Monday, May 31, 2010

Giveaway: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

In honor of having 13 followers, I'm offering up a lovely trade paperback copy of one of my favorite books, The Thirteenth Tale. I love this book. It's a booklover's book, and if you enjoy gothic style mysteries, you'll enjoy this one. The writing is gorgeous and I literally couldn't put it down! As I'm new to blogging, I'm going to ask for some help spreading the word. For this giveaway earn entries by doing any or all of the following: +1 Clicking the StumbleUpon link in my sidebar (under the Twitter link). +1 Following me on Twitter +1 Advertise the giveaway/ my blog on your sidebar +1 Advertise the giveaway/ my blog anywhere else - please provide link. To enter, please fill out the Giveaway Form. At this time, funds are a bit tight, so I can only ship to addresses in the US. Please be sure to leave a comment as well, so that just in case something goes wonky with the form (newbie here!), I'll know you entered! I'll announce the winner on June 15th - will be used to choose a winner. :) Thank you! I hope that this is a success!

It's Monday... What are you reading?

As seen on Book Journey. In Sheila's words:

What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

So here's what I'm reading:

Currently Reading/To Read This Week:

I've actually been reading this one for a while. It has just been sitting on my "Currently Reading" shelf (both literally and at Goodreads) forever. I need to pick it up again soon!
I love reading short stories in between longer stories. They are something of a palate cleanser, so to speak, but just lately I haven't really been in the mood for science fiction. (Maybe tomorrow! :P)

This is a re-read for me to follow up The Talisman from last week's reading. I really and truly love these stories, and Black House is much, much darker and more adult and grittier than The Talisman. (Plus, I just love adult Jack Sawyer!)
I set this one down the other day due to some extenuating circumstances, but hope to squeeze it in soon.

I just started this one yesterday, and it's pretty interesting already. Pretty funny and light and fun. :)

Read Last Week

I love this book. I've read it... I don't know how many times. Definitely a favorite. I'll post a review here soon! :)

I listened to this one on audio, and while the story was good, the reader definitely was not. If you pick this one up, get the deadtree version and do your own voices. Look for a review to come!

I recognize that this is a classic, but I'd expected much more than this one delivered. It was good, but I'd hoped to be moved much more than I was. Look for my review to come.

Upcoming: Jane In June - Northanger Abbey

In honor of Misty's 'Jane In June' activity, I've decided that I'm going to read the many-times-put-off Northanger Abbey. I don't really know why I keep pushing this one back, but push it back I have. Tsk Tsk. Shameful, I know. And I do so love Jane. Anyway... Look for my review later this month!! :)

On My Wishlist

On My Wishlist - Book Chick City

I recently stumbled on the Book Chick City blog, and saw her "On My Wishlist" section:
"On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where I list all the books I desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too - Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own 'On My Wishlist' post. If you want to know more click here."

I have a ginormous wishlist (OK, what reader doesn't?), so I thought I'd share mine too. :)

So here goes.

Old - A Creed For The Third Millennium by Colleen McCullough
Description: "Tomorrow's America is a cold and ravaged place, a nation devastated by despair and enduring winter. In a small New England city, senior government official Dr. Judith Carriol finds the man she has been seeking: a deliverer of hope in a hopeless time who can revive the dreams of a shattered people; a magnetic, compassionate idealist whom Judith can mold, manipulate and carry to undreamed-of heights; a healer who must ultimately face damnation through the destructive power of love."

New - American Vampire Vol. I by Stephen King and Scott Snyder
Description: "This volume follows two stories: one written by Snyder and one written by King. Snyder's story is set in 1920's LA, we follow Pearl, a young woman who is turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European Vampires who tortured and abused her. This story is paired with King's story, a western about Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire-- a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before with rattlesnake fangs and powered by the sun."

Upcoming - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Description: (Possible Series Spoilers!) "Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year."

