Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's Monday,What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

Read Last Week:


Ever After: Loved it!! Harrison just keeps getting better and better. I had such fun at the author signing!! Review with be up Wednesday. 

Horns by Joe Hill: This book has the best opening paragraphs ever! I am still reading it, and my review will be up after book club next week. 

Reading This Week:


Habibi by Craig Thompson: I loved Blankets so much, I want to read this one. 

Winter Town by Stephen Emond: I love winter and I love this cover. 

Reviews Posted:


Let the Dead Sleep - Heather Graham

Let the Dead Sleep - Review

Title: Let the Dead Sleep
Author: Heather Graham
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

It was stolen from a New Orleans grave – the centuries-old bust of an evil man, a demonic man. It’s an object desired by collectors – and by those with wickedness in their hearts.

One day, its current owner shows up at Danni Cafferty’s antiques shop on Royal Street, the shop she inherited from her father. But before Danni can buy the statue, it disappears, the owner is found dead…and Danni discovers that she’s inherited much more than she realized. In the store is a book filled with secret writing: instructions for defeating evil entities. She’d dismissed it as a curiosity…until the arrival of this statue, with its long history of evil and even longer trail of death.

Michael Quinn, former cop and now private investigator, is a man with an unusual past. He believes that doing the right thing isn’t a job – it’s a way of life. And the right thing to do is find and destroy this object weighted with malevolent powers. He and Danni are drawn together in their search for the missing statue, following it through sultry New Orleans nights to hidden places in the French Quarter and secret ceremonies on abandoned plantations.

Cafferty and Quinn already know that trust in others can be misplaced, that love can be temporary. And yet their connection is primal. Mesmerizing. They also know that their story won’t end when this case is closed and the dead rest in peace once again.

My thoughts:

If a book is set in New Orleans, I will read it. A bit like Field of Dreams. "If you build it, they will come. " For me, if it is set in New Orleans, I will read it.  I have read other books by Graham set in the city, apparently she enjoys it as much as I do.

 A haunted antique, voodoo, a secret family history, the French Quarter and plantations, and interesting characters made this book entertaining and fun. It was easy to get lost in the words, and the answer to the mystery veiled just enough that you thought you knew it all but then you learn at the end, you didn't quite know it all.  The only criticism I have is that it became a little repetitive - the characters would get up, have breakfast, hunt for the bust, go home, shower, eat dinner, then get up and do the same thing all over again. 

This book is definitely a fun, easy read, pure escapism. If you like Heather Graham, or romantic supernatural thrillers, pick this one up for sure. 

Ever After - Review

Title: Ever After (The Hollows #11)
Author: Kim Harrison
Source: Nicola's Books - Book Signing with Kim Harrison!

Goodreads Summary:

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels the human world, is shrinking. If it disappears completely, so does all magic. It's up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to avert catastrophe and keep life from changing... for the worse.

While saving the world is important, it isn't Rachel's only motivation. There's also the small fact that she caused the ley line to rip in the first place, setting off a chain reaction of unfortunate events. That little mistake has made her life forfeit unless she can fix it. It's also made her more than a few enemies, including the most powerful demon in the ever after—a terrifying entity who eats souls and now has an insatiable appetite for her. He's already kidnapped her friend and goddaughter to lure her out, and if Rachel doesn't give herself up soon, they'll die.

But Rachel has more than a few impressive and frightening skills of her own, and she isn't going to hand over her soul and her life without one hell of a fight. She's also got a surprise: elven tycoon Trent Kalamack. With this unlikely ally beside her—a prospect both thrilling and unnerving—she's going to return to the ever after, kick some demon butt, rescue her loved ones... and prevent an apocalypse before it's too late. Or, at least that's the plan...

My Thoughts:

I always feel weird reviewing books that are in a series, when I haven't started with number 1.  It makes me feel like I am in the starting  during the middle of a story - which I guess I basically am.  So I apologize for doing this, if this is a series you are not familiar with. 

