Thursday, December 20, 2012


"Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. Still, given an infinite number of possible worlds, it must be true on one of them. And if a story set in an infinite number of possible universes is true in one of them, then it must be true in all of them. So maybe it's not fictional as we think."

Before now I have only read Neil Gaiman's graphic novels, and while I was sometimes scared by them, I still enjoyed them. Enough so that I finally decided to pick up this novel that I have had on my shelf for a while. Of course, I didn't knwo there was a second book to this, so while I technically should not have read this now, I am glad I did. I enjoyed this book!

This book was a quick easy read, which is great right now since I have been bogged down with a book I didn't particularly like. I also loved the idea of the story Gaiman and Reaves wanted to tell, the concept of multiple universes is one that I am always drawn to, then you add a ton of characters who are all the same person ut not and things get interesting.

I enjoyed the story, the characters, and everything in between. Gaiman gave me a story that I felt drawn to. Of course now it has me wishing I had the next book so that I could finish the story. I can't wait to get to read what happens next.

I also look forward to getting to read this book to my son. While I enjoyed reading this book, I have to say that I think my son will enjoy it more. It seems more like a book directed toward young adults, even teens. The writing style is simple, direct, funny, and just unbelieveable enough to leave you waiting for what happens next. I do think everyone should give Gaiman a chance, maybe not with this novel, but with one of the many stories he has written over the years. He is a great writter! Here is another book I can keep on my shelf and recommend to others.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Candle Bay

"In their rooms, some guests read or made love, but most of them slept, blissfully unaware of the fact that their innkeepers were losing their minds." -Candle Bay, (p. 160)

I went ahead and picked this book up for my All Hallows Read this year, meaning I opened it on Halloween day. I had gotten my hands on a few books and so I felt confident I could get this read before NaNoWriMo hit hard enought o distract me from reading, maybe even before the month of November started! I realize now that while this was not a wholly ambitious idea, it was a false sense of hope for my reading goal for the year.
In picking this up I believed it to be a horrow noel, after all it does say "Pinnacle Horror" at the top of the spine. Silly me! This was simply a romance novel with not much juice to it. Sure there were raunchy jokes that I wouldn't want my daughter reading until she was married, but nothing to make anyone blush at really. And sure it was a story about vampires, with a nice tale, one that I had not heard before and actually got me interested enough to finish the book, but the story was not nearly as spooky as character Coastal Eddie's warning on the radio each night at midnight.
I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads, something that I am pretty sure has only happened once before! Like I said, I loved the vampire tale that they spin throughout the novel, a legend that only one person knows all the details to and he isn't giving much away. That may have been the only thing keeping my from giving up the second star altogether. Well, that and I liked the characters. I will say this, Tamara Thorne does a great job of giving her characters personality. They had me giggling and gringing the hwole way through! But that was it, the only two redeeming qualities of this book.
My last problem, and I promise I will be done with the shaming of this novel, was its horribly anticlimatic ending! I worried about this from about 2/3 of the way through when I say the number of pages left dwindling and I knew the ending would be too short. But I had no idea that it would only take up 2 pages! With a 1 1/2 page epilogue that leaves you not really curious, followed by a 2/3 page letter from the author that seemed like more of a plea for support on her next novel and a half-handed explination at why there was no real ending!

I cannot recomend this book to anyone, sorry, I just was not happy with enough of it to even suggest it as a single day read for the heck of it. Maybe if you are a writer and want to know what a reader DOES NOT want in an ending, you could pick this up, start about half way through, and see what a horrible ending looks like.

I am sorry that I could not support this book more, I really am. For Amanda Pearce, I wish I could give a better review, but I cannot.

Here's hoping the next book is awesome enough to make up for this.

~*~If you have read this book and believe I am completely wrong in my view of it, please feel free to let me know! I hope for Tamara Thorne's sake there is someone out there to defend this novel. Please speak up if you are that person! Maybe the readers will believe you over me!~*~

Friday, December 7, 2012

Looking for a book?

Well everyone, with last months novel writing, I haven't been able to update and give you any new books. So instead I will give you a list of books that other people think are good! Now, I haven't been able to read any of these books, at least not the winners, but many of them are now on my to-read list. Maybe we can discover and enjoy them together. So go take a look at what readers deemed to be the best of the books of the year. Let me know which ones, if any, you decide to read!

GoodReads Choice Awards 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallow's Read

That's right ladies and gents, it is that time of year! I know everyone is going to be focused on candy and costumes today, but for those of us that always have books somewhere in mind, today is more than tricks and treats! It's the All Hallows Read!

I started my reading early, choosing to read The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. Now traditionally, All Hallows Read is reserved for books of hauntings, supernatural activity, or classics such as Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven". But I decided to branch out this year, reading about monsters of the human variety. Thus I picked a true crime novel about a visious killer who has yet to be caught. I was also given the chance to partake of the amazingly creepy tale of "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman who gave us book to the world by reading it aloud, along with many other awesome people! Find each of the chapters here. And now I have picked up a supernatural horroralled Candle Bay by Tamara Thorne.

For those of you have not participated in an All Hallows Read before, here is a link to site with everything from book recommendations for this special evening to book marks for those moments when you have to answer the door and dole out candy. All Hallow's Read even has a little video from one of the writing world's best contributors to the haunted genre: Neil Gaiman!

So get over there and check things out, or pick up a book from your own shelf or library that you have been putting off for the right mood to strike. And let me know what you have chosen to read! I can always use new ideas for next year!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Monster of Florence

"Many countries have a serial killer who defines his culture by a process of negation, who exemplifies his era not by exalting its values, but by exposing its black underbelly. England had Jack the Ripper, born in the fogs of Dickensian London, who preyed on the city's most neglected underclass, the prostitutes who scrabbled for a living in the slums of Whitechapel. Boston had the Boston Strangler, the suave, handsome killer who prowled the city's more elegant neighborhoods, raping and murdering elderly women and arranging their bodies in tableaux of unspeakable obscenity. Germany had the Montser of Dusseldorf, who seemed to foreshadow the coming of Hitler by his indiscriminate and sadistic killing of men, women, and children; his bloodlust was so great that, on the eve of his execution, he called his imminent beheading "the pleasure to end all pleasures." Each killer was, in his own way, a dark embodiment of his time and place.
Italy had the Monster of Florence." -The Monster of Florence, Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi (p. 24)

I apologize for such a long quote at the beginning of the post, but I always try to find one that best suites the tone and content of the book I am taking it from. This was it for this book. Not only does it tell you just how horrible this criminal was, by giving you examples he can be compared to, but it also shows you the level at which the story is told, Prestona dn Spezi do such a wonderful job at writing.

The Monster of Florence is the story of someone who went about the countryside killing young couples in their cars just after they had had sex (sorry for the bluntness, but I can't come up with a nice way of putting it). I won't go into details about the things that were done, you can discover that for yourself in a simple web search; but I will say that the book Hannibal was influenced by the Monster. The murders took place between 1974 and 1985, leaving fourteen dead, yet the killer has continued to elude the police to this day. Or so Spezi and Preston believe; as do I.

During the reading of this book I found myself frequently stopping to shake me head, groan, rant, and rave about the direction in which the case went. Not only was the collection and interpretation of the evidence simply horrendous, but simple truths that seem plain to everyone, went overlooked or simply ignored by those investigating the crimes. Instead of finding the killer, the police came up with insane conspiracy theories that would give truely crazy people a run for their money. These led to numerious wrongful convictions, ruining of people's lives, and the freedom of the true perpetrator of the crimes. It really is a shame, and it curdles my stomach to read about such a miscarriage of justice in today's world.

That all being said, the story itself was an interesting one. Reading about Spezi's pursuit of the truth from the day he caught the story in June of 1981, up until the present when he has been accused not only of trying to derail the investigation with his journalism, but also of being the killer himself, was enjoying a wild ride. The story if truly outrageous! And it is so well written by the amazing Spezi and Preston. Even though the facts made me sick, I was pulled along through the events by the wonderful writing.

