Monday, July 30, 2012

Bad Taste in Boys.

Title/Author: Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris.

Genre: YA/Horror.

Publisher: Delacort Press for Young Readers.

Source: Borrowed from a friend.

Favorite character:  Kate and Jonas.

All in all:  Adorable!  

Synopsis: Someone's been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steriods are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town . . . and stay hormonally human.~Goodreads.

My Thoughts: When I saw this cover before it came out and found out what it was about I wanted to read it.  It was lieing around my guest room (where my books live) for a long time and I kept passing it over.  But I needed something light and easy to read, plus it's not a tome (only 201 pages).  I am happy to say this book surpassed my expectations.

I was caught up in the story right away and in Kate's awkward, self proclaimed dorky voice.  She is funny and self depracating, but does not come off as whiny or a constant "poor me" type.  In fact, she is anything but a victim as she navigates the mystery of the zombie outbreak and what's more proving it so the powers that be believe her. All the while she is also dealing with High School and her crush on one of the Football players, Aaron. 

I also liked that some of the more popular kids were also her friends.  Kiki is a cheerleader and gorgeous, but also nice and befriended Kate without any agenda.  I thought this was refreshing and original.  She does have some trouble at school and with certain people, but does not lament or dwell too much on it, but uses humor and practicality and seems to accept and at times thrive in her place as a geek. 

Although her mom is overseas teaching and her dad is a bit preoccupied, I still like the fact that she seems close to them.  And, I love the relationship between her and her younger brother Jonas.  They are so cute and very enjoyable to read about.  Jonas is hysterical and heroic and everyone should have a brother like him. 

The romance is present, but not the main concern.  Aason is on her mind, at some times more heavily than on others, but Kate's main concern is the "zombie virus" and what or who is behind it.  She's got her priorities straight. 

Although Kate's humor made the scary parts a little less so, I still thought they had some real "bite" to them.  (Sorry.)  There was gore and zombie run-ins and close calls. 

The story and plot move and make this a fast, fun, thrilling read.


Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm on board for Book Blogger Confessions!

Book Blogger Confessions is one of my favorite memes on the Blogosphere.  The questions asked are thought provoking, timely and pertinent and I love the discussions that come from it.   Karen from For What it's Worth and Tiger from Tiger's All Consuming Media have created a relevant and comfortable arena for Book Blogging subjects.

Fortunately for her, unfortunately for others, Tiger will be pursuing a new adventure in - get this - Korea!  How amazing!  However, Tiger will not be able to devote as much time to book blogging so Karen asked if I would give her a hand.  I am incredibly honored to join Book Blogger Confessions since For What it's Worth is one of my favorite blogs and has been for a long time.  If you haven't participated I hope you will and if you have, I hope you will continue to do so.

For a sneak peek at August's questions please visit For What It's Worth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Brush of Darkness.

Title/Author: A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang.

Genre: UF.

Publisher: Pocket Books.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Abby Sinclair.  Phineas.

All in all: Full of intrigue and great characters.

Synopsis: The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.

Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

My Thoughts: Right away the voice of main protagonist Abby in A Touch of Darnkess sucked me into the story.  I liked her and was drawn to her.  I wanted to find out what happened to in her past and how she became entangled in her present life of being involved with the Fae. Abby is a character that is refreshing in the fact that she is not like a lot of UF female characters out there.  She isn't a black belt, a sniper, or able to kill people with her eyes.  The only magical ability she has is she is a Dreamer.  This special ability manifested through her dancing, but she no longer dances and now her dreams are stronger because they have no where to go.  Plus, now she is haunted by nightmares by the accident that left her without a mother and unable to dance anymore.  In steps an Incubus, Brystion, who wants to find his missing sister and thinks Abby is in a position to help him.  Also, because of her Dreaming abilities, he is of course drawn to her.  Although she is attracted to him, she thinks he's a jerk at first but of course through working together their relationship changes and he shows her there is more to him than just being sex on a stick.   Abby is also sarcastic and smart and hurt and sensitive and this is manifested in how she remembers her past and how she treats those she cares about in the present.

Never in a million years would I think I would like a unicorn character.  I had thought I left those behind when I was very young.  But Phineas can talk and is funny, snarky and kind of lecherous.  He is as well drawn as the other characters.  There are quite a few characters to keep track of, but they are all unique enough to be able to differentiate. 

