Monday, November 30, 2015

Officially The Holiday's

Hola readers!  How was your Thanksgiving (for the statesiders)?  Mine was super busy, a mix of family, food and running calls on the ambulance.  Got to see ALL of my nephews this week which was awesome and had the best experience of my nephew R-boy reading a WHOLE book out loud to me on Skype.  Spent a couple hours debating the various book shelf options with the in-laws and just had a great time in general.

After an early start and getting the family on the road, Hubbin (and a zillion cups of coffee) helped me get the Christmas stuff up.  I am getting quit a bit of book stuff amassed and can't wait to put up a couple posts of all the shopping/browsing I've been doing.  Next step is to figure out a good holiday book (s) to get in the holiday mood and of course blog the crap out of all the great holiday stuff out there.  I hope everybody is having a great holiday and as always HAPPY READING EVERYBODY!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book Of Thankful

Sometimes I think I should write a book of things I'm thankful for.  That way when life is sucky and it feels like the whole world is never gonna get better, I can open up my book and remember how awesome I have it.  Here is what the first page would look like
Things I'm Thankful For
Part I of Endless

Even though it has been a rough year for several of my friends and family, we are all still here and all still kicking, me people are seriously rocking it.

When watching all the horrific events that happen in the world, I can always find examples of love and courage being shown, turning these awful events into a showcase for how amazing human beings can be to each other when they need to.

I not only have an amazing family of my own, but I have multiple adopted families who take such great care of me, even when I am not at my best.

My firehouse and crew who make my life worth waking up for on a very regular basis.  Whenever I am feeling lost or overwhelmed, one exhausting shift at station 13 with my girls and boys and I am all better.

Used book stores that make my book buying obsessions easier and cheaper and more frequent.

My over flowing bookshelves that make me smile ever time I walk in my door.

The ability to read.

This is just the start and I think I will constantly add to it so that I can always know that the world is a better place then I think it is sometimes.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eat It Up

Here in the states it is Thanksgiving time...which means SO MUCH FOOD!  Being the booky that I am I cannot simply have a Thanksgiving dinner, nope I must sneak it as much literary yumminess as possible.  Here are some fun and clever ways to get the books to come to dinner.
Book Plates
Serving up food on these tasty plates would make for a great story.
Pride and Prejudice Spoon
How's this for a well read spoon?
Book Cover Wine Charms
A great way to keep everybody's drink in their own hands
Book Page Tablecloth
Just try to make the pages not too interesting or your guests will be too busy reading to eat.
Literary Teapot
What better way to end a big meal then with a hot drink and a good book.
Since I am not actually hosting the dinner this year, I will have to be tricky and see how many literary elements I can sneak onto the table.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gaslamp Stories

I got to discover a new genre with my most recent book...well it was less of a discovery and more finding out there was a name for it.  The book is Queen Victoria's Book of Spells a short story collection edited by my favorites Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  It is a collection of stories that are set in the Victorian era and in general feature a very subtle style of magic with some stories popping in some steampunk for good measure.  This genre is apparently called Gaslamp Fantasy, which is awesome sounding so I'm on board.  This was as always a great collection by these two women.  Here are a few of my favorites.
The Fairy Enterprise by Jeffery Ford - This is a cheeky little story about a man who is pretty awful.  He decides to use the local superstitions to "grow faries" and sell them to whoever will buy them.  His plan is actually pretty ingenious...if not completely dishonest.  He as in all good stories gets his comeuppance when it turns out the faries are real and have a a vengeful streak.  He is devoured from the inside and we all cheer.  Good story.

The Memory Book by Maureen McHugh - This story is perfect for reading on a dreary dark day.  It is equal parts creepy, sad, horrifying and to the point.  Laura Ann is a girl of reduced means who has discovered that if she uses her special memory book, she can influence those around her in unpredictable ways.  The part I liked the best is that the results would come about in unexpected ways, and yet still recognizable from what Laura Ann put in her book.  Good fall story.

