Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

  • Here are my teaser sentences:

    "I can still see the look on her face as she peeked at the camera from the corner of one eye. The look that said, I'm trying to be invisible; don't see me. She walked not quite slowly enough, working too hard at keeping a casual pace. Trying desperately to blend in. No body snatcher would feel that need."

    From The Host by Stephenie Meyer - I know, it's way over two sentences, but sometimes you need a little context. =) Head over to ShouldBeReading to join in the Teaser Tuesday fun.

    Pre-Review - The Bible Illuminated

    I am thrilled to be able to preview an exciting new project for you - The Bible Illuminated. I was thrilled to be able to participate, and am happy to share it with all of you.

    We've all seen bibles before - in bookstores there are often shelves full of them, each looking basically the same, none terribly eye-catching. Honestly, if we don't have a specific reason to purchase one, a bible is not a book we would normally pick up for fun. We own one because it is part of our faith, or because we were given one as a child, but it's not generally a book we enjoy for its interesting aesthetic value. The publishers of The Bible Illuminated are out to change all that.

    The book is, in its most literal sense, an illustrated New Testament. What makes it unique is the choice of illustrations. The picture above is the cover photo. Not your typical biblical illustration. The publishers have taken a series of striking contemporary images and used them to illustrate centuries-old bible verses. Additionally, the text is not broken into chapter and verse, so the appearance is much more that of a novel than a traditional bible. I have not yet been able to get my hands on an actual copy- I was able to view the book online, and my print copy is headed to me in the mail. I am very interested to see the book in real life - I hope it lives up to the expectations I have based on the version I've seen. I feel like I can say, even without seeing the final version, that this project has the potential to change the way people read the bible.

    Here are a few more images from The Bible Illuminated:

    This image is illustrating a passage from the book of Philipians - "It does not matter! I am happy about it - just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives."

    This is from the book of Matthew - "She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus - because he will save his people from their sins."

    From Revelation - "For the Devil has come down to you, and he is filled with rage, because he knows that he has only a little time left."

    From Romans - "For is was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see?"

    As I said, I cannot wait to get my hands on the real-life copy - I expect it to be amazing. I'm grateful to Lisa Roe for the opportunity to participate in this project, and I will be writing more about it in a few weeks. The Bible Illuminated is available for purchase today, so if you are interested, check it out!

    Everyone Raise your Glasses....

    ......for my official 100th post!

    Woo Hoo!!

    I have to admit I'm proud to have made it. And I am completely overwhelmed by the response to my contest - thanks so much! I will be visiting all your blogs and adding you to my reader - I can't wait to have lots of fun new blogs to read!

    I've updated the prize schedule slightly - don't worry, it's all in your favor. =)

    First prize - Surprize package from BasBleu
    Second prize - $25 gift certificate to BasBleu
    Third prize - 4 credits at PBS or BookMooch
    Fourth prize - 3 credits at PBS or BookMooch
    Fifth prize - 2 credits at PBS or BookMooch

    And that, my friends, is a pretty good haul. I should mention that if anyone uses Bookins, I can figure something out if you'd like credits there, and international players are welcome - BookMooch will ship internationally, so you can use the credits there, and I'll get the stuff to you if you win first or second prize. So thank you, everyone, for helping me celebrate, and I can't wait to draw the winners this weekend!

    Sleeping with Bread

    "The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes him by looking at what is giving him consolation in his life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff. It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation."

    I'm a day late with this week's entry - we'll call it vacation hangover. I was exhausted yesterday, and had lots of things to catch up on at home, so didn't get my post written, but it has been bouncing around in my head for several days, ever since I was riding around in Nikki's car Thursday night and we rounded a corner and I saw..........homeless people.

