The Vampire Diaries – Episode 2.3: Bad Moon Rising Discussion

I know I’m all late, but as I explained in my post on Bones, I was at the Baltimore Book Festival for the past few days, however, I must share a few quick thoughts on Bad Moon Rising.

The werewolf story has finally moved along a little bit.  I still have mixed feelings about this show choosing to bring in werewolves.  I don’t know what story started that linked the two together, but it seems that it pops up frequently enough in movies and television to be a little annoying to me here.  Mason grew on me a little bit in this episode.  I don’t know where they are going with this, and I am pretty sure that he and Damon will be at odds at some point – especially since we have learned that a werewolf bite can kill a vampire, but what can I say  – he is easy on the eyes, and he had enough sense to try to restrain himself during his transformation.  He needs a little help in that department seeing that he was able to break free and almost eat Stefan, and a newly day walking Caroline, into dinner.

And speaking of Caroline, she continues to be my favorite of the bevy of women on this show.  Bonnie is as snarky and mean as ever, but at least I see that she has real reason to be a little bitchy and standoffish with Caroline.  And as for Elena, she holds no currency with me these days after the emotional smackdown she delivered to Damon.  But, my Caroline is in her glory as she tries to master the vampire thing, even though her every neurotic and jealous tendency is threatening to destroy the relationships which are so important for her to hold on to her humanity.  Now that she has her ring she has a better shot at hiding her situation from her mom, but I am looking forward to see what other effects her change will have on their already tense relationship.  And what about poor Matt?  Is she really going to be able to stay away from him.  I am sad about this, but she makes Stefan so much more palatable that it is ridiculous.  They need to get together.  I will love Katherine forever is any of her evil deeds pave the way to that happening.

I think I have to go back and listen to the mythology a few more times.  I got lost when they started talking about why vamps had to creep around at night and werewolves are bound to the moon and eat vampires.  The doppelganger angle is appealing to me, and I want to know more about that and thankfully Alaric got himself together and kissed Jenna.  Now where in the world is Jeremy?  In class?  In his room moping?  It would be nice ti get the tiniest bit of face time with characters, even if they have no storyline at the moment.

Tyler was hilarious when Amy so bluntly told him that she liked Matt.  I laughed out loud for way too long when he said, “Ouch.”

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Next time … Katherine is back!

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Better Late Than Never – Bones: Episode 6.1, The Mastodon In The Room

So it seems that I am destined to be attending book festivals during the season premiere episode of Bones.  I started the trend last year when I was at National Book Festival and continued the trend this year with my visit to Baltimore Book Festival.  While there I roomed with Allie from Hist-Fic Chick and I roped her into watching Bones and then later brought her up to speed on Private Practice.

I loved the season opener and in a lot of ways, thought it perfectly captured what might have happened in seven months to both the relationship between Booth and Brennan, and to the relationships of this team.  Booth and Brennan are called back by Ms. Julian from their respective missions in Afghanistan and Indonesia, to help solve the disappearance of a missing child.  Cam, is about to be declared incompetent in her job so that she can be moved out of the way for political reasons, and of course her current staff is woefully not up for the job of solving the case that can save her career.  Enter Caroline to deftly tell everyone just the thing that will make them return.

I love the way the episode started off by revisiting the last few moments from the final episode of Season 5.  The hands mean so much, and we see Booth pull his hands away and walk off, which is very representative of the distance that seems to be rolling off of him present day.  It was a new thing to watch Brennan work to keep the conversation going, and to look for things to say.  My heart broke a little for her when she finds out that Booth has found someone else.  She is quick to point out the Booth has arrested her as well when he tells her that’s how he met Hannah.

One of the underlying themes of this episode centered on the debate of just who  acts as the linchpin of the group.  Cam’s angry outburst at Brennan for putting her selfish needs and desires above everyone else’s sets the stage for this to be explored, and I love the resulting exploration, but it is also the weakest part of the episode. (Well, aside from the fact that it only took Booth 7 months to get over the love he had for Brennan and to fall completely in love with someone else.  So not buying it) It was always unrealistic that everyone just decided to up and leave the Jeffersonian for a year , and if Cam was ever going to have an angry moment, it seems that she would have had this conversation with Brennan and the others when they were making their plans to leave.