At the signing, Kim said that there only going to be 13 books in the series, and that number 13 is already written, its just in editing.  I don't want this series to end, I am not ready to say goodbye!! I understand though, I read a few series simply for the fact that I have always read them, and I have seen their deterioration, such as with the Sookie series and the Stephanie Plum series.  They should have ended a few books ago, in my opinion.  But so far, the Hollows have not gone downhill, and in fact, have only gotten better! Harrison is able to change the characters, make them grow, without ruining the books.  In doing so, the characters have not stagnated either.

I knew when I bought this book, that I would want to read it until I finished, cover to cover, without stopping, so I didn't read it immediately. I waited until Saturday, as my husband was working, and  I could devote my whole day to reading  the book. I am so glad I did, because I was right, I didn't want to put it down!  I don't want to give any spoilers, so I will keep my comments simple.  This book has shot to the top of the list of my favorites in the series, and is in the top spot, surpassing my long time favorite, A Fistful of Charms.  It was a roller coaster ride, and I didn't know how it was going to end.  I even shed some tears. A few times. I really don't want to say anymore, for fear of revealing anything, so I will stop here. But I do recommend this series to anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy. 

If you have read this and want to talk about it more with me, feel free to email me directly!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Challenges and Giveaways..


I saw this challenge on Introverted Reader, and I love the concept! I am excited to participate.  The European Reading Challenge is hosted by Rose City Reader. I hope to attain Deluxe Entourage Status, but we shall see!

Literary Giveaway Blog HopLiterary Giveaway Blog Hop!

I have never participated in a blog hop before, so I am a little intimidated, but I thought I would stick my toes in the water and try it out.  I plan on giving away a copy of a book by either Jack London or Rudyard Kipling. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ever After book signing with Kim Harrison

A month ago, Mary called Nicola's Books and made our line reservation.  We had been waiting excitedly for last night since then.  The event was being held the day that Ever After was released, so it was the launch of the book, right in Harrison's home state.  

I picked Mary up at 5 pm, on the coldest day of the year so far, -16 degrees kind of cold.  I was bundled up  in a sweater, coat, scarf, hat, and gloves. Mary threw caution to the wind and went sans winter clothing. I was so afraid we were going to have to wait outside in a line, and park far away in a structure and have to hike it to the store. 

Thank goodness, when we got there 45 minutes later, we found a huge parking lot with a close spot. Then we went into the warm goodness of the adorable bookstore, we found an area set up with chairs for the reading and Q&A. For some reason, I missed the fact that Kim Harrison was going to actually read to us from the book and answer a few questions before the signing. Mary and I were among the first there, and picked out chairs that had a great, unobstructed view.  

That is Mary pre-signing, after we had bought our books and were sitting in our chairs waiting patiently. After waiting an hour, talking books and taking turns getting up and browsing, it was finally time!  Kim Harrison's husband came out to introduce her, and then there she was!

Kim reading to the crowd of fans.

The people ahead of us in line, getting their books signed. 

 Kim Harrison signing my books!  I asked her to sign the new release, Ever After, and also an older paperback of mine that I have read a million times. It is my favorite in the series (so far), A Fistful of Charms. Ms. Harrison saw my book and said that she had to check the publication date since it looked like such an old book. Lol.  She checked, it was a first edition. She also commented that my book looked well-loved and well read. So true. 

My signed books. The inscription on Ever After is "It's over when Jenks says so".  The inscription on the other says "Pixies rule, Demons Drool". Again, so true.

So these next photos. Don't judge us please lol.  I have no idea why we look so crazy!! I know we were fangirling pretty hard, and it shows. We look nuts. Honestly, we don't look like these photos show us. Lol.  My trusty camera that I love was being rude as well - for some reason it wasn't working like normal. Which made me nervous! I guess we will have to go again when she does another tour, so we can get better photos!

Mary with Kim Harrison. She honestly doesn't usually close her eyes like that. :)

Me. I don't know what this face is! I look bored or above it all or something which is not true! I was super excited!! I also had hat hair.

From the "bunny cam", via Kim Harrison's website

This is a better photo. 

I am happy to add Kim Harrison to the list of authors I have met - which really isn't many! I have met Vincent Bugliosi, Bruce Campbell, and Connie May Fowler. Meeting Ms. Fowler was amazing, since I went to a small, twelve person writing workshop held by Fowler in a beach house in Florida, with my dad. It was so awesome!  

