Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Title/Author: Posess by Gretchen McNeil.

Genre: YA/Supernatural.

Publisher: Balzer and Bray (Harper Collins).

Source: Borrowed from The Serpentine Library.

Favorite character:  Father Santos.

All in all: A few small issues, but great plot.

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

Please note: May contain a few spoilers.

My Thoughts: When I read Maria's review of Possess I was totally excited to read this book. (You can read her post HERE.) I don't think I loved it as much as she did but I still think this is a unique story.

Although I didn't absolutely connect with Bridget, I do like her.  I think she is funny and feisty.  I love how she always wears boots (I think combat boots), is not into being girly nor is she boy crazy.  When she shows glimpses of her vulnerability regarding the loss of her father, it is very touching and drew me in a bit more. I also did like Matt, her love interest and I liked how their relationship came about.  It might seem a bit too quick for some readers but the fact that they knew each other as children made it a little bit more believable to me.  My favorite character however, is definitely Father Santos.  He is interesting and mysterious and there is more there than meets the eye.

There are a few things in the book that I didn't understand, more specifically how events went from one point to another, but maybe I just needed more explanation in certain cases.  On the other hand, I also feel other events are a tad predictable and obvious.

Most of all I love the overall plot. It has to do with angels, demons and the mythology that follows them, which I find fascinating. I thought the author did an excellent job creating a backstory and it is very strong.  I wish I could think of plots that well developed.  The other parts that I feel are well written are the scenes with demons in them.  They are creepy and frightening and the mood of some of the supernatural occurences had me turning pages to find out what was going to happen.  I don't want to give away too much more, but special kudos goes to the scene in the store and when you get there you will know what I'm talking about. 

Although I have a few issues with Possess they are minor and perhaps they will be revised when it goes to publication (since I did read an ARC).  I think this is a fun story with interesting characters and the creepy factor gets two thumbs up.

p.s. I also love the cover!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Giveaway - The Armageddon Chord.

Deep beneath the Egyptian sands, an ancient and evil song written in hieroglyphics is discovered in the long lost and buried pyramid of the demonic pharaoh, Aknaseth. It is written, that if this song is performed for the world to hear, it will unleash the Apocalypse upon the world of man…Satan will reign and grant immortality to the chosen. 
With the help of the abominable Egyptologist, Helmut Hartkopff, nihilistic multi-billionaire, Festus Baustone the Third will do whatever it takes to bring the song to life at any cost—even if his only daughter is to be sacrificed. 
Kirk Vaisto, dubbed the “God of Guitar” by his millions of fans, soon finds himself caught between the forces of divine good and monumental evil. Vaisto begins a musical journey that takes him from an unholy chapter in ancient Egyptian history to the very remains of the Holy Cross, to the concert stage, and beyond all this, to the very edge of Hell itself. 
Will Kirk Vaisto give the performance of a lifetime and either deliver our world from evil…or he will annihilate us all with the stroke of his hand? 
What will happen when Kirk Vaisto strikes The Armageddon Chord?

I received 5 signed copies (softcover) of the Armageddon Chord by Jeremy Wagner to give away to 5 winners. Check out the book's website HERE.

  • Please fill out the form HERE.
  • No need to follow, but it is appreciated!

  • This contest is open internationally.
  • See my contest policy HERE.
  • Contest ends Thursday September 1, 2011 at midnight (EST).
  • Winners will be chosen by Random.org.
  • You may enter only once.  Making a false entry will disqualify you.
  • Books will be mailed to the address you leave in the form so please be clear.
  • If you have any questions, ask on the comment form or e-mail me at midnytereader@gmail.com.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beautiful Creatures.

Title/Author: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.

Genre: YA/Supernatural.

Publisher: Little Brown and Co.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Ethan Wate.

Favorite quote: “You are such beautiful creatures.” ~Macon Ravenwood.

All in all: Lovely & exciting.

Synopsis: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. ~Goodreads.com

Please note: A little spoilery.

