Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2-in-1: Nefertiti & Dark Desire

Both books today are audio books. Both narrators are ones that I will listen to with enjoyment any day. However, the books differ on every other level, the genre, plot, character development and writing quality.

1. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti is my first Moran’s book and also one of the very few books about ancient Egypt I have read so far. It tells the story of fifteen-year-old Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet as they are entering the scene of the court of Egypt. Nefertiti is married off to Amunhotep, the next pharaoh who is thought unstable and a danger to Egypt’s future. The sisters’ lives will be forever changed as they both have to find their ways amidst the treachery, the lies and the danger of Egypt’s court. Nefertiti is becoming loved by the people but also seems to share her husband’s mad vision to get rid of Amun, Egypt worshipped god and to instead worship Aten, until now a minor deity that Amunhotep wants to elevate to the position of the one and only god of Egypt. As Nefertiti’s life changes seemingly for the better, her sister’s life brings her unhappiness and misery because Mutnodjmet does not yearn for the power and wants to spend her days away from court and its machinations.

As I said, despite loving historical fiction, I don’t actually know a lot about that period in history of Egypt. For that reason, I cannot speak on Ms Moran’s historical accuracy or lack thereof. However, I did enjoy the novel for its plot which was very captivating from the very beginning. As with many HF books, there are a lot of characters present. While the main ones, Nefertiti, her husband, Mutnodjmet, Vezir Ay (Nefertiti’s father) and couple of others, do develop pretty nicely and we get insight into their personalities, there is also a score of people (such as Mutnodjmet’s body servant or her mother) that I would have liked to see have more depth. I chose to read this book in an audio format and this is one thing I am glad about. Cassandra Campbell, the narrator, does a great job performing. As a matter of fact, her voice had captured my attention even before the story did. All and all, it was a very entertaining read and I will definitely be reading the other two books by Michelle Moran, The Heretic’s Queen and Cleopatra’s Daughter.

2. Dark Desire by Christine "White Hot Heat" Feehan

There isn’t a lot in a way of plot in this book. It is part two in the Carpathians’ series. This time it’s about Jacques, the brother of the prince of Carpathians Mikhail. Jacques is captured, tortured and buried alive in a wall by cruel vampire hunters who seem more bloodthirsty than a vampire would. Jacques refuses to die and his will to live is fueled by the need of revenge and a psychic contact he accidentally establishes with Shea, a miracle-performing young doctor. Shea has been living with a strange blood disease her whole life and her decision to become a doctor came from her desire to find a cure before it’s too late for her and people like her. Until one day she has to give up her career and run from the same vampire hunters that tortured Jacques. For some strange reason (really not that strange because Jacques is calling her to him), she ends up in the Carpathian Mountains and rescues Jacques from certain death. Now they have a lot to learn and overcome together as it turns out they are life mates (meaning one cannot live without the other) as mortal danger is lurking in the woods.

Okay, if you read my review of part one to this series, you know I didn’t like it one bit. However, I was willing to give it another chance because I liked the whole premise about those powerful Carpathians who are vampires but claim to be just a completely separate species. Anyway, Dark Desire does get a little bit better, not so many over-the-top sex scenes and even the female character, Shea is a lot more likeable and believable than Raven from Dark Prince. However, as you maybe noticed from the alias I gave Ms Feehan, the language still remains pretty horrendous, with tons of repetitions and the ever present absurd phrases in the nature of ‘white hot heat’. I was entertained by the book but not for the reasons that were intended by the author. I simply had to laugh at the bad use of language and a very one-dimensional story. It was either that or cry because Ms. Feehan is a bestselling writer with millions of fans all over the world and still don’t see why. It was again an audio version and once again I did enjoy the narrator, Juanita Parker who did breathe a lot of life into this story and made it interesting enough for me to listen to the end.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009

I promised, I swore and I gave in in the end. I cannot pass this challenge up. It fits perfectly into my reading schedule and will hopefully motivate me to read more.

What's the challenge, you ask? Fall Into Reading 2009 hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days is a challenge that's first and foremost supposed to be fun. Which I am intending on having. It goes on from September 22 - December 20, 2009. I am presenting you the list of the books that I want to read this fall as part of Fall Into Reading 2009.

