Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Wrap Up.

Everyone's doing a wrap up, a best of and/or a top ten of books for 2011.  Here is my list, a little bit different and in no particular order.

Scariest Books I read in 2011:
A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons.  Looking back, this book was a bit slow, but the plodding pace lent itself to the eerieness.  It had some heartstopping moments. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Never would I have thought that a story I had heard and seen visually so many times could be frightening in the written word.  Spine-tingling!

Bag of Bones by Stephen King.  I listened to the audio version of this book and it was engrossing and creepy.  The subtle sound effects and use of music added to the experience.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Evil, deadly vampires.  Need I say more?

Books of Blood: Volumes 1-3 by Clive Barker.  Barker gives life to atrocities, horrors and some humor in this prolific collection. 

Holy crap, I can't believe what's happening in these books!
Dark Places and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. If you like dark fiction and I mean deep, dark fiction, mysteries and subterfuge.  You really need to read these two books.

Horns by Joe Hill.  This story is disturbing and oh so good.  It takes a lot to freak me out, but the scene in the treehouse did it.

Most enchanting:
Chime by Franny Billingsley.  The writing is lovely and original and the plot is clever. Billingsley has a unique and fresh voice.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  I want to catch a train and find this world.

Teeth edited by Ellen Datlow and Teri Windling. Spooky, eerie, sinister and entertaining.  Page by page the stories in Teeth riveted me. 

The Replacement and The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff.  This author gives her characters a strong voice and pulled me into their worlds.  The writing is clean and imaginative.

I'm so glad I read:
White Cat by Holly Black.  Not only is Holly Black an excellent writer, her plots are so clever that I never see what's coming.

Clarity by Kim Harrington.  Fun.  Just fun and a great character with a strong voice and convictions I admired.

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.  I loved seeing the growth and change of the characters in this book.  I love the way the events weave together.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossing.  I loved this book and didn't want to put it down.  The events wove together wonderfully.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  I just finished this today and again it was one I couldn't put down.  The language, plot and characters are perfection.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve Weekend Readathon!

I am not really into New Year's Eve, but I do love getting an extra day off and the excuse to cuddle up on the couch to eat snacks and maybe have a cocktail. So, instead of Ringing in the New Year, I will be "Reading" in the New Year with a self imposed reading marathon.

Anyone who wants to join can either leave a comment below or just use the following hashtag on Twitter: #NYEreadathon.  If you'd like to blog about the New Year's Eve Weekend Readathon, feel free!

This spontaneous readathon will run from Friday December 30, 2011 through Monday, January 2, 2012. 

My Book List (subject to change):
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
Enclave by Ann Aguirre.
The Reincarnationist by MJ Rose.

None.  Just read as much as you can this weekend and have fun.  Check in on Twitter or post on your blog.  Tell us what you're reading, how you're liking your book, what page you're on or what drinks you are mixing up to celebrate the New Year.  If you do write a blog post, please leave your link in the comments section so other people can check it out.

Happy New Year everyone!

Remember to use hashtag #NYEreadathon!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Widows of Eastwick.

Title/Author: The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike.

Read by: Kate Reading.

Genre: Fiction.

Publisher: Random House Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: None.

Favorite quote:

All in all: Beautifully written, but slow.

Synopsis: More than three decades have passed since the events described in John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. The three divorcĂ©es—Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie—have left town, remarried, and become widows. They cope with their grief and solitude as widows do: they travel the world, to such foreign lands as Canada, Egypt, and China, and renew old acquaintance. Why not, Sukie and Jane ask Alexandra, go back to Eastwick for the summer? The old Rhode Island seaside town, where they indulged in wicked mischief under the influence of the diabolical Darryl Van Horne, is still magical for them. Now Darryl is gone, and their lovers of the time have aged or died, but enchantment remains in the familiar streets and scenery of the village, where they enjoyed their lusty primes as free and empowered women. And, among the local citizenry, there are still those who remember them, and wish them ill. How they cope with the lingering traces of their evil deeds, the shocks of a mysterious counterspell, and the advancing inroads of old age, form the burden on Updike’s delightful, ominous sequel.

