Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When Being a Reader & Being a Writer Collide

I am an avid reader, and have been since before I could even read. My mother tells me that I used to sit at her feet and watch her reading. I am quoted as saying "I wish I could read." I was highly motivated to learn to read and learned as quickly as possible.

With my love of reading has followed a love of writing. I loved the characters in my books so much that I wanted to create my own characters. I began writing epic stories with no end in elementary school. I still have a notebook filled with a description of my imaginary world that I wrote some time in middle school. In 3rd grade, I was a finalist in a DAR writing competition about what the Constitution meant to me.

In high school, I discovered poetry. It was all I wrote for years. At college, I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. All but one of my workshop classes were in poetry. I really struggled with the one fiction workshop class that I took. My biggest issue was conflict. I didn't really have a lot in my own life, and a lack of experience led to a lack of inspiration for me. After college, I stagnated. I dealt with depression that sucked any interest in writing out of me.

Living in Los Angeles, I posted an ad on Craigslist for a writing partner. To my surprise, I found a great one! She was from Kentucky like me, and vegan where I was vegetarian. She liked my writing and really encouraged me. A year later, she and her husband moved back to Chicago where they had lived previously. I went out hunting for a writing partner again, and again was amazingly lucky. This writing partner helped me focus more on my goals as a writer and the fact that I start a million different projects and never finish anything!

Now I am a blogger mostly, with a few pieces of poetry and quite a few personal essays thrown in. I do a lot of thinking about writing a novel. I have done a lot of planning in regards to my novel. I've started more than one novel. However, I haven't pushed through any of them yet.

Then a funny thing happened. All that reading I've done about writing a novel started clicking into place while I was reading. The book I read the other day was a textbook example. Textbooks, though? Not so much fun to read. Textbook examples, ditto. I am seriously concerned that being a writer is going to ruin being a reader for me! It disappoints me that books are becoming predictable and formulaic. I don't want to have to give up one or the other of my pleasures for the sake of the other remaining interesting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I know that this is not strictly a bookish post, but I felt like it was important for me to say.

I am a pacifist. And hard core. I have always said that arguments are best solved with words, not violence. However, my boyfriend and I have had arguments about this recently. He says "Might makes right," and I haven't yet come up with an argument that trumps that. There are some people that are just not open to negotiation. It takes two to come to an agreement. My views about are mostly not changed, but I'm recognizing that there are some cases in which nothing short of violence works.

I have usually viewed veterans with respect, but somewhat of a negative attitude. I don't often feel that they fight for me, the military is misused by the government(not the service members' faults), and so forth. As I have said to people in the past, I don't support the cause the troops are currently fighting for in Iraq, but I definitely support the troops.

I've been substitute teaching at a middle school for a few days now. Today, they had students bring a veteran for lunch and an assembly honoring the veterans. The assembly really changed my attitude about veterans. They had students and staff stand while they played the songs for each branch of the military. I stood for my cousin who was in the Navy, my cousin who was in the Army Reserves, and for my grandfathers whose branches I don't know.

Doing that made Veteran's Day personal for me. I love my cousins and my grandfathers fiercely. I believe that they deserve to be honored for their service in the military. No one else's family member deserves any less.

So, in the name of Fred Sweet, Jim Underwood, Nicholas McCoy, and Matt Delavega, I honor all who have served in the military this veteran's day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Frozen by Jay Boninsanga

Anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time has probably noticed that my two favorite genres currently are paranormal romance(vampires and werewolves and witches, oh, my!) and action-adventure historic mystery(think Dan Brown-esque, but better!). Paranormal romance is so popular right now that it's not hard to find new authors to read. The action-adventure historic mystery isn't quite as popular, so I have to do more hunting to find the kind of books that fall into this category. Of course, Dan Brown and James Rollins are always a good bet, and I've discovered both Raymond Khoury and Chris Kuzneski to be great authors in this genre as well. I expected Frozen to be a typical thriller since a profiler was the main character, and I was happy when it took a different turn.

Ulysses Grove is an FBI profiler working on the Sun City case. He's known as the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit's golden boy, cracking cases that no one else is able to close. He has been working on the Sun City case for over a year without any breaks in the case, and his superiors are beginning to believe that's he's having a nervous breakdown.

After an incident on the job, his unit director sends him to Alaska to investigate a mummy at the request of a journalist for Discover magazine. There, he meets off-beat journalist Maura County and discovers a link between the death of the neolithic mummy and the MO of his Sun City serial killer.

My only complaint about the writing is that the author has a tendency to foreshadow too much. He says things like "she didn't know how important this person would be," or "he didn't know that this would help crack his case." There were quite a few show, don't tell moments in the writing. I've come to the conclusion that this is a pitfall for first time fiction authors. Possibly it is confined to this particular genre.

I really enjoyed the book, and I can't wait to read more about Ulysses Grove. I really hope that all Bonansinga's books have a historic/supernatural twist like Frozen. If you enjoy James Rollins, you'll love Frozen!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Body Movers by Stephanie Bond

I picked up this book because I had read Bond's In Deep Voodoo earlier this year. I was looking for something funny, along the lines of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. There are so many jokes to be made about working in "body retrieval," right? I was disappointed on the humor front, but I did enjoy the book nonetheless.

Carlotta's parents skipped out of town to avoid facing legal charges when she was 17 years old, leaving her in charge of her 9-year-old brother Wesley. Ten years later, Carlotta works at Neiman Marcus, rarely dates, and lives with 19-year-old Wesley. Her parents send an occasional postcard, but have otherwise been absent since they skipped town. Wesley is a computer whiz and gambler in debt to multiple shady characters.

When one of Carlotta's customers and high school classmates drowns under suspicious circumstances, Carlotta decides to do her own investigation. She runs up against the handsome Detective Jack Terry, who warns her to stay out of his investigation. Meanwhile, her brother takes a job moving bodies with the yummy Coop Craft, a former medical examiner. She also ends up entangled with her former fiance, the husband of the woman murdered.

I was honestly kept guessing the whole book about which of the three men Carlotta would end up with. It still wasn't resolved at the end, although the crowd was narrowed from three to two. I am not sure which I would rather Carlotta end up with either. I definitely want to find out what Carlotta is up to next and who she decides to date, so I'll certainly be reading the next book in the series.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a good mystery, and who like fashion.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart & Lani Diane Rich

What a fun book this was! Three ladies, Abby, Daisy and Shar meet each other at a dog obedience class. They are greeted by the mysterious Kammani, who shares the name of a goddess no one knows much about. She gives them some punch, and all three wake up the next day with their dogs talking to them! These three ladies discover love while working to defeat Kammani, who actually is an ancient goddess. They unravel an archaeological mystery and discover that they are descendents of ancient goddesses as well, and have powers of their own!

I love books where women find their inner goddess, and I love books where people can talk to their pets, so this book was a great read for me. I am more of a cat person, so the only thing I would have liked was for it to be Cats and Goddesses instead! I don't think that would work out as well since people don't really take their cats to obedience classes. I have one that I would definitely take if I knew where to find a cat obedience class!