Kim Harrison was so genuinely nice and gracious, it was so cool to meet her and speak with her. Nicola's Books did a wonderful job managing the event, it was easy for rookies like us, and most of all warm!  

With the excitement over, we decided food was a necessity. I wasn't sure what was around where we were to eat, so I drove to one of my favorite restaurants in nearby Ypsilanti, Sidetracks Bar and Grill.  By this time, the wind was howling an arctic chill, and it was snowing and icing up. But I am down with adventure.  The parking lot we were in was a bit shady, with a lone cowboy hanging out outside his (?) car a few spots over.  Not wanting to take the risk of theft, we took our signed books in with us. :)  We parked a million miles away, and slogged through the tundra, freezing our fannies off.  

Thankfully, the bar was snug and warm.  We were seated at the table right next to the fireplace, which we greatly appreciated. We ordered hot tea to start off with, and Mary looked around, as it was her first time there. Its a funky little place with a lot of character, and we had a moose head right above our own heads, and the moose had a pretty little tiara on. Fancy moose. We ordered our food, devoured it, and made the long journey home.  We had some good talks in the car, and I was brimming with excitement and couldn't stop talking my poor husband's ear off once I got home. It was a great evening, and a great start to my year!

*Please do not use photos without permission or credit at least. Thanks!!

Inside Out and Back Again - Review

Title: Inside Out and Back Again
Author: Thanhha Lai
Source:  My work (school library)

Goodreads Summary:

No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.

For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next. 

My thoughts:

I cannot sing the praises for this book enough. I thought this book was excellent.

We had purchased this book for our library's collection because it is a 2012 Newbery Award winner, without knowing too much about it.  All we knew is what we had learned from the Scholastic Book Fair video we watched before the book fair in the fall, and it was a tiny little sneak peek.

Inside Out and Back Again is written in verse, first person point of view.  I don't usually read books that are written this way, and I was hesitant at first but very quickly loved it. Lai's imagery is so descriptive, you can visualize Saigon before the war, taste the foods Lai describes, and feel the emotions of Hà as she crosses the ocean with her family on her way to a foreign land and also how she felt about living in Alabama.

Hà, her mother, and her brothers were living as well as they could in Saigon during the war. Ha had her papaya tree, her brother Khôi had his chicks, but they all were missing their father and husband who was MIA. Hà is an untraditional girl at this time, who does what she wants and is stubborn and opinionated.  She doesn't like to listen to her mother that often, and on Tet, when it is unlucky for anyone but the oldest male to touch the floor first, Hà wakes up first and in a moment of rebellion, allows her toe to touch the ground. This reminded me so much of myself when I was about her age; at church one Christmas I demanded to be a shepherd because I insisted one of them could have been a female. When Saigon falls, Hà and her family join the mad rush to leave the country.  They manage to get space on a ship headed to the U.S.  

They arrive in Alabama. Alabama was so different from her homeland, the food, the religion, the people - and Hà and her family were just as different to the Alabama community they moved to. Hà endures bullying daily at school, where she looks different from all the other kids, and doesn't understand the language. She doesn't understand their taunts, but she does understand that it is directed at her, that she is being made fun of.  One part that I found particularly interesting is when Hà is learning English, she comments on how difficult the language is, with all its weird rules. Interestingly, for me, My father is a Vietnam vet, and I grew up hearing phrases he picked up while he was there, such as mau, di di mau (not sure on spelling etc) which my dad would say when he wanted us to move quickly.

Throughout the story, papaya is a symbol of home and hope to Hà.  She loves her tree in Vietnam, and when she has to leave it behind just as it starts to bear fruit, it breaks her heart.  Papaya is her favorite food, and one not found in  Alabama during that time. When she is given dried papaya by her friend and tutor, she at first rejects it, saying that it tastes bad. Later, her mom soaks it as a surprise for Hà, and Hà admits that maybe it is not all bad, signifying that Hà is beginning to accept her new life in a positive manner. Or so I believe.

Hà talked so often of food, especially Vietnamese food, that I am going to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant this weekend. I will let you know how it is!

