Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book 124: THE DIRECTIONLESS SON OF BRAIN Review

The Directionless Son of Brain by Saurabh Sharma is a symbolic tale of Mind, the son of Brain and Cousciousness. At age seventeen Mind has dropped out of school and has no thoughts on what he wants to do or where he wants to go in life. His parents are concerned and visit the father's brother Wisdom for insight and guidance. Uncle 'Wisdom' visits with his family - his wife, Soul, and son, Heart. Wisdom tells Mind that he should go on a journey for two years and rediscover himself. He is also advised to write his experiences in journal at the end and then to give the journal to his uncle upon his return. 


What follows are a series of visits to villages and towns, where Mind encounters Misfortune, Poverty, Greed, Crime, Religion, Logic, Practicality, Pervert, Lust, Compassion, Empathy, Grief, Insane, Profit, Creativity and more. These people all help to teach Mind necessary life lessons. Although this is a short story, I found it a very difficult read because of the poor grammar and strange sentence structure as well as incorrect word usage, e.g. "You are a looser...You are right I am a looser but who is the winner here?" If these types of problems don't bother you then this may be considered a decent quick read but I found myself wanting to correct every error rather than follow the story.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book 123: SET IN STONE: THE LIFE & DEATH OF MEDUSA Review

Set In Stone: The Life & Death of Medusa by R. C. Berry provides a highly creative backstory to the life of Medusa before she becomes a monster. We meet Medusa as a young, highly impressionable and naive teen. She is beautiful inside and out  and adored by her "cousins" the Charities. She is invited by the Charities to a celebratory festival on Mount Olympus for the goddess Athena. While there she becomes enamored with not only Athena but Aphrodite. This sparks a tug-of-war between the two goddesses to see which one can win the love of Medusa. 


Over the course of the following year Medusa begins to worship both goddesses and leave small tokens of her love and devotion, but it is only Athena that appears to her as a reward for her prayers. Upon her return to Mount Olympus, this time for a celebratory festival for Aphrodite, she is sad and angry over the treatment of Aphrodite and lets her know why. Things get rather complicated and interesting at this point because Athena feels she has won the love and devotion of Medusa yet Aphrodite seduces her. The "war" truly heats up between the two goddesses with Medusa caught in the middle as nothing more than a plaything. It appears that Aphrodite may care for Medusa and she does go out of her way to protect her after she is attacked by Poseidon and cursed by Athena. But the result is that Medusa has become hard and cold on the inside as a result of the gods and goddesses machinations. 


I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Set in Stone but I was pleasantly surprised. This highly creative backstory is believable although it does stretch the imagination at times. Ms. Berry has provided a twist to the mythology behind the legend. The only drawback is that this is the first in a trilogy and one presumes no resolution to the story will be had until the end of the third book. This doesn't detract from the pleasure obtained in reading this story but it does mean more reading ahead.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book 122: ENCHANTED ISLAND Review

Enchanted Island by May Torres is described as a supernatural coming of age story with a historical twist. The story begins with Gabriella (Gabby), Gilberto and Molly as eleven year olds in middle school. Molly is the daughter of absent and privileged parents. She knows Gabby as the daughter of her family's maid, Rosa. The two girls don't have a lot in common but forge a friendship that is repeatedly tried by petty jealousies, envy and peer-pressure. Gabby and Gilberto hit it off immediately and become inseparable throughout middle school and begin dating when they enter high school. Gabby, Gilberto and Molly travel to Puerto Rico the summer they are all twelve and meet Juan, a slightly older teen. Molly has a crush on Juan and is jealous of his attention to Gabby. This jealousy motivates her to try and trick Gabby resulting in a serious fall and injury.


