Saturday, December 18, 2010

Secret Santa 2010 and I am a Doofus

I know myself well enough to know that I would absolutely adore the Book Blogger Swap entire life I've given books as gifts...sometimes appreciated and sometimes not so much.
Since I'm 42 I've reached a point where I don't really care if I become the lady who always gives books.  My kids get books, my nieces and nephews get books, my kids' teachers get books...
if you're on my list, you're gonna get a book.
Whether you like it or not.

Anyhoo, the Christmas Book Bloggers swaps were right up my alley.
Give somebody some books and they are actually happy about it???
Whoo Hoo!!!

I spent a good bit of time going over both of my Santee's lists and then read a lot of their most recent blog postings and reviews to "get a feel" for who these ladies are.
I stewed over which books to give for several days.
I had copies of two books that were actually named by title on each Santee's list so those selections were easy.
But, then I wanted to match those titles with some ideas of my own.
One of my Santees is more of a YA reader, so with my firstborn's help we picked out a couple of other books to match the book that my YA Santee mentioned by name.
The other Santee is more of a Classics reader and enjoys historical books as well, specifically the Civil War era.  Along with the book she mentioned by title, I chose other selections for her including a lovely book I found with a story of Civil War soldiers during Christmas.
I was very proud of my selections.
I topped each Santee off with a lovely little handmade bar of soap that was made on a family farm right here in my little Mississippi town and a box of tea.  I didn't know if either of them enjoyed tea but I wanted them to have it.
They SHOULD have tea. :)
I wrote each Santee a little note to let them know who I was and the meaning behind each of the selections included in their packages.

I was so proud.

I loaded everything up in a box and took the box, carefully divided with each Santee's mailing information printed out and placed within the appropriate divided section to the post office.
The post office was swamped, but I found a little section and raided the packing materials set aside for those of us who don't keep that kind of stuff at home. 
I stewed over the size of shipping box almost as much as I stewed over the book selections.
After finally packing the items away and wrapping them in bubble wrap so they would not knock around as the postmen/postwomen toss them around (you know they do), I taped up my little packages.

Then, I wrote the wrong address on the wrong box.

I had no idea what I had done until my Classics Santee received her gift.  She posted about her gift and graciously posted about how wonderful her gift was.  
Awwwww...isn't she a sweetheart!! 
I know she had to be thinking that I did not pay the least bit of attention to her list or her blog.

It's official.
As she read my note, she was probably thinking I was schizophrenic or something.
I'm not schizophrenic, Svitlana; I'm a doofus!
Ph.D. and all.

Obviously I'm the only doofus involved in the Secret Santa Book Blogger Swaps because I received an incredible gift from my Secret Santa through Broke and Bookish's Secret Santa.
Take a look at the loot!!!

My  SS included a book I've wanted to read for some time now...The Book Thief...I literally squealed when I saw it!!
My SS knows how much The Kite Runner affected me so she included another little book about Afghan society and pens for my keychain because she knows I try to be organized but my children steal my stuff all the time.
She knows I cook...look at the cute little pot holder so that I won't burn my fingers baking Christmas cookies!!
And, she knows I'm a series reader and an animal series reader at that...I've never even heard of the little dog mystery series she's introduced me to...but I can't wait to give it a try!

And, last but not least, a little book journal.  More precious than gold...for all the books I've read, want to read, etc...reminds me of how some people make lists of all the wines they've enjoyed :)

My SS was Kristen from BookNAround and she's obviously a really nice person to take care to send a perfect stranger (me) such a personal gift.
Thank you sincerely, Kristen!!

My sincerest apologies to my Santees, Svitlana from Ovrelia's Notes in the Margin and Stephany from Stuck Between the Pages.  I'm sending each of you a special little package directly from Amazon (so that I can't mess up the addresses again) so that hopefully you'll forgive my doofusness :(

I'll do better next year, I promise!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop #5

I have been crazy busy and haven't hopped since November!!
And, boy have I missed it!!!

The hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books each and every Friday :)

Thanks, Jennifer!!

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!

This week's question:

"What do you consider most important in a story, the plot or the characters?"

My answer:

Wow! This question reminds me of the whole "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" discussion :)
Even the greatest plot with numb or unbelievable characters would not hold my attention...
On the other hand, I'm not sure even the characters I care about the most would make a good story unless a seamless plot held them all together?
I promise I'm not trying to NOT answer this question :)

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say the characters are more me.
I'm a series reader...I miss the characters while I'm waiting on the next installment. 
I actually don't really care what the next plot will be.
I just want my friends back.

In a book in which I don't know my characters yet, I'm not sure which would be more important...although I expect a healthy dose of plot + unforgettable characters = success = a good read.

Characters are what I care about most.

Yay!! Now it's time to go spend hours and hours reading other book bloggers' answers!!

C'mon, let's go!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two for the Dough - Book Review

In this 2nd installment of the Stephanie Plum series Stephanie finds herself chasing Kenny Mancuso and his small gang of thug friends who are running a smuggling ring under the cover of...get ready...caskets!  Even though Stephanie is still learning the ropes of being a bounty hunter, she takes on this case with the gusto of a professional and the determination of a woman who refuses to be told no.  Of course Joe Morelli is on the case as well...Mancuso is his cousin...on the "bad" side of the family.  But, Joe still owes some loyalty to Kenny, and for the good of the family would like to see Kenny make things right if possible.
Unfortunately, Kenny is not interested in making things a matter of fact before the chase is over, Kenny will try to make things as wrong as possible...especially where Stephanie and Grandma Mazur are concerned.  Kenny is not in the least bit happy that Stephanie is nosing around his business affairs and may have, in fact, meddled enough to cost him part of his profit.  Kenny "reaches out" to get Stephanie through Grandma Mazur...and brings out Stephanie's most ferocious side.
Stephanie and Joe's relationship heats up in this matters most of all to both of them and their commitment to those they love the most brings them together.  As rough around the edges as they both are, they both feel very deeply about the things that truly matter in life.

My Thoughts:
That Stephanie Plum!!! I love her!!!
She and Grandma Mazur...who absolutely cracked me up in this story!
Only Janet Evanovich can have you laughing out loud, give you the creepy shivers and have you rooting for the main character to consummate her tense relationship with another character...all at the same time!

What is usually an unenjoyable activity for must of us, visiting funeral homes and specifically going to viewings, is a social event for Grandma Mazur. Through hers and Stephanie's many visits to the funeral homes investigating the involvement of a shady funeral home director, the reader is shocked by cut off body parts (fingers and other male appendages), Gandma Mazur spilling a vase into a casket, and getting her scarf caught in a casket so that it "accidently" comes flying open...and yes, said caskets have bodies in them...just to name a few of the hilarious antics that take place as Stephanie puts this puzzle together.
As the story comes together, these visits get spookier and the last scene is just plain evil...*shivers*

My favorite scene, however, takes place with Morrelli standing on the side of the road in his shirt and socks bc of the wire he "forgot" to tell Stephanie about.

**Ahem, the following excerpt contains a couple of words that might be offensive to some...skip the excerpt if that's you ;) **

Morelli tried the passenger side door, but it was locked.  All the doors were locked, and they were going to stay that way.  He could freeze his stupid dick off for all I cared.  Serve him right.  I revved the engine and took off, leaving him standing in the middle of the street in his shirt and socks, with his woody hanging half-mast. p. 293

Tee Hee Hee!

I completely get this relationship...the mistakes you make when you're younger, but don't want to make when you're older routine...Stephanie and Joe have a colored past, and Stephanie is determined to keep the upper hand this time.  I have no idea how this relationship will play out at this point, but I know I'm rooting for Stephanie to "hold out" a little longer.

Can't wait for #3!!