Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Friday, December 31, 2010

Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield... A Review

I read somewhere, that you can find almost any subject covered by a graphic novel. It's a great medium to get children interested in reading and certain subject matters really lend themselves well to the medium. Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield does an outstanding job of using the medium of graphic novels to reveal the devil in anorexia and eating disorders.

The book opens with the specter Tyranny, a squiggly line drawing, yelling at Anna, a pretty young girl, about how Anna shouldn't be eating because she'll get FAT. Tyranny is literally choking Anna to get her to listen to her.

" I told you not to eat. You are TOO FAT!!"
" I've got to try."
" No, you don't! You'll RUIN you're life!"
" But how can I live and not eat?"

And the next image is a close up of Anna, eyes bulging, bone thin, tears welling in her eyes. Looking directly at the reader, and asking...
" How did I get to this place?"

You immediately feel empathy for her. You want to tell her that she doesn't need to be thin to be beautiful, to be accepted, to have self worth...

The book follows Anna from a carefree little girl with dreams of becoming a writer, thinking of the wonderful future ahead- Will she be beautiful? Who will she marry? What will her house look like someday? How many children will she have? Then puberty hits... She goes shopping with her mom for her first bra, and as she is looking in the mirror, it hits her... her body is changing, she thinks she looks fat... She starts to look at magazines with all those skinny models and decides she needs to go on a diet... She becomes obsessed with her weight... but no matter how thin she becomes, she thinks she is fat. This was the beginning of her anorexia, and a story that is dead on with what goes on in the mind and body of someone with an eating disorder.
"Pressured by media, friends, fashion trends, her workplace, and personal relationships, Anna descends into a cycle of misery that seems unending. Whenever she tries to rise from the abyss, her personal demon, Tyranny, is there to push her back down. In Tyranny, Anna has created a formidable foe, and now, finding the strength to defeat her is a matter of life or death."

I've never been anorexic, but I certainly have been on the "got to lose weight" roller coaster, and could relate to what Anna was going through. And just when you think that women are fighting back just a bit when the media criticizes "shapely" women for being fat, you read about another young girl dying senselessly from trying to be "perfect". A recent tragedy was Isabelle Caro, a French actress and model, who died Nov. 17th at the age of 28. Isabelle posed nude in 2007, in a shocking billboard ad headlined, "No Anorexia", which revealed Isabelle's ravaged 59 pound body, and this was her message to other young women struggling with themselves.

Lesley Fairfield does a great job of illustrating the seriousness of of an eating disorders, and how a girl can be her own worst critic. Tyranny is quite the witch, and as wrong as you know her logic is, she can be bewitching. The struggles that Anna has in her head should resonate with young girls struggling with the same feelings. As Anna's life begins to slowly fall apart, and she becomes ill, her mother intervenes and gets her in a program. But it's a long hard road for Anna, and recovery doesn't come without a slip or two back into some bad habits, but in the final pages, Anna conquers Tyranny and brings hope to anyone with the same struggles. .

For the first time in a long time. I have a future, and I'M HAPPY! So, once and for all, I don't care about being thin!! Good-bye, and go away!

A slim 114 page graphic novel, geared towards ages 11 and up, Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield, has an important message. If you have a young girl in your life, consider sharing a copy of Tyranny with her. Not a preachy book, more like your best friend sharing some sage advice.

*P.S. I read Tyranny as part of The Graphic Novels Challenge 2010! Click on The Graphic Novels Challenge link to see what other graphic novels I read this year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

True Grit by Charles Portis... A Review

What 14-year-old Mattie Ross doesn't have in age and experience she makes up for double in spunk! This is what will have you loving True Grit by Charles Portis! When Mattie looks for a man with no nonsense determination, and someone who can take care of business without a lot of fuss- someone with True Grit, she finds Rooster Cogburn. And we find a great story of the American West. It's adventure, it's revenge, it's redemption. It's the landscape of the wild west. It's friendship, it's survival, it's ultimately knowing what's right and wrong. True Grit is made up of all the elements of a true classic, with a remarkable cast of unforgettable characters on a quest to fulfill their destinies, and we are fortunate to be able to go along for the ride. (On horseback no less!)

