Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Banned Book Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Oh, yes. It's that time again. September 27 - October 4th is Banned Book Week here in the US. It is time to celebrate the Freedom To Read!! In case you haven't read this blog before, I'm a big believer in Freedoms. Censorship, in any form, just makes me see red. And book banning is by far the one that hits home with me. No one has the right to dictate to me what I can or can not read. Period. End of story. And anyone that feels that certain "objectionable" material should be removed from a library because their children could pick it up, needs to spend a little more time with said children helping THEM make better choices. Not trying to push their agendas on ME. I think every person has the right to choose. If you object to the content of a book, simply don't read it. It's really that simple.

For the past 28 years, we have been celebrating the Freedom To Read Week. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden "surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, libraries, and bookstores". More than 1000 books have been challenged since then.

According to, in 2007, more than 400 hundred books were challenged. In 2007, the top 10 challenged books were:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Banned Books Week is sponsored in by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

What can you do? Exercise Your First Amendment Rights - Read a Banned Book!


In reading news, I finished 3 books this past week. Check out my reviews for The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti, Untamed: A House of Night Novel (Book 4) by PC Cast and Kristin Cast, and When Twilight Burns: Gardella Vampire Chronicles Book 4 by Colleen Gleason. I enjoyed all of them. Right now, I am reading Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and I'm in the hunt for a new book. Any suggestions?? Maybe something on the list of banned books!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman

I was so depressed when I turned on the news this morning to find that one of my very favorite actors, Paul Newman, had passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Not only was Newman a wondful actor, he was a wonderful humanitarian. All profits from his food company, Newman's Own were donated to charity.

I have 2 favorite movies of Newman's. Cool Hand Luke and The Sting. I could watch them over and over again.

The world is just a little bit darker today. Paul, you are going to sorely missed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Which Our Heroine Makes a Choice

As I said earlier, this RIP season seems to be the season of the Vampire. Ever book I've read so far for this challenge seems to involve vampires!! That includes the latest installment of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, When Twilight Burns by Colleen Gleason (368 pgs, Signet, 2008). While not my favorite book in the series, this one is still definitely worth reading!

Back in London, Victoria has her hands full. Not only is her mother pressuring her to be social and rejoin the ton, she is looking to marry her off again. She is also expected to play a part in her friend Gwendolyn's wedding, even though Gwendolyn's brother (and member of the Tutela) is back in town. And if that isn't bad enough, it seems that a new type of vampire is walking the streets of London. During the daytime. And is setting up Victoria to take the fall for the killings.

In addition to all of her other problems, Victoria has another worry. The encounter she had with Beauregard has left her changed. She reacts differently around blood, and finds herself enraged easier. Now she is worried that she is becoming the thing she despises the most: a vampire.

The "love triangle" between Victoria/Max/Sebastian is also a very major storyline in this book. Sebastian has accepted his role as Venator and is working along side Victoria in her efforts to rid London of vampires, although there are still a few trust issues. Then there is Max. He has lost his Venator powers and is trying to hide from Lilith. But he has come to London to offer his services as well. After Max's kiss, Victoria is even more confused about where her heart wants to lead her.

This book has less about vampires and more about romance than any of the preceding books. And it seems that by the end, a choice has been made. Am I happy with the choice? It's a little bittersweet for me, because I truly like both male characters. But I honestly feel like it was the right choice. As always, there are some twists and turns that make this an exciting read. And Colleen seems to be heading toward a conclusion to this series....again, it will be bittersweet for me. I love this series and hate to see it end. But end it will. And I definitely am waiting on pins and needles for the next installment!! 4/5

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Further Adventures of Zoey Redbird

Ever since I read the book Marked (and you can read my review here), I have been a huge fan of the House of Night series! I have been anxiously awaiting the next installment, which was released on Tuesday. Needless to say, I picked up Untamed by PC Cast and Kristin Cast (352 pgs, St. Martin's Press, 2008) Tuesday night...and finished it yesterday! Book 4 is probably the best of the series so far!