My Thoughts: I waited a long time to read this book but it was well worth it. Maybe it was the size that daunted me, but once I started reading it felt like the pages went by very fast. The writing is exquisite.  Very rich and full of detail.  The mysterious atmosphere so palpable I could feel it. I loved the style of the story from Ethan’s voice to the way the chapters ended, with a flair of mystery or longing.

The plot is intricate (at least to me). It isn’t hard to follow, but I just can’t imagine making this stuff up and creating the threads and secrets that led to the culmination. There was surprise after surprise and mystery after mystery to keep the action going and the story moving. There isn’t too much in this book that I could predict, which I appreciate.

Ethan is my favorite character. He is honest and sweet. He also took responsibility for himself. His revelation of exactly why he was drawn to Lena is heartfelt: “It was that she made me realize how much I was just like the rest of them, even if I pretended I wasn’t.” Also, he ‘fessed up to the fact that while he was never a bully, he always watched and never did anything to stop the cruel behavior until Lena came along. I also love his vulnerability regarding his mother who passed away and his father, who he seems to be losing to depression.

The cast of characters is great; mean classmates, overbearing parents, wacky relatives, loyal friends and family, a protective uncle and housekeeper and a loyal dog.  They each have a role to play and are important to the overall plot.

I liked the contrasts between Ethan and Lena, but for all their differences, they make a perfect couple and I could feel that. This is one of the best romances I have read in a story. I love the sweetness of their relationship and the need. I love that it wasn’t over the top mushy. I love how they approach going to the dance, the issue of them being a couple and finally how they admit their deep feelings for each other. I’m totally rooting for them!

The only thing that surprised me was how prevalent magic was in this book. It’s like Harry Potter where another world exists within the real world. At times it did feel over the top but I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t love it because I did. I think I just didn’t expect it so when it came it was kind of jarring to me. (Actually, I found a lot of similarities between this book and HP, and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, but that’s a post for another day.)

I also like the theme of fate and choice in this book. “Nobody can decide what happens to you except you.” Ethan said. But even he had doubts at times. This is a very interesting plot thread in the story and I really couldn't tell if fate or choice would win.

I was satisfied with the ending.  The main story completes itself, a few mysteries are solved, but there is plenty left to explore in the sequels and I'm sure even more surprises will be revealed.

There is a lot to grasp in this story and a lot to talk about.  I think it would make a great read for a discussion group or book club.  If you haven't gotten to this yet, I would recommend you try to fit it into your reading schedule.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In My Mailbox (August 21, 2011)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  Please click HERE for complete rules and to check out other IMM posts. 

I feel very fortunate to have a great IMM this week!

Lent to me by Maria from The Serpentine Library.  Please read her excellent review of this book HERE.
~Possess by Gretchen McNeil.

Sent to me by Harlequin
~Spellbound by Caral Lynn Schultz.
~The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.  

Given to me by Lisa Ryan-Herndon (blog coming soon).
~Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris.
~Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris.
~All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris.
~Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris.
~Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris.
~Unbound by Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost, Vicki Pettersson and Jocelyn Drake. 
~A Red Herring without Mustard audio book by Alan Bradley.
~River Marked by Patricia Briggs.

Stay tuned here or on Twitter, some of these will be given away!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Winner Announcements!

~Dusty Volumes Contest: Congratulations to Sarah from Just Another Story, who has won a $10 gift card to Amazon.com.  Click the link to visit her blog!

~Fun in the Sun Contest: Congratulations to -

Lindsay from Lindsay Writes, who has won prize pack #1!  Click the link to visit her blog.

Crystal from Secrets of a Book Lover, who has won prize pack #2!  Click the link to visit her blog.

Logan from Logan E. Turner, who has won prize pack #3!  Click the link to visit her blog.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Follow Friday #59 and Book Blogger Hop (8/19-22, 2011)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.  For complete rules you can click HERE.

Please also visit and follow the featured Bloggers Bell Books and Stuck in Books.

Question: If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what part would you play in that book?

Answer: I think this is a great question because that's what I like to do when I read most books;   immerse myself and become part of that world.  I have so many answers for this, but I'll limit myself for this post.