The first half of this story is devoted to the routine trials and tribulations associated with being a tween and teen. The second half focuses more on the pitfalls associated with growing older and high school. It also superficially deals with some serious issues such as rape, gang-rape and teen pregnancy. Nothing gets reported and when the victim, Molly winds up pregnant she simply chooses to ignore the pregnancy as if it will go away if she doesn't think about it. This seems to be taking naivete to an extreme. The story hints at the paranormal in the first half with Gabby seeing an ancient Indian chief and swearing that he saved her from a life-threatening fall on Mona Island. However, no one else sees him and they assume Gabby must have been dreaming. During the second half of the book the paranormal, supernatural aspects are front and center. All four of the teens are forced to relive their pasts in order to save the future. The historical aspects are quite interesting, however, the supernatural/paranormal seemed forced and overshadowed everything else. I think it was because of the rather forced nature of the supernatural and paranormal that I wasn't able to enjoy this story and had to force myself to plod through to the end.

DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop - Last Few Days

The Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop will be over in just a few more days. Please visit my giveaways page for your chance to win a $20 Amazon.com gift card (open to all)

Only one entry per name/email address - no following required (although appreciated)! 

This giveaway ends on May 31st at 11:59 PM ET. Winner will be posted on June 1st and contacted via email (winner will be chosen by random.org).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book 121: THE GUARDIAN OF EDEN Reviewed

To say that The Guardian of Eden deals with complicated issues is an understatement. This book portrays child neglect and abandonment, dysfunctional family drama, child abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, incest, molestation, and murder. When we first meet Garrett he is a happy 5 year old child living with his paternal grandmother. He has never met his parents and only knows that his father is in prison. It is not until his grandmother dies that he meets his mother, his very pregnant mother - Holly. He is stunned to find out that she is white, and her boyfriend at the time is stunned to find out that her son is black. His mother shortly gives birth to Garrett's half-sister, Eden and his life begins to dramatically change. 


Over the years Garrett has assumed the role of protector of his younger sister, often missing school to take care of her, as well as tend to his mother. Not to sound trite, but to say that Holly has issues is again an understatement. She is needy in so many ways and often attempts to drown her sadness and sorrows in alcohol or drugs, which means neglecting not only herself but her children. Things seem to change for the better when she meets and then marries a successful photographer, Corbin. Corbin decides he wants to make them all a real family and tries to adopt Eden and Garrett. This decision results in Garrett meeting his birth father for the very first time, in prison. Even though there is apparently a stable adult in the picture, Garrett still insists on protecting his mother and Eden. It doesn't help that at only 11 Eden is 5'8" tall and beautiful. None of these people are perfect, although they may appear to be superficially. They are all tall, beautiful, smart and flawed. Garrett evidently scored a perfect SAT score when he was in the 9th grade and had a 4th grade reading ability when he was only 5 years old. Both he and Eden show an aptitude for the linguistic arts and are quite fond of poetry. 


Enter Madison McPhee, the daughter of a US Senator and presidential candidate. She and Garrett hit it off immediately and begin a tumultuous relationship. Madison is somewhat afraid to tell her father about Garrett but only because her father is extremely over-protective. Eden is jealous of all of the time that Garrett is spending with Madison. Garrett is feeling that he's letting Eden down and is considered inferior by Madison. Just when you think things couldn't possibly get worse, Eden is hospitalized and it comes out that she was raped. 


I enjoyed this story up to the end. I found it hard to believe that Garrett could receive "psychological treatment" for a number of years for his "anger management" issues and nothing ever be resolved. Why doesn't the psychologist suggest a referral to another counselor if he isn't able to help? Why doesn't the social worker step in and try a different counselor if this is an ongoing issue? I know, children fall through the cracks of our social services system daily, but this didn't seem to make much sense. The story is often gritty and ugly but then so are the indignities these children are forced to suffer. This is not a light-hearted read but it does pack a punch. 


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book 120: 3 LIES Reviewed

Clint Masters is moving on with his life. He has taken a leave of absence from his high-tech company, CatSat, and in just a few more months his divorce will be final. He's happy and part of this happiness is due to his relationship with Beth Sutton. Things are going well until he returns to Beth's home one morning to find that she has disappeared. He knows things are not what they seem when he finds that her dialysis machine is still in her home and that her uncle, the Supreme Court Chief Justice, has come up with an unbelievable story to cover her absence. Just when it doesn't appear as if things could get any worse, his soon-to-be-ex appears and tells him she's pregnant and it’s his child. 