The caw! caw! cawing! of one stupid crow kept me up all night. (Well, more accurately all day -- 'cause , you know, I'm a vampyre fledgling and we have that whole issue of day and night being turned around.) Anyway, I got zero sleep last night/day. But my crappy nonsleep is currently the easiest thing to deal with since life really sucks when your friends are pissed at you. I should know. I'm Zoey Redbird, currently the undisputed Queen of Making My Friends Pissed Land.

Zoey isn't having the best of weeks. All her friends are mad at her. They felt betrayed by the fact that Zoey was keeping secrets from them. They just didn't understand she was trying to keep them safe. She didn't have a boyfriend anymore. Last week, she had 3! But Loren Blake, the adult Vampyre Poet Laureate, seduced Zoey into thinking he was in love with her. Neferet, the evil High Priestess, had set up Zoey. And when she was with Loren, the imprint she had with her human boyfriend, Heath, was broken. In addition, Erik Night, the gorgeous fledgling that had just made his transformation to adult Vamp, walked in on them. Heath isn't speaking to Zoey and now, neither is Erik. This was all before Loren was killed in a bizarre ritual that was causing Neferet to wage a war against the humans. So, yes. Zoey's life sucks alot right now.

In addition to all that stress, Zoey is also dealing with the Stevie Rae/Aphrodite issue. By casting her circle for Stevie Rae, she is no longer undead, but has transformed into some kind of other vampyre. Her mark is now colored in just like the adult vamps, but it is red. But with Stevie Rae gaining her humanity back, it caused Aphrodite to lose her mark. Now she is no longer a vampyre, although only Zoey and Stevie Rae know. But she is still having visions. And now her visions include Zoey's death and an all out war between the vampyres and the humans. And it looks like it is up to Zoey to stop it.

Book 4 starts a few days after Book 3 ended. And it is way darker and more sinister than any of the preceding books. Zoey is way less whiny in this book. And it looks like she is stepping up her game. It's going to come down to a battle between good vs. evil, and Zoey is finally becoming the Priestess she was chosen to be. She has firmly taken control of who she is, and gathering around her those that want to fight the evil that has come to the House of Night.

PC and Kristin have certainly brought their A-game with Untamed. They wrote an excellent novel, which was an extremely fast read for me, because I just couldn't put it down! The series just keeps getting better and better. And I can't wait to see how things shake out in the next installment!! 4.5/5

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Adventureous Tale.....

Wow. BBAW has ended. And I spent the entire weekend watching kids' games, ie soccer and football! I wouldn't have it any other way though. But for now, it's time to get back to the business of book reviews!! Starting with The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (336 pgs, The Dial Press, 2008) which is a book I choose through the Amazon Vine Program. I really didn't know what to expect from it, but was pleasantly surprised by this debut novel.

This is the story of Ren. He is a 12-year-old boy living in the St. Anthony's Orphanage somewhere in the woods of New England in the 19th Century. Ren is at that age where it's unlikely he will be adopted by a family, even the ones that are looking for a little bit of cheap labor. You see Ren is different from the other boys because he only has one hand. And any boys that reach their 18th birthday at the orphanage are sent to join the army and an almost certain death. But every time someone comes to pick out a child, Ren doesn't stop hoping.

Then one day, the unimaginable happens. A man comes to the orphanage seeking his long, lost brother. When the boys line up, the man walks right up to Ren, looks at his hand, and announces that he has found him!! And this is how Ren meets Benjamin Nab. The wild tale that Benjamin tells the priest isn't even close to the truth, but Ren is excited to finally have someone that he can call family.

But Benjamin isn't exactly who he says he is. With his friend and accomplice Tom, the drunken ex-school teacher, Benjamin shows Ren how they make a living. If it's not a con-job, then it's "fishing" in the local cemeteries (taking jewelry and items from the deceased). But when an opportunity emerges for the men to go to a town called North Umbrage, Benjamin is extremely reluctant. He has been in this town before and is afraid of the repercussions he will face if recognized. But the money they can earn stealing bodies from the cemetery for the local "Mad" Doctor is more than anyone can deny. So off the small rag-tag group goes....and then things really get wild!!

