The 50K Giveaway Bonanza: In which I make good a promise (soon)

Miss Print currently (as of writing this post, that is) has 49,588 hits/views.

As some of you might remember I made a promise back on March 1, 2010 that, basically, once the blog hit 50,000 views I would start a giveaway bonanza. At the time the blog had 28,000 views and 50,000 seemed very far away indeed. It’s very exciting to see this blog’s views almost double in just about nine months–you, dear readers, you rock.

Now that we are a mere 412 views away from that magical number, I can give you more details about how this is going to work.

The 50K Giveaway Bonanza (as it will now be officially known) will start the week after Miss Print tops over 50,000 views. (Like if there are 50,001 views by this Friday the Bonanza will kick off the next Monday.)

From that point on I will giveaway at least one book each week until I run out of books or money for postage, whichever comes first. There might be single books, there might be prize packs depending on my mood. Most of the titles will be advanced reader’s copies (ARCs) I have acquired while blogging. Some are discarded library books I rescued from work. Others are books I don’t remember acquiring but now have available to share with you, dear readers. What I can tell you for sure is I have at least fifteen books read right this minute to give away.

While the 50K Giveaway Bonanza will be an ongoing thing, each giveaway will be separate meaning you must enter each week. The giveaways will post each Monday, winners will be selected via random number generator with the help of Maple the Palm Pre and will be notified on the following Sunday. Then it all will start again.

The 50K Giveaway Bonanza will be open to anyone in the US. You don’t have to subscribe to the blog or do anything else BUT if you post about the giveaway on your blog/twitter and link to it in your comment, you will get an extra entry.

I will have a blog post about the giveaway each week but instead of sticking it at the top of the blog page I will also post a link to the current giveaway at the top of the page where my stats are located. (Right at the Number to Note/Holiday Book Swap area of my sidebar.)

In order for this magic to start, all you need to do is keep being awesome and keep reading the blog. If you’re reading this through an RSS feed or other subscription service, why not click over and help get us closer to 50,000?

Shiver: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Shiver by Maggie StiefvaterYears ago, when Grace was attacked by wolves, Sam saved her. He has been a presence in Grace’s life ever since always lurking on the periphery each winter in Mercy Falls, watching her, protecting her.

Even though they have never spoken.

Sam has been watching Grace for years, waiting for her, making sure she was safe. Even when he couldn’t remember her name he knew she mattered. He knew he loved her even if it was impossible because of what he was.

No matter how Grace and Sam might feel about each other there is always one insurmountable truth separating them: Sam is a wolf.

A werewolf more specifically.

Every year when the temperature drops, Sam changes into a wolf–Grace’s wolf, the one always watching her from a safe distance–trapped in his changed form until spring when the temperatures rise and he can become Sam again.

That was Sam’s reality, his unavoidable truth, and the one thing Grace never really believed. At least, not until she met Sam, the real Sam.

Once Grace knows the truth, sees her wolf made human, losing him is unimaginable.

Being with Grace is all Sam has ever wanted; the one thing he always held onto as a wolf.

But the temperature is falling in Mercy Falls and with the looming threat of winter Grace and Sam are running out of time in Shiver (2009) by Maggie Stiefvater.

Find it on Bookshop.

Shiver is superficially a paranormal/supernatural* romance with werewolves. But, really, it is so much more than that.

Poetic and urgent, Stiefvater’s writing is poised to exceed expectations and stay with readers. Told in chapters alternating between Grace and Sam’s voices the urgency of winter’s approach and the strength of our heroes’ love are both tangible. Grace and Sam are a charmingly authentic couple in a town filled with well-developed and unforgettable characters of both human and lupine persuasions.

Shiver is, really, just a beautiful book. The physical design from the cover (with art by Christopher Stengel) down to the text printed in blue ink is just as impressive as Stiefvater’s original take on werewolves in this complex, charming and extremely satisfying start to a what promises to be a stunning trilogy.

Grace and Sam’s story continues in Linger (which is printed in green ink).

Possible Pairings: Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Sea Change by Aimee Friedman, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneggerº, A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde

*Are paranormal and supernatural different things in the publishing world? I don’t actually know if they have different definitions or not.

ºIt kills me a little bit to pair this book with Shiver because I truly think Shiver is so much better and does everything TTTW should have done, but in a more masterful way. BUT if you don’t have my issues with TTTW these books do have the same sense of urgency and tone of sweeping romance. Draw your own conclusions.

