Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween !!!!!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Halloween!!!!    I've been away for a few days, taking more cemetery pictures --- but since I just got back -- thought I'd wish everyone a Happy Halloween!!!!!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  The first in a series of novels set in one of the most extraordinary fantasy settings since Gormenghast -- the vertical city of Thaiburley. From its towering palatial heights to the dregs who dwell in The City Below, it's an incredible creation. When Tom, a teenage street thief from the depths, ventures into the uppermost levels to impress a girl, the last thing he expects to do is witness a murder. Accused of the crime, he must use all of his knowledge of the ancient city to flee certain death.  

And here's what I thought:  Looking at the first sentence (below), you might think this is the story of one man and his adventures.  It is and it isn't.  He has a story, but so do 3 other characters, whose interactions and adventures are woven together as the story progresses.   This was one of those books where I would think I knew what was going to happen, and then things went in a completely different direction.  And I loved it.   There are so many layers to this book: danger, adventure, mystery.   Ian Whates is a master at weaving together intricate details and magical elements, along with a quick pace.  I could describe the story like this:  it's like one of those detailed paintings where you keep looking and looking and discovering new things, the longer you look.    Extremely detailed and fantastical.

The four main characters are well-written (although not all are completely likeable - which is okay), and become paired up as the book progresses, somewhat at odds, though linked through their situation.  I found this created an interesting dynamic, especially combined with the world Whates has created, which is level upon level, and each level being a world unto itself.  The interactions between some of the characters, not only with each other, but with others they encounter, really made the story interesting.   If you'd like a taste of one of the characers, Dewar, check this out: "Despite the circumstances, he smiled, though it was a shallow surface-skimming expression.  Beneath it a familiar emotion stirred; one that he welcomed like an old friend: rage.  Dewar's rage was not of the scorching, incandescent variety, liable to flare magnificently and die away all too quickly.  No, his formed rather an imaplacable, ice cold centre; cold enough to burn and very slow to disappear." (p. 182)  Mmmm....   see what I mean about the author's descriptive style?    

My only complaint about this book is that it left me hanging ... and waiting for the next book, City of Hope and Despair.     But my rating?  4 bottles!!

Thoughts on the cover:   Loads of rich detail, just like the story -- although I found myself sometimes studying it and wishing I could see it a bit more clearly. Definitely an invitation to read this book, and hints at the fantastical elements within.

First sentences:  "Only men of the right sort were eligible to join the Kite Guard.  Only those with families of sufficient standing and the proper pedigree were even permitted to apply.  Tylus qualified.  Just."

Where I got this book:  From Angry Robot Books, in exchange for a review.  Check them out -- they are awesome!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


In honor of: October being my favorite month, and the fact that not only did I have my own birthday at the beginning of the month, but I passed my one year blogoversary ........ 
  I hereby announce an UNBIRTHDAY giveaway!!!   

I have a "Scary Faerie" pack of goodies to give away.   All you need to do is leave a comment, please, but with a twist: 

I'd like your comment to be:  "If I were a birthday cake, I'd be __________________."    It can be anything you want -- you can choose a flavor, a design, etc.  Just have fun with it!    You aren't required to be a follower, but it is nice if you are.   

And yes, this Giveaway is open internationally.    Also, please give an email address, so I can contact the winner.

So what's in the Prize Pack??  A copy of Tithe by Holly Black, a copy of Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (gently used, ex-library copy) and a copy of Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr.   Plus, some signed bookmarks and swag.   And most likely, a little chocolate, too!!

Giveaway ends on Sunday, October 31st at Midnight!!!!    

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!!!

Now that my blog's been redesigned, I feel all inspired!!!!  And I have a great book for a teaser today ----

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Today's teaser comes from City of Dreams & Nightmares by Ian Whates (yet another great book from Angry Robot Publishers):    

"He felt the familiar stirrings of curiosity, wondering why this turn of events caused her so much concern , but sensed this was not the right time to question her any further and, for once, managed to resist the temptation to do so immediately."   p. 131

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can I just say ...... how much I love my new blog design ????

I decided to treat myself to a new blog design .... and here it is!!!    I am so in love with it.   Yes, doing a happy little dance all over right now.  

Lori over at Use Your Imagination Designs (go check out her site, y'all -- she has loads of cool stuff...)  was so nice to agree to work with me to come up with a design.  And, because I have no clue about how these things are actually done (I assume it's some sort of magic), I asked lots of questions --- and she was wonderfully patient.   And fast!!   She's definitely got some kind of mojo.....

