Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher… A Review

Is it voyeuristic to enjoy leafing through the pages of Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher? The letters span the centuries and include letters such as Mary Queen of Scots 1587 letter to her brother-in-law, hours before she was beheaded, to a Ronald Reagan letter written to his son Michael in 1971 about the beauty of marriage. The famous, the not so famous, the notorious, advice, questions, thank you's, serious, funny, a job request, and letters written when it was the usual way to communicate.

This oversized book is rich in history and I loved reading through the nearly 350 pages. But I was also touched by some of them, such as when looney tunes animator, Chuck Jones, lost the family dog, Jones' Uncle Lynn wrote a heartfelt letter from the dog to Chuck's family, or when Francis Carr-Gomm, head of the London Hospital in 1886, wrote the The London Times newspaper about a "unspeakable disfigured young man", asking for help on his behalf. Later in history, we will know that young man as The Elephant Man, and that letter was filled with such empathy and caring about the sad life and the need for help for that young man whose name was Joseph Merrick.

 Filled with the original note when available (scanned), transcripts of the letters, photos and all notes with a little history behind the letter, this is an amazing collection. Shaun Usher originally started posting these letters on his blog, Letters of Note, in September of 2009, finally publishing his book in 2014. You can read still read the archives on Shaun's blog to sample some of these letters, but I think these letters are so much more enjoyable turning the pages of a book lying in your lap.

Would I recommend reading this book? Definitely Yes! This would make a wonderful gift too! The hardcover book is a beautiful size and has one of those ribbon bookmarks sewn into the spine. I checked this book out from my library, actually it was an interlibrary loan, but this is now on my wish list because I'd really like a copy for the shelves!

*P.S. This book is actually available as a Kindle Edition at a bargain price of $7.99 right now!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sunny Side Up or Shaken Not Stirred, How do you like YOUR humor?

If you read a book that is suppose to make you laugh, and you don't, are you humorless? I'm not a big "humor" reader and I never thought about it until I checked out a book from the library that made the person on the jacket blurb, "laugh out loud on every page.", but I didn't. I kept reading and kept wondering, "Why is this funny?"

But then, I recall books that I did find humorous... Bridgett Jones Diary by Helen Fielding, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, The Help by Kathryn Stocket (remember the pie!? OMG!). Humor is subjective. Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy? Chris Rock or Bob Newhart? Erma Bombeck or ... Who? Do you want to "laugh out loud" or smile "ear to ear"? What kind of humor are you?

There's Dry humor, satire, slapstick, farcical, juvenile, parody, self- deprecating, and even aggressive. Aggressive humor? Somehow that just doesn't sound funny. In a google search, the dating site eHarmony states that everyone is looking for someone with a great sense of humor... is that really a yes or no question?!

Books, like humor, are subjective, so I guess even though I didn't laugh out loud on every page of that book, I have laughed out loud at some point and therefore have a sense of humor. Writer's beware, I'm a tough cookie to crack, but there's always chocolate...

Happy reading... whether it makes you laugh or not!

P.S. What books made you laugh?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Sunday Salon and SNOWY Reads...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that day of the week we talk BOOKS! So grab a cup of Joe, find a comfy chair and relax! And what better a day to do that then a snowy day!

Yesterday in Connecticut, we finally had a nice layering of snow to make it feel like winter. It was one of those beautiful heavy snows that make the evergreens look so pretty as the snow paints itself along their branches.  And what better books to read then SNOW books! Here are some snowy books to enjoy while either dealing with the snow or if you're in some beautiful warm and sunny part of the world, thinking about what that white stuff is all about! Here is a cozy mystery, a bit of magical fiction, and an anthology hot enough to melt any snow on the roof...

Snow Way Out (A Snow Globe Shop Mystery Book 1) by Christine Husom… Curio shop manager Camryn Brooks thought she’d seen every kind of snow globe—until she saw one depicting a crime scene… Ever since she was a child, Cami has loved the sparkling beauty of snow globes, and now, she sells them.  In fact, they’re so popular, Cami and her friend—coffee shop owner Alice “Pinky” Nelson—are hosting a snow globe making class. After the flurry of activity has ended and everyone has gone off with their own handmade snow globes, Cami spots a new globe left behind on a shelf, featuring an odd tableau—a man sleeping on a park bench. On her way home, she drifts through the town park and is shaken to come upon the scene from the globe—a man sitting on a bench. But he isn’t sleeping—he has a knife in his back. When the police arrive, it’s clear they consider Cami a little flaky and possibly a suspect. After her friends also come under suspicion, Cami starts plowing through clues to find the cold-blooded backstabber—before someone else gets iced…

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen… From the publisher: Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beat-up suitcase.  He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever…

Sarah Addison Allen writes wonderful stories. She fills them with a bit of mystery, a sprinkling of magic and memorable characters. I loved her novel, The Peach Keeper. And First Frost welcomes back characters from her book Garden Spells, so a treat for anyone who has read that. I've read that this could be a stand alone novel, meaning that you don't have to read the previous book where the characters were introduced to enjoy this book, but I think I myself might indulge in Garden Spells first, so I can enjoy the characters from that first book and see how they grew.

Snowy Days, Steamy Nights: Come in From the Cold. An Anthology of 6 sexy snow romances by 6 award-winning romance writers. These are novella's that will have you enjoying being snow bound. Here are the novella's included and their authors... romance authors:

FROSTED, by Katy Regnery                         
GROUNDED, by Kate Forest
MELTED, by Jennie Marts
REKINDLED, by Susan Scott Shelley
SMITTENED, by Jamie Farrell
SNOWED, by Veronica Forand

I love these romance anthologies. They usually have great writing, the stories are a bit shorter so that you can read them in one night, and even if I'm familiar with one or two authors, I sometimes find new authors that I was not familiar with and could sample their writing. This is a Kindle or Nook treat! Right now this anthology is a bargain at $2.99 for either your Kindle or Nook. Click on whichever eReader you feed for the direct link. You can read all about the individual stories on Goodreads.

Weekly ReCap…
This week, we talked about Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please on Memoir Monday, chatted a bit about what a "Guy Read" is suppose to be and what books to recommend to a guy on Wednesday and shared National Reading Day and National Readathon Day on Friday! If you missed anything, you can click on the highlighted link to check it out.

