Sunday, May 31, 2009

451 Fridays

***editor's note - I'm re-posting this, because it was the unfortunate victim of my blog blow-up between Thursday night and Friday morning. Jane has prepared a fantastic list, and I'd like everyone to have the chance to actually be able to read it! Jane - I am so sorry!!!

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

Today, I am thrilled to welcome Jane from Fleur Fisher Reads to 451 Fridays. Jane reads the most interesting books - just look at her list of challenges! I love visiting her blog, because I know I am going to find out about some fabulous read I've never heard of before - just what I need!! Welcome, Jane!

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

At first this seemed easy - the five best books I could think of.

But then I thought a little more and decided that I should look to avoid the really well known books. I'm sure that someone else would have saved them and, even if they didn't there would be enough communal memory to reconstruct them.

And it seemed important to pick books that would have something to say to people living in the sort of world that had no books. Books that would work told aloud, maybe in episodes. Books that could stir the intellect and the emotions, books that could provoke discussion and debate, books that could transport you into a very different world...

Here they are:

Woman in the Wall by Julia OFaolian

I really wanted to include a story about the power of faith, and Woman in the Wall is just that.

In the 6th century Radegunda, Queen of Gaul, retreats from the world to establish a religious order. But even behind convent walls, life is not simple and outside war is coming closer.

An extraordinary story building to a powerful and thought-provoking conclusion.

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski

A man travels to France after the war to look for his son - he knows that his wife died but his son may have survived. And he finds a child. Is it his son? Can he ever know? Should he take him home?

Little Boy Lost is a wonderful story, clearly and beautifully written, gripping, with maybe the best last line ever.

You can live and breathe with the characters, as you will them on towards what you desperately hope will be a happy ending.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

I just had to save something by Angela Carter - I don't want to imagine a world without her words.

An American journalist tries to put together the story of Fevvers, a famous trapeze artist, whose claim to fame are the giant wings that keep her aloft during her act.

He traces her childhood and then follows the circus through extraordinary adventures across Europe, Russia, Japan, Siberia...

An amazing flight of fantasy but a story firmly rooted in reality - amazing storytelling in lush and vivid prose.

This is most definitely a tale, and a heroine, with the power to transport you.

South Riding by Winifred Holtby

I really wanted to include a story about community. South Riding is just that - a community is in a small town in the north of England in the 1920s.

A dedicated teacher, a woman whose children are grown who is now a pillar of the community, a gentleman farmer struggling to make ends meet and bring up his daughter alone, a brilliant child whose education is sacrificed by her feckless father, a landlord with an ailing wife, and many, many more.

A wonderful cast from right across the social spectrum and, although they have different views, you can understand and empathize with each one.

Winifred Holtby weaves their stories together brilliantly to create a marvelous tale.

Ten Tales Tall and True by Alasdair Gray

This is a wonderful, wide-ranging collection of short stories - I'd rather like some short stories to scatter between the novels.

The book is enriched with the author's own fine lettering and drawings - I wonder if I'd be able to save those...

The stories themselves are quite impossible to describe - the sub-title "social realism, sexual comedy, science fiction, satire" is as close as I can get. What I can say is that each tale is thought provoking and a joy to read.

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

It's very difficult but I think it would be Nights at the Circus. In real life I am not the kind of person who would run way to join the circus but the chance to do that through a book is just irresistible.

Do you have any favorite quotes from that book, so we know why you love it so much?

"Lor' love you, sir!" Fevvers sang out in a voice that clanged like dustbin lids. "As to my place of birth, why, I first saw the light of day right here in smoky old London, didn't I! Not billed the 'Cockney Venus' for nothing, sir, though they could just as well 'ave called me 'Helen of the High Wire', due to the unusual circumstances in which I come ashore - for I never docked via what you might call the normal channels, sir, oh, dear me, no; but, just like Helen of Troy, was hatched."

Jane, thank you so much for stopping by this week and sharing with us YOUR list of books which must be saved. Would you like to see your list featured on an upcoming edition of 451 Fridays? Send me an email, and we will chat!

TSS - monthly wrap-up

Another month gone, and we're almost halfway through the year. Thankfully, it's Farmer's Market time again, which always brightens my mood. I had a great month of reading - here's the list:

Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kern
- really good sci-fi about what happens when an alien race decides to atone for its sins against humanity. Rated 8/10. (my review of Steal Across the Sky)

While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky - fairly average family drama about the choices one makes when a family member is about to die. Rated 6/10. (My review of While My Sister Sleeps)

Fault Line by Barry Eisler - thriller for a blog tour about brothers dealing with cryptovirology. Rated 6/10. (My review of Fault Line)

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips - entertaining chick-lit involving the Greek gods living in modern-day London, and some very Olympian practical jokes. Rated 7/10. (My review of Gods Behaving Badly)

Somebody Else's Daughter by Elizabeth Brundage
- secrets galore in a small, private school community. Rated 7/10. (My review of Somebody Else's Daughter)

My Abandonment by Peter Rock
- captivating tale of a homeless girl and her father, and what happens when they are found. Rated 9/10. (My review of My Abandonment)

Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee
- the immigration story of a young girl who travels from India to New York to Iowa in search of a new life for herself. Rated 7/10. (My review of Jasmine)

Losing My Religion by William Lobdell
- memoir detailing one man's journey to faith, and away again, as a reporter on the religion beat. Rated 9/10. (My thoughts on Losing My Religion)

Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson - the story of a grieving man's quest to learn the secrets of his past. Rated 8/10. (My review of Sonata for Miriam)

Tightrope by Michael Kaplan
- nonfiction about 6 generations of a Jewish family involved in many of the major historical events of their time. Rated 7/10 (review forthcoming)

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
- the aftermath of a high school shooting, and the effects it has on the lives of the families involved. Rated 7/10. (My review of Nineteen Minutes)

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan - nonfiction about a woman's struggle with cancer, and the bond she shares with her family. Rated 8/10. (review forthcoming)

Testimony by Anita Shreve - the consequences of one horrible decision by four high school students, which changes the lives of a small town in Vermont forever. Rated 8/10.

Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
- true story about a man searching for the mystery of his mother's past. Fascinating. Rated 8/10. (My review of Annie's Ghosts.)

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - beautiful novel about the friendship between two children during World War II - one of my favorite books this year. Rated 10/10. (My review of Hotel...)

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan - atmospheric novel about a woman given the gift of revisiting her past. Rated 7/10. (review forthcoming)

20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
- thought provoking young adult novel about best friends trying to come to grips with the death of someone they both loved. Rated 7/10. (review forthcoming)

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
- a young girl in a polygamous cult has to choose between the family she loves and the freedom she desires. Rated 7/10 (review forthcoming)

All in all, this was a great month. I found a couple of books that could very well make my list of yearly favorites - that's always fun!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Apologies, and a thank you

So, apparently in the past 24 hours I've managed to break my blog.

Go me!!

I think I have the comment situation fixed - the rest will have to wait until my small weekend getaway.

Many thanks to Arundhati, at Advance Booking, for alerting me to the problem.

Ah, the joys of blogging. =)

Poe Fridays (on Saturday)

’TIS said that when
The hands of men
Tamed this primeval wood,
And hoary trees with groans of woe,
Like warriors by an unknown foe,
Were in their strength subdued,
The virgin Earth
Gave instant birth
To springs that ne’er did flow
That in the sun
Did rivulets run,
And all around rare flowers did blow
The wild rose pale
Perfumed the gale
And the queenly lily adown the dale
(Whom the sun and the dew
And the winds did woo),
With the gourd and the grape luxuriant grew.

So when in tears
The love of years
Is wasted like the snow,
And the fine fibrils of its life
By the rude wrong of instant strife
Are broken at a blow
Within the heart
Do springs upstart
Of which it doth now know,
And strange, sweet dreams,
Like silent streams
That from new fountains overflow,
With the earlier tide
Of rivers glide
Deep in the heart whose hope has died—
Quenching the fires its ashes hide,—
Its ashes, whence will spring and grow
Sweet flowers, ere long,
The rare and radiant flowers of song!

This is apparently among a group of "doubtful" poems - work which Poe might have written, but cannot be conclusively ascribed to him. It is not included in the anthology I own, so I had to look it up online. Thankfully, it's ridiculously easy to find Poe's work on the internet, so I didn't have any problem. It does deal with death, and the loss of true love, which Poe does write about frequently, so it is certainly conceivable this is Poe's work, but for whatever reason he chose not to attribute it to himself.

Next week we will read a short story, The Assignation. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.

Friday, May 29, 2009

451 Fridays - Bonus Edition

As a special surprise today, I'm happy to welcome Jamie Ford, author of the beautiful novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, who has agreed to do an "author edition" of 451 Fridays.

Well, sort of. =)

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

Can I change this? How about five books that should be banished to the dustbin of eternity?

1) The Hardy Boys. After years of counseling I can finally utter the names of Frank and Joe Hardy without a narcoleptic seizure. My mom, bless her heart, was an avid mystery fan, so she regularly bought my weight in Hardy Boys books. I just couldn’t get through them. Partly because of the merry-go-round of ghostwriters that were employed over the years, but also because of the way they often portrayed minorities. Granted, they were a product of their time–so why can’t they stay in the past?

2) I’m going to get flack for this one but I really think Amnesty International should look into how the Scarlet Letter is used on 9th graders. Thematically, it’s an intriguing book. But the archaic nature of the writing has been turning generations of bright school children into non-readers for years. This madness must end.

3) The AP Stylebook. While great for journalists, rules for reporting on city council meetings don’t necessarily apply to writers of fiction. Still, some aspiring writers get hung up on the thing. It’s like someone trying to use a tractor repair manual as a cookbook.

4) (Insert political rant book here). Does it matter if it’s Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, or Al Franken? These books aren’t written to enlighten. They’re designed to lock their readers in the closets of their own political neuroses.

5) Coloring books. (I know–you thought I was punching below the belt with the Scarlet Letter). I think coloring books should be replaced with blank pages and fertile imaginations. Maybe it’s because I’m an art school graduate, or maybe it’s because my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Silverwood, told me my drawings were terrible because I colored outside the lines.

Of those 5, which book would you "become"?

I’d probably become The Hardy Boys. But I’d let them grow up and become the Hardy Men, like the classic National Lampoon parody, The Hardy Boys and the Case of the Missing Scotch.

Can you share a couple of quotes from that book?
"We have to find the people who were responsible for Dad's death–and make them pay"
— Frank Hardy, No Mercy–Book Two of the Operation Phoenix Trilogy.

Jamie, I know you have a FEW other things going on in your life right now, so thank you for taking the time to create your own, uniquely personal, 451 Fridays list.

If you haven't already, find yourself a copy of his book. It's so good. And you can also visit Jamie's website, if you are so inclined.

Review - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
published 1/09
290 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

My thoughts:

It's hard to think of something original to say about one of the most blogged-about books in recent history. Has there been a bad review for this novel? If so, I haven't read it. I have, however, read "it's the best book I've read all year"; "this goes on my list of all-time favorites"; "what an amazing novel"; etc, etc. High expectations? Yep, I've got them.

In a completely unexpected turn of events, this book actually lived up to the hype. I really was engrossed from the first chapter. I honestly felt drawn in to the emotions of the characters. I certainly didn't want it to end. So what can I tell you about this novel?

Should I tell you about the love Henry shared with Ethel, his recently-deceased wife, who knew him better than anyone, but didn't know the truth about Keiko?

"Henry looked around to see if anyone might be watching him having this odd, one-way conversation. He was all alone - he wasn't even sure if Ethel was listening. It was one thing to talk to her at home, where she'd lived. But out here, in the cold ground next to his parents, she was certainly gone. Still, Henry had needed to come out to say goodbye.
He kissed the quarter and placed it on top of Ethel's headstone. This was our promise of happiness, Henry thought. It's all I have left to give. This is so you can be happy without me."