    Yep, I live in enough of a bubble that the act of seeing homeless people on the street startles me. But honestly, I don't have the kind of life that takes me downtown at night - I've never been a "nightlife" kind of gal. Intellectually, I know that every city has its homeless population - I even know where they would be in my city. But I don't ever just happen upon them like I did Thursday night. And suddenly, all I could think was, "It is freaking cold out tonight. How are these people going to make it in a couple of months, with 2 feet of snow on the ground?"

    I give money to Hope Ministries, the local shelter. I sponsor a child through Compassion International. Most of the time, I feel pretty good about myself and my actions to help the poor and needy. But Thursday night, all I could think about was that I got to go back to my nice, warm hotel room, and that lady had to spend the night propped up against a cement wall. What makes me so lucky? Why am I safe and warm, and she is not? What makes me inherently more worthy, that God, or Lady Luck, or whomever chooses to bless me, and not her? And how in the world can I do anything, ANYTHING, that can make her life better? My little donations won't make a dent in the grand scheme of things. There will always be those people, propped up against the cement walls, while I sleep in my bed.

    And every day that I have a home to live in, and floors to vacuum, and beds to make, I need to be grateful. Every day. Because I could be that lady, on the street in Minneapolis, sleeping against a wall.

    If you'd like to contribute your own bread, join us here.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Mailbox Monday

    It's Monday once again - I'm back from my whirlwind shopping tour of Minneapolis with about 75% of my Christmas shopping done, and it's time to check in with my mailbox to see what showed up at my house this week.

    It was another bad week for my shelves, as 8 new books arrived to squeeze themselves in somewhere. Here's the list:

    From bookswapping sites I received 3 -

    The Woman who Ran for President: The Many Lives of Victoria Woodhull by Lois Beachy Underhill - I've been interested in Victoria Woodhull ever since I read the novel Sex Wars by Marge Piercy, so I was happy to find a biography written about her.

    The Names of the Dead by Stewart O'Nan
    - I recently watched the movie Snow Angels, based on O'Nan's novel, which was heartbreaking, so this book caught my eye.

    Obedience by Will
    Lavender - NPR said I should read it, so I will.

    From publishers/publicists/etc. I received 5 -

    Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and his brothers in the Civil War by Robert Roper

    Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

    Perfect on Paper: The (M
    is)Adventures of Waverly Bryson by Maria Murnane - for a blog tour that will be stopping here in December

    Where am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make our Clothing by Kelsey Timmerman - ever since I saw the documentary China Blue I have been a little bit obsessed with this topic.

    The Boomer Burden: Dealing With Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff by Julie Hall
    - it is impossible to explain exactly how much stuff my parents and my in-laws have. I am not sure there is anyone who needs this book more than me.

    If you would like to participate, or see what other lucky bloggers received, visit Marcia at The Printed Page and join in!

    Thursday, October 23, 2008


    I am overwhelmed by the response to my 100th post contest - thanks, everyone! I will certainly have 2nd and 3rd place prizes now, and possibly even 4th - we'll see what happens. I am off for a few days with a friend to Minneapolis - don't know if I will get much reading done, but I will hopefully have most of my Christmas shopping completed by the time I get home. Have a great weekend, and I will be back to chat with you soon!

    Booking Through Thursday

    Today's question is:

    Got this idea from Literary Feline during her recent contest:

    “Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”

    Well. I have quite a few, actually. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, from the Anne of Green Gables series, is probably my all-time favorite. They were so clearly meant to be together, and reading about their relationship was such great fun - I mean, she broke a slate over his head, for goodness' sakes! =) Jehane and Ammar, from The Lions of Al-Rassan, probably just because I love the book so much. Each time I read it I cry, and this strong, brave couple's relationship forms the backbone of the novel. Christine and The Phantom, from The Phantom of the Opera, because I'm a sucker for doomed love, and it doesn't get much more doomed than this. Marguerite and Sir Percy, from The Scarlet Pimpernel, because I love when they rediscover their true love for each other. Anne and Wentworth, from Persuasion, because it's my favorite Austen novel, and because as much as I love doomed love, I love true love triumphing even more.