I also made a trip to the library this week. One of the books I returned was Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives by John Sutherland. It is a tome at 800 plus pages. I did not read ALL of the entries, but enjoyed reading bits and pieces about favorite authors. The author covers some 17th century authors all the way to 20th century. From authors such as Paul Bunyan to Stephen King. Of course not every author is covered, but a breathe of oldies but goodies. I found it interesting, but not inspiring. Something that I thought I would be dying to buy a copy of my own because it was so fascinating, but in reality the writing just did not grab me. I wouldn't call it dull, more like factual. It's a good book to check out of the library.

Along those same lines, but definitely a much better read, I checked out Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher. Maybe it's a little voyeuristic, but it's so interesting to read through these letters. The last letter Virginia Wolff wrote to her husband before she committed suicide, A letter Mary Queen of Scotts wrote to her brother-in-law before her fate was sealed and even a letter from Elvis Presley to President Nixon. Look for my full review coming next week.

How was your reading week? Any books you'd like to share? How about any "Snow" reads?!  And, did you participate in the National Readathon Day, saturday? Hope you found something here to read!

Happy Reading… Suzanne


Friday, January 23, 2015

National Reading Day or National Readathon… Your Choice!

Today is National Reading Day! A day designed to promote the love of reading to Pre-K through Third graders. All across america there will be schools, libraries and parents participating in a variety of activities to encourage children to read. Who exactly organized this annual event? I have no idea! But it seems a worthy cause to me and here is the LINK if you'd like to learn a little more and need some suggestions on what you can do.

Along those same lines is National Readathon Day! Now, National Readathon Day is tomorrow, January 24th. National Readathon Day is sponsored by Penguin, The National Book Foundation, Mashable and GoodReads. Its a marathon of reading to be done between the hours of 12 noon and 4pm. Along with encouraging a marathon of reading, it's also a fund raising event for The National Book Foundation. You can read all about it on THE PENGUIN SITE. Riverhead books, Goodreads and Books on the Nightstand are leading the fundraising efforts of teams. I'm a bit shy when it comes to soliciting donations, (ok, begging for money even for a good cause), but donating is also acceptable. You can follow THIS LINK to read about who has a team or individuals that you can donate to if you would like.

And don't forget… There's also Drop Everything And Read Day on April 12th, and World Book Night on April 23rd!

What's your fancy?! Are you going to participate for a reading day?!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's a Guy Thing… and trying to figure out what a "guy read" is!

I read a lot of different genres of books: fiction, historical fiction, horror, sci-fi, romance. BUT, what do I recommend to a guy who doesn't read any of that kind of stuff?! I admit, for the most part I recommend books to people who are craving their next great read, but what about those hard to fit people? And guys… what's a "guy read"?

Definitely not Fifty Shades of Grey, although one of my male reading group members picked it for his choice.  Sports books are usually a good bet, right? Baseball, football... hey, what about that great book by Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit!? How about a little David Sedaris? That's guy humor, right? Hmmm… humor. That's something I don't read a lot of. And humor is personal. We all don't laugh at the same jokes. But I did find a book I think might work for that kind of guy who doesn't read all that mushy girl stuff ( ok, you do know I'm being a bit facetious here, right?) The kind of guy that looks good in flannel and can swing an axe… Alright, I liked this book too… It was funny, well written and about guy stuff... You're Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck by Bill Heavey. Bill Heavey is an editor at Field & Stream Magazine and put together this "guy" book, which are essays about his adventures outdoors that he writes about in Field & Stream. I have been reading through this book leisurely to enjoy each "story" for itself. And it's so much more than putting your worm on the hook, that I think girls who like the outdoors with enjoy this.

So, that's definitely a "guy read", but also a girl read... Do you know what a "guy read" is, and what do you recommend to the guy who wouldn't be caught dead with anything but a monster truck on the front cover?! Hmmm, history, graphic novels... It's a mystery to me. (Another possible choice!)

Happy reading... Whatever it is!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Memoir Monday... Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

This book got so much press when it came out, I thought they must be giving away free lunch at Chick-fil-a. It was the "it" book, and you HAD to read it. Of course, I had no idea who Amy Poehler was. I recognized her from the cover, but had to refresh my memory about everything Amy Poehler with Google. Ok, so actress, comedian, SNL veteran... why do I want to read it again? What kind of memoir can she write at 40 something? A celebrity tell-all?

Not wanting to loiter in the bookstore long enough to read Yes Please by Amy Poehler, I did the next best thing... I reserved it at the library. And waited my turn to be amazed and fascinated...

And I was! Yes, I am enjoying Yes Please more than I could ever imagine. It's funny, poignant at times, and real. It's so readable. Not just about her Hollywood life, but about being a mother, about being a woman of a certain age and being a normal girl growing up in an normal world. There are 3 parts to Yes Please, Say Whatever You Want, Do Whatever You Like, and Be Whoever You Are, and I'm not quite done yet, but have to say "Amy, you did a great job with writing this book!" What could have been a boring, celebrity, I was the homecoming queen and that's why I am who I am today kind of book, Yes Please is instead a fun, flirty, delicious take on growing up funny and daring to be more.

Guess I'll be adding this to the book shelf permanently...


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Sunday Salon and I'm Thrilled to Meet You… OR 3 New Mysteries,Thrillers & Suspense You'll Need to Leave the Lights on For

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.