3 Lies is filled with action (not the bang-bang shoot'em-up kind although there is a little of that as well), suspense and deceit. While Clint attempts to find out the truth behind Beth's absence, he discovers that she's actually been kidnapped. He then discovers that there is a family member or friend missing that has ties to each of the Supreme Court justices. The justices are told not to inform the authorities but they are never asked to change their votes or positions on any upcoming cases. To make matters worse, Beth has not had dialysis in several days and her life is truly endangered by this fact alone. He also has to contend with his ex, who has decided she wants a reconciliation. Is it too little too late even if there's a child involved? Things really get interesting when the CIA launches their own internal investigation into an old code that shows up one day, a possible computer worm, and 10 missing agents with loose ties to the Middle East. 

Not everything in this story made sense to me, such as why the Supreme Court Justice is residing in Boston while supposedly being active on the court in Washington DC? Does he commute daily or is he a telecommuter? I wondered about this but it doesn’t really distract from the overall story. Ms. Hanson filled this story with numerous twists and turns that kept me wondering how does this tie in? I also hoped and prayed that Beth, and the other hostages, would get rescued in time. 3 Lies raises the question of who can we really trust? Can we trust the government or her agents? Can we trust family and friends? How far will a person go to protect themselves and their vested interests no matter how perverted? If you're into suspense thrillers, then I suggest you add this to your to-be-read list.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book 119: THE ORDEAL OF FIRE

The Ordeal of Fire is Steven Smith's second book in the "Tree of Life" trilogy. Elowen and her companions continue with a variety of quests. Elowen and Diggory had found respite with the Illuminati, and both were being taught and trained by masters. Elowen is chosen to by one of the Illuminati leaders to join with several other students for a special task: to obtain the four elements or mysteries. However the love of power causes one Illuminati leader to betray all others and puts Elowen in a tenuous situation. She realizes her mistake in being guiled by soft words too late and watches as the Illuminati are literally destroyed from within and finally by the Redeemers. 


Elowen, Diggory and Larwita are forced to flee and suffer imprisonment, beatings, and more. Elowen is branded a witch by a church leader after failing "the ordeal of fire" and is to be executed. But she escapes. She befriends many along the way, including an Orok that was with the Illuminati, Arigh Nasan. She learns more of her mother's history and ultimately realizes that she doesn't have to follow the same path. While Elowen searches for the first mystery and deals with Lord Lucien, Prince Asbjorn is dealing with his own set of trials. Black Francis and the others aboard the Husker Du have been betrayed and imprisoned by the Sea Beggars and only Prince Asbjorn and Valbrand escape. During their travels they encounter Prince Jeimuzu of the Kojin and embark on their own quest to save the lives of the Jeimuzu's sister and ultimately the lives of Black Francis and the sailors of the Husker Du.


The Ordeal of Fire is filled with intrigue, treachery, and fantasy. These elements along with the interesting characters and kingdoms make this a good read. We're introduced to a variety of different creatures and kingdoms. The kingdom of the Orok and the previous khan, Arigh Nasan's father, seems to resemble the khan's of ancient Asia. The Kojin are fierce warriors with skills similar to the samurai of ancient Japan. During all of their trials and tribulations, Elowen and Asbjorn must face their inner demons as well as their external foes. Will they succeed? Will the Illuminati in Omphalos be warned of Prester John and the Mother Church's treachery? Will Lord Lucien succeed in obtaining all four elements and be able to use these to push forward the agenda of the Mother Church? We'll have to wait for the final book in the trilogy, The Last Days, to find out. I have to say that although I would not have chosen this series to read on my own, I'm anxiously awaiting the final book to see how things end.



DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

The Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop has begun. Please visit my giveaways page to enter. What's the prize from The Book Diva? A $20 Amazon.com gift card. 
Only one entry per name/email address - no following required! 
This giveaway ends on May 31st.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

West Virginia Book Festival Update

For all readers in West Virginia and surrounding areas, the West Virginia Book Festival has announced another speaker for the 2011 festival: Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels. This year's festival is scheduled for October 22 - 23 and will be held in Charleston WV. 


Last year's festival featured several best-selling authors and I had the pleasure of meeting Diana Gabaldon - author of the Outlander and Lord John series, and Heidi Durrow - author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky. Both  gave wonderful talks and, for me, were the highlight of the festival; for others I know it was the Nicholas Sparks session. I can't wait to find out the other authors scheduled to attend this year.




OMG! I just realized the WV Book Festival and the Books by the Bank festival in Cincinnati, Ohio are the same weekend. The 2010 Cincinnati festival featured sessions with Katherine Howe - author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Beth Hoffman - author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Leah Stewart - author of Husband and Wife, J.T. Ellison - author of The Immortals, and Augusten Burroughs - author of Running with Scissors


Decisions, decisions, decisions...at this point it appears as if I'll be driving to and from Cincinnati on Saturday and possibly attend the WV Book Festival on Sunday.














Books 116-117 Reviewed

I had to escort my parental units to see their gerontologist yesterday and decided to read for pleasure while awaiting the appointments. Since my to-be-read-for-pleasure list is so long, the choices seem to be never ending, but I finally chose to read Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford and I'm very glad I made this choice.


What can I say that hasn't already been said? Jane Bites Back is a very well-written and well-developed story about Jane Austen as a vampire bookstore owner residing in upstate New York in the 21st century. That alone gets us off to a really good start and then we learn that this Jane has received 116 rejection letters for her latest manuscript (well it was written when she was still alive but still . . . ). Just when she begins to despair that she'll never be able to write again, she receives an email that her manuscript has been accepted and will be published within months. To make things slightly more interesting, she is enamored with a local contractor and is almost ready to move that relationship to the next level when an unfortunate ex appears. This "ex" just happens to be the vampire that turned her and he is Lord Byron. Now lets throw in a slightly deranged Charlotte Bronte (yes another vampire) into the mix, along with devoted Austenites versus Bronteites. I could tell you more but I'll simply say that this book is extremely funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and a delight from beginning to end. After completing Jane Bites Back I wasn't ready to put this Jane Austen away, so I promptly began reading Jane Goes Batty


Jane Goes Batty takes up just where Jane Bites Back left off. Jane is now being followed by a film crew and is in the midst of having her book filmed. She's slightly ticked off because the screenwriter and director have taken liberal creative license and changed her work to the point of being unrecognizable. If that's not bad enough, there's a vampire hunter on the loose and it turns out to be her boyfriend's mother. Oh, and the deranged Charlotte Bronte is still out there somewhere. This book involves a bit more romance in an on-again/off-again nature between Jane and Walter, as well as her store manager Lucy and the rabbi Ben. Byron is still up to his old tricks and is chasing after Jane and trying to make amends, while chasing after and obsessing about men and women. Did I forget to mention that there's also a slightly demented romance blogger in town during the filming and a new book editor on the scene? You wouldn't think these elements could work but they do, and quite well. The humor is still there but this book provides slightly more intrigue along with the paranormal slant. This was just as good as the first book and I'm a little sad to have to put this Jane Austen away for a while and wait for the next in this series, Jane Vows Vengeance


Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Reads

I took a break from unpacking (recently moved) and reading for reviews and chose several books from my personal stash to read this weekend. Most of these fall into the romance genre, with one possibly being considered romantic suspense and another paranormal romance. A few were short stories or novellas and the others were full-length novels. I enjoyed all of my reads but some stories just felt predictable, in that I knew how it would be resolved before I was finished reading half the story. Others just had a been there, read that feel, especially those from authors I've read in the past. 