To the show’s credit they use this moment to display the growth the Brennan has undergone in the last 7 months.  Brennan may not have found the origins of humanity in Indonesia, but she seems to be more firmly in touch with her own, and she takes it upon herself to track down her staff, notice and praise them for their work, and genuinely reaches out and shows affection – much to Caroline’s chagrin.

I haven’t got that much to say for Booth because, there is just not much to say for someone who is trying to build a life on denial.  I was very interested in the fact that Sweets and Daisy are set up to be the mirrors of Brennan and Booth, and that Daisy has realized the error of her ways in putting her career above everything else, ‘like her mentor”. Booth has advised Sweets to just move on, but it is unlikely that he will be able to do it. Booth won’t be able to either.

Who else glad when Sweets loses the facial hair?  Wendell looks good in a tank top.  Cam is still her beautiful and stylish self.  I am looking to see whether she and her doctor dude are still an item and more on her relationship with her daughter Michelle. Angela and Hodgins pregnant are ridiculously cute. I am so glad that the gang is all back, even though summer had to end for me to be able to see them all again on a weekly basis.  Oh and, loved Daisy’s “Monday” undies and the way that Brennan decides to show their would be attackers that they are female by switching her hips and flipping her hair.  She looked ridiculous and as we could see that it didn’t stop anyone at all.

I have neglected to mention the cases very much but I was touched by the woman whose baby had died accidentally and their brief discussion of North Korean culture.  I just love those little teaching moments as they are putting together the case.  Boo to the father who had kidnapped his own child to bring misery to the child’s mother.   Did he want her back  Just wanted to see her suffer?  Oh well, now he’s just going to jail.

Is everyone ready to meet Hannah tomorrow night?

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Photo credit: FOX

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Current Reads – 9/29/10

Lately I have been reading books one at a time.  Probably because I haven’t had that much time on my hands,  and it was all that I could do to finish one book as opposed to my usual of being in the midst of several.  But just give me a few days of rest, relaxation and some good food and I am back to my old habits.

Last week I traveled to Baltimore to attend The Baltimore Book Festival and spent five days hanging out, sightseeing and speaking on a panel on book blogging.  On the train rides there and back I found myself in the middle of a couple of books.

Doors Open, by Ian Rankin – I haven’t read any books by Ian Rankin before but I feel as though I have seen his name everywhere, and he seems to be well liked by other book bloggers.  Reading a post on the Reagan Arthur Books Blog in a series entitled Five Paintings in Edinburgh That Might Make Ian Rankin Pull Off A Heist, was the last thing to push me over into buying the book, which follows the story of three friends who decide that art need to be “liberated” from people and institutions that would hide it away from being shared with the public.Right away the reader is set up to root for the bad guys, but with the perspective of the investigating detective also on display, it will be interesting to see just where my loyalty will lie.

At The Dark End of The Street, by Danielle L. McGuire – I think I first heard of this book when doing an exhaustive catalog search of  books to cover for an upcoming podcast.  Rosa Parks is a fascinating figure, even when she is portrayed as the docile and upstanding society member who refused to give up her seat one afternoon.  She is even more fascinating as a radical civil rights activist and rape investigator who had been involved in the movement for years and knew exactly what she was doing.  I have hardly been able to put down this account of the reasons that it was necessary to recast her in such an unassuming light and to consider that the history we learn is always what is most acceptable for the time, and is rarely edited and widely disseminated when the needs of the story have been met.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

After I get through these I will be pretty much dedicating myself to some spooky reads.  Do you have any Halloweenish reading planned for the month of October?

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September, One Of The Most Bookish Times Of The Year

September has been a huge month for lots of wonderful bookish events.  So much so, that I have been virtually absent from Linus’s Blanket.  I managed to post a paltry four times this month, and only a few days remain in September.  I figure that I should take this opportunity to mention some of what has comprised the fabulously bookish month of September.

I read one book this month, and when you only read one book in a month, it had better be a good one.  Fortunately the book that I read was Come Sunday, by Isla Morley and I thought it was just fabulous.  Complex characters and food for thought are some of my favorite things to get out of a book, and Morley provided both.  I will definitely be on the lookout for what she does next.