I highly recommend that anyone that is interested in true crime give this book a look. Or if you like the writing of Preston, this is a great way to learn a little more about what the writer has been through over the years. Or if you are just looking for something non-fiction to read that has to do with the evils of the world. For so many this can be a great read, and I encourage all of you to give the book a chance, you might be surprised to find that you like it, even if it is not normally what you would read.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Island

"These were days in which Alexis felt herself grow older and wiser, and Fotini, in retelling so much of her past, felt herself young again. The half-century that separated the two women disappeared to vanishing point, and as they strolled arm in arm, they might even have been mistaken for sisters." -The Island by Victoria Hislop (p. 53)

The Island is the story of a family; mostly the women in a family. There is Alexis who has asked her mother Sophia if she can delve into their background so that she might know a little more about where she came from. Sophia gives in and sends her daughter to Plaka in Crete to discover the truth. So Alexis learns of Eleni and her two daughters: Maria and Anna (Sophia's mother). In learning of her family she discovers all the dirty little secrets of selfishness, infedelity, murder, and most inportanly, leprosy. Alexis discovers both villans and heros in her ancestry, and a close, if unwanted, attachment to the island of exile, Spinalonga.

As a lover of stories I am expecially drawn to the tale of people's families. These personal histories not only let us see the past in a different way, but also give us some hints into the people produced from these families. I love to know about the events and circumstances that have led a person or family to this point. So when I discovered this book I was sure that I found one that would have me intrueged until the very end. I was not dissappointed.

Within only a few pages I found myself attached to the characters of this story, feeling such pity for them and the situations they were thrown into. Not long after that I shed the first of many tears for these people. Many times I grew choked up at the heartbrake that occured throughout the three generations of women Alexis discovered. And yet I could not put down this book! The story held me tight, pulling me on with each page. I was just as invested in finding out the truth as young Alexis was. The villians and heros in the family reassuring me that every family has its good and bad apples, and perhaps both are necessary to make such a wonderful tale and legacy for their descendants.

Not only was the story captivating, but I was also greatly pleased with the writing. After having read a few books that I have had trouble getting through, it was a relief to sit down and fall into a book without having to worry about the words breaking the spell. The story flowed wonderfully, with a delicate ballance of history, discription, and emotion, led to a wonderful story I am slightly sad to have to put down. So I will keep this one for my shelf, and I look forward to picking it up to read again in the furute. I also recommend that everyone give this book a chance. With such a wonderful story, I hope everyone gets a chance to read the tale of a single family so affected by a place most would never know existed.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Thousand Acres

"The last few weeks had shown well enough for anyone to understand that the one thing our family couldn't tolerate, that maybe no family could tolerate, was things coming into the open." -Ginny Cook Smith, A Thousand Acres (p. 252)

A Thousand Acres is the story of a family with a lot of issues. The father, Larry Cook, inherited the family farm from his father and grandfather, but then had three daughters to whom he would have to pass the thousand acres, which meant that he had to hope he could trust his sons-in-law. His two oldest daughters were left to help out with the farm, taking care of their father, and raise their youngest sister when their mother passed away from cancer when the oldest was 14. Ginny, the oldest, did well, marrying a boy from town who she had known most of her life and whom her father trusted on the farm. Ty, her husband, also trutsed Larry fully, following his father-in-law's every order and intending to continue things the same way if he ever was given the farm. Basically, he is the perfect son-in-law. Rose, the middle daughter, is the one who spoke out, rebelled, started out selfish and only got worse. Her husband, Pete, was originally a musician, but when he could not make enough money to support them and their children to come, he decided to take on farming. Pete did everything Larry's way simply because he knew no better, but all the while he did as his father-in-law told him to, he harbored an extreme hate for the man that slowly ate away at him. Caroline, the youngest, was sheltered and protected from most of the truths of the girls' childhood, and this innocents, nievete even, continued on into adulthood when she moved away, visited only occasionally, and deffended her father with tooth and nail till the end.

Every family has it's ups and downs, secrets hidden away hoping the world will only see the good, and even a time bomb or two carefully tucked away with everyone hoping it will wait a few generations before it goes off. The Cooks were not so lucky as things began fally apart when Larry decided to give the farm to the girls. Getting older, this may have seemed like a good idea, after all he could use the rest and the boys knew how to take care of things. Only Caroline wasn't so sure, she spoke up and was instantly shot down and cut out, forgotten even until things got unbareable. Ginny and Rose decided to take it all in and deal as best they could, both husbands had high hopes of how to continue the farm, maybe even make it better than it was before. The only problem was that Larry turned out to be the time bomb, and he just needed to be slowed down to set him off. The man seemed to have lost his mind when he body stopped moving at top speed. And the world around these two girls just begins to disolve until nearly nothing is left.

I picked this book up for Banned Books Week, starting it a little late and finishing it a little later, but I have been wanting to read it for years when I first saw it on a Banned list and was intrigued by the reasons and discription. So to say I was a little disappointed is really no surprise, rarely is something as great as you need it to be to hold a candle to the image you had in your mind of it. That being said, I was still shocked at the book. Every time I read a book about 3 daughters, I can't help but try to find the similatiries between my sisters and I and the characters. I think I can see some things in these girls and us, but they are exagerated almost, like these girls couldn't hold those attitudes in any longer and so they blew up on the page. I found myself wondering if they should be like that or if it was a show of the writer's talent. I lean more to the former since I really enjoyed the writing style of Jane Smiley throughout the book. These attitudes made it a little harder for me to get into the book. There was also the fact that while I do have problems with my family, I never went through anything like these girls did. Half the time I was disgusted at the father and even the younger sister, and the other half the time I wanted to stand up and yell "See, it wasn't all the bad growing up for us!"

I must point out that this does NOT make this a bad book. On the contrary, this book got me thinking and feeling, making it a good read in my opinion. I am torn between wanting to get rid of the book because I don't ever want to take the time to read such a sad story again, wanting to keep the book as a prize on my shelf to point out at random, and wanting to chunck it at a certain sister and yell "Count your blessings, damn it!" So this tears me up on my opinion of this book. It was a terrible story, almost like reading a newspaper, something I try never to do, with the glaring light shining down on these poor girls. But then it made me love the childhood I was given, it makes me want to recommend it to anyone who thinks they had it bad which makes me love it as a book. Jane Smiley did an incredible job writing this book!

Pick it up if you dare, if you can stand such a story. And if you can't, just remember that there are people who had way worse from their parents. Come to terms with the truths of your childhood so that these things don't claw you down in your adulthood.

""After a moment, she said, 'Don't do that to me. We're not going to be sad. We're going to be angry until we die. It's the only hope." -Rose Cook Lewis, A Thousand Acres (p. 354)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stealing Athena

"My embassy shall be known throughout history for its benefits to the Fine Arts in Great Britain. You and I together shall be responsible for elevating the taste of the nation." -Lord Elgin in Stealing Athena (p. 21)

Stealing Athena is the story of two women in two different times, dealing with sort of the same problems. Aspasia is in Athens, although she is considered a forgeiner, during the Golden Age, when the Akropolis was being built. Because of her status as outsider she cannot be married to any Athenian men, so instead she becomes the courtesan of Perikles, the leader of Athens and man who began the project of the Akropolis. While they are in love, it makes no difference to the other citisens who simply see Aspasia as a whore and troublemaker because she is too outspoken. Mary Nisbet is another sotry. Married to the ambassador of the Brittish Empire to the Turkish Empire, who has bigger ambitions to rescue all the art of Athens from the French. Lord Elgin believes that be taking apart the incredible monuments and taking them home, he will be rewarded with fame for bringing so much art to the English. Along the way it seems the gods don't agree with him, and he runs into a lot of problems including disease, prison, and the death of a child.

Both women are thought to be too outspoken, too open minded, too curious. In times when women were expected to be seen and not heard, these women were determined to be heard, even if it was only by their husbands. And things would have been easy if they had husbands who understood that need. Well, Aspasia did get a good one, Perikles could understand that she needed to be her own person. Mary on the other had, got a husband that, while seeming to be completely in love with his wife, was unable to focus on anything other than his pet project of bringin down a whole culture.

