Reading with Analysis’s Birthday!

This blog’s first blogiversary is tomorrow, actually, and I want to celebrate a few things.  This year has been remarkable for me in a whole bunch of ways.  For starters, I came out of the romance-reading closet, and I discovered that a heck of a lot of truly brilliant women (and some amazing men) happily read that genre and find intellectual fulfillment in it.  I am not alone.  I know that, now.  In fact, I made friends!  (Anyone who knows me well will understand how big a thing it is for me to make a friend; it’s difficult for me… I’m way too neurotic for most people.)  I have had so much fun talking about books on this blog, on others’ blogs, on Goodreads, and on Twitter with other people who love books (especially love stories in their various forms) just as much as I do.

Anyway, who cares, right?  Let’s get to the good stuff.  I have assembled a somewhat random giveaway (why be boring?) to thank everyone who follows this blog and helps make this whole blogging thing rather an exciting experience for me.

First up is Simon the Fox, squshie extraordinaire.  I love these squshies… they are small felt plush animals (also, dinosaurs and monsters) with vaguely square shapes (hence the name: square plushies = squshies), which is awesome in itself, but my favorite thing about the squshies is that each animal has a totally random story.  Kiki the Tiger, for example, is an encyclopedia-reading cheerleader, and Jasper the Bear loves food on a stick.  For this giveaway, I selected Simon the Fox, who loves to make up stories and wants to write a mystery novel.  (To learn more about squshies, visit

Simon the Fox

Next up are the book prizes.  I agonized about whether I should give away specific books or just offer gift cards for quite a while… And (somewhat obviously) I decided to do specific books.  These books have really knocked my socks off, and I want to give other people the chance to read them (even folk who don’t normally read romance or erotica.  Trust me, these books are good, sexy times notwithstanding.).  Rest assured, winners will have the opportunity to choose their prize, on a first come, first served basis.

1.  The Courtney Milan starter pack, e-book only, available in Kindle or .epub format.  This starter pack includes the novella The Governess Affair and the full-length novel The Duchess War.

Cover image, the Duchess War

Cover image, the Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

2.  The Tiffany Reisz starter pack, e-book or paperback (you choose), includes one copy of The Siren, the first book in Reisz’s Original Sinners series.

Cover image, The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

3.  My favorite Elizabeth Hoyt book, paperback or e-book (you choose).  Includes one copy of The Raven Prince.

Cover image, The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

That’s great, Kel, how do we win these prizes?  Funny you should ask!  Here’s them rules:

  1. Leave a comment and answer any (or all) of the following arbitrarily-chosen questions: (1) What are you reading right now? (2) What’s the best book you’ve ever read? (3) How do you go about discussing the books you’ve read?  Are you lucky enough to have an in-person discussion network, or do you primarily conduct any discussions online?  (4) Do you ever read romance or erotica novels?  (5) Do you have a genre that you just can’t like (i.e., I have a tough time reading books set in space… for some reason, I’m just predisposed to dislike ’em.)?
  2. This giveaway is limited to folk who follow my blog.  If you want on this crazy train, just enter your email address in that little box on the sidebar; if you have a WordPress site, just click the follow button.
  3. You need to be willing to provide an email and/or postal address (if you want a real, paper book — or a Simon the Fox — to hold in your grubby hands) in order to claim your prize.

The giveaway will run through Thursday, February 21 at 11:59 p.m.  I’ll announce the 4 winners at some point on Friday, February 21.  My giveaways have traditionally been… less than stellar.  If fewer than four people sign up to participate in this one, I’ll let y’all duke it out to decide who wins what.  I’m flexible.

Thanks, y’all!  This year’s been a blast, and I’m looking forward to another year full of reading and analyzing.

19 thoughts on “Reading with Analysis’s Birthday!

  1. I don’t have an in-person discussion group, and that’s probably for the best. I don’t always finish what I start if I’m not enjoying a book, and often I don’t like book club selections. I do, however, love spending time at Goodreads and discussing books there, as well as reading other people’s reviews.

    • It’s difficult to find a good in-person discussion group. I participate in a book club at my work that is a once-per-year, 8-week gig and focuses on books that discuss science ethics and/or diversity (rather specific, eh?). This is my second year participating, and I can honestly say that I would never have picked up either book on my own, but I’m very glad to read them and discuss them with the group. Of course, we all work here, so everyone’s on their absolute best behavior. Most bookish people have a book club horror story or two…

  2. Right now I’m reading Bel Canto. Very slowly. I actually think it’s pretty good, so I want to read it when I have a huge swath of uninterrupted time to concentrate on it. This never happens. So instead I just manage a paragraph before I fall asleep. Damn you, need to sleep! *shakes fist*

    I’m also “reading”–i.e. listening to–The Green Rust by Edgar Wallace (same guy who wrote King Kong), It is SO PULPY but I’m weirdly enjoying it.

    • I had to look up Bel Canto… that sounds amazing! I know what you mean about wanting dedicated reading time… When I read serious books (almost never, although I am working on two right now), I will usually read them bit by bit in the short window between my kids’ bedtime and mine. I can read easier, high-plot books during my lunch at work or after dinner while my kids are playing, but I can’t concentrate on anything serious during those times.