Or maybe I should discuss Henry's confusing, angry, distant relationship with his father, who wants the best for his son, but can't give up his loyalty to his homeland long enough to really discover what that might be.

"His father pointed at the door. 'If you walk out that door - if you walk out that door now; you are no longer part of this family. You are no longer Chinese. You are not part of us anymore. Not a part of me.'
Henry didn't even hesitate. He touched the doorknob, feeling the brass cold and hard in his hand. He looked back, speaking his best Cantonese. 'I am what you made me, Father.' He opened the heavy door. ' an American.' "

Certainly, I should tell you about the beautiful, innocent relationship of Henry and Keiko - a friendship, born out of shared foreignness, that blossoms into something so much deeper. One of the most beautiful love stories I've ever read.

"Henry watched and waited until he saw a beautiful slip of a girl walk up the muddy path in a faded yellow dress, red galoshes covered in mud, and a brown raincoat. She stood on the other side of the fence, her smiling face, pale from food poisoning, framed by cold metal and sharp wire. A captured butterfly."

Here's the best thing I can say - whenever someone asks me what to read next, I'll ask if they've experienced Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. That's just about the highest praise I can give.

Finished: 5/27/09
Source: Pump Up Your Book Promotions blog tour
Rating: 10/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Literary Feline
Dreadlock girl (aka b&b ex libris)
Medieval Bookworm
Devourer of Books
Bookworm's Dinner
The Friendly Book Nook
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
Redlady's Reading Room
Bibliophile by the Sea

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Tunes

Thursday Tunes is a weekly event hosted by S. Krishna, devoted to sharing the music we love.
S. Krishna usually features a new artist each week - just to be different, I'm going to focus on a specific song, because it's the song that hooks me. There are very few artists whose entire body of work is in my MP3 player, but I have thousands of songs I love.

This week, I've been working on compiling my list of Top 10 Hymns for an idea that Sherry over at Semicolon has - she's soliciting top 10 lists, and is then going to post the Top 100 Hymns over the summer. Fun! If you are interested, you can still get your selections to her - she closes submissions on May 31.

So today, here are two of my favorites. I picked fairly contrasting styles, because that's just fun.

O, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus - arrangement by Selah

This is tied for my favorite of all time - I love that it's in a minor key, I love the flow of the music and the words - it's just beautiful.

Wonderful Grace - arrange by the Cathedrals

There's something about singing this song, on a Sunday night, with the congregation splitting into the different parts - it's just a joyous experience. Also, it's a bit of a nightmare for the accompanist, which often was me, so that's good memories as well. =)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nonfiction Files - Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg

I'm going to hijack my own blog today and talk about a DIFFERENT book that what's on my schedule. I started Where Am I Wearing last week, and fully intended to delve further in, and share my thoughts on what I'd read. However, as often happens, another book grabbed my attention, and kept me entranced for most of the weekend. So here are my thoughts on that one instead. =)

Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

published 5/09
401 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Beth Luxenberg was an only child. Everyone knew it: her grown children, her friends, even people she'd only recently met. So when her secret emerged, her son Steve Luxenberg was bewildered. He was certain that his mother had no siblings, just as he knew that her name was Beth, and that she had raised her children, above all, to tell the truth.

By then, Beth was nearly eighty, and in fragile health. While seeing a new doctor, she had casually mentioned a disabled sister, sent away at age two. For what reason? Was she physically disabled? Mentally ill? The questions were dizzying, the answers out of reach. Beth had said she knew nothing of her sister's fate.

Six months after Beth's death in 1999, the secret surfaced once more. This time, it had a name: Annie.

Steve Luxenberg began digging. As he dug, he uncovered more and more. His mother's name wasn't Beth. His aunt hadn't been two when she'd been hospitalized. She'd been twenty-one; his mother had been twenty-three. The sisters had grown up together. Annie had spent the rest of her life in a mental institution, while Beth had set out to hide her sister's existence. Why?

Employing his skills as a journalist while struggling to maintain his empathy as a son, Luxenberg pieces together the story of his mother's motivations, his aunt's unknown life, and the times in which they lived. His search takes him to imperial Russia and Depression-era Detroit, through the Holocaust in Ukraine and the Philippine war zone, and back to the hospitals where Annie and many others were lost to memory.

Combining the power of reportage with the intrigue of mystery, Annie's Ghosts explores the nature of self-deception and self-preservation. The result is equal parts memoir, social history, and riveting detective story.

My thoughts:

Boy, what a story. This completely captured my imagination, and those who knew me as a little girl won't be surprised - I was a snooper. I loved to snoop around in old things, and see what secrets they held. My Grandma used to say I knew where things were in her house better than she did. I dreamed of finding old letters, or photographs, or newspapers - anything that might tell me the story of someone's life long ago. (Honestly, I don't know that I should have written that sentence in the past tense. It's mostly still true.)

So the idea of Steve Luxenberg snooping around in his mom's past was fascinating to me - I wish I could have been there with him, poring over old letters and pictures. It is so appealing to me. I almost can't describe how excited I felt for him, every time he found a new piece of the puzzle.

Of course, the puzzle itself is also an amazing, tragic story. Luxenberg delves into his family's history, and what he finds could probably make great movie script. Poverty, drama, family feuds, intermarriage - it's all there, and Luxenberg tells of his family's flaws and foibles with a lot of honesty. He doesn't try to justify behaviour, but using historical and cultural facts, allows the reader to understand what could have brought about the decisions that were made.

I think I felt a connection to the story, as well, because my father-in-law struggles with mental illness. Reading about the treatment the mentally ill were subjected to during this time was difficult for me, because I could imagine him in that position, if he had been born just a few years earlier. I was unaware of how popular the eugenics movement was in the early 1900s, and now have a serious interest in this period of our nation's history.