The weather is getting colder, and winter is definitely settling in in Connecticut. I'm not one to venture outside for winter activities, my winter activities are hot cocoa, winter soups and curling up with a BOOK! Mysteries use to be my normal reading, but I've branched out to a lot of different genres since starting the blog. But in the next month or so, there are some great books coming out from some favorite mystery/thrill writers that are making me grab the "who dun-it's" once again. Let's to fall into some great NEW mysteries or better yet, thrillers from some great authors! First, Tami Hoag is coming out with a new mystery/thriller this coming tuesday, January 13th!  It's called Cold Cold Heart and Danielle at Dutton wanted to know if I'd like a review copy. What did I say? YES of course! I started reading this as soon as I got it and I was hooked! The prologue had me on the edge of my seat. Tami Hoag is always a great read. I'll be reviewing this in the next week, so stay tuned. In the meantime,  here is the description from the publisher…

Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag…
Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims.  Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep.  Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together.  But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life has rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school.  Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past.  Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies.  Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…

Another favorite Mystery/Thriller/Suspense author of mine is Tess Gerritsen. I use to read just her Rizzoli and Isles novels, but then got hooked on her medical thrillers. Here's a post I did last January on Tess's medical thrillers. But, at the end of this past December, Tess Gerritsen came out with a new Rizzoli and Isles novel called Die Again. This sounds heart pounding to me! Definitely on my wish list now! Here's what the description is for Die Again

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen…
Detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are back—and they’re going into the wild to find a killer. Die Again is the latest heart-pounding thriller in Tess Gerritsen’s New York Times bestselling series, the inspiration behind TNT’s hit show Rizzoli & Isles.

When Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles are summoned to a crime scene, they find a killing worthy of the most ferocious beast—right down to the claw marks on the corpse. But only the most sinister human hands could have left renowned big-game hunter and taxidermist Leon Gott gruesomely displayed like the once-proud animals whose heads adorn his walls. Did Gott unwittingly awaken a predator more dangerous than any he’s ever hunted?

Maura fears that this isn’t the killer’s first slaughter, and that it won’t be the last. After linking the crime to a series of unsolved homicides in wilderness areas across the country, she wonders if the answers might actually be found in a remote corner of Africa.

Six years earlier, a group of tourists on safari fell prey to a killer in their midst. Marooned deep in the bush of Botswana, with no means of communication and nothing but a rifle-toting guide for protection, the terrified tourists desperately hoped for rescue before their worst instincts—or the wild animals prowling in the shadows—could tear them apart. But the deadliest predator was already among them, and within a week, he walked away with the blood of all but one of them on his hands.

Now this killer has chosen Boston as his new hunting ground, and Rizzoli and Isles must find a way to lure him out of the shadows and into a cage. Even if it means dangling the bait no hunter can resist: the one victim who got away.

Finally, Lisa Gardner is also coming out with a new thriller February 3rd called Crash & Burn. I haven't read a lot of her books, but what I have I have really enjoyed. Crash & Burn sounds like it will be a great read. I like the whole "gaslight" kind of feel to it.

Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner…

My name is Nicky Frank. Except, most likely, it isn’t. 

Nicole Frank shouldn’t have been able to survive the car accident, much less crawl up the steep ravine. Not in the dark, not in the rain, not with her injuries. But one thought allows her to defy the odds and flag down help: Vero. 

I’m looking for a little girl. I have to save her. Except, most likely, she doesn’t exist.

Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when even the search dogs can’t find any trace of the mysterious missing child. Until Nicky’s husband, Thomas, arrives with a host of shattering revelations: Nicole Frank suffers from a rare brain injury and the police shouldn’t trust anything she says. 

My husband claims he’ll do anything to save me. Except, most likely, he can’t. 

Who is Nicky Frank, and what happened the night her car sailed off the road? Was it a random accident or something more sinister given the woman’s lack of family and no close friends? The deeper Wyatt digs, the more concerned he becomes. Because it turns out, in the past few months, Nicky has suffered from more than one close accident. . . . In fact, it would appear someone very much wants her dead.

This is my life. Except, most likely, it’s not. Now watch me crash and burn.

So, are you a mystery/thriller/suspense reader? Have any favorites from the ladies here today?! And, what other favorite suspense writers do you read?!

*P.S. My reading group is going to read The Girl on The Train by Pamela Hawkins. I mentioned it in my first Sunday post of the year under Best New Books. It's gotten a lot of great press and it's a murder mystery thriller, that I just started and I am totally hooked already. The writing is very clever, but more about that in my review to come soon. In any case, The Girl on The Train would also be a great mystery to put on your TBR list!
  Weekly Recap…
On Monday, I shared my review of At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen. I really enjoyed it! Historical fiction, WWII, forbidden love, the Loch Ness Monster... If you have not read it yet, READ IT! Here's MY REVIEW.

On Wednesday, it was a tiny book of short stories I reviewed called The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Vol. 1 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. They are like bits of Haiku, but are really 1 or 2 line stories submitted from people all over the world, some of which are collected in these wonderful little books. I reviewed volume 1, but there are 3 volumes so far. Really enjoyed reading these. Here's MY REVIEW.

Thursday, I was part of the Not Without My Father Release Day Blitz.  Written by Andra Watkins, it's about her 444 walk along the Natchez Trace. You can read all about the book from my THURSDAY POST.

On Saturday I shared my review of Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. It's suppose to be the next Hunger Games. It's the start of an epic fantasy that book 1, Seeker, lays down a great foundation for future books. I really enjoyed Seeker, which was told alternately by the three main characters. Here's my REVIEW.

What's on your reading plate these days? Hope you found something to munch on here! And in the meantime…

Happy reading… Suzanne

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton … A Review

A Seeker seeks the truth. It's an ancient following that takes years of training and one in which you must be born into. For Quin, Shinobu and John their training was almost over and the final test of their skills was upon them. Would they pass and become Seekers?

I really enjoyed Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. Young love, jealousy, revenge, regret and redemption all play a part in this epic fantasy adventure that has elements of sci-fi and steampunk sprinkled on top.  Quin is 15, the star of this tale, and has endured years of harsh training to become the next Seeker in her family. The Seeker seeks the truth, but the methods can be brutal. A Seeker is basically a highly trained assassin that possesses ancient magic in the form of weapons and mental abilities that give them the choice of life or death. Quin has no idea what is in store for her as a Seeker. There are unimaginable secrets (and horrors) that will change her forever. Her companions are Shinobu, a distant cousin who she's grown up with (and who's had a thing for her), and John, a little older than Quin and Shinobu, who is from another family and is being trained by Quin's father and uncle (who Quin has been in love with).

It's an adventure that starts out in Scotland and travels to Hong Kong thru ancient time portals only accessible by Seekers. The story starts out slow introducing us to the players and turns into a roller coaster ride of an adventure with a soft landing at the very end, leading us into book 2.

