Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Monday and it's time for...Borrowed Words

Boy, oh boy! I am officially in a reading and blogging rut. I am simply in a rut altogether. Things seem to spin out of control and are not going well at all. There is too much to be explained and a lot of it can't be even put to words. I just have a little, tiny glimmer of hope that it will pass and that better days are ahead. It had happened before many times and it will pass and it will happen again. It's my personal life struggle, we all have them, they're all different but they're there. I am asking you all to stick with me if possible because I do not want to abandon this blog, probably the only thing in a long time that has given me contentment. Anyway, the poem I am posting today is one very dear to me, one I wish I had known before I entered adult life as it holds simple wisdom. It's long but bear with it because it's beautiful. I give you words borrowed from Max Ehrmann:


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even to the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals,

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love,

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge

I have finally given in and am now officially joining this awesome challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

The Rules:

1. Between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, catch up on Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series. No matter if you're starting with book 1 or book 8, you have a year to read all about Sookie. Read Sookie in print, listen to the audio, read an eBook -- format is not an issue.

2. Sign up using Mr. Linky(at Beth Fish Reads' blog). Put your name in the top box. For the bottom box, please use the URL that links specifically to your blog post about this challenge, not to your blog's home page.

3. After July 4, Beth Fish Reads will have a post with another Mr. Linky where you can link your reviews so everyone can read them & track our progress.

4. If you don't have a blog and want to join in, sign up in the comments here. Later, let us know about your progress by leaving comments on the review link page.

I will probably not start this challenge until the end of this year if I want to complete other challenges I signed up for. Thank goodness, there are only eight books to read so it shouldn't take long. I only hope I will like the series. I haven't read any of the Sookie books and a lot of times when scores of people love a book or an author, I end up wondering how that's possible because I don't like it at all. We shall see with this one I guess (I won't know until I try).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

I am a reader with pretty much eclectic tastes. Very often I start my reviews with this or that genre being one of my favorites and the reason behind it is that many genres are indeed ones I like the most. It would probably be easier for me to list the ones I don’t particularly like than the ones I do. A British detective murder mystery is yet another one of those I enjoy. The trick is to find new authors that I can add to ‘my favorites’ list and not limit myself to only the few tried and tested ones. I was lucky enough to find that new author while reading Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson.

Friend of the Devil is installment number 18 in the series featuring detectives Annie Cabot and Alan Banks. I guess with this one I started from the end and will be going up to the beginning, but it’s quite all right since even being a part of the series, it may as well be a stand-alone book. It starts off with two murders committed in different parts of North Yorkshire, England. First of them is a murder of a paraplegic who is found on Sunday morning sitting in a wheelchair with her throat cut. Detective Inspector Annie Cabot ends up being in charge of this investigation. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks has another murder on his hands. This one is a rape/strangulation killing of nineteen-year-old Hayley Daniels. The two cases seem to be completely unrelated until another death occurs that might change the course of investigations. And Banks and Cabot have plenty of other personal issues to cope with besides the cases that are turning up zero results and more questions than answers. It turns out that Annie and Alan had been romantically involved before and are still trying to come to terms with their break-up and post-dating relationship that would not impact their professional lives.

I am an obsessive-compulsive reader who has to start any series from the beginning and has to have all the following books already on my shelves waiting for their turn. It was a wonder therefore that I started reading and continued on until the end Friend of the Devil, which is one of the latest books featuring Inspector Banks. When I started reading it I didn’t know that it was indeed a part of the series and then it just didn’t matter because the book was really good. All I was thinking instead was how lucky I was that I had seventeen more books written by Mr. Robinson waiting to be read. Friend of the Devil is such a good mystery because it’s quick paced, it has a lot of sharp dialogue, which I always enjoy, and the murders are true mysteries until the very end. The plot gets complicated but it’s not confusing at all and despite all the nuances and new developments, it was easy for me to follow the action and the investigations. Also, I really liked Annie Cabot. In general, I enjoy insight into personal lives of the detectives leading the stories and I got plenty of it in this book. Annie is just such a complex and at times really sad character that I just had to sympathize with her and cheer her on. She deals with demons from the past and mistakes from the present and how she does that makes her really identifiable and real. And so is the case with all major characters in this novel. As I read it I didn’t feel detached from them but I instead could easily imagine that there are people like detectives Banks and Cabot out there, in the real life. I would say that if you like murder mysteries by Elizabeth George or P.D. James, there’s a good chance that you’ll enjoy Peter Robinson (unless you all read him and I’m the last person on earth who just discovered this author).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant

From time to time I really like to read something that will truly scare me. That’s why early Koontz and King are my favorites. I also like it when a horror fiction doesn’t involve supernatural beings but instead is very much grounded in reality because it then makes it so much scarier. As I read these kinds of book, I think that what’s written in there may very well happen or has already happened. Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant is that kind of book.

The main character, Dermot Nolan, is an accomplished, award-winning writer who is also struggling with a writer’s block. He and his wife have pretty much spent the fortune that his previous bestseller earned him and Dermot cannot deliver another smashing work of fiction. Things are looking really gloom for him as his agent and publisher growing impatient and the million-dollar advance is gone without one page to show for it. Only Dermot’s beautiful wife Neela and his best friend Nick know the desperate condition Dermot is in. Therefore, when a mysterious manuscript lands in Dermot’s hands, they all see it as a possible means to end the financial and creative troubles. The manuscript, titled My Worst Nightmares – My Delicious Memoirs, is truly horrifying and gives gory, nightmarish descriptions of each victim’s death based on his/her worst nightmare. The author’s mind is truly sick and twisted but that’s not what’s bothering Dermot and Neela the most. The whole memoir is written in a crude but strangely authentic voice. So authentic that they decide to dig a bit deeper and see if by any chance all those deaths are not imaginative but real. What they discover is at once chilling and inconclusive. Dermot finally decides that the incidences were not real and goes ahead and submits the improved manuscript to the publisher as his own. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.
Let me just get what I didn’t like about Worst Nightmares out of the way. I figured out who the murderer was one third of the way. In that sense, it was unfortunately pretty predictable. The most disappointing thing about it was not even that I figured out who it was so soon, but why it happened shortly after (probably half-way through the novel). I don’t know whether it was due to the way the book was written or the fact that I read so many horror/suspense books that it’s very difficult to get a shock reaction from me.

Now that that’s done, let me move on to what I really enjoyed. Mr. Briant is a very skilled writer as far as character development and portrayal go. He managed to put the main character, who we are supposed to sympathize with, as really bad things happen to him, in a very bad light. Maybe I am just a little sick in the head, but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe Dermot deserved what he got in the end. He is a self-absorbed, greedy and egotistic person who at the core will do what it takes to get to the finish line. On the surface he might seem to be struggling emotionally and morally with what he’s about to do, but it’s really all superficial. I have to say that I wasn’t prepared to dislike and not sympathize with the main character so much. That was my element of surprise and I loved it. Besides that main factor, Worst Nightmares is really good. The premise is, in my opinion, fresh and quite shocking. The book starts off fast and the action doesn’t slow down until the end and it’s all written very convincingly. Suffice it to say that, while reading it, I decided that I better not have any worst nightmares (even though I do) that I could tell anyone of just in case…
Special Thanks to Imran J. for sending me a copy of this book.
Book Info:
Title: Worst Nightmares
Author: Shane Briant
Published in: 2009
By: Vanguard Press

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spiritually Speaking Challenge - final post, summary & a place to link your posts.

I have finally finished my own challenge and am posting the summary as well as a place for all of you who have finished or will finish Spiritually Speaking Challenge by June 31st. This post will be on the sidebar until July 14th so everyone has enough time to link up their summaries. On July 15th I will draw one winner among the ones who completed the challenge. The prize is a paperback copy of Happiness is a Choice by Barry Neil Kaufman. Considering that the whole purpose of the challenge was to learn something new about spirituality and our own happiness, this prize choice is only fitting.

