Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stephen King Fall Read-a-Long.

One of the things I love about reading is discussing books!  I love hearing other people's opinions, viewpoints, likes and dislikes.  So I am delighted to join Kate from Midnight Book Girl for a Stephen King Fall Read- a-Long!

The Read-a-long will last until the end of November, and first up is Carrie.
It's a fairly short read, but since this is short notice the first discussion won't be until Sept 12.
The other two books will be:

October- 'Salem's Lot

November- Misery and/or Cycle of the Werewolf. 
Discussion for CotW will be on here and Misery will be on Midnight Book Girl's blog.

Carrie Read-a-long Plan:

The book is broken into 3 parts. 1 and 2 are the longest. Here are the dates for the discussions and twitter chats:

Part One: Blood Sports- Discussion post on 9.12.12, Twitter chat from 9pm EST- 11pm EST #CarrieBS

Part Two: Prom Night- Discussion post on 9.23.12, Twitter chat from 7pm EST- 9pm EST #CarrieProm

Part Three: Wreckage- Discussion post on 9.30.12, Twitter chat from 8pm EST- 10pm EST #CarrieEnd

Giveaways/challenges will be announced as we go along.

The original movie Carrie starring SissySpaceck is available on Netflix, so at the end of the month we will try to arrange a Twitter Watch party so that we can tweet while all watching the movie.

Sign up below!

My 7 Shades of Sin

I would like to welcome Mona (last name withheld to protect the innocent) to my blog today as she reveals her thoughts on the 50 Shades craze.

When the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon began swelling (!), I sighed (non-erotically) because it meant there would be multiple responses from every avenue of readership: those that write it, those that sell it, and those that buy it, borrow it, lend it and skim it. What I didn’t expect was my own sinful experiences!
1) Pride

My book club reads every genre and we were just coming off World Book Night when one member piped up about her free read, “Have you read…?” No! I scowled. I wouldn’t waste my time reading that type of book! Oops. I did read “that type” years ago, a trilogy, written under a pseudonym. Those were by Anne Rice retelling the Sleeping Beauty fairytale before she made vampires into rock stars. Pride goeth before the fall and there I went, tumbling down, down, down.

2) Sloth

Remember the days when you talked to people, face-to-face? Some days I still do. Other days I’m lazy and listen in on those talking, especially when waiting in a long line for a book to be signed by a non-Grey author at this year’s Book Expo America. The two talkers: lady librarians. The topic: you guessed it. “I’ve been watching the reserve list, it’s crazy. Have you read it?” asked LL1 of LL2. “I just wish an editor had gotten a hold of it and cleaned up the mistakes. And made it better. She’s got a voice.” More than I can say for me, standing there closed-mouthed and open-eared.

3 & 4) Greed & Gluttony

At the same show on another signing line for a completely different genre, I actually engaged in the lost art of conversation and talked with a bookstore owner. Her store was in Arkansas and its entire second floor is dedicated to science-fiction and fantasy. I was trying to map out the route for such a detour during a North Carolina road-trip when she hit upon the controversial show topic: that book. “I couldn’t even finish unpacking the books from the boxes to put in the window. Women were taking it out of my hands. I went through cases. Cases. I have a hard time usually going through one case. I have books I dust.” Instantly, my gut expanded and my wallet shrank. I had to save the books, every one. Save them from feather-dusters and crying authors and the remainder bin. Could I devour, consume, eat them up? No, I would have to read them and burp! That’s too much for one person. Sharing is caring. Please read more books. Time to buy another bookcase or three.

5) Lust

Back in olden days you had to carry a book through the store aisles and up to the crowded cash register where everyone would check out which book you were buying. Nowadays, anonymity and convenience give you 24-access to a fantasy world achieved in an easy Click-Here button. “I just downloaded…” Busy your idle hands elsewhere. Those electronic devices are tools of temptation. Candy-colored and non-descript covers hide what story you’re enjoying. Download sales numbers for Grey are huge: Kobo, Kindle, Nook, etc. Yet there are still bold souls who strut through the store aisles, book in hand, to share with their lover in the privacy of their own bedroom. Then there are those commuters (ahem) who take that book on the rush-hour train out of NYC bound for their bedroom communities in Westchester. This lady stranger sits next to my handsome husband, sharing a rather tight two-seater, one of them squashed up against the window when the other (her) starts with the squirming and sighing, lip-biting and pupil-dilated activities. This sparks my hubby’s bad habit of “reads-dropping” – when you sneak a peek at the other person’s reading material. Those e-book readers make it hard to do this. Books are perfect for the eye-roll that leads to the blushing (hers and his) and the frantic looking for an exit (his).