Here is an outline of what the challenge is all about stolen from Katrina's post:

  • Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this fall. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)
  • Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky below.
  • Get reading! The challenge goes from today, September 22nd, through December 20th.
  • Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!
  • Write a post about your challenge experience in December, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how Fall Into Reading went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this fall (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.
Okay, let's move on to the list (and I am not making it very long, trying to set up realistic expectations here for myself:

1. Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee - done

2. Silverstein & Me by Merv Gold - done

3. The Book Shopper. A Life in Review by Murray Browne - done

4. Nightwalker by Heather Graham - done

5. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin - done

6. The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes - done

7. Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart - done

8. Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor - done

9. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer - done

10. Vital Signs by Robin Cook - done

11. 20 Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - done

12.The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale - done

13. The Mosaic Crimes by Giulio Leoni - done

14. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James - done

15. The Fourth Hand by John Irving - done

16. A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick - done

17. Soulstice by Simon Holt - done

18. The Trickster by Muriel Gray - done

19. The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson - done

20. A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi - done

Okay, maybe it's not so very realistic :). But I will do my best to try.

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

The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Mr. Stegner's writing had a big impact on me. I was writing down quote after quote while reading the book. The one thing that had the most influence on me was the subject of home, because I myself have moved tens of times, across cities, states and continents and I still do not feel I am at home. I still do not have that little piece of ground, building, four walls that I can call my own. Of course this melancholy and nostalgia after a home I hope to have caused me to quote on this subject today. I give you words borrowed from Wallace Stegner, Charles Dickens, Bill Bryson, Herman Hesse, Peter de Vries:

You had to stay in a place to make it a home. A home had to be lived in every day, every month, every year for a long time, till it was worn like an old shoe and fitted the comfortable curvatures of your life.

Wallace Stegner, The Big Rock Candy Mountain

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.

Charles Dickens

There are things you just can't do in life. You can't beat the phone company, you can't make a waiter see you until he's ready to see you, and you can't go home again.

Bill Bryson

One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.

Herman Hesse

When I can no longer bear to think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones.

Peter de Vries


Sunday, September 27, 2009

My "Reading" Bucket List

Pam from came up with a kind of meme where we would list 10 books we think should be read before we die. I decided to join in the fun but I wanted to find ten best books to still read instead of the ones which I have already read and think others should. (Does that even make sense?). Anyway, to make the long story even longer, I grabbed a book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for the longest times, The Top Ten Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, edited by J. Peder Zane and compiled my "bucket" list from the titles that were mentioned the most frequently. Here's what I came up with (or rather what the writers came up with and I just stole):

1. Rabbit Angstrom novels by John Updike

2. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

3. Middlemarch by George Eliot

4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

5. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

7. The Red and the Black by Stendhal

8. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

9. The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott

10. I, Claudius by Robert GravesJust in case you're curious, some of the authors whose lists I took the titles from include: Stephen King, Francine Prose, Joyce Carol Oates and John Irving.
I am actually planning to really stick to this list and read these ten books. I only hope that I can put it away till next year (meaning, I won't kick the bucket, lol!) because I have so many review books to read and other challenges' books for this year that I couldn't possibly fit another list in.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Join Book Chick City in celebrating all scary things

The month of October is coming closer and closer and with it, my most favorite holiday: HALLOWEEN! I love horror books, scary stories and the atmosphere permeating the whole months when magic and fights come alive.

Where am I going with this? Book Chick from Book Chick City is celebrating All Hallows Eve 2009 throughout the month of October and there's going to be plenty going on, horror book reviews, interviews and "Ghostly Giveaways". We are all invited to join and how can you pass up such fun? You can't!

BTW, don't you just love the poster she made for the event?!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

Despite proclaiming myself an avid reader, there are still many authors out there who are well-known and read by tons of people that I have not heard of, or if I have heard of them, I’ve never read anything by them. It is especially embarrassing when such authors happen to be one of the best writers whose works found their place on the list of classics. Such was the case with Wallace Stegner. I had heard of him before my book club chose The Big Rock Candy Mountain as a September read, but until then I wasn’t even aware of what precisely he wrote or when. Now, I can officially state that The Big Rock Candy Mountain will not be my last book by Wallace Stegner.

In early 20th century America, eighteen-year-old Elsa runs away from her family after her mother dies and her father marries another woman, who happens to be Elsa’s best friend. Elsa comes to stay with her uncle and there she meets and falls in love with wild Bo Mason. Thinking that this is where her happiness begins, she has no idea what really lies ahead of her. Bo is a man always in search for a fortune, on the lookout for the get-rich-quick schemes. Whether it’s their bad luck or Bo’s bad decision, one thing is clear, even with two boys the Mason family cannot find their home in one place and instead lead lives of ‘rolling stones’, moving from state to state all across Northwest and West America in hopes that their poverty will one day dissipate and they will find Bo’s Big Rock Candy Mountain.