Unfortunately, much of the information about Annie has been lost to history, so Luxenberg is often left guessing, or relying on incomplete or inconsistent memories to fill in the gaps. This is the only place where the book sometimes lags - in trying to recreate Annie's life, he departs on tangents, away from the main narrative, that don't always quite pan out.

Annie's story is a window to a period of history I was unfamiliar with. This book was completely fascinating to me - I didn't want to stop reading. I would definitely recommend it!

Finished: 5/25/09

Source: FSB Associates

Rating: 8/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Shelf Love

Experiments in Reading

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tube Talk with Amy and Elizabeth

It's time to start season 2 of Supernatural! When we last saw the Winchester boys, they had been in a horrible car accident- who will survive? Will anyone in the family ever be the same? Make sure to stop by My Friend Amy, where Amy will be posting about episode 1, In My Time of Dying, and episode 2, Everybody Loves a Clown.

Episode 3 - Bloodlust
Recap: The Winchesters meet a fellow hunter and join him on a gig to catch a band of renegade vampires, but is the man all he seems, or are the vampires the actual innocents to be protected, not hunted?

Our discussion - as usual, Amy's words will be in red:

This show is certainly reinforcing my opinion that spending time in the woods = bad.

The woods really do not seem to be a safe place.

I am really creeped out by the vampires they have created - their teeth are just horrifying.

LOL!!!! Yes really takes away from the sex appeal.

It's interesting that Sam & Dean seem to know very little about the whole network of hunters that exists. Why do you think their Dad wanted to keep them isolated that way?

It could be his own reputation. Or it could be for their protection. No idea!

As soon as I heard Lenore talk about not drinking human blood, I thought "Somebody's been reading Twilight!"

Ha! Well, if you want any element of redemption in your vampire story they can't drink human blood, until they slip up and turn a child....oh wait. Different book. ;)

HAH! We could do a whole series about different vampire mythologies....

It was scary to see what can happen to a hunter when they become so focused on the kill that they lose their own humanity. I think Dean always has to remind himself that he is more than just a killer, and having Sam their to act as his conscience is extremely important.

I agree. I like ho
w this show used the vampires as mirrors for the hunters. Just as the vampires can choose to act against their natures, so can the hunters. And just as the vampires can become nothing but bloodthirsty monsters....well, so can the hunters. This was really illustrated when Dean relished killing the one that point, was he really separate from them?

That moment was really chilling, to me. I remember thinking, Boy - he's really enjoying this. Maybe enjoying it too much.

I think this could really cause a shift in the way the brothers think - before, they were just blindly chasing down monsters. Now, they realize it's not always as clear-cut as it seems. When Dean asked, "What is we have killed things that didn't deserve killing?', I think he was becoming aware that there are shades of grey, even in the hunting business.

Yes, the choices they have to make are much more complicated and cannot be driven by bloodlust. ;) And kudos to the show for using another Buffy alum.

If you are interested, you can read more about vampire lore and mythology.

Episode 4 - Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things
Recap: The boys meet a very dead adversary that manages to injure Sam during an encounter. Can they face their foe again and this time win the battle?

Our discussion:

OOOOOh, zombies. It worries me that every time I try to grow a houseplant, it ends up looking like the ones in this episode.

Hmmmm........something you're not telling us? ;)

Maybe....I can't reveal all my secret. *grin*

Okay, the scene where Sam was watching....erotic movies....and Dean walks in, realizes what's going on, and says "Awkward." - hilarious!

Funny stuff.

It's one of the things I love the most about the show - the way it injects humor like that into such tense situations.

Was is just me, or did Angela and her roomate look a LOT alike?

They did!

Is it wrong that I didn't really feel sorry for any of the victims when Angela killed them? Especially the scummy boyfriend.

Nope, none of them were very sympathetic.

This whole episode just seemed very bleak. Both of the brothers seem so unhappy - even the colors seemed muted in this episode. I think they are doing a great job of showing just how deep they have sunk into sadness and despair.

Yes, it was a very dark and somber episode.

Boy, this season Dean has a lot of extra emotional baggage. When he said that he was the reason that Dad is dead, and then "What's dead should stay dead...I never should have come back. I should have stayed dead." His tough guy exterior is really taking a beating, and for all Sam's concern, he has no idea how to help his brother. Dean's right - what can you say to something like that?

Poor Dean! And fantastic acting by the way. I think Jensen Ackles is absolutely fantastic. He can convey so much emotion across his face. (yes I've turned into a bit of a fangirl)

Well, I think both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki have done some great acting, but this season Ackles has really been given some great emotional stuff to portray. People sometimes brush this show off as fluff because it's on the CW, but the main characters are really well done.

Anyway, this is the second time Dean's life has been bought at the price of another and I just don't know how you would really recover from that. I mean he has to deal with his grief as well as sort out why he's still alive. On the other hand, hopefully he can have the knowledge that his dad thought his life was worth more than his own.

Right - even though the show hasn't technically revealed to us yet that his dad made that switch, I'm sure Dean is well aware of what happened. It isn't too hard to figure out, especially for someone who has done this job for so long. I don't think Dean will ever see himself as worthy of this sacrifice - he will always think he should have been the one who died.

I also thought it was interesting that Dean didn't want to visit the mom's grave. I mean that happened years ago? I'm glad Sam is forcing him to talk about it in any case.

I wondered about that too. I think Dean just doesn't want to think about the past - he figures that if he can forget about it, it won't hurt him any more. Sam has really challenged him to be more honest about his feelings, both to himself and to the world. Those brothers are good for each other!

As an aside, the actor Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam, actually broke his hand during the filming of this episode. That's why you will see him wearing a cast for the next several weeks.

If you are interested, you can read more about necromancy.

Stay tuned - 4 more episodes next week, and this show just keeps getting better and better!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Review - Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
published 12/07
292 pages
Purchase from Amazon or Powell's

Synopsis from publisher:

Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ.

Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees--a favorite pastime of Apollo's--is sapping their vital reserves of strength.

Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?