For The Briar Rose by Elizabeth Wein - This is probably my favorite story in the collection.  It brings together history, art, magical realism and an atmosphere that stuck with me.  It is a semi-fictionalized version of the life of Margaret Burne-Jones the daughter of Edward Burne-Jones an artist.  This story inspired a ton of research and reminded me how much I love the Aestheticism and Pre-Ralphite styles.  To me this is what story telling is all about and it has inspired me in many good ways.

Phosphorus by Veronica Schanoes - This is another story based in historical fact with a twist of magic.  We meet our narrator, a young poor woman of London who works in a match factory under heinous conditions.  She has acquired what is known as phossy jaw, a debilitating condition that leads to death in most cases.  Her Nan performs some subtle old school magic (which involves her own to ensure that our narrator will live long enough to see the big rally that will hopefully improve conditions for the girls.  It succeeds and I go off on another research tangent.

The Vital Importance of the Superficial by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevemer - This is the kind of story that just makes me happy.  It is written in a back and forth letter style and is just so much fun.  Considering that this format could get confusing the story, personalities and vibe came through very nicely.  I love this kind of story because it balances wit and substance in a way that makes me smile.  I don't know what else I can say without rehashing the whole story, but it is immensely readable and awesome.
This is just a sample of the great stories in this collection, I like all of them to varying degrees for a myriad of reasons.  It felt new and fresh...even though I have read these types of stories before.  I feel that is a testament to the editors care in putting together a new collection that is exciting and varied.  This book encouraged me to go research any number of things (partly inspiring last weeks down the rabbit hole post) and also makes me want go go buy a bunch more books.  I recommend this book to anybody who has an interest in the Victorian era, likes magic without all the big flash and bang of full on fantasy or just wants some cool new stories.  I give this collection 8 out of ten World Expo's and will now run out to the bookstore for more of these stories.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dedicated To Happiness

After a couple of weeks of all kinds of not happiness, I am feeling much better.  This is mostly 'cause I am surrounded by awesome people who know how I work and just make the world a much better place.  And also books...'cause books are awesome an wonderful and just all around YAY!  So today I would like to dedicate this post of dedications to the people who have dedicated their time to my sanity and happiness.
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The House of Hades
The Little Prince
Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem
No Way Back
I hope this has brought a smile to your face.  Go make somebody's day better and Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Down The Rabbit Hole

The books I have been reading lately have inspired me to go down the rabbit hole.  What does that mean you ask?  Good question.  Going down the rabbit hole is what we call it when something inspires me to do extra research...and usually this research leads me to more topics and more research and so on so forth.  With the advent of smartphones this has been even more pervasive in my reading.  Anytime a topic, word, idea, or well anything really pops up, I can just look it up on my phone.  The down side to this of course if that it sometimes adds hours to my reading time, but since I am a pretty fast reader that is ok.  This works both ways, sometimes I will be studying or watching something that inspires me to go find a book on the topic.
I LOVE this back and forthness of reading.  I find if a story inspires me to dig deeper that it did one of it's jobs in catching and keeping my attention.  I love learning new things and each new bit of knowledge, no matter its inspiration is like finding treasure.  Of course it also inspires nice long ramblings and gushings and my poor Hubbin having to hear "Hey baby did you know..." on a constant basis.  It also means that I don't get a whole lot of sleep.  This is just one more reason I love reading so much, and love people who read so much because I feel it broadens all of our minds and makes us better people.  So on that note, I have more books to read and research to do and rabbit holes to go down.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Friendship In The Time Of Hardship