Linktastic: Steampunk, Fun and Games edition

Links for your enjoyment regarding games, steampunk, and things that are NOT steampunk:

  • Northwestern Mutual has created The Longevity Game which is a moderately fun way to gauge how healthy your lifestyle is. (Although I do not like their inclusion of BMI as a significant factor and will not even get into my numerous problems with it in this post because I’ve already discussed it extensively.) The game asks a lot of good questions, but it also misses a lot of other points. While I love the idea of living to the age of 86 or 90, my projected life expectancy in the game, I find it doubtful with what I know about my life and my family history that the game did not ask. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Speaking of fun, Paper Forest is a neat little blog about . . . paper. Paper engineering, paper folding, pop ups, paper art–this blog has it all. They also have Free Toy Friday which, as you might have guessed, features links to free patterns for paper toys you can make. What’s not to love?
  • In the mood for more crafting? Here’s a starter guide to make Steampunk jewelry because I love steampunk. Also because I have a supply of gears and clock parts to make some jewelry of my own (no, really).
  • What’s that? You need more information about this “steampunk” of which I speak? No problem. I can explain it to you in song. (Or at least, the guy who made this lovely youtube video can!)
  • The people at Tor can also help explain with Steampunk Fortnight, a series of blog posts about, well, Steampunk. I haven’t read all of them yet but they look awesome. (I also posted a while back about a few things Steampunk.)
  • While we’re at it, why don’t we also look at what isn’t Steampunk. Actually, let’s rant about it with this girl.
  • Let’s also take a moment to visit Regretsy and laugh (or possibly gape) at all of the things that are Not Remotely Steampunk but still tagged as such on Etsy.

Behemoth: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Behemoth by Scott WesterfeldDeryn is a girl posing as a boy and serving in the British Air Services aboard the Leviathan as it heads to the capital of the Ottoman Empire on a secret mission.

Alek, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, is also aboard the Leviathan posing as a commoner among his men. Together these Clankers and Darwinists have forged an uneasy alliance born out of necessity. But when war comes to the airship, everything changes.

The year is 1914. The British Darwinists and their fabricated beasties have declared war against Austria-Hungary and their Clanker war machines. The rest of the world sits, waiting, on the brink of war.

As the threat of war looms closer, Alek finds himself running out of options. He can’t stay aboard the Leviathan any longer and risk becoming a prisoner of war. But can he ask his only friend, Dylan Sharp, to commit treason by helping him escape?

Deryn knows that Alek has to leave the airship. She knows the he should go. But no matter what she tells herself Deryn doesn’t want him to go. How can the one person who trusts her completely also be the one she can’t share her biggest secret with?

Alek and Deryn should be on opposite sides of this conflict but instead they have become fast friends. As the two make their way through the mysterious and dangerous city of Istanbul they just might find a way to stop this war in its tracks in Behemoth (2010) by Scott Westerfeld with illustrations by Keith Thompson.

Find it on Bookshop.

Behemoth is the sequel to Leviathan. It’s also the second book in Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy.

This book is filled with everything that made Leviathan great and then some. Westerfeld’s reimagined world is just as vivid and compelling as before. The action is just as exciting. There is alternate history. There is steampunk. There are beasties, walkers and a lot of people making insinuations by saying “Mr. Sharp” repeatedly.* There will be humor. Oh, and those mysterious eggs from Leviathan? They totally hatch in Behemoth.

Deryn’s secret continues to weigh heavily, especially when it comes to Alek. Meanwhile Alek, almost literally, has the weight of the world on his shoulders as he works to find a way to end the war. Westerfeld also spends more time on a lot of favorite secondary characters (including Dr. Barlow and Count Volger, my personal favorites) and world building as we see an Istanbul very unlike the one we know and learn more about familiar characters. The scope and detail Westerfeld brings to this book (and which Thompson brings to his delightful illustrations) is truly astounding.

Behemoth is an excellent addition to a wonderful trilogy, possibly even better than the first in the trilogy. This is a book that really exceeds all expectations and will leave readers eagerly waiting for Goliath, the forthcoming conclusion to a stunning trilogy.

Possible Pairings: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Jackaby by William Ritter, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Everland by Wendy Spinale, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, Firefly (television series) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (graphic novel and movie), The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (television series), Serenity (movie)

*Sometimes one line can really make a book. Believe it or not, “Mr. Sharp.” might be the line of this book.