The plot is deep and complex, with mystery and deception. I love how things tie together and the mythology and rules created.  I find it hard to believe that this is Allison Pang's debut novel.  The imagination and heart that went into this story shows with each chapter. 

The world created is beautiful.  Magical, surreal and I get the feeling I can't quite touch it, I can't quite see it clearly which lends itself to the fairy feel.  The reader sometimes gets an explanation of locations and sometimes is just pushed into it.  Although sometimes I got a little confused, I didn't mind this.  The events are really what is important and I appreciated that the setting wasn't "told" to death.

If you like your sex scenes steamy, then this one fit the bill.  Although in all honesty, I don't have much of a point of reference since erotica is not my usual genre.  But if I compare it to other books I have read in UF, it is very stormy and there are more than enough.  To be honest, more than enough for me but I somehow prevailed and read through them.  I guess the romantic scenes classify this as a PNR as well.  But I can't help think of it as UF.  Ah well, what's in a name?

What threw me is that at times, I didn't understand what characters were hinting at or what they meant with their observations and dialogue. But it didn't cause me to pause for long.  For me, it actually lent itself to the mystery of the action and did not hinder the reading experience. 

I really also loved the end. It didn't end up where I thought it would and I see it perhaps going  somewhere else, which interests me more. I really enjoyed this book and I felt the plot and the mythology as well as the characters were complex and rich.



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Judy Blume

Meeting Judy Blume was surreal.  When I told her this at the reception before the event she stated, "Yes, it must be.  You all grew up, but I've basically stayed the same."  She struck me as a woman with class, confidence, grace and an enormous sense of humor.  I'm out of touch with children's books now, but I was so happy to see young book fans at this event, and I realized she is still popular and relevant to children's literature and to children themselves.

Jeff Nichols the Executive Director of the Mark Twain House introduced the event as well as the moderator Julia Pistel (Marketing and Event Planning at the Mark Twain House, Literary Disco) and Julia in turn introduced Judy Blume.  When Judy came out she kissed the picture of Mark Twain and stated she was in good company. (Since they have both have had their writing banned.)

The evening was structured like an informal interview and reminded me of Behind the Actor's Studio in content and tone.  It was very relaxed.  Julia opened with her first experience with a Judy Blume book.  When she read Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and asked her mom what a sanitary belt was.  Her mother explained it to her, but she also noted that it opened up a dialogue between her and her mom.  The modern version of this book has updated feminine products and Judy went into a discussion of how many of her books have been updated.  However, she also noted that some books haven't been updated and some people are "purists."

Judy told us that she grew up in Elizabeth, NJ and made up stories in her head all the time while she bounced a ball against her brick house.  She was too afraid to tell anyone about these stories, because she thought people would think she was weird.  Her two most important years were when she moved to Miami.  She came out of her shell and when her family returned to the Northeast to live, she was a changed kid.

"Who was your Judy Blume?" Julia asked.  Judy explained, "No one. It was the 50s.  We didn't know anything.  Families pretended to be perfect."  Judy's brother let his parents know he wasn't perfect but Judy pretended to be happy all the time because "that's what you did."  She also observed that is a huge burden on a child. 

Julia noted that Judy understands the anxiety of being a kid and treats different fears with respect.  Judy confessed that she herself was a fearful and anxious child.  The discussion turned to Blubber (one of my favorites) and the topic of bullying.  Judy feels bullying was always there, but it wasn't called bullying.  "Then, nobody was talking about it."  She observed. 

When Judy made her foray into adult books she didn't feel she was making a "transition."  She simply had a story she wanted to tell and she wanted a change and a challenge.  Because of that she doesn't think she could ever write a series.  Regarding the book Forever her daughter asked her if she could write a book about two nice kids who have sex and nobody has to die.  Judy observed that in the media girls were (are) punished for having sex. 

As to her writing process, unless she works in the morning she won't get anything done that day.  She treats it like a job.  "A lot of writing takes place when your not writing." She advised.  She gets ideas when she goes for a walk or rides her bike.  Ideas don't come because you want them.  "It's the ball bouncing against the brick house again."

When the topic turned to censorship, Judy said she was thrilled to be banned on the same list as Mark Twain.  Her censorship story started with a principal in her child's elementary school when he chased her down the hall with a chair.  She had given the school librarian three copies of  Are You There God? It's Me Margaret which he wouldn't allow on the shelves. Judy also stated that censorship almost always starts with a school library.  She feels that because books can raise questions, it's not until kids start asking and making books their own that people feel it might be dangerous.  Judy advises you should not write with a censor on your shoulder any more than you should write with a critic on your shoulder.  "That fear will keep you from writing the best, most honest book you can."  Regarding difficult subjects Judy states that either kids will go to their parents or they will read right over it. 