My Thoughts:
The first thing that struck me about this audio book was the narrator. What a beautiful voice. Her words slid through the air like snow falling, consonants delicate taps on the air. Her portrayal suited all the characters and it was as if she became each character. Kate Reading is a truly wonderful performer.

The second thing that struck me is that there seems to be a lot in the first book that I didn’t know about. I saw the movie version The Witches of Eastwick with Cher, but I realized the first book is a lot different and I think I want to read it now.

I was expecting spooky and witchy and supernatural, but really there was not a lot of it. The book takes place when the three women are in their 70s, after they’ve all lost their husbands and they are taking stock and looking back. They reconnect with each other but they can never seem to get back what they once had, with each other or themselves.

The first part of the book is Alexandra dealing with the recent loss of her second husband, Jim and chronicles her travels and reflections of life. Then she reconnects with Jane and they go to Egypt. Then they connect with Suki and they all go to China. Again, beautiful descriptions and smart writing and perhaps it was to let the reader know the characters and how they’ve changed and give a plateau of what they are searching for. They are all dreading the idea that they are reaching the end of their lives and they really hate the elderly bodies they now find themselves in. They obviously long for their youth and don’t seem comfortable in their own skin.

However, it’s when the three of them decide to go back to Eastwick, RI for the summer that I feel the real story starts. They feel they want to put right some wrongs, and they kind of flounder in determining whether the events of that time were truly witchcraft or not.

It’s very literary, not a ton of action, some drama. A lot of it, I felt, is an ode to feminism, reflections on their life, how their sex life defined them or perhaps rather how they defined their sex life. There also seemed to be a lot of commentary on how society and culture has changed and while I do acknowledge this is important, I’d rather discuss it in a class or a conversation. In this book, I felt there was just too much.

I do have to say, I wasn’t totally bored and for the most part The Widows of Eastwick kept my interest. The writing is exquisite and it is clear that Updike is extremely astute. Although I wouldn’t say this book is a must read, I do want to go back and read The Witches of Eastwick.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday Season no matter what you celebrate and much success in the New Year!

Photo from:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Under the Never Sky.

Title/Author: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Genre: Dystopian/YA.

Publisher: Harper Collins.

Source: NY ComicCon.

Favorite character: Peregrine & Aria.

Favorite quote: “If there was no fear how could there be comfort? Or courage?” ~Peregrine

“He had a prince’s looks, but a pirate’s eyes.” ~Aria.

All in all: Page Turning!

Synopsis: Exiled from her comfortable home, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - called the Death Shop - are slim.  Violent energy storms can strike suddenly, and even the very air she breathes might kill her.  Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry.  He's wild, dangerous - a savage.  He's also her only hope.Because Aria alone holds the key to his redemption, Perry needs her, too.  Their unlikely alliance will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky. ~Product Description.

My Thoughts:
I adored this book and hated to put it down.  I felt as if I was put right down in the middle of the author's world and allowed to absorb the language, terminology, and basically what was going on instead of being told unnecessary details. I love the slang, it was imaginative and I picked it up easily from the context.  Although used sparsely, it gave a great touch to the story letting me know that it wasn't quite the world I know.

Written in alternating viewpoints between Aria and Perry, the two main characters let me get to know both of them and also see the other person through their eyes. At first Aria has to get her bearings and I love seeing her grow and learn before my eyes. She begins to experience reality and grounds herself in the outside world. She gets to know herself. I love how Perry changes too and starts to understand his own growth and important role in his world. I love how both characters change and learn about each other and the world’s they come from and what they went through.  I also loved that it was written clearly and with simplicity, yet it was still lovely and insightful.

The relationship between Perry and Aria may have been predictable only in the fact that you knew they were going to get together. But you wondered when and how?  I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for it. I loved how it came about, slow and sweet with them both changed and matured. I’m not one for mushy romance so this was great for me. It was realistic and sweet and heart racing.