Murder at Midnight: A Review

Murder at Midnight by AviTrouble is brewing in Pergamontio, Italy. The year is 1490 and a deadly plot to overthrow the king is unfolding. Papers demanding change have appeared all over the kingdom all magically the same. Magic is outlawed in Pergamontio, so surely Mangus the Magician must have something to do with this dangerous plot.

Except Mangus isn’t that kind of magician, at least he says so. Mangus’ new servant boy, Fabrizio, is certain his master really can do magic. But he’s also certain Mangus would never commit treason.

If Fabrizio can unravel the mystery and reveal the true traitor he might be able to clear his master’s name. And if Fabrizio can do that, maybe he can finally prove his worth to Mangus and earn the right to remain a part of the Magician’s household in Murder at Midnight (2009) by Avi.

Find it on Bookshop.

Murder at Midnight is the prequel to Avi’s earlier novel Midnight Magic.

Avi is a widely known and beloved writer. He writes in just about every genre and, throughout his career, has earned a kind of legendary status as an author. He doesn’t disappoint in this book that blends a clever mystery with humor and witty language.

This book is filled with amusing characters and clever language that is straightforward yet subtle enough to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. That said, the dynamic of Fabrizio as a servant–often genuflecting and apologizing to his betters–felt a little over the top, not in a bad way but just in an odd way.

Fabrizio might not be the quickest hero at the beginning of the story, but what he lacks in reasoning he more than makes up for in loyalty and ingenuity. Murder at Midnight is a quick, fun read. The period and setting are a good backdrop to the story but won’t distract any readers put off by historical settings. At the same time, without getting into specifics, the time period also plays a very key role in the story.

Possible Pairings: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen, We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Iron King: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Iron King by Julie KagawaMeghan Chase’s birthday is tomorrow. Sweet sixteen. It rolls off the tongue promising magic, romance and opportunity. It’s the age when girls become princesses and go to dances. Sixteen is when a girl is supposed to find true love while the stars shine for her and a handsome prince carries her off into the sunset. All the stories say so.

Meghan does find magic on her birthday, but it’s nothing like the stories talked about.

Instead of romance and happily ever after, Meghan finds her four-year-old half-brother replaced by a changling from the Nevernever. With the help of a very familiar fey, Meghan will have to venture into the treacherous world of fairyland to rescue her brother. Her mission will take her to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. It will challenge everything she thought she knew about magic, fairies, and her own past. If Meghan can survive the Nevernever she might be able to save her brother, but there’s no escaping the truth in The Iron King (2010) by Julie Kagawa.

The Iron King is the first book in Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series.* It joins the ranks of many paranormal romances released for teens, not only by Harlequin Teen.** The blurb from the back of the book is filled with massively huge spoilers. You have been warned.

Kagawa’s premise here is really interesting. She blends elements of urban fantasy, traditional fairy lore, and even steampunk in an original way with a lot of potential for a great story with truly exciting characters. But for all that promise, The Iron King never really pulls itself together into a cohesive book.

The story is interesting and will have a lot of appeal for anyone who loves paranormal romances*** and fairies. But, for some readers, the flaws will outweigh the appeal.

Meghan narrates the story in the first person and her voice is very erratic. It’s also very repetitive with whole phrases being used verbatim again and again in the story. The descriptions seem to have too many adjectives to qualify things instead of just showing them to the reader.

Meghan herself is also very inconsistent. One minute she is completely believing everything she hears about fairies, the next she doubts the efficacy of fairy glamour. She is constantly told to be careful and follow certain rules and she constantly ignores them. She often contradicts her previous opinions throughout the story.****

The plot and Kagawa’s depiction of fairyland is almost enough to let Meghan’s inconsistency slide (the landscape of the Nevernever is one of the strongest aspects of the story). Almost. Until you get to the romance aspect of this story.

The Iron King is really thin on romance (like it doesn’t come up until halfway through the story thin) and, once again, inconsistent. Meghan’s supposed love interest is one dimensional and unconvincing. She keeps talking about how beautiful and sexy he is, but at a certain point you (or me anyway) begin to wonder who Megan is really trying to convince.

That isn’t to say The Iron King won’t have its fans. Indeed, it already does; this might be the only negative review you see out in the blogosphere. Inconsistencies and annoying aspects aside, The Iron King is reminiscent of Twilight and will find a lot of fans in readers looking for somewhere to go now that they’ve finished with Bella and Edward.