Tiger Eyes, which has recently been made into a film is about grief and trauma.  At the time she wrote it she didn't connect it with her own feelings of losing her father, she was writing from "...some other place."  Judy realized later she was channeling her own emotions.  She co-wrote the screenplay with her son and it's now being shown at film festivals.  When she invited Julia to come to Nantucket the following weekend to view it at the Nantucket Film Festival, Julia paused and asked "Is that real?"

After the discussion there was a Q&A.  It delighted me to see so many children stepping up to the microphone.  Little book lovers, future authors or book bloggers!

Ms. Blume is a fascinating person to listen to.  Every book she has written and phase of her life is a chapter within itself and has amazing, interesting, relevant stories behind them.  She was one of my favorite authors growing up and from the conversations going on around me, I was not alone.  There were people of all ages in attendance with smiles on their faces sharing stories of how Judy Blume and her books shaped them, helped them and entertained them.  Judy Blume has blessed the world with her imagination.

She is more than just an author. 

She is an icon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Sixes.

Title/Author:  The Sixes by Kate White.

Narration by: Jen Cohn

Genre: Mystery/Thriller.

Publisher: Harper Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character:  Phoebe Hall.

All in all: A light read and interesting enough plot to keep me listening and attentive. 

Synopsis: Phoebe Hall's Manhattan life has suddenly begun to unravel. Right after her long-term boyfriend breaks off their relationship, she's falsely accused of plagiarizing her latest bestselling celebrity biography. Looking for a quiet place to put her life back together, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus's quiet cafes and leafy maple trees lie evil happenings. The body of a female student washes up on the banks of a nearby river, and disturbing revelations begin to surface: accusations from coeds about abuses wrought by a secret society of girls on campus known as The Sixes... To help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues--a quest that soon raises painful memories of her own boarding school days years ago.

As the investigation heats up, Phoebe unexpectedly finds herself falling for the school's handsome psychology professor, Duncan Shaw. But when nasty pranks turn into deadly threats, Phoebe realizes she's in the middle of a real-life nightmare, not knowing whom she can trust and if she will even survive.

Plunging deeper into danger with every step, Phoebe knows she's close to unmasking a killer. But with truth comes a terrifying revelation: your darkest secrets can still be uncovered . . . and starting over may be a crime punishable by death.

My Thoughts:  I thought there was going to be a supernatural element to this book.  I must have skimmed the back too fast.  Plus the cover just screams scary doesn't it?  While there really isn't  anything spooky or otherworldy going on, it is still a fun mystery.

What I really appreciated is that Phoebe is over 40, so a main character to be mature and not a young gamine was a novelty for me.  Phoebe's maturity in how she handles most situations (a breakup with her long term boyfriend, difficult conversations) is laudible.  On the other hand, I didn't totally connect with her.  She is likeable, but perhaps not totally believable. 

I like the whole plot line of a secret society and I feel that the author did a good job of creating the mysterious and sinister actions that this particular group, The Sixes, could get away with.  However, I wish they played an even larger role.  Interspersed with the present story are memories of Phoebe's own run-in with a secret society in prep school. While the final "prank" they pulled on her was horrific, I didn't feel that this past situation is explored as much as I would have liked

The audio was fairly well done.  While I didn't love the deliberateness of most of the book, like the main character's speech, I did enjoy most of the co-eds that the narrator portrayed.  They seemed much more natural. 

Ironically, Phoebe was accused of plagiarizing and while her research assistant was at fault and owned up to it, Phoebe also took responsibility for the fact that she wasn't paying close enough attention and that she should have hired a research assistant with more experience.  It didn't seem that she was totally exonerated and I questioned why this wouldn't garner more drama on a college campus.  Would the powers that be allow someone who was even accused of plagiarism to teach at their college?  Wouldn't they think that even if she wasn't guilty the scandal would taint their academic integrity?  I don't have the answers, this was just something I wondered. 

The romance presented another mystery within itself, because of course, there is always the chance that the new lover is the murderer.  I really wanted to see where that thread went and I couldn't decide if I really wanted it to be him or not. 

The writing is simple yet effective.  While there was some telling and over detailing of food, I felt that the strength of the story is the mystery.  It is a bit predictable with a lot of red herrings and false leads and suspicions, but not too difficult to figure out.   However, it kept me interested and made me care enough to find out the answers to all the questions presented.