This book sure got my mind moving. At first it seemed to be a slow book, not what I had expected or hoped for. Luckily it was what I had hoped for and the book sooned picked back up. Before I knew it, i was pulled into issues that I feel passionately about: women having a right to speak up, and the arts dedicated to the gods. I read as a man tore down beautiful monuments that praised the Athenian people as well as the amazing Goddess that they worshiped. A goddess who stood very firmly for the right sof women and their abilities. As Lord Elgin tore down the gifts her people gave to her, Athena begins to take revenge on him, and maybe even for the way he treated his wife. It gave me a lot to think about, to talk about, and a lot of reasons to sit down with the book and continue to read until I had finished.

I recommend that everyone take a chance at reading this wonderful book. Some of the things I discovered, about the characters and what I felt, I believe that others would like to read about as well. If you do get a chance to read it, let me know what you think, what your feelings are on the issues I was drawn to.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Banned Books Week

Well ladies and gents, starting Sunday we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. Are you planning on participating? I am! I plan to pull out my brand new copy of "A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley.

I wish I had a link for a list of banned books, but unfortunately I cannot find one as of yet. However, I will keep looking and as soon as I find one, I will update this entry.

In the mean time, check out some of the following sites for information on the week, events, and other things. Join the movement!

About Banned and Challenged Books
Frequently Challanged Books
30 Years : Timeline
Banned Books Week Events

One list I have found to by useful is here. It is by no means a full list, but it gives you plenty of books to think about. Some of the names are surprising!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The 19th Wife

"I know it's hard to believe people really talk like that, but consider this: if you didn't know anything else, if your only source of information was the Prophet, if you spent seven hours in church on Sunday listening to a man who claimed to have a direct line to God, who your father and mother swore was a Prophet, and your brothers and sisters, and your teachers, and your friends, and everyone else assured you, promised you, his word was the word of God, and those that he damned were damned for all of eternity, you'd probably believe it too. You wouldn't know how to form a doubt." -Jordan Scott, The 19th Wife (p37)

The 19th Wife is two stories in one book. First there is the story of the first 19th wife, Anne Eliza Young who lived 1844 to an unknown date. She was considered the 19th wife, but a more correct estimation would be that she was 55th out of 57 wives of Brigham Young, the second Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons). Half of this book tells about her history, her life in the church, her first, horrible marriage, and her second, even more bitter, marriage to the Prophet. After leaving the church she set out on a mission to bring down the institution of polygamy, and after a long and difficult battle she did manage it. The church denounced polygamy as no longer the will of God and threatened to excommunicate anyone who practiced it. Yeah, we know how that went.

The second story in this book is the tale of another 19th wife, BeckyLynn Scott who was accused of murdering her own husband around 2007 in Mesadale, Utah where a group of Saints broke off from the church to continue their lifestyles. They call themselves the First and True Saints (Firsts to anyone refering to them). BeckyLynn's son, Jordan Scott had been forced to leave the community at the age of 13 for holding his stepsister's hand. Jordan, who is gay, knew it was really to get him out of the way as the church had done with many teenage boys so that they could not marry the girls, creating what the outside world has labeled a group of "Lost Boys." Jordan revisits Utah to see his mother since she is no longer in the world of Mesadale, and he ends up staying to help her prove that she is innocent.

Let me be sure that I state that while the people of this book are real and that for the most part the events did happen, this book is one of fiction. Think of it as a historical fiction, one in which the author cannot be too sure of the details so he went ahead and filled in the blanks, exaggerated a little here and there, and rounded out the story that was left somewhat lacking in the original materials.

I know you would think this is horrible that someone would take such liberties with a tale so big, but while it was a rather large event that changed much of history of the LDS church, Anne Eliza's story was one-sided and often full of holes. The author did his best to give the reader a better version. And I believe that he succeeded. This story made me want to dig deeper into the history of Anne Eliza and the Mormon church. It gave me just enough to want to talk about it, enough to have some opinion, and enough to want more.
David Ebershoff does not pass judgement on the LDS Church, I feel I must say, but simply tells a story that was already there. Most women were unhappy in polygamist households. Although I believe there was at least one family that did not suffer, except maybe financially, between the two wives of one man. And he does express the beliefs that have led to mulitple wives. I believe it is merely the circumstances of plural marraige that leads outsiders to roll their eyes, and say "Seriously, you believe in what?" This book simply lays down the story of one very unhappy woman that saught to end polygamy, and one woman who felt comfortable in the lifestyle, while her son was the one who felt betrayed by the institution.

The stories in this book were wonderful. Although I must say a lot of what happened did make me a little sick to my stomach, I felt in the end I was able to put the book down and feel glad that I had taken the time to find the book and read it. Of course I pride myself on being open to all subjects when it comes to my taste in books, so I must say this book may not be right for everyone. I do encourage all to pick it up, though, for at least the chance to read somehting so wonderfully written. I found the style of the book fascinating. I feared at first that it might confuse me, the way he jumps between stories, but in fact I was pushed forward by the different approaches he takes to telling the story.

This book was one that sparked my need to discuss the story with others, something I always look for when reading a novel. So if anyone has read this book or finds the oppurtinuty to do so, please, let me know what you thought of it. I am keeping this one for my shelves, but mostly to have it on hand. So if you would like to borrow it, I will find a way to get it to you if you will promise to give it back in the end. This is a book I think most people should give a try.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Stolen Child

"The overture teased out the symphony's four movements: awareness, pursuit, lamentation, and redemption, and at the moment when I lifted my hands from the keys and the strings took up the pizzicato to indicate the arrival of the changelings, I felt his presence nearby. The boy I could not save." - Henry Day, The Stolen Child (p. 309)

The tale of children being taken and replaced by changelings is an old one. One that I find very fascinating, to the point where I had haunted dreams of such an event taking place while I was pregnant with my first child. I still find myself trying to coax words out of my youngest when she makes weird faces I have come to lovingly call her "goblin face". Yet while I joke about it, as a mother who believes in multiple gods from long ago myths, I cannot help but feel that there may be truth in some of the stories of hobgoblins sneaking into a home to replace a child with one of their own; the parents then raising this strange child without ever knowing theirs is off in the woods, unchanged by time until they get the chance to do what was done to them. My half-belief in this myth is what drew me to The Stolen Child when I first read the synopsis. Yet this book was not what i expected.

As I have said, the tale of children and hobgoblins is old, but the way in which this book is told, from the point of view not only of the hobgoblin that took over the life of young Henry Day, but also of the child-turned-changeling who came to be known as Aniday, is one that is knew and very intriguing. Both characters became something more than the roles in which they were put, pleading for compasion and pity for the lives they had been forced into. And I was drawn to them. By the end of the book I so sympathized with Henry Day and the situation he was forced into and the choices he had to make to survive, that I felt there was no other way for these poor, lost children to live than the path they had been placed on without their consent. Yet these two boys Henry and Aniday did not fit well into the mold that tradition tried to force them into. And that is what made this story interesting.

While the plot was a bit slow in the beginning with so much telling of their everyday lives, I still found it easy to stick with and read. And I am glad I did because the story progressed in such a way that I hurried to finish and find out how things would turn out. There are points in this book that really make you stop and think, almost pushing me to reread some bits for clues that this one twist was coming or that one part would happen. And in the end I was happy with the book.

I am not saying that I loved it. But it came pretty close to making me want to hold it tight when I was finished. Instead it gained a content sigh that things had worked out exactly as they should and in the best possible fashion. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the myth of changelings. Maybe even to those that have felt out of place for most of their lives, because after seeing what this man went through to feel a part of a world he had been out of for a century, maybe your problems won't seem so outlandish.

So give the book a try and let me know how you feel about it. Meanwhile, I am going to go check on my kids and make sure they are mine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Poisonwood Bible

"In the end, my lot was cast with the Congo. Poor Congo, barefoot bride of the men who took her jewels and promised the Kingdom." -Orleanna Price, The Poisonwood Bible (p.201)

What do I think of this book? It is a little difficult to say. I find that I neither love nor hate it, often changing my mind about it even mid-sentance. Maybe that is a sign of a good book since it aroused so many different feelings, but I am therefore unable to really recomend it to anyone else. So let me tell you what I think of the book bit by bit and you can decide what you want to think of it all.