True Grit is the story of Mattie Ross avenging her fathers senseless murder by a low-life drifter, Tom Chaney, that worked for him. The story is told by Mattie Ross, many years later, in a matter of fact tone that is one of her endearing qualities...

"People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day."

It becomes clear from the start of the story that Mattie is mature way beyond her years as she boards a train with Yarnell Pointdexter, a black man who Mattie's Papa arranged to look in on his family while he was traveling with Chaney to buy some ponies some "seventy miles as the bird flies" in Fort Smith. She boards that train to claim the body of her father, but as circumstances present themselves, what turned out to be a simple plan to bring her father home became an adventure through Indian territory to avenge her father's murder by hunting down the man who killed him and bring him to justice... the same kind of justice her father received.

What she finds when she gets to Fort Smith is a sheriff who was apathetic at best. The sheriff assumed Tom Chaney the murderer (actually the sheriff didn't even have Chaney's name right) had fled to the Indian Territories, which local authorities have no authority over, but the sheriff had asked for a fugitive warranty on Tom Chaney with the federal authorities, which are the U.S. Marshalls. Were the U.S. Marshalls on the trail yet? Well Mattie Ross was going to take care of all that herself...
"Who is the best marshal they have?"
The sheriff thought on it for a minute. He said, "I would have to weigh that proposition. There is near about two hundred of them. I reckon William Waters is the best tracker. He is a helf-breed Comanche and it is something to see, watching him cut for a sign. The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double-tough, and fear don't enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork. Now L.T. Quinn, he brings his prisoners in alive. He may let one get by now and then but he believes even the worst of men is entitled to a fair shake. Also the court does not pay any fees for dead men. Quinn is a good peace officer and a lay preacher to boot. He will not plant evidence or abuse a prisoner. He is straight as a string. Yes, I will say Quinn is about the best they have."
I said, "Where can I find this Rooster?"
And so the adventure begins. True Grit has been compared to Huckleberry Finn, but there is nothing light-hearted about Mattie Ross or Rooster Cogburn. That's not to say there isn't humor to be found throughout the story, it's just that the beauty of Charles Portis' writing is his ability to let the humor shine through without distracting you from the story. And where that story brings you is across the American landscape shortly after the Civil War. There is this under current of the after effects of a war where neighbor fought neighbor, which helps shape the landscape of men that existed back then. Portis also paints a wonderful picture of the desolation and isolation the wild west had to offer, which is often times romanticized in literature. I could feel the cold through my coat, and the sting of the snow against my face.

If you want to open the pages to memorable characters, great writing, and a story that will have you wanting more, get yourself a copy of True Grit by Charles Portis to read. I can turn to any page in that book now and enjoy just reading a part of it, and it will be one of those books I can see myself rereading some point in time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Memoir Monday... Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda

When thinking of Lawrence of Arabia, visions of a man in flowing white robes in a desert landscape will usually come to mind. But what of the real man? Of his real accomplishments? Michael Korda's book, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, has gotten high praise for illuminating this legendary man, T.E. Lawrence, a scholar and an archaeologist, who was sent to Cairo as a young man and helped unite the Arab tribes to defeat the Turks.