The Brooklyn Book Festival coincided with the launch of not only the beginning of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, but also the beginning of my bocce season and the visit of friends Lenore (Presenting Lenore) and Daniel* (Daniel Jennewein) who were here to promote the release of Daniel’s children’s book Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

Brooklyn Book Festival, just before it started to rain.
Brooklyn Book Festival. Raining.
The Harper crew. Erica (The Olive Reader) has a captive audience.

I don’t know why these book festivals always seem to take place on rainy days, but I was glad that I braved the cold and the wet to to hear the authors speak.  I was fortunate to be able Farai Chedaya, Myla Goldberg, Reif LarsenDennis LehaneBernice L. McFaddenMarlon James, Per Petterson, Scott Spencer, Terese Svoboda.  Bernice McFadden read from Glorious, and the pages that she she read were so impressive that I immediately need to run out and get Glorious. I was also very interested in Kiss the Sky by Farai Chideya.  Also during the course of the day I was able to rope Allie (Hist-Fic Chick) into a bocce game and to meet Jamie (The Broke and the Bookish), Lori (The Next Best Book Club), and Mitali (Alley of Books).  Good times!

Bocce - Che Palle
Che Palle, goofing off at practice.

After the Brooklyn Book Festival, Allie, Daniel and I headed off to dinner at Apartment 138.  We were so rowdy that they put us in a room with cinder block walls.  Dinner was fun and delicious.  Best fish and chips I’ve had, except for maybe in Dublin.

L-R Allie, Nicole, Lenore at Apt. 138.

A few days later I joined Lenore in the quest for the perfect donut.  We traveled to Lower East Side to visit The Doughnut Plant. The doughnuts are quite simply insane, and maybe some of the richest things I have ever eaten in my life.  Definitely nothing that I could eat every day, but if you like doughnuts, it is so worth it to go at least once.

Lenore & Nicole at The Doughnut Plant.
Lenore just couldn't get enough. Best doughnuts ever!

That same week, Allie and I were lucky enough to meet up with Karen Essex, author of Dracula In Love, and an upcoming guest to be featured on The Underground Literary Society along with Anne Fortier (Juliet).  It was fun to chat with Karen about all things bookish, and to express to her how much I appreciated that Dracula in Love explored a bit of the greater world of events going on in greater London at the time.

L-R Karen Essex (author, Dracula In Love), Allie (Hist-Fic Chick), Nicole (Linus's Blanket) at 8th Street Wine Cellar.

Lurking, and the appropriateness and meaning of the term, struck a cord with readers, and I am happy to see it further explored under the guise of, Is Blog Lurking Really So Wrong on the Blogher Website.

This month on That’s How I Blog!, I have chatted with Danielle from There’s A Book, Kari from The Five Borough Book Review, and Erica from The Olive Reader.  You can check out their chats, and many others, on the That’s How I Blog! page on Blogtalk Radio.  And join me tonight as I chat with Vasilly from 1330v.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

Phew!  And I still have to talk about The Baltimore Book Festival!

*Daniel Jennewein is a former client of Winsome Media Communications.

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The Vampire Diaries – Catch Up & Episode 2.2: Brave New World Discussion

The last two weeks have been among the busiest of the year for me  and with Book Blogger Appreciation Week firmly in the rear view mirror I find that I can breathe again and get back to the business of Linus’s Blanket.

I haven’t touched a book in weeks. I have about 80 pages left in Come Sunday, by Isla Morley but I just haven’t had the energy to finish it up no matter that I am so curious about the end of a story that I have enjoyed very much.  I have slowly been branching out and sharing some of my other security blankets on the blog, which in include movies and movie trailers.

Last week I needed a break, and was just way too fatigued to read so I picked up the first season of The Vampire Diaries, and after a couple of episodes, I was hooked.  In a marathon few days I watched the entire season just in time to catch the premiere of Season 2.  I have been very impressed by the quality of the storyline, the pacing  of the show, and the development of some of the characters kept me intrigued.  Watching so many episodes of a show in such a short period of time can glaringly expose its flaws , but The Vampire Diaries holds up surprisingly well.