I was also impressed by the fact that these three authors worked together to write the book. I was expecting three shorter stories within the book, but I was surprised that it was one complete story. I can't imagine what it must be like to work with one other author during the writing of a book, let alone two other authors! Then again, it may help with writer's block. You get stuck, just send it along to someone else for some writing! Check out what the authors have to say about working together at their blog, Dogs and Goddesses, And pick up this book for a fun romantic read!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron

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!

  • I am currently reading a book that I picked up (and graciously got signed!) at Dragon*Con! This one looks like a scorcher! I had to shuffle through a couple of pages before I found G-rated sentences for my teasers. Stay tuned for what I'm sure will be an exciting review!

    "He had to get his head back in the case and forget about Bluster. It was possible a local might have snapped and turned into a killer."
    --page 78, Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    And the winner is...!

    Busy Bee!

    You have been emailed, and I am waiting for her choice in books! Thank you to all the new followers! Stay tuned for new reviews and upcoming giveaways!

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    A Giveaway for BBAW!

    I've got quite a few books sitting around that I would love to give away. Some of them are gently used, and some of them are new. Here's the list:

    For the paranormal romance lovers:
    • Red Fire by Deidre Knight
    • Dark Protector by Alexis Morgan
    • Howling Moon by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
    • If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl
    • The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
    • Night Falls Darkly by Kim Lenox
    • Timeless Moon by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
    For lovers of other genres:
    • The Last Oracle by James Rollins
    • The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner
    • Missing by Sharon Sala
    I can definitely find some other books to give away as well! Here's how to play: subscribe to my RSS feed and leave me a message letting me know that you did! Easy, right? I would totally offer more entries for following me on Twitter, too, but I am not sure quite how to do that! Maybe someone more experienced with giveaways can help me out here! This is only my second one.

    For every 25 entries/comments, I'll add another winner! To start out with, there's just 1. I will update each time another winner is added. This giveaway will end on Friday, September 25th at 11:59 p.m. EST. My apologies to the international readers--this is open to the U.S. only.

    Wordless Wednesday

    I was so excited to meet my absolute favorite author, Peter S. Beagle at Dragon*Con in Atlanta!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    Interview Swap: Evening All Afternoon

    This is my second BBAW, and I think that the one thing I've participated in this year that has made my BBAW better than last year is the interview swap! I was lucky enough to have two different interview partners, and I think they are both great! I look forward to reading more from both of them!

    First is Emily from Evening All Afternoon! Emily reads quite different books than I do, but we found that we have knitting and the tendency to be wordy in common! I asked Emily a few questions(in bold), and her answers follow! My responses to her are in italics.

    What got you into book blogging? What do you like most about it?

    I got into it by kind of a long and circuitous route, so prepare yourself! A few years ago, my partner David and I were keeping a joint blog: on Mondays he would post a haiku, then on Tuesdays I would post a book review, on Wednesdays he would post a photograph, on Thursdays I would post about my knitting, and so on. Gradually he started focusing on other interests (specifically web design), and so I was keeping a knitting-and-reading blog. Then I started the Family Trunk Project, which is my big knitting-design art project-cum-business in which I design a garment based on each member of my family tree, and self-publish the patterns. So then I had a place specifically for my knitting-related blogging, and I wanted a designated place for my book-blogging too - a place where I could get as bookish as I wanted, and not worry that I was boring all the knitters who just wanted to talk about lace socks or whatever. So David designed the Evening All Afternoon site, and the rest is history.

    As for what I like most about it, there are so many things! I love the conversations and shared reading projects that it engenders, and I also love being challenged to think more deeply about my experience with a book. I find that I get a lot more out of my reading now that I'm writing a little essay about each book I finish. Hearing other peoples' diverse opinions on the same book often makes me think. And, to cap it all off, blogging is a regular writing practice, which makes me a better writer. It's a win-win-win!

    I love the shared conversations, too! This interview swap has been so interesting for me, and one of the best things about being a blogger, in my opinion.

    What is the first book you can remember reading as a kid?

    It's funny, because the first book I remember reading, isn't a book I remember! Right after I started reading myself (rather than being read to every night by my parents), my dad bet me that by the end of the week I would be reading a certain book without help. At the time it seemed so overwhelming - there were lots of words on every page, along with the pictures. But he was right; by the end of the week I could read it. That memory is so clear to me, but I don't remember the specific book. The only things I seem to recall are that one of the characters was a purple cat, and that it had a white, hardback cover and was longer side-to-side than up-and-down.

    But as far as the first books I remember really loving, I was a huge fan of the Emily of New Moon and Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery (and everything else she wrote). I'd still love to visit Prince Edward Island one of these days.

    I love the way you describe the book that you remember reading! It's very cool that you had parents who challenged you in that way. My dad used to read to me, but I don't remember the first book I read by myself. I wish I had a distinct memory of that first book.

    I see that you're a knitter! I am, too! How long have you been knitting? Do you think you spend more time at your book blog or your knitting blog?

    Awesome! Always good to meet another knitter. I learned when I was ten, but didn't do anything with it back then. I picked it back up and taught myself everything beyond the basics after I graduated from college (2004). Then I started designing about three years ago. My first published design was in the Spring 2006 Knitty, and things kind of took off from there.

    I definitely spend more time working on knitting- and design-related stuff than book-related stuff, since garment design is what I'm trying to do for my living at the moment. But I spend more time on my actual entries for my book blog than the entries for my knitting blog. Generally speaking, they take a lot more thought. Knit-blogging is more about pretty pictures, process-related checkups, and debating with myself about ways to deal with setbacks, whereas my bookish entries are more about analyzing my reactions to literature, pinning down how different effects were achieved, and so on.

    I love Knitty! I'm working on one of the projects there right now. Please send me a link so I can check out your project! I love that you tell your family's stories on the website along with your creations. Your designs are beautiful! I think it's awesome that you take stories in exchange for your patterns as well! I love the idea, and I think I might send you a story or two just because!

    I'm very impressed by your proficiency in French! How long have you been studying? It's really awesome that you're working on reading literature in the original language! Would you advocate reading a novel in the original language, or do you like translations as well?

    Thanks! My progress is slow now that I'm no longer in school, but the occasional French novel helps. I took it up in my second year of college, after reading Proust in English and completely falling in love with In Search of Lost Time. It's one of my life goals to read him in the original one day, with good understanding. Right now I do okay with modern French novels, which tend to be more colloquial. But old-fashioned, proper French has about a million obscure verb tenses, and I can never keep them straight. My friend Marie Christine says that most young French folks don't even know how to use them anymore, so maybe I shouldn't feel bad!

    As far as the original versus translation, I read a TON of books in translation. I love it, especially if you can find the work you're looking for in an excellent translation. I started paying attention to translators back in high school when I discovered that I mysteriously hated Constance Garnett's translation of The Brothers Karamazov, but loved Andrew McAndrews's translation of the same book. (This was before the beautiful Pevear/Volokhonsky translations of Dostoevsky started coming out.) So I'm all about reading in translation, but I think if you can read a little bit in the original language it's really good, too, if only because it gives you a sense of what a difficult job translators have, and how much is changed and lost when something is translated. Even trying to translate a few lines of the novel I just finished really brought that home to me. I have so much respect for people like Natasha Wimmer, who did the AMAZING English translation of Roberto Bolaño's 2666.