And as an added bonus, I'm going to do one more... One I've read but NEED TO OWN:

The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
Description: "British actor and comedian Hugh Laurie's first book is a spot-on spy spoof about hapless ex-soldier Thomas Lang, who is drawn unwittingly and unwillingly into the center of a dangerous James Bond-like plot of international terrorists, arms dealing, high-tech weapons, and CIA spooks. You may recall having seen Laurie in the English television series Jeeves and Wooster; Laurie played Bertie Wooster, the clutzy hero of the P.G. Wodehouse comic novels that originated those characters. The lineage from Wodehouse's Wooster to Laurie's Lang is clear, and, if you like Wodehouse, you'll probably love The Gun Seller."

(Don't let that description fool you... This book is genius. ♥)

Review: Evermore by Alyson Noel ★★

Here's another review copy won from Goodreads First Reads giveaway... I was kind of disappointed with this book on the whole. It wasn't BAD, per se, but I just expected more. There is a ton of YA fiction out there, and even though this is a kind of paranormal fantasy, I just expected it to have more substance. Unfortunately, it kept reminding me of Twilight... to the point where I kept a list of similarities.
 -Wuthering Heights (WHAT IS IT WITH THIS BOOK?)
-Beautiful, too good to be true guy attracted to the plain jane but pretty girl -Irresistible attraction between them
-Mind reading ability
-Moody, sullen, stubborn girl
-Red haired female foe...

  On and on. So many comparisons that I kept rolling my eyes inside and hoping that it would move on to somewhere new and original. I mean, obviously, the love story has been done countless times and in countless ways before, but that's not to say that there's not something new out there, just waiting to be created.

 Anyway, the book did eventually make its way into being something different from Twilight (marginally), and actually made an attempt at having substance, even though in my opinion it fell a bit short, so that's why it got 3 stars rather than 2. Ever is a survivor of a car crash that killed her entire family, including the dog. She's got quite a lot of survivor's guilt going on, and feels as though everything that happened to them is her fault. (I was eagerly awaiting the revelation of why she thought that, and thought that the repeated mention was foreshadowing something big, but was let down a bit at the end.) Because of her guilt, and her new-found ability to read people's thoughts etc, she's cut herself off from the majority of human contact, and is very sullen and withdrawn and moody. Not completely unforgivable considering, but it was very annoying when people would try to help her and she'd pull that "You don't know anything about me or my life or anything" shtick and just shut down.

 One of Ever's friends, Miles, is gay, openly so, and this is presented in a very normal, everyday way, which is good. I liked that there was not a huge deal made of his being gay. True, he was part of the social outcasts in the school, but there was no harassment or taunting or bashing or homophobia portrayed. I actually do think that it could have used some, if only for him to rise above that mess, but it seemed that there were quite a few false starts when it came to being more than brain candy with this book. I mean, there's the whole popular group clique in the school, so they could have at least thrown some jibes his way so that he could at least ignore them and hold his head up, proud of who he is. Aside from that, Ever's other friend Haven is an ignored, attention-starved teen, who tries to get attention from 12-step groups. She is the most two-dimensional of Ever's friends, and I didn't really care for her. I felt like she was more of a plot device than anything. Noel did try to make a bit of a statement about alcohol abuse, and how it doesn't really solve any of your problems and actually makes them worse, but it fell a little bit flat when there weren't any real repercussions for Ever's actions. Her guardian just kind of swept it under the rug and wrote it off as grief and never mentioned it again.

 Finally, there was a bit of "philosophy" in the story as to what happens after death. Obviously, in the book, there is an afterlife, and a way-station called... (wait for it) "Summerland". Hmm... Someone has read their Matheson. Or at least the same books he has, because the version of the afterlife described in Evermore is remarkably similar to the one described in "What Dreams May Come" (by Richard Matheson), but minus all the darkness and dreary aspects, here it's all beauty and light and fun. The writing felt somewhat awkward to me at times. Like someone would say "Tell me," meaning "Tell me about it," in agreement, but I would continually read it as if they were asking for more information. Or she wrote "{My} kitchen skills were severely limited to boiling water and adding milk to cereal." That sentence is just weird. Either say that the skills are severely limited and leave it at that, or say that they are limited to whatever. Doing both just ruins the flow.