The opener of Season 2 last week brought the arrival of Katherine, Elena’s deliciously bad and long dead ancestor, which was a relief to me.  As much as I have been enjoying the show I have mixed feelings about the character of Elena.  She is just a little too goody-goody for my liking and CLEARLY hooked up with the wrong brother.  It will be very exciting to see Katherine shake things up, but I am puzzled by every one’s worship of Stefan over Damon.  Even with Ian Somerhalder being no slouch in the looks department, the writing of the show favors Damon in every way. He gets the snappy one liners, and the conflicted and tortured soul and most of what he has suffered is at the instigation of events initiated by Stefan, who eternally bores me.  That none of the females on the show have had any real interest in Damon is baffling.  I need to vicariously live through someone.  Get this man a love interest, stat!

The Vampire Diaries excels at having some kind of game changer in each episode.  I don’t know how they accomplish this, but it is done in such an organic way that it always appears to be a natural progression of the story as opposed to being blatantly gimmicky. In Brave New World, Caroline’s transformation into a vampire definitely leveled the playing field in ways that I love, and was emotionally compelling to boot.  I felt for Caroline as she coped with with all of the changes that she experienced all by herself, and I loved the she got to tell Damon off for his emotional manipulation and abuse of her last season.  Damon got quite a few beat-downs this episode, poor thing.

Bonnie continues to be a problematic character for me because we never got to fully explore the journey she took in becoming a witch, and the full effects that the death of her grandmother had on her.  They just packed her off and she came back fully in control of her powers and mean as hell. There is no gray to her bad and she comes off as rather one note most times, though I believe the actress, Katerina Graham, is capable of much more.  In typical Bonnie fashion she took no responsibility for her actions in making Caroline a vampire, and nearly burnt Damon to a crisp in her righteous anger.  I have to admit that I can understand her  being upset over the loss of Carter (can we say hottie?), but I also regret that they missed the opportunity for Bonnie to have some one to talk to and share her POV.  However she and Elena equally share the blame for Carter becoming Caroline’s dinner.

Stefan and Elena are way too much peas of a pod for my taste for them to be in a relationship, even though I understand that probably works for their relationship.  Together they bore me to tears and I get a little sick of Elena always calling his name, “Stefan”.  Stefan has complete faith that he can handle Caroline and that everything will be okay when he already failed last year with Vicky.  That is both so naive and incredibly arrogant. Elena only cares to save her friend, and never mind the fact that Caroline is a baby vampire, not in control of her urges, and already dead – probably would have died in the car accident, gets to live so others can die.  I was very happy that Damon laid responsibility at her feet.  I am glad that the show is not shying away from consequences for their naivete, and I like the developing tension between them and how they aren’t treating each other with kid gloves.

The werewolf story is shaping up and I am a bit conflicted on its development. On the one hand Tyler isn’t really strongly connected to anyone on the canvas and has always seemed to be a peripheral character, but we do know who he is.  That works in the sense that if he goes over to the dark side and become a nemesis, it will add to the drama.  Right now that storyline hasn’t become compelling enough for me to care about it that much, so I guess Amy is right that they need to move it along.   Jeremy is a little lost right now and seems at his best when a girl is involved.  I am very curious about the way he will go and which side he will ultimately choose.

Stefan and Caroline had a moment that was totally hot.  I love Matt and his relationship with Caroline, but I can easily see them together.  But when is Matt going to find out about his girlfriend (ex and current), his sister and their vampy connections?  They had him suspicious of Stefan early in Season 1, but now he just seems that he will stay happily oblivious.

What else?  Damon being the head of the council and a tea drinker amuses me to no end.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane Thoughts anyone?

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If Someone Called You A LURKER In Real Life, Wouldn’t You Beat Them Up?

As a reader, I am always fascinated by the way that we use language, and the way our use of words color and provide context to our experiences. The words that we choose as our shorthand – categorize people and their actions, and behavior – are very telling to me.  There is one word in particular that I am sensitive about. Probably because I often feel as if I am one of those so designated and condemned. Lurker.  It sounds so sinister.  As if someone is going to jump out of the bushes and do something, as if someone has been stalking you and following you around with your permission, as if there is some harmful intent, as if there should be a gigantic scarlet L on the lurker’s forehead.