    I've encountered the same issue with reading translations. Some I love, some I hate! I think I would probably have to start with Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" if I were ever to try reading something in the original.

    This is your first year participating in BBAW, right? What are you most looking forward to?

    Yes, it's my first year! I just think it's such a cool idea to have a community-driven celebration like this; so much of the time we don't take time to recognize all the meaningful, hard work we put into the not-for-profit things we do. Book blogging doesn't make me any money, but (cliché though it sounds) it enriches my life in so many ways, and so do the book blogs I read and the bloggers behind them. I applaud My Friend Amy for seeing the need to take some time out and acknowledge that, and I'm just looking forward to being along for the ride! And maybe discovering some great new blogging friends.

    It seems like you mostly read classics and more serious novels. (As opposed to me--I read mostly fluff!) What books are your guilty pleasures, the books that you read in the bathtub?

    Oh, if only I still had a bathtub! Seriously, going without one was the sad compromise my partner and I made when we bought our current (otherwise awesome) place. Someday...

    Back on topic, though, I have a penchant for Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and other mass-produced girls' serial fiction from the 1930s-50s. I'm so fascinated by how blatantly formulaic they are - the Stratemeyer Syndicate (which produced the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels) had super-strict guidelines about what should be happening in each chapter and almost on each PAGE of the books, and the ghost-writers just churned them out to specification. And there were all these specific rules - like, Nancy could only be knocked unconscious once per book, she had to be chaperoned while doing certain things though not others, there was supposed to be a plug for her previous book in Chapter 2 and a description of her appearance in the first five pages...they were controlled to a really bizarre extent. I'm repelled, and yet strangely attracted, by this idea of a kind of fiction factory - it's so 1984. And I also love the cheese factor in the books - the endless descriptions of lovely clothes and hearty meals that obsessed kids' authors of the 50s, and how Nancy possesses every skill and piece of esoteric knowledge known to mankind, which she whips out in service of the latest case. Totally hilarious! I also get a kick out of Mabel Maney's satires of those books (The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse, The Case of the Good-For-Nothing Girlfriend), featuring lesbian heroines Nancy Clue and Cherry Aimless. Maney nails the tone, spot-on.

    Wow! I never knew that about Nancy Drew novels. I'm really not surprised, though. I read Nancy Drew as a kid, too. My favorites were the Trixie Belden books because her name was Beatrice. I was always so jealous that she got a cool nickname and I didn't!

    I love the title of your blog from Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird! Would you say that he is your favorite poet, and is this your favorite poem?

    I don't think it's my absolute favorite poem, but I do really love it. I find almost every line to be so evocative and beautiful. When I was looking through my favorite poetry for blog titles, I realized that a lot of my most favorite poetry (Theodore Roethke's The Lost Son, H.D.'s Other Sea Cities) is longer, and kind of builds on itself, so there aren't as many single lines that pack as much punch. A lot of my favorite poetry is also pretty dark. Brilliantly evocative of a certain mood or character, but not a mood or character that I particularly want to associate with my blog, you know? I'm wild about "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," but I hope I'm not very similar to its speaker!

    Ooh, I love T.S. Eliot! I thought for the longest that my dad was joking when I said something wasn't fair, and he said "T.S. Eliot!" I'll have to look up the other two that you mentioned. I love poetry, but don't read anywhere near enough of it, in my opinion.

    Since you love reading and look for a well-turned phrase, are you also a writer? If so, what do you primarily write?

    Blogging is pretty much my writing practice at the moment, but I do have sort of a writerly bent about it. I try to structure my entries like conversational essays - tie the ends together, use words in a conscious way, craft lively, readable prose that flows easily. I'm not sure right now if it's practice for something bigger, or just an end in itself.

    I do also write essays as part of the Family Trunk Project - family history, based either on research, oral history or my own memories. I think my favorite piece so far in that project is the one about my paternal grandmother, Betty Jean McNeil.

    I've already mentioned that I really love your stories about your family members! My mom would love your site because she's into genealogy. I bet she would be inspired by it! I think I am as well. *Heads off to start writing about family*

    What are your wishes for the future of your blog?

    More of the same, really! I hope I can continue connecting with kindred spirits in the wide world of book-bloggers, having interesting conversations and reflecting on my own experiences reading books. Recently I went back and looked through some of the first literary blog posts I wrote, and they brought back elements of those books I had completely forgotten. I think that's so cool! I love having a record of my thoughts about reading as time goes by.

    Great point! I like being able to look back on my thoughts, see what was going on at the time, too. Good luck on having more of the same! It was such a pleasure interviewing you!

    Interview Swap: Gossamer Obsessions

    Have I mentioned that I love BBAW interview swaps? So much so that I did not one, but two! In addition to Emily at Evening All Afternoon, I also met AnimeJune of Gossamer Obsessions! June and I share a love of Peter S. Beagle and romance novels. Here are my questions for her in bold, her answers, and my responses in italics.

    What is the first book you can remember reading?

    ANIMEJUNE: That's a reaaaaaally difficult one. I would have to say The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch. I started reading early and before that my mother would always read to us (starting with Narnia). I think I remember the Paperbag Princess the most because my mother said she was a lot like me. :)

    I'm not familiar with that one! I still love kids/young adult books, and I'm going to have to look it up. Thumbs up for Narnia, too!

    I see you're on Twitter! How has it changed the way you blog, if at all?
    ANIMEJUNE: Twitter has changed the way I review books in the sense that now I can comment on books AS I read them. Since I put my Twitter widget on my blog, now people can read my up-to-the-page reactions as they surf my other reviews.

    That's a really great way to use Twitter. I've got a widget on my blog, but I don't usually tweet while reading. Great idea! Mind if I steal it?

    What do you think are the best and the worst things about Twitter?
    ANIMEJUNE: I actually communicate a lot more with my fellow bloggers on Twitter than I do my e-mail or comments, so that's one of the best things. When I have a lightning-flash thought that is maybe a little too short to warrant an entire e-mail, I can say it on Twitter and respond to other people. It's all on one page without having to go to separate blogs. Maybe that means I'm internet-lazy. I don't know.

    The worst thing about Twitter? I haven't exactly discovered it yet. I'm sure something controversial will come up eventually. That's how things normally happen on Ye Olde Internets.

    I tend to communicate with other bloggers a lot on Twitter, too. I usually let people know that I've posted via Twitter. I wonder sometimes if Twitter makes me more concise. Somehow, I doubt it! I think my worst thing about Twitter is how much time I spend there. It's quite addictive.