I will tell you that this book is probably one of the saddest books I have ever read. Yes, you read right, EVER. It’s not a tear-jerker that they made movies based on for Lifetime channel. But the Masons’ lives and their quest to for American Dream, Bo’s desire to make himself and his family rich are simply so real, so universal to all families out there that are poor, that are trying to make something out of nothing and that just never seem to get a break, that I just couldn’t feel detached and indifferent. Bo and Elsa are tragic characters but very richly drawn. I have come to care for Elsa as if she was my own sister in so many ways. I admired her love for Bo, her strength and determination to be with him no matter what. Again, it became personal because I kept thinking that I could never do what she was doing, I could never be so devoted to the one person who hurt her so and never really gave her what she wanted.

Stegner’s writing is also what made The Big Rock Candy Mountain so sad and really heart-breaking, His observations, his descriptions are very clear and on-point without spinning impossible tales. I identified with Elsa’s and her younger son’s search for home and stability almost too much. I guess when a book hits too close to home, it makes it so much harder to just read through it and forget it. Many times I actually considered stopping because a passage here and there would make me depressed. I am glad I didn’t. The ending passages were worth every tear and sorrow of mine.

But The Big Rock Candy Mountain wasn’t all sadness. Not that there were many happy moments but I was glad to read about the West, the prohibition and the hard lives majority of people lived. The early 1900s were tough years and it was interesting to read how people managed despite the hardships. Also the landscape of the Northwest was described wonderfully and so vividly that it made me want to go there and see for myself.

As you can see, Stegner’s book is probably not for everyone and it’s definitely not a beach-read. But if you stick with it, give it a chance, I believe you will be rewarded in the end. This is what I call literature, not just a genre fiction.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Geeks: How I fight the bloggers' block.

This Weekly Geeks gets deep:

This past week wrapped up Book Blogger Appreciation Week, in which I'm sure many of you participated. In two weeks will be Banned Books Week, in which I'm sure some of you also will participate. I'm also sure that many of you participated, and will participate, with at least a post per day, if not more, on your respective blogs.

Personally, after such weeks, I feel almost burnt out and think, "Why am I doing this? I'm not getting paid for this." Do you ever feel the same way after weeks like the ones mentioned above? If you do, what do you to counter it? How do you keep going? Do you take a break from posts after that, or do you just "soldier on"?

Or if you don't feel burnt out after such weeks, why not? Also why are you a book blogger? From what I've seen and experienced, it's certainly not the fame or the glory that you get. So what is it? Why? Why? Why?

I have once written a post explaining in length my reasons for blogging about books. So far, they still stand.I specify that it's book blogging because, truthfully I don't think I could write about anything else. It's my passion for books and the need to be accepted and understood by fellow book lovers that is the driving force behind my blogging. Because of my introverted personality, I could never actually open up to anyone standing in front of me and start talking about reading and books, not to mention actually recommending anything. Virtual reality makes it easier and almost effortless in terms of my mental reservations.

Now, do I feel burnt out? You bet I do. I have also written about that and just burning out in life in general. For me, life is a daily struggle in many ways. Blogging has become part of my life, just like reading. I stop and think about futility of writing posts about books read or waiting to be read countless times. I call it my 'dark hour of the blogger's soul'. So far, I haven't given up. I hope I will not give in to that temptation ever. How do I manage to keep blogging? Besides my life being a struggle, it is also a mountain of things and projects I undertook and never finished. A lot of them glare at me as my personal failures. Every time I wrestle with the idea of abandoning this blog, I tell myself that I will make it work this time, I will stick with it and I will not let it be another failure.

Well, there it is. It's gotten awfully personal and slightly depressing but I hope you don't mind.

Friday, September 18, 2009

God Is an Englishman by R. F. Delderfield

Ever since I can remember, I have always been drawn to big books. And I’m not talking about ‘chunky’ ones only but big in meaning, characters and events, very often spanning generations. Therefore, when I first looked into R.F. Delderfield’s God Is an Englishman trilogy, I knew I was up for a feast.