Michael Korda's Hero is the story of an epic life on a grand scale: a revealing, in-depth, and gripping biography of the extraordinary, mysterious, and dynamic Englishman whose daring exploits and romantic profile—including his blond, sun-burnished good looks and flowing white robes—made him an object of intense fascination, still famous the world over as "Lawrence of Arabia."... In illuminating Lawrence's achievements, Korda digs further than anyone before him to expose the flesh-and-blood man and his contradictory nature. Here was a born leader who was utterly fearless and seemingly impervious to pain, thirst, fatigue, and danger, yet who remained shy, sensitive, mod-est, and retiring; a hero who turned down every honor and decoration offered to him, and was racked by moral guilt and doubt; a scholar and an aesthete who was also a bold and ruthless warrior; a writer of genius—the author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, one of the greatest books ever written about war—who was the virtual inventor of modern insurgency and guerrilla warfare; a man who at the same time sought and fled the limelight, and who found in friendships, with everyone from Winston Churchill to George Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, from Nancy Astor to Noël Coward, a substitute for sexual feelings that he rigorously—even brutally and systematically—repressed in himself.

For history buffs, as well as people who enjoy biographies, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, should satisfy. I myself am looking forward to diving into this one. Not only to really learn about T.E. Lawrence, but to understand the political atmosphere that existed in the Middle East during WW I.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon... The Day after Christmas, What goodies were under your tree?

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's the day after Christmas, and we are bracing ourselves in Connecticut for the first big blizzard of the year. I've got my Hoodie-Footie on, the woodstove going and a cup of java by my side. How are you doing the day after Christmas? I hope everyone had a wonderful day with their families and friends! And what bookish things did you find under the tree this year? My bookish gifts were in the form of gift cards this year, which are perfect for letting me wander the bookstore and pick out something I've had my eye on for a while, or something I know will be coming soon!

One book I decided I would like to read before seeing the movie is True Grit by Charles Portis. First published in 1968, and brought to the big screen in 1969 starring John Wayne, True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, a young girl who at 14-years-old is full of spunk, and is set to avenge the senseless murder of her father, by a man who worked for him. All I had really known of the story was the bits and pieces I had seen of the John Wayne movie, but the previews of the new movie sparked my interest. The time and place of the story is the american frontier. Mattie hires the meanest available U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to pursue her father's killer in the Indian Territory. Talk about spunk- she intends to ride with him to see the job finished! The book is told in her voice, which is direct and matter of fact. I picked up a copy this morning and have been keeping Mattie company most of the afternoon. The book itself is in a new printing, as a movie tie-in, and a bit hard to find. I was lucky to get the ONE copy the big Barnes & Noble near my house had on the shelves. So far, I'm enjoying the ride, and I'll give you a full review once I'm done. I usually like to read the book before the movie if possible. I find it hard to do the reverse, because I don't enjoy the surprises of the book. How about you? And if you like to read the book first, now's the time to read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen! I saw the previews of this movie and it looks fabulous! Starring Reese Witherspoon and that guy from Twilight, Robert Pattinson, this movie is scheduled to be released in April of 2011.

The next book I'm going to treat myself to thanks to my gift cards is Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. There is so much wonderful buzz about this book! Stacy Schiff is suppose to bring us a dazzling new updated picture of the famous queen, sorting out fact from fiction. She is a noted author already, also winning the coveted Pulitzer Prize for her book Vera. And speaking of strong women (and it seems a common theme for me today), I got an email a few weeks ago from author Michelle Moran about her newest novel... it's about Madame Tussaud!

What most of us probably know about Madame Tussaud is her wax figures, and her famous waxworks museums. But there is so much more to learn about this strong woman. And Michelle Moran will be releasing Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, mid February.

"The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire…but who was this woman and how did she become one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous story comes to life as only Michelle Moran could tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin…" from Michelle Moran's website

What books are you excited about this week? Maybe you're excited about ebooks instead because Santa brought you an eReader? I had the opportunity to play with a NookColor and boy was I impressed. If you had your eye on a tablet, but didn't want to dish out the $499 for an iPad, or even more for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, this may be the answer. The screen is absolutely gorgeous, and seems even sharper than the iPad. More on that at a later date...

Time to put another log on the fire, and get back to Mattie. Share what goodies you received here! I'd love to hear about all your bookish gifts!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Is There a Santa Claus?