    Congratulations on being published! I am a bit jealous you've got enough perserverance to finish a novel! : ) Anything to say about the writing of your novel? Where can we find a copy?
    ANIMEJUNE: I have been published, but not in novel format, sorry. My first publication was a novella called "My Brother's Own Words" that was published in the March/April 2007 issue of Cicada Magazine (the YA sibling to Cricket Magazine). As for the writing of it - funny story. Waaay way back in August 2005, I had my wisdom teeth removed. For an entire three-day weekend I ate nothing but Tylenol 3 and Neapolitan ice cream and I guess it turned my story-filter off, you know - the tiny voice in your head that says, "You can't write about that, it's too weird!"

    So I wrote and finished a novella over that weekend about a boy whose father is human but whose mother is a parrot, a boy who has feathers for hair, and can only repeat what other people say. I sent it in to a few magazines and got speedy rejections, then I sent it in to Cicada. I didn't hear back from them until January 2006, in the form of a yellow postcard that said they'd received the story and would evaluate it later. Months after that, I was accepted! And FINALLY, in March 2007 it was published. Two years for a novella. It really brought it home to me how slow the publishing process is. You can probably find a copy in your local library, if they keep collections of magazines.

    I'm still impressed. Good for you for being persistent. I love the premise of the story! It sounds like it was a long process to wait to get it published. Thanks for sharing the story--it encourages me in my eventual search for publication.

    Who are the authors that influenced your writing the most?
    ANIMEJUNE: Well, I read a lot of fantasy before I started reading romance, so I'd have to say Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, and Kate Elliott. They wrote these grand, sweeping epic fantasies that brought to life worlds that seemed familiar, but were deliciously, intriguingly different once you got to really know them. Alice Hoffman is currently one of my influences - I love to read her books before I write something myself, because I adore her writing style and would love to absorb as much of her style as I can so I can use it myself. She's the one who inspired the way I like to mix the weirdly magical with the mundane.

    Some of my favorites! I love Robin Hobb & Tad Williams. Have you ever read Irene Radford? Gayle Greeno, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Goodkind, Lois McMaster Bujold? I'll have to check out Kate Elliott & Alice Hoffman! I am always looking for new authors to read, of course!

    I have to ask: vampires or werewolves?
    ANIMEJUNE: If I had to choose, vampires. I've fallen out of touch with paranormal romance, although I'm gradually reading more of them, so I'm not actually a fan of vampire or werewolf romances. At least not yet. But in terms of other media like television and movies, vampires win - mostly because after 100 years of cinema, Hollywood can't seem to produce a werewolf transformation that doesn't look completely ridiculous (although Underworld came close).

    Good answer! I totally agree with you about werewolf transformations.

    Other than reading and writing, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?
    ANIMEJUNE: Uhh...I watch a lot of movies and television. I love stories and I love to be surrounded by stories. I guess that makes me pretty boring. Oh, I do love singing. I've sung in my university's mixed chorus for about five years now - I'm a Soprano II - and that's always fun. I have a really loud voice so I'm always assigned to the edge of the choir, halfway between front and back. If a choir were a football team, I'd be the linebacker.

    Nice description of your voice! My aunt was just like that. Sounds like fun!

    Best book you've read so far this year?
    I've had about three A+ romance reviews this year, which is pretty lucky for me. The one that edged out all the other ones (even if it was only by a hair) was Laura Kinsale's "For My Lady's Heart." It was my first medieval and the characterization and detail just blew me away. In genres other than romance, I'd say Alice Hoffman's "The Probable Future." She writes these gorgeously lyrical subtle fantasies, where magic is slightly part of the story but really it's how the characters and the setting come together, tenuously joined by magic.

    That is a lot of really great books. I don't know that I could pick out 3 that were that great this year. Now I'm really going to have to pick up some Alice Hoffman!

    Other than book bloggers, is there any group of bloggers you read--cooking, authors, etc.? Any recommendations for new reads?
    I follow I Can Has Cheezburger.com for the LOLcats, and Julie James' blog is cool (she wrote "Just the Sexiest Man Alive" and "Practice Makes Perfect" - and I would suggest those for new reads, they are very funny contemporary romances). Another website I follow religiously is ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com . It's a comedy website where characters such as the Nostalgia Critic review bad movies from the 80s and 90s with such scathing humour.

    Yay, LOLcats! I love them, too. I could spend so much time looking at the kittehs! Have you ever checked out Notalwaysright.com or Postsecret.blogspot.com? Those are a couple of my favorites, too.

    Congratulations on being nominated for a BBAW award! Good luck in the polls! Is this your first time being nominated/shortlisted?
    ANIMEJUNE: Yes, indeedy. I'm very honoured.

    I look forward to hearing about whether you won or not!

    Is this your first BBAW, or are you an old hat?
    ANIMEJUNE: This is my first BBAW, although since I'm only one year behind the so-called "old hats," I don't know how significant that is. I didn't do it last year because I was a pretty solitary blogger back then. It's only been this year that I've actually started networking with other blogs and accumulating readers. The first year I was reviewer I reviewed mainly for myself, but I've discovered it's much more fun to be a social blogger.

    I forget that it's only the second year for BBAW! Does that make me an old hat? It seems like it's been going on longer than that for some reason. I participated last year right after I started my blog, and it was a great experience. I love being a social blogger as well. It's been a really rewarding experience, forming relationships and in some cases meeting people in real life at BlogHer.

    What are you most looking forward to for BBAW this year?
    ANIMEJUNE: There's absolutely too much to look forward to. I'd have to say, maybe an end to the whining that's been going around on the internet. So maybe people and bloggers are griping about BBAW's faults, when they forget about how much it's accomplishing in only the second year of it's inception. People need to chill.

    Well said! I hope you enjoy this year's BBAW. I know I've enjoyed interviewing you, and I look forward to reading more of what you have to say about books!

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    A Life Well Read

    As an avid reader, and even more as a book review blogger, I have stacks and stacks of books. My bookshelves overflow! I've tried methods of keeping up with my books before. I've kept little notebooks that I wrote down books I'd like to read in. I kept notebooks with personal reviews of books that I've read. I log my books on Goodreads.com. I'm always looking for a good, efficient way to keep track of my books.

    I was offered a chance to try out this lovely book tracking system myself. I love how it has all the different elements that I want in one place. I am notorious for losing track of my things! It's also compact, so it doesn't take up a lot of room!

    It is beautifully made--very sturdy. I must admit that I'm generally quite hard on my things, but I don't have any fear that this will stand up to my abuse! It's also really aesthetically pleasing. I am not really a very girly girl, and there are flowers on the box. I really like the design, however. It's classy. Of course, it probably helps that it's teal and I love any shade of blue! It comes with a nice, heavy pen that feels great in your hand.

    All in all, I really like A Life Well Read system! It's beautiful, practical, sturdy, and just right. From now until October 11th, you can purchase it at a 25% discount. Just click on the link at the top of my blog on the right hand side to take you to the special promotion page! Holiday season is fast approaching, and it would make a great gift. I hope my readers enjoy the system as much as I do.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Dragon*Con Authors

    I went to Dragon*Con last weekend. It was my first time at a sci-fi convention. I went expecting to see some of my favorite stars.

