Blog Tour: Hey Canada!

Today I'm taking a scenic detour from regularly scheduled programming to be a stop on Tundra Books' Hey Canada! blog tour! Click the banner above to go to the full listing of tour stops, and make sure you check out Cal's twitter feed -- if you retweet one of his factoids, you could win a copy of Hey Canada! for your own collection! Now, let me tell you who Cal is, and why he tweets factoids ...

Hey Canada!
Vivien Bowers & Milan Pavlovi (illustrator)
Tundra Books, 2012

Nine year old Alice is the narrator for Hey Canada!, and she and her cousin Cal (who is 8) are taking a cross-country camping trip with Gran. To record their adventures and what they learn, Alice writes a blog - which is the main text of the book. But there are also tweets (factoids of Cal, who is apparently quite the trivia expert!), poems, and some great illustrations. Featuring a mix of actual photographs and quirky illustrations, Hey Canada! has something of a scrapbook feel to it - something I really appreciated.

Since Alice and Cal are taking this trip with Gran to learn about Canada, visiting every province and capital city (as well as a few other adventures along the way), readers learn about Canada alongside them. In keeping with the scrapbooky vibe, the information is broken down into newsy bits that give tantalizing introductions to all aspects of Canadian life: the history, the trivia, the flora and fauna. Presented in such a way, readers learn a ton of information, without feeling like they're being lectured. It's what I like to call "sneaky learning," if you know what I mean. But seriously: the story itself is fun, and the narrative linking all the "educational stuff" is a little hilarious at times. A Houdini-wannabe hamster, encounters with wildlife and local foods, and a really great family chemistry between Gran, Alice and Cal all make for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Don't forget to check out Cal's twitter feed and retweet away for your chance to win!

Book provided by publisher for review.


Skip Rock Shallows

Skip Rock Shallows
Jan Watson
Tyndale, 2012

Lilly Gray Corbett grew up in the mountains of Kentucky, and when her first assignment after medical school sends her to a mining community not far from where she was raised, Lilly thinks things will fall into place. She wasn't counting on the people to resist so strongly to the fact she was a woman doctor however, and struggles to make sense of why she is even in Skip Rock. When an accident requires all her skill and precision to save the leg of an injured miner, Lilly starts to gain the acceptance of the community. It's slow going, but with the help of Ned - the injured miner's cousin - Lilly finds herself being accepted and respected by the people of Skip Rock. Even more than that, the community itself, particularly the women, begin to forge new bonds of friendship and a truer sense of community.

Skip Rock Shallows focuses not just on Lilly and her struggles with practicing medicine in a rugged Kentucky coal town, but also her fight against the past - and learning what it means to more fully lean on God, even when His ways don't seem to line up with her plans. And then there's the mysterious and handsome miner - Joe - who seems to be hiding something. As readers, we get to know Lilly and "Joe" (his real name is Tern) separately, seeing both struggle with reconciling their pasts with their presents. With every confrontation and incident that occurs, Lilly and Tern - and the whole Skip Rock family - learn to see the light of truth clearer, in a world dominated by the inky blackness of the coal mines.

The historical elements of Skip Rock Shallows I found to be particularly intriguing, as my familiarity with coal mining is limited to October Sky and The Rocket Boys. I also appreciated that the medical details were not too gory. Even though the story is split between Lilly and Tern's points of view, it's done in a way that is easy to follow and builds the story as a whole. Their interactions are real, and I loved Lilly's humanness. The people of Skip Rock are colorful characters, and each adds much to the atmosphere and flavor of the novel. On the whole, a very enjoyable read and I have discovered a new historical fiction author.

Book provided by publisher for review.


Just Say Yes

Just Say Yes
Phillipa Ashley
Sourcebooks, 2012 (Originally published 2008)

Lucy wasn't looking for a boyfriend. But when the uber-attractive new guy from the bagel shop seemed interested, she found it hard to turn him down - even though he definitely had some less than desirable attributes. She knew he was part of a hot new reality show, but Lucy never thought Nick would win, let alone propose - on live television - mere moments after being crowned victor. In that moment, Lucy found the strength to say "no," and became infamous. All the London papers and gossip mags were talking about her, and every step was hounded by the paparazzi. It got so bad that her boss strongly encouraged her to take a month off and let things die down. So Lucy escaped to the solitude of Cornwall with her best friend Fiona, hoping to avoid drama and attention.