Other editions:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions (Monday, July 16, 2012)

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme hosted by Tiger from All Consuming Media and Karen from For What It's Worth Reviews to discuss issues unique to book bloggers. To find out details, click HERE.

Question:  What do we owe publishers and authors? If we accept ARC’s do we “owe” anything to them or just an honest review to our followers? As book bloggers are we obligated to do more than just review books? Post covers – participate in book tours – host guest posts - promote authors?

Short answer: I don’t think that book bloggers are “obligated” to do anything. My feeling is you can do whatever you want on your blog. It is YOURS.

Long answer: That being said, if a book blogger is trying to cultivate a relationship with a publisher or author, I think he/she owes them respect and courtesy. Personally, if I accept an ARC given to me specifically for review, I feel an obligation to read the book and post an opinion. If I do not like it, I will be honest, but I always try to be constructive with any criticism. (I think this falls under negative reviews as well.) If a publisher or author just sends me an ARC or a book unsolicited, I don’t feel obligated to read it.  On the flip side, publishers, publicists and authors also owe bloggers respect.  This could mean anything from reading our review policy carefully, to being mindful of our time and other obligations. 

For me, my blog is my personal kind journal, where I keep track of books, events and other book related news.  I never even thought of it as being part of an obligation or agenda. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Better Part of Darkness.

Title/Author: The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay.

Genre: Urban Fantasy.

Publisher: Pocket Books.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Charlie Madigan, Rex.

All in all: Fabulous!  Layered, smart and exciting!

Synopsis: Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....
Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

My Thoughts:  Wow.  Wowsa.  Wow.  I think I found my new favorite heroine.  But I can't decide if it's the main protagonist of The Better Part of Darkness or Kelly Gay herself for creating such an amazing character.  The book opens up right at the start of an investigation and as a reader I was quickly introduced to Charlie, a tough as nails cop who was likeable right from the start.  In the next moment she shows her vulnerable side which is brought about by the presence of her daughter Emma.  There is also self-depracating humor in her voice, irony and sass.  She is jealous and can be shut off from others, while still holding them accountable.  So very flawed and human and extremely likeable due to her honesty and self awareness. 

The setting of Atlanta is quickly established as a realm where the veil between the worlds has been breached and is now populated by Otherworldly creatures, good and bad alike. Now Charlie and her partner, Hank, a siren, are thrown into an investigation that takes them further and further into an insidious plot.  The story weaves and dodges and spins.  I never saw anything coming and just when I thought the author couldn't possibly throw any more rocks at Charlie, she has to run from boulders.  The secrets and reveals are astounding and I watched as Charlie discovered her own inner strengths to try to overcome the issues that are thrown at her.

I love the relationships that Charlie has with her sister, her ex-husband and especially her daughter.  The link described by Charlie and the feelings for her child are so specific and sweet and this is what feelings should be like between parents and their kids.  I also love the dynamic between her and her sister.  There is a closeness and a bond.  Mutual respect with a dose of misunderstanding, just like real siblings.  Her complicated emotions toward her ex-husband also come into play as well as with her partner.  How do you choose between trust and love and forgiveness?  All of these dynamics are wrought with tension and drama and come into play directly to the story.

The writing is lovely.  Gay grounds her character in the moment and the setting and her descriptions of the night skies or the park grounds are that much more beautiful against the grim setting of the plot. 

The ending held some surprises for me.  Some events are settled, while others will be left for Charlie and her loved ones to deal with.  I want to say that some things are left open for the future, but most first books in a series do that.  The Better Part of Darkness does it with so much more finesse.   

My only complaints are that I wasn't sure at every turn why she was talking to certain people but in all fairness that could have been because I was just reading it so fast because I wanted to see what happened next. 

Gay is able to include so many elements and emotions within these pages without bogging the story down.  I love the mythology and the plot, but what I really loved is that Charlie is written with so much heart.


Monday, July 9, 2012

The Thirteen.

Title/Author: The Thirteen by Susie Moloney.

Genre: Horror.

Publisher: William Morrow.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Paula and Rowan and of course the dogs Old Tex and Gusto.

All in all:  Ultimately creepy.

Synopsis: Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It's close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing, and the crime rate is practically nonexistent.

