Thursday, June 28, 2007

An NC-17 Book for an NC-17 Blog....and a Giveaway!

OK....first let me apologize. I was supposed to have this review up yesterday. BUT, I went to see a movie instead. Live Free or Die Hard....and man did it rock! Don't be mad! It was Bruce Willis, what can I say!!

Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis (277 pgs) was sent to me by Harper Collins for review. It is Ellis' first novel, although he is known in the literary world as the creator of a couple of DC Comics.

I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee. It was a huge brown bastard; had a body like a turd with legs and beady black eyes full of secret rat-knowledge. Making a smug huffing sound, it threw itself from the table to the floor, and scuttled back into the hole in the wall where it had spent the last three months planning new ways to screw me around. I'd tried nailing wood over the gap in the wainscot, but it gnawed through it and spat the wet pieces into my shoes. After that, I spiked bait with warfarin, but the poison seemed to somehow cause it to evolve and become a super-rat. I nailed it across the eyes once with a lucky shot with the butt of my gun, but it got up again and shat in my telephone.

From the first paragraph of this book, you know you are going to be in for a wild ride. Mike McGill, once super-agent for the Pinkerton Agency, is a Private Investigator in New York City. His biggest problem, aside from only have $3 in his checking account, is his terrorizing rat. That is, until the heroin-addicted Chief of Staff to the President of the United States walks into his office. He is being asked to help the government on a mission. To retrieve the Constitution of the United States. Oh, but not the Constitution we know about. Oh no. That would be too easy. This constitution was a secret document that was privately authored by a few of the founders. It was a hand-written document that had 23 invisible amendments that detailed the real intent the founders had on the design of the American public. Oh yeah. It was supposedly bound in the skin of an extraterrestrial entity that "plagued the ass of Ben Franklin for over 6 nights on his travels of Europe".

Since Mike is a reputed "shit-magnet", this assignment seems to right up his alley, although he is a little reluctant to take the he has a say in this matter. $500,000 is the pay, and it's transferred to his bank account immediately. All he has to do is find this document that was lost in the 1950's when Nixon traded it for favors of a Chinese woman in San Francisco. How hard can that be, right??

When I said wild ride, I meant it! As Mike and his new pal Trix, travel a "crooked little vein" across the country, we meet some of the most unique and probably the sickest cast of characters ever to grace the pages of fiction. Apparently I'm a very Vanilla person, because these people are just down-right nuts! From the Null group in NYC (that would be National Union of Lizard Lovers who have a seriously warped Lizard Fetish) all the way to LA and the Pirates of the Pacific (who are too sick for me to even describe in this blog!) we see perverts in all shapes and sizes. And even a 70-year-old serial killer who is ready to sue for libel by being labeled a "virgin". This book is certainly not for everyone. Definitely not for the faint at heart. But if you like adventure and action, the kind that the graphic novel will give, this book might be just for you. It's a quick-read and definitely one I am glad to have had the pleasure to review. 4/5

Since this book was sent to me by the publisher, I thought I would pass it on to someone else. It's a softcover ARC. If you are interested in it, just leave me a comment. Sometime on Sunday I will draw a name and pass it on!


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Apparently I'm only fit for Adults!

Holy Hell! I really didn't expect much more than a PG-13!

Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
dead (8x)
death (6x)
suicide (5x)
murder (4x)
crap (1x)
porn (1x)

On another note, I'd better start getting in shape! I'm not sure I'd be able to survive a zombie attack if one would hit!!



Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Wrap-up

Well...I've spent a lot of this week just hopping from blog to blog. And I've added quite a few book to my TBR list! Just thought I'd share a few of them. Chris, at Stuff as Dreams are Made On, reviewed The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. Click on the link to read his wonderful review. It's a book of tales, a "Once Upon a Time" story. Sounds like something I really want to read!

Matt, at A Variety of Words, reviewed Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, and gave it a 5.0 rating. Written in 1985, by this year's Pulitzer Prize winner, Blood Meridian is supposed to be bloody and violent. But that has never stopped me before! The synopsis according to is: "Cormac McCarthy's masterwork, Blood Meridian, chronicles the brutal world of the Texas-Mexico borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century. Its wounded hero, the teenage Kid, must confront the extraordinary violence of the Glanton gang, a murderous cadre on an official mission to scalp Indians and sell those scalps. Loosely based on fact, the novel represents a genius vision of the historical West, one so fiercely realized that since its initial publication in 1985 the canon of American literature has welcomed Blood Meridian to its shelf." Yes, it is now added to my list!

Finally, Jenclair at A Garden Carried in the Pocket, reviewed Sword and Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman by Peter Pagnamenta and Momoko Williams. I think the title pretty much says it all. A non-fiction book about the love affair between British officer Arthur Hart-Synod and Masa Suzuki, it was based on over 800 letters that were found by Suzuki's daughter-in-law.

Keep those recommendations coming!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Beautiful Fairy Tale

The Once Upon a Time challenge is now over, but it will have lasting effects on me. Carl, at Stainless Steel Droppings, was the host of the challenge and a the self-professed biggest fan of Neil Gaiman. I have to say, that love is spilling over to me. I've read 3 of his books this year. Each one different, but equally as good. Stardust (238 pgs, Avon) is an adult fairy tale and beautifully written.