    Want to join in the Thursday fun? Stop by and leave your post here.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    I think this calls for a celebration!!

    Or at least a fun contest!!

    What deserves a party, you ask? Why, I have almost reached my 100th post. 100!! I honestly could not have believed this would happen when I started my blog a few months ago. Since I've started and abandoned blogs before, I sorta just figured that's what would happen with this one - I'd play along for a while, and then eventually forget about it, leaving it to gather dust in the blogosphere. Surprisingly, I haven't done that - I've actually built a nice little blog, if I do say so myself, and I think I should celebrate. Anyone want to join me?

    And also, it gives me an excuse to give away something that I think is really, really fun.

    So here goes:

    I am hosting a contest to celebrate my 100th post. (whenever that happens to be.) The lucky winner will receive this:

    Surprise Package!!

    Bas Bleu is one of my favorite book websites - they have an amazingly eclectic selection, and I never, ever read their catalog without making a list of books I want. SO whomever is lucky enough to win this contest will win a surprise package from Bas Bleu. I just gave this to my mom for her birthday, and she received 7 books - fiction, non-fiction, and memoirs - and they all sound interesting to me! So the winner won't know what goodies they win until the package arrives, but I'm pretty sure it will be a good surprise.

    Now, normally when I host contests, I don't get very many people interested in participating, so your odds are probably pretty good. If, for some reason, my streak ends and lots of people want to play, I will add a second place prize (if I get 20 entries), and a third place prize (if I get 40 entries). I'm not really expecting that, so I don't have prizes determined yet, but I'll come up with something fun.

    So, now the rules:

    For 1 entry, leave me a comment on this post.
    For 1 additional entry, link to my contest on your blog and leave a comment to let me know.
    The contest will be open until midnight central time, October 31. I will draw the winner(s?) on November 1st.

    It's my 100th post celebration!!

    UPDATE: If we have enough entries for 2nd and 3rd place, I will give away credit to your favorite book swapping site - PaperbackSwap or Bookmooch. Probably 3 credits for 2nd, and 2 credits for 3rd. Yea book swapping!

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Teaser Tuesday

    Each week MizB hosts Teaser Tuesday, in which she asks participants to:

    Grab your current read

    Let the book fall open to a random page

    Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

    You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

    So here is my teaser for this week.....

    "Slowly, over the years, Estha withdrew from the world. He grew accustomed to the uneasy octopus that lived inside him and squirted its inky tranquilizer on his past."

    I'm currently reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and this was taken from page 13. I haven't made it too far, but so far am loving this one.

    Share your teaser with the world!

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Sleeping with Bread

    I literally stumbled across this last week. Can't even remember what I was actually looking for, but it took my breath away. From the website:

    What is Sleeping with Bread?

    "During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow." (Linn, Dennis et al, Sleeping With Bread, p.l)

    These are the beginning words of a book that introduced me to a practice called the examen. The orphans held on to what nourished them and were thus able to sleep peacefully at night. The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes him by looking at what is giving him consolation in his life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff. It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation."

    It's just that simple - taking time to reflect on the things that lift your spirit, and the things that dampen it. I love this idea, and plan to participate each week.

    So what has brought me consolation? And what has brought me desolation? This week - really, this whole month - it's been all about people. Aching over people I love who are hurting, while I sit in my house unable to help. Burning about people who can't take the time to see past their own noses to the trouble they spew into the world. Rejoicing with people who finally get a break, after months and years of struggle. Smiling at new people who have entered my life, who will clearly make it a better place to be. Grateful for the people who I can count on, who listen and show they care, who care for me even though they don't know me.

    Because my job is out in the public, I see the best and the worst of people every day. My nature is to expect the worst - assume every interaction will be a negative one. I'm making an effort to change that attitude. I'm trying to meet each person with a blank slate - give them the benefit of the doubt - allow for the possibility of a positive moment - see the hurting, hopeful humanity in each of them. We'll see how my experiment goes. Perhaps it's a step in the right direction to simply choose to make the attempt.