The Stand by Stephen King: I would like to be one of the survivors of course and I would definitely be on the good guy's side (no matter how much I love scary, horror books).  I don't know if I'd be brave enough to go up against Randall Flagg, but I would definitely do my part to make sure our Colorado town prevailed.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon:  Yep, another apocalyptic story.  There is something about these "dystopian-society failed-let's start over" stories that bring out what characters are really made of.  Everything that people worry about, like jobs and material things fall to the wayside in lieu of survival.  Yet relationships are more important because there are less people and you have to make it work or you won't make it at all.  Again, this is a story about good vs. evil and I would be fighting alongside the good guys.

Any Charles De Lint book: These are books filled with magic and possibilities.  The Faery Realm and Otherworld are close by in his stories and a brush with them changes people's lives.

Any Ray Bradbury story about Halloween: Need I say more?

Book Blogger Hop

This meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books. Please click the button above to check out the complete rules or click HERE.

This week's question: What's the longest book you've ever read?
Answer: Again, The Stand by Stephen King, more specifically the Complete and Uncut version.  I had read The Stand and loved it, didn't want it to end, re-read it. When I saw this edition, I had to have it.  More story! More characters!  More immersing myself in this world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sharp Objects.

Title/Author: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Genre: Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Dark Fiction, Horror.

Publisher: Broadway.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Camille and Amma.

Favorite quote:

All in all: I’m speechless.

Synopsis: "My sweater was new, stinging red and ugly." An edgy first line, and it provides the perfect opening for this gritty debut novel by journalist Flynn. Her protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a reporter for a second-rate Chicago newspaper. A solitary woman with a cynical bent, she appears to have carved out a workable life for herself despite a painful past and an estranged family. But when a second young girl turns up missing in Camille's hometown -- shortly after another local girl was found murdered -- Camille's editor sends her home to Missouri to cover the story. The question is, can Camille get to the bottom of the story before her demons get the best of her? ~Goodreads.com

My Thoughts: Oh. My. God. Oh my God. OhmyGod. This book is so amazing I want to make everyone read it right now. Everyone who likes a brooding, dramatic murder mystery that is.

It is harsh, tragic, sad, gritty and real. It is disturbing and made me cringe. At the basis is a horrific murder mystery and a reporter, Camille Preaker, who returns to her home town in Missouri to get the inside story. As she gets closer to the events, she peels off layers of her own relationships, the past and her own troubled psyche. Watching Camille’s journey is like watching her twist in a whirlpool that gets tighter and tighter until she finally gets sucked under.

She is a strong and vulnerable character at the same time. And damaged. Oh so damaged. If someone had told me about her, I don’t know if I would want to be friends with her, but reading about her and getting to know her is addictive. She is smart and self-destructive at the same time. Doesn’t sound like a great combination? You need to read her story and judge for yourself.

The other characters are odd and frightening to different degrees, they come to life in a fascinating way. I’ve seen these people before, watched them on tv, heard about them or even lived next door to them. No one I think I’d want to be friends with (except perhaps her editor Curry and his wife Evelyn, the only nurturing people in the book), but I just had to learn more about them.

It’s a gripping tale that examines small towns, family secrets and the psychology of both. It’s about dynamics between people, twisted mother-daughter relationships, unhealthy friendships, secret trysts. Flynn is astute in her observations and holds nothing back. Sometimes the language is crass and jarring, but it is so poetic at the same time. It is a smartly written story and if you don’t like the story, the beautiful writing style is worth looking at.

The plot kept me turning the pages and wondering “whodunit” and why. This part of the story is intertwined in the characters and their behavior. I had my suspicions and you will too if you read this, but nothing is really as it seems which you kind of get even a third of the way into the book.

I'm being a bit vague because I don't want to give even a morsel away and ruin any part of the story.  I recommend just diving in.

This is probably one of the best books I’ve read all year. You will not get a fairy tale ending, but you will get a story that you can’t put down.

Other Editions:

Monday, August 15, 2011


Title/Author: Austenland by Shannon Hale.

Read by: Katherine Kellgren.

Genre: Chick Lit/Romantic Comedy.

Publisher: Audio Renaissance.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Jane Hayes.