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 24, 2010

First Lines... and the Origins of a Special Little Reindeer

"'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills
The reindeer were playing, enjoying their spills.

While every so often they'd stop to call names
At one little deer not allowed in their games.

Ha ha! Look at Rudolph! His nose is a sight!
It's red as a beet! Twice as Big! Twice as Bright!"
... Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert L. May, 1939

It was 1939 and Montgomery Ward department stores was looking for an inexpensive way to draw customers into their store during the Christmas season. Robert May was an advertising executive with Montgomery Ward, had a natural flair with words, and was asked to create something. The result was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a story "of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn't be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph's message-that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset-proved popular." May used a rhyming pattern similar to Clement Moore's, 'Twas Night Before Christmas, and a Christmas icon was born! Montgomery Ward gave away almost 2.5 million copies of the poem, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, when it was first published. In 1947, Montgomery Ward gave the copyright to May, who published the poem in book form, which instantly became a best seller.

In 1949, Johnny Marks, Robert May's brother-in-law, wrote a short song based on Rudolph's story. It is rumored that at first no one wanted to record the song because the story itself was a cherished Christmas tradition. But eventually country-western singer Gene Autry recorded the song and the rest is history. The song's popularity has even surpassed the books popularity- almost anyone can sing along to the song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but how about the book by the same name? 71 years later, we are still enjoying Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

And tonight we'll be watching for that little red glow in the night sky, that will be our favorite reindeer leading Santa's sleigh to all the homes of all the good little boys & girls all over the world... Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seniors Re-Kindling a Love for Reading

I read an interesting article in my local newspaper about a great program called Book Buddies...

Four years ago, teacher Lea Attanasio started a book club at her school for about 25 fourth-graders and nearly 10 senior volunteers from the surrounding area and other parts of the state. The students and seniors have been reading books independently, then meeting in small groups every other week to discuss what they have read.

Accompanying photos to the article showed 93-year-old Philip Michael, 82-year-old Connie Scigimpaglia, and 69-year-old Margy Henderson interacting with the kids and they all looked like they were enjoying themselves. It's a win-win situation for both the seniors and the kids- the kids develop their reading skills and the seniors keep active and sometimes offer historical insights into the books they are reading. The only problem was that some of the text in the books they were reading were too small for some of the seniors to read, resulting in some of the seniors reluctantly dropping out of the program. After teacher Lea Attanasio used a friends Kindle, she realized that the eReader could help those seniors with vision problems still participate and read! The answer was adjustable text sizes! Every book on the Kindle could be like a Large Print book! Though the school could not afford to buy Kindles for the program, there was a happy ending to the story as an accidental email to Fred Kindle (no relation to Amazon) resulted in a collection being started at his office and enough money for 4 Kindles was donated to the school.

This book club is such a wonderful idea, but what's even nicer is that with the advent of eReaders, people with vision problems can still enjoy reading a good book. In the case of the Kindle, not only is there 8 adjustable text sizes, but the Read-to-Me, Text-to-Speech feature (not available for all books, depends on the book publisher) that lets your Kindle read to you.

Audiobooks are a great alternative to books, but for someone who enjoys being able to read books themselves, adjustable font size found in an eReader can be the answer they are looking for. eReaders can make a great gift! Here's my Recap of eReaders I posted this past September, covering some of the more popular choices. And if you'd like to read the full story on the Book Buddies and how they came to get 4 donated Kindles, go to

Monday, December 20, 2010

Memoir Monday... Cold by Bill Streever

"It is July first and fifty-one degrees above zero. I stand poised on a gravel beach at the western edge of Prudhoe Bay, three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, and a mile of silt-laden water separated me from what is left of the ice. The Inupiat - the Eskimos - call in aunniq, rotten ice, sea ice broken into unconsolidated chunks of varying heights and widths, like a poorly made frozen jigsaw puzzle. A few days ago, the entire bay stood frozen. During winter, it is locked under six feet of ice. Trucks drive on it to resupply an offshore oil production facility. If one were insane, or if one were simply too cheap to fly, or if boredom instilled a spirit of adventure, one could walk north to the North Pole and then south to Norway or Finland or Russia. Temperatures would range below minus fifty degrees, not counting windchill." ... Opening lines of Cold by Bill Streever