I watched this amazing movie/documentary the other day called Nicholas Winton:  The Power of Good about a man who's seemingly simple actions saved over 600 children during World War II and can I just tell you it was so amazing, seriously made me cry like a baby in a good way.  This powerful movie reminded me of one of my favorite books Number the Stars by Lois Lowry a story of friendship and sacrifice during an insanely difficult time.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD.
Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen live a typical life of grade school girls in Denmark.  They are vaguely aware of the German soldiers that have appeared on every street corner, but since they are mostly left alone, don't really worry about it.  This all changes one night when soldiers barge into Annemarie's house where Ellen is spending the night.  The soldiers question the Johansnes about the Rosen's whereabouts and are suspicious of Mr. Johansens claims of Ellen being his daughter due to her darker hair.  They are able to appease the soldiers when Mr. Johansen rips the pictures of his three daughters out of an album to show them, what the soldiers don't know is one of the pictures is actually Annemarie's older sister who was killed years ago. Annemarie and Ellen are told that the soldiers were looking for Jew's to "relocate" aka take to the concentration camps and that Mr. and Mrs. Rosen were in hiding and Ellen was to stay with the Johansen's.   Mrs. Johansen takes Annemarie, Ellen and the youngest Johansen girl Kirsti to her brothers house in the country.  Annemarie starts to realize the hugeness of what is going on and resolves to help in any way she can.  One night a wake for an unknown aunt is to happen, with a casket delivered to the house.  Many people come to the wake, including Ellen's parents who had been hidden for safe keeping.  Soldiers again barge in and after some great acting leave the party to their "wake".  Turns out that Mrs. Johansen's brother is part of an underground group that helps smuggle persecuted Jews across the channel to Sweden.  Ellen and her family are scheduled to go with him in the bottom of his fishing boat.  Unfortunately Mrs. Johansen is hurt helping their friends to the boat and is up to Annemarie to deliver an important package to her uncle.  She accomplishes this despite a scary run in with the soldiers.  She is sad that her best friend must leave, but is happy she could help her when push came to shove.  The end of the book wraps up most of the stories of the people we meet in the book, some good, some sad, some tragic, but all there.
I have always had a fascination with WWII.  I think the sheer horror of what the Nazi party did, the horrors and hurt of the actual warfare in all the countries involved and the amount of pain and suffering and death is oddly contrasted with the stories of friendship, bravery and showcasing of the good of most of humanity is what draws me to this era.  This book in particular has always been a favorite of mine for several reasons.  The biggest one is just the sheer readability of it, I am a fan of this authors books and this one is no exception.  It is geared for the YA crowd and I think it does a fantastic job of balancing a scary and tragic topic with speaking to a younger audience.  The author does not sugar coat anything, there is plenty of realistic tragedy and sadness, but it is tempered with a hope and a highlighting of the good people did for each other in these dark times.  The setting was awesome as it is not one you see a lot in stories about WWII.  Most stories are set in German, Poland, or France so seeing Denmark, a smaller country, doing what it had to to survive was great.  The characters were great, I liked seeing the family units and how they interacted.  I loved Kirsti as the youngest sister, adding a sense of absurd and realism to the whole proceedings.  Annemarie shows a beautiful growth arc that is bittersweet and beautiful.  I don't really have anything bad to say about this book.  I would recommend it to just about everybody, and would suggest this one as a school reading assignment, or one to read out loud with your family to inspire discussion.  I give it 9 out of 10 Star of David Necklaces.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Read Dream Escape

My reading level is at a dangerous low and it is affecting my everyday life.  I have spent a lot of time in the real world these last couple of weeks, and I am sure I don't need to tell you that it has not been a good one for a lot of people.  Different people have different coping mechanisms and mine is to read.  I like taking a few minutes when life gets crazy to go to another world and forget about the crappy parts here for a while.  When I don't get to do that, I get  cranky and stuck in my own head.
Lucky for me the remedy is  So that is what I am going to do.  I have a couple minutes here and there and I am once again make it a priority to read something for fun.  I have spent a lot of time reading, watching, listening and experiencing things that while necessary and even good to know, have not let me get the breather I need.  So if anybody needs me in this last hour before I have to head to work, I'll be reading reading reading.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Too Much Learning

I made it back WOOHOOO!  That was a pretty rough week, learned a lot of stuff, but did not get to indulge my creative side at all, which makes me turn into a crazy person.  I unfortunately did not get much reading done AND I am heading into another hell week (120 hours on an ambulance) so if my
posts are more incoherent and sporadic then usual, you know why.  All of that being said, I did get to learn a lot of new things, and the best part was I was encouraged to think in new ways, which I love.  I also have a ton of new things to research which also makes me HAPPY!  I will try and get some actual posts up here soon, and hopefully finish a couple of the great books I am in the middle of right now so that I can do some more ramblings.  I will say I have a ton of posts in my head, I just need to find time and energy to get them written.  I hope you are all finding many great books.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Food! (Re-Post)