Tinti has shown in this debut novel that she really can tell a story!! Our one-handed little hero is smart, loyal and extremely courageous. He is the perfect protagonist for such an adventure. And an adventure it is! From conning farmers out of their horses to midnight grave-robbing expeditions, Ren is forced to take a good hard look at the men he is with and at the person he wants to be. There is also an extremely unique cast of characters that include a mysterious drawf that lives on the roof, a gentle giant who's only talent is one of murder, an almost-deaf landlady this is kind and yet a little on the scary side herself, and the corrupt owner of a mousetrap factory and all his little minions.

But through all the escapades that Ren goes through, the real adventure comes from finding out who he really is. Throughout the story, bits and pieces of Ren's history are revealed to the reader. When the explosive climax is finally reached, all the loose ends of the story are tied up nicely. Tinti has created a great adventure with this book. Although it isn't marketed to the Young Adult set, I think it would be highly enjoyable to that age group...especially to boys. All in all, I was swept up in this child's life and adventures and I would definitely recommend this book! 4/5

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More BBAW Winners!!

Yes....for the final day we are back to the Red Carpet with 2 more Winner Presentations!! Isn't this fun?? I feel like a star!! So.....let's pass over that envelop and get to it!!

In the category of Best Kidlit Blog, here are the nominations:

And the Winner is:

A Tie!!!


And Finally......the nominations for Best Romance Blog are:

The Book Binge

Dear Author

OCD, vampires, and amusing rants, oh my!

Rip My Bodice

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

And the Winner is:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Again....I want to thank My Friend Amy for such a great BBAW!! All the nominees and winners should be congratulated. Each blog is fantastic!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And the Winners Are......

Today, I have the honor of announcing 2 of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week Award Winners! All the votes have been tabulated, and we have some winners!

The nominees for Best Name for a Blog are:

Bloody Hell, It's a Book Barrage!


Books on the Nightstand

Rip My Bodice

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The Nominees for Best Challenge Host are:

1 More Chapter

The Hidden Side of a Leaf

Maggie Reads

Stainless Steel Droppings

Thoughts of Joy

Drumroll please.......and can I have the envelope.

In the category Best Name for a Blog, the Winner is:

In the category Best Challenge Host, the winner is:

The Hidden Side of the Leaf

Congrats to the winners!! Many Thanks must go out to all of you that voted for your favorites. And thanks especially to My Friend Amy for all her hard work at putting on a GREAT BBAW!!

Tune in tomorrow for the winners of Best Romance Blog and Best Kidlit Blog!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Short Story Monday (on Tuesday) Everything's Eventual

OK. So I'm a day off! Yesterday was still all wet and yucky. I didn't have any desire to even get out of bed. But today is bright and sunny. A much better day!! So, it's time for another edition of Short Story Monday, even though it's Tuesday. Again, this week, stories are from Stephen King's Everything's Eventual - 14 Dark Tales.

All That You Love Will Be Carried Away is the story of Alfie Zimmer. Alfie is a traveling salesman. He has spent years on the road selling everything from UPC code readers to frozen gourmet dinners. And tonight is just like any other night in Alfie's life. He has stopped at a Motel 6 in Nebraska, just like he has thousands of other nights. Except tonight is the night that Alfie is going to kill himself. Too many lonely nights on the road has led him to believe that he just can't live this way any more. But the one thing that has always given him comfort is his notebook. It is his only hobby. In it, he has recorded various graffiti that he has read in bathroom walls all over the country. And for this lonely man, the graffiti has taken on a voice all it's own. A voice that has kept him from being so lonely.

The Death of Jack Hamilton is the story of just that. The Death of Jack Hamilton, one of the members of John Dillinger's gang. The story is told by Homer Van Meter, another member of the gang. After the shoot-out at the Little Bohemia Lodge, Jack Hamilton takes a bullet that lodges in his lungs. Homer and John get away and try to make Jack comfortable and happy in his dying days. They end hiding away near Chicago with members of Ma Barker's Gang, Rabbits and Volney Davis.