I thought this book told a story that could be very heavy and sad in a beautiful, light way.  I think the subject itself is one I do not see often, especially in middle grade books. I recommend this to everyone. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday- Settings

Top Ten Tuesday- Settings I want to see more of

Photo source
1. New Orleans - my favorite city! I will read any book that is set in New Orleans.

Photo is mine

2. Savannah, GA: Another favorite. I love the south! 

Photo is mine

3. Mackinac Island, MI: I am a little biased. 

4.  Any place in Michigan, really.

Photo Source 

5.  London

Photo Source 

6.  Adirondacks, Upstate New York area

Photo Source 

7. France
Photo Source

8. Farms, anywhere

Photo is mine
9. Shenandoah Valley

Photo Source

10. Cabin in the Woods. Preferably in winter.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

Read last week:

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai: This book is a Newbery Award winner.  I picked it up from work, and I loved it! Such a beautiful telling of something that was so ugly.

Let the Dead Sleep by Heather Graham:  I got this book from NetGalley. So far it is pretty entertaining!

Reading this week:

Ever After by Kim Harrison: I am going to an author signing of this book on Tuesday!! It is the day the book is released as well, I am so excited to meet Kim Harrison!!  

Horns by Joe Hill:  This is our book club book this month - I have read it before but I want to reread it again before we meet. Joe Hill is also Stephen King's son. :)


Blog Catch-Up!

I have been away from this blog too long! I had the flu last week wicked bad, and I could not keep my eyes open for the first three days.  By last Saturday I was able to stay awake and sit up a little longer, but I still was feeling awful. I had a nice little pick me up Saturday though, when books I had won were delivered to my house.  I won the Dorothy Parker book from Librarything, and I won Crazy Enough from The Relentless Reader. I also won Brain on Fire from her as well, but my mom was over taking care of me, as she had done all week, so I told her to pick one of the books to borrow.  She read it over the rest of the weekend and she said it was amazing! I haven't gotten it back from her yet, but I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks Jennifer from Relentless Reader, it was a nice surprise while I was sick to get these!

Southern Literature Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I also was contacted by Jen from the Introverted Reader this week - I was one of the lucky winners of her Southern Literature Challenge!  She let me pick a book from the Book Depository, and I am looking forward to getting it and diving in. I picked a book by a new to me southern author. Thanks Jen from Introverted Reader!

I am planning on getting back on track this week with regular postings, and I also am thinking about participating in the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Leeswamme. I have never participated in a blog hop so I am a little nervous to commit!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The House on Tradd Street- Review

Title: The House on Tradd Street
Author: Karen White
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Practical Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. But she?s going to have to accept it. An old man she recently met has died, leaving her his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog?and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her their secrets.

Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden in the house. So he turns the charm on with Melanie, only to discover he's the smitten one...

It turns out Jack's search has caught the attention of a malevolent ghost. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak, and even murder.

My thoughts:

Where to begin?  I will start with what I liked.  The Charleston setting, the mystery, the ghosts, Jack, and the rest of the supporting characters. What I didn't like? Melanie.  That feels so harsh to state it like that, but I comfort myself with the fact that Melanie wouldn't sugar coat her feelings, so why would I? 

Melanie inherits a big old house in the historic district of Charleston, from an elderly man who was virtually a stranger.  She met him one time, when she wanted to leave her card in the event he went to a nursing home and moved out, she wanted to be the one to sell his house.She is impatient with his storytelling at first, yet by the end of the visit she kind of likes the old guy. The reader learns a lot about Melanie from this visit- she hates old houses, they are dirty and gross and filled with ghosts. Oh yeah, she can see ghosts, but chooses to ignore them.  She cares a great deal about her job as a Realtor (capitalized the entire books), new construction, white walls, and chrome and glass furniture.  He dies right after their meeting basically, and she inherits this awesome old house and the funds to fix it up, but she doesn't appreciate it. Nope. She wants to just sell it, but the will stipulates she must live in it for a year before she can.