    And I did! I saw Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock. He's such an interesting man outside of acting! He does photography, and I am excited about looking up his work. His photography projects sounds simply fascinating! William Shatner crashed the end of the panel, in typical Shatner style. It was fun. I am not as excited about the Shat as I might have otherwise been as he owns a horse farm in Kentucky and has been in at least one of the horse shows that I have been in the audience for in the past.

    I also saw Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard! He is such a funny man. He was sincere, and so polite. He thanked everyone for their questions. He would have stayed the rest of the afternoon to just answer questions and have conversations with fans if he had been able, I think! I would so love to meet him on a personal basis and spend time with him.

    What I didn't expect was how many authors would be there! I accidentally accosted Susan Sizemore because she had a Knit Wit ribbon on her badge! Sherrilyn Kenyon was there, although I didn't see her. I had a chance to meet Diana Gabaldon who was wonderful and gracious and had a grandmother with my name! I saw Charlaine Harris, but did not make it into the line in time to get her autograph. I also saw new writers of paranormal romances, mostly. Rita Herron's name springs to mind, although there was someone else as well. I also discovered a new book about killer unicorns!

    The most awesome experience was meeting my favorite author, Peter S. Beagle. If you haven't read The Last Unicorn, please go pick up a copy now! The movie made from the novel is the one thing that I think I can point to in my life and say that it was the most influential thing in regards to molding my readerly interests. I love fantasy novels, and I think that The Last Unicorn is the one book I have read more often than any other.

    I had no idea that Mr. Beagle would be at Dragon*Con. I was so excited once I found out by chance that he would be signing shortly thereafter. I purchased another of my favorite books that he's written and waited for my turn to speak to him. I told him that he was such an influence on me. He noticed that I was from Kentucky and asked if I knew two notable Kentucky writers that he had attended Stanford with. I knew of both of them and had taken a class from one. The other has recently passed away. I got to be the one to break the news about his old friend's passing to him. As a friend pointed out to me, I will be memorable. I was very, very sorry to have to tell him the news, though.

    I am so glad that I had a chance to attend Dragon*Con this year, and I look forward to future years! I went expecting one thing, and experienced something totally different, unexpected, and wonderful!

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    The End of an Era: Reading Rainbow

    Being a reader and a teacher, I feel like I have to write something about the end of an era. Reading Rainbow started in 1983. I was 5 years old. I don't remember the first episode I saw, but I saw quite a few. I had a voracious appetite for books, even as a 5-year-old. I loved the section where there were kids sharing their favorite books! I hunted down quite a few of those recommendations to read myself, not to mention the featured books.

    I loved LeVar Burton. He was a magnificent choice for a host. I did a fangirl dance when LeVar showed up on Star Trek:TNG (Oh, you didn't know I was a geek? Surprise! Card-carrying, thank you very much!) a few years after Reading Rainbow started. Geordi, LeVar, Geordi, LeVar. I couldn't get enough.

    I haven't seen an episode for quite a while, but I'm very tempted to troll PBS for every episode that they have online from now until December when they cut off access to the show's website. I have no doubt that I will enjoy them as much now as I did when I was a kid. I feel sorry for the generations to come who will miss out on the book love that is Reading Rainbow.

    Would it be weird to say that Reading Rainbow was a book review blog before there were book review blogs? In my mind, that's kind of what it was.

    It just today occurs me to wonder if LeVar is as much of a reader as I imagine the host of a show about reading should be. Was he part of the impetus to start the show? How much of a hand did he have in creating the show? He is one of the people I follow on Twitter, and he seems to be an amazing person in real life. I think that he would be on my top 10 of famous people to meet. He has an amazing legacy! If I were him, I would be proud to have been host of such an influential show for a 26(!) year run. I think it should be at the top of his list of accomplishments. Then again, I'm a teacher in addition to being a book lover.

    Take a look, it's in a book...

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday--The Lacemakers of Glenmara

    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!

  • I've been reading The Lacemakers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri this week, after having read someone's teaser on a previous Teaser Tuesday. The teaser was here. I use Goodreads to keep track of the books that I want to read because I usually find them online! Please feel free to add me if you're also a member! I love to get the emails with people's reviews of books. I think my screen name is busweet. Let me know if you try to add me and I've got the wrong screen name!

    After I added Lacemakers to my Goodreads "shelf," then received a lovely message from the author! Now, I know that authors are real people. I write, and I'm a real person. I've even gone to at least one reading/signing. The internet is a wonderful thing, however, and it brings normal people together from all corners of the world. I am constantly amazed that I am worthy of notice by authors. I am honored by their notice. I appreciate their talents and the effort that goes into writing a book.

    All that aside, you're here for a teaser! Here are my two sentences, from page of The Lacemakers of Glenmara: "A pair of Bernie's panties, tangled in the sleeve of Kate's jacket, fell to the floor. The older woman snatched them up. 'Aren't these the most god-awful things? Not fit for the light of day. Elephant drawers, I call them.'" --pg 50

    I'm enjoying this book so far, and even just 70 pages in, I would recommend it. I look forward to finishing it, and I'm hoping that the author will consent to do an interview or a blog post for me!

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Coyote's Mate by Lora Leigh

    Whoooooooo! This one had a serious wet panty factor! I am still cooling off after reading it. If you're looking for an erotic romance novel, this one's for you.

    I had a difficult time at first. I didn't realize that I was jumping into the middle of a story. Since I've finished this, I've read another of Lora Leigh's books. Each of them is a standalone story, but it helps to have read some of the other books in order to puzzle out exactly what the back story is.

    So, I'll give you the Cliff Notes as I see them. First, Leigh's Breed novels are set in the future. There's a group of scientists who have been doing genetic manipulations on people. I don't think they're shifters like we see in Sookie Stackhouse, Riley Jensen, and Mercy Thompson books. None of the characters have shifted in the books I've read so far. However, they've been bred with specific animalistic charactaristics in order to make them better soldiers. There are wolf, coyote, and quite a few feline Breeds that I've encountered so far.

    The biggest factor in the novels is the breeding heat. It makes it impossible for the couples to deny that they are meant for one another and it makes it impossible for them to stay out of bed for very long. I think I'm going to have to write a whole post about how I feel about this type of story later, so I'll keep my opinions to myself for now.

    I put this book down in the middle. For some reason, all the militaristic stuff going on quit making sense for me. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the fact that this book is something like the 18th in this particular world, but the first I read of them, maybe it was the things going on in my life at the time. When I went back to pick it up, I finished the rest of the book easily. The characters weren't all that compelling to me, though. I didn't feel like I would have liked to have gotten to know Anya or that I would have liked to date Del-Rey.

    It was a light, fast, erotic, romantic, entertaining read. If you're looking for something to read on an airplane, at bedtime, or when you have some free time, it's perfect. Don't expect anything deep from it!

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Upcoming Book Blogger Appreciation Week

    I am so excited about participating in BBAW next month. I have all sorts of exciting things planned! There will be a giveaway every day, a special review the first day, and a great deal for readers of my blog!