Paula Wittmore hasn't been back to Haven Woods since she left as a disgraced teenager. Now she's returning to care for her suddenly ailing mother, and she's bringing her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She's also bringing, unknowingly, the last chance for her mother's closest frenemies . . . twelve women bound together by a powerful secret that requires the sacrifice of a thirteenth.

My Thoughts:  I took this out of the library because I read a few of the author's books a very long time ago.  Plus the cover and the tagline had my spooky senses (which are kind of like Spidey senses) tingling. 

At the beginning I was confused as to who the characters were and who was important.  This quickly passed and I got into the groove of the book.

Ironically, this book reminded me of the audio book I was also listening to at the same time.  It has similar elements.  A family moves to town, strange things happen and the neighbors are not who they seem.  Ironically, there is also a minor character in each book with the same name, Tansy.  Now that is a unique name.  It's not like it's John or something.  Are the authors friends and did they conspire to do this?  Or was it simply coincidence?  This book is a bit over the top as well, but the difference between The Thirteen and The Night Strangers is that I believed this book more.  The characters came alive for me and I connected with the main character Paula and even more so with her daughter Rowan.  The main antagonist, Izzy, and how she came to be the villain is also quite interesting.

What I liked is that the events happen quickly.  The story isn't slow and the pace moves along all the way to the last chapter.  There are also a few mysteries in the story that are not told all at once or overdone.  They are sprinkled in the story until the reader finally gets the entire picture.  The story, while simple in its concept, has details that make the execution unique.  It is told well and fun. 

What I didn't love was the constant asides.  There were asides in parenthesis and asides in italics.  It's not a terrible style choice, it just is a bit distracting for me.  There were several grammatical errors as well.  I don't mind typos but if it happens too often in a book, I notice and it pulls me out of the story and makes me feel that someone wasn't paying attention. 

If you're looking for a nice, creepy yet light read you may want to try this one out. 


Other Editions:

Friday, July 6, 2012

AAD NOLA 2012 Reading Challenge Contest #6

Here is another New Orlean's themed charm bracelet that I made especially for my 2012 AAD NOLA Reading Challenge Participants.

I created this bracelet for people who like more sedate and simple jewelry.   I made this using a sterling silver bracelet, and various metal charms that represent the wonderful city of New Orleans. The bracelet measures 7 1/2" long.  The charms are an alligator, a mask, a charm that says "New Orleans" with a horn attached, a fleur de lis and cemetery gates.

To enter, you MUST already be signed up for my 2012 Authors After Dark NOLA Reading Challenge as of this post (July 6, 2012).

If you enter the contest and are not signed up for the above mentioned challenge, you will be disqualified.

You are only signed up to the above mentioned challenge if your entry leads to a blog post about the challenge (not just your blog), or leads to a Goodreads or Facebook page regarding the Challenge.

But don't worry, I will be having more contests in the future and you can sign up for this challenge anytime during the year. If you are interested in signing up you can do so HERE.

Please note: I am NOT a professional jeweler so if anything looks wonky on closer examination, my apologies.

~This giveaway is for the charm bracelet pictured.

To Enter:
~Leave your name and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Extra entries are optional.
~If you are choosing to do extra entries, please read the questions/instructions CAREFULLY! If you do not follow the instructions, I reserve the right to disqualify that entry. (For example, if I ask you to leave a comment and you do not, or you don't answer the question, that entry will be removed.)

~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~Contest ends on Friday, July 13th, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.
~Again, to enter to win this prize, you MUST be signed up for my 2012 Authors After Dark NOLA Reading Challenge as of this post - today's date 7/6/2012.

Good luck and thank you for entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book Blogger Hop (June 29-July 5, 2012)

Book Blogger Hop
The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy For Books.  Please visit her site for complete rules as well as some great content. 

I'm very late to the Hop this week, but I really liked this question.

Do you have a keeper shelf for books you loved? What books are on that shelf and why?

I don't have a lot of room for books, so what I keep has to be pretty special.  As some of  you may have guessed, I have kept a lot of my Charles de Lint books.  The ones I know that are on my keeper shelf are his Newford Series and Memory and Dream which is one of my favorite CDL titles. 

Another series of books that are very dear to me are Evangeline Walton's Mabinogian Tetraology, which re-tells the Welsh mythology cycle.  These stories captured my imagination as well as my heart.  What I found interesting about these books is that they were first published in the 1930's (they were later re-released in the 1970's) but they read like they could have been written yesterday.  If you've ever wondered about the Fleetwood Mac song Rhiannon, these books will shed some light on the question.