God Is an Englishman is the first book in this wonderful saga about the Swann family. Adam Swann, a 31-year-old cavalryman in the service of Queen Victoria’s army, decides to break off with his family’s military tradition and gives up his soldierly life in lieu of starting anew in England as a businessman. The road ahead of him will not be easy, as old sentiments still prevail where people making a living in a new, industrial England are looked down on and someone like Adam, giving up his army career is thought foolish. Adam Swann persists in his desire to be his own boss and not spent his life serving somebody else, even if it’s the Crown of England. In his struggles to become a respectable and successful owner of a horse-carriage business, he has a few supporters, including his young wife, Henrietta and, surprisingly, his own father. The readers follow Adam and his personal and business lives for nine years. These are very tumultuous years for England as well. It is the 19th century, the country changes from an agricultural one into an industrial empire, with railroads ruling the transportation, mills, mines and factories replacing the farms and Adam Swann takes on a daring project of using horses as his road to success.

I thoroughly enjoyed God Is an Englishman, so much so that even before I finished it, I went and got part two (Theirs Was the Kingdom). It’s not an easy read by any means, but very captivating and really a requirement for anyone who wants to read more about one of the most important periods in England’s history. Some might say that it’s reminiscent of Dickens’s books but I should say that probably only in the time set. Through Delderfield’s book I got a hopeful outlook, not a grim one. True, it’s still England where poverty is on the rise, where child exploitation flourishes but it’s also England where one doesn’t have to belong to royalty in order to become well-off, successful and if they’re persistent enough, respected. ‘Common’ people now have a chance to have careers and to be truly in charge of their lives. I must say that I liked this approach and I just was riveted by Adam Swann and by the whole process of him starting from a scratch and, despite unexpected failures and ‘bumps ‘, holding on to what he believed and never losing sight of what Adam deemed as success.

That’s one great part of God Is an Englishman. Another one is the multitude of characters, bad, good and just average, but they all change, they all grow and, as a reader, you really have your pick in which ones are going to be your favorites. Mine was Henrietta, Adam’s wife. I think she grew the most throughout the novel. She changed so much but still somehow retained her youthful innocence despite some occurrences that would turn many into bitter, prematurely old women. Henrietta and Adam’s marriage is not an easy one, some would even say it’s doomed from the beginning, but yet again, Delderfield just serves us this happy story, with both parties fulfilling their dreams, among the turmoil of their times. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a ‘happily-ever-after Cinderella’ story but an uplifting one nonetheless, despite the many problems that could endanger both Adam’s and Henrietta’s happiness.

I say that if you’re a ‘saga junkie’, if you are even remotely interested in the history of England and want to meet people, who in the end you feel are your friends or at least next door neighbors, God Is an Englishman and you will be a perfect match.

Special thanks to Danielle J. from Sourcebooks, Inc. for sending me a copy of this book for review.
Special thanks to Sourcebooks, Inc. for re-issuing the Swann saga and other R.F. Delderfield's titles. The editions are wonderful and I wouldn't have known about this 1970's British writer without Sourcebooks.

Book Info:

Author: R. F. Delderfield
Title: God Is an Englishman
Published in: 2009
By: Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc
ISBN: 1402218214

If you'd like to see what others think please check out the reviews by:

Medieval Bookworm here
We Be Reading here


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Traveling With Pomegranates giveaway.

Well, here's another great giveaway thanks to awesome Katrina from Wiredset. This time it is a memoir written by mother and daughter, and the mother is quite known in the literary world, I should say.

Traveling With Pomegranates
Sue Monk Kidd
Ann Kidd Taylor

Book Description:

An introspective and beautiful dual memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling novelist and her daughter

Sue Monk Kidd has touched millions of readers with her novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair and with her acclaimed nonfiction. In this intimate dual memoir, she and her daughter, Ann, offer distinct perspectives as a fifty-something and a twenty-something, each on a quest to redefine herself and to rediscover each other.

Between 1998 and 2000, Sue and Ann travel throughout Greece and France. Sue, coming to grips with aging, caught in a creative vacuum, longing to reconnect with her grown daughter, struggles to enlarge a vision of swarming bees into a novel. Ann, just graduated from college, heartbroken and benumbed by the classic question about what to do with her life, grapples with a painful depression. As this modern-day Demeter and Persephone chronicle the richly symbolic and personal meaning of an array of inspiring figures and sites, they also each give voice to that most protean of connections: the bond of mother and daughter.

