Failure to Read & The Worst List: 2008


Before I list The Worst list, I want to start with my Failure to Read list, which also could be called "It's not you it's me list." These are books I started and couldn't finish or books that never clicked with me.

Finished but not feeling the love:

Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I really wanted to like this collection of poems but it just didn't work out the way I planned. Maybe it's me and I'm not a poetry person but I found her work to be flowery. I thought her non-love poetry was more interesting though.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I love Jane, really, I want a "What Would Jane Do?" t-shirt, but Mansfield Park just didn't do it for me. Mostly, it was that doormat Fanny (see below).

Failure to Finish:

Farworld by J Scott Savage
It was summer, I was distracted plus I felt a bit of pressure from myself to post something about it. I'm not really a YA fantasy reader anyway so I never did finish it.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I loved East of Eden and wanted to loved this too. Maybe it was bad timing but with the economy in the news, reading this was too much of a downer. I will read it someday though.

Now on to the Worst List! I'm pretty lucky that it's not often I come across a stinky book. Either that or I'm easy to please. So my worst list is rather short.

The Worst

Most Annoying Character: Fanny Price from Mansfield Park. I much preferred her rival, Miss Crawford. She needs to get a little life in her, plus she gets the guy by default. ("Default? Woo hoo! The two sweetest words in the English language") The lesson here? Just wait long enough for your man to be so disappointed in love he's sure to look your way.

Dashed Expectations: I didn't have any expectations for The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor since I'd never heard of it before but once I started reading I wanted more from this book. Just when I thought we were going somewhere, the guy would 'forget'. Where is all the action?

Most Frustrating: The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank had to have the most confusing layout ever. It jumped around the life of a woman named Jane Rosenthal. However, smack dab in the middle another character appears who has nothing to do with Jane and then *ta-da* disappears, never to be seen again. Someone call Unsolved Mysteries! Then there is a confusing story told in 2nd person (huh?) about a woman with cancer. What is going on here?!

Strangest Ending: Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy. Headline: Gentle Dairymaid Turns Knife Welding Maniac. 'Nuff said.

So, there you have it! I hope you all had the reading year I did. It was pretty good.

2nd Annual book-a-rama Awards: The Best


Last year I had some fun making a list of the best and worst books I read in 2007. I enjoyed it so much I decided to do it again this year. So here it is the 2nd annual book-a-rama Awards ©2008.

The Best

Again I get to look back at all my reads of the year and wonder if any have stuck out as extraordinary. I read quite a bit this year, many of them brand spanking new books. Let's take a looky at the best.

Best Survival Story: Classic riches to rags story. Girl is born a princess, thrown in prison for years, parents beheaded, brother tortured- fun stuff. Somehow Marie-Therese (daughter of Marie Antoinette) survives with her dignity intact. Hurray for her! I really enjoyed Marie-Therese: Child of Terror by Susan Nagel (although it bored my mom to tears).

Best Love Story: Ash and Juli from The Far Pavilions takes this award. Picture a dashing hero and an exotic heroine separated as children then reunited (and it feels so good) just as she's about to be married. Ash is an uber-heroic dreamer and Juli a realist but somehow they defy the cultural standards of both the East and West to be together.

Best Protagonist: Again it's got to be bad-ass Annie Seymour from Shot Girl, the latest installment of Karen E Olson's Annie Seymour Mystery series. Apparently she does have a heart, it's just buried way down there somewhere.

Best Quirky Novel: Really this award has to be shared by two books I read this year: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde and Yellowknife by Steve Zipp. I think it's a given that any Thursday Next novel is going to be quirky but Yellowknife was a surprise which leads to...

Best Pleasant Surprise: After sitting on a shelf for a year, I finally got to Yellowknife by Steve Zipp. I wasn't sure what to expect and I guess a fear of the unknown kept me from reading it. It didn't take long for this strange little book to have me hooked.

Best Depressing Yet Compelling Read: It's just one of those books that has engaging characters and great writing but, Dear Lord, can anything else horrible happen to these people? The book I'm speaking of I read for the 2nd Canadian Books Challenge: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. A great book but consider yourself warned.

Best Shocking (Holy Crap Shocking!) Turn of Events Award: Of course a story about civil war isn't going to be roses and puppy dogs, but the shocking event that occurs in Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones made my jaw drop. No gentle lead up, just shock and awe.

Best Frightening Glimpse of the Future: "It was a pleasure to burn." We're talking books, people. In Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, firemen burn books while a few risk their lives to save them. It was frightening how accurate Bradbury's vision of future technology was. A little too accurate.

Best Vampire/Zombie Novel: Another two-way tie, Victoria Gardella kicks vampire butt in The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason while Robert Neville is the last man alive in I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. The Rest Falls Away is Buffy meets Georgette Heyer where I Am Legend is a post-apocalyptic vampire/zombie tale of survival. I enjoyed both even though they were two very different stories.

Best Girl Power Book: I had to think on this one but it's Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Okay, so Coraline shouldn't have gone through that door, but she keeps her cool and saves the day. A nice strong yet relatable heroine for girls.

I could probably go on forever. It was a great reading year with many awesome books. I can't wait to see what next year brings. But now....


THE BEST OF 2008
*****Confetti*****

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
It's a book that has it all. Love, redemption, horrifying medical procedures...but with great writing and a compelling story. At the end, I was left with many questions but I like a book that does that.

Please check out my sidebar for reviews of all these books plus many more!

BTT: Brrr...Winter Reads

I thought I'd pry myself away from the Wii and actually post on the old blog. I hope you're all enjoying the holidays.

Booking Through Thursday

What I want to know today is … what are the most “wintery” books you can think of? The ones that almost embody Winter?

I recently read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton where winter is a major factor in the lives of the characters. Winter is almost a character in the story. There is a claustrophobic feel to the novel because it happens in the winter months.