6) Wrath

Not that I gained anything from his recounting of the above encounter except another sin. And not the fun one. Which annoyed me. Leading to the other sin of teeth gnashing and nail sharpening. I just found out that he’s spotted this lustful reader again, headed to the trains, her arms full of the sequels. He better be sitting somewhere far, far away from her and that wench better be keeping her fingers on the pages and not on my pretty or…!

7) Envy

Calming down I did some research about Grey’s origins. It started as fan fiction: using some other writer’s creations to spin out your own what-if stories. I sat up straighter in my desk chair and squealed “I did that years ago! I could’ve gotten a publishing deal and been rich!” Ah, envy, the sneakier sin.

Yes I wrote fan fiction, a novella, a long time ago and also published it on my own website. Just for fun, just to write, just to play in that universe whose copyrights belonged to someone else, and just to hook up my two (hot) favorite characters. And it was great fun to write those steamy scenes, which I made my readers wait… and wait…and wait for the final culmination while I blew up the world around them. Wars, family secrets, government experiments, group dynamics, and a vacation to a false paradise in order to spring a trap: all those lovely distractions that writers and readers enjoy, the trappings that ultimately are the solid constructs forming a story. The steamy scenes are important in their reward, the payoff you must earn writing and turning the pages surrounding those scenes, and the payoff is sweeter if you take the time to enjoy setting up those explosions. Fake it until you make it? Then the experience is not truly, deeply satisfying and leaves you hungry for more, such as books 2 and 3.

Oooo now I’m jazzed to write, aren’t you? The Grey phenom shows us that anybody can turn a fantasy into a reality. Stay focused and keep pouring energy into your creation. This realization leads me back to Pride and I’m swirling the whirlpool of sin again, however I’m really enjoying the ride. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Mona lives in a glass castle and tries not to throw heavy objects, especially stones, that can shatter her belief system. She owns many books yet doesn't make enough time to read them all or write new ones.  She is presently trying to teach her cats to read.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gone Girl.

Title/Author: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Genre: Psychological Thriller.

Publisher: Crown Publishing.

Source: Received at BEA 2012.

Favorite character:  Amy.

All in all:  Outstanding!

Synopsis: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

My Thoughts:
I was *very* excited to read Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl after loving her previous two books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places. I was a little surprised at the difference in terms of style and story, but not surprised at the way that Flynn weaves an insightful psychological thriller. Is she a writer or a pscyhologist?  Is she a psychologist or a mind reader -- delving into people's innermost thoughts and extracting them for analyzation?

The pages flew by as I read about Nick and Amy, their romance and their marriage as they tell their stories. They are fascinating, FASCINATING, complex characters. They are reflective and deep and this is shown in their thoughts and behavior.

The story at times mirrors the Scott and Laci Peterson saga, with a missing wife and a suspect yet charming husband. I love how Flynn puts a magnifying glass up to the media and to the public. One small misstep, one wrong word can be construed as proof of guilt.

I kept guessing and second guessing and then guessing some more as I delved deeper into the couple’s marriage, their memories, their opinions. I wondered if I could rely on any of the narrations, on anything that was presented to me. I worried about Nick and if he would go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Because he couldn’t have murdered his wife, could he? If so, then how and why? What led up to it? If not, then what happened to her? Who in Nick and Amy’s life could have wanted to cause her harm?  I worried about Amy.  Was she dead?  When would we find out?  These questions had me turning pages late into the night.

Part of me was frustrated with the ending, but I also feel that it was an interesting and logical way to end.

What is behind their marriage, their troubles, their motivations is intriguing. It’s a sad, spellbinding tale of wanting to feel loved, of revealing yourself, of psychopathy. Open it up and dive in.

Below are my thoughts for people who have already read the book and want to discuss it.  Click and highlight.

***SPOILER ALERT: Holy Crap!  So Amy is a crazy and very dangerous lady.  Nick is a bit crazy for staying with her as well.  He actually admires her and it is clear she has ruined him for anyone else.  No other woman would live up to Amy...true, because not many women out there are as crazy as she is!  Not exactly a "happy" ending, except that Nick did not go to jail.  However, could either of them ever be truly happy again? 

Have you ever met anyone like Amy?  Someone that just has to "win."  At times I felt sorry for her because as she revealed her true self, Nick connected less and less. 

Here are a few alternate endings that I've imagined.
1. Amy comes home.  Nick exposes her and manages to get her past "victims" to testify.  She is shunned from society and arrested.  She's the one that ends up going to jail.
2. Amy comes home.  Nick exposes her and kills her and he goes to jail for really killing her this time.
3. Amy comes home.  Nick kills Amy and makes it look like suicide.  He then exposes her and the truth comes out.  Although a few people may suspect Nick, the majority of society thinks she killed herself because she was unhappy. :END SPOILER ALERT***

Saturday, August 25, 2012

AAD NOLA - Tours and parties.