A wise and involving book about feminine thresholds, spiritual growth, and renewal, Traveling with Pomegranates is both a revealing self-portrait by a beloved author and her daughter, a writer in the making, and a momentous story that will resonate with women everywhere.

If you're not convinced whether you want this book or not, you can always read an excerpt here, to help you make up your mind.

Giveaway 411:

1. There will be one winner.

2. All you have to do is simply leave a comment with your email address.

3. This time the giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canada residents.

4. The giveaway will be open until October 1st, 2009.

If the luck happens to not be on your side, you can always order Traveling with Pomegranates from or straight from the publisher's site,

Good luck to you all and thank you for visiting my blog.

Win 1 of 10 books Sourcebooks giveaway - results.

The giveaway ended on Monday night but I am just lazy as usual and keeping up with my laziness, I waited three whole days to post the results.

The two winners are:

Congratulations to the winners (who have been notified) and thank you to all who participated. Please come back soon for another cool giveaway (or two).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBAW: Reading Habits

Today’s it’s all about the creativity. We have this fabulous reading meme for you below and all you have to do? Pick ONE or answer them all in as few words as possible! Be creative, have fun, stand out! That’s all!

I chose to answer all with fewer words. I am just not a creative creature but I'll do my best.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

Surprisingly, I do not.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I don't write in books, only because marking reminds me of college times.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?

Always a bookmark or at least some old store receipt.

Laying the book flat open?

Yes, I do that sometimes if I know I'm coming back in a sec.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

It would have to be fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Both. Audio books are from library and hard copies I own.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

If I have troubles reading a book, then I read to the end of chapters. Otherwise, I tend to keep reading until it's done.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

Not usually.

What are you currently reading?

The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

What is the last book you bought?

Theirs Was the Kingdom by R. F. Delderfield

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

One book at a time. I tried it the other way and it doesn't work.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

Any place, any time.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

Series books or at least authors who wrote more than one book.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

Author: Stephen King
Book: Shantaram by Gregory Roberts

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

I don't organize books. I would love to though but I just procrastinate too much.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Bermudaonion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun. Kathy from Bermudaonion won the BBAW award for Most Concise blog, so make sure you visit and congratulate her (if you haven't done so yet).

Today's words are coming from my book club's choice for this month, The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner.

picayune - 1. a: a Spanish half real piece formerly current in the South b: half-dime 2. a: something trivial, of little value b: petty, small-minded

This is how it's used in the book:

And from train windows Bo looked out over fields of flax in flower, acres and acres of blue, and then his brewery job, full of travelling as it was, seemed trivial, picayune, confining.(p. 31)

flickertail - a ground squirrel chiefly of the north-central U.S. and adjacent Canada

Here's how it's used:

Flickertails jerked and ran and sat up with absurd little hands hanging on their chests.(p.36)

Monday, September 14, 2009

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

The school started, my beautiful girl is growing up, soon she will tell me she's not a kid but a teenager, and to watch her change from a little child to a growing up girl puts me in a sentimental mood. This very mood made me read what famous people had to say about youth. I give you words borrowed from Franklin Rossevelt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Logan Pearsall Smith, George Bernard Shaw & Oscar Wilde:

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn, Sec. 297

Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations; he is only trying on one face after another to find his own.
Logan Pearsall Smith

Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself nothing: age, which forgives itself everything, is forgiven nothing.
George Bernard Shaw

I am not young enough to know everything.
Oscar Wilde

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Check this out! Historical Fiction events going on all week.

Lucy over at Enchanted by Josephine, in collaboration with other wonderful historical fiction bloggers, decided to celebrate history and historical fiction throughout the whole week of September 14th. There are going to be guest post, interviews and giveaways. You can read about all the details, as well as who's participating when you visit Enchanted by Josephine blog here (which, btw is enchanting).

I am especially looking forward to posts about the death of Cleopatra and about Mary Queen of Scots (whom I happen to favor over Elizabeth I, believe it or not).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

August Reads

Wow! I can't believe that summer has come and gone. It was a very weird time for me this year. Usually I look forward to the summer time but this time I am glad it's over. I also find myself liking autumn more and more. Or, at least the month of September when the temperatures are breezy 70's and 60's, the sun is still shining and the leaves start turning colors. Because the months of July and August did not allow me for a lot of 'me' time, I couldn't read a lot of books. But the ones I did read in August were satisfying enough.

1. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts - part one in the Circle of Six trilogy and my first Nora Roberts' experience, even though not in the genre that made her famous.