Although much of the story doesn't happen in the winter, I always think of Wuthering Heights as a wintery book. In the first pages, the narrator is trapped by a winter storm and is forced to be an unwelcome guest at Wuthering Heights. He spends an uncomfortable night which includes an encounter with a ghost.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I have logy turkey brain.

Merry Christmas!

We're all having visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads in anticipation of the Jolly Old Elf. So I'll leave you all with Clement C Moore's The Night Before Christmas.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, m
ount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like
a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimn
ey he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a
good-night!"


Merry Christmas!

I'm Filled With the Spirit...

...of Christmas. At least according to Kailana I am! She gave me the Christmas Spirit Award. Thanks K!

Here are the rules for the Christmas Spirit Award:

"You must be a true Christmas lover to receive this award.
The person to whom you give the award must also be in love with Christmas.
Link back to the person who gave you the award.
List 5 things that you love about Christmas. If you can't limit it to 5 things, then keep going till you run out of space!
Pass the award along to as many people as you like. That can be 1 or 50. It's up to you! But keep the Christmas cheer going!
Let your recipients know that you have tagged them by leaving them a comment. Also, link back to the person who gave you the award."

1. Christmas trees, especially real ones (although I have a fake)
2. Cookies. Nom, nom, nom...
3. Christmas dinner with turkey
4. Presents (Giving and receiving. Come on you know you do too!)
5. Snowmen
6. Christmas lights
7. Pretty Christmas dresses for the chicklet
8. How excited the chicklet is about Santa
9. Christmas music
10. Christmas Specials

Lots of people were covered on the list but I'll nominate Bookfool (aka Nancy).

Random List Meme

Just a boring Sunday here. I haven't read a lot in days so I thought I'd do this fun little meme I saw at Bookfool and Eva's blogs. It's a very American meme, in my opinion, so I'm adding a few Canadian things to it ;)

The things I have done are in BOLD!
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain (Err... a small one and it was more like hiking. I'm counting it.)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea (Living near the sea and seeing it count?)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (crochet, cross-stitch)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (Some very sad tomatoes)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked (I'm sure I did this once with a daring friend)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (I've seen many a beautiful sunset over the Bras D'Or Lakes)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (I plan on changing that this year)
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (I know a little high school French)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (ask my Mom!)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (My Etsy shop counts)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (Ridiculous that I haven't, we have tours everywhere here)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Like Bookfool, it was an article for a book)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I have caught fish though)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club (online)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant
101. Walked on a glacier
102. Visited the land of Anne (Prince Edward Island)
103. Seen Parliament Hill in Ottawa
104. Seen the Northern Lights
105. Been to the Arctic Circle
106. Been to Banff

Wow, I haven't done a lot, but I'm quite a homebody. Feel free to do this yourself.

Booking Through Thursday: Giving Books

Do you give books as gifts? To everyone? Or only to select people? How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?

I'm having the strangest sense of Deja Vu! But anyway...

Yes, I do.

Well, not everyone I know is a reader so, no, not everyone. I try to get the kids I know books but that isn't always easy. I never know at what reading level they are. Babies are easy though. However, I usually buy books for birthdays.

I've bought books for my girl this Christmas: a collection of Eric Carle (she loves him), Judy Moody Saves the World, and an Olivia gift set (2 books and CD). They aren't from Santa. Books (and pjs) are from Mommy and Daddy. I don't know why. I've just always done that.

How to I feel about receiving books?! Great of course! Books are the perfect gift for me.

Merry Christmas BTTers!

WW: Meowy Christmas

Snow Couple


I made these two with the intentions of selling the pattern on Etsy but that didn't happen. There was always something that distracted me (books). I think they came out well though. They look good on my table. I'm a huge snowman fan. How about you?

Ethan Frome: Review

In Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, the narrator, a newcomer to the small New England town of Starkfield, becomes fascinated by Ethan Frome. Ethan shuns the company of the townspeople. He looks beaten down and world weary. The locals make reference to 'an accident' and avoid his isolated farm.

One stormy winter day, the narrator finds himself in the home of Ethan and puts together the pieces of his story...

When Ethan was a young man, he was married to Zeena, a difficult and cantankerous woman. She invites her poor relation Mattie to live with them as housekeeper. Ethan becomes infatuated by the girl which can only end in tragedy.

Supposedly Ethan Frome is the most auto-biographical of all Wharton's novels, if that's true, her life must have been unbearably sad. She identifies herself with Ethan, a man torn between duty and love with disastrous results. There is a definite stifling quality to the writing. Ethan's unsolvable dilemma is a tremendous burden. It reminds me of a book I had to read in high school: The Mountain and the Valley, in which a man wishes to leave his small town but never can. A book I did not appreciate at all. However, I was drawn in by the story of Ethan Frome. He is a truly sympathetic character even though his choices are always wrong. Is this his fault or that of fate?

Wharton reveals a little of the story at a time, answering questions I had as I read. Why did he marry Zeena? Does Mattie love him too? What exactly did happen? The ending took me totally by surprise. I did not expect that!

The story is told in an interesting way. In the first chapter, the narrator speaks in first person, telling the reader of his impressions of Ethan until he enters the farm house. Then the narration switches to third person and tells Ethan's story as he experienced it. It's a short 170 pages but the writing packs a wallop. Every word has a purpose. Even winter plays a major part in this story. The locals agree that Ethan has spent too many winters at that farm house.

Okay, so it's not the most uplifting story but I'm still thinking of Ethan a week after I finished reading it. It's a haunting story.

Thanks to the Girlebooks for the free download.

Highly recommended.

Puppet: Review

My sister-on-law lent me Puppet by Joy Fielding in the summer. I put it aside because I had so many other things to read and review. I finally got around to it this weekend. It took me no time at all to read.