What did I think?… It's a great story, the writing is good with a good foundation for developing the story further and the characters are well developed. One of the things that I love about the story is that it's told thru the eyes of more than one character, giving us such a great perspective. I liked Quin, Shinobu and John, although I did think Quin got a bit whiney at times about some things. And I thought the very ending was a bit too quiet, but I definitely want to read the next book to see the choices these characters make and their futures. And this book? I couldn't put it down and read it in 2 days!

This series is being sold as the next "Hunger Games". I don't see Seeker as dystopian, but if you enjoy YA epic fantasy adventures this should be your cup of tea! Definitely write this one down in if you love adventure stories period!

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton is coming out February 10th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers. I want to thank the publishers for sending along the eGalley to me for review!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not Without My Father Release Day Blitz!



We're happy to be hosting Andra Watkins and her NOT WITHOUT MY FATHER Release Day Blitz today!

About the Book:




Title: Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Author: Andra Watkins
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero?

Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become the first living person to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days.

After striking out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim.

As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn I wish I had into I’m glad I did.


About the Author: 


Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. A non-practicing CPA, she has a degree in accounting from Francis Marion University. She’s still mad at her mother for refusing to let her major in musical theater, because her mom was convinced she’d end up starring in porn films. In addition to her writing talent, Andra is an accomplished public speaker. Her acclaimed debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis was published by Word Hermit Press in 2014.

Her latest book is the memoir, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444 Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace.

For More Information

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 1 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt… A Review

"The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories."


With the quote above opens The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volume 1 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who invited people around the world to contribute small one or two line stories to his online website, HitRECord.org. And people did, 8500 people submitted little stories for this volume alone! The result of which are these 40 charming, poignant, funny, sometimes silly little stories and which, by the way, are also illustrated by other contributors. 

I absolutely loved this little book! It's size is just as tiny as its' stories at 4 x 6, and would make a perfect "tiny" little gift. I enjoyed the illustrations that accompany the stories too. It's a book that I found myself leafing back through after finishing it to enjoy the small little sentiments over and over again.

Even though I borrowed this from my local library, I guess I'll be adding this one to the permanent shelves anyway! Definitely a little gem in the stacks! (And if you like this volume, there are 2 more volumes already!)

Monday, January 12, 2015

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen… A Review

When I first downloaded At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen, I only meant to read a little to get a feel for the story, since I was already reading something else.  BUT, I could not stop! I was immediately swept away to a small village in the Scottish Highlands called Drumnadrochit, and the year was 1942. I was in a small cemetery looking at a black granite headstone with two names - Captain Angus Grant and Agnes Mairi Grant, newborn daughter of Captain Angus and his wife, Mairi. It was WWII and the war had taken many loved ones by now. Captain Grant was one of those casualties, but they only knew the month and the year of his death, they did not know the exact day. And poor Agnes was stillborn. Mairi was heartbroken, and so was I…

Fast forward to January, 1945. This is where the story really begins. We meet 3 wealthy spoiled young Americans, Hank, Ellis and Maddie going on an adventure to the same small village in Scotland to find proof of The Loch Ness Monster. The dynamics of these three people are that Hank and Ellis are best friends, almost inseparable, and Maddie, who won the hearts of both Hank and Ellis the summer she graduated boarding school, is Ellis' wife. As the story unfolds, we learn that Hank and Ellis were rejected by the army, so they did not have to serve in battle. This is a sore spot with Ellis' father, who served honorably and basically thinks his son a coward. But the three of them, Hank, Ellis and Maddie, spend their days (and evenings) carelessly drinking, partying and untouched by the war… until, after a particularly embarrassing evening of drinking, and Ellis' parents receiving phone call after phone call, things change. A huge fight ensues, insults are thrown back and forth until the ultimate insult… Ellis tells his father that the family could not be any more embarrassed than by his father faking those Nessie photos. Faking Nessie photos?! Yes...

Years before, after the Great War, Ellis' father became obsessed with The Loch Ness Monster. He traveled to Drumnadrochit, where the famed beast lived, researched and hunted it down. He became famous for photographing it, Scotland yard requested he not harm it, and he became a celebrity… but then the rumors started that he faked the photographs. He became a laughing stock. He quietly went back home.

So, as a result of the "ultimate" insult, Ellis & Maddie get thrown out of the house, Ellis' allowance is cut, and life is not going to be as easy as it once was… until Ellis and Hank hatch a plan to get back in the good graces of Ellis' father… They will find The Loch Nest monster, photograph it and prove that it's real, thus saving Ellis's father from disgrace, proving Ellis is not a coward and becoming the much loved son again. This is how we find Hank, Ellis and Maddie, who reluctantly agrees, in Scotland.

But everything I've just told you is a very very small part of the story. Sara Gruen weaves this back story into a haunting tale of love, loss and compassion. And she does this with not only a great plot, but by her ability to create such depth in her characters and their surroundings that the pages of the book disappear and you are left standing in Drumnadrochit, in the Scottish Highlands. We feel how it is to live in a small village, trying to survive the shortages of food and small comforts like warmth. We feel the pain of loss due to our men going to war. And we can feel the need to grasp for happiness when it fleetingly appears. Maddie is the backbone to this story, and we witness, through her eyes and heart, not only the gripping story of Drumnadrochit, but the story of a young woman growing within herself, her marriage and learning about the world around her that her privileged life never allowed her to see before.

I loved this book! The story, the characters, the way the characters interacted with one another, the friendships, the way Ellis, Hank and Maddie discovered that money wasn't everything and war equals out everyone. But my favorite part of the story was Maddie's awakening. Loved her and loved her voice in the story.

Not only will you be at the water's edge, but you'll be at the edge of your seat with this haunting tale and one woman's journey to self discovery. If you're a fan of historical fiction, women's fiction or just a Sara Gruen fan, READ this book! Sara Gruen knows how to write historical fiction!

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen will be released March 31, 2015 by Random House and Spiegel & Grau, a Random House imprint. I want to thank the publishers for the eGalley to review! I received this eGalley for my unbiased review.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Sunday Salon and 3 Books You Need to Write Down Now!