This book is about a family led to the Congo by Mr. Price, husband to Orleanna and father to Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May, to preach to the natives of a village named Kilanga the word of God. The world of differences from language to dress stand out as the white Prices try to join this community of black natives while holding onto their American ways. This way of thinking leads the family into many hardships; the father's point of view about God leads to many more. The story goes beyond their 17 month stay in Kilanga to what the girls and mother, and brief bits are said about the father, did afterwards.

While I like the story line of the plot, it is an interesting tale about a family most of us can relate to trapped in a world alien enough to be almost considered as another planet, and the way in which it was written, each chapter told from a different daughter's point of view, some of the content was lacking in my opinion. There were points in the story where I almost wished I could put the book down, although only rarely and briefly was this because of the slow pace of the story, mostly it was because of my dislike of the characters.
I believe the book was written for the reader to hate the father. That is just how it is. Mr. Price is a extremely hard man to like, driving even his wife and daughters mad over time. And the way in which the girls refer to him as "Father" (capitol F) is almost like they seem him as they would God, and he seems to encourage this point of view. There are points where I was mad at him for so much I soon began to wonder why Mrs. Price married him in the first place. Which is why the chapters in which she revisits the past are so important.
Soon I found myself also disliking Rachel. She is beyond annoying, reaching deep into the reader and finding that feeling of near detestation that one saves for those people who they know they will never be able to understand and find common footing with. She takes the state of narcissism to a whole new level, being so ego-centric, greedy, and holier-than-thou as to make me want to put her on a level with her father!And as a writer I was constantly gritting my teeth at her misspelled words and incorrect use of others.

So why did I even like the book? Because the others made up for it. You can't help but love many of the villagers for their simply way of living and thinking. When Leah delves into their life-style and explains it, everything suddenly makes sense. More than once I found myself wondering why I didn't live life this way. It even made me feel guilty for ever thinking that I had less than I needed, for these people sometimes didn;t even have enought o survive.
Then Leah was so intellegant and curious, her chapters help to explain so much about the world in which this family finds themselves, helping the reader along in thought.
Adah is so unique in her thinking that I found myself loving her chapter the most in the beginning. They were filled with little bits of poetry, riddles, codes, and other curiosities. Her chapters nearly always put a little smile on my face.
And Ruth May in all her young innocence made me love the view of the world that she held. While they each talk about the natives and their innocence, the girls are still left not fully understanding, and therefore unable to discribe, their way of thinking. However, with Ruth May her innocence is plain to her and so she makes you see her reasoning.

The last hundred or so pages had me torn the most. There were plenty of times when I believed the story should have ended at one point or another, only to keep reading and discover that more information had been given that I am glad had been added in for the reader's benefit. These girls' lives did not stop at the Congo, therefore they needed to continue to share their stories. And there were wonderful moments, beautiful times, sad events, and lives to be lived in those last hundred pages that I am so glad were there.

And the end! I think a better ending could not have been found. And it was a kind of wonderful moment as I read it: Most of this book I ended up reading aloud to Livia as we sat on the front porch. As I approach the last few paragraphs, she began to grow antsy. So with just the smallest bit left, I picked her up, stood her in my lap, and read to her the last few sentences, her cheek pressed to mine. As the words left I found my voice growing raspy with emotion, tears just beginning to threaten my eyes. I closed the book and kissed my daughter, who smiled. Such an incredible ending I believe that if all the rest of the book had been horrible, this would have made up for it.

So I leave the book with mixed emotions. At times I found myself wanting to rant and rave about how terrible the US is. How we always seem to think that we know the better way. But also how there are those that want so desperately to help these other countries that they put their lives on the line to stand up for what they think is best. I grew angry with Mr. Price, the epitome of everything I hate about organized religion. But sad when Leah feels she is abandoned by the God she tried so hard for so long to be good for. I loved the people of Kilanga for persevere through everything they are thrown. And I hated others for the harsh ways of life they threw at their own contrymen. As I have said, this book aroused many extreme feelings and left me wondering what I truelly thought of it.

I will say that I am glad I was given the chance to read it. It opened my eyes a little more to a world outside my own, and one that actually existed. I recommend that everyone read this book. Whether you think you will like it or not. Even if you put it down in the end and think that you hated it. I believe that you can get something out of it just as I have. Since this is a fairly popular book from what i have seen, please feel free to share your opinion in the comments section. I would really love to know what everyone else thinks about it.
And if you haven't, find a copy and read it. It may change you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


"This fireside voice took great care to say that imagination and emotion insist on playing their parts in every history, and therefore, to understand the Irish, mere facts can never be enough; this is a country that reprocesses itself through the mills of its imagination." -Frank Delaney author of Ireland

Let me begin with a discription of the novel. This is the story of Ronan O'Mara, beginning the summer when he was 9 yrs old and a travelling storyteller came to his home to tell tales. From the moment Ronan saw this man, in his eyes so powerful with the stories he told and the way he held people's attention, the little boy felt a connection with him. When the man left his house 3 days later Ronan began his search for him. Ronan began collecting history, stories given to him from the people who had heard the same storyteller, some tales from other sources. It took over his life because he felt pulled to the history of his people. So this book is unique in that there is a main storyline beginning in 1951 and choronicalling the story of this young man. But there is another story in there, the story of Ireland herself. Through this wonderful storyteller, Ronan, a history teacher, and other voices, the reader is given the chance to explore the history of this magical country.

All I can begin to say is that this book was truely amazing! I think I loved every little thing about it, so bare with me as I begin my review of such a wonderful work of literature.

The story: The collection of tales interwoven throughout the novel are fantastic. At one point the Storyteller admits that each of the tales he tells is at least slightly embellished through retelling, memory, a little padding for effect. Even so, as a reader, I wanted to believe every little word; even the story of St. Patrick whom I do not like because of the real story behind him. I was inclined to love the tale of this man though I have come to dislike him!
Then there is the story underneath, the tale of young Ronan O'Mara! I was fascinated by his dedication to find the man he had only known for three days when he was nine. I felt each moment of elation as he got so close to finding him, and then the moments of great dissappointment when he came back with an empty hand. And the twists in this boy's story are just unbelievable, yet I was given the ability to simply accept them because it all really happened, right?

The voices: I read some of this book out loud to my daughter who simply likes the sound of words. As I read I often times found myself getting into character with each person who was speaking, knowing when they would be rushing through words, when to shout, when to stutter. These characters and their voices came to life for me. There is a chapter about a third of the way through the book that is told from the point of view of a professor. Within two sentences I knew it was, it sounded like a man standing in front of a lecture hall talking, waving his arms about, pacing the front row, speaking to eager young minds. I could see him. I read this chapter in my mind and I had the voice of this professor. Through nearly all the book my mental voice held an Irish accent! At one point I even found myself reading one of the little mini-stories out loud to Livia in an accent! These characters were very much alive for me throughout this book.

Which speaks to the writing: I am now a big fan of Frank Delaney! I loved every moment reading this book. At the end I felt slightly disappointed to have to put it down. Even going so far as to close the book, hold it to my chest, and sigh at having been able to read such an amazing book. Have you ever done that? If you haven't then you have not read a masterpiece. Yes. I would go so far as to say this was a work of art. This is a book I will remember forever. It will probably be in the suitecase when I finally get the chance to visit Ireland, eager to see the country through the eyes of Ronan and the travelling Storyteller.