In Puppet, Amanda Travis is a successful criminal lawyer in Florida. However, other than her career she has nothing going for her. She picks up strange men to take home to her sterile apartment. She drinks too much. She's bitter and cynical. Plus, she defends the most despicable of human beings as clients. All of this she attributes to her childhood. Her mother was a distant, cold alcoholic and her father spent all his time taking care of his wife. As soon as she could, Amanda left her past behind in Toronto and started her life over in Florinda.

Amanda's tried hard to forget her past but when her ex-husband calls to tell her that her mother shot a total stranger in front of witnesses in the lobby of the Four Seasons, she finds she must put the puzzle pieces of her childhood together to save her mother from herself.

Although the story grabbed me right away, Amanda is a character who is hard to warm up to. She sleeps with married men because they are easy to discard. She looks at every man as a potential bedmate and thinks she can have whoever she wants. (And the men are complete dogs). I suppose this is to show how damaged she is but it's hard to sympathize with her. However, it doesn't take long to get over this and get involved in the story. It's quite a puzzle. Was the murdered man just a stranger to her mother? The clues are revealed slowly throughout the book and I was hooked on every page. I just couldn't put it down. I needed to know what was the big secret (and it's a doozy). The end was quite a twist and...er...twisted.

I did find some of the repetitive dialogue annoying and cliched ("Been there, done that." "Not going to go there.") but it doesn't detract from the plot. And the plot is what's worth reading in this book.

If you want a quick page turner, then Puppet is for you.

This could be bad...

I've joined Twitter.

Booking Through Thursday: Do You Have the Time?

Booking Through Thursday

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?
(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

1. Hahahahahahahaha! Um, what was the question again? If I could read as much as I wanted I'd give up sleeping, eating, bathing, peeing, blinking...you get the idea. I think that explains why I read while walking around the house. But, yeah, I have a house, a kid, pets, a husband, things that need taking care of. This week I haven't read in days! Imagine! I've been busy getting ready for Ho-Ho. I can't remember going this long without a book on the go. It's time to remedy that.

2. All of the above. I have piles of books waiting to be read so I'd have to start on that stack, then I'd take a trip to the bookstore, library, wherever. I love the classics so I have centuries of reading to do. I don't think there will ever be ENOUGH time.

So, how long have you gone without reading? I'm interested.

Advent Calendar: A Few of My Favorite Things


I thought I had written myself out of ideas for the Advent Calendar last year, but inspiration came as I was listening to Christmas music. I decided to make a list of a few of my favorite Christmas things. Here goes:

*Favorite Christmas Carol* Good King Wenceslas. There are so many carols that I love but this one just has something about it that speaks to me. It isn't just a catchy tune; it tells a story. And the story is a good one. A great king leads his servant through a storm to find a poor man in need. I remember an animated special on TV every year as a kid and for some reason loved watching it.

*Favorite Christmas Movie* A Christmas Story (or Ralphie's Christmas). All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun but all the grown ups around him say, "You'll shoot your eye out." Weren't we all like Ralphie once? Of course, now as a parent I understand the adults' fears but as a kid I just wanted that one thing that would make Christmas the Best Ever! If you'd like to see A Christmas Story but don't want to sit for 2 hours, here's A Christmas Story in 30 seconds by Bunnies or you can enjoy a scene from the movie right here:





*Favorite Christmas Gift to Give* It's not just me being cheap but I love to give handmade presents. In my younger years, it was a necessity because I was broke but now I just like giving something I made with my own hands. In the past I've made snowman candles, decoupaged pots, bath salts and other things I've forgotten. I'm not sure how the receivers feel about my Homemade Christmas but I hope they know I give from the heart. Here are some 3-D star ornaments you can make yourself.

You'll need:
Double sided cardstock in pretty colours
Glue
Glitter
Hole Punch
Ribbon

Instructions:

I found instructions for making 3-D stars from Lost Button Studios. I reduced the sized to 80% and printed out a template. Cut out. Trace template to cardstock. Cut out. Follow instructions for folding. Cut out a large circle out of coordinating cardstock. Glue edges of star and place in center of circle. Hold in place and before glue dries sprinkle with glitter. Tap off excess glitter. After glue dries, punch hole in top and string a ribbon as a hanger. Voila! A pretty ornament to give to friends.

*Favorite Christmas Gift to Get* Books! Now I love to get handmade gifts too but nothing beats a book, especially something really unique. My parents were so great at getting me interesting books when I was growing up. One of those was an illustrated copy of Edgar Allen Poe's stories. I still have it. It's really beautiful.

*Favorite Christmas Cookie* It's still my mother-in-laws Melt-In-Your-Mouth Shortbread from last year's Advent post. Here is the recipe one more time:


1 lb butter
1 cup sifted icing sugar
3 cups sifted flour
½ cup cornstarch
Cream butter, add sugar & gradually add flour & cornstarch sifted together. Whip mixture until fluffy & mixture breaks or looks curdled. Drop by teaspoons or put through cookie press onto cookie sheet. Bake at 300F until light golden brown (about 20 minutes).

*Favorite Christmas Candy* Here in Canada, every year the restaurant chain Swiss Chalet has the Festive Special: chicken, potato, cranberry sauce and stuffing. As a treat, they used to give mini Toblerone bars. A few years ago they switched to Lindt chocolates instead. You would have thought they committed blasphemy. "What?! No Toblerone!" Even Rick Mercer made a comment on his show about it. I was so disappointed. So, you've guessed it. Toblerone is my favorite holiday candy. Probably because it's so hard to share, I get to eat it myself ;) Nom, nom, nom...

*Favorite Christmas Tradition* It might sound dorky but my favorite tradition is visiting friends and relatives. This time of year is the one time people make an effort to see old friends.