There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire. And while that is, as beginnings go, not entirely novel (for every tale about every young man that ever was or will be could start in a similar manner) there was much about this young man and what happened to him that was unusual, although even he never knew the whole of it.

And so opens the beginning of this beautiful tale. At the turn of the Victorian era, in the English countryside, there was a town called Wall. It was named as such for the stone wall that was built to divide the city from the land of Faerie. Once every 9 years, a magical fair took place in the meadow outside Wall. It was the only time people were allowed outside the gap.

Young Tristran Thorn wanted only one thing. He wanted the love of the beautiful, but rather shallow, Victoria Forrester. As he was walking her home one night, they saw a falling star. Tristran told Victoria he would bring her that star if she gave him his "heart's desire". And Victoria, thinking how foolish Tristran was, agreed.

So with a pack on his back, Tristran sets off in the land of Faerie looking for the star. But he is not the only one looking. The witches of Lilim need the heart of the star to regain their youth. And the Lords of Stronghold are looking for the star in hopes of gaining the right to rule the land of Stronghold.

This book is magical. Set in the land of faerie, we encounter unicorns and talking trees; witches and goblins; pixies and stars. Stardust is beautiful in it's simplicity and it's lyrical prose. I can't believe I waited so long to read it! The characters are unique and full of life. They were written with such a vividness that I can picture each and every one. If you haven't read this wonderful little fairy tale, you should. It will have you believing in magic and happily ever afters again! 5/5

Friday, June 22, 2007

Beware of Borders!

I've GOT to stop going to Borders! I'm always talking about saving money, cutting corners, budgeting. THEN I walk into Borders and that all goes flying out the window! Really....I just stopped to maybe pick up the new Stephen King/Richard Bachman book, Blaze. That's all I wanted to do. THEN I see all the signs for the Summer Reading special. TONS of books were marked Buy 3, Get 1 free. It's like crack to me, I swear! Award winners, YA books, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction, name it, it was probably on sale. I guess I'm lucky to get out when I did! So what did I buy, you ask?

  • The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho

  • The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

  • The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo (come on could I not with a name like that??'s a VAMPIRE book!)

  • 13 Bullets by David Wellington (MORE Vampires!)

  • Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Temeraire Book 2)

  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (yes Chris....because of your review!)

  • Changeling by Yasmine Galenorn

If that isn't a weird group of book, what is??

Now....if you are a Sci-Fi Fan, maybe you should go visit the University of California Riverside. I found an article in the Los Angeles Times today about UC Riverside. It houses the world's largest library of science fiction, fantasy and horror books. They have first addition copies of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. George Slusser was the first curator of the Eaton Collection (named for J. Lloyd Eaton who donated 7,500 volumes to the collection.) It has been a hard battle for Slusser. Apparently science fiction isn't taken very seriously by the literary community! Really?? Who would have thought? Slusser retired in 2005 (and they are still looking for a replacement, if you are interested in the job!) BUT Slusser might be brought out of retirement to teach for the first Doctoral program in science fiction studies in the nation! How cool is that?

Happy Friday! Later!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

School Days, Golden Rule Days.....

B00king Through Thursday

Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:

Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?'s been awhile since I was in school. OK....not THAT long ago, but almost 15 years since I graduated college. I'm starting to feel OLD! I kept most of my literature books. I still have them, occupying a sacred spot on my bookshelf. There is Madame Bovary, The Dwarf, Cassandra, some plays by Ibsen, some anthologies and a few others. I also have a few of my systems textbooks. I actually use them occasionally. Everything else....gone! I actually regret getting rid of a few of my histories texts, but I couldn't dispose of my statistics and calc texts fast enough!

I saved a lot of my papers and notes each year. But I left them at my Mom and Dad's house. When Dad retired, they moved to new digs. Mom said I could take anything that I wanted. I just didn't have room for anything. I was kind of surprised my mom got rid of everything, but that's just the way she is. She's not nearly the pack rat I am!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prize Winning List I signed up for this challenge a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't figure out what I wanted to read. Why is it so hard to choose sometimes?? But there are SO MANY great books out there and so many lists to choose from, it's a wonder I finally broke it down! I started out with 30 must reads. 30!! Yes, I know. WAY too many. But I finally settled on 15 (with 5 alternates) And I tried to choose an assortment from a bunch of different award winners. Let's look at what I picked:
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (1921 - Pulitzer)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2001 Pulitzer)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2007 Pulitzer)
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (1969 Nebula and 1970 Hugo
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (2004 Hugo)
  • Johnathon Strange & Mr. Norrell by Suzannah Clarke (2005 Hugo)
  • Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (1990 Booker)
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000 Booker)
  • The March by E.L. Doctorow (2006 Pen/Faulkner)
  • Boy's Life by Robert McCammon (1991 Bram Stoker)
  • Lisey's Story by Stephen King (2006 Bram Stoker)
  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (1995 Giller)
  • Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1996 Giller)
  • The Chatham School Affair by Thomas Cook (1997 Edgar)
  • Quicksilver by Neil Stephenson (2004 Arthur C. Clarke)


  • The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (1919 Pulitzer)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1981 Pulitzer)
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (1962 Hugo)
  • Life of Pi by Yann (2002 Booker)
  • Runaway by Alice Munroe (2004 Giller)

Oh's going to take me forever! But at least I have something to look forward to!