Recently I was on the Sony site looking at the Sony Reader Pocket Edition, noticing that it is now discounted $30 through Christmas, and saw a video of a Martha Stewart segment of her TV show where she talked about what she was reading. Books I'm Reading is now a regular feature on her blog, and during this segment of her show she announced her new reading selection, which she reads on her Sony Pocket Edition, and it was Cold by Bill Streever. What better kind of book to read at the beginning of a cold snowy winter! (OK, maybe something called Warmth...) It sounded interesting and sure enough after checking it out of the library (remember that Philadelphia Library card I told you about for ebooks? Another great gift for the ebook reader you know), and beginning to read it I was hooked. I have not finished it yet, but I am really enjoying Bill Streever's writing. There's an easy flow, and like a favorite teacher who could make dirt interesting, Mr. Streever succeeds in making what could be a dry travelogue of experiences, so interesting. Here's the synopsis of the book...

From avalanches to glaciers, from seals to snowflakes, and from Shackleton's expedition to "The Year Without Summer," Bill Streever journeys through history, myth, geography, and ecology in a year-long search for cold—real, icy, 40-below cold. In July he finds it while taking a dip in a 35-degree Arctic swimming hole; in September while excavating our planet's ancient and not so ancient ice ages; and in October while exploring hibernation habits in animals, from humans to wood frogs to bears.
A scientist whose passion for cold runs red hot, Streever is a wondrous guide: he conjures woolly mammoth carcasses and the ice-age Clovis tribe from melting glaciers, and he evokes blizzards so wild readers may freeze—limb by vicarious limb.

If you'd like to read Cold by Bill Streever, right now it's $7.99 for your Kindle, Nook, or Sony eReader. And about that Philadelphia Library Card? Here's my original post about it, with links to find out more information. Remember, you are checking out ePub books, and that means Kindle owners are out of luck. And of course, Cold is also available in paperback or hardcover too!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Sunday Salon... Great Gifts for the Book Lovers on Your list BESIDES Books!

Good Morning Everyone! Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the day of the week where we all gather to chat about the great books we've read, books we're looking forward to and all sorts of bookish things. Grab a cup of joe, relax and let's chat about those last minute gifts for the bookish person on your gift list! Sometimes you just want to give someone something bookish, but not a book. What's a girl to do?! Well, it is less than a week before Christmas, and if you're still scratching your head, here's some suggestions...

How about a magazine subscription? One of my all-time favorite bookish magazines is Bookmarks Magazine. I devour this beautiful full-color magazine every time it appears in my mailbox (Which is 6 times a year). There are a ton of book reviews, usually an in depth article on a particular author and their work, coverage of a particular genre (this month is "Coming of Age" novels), coverage on what's coming out soon in paperback, and more. Right now a 1 year, 6 issue subscription is $27 to US address, $37 to Canada, and $57.95 International. Go to Bookmarks Magazine to learn more about this great magazine and to subscribe. If you decide to give a gift subscription, you can usually find Bookmarks magazine at the magazine rack at most bookstores, so you can wrap up a copy for under the tree, but if not you can always print out a page from Bookmarks magazine website and wrap that up.

For a magazine with a more literary bend, The Paris Review is another great magazine. Usually with a great interview or two from some of today's great authors (this month Jonathan Frazen talks about the art of fiction and Louise Erdrich talks about her heritage and being pigeonholed), poetry, original fiction and coverage of some great art. What The Paris Review is known for are it's amazing interviews that seem to get to the heart of the writer. This magazine comes out 4 times a year and it $40 for a US one year subscription, $45 for Canada, and $55 for International. Check it out at The Paris Review.