*Favorite New Tradition* Now that I'm a parent, the best new tradition in my life is Christmas morning after Santa's visit. I get to relive that excitement I had as a child through my daughter. When I was her age, I was awake before the sun rose. Christmas Eve is so busy my girl is exhausted and I'm usually awake before she is, waiting for her to wake up. I love how Christmas brings the kid out in all of us.

So, what are your Christmas favorites?

Finally, I'll leave you with a photo of my cat who's not very impressed by a Santa hat.





****I got the dates mixed up so enjoy my post a day early****

Lord John and the Hand of Devils: Review

Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon is a collection of three short stories following the adventures of Lord John Gray. ("A Novel" on the cover is misleading. This is not a novel.)

In Lord John and the Hellfire Club, a young man is murdered in front of Lord John. He promises revenge for the young man's death. While on the hunt, he is invited to join the mysterious fraternity of the Hellfire Club. This just might lead him to a killer. I can't say more since this is a very short story. I had the strangest sense of deja-vu and it took me a few pages to realize that I've read this one before. It was added to Lord John and the Private Matter. However, I had forgotten enough to enjoy this one. It has a twisted ending.

Lord John and the Succubus was also written for another collection (I hadn't read it though). Lord John is with the army in Prussia. Rumours of a 'night hag' who steals a man's essence run through the camp. John shrugs it off as local superstition until the death of an English soldier rattles the men. Lord John must get to the bottom of this mystery, is there truth to the stories? There is a bit of the supernatural element to this story even though Lord John is a man with his feet firmly planted on the ground. It's interesting to watch him puzzle this one out.

Lord John and the Haunted Soldier was written just for this collection. Lord John has been badly injured after a canon he was responsible for blows up, killing a man. To add insult to injury, an inquiry asks him difficult questions that cause him to doubt himself. Is he responsible for the destruction of the canon? While trying to clear his name, he stumbles upon a possible cover up involving several canons. He also must find the widow of the fallen soldier who was left penniless and in disgrace. I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as the others. There was something about the ending that I didn't like.

Lord John, originally a minor character in the Outlander series, becomes fully fleshed out as a person in his own right. There's something very endearing about him. He might not mean to get himself involved in these mysteries but his sense of honour compels him to see them through to the end, even though there might be some unpleasantness. Lord John is an interesting character in that he must hide his true nature while at the same time he is a human being in need of love and companionship. It is almost impossible for him to be gay at this point in history.

I loved some of the characters that make appearances in these stories. John's valet Tom Byrd is a fiercely loyal employee but he's not afraid to speak his mind. Harry Quarry also returns in 2 of the stories. He seems to be the complete opposite of John but a more loyal friend John doesn't have. As always, Gabaldon immerses us in the period. There's plenty of 18th century dirt and grit. The only trouble I had with this collection is the timeline. It's hard to pinpoint when the events are happening and how old John is during all of this.

Highly recommended to any Gabaldon fan.

Thanks to Random House.

Weekly Geeks: For Dewey


From Becky:

I was thinking that it might be nice for those bloggers who are Weekly Geeks to pay tribute to Dewey in the next week or so. To take the time to post to their blogs a "Weekly Geek" post about Dewey--maybe share their favorite posts from her site, maybe share a memory or two about participating in weekly geeks, the bookworms carnival, the 24 Hour Readathon, or one of Dewey's challenges, maybe just share a favorite memory of Dewey in general, what they'll miss most, how they'll remember her, etc. I'm going to try to post mine this Saturday--but bloggers anywhere and everywhere are encouraged to post whenever they want.

When I read the news of Dewey's passing, I was shocked to say the least. Now that I've had time to think about what it means I realize the hole she has left in the book blogging world. We started blogging at about the same time but I was always amazed at how Dewey took to blogging. She jumped in with her whole spirit. The number of community building projects she started, many she handled all by herself, is astounding. At this moment an entire community of book bloggers is trying to figure out the huge task of continuing Dewey's projects. Please drop on by at the Book Blog Ning for more information.

What makes me the most sad when I look at her blog is her Book Coveting posts. She would make a weekly list of books she wanted to read. I think we all have a list like that and we believe that someday we will get to them all. But of course this isn't really possible. We will never leave this life having read all we ever wanted. There are always new books being written and new authors to discover. I hope Dewey is somewhere with all the books she could ever desire and that her book coveting list continues to grow forever. That's heavenly!

My favorite memory is of the very first Read-a-thon. I was a cheerleader and was it ever fun! I loved visiting everyone and encouraging them to read, read, read. Dewey was such a great organizer. We were all kind of just getting our feet wet. This could have been great or a big flop. It was a blast! I'm sure it was a success because of Dewey. You'd think she did it everyday.

Anyway I hope you all join me in this special Weekly Geek!

BTT: 5 for Favorites

1. Do you have a favorite author? Probably Diana Gabaldon

2. Have you read everything he or she has written? I think so, even the Lord John stories.

3. Did you LIKE everything? Sure I LIKE everything she writes. Now I do think that some were better than others and looking back some things bugged me but she's pretty consistent.

4. How about a least favorite author? Easy. Henry James. I struggled through Wings of the Dove because he has grammar issues. There are run on sentences that go on for full paragraphs.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t? I'm still thinking Henry James. Edith Wharton was a big fan and I wanted to like him but I just couldn't.

Yeah, that was short.

The Painted Veil: Review

Lift not the painted veil which those who live, Call Life -Percy B. Shelley

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that women are like teabags. We don't know how strong we are until we're put in hot water. Kitty Fane is quite a teabag because she's up to her neck in the stuff. In The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham, after marrying a mild mannered doctor and moving to China, Kitty is bored and falls for the charming diplomat, Charlie Townsend. Kitty's husband Walter finds the pair in the act and in his anger makes Kitty come with him into a cholera epidemic. It's a clear case of murder-suicide.

Alone with a man who once adored her and now despises her, Kitty has nothing but time on her hands and her own thoughts to keep her company. She starts to think about her life and how she became the shallow creature she sees in the mirror. She looks to the people around her, Waddington and the French nuns, for answers to the bigger questions in life. What is really important?