At the beginning of every review I place a quote from the book I have read, one that I think speaks for the book itself. It was hard with this one. While sometimes I even have to flip through the book once I am done to find a sentence because none struck me as I read, this time I have about 10 tabs marking memorable bits. I would like the chance to share the others with you now:

"As you probably know, nobody can actually write a poem. There's no such act as writing a poem. That's not how poems are made. Oh, yes, there's the physical business of pen, ink, and paper - but that isn't whence the poem comes. Nor may you send out and fetch a poem from where it's been living. No, like it or like it not, you have to wait for a poem to arrive." -p. 217

"There's an English gentleman called Chesterton, a decent fellow by all accounts, quite ample around the waist, who says that "the great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad. For all their wars are merry and all their songs are sad." He's entitled to his opinion." -p. 269

"Don't get me wrong, Father. And I'm sure every woman who ever loved a son has had this thought. They want to hold that son, feel the strength they gave to his shoulders, run their hands around the head that contains his brain, the head they gave him, stroke the cheek he has just begun to shave. And then you look into the eyes, and you see the eagerness there. Life to be devoured and all that." -p. 320

"I live by a guiding principle that I learned in Rome (of which eternal city more another time); "Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge."" -p. 325

"You can't make up history! I mean, you can - but 'tis called something else, 'tis called 'propaganda' or 'the Lives of the Saints' or 'autobiography' or something like that." -p. 399

" "The problem is, people from county Carlow are always either going somewhere or staying at home." Many times have I puzzled over his remark, but I can not make out what he meant." -p. 461-2

"After all, in some of our earliest and wildest mythologies, our gods mated with the earth, and our ancestors chose to lie in the earth after they died." -p. 566

So for those that have made it this far, I must say that through all this that I have to say about this incredible read, it does nothing in comparrison to you reading it yourself. So give the book a shot, pick it up dispite it's thickness, and walk into the story of an island filled with magic. You may not love it as much as I did, but you will not regret reading it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Anna Karenina

"In his Petersburg world, humanity was divided into two absolutely distinct categories, - the one of a low order, trivial, stupid, and above all ridiculous people, who declared that one husband ought to live with one wedded wife, that girls should be virtuous, women chaste, men brave, temperate, and upright, occupied in bringing up their children decently, in earning their bread, and paying their debts, and other such absurdities. People of this kind were old-fashioned and ridiculous." -Vronsky from Anna Karenina (p.118)

While I do own this book, my copy is currently in a box in storage, so I had not planned on reading it this year. However, I recently joined the Five Alarm Books Club and this was one of the two choices for July. So why I am reviewing it in the middle of August? Especially when I began reading it in the middle of June to get a head start? Well, because I tried to keep reading the books off my shelf while tackling this behemoth. As you can see, it didn't work so well when I picked up Ireland (the next to be reviewed by me) a book just as hefty as Anna Karenina. Finally, I decided to put aside my book shelf to finish this one that I was on a dead line with, and so here I am, finally finished, and glad I pushed through.

So, the book is named after one of the lead characters, and while I understand that she is involved in the lifes of each character, I think it might have been best if Tolstoy had picked a title more along the lines of "Life In Society" or "Days of Russian Lives". I think naming after Anna was not such a good idea. Especially since Anna has to be everyone's least favorite character. (If I am wrong, and you happened to like Anna, please let me know, because every review I have seen so far puts Anna down. I would love to hear form someone with a different opinion.) I know I am not a big fan of Madame Karenin, but instead prefer Levin and Kitty as my top picks of the book.

And while I did manage to learn a bit more about society, farming, and politics in the "filler" between events in the story, I could not help but find myself comparing these bits to the chapter on whale fat or flotsom and jetsom found in Moby Dick (the chapters we were not made to read because it was completely irrelevent. I am sure all that was interesting to some people at the time at which the book was written, but to us now it is simply details to fill in the gaps in the story. In my opinion, that is.

There were times within the last 30 or so pages when I thought the story should have ended at the last major event, but it kept on going. Once I reached the end, however, I found that I was wrong. 1) it is best that the story began and ended with the focus on Levin. 2) The final reflections I think ended the story very well. Adding something to the narrative and characters that was needed. 3) I think it Tolstoy showed how necessary it was to know how that last major event affected the other characters. I was in fact a little surprised by the reaction it got from one character in particular, but that is all I will say on that.

As I have said, I am glad I took the time to push through this novel when I should have been done or given it up 2 weeks ago. And with the movie coming out soon, I am glad I have a better understanding of the story than if someone had simply explained it to me. I do recommend that everyone take the chance to read this book at some time in their lives. t is a classic for a reason, and I believe it wears that title rather well. This story has a very complex series of battles that each character must deal with including, but not limited to: infadelity, unrequited love, scandel, bankruptsy, and wavering friendships. And it all takes place in roughly 1800's Russia when things were much more strict than they are now.

So pick up the book and give it a chance. You might be surprised at how much relevance this book has on to today's world view. And even how much you might find yourself enjoying Anna sordid tale!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The 13th Warrior or Eater of the Dead

"It avails you nothing. We say: A man should be moderately wise, but not overwise, lest he know his fate in advance, The man whose mind is most free of care does not know his fate in advance." -Herger, Eaters of the Dead (p. 80)

In 1974 Michael Crichton took up a dare, he decided to try and make the story of Beowulf an interesting one, thus came the novel Eaters of the Dead. Later when the book was made into a movie it was republished under the title that people most knew it by The 13th Warrior. Under either name it is a wonderful book!

Crichton takes a story that, while it is an adventure tail, has gone out of date for most of society. As the man whod ared him said, people no longer read this story of their own free will. How many of you can say you read it outside of a classroom setting? While I love the story of Beowulf myself, I know I never would have picked up the old epic had it not been an assigned reading in my literature classes. Since the first time I read it, however, it has become a favorite of mine. Which made me sceptical to pick up this retelling, but with the author being Michael Crichton I knew I had a better shot of likeing it than if it had been someone else. And I was not let down.

Michael Crichton takes what he has been given int he fragments of the original and fills in the blanks. However, the end result is not a choppy pieced together puzzle where the edges are clearly seen. No! Instead we are left with a tale that flows from original material of one source to fiction to details of another material without the reader knowing what is false and what is fact. And what is more is the story reads as a factual eyewitness account that readers have no trouble believing. In fact I have read many reviews from readers that believed they were reading a true translated account. I was almost one of these readers. It was not until I first encountered the name of Buliwyf that I remembered this was a fictional work elaborating ont he Beowulf story.

This is such an amazing novel, Crichton is such an amazing author, that I cannot do the book justice in my review. All I can say is that I recomend everyone one read this story! I almost wish we had been made to read it alongside the original story of Beowulf back in college, it would have led to some unique perspective on the story.

So if you have a little time, pick up this book. Just be careful as I almost gaurentee you will be soon looking for more of Crichton's work, as I find myself doing now.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Abduction - Review and Giveaway

"A combination of vanity and stupidity had drawn him into this alien environment in which he had no control of his destiny. Although he was not religious, he found himself praying that the little underwater cruise would be short, sweet, and safe." -Abduction (p. 35)

Picking up this book I was expecting a medical mystery, maybe even something as compelling as the TV show House. Instead I got another underwater mystery much like Deep Storm that I last reviewed. Only I found Deep Storm to be a little more enjoyable. While the plots of both novels were incredible to say the least, Abduction had a little more trouble getting of the ground and the ending was rather abrupt in my opinion.

The writing was great, I must say. And once I did got pulled into the story very quickly. Many of the "facts" we, as readers, are presented with seem very possible, thus allowing for the believabilyt of the novel. Many times I found myself thinking, "What if this was all real?"

That being said I did have one major issue with the story line, and that is simply that it seemed to end a little too quickly. Once things get started on the downside of the hill there is no stopping or slowing the plot, it takes off until it rams into the walled ending.

While I did enjoy the book and recommend it to many of my friends, I think that I would rather have a different Robin Cook book on my shelf if I have to have one at all. So, instead I am going to offer this one up for someone else to enjoy. I know the Atlantis theme will pull many in. Let me know if you feel an interest in this book!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Giveaway

"Never grow up." -Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan

Last night my husband and I took our son to see his first musical, Peter Pan. We had a blast! Cathy Rigby was incredible, the songs were amazing, the cast was funny, and our son had the time of his life.