Neither story this week is one that I would consider a horror story. In fact, both are rather sad little tales. Alfie Zimmer thinks he can't live his life any longer, and yet he clings to it in the very end. Does he or doesn't he pull the trigger? Well....that dear readers is really up to you to decide. And the story of John Dillinger is actually based on the real life escapades of the real-life criminal himself. Much of it is historically accurate, although the details of the last days of Jack's life, according to King is "pure myth". What the story is though, is fine writing about a ruthless legend, and a real story of friendship and loss. I can't say these will be my favorite stories, but they were both interesting and definitely worth reading.

Till next week.......

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Rain, Rain Go Away

The Sunday Salon.comSheesh. It's been raining here for days....and hopefully the end is near. We had a miserable football day yesterday. My daughter's soccer game was cancelled, but not the JFL game. The field was a big mud pit, and Chad was soaked by the time the game was over (and yes...we WON!!) But we've had about 6 inches of rain in the last two days...and I'm tired of it!!

I didn't get a whole lot of reading done this week, but I did finish The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti and I was pleasantly surprised. And I've been reading short stories from Stephen King's Everything's Eventual for the RIP challenge. A good, scary short story is always a little gift. Other than's been a rather uneventful week!!

Not much else to this is a rather boring post. Maybe next week will be more exciting!! There are a lot of great giveaways and things going on with BBAW. And I'm hosting a couple of the award announcements. So stay tuned!! Wednesday, it will be the awards for "Best Name for a Blog" and "Best Challenge Host". Thursday, it is "Best Romance Blog" and "Best Kidlit Blog". Can't wait to see all the winners!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading.

Editorial Note: According the news last night, we ended up with 8.62 inches of rain!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Interview with Adrienne Barbeau

Taken from her biography: "Television, film, and Broadway star Adrienne Barbeau began performing at age 16. Film fans know her best from The Fog, Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Cannonball Run, and Back to School. She starred as Bea Arthur’s daughter in the hit series Maude and as Ruthie, the Snake Dancer in HBO’s Carnivale. On Broadway, she was Tevye’s daughter Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof and was nominated for a Tony for her portrayal of Rizzo in Grease. Her bestselling memoir “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was published in 2006. Currently, she has three films awaiting release and she is hard at work on her second novel."

One of my favorite actresses, and now one of my favorite authors, Adrienne Barbeau gave this Fan-Girl a chance for a quick interview. You can read my review of her wonderful book Vampyres of Hollywood here.

-After such a long career in the movie industry what led you to start writing fiction?

Actually I started out writing a memoir, not fiction, and that came about quite by accident. I lost one of my closest friends to cancer and I was just looking for something to fill the void her passing left in my life when I heard about a writing class being offered for people who had never written before. I'd always kept a journal, just for myself, from the time I was 12 years old, but I'd never considered writing for anyone else to read. But I started the class and I started bringing in homework assignments - writing short pieces about things that had happened in my life that I thought might be interesting or funny to other people. After about six months of writing about working for the mob in NYC or working with rats in a low-budget horror film in Russia or dating Burt Reynolds, etc., my teacher told me I should submit them to an agent because she thought I had a book in my hands. So I did and I had an offer to publish my first book "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" (which I named after the song I sang when I originated the role of Rizzo in the Broadway production of "Grease".)

-Do you find that there is a lot of difference between preparing for a movie role as opposed to preparing to write a novel?

Well, I guess there are some similarities. I have to understand the character I'm playing and I have to understand the character I'm writing. I have to know why both of them do what they do and how they feel about what's going on around them. I have to know how they sound. But other than I prepare for a film role by memorizing my lines and making decisions about who the character is. I'm not sure I have a clue how I prepare to write a novel. Clean off my desk, maybe?

-Will we still be seeing Adrienne Barbeau acting, or is writing going to be a full-time job for you now?