I have seen the movie version which is a tragic romance but the original book ends quite differently. It's difficult to like Kitty at first. She's very vain and self-absorbed. She believes that she can get her husband to do whatever she wants. Consequences are for other people. She gets a reality check when she is alone in a diseased ravaged village. Maugham starts to build her character. We see her grow as a person. Of course, she isn't perfect and she makes some major mistakes. Even at the end I wonder if she does the right thing or if she's acting out of selfishness. At least she tries.

The Painted Veil is an easy book to read. It's short and has some very beautiful writing. Told entirely from Kitty's point of view, it's a character study of one woman's search for her true self after reality is forced upon her. I'll definitely read more of Maugham

Unbelievably Sad News

I just can't believe that Dewey from Hidden Side of the Leaf has passed away. How does this happen? One minute she's posting about the books she plans to give away and then she's gone. I have a hard time grasping it. Dewey was such a generous, funny person. I got that just from her blog. She will be missed by us in the book blogging community. She did so much to bring us together. I will miss her too.
RIP Dewey


The Reluctant Widow: Review

Georgette Heyer sure knew how to tell an entertaining story and The Reluctant Widow is no exception.

Level headed Elinor Rockdale is just on her way to another placement as governess to a rambunctious little boy when she mistakenly steps into the wrong carriage. The man waiting when she alights makes an unbelievable proposal: marry his drunken cousin and he'll free her from her uncomfortable lifestyle. Of course, she refuses. This is madness! But when news arrives that the husband-to-be has only moments to live, Ned Carlyon persuades Elinor against her better judgement to tie the knot.

Now a widow, there's only the matter of selling the house and dotting some i's with the help of Carlyon and she's a free and independent woman. Until a few nights in the old house reveal that her husband might have been up to more than just drinking late at night.

I was hooked from the get-go with The Reluctant Widow. It's an interesting story with a strange turn of events. Elinor is just my kind of heroine. She's practical, takes everything that comes at her in stride, and always has a smart remark. Her interactions with Carlyon are priceless. I loved their banter. He's one cool cucumber. And although she protests too much, you just know she's loving this adventure.

There's a set of supporting characters who keep the story moving and add a lot of entertainment value. Carlyon's brother Nicky is a teenager who inadvertently finds trouble everywhere, even 'cousin' Elinor's house. His dog Bouncer has behavioural problems which include 'guarding' people by boxing them into rooms. And Elinor's old governess, Miss Beccles, thinks Carlyon can do no wrong.

The Reluctant Widow is a little bit of mystery, a little bit of farce but a fully, fun, fast read. This is probably my favorite Heyer so far.

Breathing. It's a Good Thing

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I have total sympathy for anyone with a chronic lung condition. I don't know how you do it. I've taken breathing for granted, having always had good health, until this past week. I've never been sicker or more miserable. I'll save you all the gory details and just say that I think I'm on the road to recovery now. Whew! I'm so glad I'm not a smoker either, I can just imagine how much worse pneumonia would be if I was.

Unfortunately, being sick did not mean more reading. I haven't read a thing. That's bad.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes. I really appreciate it.

I tried to find a cute lung picture for above but most of the stuff I found was scary, so here's a cute Dr Tinycat instead. Enjoy!

Sick

I know I've been quiet but I have a good excuse. I've gotten sick. I'm taking all my medication and resting. I hope to be up and around soon. Talk to you all then!

BTT: Tell Me Lies

Booking Through Thursday:

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?



Well, isn't this timely ;) Honestly, I've never lied, but I try to be kind. I also keep in mind that other readers may not feel (and have not felt) the same way about the book. I often say, "this wasn't for me" which is true. And I avoid saying unhelpful things like, "this was a total stinker." I point out the flaws but also the positives and it's up to other readers to decide for themselves if they can overlook those flaws. Sometimes I can't. It's does feel kind of weird to say negative things about the books I've been given. I always feel a bit nervous sending out that email with the link to my review. I'm sure the giver would like a positive review but it doesn't always turn out that way. I don't think getting it for free should have anything to do with how I review books. It's a gamble and the author has to roll those dice.

I very rarely deal directly with authors, which makes it easier for me. All my experiences with authors have been positive so far. They've been very respectful. I prefer to go through publishers though. These aren't their babies. I'm careful to read their guidelines. Do they only want positive reviews? Or do they respect the reviewer's views whether they are positive or not? There's a freedom in the latter even though I've rarely had to do it.

All that said, I've been lucky, there are few books that I didn't like. I'd like to think it's because I'm pretty choosy. I don't have the patience to read what I don't like. I also have other things going on in my life so why would I want to read bad writing? There are just too many books I want to read and not enough time.

Earlier this week, I posted on this topic somewhat. I had a discussion with readers about self-published books. Check it out if you want to weigh in on that topic as well.

Negotiating With the Dead: Review

I have a few books on writing in my collection. Some are strictly how-to's and are fairly dry manuals on how to get noticed as an author. However, Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing does not fall into this category. It's more of an attempt by Margaret Atwood to explain writers to the world. What makes a writer write exactly?

Atwood expands on lectures she's given herself throughout her career about writing. She looks at the myths surrounding writing and writers. Is writing an art, a compulsion, a job? In the first chapter, Atwood explains how she became a writer and it's not some kind of traumatic event that compels her to write. It's pretty ordinary and quaint. This was the most enjoyable chapter for me, seeing a glimpse of the young author, telling stories with her brother.

The second chapter on the duality of the writer, one half takes out the garbage, the other writes, was also quite interesting. Then she lost me. Chapters 3 and 4 had a lot of Greek god name dropping and I kept losing my train of thought. She did get me back with Chapter 5: Nobody to Nobody which is a chapter about the reader and our roles in all of this. Without a reader, why write? Finally, Chapter 6: Negotiating with the Dead asks where the writer gets ideas and we're back to mythology, this time about hell.