 Or, and this is the final and worst offender in my opinion, this sentence: "Not to mention how one minute he's talking like a normal guy, and the next he sounds like Heathcliff, or Darcy, or some other character from a Bronte sister's book." Erm, Darcy isn't a Bronte character, he's an Austen character. It seems like that sentence is supposed to make Ever look all intelligent for being able to name-drop classic book characters, but it's very poorly done. She also got extremely repetitive with mannerisms. Ever would constantly "press her lips together", and almost every single time Damen spoke to Ever, it was with his lips on her neck/ear/cheek etc. Haven apparently ate nothing but cupcake frosting, and Miles nothing but Vitamin Water. This was a quick read, but it just didn't do it for me. And considering how much of it felt like it was ripped right out of the pages of other books, some good, some not so good, I was really disappointed.

I should just really go with my gut and give it 2 stars. =\

Review: The Prophecy's Child by W.E.D. Wilson

This was my second "For Review" read, and unfortunately it wasn't as good as the first one I read. I'd had high hopes for it, but much of the religious aspect of the story just didn't do much for me, and I found much of the story to be unbelievable... I know what you're thinking - it's a book about demons and a prophecy and possession etc, how believable could it be? That's not what I mean. I mean things were unbelievable like a 2000+ year old star artifact being left in the cave it was discovered in when disintegrating shrouds were removed to a museum. That's unbelievable. Anywho... I'm not trying to review the book before I copy my review here... Don't mind my ramblings! :) Here's my review... I received this book, signed and personalized, after winning the GR First Reads giveaway. Based on the information I read about the book, I was very much looking forward to reading it. The concept of a "special needs" child being linked to the occult was especially interesting to me. When Beth and Gary Carter were in Israel working as contractors for the military, they stumbled on an ancient site, which set into motion a series of events that were foretold almost 3000 years ago. Their now 6 year old daughter, who was born about 5 1/2 months after the visit to the site, is a shut-in who spends all day writing and drawing in her room with little to no interaction with anyone, even her parents. Two friends, Bill Monroe and Clay Harker get involved as they try to help Allyson to have a normal life. Allyson connected instantly with Clay, a linguist, who is trying to help decipher her drawings in order to find out what is going on, and the conclusion they come to is very unusual indeed. Allyson's condition was a mystery that I wanted to figure out. Why was she so terrified to be around people? Why did she not communicate with her parents, or with other people who were "safe"? Why did she connect instantly with Clay, before he ever said a word to her? As I mentioned, the concept was interesting to me. I was very intrigued as to where everything was going and was looking forward to the big reveal that would put everything together. Unfortunately, only some of the questions I had were answered, leaving new questions in their place. I'm very torn on what to rate this book. This usually is an easy process for me, as I'll rate the book on the overall experience of reading it, and on whether I enjoyed the story. On the one hand, I kept turning the pages to see what would happen, so the mystery kept me interested, and I was enjoying the progress, especially the scarier aspects of the story. (There were some chilling moments, the main one in my opinion was the description of Allyson's drawing of the "birdmen" -aka demons. It just gave me chills to think of a little girl drawing what she saw as demons.) On the other hand, there were quite a few issues that I had with this book, many of them editorial in nature, and many issues that tested my ability to suspend my disbelief. I generally have no problem with that; I read a lot of fantasy, and a lot of horror, many of it supernatural or "spiritual", for lack of a better word, and I generally can just let go of my disbelief in the unreal aspects and just go with the flow. This book was a real challenge in that aspect, for several reasons, which I hope I can communicate clearly. First, I should say that I am not a religious person. I am agnostic. I don't claim to know that any God exists, or that he (or she) does NOT exist. I simply do not know. It seems to me that many people do claim to know, but the way I see it, the knowledge that they claim is simply a belief. Strong, persuasive, widespread even, but still a belief. I am not saying that because I do not share a particular belief I cannot read and enjoy books about it, as that is not the case. Every book has a voice, and every story has a message that it would like to convey. There is absolutely nothing wrong with conveying that message. But delivery is everything. In