About half way through I realized this was not a stand alone book, but that was okay with me. Either I’m just getting used to trilogies/series, or this story simply gave me foresight that there is much more to explore. There were enough questions to stir my curiosity and enough answers to satisfy me.  The plot is interesting and exciting and wove together well. There were definitely some plot points that took me by surprise and I commend a story teller when they can do that. The only thing that bothered me is that Aria seemed too quick a learner of her physical abilities, but a reader could also argue that there is a reason for this too.

It ended a bit abruptly which took me by surprise. However at the same time, it ended in a way that did not disappoint me. If it was a stand alone book, there would be enough left open ended for speculation and enough for a satisfying ending. This leg of Aria and Perry’s journey is over and their lives are changed , yet they have so many goals to achieve and certainly more hurdles in their future.

This is an exciting and action packed story with character development and insight weaved in.

2011 Dusty Volumes last post wrap up and contest.

Many of you who have joined this challenge are lamenting that you didn't do well or not as well as you hoped. I say: So what? Did you see my list? I only read 4 Dusty Volumes books. Sure I would have liked to have read more, but to be honest, I liked that this was an easy going, laid back challenge. If you get to a Dusty Volumes great, if not, oh well. My favorite part about this challenge was communicating with the bloggers who participated and getting to know everyone a bit better.

 So, I want to thank you all for joining me whether you got around to reading a Dusty Volume or just put some titles on your TBR list.  I hope you'll join me for the Dusty Volumes 2012 Reading Challenge!

  • Sorry, this contest is ONLY for those who are signed up for this challenge as of this post!
  • This is a chance to link any final Dusty Volumes for 2011 you may have.
  • The link page is HERE.
  • Contest ends on December 31, 2011 at 11:59pm.
  • Each comment on this post will get an entry and each review post you link will get an entry. (This includes the posts you have already linked.)
  • A winner will be chosen by and I will be giving a surprise gift! (Cuz honestly, I haven't figured it out yet!)
Good luck!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Face.

Title/Author: The Face by Dean Koontz.

Read by: Dylan Baker.

Genre: Supernatural/Horror.

Publisher: Random House Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Aelfric Manheim.

Favorite quote:

All in all: Unique supernatural story.

He’s Hollywood’s most dazzling star, inspiring the worship of millions and the hatred of one twisted soul. His perfectly ordered existence is under siege as a series of terrifying “messages” penetrates the security of his legendary estate. All that stands between him and an insidious killer is a weary ex-cop who has already seen his own death.

Enter a world of marvelous invention, enchantment, and implacable intent, populated by murderous actors and the walking dead, hit men and heroes, long-buried dreams and never-dying hope. Dean Koontz takes readers on an unforgettable journey to the heart of darkness and to the pinnacle of grace, with a brilliantly observed chronicle of good and evil in our time, of illusion and everlasting truth.

My Thoughts: I have to say, Dean Koontz goes in all sorts of places with his stories, from intelligent dogs to other planets. The Face took me to a realm of supernatural oddities that I have not encountered before. Although the concepts are familiar the way the events play out are unique and surreal.

There is a lot of detail in the book and over explaining for my taste and sometimes Koontz gilds the lily, but I liked most of the characters and the mystery. There are also aspects to the plot that I just didn’t get, as if I missed a scene or two. Was the bad guy in some kind of satanic society? I just didn’t catch that.

The narration is good and he differenitates between all the voices well.  The only voice I didn't care for, was a very minor female character who only showed up at the beginning.  What I really liked about the narration was that he read the bad guy's part a little tongue in cheek making his demeaner even more demented.

My favorite character is Fric, the 10 year old Hollywood kid who is mostly left to his own devices in his movie star dad’s house. He is sweet, smart, introspective and witty. It is easy to care about this lonely child who is trying to find his way because he feels like the ugly, awkward duckling in the land of the beautiful. His humor and his thought process brought me closer to him and made me want to know him better. The other character I like is Ethan Truman, the head of security in the Manhein mansion. His humor also made him likeable as did his steady and competent demeanor.