So here I am, all shiny and new!   And I'm looking forward to posting again (admittedly, I wasn't as excited about posting when I was feeling all naked here on this blog.....).    

Thanks, Lori!!!!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Almost time for a giveaway.... but first, a question.......

I do believe my new blog design is almost ready to be unveiled, so a celebration is definitely in order.   And, I passed my one-year blogoversary at the end of September.  And, it was my birthday earlier this month.   And..... October is my most favorite month.

it's all fun and games until someone gets stuffed in a teapot....
So I do think it's time for a giveaway or two.  I have books and some fun little things.....    but I have a question.     I sometimes buy extra copies of books I like from library sales ..... would anyone object to receiving a gently used, withdrawn library book in a prize pack?   I only choose ones in near-perfect condition......

Curious to see what your thoughts are.  Thanks!

Hoppin' along.......

It's the end of the week, and that means..... it's time for the Book Blogger Hop!  Hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy for Books, it's a great way to spend a lot of time  meet other bloggers, and find all sorts of cool blogs out there.    And the nice thing is --- it last a few days, not just on Friday (whew!)

This week's question comes from Becky, who asks: "Where is your favorite place to read?"

I have a few places that seem to be where I settle in ---- on the couch in front of the picture window, or on the couch downstairs (usually hanging out with the husband while he plays video games).   I also do a fair amount of reading in bed before I go to sleep, propped up on a few pillows.    This time of year, my favorite accessory is a soft throw (keeps me warm and is nice just in case I fall asleep with my book!)

I'm looking forward to visiting other blogs and seeing what's new!   Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

China Miéville is not on Facebook and wants you all to know!

I found this on a blog I really like: Floor to Ceiling Books, and I wanted to share it.  Just to get the word out.

Because he is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I actually think that it's very cool that he's NOT on Facebook.  Apparently, Facebook doesn't care that someone out there is impersonating him..... which makes me want to punch the people at Facebook.

But I digress.  I'm sharing this because his letter is so well-written that it's an inspiration.  And I love his books.  I found his page over at Pan-MacMillan Publishers, which has a nice display of his back titles (which of course I want, even though I have copies of all of his books already.  Just because).    And here's what I found on Floor to Ceiling Books  (and actually, there's now a note saying that Facebook has rectified the problem.  Yay!!)China Miéville has discovered that people are impersonating him on Twitter - and he's not happy about it. Here is a letter that he sent to Facebook, after receiving no prior response, appealing to them to SORT IT OUT!

Here is a copy of his most eloquent letter:

1601 S. California Avenue
Palo Alto
CA 94304
6 October 2010

Dear Facebook People,


1) The short version:

At least one person, if not more, is/are impersonating me on Facebook, with (a) fake profile(s) claiming my identity. Despite me repeatedly bringing this to your attention, you have taken no action to remedy the situation. And I’m getting very annoyed.

2) The full version:

This thing you hold is called a letter. This is the third time I’ve contacted you, and I’m doing so by this antiquated method because, and I realise this may shock you so brace yourself, I have no Facebook account. Which means it is nigh-on impossible for me to get in touch with you. Kudos for your Ninja avoidance strategies.

Back when you had a button allowing me to alert you to a fake profile despite not having an account myself, I contacted you that way. I was answered with a resonant silence. Subsequently, when the problem persisted, I hunted lengthily for, found and left a message on the phone number you go out of your way to hide. Absolutely nothing happened. So here we go again: third time’s a charm.

I am being imitated on Facebook. I believe the only reason anyone is bothering to do this is because I’m a novelist (published by Macmillan and Random House), a writer and broadcaster, with a minor public profile. I think there are one or two community pages about my stuff on Facebook – that of course is very flattering and nice of people to bother. The problem is that there is or are also pages by someone(s) purporting to be me. This is weird and creepy. What’s worse is I know for a fact that some readers, friends and colleagues are friending ‘China Miéville’ under the impression that it is me, and that others are wondering why ‘China Miéville’ refuses to respond to them. And I have no idea what dreadful things or ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ are being claimed as mine, nor what ‘I’ am saying.