The month she spends in Cornwall, Lucy slowly starts to unwind and relax back into her own skin. Aside from the snarkiness of Sara, the girlfriend of intriguing Josh (who owns all the other cottages on the farm, aside from Fiona's), Lucy finds just what she needs. Except for the minor detail of hiding her identity - Fiona created a pseudo-persona for Lucy as a high-rolling banker from London who cracked under pressure. The deception worries Lucy, but she doesn't see how to fix things. When Josh offers her an alternative at the end of her month's vacation - to stay on and be his seasonal help for the summer - Lucy impulsively decides to take him up on the offer. The next months are even more restorative for Lucy, and there's no denying the chemistry and growing tension between herself and Josh. When things come crashing to a head, and Lucy's world is flipped upside down again, she must dig down deep and find the Lucy she really is. Way down inside. And that's when things get really interesting.

Just Say Yes is a fun, engrossing read. The descriptions of Cornwall made me want to book a flight and spend my own summer there, and it provided a wonderful backdrop for Lucy's season of growth. At the beginning, she's such a "closed" character, but as each new confrontation happened, Lucy had to respond by "opening up," thus growing as a character. While it's a love story (or two), it's also a story of finding yourself and realizing that what makes you a success is doing what you love and are supposed to be doing.

eARC provided by publisher for review.


Saturday Storytime

Note: I can't tell that anyone else is doing something like this -- and if they are, and you know about it, please let me know!

I love picture books. Love them. I have a designated shelf for the picture books I acquire. (When I packed up so many books in October, I left out a lot of my picture books.) I still like to browse the children's section of the library, seeing what treasures are hiding on the crammed shelves. While I've reviewed some picture books, I realized there must be a better way to share my illustrated finds. After some musing, and pondering, I settled on the idea of "Saturday Storytime." This new feature will spotlight a couple picture books at a time, some old, some new. I like the alliteration of the name, and while it won't be a weekly thing, I'm shooting for once -- maybe twice -- a month. We'll see how it goes, but I think it has fun potential. Ready for the first installment?

Marching with Aunt Susan
Claire Rudolf Murphy & Stacey Schuett (Illustrator)
Peachtree, 2011

Bessie wants to do the things her brothers can, but as a girl in the 1890s she cannot. Able to recognize the unfairness, Bessie soon joins her mother and other women in town for suffragette meetings and marches with Susan B. Anthony. Along the way she learns more about the world around her, and helps make small changes for equality in her own family.

Beautifully illustrated, this is a story that's easy to read but also informative. At the back of the book are an author's note, timeline of suffrage history, and a mini-bio of "Aunt Susan," as well as resources for further reading.

Book provided by publisher for review.
Can I Bring Woolly to the Library, Ms. Reeder?
Lois Grambling & Judith Dufour Love (Illustrator)
Charlesbridge, 2012

This is a super cute, fun way to help kids learn library rules, by way of teaching them to a woolly mammoth. When a boy starts to plead his case to the librarian, Ms. Reeder, about why Woolly should get to come to the library, he talks his way through all the rules and potential problems. (And makes a pretty compelling case. I'd totally let Woolly come to my library!) The illustrations are fun and have a lot of detail. A great choice for a library storytime, I think.

Book provided by my local library.
The Divide
Michael Bedard & Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator)
Doubleday, 1997

In this beautiful book, we meet a young Willa Cather, struggling with homesickness and sadness as she moves with her family to The Divide. In the wide lonesome prairie lands, she discovers the true beauty and treasures in life, making friends with the immigrant women and discovering the hidden beauties of the wild, untamed land. These years, these memories, are what became the novels and stories that we think of when we think of Cather. But it started as a girl, a young girl of nine, leaving behind Home and finding that life is so much more. The Divide is one of those pretty books that I appreciate especially as a "grown up", but children will like it to.

Book provided by my personal library.



Lisa T Bergren

Remember my gushing reviews of Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent and Bourne? Well, Lisa Bergren delivered another amazing dose of River of Time goodness with Tributary. As with my other reviews, I'm trying to be excruciatingly careful to avoid spoilers, so details may be a bit - missing. However, don't let that deter you! In fact, if you've somehow missed the River of Time series, you should go out - right now - and find them. Read them all, and then grab Tributary and devour it too. They're amazing. Simply amazing.