Melanie is uptight, inflexible, a neat freak, and hasn't gone on a date in years. She doesn't own a pair of jeans, is supposedly beautiful, and can eat like a longshoreman on leave without gaining a single ounce.  (no woman wants to read that! Lol) When she meets Jack, she dislikes him instantly because he didn't take her out to dinner at a fancy pants restaurant, drinks beer, and she doesn't like his casual clothing. Too plebian for her. 

Jack is a writer, and tells Melanie he wants to investigate the mystery behind her inherited house for his new book.  Apparently the mother (Louisa) of the man Nevin, who died and left the house to Melanie, ran off with a criminal type (Joseph) when Nevin was a kid.   Nevin never believed this and said as much to Melanie, because she loved him and the house very much.  Louisa and Joseph were never seen or heard from again.  Jack also knows there is more to the mystery, but doesn't tell Melanie. 

There is the expected romantic triangle as well, which for me felt flat, only because Melanie seemed clueless and she was also never nice to Jack.

This is where the story is actually interesting and I won't spoil it! If you can get past Melanie, the mystery is intriguing, and while I figured some of it out, I didn't figure it all out. 

Southern Literature Challenge

 Southern Literature Challenge - The Introverted Reader
This is my favorite challenge every year! I gravitate towards books set in the south, so it is easy for me to meet my goal as well. 

I have already read one book set in the south this year, I will be reviewing it soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week. 

First, I have to ask, are any of you excited about the return of Downton Abbey? I am! So happy I get to see this face again.

Tom Branson! Hot Irish former chauffeur.
Anyway, back to reading. Lol.  

Read last week:


Cold Days by Jim Butcher:  I was scared to read this since I don't like change, but I really enjoyed it! (review coming)  

Blankets by Craig Thompson: Beautiful, fragile, wonderful. 

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White: This one I have mixed feelings about. Review coming soon.

Reading this week:


Paper Towns by John Green: I read Looking for Alaska and I am now obsessed. I must read more Green!! I am working my way up to The Fault in Our Stars.

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball:  I love books like this. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- January 5

Saturday Snapshot
It's easy to participate- just post a picture that was taken by
you, a friend, or a family member, and add your link
on Alyce's site. (no pictures from the internet!)

I was looking through all of my photos from this summer, and this was one of my favorite days. My friend, who has been my friend for 20 years, and I went to Greenfield Village with her children.  It was such a wonderful day, perfect weather too.  I love snow but I love days like the one above as well. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Blankets - Review

Title: Blankets
Author/Artist: Craig Thompson
Source: Library (but buying!)

Goodreads Summary:

Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

My thoughts:

When I saw this book on The Relentless Reader I knew I wanted to read it when there was snow on the ground, all snuggled under my own blankets.  When I picked this up from the library, I was struck by how absolutely heavy it was; it was not an easy book to read in bed, I actually had to prop onto a pillow on my lap in order to read it.  That being said, it was a quick read, and took me about an hour, although I do want to go back and look at the illustrations more closely.

The story was more than I expected; I imagined this book would just be boy meets girl, happy happy, etc.  But this book is more - feeling trapped and helpless, guilt over failing someone who loves you but you needed protecting too; feeling outcast and separate, different from the rest. First love with someone who gets you and seems to need you too, and then hanging on them like a life raft (or a security blanket).  I thought this book was beautiful and broke my heart many times, right from the beginning.  

This book and the illustrations were so familiar to me - familiar not like I have seen them before, but familiar as I could relate to them. I grew up in the time of grunge in the midwest too.  I am from Michigan, and a portion of this book takes place in Marquette, a city I have visited and felt like I was so far north I was on top of the world.  I couldn't relate to the religious aspects of this book, how Craig the younger in the book grew up in rural Wisconsin raised by conservative Christian parents. I didn't grow up that way, but I still understood what it was like to not fit in. I felt like I knew these characters, because in many ways I did.  

And the drawings- they were gorgeous.  I can't draw at all, my attempts are embarrassing to everyone involved, but I wish I could. And Thompson's illustrations were fragile and charming and poignant, and at times I wanted to rip the pages from the book and hang them on the wall. (I didn't though) 

I think you should read this book. Don't be afraid of it being a graphic novel.  Just read it. Under a blanket.