So, Negotiating With the Dead has it's ups and downs. Atwood has a conversational style, like sitting around the kitchen table having a cup of tea, when she's speaking of her life. She's quite funny. However, she's heavy on the mythology and if you like that kind of thing, you won't mind but it was too much for me.

I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in the writing life.

2nd Canadian Book Challenge read.

Pom-Pom Fun

So my girl was sick all weekend and after two days of Mario Kart and Barbie movies, I was ready for a change.

Today I gathered up some crafting supplies: yarn, googly eyes, pipecleaners, felt and glues. Pom-pom technology has come a long way since the days of yarn wrapped around cardboard squares, my friends.


Here's what we came up with.

Chicklet and Bomb the Monster. Bomb was my daughter's creation.

Let's Talk About...

Self-publishing:

Self-publishing is the publishing of books and other media by the authors of those works, rather than by established, third-party publishers. -Wikipedia

I'm not going to add to yesterday's controversy (I've already made enough of an idiot of myself, thanks) but I am curious about self-publishing.

*What makes an author go this route? Has anyone done it? What was your experience: positive or negative? How did it affect your career? How do you market this kind of book?
*Readers, do you read/review them? What are your thoughts on them?
*Should they be read or reviewed differently than main stream books?
*Can you count blogging as self-publishing? What are your thoughts on that?

Just want to hear some thoughts.

Edited to add: Thanks to everyone for getting involved in this discussion. It was interesting to read your views and experiences.

Vote For Me!!


Hi all! I'm going to shamelessly ask for your help. My Naked Tree Coasters are in a contest. Could you vote for #3 in the sidebar here?:

EtsyHookers Team Blog

Thanks guys!!

Lest We Forget


Here's the trailer for the epic film about the World War I Battle of Passchendaele. I haven't seen it but it looks gritty.



"I died in Hell
(they called it Passchendaele); my wound was slight
and I was hobbling back; and then a shell
burst slick upon the duckboards; so I fell
into the bottomless mud, and lost the light"
-Siegfred Sassoon

The Lace Reader: A Review

I've had The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry on my shelf for about a year now. Why did it take me so long to read it? I don't know. It might have been the title. It conjured images of old furniture covered in doilies. To me anyway. I'm funny like that. So, I finally picked it up and I'm very glad I did.

Towner Whitney returns home to Salem, Massachusetts from Hollywood where she ran to escape her painful past. She's not back voluntarily. Her beloved great-aunt Eva is missing. Towner feels sure Eva will show up at any moment and can't wait to leave again. When Eva's body is found, it changes everything. Towner is forced to stay in Salem. The past she hoped to escape is right in her face: her agoraphobic mother May, her abusive uncle Cal who blinded his wife and now is the leader of a bizarre cult, and an drunken ex-boyfriend. To complicate matters further, Detective John Rafferty, hurting from Eva's death, has his eye on Towner. Towner is about as lovable as a cactus so he has his work cut out for him.

I don't think my synopsis does the book justice. There is a lot going on here. Towner tells a lot of the story in first person and we go along with what she is saying. However, when seen through the eyes of others like Rafferty we get the sense that not all is as it seems. Towner's journal becomes a big part of the story and you think you know the story but then the point of view sifts once again. It's a neat little trick that Barry does beautifully.

I did have a bit of trouble settling into this book at first. I found some of the dialogue a bit confusing (like I was left out of the in joke) and Towner is a difficult character to warm up to. However, after a few chapters I was pulled into the story and didn't notice any of these small annoyances.

The subject matter in The Lace Reader is quite dark, dealing with abused women and mental illness. Still, it isn't without hope. I was pleased to see that it wasn't all Men=Bad. Rafferty is a nice guy just trying to make things right. He's my favorite character. There is also the backdrop of Salem and it's brutal history. It adds a lot of flavour to the story with the witches and the lace reading. Another location might have made the powers of the Whitney women stand out but instead it just seems perfectly naturally.

I wasn't completely surprised by the ending. I didn't need to read lace to see where it was headed. Barry throws in lots of hints. That's not a bad thing. I quite enjoyed it and thought the whole book was based on a clever idea.

Highly recommended.

*This is an ARC of the book before it was picked up HarperCollins (Canada). They might have edited it.

Dewey and Nymeth Present: Secret Santa


From Dewey:

Welcome to the second annual Book Bloggers Christmas Swap!

The second annual what?
Last year, Nymeth organized a Secret Santa swap between book bloggers, and this year I’m helping out.

How does it work?
You sign up by sending an e-mail to xmasswap08 at gmail. You have until the 18th of November to do so. You will then be randomly assigned as another blogger’s Secret Santa.

What you have to do next is send that person a little something - it can be a book, a journal or bookmark, a box of holiday cookies, a mixed CD, whatever you can think of. It doesn’t have to be anything pricey, of course. Second hand books are perfectly acceptable, as are homemade gifts.

A different person will be assigned as your Secret Santa, and you’ll only find out who they are when you get their package in the mail.

Something to keep in mind: Because there are book bloggers from all over the world, this is going to be an international swap. I understand that not everyone can afford to send a package overseas, though, so if that’s the case with you, please don’t feel that you can’t sign up. Just include a note saying so in your e-mail, and we’ll make sure you get a blogger who’s near you.

What else should your e-mail include?
Other than your name, mailing address and willingness to send internationally, you should include your blog url and a short paragraph about what kind of gifts you like, so that your Secret Santa has an idea of what to get you. You could also include links to online wishlists, your librarything catalogue, etc. Anything that you think will make your Santa’s life easier!

Important dates: The most important date is the 18th of November. It’s very important that you sign up before then, because after that we’ll be assigning the Secret Santas, and once that has been done it would be complicated to include new participants.