Other books that I will never get rid of are the Borderland books, a collection of short stories edited by Teri Windling and also some books by other authors about a town on the edge of Faery.  What is cool about the Borderland concept is that the landscape and rules are the same in all these stories.  So as a reader, you are familiar with the town, the dangers and even some of the characters. 

The other books that I keep are the ones that have been signed by my favorite authors such as Robert McCammon, Joe Hill and Brenna Yovanoff. I also have a copy of The Stand (the unedited version) by Stephen King that I won't get rid of.  (Not signed...yet!)

All of the books above have had a profound effect on me and I often wish *I* had written them...or at least just one. 

Have you heard of any of the books I mentioned?  What are some books that you see yourself keeping forever?

The Night Strangers.

Title/Author:  The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian.

Narrated by: Alison Fraser and Mark Bramhall.

Genre: Horror/Thriller.

Publisher:  Random House Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character:  Garnet.

All in all: Not quite what I had hoped it was going to be, but a creepy story nonetheless.

Synopsis: In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts.

The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 die on impact or drown. The body count? Thirty-nine – a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village – self-proclaimed herbalists – and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous?

My Thoughts
:  A good ole' fashioned haunted house story?  That's what I first thought when I started listening to The Night Strangers.  However, it turns out to not quite be a haunted house story, but there is definitely something creepy and strange going on.  Whether it is because Chip is the captain of an airplane that crashed as well as one of the survivors or because the town seems to be filled with malevolent people I wasn't quite sure until several chapters into the story. 

This book is unique (for me) in that it is told through 2nd person narration in protagonist Chip's point of view (ex: You go down the stairs, etc.) and 3rd person for his wife Emily, their children and some of the supporting characters.  The second person point of view served to keep Chip at arm's length for me further isolating him.  It also helped to create a mystery as to whether he is really being haunted or is suffering from a mental breakdown.  I applaud the author because I thought this an interesting choice, and I understand why he chose to craft his story that way.  However, it took some getting used to. 

The telling and summing up in the book doesn't work for me.  A lot seems unnecessary.  However, the details of aviation and flying were so well thought out and researched it added authenticity to the story.  At the same time, the details of the plane crash are rehashed again and again.  The man is obviously traumatized, but there is not a lot of mention of him working things out.  He has a psychiatrist, but where were the therapists and the survivor's group?  Was he supposed to be portrayed as that stoic?  Maybe so, but the constant comparing himself to Sully Sullenberg and him landing his plane successfully on the Hudson and saving everyone to me only added to his guilt ridden state of mind. 

I also didn't feel very attached to any of the characters.  The most interesting were Chip and Emily's two ten year old twins, Garnet and Hailey, and I would have liked to see more of their point of view, more of their thoughts.  I also didn't understand why Emily (and I'm not saying Chip because he is so distant from everything in this book) didn't think the behavior of some of the townspeople was just inappropriate if not creepy.  The way they talked about her children would have at least had me searching the internet for the sex offender registry. The plot reminded me of those television movies in the 70s where there is something sinister afoot.  It was a bit over the top and at the same time kind of fun and kind of a guilty pleasure. 

I liked Mark Bramhall's narration better than Alison Fraser's.  Unfortunately, I just couldn't quite buy her interpretations.  (I think I'm really picky when it comes to audio narration.) 

Also the ending felt a tad rushed and while I kind of wanted to know how it finally ended, it wasn't that climactic.   The epilogue especially was at once ironic and unsatisfactory as the story revisits the characters and the town ten years later. 

My advice is if you're going to read this, don't go in expecting a traditional haunted house story.  The story is more about Chip's ghosts from his plane crash and the effect the incident has on him and the scary people in their new town and what they're up to.


Other Editions

Monday, July 2, 2012

Winner Announcements!

~AAD NOLA Reading Challenge Contest #5 (charm bracelet) - Debbie from Good Choice Reading.

~Young Adult Fiction Panel Contest (signed Ghost Girl trilogy by Tonya Hurley) - Kate from Froze8's Blog.

~Young Adult Fiction Panel Contest (signed hardcover copy of The Becoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin) - Erin from A Book Lover's Ramblings.

~Young Adult Fiction Panel Contest (signed copy of Lovesick by Tonya Hurley) - Steph from The Fake Steph.

~Young Adult Fiction Panel Contest (softcover copy of The Becoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin) - Lindsay Smith.

Congratulations to all the winners.  Please stay tuned for more contests.

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