Favorite quote: “I didn’t see what was real until time had washed away everything else.” ~Carolyn.

“Something about the way he looked at her made her feel naked. Not naked sexy, but naked embarrassed. Naked he sees through my idiocy and knows what a silly woman I am.” ~Jane.

“She wanted to love someone the way she felt when painting. Fearless, messy, vivid.” ~Jane

All in all: Silly, cute and fun.

Synopsis:Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? ~Goodreads.com

My Thoughts: Yeah, okay, I do love Jane Austen. I haven’t read all of her books (yet), but every time a movie version of one of them comes out, I have to see it (many times). I haven’t read any of the “sequels” or re-tellings that include her characters, or the Pride & Prejudice and Zombies type books, but I loved the movie Becoming Jane and I caught a movie called Lost in Austen which I also enjoyed. When I saw Austenland on the shelf in the library, I didn’t hesitate to check it out.

This was a fun, silly, cute and very humorous story. Can you imagine going on a vacation where you “played” dress up like that? This is part of Jane’s problem. She has wanted this so bad all her life. The balls, the gowns, the romance. Trouble is she painted herself in a corner. No one but a "Mr. Darcy" would live up to her expectations. She was holding onto a dream even as she told herself it was unrealistic, ridiculous and kind of unhealthy.

She decides to go to Austenland because she thinks it will cure her of the Pride and Prejudice romantic obsession and she will leave purged of all fantastical notions and be able to land in a successful relationship. Once there, she waffles as she tries to immerse herself and struggles with what she is supposed to learn in this pretend dress up game. Even though she always longed for this, she feels uncomfortable and like an outsider, so she rebels and breaks some rules to make herself feel “real” again.

Then she decides she is going to embrace the role and make the most of it. She takes her cue from Elizabeth Bennett who laughed at herself and her situation. However, Jane still has trouble deciding if Mr. Nobly’s (yeah, what a name!) feelings are part of his role, but by the end of her stay she seems to have an epiphany and realizes she wants something real and her dreams do not have to attain her high standards but can remain as fantasies.

This is a short listen, it is only 5 discs and they flew by. I enjoyed the narrator who did an excellent job voicing the different characters. The characters themselves were well painted and it was easy for me to visualize all of them, from the ridiculous Miss Elizabeth “Charming” to the hip and hunky gardener Martin.  It is also a very, very funny book.

I don’t want to leave you with the impression that Austenland is too flighty and silly to try.  Jane herself is a likeable character who is funny, has a wry sense of humor and I love how she stood up for herself at the end of the book.  There are also many astute points brought up about Jane Austen and the Regency Era. I especially love Jane and Mr. Nobly’s discussion about portraits and Jane’s observation that they say: “I’m important enough to look at.” This is how she wanted to feel as well. Don’t we all?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fun in the Sun Contest.

Whether they are trashy, silly, scary or serious books, I love to sit on the beach and read. Due to work, time constraints and avoiding the sun I no longer do that.  But I'm sure many of you do.  So here's a contest just for fun.

CONTEST:  Three winners will be picked to win one (1) prize pack each.  The first winner will get his/her first choice, the second winner will get his/her second choice and the third winner will get his/her third choice.  All books are unread.

Prize Pack #1:
  • 1 large tote
  • The Summer Garden by Paulina Simons
  • Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante

Prize Pack #2
  • 1 small tote
  • The Undoing of Luca by Kate Hewitt
  • Just Surrender...by Kathleen O'Reilly
  • Branded by B.J. Daniels
  • A Doctor-Nurse Encounter by Carol Ericson

Prize Pack #3
  • The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen (please note there is a crease in the top right corner of the book cover).
  • The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
  • Undead and Unworthy by Mary Janice Davidson.

Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite thing you've done so far this summer.
Please let me know in order which prize packs you prefer.
+2 if you are an old follower.
+1 if you are a new follower.
However, you do not need to be a follower to enter.

See my contest policy HERE.
Contest ends Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at midnight (EST).
Please leave your e-mail address in your comment or make sure your name leads to an e-mail address. If I can't find an e-mail unfortunately, you will be disqualified.
Winners will be chosen by Random.org.
If I cannot contact the winner within 72 hours the next winner will be chosen. 