My thoughts:

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I picked this book up - I know I wasn't expecting chick-lit with Greek gods. I guess I'm not sure why - I knew about the gods, I knew about the budding romance....I've even read reviews about it, which is why I added to my list for the Book Buddy Blogger challenge. It just didn't quite turn out to be what I thought it was supposed to be.

Now, that doesn't mean it was bad. It was actually a pretty entertaining little twist on the chick-lit genre. The introduction of Greek mythology allowed for some plot advances that wouldn't normally be attempted - the storming of the Underworld, for example. Neil and Alice were so sweet, and charming, and completely, almost boringly NORMAL, that is was easy to understand how perplexing and overwhelming the circumstances of the novel could be.

One of the things that has always fascinated me about the Greek pantheon of gods is how very nearly human they can often be. In Christianity, God is the essence of everything good and pure, and very unlike the humans that were created. Greek gods, however, are a very different story - they are quarrelsome, and lecherous, and cruel, and petty - very much like the people they rule. And in this novel, they are just what you would expect, with modern-day technology thrown in to the mix. Which is to say, this is definitely an adult novel, with the gods engaging in some decidedly adult behavior.

Overall, I thought it was a light, fun read. If you, like me, are starting to look for something to read on the deck, or by the pool, lemonade in hand, I think this would be a great choice.

Finished: 5/3/09
Source: Franklin Avenue Library
Rating: 7/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit
Julie at Booking Mama
Michele at A Reader's Respite
Sheri at A Novel Menagerie
Anysia at Booklorn
Anna at Diary of an Eccentric

Sunday, May 24, 2009

TSS - Review - Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson

Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson
published 02/09
276 pages
purchase from Amazon or Powell's

Synopsis from publisher:

A haunting novel of loss, love, and human connection from the author of Astrid & Veronika.

In Sonata for Miriam, two events occur that will change composer Adam Anker's life forever. Embarking on a journey that ranges from New Zealand to Poland, and then Sweden, Anker not only uncovers his parents' true fate during World War II, but he also finally faces the consequences of an impossible choice he was forced to make twenty years before — a choice that changed the trajectory of his life.

My thoughts:

At the outset I have to say that I don't think this book will appeal to every reader. It is not an easy read - sometimes ambiguous, dreamlike, poetic. Several events are awfully convenient - and some events are really not explained that well, or at all, leaving the reader wondering what actually just happened.

That being said, I found myself really enjoying this novel. I was grabbed by Adam's voice from the opening sentences, and fell into the rhythm of the narration. I found the dueling narratives - Adam's search for the truth about his family, and his journey back to Cecilia - equally interesting, and while I didn't always understand concretely what was going on, it seemed to fit the mood of the novel. I think memories are often like that - not necessarily detailed or specific, but rather an impression of a person or place that stays with you. That's the way this book felt, and it worked for me.

Of course, the beautiful prose was a joy to read. I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next, but also just to read the words that Olsson wrote. Here are a couple of examples:

"I can take one individual note out of the music I am trying to write at the moment, and it could belong anywhere. Yet where it sits, where I have placed it, it follows what came before and leads to what comes after. Without it the whole would not be as it is...When you listen to the finished composition, or when you go about living your life, the individual components join to make a whole that can so easily be taken for granted. But it is not until you become aware of the parts that you can begin to understand the miracle."

"Smells and sounds and tastes are known to have the power to evoke memories. But I had never before understood the enormous power of tangible objects in this respect. I looked at the clip on my palm, and memories poured forth with almost unbearable intensity. Almost unbearable. No. Either things are bearable or they are not. There is no almost. And these memories were certainly bearable. I welcomed them. I reveled in their blinding intensity, the smarting pain of the sweet moments as they flooded back."

"I never knew how to tell you. If I had found the words, perhaps everything might have turned out different. But now, when so unexpectedly and so very undeservedly I have been given this opportunity, I will try to explain. No, that is not the word. There are no explanations. But I will try to talk. Try to break the silence. When you come, I will try to find the words."

Sonata for Miriam is a moody, beautiful novel, and the right reader will find it an unforgettable experience.

Finished: 5/15/09
Source: Penguin books
Rating: 8/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Marie at The Boston Bibliophile
Lisa at Books on the Brain
Swapna at S. Krishna's Books

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Poe Fridays (on Saturday)

This week, we read the short, sweet little poem, To My Mother. It's so short I can post the full text here:

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you-
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
My mother–my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

How very un-Poe-like, to read just a simple tribute to a woman he loves. Of course, there is the reference to the death of his beloved Virginia - honestly, without that I don't know if I would have believed this was written by Poe. But, he tells us that this woman ( I assume his mother-in-law) is so loved by him because she gave life to Virginia, and she took Virginia's place in his heart when she died. It is truly a beautiful, unexpected addition to the Poe collection - great choice this week, Kristen!

Next week we will read the poem A Forest Reverie. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.

Friday, May 22, 2009

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

This week, I'm thrilled to welcome Andi to 451 Fridays. Andi is one of the first fellow readers I met online, years before I thought about starting a book blog, in a Yahoo Groups book forum. We quickly discovered rather similar reading tastes, and I've eagerly anticipated her 451 list. Andi blogs at Tripping Toward Lucidity: Estella's Revenge, and is also the founder and co-editor of the cool e'zine Estella's Revenge. Welcome, Andi!

When I began picking books for this project I thought over all the “classics” I love. But somehow more contemporary books kept sneaking into my head and insisting that I pay attention to them. As a result, the list I’ve made up is full of my own contemporary favorites as well as a few dark horses: Call It Sleep, an underappreciated novel about the American immigrant experience, is one such example that I would urge any reader to check into even if they’ve never heard of it.