Monday, June 18, 2007

An African Childhood

Don't Let's Go the the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller (336 pgs, Random House) is my first non-fiction book of the year. I choose to read it because the Around the World in 80 Books book club chose it as a selection.

Mum says, "Don't come creeping into our room at night."

They sleep with a loaded guns beside them on the bedside rugs. She says, "Don't startle us when we are sleeping."

"Why not?"

"We might shoot you".


"By mistake."

"Okay." As it is, there seems a good chance of getting shot on purpose. "Okay, I won't".

And from the first paragraphs of this memoir you can get just a taste of what it was like growing up in the war-ravaged country of Rhodesia. Alexandra "Bobo" Fuller moved to Rhodesia (which eventually became Zimbabwe) when she was just a toddler. Bobo, her sister Vanessa, and her parents moved to a farm on the edge of the country. Both her mother and father join the police reservists and join the war, fighting to keep Rhodesia controlled by the British. The kids are always on the lookout for "terrorists" whom they fear will "cut off their eyelids". They deal with curfews and war, always on the lookout for landmines.

But when the war is over and the Fullers are on the losing side, they have to come to terms with drastic changes. Their farm is auctioned off for "redistribution" to the black families and they are forced to move. From Zimbabwe to Malawi and eventually to Zambia, the Fullers stick together through good times and bad.

This is the story of life seen through the eyes of a child. A life that is tough with many obstacles to overcome. Her parent's racism, war, brutal countryside, and the loss of several siblings makes Bobo into the person she is today. Her mother, after losing 3 children, becomes manic depressive and spends more time drunk than sober. She seems to be more affectionate to her dogs than her daughters. Her father works hard on the farm, trying to keep them afloat. But even he has a hard time dealing the losses that they are faced with. And Bobo herself feels responsible for the death of her sister, Olivia. But through it all, Fuller does a great job of projecting her love for her family and for Africa, her home. It's a wonderfully written book, with lots of anecdotes and pictures from her time in Africa. 4/5

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Deadly Dating

Death Match by Lincoln Child (356 pgs, Doubleday) is my first completed book for the SRC2 Challenge. It is also this month's selection for the Braincandy Reading group (and since I am leading the discussion, I figured I should probably READ it!) This is also the first book by Lincoln Child that I have read.

When Dr. Christopher Lash gets a call from Eden Incorporated, he is mystified. Why would they want to hire him for his services? He is a former FBI forensics psychologist, a profiler. A tragedy at work had affected him personally, and it not only caused him to retire early, but ended his marriage. He is in private practice now and working hard to exorcise the demons of his past. When Eden calls, he decides to see what they could possibly want from him.

Because everyone in the country knows about Eden. They are a match-making service. But not just any service. They are a high-tech company surrounded by secrecy and have a phenomenal success rate. Founded by the reclusive computer genius, Richard Silver, Eden boosts 100% accuracy in finding couples happiness. For just $25,000/person, you too can find the perfect mate! But people are LINING UP to apply for it's services.

When Christopher arrives, he finds he is meeting with the upper echelon of Eden. At Eden, they guarantee the matches they make. Using complicated computing and psychological analysis, couples are matched. If they reach a percentage, around 95%, they are considered a perfect match. And Eden's record stands: All couples that have been matched, have been happy. But in all the years that Eden has been operating, they have seen 6 100% matches. A uniquely perfect match. These are referred to as a "supercouple" match. But the reason Christopher has been called in is that one of the supercouples just committed a double suicide. Eden would like someone from the outside to check into the occurrence.

Everything that Christopher sees about the Thorpes indicates they are indeed the perfect couple. There are absolutely no indicators of suicidal tendencies. Just when he is about to give up, another one of Eden's supercouples commits suicide. Now the real question is this: Is it truly a suicide or is it homicide?

I enjoyed this book. It was a nice thriller with a lot of intensity. The nature of the book is truly far-fetched. Can a computer really match couples perfectly? Aren't there many factors that a computer can't take into consideration? But the book does get into some confusing explanations about Artificial Intelligence and technical jargon. For those that aren't familiar with computers and processing it might be a little too much. And the back story of Lash's time in the FBI just seemed to be thrown in rather hastily and was tied up unsatisfyingly. It's almost like Child was trying to do too many things at one time. He touches on a lot of topics: AI, dating, match-making, serial killers, psychology, suicide, computer programming, computer security. In the end, it was just too much to make a really GREAT book. I figured out the conclusion long before I turned to that page. But I was entertained. And that is truly what 'braincandy' is all about. It was enough for me to put Lincoln Child on my reading list for the future, especially his collaborations with Douglas Preston. 3.5/5

Also Reviewed by:

Friday, June 15, 2007


After my post on Wednesday regarding the article in the NY Sun Times, I was surprised at the response. Sam, at Book Chase, had written on the same topic and he really got me thinking. He used the word "Community" to describe those of us bloggers that have come together to discuss all literary topics. I like this word. Websters defines the word community as a unified body of individuals; people that have a common interest. To me, this describes exactly how I consider the bloggers I have come to know.