    If you are interested in participating along with me, stop by Sleeping With Bread and leave a link to your post.

    Mailbox Monday, or, the week I took a flying leap off the wagon.

    So after several weeks of being very good, and not increasing my book mountain by hardly anything, this week I officially jumped off the wagon. I admit, while I was proud of myself, I was also going through withdrawals. Thankfully, I got another fix this week, and it looked like this:

    Four books from swapping sites, 1 book from Reading Group Gold, 1 book from Marcia, and 5 from B&N, which brings the total for the week to 11 new books.

    These are all from Barnes & Noble - I can't resist that bargain books section, especially with free shipping. I got:

    Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien - yummy historical fiction about the scandal surrounding Henry Ward Beecher's adultery case

    The Luxe by Anna Godbersen - rich kids in 1900s Manhattan. I really want this to be a period Gossip Girl. (I LOVE that show!)

    The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey - picked up solely because it's a novel about Gustav Klimt, whose paintings I love.

    Seed to Harvest by Octavia Butler - her four Patternist novels collected into one volume.

    Incantation by Alice Hoffman - Andi just read this, so I can't wait to hear what she thought!

    The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir is from Marcia - thanks Marcia! I love Alison Weir, so I know this one will be a hit for me.

    Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay was from Reading Group Gold. It's such a hit-or-miss program that I'm always surprised when something actually shows up.

    The rest are from book swapping sites:

    The Last Plantaganets by Thomas B. Costain - I think my excitement to get my hands on Sharon Kay Penmann's latest has made me want to read about all things British monarchy. It's so much fun!!

    Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin - I've skimmed through this before, and loved the author's essays and accompanying recipes - I think I might actually try to cook some of them.

    Life After God by Douglas Coupland - the title completely sucked me in.

    The Dragon Queen by Alice Borchardt - and finally, a re-telling of the Gunievere story, which I also apparently can never pass up.

    I have to say this was a great week. What did your mailbox bring you? Stop by Mailbox Monday at The Printed Page and join in the fun!

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    The Sunday Salon - what I've been doing...

    I realize that there has been a dearth of book reviews here lately - for someone who supposedly has a book blog, it's been pretty slim pickings. I'm sure some of my multitudes of readers (grin) are starting to wonder what the heck is going on. I can assure you, friends, it's not that I haven't been reviewing. It's that I have somehow found myself reviewing for *GASP* other sites! Because I can't say no, when I was approached a few months ago by a couple of book-review-type websites to review for them, I naturally said, Sure! Sign me up! Of course, only now do I see the problems inherent in agreeing to this - I spend all my time reviewing for the other websites, and don't have time to review anything for my own blog! Oh, the trials of my life. =) So here is a little rundown of what I've been reading for other places....

    The first two are for Curledup.com, a fun site that does reviews, author interviews, contests, etc. They allow me to repost my full reviews on my blog, as long as I include the citation at the end.

    Relief by L. E. Butler

    Katie Larkin is desp
    erate. Recently widowed, she has been forced to return to the home of her mother’s new lover. She is addicted to the sleeping powders prescribed by the doctor to keep her from walking in her sleep. She has received a small settlement from her dead husband’s family and is being pressured to get a job, find her own place to live, and leave her mother in peace. Katie has always thought of herself as an artist, and one night, without telling anyone, she buys herself passage on a ship bound for Venice.

    Once arrived, Katie nearly panics at what she has done. After finding a tiny apartment to live in, she searches out the gallery of an American art dealer, Amy Seagroves, and introduces herself for the first time as an artist. Amy thinks her something of a curiosity, and decides to help Katie make her way in Venice. Amy’s first suggestion is to hire a dancing girl to pose for her so that she can paint portraits. Katie makes her way to the theater and meets Rusala for the first time.