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Pour yourself a cup of java, pull up a chair and relax. It's that time of the week we chat about books and bookish things! Not only have I been a reader this week, but I've played Sherlock Holmes as I've searched the virtual book shelves to find our next great read...

It's fun sometimes to take a peek at what books are coming out in a few months. I do this in a lot of different ways. I get notices from publishers, I get an email from an author sometimes, I read other readers blogs or I find interesting books while I'm at websites like Goodreads and LibraryThing. LibraryThing is a place where you can "store" your books virtually. Before I found the Goodreads site, that's where I entered in all my books so I could keep track of them. I haven't kept up with my books there since Goodreads enticed me, but LibraryThing also has a great monthly feature called Early Reviewers, where LibraryThing members can request books listed by publishers for reviewing. It's more like a giveaway, because there are only so many books for A LOT of requests, but even if you  don't snag an ARC, it's a great source to see what's being published in the next few months. I saw a few books there that I definitely want to read and I had to share them with you today…

First, I saw a new book by Sara Gruen! Ever since Water for Elephants I have been a huge fan of hers. I didn't really enjoy her last book though, Ape House. I think I may have not been in the right frame of mind for it. I started it, but it just didn't hold me. Maybe because it was so different than Water for Elephants? But when I saw that Sara has a new book coming out in a few months, I had to read about it, and I think it's going to be a great read! It's called At The Water's Edge. First of all it's time frame is WWII (I love WWII settings!), secondly it takes place in the Scottish Highlands (I know there won't be any highlanders, but oh what a wonderful landscape!), and finally Sara throws in a quest to find none other than the Loch Ness Monster! I think all these elements in Sara's hands spells READ ME. Here is the description from the publisher…

At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen… In At the Water’s Edge, she tells the gripping and poignant story of a privileged young woman’s moral and sexual awakening as she experiences the devastations of World War II in the Scottish Highlands. Madeline Hyde, a young socialite from Philadelphia, reluctantly follows her husband and their best friend to the tiny village of Drumnadrochit in search of the Loch Ness monster—at the same time that a very real monster, Hitler, wages war against the Allied Forces. Despite German warplanes flying overhead and scarce food rations (and even scarcer stockings), what Maddie discovers—about the larger world and about herself—through the unlikely friendships she develops with the villagers, opens her eyes not only to the dark forces that exist around her but to the beauty and surprising possibilities as well.

If you enjoy historical fiction like I do, you should copy this one down. It's due out March 31st from Random House. *It is on my wish list! UPDATE: After writing this post, I actually received an eGalley of At The Water's Edge. I decided I would read a little bit to get a feel for the story… and couldn't stop reading it! All the elements I thought would make this a great read DID! I really enjoyed this! SO, look for my review this Monday, Jan. 12th!

Next book that looked really interesting to me was Shadow's Over Paradise by Isabel Wolff. I have never heard of Isabel Wolff, but it seems she's got quite a few books under her belt here in the states and internationally. When I read a reviewer say that fans of Jamie Ford would enjoy this book, my eyes perked up. I love Jamie Ford. Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet is on of my favorite books! Shadow's over Paradise brings together Jenni Clark, a ghostwriter and Klara, an elderly woman to have Jenni ghostwrite Klara's life story. I like having 2 generations of women together and I like stories that visit the past this way, while weaving a new story together with all the other pieces. Here's what the publisher writes...

Shadow's Over Paradise by Isabel WolffSometimes the only way forward is through the past. Jenni Clark is a ghostwriter. She loves to immerse herself in other people’s stories—a respite from her own life, and from a relationship that appears to be nearing its end. Jenni’s latest assignment takes her to a coastal hamlet in England, where she’s agreed to pen the memoir of an elderly farm owner named Klara. Jenni assumes the project will be easy: a quiet, ordinary tale of a life well lived. But Klara’s story is far from quiet. She recounts the tale of a family torn apart by World War II, and of disgraceful acts committed against a community in the Japanese prison camps on the Pacific island paradise of Java. As harrowing details emerge and stunning truths come to light, Jenni is compelled to confront a secret she’s spent a lifetime burying. Weaving together the lives of two very different women, Isabel Wolff has created a captivating novel of love, loss, and hope that reaches across generations. 

Shadow's Over Paradise is due to be released on Feb. 10th by Bantam. On my wish list too!
OK, I can't wait for this one to come out too! It has that WWII aspect again, and I can see the Jamie Ford connection, because part of the story of Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet was set in the internment camps of WWII.

Another "list" I look at is the Indie Next List. Every month Independent Bookstores get together and recommend a book. There is a list of "runner's up" as well, but the Indie Next pick for that month is the top banana. Usually, the top pick is a great read, and that's where I saw The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton. The setting is a small rural coal town in Kentucky and it just sounds like a wonderful character driven story. Maybe a bit of coming-of-age sprinkled in there too. I was able to get an eGalley of it and was immediately taken with Christopher Scotton's writing…

"It was always coal. Coal filler their pantry and put a sense of purpose in their Monday coffee. coal was Christmas and the long weekend in Nashville when the Opry offered half-priced tickets. Coal was new corduroy slacks and the washboard symphony they played to every step."

Here's what the publisher's had to say...

After witnessing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, 14-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky. Medgar is beset by a massive Mountaintop Removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin's grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the 'company' and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses the brutal murder of the opposition leader, a sequence is set in play which tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains. Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult Kevin looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps as a man among a rich cast of characters and an ambitious effort to reclaim a once great community.

Look for a review coming soon for this one. It just came out January 6th from Grand Central Publishing and should be available at your local bookstore, so no waiting for this one!

Weekly Recap…

Monday, Jan. 5th, I reviewed Wonder by R.J.Palacio. A great Young Adult (YA) novel about acceptance, bullying and redemption. If you haven't read it, you should! Here's my REVIEW.

Wed, Jan. 7th, I reviewed Strange Girl by Rick Remender. A graphic novel about a young girl who hasn't earned her wings when "the rapture" comes, and ends up on an earth turned into Hell, trying to find redemption anyway. Good story, good artwork. Here's my REVIEW.

Saturday, Jan. 10th, I reviewed another graphic novel called The Mind Gap Volume 1: Intimate Strangers by Jim McCann. It's a mystery/suspense with a paranormal twist and I really enjoyed it. Artwork was good and the story even better. Here's my REVIEW.