I'll be acting as long as people keep offering me roles I want to do. I just finished a film last month and I have one "in the can" awaiting release and another one which will premiere on the SciFi Network in March.

-Vampire legends have always been a big “seller” in terms of Hollywood, but the literary community is starting to get in line as well. I guess my question would be, Why did you decide to start your fiction career by writing about vampires?

Michael Scott, an Irish author who had many scifi books published in the U.K., had read my memoir and suggested I write a novel for my horror film fans. When I voiced some anxiety about not having written fiction, he offered to write it with me. So we sat down and he asked me what I wanted to do - scifi like Escape From New York or fantasy like The Fog or what? I don't remember specifically how we settled on vampires but I realized very quickly that a female vampire is just the kind of character I usually play - strong, capable, sometimes heroic, unafraid. Ovsanna is very much like all my favorite novel characters, too - Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novels, Doc Ford in Randy Wayne White's books, Davenport in John Sandford's.

-Would you classify horror as your favorite genre? For movies, books, or both?

Egads, I don't like horror at all. Except to act in. But I don't like watching horror films and I don't read horror novels. I think the last one I enjoyed was Firestarter and that was a long time ago. I have started reading several vampire novels but I tend not to finish them. Three I really enjoyed were Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin, Ano Dracula by Kim Newman, and Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I think my favorite film genre is action/adventure/espionage/thrillers and definitely my favorite novel genre is mystery/thrillers.

-I can see that the ending of “Vampyres of Hollywood” is rather open-ended. Will you be writing a sequel or even better, a series with Osvanna? Or will you go somewhere else completely?

I am two thirds through writing the sequel to Vampyres of Hollywood, by myself. Should be published next fall. It's a true sequel, picks up very soon after Vampyres of Hollywood leaves off.

-As a true Hollywood insider, I assume that you used a lot of personal experience to write about in the book. Could you give me an example of something that actually happened to you, that was written about in the book? (though I had to laugh at the line about HBO’s horrible mistake in cancelling Carnivale! And I had to agree. Shame on them, since the show was fantastic!)

Well, that's my favorite example. But let's see, I have been on film sets where people disappeared for awhile, only to reappear wiping white powder off their noses. That was years ago though, definitely not recently. And my husband's mother makes great steak pizzaola.

-As a side note, do you ever look to see if any of your own personal autographs are out there on eBay?? (There is a lot of talk in the book about Hollywood Memorabilia).

My husband comes across items of mine a lot. I don't pay any attention. There's nothing I can do about it so why bother. I did have one person who was using my name and photo for her MySpace page and I had to contact her to ask that she remove them. She was very nice about it.

-Again…I just wanted to thank you for answering my questions. I truly enjoyed your book, and I look forward to many more to come!

Thanks, Stephanie. I'm really glad you liked it.

If you haven't read the book, definitely check it out!! Fantastic genre book!! And also check out the website for Vampyres of Hollywood!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Which Our Heroine Finds Even More Trouble

Ahhhhh.....T'is truly the Season of the Vampire. For my next RIP selection, I decided to pick up Colleen Gleason's Book 3 in the Gardella Vampire Series, The Bleeding Dusk (368 pgs, Signet 2008). Yes, I know. I'm WAY behind. I'm not sure what happened, but for some reason I just didn't get to this book right away. On the bright side, I already have Book 4, so now I can just keep right on reading!!

Note: There are spoilers in this review for Rises the Night.

The lair of the Queen of the Vampires was tucked away in the snowy mountain range of Muntii Fagaras. The only reason Maximilian Pesaro had been able to find the hideaway was because of the two bite marks on his neck. Permanent ones left by Lilith herself.

The Bleeding Dusk continues the adventures of Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacey just a few months after the conclusion of Rises the Night. Things have changed for the Venators in Rome. Because Eustacia had been sacrificed to stop Nedes from activating Akvan's Obelisk, Victoria became the Illa Gardella. Still reeling from thhe loss of her aunt, she stayed in Rome to be at the Consilium with the other Venators instead of immediately returning to London.