*I think this is a trilogy but it also might be a longer  series and the third book is the only one in the works right now (the first two are already out).

**They published The Iron King if that wasn’t clear.

***I’m starting to think I don’t and actually just like the more traditional fantasy/urban fantasy tropes. But that’s me.

****She also does an old fashioned about face as the story progresses. In the beginning of the novel, Meghan bemoans being poor, saying: “I wish we weren’t so poor, I know pig farming isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but you’d think Mom could afford to buy me at least one pair of nice jeans” (page 11). Later, on page 141, Meghan completely contradicts her earlier frustration saying: “My whole life, I had worn ratty jeans and T-shirts. My family was poor and couldn’t afford designer clothes and name brands. Rather then bemoan the fact that I never got nice things, I flaunted my grunginess and sneered at the shallow rich girls who spent hours in the bathroom perfecting their makeup.” So that sneering would be everywhere except for on page 11 then?

Possible Pairings: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, War For the Oaks by Emma Bull, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C. S. Lewis, Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Wings by Aprilynne Pike, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Exclusive Bonus Content (In which I rant and might have a spoiler or two): As you might have noticed from the above review, I didn’t love this book. Part of it was legitimate problems with the story and the characters. But part of it also that I am so over the paranormal romance genre.

Meghan’s best friend, it turns out, is Puck. He is funny and loyal and risks everything repeatedly to help her rescue her brother. And as soon as the sexy and gorgeous Ash (that would be her designated love interest) comes onto the scene, Meghan throws it in his face.

Oh and Puck pretty clearly loves Meghan. After Meghan makes a really dangerous deal with Ash, Puck is upset. He shouts at Meghan: “You don’t need his help! Don’t you trust me to keep you safe? I would’ve given everything for you. Why didn’t you think I’d be enough?”

And then Meghan proceeds to be extremely confused as to why Puck would be so upset. Really? (I am the queen of missing or misreading signals and I think in her situation even I could figure out why Puck was upset. Of course, I also love Puck so maybe that’s a bias?)

I’m so sick of the girl in books falling for the dark, broody bad boy who wants to kill her (literally Ash says he will kill her if he’s told to by the Unseelie Queen) when the funny, helpful boy is RIGHT THERE willing to risk everything for this girl who offers nothing in return.

To be fair, Kagawa tries to stack the decks by making Puck the irresponsible-prankster-who-takes-things-too-far (and is in a feud to the death with Ash) but he was honestly one of the only shining aspects a book that proved to be deeply frustrating.

Linktastic: Libraries, Bloggers and Books! Oh my! edition

Some lingering links from my browser bookmarks for your enjoyment (with commentary of course):

  • According to Finding Wonderland, The American Library Association (the masterminds behind what are, essentially, the Oscars of literature for young people) have created a new award. The Stonewall Book Awards is now, for the first time, giving a book award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

    “of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience”

    The 2010 winner is The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd. What I like about this award is that it’s open (I think?) to anyone who writes about aspects of the LGBT experience in a masterful way instead of being only open to writers who identify as LGBT (like some of ALA’s other identity based awards). Identity based awards and parsing out awards to highlight books about certain things instead of having them stand together under the broader umbrella of, say, the Printz or the Newberry, is a complicated thing and better/more thoroughly analyzed in my post about building a literature of diversity. I’m not sure how I feel about the award being for YA and Kid Lit. I like it but I also wonder if the same criteria can be used to judge both types of books.