It seems that somehow I have "joined" into something bigger than I ever thought possible. When I started my blog, I wanted a place to list the books that I've read so I could keep track and review them. I didn't really think other people would read it. When they did, I was excited. Not just because someone else was reading my blog, but to find there were other people out there just like me. Hopeless bibliophiles! People with which I can share my love of books. Not only did I find people with common interests, but I found people that challenged me to go beyond just reading. Whole new genres have opened up for me. Challenges to expand my knowledge and delve into books I never would have picked up.

And the most surprising outcome seems to be a whole world of new friends. People I can trust and opinions that actually matter to me. When Mr. Kirsch attacked the blogger community, others rallied around to defend it. Matt, at A Variety of Words and Chris at Book-A-Rama both posted their outrage at this attack, as well as many others. Although the Literary Critics may be unhappy that lit bloggers feel compelled to actually voice their opinions, I'm ecstatic to find that I belong to a group of people that care. Care enough to defend the rights of all of us to have a voice and use it. Knowledge is power, and it seems to me that our little community is becoming very powerful. Thank you all for accepting me into your group. Keep up the good work!!

In other news, it seems that with the end looming for Harry Potter, a replacement may have been found. According to the Guardian, a new series of books about a boy archaeologist may be the answer. (thanks for the link, Sam!) Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams was a self-published book that was sold in Gordon's bookstore in Norfolk. The 2 authors pooled their resources to get this book published and it seems to have paid off for them. Barry Cunningham, the man who first signed J. K. Rowling herself, tracked down the authors after reading this self-published book. According to CNN, Cunningham said, "I knew from page one Harry Potter was magic. Reading Tunnels gave me the same thrill." So those of you that are in deep depression over the ending of the Harry Potter series, it seems a new hero may be on the way! Gordon and Williams have been signed by Chicken House Press to create a series of fantasy tales about a 14-year-old boy named Will Burrows that is set in the hidden world deep below London.

And finally, I received an ARC of Warren Ellis' Crooked Little Vein from Harper Collins yesterday. According to the publisher, this book is "full of mind-bending style and packed with a wild cast of characters. Crooked Little Vein infuses Robert B. Parker with Kurt Vonnegut and the madness of the graphic novel world. A surprisingly surreal treat, it will appeal to hardcore comic fans, mystery aficionados, and all readers looking for a riotous summer adventure". With a blurb like that, how can it not be good? Look for a review in the near future!! It's a short read!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Dessert First?

1. Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?

2. And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?

NO!! And I'm pretty weird about this too. I seem to be less and less organized as the years go by, but when it comes to reading, I appear to be going in the opposite direction: quite obsessive and anal! I can't read a series book out of order. I'm actually almost to the point that I don't even read books out of published order for an author, even if they aren't in a series. And I certainly never, EVER read the ending before it's time!! It would completely spoil the entire book for me. Is that weird? I very rarely ever start a book that I don't finish. But even in those rare occasions I don't even skip ahead to the end of the book. If I am interested enough in finding out the ending, I'll keep reading! And you know what? I really don't think I'm ever tempted to do it either.

Now, I have to go find something to eat. That picture is making me hungry! Couldn't pass it up though with the title of this meme!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And the Debate Continues.....

All of us out here in blogger world, especially those of us that consider ourselves "book bloggers", have read the debate about Book Reviews. In days of declining literary news columns, the blogger world seems to be booming. Why is this? Are these so-called book blogger's reviews valid?? Or are book bloggers taking away from real literary critics? Yada, yada, yada....

In yesterday's New York Sun Times, the debate contintues. The Scorn of the Literary Blogger by Adam Kirsch appeared in the Arts & Letters section. While Mr. Krish's opinions about the consequences of the decline of the print review are spot on, his remarks about the literary blogger aren't very flattering.

But book bloggers have also brought another, less salutary influence to bear on literary culture: a powerful resentment. Often isolated and inexperienced, usually longing to break into print themselves, bloggers — even the influential bloggers who are courted by publishers — tend to consider themselves disenfranchised. you really believe this? Are all of you out there just longing to break into print? Hoping beyond hope that someone will tune in one day and boom you are going to be a star??? I don't think so. a life-long reader, it's always been a fantasy of mine. Becoming an author. It's the dream job. But realistically, I know that I'm not suited for it and certainly not creative enough to chuck my job and start the "Great American Novel".

As anyone who reads literary blogs can attest, hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned. And the scorn is reciprocated: Professional writers usually assume that those who can, do, while those who can't, blog. Oh please. Professional REVIEWERS may believe this, but do professional writers?? Does it really matter to them if bloggers are talking about their books??? My opinion of writers in the blog world is this: If bloggers are discussing and reviewing a book, that means they are READING AND BUYING those books. Isn't that the point of writing? Shouldn't this be welcomed with open arms? I'd really like to know the answer to this question.