Happy Almost Thanksgiving to all of my American readers.  I will be at the station, bossing my ambulance for the next couple of days so this is the last post until Monday.  Here in America we are celebrating food this week, I know, I know it's supposed to be about being thankful, and it is and I am and also there is a ton of really good food :-)  I have also noticed that food plays a big role in many books.  It is a way to establish time, place and status.  Exotic made up foods let you know you are somewhere unknown, when bread crusts are mentioned you know you are probably on the lower side of the class level.  Feasts, markets, snacks all help to add dimension to a story.  Here are some of my favorite food mentions in books.
Little House Series- This is probably one of my first full on book/food experiences. Food plays a huge role throughout the series and shows just how hard one had to work just to have food to put on the table.  I loved all of the descriptions on how food was grown, butchered, processed, prepared and consumed.  I must have driven my family crazy trying to mimic it all.  Some of the foods I wanted to try after reading this series- Vanity Puffs, cracklings, fresh churned butter, apple pie for breakfast, fresh maple syrup candy.
Harry Potter Series- These books are a great example of using food to help define a different world and different classes.  In the beginning just the ability to eat as much food as one wanted for each meal was one of Harry's biggest delights after arriving at Hogwarts.  The addition of variety and the novelty of wizard only foods just added to the atmosphere.  Of course after learning about the house-elves the immensity of these meals took on another meaning entirely.  One of my favorite scenes is still the first time we are introduced to Honeydukes and all of the delicious variety of magical candies seen within.  Some things that sound like fun to try- Berties Every-flavor Beans, butterbeer, chocolate frogs, Fizzing Whizbees, Ice Mice, Pepper Imps.
Chronicles of Narnia-My first introduction to books, also my first introduction to the importance of food.  From the turkish delight that tempts Edmund, to the mysterious feast on the outmost island at the end of the world, food in this world can have some serious consequences.  Food is also used to show community as when the Beavers feed the children a simple yet hearty and warming meal.  Food is used to mark the different cultures, people, and places within the realm that Narnia dwells.  To this day I still want to go to a giants kitchen and swim in a big cup of coffee!  Some food from my favorite realm that sound worth a try- Sticky marmalade roll, turkish delight, toffee candy plant fruit, buttered toast, frothy hot chocolate.
The Girl Who series- I have not finished this series yet (it's not even completely written yet) but the food in these stories is just so imaginative and descriptive that I have to include what I have read about already.  This is fairy food and by eating it our hero September must come back to Fairyland every year.  Again food is used to highlight the various regions and peoples that September meets along her journey and they are as varied and creative as one can get.  These stories also play on the Greek stories of Persephone and how eating the pomegranate seed compels her to return to the Underworld for a set amount of time each year. Some foods that I would gladly get stuck in Fairyland for- Pumpkin soup, The Elephants Fiery Heart Coffee.
So many many many many more that if I start naming them I will never stop!
The Candymakers- Ok so this one may have less to do with food as a whole and be more about candy, but in my family we eat dessert first so that makes it food!  The candy plays a pivitol role in this book as a way to teach, comfort, enjoy, amaze...well pretty much everything.  I think the main thing about the candy in this book is the way that each character goes about making his or her candy.  Some are methodical, some go for looks, some for taste, some just throw stuff pel-mel and hope for the best.  Each style, flavor, and design represents so much about each character in the book that you end up learning more from the candy then you do anything else.  Some tasty treats that I would like to try- Bubbletastic ChocoRocket, Pepsicle, Neon Yellow Lightining Chew, Oozing Crunchorama.
Ok so those are just a few books where food plays a role in defining the book, I know there are zillions of others, but these are the ones that made it on this year.  Next year we will add some more. On that note as much as I love the food aspect of Thanksgiving, I am also very thankful for so many things this year.  My whole family on both sides have been making progress in work, health, family and general awesomeness, Hubbin has been doing great in school, I have been having an awesome time at the station, and my bookshelves are full.  Most of all I am thankful for the sheer amount of loving family I have.  I have my friends who may as well be family, my station brothers and sisters, my inlaws and outlaws, my blood family and my adopted family and most of all my amazing Hubbin who loves me, spoils me, encourages me and makes me feel like the smartest, sexiest, most amazing person on the planet on a daily basis.  Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Winter Storm Warning...How To Make Sure You Are Stocked Appropriatly (Re-Post)