We have been reading Peter Pan just before bedtime for a while now, starting soon after I finished the novel on my own. However we were unable to finish on time, so instead I started to loose my voice as I read the last third of the book on the way down to Dallas. But it wasn't enough and we had to read the last 5 pages after we had picked up our daughter from my mother's house and had started our drive home. It turned out to be for the best since it left our son in the perfect mood for sleeping on the way home.

Because this was his first play and it is a classic story, my mother baught her favorite grandson a new, nicer copy of the book. Now we have two! Which means we have a copy in the house that will never be touched again. So we are giving it away. It is a Scholastic Classic, with interesting pictures throughout the text. It has only been read twice so it is in great condition, even looks untouched. We would love to send it to a house where it will be read and enjoyed by others. Even adults can enjoy this wonderful classic, so don't let a childless house keep you from claiming this great addition to any book shelf.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blood Work - Review and Giveaway

"He traded his bureau pager for a hospital pager and on Feb. 9 it sounded; a heart from a donor with matching blood was available. After six hours of surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the donor's heart was beating in McCaleb's chest." -Blood Work (p. 30)

Terry McCaleb is ex-FBI, forced to retire when his heart gives out and he finds himself waiting on the donor list for a new one. When the time finally comes for him to get a second chance at life his bubble is busted when the sister of his donor comes to him for help. Soon enough Terry finds himself on the case, trying to find out who murdered the woman who gave him his new heart. However, soon enough Terry finds out that what seemed like a simple convience store robbery was much more.

Now, usually I am not a big fan of crime novels, but since this was on my shelf I of course had to give it a chance. And I am glad that I took the time to read it, even though I didn't love it like I would have liked. The beginning was a bit slow, with Terry McCaleb not having much to go on in the case it made for a slow story. However, things began to pick up with the discovery of new evidence and the plot twist was a new and unique one that caught me off gaurd. I did find myself unable to put the book down over the last half, wanting to know who did it.

I do think the book was well written, although some of the plot points were a little cliche and expected. And while I had an idea as to why the murder was done, I was completely thrown when it was revealed who did it.

While I did enjoy it, it wasn't enough to keep it on my shelf, so this weeks giveaway is this book. I hope someone else who enjoys crime novels will find this a fascinating read. I really think others might enjoy this book more than I did since I am not particularly drawn to the genre. I hope someone else gets more out of it then I did.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Deep Storm

'"The century?" Crane repeated. unable to keep the disbelief from his voice.
"You're right to be skeptical. But this is no deception. It's the last thing from it. Still, 'discovery of the century' may not be quite accurate."
"I didn't think so," Crane replied.
"I should have called it the greatest discovery of all time."' -Deep Storm (p. 17-18)

Deep Storm is a super secret government research operation two miles beneath the ocean surface; so secret that they hired people to simply walk around the oil rig abover the water so that anyone looking on from aircraft or satelites won't think anything is going on. Meanwhile, they bring in Doctor Peter Crane to figure out why so many of the staff on the "Facility" are getting sick with such different symptoms at an alarming rate. But something more is going on in the "Facility" that Crane needs to find out about if he hopes to discover what is making everyone sick. And it's a something that puts discovering the lost city of Atlantis to shame.

When I first picked up the book I was a little worried by the reviews on Goodreads. With many people saying that it was excellently written but it was a poor book I had no idea what to expect. I am glad that this year's challange made me read the book whether I wanted to or not, because I enjoyed it greatly. Along with being so well written, the story is incredibly well developed and the plot is very captivating. I didn't expect what I found in the pages of this book. I kept expecting to be dissappointed at the end, but yet again found that I was worried for nothing as the end had be shocked, saddened, and awestruck.

This is one book that I would recommend to everyone I come across. Not only to those that love a good mystery or thriller, but to anyone who enjoys a good book. I can almost guarantee that you will enjoy it as much as I did. A big thumbs up for Lincoln Child and this is me eagerly hunting out copies of his other novels.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Devil You Know

"But how many people do you know who actually get to choose what they do for a living? My careers teacher said I should go into hotel management, so exorcism it was." - The Devil You Know (p27)

Felix Castor is an exorcist, but not your typical, run of the mill one. First he is an athiest, so don't think he may be a man of the cloth. Second, he plays a flute to banish the spirits, so leave behind your notions of Latin and sygil drawing. And third, he is a smart-ass cynic, well you might have expected that. Just before the turn of the century spirits began to rise by the droves, as ghosts, zombies, and weres, so people like Castor are suddenly in high demand. Only, Castor doesn't want to do his job anymore. After a bad run in with a particularly nasty demon, Castor decides to turn in his flute, but then it never really is that easy is it?
Instead Castor takes a job when the lack of money gets to him. He is asked to exorcize a ghost from the Bonnington Archive in London. But as he delves deeper into the mystery surrounding the ghost in an effort to get a handle on her, Castor discovers a web of lies, theft, and murder at the Archive. Instead of simply sending the ghost where ever it is that he sends them with his music, Castor instead decides to solve the case. And so the wild chase insues.

I really liked this book! I picked it up a little afraid that it wouldn't be something I would choose to read and instead discovered a new series that I will be picking up in the future. Yes, this book is the first in a series which means I should have left it for next year, but like Sue Grafton's novels (i.e. A is for Alibi) you can read them almost as seperate books. So I decided to read this with the others on my shelf, and I am ver glad that I did.

At first while reading the discription of the Archive ghost at night, I thought I might have nightmares, but it was simply my imagination getting away from me with the narrative. Soon I found myself drawn into the story, loving Castor, and wanting to find out what had happened to the sad ghost that Castor was hired to get rid of. The characters are great, and the story twists in ways you wouldn't expect until the very end. Mike Carey has an amazing gift with words, I especially loved it when he made a Doctor Who reference. And while some of the words were a little forgein to me because it is Brittish, I was able to pick up the meanings well enough. I even think I might be able to move around parts of London thanks to his discriptions.

Like I said, I fell in love with this book. I recommend everyone who loves a good mystery, a little horror, and a bit of the supernatural, take up this book. I think you will be as pleased with it as I was!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Ok, since one of my followers has finally decided to join this incredible site, I guess it is finally time to bring it to the attention of the rest of my readers.

My sister introduced me to BookMooch and now I am passing on the love. It is a site dedicated to passing on books. You sign up and with your account you post all the books you have that you would like to get rid of. Others do the same. When you find a book you want you send a little request asking for them to send you the book. The whole thing works on points. For every book you list on the site you get a tenth of a point; for every book you send you get 1 point for in country shipments and 3 points for sending it to another country; and for every book you request you give up 1 point, 2 for books from another country.

I have been on the site for a few months now, keeping it to myself until I could actually give an opinion on the whole thing. I have sent out a few books and recieved 3, so I have experienced both sides now. Sending the books is not that costly, well in country that is, and I think sometimes it is worth it to clear out the books I no longer want. Going to the post office and spending $5 on an envelope and shipping is easier than driving to Lewisville for a Half Price Books that may not take the books or give me much in return.

And just recently I finally found some books that I wanted enought o send a request for a mooch. The books showed up in the mail quickly after they accepted the requests. I am happy with the books and the site! I fully recommend everyone giving it a chance! If you do give me a shout-out: MommaChristy! Check out the books I have listed (which so far are the ones I have listed as weekly giveaways), and browse through what others have to offer!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Tear Thief

The Tear Thief is an intresting story about a man that, you guessed it, steals tears. The book is set in a dangerous uture where people suffer from a desease that takes away one's emotions. The only way to feel again is to drink tears farmed from those who are still capable of feeling. However there are some that want more exotic tears fromcertain people who are not in the farms. This is where the thiefs come into play. They steal tears in exchange for the world's finest pieces of art.

While the story really has the capability of being a very amazing read, I believe the author let it go a little too soon. There are parts that need a little more explination or background information as well as parts that could use a little more padding with details. The ending was rather abrupt and a little too neat for my tastes.