    Katie is immediately drawn to Rusala – her high spirits and daring personality stand in sharp contrast to Katie’s timidity. After only a few modeling sessions, the two are friends; Rusala begins to draw Katie into her circle, introducing her to the bohemian cast of characters who populate Rusala’s life. Soon, friendship deepens into a strong physical and emotional attachment, and Katie finds her life impossible to imagine without Rusala in it.

    Rusala becomes Katie’s muse as she furiously paints to prepare for the showing Amy Seagroves plans at her gallery. Katie’s meager funds are running out, and she is counting on selling paintings to fund her new dream – a move to the country with Rusala. When she finds out that Amy has other plans for the paintings, Katie becomes frantic with worry and hatches a plan to ensure her future. As her actions become more reckless, secrets begin to emerge – secrets Rusala has been hiding that will change the course of everyone’s lives.

    Butler has written a rich, dense first novel that envelops the reader in early 20th-century Venice. In the same way that a painting has many details waiting to reveal themselves to the viewer, Butler’s narrative is full of layers that she slowly reveals to the careful reader. Because she is writing about artists, her beautifully descriptive style of writing seems appropriate, and she paints exquisite pictures for her reader of the colors and locations in her novel. At a somewhat short 166 pages, Butler offers a story that feels complete and leaves the reader satisfied.

    This novel, however, will not be for every reader. Butler’s characters are interesting but not especially sympathetic, and because the novel is so short, some readers may be unable to fully connect with the two main characters. There is a strong erotic component to the novel, and readers uncomfortable with graphic depictions of lesbianism would be happier staying away from this one. Additionally, because much of the novel deals with Katie’s inner turmoils, the pacing of the novel can sometimes get bogged down in descriptions of thoughts and feelings.

    While not for everyone, Relief will certainly appeal to many readers. Butler’s beautiful writing style makes the novel a pleasure to read, and many paragraphs are worth re-reading simply for their loveliness. Readers looking for an intense, multi-faceted story with unconventional characters and an unusual ending are encouraged to give this novel a try.

    Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Elizabeth Schulenberg, 2008

    Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov's Little Girl All Over Again by Graham Vickers

    “You must be confusing me with some other fast little article,” says Lolita to her stepfather, Humbert, in Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita. Ever since its publication in 1958, readers, critics, media personalities, journalists, and the general public have been busy confusing Lolita, twisting her story to conform to their own preconceived ideas. Graham Vickers gives us the history of Lolita and examines what 50 years of pop culture have done to co-opt the image of Lolita into the seductive temptress she is known as today.

    Vickers gives readers a brief synopsis of Nabokov’s novel and stresses that, when Dolores Haze was first introduced to readers, she was a 12-year-old child, not the brazen seductress she has morphed into. Nabokov gives no indication that she was anything other than a normal, somewhat gawky schoolgirl. The first vision of Lolita as overtly sexual comes in a publicity poster for Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film version of the story, and from then on Lolita’s fate has been sealed.

    Vickers spends times investigating the real-life precursors to the Lolita story, focusing on Charles Dodgson’s fascination with Alice Liddell and Charlie Chaplin’s fondness for young girls, including his short marriage to the teenaged Lillita. He then examines the difficulties Nabokov experienced in getting Lolita published, fighting worldwide censors and allegations of obscenity.

    Vickers then examines the many attempts at bringing Lolita off the printed page and into visual media. The first attempt was Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film. Despite a screenplay written by Nabokov himself, Kubrick elected to change so much of the story that Lolita and Humbert become different characters, and Nabokov was vocally disappointed. In 1971, famed lyricist Alan Jay Lerner opened a musical called Lolita, My Love, which received such bad reviews that it closed after only nine performances. In 2005, playwright Edward Albee’s Lolita debuted in New York City to equally dismal reviews.