As for when to mail your package, if you’re sending internationally it’s probably best to post it before the end of November. Last year, I suggested that people post theirs before the end of the first week of December, but that turned out to be a little late. If you’re sending within your own country there’s more flexibility, but remember that the mail tends to be slow around this time of year.

In any case, you should all know who your blogger is around the 20th of November, which leaves you at the very least ten days to get and mail your gift.

One more thing: if you could help spread the word by posting about this on your blogs, it would be very much appreciated!

****************************************************************

Speaking of gifts... Amy is starting a movement: Books for the Holidays.


7 Bookish Things About Me

Okay, I totally forgot to do this. I remember being tagged but then forgot what it was I was tagged for. I guess I had a MMM: Mommy Memory Moment. My apologies to Ann, though it seems she's as bad as I am.

So here it is 7 Random Bookish About Me:

1. I used to be a Book Cheat. I'd read the ending before I finished to make sure would end the way I wanted it to. I stopped doing that though.

2. I've contemplated reading while driving. Just at stoplights. And I didn't do it, I swear.

3. I'll use anything as a bookmark, including other books.

4. I stopped reading for a few years in my early twenties. That was weird.

5. I read and walk.

6. Used books are my favorites. I like getting a deal on anything.

7. I keep books for years (decades even) either because I will read them someday or they are my favorites and I might want to read them again.

So that's pretty random and not very exciting but there it is! I won't tag anyone but feel free to do this one too.

Booking Through Thursday: Whatcha buy me?

Booking Through Thursday:

What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


Two books from my childhood come to mind.

One Christmas, I received my very first 'real' book, Little Women. I can still remember it. I spent the holiday reading it cover to cover. It was just the first section (the happy part) when they were all still children. Little Women will always be connected with Christmas in my mind; Beth playing carols on the piano, Mr March arriving on Christmas Eve and of course the very first line:

"Christmas just isn't Christmas without any presents."

When I was little, my grandmother on my father's side lived all the way over in British Columbia. Every couple of years she'd come for a visit and stay a few weeks in the summer. She'd always bring us something. One year it was a book: Heidi. It was a little harder book than I was used to but I enjoyed reading about Heidi, her grandfather and the goats. Of course, that my grandmother gave it to me is why it is such a special gift.

The fact that I still have these books as an adult and that they've survived several moves, shows how much these gifts mean to me. I'm quite sentimental.

Guest Blogger: Karen E Olson

Last year, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Karen E Olson to be part of her blog tour for Dead of the Day. We were both blog tour virgins. I was a bit nervous about it but it was a great experience and I guess it was for her too because she's back!

Today, as part of the blog tour for the newest Annie Seymour Mystery,
Shot Girl, I have a special guest blogger: Karen E Olson.

As a newspaper copy editor, I was charged with having to write headlines
for news and feature stories. This was never my favorite part of the job.
I love playing with the words, making sure everything was spelled right,
making sure the punctuation was correct, that the nut graph was where it
should be. But headlines? I wasn’t very good at writing them.

I learned how to write serviceable headlines: LOCAL MAN PROTESTS PLANNING
AND ZONING BOARD; SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN TESTS PROGRAM; CITY WOMAN DIES IN
BOATING ACCIDENT. Sometimes I’d get lucky (a particularly snowy winter and
more snow in the forecast inspired me to write SAY IT AIN’T SNOW), but I
just never reached the heights some of my colleagues did. A good friend
wrote one of my favorites after a kid decided to try putting his tongue to
a flagpole like that kid in the Christmas movie: FROSTY FLAGPOLE TAKES A
LICKING AND KEEPS ON STICKING.

Coming up with titles for my books is akin to writing a headline. It must
be short, snappy, convey what’s going on in the story, and lure the reader
in, make the story seem worth the reader’s time.

SACRED COWS had no title for months. I’d tried to come up with something
cow-related, something journalism-related but to no avail. Finally, in
the middle of the night, I awoke and it was in my head. I scrambled to
write it down before I forgot it.

SECONDHAND SMOKE was originally BIRDS OF A FEATHER, since there are
chickens in the story. But Jacqueline Winspear has a book of the same
name, and it was nominated for some award, so I had to quickly abandon it.
I was editing a health and science story for the paper about secondhand
smoke when I said, Hey, what about that? My editor loved it.

DEAD OF THE DAY was originally WATERLOGGED. But it wouldn’t fit on the
cover. And anyway, you don’t want to give a reviewer the chance to write,
“Waterlogged is just all wet.” I was frustrated and told my friend Reed
Coleman about it, so he asked what the book was about. I explained that in
the first pages, the subject of the newspaper’s featured obit or “dead of
the day” wasn’t exactly dead. He looked at me and said, “You do know
that’s your title, right?”

SHOT GIRL was relatively easy. There’s a shot girl in the story. A girl
who sells shots in test tubes in bars and makes a lot of money. Granted,
there’s a double meaning to it, but SHOT GIRL is short, catchy and
definitely my favorite title to date. Maybe because it was so easy.

Does a title make you pick up a book? Does a title matter to you as
you’re looking for something to read?

Karen

A big thanks to Karen! I've always wondered how authors come up with titles.
Karen E. Olson is the author of the Annie Seymour mysteries. SHOT GIRL, the fourth in the series, is available now. You can find her on her website www.kareneolson.com and with her blogging cohorts at www.firstoffenders.typepad.com.
.

Wordless: Sunflower in the Snow

Shot Girl: Review

Annie Seymour can't seem to stay out of trouble. It follows her around, even when she isn't looking for it. In Shot Girl, during a bachelorette party at a bar, shots ring out and the body of a man is found in the street. As Annie stands over the body, she recognizes the man. It's her ex-husband.