Max was also grieving. He had to do the unthinkable in order to destroy the Obelisk, and it was killing him inside. But Lilith's promise of releasing him from her thrall was the one thing keeping him going. Until he met with her. She indeed said she would release him, but there was a price.

Now there are other things stalking the streets of Rome besides Vampires. And everyone is in a race to find the keys to the legendary "Door of Alchemy". Behind it are secrets left by the Alchemist Palombara, and vampires and demons alike are trying gain access. It's up to Victoria and the rest of the Venators to stop them.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series....a lot. But Colleen Gleason kicked it up a notch with The Bleeding Dusk. The weary little love triangle has now gotten even bigger. It's more like a square, with Victoria dead set in the center!! And no matter whether you happen to favor Sebastian or Max, it's apparent in this book that things are about to change rather drastically for everyone.

At the heart of this book is the notion of sacrifice. Not only Victoria, but both Max and Sebastian. And they are called to sacrifice something that is very near to their hearts and personal to them. How they handle it just makes the storyline grow stronger with each page turned. Colleen throws in a couple of curves with this book (like I expected any less!) and in the end, I think this might be the best book yet. The characters are evolving rather quickly, and although my tolerance for Victoria and her short-sightedness and quick-to-jump-to-conclusion way about her is starting to grate on me, I do understand where she is coming from. But the evolution of both Max and Sebastian is where the strength in The Bleeding Dusk lays. The foundation that was laid in the first two books takes on a whole different meaning now. And I can not wait to find out what happens. It will be a bittersweet day for me when this series has ended. But the end is near. I can feel it coming and I already have When Twilight Burns ready to go! If you have read the first two books, then you MUST read The Bleeding Dusk. Honestly, the series just gets better and better. And if you haven't read any of the Gardella books, I would completely recommend them. A Fantastic story for anyone that loves Vampires, but especially Buffy The Vampire Slayer! 4.5/5

Monday, September 8, 2008

Short Story Monday - Everything's Eventual by Stephen King

As I said before, it's not a RIP season without a little Stephen King!! And so, Short Story Monday begins with just that....a little Stephen King. I can't begin to expound on how much of a King Fan-Girl I am. My first encounter with Uncle Steve came in 7th grade....when I picked up the book Carrie. I immediately fell in love, and the affair has lasted all these years. True, there are books that I've been less than excited about. But all in all, it's been a pretty great run. And honestly, for a person like me that isn't all that fond of short stories, King's short stories always make me smile. For some reason though, Everything's Eventual never quite made into my pile of reading until now. I don't even think I realized I hadn't read it until the movie 1408 was released. So I decided to save it for this year's RIP challenge!

As I was reading the introduction, I realized what a great writer King really is. He has a knack for saying things in the simplest way, and yet conveying huge ideas. For example, he says, "The short story is also not a lost art, but i would argue it is a good deal closer than poetry to the lip of the drop into extinction's pit". And he is right. You rarely see short story anthologies anymore. King and Gaiman....and a small handful of others. "I've continued to write short stories over the years, partly because the ideas still come from time to time -- beautifully compressed ideas that cry out for three thousand words, maybe nine thousand, fifteen thousand at the very most -- and partly because it's the way I affirm, at least to myself, the fact that I haven't sold out, no matter what the more unkind critics may think". And to me, that's pretty cool. Writing something, not because you want to sell millions of copies (which with the King name it will probably do anyway), but because you need to say it. Because the story is there no matter what the commercial value.

But on to today's short stories:

Autopsy Room Four is the story of Howard Cottrell. Howard is a stock broker that likes to golf. He lives to golf, you might say. And yet, on this day, he wakes up in the dark and can't for the life of him figure out why. He remembers golfing....then nothing, but waking up in the dark. He can't move or speak. But he can think. And then he realizes something. He's in a body bag!! He's heading to Autopsy Room Four and a date with a Gigli saw and a pair of postmortem shears!!