Now then, for a bit about what makes Tributary such a read ... First, that's Luca Forelli on the cover, and if you think he has shorter hair than perhaps a medieval Italian knight would have - you're right. But there's a really lovely scene where Lia cuts his hair. It'll make you swoon a little. But then, Luca is always a charmer. I love watching the continued evolution of his relationship with Lia. What really had my heart pounding was Rodolfo Greco. Whew, if I wasn't officially Team Marcello, I'd have just signed my heart away to Greco. Dude's amazing. And finally free - to live and laugh and love. We also meet a new character, the beautiful Alessandra, who slips across the border onto Forelli land hunting boar - and finds herself ensnared in the intricate, messy web of politics.

I devoured Tributary, and was left breathless at the end. It's a masterful story, and a very fitting "end" to the River of Time series. At this time, Lisa isn't sure if there will be more to the story - and as much as I love these characters, after Tributary, I am okay with the idea of the journey ending. Gabi and Lia have come so far, and even Marcello, Luca and Rodolfo have grown and stepped fully into their destinies. The story feels complete, somehow. My heart is happy with the way things stand. And what a story Lisa can tell! If I can write something half as engrossing and beautiful, I will consider it success. So while I am bidding farewell to the River of Time, I'm moving on to the rest of Lisa's novels - I hear there's another trilogy set in medieval Italy!

eBook provided by my personal library.


The Queen's Lady

The Queen's Lady
Eve Edwards
Random House, 2012

The Queen's Lady begins not long after The Other Countess ends, picking up the story of Lady Jane - and, of course, James Lacey. If you have not read The Other Countess, you won't be entirely lost, as references are made to the significant events from that novel - but since the focus is now on Jane and James (as opposed to Will and Ellie), it's another storyline entirely. Lady Jane's transformation from cold, social-climbing noblewoman into a beautiful young lady with a heart is complete, although she is not without her troubles.

As a member of Queen Elizabeth's Privy Chamber, her position (and person) should be safe - just as her late husband the Marquess desired. And with the reappearance of James Lacey at Court (although, regretfully, in the house of Sir Walter Raleigh), Jane's life should be all happiness. But things are never as they seem, and soon Jane learns of a disastrous plan her father and brother have concocted -- forcing Jane to sacrifice her own happiness and independence to save those of her dear childhood friend Milly (who is, conveniently, in love with James' valet Diego). James could set things right, but he has demons of his own to conquer, and is on his way - with Diego - to the Americas, scouting a colony site on the Outer Banks. Any chance of a happier alternative for Jane will come down to timing. And fate.

What I love about Edwards' writing is her ability to weave together multiple story lines. While this is the story of Lady Jane and James Lacey, it's also the story of Milly Porter, Diego, and the colorful Christopher Turner. And, of course, we get to peek into the married life of Will and Ellie (swoon), and the rest of the Lacey clan. These people all have color, life, dreams and demons, plans and flaws. Place all of this wonderful, character-driven story into the rich historical context of Elizabeth's Court - and Raleigh's explorations - and you've got the makings of an amazing historical journey. I read this in a day, devouring the story, and sighing mightily when I reached the end. Most definitely looking forward to The Rogue's Princess in January, when I can pick up the tale again, this time - apparently - following the fortunes of Turner.

eARC provided by publisher for review.


Dreaming of Mr Darcy

Dreaming of Mr Darcy
Victoria Connelly
Sourcebooks, 2012

 Since she first met him, Kay Ashton has dreamed of Mr. Darcy. Actually, she loves all of Jane's heroes, but her special favorite is Mr. Darcy. Until the day she moves to Lyme-Regis, purchases Wentworth House and opens a bed & breakfast. Nestled in the heart of Jane-country, Kay finds herself unexpectedly housing the cast of a new film adaptation of Persuasion. Including the smashingly handsome Oli, playing Capt. Wentworth. Kay falls. Head-over-heels. The stuff dreams are made of, coming true before her very eyes. Or are they?