That's what I found this week to read, how about you? What great books have you been reading about? And where do you find your "Next Great Read"?

Happy Reading… Suzanne

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Graphically Speaking… Mind the Gap Volume 1: Intimate Strangers, a Review

Sometimes it's nice to take a little break from my more "serious" reading and open the pages of a graphic novel. Not that graphic novels are "light" reading, because some of the plots are just as complex as my "normal" reading, but I suppose they can be more like picture books for adults.

Recently I saw Image Comics letting reviewers download a graphic novel called Mind the Gap Volume 1: Intimate Strangers by Jim McCann. What struck me first was the cover, which I thought was stunning. So, I had to take a peek at the rest. I never heard of the author, Jim McCann, but learned that he had won an Eisner award for an earlier work called Return of the Dapper Men. The Eisner award is like the Pulitzer for Comics, so I was up for reading the story…

It starts out with some girl getting a phone call from her BFF, but the connection is lost. Girl tries calling BFF back with no answer, so girl call's Bff's boyfriend, who has no idea where she is either and decides to presumably go to where BFF lives to make sure she's ok. Then the scene cuts to people (Mom, Dad and Brother), getting phone calls that BFF has been hurt and is in hospital. Come to find out BFF is Elle  Peterssen who is beautiful, from a wealthy family and in a coma because someone tried to kill her on a subway platform in NYC. But everything seems a little suspect. The family doesn't seem very concerned and the circumstances are strange. Even the medical staff at the hospital seem a little off. And better yet, Elle plays a part in all this because even though she's in a coma, her spirit is hanging around, trying to remember. And so the story starts to unfold…

And it's a great one! Everyone is a suspect, and there are secrets, strange alliances and hidden agenda's. There's a reason Elle was attacked and she's determined to find out and save herself before the person can finish the job. Her BFF wants to know too, AND one of the doctors that got pulled from the case because she was asking too many questions wants to know what's going on. The paranormal take is so interesting too. What does happen to a person in a coma? Is there a place in-between life and death? That's what "The Gap" is here, but where Elle is, is for comatose people waiting to either go back into their physical bodies or move on. She has some great conversations about that with what appears to be her "host". AND, Elle has a special gift… she can slip into the body of someone who is just about ready to move on to the afterlife and communicate with the living for just a bit.

My final verdict? One and a half thumbs up! The plot is interesting, and I love that Elle is hanging around trying to solve the mystery too. The characters are developed well and we get a feel for them and what makes them tick. The artwork is nice, but a bit stiff, meaning that I don't "feel" the emotions so much from the characters visually. The story is what makes me want to read more, because I really want to know WHO DID IT! But I'm going to have to read quite a few more issues…

Mind The Gap Volume 1: Intimate Strangers is a trade paperback that collects issues #1 - #5. The story is up to issue #17 now, with some question on the series continuing because of a bit of a hiatus. Issue #16 came out in December of 2013, and then 5 months later the next issue came out with nothing since then. Usually, issues are published monthly. BUT, with the publisher releasing, or kind of re-releasing, the first issues for reviewers to share, I think Mind The Gap will be starting a regular run again. It figures I have to read 12 more comics now to catch up, but if you wanted to give this a try, I've read that issue #16 is the beginning of a new storyline and a good place to start reading. They supposedly do a recap so the reader will be familiar with the characters and take it from there.

Into mysteries? Like a little paranormal with your tea? This series should satisfy your hunger.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Strange Girl by Rick Remender… A Review

Imagine being an average teenager, riding your bike, hanging out with your friends, getting asked to the school dance by Jeremy Tays… and then something strange happens… it's call the rapture and YOU are not invited...

That's right, the day of the rapture begins and all the faithful are lifted up towards heaven. Bethany Black is not one of them. While her family sits down for their daily bible study, Bethany is out hanging around with her friends, drinking coke and smoking. No surprise she's not going anywhere…

In Strange Girl by Rick Remender, as soon as the rapture happens, Demons swoop onto earth and enslave the rest of humanity. Bethany is swept up by a pretty mean demon lord named Belial to be sort of a pet, and the story shifts to 10 years later, where we find Bethany working in a bar, still serving Belial, and best friends with a wise-cracking dwarf of a demon named Bloato. Tiring of the rat race on Earth, Bethany and Bloato soon hatch a plan to find salvation, or in other words, to find the one last secret doorway to Heaven that's been rumored to still exist. Bethany steals a little magic from her boss, steals some transportation and off she goes on a road trip through Hell (literally) with Bloato by her side. It's some adventure too…

Rick Remender uses Strange Girl as a catharsis for his feelings on organized religion. There are some deep conversations along the way between the characters about Religious Dogma, atheism, ethics and even the afterlife. But as readers we don't feel put upon, we are more part of the debate. And, the story is great! It's funny, and sad, and thought-provoking at different points in the story. Rick Remender does a good job of making his characters come alive off the pages and into our hearts. Especially the friendship between Bethany and Bloato.

The Strange Girl Omnibus collects all 18 issues of the Strange Girl comics into a beautiful full color hardcover book. Really the best way to read this. The artwork is great and then, not so great. Eric Nguyen starts out illustrating Strange Girl, (chapters 1 - 6) and then is followed by 7 other artists. Some are definitely better than others, but the story itself is what makes you come back for more. High speed adventure with a great storyline.

Would you enjoy Strange Girl? If you like graphic novels and adventure stories you'll enjoy this series. Great plot, well developed characters, good flow to the story, and nice artwork(but sometimes inconsistent). Bethany is a great female protagonist too, so I give the story an extra thumbs up for that. All the makings for a memorable read, and I really enjoyed it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wonder by R.J. Palacio… A Review

   "The only reason I'm not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way."
                                                                                                                            Auggie Pullman

Fifth grade is hard. Bullying, growing pains, cooties, homeroom, recess. Today I'm your friend, tomorrow could be different, who do you sit with in lunchroom? But fifth grade can also be wonderful. Friendships, secrets, electricity from potatoes.