Literary criticism is only worth having if it at least strives to be literary in its own right, with a scope, complexity, and authority that no blogger I know even wants to achieve. The only useful part of most book blogs, in fact, are the links to long-form essays and articles by professional writers, usually from print journals. I personally started this blog for ME. No one else. I didn't even think anyone would actually READ it besides me. Do I like to review books? Sure. It's a way for me to put in print my feelings about something I've read and get back feedback from others. I live with a person that hates to read. Bouncing book stuff off him was I found another outlet. I really value the opinions of people like ME. That's why I read book blogs. That's why I write a book blog.

But there's no chance that literary culture will thrive on the Internet until we recognize that the ethical and intellectual crotchets of the bloggers represent a dead end. Oh really. Please tell me why MY opinion is a dead end? Why is my opinion any less than that of Mr. Kirsch's? Because isn't that what a book review opinion??

I'm curious as to what others think....I'd like YOUR opinion!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rage Reunion!

Yeah!! Although my concert going has substantially been decreased the last few years, I'll make an exception for this one!! One of the few bands that I always wanted to see, but never did is Rage Against the Machine! Now, I did see Audioslave with Jane's Addiction (Lollapolooza) a few years back. But Chris Cornell is no Zack de la Rocha! Without his vocals, it just wasn't the same. I did, however, get to meet Tom Morello that day. As with most Lollapalooza concerts, there are always the political tents. And Tom Morello was there in the Axis of Justice tent. I got a great picture and an autograph to boot! Not only is he probably the most kick-Ass guitarist in the entire world, but he's so intelligent, it's kind of scary. He graduated with honors from Harvard University with a degree in political science. And politics and revolution are in his blood. His mother was the founder of an anti-censorship group, Parents for Rock and Rap. His father was a Mau Mau Guerrilla and revolutionary. And his great-uncle was the first elected president in Kenya.

I've always been intrigued by their politics, as well as their music. And yet, this is one of the bands I have never seen live before. I was pregnant during the last Tibetan Freedom Concert. And then they broke up!! That was 7 years ago. In January, rumors of a reunion tour hit the airwaves. Rage performed together for the 1st time since 2000 at Coachella in April. They also scheduled a couple more big concerts together, but NO REUNION. Now you may ask, why I digress with this post??? Because today, they announced they are going to play a show at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin!!! That's 4 hours from me!!!! Yeah!! Steph gets to go to another concert! I will be standing in line this Saturday for tickets to the Rage Against the Machine/Queens of the Stone Age show in August!! So is there really going to be a Reunion?? I doubt it. Too many artist differences. But I don't care. There is going to be one last show, and I plan on being there!

I'll give ya a dose
But it'll never come close
To the rage built up inside of me
Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Christmas Mystery, But Not Much of a Gift

Mistletoe Murder (224 pgs. Kensington Books) by Leslie Meier is the first book in the Lucy Stone Mystery series. I generally like a good cozy, and the Women's Reading Group is using the Lucy Stone series as a Long-Term Reading project. I thought I would try it.

Lucy Stone lives in Tinker's Cove, Maine. It's a rustic small town that houses the famous Country Cousins mail-order company where Lucy works nights taking phone orders. One week before Christmas, business is booming. There is barely time to take a break from all the calls. But that night, Lucy decides to step outside to get some fresh air with the hopes of staying awake until her shift is over at 1 am. While she's outside, she notices that Sam Miller's car is idling in the parking lot. Sam is the owner of Country Cousins and usually isn't around in the later hours of the night shift. When Lucy goes to see if everything is all right, she notices that a hose has been attached to the exhaust and is pouring fumes into the car and Sam is slumped over the steering wheel.

It is hard to believe that Sam would commit suicide. The man has everything. A beautiful wife, a great business and lots of money. But when it is discovered that Sam was unconscious BEFORE he was put in the car, it would seem that Tinker's Cove was seeing it's first murder in many years!

I have to say this book and the entire storyline rather underwhelmed me. I have always loved a good mystery, especially with a female protagonist. But Lucy Stone isn't one of them. In fact, there really wasn't much mystery at all. She stumbled on the body and stumbled across a few clues in between shopping trips. She spends most of her time gossiping with her neighbors and sewing Christmas costumes! There were also a couple of unresolved threads in the story that were just left hanging. I'm still unsure how they are supposed to fit into the story. By the end of the book, I was more annoyed than anything. I have a feeling, this will not only be the first Lucy Stone mystery I read, but also the last! 2.5./5

Friday, June 8, 2007

Colleen's New Release and a Library Book Sale

Colleen Gleason's latest Gardella Vampire Chronicles book, Rises the Night, was released on Tuesday. I went out today and bought it! Yeah! She even has a link for a $1 coupon for Borders on her blog, For All the World to See! The reviews are REALLY good, and the eye candy on the cover isn't bad either!! Can't wait to read it!!

Also picked up the new Marilyn Manson CD: Eat Me, Drink Me. It's really good. Very dark and rather goth compared to his other slightly more Rock albums. I'm liking it alot!!