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

The Hours, by Michael Cunningham

Call It Sleep, by Henry Roth

The Golems of Gotham, by Thane Rosenbaum

The Blindfold, by Siri Hustvedt

The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

Oddly enough, I think I would choose the lesser known of the books I’ve listed (or so I assume). I would become The Golems of Gotham, by Thane Rosenbaum. I read it in 2006, and it made my Top 10 that year. At the time I only rated the book 8.5/10, but over time it’s really stuck with me. I think of the characters often, many affecting quotes have stayed with me, and I have an itch to re-read it. The book is a look at how the children of Holocaust survivors inherit and navigate such a tragedy. It’s a topic I’m particularly interested in, and Rosenbaum is one of the best at dealing with these particular issues.

In 2006, I wrote of the book on my Top 10 wrap-up for the year:

“It was hard to pick this last title, and I actually nixed Sister Carrie (Theodore Dreiser) at the last minute. While I think Dreiser’s novel was superior in its writing, I think Rosenbaum has done something special in The Golems of Gotham, and at the end of the day (or year as it might be) this title was much more affecting. It’s the story of a young girl and her father—their family plagued by death and loss. In an attempt to save her father, a writer, from his depression the girl summons her dead grandparents, Holocaust survivors, from the other side and with them comes a cast of famous Jewish figures, also Holocaust survivors who met their demise as a result of suicide. Rosenbaum deals in inheritance—how the children and grandchildren of those so inexorably changed by the Holocaust inherit that burden and live with it (or die by it). The novel is magical, something akin to magical realism I would say, and the writing is gorgeous. Rosenbaum is certainly an author with good things on the horizon. I urge any and everyone to give at least one of his books a try.”

While it might sound like a “downer” of a book—and it certainly is dark in spots—what I loved about it was also its hopeful humanity. The main character and his daughter are shining examples of the good and beautiful things that can arise from darkness and despair.

Do you have any favorite quotes from that book, so we know why you love it so much?

“Despair, if nothing else, is a private matter. The mind isn't required to share such information. That's because the soul is the master of its own short-circuitry, the system shutdown, the fading pulse that monitors the brokenness of both spirit and heart. When a state of mind sinks to a point where the life itself--the day-to-day engagements, the nightly slumber and silences--becomes unbearable, who are we to second-guess or armchair analyze? There was no way to properly insert oneself inside the minds of the Levins and follow the logic of [Holocaust] survivors who would one day choose a synagogue as the setting to turn off their own life-support systems.”

"The Golems didn't die from suicide. The true cause of death was too much reflection; casualties of a life lived in furious remembrance. The closer they looked, the easier it became to self-kill. Those who examined too close inevitably saw too much. Each one an Icarus, flying too near the sun, and then, for the sake of finality, stared intrepidly, and fatally, into the hypnotic face of a Medusa head cut off from the corpses of Auschwitz."

"’We are turning over the burden to him,' Paul said. 'We could have left him alone as he was, but that was not alive, either. He needs the challenge. It is only in the extremes, on the margins of existence, where life is worth living, where we learn what's possible for ourselves and for the rest of humanity. The middle of the road leads nowhere, it reveals nothing about man other than ambivalence and fear.'"

Andi, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us YOUR list of books which must be saved. Next week, I will welcome Fleur Fisher of FleurFisherReads to 451 Fridays. Would you like to see your list featured on an upcoming friday? Send me an email and we will chat!

By the Chapter, Day 3 - Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Welcome to the final day of By the Chapter. Marcia and I have been reading and discussing Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. You can read Marcia's day 1 post, and my day 2 post if you need to catch up. Be sure to stop by The Printed Page today to read Marcia's final thoughts on this novel.

Synopsis from publisher:

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five....In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens -- until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town's residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult's most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who -- if anyone -- has the right to judge someone else?

My thoughts:

Halfway through the novel, I was engrossed. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next - what Peter's motivation truly was, what secrets Josie was keeping buried inside. I felt such sympathy for each of the characters, dealing with a situation none of them could ever have imagined.

But somewhere around the 3/4 mark, I just started losing interest. I think, perhaps, the 500-page tome just went on a little too long for me. I could feel myself getting impatient, wondering when it was going to end - even, quite honestly, skimming a little, just so I could get to the end. And I found the end disappointing. The "big reveal" seemed to be almost an afterthought, coming at page 489 of 502. It seemed like I had been waiting and waiting for this, only to have it rushed through. And, honestly, I had suspected this ending from just about halfway through, so it wasn't even that big a surprise.

Having said that, I was still able to appreciate what Picoult does best - giving her readers the opportunity to explore a tragic situation from the point of view of ALL involved. She is a master at eliciting sympathy for the one who would traditionally be the "bad guy", and this talent was apparent in the character of Peter, the high school misfit who commits an unspeakable crime. I love the way Picoult gets into the heads and hearts of each of her characters, and this was certainly not lacking in this novel.

Additionally, her portrayal of the pain and disillusionment of being a teenager was brilliant. The drive to fit in; the fear that one misstep will cost you your status and friendships; the pain of being tormented; the ache of being abandoned by someone you thought you could trust. It was all there, and often painful to read.

"There's a word we learned in social studies: schadenfreude. It's when you enjoy watching someone else suffer. The real question, though, is why? I think part of it is just self-preservation. And part of it is because a group always feels more like a group when it's banded together against and enemy. It doesn't matter if that enemy has never done anything to hurt you - you just have to pretend you hate someone even more than you hate yourself."

While this was not my favorite of Picoult's novels, it was a fine read, if a bit too long for me. I would anticipate it being appealing to fans of Picoult's previous work - mostly, it was a solid piece of storytelling.

Finished: 5/21/09
Source: my shelves
Rating: 7/10

If you would like to co-host a week of By the Chapter, drop Marcia a line. It's a lot of fun!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Tunes

Thursday Tunes is a weekly event hosted by S. Krishna, devoted to sharing the music we love.
S. Krishna usually features a new artist each week - just to be different, I'm going to focus on a specific song, because it's the song that hooks me. There are very few artists whose entire body of work is in my MP3 player, but I have thousands of songs I love.