I know lots of people enjoy being on Facebook. Great. More power to them. Vaya con Dios. Me, though: not my thing. I have absolutely no interest in it. I am not now nor have I ever been a Facebook member. Short of some weird Damascene moment, I will not ever join Facebook – and if that unlikely event occurs, I promise I’ll tell you immediately. In the meantime, though, as a matter of urgency, as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of decency, please respond to my repeated requests:

• Please delete all profiles claiming to be me (with or without the accent on the ‘é’ – last time I looked, I found one ‘China Mieville’, and one more accurately rendered).
• Please do not allow anyone else to impersonate me. I have neither time nor inclination to trawl your listings regularly to see if another bizarre liar has sprung up.
• And while you’re at it, please institute a system whereby those of us with the temerity not to sign up to your service can still contact you on these matters and actually get a [insert cuss-word] answer.

I appeal to you to honour your commitments to security and integrity. Of course as a multi-gajillion-dollar company I have absolutely no meaningful leverage over you at all. If David Fincher’s film doesn’t embarrass you, you’re hardly going to notice the plaintive whining of a geek like me. All I can do is go public. Which is my next plan.

I’m allowing a week for this letter to reach you by airmail, then three days for you to respond to me by phone or the email address provided. Then, if I’ve heard nothing, on 16 October 2010, I’ll send copies of this message to all the literary organizations and publications with which I have connections

some of the many books bloggers I know; and anyone else I can think of. I’ll encourage them all to publicise the matter. I’m tired of being impersonated, and I’m sick of you refusing to answer me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
China Miéville

Where I've been.......

I feel a little guilty because I haven't posted, haven't Hopped, haven't Teased......   but I took a few days off and was computer-free.   And it was nice.   But now, I'm digging my way out from all the stuff in my Reader.....

in the meantime, here's a picture I took over the weekend.   I visited the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, WI --- it's HUGE and I wish I could have spent hours there......

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

The Frenzy by Francesa Lia Block

  Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Love is a werewolf, influenced by the moon and terror, and always about to change. Liv has a secret. Something happened to her when she was thirteen. Something that changed everything. Liv knows she doesn't belong anymore-not in her own skin, not in her family . . . not anywhere. The only time she truly feels like herself is when she's with her boyfriend, Corey, and in the woods that surround her town. But in the woods, a mysterious woman watches Liv. In the woods, a pack of wild boys lurks. In the woods, Liv learns about the curse that will haunt her forever. The curse that caused the frenzy four years ago. And that may cause it again, all too soon.While Corey and Liv's love binds them together, Liv's dark secret threatens to tear them apart as she struggles to understand who-or what-she really is. And by the light of the full moon, the most dangerous secrets bare their claws. . . .

And here's what I thought:  What I find appealing about Francesa Lia Block is that she uses simple language to convey things are complex, making her stories seem almost a deceptively simple.    That being said, she takes the familiar werewolf story and gives it a bit of a twist.    Liv really wasn't a character I warmed to, but I found her story interesting.  At first, I wasn't sure what was really going on with her, but as the story went on, I felt like I was picking up on more clues.  However, as I said, I really didn't warm to her.   She's 17, but sometimes, seems to act younger than that.  She has two close friends, but she sometimes takes them completely for granted.   She's not really happy where she is, but it doesn't seem like she has plans for the future ---- although you could say it's completely in her character to live in the present.    But sometimes, it just seemed like I was skimming the surface with her, and never really knew her.

What I did enjoy were some of the other elements of the story.  Take the town Liv lives in, for example.  It sounds haunted and creepy --- I mean, it has an abandoned steel mill and a prosthetics shop right in town!  I liked how mysterious the town was, and actually wouldn't have minded having more details about it.   I thought Liv's boyfriend, Corey, was an appealing character (although he seemed a little too good to be true).   However, overall, I thought this was an okay story.  Not bad, but not a favorite.
Thoughts on the cover:  I like how the cover reflects how Liv is described in the book, with red hair and green eyes.  The fact that it's a closeup on her eye really draws you in.

Where I got this book:   Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales ARC Tour

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Number Freak: From 1 to 200. The Hidden language of Numbers Revealed by Derrick Niederman

  Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  What do Fight Club, wallpaper patterns, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Italian superstitions have in common? They’re all included in the entry for the number 17 in this engaging book about numbers— detailing their unique properties, patterns, appeal, history, and lore.

Author Derrick Niederman takes readers on a guided tour of the numbers 1 to 300—covering everything from basic mathematical principles to ancient unsolved theorems, from sublime theory to delightfully arcane trivia.