2. Blood On His Hands by Mark P. Sadler - a promising debut thriller and I will definitely be looking for more from this author.

3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would after having watched the dreadful movie by the same title.

4. Cell by Stephen King - what can I say, it's King! I'm not gonna lie, he is my fave and I have yet to read a book of his I didn't enjoy.

5. From a Whisper to a Scream by Charles de Lint - a surprise horror from an author I have always thought to be a sci-fi writer, but a successful genre transition nonetheless.

6. The Case Has Altered by Martha Grimes - I have a special fondness for British detective mysteries that are part of a series (think P.D. James, M.C. Beaton, Elizabeth George) and I am very thrilled to find that Martha Grimes doesn't disappoint and there are plenty of books featuring Richard Jury yet to be read by me, yay!

7. Threshold by Bonnie Kozek - that was a tough book to read. It was a very fine, hard-boiled thriller but not for everyone, since there is a lot of shocking violence (even for me) and while I liked it, I will have to wait quite a while before I am ready to read another one of this kind.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Bermudaonion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun.

I have a couple of words from my current read, God Is An Englishman by R.F. Delderfield, which I had no idea existed but it was fun to find out what they meant.

1. Jerrybuilder - someone who builds cheap buildings out of poor materials on speculation for a quick profit

2. Salubrious – favorable to or promoting health; healthful.

How they are used in the book:

After that the jerrybuilders had swarmed in to run up their rows of back-to-back streets that often bore pastoral names but were, for all that, salubrious than the foetid alleys that ran inland from the wharves of Wapping and Rotherithe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I have been complaining lately about not reading as many books as I’d like to and quietly thinking that I have the worst luck with the quality of the books that I do manage to read (more ‘so, so’ ones than the wonderful ones). But then I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and everything just got better. It is because of books like this one that I love reading because it makes me realize that one has to dig deep, long and hard to find true gems and once they are found to appreciate them better.

Max de Winter, the owner of magnificent Manderley estate, comes to Monte Carlo to recover after the death of his wife, Rebecca. While there, he meets a young girl, barely an adult, who is a mousy little thing working as a maid-in-training for a know-it-all, nosy Mrs. Van Hopper. Suddenly, a strange relationship develops between Max and the girl. They spend together enough time for her to fall in love with Mr. de Winter and his sudden marriage proposal to her ends up to be a shock to everyone around including the girl. She agrees (what else could she do, it’s her dream come true) and after a few months of honeymoon, Max and new Mrs. de Winter arrive at Manderley. From pretty much the first day, Mrs. de Winter realizes that she would never be treated as the rightful wife of Maxim de Winter by the people who live in Manderley because this honor will always belong to mysterious, beautiful and very much dead Rebecca. And so what was supposed to be a dream life turns into a nightmare for the unsophisticated and timid second lady of the estate.

There wasn’t a single thing about Rebecca that I could criticize. Du Maurier had this wonderful ability to pull the reader into the gloomy, mysterious atmosphere of Rebecca right from the start. I didn’t so much read about this new to me world (a thing most readers look for when starting a book) as really experience it. The descriptive passages of nature and Manderley’s surroundings are beautiful and some observations on what may seem mundane, truly extraordinary. Here are excerpts on roses and rhododendrons (flowers that are common, albeit beautiful) that made me see them in a new light.

A rose was one of the few flowers, he said, that looked better picked than growing. A bowl of roses in a drawing-room had a depth of colour and scent they had not possessed in the open. There was something rather blowsy about roses in full bloom, something shallow and raucous, like women with untidy hair. In the house they became mysterious and subtle.(p.33)

We were amongst the rhododendrons. There was something bewildering, even shocking about the suddenness of their discovery. The woods had not prepared me for them. They startled me with their crimson faces, massed one upon the other in incredible profusion, showing no leaf, no twig, nothing but the slaughterous red (underline mine, I just love this phrase), luscious and fantastic, unlike any rhododendron I had seen before. (p.65)

The peculiar thing you’ll notice when reading Rebecca is that the second Mrs. de Winter is never called by her first name. As I turned pages, it became quite obvious why. The way she acts is as if she is never her own person. She is actually quite a sad character. Her innocence and naiveté about love, future life in Manderley and I think, life in general are recipes for disaster as it’s quite easy to have them shattered by the first evil person that comes her way. In this case the girl had a very bad luck of contending with evil Mrs. Danvers and most importantly, with dead Rebecca. Mrs. de Winter’s submissive behavior became quite frustrating to me and I just wanted to go over there and shake her and tell her to wake the heck up and start standing up for herself. She finally had but I can’t go into the reasons (you’ll have to read it to know). The only thing I can say is she didn’t do it because she thought one day, ‘Okay, enough of this bullying, I am not Rebecca but I am a person that deserves respect and will get it!’. No, she did it only after having gotten a validation from another person.

