Month: July 2009

Last night my husband and I were having a discussion about the integrity and credibility of blogs, which turned into a discussion on editing. Hubby told me something I\’d never considered before: if you edit your blog post after it\’s been published, some readers consider that a serious breach of etiquette. Well, I\’m guilty. Many, many times I have noticed when glancing back over my own blog, that some little typo got missed, or even an awkward sentence, and I\’ll go back and change it. Hubby says the proper way to do this (if you do it at all) is strikethrough your error, and write the correction next to it. I didn\’t know. Do you ever edit your posts after hitting \”publish\”? Do you use strikethroughs, or just make the correction quietly? Do you feel it mars a blog\’s integrity if they tidy up words tardily? I know I\’m going to be far more careful in my own proofreading now, and do my best to avoid editing after I publish. I usually spend less than an hour preparing a post, and sometimes rush through it if the kid is tugging on my arm, and I\’ve already got in mind what I want to say- but then looking back later find it\’s not as clean or precise as I\’d like… Perhaps I just need to find more quiet times of day to do my blogging in. Here\’s hoping I don\’t loose any readers for making this confession…

the Secret Life
by Valmik Thapar

This excellent book about tigers in India follows the lives of three tigresses and their families, from the birth of the cubs through all stages of their development until they are fully grown and independent. Tigers: the Secret Life is full of fascinating and detailed information about tiger habitat, their hunting methods, impact on other wildlife, interactions with local villagers, and especially the daily habits and intimate social life of the great striped cats. In the course of his studies, Thapar discovered not only new info on how tigresses teach their young, but that male tigers can co-exist peacefully with the cubs and share in family duties. The book is written in an easy, storytelling style that makes it a pleasure to read, and the photographs are absolutely stunning. I am fairly certain that my copy of Tigers: A Secret Life is the same book as The Secret Life of Tigers, which is the more current edition. I think I prefer my older book, though, as listing details tell me that the newer edition has twenty photographs illustrating its pages, whereas my copy has photos on nearly every page, and they are so beautiful I wouldn\’t want to make do with less!

Rating: 4/5               160 pages, 1989

More opinions at:
Scholars Without Boarders
anyone else?

The winner of the horse bookmark is Lisette! Send your address to jeanenevarez AT gmail DOT com and I\’ll mail it to you today.
win two free mountain lion, cougar bookmark
Next up is this pair of cougar bookmarks. Double sided, edged with gold and silver ribbon. If you\’d like to enter to win, just leave a comment before tuesday, 8/4.

by Jane Yolen

In this fourth volume of Jane Yolen\’s Pit Dragon Series, Jakkin and Akki have returned from the mountains to find many things changed. During their absence, the bondage system was annulled worldwide, and an embargo was placed on their planet, isolating it from offworld supplies. While Jakkin finds himself caught up in confusion at the dragon nursery, seeing new faces among familiar ones, finding new customs among old, Akki makes her way back to the city. She hopes to pursue her studies in medicine, but against her will gets caught up in politics and rebel violence again. Through all this, the pair agonize over how to keep their new knowledge of dragon powers a secret, but in the end it just might be those draconic abilities that can save them- if they dare risk the exposure…

I was pretty disappointed in Dragon\’s Heart. As a teen I loved Yolen\’s dragon books, as an adult it seems I don\’t. My first problem was that it felt like the first eighty pages or so were constantly re-hashing what took place in the prior three books. And then I had trouble getting involved in the story. It felt like many parts of the plot closely echoed parts of the other books; like I wasn\’t reading anything new. Some parts felt really contrived, others just dull. There was too much about politics, not enough about the dragons. It finally got interesting on about p. 260, but then I found the ending disappointing. My opinion of the first three books in this series is so colored by nostalgia, I can\’t really tell if I\’m just a more critical reader now as an adult, or have lost my appreciation for J fiction, or if it just isn\’t as well-written. If someone\’s reading this series for the first time, I\’ll be glad to hear what you think.

(I guess I feel so bad about it because this is the first time in years I actually went out and bought a brand-spanking-new book, I was so anxious to read it. My public library didn\’t have it, and of course it was too new to be up on any of the swap sites. So I went and bought it- and then didn\’t like it- and thought of all the used books those $16 could have got me instead… although there was something delicious about the fresh fresh smell of the ink and paper, and being the first person to open its covers…)

Rating: 2/5                      391 pages, 2009

More opinions at:
Book Obsession
The Writer\’s Notebook
Deep Thoughts

Caribousmom has the coolest ever reading challenge going on right now- the Random Reading Challenge! I\’m going all-out and try to read twelve books (Level III) between now and July 2010, all pulled at random from my stacks. It really sounds like a lot of fun!

Okay, maybe this is a bit crazy, but last night I was talking with my husband about all the challenges I\’ve been joining, and he suggested I host one of my own! So I decided to do just that. Announcing the first ever Dogear Reading Challenge!

  • For this challenge, read five books, one for each of the following categories:

    1. A book featuring an animal
    2. An adult fantasy book
    3. A YA or juvenile fiction book
    4. A non-fiction book on an obscure topic (or something you don\’t usually read about)
    5. A book about plants, gardening, or food

  • Sign up below with Mr. Linky, if you like.
  • Post your list of books online somewhere (here in the comments is fine, if you don\’t have a blog).
  • Preferably, read the books just for this challenge. But if you want to cross-over, that\’s fine.
  • If you find you can\’t finish a book on your list, feel free to pick a new one
  • The challenge starts 8/1/09 and ends 12/31/09.
  • At the end, everyone who\’s completed will be entered into a drawing for a prize! The prize consists of your choice of three items: my bookmarks, any book off my swap list (I\’m on Paperback Swap and Book Mooch, and have a few dozen books waiting to be listed on them, too) or Book Mooch points. Any combination: so you can have three bookmarks, or two books and a bookmark, or two Mooch points and a book, etc.

