TSS (Mar. 27): Road trip! & IMM (20)

The Sunday Salon (March 27)

The Sunday Salon.com I’m going on a road trip tomorrow! Sort of. I guess it doesn’t count as a proper road trip if the trip lasts only an hour each way. But it’s still a long-ish time spent in a car, and I’m going to bring at least two books because I can. (So there!)

The first one is going to be whatever book I don’t finish reading today, and the other one is going to be The Dracula Dossier because I feel like reading another vampire book. I’ll probably also end up bringing my Kindle, “just in case.” Over-prepared? Me? Nah.

I actually wish we were driving for a longer amount of time, long enough for our trip to be counted as an actual road trip instead of just a baby one. One of my favorite things to do is pack up a bunch of books, a blanket, and some snacks and read in the car while someone else is driving. It’s a nice way to get in some solid hours of reading without any distractions!

Do you like reading on road trips? What sort of books do you bring with you?

Also, Diana Wynne Jones died yesterday. It actually kind of hurts more than I thought it would, so I’ll just say this: I’ll miss you, DWJ.

Books read this week:
27. Dead End Gene Pool – Wendy Burden five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars R
28. More Than Mortal – Mick Farren five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars
29. Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars

Books reviewed this week:
23. Human.4 – Mike A. Lancaster five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars R
24. The Bloomswell Diaries – Louis L. Buitendag five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars R

Currently reading:
I’m about 100 pages in To A Mountain in Tibet, a travel memoir about a trip to a mountain in Tibet. It’s nice, although the writing and pacing is so ponderous I think it’s actually making me feel tired. To wake myself back up I started reading No One Belongs Here More Than You, a collection of strange and entertaining short stories by Miranda July.

In My Mailbox (#20)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren (who was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie‘s This Week in Books). Basically you just post about new books that came into your house over the past week, whether in the mail or by getting them at the library or by buying them in a store. Capiche?

For review:


Also: A whole bunch of Mercedes Lackey books from Baen’s newest CD full of free books!


See that ad in the top left corner? Yup, it’s still of sponsor Kevin Gerard, author of the Conor and the Crossworlds books, a YA fantasy adventure series! It’ll be up there for another month or so, but don’t forget to check out the website now if you’re interested.

Also, I’ve got books and DVDs for sale at Half.com! Yay!

Out Soon (April 2011)

I, like many other people, have an intense need to know what’s being released soon in the book world. Otherwise I might miss something, and that would be disastrous! So here’s a list of some interesting-looking books that are coming out next month. I hope y’all find it useful! And if I’ve missed something? Let me know in the comments!

(Partially inspired by The Story Siren’s New Reads feature, except I’m not ambitious enough to do it weekly.)

Apr. 1st:

Apr. 5th:

Apr. 14th:

Apr. 26th:

For a bigger list of books that are coming out beyond next month, check out the Out Soon page!

REVIEW: The Bloomswell Diaries by Louis L. Buitendag

REVIEW: The Bloomswell Diaries by Louis L. BuitendagThe Bloomswell Diaries by Louis L. Buitendag
Published by Kane/Miller Book Publishers (2011), Hardcover, 272pg
Filed under: Action, Adventure, Fiction, Sci-fi, Steampunk
Got my copy from: Publisher
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf.


Benjamin Bloomswell is pleased to be staying with his uncle in America while his parents are off on another business trip. It's like a vacation. But when a series of newspaper articles, telephone calls and mysterious disappearances result in his being sent to - and having to escape from - a sinister orphanage and the criminals who run it, he knows he's somehow got to find a way back to Europe. He has to get to his sister's boarding school before anyone else does. And somehow, he has to find his parents, who are also in trouble. But how... (from Goodreads)

This is such a cute book. It reminds me a lot of the Pseudonymous Bosch books, A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Mysterious Benedict Society series– by which I mean it’s got great kid protagonists, secret-mysterious things going on, action and adventure, and fun illustrations.

I will say that I do think it fell prey to the “shove as much possible in the first book to make it easier on the subsequent books” syndrome. It started off great! Ben’s brought to New York to live with his mysterious uncle while his parents go off to do something equally mysterious, and Ben has to adjust to living with an uncle he doesn’t really know about. Then things go to pot. His uncle is killed, his parents are dead, and apparently he has no other family who can take him so he has to go to an orphanage. Then he has to run for his life from some Serious Baddies and their Killer Robot (awesome!).

There’s a quick stop-off at an evil children’s orphanage, and here’s where the pacing started to falter. We spend so little time at the orphanage that it’s barely a blip in Ben’s life, and I don’t entirely see the point of even going there except for Ben to make a new friend (who never shows up again in this book). His new friend also just so happens to know how to escape the orphanage with minimal trouble and is happy to show Ben how to do it (what?). This whole sequence moved very quickly, so quickly I was left wondering why it was even in the book at all. I’m assuming either the orphanage or his new friend will have a bigger part in the next book, but really all it did in this one was temporarily frighten Ben and show off how nasty the baddies are.

Then, a chapter or two later, Ben escapes the orphanage and the pacing gets much better. He stows away on a ship bound for England, and just so happens to run into some circus people who not only know his parents but are also ex-spies or something. They start teaching Ben the stuff he needs to know to survive the Baddies and their Killer Robot and it’s a pretty cool part of the plot, actually.

After the ship Ben goes to live with the rest of the circus people, who agree to take him in and, later, help him rescue his sister, who’s stuck in a girls’ boarding school in Switzerland.

I really like Ben’s sister. She’s WONDERFUL and, to be honest, I wish she was the protagonist of the book instead of Ben. Ben’s an okay character; he’s gotsome pizzazz and he’ll no doubt turn out to be an excellent spy or secret agent. But he’s also kind of bland, and his sister was so much cooler. She and her boarding school friends have this whole system worked out to get around the Evil Nuns running their school, and they have escape routes and secret societies and it’s just awesome. I may have a slight prejudice against Ben because of my deep love for boarding schools and the girls who go to them, but I won’t apologize! Ahem.

Anyway, I enjoyed The Bloomswell Diaries, although I wish it had slowed down a bit instead of rushing from one plot point to another. Not that I wanted it to be SO slow that it was another Mysterious Benedict Society, just that I wish some more time had been spent on, like, everything. Especially the worldbuilding, because I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the robots and whatnot. Is it actually steampunk? Is it set in the future or the past? How did the robots come to be? What’s the purpose of them besides just being cool? Are there other steampunk-y things in existence?

The Bloomswell Diaries is a good first book to a fun new kids series, and I think if you like any of the other book series I listed above you’ll like this one. Just be prepared for some bumps along the way.

Read: February 26-27, 2011