famous, you don't really get the whole 9-5 thing, or the whole being proud of your work thing either. She kinda hit that point home in the book too. Now that she's famous, it's only about staying famous. So I guess in conclusion, The Hills is fine for reality TV, but a) I doubt that it was even reality TV, and have my strong suspicions that it's a semi-scripted show with everything lined up for the actors and actresses, and b) I don't really do reality TV 'cause most of it is totally lame (the exception being Project Runway of course) and this was no exception.

Challenge Status: 2 completed of the required 5. Check out my letter to Nick Cage on Ella's site (I guest blogged it for her).

I am grateful for celebrity gossip blogs. They always uplift me and make me feel happy that I am who I am and not what others think I should be.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Operative Factors: Zombie Bite Infection Calculator

It's just a little bit of harmless fun, but I daresay you'll find it amusing. The quiz asks you a series of twelve questions about you and your health and then give you your results. So, go take the quiz and find out how long you'll last before you're infected!

It's anonymous and it doesn't require account creation. It's powered by Oatmeal.

Hope you survive longer than I will...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ambitious Edition: Stupid Cupid by Rhonda Stapleton (@rhondastapleton)

Title: Stupid Cupid
Author: Rhonda Stapleton
ISBN: 1416974644
Release Date: 12.22.09

The Usual Questions:

Is this the first in a series?
Indeed it is. And the next two are to follow shortly, FLIRTING WITH DISASTER in March 2010 and PUCKER UP in May 2010.

What is the basic concept?

Felicity Walker believes in true love. That's why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid's Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn't just a matchmaker...she's a cupid! (There's more than one of them, you know.)

Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend Maya with three different boys at once, disaster strikes. Felicity needs to come up with a plan to set it all right, pronto, before she gets fired...and before Maya ends up with her heart split in three.

Is the cover art favorable?
Um? I don't heart the cover art. But I love love the title.

What are some of the author's other works?
I think this is her first published novel.

Preorder Stupid Cupid at Amazon or Book Depository.
Chapter One of STUPID CUPID.
Enter a
poetry contest to win a signed copy and gift cards.
Follow Rhonda on Twitter.

To see our other Ambitious Editions posts, click here.
I am thankful for the sun. Besides you know, making it possible for our planet to survive and all, it makes me happy. I love standing in the sunshine, and adore seeing rays of light peek through my window, except when it's over 110 degrees, then I don't heart it so much, but this time of year, I definitely love my sun.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Trip to Barnes & Noble

So I never get to Barnes & Noble. Like NEVER. I'm kinda a homebody and my UPS guy (Steve) and I see each other at least 3 times a week 'cause I'm a big fan of skipping out on shopping runs and just ordering things online. And when I do leave, it's usually to go to the grocery store, to hang out with friends, or to get out and hike. So, since I was meeting a friend in town for lunch today, I decided I'd stop by Barnes & Noble and pick up a book.
So I went in and headed straight for the bargain section, as is my usual instinct. Nothing piqued my interest there, even in the classics section, so I headed straight back to YA. I had seen my brother and he had asked me about the next book in the MORGANVILLE VAMPS series by Rachel Caine, so I was on a mission to find it.
FADE OUT was missing from the display of all of the other Morganville books, so I busted out the Blackberry (not just to take the wonderful picture you see here) to do a web search and confirmed that I was indeed not crazy and that the book had already been released. So, then I went around the Teens section searching for this book (btw, they need to make this section bigger), and finally found it tucked away on a bottom shelf. I also found a volume that contained the first and second books, GLASS HOUSES and THE DEAD GIRL'S DANCE (which would make a great gift methinks).
Since I'm there, I thought I'd take a look around to see if I could even find some books I've got on my shelves at home. It's a little game I like to play. It's dorky, I know, but I play it anyway. I found WILLOW on a
bottom shelf (shame!). I found HUSH, HUSH on the new releases shelf right next to SPHINX'S PRINCESS (which I presume is the next in the Nobody's Princess series, which I have yet to begin, but that book looks great if you judge it by its cover) and GIRL IN THE AREA which I really really want to read, and hope someone gets me for either my birthday or Christmas (hint, hint). I took a couple of snaps of the New Releases section so that you could see. MERIDIAN was right smack in the middle of them and I was happy to see it there.