Auggie Pullman was different, but only because he looked different. His face was horribly deformed (he suffers from craniofacial abnormality), but he was a normal kid otherwise, with feelings and insecurities and a sense of the world around him. The book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio is about Auggie and the year he went into fifth grade. That year was the first year he ever attended public school because his life up until then was filled with surgeries and sickness. It was time for him to face the realities of fifth grade… and dealing with kids who don't know him or have never seen a kid like him before.

This book was wonderful. But why? That's hard to put into words, but I'll try… Wonder is about the inherent good in all of us. That we're human with flaws and we make mistakes, but we can learn from our mistakes and become better people.

The story centers around Auggie, but then there are parts told from the perspective of other characters in the story… from Auggie's older sister, Via, who loves her little brother dearly, but is also suffering with the pangs of growing up herself,  Auggie's best friend, Summer, his friend, Jack, Auggie's sister's friend, Miranda, who grew up with Auggie and is just like a sister to him, and finally Justin, Via's new boyfriend. We find out what they're thinking and how they try to deal with all the pressure's of adolescence while sharing some part of Auggie's life. It is so interesting to read the other kid's perspectives! The writing is great! These kids are real! They're problems are normal, and how they deal with them is inspiring.

The eBook I downloaded had the incredible "bonus" chapter of Julian's perspective. Who is Julian?! Well Julian is the bully. You'll really dislike him… until you read his take on the whole thing, and then by the end of his story (and it is a wonderful story! With a wonderful subplot involving WWII, the Nazi's and saving a little Jewish girl)… ok, I'm not giving away any more! Read this book! It's YA, (Young Adult) but we can all be inspired to "choose kind". (You'll understand when you READ the book!)


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Best Books and New Books…


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the day of the week we devote to talking books! So, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of Joe and get comfy! Let's talk books……

It's the beginning of a new reading year! I'm looking forward to some great books coming our way and I'm looking forward to some great books I missed during the year too! At the end of the year there are many, many "best of…" lists, and on those many lists I hunted down, there were three books I saw over and over. So, today let's take a peek at those books that stood out among all those lists, a few books I think should have made those lists, and a couple of books you're going to want to read that are new for 2015…

On those lists…

All The Light We Cannont See by Anthony Doerr… a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.  Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

I talked about this way back in a March Sunday Salon  and it is clearly the stand out hit of 2014. A book club favorite as well as a great book for people who love that WWII time frame. I didn't get a chance to read this one yet, but it is going to the top of the list.
                                      
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The Martian by Andy WeirSix days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first... Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


Another book that has gotten rave reviews and is slated for the big screen this year. Adventure and survival at the harshest odds.
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This One Summer by Mariko TamakiEvery summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens - just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy - is caught up in something bad... Something life threatening. It's a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

I LOVED THIS BOOK! One of my favorite reads this year and I am so glad it's gotten the praise it deserves. Beautifully drawn, tender writing, just a great BFF book. Here's my REVIEW.

Where are THESE books on those lists?! 2 of my favorites...

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan… The improbable love story of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny. At the age of thirty-five, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium—with her three children and nanny in tow—to study art. It is a chance for this adventurous woman to start over, to make a better life for all of them, and to pursue her own desires.  Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her children repair to a quiet artists’ colony in France where she can recuperate. Emerging from a deep sorrow, she meets a lively Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who falls instantly in love with the earthy, independent, and opinionated “belle Americaine.” 

I LOVED THIS BOOK too! The romance between Robert and Fanny was so special and Nancy Horan is the writer who knows how to whisk you away into the pages of one of her books without you ever wanting to leave. Here's my REVIEW. Read this Book!

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A Sudden Light by Garth Stein… In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and live happily ever after. But as Trevor explores the house’s secret stairways and hidden rooms, he discovers a spirit lingering in Riddell House whose agenda is at odds with the family plan. Only Trevor’s willingness to face the dark past of his forefathers will reveal the key to his family’s future.

Garth Stein is a master storyteller! He captured my attention and I couldn't read this fast enough. Here's my REVIEW. Another book for your TBR pile if you missed it!

Books to Look Forward to This Year…

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion… The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again. Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant.  Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.  As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most. 

Another charming story of Don and Rosie. This actually was published Dec. 30th, but I'm counting it as a 2015 reading selection. Their friends are back, their love is being tested, and if you enjoyed the first book, The Rosie Effect, you're going to want to read the sequel of Don and Rosie make three! I started reading a sample of this and felt right at home.
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The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins… Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives. Jealousies and betrayals and wounded hearts. A haunting unease that clutches and won’t let go. All this and more helps propel Paula Hawkins’s addictive debut into a new stratum of the psychological thriller genre. At times, I couldn’t help but think: Hitchcockian. From the opening line, the reader knows what they’re in for: “She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks…” But Hawkins teases out the mystery with a veteran’s finesse. The “girl on the train” is Rachel, who commutes into London and back each day, rolling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. Then one day Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man. The day after that, Jess goes missing. The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives: Rachel, who mourns the loss of her former life with the help of canned gin and tonics; Megan (aka Jess); and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife, who happens to be Jess/Megan’s neighbor. Rachel’s voyeuristic yearning for the seemingly idyllic life of Jess and Jason lures her closer and closer to the investigation into Jess/Megan’s disappearance, and closer to a deeper understanding of who she really is. And who she isn’t.

Oh, this sounds so intriguing! Lots of great reviews for this already! Let's see if the story lives up to the hype and hop on the train! On my wish list!

What were you're favorite reads in 2014?! And what are you looking forward to reading this year? Hope you found a couple of great reads here today, and next week back to the basics… great books with buzz!

Happy reading… Suzanne

Friday, January 2, 2015

Graphic Novels Challenge 2015

You know I just love graphic novels and enjoy participating in Nicola's Graphic Novel Challenge every year! (This will be my 5th year participating!) It's a great way to discover new graphic novels too, because every month everyone lists the books they've read so you can explore what they've read and if they liked them. So, here we go again for 2015! It's officially the Graphic Novels Challenge 2015 hosted by Nicola from It's All Comic to Me.

Here's How it works…

Trying to keep things simple this year.  There will be 3 levels of play this year.  Please write a sign-up post on your blog and then sign-up below with a link to your specific sign-up post (NOT to your home page).