Dreaming of Mr. Darcy is one of those fun reads filled with quirky, human characters you could easily see yourself curling up for cocoa with. And, of course, there are tons of Austen references (which automatically make it an awesome read)! I loved Kay's responses and reactions to the unexpected changes occurring in her life - from making her dream come true to becoming friends with movie stars, Kay takes life in stride with a smile and a daydream. She's a character I could relate to, as was shy Gemma. And, of course, what fun romantic comedy of a novel doesn't have intriguing male leads?! Connelly delivers on this score as well, and as much as I wanted to dislike charmer Oli, he did get under my skin. My only problem with the story is that everyone is so in love with Persuasion - but that's just because I fail to see the attraction in Anne Elliot. And hey, I'm more than willing to let others (even fictional characters) have their own personal favorites, if they allow me mine.

Definitely a great summer-y read, and I'm looking forward to more from Connelly!

eARC provided by publisher for review.


The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress
Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson, 2012

The first thing that caught my attention in the BookSneeze newsletter was the cover. That dress - it's gorgeous, especially when you hold the book in your hands and can really look at the lacework. I'd wear it in a heartbeat. The premise was intriguing too: four women, one wedding dress, and a mysterious connection. What I got was a beautiful story about love - the sacrifices and struggles we willingly endure in the name of Love, the power of Love, and that journey to discovery we all must travel.

When Charlotte suddenly found herself the new owner of a beat-up old trunk at an estate auction, she never expected to find a wedding dress inside. She's not even entirely sure how she ended up buying it, but feels an undeniable draw to the trunk. The dress inside is not just any dress - it is The Dress. And Charlotte knows wedding dresses (she's the owner of a chic bridal boutique). The dress, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding its acquisition, tempt Charlotte into tracing the dress's history - slowly and steadily following the threads of history, little clues, to a most unexpected source. The research is a welcome distraction, as Charlotte's own engagement dissolves, and she struggles to make sense of love - while also battling an intense longing to find her father, some sense of family identity.

But this dress has four stories to tell, and while Charlotte is slowing weaving together the clues, Rachel Hauck lets us see into the past. Beginning with headstrong, passionate Emily in 1912, the dress has a way of bringing out the best and truest in people's heart, particularly the best and truest of its brides. Emily, Grace and Hillary all have unique stories of their own: romance, discovery, growth, heartache, wrenching decisions. The dress finds them as they need it, touching their hearts, leaving a mark, and then showing them who needs it next.

I loved the intricacy of the story, the complex layering that added a touch of intrigue, a taste of the fantastic even, without overwhelming the main story - Charlotte's story. There's an attention to detail, and a sense of careful craftsmanship that fits neatly with the idea of a handmade designer wedding gown. It's a thoughtful read, without being heavy or weighty - just right for a summer evening.

Book provided by publisher for review.


Armchair BEA: It's a Wrap!

All the fun of Armchair BEA has concluded - the discussions, the giveaways, the twitter parties...It's been an informative session, and there are so many participants! I still have posts to read (so I guess the fun can continue, eh?). This event is also a great reminder of why I got involved in blogging: the people! Talking about books is great, but you need to have someone to talk to - and the blogging community is awesome.

Here's to another year of blogging fun! And, from me, you can expect a blogoversary giveaway coming soon...


Armchair BEA: The Future of Book Blogging

It's the final day of Armchair BEA, and the discussion topic/post prompt is questions and tips for book blogging...I'm still relatively new to this, although I can scarcely believe I've been blogging for two years! Eep! I am constantly learning, and making adjustments as I go, so here are some of my thoughts about blogging. (I s'pose we can call them "tips," though I think of them as observations more than anything.

Blogging should be fun. We're not being paid for this (or, most of us aren't. I'm certainly not!), and it's pretty much a labor of love - an extension of our love for books, reading, the power of story. So it should be fun, something we enjoy. If blogging ever starts to feel like "work," I'll know it's time to step back and evaluate things.

Related to that, I've gone back-and-forth about how often to post, what to post, etc. For me, blogging a couple reviews a week is good - I feel like it keeps the blog current, it's easy to do most of the time (I'm a lifelong bookworm!), and it's not too stress-inducing. Sometimes I do reviews/posts on Monday-Wednesday-Friday, sometimes Tuesday-Thursday. Sometimes weekends, sometimes not. I'm planning to start a Saturday Storytime "series" to spotlight picture books in a better manner, so they don't get lost among the other reviews. When I have blog tours or special posts, I change things up accordingly. For me, having a flexible schedule is good - it keeps it fun, and I don't feel like such a slave to the calendar.