Then, with no PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS in sight, I headed over to the Happy Holidays for Teens table in search of it. I was delighted to see EYES LIKE STARS in a prominent position on this display table because I only found one copy on the regular shelves.
But, still no PROPHECY, so I walked around to the other side of the table. There I saw BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (which I am in the middle of right now) on the bottom, underneath the table.
So I took my Word Ninja duties seriously and boosted them up onto an empty slot on top of the table, *whoosh*. Yeah, it was like that.
I hope you enjoyed this little recap of my trip to Barnes & Noble. I ended up just purchasing a copy of FADE OUT by Rachel Caine because my little brother (who's 24) really wants to read it. I have copies of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and HUSH, HUSH at home waiting to be read. I've read and reviewed WILLOW, PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS, EYES LIKE STARS, MERIDIAN and CARPE CORPUS of the books mentioned above, and linked to them in their names in this sentence if you're curious. I shouldn't buy any more books though because my birthday is coming in a couple of weeks and I don't want to spoil the integrity of my wishlist!

You're The Expert: Library Boogers

Maybe it's the town I live in. Maybe it's just my luck. Maybe I'm a snob. You tell me, but it seems like every time I get a library book, there's at least one page with a dried booger on it.

  • Does this ever happen to you?
  • Would it bother you if it did?
  • What would you do if you were put in this situation?
  • Ever be the one to leave a booger? I ask 'cause I'm curious why people would do it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

To Write Love On Her Arms Day 2009

Miss Ella Press invited me to this event on Facebook, and I thought it would be great to share it all with you today. Go ahead, get your markers out and write some words of love and encouragement on your arms to help those who are depressed see that our world is full of love and encouragement, not hate and loathing as so many major media outlets would have us believe.

Interested? Read more from the event's profile:

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

To Write Love On Her Arms Day is a day where anyone can write the words love on their arms, to support those who are fighting against depression and those who are trying to stop cutting.

Now its quite simple to help out, as twloha is a non profit organization, so the simple words of "LOVE" on your arms, can already benefit and raise awareness, as your friends will ask why do you have love written on your arms, and you would tell them its twloha day, and how writing love on your arms is actually helping a cause.
I'm going to write on my arms today (in washable marker) and I hope you will too. Spread the love my friends, spread the love. It won't cost you anything, so why not join in this global support day? Go get your pen or marker. Do it now.

Check out this video made by xcrashgirlx from To Write Love On Her Arms Day 2008... it's inspiring and shows a great example. Thanks for making it, xcrashgirlx.

Check out these websites for more information and more ways to help:

I am thankful for Superstition Ranch Market. They have the cheapest produce I've seen, even cheaper than Mexico and that's saying a lot. I frequent you, Ranch Market, because I heart you, and your 4 cantaloupe for a dollar, and three cartons of strawberries for a dollar, and four heads of lettuce for a dollar. You make me smile. Except when you run out of strawberries and I have to pay full price.

Book Inspection: The Devouring by Simon Holt

Plot Sketch: Reggie (her proper name is Regina) and her best friend Aaron are obsessed with Horror. Reggie works at the local bookstore, where she gets to see the books that come through before they go on the shelves. This awesome old journal comes through which peaks her interest. She reads her little brother Henry horror bedtime stories, but he's a good sport about it. That is, until she reads to him out of the journal about the Vours... spirits that will possess you by feeding on your fear and then Henry is consumed by one on Sorry Night (Dec 22). Reggie and Aaron research and set out on a quest to find out if there is any way to save her little brother from the dark Vour that now inhabits him.

Verdict: I Heart It! One word: chilling. Expertly told, this intriguing page turner is a can't miss. Though it is part of a series, it stands alone and does not leave you on a cliff. I had no issues with language or content. I did not have nightmares. I read this as part of the read-a-thon, and really enjoyed it. I kind of wish I would have read it when it was dark out. Want to be more chilled? Read this December 21st. Trust me.

The Gauntlet:

At what location does most of the story take place?
the small town of Cutter's Wedge

What is the main character's name?
Regina "Reggie" Halloway

Does I Heart Monster like the main character?
I love her. She's a great character.

How long did it take I Heart Monster to finish the book?
five hours, i think.

Did I Heart Monster get stuck at any points in the book? If so, why?

Is this a good read for Monster?
Yes, and I told him to read it. But he hasn't yet.

What, if anything, would I Heart Monster change to make the book more interesting?
Nuffin, muffin.