Now I could be getting jaded in my middle-age or perhaps its just that some books, especially those from authors that have written a number of books, contain many of the same elements to the point that all new books read like past books. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these authors (or any author) should stop writing even if this is the case. I applaud each and every author that publishes and/or gets published. Writing is hard work and the creativity involved in coming up with different plots, characters, sequences, etc. is mind-boggling to say the least, not to mention the amount of research involved in setting up believable character backgrounds, scenarios and locations. The problem seems to be finding something new to say and an interesting way to say it so readers stay involved.


Like I said earlier, I enjoyed all of these stories. Some of these I received as free reads through the Barnes and Noble Nook store (btw, I'm loving my new NookColor!), others I had received free or purchased through the Sony Reader Store (for use with my PRS-600 Touch Reader). Please check out my GoodReads.com link to read my brief reviews on these stories.


Weekend reading list: Almost Home by Mariah Stewart, Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts, Famous Last Words by Regan Black, Heart of the Witch by Alicia Dean, Sheltering Hearts by Robyn Carr, and Deadlier Than the Male by Sharon Sala and Colleen Thompson.


What was on your weekend reading list?







Friday, May 20, 2011

Headlines about West Virginia and Books

I'm a native West Virginian and I returned to my home state three years ago after being away for almost 30 years (I left shortly after graduating college). There's a lot that I miss about being in a larger city (such as having a Barnes & Noble right down the street - the closest store is currently 190 miles away or a Borders right around the corner - the closest full-service Borders is approximately 45 miles away), but there are a lot of things to be appreciated as well: a lower crime rate, family all around, and a generally slower pace to life. Normally you only hear about West Virginia with regards to bad news: mine disasters, most obese state, most medicated state, bottom of the list in educational standards, etc. Needless to say these aren't things that we West Virginians are proud of and are actively striving to change. One such change, I'm happy to note, is the new Read WV campaign sponsored by the WV Dept. of Education, Read Aloud West Virginia, the West Virginia Library Commission, and the Imagination Library. This advertising campaign will feature such notable West Virginians as Jennifer Garner, John Corbett and Sam Trammell. I'm glad to see a program promoting not only reading as a learning tool but a love of reading. I hope it becomes widely successful.


Now back to the bad news...there's a new book being released later this year that discusses the 1968 mining disaster that killed 78 WV miners. West Virginia University professor Bonnie Stewart investigated this incident and the result is No. 9: The 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster. The 1968 mining incident is an indelible part of our history and this book sheds new light on the disaster




Does your village/town/city, county, district, state, province or country have a reading promotional campaign? If so, what impact is it having overall?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blog Hop Giveaway Update

I had previously mentioned that I will be offering a $15 Amazon.com gift card in the upcoming Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop. Well I'm happy to provide an update and let you know that I'll be giving away a $20 Amazon.com gift card instead of a $15 gift card. Make sure you come back and participate, May 25th - May 31st. This offer is open to readers worldwide.




I'll be reading and reviewing a number of books over the next few weeks, but next up is book two in the Tree of Life trilogy by Steven Smith, The Ordeal of Fire.


Book 109: THE MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I began reading The Map of the Known World by Steven Smith. After I began reading, I found it to be a somewhat strange but intriguing tale of a girl on a quest. Elowen is an orphan, chosen to deliver a map to the Illuminati. Her travels are somewhat (only somewhat) akin to the Lord of the Rings quest. She must evade the Redeemers, warriors of the Mother Church, and all nulled adults. It seems that the act of nulling (insertion of a piece of barbed metal into the forehead of adults) puts them under the control of the Redeemers. She is aided in her quest by another orphan - Diggery, a pirate - Black Francis, a wolf - Ulfur, an exiled royal - Prince Asbjorn, the Eldar, Barbegs and numerous other creatures and animals. This story took a bit of getting used to but by the time I was halfway through I was completely hooked and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I can tell you that Elowen is successful in getting the map to the Illuminati but there are major trials and battles along the way.



DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author for review purposes. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review: F**K IT: THE ULTIMATE SPIRITUAL WAY

F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way definitely has shock value, if for no other reason than for its title and provocative word choice. Mr. Parkin stresses that by saying "f**k it," we can learn to let go, relax and simply give in to the flow of life. Saying these two little words can alleviate most of the stress and stressors in our lives because we will no longer take things so seriously, especially those things we cannot change.