    Check out the main website and see who else is going to be participating in this fun-filled week! www.bookbloggerappreciationweek.com

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday August 11th Edition

    I'm reading a novel by a Kentucky author! I've felt very enthusiastic about supporting locals lately--local authors, local farmers, local stores. So, here's my teaser:

    "She was Del-Rey's mate. They might have trust issues. She might want to rap his head against a wall. But he was hers, just as she was finally accepting that she belonged to him."
    Coyote's Mate by Lora Leigh
    p. 158

    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski

    I literally had both my parents hanging over my shoulder, salivating to read this book when I was finished! They both love James Rollins, and are excited to have a chance to read this now that I'm done.

    Again starring Jon Payne and David Jones, this novel begins with the murder of 7 monks at a monastery in Greece. Nick Dial of Interpol flies in to investigate and teams up with Marcus Andropolous, a local Greek policeman who also works with Interpol.

    In Russia, Allison Tyler witnesses her boss Richard Byrd killed by a contract killer. Payne and Jones get the call this time, and make plans to sneak into the country using fake passports. They find Allison, only to have to avoid the hit man and figure out what Allison's boss was looking for.

    The Lost Throne is a wild ride across Russia, Greece, and parts in between. There is murder, treasure, history, and mystery, all elements of a great thriller. I had a hard time putting it down because I wanted to know what the mystery was all about! There was an intense dose of history involved as well. I love history's mysteries, and Kuzneski did not fail to dig up a mystery I knew nothing about.

    I read another of Kuzneski's books last fall. You can read the review here. I'll admit that I had some criticism of the author's writing at that point. It has definitely improved since he published his last book in 2006. My only criticism of the writing this time was Kuzneski's overuse of the work smirk!

    I did feel as if some of his characters were unrealistic this time around. Payne and Jones had a serious bromance going on. While bromance is fun on TV, it doesn't carry over well in novels. I've never known any guys in real life who had a bromance, so it is kind of unbelievable to me. I also had issue with Kuzneski's description of a Russian police officer as someone who would accost a woman. I'm sure it's possible, but that wouldn't fare well for Russia's tourism.

    These are really small nitpicks about the book, though. I really, really enjoyed it and I would highly recommend it, especially if you like James Rollins and Dan Brown!

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    Wordless Wednesday

    For my first Wordless Wednesday, a photo that I took with my Nikon D40x last month in Chicago. Click on the photo for the full-size image!

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday

    This is my first time participating in Teaser Tuesday!

    I am currently reading The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski. I'm really excited about it, and I've already started my review post. It should be up some time in the next week. Here are a couple of sentences from the book to start you off!

    "Toulon laughed. 'Nick, you must realize that Sparta was conquered centuries ago. Today it is a series of crumbled ruins. Nothing more.'"
    p. 101

    Hope you enjoy!

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Deadly Night by Heather Graham

    I've been talking so much about BlogHer that I figured I should probably post about what the blog is really about--books!

    Looking for something spooky to keep you awake at night? This first book of the Flynn Brothers Trilogy is just the thing! Heather Graham likes to write about New Orleans, and this book was no different. It's one of the best settings for a scary novel!

    The Flynn Brothers, Aidan, Jeremy, and Zach inherited a plantation from a great-aunt that they didn't know about until she passed away. Kendall is a business owner and tarot card reader who cared for the brothers' great-aunt Amelia before her death.

    There is a ghost story that goes along with the estate. During the Civil War, Flynn cousins reputedly killed one another in a fight over a woman. The woman threw herself off the balcony during the fight and was killed as well.

    The Flynn brothers are all former FBI agents who now run a detective agency, among other pursuits. Aidan is intrigued when bones turn up on the property. At the same time, Kendall's tarot cards begin to come to life. The two work together to find the women that they discover are missing.

    Heather Graham never fails to send shivers up and down my spine! I love reading about New Orleans, and it's absolutely the perfect setting for a scary novel. At the same time, Graham makes the paranormal believable for someone who definitely doesn't believe(but loves to read about it!). She also does a good romance, with neither the romance or paranormal aspect outweighing the other. The pacing is just right so that I don't want to put it down while I'm reading. It leads to a lot of late nights! I can't wait to read books two and three in this trilogy!

    Sunday, July 26, 2009

    Back from BlogHer

    I'm a little sad to be home. I'm a little happy to be home. I'm happy to be home because I no longer have to share a teeny double bed with my wonderful friend Heather. If I have to share my bed with someone, I'm glad it's her.

    Wait. That came out wrong. You know what I'm trying to say. I thought about saying it differently, but it's just going to sound wrong no matter what!

    My roommates were spectacular. Heather and I roomed with LeeAnn from The Butter Compartment and Julie from Mampedia who doesn't have her own personal blog. They were so interesting and such fun! I was a little worried about ending up with roommate drama, but there was none in sight!

    I wish that I had gotten to meet more of the women at BlogHer, although I know it was impossible to meet all 1399 of the other women(and men) who were there. I have a pile of people whose blogs I need to read, who I need to follow on Twitter and who I need to email! I am sure it's going to occupy me for at least the next week. Probably much, much longer.

    I have pages of ideas about posts for my blogs. I can't wait to start on them! I also had spectacular cheerleader on my car ride back from Chicago. There may be a possible new business enterprise for me that comes out of the weekend. All in all, it was an invigorating, exciting, inspiring weekend! I hope I can hang onto all the ideas and ephiphanies until I have time to sort through them all! Stay tuned for exciting new things at My Kingdom For a Book and my two new blogs, Churchsurfing (about local churches), and my blog about being single, Quirky Single Girl.

    Oh, and bonus for you! A photo of me enjoying an alcohol-free mudslide from Quaker Oats at BlogHer '09!

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Amazing BlogHer Conference

    I can't say enough good stuff about BlogHer! I am enjoying myself SO much. I am way sleepy and ready to crawl into my bed, but I am energized mentally. Can you be energized inspirationally? If so, that definitely describes me.

    I would love to have questions to ask some of the panelists, but I'm so busy taking in what these women are saying that I don't have enough brain power left over for questions! I've been to some really helpful sessions--Beginning Wordpress and a session about writing Op-Ed pieces. Ooops, is Wordpress a dirty word when I'm using blogger for my blog? Are they going to censor me? Hehe.

    I really enjoyed the panel on feminist/pro-woman issues yesterday. It was really thought-provoking! I've always considered myself a feminist, but in a quiet sort of way. The panel made me feel like I should be more outspoken about my feminist leanings because the things that I and my fellow women do now have lasting repercussions/implications. We need to speak up so that the lives of the daughters that come after us are improved. I'll probably talk about that more over at my single woman blog: modernsinglegirl.blogspot.com later on.

    Last night's keynote was amazing. There were 15 or 20 women whose work was selected from quite a few applicants. These women got up and read in front of the community. There were women talking about food as love, about having a child with special needs, about the death of a child, about fear of medical professionals, about infertility. It was amusing, moving, heart-rending. I rarely ever cried, but these women made me cry!

    This morning we had a celebrity panel talking about media, blogging, advertising, etc. There was Ilene Chaiken who created the TV show The L Word, Donna Byrd who runs a new site with a focus on African-Americans called theroot.com, and Tina Brown from thedailybeast.com. Beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, women who are leaders.