What I also liked were the questions that the story brought up. Is Dunny (Ethan’s friend) really dead? Whose side is he on? Is he trying to help or hinder? What exactly is he? Was Ethan dreaming in certain scenes? I was glad that these questions are answered toward the end although some of it is a bit over explained once again.

The bad guys were real people, deluded by their own egos and mad ideas making them frightening and forbidding. The fact that they are so confident is chilling in its own right.

I haven’t been having great luck with some Koontz books lately, but The Face was pretty intriguing with supernatural elements, diabolical bad guys and an inventive concept.

Other Editions:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge 2012.

**To join the 2012 Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge read below**
** To link your 2012 Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge reviews click HERE**

Brush the cobwebs aside,
Pull the book from the shelf.
Blow the dust off the cover,
Then immerse yourself.


If you feel literarily negligent dust off those old, classic books, stories or plays you've always wanted to read and join me in the 2012 Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge.

This challenge will run from 1/1/12 to 12/31/12.  All 2012 Dusty Volumes must be read and reviewed in 2012.

To join:
  • Write a post about this challenge on your blog with a link back to this post.  
  • Include a list of the Dusty Volumes you hope to read in 2012.  They should have a publishing date before 1960.  You can add, subtract or change the list at anytime.
  • Grab a button and add it to your post or sidebar.  (Hint: adding it to your sidebar will earn you extra entries in future Dusty Volumes giveaways!  Plus, it would really make my day.)
  • Sign up on Mr. Linky below.  Please enter the link to the Dusty Volumes post on your blog, not your main blog page.  (If you link to your main blog page, unfortunately it will be deleted.)   
  • When you write a review on one of your Dusty Volumes please let me know by leaving a comment below with a link to your review.  OR, you can leave a comment on one of my Dusty Volumes reviews when I post them.  Also, if/when you write your review it would be great if you could mention that it is part of the Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge.
  • If you don't have a blog:  You can just sign up using your name.  You can link to Goodreads, Amazon, Shelfari, etc.  OR, instead of linking to a review you can leave a comment with your thoughts.  

I have not verified all the books on these lists, but here are a few links to help you out:
~YA books published before 1960 from The
~Another list from

My Dusty Volumes for 2012:
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood by Algernon Blackwood.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie.
Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

Sign up here:

Link your Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge reviews!  Click Here.

Grab a Dusty Volumes Reading Challenge Button!




Friday, December 9, 2011

Authors After Dark 2012 Reading Challenge.

In anticipation of Authors After Dark 2012 in New Orleans, I created the AAD 2012 Reading Challenge.  The goal of this challenge is to let readers, whether you are going to AAD 2012 or not, get better acquainted with some of the authors who will be attending this event.

Sometimes I go to conferences that feature authors who I am unfamiliar with.  Then, when I read their books later I want to kick myself for not reading their work sooner, so I could have talked to them about their stories, gotten a book signed or just gushed properly. 

I asked Stella Price, the organizer of Authors After Dark if there would be any issues with me hosting this challenge and she not only gave me the green light and is very supportive, but asked the AAD 2012 website designer Robin from RLD Design to make me a button!  Thank you Stella and Robin!

•Although AAD 2012 takes place in August, this challenge will run from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.
•Books must be read and reviewed in 2012.
•You can join at anytime during the year.
•Anyone can join (not just book bloggers).

To Join:
•Write a post about this challenge on your blog with a link back to this post.
•Include a list of the AAD 2012 books you hope to read in 2012.  You can check out the authors on the AAD 2012 website HERE.  (Then click on the authors link.)  Please note that your list is not written in stone!  You can change it at anytime.
•Grab the button and add it to your post or sidebar.
•Sign up on Mr. Linky below.  Please enter the link to the AAD 2012 Challenge post on your blog, not your main blog page. (If you link to your main blog page, unfortunately it will be deleted.)  If you do not have a blog, you can just sign up.