What was I Heart Monster's favorite line?
When dark creeps in and eats the night, Bury your fears on Sorry Night.

How many chapters were in the book?


Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publiish Date: September 1, 2008
ISBN-10: 031602712X

Acquire It:


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Inspection: The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

Plot Sketch: Natalie Hargrove rules Palmetto High. She's the senior girl. What she thinks matters and what she does sets trends. She dates Mike King. She puts people in their places, both socially and verbally with her debate skills. She is a shoe-in for Palmetto Princess. Only thing is, people don't know about her past and what she was before she started as a Freshman at Palmetto. When Palmetto Prince contender J.B. has some unfortunate events happen to him, it's Natalie's past that comes in to play, Natalie's past that drives her actions. Ultimately, is it Natalie's past that determines her fate? Who betrays Natalie Hargrove? Read to find out.

Verdict: I Heart It! I have to say that the ending of this book cinched it for me. Starting out, you think Natalie a shallow, self-centered gold-digger like her mother, but as you go on, Kate does a good job of showing us why Nat acts the way she does. Her backstory comes in to play and a little reflection after finishing the book goes a long way to understanding and appreciating the story. It was unexpected, and well done. It's not uplifting, but it is thought provoking. Parental warnings: SEX!, Drugs, and homicidal themes all occur in this novel, so you'll want to screen it first to make sure it's appropriate for your teen. I don't know much about Southern culture, so I don't know if Kate's cultural references are valid or not, but I can vouch for her geographical references. I was especially impressed with some of her flora references and the accuracy thereof (e.g., venus fly trap native range).

The Gauntlet:

At what location does most of the story take place?
Palmetto, SC (which is fictional, I looked it up)

What is the main character's name?
Natalie Hargrove

Does I Heart Monster like the main character?
After finishing, I appreciate her, but I still do not like her.

How long did it take I Heart Monster to finish the book?
five hours with interruptions of course

Did I Heart Monster get stuck at any points in the book? If so, why?

Is this a good read for Monster?

What, if anything, would I Heart Monster change to make the book more interesting?
I think it's good the way it is.

What was I Heart Monster's favorite line?
"And deadlier than a snake."

How many chapters were in the book?
20 plus a very well done epilogue


Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: November 12, 2009 (TODAY!!)
ISBN-10: 1595142657

Acquire It:

Note: This review is based on an ARC received from Razorbill. Thanks Razorbill.
I am thankful for Blackberry. Thank you for making my whole life fit into a little handheld pink box. You rock.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You, United States Armed Forces Veterans, We Heart You

Here in the United States, today and every November 11th is Veterans' Day.  Some may have noticed the yellow ribbon on the I Heart Monster logo.  It's always there, not just on November 11.  It's there because I appreciate those who serve my country, who risk their lives to protect my freedom.  It's there because I want those in the armed services and their families to know that I am grateful for what they sacrifice to ensure my safety and that of my family and to preserve my American way of life and values.  It's there because I am grateful to all of those who have served in wars both recognized and unrecognized, foreign, domestic, secret, unpopular, popular and those who served in "peace" time by giving service to those in need, all because they loved this country and what it stands for.  It's there because I am grateful for patriots that against all odds fought off organized military and won our Independence.  It's there because I am grateful for my freedoms and because I am grateful for the defense of my Constitution.  It's there because I think of them not just today, but every day.

But today is the day that our country has set aside to honor them, so today is the day that I devote a post to them and their families.  To those who serve, have served, and died serving this country, thank you.  I may not always agree with the politics of war, but I believe in you.  I heart you.  I pray for you.  I think about you.  I appreciate you.  Thank you. Sincerely. Thank you for serving.  It's noble and great and heroic.  You totally rock, all of you. Literal tears of gratitude stream down my face as I write this, and that's saying a lot because I just don't cry.

Our Terms: i-r-r-e-f-r-a-g-a-b-l-e, irrefragable

irrefragable \ih-REF-ruh-guh-buhl\ , adjective:
1. Impossible to refute; incontestable; undeniable; as, an irrefragable argument; irrefragable evidence.

I had the most irrefragable evidence of the absolute truth and soundness of the principle upon which my invention was based.
-- Sir Henry Bessemer, Autobiography

On June 4, the Citizen featured an interview with the Joneses' lawyer, R. S. Newcombe, who insisted that at the pending manslaughter trial he would bring "positive, absolute, irrefragable proof from . . . the most eminent scientists in the world" to show that both the Bates and Hunt operations were necessary and that no surgeon could have saved their lives.
-- Regina Morantz-Sanchez, Conduct Unbecoming a Woman

Irrefragable derives from Late Latin irrefragabilis, from Latin in-, "not" + refragari, "to oppose."