So us East Coasters are supposed to get hit with a Snowmageddon II tonight...yep we like to name our weather events all kinds of awesome names.  This means one of two things, either we will be trapped in our homes for the next three weeks...or it will all be gone by 5am.  Of course just the mention of snow sends my fellow East Coasters into panic mode and they all go racing for the stores to stock up on bread, milk and crackers.  I bet you anything if I walked into any local grocery store those shelves would be completely empty and there would be a line of frantic angry people freaking out 'cause they need to get all their bread, milk and crackers home before the snow 9 hours.  YEAH!  All kidding aside though it is important to be prepared, so I started my preparations yesterday by going to the most important store when it comes to storm stocking, that's right folks my local Barnes and Nobles.  Lucky for me they also knew a storm was coming and had all the books I wanted just waiting for me to pluck of the bank account maybe not so prepared :-)  Here is my all important list for getting through most major weather events.
1) Books!  This is the most important item on the list because they are useful in so many ways.  You can of course read them, you can get survival tips from them, you can build and igloo out of them, you can use them as a way to spell out HELP or SOS so the helicopters can find you, you can use them as weapons, you can use them as a reward or punishment in the post apocalyptic society that will naturally come about after three days stuck in the same house as that stupid person (people) over there!  Things you may not do with your books no matter what the emergency or you will go straight to book-less hell where the only entertainment available to you will be Keeping Up with the Kardashions and Tiger Beat.  You must never burn your books no matter how cold you think you are, you must not use them to build a raft, even if you think you can see land, you must never never never never leave them behind, they are your children and must be taken care of.

2) Coffee, so much coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Coffee is a miracle substance, it keeps you warm, alert, and contains most homicidal urges.  Coffee can be brewed, iced, rewarmed, added to, or just eaten straight from the bag/bin/tun it comes in.  Coffee makes you feel full so even if food is scarce you will survive, coffee cures almost all ills so no one in your group will every fall prey to stupid little diseases, coffee will revive the dead...just ask my Hubbin any given morning.  Make sure you have enough coffee for everybody in your group, about a pound a day per person should be enough...unless there is a super bookworm in your bunch, then you had better double it.  Make sure everybody consumes their full ration every hour, no matter what and you will survive.

3) Duct Tape-Need I say more?

4) Mad-Libs, this easy simple hilarious game can keep ANYBODY entertained for hours and hours and hours.  You can do a zillion variations, make up rules, themes and all kinds of fun stuff.  You can reuse them, play them by yourself, play with others, build a society around them.  If you have Mad-Libs you may survive this hellish ordeal with some of your sanity intact.

5) A sense of humor.  For some reason even the most prepared person seems to forget to pack their sense of humor.  Stuff if gonna go wrong, toilets are going to stop working, the laptop will lose it's charge, and the roads will be impassable the day you finally agree to watch your baby nephew...Deal with it!  A sense of humor will not only make life bearable for your fellow trapees, but for yourself as well. A well prepared sense of humor will make you the hero of any weather related disaster.

I hope this list serves you well as you hunker down for Snowmaicemonsterwindsofdoomageddon II!  I will be at the fire station answering the calls of the poor trapped souls in need of my crew and our magic ambulance, rescuing people who seem to close their eyes and drive if you even mention snow, and join into the never ending snowball fight that we have going between calls at the station.  I was not kidding however on stocking up on books yesterday and will be bringing them all to the station for in case we get stuck their (along with extra socks, you always need extra socks). I hope everybody has enough books to survive.  Happy Reading Everybody!
PS In all seriousness, please try and keep a path to your door for emergency crews should you need their help, it will make it safer for everybody, including the patient.  If you know a neighbor is house bound, or sick, or has a newborn baby, show some of that awesome Olympic spirit that has been going around and clear a path to their door.  Mark your fire hydrants and keep your address visible hopefully you won't ever have to see me, but if you do we will both be glad that the prep work was done.  Stay Safe!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rainbow Bookshelf (Re-Post)