    Not until director Adrian Lyne’s movie in 1997 did Lolita receive critical acclaim. Because of it’s proximity to the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, Lyne’s movie almost never got distributed and eventually opened in Europe. While Lyne takes liberties with the story, he retains many of the novel’s unique details, and Nabokov’s son, Dmitri has openly endorsed it.

    Vicker’s book is most interesting when he breaks away from the history and examines the ways in which pop culture has changed the meaning of the word Lolita. Beginning with Kubrick’s promotional posters for his movie, the media has been purposefully portraying Lolita in overtly sexual poses. The famous lollipop and heart-shaped sunglasses are fully inventions of a media intent on promoting Lolita as a purely sexual entity. Artist Graham Ovenden’s series of "Lolita" paintings seem to eroticize Lolita in ways that Nabokov never intended.

    In the famous case of Amy Fisher, the Long Island Lolita, the blame for a horrifying sequence of events is placed on the shoulders of a seventeen-year-old girl while the man involved was practically absolved of guilt. Overnight, the term Lolita came to be synonymous with slut, a young woman who sets out to seduce and destroy an older man. One of the most tragic uses of the Lolita image is in the series of pornographic films produced in the 1970s featuring young girls between the ages of seven and eleven. Photos from these movies were then sold to the Dutch pornographic magazine Lolita.

    Vickers writes an interesting, entertaining look at the history and myth of the famous, and infamous, Lolita. An obvious fan of the novel, Vickers assembles an interesting and thought-provoking collection of anecdotes about a novel that has been fascinating readers for 50 years. Readers who love the novel, or who are interested in the portrayal of women in society, will find much in this book to enjoy.

    Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Elizabeth Schulenberg, 2008

    Next are reviews for Bookloons.com, another great site that primarily does book reviews. Their policy is that I can post a small blurb from my review, along with a link to their site, so here you go...

    In Her Name by Michael Hicks

    eza Gard's world is about to disappear. Under attack from the alien Kreelan race, the young boy watches his parents fight the invaders to the death. Running for his life, he is caught by Tesh-Dar, a Kreelan priestess. Showing courage beyond his years, he strikes at her with his knife, leaving a wound that runs across her face. Impressed by his courage, Tesh-Dar gives Reza a matching wound - and leaves him with his life. As one of the few people left alive, Reza is sent to Hallmark, a planet filled with orphans whose parents have been killed. Used as slave labor, the orphans live a dangerous life, and Reza soon becomes the leader of a motley group trying their best to survive. When the Kreelans return, Reza expects to be killed. However, when Tesh-Dar recognizes him, he is instead captured, along with several thousand other children, and taken to the Kreelan homeworld, where he will be part of an experiement to see if the human animals can be taught to have a soul.

    (read the rest of the review here)

    I really loved this book - it is self-published, but a truly wonderful read. You can read an excerpt at the author's website, if you are interested.

    Chasing Sunsets: A Practicing Devout Coward's Circumnavigation with his Wife and Sun by Lawrence Pane, Carole Wells Pane, and Ryan Pane

    Lawrence Pane and his wife had a dream - they would take their son and circumnavigate the globe in their sailboat, the Dolphin Spirit. When his wife died of cancer, most people thought that would be the end of Lawrence's crazy idea. However, his wife had been adamant - no matter what, Lawrence (Laurie) and Ryan were to sail around the world....
    On March 16, 1996, Laurie, Carole, Ryan, and the Dolphin Spirit left Marina del Rey, California, on a six-year odyssey that would cover 40,000 miles, span 56 counties, and would be, literally, a dream come true.

    (read the rest of the review here)

    This book was alright, but a little tough to read straight through. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I could have dipped in and out - this family goes literally around the world, so the book is huge, and I just found myself a little tired of it. Still very interesting, though, and what an amazing experience for a young boy.

    The next two are for ManicReaders.com, a site which I believe gets mostly romancy-type books, so I'm not sure how long I'll be able to hang here, but we'll see. They have also done a little editing of my reviews - changing up the order, shortening, etc. Apparently they are just looking for a synposis and brief comment. Not sure how I feel about that.