Well, my "songs from Elizabeth's wedding" series has come to a screeching halt, since I can't find anymore songs to post. Apparently, my taste differs from that of the general public. =)

So instead, today I'm going to share a song by one of my favorite artists you've probably never heard of, Geoff Moore. I can tell you exactly what was happening in my life when each of his albums was released. His songs have been with me through all of the important events in my life. His beautiful song, "With You", was sung at my wedding. Also, he sang "God Blessed the Broken Road" BEFORE Rascal Flatts, and Carrie Underwood, and others stole it - and, personally, I like his version the best.

So, today, for your listening pleasure, I present "God Blessed the Broken Road" by Geoff Moore.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love
Along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
I wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to You

That every long lost dream
Led me to where You are
Others who broke my heart
They were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way
Into Your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have them back again
And give them all to You
But You just smile and take my hand
You've been there and You understand
It's all part of a grander plan
That is coming true

That every long lost dream
Led me to where You are
Others who broke my heart
They were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way
Into You loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You
Now I keep rolling on into Your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to You

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

It's time to start a new book, and right now I'm reading Where Am I Wearing by Kelsey Timmerman.

Synopsis from publisher:

Globalization makes it difficult to know where the things you buy come from. Journalist and travel writer Kelsey Timmerman wanted to know where his clothes came from and who made them, so he traveled from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China and back. Along the way, he met the people who made his favorite clothes and learned as much about them as he did about globalization itself. Enlightening and controversial at once, this book puts a human face on globalization.

My thoughts so far:

Ever since I watched the documentary China Blue, I haven't been able to stop thinking about who makes my clothes. (As an aside, it's a heartbreaking documentary, but don't watch it if you want to keep shopping at Wal-Mart.) So the idea of someone traveling around the world to find out where his clothes were made, and who makes them, was very intriguing.

Now, this doesn't seem to be hard-hitting investigative journalism - on his first trip, to Honduras, where his T-shirt was made, he barely managed to speak to one young man from the factory before giving up. The factory guards wouldn't let him in, so he just left. I'm interested to see if he becomes more persistent, or if the whole book will be half-hearted attempts, more for the sake of saying he went than actually making and discoveries.

I'm not too far along in the book, but so far I am enjoying the author's conversational tone, and really rooting for him to actually find someone to talk to in another country. It was interesting to read about his discussions with other people about the trip before he went - most people thought he was a little strange to take the trip. Why would anyone want to go on a vacation to a sweatshop?

"I understood that the people who made my clothes were probably not living a life of luxury, but I didn't automatically assume they worked in a sweatshop. I found this connection rather disturbing. The majority of the people I talked to, and even members of a nationally syndicated program that reports on the world's poor, assumed all of my clothes were made in sweatshops. It seemed to be a given - the people who make our clothes are paid and treated badly. Since few of us make our own clothes or buy secondhand, it appears we really don't give a darn because there is nothing we can do about it. Besides, we saved a few bucks."

As I said before, this is an issue I've struggled with ever since watching a documentary about clothing workers in China. I don't have an answer - maybe I'm reading this book to see if the author eventually comes up with one. I don't know if there is a solution, but I'm interested to see where this journey takes him.

(All quotes are from an uncorrected proof - they may change slightly in the final copy.)

By the Chapter, Day 2 - Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Welcome to By the Chapter, an event hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We will be reading and discussing Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.

Synopsis from publisher:

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five....In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens -- until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town's residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever. Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

Nineteen Minutes is New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult's most raw, honest, and important novel yet. Told with the straightforward style for which she has become known, it asks simple questions that have no easy answers: Can your own child become a mystery to you? What does it mean to be different in our society? Is it ever okay for a victim to strike back? And who -- if anyone -- has the right to judge someone else?

Marcia started out our discussion on Monday, and if you need to catch up, you can read her post here.

My thoughts:

I am just about halfway through this novel, and it is classic Picoult. Take a provocative situation, throw in characters on both sides of the action, add the promise of a tense courtroom drama, and stir in some teenage angst, and you've got another page-turner from this popular author. I'll be honest and say I was wary - Picoult can sometimes be great for me (My Sister's Keeper), and sometimes very disappointing (The Tenth Circle), AND I had just read Wally Lamb's most recent novel which dealt with a similar situation (The Hour I First Believed), so I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Nineteen Minutes. Thankfully, so far I am completely engrossed.

One of the things I appreciate most about Picoult is her ability to tell all the sides of a story - we hear from the victims, the perpetrators, the families of each - and she shows that everybody has both good and bad in them. In this particular story, the character I am feeling the most sympathy for right now is Lacy, the mother of the teenaged boy who has committed the crime. I can't imagine being a parent, waking up thinking everything is fine, and then finding out your child has done something like this. Picoult describes the scene when Lacy first discovers her son is the perpetrator:

"Everything around Lacy slowed - the pulse of the ambulances, the pace of the running students, the round sounds that fell from the lips of this girl. Maybe she had misheard. She glanced up at the girl again, and immediately wished she hadn't. The girl was sobbing. Over her shoulder her mother stared at Lacy with horror, and then carefully pivoted to shield her daughter from view, as if Lacy were a basilisk - as if her very stare could turn you to stone.

There must be some mistake, please let there be a mistake, she thought, even as she looked around at the carnage and felt Peter's name swell like a sob in her throat."

I always wonder what it's like for the families of these criminals - the Columbine shooters, the Craigslist killer - how horrible would it be to suddenly find out someone you loved could do something like that. Picoult gives her readers stunning insight into their minds and hearts in this novel.

It's a little strange to say I am enjoying a novel about such a dark subject, but I honestly am - it's well written, with great character insight, and lots of suspense. I can't wait to keep reading, to see where the author takes us next!

Make sure to stop by for the final installment of this week's By the Chapter - Marcia and I will both be posting our closing thoughts on Friday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tube Talk with Amy and Elizabeth

Welcome to Tube Talk! It's an exciting week, as we will be wrapping up season 1 of Supernatural, including the infinitely unfair CLIFFHANGER ENDING, in anticipation of starting season 2 next week. Make sure you stop by My Friend Amy, where my lovely co-host will be recapping episodes 18 - Something Wicked, and 19 - Provenance.