In celebration of spring hopefully arriving soon, here is a rainbow of bookshelves for your every growing library (note to self:  How cool would it be to change out your bookshelves every season!).
All of this has made me want to install all new bookshelves and paint them all kinds of awesome colors.  Maybe they have inspired you to add a pop of color as well.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Getting On The List (Re-Post)

As my bookshelf space gets more and more limited I like to think of my TBR list as a kind of VIP list that books are clamoring to get on. We know this is not true of course, that I am a shameless book hussy and will bring home any book with a great cover, but a girl can still pretend to have standards :-)  In all seriousness folks, it is always interesting (to me at least) to see how a book does get on my list.
Known Author/Series-as with most people, I am a creature of habit, if I recognize a name on a book I am a zillion more times likely to pick it up, or be on the look out for the that particular author.  The next book in a series is always a pretty safe bet, if I am not already rabidly waiting at the store for the next installment to come out. When I was younger this is how I got the vast majority of my books.  I stuck pretty close to series and authors I knew, only branching out when I ran out of books, or my Mamma made me (thanks Mamma!).  I will be the first to admit that these are the first shelves I go to when I hit the bookstore/library and only after I have exhausted this route do I move on to other ways of putting books on my list/in my basket. Some examples that have made it on my list (Anne McCafferyOrson Scott CardRobin HobbThe Princess SeriesFablehavenA Song of Ice and Fire)

Popularity- I used to have a thing against reading books just because they were popular (which is kinda crazy considering my penchant for certain classics, which if you think about it are probably the definition of popular books).  I was in a stage for the longest time where I only read books nobody else had heard of in some hoity toity lofty idea miasma of coolness (no seriously that is totally accurate).  The book(s) that finally broke that stupid wall down for me was of course the amazing Harry Potter series.  Of course not every popular book is a good book (I'm looking at you Twilight), but there are many many many books that are worthy of the buzz and popularity.  Since starting this blog, I will sometimes read them, just to say I have and can continue my streak of snooty superiority, snug in the knowledge that I have actually read the book.  That being said, here are some books/series that made me glad I jumped aboard the bandwagon. (The Hunger GamesThe Book ThiefAnything by Jane Austen)

Movies/TV-As much as I hate to admit it movies and TV shows made from books do play a role in my book choosing.  A lot of the time I have already read the book before the movie/show is even dreamed of, but in some cases the movie actually introduces me to the book. Sometimes I hear of the movie/show, go get and read the book and even eventually watch the movie/show (my Hubbin hates it when I do this).  Sometimes I watch a movie/show and find out that it is actually a book, or it gets me interested in a book that never really held that much attraction before.  Either way several of my book choices have been directly influenced by the movie.  Here are some of my favorite books that have been bought and loved via movie/TV inspiration. (Sherlock HolmesStardustThe Walking DeadPercy Jackson Series)

Recommendations/Reviews- I have found some of the worst books this way, but I have also found some of my most treasured stories through personal recommendations and reviews.  I think this is a tricky category because as I have mentioned before I feel books are like art, what person genuinely and legitimately loves, will appear to another person to be no more then splotches on a piece of canvas.  It is also really hard to get a recommendation from somebody and then hate the book and then have to find a way to not hurt the recommenders feelings.  I found the best way is to find people who share similar tastes in life with you.  My baby sis can recommend a book and 9/10 times I LOVE it.  Same with review sites, I love reviews, but find that people (as they should) always come at it with there own idea and do I.  I have however found a couple of sites that seem to sync up with my tastes and I have a 8/10 record with most of them, so that works out pretty well in my favor. Here are some awesome books I would have missed without these great recommendations. (And All the StarsAny Tamora Pierce book, Ella Enchanted)