my mind, there is a major difference between a book presenting its belief, or in having the characters "know" something, which allows the reader to take the information they've been given and apply it to their life if they choose, and a book presenting its contents as "truth" and potentially alienating or offending readers who don't see things the same way. For me, this book fell into the latter category, and it was hard for me to truly immerse myself in the story when I have an ideological difference of opinion with it. I feel like I was asked to forgo my agnosticism, to forgo my skepticism and just accept that there not only is a "God", but that there is a "right" God (AKA the God of Abraham), which is the "True God" and all others are "false" gods, or Satan. According to the book, man invented "false" gods when believing in an omnipotent God was seen as too simple to solve life's problems. Then God would destroy the "false" god and man would invent a new one, etc etc. As the bible is written by man, and man is fallible, isn't it possible that man invented the concept of "God" in general, and then just applied this concept to whichever problem they happened to have at the time? This pesky drought is killing our crops! Hey, we should have god send us rain. Now we've got a Rain God! Problem solved. I'm certainly not trying to belittle anyone's belief or religion, but just pointing out the flaw that I saw in the argument that only "false" gods could be invented by man. As a person who does not hold any theistic beliefs, but has an open mind toward them, I was slightly offended on behalf of others by the "false" god usage in the book. It showed up 14 times. Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot, but when you consider that EVERY god in history which was not THE "God" of Abraham was likened to Satan, it becomes a lot, especially to someone who thinks people should believe what their heart tells them to believe. Belief, in my opinion, is a personal matter, and nobody has the right to say whether someone's beliefs are right or wrong. I think a big part of my problem is that the book's belief system was presented as The Truth, and assumed that the reader agreed, which made me take a step back to wonder whether that was on purpose or not. I just don't know. The last thing that I will mention regarding the religious aspects of the book is that it seems that free will was removed. At one point, one of the characters was lamenting the tragic loss of his family, and questioning how God could be so cruel, to which another character chastised the first, saying that it is not "our right" to question God. Perhaps it is semantics, but we have EVERY right to question. I'm no religious scholar (which is probably painfully obvious by now), but as I understand it, the basis of free will is in knowing that we're loved and accepted no matter what, that we are able to wonder and question but still decide whether to believe or worship, even if we don't like the answer, if one is given at all. Anyway, that was a much-longer-than-intended explanation of the main issue I had with the book, but I'd mentioned editorial issues as well. I'll try to be brief. There was a bit of inconsistency regarding the method used to show characters' thoughts. One instance would use italics and quotation marks, the next would be italics only, then no italics and no quotation marks. This is definitely something that an editor should have caught. Also, measurements in the book left me a little baffled. In particular, during a car chase scene, the driver was said to have prepared for the "180 degree turn". This confused me a bit, because 180 degrees is a straight line, half of a circle. The dialogue was clunky at times, and certain action/reaction situations didn't make sense, such as a character covering her ears before a noise starts, or a hospitalized person referred to as "not expected to make it", and then a few pages later with no update, a character who would have had no way of receiving other information claims that they "look like they're going to pull through". Lastly, one glaring issue had me baffled. All of the artifacts from the ancient site which Beth and Gary discovered were removed to a museum for research, including a cloth that was covering an alter or table... except for a large 10-pointed, jewel encrusted star mounted on the wall. Why would that have been left untouched when clay or stone cups are recovered from archeological digs and considered great finds? As much as I hate to say it, it seems like it was just more convenient to have it left behind than to have to deal with the logistics of having to bring it back to the the site. I know that this review seems harsh - there was much that just had me scratching my head - but overall, I did enjoy the story. I had to consciously try to ignore my skepticism at times, but that, and the inconsistencies mentioned above aside, I did enjoy it. For a first novel, it was not a bad effort at all, and I hope that the next book is even better. :)