Rebecca is called a classic, Gothic romance and I tell you, just when I thought I got it all figured out, I got smacked with a twist after twist. And the character of Mrs. Danvers has to be one of the most evil in the history of mysteries. I was glad to see her cry after Rebecca. It wasn’t because I am just such an evil person myself that enjoys the emotional suffering of others. It was because up to that point, I started thinking that maybe Mrs. Danvers died with Rebecca and it was her demonic ghost governing the Manderley household. I was relieved to find out she had human feelings.

It is true that it took me a long time to finish Rebecca, but instead of feeling the usual frustration that comes with reading a book for an extended period of time, I am happy I allowed myself the luxury to spend more time in the world of Manderley. It would have been a shame, had I read the whole book in one sitting.

Book Info:
Title: Rebecca
Author: Daphne du Maurier
ISBN: 0385043805
Published by: Doubleday

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Friday, September 4, 2009

2-in-1: Cell & From a Whisper to a Scream

I rather like this 2-in-1 idea and decided to give it a regular appearance in my blog. It’s a way of still giving my opinion along with a short summary of books I read without writing an in-depth review. Sometimes I just don’t think I have enough to say about a book to warrant a review, but I still want this book to be mentioned in expressing my ‘bookish thoughts’ on it.

1. Cell by Stephen King

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of King’s writing. I like not only his creativity in the horror and fantasy departments, but his writing skills as well. Cell, therefore, was no disappointment. It is another kind of the-end-is-coming novel but definitely more gritty, brutal and therefore more believable than what the book market is flooded with nowadays. Clay Riddell, a graphic artist who is finally on the verge of becoming noticed and somewhat successful in his career, witnesses some strange happenings one day after signing his first deal. The happenings turn into a full blown apocalypse when it turns out that all the cell phones transmit a message that resets human brains and turns people into bloodthirsty, murderous creatures. They all act like zombies and the only thing they have in common is a drive to eat and kill all remaining people unaffected by this ‘disease’. Clay, together with others who did not use their cell phones, are now fighting for their survival.
What can I say? I enjoyed this book from the first to the last page. It is scary mainly because, as I read more and more, I started to think that all this may very well happen one day, as crazy as it sounds. But that’s just the way Stephen King writes his horrors. No matter how unbelievable the premise may sound, I invariably find myself believing every bit of it. One thing that may disappoint the readers is the ending which does not deliver a closure. Personally, I didn’t mind that at all. Instead, I saw it as a way of giving a reader a free hand in imagining whether this end-of-the-world would truly be the end or not. If you are looking for a hard-core post-apocalyptic tale, with nightmarish reality, King is always your man.

2. From a Whisper to a Scream by Charles de Lint

Here’s a different kind of horror but just as engaging as the previous one. Thomas Morningstar, a Newford policeman ends up shooting to death a man, who did not stop to pull over. It soon becomes something more than a traffic violation turned tragic. Officer Morningstar killed a serial child murderer. However, things did not end there. Evil merely began. A few years later, Morningstar is a detective and has the case of his life on his hands. Young girls are being murdered in a red-light district of Newford and the police do not have a thread of lead. All of a sudden, a crime photographer, the killed child molester’s daughter and detective Morningstar discover that they have a lot in common and it all has to do with the shooting that had happened a few years back. And it turns out to be evil beyond anybody’s imagination and that evil might as well be too much even for people well-versed in spiritual world.
I was surprised to find out that From a Whisper to a Scream was a horror novel. All the previous de Lint’s books I had read were sci-fi and you know how it is with expectations. I must say however, it was a darn good horror. Charles de Lint has been compared to Stephen King actually and I can see why. The turn of events is unexpected, the characters in this book are nicely developed and yet again, even though I knew it was fiction, I caught myself thinking about the actual possibility of such events happening. The author’s writing is very convincing and he definitely has enough skills to keep a reader up at night.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Giveaway results are in!

The giveaways for The Myst Reader and The White Queen are over and the lucky winners are chosen.