Annie divorced Ralph Seymour 15 years ago. She thought she was done with him until he shows up at the bar. Now the police suspect she's had a part in his death. While researching another story for the New Haven Herald, Annie inadvertently finds out that Ralph was in a lot of trouble with the wrong kind of people. Any one of them might have had a reason to want Ralph dead. Could it have been the stripper 'Jack Hammer'? The shady preacher? Or the missing shot girl/intern?

As if this weren't enough, some old college friends want her to join them in mourning the death of Ralph and she wants none of it. Plus, Annie's on-again-off-again boyfriend Vinnie dropped a bomb: the "L" word. How's she supposed to get to the bottom of Ralph's death and clear her name with all of this going on?

This is the 4th Annie Seymour Mystery and I'm still liking Annie Seymour. She hasn't changed much. She's still foul mouthed and tough. Sometimes though, her cynicism made me crazy. Vinnie must have the patience of a saint. I think this book shows why she is so cynical and, at times, judgmental. I was glad to see a part of her that was missing from the other novels. It showed that she really is a human being.

As always, Karen E Olson writes a fast paced and engaging story. There are so many twists and turns, it kept me guessing until the end. Told in the first person, Annie only reveals bits and pieces to the reader at a time. I always felt like she was holding back something and didn't want to put the book down until I found out what that was. And like Annie, I wanted to know what happened to Ralph.

Highly recommended for the Annie Seymour fan.

Please visit tomorrow when Karen E Olson will be a guest blogger as part of her blog tour for Shot Girl.

First Snow of the Season

Yep, it snowed on Sunday. Just a little and it melted within an hour, but it was enough to send kid outside to enjoy it. I couldn't resist the photo opportunity.

I also found out that the library is having a book sale next week. "All-right!"

Stay tuned. Wednesday I have a guest blogger: Karen E Olson!

Happy Halloween

It's Halloween and it's pouring! It's awful. I hope it clears up.

Just a few quick links:

*Google is taking over the world.

*In case you missed it: Oprah endorses the Kindle. Sorry Canadians can't get one at the moment although I'm not totally sold on the idea yet. But we can have one of these.

*10 Halloween Book for Kids.

Anyway Happy Halloween!!!! Have a safe one.

Vampire Thursday


My Friend Amy had a great idea: Vampire Day. I've always had a fascination with these mythical creatures. What is it about them? Maybe it's the idea of being ageless forever. Is it a blessing or a curse?

Where did the story of the vampire come from? Leslie Klinger attempts to answer this question here in this Seattle Times article for her annotated version of Dracula: The Annotated Dracula.

My introduction to the vampire came in the form of all those cheesy Dracula flicks from the 60 and 70's. Many are just terrible, some are campy (Once Bitten) but I think Dracula may have gotten back some respect with Coppola's lush 1992 version Bram Stoker's Dracula. Finally, Stoker was back with his creation. However, Coppola just couldn't stop making a romance between Mina and the Count. If you've ever read Stoker's novel, you'll know there is no love between the two.


Before reading Bram Stoker's novel, I had read Salem's Lot (Stephen King), and all of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Reading Dracula was an experience. I had a lot of preconceived notions about vampires by then and was surprised at the creature in the story. He had evolved from Stoker's monster to the charming and suave being in the movies. What a strange transformation for the vampire.

I had given up on vampires after that, until recently. A few years ago, I read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Dracula was back and terrorizing the modern world. Kostova combines the folklore of the Eastern European vampire with Stoker's Dracula, throws in an endearing heroine and create a fast paced tale for the 21st century.


As a blogger, I've reviewed a few vampire related books:

*50 Ways to Hex Your Lover- Jazz is a witch with a love/hate relationship with a vampire.

*The Rest Falls Away- Victoria Gardella fights vampires in Regency England.

*I Am Legend- The last man on earth, Robert Neville, battles humans turned vampires by a horrible plague. (I Am Legend inspired apocalyptic zombie films.)

Although the vampire is always changing to suit the needs of the audience, I don't think they are going to go away anytime soon. Maybe they will live forever.

What are your favorite vampire novels or movies?

RIP III Challenge Wrap-Up


Here it is the 29th of October and it's safe to say that I'm finished Carl's RIP III Challenge. It's been a lot of fun reading scary stories. I'm all set for Halloween!

I did Peril the First

*I Am Legend Richard Matheson
*Coraline Neil Gaiman
*My Cousin Rachel Daphne duMaurier
*Heart-Shaped Box Joe Hill

As always it's been a great challenge. Thanks to Carl for hosting it yet again. So, how did you do?

Winners!

With the help of Random.org I have 2 winners for the Austen giveaway:


abookworm (Old Friends and New Fancies)

darbyscloset (Pemberley Shades)


Please send me your addresses so I can contact Danielle at Sourcebooks about your books!

A Year of Readers: New Challenge

Not from me but

From Jodie:


"I love to read. It’s easy for me to pull a new book out of my crowded bookshelves every time I want one but not everyone can just grab books by the handful and choose their next read. Books are one of the most wonderful things in the world and should be accessible to everyone.

In 2009 I want to spread my love of reading throughout the world. From the 1st January 2009 until 31st of December 2009 I will be running an international read-a-thon that will be open to anyone who reads. It aims to bring people who enjoy books together to have fun bringing literature into the lives of others. It doesn’t matter what kind of books you read or how many you read as long as you’ve got your nose in a book in 2009 you can join in.

The Year of Readers

It’s an easy concept (which is probably why I thought of it). You pick a literary charity that you want to support in 2009. You sign up to be part of The Year of Readers, get people to sponsor you and just start reading whatever you like. If you’re going to read next year why not join and help a bookish charity at the same time?

How to Join

Sign up at The Year of Readers Blog (http://yearofreaders.blogspot.com) and you'll get a sponsorship form and an invite to write at the blog. Join in and let The Year of Reading be your first good deed for 2009."


I'm going to check this out.