  3. I’ll play! (1) I just started Patricia Falvey’s The Yellow House (I’m a complete sucker for books set in Ireland); I’m also chipping away at Nixonland and a biography of Edith Wharton. (2) Picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite child … so let’s say The Wings of the Dove (literary fiction), The Year of Magical Thinking (non-fiction), and Lord of Scoundrels (romance) (3) I teach literature but I discuss my pleasure reading mostly online (4) Romance yes erotica no (5) I don’t really like paranormal or romantic suspense. I can handle crime/mystery if it’s not too graphic or psychological, but I hate anything dealing with serial killers.

    • This is the second mention of Lord of Scoundrels being someone’s favorite romance novel… I will have to read it. I adored The Year of Magical Thinking… are you a fan of Didion in general? Sometimes I wonder if you have to start out a Didion fan in order to like that book…..

      • Lord of Scoundrels is the book that made me a romance reader. Now that I’ve read more widely in the genre, I have critiques of it (e.g., feisty heroine, etc.), but I still love it and it has that tang of newness. Similarly, The Year of Magical Thinking made me love Didion. I first read it when I was dealing with losing a grandparent, so my adoration of it is very personal, but I went on to read most of her essays (Slouching Toward Bethlehem is my other favorite) and quite a bit of her fiction and I find her mind and writing so compelling. I have dreams of attending a cocktail party with Didion and Susan Sontag. Because these are dreams, I am able to keep up with the conversation and acquit myself brilliantly. Ah, dreams. ; )

      • Those are good dreams… The first thing I read of Didion’s was an essay from The White Album, “On the Mall.” It was in my junior year English class in high school, and everyone else in the class absolutely hated it and Didion. But my dad works in retail architecture/site design/civil engineering, so all that shopping mall design talk made sense to me and fit the context of my life. During college and beyond, I read everything of hers that I could find. You know how your tastes change as you mature (in my case, perhaps not always for the better)? I’m not sure that I want to grow out of my taste for Didion’s voice.

  4. (1) Right now, I’m about to start Chandra’s Secrets for class, and probably an ARC of The Beautiful and the Cursed for fun.
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
    (3) I post my thoughts online but I am also incredibly lucky/blessed to be pursuing my doctorate in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. I am surrounded by people who want to talk books.
    (4) Oh yeah! Definitely a guilty pleasure and great summer beach reads.
    (5) I’m generally not a fan of historical fiction, but a great romance or plot can convince me otherwise!

    • (2) Yes, East of Eden… My friends and I had a short lived (read: pre-kids) book club, and I think East of Eden was the best of what we read. Do you like any other Steinbeck works? (5) Historical fiction is tough pretty hit and miss for me, too. I love history, but I don’t enjoy fiction that focuses more on historical details than on story development. Thanks for the follow!

      • I blog on children’s and YA literature, but Steinbeck will always be my first literary love. I love him and everything that I’ve read of him– fun fact: the name of my blog is an homage to Travels with Charley!

      • I’ve read only Grapes of Wrath, Winter of our Discontent, Cannery Row, East of Eden, and Of Mice and Men… of those books, East of Eden, Winter of our Discontent, and Cannery Row were my favorites, in that order. I enjoyed Grapes of Wrath when I read it (in high school), but I hated the ending… What else of his should I absolutely read? I’m always looking to branch out. 🙂

      • Oh I love Winter of Our Discontent!! Can’t believe I left it off the list! I’d recommend Travels with Charley, definitely, it’s just beautifully written. The Pearl and The Red Pony are both gorgeous (and shorter) novels of his. If you’ve already read Mice and Men and Grapes, then you should go ahead and read In Dubious Battle to finish off that “trilogy”. Sweet Thursday is also the sequel to Cannery Row!

  5. Yay, congratulations on your blog’s birthday! That’s great. 🙂
    1) Right now I am re-reading the last few books in the Wheel of Time series so that I can read the final one (Memory of Light) that came out last month. 2) I don’t really know what qualifies as the best book, but I can say that the Harry Potter series makes me the happiest to read. 3) I usually just talk about what I’m reading with Tim. 4) Not usually, no, but this blog has made me more interested in the possibility. 5) I don’t like anything too overtly violent, though supernatural or fantasy settings allow me a higher threshold for mayhem. It’s more the true crime, rape and murder stuff that gets me because it could happen. I tend to handle it better when it’s vampires and witches on the murdering spree.

    • I know; it’s amazing how much more palatable it is to encounter violence in a fantasy setting. I’m really hinky about violence, even in fantasy; I’m prone to nightmares. Epic battle (I’m thinking LOTR) doesn’t bother me, because the intent is not related to the specific act of violence (meaning, Aragorn kills a lot of orc and uruk-hai bozos, but that killing is not an end to itself; rather, he’s on a quest, and on the way, he has to kill bad guys ). I have difficulty with violence that is an end to itself, and I try to avoid depictions of that sort of violence. Do you and Tim usually read the same books? (Re: 4, come to the dark side… we have sex scenes and happy endings…… pun not exactly intended, but whatever.)

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