    Apologies Forthcoming by Xujun Eberlein

    A well written short story can open up an entire world in just a few pages. Apologies Forthcoming, the debut collection from author Xujun Eberlein, contains just that type of story. The eight tales in this collection are all set in t
    he time period just before, during, or just after the Cultural Revolution in China. Each is the story of how one person deals with the changes being thrust upon them. Universal themes of art, poetry, love, family, violence, belief, and redemption flow throughout the collection, and each story is a small gem in the larger beautiful work.

    (read the rest of the review here)

    This was really a beautiful collection - if you enjoy short stories, I encourage you to try and find a copy. The writing is excellent, and each story is packed full of emotion.

    Bounty hunter Cat Dupree is ready for some peace. Her lover, fellow bounty hunter Wilson McKay, is recovering from a near fatal shooting, and they have returned to his family's ranch while he slowly mends. On the vast ranchlands of Texas, Cat finds herself settling into life as a member of Wilson's boisterous, loving family. Having survived the deaths of both her parents as a young girl, Cat has been alone for most of her life, and she is slowly learning what it means to be loved. When she discovers that she is pregnant, she and Wilson marry, and both decide to put their bounty hunting days behind them. Fate, however, may not be on their side.

    (read the rest of the review here)

    I've enjoyed Sharon Sala for a long time. She's certainly not great literature, but every book I've read has been pure, fun entertainment. She's a great slump-buster for me.

    So there you go - what I've been doing while neglecting my blog. I promise I haven't been sitting around eating bon bons. I'm going to try to figure out how to balance reviewing for the sites with reviewing for myself - it's a tough problem to have, so many books to read. =)

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Til Human Voices Wake Us

    Til Human Voices Wake Us by Mark Budz

    "We don't want to be human anymore. Human voices woke us, but that's not who we are. We want to forget we were human. We want to wake up to our own future. Not drown in the past."

    From Booklist:

    In three different eras, three protagonists struggle with the spectre of death and grasp for a means to survival. During the Depression, an architect communes with mystics for the key to healing. In the near future, a traveller who believes he has found the answer with Jesus broadcasts his story from a church van. Far in the future, a post-human space explorer who has lost vital parts of his programming because of an accident fights to maintain coherence. Each character struggles for truth and life, their fates becoming more closely linked with every passing moment. Discovering the truth behind their fates and choosing the right set of memories constitute the only path to survival for all three. Budz's fascinating thriller made up of three disparate stories crucially connected and eventually converging on a conclusion perhaps not entirely unexpected satisfies through the exploration of mind and choice that is its mainspring.

    I checked this out of the library based on a recommendation from someone (as an aside, I really need to start writing down the source for all these recs....), and am glad I did. This is good science fiction, folks. The three characters introduced separately as the book begins are each interesting in themselves, but as the book progresses and the connections between the three start to become apparent, it really gets fascinating. Because it takes a little while to get into each character's story, the first part of the book is a little slow-going, but even then I didn't ever consider ditching it. The exploration of the different facets of personality, and how we chose to hide or express them, was quite interesting. I enjoyed this one - thanks to whomever told me to pick this up!

    Finished: 10/18/08
    Source: Franklin Avenue Library
    Rating: 8/10

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Booking Through Thursday

    For yet another first, here is my first try at the famous Booking Through Thursday weekly meme. I'm having fun with these weekly posts - it's nice to be a part of the larger book blogging community.

    Here's this week's question:

    Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.

    But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.

    So, the question is: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?

    I can't help but laugh at this one. In case you didn't know, I have TOO MANY BOOKS at my house...and because I keep acquiring more, they just keep sitting there, staring at me, waiting for me to finally read them. So which ones have hung around the longest? Well, let's see:

    Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian
    - I've read a couple of his books, and they didn't really rock my world (Midwives, anyone?), but for some reason this one sticks around. I can't seem to get rid of it, but can't ever read it, either.