However, I did enjoy it and I would recommend it to anyone looking or a quick and unique story. Give it a chance, you might really enjoy it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Little Princess

"Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herselffrom losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage." -A Little Princess (p 55)

Most people know the story of the young Sara Crewe from A Little Princess thanks to Disney; she is a rich young lady sent to a school in London and given anything her heart desires from a father that dotes on her. Suddenly her father dies and she is left with nothing. Made to work as a house servant she tries to make the best of her life through her powerful imagination.

I fell in love with the tale as a child but left it behind as I grew up. Now that I have been given the chance to revisit the story through the original work, I find myself once more in love with young Sara and her kind soul. Through everything she manages to act like she believes a true princess would in the face of adversity; something I wish more adults could manage. She has a kinder heart than I see in most people I see. But then she is a small fictional child from another time.

I of course love the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett, owning and cherishing the novel A Secret Garden since many years back. This is just another wonderful work produced by the author, one that I believe everyone should read and enjoy. I look forward to being able to read this to Jareth soon and Livia in the future. And I hope they take from it a desire to be as kind hearted as Sara, just as I have.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Imaginary Friends - Review and LendMe

"A friend like Pick belonged only to him, and that was the way he should keep it." -Imaginary Friends (p.60)

Back in 1991, Terry Brooks wrote this little short story about Jack, a young boy facing tough facts, and fan favorite Pick, who eventually appeared in Running With the Demon. The story went out of print and in 2011 Terry Brooks decided to reprint it, giving all royalties to his Web Druid, Shawn Speakman, to help cover his growing medical bills. Like young Jack, Shawn has fought with cancer. Being a big fan. not only of Terry Brooks, but also Shawn Speakman who has marvously managed Brooks's website for longer than I can remember, I of course bought the rereleased short story for my Nook. And I am glad that I finally got the chance to read it.

Technically speaking this book should have been on next year's list when I take on the challange of reading all the series on my book shelves seeing as how this short story is what inspired Brooks's hit series the Word and the Void; which later transforms into the Shannara series. However, this also being a short story I should have waited until the end of the year to tack it onto my challange numbers. But this is Terry Brooks we are talking about! So I went ahead and read the story on my phone over the course of this week, and I am glad I did.

The story is not up to par with the rest of his work, but one must take into consideration that this is 1) a short story, 2) was written 6 years before the books came along, and 3) was a very early work. Keeping all that in mind I still really liked this story. It has a nice little twist at the end while setting up bits of the world that we see in Running With the Demon and the books that follow.  It was a nice short read that kept me in touch with my favorite author and got me ready to tackle the 22 books that this story began.

So, now that I have read it I can lend it out to one other person. This is this weeks giveaway. . . with a twist. I have this book on my Nook, which allows me to lend this story to someone for 2 weeks. It's not as permanent as my usual giveaways, but it saves you space and I get to keep the original. So if you would like to take advantage of this offer, please post a message with your Barnes and Noble account email and I will send it your way. It is another good addition to the world Terry Brooks spent so long creating.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Honor Bound

"He toyed with a strand of her hair. 'I could just haul you out of here, you know.'
'Kidnap me?'
'You did that already.'
'It was the smartest thing I ever did.'
'It was the best thing that could have happened to me.'" -Lucas and Aislinn, Honor Bound (p. 246)

Honor Bound by Sandra Brown is about Lucas Greywolf, an escaped convict on a mission, and Aislinn Andrews, the woman he decides to kidnap. Their story starts out with their open hatred of each other until Aislinn discovers the reason he broke out of prison was to be with his dieing grandfather. But the story really takes a turn when Lucas is finally released from prison and visits Aislinn once more only to discover that she has kept a very big secret from him.

While this is not my normal read, I in act got this book against my will from a former roommate, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it. Yes some of the novel was still a little too much for me (graphic, cheesy? I am not sure exactly what, just too much) but over all it was good.

The story went beyond what I thought it would. When I first picked up the book I dreaded the thought of 250 pages of sexual tension between the two main characters. Instead I was very surprised to find Lucas Greywolf back behind bars and the story kept going only a third of the way into the novel. When the twist came along I had seen it coming for a little while, but still it was a un plot twist.

Yes the characters where a little static, but what did I really expect from a novel of this genre? Lucas is given more depth as the story progressed and Aislinn slowly grew a real backbone. The ending was a little too happy, but it worked out for the novel just the same. As I said, I enjoyed the novel dispite my original opinion. I would recommend this book to my friends that enjoy the more adult books.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Weird Sisters - Review and Giveaway Again

"Will alone could not make Rose brave, could not make Bean honest, could not make Cordy sensible. Weren't we proof of that, this sad sisterhood, bound as much by our failures as by our hopes?" -The Weird Sisters (p.216)

The Weird Sisters is the story of 3 girls named for prominent women in Shakespeare's plays because their father idolized the long dead bard. The only major problem with being named after, read plays, and taught all about these women your whole life is that there really is no living up to them. This is a fact that Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy) long ago accepted. Something they cannot accept: that at the age of thirty they would all be back home, their lives horribly messed up, and helping their mother get through her fight with breast cancer. But deal they must and this book is the journey of their fight, not only with one another, but with their lives.

I picked this book up for much the same reason I pick up any book about sisters: being the oldest of three girls I can't help but be pulled to the complex stories of other women in the same family set. Well, if I was looking for someone to relate to I did not find it here. While my sisters and I are not bound at the hip, we have a much better relationship than the three who seem to hate each other and can be quite cruel to one another at the beginning of the novel. Yes they evolve and even come to cherish one another's company, but by the time this takes place I found myself tired of the novel. And not only did I find the relationships unrelatable I could not find likability in Rose's fear of change, her feelings of being the stand in mother, or her contempt for her younger sisters; nor in Bean's uncontrolable need to be loved (to the point of her own distruction) or Cordy's wonderlust and perpetual feelings of inadquecy. I am aware that most people have one or more of these character flaws (I am among  the masses), but the author exagerates them to an unnecesary level in an effort to make their redeption more grand.

Along with this unbelievability factor we have the POV that just confusses me as the reader. At first I found the author's way of narrating from the POV of one of the sisters intriguing; I found myself trying to figure out which sister she was. But I soon realized it was not so simple. While the author uses words and phrases such as "we", "our parents", and "us", she uses it to talk about all of them, never taking on the POV of just one sister. For example:
"For some reason, Cordy had never redecorated the way Bean and Rose has as we grew older." (p82)
After I stopped trying to figure out if the author would stick with a character, and the confusion passed, I became annoyed. At times I was even distracted from the story by this.

All those points aside I must say that over all I enjoyed the book, I simply didn't fall in love with it. I did like the way things turned out for each of the women, it wasn't a perfect happy ending for each, not in my opinion at least, but a believable one.

I would recommend this book to any number of my friends. That being said I have decided to give my copy away in this week's giveaway. This is not because of my dislike for the novel, but instead to make room for those books that I am completely in love with. I can see myself rereading this book at some point when I can get a little more out of it, but not soon enough that I feel the need to keep it on my shelves. So if anyone would like it just leave me a message. I do believe that you will like it if you give it a chance. And so I leave you with a final quote from the book:

"She just smiled indulgently and said, 'Oh, honey, we're all fuckups in our own special ways,'" (p308).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

March - Review and Giveaway

"And yet lust - the tightening throat, the flushed cheek, the raging appetite - is the only word accurate to describe the sensation I felt that morning, as the painted door closed and I was left with the liberty of all those books." -Mr. March (March p.18)

As a big fan of Geraline Brooks since I first read Year of Wonders my freshman year of college, I eagerly picked this book up with glee. And I was not at all disappointed.

The main character of this story is the husband and father to the females in Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women. While I haven't read that specific classic, I now intend to do just that so that I may have the chance to know the other side of the story; this was in fact the reason why with book was written by Brooks in the first place.

The plot of the story follows Mr. March as he is away from his family and off in the fighting of the Civil War, acting first as a chaplain to the Union soldiers and then as a teacher to the freed slaves on a plantation. There are times when the man recounts bits of his past before he met his wife and how he met her, giving us some much needed insight into the actions taking place later in the book. Much of the story I feel Brooks did a wonderful job of creating from what little she had been given in Alcott's work.