Now, let’s move on to my own summary. My list has changed significantly from the original one but I think that overall I was lucky to read some good books. I think the one I liked the best was Finding Grace by Donna Van Liere, to the point where I see myself re-reading it pretty soon. The worst of the bunch was Blessed are the Meek by Zofia Kossak, mainly because it turned out to be a disappointment and not a book I thought it would be. I wanted it to be more about St. Francis of Assisi but instead it was about all kinds of historical figures and a lot of spirituality there. Shame Lifter by Marilyn Hontz is the only book I did not review. This book was simply too close to my life and reviewing it, I would have to reveal or write about more personal issues than I would like to at the time. But it was a good book nonetheless so whoever is thinking about reading it, I say ‘Go for it’.

Here is my final, completed list for Spiritually Speaking Challenge:

1. Blessed Are The Meek by Zofia Kossak
2. Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien
3. Shame Lifter by Marilyn Hontz
4. Finding Grace by Donna VanLiere
5. Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Sahar
6. Nine Ways God Always Speaks by Mark Herringshaw & Jennifer Schuchmann

I hope that all who participated in it had fun doing it and found out some interesting and helpful things.
Because the regular Mr. Linky does not work for me, I would have to pay for an upgraded membership and I can't aford to do it just now, I included the most basic version. You can still useit, you just have to click on it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Monday and it's time for...Borrowed Words

This past week was really bizarre and as an effect of me living as if in a fog, I did not remember to post Borrowed Words last Monday and only managed to write two posts altogether. Not good, not good. I hope to catch up this week though and to start on the right foot, I am remembering to write this post. Without further ado, I give you words borrowed from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

and things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art; to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nine Ways God Always Speaks by Mark Herringshaw & Jennifer Schuchmann

I am one of the people who yearn for spiritual peace but get instead spiritual turmoil. There have been times in my life when I was absolutely certain of my faith and of God’s existence, and His benevolent love towards me. Then, there have been times when I lost all my faith in a loving God (although I never lost my belief that God does indeed exist) and replaced with thoughts of Him being there for others but not for me. My difficult spiritual life, my quest for peace and contentment is probably my biggest struggle. It is therefore no wonder that I quickly reach for books such as Nine Ways God Always Speaks that may offer me some insight, something I can always hold on to, especially in times when I turn into ‘doubting Thomas’.

Nine Ways God Always Speaks by Mark Herringshaw & Jennifer Schuchmann is exactly what the title says it is: nine ways in which God communicates His will and existence to us. Each chapter directs reader’s attention to quite often very simple occurrences that might very well be in front of us all the time but we just don’t see them. We want to hear God speak to us and are so concentrated on looking for the mystical experiences that we don’t notice the everyday, ordinary events and surroundings such as nature or people we meet or we blatantly refuse to acknowledge that they are God’s messengers (even though they might not know it themselves). One interesting aspect was that God speaks to us via dreams. Dreams are still subject of many tests, analyses and theories and it was very curious for me to read about God sending us messages while we’re sleeping. Considering the serious and important premise of the book, I think that above all it was very entertaining and quite humorous. Mark and Jennifer did their best to convey the message of many people they came across by making this book very enjoyable and approachable despite the seriousness of the topic.

Was it all convincing to me? I’m not sure. Reading this book was a mini example of the struggle I talked about in the beginning. I would all of a sudden start looking for messages from God in nature after a particular chapter only to get discouraged after not finding anything that would apply directly to me. Some chapters would fill me with hope and others with complete despair. I want to believe that one of the ways God speaks is giving people like Mark & Jennifer a talent for writing and inspiration to write such a book as Nine Ways God Always Speaks. In turn, the finished product will end up in the hands of a person who desperately needs to hear the exact words that are written there. Who knows, maybe one of my blog visitors is such a person. I can objectively see how this book has a potential to open people’s minds and eyes to what’s around them and teach them how to tune in to the right frequency. Now, subjectively speaking, Nine Ways God Always Speaks added just nine more ways God does not speak to me. Sadly it did not have any revelatory value for me, only caused me to be even more discouraged. When I read about all these people, including the authors, experiencing the ‘eureka!’ moments all I felt was anger with a tinge of jealousy. It’s all nice and dandy for them but I have yet to find that crucial moment in my life where I feel the presence of God and which will influence the course of my life. I realize that I may be wallowing in self-pity here, but hey, I’m honest and I will not pretend that my life changed completely or at all after having read this book if it didn’t.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Here's the awesome interview with Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi's Virgins.