    BlogHer is made of awesome!

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Blogging from BlogHer 09!

    We finally made it to the Sheraton in Chicago last night. The trip was supposed to take 6 hours, and ended up taking 9 or 10! We got stuck behind a tour bus wreck on I-65 in Indiana, and then in Chicago traffic at rush hour. After that, we had bad directions to get to the Sheraton and had to ask innocent bystanders how to get there! I felt like I had a big "Tourist" tattoo on my forehead! Not that I really mind--I AM a tourist!

    We registered and got our room with no problem, thankfully. We had a bit to eat at the very awesome Fox & Obel around the corner from the Sheraton. Think Whole Foods, but better. We hit up the People Party around 9 p.m. and partied for a while. I was going to go to the Room 704 party, but I heard they were out of swag bags. So, I hung out in my room and got to know my very awesome roomies!

    I'm up and at 'em much earlier than I'm accustomed to, but I'm excited about today! Meeting new people, lots of awesome talks to choose from! More from BlogHer 09 later!

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Follow me at BlogHer

    I'm on my way to the 2009 BlogHer Conference in Chicago! I'll be learning more about blogging, meeting some awesome new friends/bloggers, and generally having a lot of fun! It may lead to new things at My Kingdom for a Book. Stay tuned for my thoughts, tips, and snippets about what's going on at the conference in the next few days!

    My Reading Habits

    My friend Christina had this over at her site! I liked it, so here are my answers!

    01. Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
    No, because I usually read in bed! Every once in a while, I get the munchies, so I eat in bed, too.

    02. Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
    Write in a book??!! NEVER! I couldn't even write in my textbooks in college. It feels like I'm defacing the book.

    03. How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
    I get paint strips at the local Wal-Mart that I use as bookmarks! I also have quite a few bookmarks that I've picked up at national parks throughout the U.S. on my road trips. I do hang books over the drawer in my night stand sometimes, too.

    04. Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
    A much heavier leaning toward fiction, but I love autobiographies as well. I like the idea of reading fiction, but I usually either buy or borrow a book from the library and run out of time to finish it. I like my reading entertainment!

    05. Hard copy or audiobooks?
    Hard copy, definitely. I don't have the patience to listen to someone read a book.

    06. Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
    If it's holding my attention, I read to the end of the chapter. If I'm reading on the couch while I'm watching TV or something like that, I put it down whenever.

    07. If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?
    Honestly, I don't remember the last time I came across a word I didn't know during reading. If I did at this point, it would probably bother me enough that I would HAVE to look it up.

    08. What are you currently reading?
    A paranormal romance by Heather Graham. Getting ready to start an advanced reading copy of The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski that I am VERY excited about.

    09. What is the last book you bought?
    James Rollins' latest, The Last Oracle

    10. Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
    Multiple books, usually. I try to focus on one at a time, but it doesn't always work.

    11. Do you like re-reading books?
    Only my favorites! Most books I read are one-timers, but I do have some favorites that

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

    I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately. Nothing was really standout, other than Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. If you haven't read these, please, please, please pick them up! They are absolutely fantastic. Turn Coat is the most recent of Butcher's series, number 11! I am seriously impressed by Butcher's ability to keep his readers entertained book after book. This book was just as good as the first, in my opinion.

    The Major Players:

    Harry Dresden, professional wizard
    Karrin Murphy, former lieutenant, current sergeant of Chicago PD's Special Investigations squad
    Bob, Harry's air spirit advisor who lives in a skull in his basement
    Mister, Harry's 30 pound cat who sometimes provides a corporeal body for Bob
    Molly, Harry's apprentice
    Mouse, Harry's St. Bernard-sized Temple dog
    Thomas, a vampire of the White Court, feeding off the life essence of others during the sexual act
    The naagloshi, a Native American skinwalker out to collect a bounty on Harry's head
    The White Court, the Black Court, Blackstaff McCoy, the Merlin, and a score of others!

    If you're going to start reading this series, go back to the beginning. There's so much back story that you're going to be seriously confused. There are a lot of characters whose lives intertwine with Harry's.

    Harry is kind of a reluctant good guy, almost to the point of being a martyr. He has magic and considers it a responsibility of that magic to help those in need. He ends up battered, bruised, and broken in every book. I feel sorry for the guy. At the same time, he's the one I'd definitely want on my side if I found myself involved with the supernatural community. On top of that, he just seems like the nicest guy. He's very chivalrous, but only somewhat in a chauvinistic way. He wants to protect all the people he cares about.

    If you like the Harry Potter series, give the Dresden Files a try! I am sure you'll like it!

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Blood Bar by Norm Applegate

    In his third novel, Norm Applegate continues to tell the story of his interesting heroine--Kim Bennett, a San Fransisco madame. This time, Rose has called Kim from New York City. Rose is a role-playing vampire, a woman who truly believes that she is a vampire and drinks blood. Her boyfriend, Drach, also a role-playing vampire, has been poisoned and killed.

    Kim flies to New York to help her friend and is quickly drawn into the vampire underworld. She meets Nicolai and his blood slave, Erin. She learns that vampires do exist, and is drawn into the search for the vampires' greatest secret, the Black Testament. Along the way, she learns that she is related to Jack the Ripper, and her friend Rose is related to the Ripper's first victim, Mary Anne Nicholls.

    There's also a healthy dose of eroticism in the book--it's definitely written for adults!

    There are two truly distracting elements to this book. One, Applegate's copy editor fell down on the job. There are numerous glaring grammatical mistakes, usually run-on sentences, but also typos and misspellings. The other issue is that while Applegate attempts to make the story mysterious, present a puzzle for the reader to solve, all he does is succeed in confusing the reader.

    The story was interesting, but the writing really was distracting. I ended up feeling more confused in the end than satisfied with the story. It didn't really have the right flavor for me to enjoy it fully. However, if you enjoy vampire stories, a walk on the dark side, mystery, and a healthy dose of erotica, this book is for you.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Is there such a thing as racial writing?

    I've been trying to read a book that I received as a reading copy. I feel like I have a responsibility as a book review blogger to read the book. I requested a copy, I committed myself to reading the book. I just cannot get through the book!

    Part of the problem is that I can't make heads or tails of it. I simply don't understand what the author is talking about! This particular book is written by an African-American lady. I am a white person. I'd like to think that I am not at all prejudiced, but who doesn't have at least a little prejudice? I do have mixed race members of my family, and I've even had a job where I was the only white person who worked there. I think I have a fairly good understanding and empathy for most other cultures.

    This book makes me doubt that. It feels to me as if it has been written for a strictly African-American audience. Then I wonder: Do African-Americans have difficulty reading novels written for a white audience? Are they confusing or uninteresting to them? Likewise with Asians or Hispanic people. Is there such a thing as writing for a specific race? Are we really that different culturally?

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    They Plotted Revenge Against America by Abe F. March

    Written mainly in a narrative style with sparse dialogue, Abe F. March's second book describes the journey of a group of young people to commit terrorist acts in a very believable way. The book even comes across as being non-fiction for the first couple of chapters.