I am thankful for topical anti-itch creams. Not only are they great for if you accidentally encounter a plant you're allergic to (or one you really meant to avoid {see above}) while in the wild, they're great for bug bites too, which I seem to attract.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cookbook Inspection (+ GIVEAWAY!): Chocolate: A Love Story by Max Brenner

Number of Recipes: 65

The Story: At first impression, this cookbook makes me squee with delight. The artwork would fit in with my dream kitchen with the sixties orange, green, and yellow and brown. The pop art would make me happy. All of the recipes sound divine and are all inspired by a girl's favorite ingredient, chocolate. But, while flipping through with my friend T, looking for a recipe to try, we quickly became disillusioned for several reasons. First, the art is great, but a lot of the pieces do not give you a feel for what you're actually making. I won't pretend to think that what I make will come out looking like what it looks like in a cookbook, but it'd be nice to have something to shoot for. Second, we'd find a recipe that sounded great and then realize that it either had exotic ingredients that we couldn't get at the store, or it has ingredients that are cost-prohibitive. Once we settled on a recipe, bought all the ingredients (see below for the bill) and started to get ready to make it, we realized that we didn't have time. There were at least three hours involved and
we hadn't planned on that much time for the recipe, so we had to postpone making our dessert
until the next week, which meant that the fresh ingredients would have to be repurchased because our strawberries would not have made it another day let alone another week. I wanted to try a recipe as-is from the book for this review, but in the future, I will utilize this book by making common sense, budget satisfying substitutions and I'll shortcut on the times.

Recipe Tried: A therapeutic chocolate pot pie (page 56)
Total time: 3 hours, 6 minutes

Cheque Please:

Flour, Sugar, Eggs, Cream Cheese, Vanilla, Parchment Paper, Plastic Wrap: on hand
Unsalted Butter: $3.98 for 2 lb. (8 sticks)
Cocoa Powder: $2.99 for standard sized container
Hazelnuts: $4.33 for 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
Heavy Cream: $1.99
White Chocolate: $6
Lemon: 50 cents
Fresh Strawberries: $1.50+3.99

Cash, Credit, or Debit Total: $25.28 +tax (take into consideration how much these things would be at your store)

Watch the process in this slideshow:
(Thank you T, for all of the pics and for your mad baking skillz and help with this)

Yum Factor: Heart It. The pot pie was yum-e, but I don't think I'll be making one again any time soon.
Salivary Factor: Heart It. All of the recipes sound yum-e.
Cost Factor: No Love. Most of the recipes cost way too much.
Practicality Factor: No Love. Sorry, I'm not taking 5 hours to make a milkshake.
Pretty Factor: Heart It. The art is gorgeous. It's just not helpful.

Who I'd Buy This Cookbook For: Single, foodie-type friends, or married childless couples who like to try their hand at gourmet.
Who I'd Discourage From Buying: Families or stay-at-home moms, or people who pinch their pennies, people who don't like chocolate.

Final Verdict: This pot pie was anything but therapeutic! This is a great guide for ideas, but you'll probably end up modifying the recipes to fit your tastes, availability and budget.

Sound like fun? Hachette provided this to me for review, and sent me an extra copy on accident. Enter your info into the form below to get your chance to win this cookbook. I bet you'd find someone to give it to for Christmas, or a place for it in your personal collection! Entries must be received by 11:59PM (MST) on November 22nd, 2009 and must be submitted into this form. Unlike most of my giveaways, this one unfortunately is only open to US residents because it is big and heavy and I don't think I can afford to ship it internationally.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Operative Factors: Supernatural Collective Nouns by David Malki at Wondermark

Have you ever wondered how to describe a group of supernaturals?  Fear no more.  David Malki at Wondermark has provided a guide. It's fun and fresh and I hope you get a giggle like I did.

Reminder! Vampire Taxonomy Contest Ends Tomorrow

You'll want to get your hands on this funny ID guide for vamps you may encounter on your walk in the woods or down the block. Read my Inspection, and if you forgot, enter your info into the form below so that you can enter to win one of 2 copies of this great book. Even if it's not for you, I'm sure you could find someone to give it to as a gift this upcoming holiday season!