And here's what I thought:  I picked up this book from the library because I wanted to keep working on my Hogwarts challenge, and needed something for arithmancy (or math).  Admittedly, math is not my strong suit (I still have anxiety dreams about being stuck in math class).  But, I wanted to find a book that would fulfill the challenge category, and also be something I could understand.   This book was actually pretty interesting, even though some of it went completely over my head.   I learned things like this about the number 87: "The word decimoctoseptology won't be found in any dictionary, but it means the study of the number 87, at least to a handful of practitioners who share the quirky view that 87 is the most random number."  (p. 205)  I don't know if I'd recommend this book as one to read straight through, but it was filled with interesting little facts. 

Cover art:  Slightly Jackson Pollack-esque in composition.  Definitely gets the concept across that the book is about numbers.

First sentence:  "The number 1 is both a logical and a lousy way to start this book.  Logical because 1 comes first, and its omission would seem absurd.  But also lousy, because this book is about special properties of whole numbers, and the number 1 just has too many special properties for its own good."

This book fulfills the Arithmancy portion of my Hogwarts Challenge

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads)Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't just from the wrong side of the tracks--they're from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them "gentlemen," but everyone else ignores them--or, in Bones's case, is dead afraid of them. When one of their close-knit group goes missing, the clues all seem to point in one direction: to Mr. Haberman.

And here's what I thought:   I thought this was an okay read, probably because I never really liked Micheal, who is our narrator throughout the story.   We experience everything through him, and I understand that this makes him a somewhat unreliable narrator --- but I just never really cared for him.  It seems that he's smart, but he's not interested in very much, especially school.  His friends aren't appealing, either, especially Bones, who actually comes off as a little scary.  What I did enjoy about this book was that Micheal's voice throughout the book was very clear.  I never had a good idea of what he looked like (and actually, I didn't care about that), but I felt like I had a clear idea of who he was. 

The story revolves around Micheal (and yes, that is how his name is spelled.... typing this has been driving me nuts!) and his friends, and an encounter they have with one of their teachers, Mr. Haberman.   Mr. Haberman is trying to teach them Crime and Punishment, right around when one of their other friends vanishes.  Question is:  did Mr. Haberman kill their friend?  I'm not telling you, but what I will say is this: towards the end of the book, Micheal and two of his friends confront Mr. Haberman and the result isn't pretty.

Thoughts on the cover:  Not the most enticing cover I've seen, although I like that the boy's face is hidden.  The image is pretty somber, but I felt that reflected the story.

First sentence:  "It started out as just another Tuesday at the Tits: first period, Practical Mathematics, nothing special." 

Where I got this book:  Library

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):  To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It's where he was born, where he and his Ma eat and play and learn. At night, Ma puts him safely to sleep in the wardrobe, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she's been held for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for her son. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's desperation -- and she knows Room cannot contain either indefinitely. ...

And here's what I thought:  I had read a lot about this book before our library's copy came in, and I knew I was probably going to have one of those experiences where I find that once I begin, I just can't put it down.  And I was right.  I started this book on the train and made myself put it away 2 stops before mine because I knew that otherwise, I'd never hear the announcement (and wind up at the end of the line). 

This was one of those stories where it was disturbing, and yet so intriguing that I couldn't stop reading.  It's like looking at an accident site -- it's awful, but you find you can't look away.   We experience everything in the book through Jack, who is five years old. His entire life has been spent in Room, a place he shares with his Ma (and which is visited at night by Old Nick).  He has never seen the outside world, so everything that he knows and experiences is in this room.   What this means is that what we learn about what is happening is Jack's perspective, for better or worse.   Jack doesn't always understand what is really happening, but as an adult reading this, I did.  And it was often very disturbing.    For example, part of their daily routine is to play "Scream Every Day but Saturday and Sunday," where both Jack and Ma stand as close to their open skylight as they can, and scream at the top of their lungs.  Jack is the only one who does not realize that this is not a game.  

 Jack's Ma shelters him from certain things, but the way that Jack describes them, it's obvious what's really going on.   Ma has created as normal a life as possible for Jack, and they have exercise, and storytelling, and a very close relationship.  However, now that Jack is 5, and time is passing, Ma is growing more and more concerned about what the reality of their situation is, and how they can possibly escape.  It's an interesting exploration of maternal dedication in this book, and also on the subject of survival; how much of something can you take before you break?  We only see Ma through Jack's eyes, but we actually learn a lot about her (again, because as an adult reading this book, we can interpret what it is that he's actually describing).

