Friday, September 30, 2011

Best of the Bunch: September 2011

Best of the Bunch is a monthly feature brought to you by Lyrical Reviews.  Basically you go through all of the books you read that month and decide which one was your favorite and let us all know why!  To find more information, visit Lyircal Reviews and if you participate, be sure to link up so we can all see what books you thought were fantastic!

I read a lot of really good books this month.  Yet again, this was another month were I didn't read anything that I didn't like.  So, this decision was hard for me, but it's a worthy winner!


book cover of Blackstone: Drawing the Circle by Jason Beineke
Blackstone: Drawing the Circle by Jason Beineke
I got this book as a review request from the author.  I know so many people who don't read self published authors because they've been 'burned' so much, but this is one that I think you have to read!  If you're a fan of fantasy, then this is something that you want to pick up!
This is a book that's hard to describe.  It's about a mercenary sorcerer who takes work from the queen Spiril.  All sorts of crazy things happen, and Blackstone, our sorceror, ends up with Hiroe, a boy from the town he was visiting.  If I were you, I would just read the synopisis from Goodreads or read my review!
I loved the characters and I was really drawn into the world that they lived in.  It had a fantastic plot twist in the middle, that I didn't figure out until the very end, which is unusual for me.  For being a debut author, Beineke did a phenomenal job writing this, and as I tell him all the time on Twitter, I really can't wait for the sequel!

So, go get this book!  It was my favorite book of the month and I think you all should hop on this, as soon as possible :]

You can purchase Blackstone: Drawing the Circle from : Amazon.com
You can follow Jason on Twitter here!
http://jasonbeineke.wordpress.com/

Thursday, September 29, 2011

REVIEW: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Title: Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
book cover of Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonAuthor: Erik Larson
Date Published:  February 2003
Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime
Page Count:  447 pages
Challenge: E-Book Challenge, Book Club Book
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:  Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. 
Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built.
The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.


My Thoughts:  I'm really not a fan of nonfiction.  There have been a few that I've read and enjoyed and this was one of them.
This really does read more like a work of fiction, which was one thing that I really liked about it.  Larson combines the historical backdrop of the building of the World Fair and the horrific deeds that Holmes committed, making it very interesting.
I'll be honest, I would have rather skipped through the chapters that talked about the construction of the world fair.  There was a lot of that content that I felt that I could have done without.  There were some very interesting facts sprinkled through these chapters though, so that made it worth reading.

Of course, the most interesting part of the book was about Holmes.  It felt like I was reading a fiction book, and sometimes I would have to take a minute to just reflect on the fact that this man did live and he did do all of these horrible things and that was pretty mind boggling for me.  But it was so interesting to read it.  That was the part that I really loved.

Overall, it was a good book.  I came away from it having learned new things and having been entertained by the story of Dr. H. H. Holmes.  I'm glad that we chose this as our first book club book. I give it a 3 out of 5 stars!

Recommended for:  Anyone that enjoys nonfiction, history, or information of serial killers.
Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Devil in the White City

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Books Week! How I feel about censorship.

In honor of banned books week, I just wanted to take a minute to talk about censorship, and how I feel about it.

I've always been aware that there were stupid people in the world that have nothing better to do than to ban books.  However, it has only since I've been blogging that I really understood just how many books have been banned and for what sort of stupid reasons that they have been banned.

I guess I just don't really see the point.
I was always under the impression that we lived in a country where you could basically say what you wanted about what you wanted (obviously within legal perimeters like libel and slander).  So if we have these opinions that we can voice, why doesn't the same thing apply to books?  Here's the beauty of books: you don't have to read them.  That's right, its true!  You don't have to read any book that you don't want to.  So then what is the point of spending massive amounts of time attempting to prevent other people from reading it?  Okay, so you might find the content offensive; it has a cover.  You don't have to read the words.  In fact, I'm sure the author doesn't care if you do or not.
A lot of this applies in an education setting and it has a lot to do with parents not wanting their children to have access to certain books.  And that's FINE, if you want to shelter your children, then by all means, you go right ahead.  But there are other parents that don't want to do that to their children.  Removing certain books from libraries is just wrong in my opinion.  If you don't want to read it, don't, but don't make it so that no one can either.  With children, if you're really that concerned, put challenged books in a section that requires parent permission to be checked out.  Its a simple solution.  However to try and keep everyone from reading a certain book is wrong.  No one has the right to dictate that sort of thing.