I lurk on blogs. There, I said it!  I read content and don’t leave any thoughts, feedback, useful criticisms or provide new and interesting avenues of discussion.  I eavesdrop on conversations and then sneak away, directing my friends to those posts which we then discuss on our own.  I sometimes act upon knowledge gleaned and conclusions drawn from those preyed upon posts. I steal away with book suggestions, often running off to buy them and many more by the same author and others I encounter on my buying spree. I visit blogs and bask in their charm, originality, creativity and intelligence – sometimes I am even inspired and answer that inspiration with a positive reaction…elsewhere.  I visit the the blogs of my friends and smile lovingly at their words but sometimes have neither the energy, presence of mind, or coherent thoughts to leave as evidence of my presence. Like I said, terrible!

Lurking is a term that I think of as specific to blogs. I don’t think “proper” websites worry about people “lurking” around their content and stealing away without even saying hello.  They provide information and a service and hope that it translate into action, some that is quantifiable, but often on faith that their presence will lead to rewards- which granted are not immediately quantifiable- in the future.

It’s an odd thing to think about but I think the term lurking and it being applied to blog READERS, says much more about certain styles of blogging, bloggers and our need for validation, and quite frankly…comments.  The term indicates to me that it’s much less about those who are taking the time to read our blogs.  Could we be projecting  onto others a sketchy designation, even though we mostly do it “lovingly”, because we are not being fulfilled our need to be talked to, praised and patted on the back?  Is lurker what we really want to call our faithful readers?

There are always a variety of ongoing arguments and difference of opinions that I observe in blogging communities, and in my particular home community of book bloggers- a right way for people to run their blogs- most of the time it just goes in one ear and out the other, because for me the beauty of blogs is that they are personal.  I don’t think you should standardize them. I don’t think I should have a review policy, or a social media policy or participate in anything unless I feel it works for me and the goals of my blog. I have to trust my readers to determine for themselves whether I provide an experience which is worthy of their time- which is a very precious resource.

A premise that drives me a little crazy is the one that measure comments as the sign of a blog’s worth. I think it contributes to this kind of crazy idea and resulting terminology where others are somehow actively doing something to me when they are “lurking” about my blog and not entering into the community aspect that can exist in blogging.  The time constraints of life in general keep me in lurker mode for a great many things in life as a whole, and on far more blogs than I would like.

I enjoy readers who pop in frequently and  infrequently when they have something to say, and it never bothers me that many others stop by everyday because they think (whether that proves to be true for them or not) that I might have something of value to share with them on any given day. I think it’s great that there are many who let me know that they are present, but that in no way diminishes those who silently grace me with their presence and potentially give me the opportunity to alter something in their world or at the very least to share my experiences with them.

When I read what others have to say, I am amused, pleased, skeptical, thoughtful, angry,  intrigued, curious, satisfied, annoyed, content and myriad other ways of being.  I am invariable changed, if only in a small way, by each perspective I encounter.  I am always grateful for the opportunity for my expansion in emotions, knowledge, ideas, and as a person.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane Readers, silent or  not, are always welcome!

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BBAW Giveaway: Never Let Me Go – Book, Poster, T-Shirt!

Never Let Me Go Poster

In his highly acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) created a remarkable story of love, loss and hidden truths. In it he posed the fundamental question: What makes us human? Now director Mark Romanek (ONE HOUR PHOTO), writer Alex Garland and DNA Films bring Ishiguro’s hauntingly poignant and emotional story to the screen.

Kathy (Oscar® nominee Carey Mulligan, AN EDUCATION), Tommy (Andrew Garfield, BOY A, RED RIDING) and Ruth (Oscar® nominee Keira Knightley, PRIDE & PREJUDICE, ATONEMENT) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.

Back in June I posted the movie trailer and my thoughts on how a movie for Never Let Me Go could possibly be better than the book.  Lots of you had thoughts on that, and now the time has come when we will be able to attend the movie and see for ourselves the best way for this story to be told.

Never Let Me Go will be opening today in selected theaters in Los Angeles and New York City, and will later go to wide release.  for more information about the movie, Never Let Me Go, visit  www.foxsearchlight.com/neverletmego.