After the panels on Thursday I joined Adrian Phoenix's "Dante's French Quarter" tour, that reflects events in her Maker's Song series. I love walking around The French Quarter at night and that evening the magic of NOLA lent itself to her Maker's Song urban fantasy series.

Random scary monster on Bourbon Street.
 Adrian points out John Lafitte's bar, where her character Dante goes to escape the chaos of Bourbon Street.

                      This was the market that Dante went to in one of Adrian's deleted scenes.

                                               This is the place where Dante's bar is located.

                                                                 Pirates Alley!  Arrrr!

                               St. Louis Cathedral features in a dramatic scene in Dante's world.

         This favorite place to eat also was the setting in one of Adrian's scenes from the series.

                            The Mississippi River.  You can't write about NOLA without it!

                             Some ladies doing an umbrella dance. (They were not with us.)

That evening when I returned it was time for the Late Night with Jeaniene Frost and Pamela Palmer event.   

    YUMMY cupcakes.

Pamela Palmer

Jeaniene Frost


Although I hadn't signed up for Suzanne Johnson's Royal Street tour, I decided to get up early and take a chance to see if there was an extra spot.  I'm so glad I did, because not only was there room, I got a glimpse of Suzanne's harrowing experience with Hurrican Katrina Orleans and insight on how New Orleans coped.  Suzanne brought her experiences to blank in her book and it was relayed in a detailed yet sensitive manner.

This is the house that Suzanne used as DJ's house...

Which was right next door to her previous house in NOLA. 

Her mentor Gerald's house was based on this home.  The Levee is right behind it.  You can see the walls.

Katrina was really a man-made catastrophe (in my opinion) and this sign gives a little insight as to why.

That day between panels and parties,  I ran into my pal Missie (The Unread Reader) who had just returned from the Steampunk Tea.  Could she look any more adorable?  The answer is no.  No she could not.

After the panels that day, it was time for dinner and the Echoes of New Orleans costume party.  I absolutely love costumes and costume parties.  I have to confess that I needed to bring an extra suitcase to pack all the makings of our accessories.

Some of my pals and I decided to go as waitresses from a made up place, The White Trash Zombie Cafe based on Diana Rowand's book My Life as a White Trash Zombie.  Karen (For What It's Worth Reviews), Missie (The Unread Reader), her sister Marlene, Felicia (The Geeky Book Blogger) and my friend Wendy were all my partners in crime.  How to sum up my blogger pals?  Well Missie is the sweetest, sweetest person ever.  Felicia is a firecracker of crazy fun and Karen is my total buddy...calm, cool and collected - I need some of that energy.  It was so great to spend some time with  with these awesome bloggers. 

Afterward, many partygoers braved Bourbon Street.  It was really cool to be walking along and see someone you recognize, hang out a bit, move on and hang out with others.

Enjoy the pics below.  I'm terrible with names and I have trouble keeping them straight...sorry!  If anyone has any names/websites for me, please let me know and I will add them, or if you'd rather have your picture taken down, let me know that as well.

This author's daughter made this dress!

Suzanne Johnson.

Each table had a unique centerpiece made by the author(s) seated there.

(l-r) Karen, Marlene, Wendy, Felicia, Missie & me. 

(l-r) Felicia, Wendy & Julie (Yummy Men & Kick Ass Chicks).

Leanna Hiebert

Damon Suede and Jade Lee do some dirty dancin'.


Saturday night was the Author Pub Crawl. The con was abuzz with anticipation. I had tickets to the Secret Cravings Roaring 20s Party and I thought I would stop by take some pictures and head to the pub crawl. However, I ended up staying for the whole thing. It was just so much fun. There was gambling, a bar and music. I met Kayla from Bibliophilia Please Beck Prizes were giving out and you could trade in your winning chips for more raffle tickets to win more prizes. I hope they do it again next year. I'll be sure to come in costume.

Lots of prizes were handed out.

Kayla is a card shark.  She totally cleaned up!

After the party, I went to a few bars to find authors and other attendees. I couldn't find anyone until I hit Pat O'Briens. I remembered that Kristen Painter was going to be there with blinking beads so she could be spotted easily and it worked. I spent the remainder of the evening there.

Monica (The Obscured Vixen) & Kristen Painter.  

Me & Alisha (My Need To Read.)

 (l-r) Stacey Kennedy & Kristen Painter.

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