I do want to work on adding more non-review posts...Guest posts, interviews...Posts where I just talk about stuff. I also want to make an effort to include more DVD/movie reviews. I think they could slip in nicely, and help "fluff" things a bit, keep it interesting.

One last observation, regarding review books versus personal reading: Mix it up. Keep it balanced. And if all else fails, err on the side of more personal reading. This is connected to the first point, about keeping blogging fun - you desperately need to keep reading fun. If all you read are books you have to read, for review, it's going to take a toll on you sooner or later. Even if you like the books, you're still having to read them. You need to make time to read things you pick. Random books that catch your interest, or old favorites you love to revisit. The stories that call to you: read them.

There you have it: my two-cents (or maybe more like thirty-four) about blogging. As for questions for you, my fellow book-loving bloggers -- I do have a couple, of the "just curious"-variety:
  • What do you think is the one feature that any self-respecting book blog should have?
  • What do you find to be the best way to attract reader attention?
  • What meme do you think the most beneficial to be a part of? The most fun?
This has been a great Armchair BEA year, and I know there are a lot of posts still to read - so many words, and so little time! Thanks to all who've stopped by, and I hope to see you again.


Armchair BEA: Beyond the Blog

Day 4 of Armchair BEA already! Eek! Okay, time to talk about writing outside of the blogworld, and something fun from real life...

I'm definitely a writer. For a time, my major was Writing - and then the English curriculum was changed, and I switched back to a Literature concentration (with a sprinkling of writing courses). I was a staff-writer for the campus newspaper for a semester, before being promoted to A&E Editor my Junior and Senior years. I've got notebooks and Word.doc files galore with snippets and starts. (I'm actually even working on my first novel right now!). In a perfect world, I'd somehow be able to make a living writing - either at a paper (I'd love to do color commentary for sports!) or magazine, or by publishing books. Until then, I just enjoy the writing itself ... Blogging, newsy-quirky letters and emails to friends ... I'm a contributor to IndieJane, and have also turned my love of writing to work as a beta reader and story editor for several of the IndieJaneites.

As a fun tidbit of my life outside of books (and yes, I do have one!) ... I have a 13lb rabbit. Her name is 'BabyCat', and my brother and a buddy found her in the park one January evening. From our best estimate, she was about 3 weeks old at the time - and so very, very tiny. I brought her home, gave her food, water and love, and she started growing...and didn't stop for 18 months! Never in my life would I have thought she'd get so big, ha... But she's my bunnygirl, and a very good snuggler. Although, she does seem to think books are for eating rather than reading...

BabyCat, Easter photo shoot 2012


Armchair BEA: Networking...In Real Life?!

Okay, honestly? I've been trying and trying to think of a real life experience related to books and blogging for today's Armchair BEA topic -- and I'm failing miserably. I don't have a local indie bookstore to chat with and/or support (which is super sad, because I love hearing people talk about their awesome indie stores. Makes me want to hurry up and make the daydream of owning my own bookstore happen NOW). BUT, then I had a thought of how I can spin this idea of networking and connections ...

... It was pre-organized blogging, but when I was in college, I had a couple super amazing opportunities to meet authors on a very personal level. I received a scholarship two years in a row that not only helped fund my literary education, but gave me the privilege of meeting Dorothea Benton Frank and Cassandra King. Not just casually meeting them, but actually talking to them - eating lunch with them! - and, of course, getting signed books. In that same year-and-change, I also got to meet Susan Vreeland, in an even smaller, more intimate setting. I sat beside her at another luncheon, following an information discussion session, and when she signed my copy of The Forest Lover, she inscribed it with a personalization of the final line. (Yeah, total fangirl moment, in a very dignified manner of course).

As if those personal interactions were not awesome enough, my campus also hosted an annual literary festival celebrating student writing and hosting literary guests. We're talking Sarah Dessen (freshman year, and yes, that was a definite fangirl moment!) and Jennifer Niven, among others. (And we're not even touching the amazing opportunities to meet writers of a more scholarly bent that my History major offered. But believe me, I've met some brilliant minds, who've written more books than any human should, ha!).

I wasn't formally blogging during my undergrad days, but I will always remember these encounters -- getting to meet authors I'd read for years, or were just discovering. Speaking with them as a fellow writer, as a lover of story. Seeing that even with amazing and beautiful books for sale, these women were women - they could laugh and drink sweet tea with the best of us.