(I\’ve never hosted a challenge before; if there\’s something else I need to address, please help out and let me know!)

The books I am planning to read for the Dogear Reading Challenge are:

The Wrong Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin
The Summer Country by James Heltey
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
In a Green Shade by Allen Lacy

So… who wants to join me?

quick questions and answers, from Booking Through Thursday

  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? Depends on my mood
  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? No preference
  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction? A good mix of both
  • Poetry? Or Prose? Prose
  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies? no preference
  • History? Or Historical Fiction? Historical fiction
  • Series? Or Stand-alones? I like both
  • Classics? Or best-sellers? Something in between
  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? Again, in-between
  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? Plots
  • Long books? Or Short? Medium
  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? Non. I like to think up my own images
  • Borrowed? Or Owned? Library! Owned books are for keeps
  • New? Or Used? Used suits me just fine.

Hm, I think I was really undecided on a lot of those. O well, it was fun. How about you? Any preferences?

by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

I have a hard time thinking what to say about The Animal Wife. It is a companion novel to Reindeer Moon, telling about the same group of prehistoric people, also a coming-of-age story, but about a young man this time. Kori, the main character, sets off on a journey to live with his father\’s people after having spent his childhood with his mother. He is eager to prove himself a man, and earn his place. He is just beginning to find his place among the grown men when he makes a brash move and takes captive a woman from an unknown tribe. His rash action condemns his new \”wife\” to live among total strangers- but also makes Kori something of an outcast himself, and places his own family group in danger…

It was hard for me to like Kori. He gave little consideration to what his captive wife might be feeling, and was mostly concerned with hunting, his status among the men, and his enjoyment of women. Women in this primitive society were pretty much regarded as possessions, without will or rights of their own. I suppose it might well have been like that so many thousands of years ago, but still it made me feel awful how callously some of them were treated in the story. I did like reading about how closely tied the people were to the land, how their lives depended upon the weather, change of seasons, movements of animals. Their constant interactions with wildlife. But it wasn\’t nearly as magical as Reindeer Moon, and at the end of the book I was left thinking: what a desolate story. In the epilogue the author explained how her story was based on ancient Asian legends of an animal wife- think fox, in Japanese literature- and for a moment I had to think why, because unlike Reindeer Moon where people died and their spirits took different animal forms, in this story the woman never became an animal (although I expected her to!) No, she was seen as an animal because her captors in ignorance treated her as one, they assumed she was stupid because she could not speak their language or understand their customs. It was really very sad. I was pleased at first to see the reappearance of the tamed-wolf theme, but it did not end well even for the poor wolf. Everyone was left with less in the end. And yet I could not put the book down… Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is a darn good storyteller.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 289 pages, 1990

more opinions:
Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales

All my words this week came from reading Irving Stone\’s account of Darwin\’s travels aboard the Beagle, which I am beginning to find tiresome. I\’ve gotten through almost 300 pages of The Origin and find myself putting down the book, reading another one entire, and then wondering if I want to come back to it…

Inveterate– \”… both the Darwin and Wedgewood families had good libraries and were inveterate readers, but for enjoyment rather than education.\”
Definition: habitual, or well-established

Litmus– \”… he has a brain in that large skull of his, not only for sopping up knowledge like litmus paper, but for speculative theory.\”
Definition: a paper that turns red in acidic solutions and blue in alkaline; derived from lichens

Redoubtable– \”Even our redoubtable Wickham gets seasick in smaller boats.\”
Definition: worthy of resepect or honor; inspiring awe or fear

Desideratum– \”Size is not the ultimate desideratum.\”
Definition: something considered very neccessary

Davit– \”Twenty-five-foot whaleboats hung from the Beagle\’s quarter davits…\”
Definition: a small crane that suspends over the side of a ship for hoisting objects

Holystone– \”It was the midshipmen who caught the blast of his temper if a single spot of the deck had not been holystoned to a high gloss…\”
Definition: a soft sandstone used to scour the deck of a ship

Argot– \”He enjoyed listening to the argot of the sailors, gradually coming to understand the meaning of such terms as yar, swabber, wind-bound in a port…\”
Definition: slang or jargon used by a particular group of people

Factotum– \”The party included a young friend of the Scotsman named Gosling, a Brazilian guide from the interior; a black boy to serve as general factotum.\”
Definition: a person employed to do all kinds of work, mainly as an assistant

for more wondrous words, visit Bermudaonion\’s Weblog


On another note, I\’ve been rather neglectful of responding to comments and such because we have a houseguest this week (old friend of my husband\’s) and being hostess diverts my time and attention away from some of my favorite things (reading and blogging). A few days ago Jules so kindly gave me the Bookworms Award for Bookfriends. I just love the button for this award, which is for those book bloggers we truly appreciate. I followed the trail of this award back to another book blog new to me, Miscellaneous Mumblings.

I\’d like to pass this award on to some of the book blogs I\’ve more recently discovered. I don\’t know them very well yet, but I do know they share a love of books with me, and all the rest of you! This goes to: Read Quoi?, YA Fabulous, Under the Dresser, You GOTTA Read This, and Words by Annie.

I just drew a name from the hat. The winner of the camel bookmark is Esperanza! Lucky winner, send your address to jeanenevarez AT gmail DOT com and I\’ll mail it out to you promptly.
win a free horse bookmark
Next up is a bookmark of a horse in a foggy sunrise, edged with silver ribbon. It has a picture on the back and the front. If you\’d like to win this, just leave a comment here by next tuesday, 7/28. Happy reading!


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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