Friday, September 30, 2011

Teen ARC Giveaway + Handmade 'Vintagey' Jewelry

**Congratulations Aurora Celeste and MollysMuses for winning this Teen ARC Giveway!!**

Since this will probably be my last giveaway of the year I thought I would make it a little more special with the help of some jewelry made by moi.  :)  Two lucky winners will receive one of the following sets of books + an adjustable ring from my Etsy Shop, RIPE .  The first set includes Web of Air by Philip Reeve (Hardcover publication October 1, 2011) and iBoy by Kevin Brooks (Hardcover publication November 1, 2011).  The second set features Steampunk!: An anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (Hardcover publication October 11, 2011) and Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Hardcover publication November 1, 2011). 


Fill out the form below to enter, and if you are so inclined:

These additional actions will provide extra entries, but are completely optional. Winners will be picked at random, and entries are valid only for United States residents. The deadline for this giveaway is October 13th, 2011 at 11:59pm (PST).  Winner will be announced right here on this post on October 21st.  Good luck!! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Please, Judge the Book by Its Cover

1950 edition of 1984 by George Orwell
(Published by Signet Books, New York)
In this case I say do judge the book by its cover since I'm taking a look at some vintage book covers.  These are all classic books published at least 40 or more years ago, and I was curious to see the early renditions of their book covers compared to the book covers you might find today if you purchased the book online or at a book store. 

Starting with The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (published 1951)
Early cover and the cover most widely available today:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (published 1925)
Early cover and a more contemporary cover:
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (published 1936)
Early cover and a more contemporary cover:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (published 1963)
Early cover and a more contemporary cover:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (published 1960)
Early cover and a more contemporary cover
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (published 1962)
Early cover and a more contemporary cover:
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (published 1967)
First cover and a more contemporary cover:
Also, check out these limited edition posters inspired by classic book covers:

All images of book covers from

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Look Back: 1948

Cheering fans at University of California Sporting Event
 Photo by Ralph Crane from the LIFE Photo Archive
I'm going to presume that the photograph from above is from a UC football game (I'd like to say as a UCLA alum, that is is a Bruin showdown, but I can't be certain).  This time around I'm taking a looksie at 1948 and it seemed fitting to include a quasi football related photograph since the season is now invading homes across the country on Sundays and Monday nights (well I know it is at my house).  63 years ago the post-war boom was in full swing with the first pre-fabricated homes being built in the U.S. and Europe as well as a rising popularity in bikinis (I don't know, bikinis + plus more homes, I'd say this could explain the baby boom).  Here are some other tidbits of events that took place in 1948.
  • Mohandas Karamchan Gandhi is assassinated.
  • The International Planned Parenthood Federation is founded by Margaret Sanger.
  • BeBe Shopp from Minnesota is crowned Miss America. She is the first contestant to be crowned in an evening gown since the pageant was reinstated in 1935. (Don't you just love her name?).
  • Babe Ruth passes away.
  • 1948 is a leap year.
  • A gallon of gas costs 16 cents and a movie ticket costs 60 cents.
  • Porsche and NASCAR are founded.
  • The board game Scrabble is first introduced.
  • Ozzy Osbourne, Donna Summer, Johnny Ramone, and Samuel L. Jackson are born.
  • The first color newsreel is shown by Warner Bros.  The news: The Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl game.
  • The first I-Spy books debut.
  • Pillsbury introduces the first chocolate cake mix and the most popular things to watch on television are wrestling and boxing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Random House, 2009; 309 pages; ISBN  1400067111
My Goodreads Rating: 1 star
This was my second try at a Lisa See book and mostly I took it on because I was convinced that I was in the wrong when it came to her books.  I had previously read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and was very underwhelmed by it.  I couldn't understand why everyone clamored over her books at the library, why she had such high ratings on Goodreads and why her books are now even getting made into movies but yet I remained disenchanted? So with Shanghai Girls I was really hoping to switch to the other side of things (the other side being the majority of Lisa See's readers).  Alas, again I was left feeling dissatisfied, irritated, and ultimately bored.  The author's writing in my opinion is unimpressive and many times repetitive.  I just felt like it was dragging and dragging along.  Much of the dialogue is unnatural sounding and there are redundant descriptions galore that don't do anything to evolve the characters or the plot.  See tirelessly describes cheongsams, the characteristics of the Chinese Zodiac animals, and many typical Chinese foods, but these don't do anything to help with the characterizations of Pearl and May or their families.  I felt like the opportunity to tell an exciting saga was missed because the author felt it necessary to only focus on certain aspects of her characters, so everyone comes off as one-sided.  Pearl feels a responsibility towards her younger sister and her filial duties. She makes one bad decision after another and never once has the guts or the courage to change her destiny.  May is a bit more interesting and my favorite of the two, but even she comes off as selfish and what could have been a great fiery spirit only burns as a weak flame.  In the beginning of the story the two girls are described as forward thinkers in a cosmopolitan Shanghai.  They are non-traditionalist women and they dream of bigger and better things than being married off and living as obedient housewives like their mother.  But the second world war rages through China and their dreams are dashed.  After some great tragedies the sisters find themselves in America, but they stay tied to an insensitive, miserly old man whose main concern is having sons and ancestors that will worship him in the after life, but all of his sons except one are paper sons.  Pearl and May are roped into this situation and the entire time I was just waiting for them to somehow escape this life.  That would have been exciting.  But alas we are left with a pretty hum drum story of life in old Chinatown and new Chinatown and even newer Chinatown, Los Angeles.  Like I said - boring.  I have to mention that I listened to the audio version of the novel and I was also not pleased with the narrator.  She made no real effort to differentiate her voice in between characters and even she sounded bored as she read the text.  I only continued listening to find out about Joy, which I should mention is the center of See's new novel Dreams of Joy.  Hopefully this one is a lot more exciting, but I'm definitely not going to find out.  No more Lisa See for me.

Photo: From website

Friday, September 2, 2011

Read a Book, Sip a Cocktail No. 9

Photo from
For this month's pairing I chose Rebecca (a book I reviewed last year) by Daphne Du Maurier.  I'm going with another classic drink, the Dark and Stormy, mainly because that is exactly what this novel evokes.  A dark and stormy night at the Manderley estate, with flashes of lightning dancing on the surface of Rebecca de Winter's portrait and old Mrs. Danvers creeping along a dark corridor, silently and ominously.  Creepy.  I'm keeping this drink as is, with no variations on ingredients.  Now, the type of ginger beer you use will probably affect the taste, but the point of these cocktails and book pairings is to have fun, so I'm not sweating the small stuff.  I used Buderim Ginger beer from Australia and Myers's Jamaican rum.  With the addition of the fresh lime this drink is definitely refreshing.  The ginger gives it a great spicy bite and the rum is both smooth and strong.  Use lots of ice and you don't have to stir it up (like Bob Marley would say, pun intended), you can just drink it after you layer all of the ingredients.  I'd say this is the perfect drink to enjoy while the summer is winding down and we start thinking about Fall.

Dark and Stormy
2 oz. Dark rum*
4 oz. Ginger beer
Lime wedge
How to:  In a highball glass filled with lots of ice, pour the dark rum and then the ginger beer.  Finish by squeezing the lime wedge over the drink, then dropping it in. *To make a "real" Dark and Stormy you should only be using Gosling's Black Seal Rum because they own the registered trademark of the 'Dark 'n' Stormy' name, but you can substitute with Jamaican rum, such as Myers's Rum, which is a lot easier to find (unless you go to Bevmo, which I've mentioned before is the best store in the world for us cocktail aficionados, and they also have a great selection of ginger beer).