The Man in the Black Suit is the story of Gary. Gary wants to leave behind a written account of something that happened to him when he was only 9 years old in the summer of 1914. He is afraid no one will believe him. That's why he never told a soul what happened to him. But now that he is sensing the end is near he wants to write it all down. When he was 9, he went fishing one afternoon at the banks of Castle Stream. And on that day, he met a man in a black suit. And with the certainty that only nine-year-olds can have, he was sure that that man was indeed the Devil.

If there was ever a man that could make a desperate situation like being autopsied alive humorous, it would be Stephen King. And try as I might not to laugh, I did! Written as an ode to an old Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode with Joseph Cottten, only King could find a rather "unique" way for Cottrell to show he was alive! Laughter aside, the story was written in such a way that it indeed make me want to scream...."What are you people doing?? Can't you tell he's not dead?" I could FEEL the man's pain, and it was almost suffocating. The same with the nine-year-old Gary. (King actually garnered publication in The New Yorker and an O'Henry Award for Best Short Story for this one). The terror he felt was palpable coming from the pages of this book. And to me, that's what makes Stephen King such a wonderful writer. He can easily put you in the mind of a paralyzed 44-year-old man, and just as easily into a nine-year-old boy on the next page. You can see the saw, and you can see the Devil, with his eyes of orange, burning through his skull. And it makes you scared. It also makes you want to leave on a light when you go to bed at night!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Sunday Salon - Out of Kilter

The Sunday Salon.comKilter. It's a weird looking word, isn't it?? According to Merriam-Webster it means "proper or usual state of condition" or "order". That's me. I felt "out of order" this week. But here's the kicker. I really don't know why.

I have a list of things a mile long that need to get accomplished. And nothing is getting done. I've gone to work, I've taken care of the kiddies....and that's about it. Has the shopping been done? Nope. Still need to get to the store today. And the dollar store. Need laundry detergent and cleaning stuff. Has the laundry been done? Nope, check the first entry. It's amazing the amount of laundry that can pile up with 5 people in a house. If you miss just one day, it's like the pile will never end. Has the basement been cleaned? Nope, still looks like a cyclone hit it. Have the dishes been done? Nope. The kitchen is in about the same state of emergency that the basement is in. Did I finish the book review I started? Nope. Just couldn't find the words. Did I finish up the application for the new job I'm looking at? Nope...and that MUST be done and submitted electronically today.

So...what is wrong with me?? I just came off 5 days off from the Red Cross. You would think that I would be back in the saddle again, so to speak. But even at work this week, I was feeling out of sorts. I can tell you this. I know my TSH levels are out of whack again. When I had my thyroid removed, I knew I had to take medication for the rest of my life. And I'm good with that. But I'm not so good with remembering. And that's part of it. There are days I'm in a hurry all the time, and sometimes I just completely forget. And lately, I've been trying to spread it out a little. The Synthroid I take isn't covered by my "prescription" plan. Why? Because my doctor won't give me the generic form. With a generic form available, I have to pay full-price for mine. Why won't he do this? He told me there really is a difference, and because I had cancer to go with my thyroid, he wants me to take the actual drug. You would think my plan would understand this....but no. It's all about the almighty dollar anymore. And since we are lacking in those almighty dollars, I've been trying to save by cutting down on my meds. Stupid, isn't it? I guess I never claimed to be all that bright! OK...I DO claim that, but in this case, not so much. But now, I'm feeling all weird, so back on the meds full-time it is. I guess I'll just have to work a few extra hours a week to make up for it.

And I haven't been sleeping that great lately. I just can't sleep for extended periods of time. After about 3 hours, I'm up. Then I'll nap a few hours more. It's starting to wear on me. And give me headaches. I think I really need to go back to the chiropractor for an adjustment. My neck has been bothering me. And when it hurts, it goes straight to my head.

But all of that aside, I'm still have a list of things a mile long to do. And yet, here I sit on the computer with you!! This does seem to be the one thing that pulls me back to reality. And if I go for long periods without blogging or blog-hopping, it starts to make me a crazy person. Am I addicted?? Damn right!!