In celebration of BBAW, leave me a comment by the end of day, Saturday September 18th letting me know which you think will be better, book or movie, and you could win the items below.  I will draw a winner on Sunday.  Don’t forget to leave an e-mail address where I can contact you if you’re the winner. Items will be shipped by giveaway sponsor.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Signed Never Let Me Go movie poster
Never Let Me Go t-shirt

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane Good Luck!

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Treasures 1 & 2: Meet Iris, from Iris On Books! (A Book Blogger Appreciation Week Interview)

I am so pleased today to share my interview with Iris from Iris on Books.  Iris has given me the fantastic opportunity to accomplish two things in one post.  Yesterday we were supposed to share a new blog that we had discovered since last year’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and Iris’s blog popped to mind.  She does so many great eclectic book posts and I have  spent so much time reading her blog and getting book ideas that she hardly seems like a newcomer.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with her more.

Congratulations Iris on making the shortlists for Best New Book Blog and Best Eclectic Book Blog! You really hit the ground running this year with your blog.  How did you get started and did you know what you wanted your focus to be right away?

Making the shortlist was quite a surprise to me actually. I hadn’t expected to make the longlist, let alone the shortlist and I feel that there are many blogs out there who deserve to be on those list more than I do. Nonetheless, I am incredibly happy that people seem to enjoy my blog. To be quite honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into at first at all. I don’t think I even fully realised that what I was going to do would fall into the category of book blogging as I didn’t know there was such a big book blogging community out there. I always feel I started my blog quite unprepared. Compared to a few other new book bloggers out there, I hadn’t been following any book blogs before I started. In all honesty I started my former blog Candles and a Cup of Tea a few days after I first came across the blog Austenprose. I think that when I saw that blog I first started to realise that I could actually blog about a subject I loved. And since I was right in the middle of one of my obsessive Austen and historical fiction periods at that moment, I thought I would blog about the works of Austen, movie remakes of her stories, and other related books and movies. That soon changed however when I started to find other bookblogs. The blogs of Eva (astripedarmchair.wordpress.com) and Amy (amckiereads.wordpress.com) soon made me realise that Austen is just one of my loves and that I enjoy reading in general too much to just focus on one genre. They also made me realise that there are so many genres out there that I’d love to try. And so I changed my focus, became a book blog and eventually changed my name, because Candles and a Cup of Tea became associated with my former focus too much in my mind.

Has blogging changed the way that you read and perceive books?

In a way, I wish I could have said that no it didn’t, because there really is something about just reading a book and not having to think of what to write in a review afterwards. But on the other hand, it has helped me think about books and reading a lot more and that can lead to some very interesting insights. All of this is not to say that I don’t like reviewing, I actually enjoy it a lot, but with certain books it is hard to not write up a quote every other page and then it can start to interfere with your reading.

In the end, what has really changed is that books and reading have become a much bigger part of my life. I thought about this just recently when I entered an all-English bookstore in Amsterdam (they do have English books in most bookstores over here, but only in a small corner of the store mostly). I had been there 2 years before but back then I didn’t recognize most of the “recent” titles on display. When I went to visit it 2 months ago though, I recognised almost every title! Reading blogs and thus keeping up with the bookish news has really allowed me to feel like I know my way around books so much better.

Also, I read more than ever since I started blogging. I might not read a lot compared to other bloggers, but most years before this one 75 books were a lot of books for one year, this year I am already on my 85th title.

I know I didn’t realize when I started how much time blogging would take and what an addiction it would become.  How do you manage your blogging and reading schedule, and have you found that there have been things you have had to give up or do less of because of the time you spend with it?

I certainly know what you mean. Book blogging is so addicting and I don’t think I realised half of what would happen when I started. Reading has become an even bigger part of my life now and at times it is hard to time it well. Reading doesn’t interfere so much with my social life or with my other hobbies (my only other hobby is dancing and listening to music and I do continue to do both). What it does interfere with at times is my interest in my graduate school studies. The thing is, when you have to read a book for your studies and you could be reading a book for fun at the same time, it is sometimes hard to make stop reading the fun one. I have managed to combine blogging with graduate school most of the time, but I think especially because I am a new blogger and everything in the bloggingworld is so exciting when it is new, I have been a bit irresponsible at times. Also, there are weeks when I cannot blog because I am in over my head with essays and presentations, but I think that happens to the best of bloggers. Maybe planning and scheduling my posts well is something I could try and learn to do better though.