To post a review:
• This is just the sign up page, not where you will link up your reviews.  To link up your Authors After Dark 2012 Reading Challenge reviews click HERE.  When you write your review it would be great if you could mention that it is part of the AAD 2012 Reading Challenge.
•If you don't have a blog:  You can link to Goodreads, Amazon, Shelfari, etc. OR, instead of linking to a review you can leave a comment below with your thoughts.

To find out more about Authors After Dark 2012 visit their website!

Grab the button:


My book goals for this challenge:
~The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay.
~Black Heart Loa by Adrian Phoenix.
~Dearly Departed by Lia Habel.
~Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.
~Mind Games by Carolyn Crane.
~My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland.
~Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson.
~Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding.

Sign up for the challenge below!

Please make sure your sign up link goes to your 2012 AAD Reading Challenge post, or your list on Goodreads, Facebook, etc. Please don't just link to your blog.

Please note that I am simply attending AAD 2012 and am not affiliated with the event, nor am I receiving any compensation for hosting this challenge.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winner of Dusty Volumes Contest #4!

This is soooo late, but I realized I did not announce the winner of my Dusty Volumes Contest (#4)!  The winner of the $10 gift card was Lazy Girl Reads.  Please visit her blog for fun and eclectic content!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three.

Title/Author: Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three by Clive Barker.

Genre: Horror.

Publisher: Berkley Trade.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Birdy from Sons of Celluloid.

Favorite quote: “There is no delight the equal of dread. As long as it’s someone else’s.” ~Dread.

“It was a full, harvest moon, and the light, though cold was luxuriant.” ~Rawhead Rex

All in all: Imaginative.

Synopsis: "Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red." For those who only know Clive Barker through his long multigenre novels, this one-volume edition of the Books of Blood is a welcome chance to acquire the 16 remarkable horror short stories with which he kicked off his career.

My Thoughts: This book took me a long time to get through. It is not light reading. It sucks you down into its bloody, gory depth. From the very first story, the “frame” so to speak, that explains what the Books of Blood are to the last ghostly saga.

I enjoy a good gore-fest, yet I realized I was making faces at some of the details of intricate violence and troubling images. It’s not just random blood and violence however.  At the heart of it, the stories are just good stories. They are deep and well thought out, imaginative and surprising. They are written with words strung together in a gorgeous, lush tableau. Descriptions reach ambitious heights. The writing is also brutal and gritty and the mood is dark, proving that Horror can be both beautiful and disturbing. Don’t let anyone tell you different. What I also really enjoyed is that as prolific as Barker’s writing is, it does not seem forced to me. It flows and slides and creeps and batters you so naturally and casually, you just sort of accept it and come to expect it.

Sex, Death and Starshine is a wonderfully, creepy ghost story and The Yattering and Jack is a hilarious yarn about a demon who is trying to best a man, but all his efforts are thwarted. It is so clever and refreshing because of the humor. New Murders in the Rue Morgue is a murder mystery as intriguing as its predecessor and takes the tale a step farther. For me, Rawhead Rex is brilliant. The murderous villain, his origins and the hints throughout are woven together not only to create a horror story, but a re-telling of a folklore story.

I feel confident in also saying that many of the stories could be studied in feminism, sexuality, and psychology courses. And, if you’re so inclined could raise discussions of what is behind bondage, mutilation and control. But I think the most inherent trait in the stories is suspense, fear and dread (and one of the stories is actually called Dread and explores this emotion).

One thing that was a tad lacking for me are the characters and I didn’t realize this until I got to one of the last stories, Scape Goat, which is written in first person and I realized I connected with the main character, Frankie. She took me more into the story while with the other characters I felt more as if I were watching theirs. (The other character I really like is Birdy from Sons of Celluloid. Maybe because she is a strong female.) This really didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book, it’s just something I noticed.

I also appreciated the foreward by Mr. Barker as he reflects on his stories which were written many years ago, the horror genre in general and himself as well and how he has changed. I feel this is a must for Horror aficionados. The concepts are inspired, the writing is superb and the stories are just exceptional in their inventiveness.

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