Looking back, and looking at my interactions with authors now -- it's still that sense of humanity I love best. When favorite authors tweet me back about football or hot actors or frozen yogurt, it makes it real. It makes this virtual community feel more intimate, more like those lunches and chat sessions.

So ... that's my story. I was blessed with truly amazing opportunities as a student, and I do not take that for granted. I love seeing new books published, knowing I've met the author -- up close and personal. And it's my hope to, one day, be on the opposite side of the equation: to be the author making a personal contact with a college student full of dreams and a love of story.


Armchair BEA: Best of 2012

Today is the day a lot of Armchair BEA participants are hosting giveaways, so you'll want to swing by the main site and see what's what. I'm opting to wait and save my giveaway goodness for a blogoversary-thing next week ((I decided to delay it until post-Armchair BEA)), so I am posting about the "Best of 2012" ...

...Obviously 2012 is a long way from over, we're just past the half-way mark! But I've already read 40+ books, so I'm going to highlight a few of my favorite reads (links to my reviews):
  • Awake (Jessica Grey): As a fairy tale fangirl, I love this modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty. There are twists and turns galore, and I hear there's a trilogy in the works...
  • Bourne (Lisa T Bergren): If you have not read the River of Time series, you need to stop right now and go. find. them! Seriously, these books are amazing - and Bourne took my breath away. I'm counting down the days until I get my hands on the next novella installment Tributary.
  • Prophet  (RJ Larson): Wow...Take the atmosphere and feel of the Old Testament, place it in a different world with just a twist of fantasy, and you've got one amazing read. For me, this was a beautiful, breath-taking read.
  • Written in the Ashes (K. Hollan VanZandt): Historical fiction about the Library at Alexandria. What more could you ask for?
  • The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvator): Mystical, mysterious horses that come out of the sea - wild and untamed. A quiet boy who speaks their language. The tomboy who learns to read his heart. Part romance, part wild adventure story, this one captured my imagination and invaded my dreams.
What about you? What are your favorite reads of 2012 (so far)?


Armchair BEA: Introductions First!

While hundreds of bloggers, authors, publishers, and all-around-awesome people are flooding the streets of New York this week for BEA (so. jealous!), I am participating in Armchair BEA for the second year. It's not quite the same as battling crowds and hoping beyond hope to snag That Particular ARC, but I had an amazing time last year, and have high hopes for this year. Today, we getting things started with introductions, via self-interviews! The lovely leaders of Armchair BEA have come up with 10 great questions, and asked us blogger types to pick 5 to answer. So ... Here goes!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
My name's Rebecca, but you may see me appearing on the interwebz as RivkaBelle. I've been blogging for two years (as of Saturday, June 2nd!), and absolutely love it. I started this blog ages ago, as a place to stick poems or thoughts on books/movies/etc. I also used to record snippets of the conversations we'd have in the cafeteria, ha. Once I discovered the vast world of book blogs a few years ago, I decided to try my hand at evolving this "wordy place" into an actual book blog. So far, it's been a fun and - I think - successful experiment. I've learned so much, and absolutely love getting to chat with publishers and authors about books and life.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
I really, really, really love frozen yogurt. And I normally end up getting 16oz at a time when I hit up my local froyo bar. (But hey, it's really good and it's healthy!)

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
This is a fun question! Hmm...Okay, I think it's probably this one...because it's so near and dear to my heart. But I also have a special place in my heart for this one, which is also worth checking out. (Yes, I realize I just gave you two posts -- so I fudged it a little, but they're both good!)

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
Oh man...Such an awesome question, and so hard to pick just one! I could answer this so many ways...But let's go with...Lady Galadriel. When I first read Fellowship of the Ring, I was - well, I guess enchanted - by Lady Galadriel. She fascinated me, captured my imagination, and I wanted to know so much more. She still is a figure of great interest, and I think it'd be lovely to have a cosy spot of tea with her.

Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?
I think this is a yes-AND-no answer...I think I'm probably just more aware of my reading habits now: I read a ton of historical fiction and YA. But I've also discovered there are a lot more options available - like the world of Austenesque reading (which I label "Austenia" here), and all the amazing fairy tale variations. I've also begun reading a lot more indie books - things I would never have known existed before discovering the blogging community. Maybe it's less a change in my reading tastes, and more a fine-tuning of my palette?

This has been fun! I can't wait to see what the other Armchair BEA participants have answered!