Review: The Tehran Conviction by Tom Gabbay

This is the very first "for review" book I'd ever read, won through Goodreads' First Reads giveaway program. This is actually the third in a series, the first two being The Berlin Conspiracy and The Lisbon Crossing. I really enjoyed the book, despite not having read the first books, and didn't feel that it was necessary to have read them at all. Here's my review in full, again copied from I seem to have been reading a lot of books about the Middle East lately. All fiction, but all have given me a little more insight into the similarities and differences between their culture and our own. No exception to that trend with The Tehran Conviction. More about that in a bit. First, let me start out by talking about the word "conviction". The book begins by defining the term: Conviction (n.) 1. A fixed or strongly held belief. 2. The act of being found of proved guilty. Obviously, both of the definitions have their role to play in the story, but the first is the one that had the most effect on me. Gabbay's way of showing idealism vs. realism with regard to individual and personal freedoms as well as what it means to love your country was very moving to me. His way of describing these ideas and thoughts are almost poetic, but still practical and practicable at the same time, if you've a mind to do so. These themes are universal. We all want the right to be free and to do as we choose and to live as good a life as possible. I felt that Gabbay represented Iran and the world of the CIA very fairly through Jack, who was willing to be their man, but still, despite his words and actions, I felt didn't really believe that the CIA was right in everything it did. I know that's ironic, because they always say that actions speak louder than words, and here Jack is using both to say one thing, but I just FEEL that he means another. I like that Jack's character was fleshed out enough so that I could get that impression. He wasn't the regular one-dimensional "Action Hero™". He was a regular guy who was drafted to do something extraordinary, and he did the best that he could with what he had to work with. I'll just briefly mention one of the things that most affected me in this book, and that is the theme of deceit and betrayal. It just runs rampant! Nobody can trust anyone else. But what really struck me, is that the United States would take the step of deceiving a nation simply in order to exploit it in the first place. I know, I know, you're probably yelling at your monitor right now, asking me where I've been for the last 27 years (which happens to be my age, if you're wondering), under a rock?? But no, I've been right here, in the Good Ol' U.S. of A. watching things go from bad to worse right along with you. I think deep down, we all hold the conviction that our country is the greatest on earth. Love of country runs in our blood, as it should. You have to love where you come from in order to love who you are. But that is NOT the same as letting that country run rampant and do anything and everything it wants to while the citizens turn a blind eye. There are people who denounce anyone who doesn't agree with "High Level Government Decisions" as unpatriotic. But I disagree. It is unpatriotic to sit by and let your country lose itself. But I digress. My point, in all of that, was that in 1953 America decided to stage a coup in order to overthrow the government in Iran as a means to access their oil. Perhaps I am an idealist, but I grew up thinking that my country was better than that, that we treated people fairly and helped other countries and their people. "Fool me once, shame on you... Fool me twice - you can't get fooled again." -- Pres. "Dubya". Anyway, I'm rambling on and turning this into a little political rant. Oops! I did really enjoy the book. Gabbay's descriptions had me feeling as if I was there. I could see the streets, I could see the people, I could feel the arid heat. I loved this aspect of the book, because after all, I read for escapism. This book isn't exactly one that I would want to literally escape into, though. Iran in the book is at a cross-roads, with political upheaval knocking on the doors and religious zealots climbing in the windows, it's not exactly a restful place to be. I was happy to see that Gabbay didn't sugar-coat daily life in Iran. I've never been there, but I can't imagine it's all sunshine and daisies. There are aspects of every culture that we'd rather not see, but they are there nonetheless. And Gabbay didn't shy away from them or beat around the bush. Good for him. I wanted to give this book 5 stars, but there were some things that prevented me from doing so: First, the book opened with a poker game, although I only figured that out in context. Actually the book opened with Jack holding "the dead man's hand", which I thought was a literal dead man's hand, not being a poker player. So, I would have liked that to be a little more clear. Secondly, some of the editing could have used a bit of work. On the same page (4), we have both "prizewinning" and "prize-winning" make an appearance. I probably wouldn't have noticed the difference, except they were on the same page. Finally, some of the sections ended rather abruptly. I don't mean "cliff-hanger" abruptly, I mean, "starting a new thought then oh new section!" abruptly. It was a little distracting. Those things aside, I really did enjoy the book very much. The changes from 1953 to 1979 were well done and well placed. They never felt forced or rushed and kept the momentum up with both story lines. At the end of the book, I felt as though there were appropriate resolutions to both story lines. It was not hard to follow at all, as some books which change time periods can be. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good political thriller, or who has any interest in the Middle East. Very good. I will keep an eye out for Gabbay's other books as well. P.S. A special thank you to Tom Gabbay himself, if you're reading this, for letting me know that I could read the book without having read the first two. (I am a stickler for reading series books in the right order, back to back.) Anyway, Tom, thank you for the information, and for listing your book with the FirstReads giveaway, too. :) Originally Reviewed: August 28, 2009