    Following two boys who have lost their families due to American actions in the Middle East, this book follows those boys as they strike out to take revenge for their families. They become part of a conspiracy along with other men and women who have been similarly affected by the military actions of America. These boys and two others are paired up with girls who have lost their families as well. The pairs are put through combat, survival, language, and socialization/assimilation training before being sent to America.

    It is difficult for the reader to get a sense of the characters involved in the conspiracy. The dialogue was often formal, and none of the characters displayed the emotion that would be associated with the loss that they all suffered.

    While the characters are not as sympathetic as they could be, the process they follow is terrifyingly believable. All of the young adults come to America on tourist visas, and there is not a whisper of any suspicion on the part of the people in America that they encounter until they have been in the country for quite some time and are in the final stages of planning for their terroristic plot. It seems inevitable that the group will be successful until the end of the book when it begins to appear that people in America and in Israel are catching on to the plot.

    March also does a good job of bringing up issues about Americans, Muslims, and terrorism. At one point, he has characters draw a parallel between what President Bush said about terrorism, saying "those who harbor terrorists would themselves be considered terrorists...I supose with that logic, Bush is a terrorist and America a terrorist country." The characters in the book try to open dialogue about Muslims and the things happening in the Middle East with the Americans that they meet. This aspect of the book would make it a good choice for book clubs.

    If you are a fan of conspiracy theories, are looking for a book that will spark a good conversation, or just like a good action novel, this is the book for you. They Plotted Revenge Against America is available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle download format.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Dead To Me by Anton Strout

    Go me, I read another book that wasn't paranormal romance! I'm really glad I did, too. This book was awesome, and I would definitely recommend it. If you like the Harry Dresden books, you'd definitely like this one. It's serious and funny at the same time. There were a couple of lines that actually made me laugh out loud. I wish I'd written them down, because then I would share them.

    Set in New York City, Simon Canderous is a psychometrist that works for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs(DEA). Each time he touches an object, he can see the object's past owners and what happened to them. He uses his powers not only for the DEA, but hunts down antiques and returns them to their previous owners...for a small fee, of course.

    Simon is meeting with his mentor Connor in the DEA's front cafe when he spills his drink through a woman at another table. It turns out that the woman, Irene, is one of the recently living. Connor's power and thus responsibility, is to guide the recently living to the other side. Irene's spirit is being held on this side for some reason.

    Due to underfunding and the number of other ghosts, ghouls, and zombies the DEA has to deal with, Irene ends up staying at Simon's place. The search for her identity and her murder leads to a group of cultists who have been legitimized. Simon ends up with not just a ghost to deal with, but also one of the cultists' employees who isn't as Evil as she should be to work for the forces of darkness.

    Strout has a very recently published sequel to this one, and I can't wait to read it. This one's got it all--psychic powers, good vs. evil, humor, and even a teeny bit of romance thrown in there. Pick it up!

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton

    Wow! I read something other than paranormal romance for once! In addition to being an incurable bookworm, I am also a knitter and crocheter. That's what led to picking up this book.

    The author didn't waste any time jumping straight into the story here. The murder has already happened, and Kelly Flynn has come to Denver to settle her aunt's estate. The police have investigated and tell her that a vagrant killed her aunt. Kelly is not convinced and does some of her own investigating. She discovers that her aunt has borrowed twenty thousand dollars from a loan shark. The knitting project that her aunt was working on is missing, as is the family's heirloom quilt that hung on the wall.

    Along the way, Kelly learns to knit from her aunt's friends, despite having resisted all her aunt's attempts to teach her. She garners the ire of the patrons of the local golf course when her dog jumps the fence and steals golf balls. She also meets the handsome Steve and learns that she has a distant relative that she never knew. She uncovers secrets that her aunt kept for years, and finally uncovers the murderer.

    I liked this book. I liked that knitting was such a feature in the book. It really fit with my experience in my knitting group, what knitters are like, and the bond that a knitting group forms. The ending was as abrupt as the beginning, but I can excuse that because I believe it's a first novel. It's also the beginning of a series. I'll be reading on in the series to find out what else happens to Kelly and her knitting friends.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Before I Wake by Kathryn Smith

    If you like Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dream Hunter books, you will enjoy this one as well.

    Dawn is a doctor specializing in sleep disorders. It's appropriate, because she's also a Nightmare. She is one of the sentinels set to guard the sleep of mortals. Dawn is special because her father is Morpheus, king of The Dreaming.

    In her work at a sleep clinic, she meets Noah Clarke. Noah is special, too. He is a lucid dreamer, able to bend things in his dreams and change them to his benefit. Because of their abilities, the two attract the attention of Karatos, a Terror.

    Together, Dawn and Noah fight off Karatos with the help of Antwoine who has been banned from The Dreaming, and Dawn's father Morpheus. There was a lot of action to pull you through the book. I don't think I will ever look at dreams the same way again.

    The author included a lot of pop culture references in the novel, and I had a lot of fun with that. Dawn really seemed like someone that I would like to get to know, someone I would get along with. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it, especially if you're a Sherrilyn Kenyon fan.

    Night Rising by Chris Marie Green

    If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I really do not like books that portray vampires as nice guys. This book totally satisfied me in that aspect. No good vampires so far.

    The story begins with Dawn, a Hollywood stunt woman returning to LA because her father has disappeared. She is paired with Kiko, a little person, and Breisi, a Hispanic woman. Both work for Limpet and Associates. Kiko is telepathic and psychometric, able to read people by touch as well as reading people's thoughts, both with proximity and by touch. Breisi is prescient, with visions of the future. She's had visions that Dawn is necessary for their mission to be successful. They are led by the mysterious Voice, the owner of Limpet.

    The trio sets off looking for Robby Pennybaker, a child star who died years ago of a drug overdose. He's been spotted in footage of a recently made movie, and his mother has hired the agency to locate him.

    Dawn's first night out introduces her to the world of the Underground. They encounter red-eyed guard Vampires who are susceptible to holy water, crucifixes, and garlic. They also have nasty sharp spiked tails with which to kill you. There are also silver eyed vampires and vampires with multi-colored eyes.

    If you're looking for romance, there's a little of that. This is not your typical paranormal romance, however. There's a ton of action, and I really enjoyed the book. I loved that it was set in Los Angeles, my old stamping grounds. I would definitely recommend this book if you feel like I do--that vampires are not warm and fuzzy!

    Sunday, March 8, 2009


    I've been on a bit of a hiatus, but there will be reviews upcoming very, very soon. I'm currently pursuing a full-time freelance writing career, and my reviews are a very small part of my work. If you are interested in reading anything else I have written or if you like my writing style and would like to use one of my pieces in publication, please let me know! I am a versatile writer and can writer for multiple audiences.

    Stay posted for upcoming reviews! I promise there will be some genres other than paranormal romance, but there will be a healthy helping of those as well! My TBR pile is heaping with autobiography/memoirs, some poetry, and at least one mystery.