I'm not giving any spoilers here (or at least, I'm trying not to).   I thought this was a really thought-provoking book, and well-written.   It was unlike anything else I've read, although one of my favorite books, Slammerkin, is by this author.   Emma Donoghue has a way of writing that is richly descriptive, but not overwrought.  In fact, I'd say that her writing is somewhat deceptive; it seems somewhat simple and then you realize how heavy it all is.   This is one of the few books that I've gotten from the library that I'd like to buy for myself, so I can re-read it again from time to time.  I've tried to keep my review here relatively simple, but if you'd like to know more, there's a wonderful post over on the Book Smugglers   and the review in the New York Times   
Cover art:  I've seen two covers for this one, one with the word "Room" on a white background, which looks like it's written in crayon, and the other, showing what looks like a shed, with a blue background.  Both are pretty simple, almost deceptively so, considering the story.

First line:  (actually, I'm cheating a little, since the first line is so short):  "Today, I'm five.  I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadanra.  Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time to Hop!!!

  I am glad to have finally reached Friday!!!    And, I'm ready to HOP!!!    The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy for Books, and it lasts all weekend.   I'm determined to hop my way through this weekend (even though I'm working on Saturday and Sunday).......

This week's question comes from Suko at Suko's NotebookWhat's your favorite beverage while reading or blogging, if any?  Is it tea, coffee, water, a glass of wine, or something else?

I almost feel like I should invent some kind of cool drink just for blogging, like something fizzy and purple......     but the truth is, what I drink really depends on what time of day it is.   I do about half my blogging really early in the morning, so I usually have some coffee (I mix it about 1/3 half and half, 2/3 coffee), but we don't make coffee every day in this house, so sometimes, it's just a diet soda (yes, in the morning --- I can't actually drink very much coffee, so I rely on a soda for my morning jolt).     With the weather getting cooler, I'm all about the apple cider -- cold or heated up.  Yum!!        However, I do admit that I'm not a no-alcohol kind of person ---- I don't mind having a beer occasionally, especially now that there are so many good pumpkin ales, and fall brews to choose from.   I also love having some lambic -- that's a special kind of beer brewed with fruit.   My favorite is New Glarus Belgian Red, which is like a grown-up tart cherry soda.    

Just thinking about all of this is making me thirsty ---- good question, Suko!    I'm curious to see what kind of answer other bloggers give --- so Happy Hopping, everyone!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):  Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key...

And here's what I thought:   I am admitting now that this might turn into a bit of a rant.   But before I get to that part, let me state that this was a GREAT book.   I found myself getting completely wrapped up in the story, and actually having a pretty emotional reaction to it at times.  Jane Eagland has such a vivid way of writing that I felt like I really knew Louisa, and was experiencing things right along with her.   Louisa is very smart, but this means that sometimes, her behavior isn't entirely "suitable."   For example, she's interested in medicine, and reading, and she doesn't try to hide her interests --- but this puts her completely at odds with members of her family who feel that she should behave in a more "ladylike" manner.   Because she's unconventional, she's basically sent to a lunatic asylum.   It's not clear who has sent her there, and this is something that becomes uncovered through the story.  However, she is sent there, under a different name, and forced to figure out not only who sent her, but also what she's going to do.   It takes all of her wits to figure out how to survive while she's there.... and plan her escape.

I don't want to say too much more, because I don't want to have any spoilers here.  However, I will say that there is mention of love in this book, but it's a little.... unconventional.  Readers picking this book up might expect a typical historical romance, and might be a bit surprised, because Louisa has feelings for other girls.  Historically speaking, this actually wasn't that uncommon (although most of the time quite hidden), but it might surprise readers.   