I am very happy to present to you the interview with a lovely person and writer Barbara Quick. As some of you know I got to virtually meet Barbara via my review of Vivaldi's Virgins and Ms. Quick's comment which I thought to be the most wonderful I have ever gotten from an author. This interview is a fruit of our hopefully growing reader/writer relationship. The answers are, in my honest opinion, absolutely fabulous, Barbara's personality shines through and her talent for writing is obvious in even such a short form. And she is also one of the gems among writers who appreciate bloggers too!

Reading Extravaganza: Thank you so much for this interview. I’m truly honored. I enjoyed Vivaldi’s Virgins and must say that your idea of writing about the music world is great. As is obvious for anyone who read your book, you love classical music just as much as writing. Which came first: your fondness for music or for writing?

Barbara Quick: Thank you, Lilly! I’m so glad that my love of music comes through loud and strong in my novel. I think if I’d been given violin or cello lessons at an early age, I might well have become a musician. As it is, with no formal training to speak of (apart from a year or two of piano and a few months of voice lessons), the closest I can get to music is to listen to it—and, most lately, to write about musicians.

I really felt that I was able to enter into the mind and heart of Anna Maria dal Violin while I was writing Vivaldi’s Virgins. It was an almost mystical experience: I listened endlessly to the music Vivaldi composed for her. In Venice, I pored over actual scores, with Vivaldi’s notes in the margins (and with corrections that Anna Maria—in those days before Wite-out®—actually sewed on from scraps of music paper with her own hands). And even though I had never played an unfretted stringed instrument before, I had the illusion of feeling what it was like for Anna Maria, cloistered inside the Ospedale della Pietà, with music the only outlet for her passion and longing.

Just lately, I’ve become engaged to a violist with the San Francisco Symphony—and he doesn’t even know what a joy it is for me to hear him practice, teach and perform. I talked him into giving me viola lessons, which I just started about a month ago. I practice every day—even though I know there’s no chance that I’ll ever get very good. I’m just happy when I don’t sound really bad!

RE: How difficult was it (if difficult at all) to create Vivaldi’s Virgins?

BQ: It took me three years to do my research and writing. I learned Italian—partly because I’d always meant to, but also because I knew that I’d want to talk to a lot of people, and consult a lot of written sources, that wouldn’t be available to me otherwise.

But I’d never say that it was difficult to “create” Vivaldi’s Virgins. Honestly, after I’d acquainted myself with the historical details and had spent some time in Venice, the novel seemed to write itself. Every day I worked on it was a joy. I cried while I wrote the sad parts, and laughed while I wrote the funny bits. And it was all I could do to write fast enough to get down all the dialogue I heard inside my head.

I wrote the entire novel in longhand, with a fountain pen. There are entire scenes that hardly changed at all from the first draft to the final published version. It was as if the whole book existed inside me before I ever started writing it down.

RE: I believe that writing is an art, just like composing beautiful music. It also involves a lot of work and effort. Could you tell me about your process of writing a novel?

BQ: I believe that the creation of art in any medium must tap the same parts of our brain—and maybe the same parts of what I guess is called the collective unconscious. The process is kind of counter-intuitive: you can’t “work hard” to get to that place where creation happens. You have to do something more akin to what happens when people meditate or pray.
In my process, I try to get quiet enough to become a good antenna—to hear the voices floating around me in the world, inside my head, and even carried on the wings of time (if you’ll excuse the cliché!). I don’t think of time as being linear, with both past and future inaccessible. The Ancient Greeks used to conceptualize the past as being in front of us—we can see it—whereas the future is always sneaking up invisibly from behind us, unknowable.
I think the string theorists are right, if I’m understanding them correctly: all of time exists simultaneously.