It was also the first day of the Bloomington Public Library Sale, so I popped in. You know me....always looking for a bargain! I came away with a couple of STACKS of books!! You know it's bad when your basket is getting too heavy to carry! I tried to take a couple of shots. Book Porn, as Chris at Stuff As Dreams are Made On, calls it! Here is a highlight of the books I got:

  1. 2 Charlaine Harris books - Grave Sight and Dead as a Doornail
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Over Her Dead Body by Kate White
  4. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
  5. Best of Friends by Cathy Kelly
  6. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
  7. Harm None - A Rowan Gant Investigation by M. R. Sellars
  8. Death at Glamis Castle - A Victorian Mystery by Robin Paige
  9. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
  10. 2 JD Robb Mysteries
  11. The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacqueline Mitchard
  12. Witch Fire by James Clemens
  13. The Palace by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
  14. The Witch's Grave by Phillip DePoy
  15. The Warlock in Spire of Himself by Christopher Stasheff
  16. Holes by Louis Sachar
  17. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  18. 5 Debbie Macomber Cedar Cover books (not pictured)
  19. 6 various Red Dress Ink Chick Lit books (not pictured)

All in all, a killer haul. Over 30 books total for under $20! I do HEART cheap book sales!!


Thursday, June 7, 2007

50 Things about a Legend and the Passing of a Friend

I found this published in the Toronto Star today. Since Stephen King is my favorite author, I thought it was appropriate. 50 Reasons to Love Stephen King. I have to agree with all of them!! (I too, thought Tommy Knockers was crap and the long version of The Stand was the best!) But what interested me the most is the criticism King receives for not being a "literary" author. When he received a U.S. National Book Awards lifetime achievement award, literary Critic Harold Bloom wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Boston Globe called Dumbing Down American Readers.
He says: "another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I've described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis. The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat."

Personally, this offends me. I like Stephen King's novels. I like his writing. His books reel me in hook, line and sinker. And I think he gets a bad wrap from the critics. His answer to Bloom's slam was "What I'm interested in is attacking readers' emotions because I don't think reading should be an intellectual affair." When I'm reading, I want to be entertained. I've read a lot of "literary" type books. John Banville's The Sea won the Booker Prize a couple of years ago. It bored me to tears! Watching paint dry was more interesting to me! Maybe I'm just a reverse literary snob!

On a much sadder note.....I read that Natalie from Nattie Writes lost her battle with cancer this morning. She will be sorely missed. Please take a moment and pray for her 2 daughters.

Booking Through Thursday - Encore

Booking Through Thursday

Almost everyone can name at least one author that you would love just ONE more book from. Either because they’re dead, not being published any more, not writing more, not producing new work for whatever reason . . . or they’ve aged and aren’t writing to their old standards any more . . . For whatever reason, there just hasn’t been anything new (or worth reading) of theirs and isn’t likely to be.

If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . . a book that would be as good any of their best (while we’re dreaming) . . . something that would round out a series, or finish their last work, or just be something NEW . . . Who would the author be, and why? Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Laurie Colwin? Kurt Vonnegut?

Tough question! To only choose one......There are so many phenomenal authors that I had a hard time picking. However, I'm a HUGE Oscar Wilde fan. He was only 46 when he died and I know there was still a whole lot of kick left to him! After being imprisoned on charges of "gross indecency", his health wasn't very good and he was penniless. I would love to read more novels by Wilde. He was sharp, witty and snarky.....and I loved him for it. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my very favorites.

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde

Thursday Thirteen #12

Yesterday, I was working at my computer when I got a phone call. I didn't recognize the number, but I knew the area code. It was from my home town. When I answered, it was a friend of mine from high school. Bryan was one of my best buds in high school. I haven't talked to him in years and it's always fun to chat about the old days and all the new stuff in our lives. But I was told another friend of ours died over the weekend. Stacey was in a car accident and ended up with a blood clot. Now, I went to a small high school. It was just like Cheers -- everyone knew your name! I didn't know Stacey all that well. My most vivid memory of him was in 4th grade. He snuck out some of his dad's chewing tobacco and decided it would be a good idea to try to with the other guys at recess. He ended up throwing up in the trashcan in the classroom after recess!! Hard one to forget!

But he was a nice guy, and that's really all that matters. So..I got nostalgic last night and pulled out my old yearbooks. My first reaction, was oh man....look at that hair!! My goth days didn't hit till college, and in high school I had that big hair, glam rock thing of the 80's going on!! Sheesh...I was a loser! honor of Stacey, I present to you today's Thursday Thirteen topic:

Thirteen Songs from my high school days in the 80's! (I will try to redeem myself next week with some cooler music from college!)

1…. Never Say Goodbye by Bon Jovi - This was our senior prom theme! I loved Bon Jovi!! I mean, come on. Who wouldn't like a band with an album called Slippery When Wet? This isn't close to my favorite song, but I thought it was appropriate to have in the list. I think I was just starting that goth thing about this the late 80's ALL prom dresses were pink, yellow, and white. Mine was black. The ONLY one at the prom!! And it was kick-ass too! I gotta find a picture of it!!