  • I just found this song via Bookshelves of Doom. There isn’t much to say about it except I love it and need it on my iPod Right. This. Minute.
  • Speaking of love, have you seen the cover of Sarah Rees-Brennan’s forthcoming book The Demon’s Surrender? (Conclusion to her Demon’s Lexicon trilogy which is one of my favorite trilogies ever.) Maybe now people will understand my completely irrational crush on Alan–the dashing, cunning, bookish, AWESOME character I most wish were real–who appears on this cover.
  • Holly Black offers fans of White Cat a selected noir reading list including classics and some noir-inspired fiction. I don’t know if you need more of an endorsement than recommended by Holly Black, but most of the books under the second heading (CON ARTISTS) reside comfortably, and constantly, in my Most Favorite/Best Books of All Time list.
  • If you’re more of a poetry person, here is a list of all of the poems quoted in Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.
  • Are you a book blogger? Do you like the holiday season? Do you enjoy exchanging gifts? Maybe you should join me and sign up for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap then. (Deadline is November 14!)
  • Are you a book blogger drowning in ARCS? Are you a teacher trying to build your classroom library? Are you thinking this already sounds like a match made in heaven? Then you MUST check out ARCs Float On over at The Reading Zone which is meant to match up bloggers and teachers and get all of those lovely ARCs and review copies bloggers no longer need into the hands of eager student readers. I love the idea and am signing up. If you are a blogger or a teacher, you should too with the Matchmaker Survey. While I will be keeping some ARCs for that much-promised 50k Giveaway Bonanza, I’m signing up for this because it just makes sense and is a great way to share good books.
  • Have you seen the new Sherlock on PBS? If not, you must. My mom says it has killed Sherlock Holmes forever, but I love it (and she’s coming around). The kicker: Sherlock Holmes. In the 21st Century! I love this kind of modern retelling premise, the actors are great and it’s just a good show (though the expository text can be a little rough when you are nearsighted and can’t really read it). Anyway, this new Sherlock is obsessed with texting (unlike me) which led Laura Miller on Salon.com to wonder what other classic literary characters might embrace modern technology (and Web 2.0) with open arms. (Salon.com’s Heather Havrilesky also loves the new Hawaii Five-O which is reason enough to listen to their writers, I think.)
  • If you’re reading this blog you probably like books. In fact, they might have changed your life. Maybe you even think You Are What You Read. Scholastic recently launched a new social networking site with a simple premise: Users join and build their “bookprint”–a list of the five books that shaped their lives. They can connect with users through these bookprints, compare bookprints with celebrities on the site, favorite other books, and do lots of other cool things. According to an email I received about the site’s launch, YAWYR is part of Scholastic’s 90th anniversary global literacy campaign, Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life, which celebrates the importance of literacy in the 21st Century. I am going to join . . . as soon as I can decide what five books really shaped my life (not easy!). You should too because it sounds fun and I’ll need friends on there when I join. Oh and you can sign in with your Facebook account if you have one.

Book Blogger Holiday Swap . . . sign up now!

I just heard about the Book Blogger Holiday Swap from Charlotte’s Library. Despite being a pretty solid book blogger, this was the first I heard of the swap but now that I know about it, I’m super excited.

Basically the BBHS is a Secret Santa event for . . . book bloggers! I love Christmas (and actually started decorating this weekend), I love gift swaps, and I’m a book blogger. So, of course, I’m all over this now that I know about it.

Signing up is fast with a google form to fill out and they also have a huge FAQ to better explain the process. BUT, you better hurry because the deadline to sign up is November 14. I even put a handy button on my sidebar *points* to make it even simpler to get to the site and get your name on the list.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up giving you your gift this year ;)

Happy Christmas early!

New Website, newfound skills

This all feels a bit self-congratulatory, but I have finally built a website for myself and I am so excited and so very happy with the (not quite) final product that I wanted to share it with all of you.

Before getting into details let me also say the site, while fabulous, has nothing to do with my blog. The URL isn’t changing for Miss Print, this site isn’t moving. I guess you could just say I’m building my brand.

Onwards to the story of my new website’s creation:

I used to have a complicated relationship with facebook (shocking, I know) and sharing photos online. I briefly used Flickr until I realized that I would have to pay cash dollars in order to anything exciting with that site and/or with my photos on that site. I started thinking about things and came to what seemed like a rather brilliant conclusion: If I was going to pay a site like Flickr for the privilege of posting photos, why not just buy webspace and a domain name instead and do it all myself?

That was two or three years ago. I use Hypermart as my webhost, I have two domain names. And I proceeded to do nothing with the site. The reason that is particularly pathetic is because I have tons of HTML experience, especially considering that was never my chosen area of expertise.

Back in the late 1990s, shortly after my mom and I got our first computer, my mom took some continuing education courses. She essentially taught herself HTML with the help of an online course and, in helping her build her website, I gleaned a lot of basic HTML information myself. Still, at this point I found HTML really tedious with all of the coding and typos and it felt like a very counter-intuitive process. It was, in fact, very much like trying to learn to dribble a basketball in gym class. I knew the mechanics. I could see myself doing it in my head. I could never execute the series of motions correctly in reality.