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull

In honor of my very first follower, I've decided to review a book that she sent me for Christmas. By her own admission, this gift (and it was a gift!) was a last minute, spur-of-the-moment thought, and I'm super pleased that she had it, because this book is one of the best debuts I've ever read. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to read something honest, and funny, and heart-wrenching and just all around amazing. I've since pushed this book on at least 19 people. I loved it. Thank you, Allison! And without further ado, here's my review, as copied from Goodreads... First, I should probably go ahead and thank Allison for this one. She threw this into a Christmas box she sent me as a last minute whim. To be honest, I probably never would have picked it up on my own. But that would have been a shame, because this story was fantastic. So far this year is starting out wonderfully. This is my 4th 5-star read this year alone. When I think of that ratio, I feel like I've been super generous already this year. But I think that everything has been deserving of the rating I've given, so I'm not going to change anything. :) This book is absolutely deserving of a 5-star rating. I would NEVER have guessed that this is a first novel. Sometimes a first novel will take you by surprise, just by being far better than any first novel should be, and better by far than some 5th or 10th or 25th novels. This is one of those. I was feeling kind of blah about the book that I was reading, and this happened to be within arms reach, so I picked it up. When I say that this book grabbed me from the very first page, I'm not exaggerating. Just the descriptions and the words and the feelings that flow off the page were enough to hook me. I wrote down my first quote at page 13, and then kept jotting them down throughout the book. There are so, so many insightful and beautiful quotes in this book. So many vivid descriptions and heart-tugging and honest emotions. This book is an absolute gem. And I do NOT say that often. This is Patrick Delaney's story. His life story, in a way, but really his life centered around small islands of understanding and happiness that he found in two people that he loved and lost. We see Patrick through his eyes, and his insights and memories and at different stages of his life. We see how he's changed with each stage, even though he doesn't tell us, "I was different back then..." or anything, I could just see. We see him as a scared, naive 20 year old heading off to war and meeting the first person who changed his life. We see him as a 30 year old, more than a little jaded, now visiting the war memorial and meeting the 2nd person who changed his life. Then finally we see him as an old man, looking back over his life and pondering his impending death. Each of Patrick's "lives" was represented on the page with truth and grace and clarity that I think would be hard for a different writer to carry off, let alone to do so by intertwining them in and amongst each other without losing his (the writer's) way, or losing the reader. The three stories blended together perfectly, and felt so intimate that toward the end, I felt as if I was losing a little bit of myself in Patrick's loss. I am infinitely impressed that Hull was able to write an 83 year old man pondering life and old age and death as convincingly as he did. One would think that he was writing about his own experience. It was beautiful and staggeringly sad at the same time. But then, 83 year old Patrick is witty and funny too. Here's the quote I mentioned writing down from page 13:
"I thought dying old would be easier than dying young. Now I see how that very expectation makes it so much worse. Die young and fists clench with rage; die old and shoulders merely shrug. If you are young and dying, you are embraced with love and sympathy; charities exist solely to accommodate your final wishes. If you are old and dying, well you're right on course, aren't you? Take too long about it and the looks begin; subdued impatience at first, then glares as though you've been lingering at a window table in a crowded upscale restaurant long after your coffee has gone cold, the table cleared of everything but stains and crumbs."
Or this one, which I loved because it describes the book lover so perfectly:
"Like most bookworms I read so as not to be alone, which often annoys those who are trying to make conversation with me."
This is a book that deals with war head on. It pulls no punches, and isn't shy about showing how awful and horrible war is. It's not glamorous. It's not romantic or virtuous or glorious. It's terrible. All of them. Patrick talks about what it is to be a part of something so terrible, and what it is to survive it. This book touched me on so many different levels. It was beautifully written, heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time, and shows us that loss is maybe subjective. If we love someone enough, they are always with us, even when they are not. Originally Reviewed: January 14, 2010