Let's get busy!

Episode 19 - Dead Man's Blood

Recap: Sam and Dean are not only united with their father, but they must face a new foe- a foe they didn't even know existed! Time is running out, and the Winchesters must battle real life vampires to gain the thing that can kill their mother's murderer...

Our Discussion - as usual, Amy's words are in red.

Holy crap - Dad's back! I didn't expect to see him again this season. It seemed weird to me that he just showed up, and somehow knew his friend was in trouble. I have to say I still don't really trust him that much....

You don't trust Dad?

I totally don't trust Dad. He's been super shady from the beginning. I mean, he couldn't even show up when Dean was DYING???

The vampire's teeth really creeped me out. I usually enjoy a good vampire storyline, but didn't like this particular breed of vampires at all. They were just gross.

I love vampires with all of my heart. (That sounds disturbing, doesn't it?) But I didn't like these vampires. I did t
hink it was funny that they didn't initially believe vampires were real! Plus, these were super vampires that could go out in sunlight. Yuck!

I think there is going to be a serious mutiny at some point between the brothers and their Dad. This episode really showed how drill-sergeant-like he is, and that both of the brothers are
getting really tired of it.

Well they aren't little kids anymore, they're adults and in Sam's case, have suffered tremendous loss. They have their own reasons for doing what they're know?

Right - I think at
some point Dad is going to have to acknowledge that they have become equals - the brothers are just as capable as he is.

I liked the scene wher
e Dad talked about how he never wanted this life for his sons, but after their mom died he could only see evil. I think this episode showed the family dynamic is changing - Sam and Dean are the partners, and Dad is more the outsider. Do you think Dad is forcing them into this on purpose?

Hmm. Possibly. I'm glad he owned up to how the life he has given them was far from ideal. Despite how much this family loves each other, I almost think it borders on abuse the way Dean and Sam were raised. Not that I blame their dad...but....

If you are interested, you can read more about vampire legends.

Episode 20 - Salvation

The end is near and our boys and their dad are hot on the trail of the demon that killed Mary. Can all three Winchesters come through this fight alive? Will Meg get away to fight another day? Only time will tell...

Our discussion -

Uh-oh. Meg's back. This is not going to go well.

She's one evil girl.

It's interesting to me to find out that there are other hunters out there besides the Winchesters, and that they all seem to be friends. For some reason I just assumed they were the onl
y ones.

I like the idea of a bunch of hunters. I think it really opens things up for potential storylines.

As an Iowan, I'm a bit creeped out that they end up in Iowa so often - maybe I need to move???

Iowa is a very creepy state. I spent a few pivotal years there growing fact, I prob
ably ran into a demon or two myself.

I really want to know what is special about the specific families the demon targets. Each baby is just 6 months old.
We know Sam and the last kid had powers - the baby in this episode "seems to read people's minds" - there has to be something going on with these families!

I'm curious as well, if there is something about the families or the children, or if it's all random.

But now I am also really confused about why Jess died - she and Sam didn't have a bab

Plot wise I know why Jess died! (to pull Sam back into the family business.) :) But y
ou're right, it's inconsistent with what we know. Doesn't mean that this creature/demon doesn't also kill whoever he feels like.

I thought it was a little weird that Dad had spent his whole life trying to kill what killed his wife, and then when they have it cornered, he leaves his sons to do the actual job. See, another reason why he is shady. (Can you
tell I still don't like him??)

I was completely baffled by his decision as well. He makes decisions that I don't understand. But ultimately, I think h
e thought that he could handle Meg better than the boys....and that the Colt was better protection sort of like a charm. I sort of love Jeffrey Dean Morgan. ;) But I hate his decisions as John Winchester!

If you are interested, you can read more about demon legends.

Episode 22 - The Devil's Trap

Recap: With John Winchester captured, and Meg and her demon buddy still on the loose, can Dean and Sam use the infamous Colt and kill their foe once and for all? Is John still alive? Methinks we'll have to wait until next season for some of the answers...

Our discussion:

It was interesting to see the brothers kinda switch roles - Sam, usually emotional, is the rational one, wanting to continue after the demon; Dean, usually the voice of reason, getting all emotional and demanding they save their dad.

Yeah, I think this is because the family is the most important thing to Dean. I really don't think he necessarily cares about hunting, but he cares about keeping them all together while Sam has become much more driven to hunt down this demon and kill it.

It's a brilliant show that can make you sympathize with Meg, a character who has been trying to kill your leads for several episodes. I thought her death was extremely well acted.

I did as well, though during the exorcism, all I could think was...where's the demon going to go? Ha, my Christian upbringing makes me think the demon needs something new to possess...pigs anyone?

HAH! I thought the same thing - they have to go somewhere, right?? =)

It was interesting that the demon acknowledged that Sam and the other children do have a purpose - I KNEW it was all about Sam!

This is not good.

I thought it was tragic that Dean finally realized that the demon wasn't his dad because the demon was acknowledging Dean's value, and his dad would never have done that.

Heartbreaking! But maybe more because he knew the obsession of hunting the demon was the most important thing to his dad.

This episode really showed Dean's vulnerability where his family is concerned. If it was anyone other than his dad who was possessed, he would have shot him in a second. But, like he said to Sam, "When it comes to you and Dad, the things I'm willing to do scare me sometimes." He's even willing to let the demon get away to save his father.

Yes, this is a majorly appealing part of his character to me. He's incredibly loyal. But if you're hunting something to protect the people you love...well it's hard to have to kill them. I really thought the acting in this episode was outstanding as well.

I HATE cliffhangers!!!!!!

This was quite a cliffhanger.

If you are interested, you can read more about possession.

So that's it - season 1 ends with the family possibly dead! Tune in next week, where we will reveal who lives - who dies - and what happens next as season 2 begins!