Covers-I know your'e not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I can't help it.  Normally this actually works for a book.  In general if I am already gonna get a book, the cover doesn't really deter me (though I will pay a bit more for a nice cover).  Sometimes however, I am in the mood for a bit of a gamble and I will walk the stacks and let a picture, color or title catch my eye.  Oddly enough this has resulted in some AMAZING finds.  Not really much else to say about this method, so here are some books that I urge you to judge by there covers.  (Wildwood DancingZombies vs. UnicornsHow to Ditch Your Fairy)
There you have it folks, 5 ways to get onto my VIP TBR red carpet list :-)  As you can probably tell there is a reason my bookshelf is full to bursting, with more books on the list, just waiting to be bought, read and shelved.  The best part is with these sources my list is essentially never ending...I should probably go get some more shelves :-)

How do you decide which books go on your TBR pile/list?  What is the oddest way you have discovered a favorite book?  What recommendations do you have for me?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week Of Learning...But No Posting

Soooo...I'm gonna be away again.  This time it is for work though, so not really my fault.  I am actually quit excited about it 'cause it's a yearly conference where all of us EMT's get together and learn new ways to poke people full of holes among other things.  We also all get to go out drinking and share our war stories.  Unfortunately, between trying to squeeze a couple of shifts in before I
leave and not actually being here at all, posting will not be happening this week.  Instead I will re post some of my favorite posts for your enjoyment.  Hopefully I will also get a chance to sneak a couple of chapters in during any down time I may have.  Back to regular posting next week, I promise.  Until then enjoy these older posts and try not to judge my progress to harshly.  Happy Reading Everybody!

Friday, November 6, 2015


After reading over 1000 books I have come to realize something...a good editor is critical to a good book.  Seriously one of my biggest book peeves is when a book could have been great...if a good editor had gotten a hold of it before publication.  As a creative person, and as the daughter, sister, friend, wife, and aunt to some insanely wonderfully creative people I have come to realize that knowing when to stop is not always our strong point.  An objective eye is needed to really sell the dream/idea/concept to the rest of the world (I'm sure my blog posts are a perfect example of why we need good editors).  Editors perform any number of tasks, but the main was is making sure the story the author is trying to get across is readable and coherent.
This is never more obvious then the new ability to self-publish online.  Sites like Amazon even provide publishing and outlet services for new authors.  While this is really in cool in that people we would never get to read are now available, for example Andy Weir and his book The Martian.  That being said, I have to mostly avoid reading these tales because the lack of editing is excruciatingly evident.  I firmly believe that no matter how good or how experienced an author you are, a good editor is what takes the book that final step.  Most authors get to close to their story, or forget that the reader is not in their heads and don't have all the information to tie the story together when the author forgets to put whats in their heads onto the page, this is where a good editor is invaluable.  To this end I actually have favorite editors (just in case my super bookworm nerdishness was in question), mostly in relation to short story collections (I'm looking at you Datlow, Windling, and Adams I'll read anything edited by you), but in other capacities as well.  So next time you read a book that has spot on pacing, makes sense, and has minimal typos remember to look on the editor page on give them a quick nod because they have helped your favorite author bring their book to life.  On that note, any volunteers to edit my incoherent ramblings?  Happy Reading Everybody!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Game Of Consequences