2. Talk Dirty to Me by Poison - Talk about your glam rock!! These guys were it. We listened to this song....ALOT! Bret Michaels was a babe too. He had beautiful blue eyes, and could put on makeup WAY better than me!!

3. Home Sweet Home by Motely Crue. I was a big Crue fan too. Nikki Sixx was my personal fav. I had a thing for bad boys and tattoos even back then. My best friend and I snuck out to go see them at a concert about 60 miles away (we were 16 and our parents NEVER would have let us go by ourselves!) We cried when they played this song. To this day, this is one of my favorite songs. Many memories associated with it!

4. I Wanna Rock by Twisted Sister - I STILL laugh when I see this video. The guy from Animal House yelling, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE??? We used to sing this as we were "cruising", windows down and long hair blowing!! I TOLD you I was such a loser!

5. Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard. I guess it was just the sexual innuendo with this one that appealed to us!! It would have to be, cause this song kinda sucks, now that I look back!!

6. I Remember You by Skid Row - Talk about a GREAT song to dance to in a high school gym decorated with crepe paper!! Slow music at it's best!! Sebastian Bach definitely knew how to sing a ballad.

7. Sweet Emotion by Areosmith - OK...technically this is a 70's song. Toys in the Attic was released in '75, but we also loved the Classic Rock thing. And this was a prom theme for an old boyfriend of mine. We had a lot fun together, and this song always reminds me of him!

8. Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Another song that was actually released before I was in high school. But this song had STAYING power. We listened to it all the time!!

9. 1999 by Prince - This was one of the few cassettes (talk about dating myself!) that I ever actually wore out. Little Red Corvette, Let's go Crazy, many great songs came from this one!!

10. Take on Me by A-Ha - Cool video and an even cooler song! Brings back memories on a summer night, hanging out with my friends!

11. What you Need by INXS - My friends and I went to see INXS at the State Fair on their Listen Like Thieves tour. Mr. Mister and the Bangles also played that year! We were young and it was fun.

12. Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds - When The Breakfast Club came out, a group of us tripped to Springfield to see it. This movie affected all of us! It was an instant classic and one that we rented over and over again. To this day, I know the movie almost line by line. This song was one of the best!

13. Don't Know What You've Got (Til It's Gone) by Cinderella - I saved this one for last. It was the Homecoming Theme the year my brother died. There was a big tribute to him, a retiring of his basketball jersey, and lots of his old baseball friends that came that year. I was actually in college, but it still reminds me of high school. And I thought it was a fitting way to end my little dedication to a friend that passed away. God Bless his wife and kids.

I could probably go on and list at least another 13, but I won't. And I hope to redeem myself with a "Cooler" 13 next week!!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Save Jericho!

You know...I loved this show!! I get so tired of the Survivors, the American Idols, the game shows. Maybe this is because I am completely rooted in fiction!! But this was one great show. CBS decided it would be a good idea to cancel Jericho because the ratings slipped in the Spring. (That wouldn't have anything to do with a 3 month hiatus or being up against a powerhouse like American Idol?) The show's ratings were still very consistent, it was the most watched CBS show on the net, and Jericho has a VERY strong fan base.

This fan base is so strong, that it has launched an attack on CBS! Petitions, websites, and blogs have been at it since the announcement a few weeks ago. CBS has been deluged with emails, phone calls, message boards and even 50,000 lbs of nuts (if you watch the show, you would understand!) Today, it looks like CBS MIGHT be reconsidering!!

So...if you are a fan, check out this site: Jericho Lives. It is time that the networks actually listen to their fans!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

New Template

Still in the works folks! I feel like I should put up an Under Construction sign! I love the 3-column, though I lost all my widgets!! And I'm still messing around with the colors!

Classic Sci-Fi and the Basis for Alien

The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Vogt (1950, 192 pgs) is a book that I read for a number of reasons. Paul, at Backcountry Musings, offered up a challenge of reading new-to-him Classic Sci-Fi authors. Since I'm a newbie in this genre, just about everyone fits that bill!! Secondly, it's the June selection in the Yahoo group, Classic Sci-Fi. Somehow I got asked to lead this discussion. So I decided to go on a voyage!

This book was originally 4 short stories that were put together in a "fixup" by van Vogt. The stories are all about the crew of the Space Beagle (a Darwin reference) and its intergalactic expedition. The crew is made up of military personnel and scientists that are on board to study alien life in other galaxies. Eliot Grosvenor, is the books protagonist. He is the lone Nexialist aboard the ship. Nexialism is a relatively new science. It is one that encompasses ALL the other sciences and relates them together. It is more generalized than specific, but it also adds an element of hypnotism and mind control. At first, Grosvenor isn't given much thought. He is left to himself until trouble comes aboard and his skills are called into play.

Each story, or section, in the book describes contact with an alien race. In the first story, the crew members explore what they think is a seemingly deserted planet. The stumble across Coeurl, a cat-like creature that has tentacles and an incredible hunger. He pretends to be just another dumb animal, and the crew members "capture" him and take him aboard the ship to study. But Coeurl is hungry and he has an agenda. He quickly escapes and terrorizes the ship.