As far as reading, here is my Sunday Salon Report: I finished The Bleeding Dusk by Colleen Gleason. It is Book 3 in the Gardella Vampire Series. Did I like it? Hell yeah! I loved it!! So much so, that I had to go ahead and pull out When Twilight Burns already. I'm too impatient to wait any longer to read it. I also started The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. I picked it up through the Amazon Vine program and I'm about half-way done. It is really a good book! Not at all what I was expecting. An adventure, it is. I also pulled out Everything's Eventual by Stephen King to read for Short-Story Monday's this RIP season. I miss my Short-Story Monday's! After that....who knows. I guess we will read where the wind takes us!! I also got the OK for an interview with Ms. Adrienne Barbeau!! Yeah, me!! (in the words of London Tipton. If you have kids that watch the Disney channel, you'll get it!) I have to shore up my questions and send them out. I'm SO looking forward to this!!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Campy Fun Mixes with the Glitz of Hollywood

Even today, if you asked my father who his favorite actress is, he would answer Adrienne Barbeau. Since the days of Maude, he's had a wild crush on her. Me, I never watched it. But The Fog, Escape from New York, and the excellent HBO series Carnivale would rank me pretty high on the Fan-Girl list myself. So when Anna, from The Book Report Network, contacted me with an opportunity to review Ms. Barbeau's first fiction novel, Vampyres of Hollywood (336 pgs, Thomas Dunne Books, 2008) I was over-the-top excited. Not only is it Adrienne Barbeau, but she's writing about Vampires. And we all know how much I love Vampire Fiction.

It took an X-ray and an autopsy to confirm that Jason Eddings had been killed with the Oscar he'd won for Best Actor just six hours earlier. He deserved it. The Oscar, that is. As for being murdered, well, he probably deserved that too.

As so begins the story of the Vampyres of Hollywood. Ovsanna Moore is a Hollywood powerhouse. She is the "Scream Queen" that has starred in and written seventeen blockbuster horror films ("and a few that went straight to video"). She is also the head of her own Hollywood Studio called Anticipation Studios. Beautiful, tough and powerful, she is a true Hollywood A-lister. She just also happens to be a 500-year-old vampire. As the Chatelaine of Hollywood, Osvanna was the first vampire to lay stake to the area. No other vampire is higher in rank than she. And rank is a pretty big deal among the various vampire clans. She also has connections to 3 very violent and very public Hollywood murders. Each actor that was killed by the "Cinema Slayer" has starred in at least one film from Anticipation studios. Not to mention that all 3 were vampires and part of Osvanna's clan.

Detective Peter Moore has been assigned to find the "Cinema Slayer". As handsome as an actor, Moore is a star in his own right. He has hero status among the cops for saving a child's life in a very high-profile way. He also has a lot of knowledge of the movie industry. His mother was a bit player back in the day, but ended up owning a very successful catering business that worked big name films. And now she's an even more successful dealer in Hollywood memorabilia. Peter knows the ins and outs of the business, and to him all roads in the gruesome serial killings lead right to Osvanna Moore and Anticipation Studios.

My first thought when I picked up this book was, "What if I don't like it?" I would be so disappointed, as an Adrienne Barbeau fan-girl, if I didn't. But nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely loved this book!! Campy, without being cliche; witty, without being slapstick; and gruesome, without being repellent; Vampyres of Hollywood is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is fast becoming overdone in the literary world. With a new take on all the old vampire legends, Barbeau and Scott have created a funny, fast-paced "horror" novel that is also a very crafty mystery. The icing on the cake is a lot of cool Hollywood trivia, and the inclusion of many of the old Hollywood screen legends.

Told in alternating chapters from both Osvanna's and Peter's perspectives, the novel moves quickly. And once the story starts taking shape, it's near impossible to put the book down! If you are a fan of the paranormal, of the vampire legend, or even of the old Silver Screen Actors, this book is definitely for you. Combine that with a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at Hollywood from a true insider, and you have a novel that certainly puts a "Bite" on the reader. Pun, most definitely intended!! Many, many thanks to Anna for passing this great read on to me. Highly Recommended!! 4.5/5