    The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy - it's just S O O O O O big. Every time I think about reading it, I have to picture lugging it around in my bag for 2 weeks....my shoulders cry out in protest. And yet, I can't give it away.

    A whole plethora of books by Robin Cook - a friend once gave me about 8 of Cook's thrillers - which was great! I love thrillers! Except I save them, to read when I am in a slump, or when I need something easy, or whatever - but then never actually pick them up. And still, I can't pass them off to someone else.

    Just a sampling - I know there are a whole lot more that have been sitting there for years, patiently waiting. Maybe someone should start a challenge for Books that I keep Meaning to Read, but Don't....

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Mailbox Monday

    Once again it's time for Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

    I had two goodies arrive this week:

    Red as Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee - I love fairytale retellings, and Tanith Lee is always amazing, so I'm excited about this one.

    Losing My Religion: How I Lost my Faith Reporting on Religion in America - and Found an Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell - I'm fascinated by the religious journeys that people take, so this memoir seems right up my alley.

    An eclectic mix, but such good stuff! Did you get anything fun? Stop by The Printed Page and see what other friends received this week!

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    Mailbox Monday - On time!!

    Hooray! I am actually getting my post up on Monday this week - pretty exciting. I feel like things are starting to look up here in my crazy world. =)

    Only one book to talk about this week, and it's not technically even for me -

    I received Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson - and it's for my dad! I'm sure I will read it, but really, my dad has loved this series for years, so when I saw it being offered I jumped at the chance. Hello, birthday gift on the 16th of this month! I think he will be excited.

    A little birdie told me that I might find some more fun stuff in my mailbox soon, so I'm looking forward to that. Head over to Marcia's blog, The Printed Page, to read some more Mailbox Monday posts and see what other lucky ones got this week.

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    The Sunday Salon - There's a first time for everything

    Since I'm pretty sure I have to be the last person in the blogosphere to jump on this train, I'm going to take a second to welcome myself to The Sunday Salon. Welcome! =) I've been reading other people's entries for months, and am not sure why it took me so long to sign up myself. Probably because procrastination is my thing, but that's another story....

    Since it's the first Sunday in October, I thought I'd make my first official Sunday Salon entry a wrap-up for the month of September. It was kinda a down reading month for me, mostly because of my ridiculous work situation, but that's over now, so here's hoping October will be better.

    Here's what I read (or tried to read):

    Sweetsmoke by David Fuller - this was an LT Early Reviewer book, and it just did not click for me. I completely didn't care about what was going on. I ditched out by page 100.

    Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins - sent to me by the author, this was a great one! 8/10

    Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal - review book for a forum I participate in - 7/10.

    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch - I'm not really sure why I checked this one out from the library. It was alright, but reminded me why I don't read self-help books - 6/10.

    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - loaner from my sister, who apparently likes moody, slow-moving novels. 6/10.

    Affinity by Sarah Waters - again, loaner from my sister - again, moody. 7/10.

    Bikeman by Thomas Flynn - brilliant. 9/10.

    The Triumph of Deborah, the Garden of Ruth, and the Song of Hannah, all by Eva Etzioni-Halevy - more sent to me by the author, all three great biblical fiction. 7/10.

    A Time of Exile by Katharine Kerr - part of the Deverry/Westlands series, this time telling Aederyn's story. I love this series, so it was a winner for me. 7/10.

    Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith - yummy historical, with lots of suspense and romance. 7/10.

    The Price of Silence by Camilla Trinchieri - review book for Curledup.com - good stuff! will post the review when it appears on that site. 8/10.

    Thankfully, I only had one that I really disliked - all the rest were good reading. Now I'm going to go back to enjoying my WEEKEND OFF!! (Have I mentioned I have the weekend off?? My first one since September - woo hoo!)

    Have a great week!