Tell me a little bit about your experience with reading over the years.  Did you start out liking a particulargenre and then branch out, or were you always an eclectic reader?  What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I have always been a reader, ever since I was a little girl. However, the author that really changed my reading experience was Jane Austen. When I discovered her when I was 14 I literally became addicted to her works. I didn’t want to read anything else except for watching the movie adaptations of her works maybe. That lasted 1 or 2 years and after that I finally started to expand my reading tastes a little. I do sometimes go back to that obsessive mode of reading just one author for a month or so, but never quite like that again. After that long obsessive period I realised that I used to always like different kinds of books and that I should try and read like that again. I did mostly focus on classics and books from the UK for a while though, because I was always afraid to read explicit love scenes (I was somehow under the impression that English books were less obsessed with sex than say Dutch ones). I got over my fear of that a while ago (though I still don’t like them) and so contemporary fiction and translated fiction have become more important in my reading as well.

You have said that you started blogging to find out which contemporary authors you enjoy since Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell are among your favorite classic authors.  Have you made any progress with that goal?  Which contemporary authors have you enjoyed and would recommend?

Haha, intriguing question and a hard one to answer! The thing is, I think it is easier for me to say which “classic” authors I like, because I have read most of their books? With contemporary authors I have at most read one, I think. And it is so hard to decide on favourite authors, I feel like they would change every 4 months or so. Anyway, this past year there have been a few books that I absolutely loved and therefore I think of these authors as favourites a little: Abraham Verghese, Sarah Waters, Nicola Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer. As for children’s authors, my all time favourites are definitely Astrid Lindgren and Roald Dahl. I couldn’t leave that out, seeing as I’m currently in Sweden and I see Pippi everywhere!

It’s always fun to be able to link your passions.  As a music lover, do you find that you associate memories with songs or with books, and do they ever remind you of each other?

I don’t connect reading to music often, I think. I actually never thought about it that much. There are some books that combine these two loves though and they are extra special to me. It is one of the reasons why High Fidelity struck a chord with me, as well as why “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” is high up on my wishlist. At times, a scene in a book would remind me of a certain song, but of course I cannot think of any examples at the moment. However, what I think is most comparable about these two passions is that there is such a diverse selection and that they both help me in any mood. So when I’m feeling a little down and need comfort I can always pick up Austen and listen to my own personal comfort bands: The Veils, Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf and Bright Eyes (I mostly get melancholical when in need of comfort, that’s why). When I am feeling a bit feminist I can read for the Women Unbound Challenge and pour my heart into singing along with Tori Amos and the like. When I am jumpy and ready for new things I can try on a new to me genre or author, maybe, dare I say it, a mystery author? and dance to an old time favourite like Guano Apes or the always brilliant Blood Red Shoes or the Subways. And then contemporary reading which sometimes seems to focus more on the everyday bleakness of life somehow works really well with Britpop bands like The Libertines and Oasis (at least in my head), etcetera.

You’re off to a great start, so what are you looking forward to in blogging?  What’s your plan?

I have learned from these past months that having some sort of plan and some posts up your sleeve for when life gets too busy is always a good thing. I really need to learn to plan better in that respect. But that is a very practical answer to your question. In reality, I would like to continue learning to improve my social, writing and critical skills. Blogging has really taught me a lot in these past months and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn in the upcoming year. I have always been a shy person and these past days and especially yesterday with visiting all these different blogs who recommended blogs they love made me realise how nice the community really is. I would love to do some more interactive things, something with guest posts from bloggers or starting some projects of my own instead of only participating in other bloggers’ projects and I’m hoping that I will gain enough confidence to do so next year. I am hoping that my current stay in Sweden will also help me in that respect. So all in all, I would love to combine growth as a blogger with personal growth. I know that doesn’t sound very precise, but that is because I just realised this when I started to answer your question. But yes, it is exactly what I wish for and I hope I will be able to say that I have grown a little by this time next year.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane Thanks so much Iris for chatting with me today!  And if you aren’t reading Iris’s blog…you should try reading Iris’s blog!
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