Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Balancing the Books blog is (*sniff*) no more

Dear Balancing the Books readers:

This is goodbye.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my book-related musings, reviews and event previews on this blog over the last few years. Next week I start a new job in southern Vermont that's going to keep me too busy to blog. I'll be the managing editor of The Bennington Banner, a 6-day daily newspaper in Bennington, Vt., starting on Jan. 16. 

Hopefully I'll still have some time to read!

So, like all good stories (I couldn't resist), after nearly five years in existence, the Balancing the Books blog now comes to an end. My apologies to the authors whose books I received in the last couple of months that I did not have a chance to review here. 

My thanks to the publishers who mailed review copies of so many books over the years. I enjoyed using the review copies as giveaways on this blog.

Perhaps you'd like to try your hand at blogging as well. The Mercury hosts myriad bloggers on lots of different topics on its Town Square page. If you'd like to start one, contact Mercury Community Engagement Editor Diane Hoffman at If you need help getting started, or have some questions, Diane can help.

As far as I know, The Mercury has no other book blogger at this point. So if there's another bibliophile out there who wants to give it a try, now's the time.

Thanks for reading!


(What I hope to soon be doing more of instead of blogging)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Women's Writing Circle to meet Jan. 12 in Exton

Hey budding writers, you might be interested in attending this workshop. I received the following announcement from group founder Susan Weidener: 

Start the New Year By Writing Your Story

The Women's Writing Circle will meet from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, at Wellington Square Bookshop, 549 Wellington Square, in the Eagleview Town Center, Exton. 

This is a supportive group of writers. All genres welcome and writers do not have to be published. There is a $5 charge to participate in the read-around. For those who want to listen to the readings, there is no charge. 

The group also discusses writing techniques and publishing options. Free coffee and tea. For more information and directions to the bookstore, go to or contact Susan Weidener at 610-304-5370 or

Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer, and author of Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again and Morning at Wellington Square. Susan started the Women’s Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers. She is currently working on an anthology of stories and poems with women writers in the Philadelphia area.

Thursday, December 20, 2012's Top 20 of 2012

In September I blogged about, a site that "helps" pick your next favorite read based on what you've already read and liked (check out that post here). The site could be a good helper for last-minute Christmas gift ideas - just enter in a book your loved one liked and find an instant recommendation for something similar.

The folks at that site recently posted its top 20 books of the year - the top 20 books that have been recommended to users through Not all of them are new - in fact most are not.

Here are the 20 most popular books at the site in 2012:

1. The Hunger Games: Book 1 - Suzanne Collins
2. Fifty Shades of Grey - E. L. James
3. The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss
4. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
5. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
6. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) - Suzanne Collins
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter 6) - J.K. Rowling
9. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) - George R.R. Martin
10. Divergent - Veronica Roth
11. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
12. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
13. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
14. Gone Girl: A Novel - Gillian Flynn
15. Bared to You - Sylvia Day
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
17. Pride and Prejudice (Collector's Library) - Jane Austen
18. Fifty Shades Freed - E.L. James
19. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
20. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

They noted that the first book of The Hunger Games - although it came out in 2008 - completely dominated, with more than 175,000 searches. The third part, Mockingjay, has also been in the top 20 throughout the year, "although interestingly the second part, Catching Fire, never caught fire."
Another big sensation was Fifty Shades of Grey, " which appropriately came in at second place, despite only entering the top 20 chart in March. Once again the third part of the trilogy made a good showing - what is it about the second part of trilogies that's never so popular?"

They said classics including The Cat in the Hat, 1984 and Pride and Prejudice are "up high in the charts every month."

It's fun to try plugging books into the site, whether you're looking for a gift or a new pick for yourself. I (sadly) haven't really loved a book I've read lately.

Currently I'm reading Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections." says if I like it, next I should try Sharon Osbourne's autobiography .... Not likely!