Good luck and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Title/Author: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Quirk Books.

Source: Quirk Books.

Favorite character: Jacob Portman.

Favorite quote: “I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” ~Jacob.

All in all: Charming, mysterious, thought provoking.

Synopsis: A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows. ~Goodreads.com

My Thoughts: When I saw the cover for Miss Peregrin'e Home For Peculiar Children, I was intrigued. At the Steampunk World's Fair I was shown a sneak peek of some of the photographs included in the book.  I love photography and these pictures are mystifying, surreal, and well, just cool! Ransom Riggs, the author, came across the photos and put together a wonderful story. 

I received the novel, saw the print and thought, Oh no! How am I going to get through it? The type is small and it feels like a textbook! However, I was hooked right away. The story is told through the main character, Jacob Portman, who is thoughtful, astute and introspective. Jacob has an easy style of speaking and he drew me right into his tale. After several pages, I appreciated the format. I realize now the intent is to model an “old fashioned” book and it lends itself to the story, of discovering a piece of history, of unlocking a mystery.

Some books I race through and some books I savor because I want to think about what’s happening. This book I definitely savored. It’s going to sound really weird, but I found myself just sort of…running my hands over the pages every now and then. The type of paper the book is printed on, the photos and other graphics, (letters, book covers, chapter titles) are a perfect fit.

I love how Jacob describes the photo he sees and then I was able to view it as well.  The pictures make it real and are almost jarring because I didn’t imagine the descriptions anymore. I saw them. They are even more mysterious and eerie than I visualized. The plot is intriguing and the mythology created is clever and original. I had no trouble suspending my disbelief.  I accepted everything the story presented to me without a question or raised eyebrow.  The suspense is a low hum that resonates at the beginning and gets louder as more of the story and secrets are revealed.  Each chapter ending had me wanting to read the one after. The writing itself is lovely. “Pessimistic weather.” That is a phrase in the book that I can’t get out of my head. There are many tidbits like this throughout where the author uses common words to thread together a lovely image.  I won't go too much into the rest of the cast of characters because I don't want to give too much away, but they are believable and likeable.

What I also appreciated is the inclusion of World War II and the Holaucaust. This story isn’t about those events, but they intertwine within the story. As time marches on I wonder how removed that part of history will be in our culture so I am happy they play a role in this story. I love how Jacob remembers what his grandfather went through and is able to find his own courage and his own path in life.

This is a well crafted, thoughtful and fun book and it is clear that a lot of care went into every aspect, from the plot to the execution.

Other Editions:

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for an honest review. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Salem's Lot.

Title/Author: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King.

Read by: Ron McLarty.

Genre: Horror/Supernatural.

Publisher:  Audio Books.

Source: Library.

Favorite character:  Mark Petrie.

Favorite quote: “The town cares for devil’s work no more than it cares for God’s.” ~Narrator.
“Understand death? Sure, that was when the monsters got you.” ~Mark Petrie

All in all: Classic.

Synopsis: Something strange is going on in Jerusalem's Lot ... but no one dares to talk about it. By day, 'Salem's Lot is a typical modest, New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window. Stephen King brings his gruesome imagination to life in this tale of spine tingling horror. ~Goodreads.com

Please Note: Contains Spoilers.

My Thoughts: I remember reading this a long time ago and when I saw the audio version in my library I wanted to listen to it.  I appreciated the foreward read by Stephen King himself and his memories of Dracula which ultimately led to the writing of Salem’s Lot. King had read Dracula as a child and then again as an adult when he had to utilize it for a college literature class he taught. He mentioned that he was afraid it would not hold up as an adult for him, that the impact would be lessened, the horror watered down, but that did not happen. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said that great novels “only get bigger, their shadows longer.” I love how he compares Dracula to Lord of the Rings.  In both, a band of adventurers go on a quest.