Then I went to college where I was required to take a basic computer course that included Excel and other things but was, essentially, an intro to HTML. The course was a nightmare. The book was poorly written and useless for anything but doing a lockstep walk through of the assignments. I was working with PC computers regularly for the first time and discovering that Mac to PC compatibility was not what it should be (meaning: what it is now). But I made it through and wound up with a very basic, very useless, website in the bargain. Aside from practicing more basic HTML all I got from this class was the fact that you could download HTML Kit for free on a PC and have a program very much like DreamWeaver to code with. For free. I never got the hang of tables or anything much beyond making lists. I was still very much just bouncing the ball in place instead of dribbling across the court. (The basketball is my extended metaphor for this post, bear with me it does have a point–honest!)

By the time I finished college I was comfortable enough with HTML to say I “knew” it. Not to say that I liked it. Much to my dismay that led me to being a “webmaster” and spearheading a group website project in the basic HTML course I had to take my first semester of library school which in turn led to a mild panic attack on my first day of grad school. How was I supposed to design a whole website and supervise a whole group site? But I persevered. The group picked colors, we made a logo, and wound up with a really bizarrely colored (and basic) group site. BUT all the links worked and everything was uniform which was all I was really hoping to accomplish. I also got what might be the only excellent HTML instruction manual from this class: Crash Course in Web Design for Libraries. I love this book. It’s super basic but it’s also super approachable and it’s the only reason I ever really got a handle on how to make a table in HTML.

Giddy with my website victory I foolishly took not one but two web-design-esque courses in my penultimate semester of library school. They almost led to a nervous breakdown but like a phoenix emerging from the ashes, I emerged from these courses finally, suddenly, truly understanding HTML. And liking it. The main things I got from those courses: How to use CSS (cascading stylesheets) which had always seemed like a wasted of time before and also how to really lay out a page. This is still unbelievable to me because it seemed so hard before, but I can finally sketch out a page on paper and then build it with coding. Which is huge for me. Epic.

Anyway, things finally clicked. I could dribble that proverbial ball even though I still wasn’t playing the game.* I knew how to make a website; I had a cascading stylesheet with colors and formatting that I really liked, I had a template I could adapt. I even had an FTP client to upload the pages.** But I didn’t have a vision for what that website should be.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

I started looking around and really thinking about it. Suddenly it seemed very obvious that the website didn’t need a vision. It just needed information about . . . well, about me. Information that I already had from this blog, my book club, my resume and just being out in the world. And the rest, as they say, is history.

On that note, I urge you to go and admire my lovely new website.

*The reason a basketball was my extended metaphor here is because this really happened. Three years of agony trying to learn to dribble a basketball in gym class with absolutely no progress or success. Then one day when I was fourteen I could just do it. It clicked, it made sense. I knew what to do. Ever since I’ve found that happens with a lot of things that I’ve previously written off like crochet, online games, and most recently HTML.

**FTP programs can be installed on your desktop computer to upload files instead of logging on to your webhost site every time. Fetch is my favorite FTP (unfortunately only for Macs)–it always works perfectly and is very easy to set up. If you are a student or meet some other qualifications, you might also be able to get Fetch for free with a Free Fetch License.

Blog Swag Giveaway: Selling Hope[CLOSED]

As some of you might have noticed, yesterday’s Chick Lit Wednesday Review was for Kristin O’Donnell Tubb’s Selling Hope.

I really loved this book and thought it was a lot of fun. It might even be the eleventh book on my ten for 2010 list.

In addition to receiving an ARC from the publisher I have two boxes of Anti-Comet Pills created by the author for this book. Selling Hope comes out next week on November 9, 2010. To celebrate, I’m giving away the Anti-Comet Pills to two lucky winners (US only) so they can be ready for any comets coming near Earth.

The photos above are one of the boxes. As you can see one side has a picture of the book’s cover and one side, excitingly, has what appears to be the packaging used by Hope to sell her pills in the book (as drawn by the dashing Buster).

Anyway, I was tickled to get these in the mail and thought it would be fun to share the wealth.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below (with a valid email in the “email” field) telling me what celebrity/actor/performer you’d like to see as a book character akin to the dashing Buster Keaton. Or, if you already have seen them, tell me who it is and what book they appeared in.

The winner will be selected via random number generator with the help of Maple the Palm Pre and notified via email on November 7, 2010.