Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA: Genre: Non-Fiction

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Non-fiction is our genre discussion for today.  I have read more non-fiction over the past few years and there are a few that stand out to me.  I had never really liked non-fiction until I picked up these books.  I always wanted to be transported to a different place when I read. The following books changed my mind...... 

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A Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah: It is an amazing story of his life as a soldier in the army during the war in Sierra Leone. The descriptions he gave of the death of people, the killings, and his escape play at all of your heart strings.

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

In reading the prologue to this book, I was hooked.
"Their bodies, burned by the sun and stained yellow from the raft dye, had winnowed down to skeletons. Sharks glided in lazy loops around them, dragging their backs along the rafts, waiting."
You can find my review HERE 

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WOW! What a story! This story follows Adam Brown from childhood through SEAL training to the Middle East. I laughed and I cried through this book.

These 3 are my top picks.  All 3 of them pull at your heart strings in more ways than one but they all leave with you with different perspectives on life.

Armchair BEA: Ethics and blogging.

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads.

Today we are discussing Ethics and blogging.  What exactly does that mean? 

In the blogging world, there are no specifically written laws as to what we are supposed to do or not supposed to do.  Yes, there are lists of things that are recommended that we do, but there is no way to enforce it.  There is a difference between illegal and unethical.   Many professions have their own set of rules to follow when it comes to ethics.  Lawyers, physicians and nurses all are governed by a licensing board. I, as a nurse, have a set of specific rules that I must follow in order to keep my license safe, both personally and professionally.  For example, I can have my license revoked by my state for being arrested while driving under the influence, just as quickly as it could be revoked by harming a patient. 

We as bloggers don’t have a license that is in jeopardy, but we can lose credibility with our readers if we don’t follow certain guidelines. 

  • ·         Always give credit where it is due.  If you use a photograph that you didn’t take, give credit to where you obtained it. If you use the words of another blogger, give them credit.
  • ·         Always be truthful. If you receive compensation for your reviews, tell your readers.
  • ·         Never plagiarize.  We all work hard on our blogs, don’t steal others work.  If you have to steal others work, then don’t blog.
  • ·         If you make a mistake, admit it. We are all human and humans make mistakes.
  • ·         Be courteous and fair.  We all have different opinions on things, just because you may not agree with someone, that’s ok. BE NICE! You can express your opinion, but BE NICE.

I have never had my content plagiarized, but I am well aware of what it is.  In graduate school, EVERY paper I wrote had to be submitted to a site that checked just for that.  If it came back to us at or above 10% we had to re-write it.  The 10% showed that at least 10% of our paper was identical to another paper.  Do you realize how hard it is to write a 50+ page paper to begin with? Much less re-write it?  Yeah, I’m very cautious. 

What are your thoughts??

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA: What is Literary Fiction?

It took me some time to decide about this.  What books do I include? What books do I leave out?  Many of the books I thought of immediately, I have previously mentioned in our Classics discussion. So I did some searching.  

According to Wikipedia, the definition of literary fiction is that the work must be “critically acclaimed” and “serious”.   The plot is focused more on the “inner stories of the characters that drive the plot”.

So…with that definition in mind, some of my favorites are

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:  I absolutely LOVED this book.  For any bibliophile, who wouldn’t love a story about “the cemetery of forgotten books”.  The writing is amazingly beautiful.  I won’t go into all the details, but will give you a few quotes:  

"Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader, than the first book that finds its way to his heart."

"Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you."

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."

 “One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.”

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill: What a story..A story of a girl that spans 60 years and who helps change history. All of the emotions that I went through with this book are, to me, a sign on a wonderful book. I cried with her, got angry with her, grieved with her and rejoiced with her. Her story was truly an adventure.

“I remember wondering, within a year or two of taking my first steps, why only men sat to drink tea and converse, and why women were always busy. I reasoned that men were weak and needed rest.” 

“But I have long loved the written word, and come to see in it the power of the sleeping lion. This is my name. This is who I am. This is how I got here. In the absence of an audience, I will write down my story so that it waits like a restful beast with lungs breathing and heart beating.” 

“Some say that I was once uncommonly beautiful, but I wouldn't wish beauty on any woman who has not her own freedom, and who chooses not the hands that claim her.” 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: Another story that is one of growing up in more ways than one. This story brought me through every emotion possible. Seeing things a child shouldn't see, living through things they shouldn't and being able to move forward with life is what this one is all about. 

“She said, 'I'm so afraid.' And I said, 'why?,' and she said, 'Because I'm so profoundly happy, Dr. Rasul. Happiness like this is frightening.' I asked her why and she said, 'They only let you be this happy if they're preparing to take something from you.” 

“...and every day I thank [God] that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.” 

“He knew I'd seen everything in that alley, that I'd stood there and done nothing. He knew that I'd betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time. ” 

There you go.......3 of my favorites.  The story lines in the last two are not for the weak at heart, but they make you think, make you feel, and that's what a great story is all about. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA: Genre Fiction

Today's genre focus is genre fiction.... What do you read? What do you stay away from at all costs?

I have to say that I read so many different genres.  I love historical fiction.  I LOVE anything to do with World War II, so many of the books I read are written during this time period.  WWII isn't the only time period I read though.  I love historical fiction in general.  I love being able to see how life was during different time periods, how people acted, how society saw things, and how over the years the world has changed in general.  I can read a book and think "in today's time, it wouldn't be like that".  Some of the stories make you think about what it would be like to live during those times, and others make you thankful that you didn't.