Book lights are a perfect gift! What reader doesn't like to cuddle up in bed with a good book?! Or in a comfy chair that doesn't necessarily have a great reading lamp nearby?! You can find book lights at your local bookstore, or retail store. The Octovo Solis eReader lights are my favorite book lights for Kindles and Nooks! You might be able to get one in time for Christmas, but only if you order ASAP. Octovo says they have a 3-4 day transit time, and if you order by 4pm Sunday, orders should ship out on Monday. No guarantee though. Check out the lights at Octovo. Right now the book light is sold out for the Kindle 2's (those are the older Kindles), but are available for Kindle 3's and Noooks.

Bookmarks! Bookmarks are a gift that any reader can appreciate! And there are plenty of beautiful bookmarks to choose from. For the younger people on your gift list, there is the Mark-my-Time Bookmark, which is this digital bookmark that can keep track of the amount of time read or if your young reader has a specific amount of required reading, it can act like an alarm to let them know when they have finished their reading time. I've seen these at Borders, and they should be available at Barnes & Noble too. They retail for $8.95 for the regular digital bookmark, or for $14.95 you can get one with a booklight too! You can learn more about them out at Mark-My-Time. They can keep track of 99 hours 59 minutes of reading!

How about a great T-Shirt?! Out of Print co. "celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Our shirts feature iconic and often out of print book covers." I love these t-shirts! My local Borders just started carrying them. Adult sizes range from small - 2X Large depending on availability. They retail for $28. Check out all the great t-shirts at Out of Print.

How about a Book Holder! The BookGem is a neat little holder that works great for books as well as eReaders. And this particularly makes a great cookbook holder . This has feet on the back and tabs on the front that hold your book open. It retails for $14.95 and they've added 2 day express shipping as an option. Read more about it and how it works at The BookGem.

What else?... Tote bag for books, book covers, lap desk, or how about a magnifier for the person with vision problems. How about an iTunes gift card so they can treat themselves to an audiobook? Journals, nice writing pen, or maybe a nice pair of readers (reading glasses)? If all else fails, think chocolate!

Can you think of any other bookish gifts?! Share your ideas here! Hope you found a great idea! And hope you find that perfect gift for your bookish friends!

*Julie from Reading without Restraint shares another great gift idea- The Book Lovers 2011 Calendar! "I won The Booklovers Calendar last month and it is a great calendar for book lovers." It's a 28 page wall calendar that measures 12 x 24 and is filled with all sorts of bookish stuff. It retails for $13.99 and part of the proceeds is donated to First Book, "the organization that gets books into the hands of children in need!" Go to Book Lovers Stuff to get yours, and while you're there check out the other bookish gifts they carry. Thanks Julie for sharing this great gift idea!

Happy reading! And if you only stop by on Sundays, have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Lines...

"It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure. Everyone else in my family has had the procedure already. My older sister, Rachel, has been disease free for nine years now. She's been safe from love for so long, she says she can't even remember its symptoms. I'm scheduled to have my procedure in exactly ninety-five days, on September 3. My birthday."
... Delirium by Lauren Oliver (release date Feb. 1, 2011)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Jane Austen! And a Special Treat for eReader fans...

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." It is with those simple words that we begin one of my favorite books- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I reread that classic this year and was still enamored by the beauty and wit that Jane Austen displays on the page. And today, my friends, is Jane Austen's birthday!

Happy Birthday Jane! The beloved English author who gave us the dark and brooding Mr. Darcy turns 235 today! Though Jane Austen only published 4 books in her lifetime, Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma (Persuasion & Northanger Abbey were published after her death), she remains a highly regarded and popular author. Her books are filled with wonderful memorable characters and her writing is equally wonderful and definitely insightful. She is celebrated by legions of fans who belong to The Jane Austen Society of North America, and the characters in her books have inspired numerous Austen-inspired novels as well.