King also mentions that Salem’s Lot is an inverted Dracula. In the Victorian Era, when technology is budding, the characters are hopeful that their “scientific” minds can conquer that old evil. In Salem’s Lot, the technology is taken for granted and King points out that the "...bright lights of the present shine on the monster so everyone can see him." So what would people in a modern society do if a vampire (an evil one, not a sparkly one) moved into the midst of their town?  Would they be too blind by their civilized sensibilities to see the horror? Would they let reasonable explanations blind them to primitive dangers until it's too late? Salem's Lot explores these questions.

I'd love to take a class where Dracula and Salem’s Lot are analyzed and compared. I can see the slow, careful buildup in each, the despair and fear and the triumph although in a way I may argue that the triumph is in part hollow. Both also used media and records (newspapers, reports, hospital admitting records, television newscasts) to give a feeling of reality and authenticity to the strange occurrences. As I listened to Salem’s Lot, I couldn’t help but think that Ben Mears stands in for Jonathan Harker, Susan Norton; Mina Harker, perhaps Matt Burke is the modern Van Helsing and Jimmy Cody; Dr. Seward.  A different cast of brave adventurers going forward to fight evil.

I remember the book being easier to read than to listen to.  It is pretty wordy with a lot of backstory and I felt it included more than I needed to know.  On the other hand, I also feel the details worked to get me entrenched in the story, the character's minds and to stay there. This was written in the 70s and it’s King’s second published novel. I think that reading Salem’s Lot is a step back in time, a retro-novel, almost a refreshing change of pace from today’s action packed stories where the writer or director is so afraid of boring his subject, of losing their attention that they follow today’s frenzied formula. It’s a bit dated but still stands strong.

The narrator, Ron McLarty, did a good job. His pace and tone lend itself well to the tone of the book. I had a slight problem with his interpretation of Susan, but I can hardly blame a male for not sounding exactly like a female.  My favorite parts that he read is the expositions about the town. The foreboding and menace brought it to my attention that Jerusalem’s Lot is a character as strong and powerful as the human ones that populate it.

The promise of affluence and progress in "The Lot" deteriorated into a dreary landscape and the citizens followed. There are all kinds of people that have lived and still live in Jerusalems Lot. Murderers, gossips, cheaters, boozers.  Desperate people trying to live and be happy in a desperate town. The people who are more moral live a content if uneasy existence or fantasize of escape. The town lost its grip on the American Dream and the citizens soon followed.

The story evokes sadness, horror and despair whether the events are supernatural or not. Mr. Glick’s meltdown at his son Danny’s funeral,  (his cries that his son “ain’t dead” strike me as ironic), Danny at Mark Petrie's window, Sandy McDougall hitting her child, Mike Ryerson baiting Matt Burke, Straker's punishment and Father Callahan's loss of faith and his debasement.  These depressing and frightening images are powerful.  Some I had recalled from reading the print book and some were brought to life in the 1979 movie and then the 2004 movie.  Listening to it again has stamped even more scenes into my head and while I don't really get scared by horror books or movies, many of these scenes sure are scary.  I think one reason is it's so frightening is that it's not just the mysterious stranger who is the monster.  It's the character's friends and neighbors, and you're not exactly sure who is going to become a monster next.   I became invested in the people's lives, rooted for them and hoped for them.  Sometimes in vain.

There is no happy ending in Salem's Lot.  Although the vampire is dispatched, the catastrophic events will never leave the players who have endured and witnessed them. Similarly, it is a story I have never forgotten and don't think I ever will.

Other Covers:


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dusty Volumes Contest - (August, 2011)


How many Dusty Volumes have you read so far?  I've only completed three.  But that's okay, my challenges are casual and non-competitive.  The most recent Dusty Volume I've read is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  It wasn't on my original list, but I kept hearing that it was very "gothic" so I wanted to check it out.  It wasn't what I expected, but I did enjoy it.  You can read my post HERE.

To celebrate my third Dusty Volume I'm having a contest!

Sorry, this contest is ONLY open to participants of the 2011 Dusty Volumes Challenge participants as of this post. (But don't be sad, you can always sign up to join in on future fun. Just click on the Dusty Volumes button above or in the sidebar for rules.)