What counts:  graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable.  My criteria is if it has either frames OR speech bubbles it counts.  I'm not going to be the comic police but if you are unsure, ask me in the comments any given month.

Here is how the Challenge will play out this year:

runs from Jan.1 - Dec. 31, 2015

The Levels...

Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that's only 1 book a month)

Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year (Can you handle 2 books a month.)

Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year (Are you up to a book a week!)

You must sign up for a level, but once you complete that level you may move up and try for the next one.

Last year I read a total of 28 graphic novels and manga (and that's not even counting the rereads of some of the manga I have enjoyed!) But I don't want to stress out, so I'm going to keep it simple and sign up for the Modern Age Level and read and review at least 12 books during the year! I'll be listing all the graphic novels & manga I've read for this challenge right here!

  Interested in signing up? Here's The Link! Thanks Nicola for hosting this challenge again!
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Graphic Novels Read…

1. Strange Girl by Rick Remender
2. The Mind Gap by Jim McCann
3. Pablo by Julie Birmant and Clement Oubrerie
4. Tokyo Ghoul #1 by Sui Ishida

2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge


Last year I started to use my local library more. I like supporting the library and it's nice to save a bit of money by not having to buy EVERY book I want to read! My library has both eBooks and paper books. If they don't have a book, I can search all the libraries in Connecticut and usually borrow it with an inter library loan. I started listing my "Library Loot" last year too, so when thinking about reading challenges this year, the 2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge just seemed to fit. This reading challenge is hosted by Felicia from The Geeky Blogger's Book Blog .

Here are the details...

• Runs January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015. You can join any time.

• The goal is to read at least twelve (12) books from the library. Twelve should be easy, that’s one a month. While twelve is the minimum, there is no maximum limit. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you.

• Any format will work for this challenge (print, ebook or audio) as long as you checked it out from the library it counts.

• Books can be any genre (fiction, nonfiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.).
• Crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed, including re-reads. The goal is to support your local library and save money.

• To join this challenge, grab the 2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link (Here's the link!) back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads (so as long as you have a dedicated shelf and Felicia has created a Goodreads group), Shelfari (I’ve created a Shelfari group. You can join and post your progress within the group), or BookLikes, etc., for the 2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge. The point of linking up is to have a place where people can see what you’re reading.

The Levels...

  1. Dewey Decimal: read 12 books
  2. Thrifty Reader: read 24 books
  3. Overdrive Junkie: read 36 books
  4. Stalking the Bookstacks: read 50+ books
Last year I took out 12 plus books from the library and read 12, so I'm going to sign up for the Dewey Decimal Level and read at least 12 books. I think that's doable without stressing myself out. And that's what reading challenges are suppose to be - FUN! and not worrying about how many books you've got to read. 

Up for challenge of supporting your library and enjoying free books? Join me in the 2015 Snagged @ The Library Reading Challenge! I'll be listing the books I've "Snagged at the Library" AND the ones I've read and enjoyed right here and at the top of my blog under "Library Loot 2105". Thanks Felicia for hosting this reading challenge!

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Books I've Read for The Challenge…

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

2. The Stench of Honolulu by Jack Handey

3. The Tiny Book of Stories Volume 1 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

4. Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun    Usher





It's a New Year, but what about those OLD reading challenges?! How'd I do?

Enthusiastically I signed up for 7 Reading Challenges! Reading challenges are ways to motivate you to read more, to read different kinds of books you usually don't, to read genres you just don't read enough of. So, how did I do with my reading challenges?... Not so bad...

First, I signed up for The Southern Reading Challenge 2014 hosted by Jennifer of The Introverted Reader, with 2 books to read that place take somewhere in the South. I read Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin, which I enjoyed so much!And I read Ruby by Cynthia Bond, which was a hard, but ultimately a satisfying read.

Next, was the Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2014 hosted by Anne from Creativity's Corner and Kristilyn from Reading in Winter, with a bingo card full of books and the only requirement was to make one bingo, which I did and then went to complete 1 more bingo! My first bingo was 5 different genres (fantasy, graphic novel, historical fiction, mystery and romance), my second was reading  15 books in a series, which I did reading the graphic novels in Battle Royale. I missed completing the New Releases Bingo by 3 books ( I needed to read 15, but only read 12) and I missed the TBR Bingo all together (still finding it hard to grab a TBR pile book when all these new books somehow find their way into the house!) BUT, a total of 33 books read for this challenge!

Next, The 2014 Chunkster Challenge hosted by Vasilly of 1330v Thoughts of an Eclectic Reader. I love fat books and that's what this challenge was all about. There were no "requirements" other than to have fun and read big books! I read 3 Chunky books for a total of 1370 pages!

Next, The Graphic Novel Reading Challenge 2014 hosted by Nicola of It's All Comic to Me. I have come to love graphic novels, but not all the different kinds. I love graphic novels that have beautiful artwork, have hand drawn lettering, and are not simply super heroes saving the city. I challenged myself to read 12 and surpassed that to actually read 28!

Next, The 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge hosted by Evie at Bookish. Hmmm, I guess there's a reason I have a TBR pile still... maybe this year?!

Next. The Dive into Poetry Reading Challenge  hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit I challenged myself to read 2 books of poetry. I completed one and enjoyed poems from many more, so even though I did not reach my goal "technically" by completing 2 books, I actually read many more poems than 2 books would have had.

Next, The Dystopian Reading Challenge 2014 hosted by Ula of Blog of Erised. I love dystopian, and read the complete 15 books in the series Battle Royale. My challenge was to read 1 - 6, so I finished up pretty good there.

And lastly... The Goodreads Reading Challenge, which I set a goal of reading 50 books. I missed that by a little, reading a total of 44 books this year, which in my book (no pun intended) is pretty good!

So, that's how my reading challenge year went... How about you?! Did you set any goals? How many books did you read last year?

This year, the only challenge I've signed up for so far is the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I've been reading some great books and have just sat back and enjoyed them without thinking about "where they'd fit it". But I love challenges and am going to see if I can reach that 50 book mark this year and maybe sign up for another challenge or two... ;-)

Happy reading... Suzanne




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