I also love mystery/thrillers/horror.  I love a good "scary story".  Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Joe Hill are just a few that come to mind right off.   I love scary movies, but they don't tend to scare me the way a book can.  In a movie, you can always tell when something is about to happen...scary music, standing in front of a picture window, running to the top floor of the house, and let's not forget running to the car and it won't start.  Now a book...... ahhh....the power of imagination!!!

Apocalyptic: this genre I haven't read much of, but I am tending to appreciate it more and more.  Some of the ones I have read made me sit back and think "that might actually happen" (The Road), while others are so very far out there but make a good story.

I'm not a big fan of romance novels.... the bodice ripper types.... if I'm reading a book and it has romance in it, it's fine.... but as for the all romance stories....not so much.

I have ventured out into different types of books I read.  There are still some genres that I don't list as my favorite or read on a regular basis, but I am willing to give them a try.  I gave myself a "100 page" rule.  I will read 100 pages and then decide if I will continue with it.  I figure that gives me some time to get hooked or not.  There are too many wonderful books waiting to be discovered to continue reading one that I don't like.

What are some of your favorites? 

Archair BEA: Blogger Development

Today we are talking about blogger development:  When I first started blogging, I was doing it just for me.  It was a way to keep up with reviews on books I had read in years past, to find new books, and to find others who loved to read.   I took some time off for various reasons and missed reading and blogging so much.

I have been trying to learn some of the basics of coding to tweak my blog from time to time, but I found Emily at Blogaholic Designs and she designed my blog for me.  Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorites and I think she did an amazing job, and it just adds to my love/addiction to the Phantom.

I expanded a bit and now have a Twitter and Facebook for my blog, which has allowed me to meet some great people. I still have my Goodreads (joined in 2007), and joined some book networks.  NetGalley has been great.  I need to continue to be more active there.   I love book challenges even though I fall behind on some of them. I like to participate in memes each week, even though I tend to miss certain ones or

I always try to be myself on my blog.  I try to write reviews that are honest and give the good and bad.  What may not be right for me, may be perfect for someone else.  Everyone has different preferences...variety is the spice of life, right?

So what have YOU done to develop yourself as a blogger??

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Archair BEA: Classic literature, what is it to you?

So today, we are talking about classic literature.  How do you define classic literature?  Is it the age of the book, the story itself, or something that you was  forced upon you by the literature Nazi instructor in high school?  Who decides which book becomes a classic?  If a book wins a literary award is it destined to become a classic? Most people define a classic as a work that pre-dates mid to early nineteenth century, or “has withstood the test of time”.  Some may view the classics as tedious, wordy, or stale.   I must admit that when given the list of “required reading” in high school, I wasn’t overjoyed.  I have never embraced being forced to do anything…much less having my selection of literary retreat chosen for me.   However, once I started the woeful reading list, I fell in love with the richness of some of the stories, hated others, but ultimately decided that the intrigue lured me to venture further into the treasures of literary classics.

My favorite of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is one of my “deserted on a secluded island” must haves…. Atticus Finch, the kind, gentle, and humble man with unwavering integrity,  the consequences of right and wrong, knowing things are not always as they seem, the innocence portrayed through the eyes of Scout, the mysterious Boo Radley,  and even the old oak tree with hidden treasures  are the special memories of this story that stay with me.  Atticus was my favorite character in the book, a representation of a man with unmatched morals and ethics, a rigid foundation of qualities that have diminished in today’s society.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy…..yet another of my must haves… is a literary classic that is not for the faint or weak, but then again, what Russian literature is?  I believe I read somewhere, depending on which edition you possess, that you can read a chapter a day and finish this in a year.  I have the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation and it comes in at a staggering 838 pages of splendid reading.  This story involves love, desire, hate, social ideals, happiness and tragedy all rolled in between the covers of the book.  Tolstoy wrote in such a descriptive way that you can “hear” the thoughts, “see” the facial expressions, “smell” the grass and flowers and “feel” the emotions of the 7 main characters. The reader must wonder if Tolstoy toiled with the characters paths, or was his intention to keep us spellbound with the constant twists of character development.  While reading this story, you wonder if Tolstoy himself can decide which way to go with the characters and do they come out written as he originally had them pictured in his mind.

The Count of MonteCristo by Alexandre Dumas……..this is one of those stories that you read and at the end of it, you are thinking “Well played, Edmond Dantes, well played”. Edmond Dantes is a character that you empathize with, cheer on, and fall in love with.  The story is full of intrigue, betrayal, and revenge.  At the end of the 1200+ page story you are left with a feeling that every now and then the good guy actually does win.  And on a sidebar…Never underestimate the person whom you betray!

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton…. Edith Wharton was a woman who wrote well ahead of her time.  This is a story that touches the heart in more ways than one.  Imagine seeing and wanting something that is always just out of grasp, knowing that it’s there, but you can’t quite touch it.  A quote: “It was the spirit of it….the spirit of the exquisite romantic pain.  The idea that the mere touching of a woman’s hand would suffice.  The idea that seeing her across the room would keep him alive for another year”  <sigh>

Sense &Sensibility by Jane Austen……I love Jane Austen and this is probably my favorite of hers. It’s a story of two sisters dealing with social ideals and money.  Austen gives the characters traits that make you see them in a different light throughout the story.   We quickly learn that “Prince Charming” isn’t necessarily so charming and “villains” are quite so villainous. The ideals of life and the perception of these ideals through innocent eyes graduate over time to reveal the trueness of what we seek.

If you are just starting out with the classics, out of my favorites I would have to recommend you start with To Kill a Mockingbird or Sense and Sensibility.  Both are wonderful reads and ease you into the first steps of a classic literature romance.  It's a love affair that will keep you coming back for more.