To celebrate Jane, open up one of her books! Meet Elizabeth Bennett, the strong willed heroine of Pride & Prejudice, or the precocious Emma Woodhouse of Emma. Visit Mansfield Park and meet poor Fanny who was sent away to live with her Aunt & Uncle. Do you have a favorite Jane Austen novel? All of Jane Austen's novels are available to read free online at Jane All the novels are also available for free on Kindle (These of course are the public domain versions).

Yesterday, I received an email from Beth at Sourcebooks, who wanted to let me know that Sourcebooks would be celebrating Jane Austen's birthday today by offering for free, TODAY ONLY, ten bestselling Austen-inspired books in eBook format. What a nice treat for ebook readers! Thanks Sourebooks! The ebooks are suppose to be available wherever ebooks are available, (but as of early this morning I was only able to find them available for free at Barnes & Noble, for the Nook, but we should check Sourcebook's , and other ebook sites later to see if they become available free there too.) Even if you don't have an eReader, you can download the free Nook App at Barnes & Noble and read Nook books on five different device.

Here are the free titles from Barnes & Noble: (Click on the title. Remember to get downloading, they are only available today & tomorrow!)

Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

Here are the free titles from (Click on the title. The prices are now updated)

Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

PLUS, Special e-book editions of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Mansfield Park will be available for free for one day only. These celebratory editions include the full novels, plus the legendary color illustrations of the Brock brothers, originally created to accompany the books in 1898.

Here are the links to the Kindle Books:

Here are the links to the Nookbooks:

**UPDATE... Beth from Sourcebooks apologized for all the confusion. She wrote, "It takes a lot of cooperation from different parties to make the offer happen and unfortunately it took some extra time to iron out the kinks." The pricing is now corrected on, as well as Sony Reader Store, Google books, Sourcebooks and iBooks. As a thank you for being patient Sourcebooks is extending the free ebook downloads for these particular titles until tomorrow.

To read Austen is to be swept back in time, and yet her stories feel current. Her characters are filled with the wishes and desires that we all have deep in our souls, and the imperfect qualities that make us human. Join me in wishing Jane a happy birthday today, and tell me which Jane novel is your fav! Is there a novel you just couldn't get into? Read any good Austen-inspired novels? Share it all here! I'd love to hear!

**The Free eBook Promotion is over. I Hope Everyone who wanted to download these was able! Thanks Sourcebooks for a great promotion! And a fun way to celebrate Jane Austen's birthday!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov... Makings for a Controversial & Intense Reading Group Discussion

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta."

The opening line of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is poetry off the tongue. The book is filled with lyrical prose, humor and deep sadness. But the subject matter is what overshadows what has been called one of the greatest love stories of our time. As evident in my reading groups discussion of the book this week, there was a deep hatred for this book, based on the subject matter. Humbert Humbert, the protagonist of Lolita, simple stated is a pedophile. Lolita, controversial, shocking and famous, gives us an inside look at the inner workings of a man who is obsessed with little girls. Girls on the verge of puberty. Humbert Humbert , a middle aged english professor and scholar, with what seems to be a modest but limitless income, finds himself in fictional Ramsdale, renting a room from single mom, Charlotte Haze, whose 12 year-old daughter, Lo, in Humberts mind, seems to be the reincarnation of Humberts childhood sweetheart, Annabel Lee, who died before he could realize his full love for her.

It was the same child- the same frail, honey-hued shoulders, the same silky supple bare back, the same chestnut head of hair. A polka-dotted black kerchief tied around her chest hid from my aging ape eyes, but not from the gaze of young memory, the juvenile breasts I had fondled one immortal day.