And this leads me to that little part I warned you about: my bit of a rant.   In addition to writing what I felt was a great book, Jane Eagland also provides readers with a window into a very shameful part of women's history (and actually, some history of mental health care in general).  It was very common for a long time period for family members to be able to commit a woman for basically no reason at all.   If you were a woman, and you displayed certain signs, such as a love of reading, curiosity, "willfullness," or any number of things, your family could have a doctor declare you unfit, and have you committed to an asylum.  Once there, you would have no rights at all.   Similar to what happens to Louisa in this story, you would have no contact with your family, and no real say in your medical care, or anything else.   Louisa is intelligent and knows that the name she's being addressed as when she reaches the asylum is not her own --- but of course, if she tries to deny this name, and reason with the staff, it's assumed that she is just a "mad girl" and doesn't know what she's talking about.  Hard to imagine, I know --- but this was the reality for many women.   I found myself reading this story and feeling outrage over what was happening to Lou, mostly because I knew this was based on real history.   I think for many of us, in this day and age, it is difficult to believe that, say, your brother could have you put in a mental asylum just because he didn't get along with you.  Or because you liked to read.  Can you believe statements like "Excessive study, especially in one of the fair sex, often leads to insanity." ??? (p. 70)  How about: "Excessive book-reading and study leading to a weakening of the mind."  (p. 237).  And yes, this is one of the statements in Louisa's intake papers at the asylum.   In this story, we're not sure who has sent Louisa to Wildthorn Hall.  It could be her mother, who is constantly exasperated that Louisa won't "behave" and be a good girl.  Her brother is a snot, always sulking about Louisa's closeness to their father -- once her father passes away, maybe it's the brother who sends Louisa away (especially after he has a doctor pay a surprise visit on her).  The author gives foreshadowing throughout the story, alternating between Louisa in the present, and in her recollections.  It kept me off balance, for sure, and when it was revealed who had actually committed her to Wildthorn, I was floored.  

Needless to say, asylums were often not pleasant places, although some of them were.  Originally intended to be places of rest and peace, where troubled minds could be soothed, some asylums did offer good treatment to patients.  (There is a really interesting book about asylums by Oliver Jacks called : Asylum: inside the closed world of state mental hospitals).  However, many of them were frightening, filled with unsavory staff and questionable practices.  It was not uncommon for patients to suffer abuse, both mental and physical, while in asylums.   I felt like in this book, the author did a good job of making the asylum pretty realistic, and thus, pretty frightening.   This isn't just a historical novel: it's a scary story.   Personally, I know that if I lived during this time, I would be clamping down on my entire personality because I'd be terrified of something like this happening (because, you know, I'm smart and I like to read....which has made me mentally unstable).   It makes me a little angry, thinking about all of the perfectly sane women who wound up in situations like the one in this story, and whose stories we'll never know.   But maybe that's one of the best things about this book: it made me react, and it made me think.

Cover art:  I like that the cover is a shadowed corset.  First, I actually like corsets -- I have one that I wear when I go to the Renaissance Faire (yes, I do dress up) and it's so comfy (and it makes me stand up really straight).  Mine has boning and lacing in the back, front, and sides, so it's pretty stiff.   At any rate -- I can relate to this cover.  While corsets do give you a very pretty figure, they're not always the most comfortable thing.   I felt like the shadowy corset on the cover helps to illustrate the constraints that Louisa is under, and how they shape her.

First line(s):  "The carriage jolts and splashes along the rutted lanes flooded by the heavy November rains.  Through its grimy window, all I can see of the unfamiliar Essex countryside are bare hedgerows, the skeletons of trees, looming out of the morning mist.  I shiver and clutch my travelling wrap around me more tightly - the familiar roughness of its wool collar on my neck is comforting."

Where I got the book:  Library

Guest post over at The Book Rat!!!!!

this is one of my photos
As some of you might know, I'm participating in Helluva Halloween during the month of October, which is hosted by Misty over at The Book Rat (which is a totally awesome blog, by the way).    She had sent out a call for posts about October/Halloween-inspired things, so I asked if I could send her something about one of my hobbies: cemetery photography.   And she just put it up!!!!!

So stop on over to The Book Rat to check it out, along with Misty's blog (did I mention how awesome it is?) !!!!   And let me just say --- she's so cool for doing this!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My teasin' ways........

at least it's not my cheatin' heart.     