For both drawings I chose and here are the results:

The Myst Reader goes to:

Ruth Ann

The White Queen goes to:

Kate from Neverending Shelf



Congratulations to all winners. They have been notified of their luck.

And for those of you who didn't win here's another awesome giveaway connected with The White Queen:

Grand prize package [Retailed at about $4,000]:
· Roundtrip airfare for two to London; hotel accommodations for 3 nights in the Strand Palace, located in the heart of London’s Theatreland
· Tickets for a dinner cruise on the Thames
· A day tour of the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral
· Day trip to Windsor Castle and Runnymede
· $200 American Express Gift Card

1 first prize winner
· Will receive an e-reader loaded with The White Queen e-book

1 second prize winner
· Will receive a leather-bound edition of The White Queen

Here's an updated widget which also should help you get to that great giveaway:

BTT: Recently Biggest

What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?

(Feel free to think “big” as size, or as popularity, or in any other way you care to interpret.)

I think that if I read through a chunkster (which I love BTW) it has to be be "big" in every possible meaning of the word. It's big in size, big in meaning, big in popularity, big in importance, etc. but especially big in story. I don't care about ambitious novels written in stream of consciousness or just plain gibberish (I have read them and I will not come back to them any time soon). If a book is over 500 pages, it had better give me a darn good, engaging story.

There are two books which I consider to be 'big' and have read them fairly recently (not this year though, with all the review copies and challenges to complete, I had no time for re-reads):

1. The Stand by Stephen King - all time favorite and a post-apocalyptic classic. As a fan I can only recommend the Complete & Uncut edition counting 1200 pages in hardcover. I know it's huge but when it was first published, The Stand was cut by over 150,000 words and I want a whole story :D. One thing I should mention is that because it's the end-of-the-world masterpiece, everything else I read after that just doesn't measure up.

2. John Adams by David McCullough - one of the best biographies I have read. It is another chunkster with 722 pages in paperback edition but yet again, really worth the time and attention. I loved it because the author is a born storyteller, the story of our founding fathers and the birth of our country is beautiful and reminded me how many lives were put on the line so I could live in a free, independent and democtratic country of the United States.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A giveaway in honor of Sourcebook's Georgette Heyer promotion

I am excited to offer you, my dear readers, another great giveaway. This time thanks to the courtesy of Danielle from Sourcebooks, Inc. Please read on to find out what the promotion and the giveaway are about. It's fun.
Sourcebooks B&N Heyer Receipt Promotion

This September, Sourcebooks is exclusively releasing The Foundling by Georgette Heyer in Barnes & Nobles stores Nationwide!!

Sourcebooks is holding a fabulous receipt promotion! Send us your receipt/proof of purchase of The Foundling from your local Barnes & Noble to our office or a scanned receipt in an email to and you’ll be entered to win a $200 Barnes & Noble gift card! Receipts must be dated between September 1 – September 31, 2009, and can be from an in-store or online purchase. Any questions please contact

But WAIT—you can win a book from Sourcebooks now! As a thank you to Reading Extravaganza for helping spread the word about our B&N Heyer Receipt Promotion, Sourcebooks is giving away 2 books from the list of books below! Leave a comment about your favorite Heyer moment and you’ll be entered to win your choice of book! 2 winners—US and Canada addresses only please.

Sourcebooks is so excited about the warm embrace everyone has given the Georgette Heyer reissues! Good luck—we look forward to hearing from you!

Send your Barnes & Noble The Foundling receipts to
Sourcebooks, Inc. c/o Publicity PO Box 4410 Naperville, IL 60567

Remember: Leave a comment! Two lucky commenters will be able to choose a book from the following:

1. The Spoken Word Revolution edited by Mark Eleveld
2. Poetry Speaks Expanded edited by Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby
3. Letters From Pemberley by Jane Dawkins
4. How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding by Arliss Ryan
5. Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake by Laurie Brown
6. A Chain of Voices by Andre Brink
7. First Lady by Michael Malone
8. The Ultimate Bartenders Guide by Ray Foley
9. Improvisation for the Spirit by Katie Goodman
10. The Successful Novelist by David Morrell

Join our Georgette Heyer mailing list!:

Giveaway 411:

1. The giveaway will last until September 14th
2. There will be two (2) winners/ one book each.
3. Valid for US and Canada addresses only.
4. To be entered, please leave a comment about your favorite Heyer moment, which book from the list you'd like to win and a valid email address.

Good Luck to you all!!!!