I'm giving away a $10 gift e-certificate to the bookstore of your choice. (If the store of your choice charges for sending an e-certificate, the cost will be deducted from the $10.)

To Enter:
You must leave a comment stating what you plan to read for your next Dusty Volumes choice.

See my contest policy HERE.

Contest ends Thursday, August 11, 2011 at midnight (EST).

Please leave your e-mail address in your comment or make sure your name leads to an e-mail address. If I can't find an e-mail unfortunately, you will be disqualified.

Winners will be chosen by Random.org.

If I cannot contact the winner within 72 hours the next winner will be chosen.

Northanger Abbey.

Title/Author: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Genre: Classic.


Source: Free on Kindle.

Favorite character: Catherine.

Favorite quote:
"And now I may dismiss our herione to the sleepless couch, which is the true heroine's portion; to a pillow strewed with thorns and wet tears." ~Narrator/J. Austen

"If I am wrong, I am doing what I believe to be right." ~Catherine.

All in all: A fun book worth reading.

Synopsis: During an eventful season at Bath, young, naive Catherine Morland experiences fashionable society for the first time.  She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who introduces Catherine to the joys of Gothic romances, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father's house, Northanger Abbey.  There, influenced by novels of horror and intrigue, Catherine comes to imagine terrible crimes committed by General Tilney, risking the loss of Henry's affection, and has to learn the difference between fiction and reality, false friends and true. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, Northanger Abbey is the most youthful and optimistic of Jane Austen's works. ~Goodreads.com

My Thoughts:  I wanted to read this story because this is Jane Austen's take on a Gothic novel as well as her poking fun at novels of her day.  I can see all these elements in Northanger Abby.  Catherine's daydreams and suspicions of the old house, Austen talking to the reader in a humorous vein and the overall silliness of some of the characters. 

I have to admit I had a difficult time keeping all the characters straight and it took me a while before I didn't have to refer back to previous pages.   This may have had something to do with the fact that I put the book down frequently.  It's not that I got bored, because I didn't and when I picked it up again I enjoyed reading it.  It just wasn't a "I couldn't put it down" novel.

I like many of the characters and I feel they are the strongest element of the book.  Catherine makes me laugh.  She sort of reminds me of myself because she can be so oblivious.  I felt her frustration and unhappiness as Isabella and John scheme to monopolize her and put her in a mortifying situation.  I felt her disappointment at exploring the mysterious Northanger Abbey only to discover...nothing.  I remember doing the same thing in my grandmother's old house.  I hoped to find treasures, but only discovered old clothes that smelled like mothballs and cigar boxes full of pencils. Catherine's love interest, Henry, acts as mentor and teacher and tries to keep her feet on the ground, but he also indulges her whimsical imaginations. This aspect reminds me of Emma and Mr. Knightley.  I feel Isabella and John are the most interesting.  They are so self absorbed and manipulative that it is almost comical.  What is more humorous is Catherine's slow and reluctant recognition of this.  Someone said to me that they felt there is nothing extraordinary about Catherine, but this is precisely why I like her as the protagonist.  Sure, I like to read about interesting, exciting people, but honestly, most of us are pretty ordinary and aren't we the protagonists in our own life story? 

Several times Austen speaks directly to the reader as if she is telling a bed time story.  I read Pride and Prejudice so long ago, I can't remember if she did the same thing or if she does this in her other novels, but I find it a bit jarring and I'm not sure I like it. 

Northanger Abbey was published after Jane Austen's death and I wonder if she had lived to go back and re-work this novel what changes she may have made.  Perhaps she would have shown us what happened at the end instead of paraphrasing or included the details of Eleanor and her husband.  Maybe we would have seen more drama between Captain Tilney, Isabella and James or even Henry at odds with his father or friction between Henry and John.

There are many things that are pointed out in Northanger Abbey that are just hinted at or taken for granted in her other novels, such as appropriate behavior, social norms and the subject of money.  Although in my opinion, this is not a perfect novel, I enjoyed reading it.  If you are a Jane Austen fan and have not read Northanger Abbey, it is a fun frolic through her world.


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