They also encounter the Riim, a bird-like creature that has great hypnotic power; the Ixtl, a devil-like alien that is keen on breeding, by implanting his eggs in the stomach of the crew members; and Anabis, who is galaxy-wide and is waiting to take over planets.

While the aliens are the main part of the storyline, what appealed to me even more was the relationships of the crew members. If the creatures outside don't get you, the people inside just might! There is a political undertone that reflects the climate on the ship. The military and the scientists always seem to be at odds with each other and underlies the harmony on the ship. It seems to be a pretty accurate assessment of ventures even today that involve the same types of people. While a lot of the "scientific" stuff is really dated, I was intrigued by the politicking going on inside the walls of the Beagle. This was a short, fun read. I can see a lot of present day science fiction that was influenced by this writer. Overall, I highly enjoyed it!! 4/5

Monday, June 4, 2007

Monday Randomness

randomness...feed your mind and your blog

week of june 3: name one of each

1. a movie that made you laugh - Dodgeball. I know it's juvenile. But I just can't help it. This movie is funny to me. I can just look at Ben Stiller and laugh. Vince Vaughn is the perfect straight man for him. He cracks me up too. Besides...they have a PIRATE!

2. a book that made you cry - The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak- I read this at the beginning of the year. I was sobbing by the end of the book. It was like Zuzak stomped on my heart!! It really touched me.

3. a best friend - Missy - You know who you are!! We started Kindergarten together.....and we've been best friends since. She is the godmother to my kid's, my matron-of-honor, my confidant. I know we don't talk as much as we used to. But she also knows I will always be there if she ever needs anything!! I'm as close as a phone call....and I can drive that 3 hours in about 2!

4. a favorite childhood memory - My favorite memory from childhood would probably be going horseback riding with my Grandpa. We used to saddle up and go check on the cattle in the pastures across the stream. I could spend hours outside with him. He used to call me his little Hunny Pot (hence the Pooh references I'm always making!) I miss him so much sometimes.

5. your favorite animal - at the moment, it's probably my St. Bernard, Rocco. He's a huge baby, but I just love him so much!! He's a cuddler!

6. your favorite food - A big, fat, juicy Ribeye!! Cooked medium, so there's just a little pink.

7. an item of clothing you can't do without - My Chicago Bears Sweatshirt. It's warm and loved and broken in just right!!

8. something you collect - Books! But of course, everyone KNOWS that!! Otherwise, I have a whole glass cabinet full of Precious Moments. My husband has bought me a couple a year since we were dating.

9. your favorite store to shop in - Barnes & Noble. Yeah....There's not much more I can say to that question!

10. your favorite flower - I LOVE the smell of Lilacs. I have 2 lilac bushes in front of my house. They are so delicate and smell so wonderful. It's a shame they only bloom for such a short time every year.

till next time...

Friday, June 1, 2007

SRC 2 and the Book Award Challenge

Oh yeah...I know. Like a hole in the head, you say!! Yes, more challenges for you to behold!! But with the Spring Reading Thing and the Once Upon a Time challenge wrapping up, I thought I might as well add a few more to the list!!

This is the SRC or Summer Reading Challenge - Round 2. It is hosted by Amanda from Amanda's Weekly Zen. She has even set up a separate blog for this challenge. Just click on the above button and it will take you directly there! If you are interested, send Amanda an email and she will add you to the blog. She is accepting new participants till July 7th. So you've got a week!!

Rules are simple: It's your own challenge. Pick your own amount (you can change it at any time). Try to post at the blog at least once a week. Get to know other book bloggers in the process!! Since I'm involved with a bunch of reading groups and challenges, I have plenty to read. (I also have a stack of books to review, so I'm throwing them in as well!) This challenge runs from today, June 1st - August 1st. 2 months! Here are the books that I've selected for this challenge:

  • Marked: A House of Night Novel (Book 1) - P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
  • The Screaming Room - Thomas O'Callaghan
  • Death Dance: A Novel (Alexandra Cooper Mystery) - Linda Fairstein
  • Monster Island: A Zombie Novel - David Wellington
  • Death Match - Lincoln Child
  • The Coffee Trader - David Liss
  • The Years with Laura Diaz - Carlos Fuentes
  • Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  • The Fire Rose - Mercedes Lackey
  • Naked in Death - J. D. Robb

This will be a fun challenge and I have already visited a lot of new blogs in the process.

3M@3AM's Michelle is also offering up a new challenge. Not only is she the host, she is also the moderator of the Yahoo group of the same name! Figured since I was a member, and would be reading a lot of those award winning books, this would be a pretty easy challenge to complete!!

The rules are simple: Read 12 Award Winning books in a year: From July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008. Prize books include any that's won the Pulitzer, Booker Award, Nebula.....and so on! Books can be cross-challenged. She has also created a separate blog for this. If you click on the button above, it will take you there. There will be prizes too!!

I haven't picked out my books. But there are plenty out there to choose from.

So....if you aren't already up to your eyeballs in challenges, you might want to consider one or both of these!!