Brooks states in the afterward that this was easy after careful research of her main character. Just as Alcott did before her, Brooks looked to Alcott's own family for the inspiration of the characters, basing Mr. March on Bronson Alcott. Not only was she given new understanding into the life of the famous Alcotts, but also into much of the Civil War, a bit of history she previously found boring. Just like Brooks, I too find myself drawn to know more about the circumstances of that war, the treatment of the contraband (as slaves were called when taken by the Union army), and hardships of everyone invovled in any way from soldiers forced to live with the memories of the terrible things done to the wives such as Marmee who had to sit back and quietly let go of their men, perhaps for good.

I greatly enjoyed this work, as I have other of Brooks' work in the past. While she brings forward the harsh truths of a time we would rather not look closer at, she does so without making you need to put the book down. Instead through all the blood and cruelty I felt compelled to keep moving forward. I look forward to keeping my copy to reread once I get the chance to read Little Women.

That being said somehow I ended up with 2 copies! So for this week's giveaway I have a paperback copy of this great book! And once you get done reading it I would suggest going out to find a copy of Year of Wonders by Brooks to enjoy that as well! Let me know if you would like to lay claim to this great read!

"I am no longer eager, bold & strong.
All that is past;
I am read not to do
At last, at last,
My half day's work is done,
And this is all my part.
I give a patient God
My patient heart."   - Private Cephas White, Union soldier, (March p.263)

Sunday, May 20, 2012


"Here above the ground / Ferris wheels go round / And the dance of clowns / A carnival - this town / Only a playground / Stay young, stay up above / Before it takes you down / Underground" - "Orpheus" by Paulo, Ecstasia (p. 1)

Francesca Lia Block has to be one of my all-time favorite writers. Her vivid imagination, dark views, and need to challange social standards keeps me coming back to her books for more. While her books tend to be very dark with little fireworks of love and understanding among the characters, I believe that if everyone were to give her a chance, they would find themselves just as drawn to her words as I am.

Ecstasia is set in a place where the world above is a constant carnival ride, the young citisizens contantly enduling in life's pleasures and never having to think of consequences nor the future. Until they begin to show signs of aging at which time they feel disgraced by their old appearance in a world of youthful beauty and so they take to the Underground where they fade away to ash. The book follows the band Ecstasia consisting of Paulo, Dionisio, Calliope, and Rafe. Rafe discovers a girl he has fallen for but before they can have much time together she begins to grow sick, meaning she must go Underground. Her illness and all the events that take place prior to it effect not only Rafe, as he believes, but his friends and sister, leading them all into darker places than they had intended on going for quiet a while.

Block's work has always had the effect of making the reader take a closer look at themselves and the society in which they live. What is up with our obsession with youth and beauty? But people keep coming back for more, as shown by the fact that when this book, written 1993,  went out of print Block kept recieving requests for it and had to have it republished. Her work is special and addicting.

I of course recommend everyone give her a chance, if not through this book, than through one of her other works. Trust me, you will make it to this one eventually.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Friday Night Lights for Wednesday Giveaway and review

"'As I stood in that beautiful stadium on the plains week after week, it became obvious that these kids held the town on their shoulders.'" -Father of a Permian football player, Friday Night Lights (p. xvi)

I remember sitting in the stands of one the football field at one of our rivals my senior year in high school. While I hated football everyone else in my family wanted to see the game that night since it was round one of the playoffs, a rare event in little Valley View, Texas. I took a book to the game, intending to get some reading done and the looks I was given for not intently watching the game could have been deadly.
However, as the game progressed, I found myself looking up from my book more and more. Until the end when I was one of the fans standing to watch the last seconds of a game that we were winning by one point. Then suddenly the opossing team kicked a field goal, gaining them 2 points over us. My heart broke. I hated the game but I found myself among those that were crying at the devistating loss our team, and therefore town, had just suffered. That is high school football in Texas.

Friday Night Lights goes a step further and shows you high school football in Odessa, Texas; a town where the football games draw crowds of up to 20,000 fans! A town dedicated to the football town to the point of worshiping the players. A town where it is not uncommon to find for sale signs int he head coaches yard after a loss.

H. G. Bissinger tries to capture the essence of the town by focusing on six players from the 1988 football team. They let him into their daily lives to see what they went through before each game, what they celebrated after each win, and what they endured after each loss. Bissinger gives a lot of the history of the town to try to make the reader understand the loyalty of the fans and the dedication of the players. In the afterward he talks about how 10 years after the book was published he still recieves harsh reviews of the world he portreyed in the book. No one wants to truthfully admit the power Permian football had/has over them.

While I will be the first to admit how much i dislike football, I found myself enjoying the story given here. I was drawn into the lives of the players, the fanatism of the fans, and the intensity of the events just as I had been in 2004 with my own hometown football team. I rushed through the end of the book, wanting to know every last detail of that final game, seeing it all in my head even though I did not fully understand it. I was also drawn in to the epilogue and afterward as the author fills us in on the lives of the players after they left that field house.

I would recommend this book, even to non-fans, but especially for Texans who have seen or been a part of the fanatism that can overtake us all when it comes to high school football. It was an interesting true story about one team and their fight to make it to the top, as well as a touching story about a few of the players and their sometimes love/hate relationship with the sport they are dedicated to.

That all being said, I am willing to pass on my copy. Both my husband and I have read it and while I would love to keep it perhaps to read it once more in the future or recommend it to my son as he gets older, I know that it's place is not on my bookshelf where it might sit untouched forever now that I have read it. So if you would like the opportunity to read this fascinating tale, simply leave a comment with your email address and I will get with you. It is a small paperback edition in perfect condition.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Casting Spells

This post is quickly following the one before it, so make sure you check out my review of Matilda by Roald Dahl!

"I had a full tank and a good sense of direction and the growing certainty that Sugar Maple wasn't what it seemed. And maybe neither was Chloe." -Luke MacKenzie from Casting Spells (p 265)

A gift from my mother, Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton has sat on my shelf for almost 2 years now, and I have been eyeing it curiously all the while not being able to pick it up because of some other book at the time. Well I could kick myself for not picking it up sooner!

I gave in and moved on from the book I was reading since I was pretty sure I had already read it in the past and I needed something light, upbeat, maybe romantic, and catching to distract me during 2 A.M. feedings. Boy did I find exactly that in this cozy novel!

Chloe Hobbs lives in a small town called Sugar Maple where nothing is as it seems. Firstly, Chloe owns one of the top knitting shops in New England where people can drop a house payment on yarn, never noticing the basket in the corner that never looks touched even after hours of knitting; secondly, the town seems to be an exact replica of the town of Salem down to the miniature lighthouse that no ship docking a hundred miles away can see; and thirdly, the town is protected by an ancient spell cast by one of Chloe's ancestors to protect it's magical inhabitants from the outside world. That is until an outsider dies inside city limits and the town has to welcome a cop from Boston who is there to make sure everything about the woman's death is as accidental and simple as the town is claiming it is. And to make things worse, while the fate of the town rests on Chloe to keep the family line, and therefore the protective spell, going, she is finding herself falling for the very unmagical human cop Luke MacKenzie.

Barbara Bretton does an excellent job giving life to Chloe! Her character is stubborn, down to Earth, and scatter brained, all of which makes it easier to relate to her and accept her quirky habits and life. I loved her and her friends, and greatly enjoyed reading about the adventure she is thrown on against her will! While bits of the narrative did at times seem repetitive, I enjoyed the back and forth point of views of Luke and Chloe that allowed the reader to see the town from one of its own as well as an outsider. I also enjoyed the fact that although the passion between the characters is supposed to be off the scale, they manage to keep it toned down seeing as how they are not supposed to be together. I am not big on reading about someone else's steamy, clothes flying, all over the place, sex lives, and in this book I didn't have to.

So if you like a bit of humor, love, chaos, and magic, I recommend you pick up this one. I really enjoyed it to the point where I didn't want to go back to bed at 3 A.M. but instead considered staying up to read the last 50 pages. It was fun to read!