In some ways I can understand why saying "f**k it" is equated to the ultimate spiritual way. When we say "f**k it" we begin to appreciate all that life has to offer, taking the good with the bad and accepting that both are necessary parts of life. These two words can, according to the author, offer a freedom and release that are equal to most religious or spiritual disciplines but without the judgment of I'm right and you're wrong and therefore will burn in hell. By saying these two words and living with the philosophy they embody, you can learn to eliminate worry, a desire for things and end with being satisfied with who you are as a person, where you are and what you are doing.


Mr. Parkin does explain, quite nicely and often with a humorous twist, how one should say "f**k it" to jobs, family, friends, etc. He isn't saying that you have to give up your job (unless you want to) or your friends and family (again unless you want to), but rather by saying these words to these situations and people we release any ability they may have to cause us stress. Other than the profane word choice, I don't find that this is all that different from others in recent years, such as "don't sweat the small stuff" or even "let go and let God." Having said that, if the more traditional religious/spiritual paths (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Taoism, etc.) aren't for you, then this may offer a starting point to being able to let go, relax and enjoy the ups and downs that is life. 




DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the publisher through the early reviewers’ program at netGalley.com. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."






Film discusses Harper Lee and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

I love the book To Kill a Mockingbird and last year celebrated the 50th anniversary of its release. Although the book is well known, the author hasn't written (or published) any additional works and has lived a somewhat reclusive life. So when I read about the release of the documentary to DVD, I thought you might be interested as well. Here's a link to the review I read: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/14/us-review-heyboo-idUSTRE74D03C20110514. I'm definitely adding this to my DVD purchase wishlist!



Friday, May 13, 2011

Coming Soon...Blog Hops!

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be participating in two upcoming blog hop giveaways: Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop and the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. I'll be offering an Amazon.com gift card valued at $15 during the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop, scheduled for May 25 - May 31. This hop is being hosted by I'm A Reader, Not A Writer and Page Turners Blog.
I'll be offering paperback copies of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett during the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, scheduled for June 25 - June 29 (books to be shipped from The Book Depository). This particular hop is being hosted by Leeswamme's Blog.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Classics to the Rescue!

I think I've found the cure for readers' block - reading (or in this case rereading) a classic. Okay the herbal tisane and candle didn't do the trick last night so I grabbed my ereader and pondered my choices. It was down to Jane Eyre or The Secret Garden and The Secret Garden won. I became so engrossed in the story that I read for several hours before I simply couldn't read any longer. I'll need to try this cure again if the readers' block returns, but there's nothing like classic literature to get me out of a slump. If only I'd thought about that sooner perhaps I wouldn't have become such a basket case worrying about the problem.





Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reader's Block


I'm currently suffering from a new and tragic disorder that I'll call readers’ block. I'm sure you've all suffered from something similar from time to time, but this is the first time I've not been able to get into reading. I tried taking a break from my "required" review reading and started a new title from a favorite author, didn't help. I tried reading a print book rather than an ebook, but that didn’t help. I even tried reading magazines and the newspaper, no good.


I'm currently debating seeking medical help because in more than 44 years (hey, I'm almost 50 so I've been an avid reader for at least 45 years) I've never had a problem with reading. My family actually describes me to people as the girl that was in the corner with her face in the book. I was very unassuming in childhood and always read. I attended my brothers’ childhood baseball and football games but I was reading while there.


I'm a reader. I've read books in genres I didn't like and even by authors I couldn't appreciate but I've never been unable to finish a book. I've never even had to force myself to read, not even in college or graduate school. This is serious! Just a few months ago I was literally reading a book a day and now I can't finish a book in a week. 


There's no way I can possibly be burnt out on reading. That's an impossibility, right? 