For Humbert it is love at first sight, when he sees 12 year-old Lo, whose real name is Dolores. That is "love" is his mind. Because that is all we allowed to know, what Humbert Humbert pens in his "memoir" Lolita. This "confessional" style of writing, by a man who could admittedly be mad, allows Nabokov to play with the reader with allusions to other works of literature, Edgar Allan Poe being a favorite, double entendres, and anagrams. But what makes this book a literary classic is lost when the reader can't get beyond the heinous immoral raping of a young girl. Most of the sex is only alluded to, but there is no doubt what is happening.

The story starts with a forward by fictional Dr. John Jay, Jr. who lays before you some of the horror you are about to read. Nabokov lets the reader know that contrary to however Humbert Humbert portrays himself or makes excuses for his behavior, Humbert is a horrible person. But, and maybe this is Nabokov tooting his own horn, the writing of his "confession" is "magical"...

No doubt, he is horrible, his is abject, he is a shining example of moral leprosy, a mixture of ferocity and jocularity that betrays supreme misery perhaps, but is not conducive to attractiveness... A desperate honesty that throbs through his confession does not absolve him from sins of a diabolical cunning. He is abnormal. He is not a gentleman. But how magically his singing violin can conjure up a tendresse, a compassion for Lolita that makes us entranced with the book while abhorring its author!

Humberts obsession with Lolita, the object of his desire, leads to murder, a 2 year road trip, paranoia, ultimately escape and revenge - a story that goes beyond what is always in the back of your mind as you read Lolita. In the end, even though Lolita finally does escape her tormentor, she never is able to get back what was lost to her - a normal childhood. Can you enjoy the prose and humor of Lolita, when you know of Lo's daily torment? Is Nabokov's proof of the accomplishment of his writing made by the point that the reader is stirred to such intense feelings?

Even though my reading group varied in the intensity of their feelings for this book, Lolita made for an interesting and thought provoking discussion. Since Mr. Nabokov tells the reader point blank in the epilogue that there is no "purpose" to his book other than "getting rid of the book", I wonder if the real purpose might be that in causing so much controversy by writing Lolita, that he wanted to make us better readers by shaking up our sensibilities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gifts That Give Twice...

I came across an interesting charity that Penguin Books is involved with. Its division Penguin Classics has partnered with (PRODUCT)RED™ to bring us some of the greatest classic that Penguin publishes in beautifully redesigned covers with 50% of the profits from the sales of these special edition books going to The Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. The Global Fund is a global public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“The message of this campaign is that these great books still have the power to change lives—and literally, to save lives,” said Indigo CEO Heather Reisman.
The special editions are (PENGUIN CLASSICS) RED™ editions, which you can buy directly from either Penguin Book UK, Penguin Books US and (Canada) The titles available seem to vary by country, with Penguin Book UK having the largest selection, and also having previous titles in the (PENGUIN CLASSICS) RED™ editions available. Here are the titles available:

Penguin Books US:

KIDNAPPED by Robert Louis Stevenson

SILAS MARNER by George Elliott

SONS & LOVERS by D. H. Lawrence

THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton


THE SECRET AGENT by Joseph Conrad

Penguin Books UK:

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott


KIDNAPPED by Robert Louis Stevenson


SILAS MARNER by George Elliott


SONS & LOVERS by D. H. Lawrence

VANITY FAIR by William Thackeray

(PENGUIN CLASSICS) RED™ editions still available at Penguin Books UK:

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy


The prices seem reasonable for trade paperbacks, ranging from $6.00 to $16.00 for the books, although you have to add shipping (and from the UK or CA to the US, VAT charges too). Doing a little searching for some of these titles elsewhere, I was able to find some at The Book Depository, which offers free shipping worldwide.

You can learn more about The Global Fund at their website You can learn more about
(PENGUIN CLASSICS) RED™ and the charity it supports at Penguin Classics, and while you're there check out the interviews with the cover designers about how they came up with their book covers. In the meantime, if you give one of these books as a gift, it's like a giving a gift twice...
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