Actually, it's all about Teaser Tuesday today --- which is hosted by Miz B over at Should Be Reading.   What you do is:
  • Grab your current read 
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Today's teaser comes from a new book I just got from the library:  Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
"In a state of dreary blankness I did what had to be done.  Mary and I drew down the blinds, silenced the clocks, covered the mirrors."    p. 119

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

I'm trying a bit of a new format for reviews -- adding in a little extra (and I'm hoping to add a rating system soon) -- let me know what you think! (please)

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

And here's what I thought:  I had been waiting and waiting for this book!  I kept seeing little bits about it around the blogosphere, and had ordered it for our library .... and then it finally arrived!  And I wasn't disappointed!   I really liked how Brenna Yovanoff took the idea of a changeling and made it the foundation for her story.  In this book, we experience everything through the eyes of Mackie, who is a changeling (a/k/a a Replacement) who was swapped for a human child sixteen years before.   Although he's been trying to fit in, as he gets older, it seems more and more difficult.  People in Mackie's town know about the "others" around them, and how children disappear.   When Mackie finally meets one of his own kind, he's intrigued (and a little daunted); does he belong with them, or with his human family?   Definitely makes you think about the usual issues of not fitting in, and finding yourself. 

I liked how the author brought folklore and history and wove it through the story.   For example, when Mackie is talking with his sister, Emma, about their town and the "Others," and the whole concept of human sacrifice (in their town, the swapping of infants for changelings) Emma tells him about how historically, this isn't unusual. She points out that Germanic tribes had something similar, and so did the Druids; that prosperity rituals, like what happens in their town every seven years, have a common history with other places.  Emma's smart, and it's obvious that what she's been learning is so that she can understand her world.  Mackie even says (p. 125), "Her room was a private library of answers, trying to help me, save me, decode me.  It was just another part of what made her beautiful."
That was one of the things I really enjoyed about this book, in addition to the great storytelling and rich writing: the characters.  They are well-written and interesting, and I cared about them (not just about the main character).  Mackie is sympathetic and stoic, even when the world around him is making him sicker and sicker.  And I've already mentioned Emma -- she's smart and not afraid to risk her own safety to help Mackie.  Tate's one of the characters I really liked.  She's unusual, and she's not worried about the fact that she's different from other kids (although not in the way that Mackie is).  Her baby sister has gone missing, so she's got issues of her own.  She's also tough.  One of the descriptions of her in the book that stood out to me was on p. 221, where another girl is picking a fight with Tate, and hits her in the face.  "Blood spurted from Tate's nose, gushing down over the front of her shirt.  She did nothing for a second.  Then she smiled, which, when someone is covered in blood, is basically the most terrifying things they can do."   I was completely intrigued with Tate, and I liked how Mackie approached her, and got to know her.

This definitely was a new take on the usual fairy tale, and was a really enjoyable read.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's next from this author.

Thoughts on the cover: Some of the coolest cover art I've seen in a long time -- it was part of what intrigued me about this book a long time ago.  I love how it has a moody/creepy feel, with the empty pram with things like scissors and a knife dangling over it.  Kinda like a mobile for a really scary baby.

First line of the book: "I don't remember any of the true, important parts, but there's this dream I have."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Helluva Halloween --- and October goodness

Missed the first day.... but now we're officially the second day into my favorite month: October!!!    I love October.   The temperature starts to cool off, the leaves start to change, and my most favorite holiday, Halloween comes at the end!!!!    I've already pulled out my ravens for my picture window, and plan to put up my black feather wreath on my door.    

And.... I'm determined to bump up my dedication to my blog this month, and plan to try to post some October-ish things.   And, I joined in the Helluva Halloween that Misty over at The Book Rat has going on this month.   She's got all sorts of goodies going on, and I even submitted some stuff to her for a guest post this month.   Isn't that a cool button?!?!?

And, in celebration of this month, and the fact that my birthday (and my husband's birthday) is this month, I'm planning on at least one giveaway (maybe two) -- so stay tuned!!     Happy October, everyone!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hoppin' Time!!

I'm a little slow today.... it's been one of those weeks.   But, I'm determined to get myself hopping!!     

just about ready to start hopping.... after I stop sneezing
The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy for Books, and is a great way to go around visiting blogs over the next week (which is great for me, considering that my Fridays are sometimes pretty full).    And there's a weekly question, as well.  Today's question comes from Tina at Book Couture and is: "How do you spread the word about your blog?"

My answer:  Not that well, I suppose.  I don't post about my blog on my Facebook page (which I actually visit maybe once a week).   But, I do visit a lot of other blogs, and I try to leave comments when I read something that I find interesting.   I also participate in things like the Hop, and in Teaser Tuesdays.    I feel like I should make more of an effort, however, so I'm going to start doing a little more.  I'm about a year into blogging, so I'm going to step it up a bit.

I'm looking forward to Hopping this week, and finding out how other bloggers get the word out about themselves (because I could use some help!)    Have a great Hop, everyone!!
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