Just worrying about this situation is bringing on a migraine. Ah well, I'll take a pain reliever, make a cup of rooibos tisane (doctor has prohibited tea and that's another migraine inducer in itself because hey tea is a great stress reducer), light a lavender candle and stop thinking about it for tonight. Hopefully I'll awake tomorrow renewed, refreshed and ready for some reading.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest Post: "The Case for the Novella" by Naomi Bulger

“Why don’t you write a few thousand more words?” a friend asked me, after I finished writing Airmail. “Your book is too short. People want value for money.”

I tried to explain that ‘padding’ my book with a few thousand extra words would not make it a better value read, just a more tedious read. I tried to explain that a clean, succinct novella made for a rollicking read that didn’t need to ramble.

But my friend was unconvinced, until I also made the point that in today’s time-poor world, there was something to be said for a book that you could start and finish in one rainy afternoon, preferably with a glass or two of red wine to hand. Just like a good magazine.

Indeed, sci-fi author Robert Silverberg says the novella is “one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms,” and I humbly agree.

A novella is essentially a short novel. Traditionally between 20,000 and 40,000 words, it is long enough to allow for a complex plot and full character development, but is less likely to sustain multiple storylines or a large cast of support characters.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, think Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ernest Hemingways’ The Old Man and the Sea, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. All novellas.

Yet Steven King once called the novella “an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic,” citing the difficulties of publishing a work that is too long for magazines and too short to fit the standard definition of ‘novel’.

And I confess it is true, the novella has not been popular in recent years. As bookstore mega-giants like Borders close down, and e-books rise in popularity, an increasingly jittery publishing industry is less likely than ever to take risks with formats that lie outside the tried and tested formulae.

But I put it to the jury that in the rush of contemporary life, the novella is due to rise from the ashes as the predominant fiction format of the twenty-teens.

I enjoy a good Gone With the Wind-esque saga as much as the rest of them. But let’s face it: in an era of Internet degrees, microwave dinners and drive-thru pharmacies, a tome like GWTW can take months to finish. On the other hand, what if you could enjoy a full and satisfying read in the space of two or three stolen hours? This is the gift of the novella to the time-poor reader.

Don’t remove that four-generation family saga from your bedside table. But please spare a little (and you’ll only need a little) time for the humble novella. You may just discover a world you’ll love, in an afternoon that becomes utterly and completely yours.

My question for you: You’re given two hours of interruption-free reading time. What do you read?  

Airmail, a new magic realism novella by Naomi Bulger, was published in April 2011, and is available online at Barnes & Noble and numerous other good bookstores. Naomi maintains a blog about writing, creativity and the absurdities of life at www.naomibulger.com, and she promises to write a personal letter of thanks to everyone who buys a copy of Airmail

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Coming Up This Week...

I'll be posting a review of Be Careful What You Wish For by Sibel Hodge later this week. In addition, I'll review a book (or two) chosen from my personal stash of TBR books. I haven't decided on the title yet as there are so many to chose from, where do I begin? 


I'm also pleased to announce a guest post for Monday, May 8th. Ms. Naomi Bulger, author of Airmail, will be providing us with a post on "The Case for the Novella."


Happy reading until then...



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book 105: AIRMAIL by Naomi Bulger

Anouk is currently living in New York City and writes letters about her life, sent via airmail, to a complete stranger in Australia. Mr. G.L. Solomon is that stranger. He's an elderly retiree and his life is centered around highly structured albeit empty days. This life of his is given a lift when he starts receiving letters from this strange woman in New York City. His life takes an unexpected turn when he the letters begin to state that they are being written from the "other side."


There's a bit of quirkiness and the strange woven into this tale that borders on paranormal or fantasy without quite taking the step fully into either of those genres. Ms. Bulger presents us with two lives, Anouk and Mr. Solomon, that seem incomplete without the other even though they don't really know one another. They both seem to be biding their time and waiting for something miraculous to happen. I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this story and was pleasantly surprised throughout my reading. This story kept me on edge, never knowing what was going to come with the next line or what the characters would do. If you're looking for something different to read, then please add Airmail by Naomi Bulger to your list.




DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author for review purposes. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."