True creation, I think, is something that happens in a place of timelessness. We’re all familiar with the notion of “timeless beauty.” That’s what it’s all about, I think: artists step outside of time to do their work—and maybe that’s why it feels more like pleasure than work. I think everyone experiences that sense of timelessness when they’re making love and it’s really going well. You don’t hear anything. You don’t feel the passage of time. But when it’s over, you feel that you’ve partaken, in some small way, of the Divine.

RE: Now, a little something on a personal note. You mentioned to me that you had become engaged to a violist of San Francisco Symphony. My heartfelt congratulations to you and your fiancé! What I’m curious about is how two artists fare together. Does it make it easier as you understand each other’s creative spirits better?

BQ: Well, if he ever reads what I just wrote in answer to your last question, he’s really going to feel embarrassed!
Thank you so much for your congratulations—it seems like such a miracle to me that, after all this time, I’ve finally found my own Mr. Right. Wayne and I have a tremendous sense of mutual understanding. He’s not only a sublime musician, but a wonderful reader and writer as well. We each respect the other’s craft enormously. I love the fact that he’s as passionate about his work as I am about mine. I’ve never felt so well understood by another person. And I’ve never laughed so much with someone else before. We share so many tastes and interests that we’ve been savoring every minute of our time together.

RE: You have a new book, A Golden Web, coming out in spring 2010. Could you tell me and the readers a little bit about this new novel?

BQ: It’s funny, because I was convinced that I could never enjoy researching and writing another novel as much as I enjoyed researching and writing Vivaldi’s Virgins. But I actually had an even better time doing the work for A Golden Web, which takes place in early 14th century Bologna.

I found the story by accident, in the course of looking for some information about a female anatomist who lived in 18th century Bologna. It’s unclear whether the heroine of my novel, Alessandra Giliani, really lived—or whether her story was made up in the 18th century. But the story is so beautiful—and the details of it presented themselves to me so vividly—that it doesn’t really matter. I spent three weeks in and around Bologna in 2007, gathering historical details and local color. And then I wrote the book at what was for me lightning speed: from start to finish, including the research, the whole thing took a year. But the feeling I had while writing it was exactly the feeling I had while writing Vivaldi’s Virgins, except amped up, because of the time factor: every day of writing was a joy for me. I hated it when the book was over, because I had so enjoyed hanging out with the characters every day.

A Golden Web is set in a world where printing has not yet been invented but there’s suddenly a huge demand for books. The University of Bologna, where Alessandra goes to study—disguised, for safety, as a boy—was one of the first universities of Europe, along with Paris and Oxford. It was the birthplace of an information revolution as significant as the one we’ve seen in our lifetimes, with the advent of the Internet. Alessandra has a passion for learning—and will not let anything get in her way as she pursues her goals. She’s an inspiring figure for girls and women of any culture—and her story is filled with adventures and romance and is very satisfying, even though it ends in tragedy.

RE: Vivaldi’s Virgins is set in Venice, A Golden Web will be set in Bologna. Do you have a special connection with Italy? Or do you set your novels in the world of Italy because of the great artists it produced?

BQ: I’d have to say yes to both these questions. I do have a special connection to Italy. Everyone has always thought I was Italian, at least during most of my adult life. And when I started learning Italian, it was as if the language was in my mouth already. Somehow the wavelength of my antenna seems to be set to Italy. And, yes, Italy has produced so many sublime artists and scholars that I think I could spend my whole life and several others besides writing about them without ever running out of wonderful material. Wayne shares my fondness for all things Italian—and we’ve talked about living in Italy someday for an extended period of time.

RE: Is there a question you would love to answer but I didn’t ask?