An Intro...

Right then! So I will take this opportunity to welcome myself to the wonderful world of blogging, specifically book blogging. I'm not really a social-networking type, so I don't do the Twitter or the Facebook or the MySpace thing, although I have tried all three. But blogging is a bit different, as it is simply an outlet for my book reviews and maybe various things that go bump in my head without all of the... well, everything else. :) So, about me. I'm currently 27, originally from the humid, sticky South, but I currently live in Northeast PA, where it's not quite so humid or sticky, and there are many odd and interesting (and probably pre-historic) insects, but no cicadas or crickets... I miss them. *sigh* I am gainfully employed with A Major Online Travel Company (and no, I can't get any deals). I have two parents, divorced, each with their new loves, both of whom I like, which is lucky, and I have one brother, who will be getting married in July, thus adding a sister-in-law to the fam. I have tons of cousins and extended family, too, so I won't name them all here. :) I'm in a relationship of 7 years (officially making me a "Commonlaw Wife" in some areas) this past April. The boy part of this duo is called Thomas AKA Wika, and he is an out-of-work-artist. If you're interested in learning more about him or if you want to check out his art, you can visit his site: It's chock-full of his art-stuff and his opinions and the random fluff that sometimes floats around in his head. I have two cats: Alfie, who is 4 years old, and generally nicknamed "Monster" or "Monkey", and Indica, who is a 1 1/2 year old girl-cat. She's nosy, and has to be in the center of the action at all times. Here's a picture of the "children"... this was taken about 3 months after we got Indica, and you can tell that Alfie has no problem using her as a pillow. Alrighty... that's enough about the home life. Let's get on to the real reason we're all here, huh? BOOKS! I'm a reader. Always have been and always will be. I learned to read before I started Kindergarten, and I was reading the newspaper by 5. My parents never really censored or limited my reading material, and I'm grateful for that, because it has not only founded a love of reading, but it has helped to shape me into the person I am. I will read just about anything, but my favorites are horror, classics, historical fiction, science-fiction and fantasy. My favorite authors are Stephen King (since childhood) and Jane Austen. In 2008, thanks to (plug), I joined (plug again) where I found a community of readers with whom I could discuss books! This was way new to me. I'd always been a solitary reader, because very, very few of the people I know in my life love to read as I do, and if they read, they don't generally discuss what they read, so finding a whole online community that shares my love is amazing, to say the least. I read for enjoyment, first of all, but reading also provides a window into other worlds... a window that we can look through to learn about the outside world, or we can climb through to be outside of ourselves for a while. The escapism factor is a huge lure for me when it comes to reading, hence the name of the blog. I hope that I can maybe inspire someone to rediscover the joy of reading, or to maybe pick up a book that they never would have tried... If not, I'm OK with being a dreamer. :) Happy reading!