I am grateful for my refrigerator. I've never known life without one, and really don't think I'd want to... especially not here in Arizona.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ambitious Edition: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Title: Forgive My Fins
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
ISBN: 0061914657
Release Date: 06.01.10

The Usual Questions:

Is this the first in a series?
I'm not sure. I emailed to ask, but have not heard back. Update: This is the first of at least 2 in the series... Tera emailed and said that she just turned in the manuscript for the second.

What is the basic concept?

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Is the cover art favorable?
Definitely. I heart it.

What are some of the author's other works?
She's the author of Oh. My. Gods. (which I loved) and Goddess Bootcamp (which is on my list to acquire)

Preorder Forgive My Fins

To see our other Ambitious Editions posts, click here.

We are thankful for 24-hour Walgreens who are open when you need flu and cough medicine in the middle of the night. Thank you Walgreens for being open when we need you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

You're The Expert: Favorite YA Chick Lit Book

Here goes.

Pretend that there is a major award ceremony coming up and you get to choose the Best YA Chick Lit Book of all time. What title would you pick and why?

Things to consider when making your selection:
  • How memorable was it?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • How easily did you put it down?
  • How much did you think about it after you were through with it?
  • How many times have you recommended it?
We are thankful for our families. Without our families, we wouldn't have had the support we needed growing up, and we wouldn't have the support it's nice to have now. We love our families and appreciate all that they sacrifice to make our lives easier and a little better than they were before.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Inspection: Wake by Lisa McMann

Plot Sketch: Janie doesn't fit in at school. She lives on the wrong side of town for that. She also has this problem. Any time someone falls asleep in the same room as she does, she gets pulled into their dreams. She maintains her consciousness to a certain degree, but is physically incapacitated for the most part. Her mom is a no-good welfare-collecting alcoholic and Janie fends for herself most of the time. She makes friends with the girl who moves in next door, and through a series of certain events that leads her to befriending Cabel Strumheller. Cabel is also from the wrong side of town. This is the story of Janie and Cabel and how they learn to overcome not only adversity, but their own dreams.

Verdict: I Heart It!! I ordered this book used a while ago because I read a raving review of it. Shortly after it arrived in the mail, I read three consecutive negative reviews. I thought to myself, "Eh, oh well," and kind of wrote off the book and let it sit. Then when I was making my list of short-ish books to choose from for the Read-A-Thon, I saw it on the shelf and threw it in the pile. Then you guys voted it one of the tops for me to read. I read it first and flew threw it. It was a great book! And now I feel foolish for basing my reading list on others' interpretations so heavily in this case. I just preordered the paperback sequel called FADE, because I can't wait to read more, but I like to keep my series in the same format (hard- or paper- backed). McMann does a great job with the book. Her characters are believable. Her context is believable. When I was looking for a 'yeah right' moment, it let me down. Great quick read and I highly recommend.

The Gauntlet:

At what location does most of the story take place?
Deductively, Michigan(It only takes 5 hours to get to Stratford, Canada, it snows a lot, and there's a U of M) though it never said that from what I can find or remember.

What is the main character's name?
Janie Hannagan

Does I Heart Monster like the main character?
Yes, very much. I root for her constantly. I like that she has no sense of entitlement, only a great work ethic.

How long did it take I Heart Monster to finish the book?
three hours

Did I Heart Monster get stuck at any points in the book? If so, why?
Nope. I flew through it. (It's short)

Is this a good read for Monster?
I think he might like it... it's definitely one that guys shouldn't mind reading.

What, if anything, would I Heart Monster change to make the book more interesting?
I might like to see less crying, but I get why they do.

What was I Heart Monster's favorite line?
She finds Snickers bars in the strangest places.
(She knows they're from him.)
(She wonders if they're laced with pot.)

How many chapters were in the book?
9. But they're broken up by dates and times chronologically.


Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: March 4, 2008
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416953574

Acquire It:

  • Check out
  • According to Amazon, she lives in the Phoenix area. (awesome!)
  • Watch the trailer:
We are thankful for random acts of kindness. It's always nice to have someone you don't know hand you a coupon in the grocery store that saves you a buck, or someone braking in the lane next to you to let you over because you didn't plan well. We're grateful to all the people who pay attention to the little things that they can do to ease someone else's burden because it's helped us a time or two when we were in dire need