BQ: I’d like to comment, as a writer, about what a wonderful thing it is that there’s suddenly a public forum for great readers like yourself—and a conduit for readers and writers to communicate directly with each other. Viva the Blogosphere! Publishers are all cutting down on author tours, which used to be one of the primary ways that readers and writers could meet face to face. It’s fantastic that the Internet is allowing readers and writers to stay in contact nonetheless—and maybe in an even more vivid way than before, since letters allow for a lot more detail than a brief face-to-face encounter. I love the letters I’ve gotten from readers—I’ve treasured them.

Writing is a lonely business (and not very well paid, for most of us). In my lowest moments, the beautiful, heartfelt letters I’ve gotten from readers have made me feel that all the financial struggle and uncertainty have been utterly worthwhile.
Come visit me at my web site

It’s almost completely devoted to Vivaldi’s Virgins now. You can download a podcast of Vivaldi’s music to listen to while reading the novel. And there’s a lot of background material, both in words and pictures, about Venice and the Ospedale della Pietà. I’m in the process of gearing up to work with a web designer to create an exciting interactive portal for A Golden Web, which is being published as a young adult novel.

Please tell your readers to keep buying books! They’re a very cheap way to experience the very best of what the world has to offer: new realms, profound emotions, exquisite landscapes, exotic locales, and even time travel!
Nothing less than civilization itself depends upon the devotion of readers to the books they love. So-called “mid-list” literary novelists like myself may be an endangered species!

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to talk to your readers, Lilly—and for asking such great questions!

And before I let you all go, here's a photo that Barbara took herself in the Salla della Musica in Venice which I think can help you indentify with the world of Vivaldi's Virgins. It's a fresco by Jacopo Guarana, which was commissioned by girls of the coro contemporaneous with Anna Maria--though from another of the Ospedale--who also modeled for the painting.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Twenty Seven Bones by Jonathan Nasaw

I usually don’t review audio books. I like listening to them as a preferable form of entertainment while I’m driving or working out (however rarely this happens :O) but I find it quite difficult to write about character and places especially if I am not sure what the correct spellings might be, if the names I would want to talk about are not mentioned at the back cover of an audio book. This was one of the issues I had with reviewing Twenty Seven Bones by Jonathan Nasaw, albeit not the reason why I didn’t like the book.

Twenty Seven Bones is supposed to be a bone-chilling thriller (note the ‘is supposed to be’) taking place on St. Luke island. This small, quiet place is being shaken by the discovery of two mutilated bodies with their hands chopped off. A retired special agent Pendergast is asked to come to the island to help the local police solve the murders before the news of a serial killer gets out into the open and potentially ruins the tourist commerce. Soon however, the rumors spread as there are more victims popping out and the serial killer gets nicknamed “The Machete Man”. As it turns out, it’s not one but two serial killers working together. The murderers are a married couple, obsessed with the mythical power of the last breath. Soon, Phil and Emily are joined with a sneaky well known and rich inhabitant of the island, Lois (at least I think it’s Lois, might be Luis, for all I know). From that moment the events seem to spin out of control and Pendergast saves the day!

I really did not like this book. It was boring and there was nothing shocking or chilling about it. Let me just start with saying that I dislike thrillers in which the murderer is revealed at the very beginning and there is no suspense whatsoever from that point on. This was such a book. I kept waiting for the shocking ending, and kept waiting, and waiting…and it didn’t come. Let’s face it, unless a book is a grand literary achievement, with captivating writing, you need a good plot and a healthy dose of mystery for a thriller to work. Twenty Seven Bones was not a literary piece of art and it had neither a good plot or any mystery. The only good thing about it was the narrator, Dion Graham, who did a splendid job with the Creole (I think)accent. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him, impersonating all characters and it was the only thing that kept me going to the end. At one point I stopped caring about the plot and just listened to the narrators voice. All and all, if you are in for the chills and thrills while listening to thrillers on audio, skip this one or you’re in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

May Reads

May was not the greatest month ever as it comes to reading. In May, I read the fewest book in the whole year. It was due to many issues, health problems being the main ones but not the only ones. My biggest disappointment was The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins. I expected so much more than I got out of it. I realize that I am in the minority here but I really wasn’t crazy about this book at all. One good thing I have to say is that May was the month of historical fiction since only one book out of the nine was not historical or fiction (Nine Ways God Always Speaks – review coming up soon). Here’s to hoping that this month will be better!