I know I said no more brain draining dark books...but I just finished this book and I need to work through how I feel about it, and this is usually the best way to do it.  The book is called Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates and I got it 'cause Hubbin had heard about it and told me about it and it sounded interesting.  After finishing it I'm still not sure how I feel about it, so I apologize ahead of time for the potential lack of coherency that may ensue.  But first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The book is written in two ways, a first person, diary style coupled with a traditional third person narrative telling the story.  The diary portions are set in the present, with the narrative telling us the past history...It makes sense I promise.  The bare bones of the story is that 6 people with varying degrees of friendship get together to play a complicated game of consequences overseen by a shadowy organization known as the Game Society.  We meet Chad, a shy American who is at Pitt University in Oxford on a scholarship. He befriends the outgoing Jolyon who seems to attract every person he meets.  Mark is the sleepy scientist, Jack is the jokester.  Emilia is the principled conservative who tries to fix everything.  Cassandra, known as Dee is the free spirit with a hint of macabre.  The six of them interact in different ways with each other, the dynamics causing most of the humaness of the story.  The game, which is the focal point of the story is never fully explained, but is a mix of cards, dice, chance and skill.  It is the consequences of losing this game that are of interest to us.  The premise is depending on how bad you lose you have to draw any number of tasks of varying degrees of difficulty and the loser must perform all of them with the intent of essentially embarrassing the performer of the task. The tasks are all thought up by the members of the group and are specific to each player of the game.  As the game progresses the tasks get harder and harder.  The point is to get people to quit the game and the winner gets a prize of 10,000 pounds, funded by the mysterious Game Society.  Each member must also put in 1,000 pounds of their own money as a deposit with each player getting it back as long as they quit before they are given a task.  If a player earns a task and refuses to perform it they forfeit the deposit.  The game is played, tasks are performed, simple and silly and first with worse and worse tasks being assigned.  As the friendships start to deteriorate and the impacts of the players life start to get worse and worse more people start to drop out.  We end up with Chad and Jolyon as the final two players.  The characters seemed to have switched personalities with Chad becoming braver and more outgoing, and Jolyon starting to succumb to his mental
disorder.  Jolyon wants to quit, but is informed by the Game Society that whoever loses will then have to continue to play another game of their choosing.  Neither player wants to have to deal with the horrors of another twisted game and decide to have the final round 13 years in the future.  The diary portions of the book deal with the present.  Here we see a hermit Jolyon who has resorted to the use of mnemonic devices just to survive.  For example he sets out 6 glasses of water above 3 plates in his hallway so that when he is blocked by them, he remembers to eat and drink water.  He has many of these types of devices, some making more sense then others.  The other thing he is doing is trying to "train" for the final round of the game.  He is assisted in this by the reappearance of Dee, who gives Jolyon some tidbits about the surviving former players of the game (Mark died in an unfortunate accident that involved Jolyon and is part of the reason for Jolyon's mental lapse).  As the reader we get the sense that some of Jolyon's mnemonic's are not exactly the way they should be, taking his well ordered life and making it a mess.  Chad shows up, looking pretty good and the game is played. Chad informs Jolyon that he has actually been in town for a while, and that he and Dee (who he is now married to) have been messing with Jolyon's stuff, adding one more layer to his madness.  Jolyon loses very badly, getting several consequences that he must perform.  Chad however only ends up with one consequence, on that he must do before Jolyon does his.  Jolyon tells Chad to go visit his parents as his consequence, something he vowed to never do.  This is the one thing Chad will not do and he disappears leaving Jolyon as the winner.
Obviously there is a lot more to this story then I can get in a simple synopsis, but at the end I feel like this is the gist of it.  I mentioned before I have mixed feelings about this book and I am trying to figure out why.  In some ways I really liked it.  After I got into it, it turned into a very page turning book.  I wanted to find out what the game was, who the Game Society was, what were everybody's deep dark secrets, all things that the book kept eluding to.  Unfortunately most of this stuff was never really given to us in the book.  The book was mostly about bits and pieces and stuff strung together to make a semblance of a story.  I am not being very coherent here, but I did warn you :-)  Um hmm.  So the appeal of this book is that some of the ideas and execution are very original and the writing kept me interested.  On the other hand, there was not actually a lot of story in this book.  There were lots of little moments, a TON of interactions between the various group members...but not a lot of forward motion on the story.   In fact by the time I was done with the book, I wasn't really clear on what the actual story was at all.  I wanted to know more about the actual game itself, which was supposed to be the center piece of the book.  There were a couple examples of consequences, mostly the ones that had an impact on the group, but I felt that we never got the full flavor of the game.  As far as the characters went they were ok.  I liked Dee the best as she seemed to have the most depth to her, but in general the characters felt like stock representations of a college group.  Which would have been fine if the interactions between the characters had been a bit more original.  I liked Jolyon's mnemonic system, it's something I have never seen before, but again I felt it would have had more of an impact if we had known the history of it.  Chad should have been a cooler character, but again his transformation from shy awkward dude, to super confident game player was never really believable.  Over all I liked the idea of the book and what it could have been better then the actual execution.  This book was written by a first time author, and I will be interested in reading any other books he writes to see if his writing can live up to his fantastic idea's with a little more experience.  I give it 6 out of 10 death poems.  Happy Reading Everybody!