1. The Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

2. The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer

3. Why Shoot the Butler by Georgette Heyer

4. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

5. Two Brothers by David H. Jones

6. Nine Ways God Always Speaks by Mark Herringshaw & Jennifer Schuchmann

7. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

8. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

9. Blessed Are The Meek by Zofia Kossak

Audio Books:

1. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (I think I am in minority here since I actually liked Wicked Lovely better than this one. I liked it enough though to want to listen to Fragile Eternity next).

2. Twenty Seven Bones by Jonathan Nasaw (review coming up soon).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The best author's comment ever!

A few weeks back I reviewed Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick on thegirlsonbooks blog. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so that it convinced me to go back to listening to classical music, especially Vivaldi. A couple of days after I had posted my review, I received a comment from Ms. Quick. I am quoting it here because it's a first time that as a reader and reviewer I've received such kind words from an author and while I realize that I may be boasting, I am just too happy, flattered and honored not to mention it. Here it goes:

"I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to read your review of my novel this morning! It’s the most delicious pleasure for an author to connect with readers who have received her words with the precise same spirit in which they were composed. You seem to have connected with the soul of this writer, reading between the lines. Thank you for your sensitivity–and the beautifully written, thoughtful and insightful review. Let me know if you’d like to do an author interview with me sometime. (I would enjoy continuing the dialogue… I have a new novel coming out next April (A GOLDEN WEB, set in 14th century Bologna)–and I’m at work on two book proposals now, both set in the world of 18th century music. A personal aside: Since writing VIVALDI’S VIRGINS, I’ve become engaged to a violist at the San Francisco Symphony–and I’ve started (bravely, for someone my age!) studying the viola.

Warmest wishes to you and your readers!


I think it's absolutely wonderful. And of course I have since been in communication with Ms. Quick which means that there will be an interview coming up shortly about which I am already very excited, not to mention her new novel A Golden Web which I will definitely be reading.

If you haven't read Vivaldi's Virgins, check out my review of it or just go directly to the author's website that has the coolest book trailer.

Be on the lookout for the interview with Barbara Quick, it's coming up shortly.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And the winners are...

I Have Been Naturalized giveaway:

Shame Lifter goes to David Johnson

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan goes to bermudaonion

Elijah's Coin goes to MonCherie

For Women Only/For Men Only goes to Cindy

Thank you all for your kind and warm wishes. It made me doubly happy that I could share this great news with others, especially the girls who went out of their way to congratulate me, without even entering the giveaway.

Happy Birthday Daphne! giveaway:

My Cousin Rachel goes to Belinda M.

Frenchman's Creek goes to Wendi B.

Afraid giveaway:

the 5 winners are:






All the winners have been notified by email and have time until Wednesday to send me their mailing info. If I do not receive a response by Wednesday (June 3rd), I will pick a new winner.

Thank you all who participated. The response was tremendous, especially for my personal I Have Been Naturalized giveaway (I received 105 comments).

Also, I would like to thank Danielle J. from Sourcebooks and Brianne B. from Hachette for making the giveaways for Dahne Du Maurier and Jack Kilborn (respectively) possible.

It's Monday and it's time for...Borrowed Words

I love to sleep. I have yet to suffer from a sleepless night, despite many stressful and perfect occasions over which I could lose sleep (many people say I'm lucky, which I suppose is true). My obsession with sleep comes from my neurotic personality which commands me to become unbearably tired at the signs of anxieties, stress or worry. Sleep is my escape. Therefore, today I am quoting words dedicated to this wonderful (in my opinion) and sometimes quite saving state of being. I give you words borrowed from D.H. Lawrence:

"And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep,

and sink in good oblivion,

and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower

then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created."