This is something that runs rampant in teen fiction.  Parents just don't want their children exposed to 'bed' things.  Authors like Ellen Hopkins and many many others have been challenged multiple times.  Teens are going through a transitional period.  It's a pretty ugly world that we live in.  Let's be honest, the things that some authors write about like drug addiction and rape and various other things ACTUALLY HAPPEN.  It isn't just senseless nonsense.  These are things that teems may or may not be exposed to, but by reading the literature, at least they become more aware.  Once again, if you don't want your children to read it, that's your decision and you have that right, but don't try and take away the right to read from others.

It also goes the same way with changing the text of certain classics.  Not to long ago, there was a publisher I believe that was releasing an edition of Tom Sawyer that was censored.  Apparently, they censored the word nigger, citing that it would make other children uncomfortable and it was basically just inappropritae.  I just have to say that this is one of the stupider things I have ever heard.  Really.  Let's take a second to consider the time period in which it was written.  Last time I checked, that word was pretty common.  By changing it you're changing a classic piece of literature and honestly, I look at it as trying to rewrite history itself.  You might find it inappropriate or offensive, but that fact of the matter is people used that word.  A LOT.  We don't anymore.  If anything it can make you appreciate how for we've come in that aspect.  So why in the world would you change it.  It's just wrong to me.  I don't get it.

Basically, I would like to say a big FUCK YOU to the people that censor and ban books.  Freedom of speech and freedom of thought, bitches.  I will never let anyone dictate what I can and can not read, and I don't think that anyone else should either.

Banned Books Week: ALA Virtual Read-Out.

So after seeing this on a few different blogs, I decided I wanted to participate.  I had the pleasure of reading Slaughterhouse-Five this year.  It is one of my favorite books that I've read this year, so I chose to read an excerpt of it for the virtual read out.  You can visit this website to learn how you can participate in this awesome project!
Also be sure to check back later today where I'll talk about banning books more. :]


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Release Tuesday (22)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  Out of Oz (Wicked Series #4)
Author:  Gregory Maguire
Release Date:  November 1, 2011
book cover of Out of Oz by Gregory MaguireSummary:  Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy.   Yet amidst all this chaos, Elphaba’s granddaughter, the tiny green baby born at the close of Son of a Witch, has come of age. Now it is up to Rain to take up her broom—and her legacy—in an Oz wracked by war.  The stirring, long-awaited conclusion to the bestselling series begun with Wicked,Out of Oz is a magical journey rife with revelations and reversals, reprisals and surprises—the hallmarks of the unique imagination of Gregory Maguire.
Why I'm Excited:  I own the first and the third books in this series, but I haven't read them yet.  To be honest, I'm a little scared to.  I've heard great things from some people and other people have said that they hated these books.  With so many mixed reviews, I don't know what to think.  Regardless, there are people that do love this series that will be very happy to see the conclusion of this series, which is why I thought that it would be worth featuring!
Album Title:  In Some Way, Shape of Form
Artist:  Four Year Strong
Release Date:  November 8, 2011
Four Year Strong In Some Way, Shape or Form album coverWhy I'm Excited:  I think Karen and I discovered Four Year Strong on Warped Tour one year.  Maybe it was somewhere else, but regardless, they remind me of A Day to Remember, only different.  They have a different sound, more of a positive vibe, which is something that I love.  They actually have an album of 90's cover songs.  Its phenomenal.  Anyway, when I heard they were releasing a new album, I started creeping YouTube trying to find some leaks or some samples and I finally found some and I LOVE the new things that they've put up.  I think this album is going to be an album that I'll listen to in the car with the windows down and the music up LOUD.  Very excited for this album!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just another Manic Monday...

So, in case you haven't noticed, I decided to roll out a new graphic and a new name for my Monday posts.  I'm kinda excited about it.  Mondays really are manic for me usually and this is a recap post of what I'll be reading this week, what I'll be picking up next, what sort of posts to expect for the week, and what you may have missed last week!
**A quick note, I made the image using photoshop, but I do not take credit for the photo.  Google search planner in images, and this will come up.


A Spy at Home by Joseph Rinaldo
I'm not sure how I feel about this book yet.  By no means is it a bad book, let me say that right off the bat.  In fact, there are a lot of positive reviews on it.  There are aspects of it that I really do like, but right now it's just not grabbing me.  I'm a little over halfway finished and I hope to finish this in the next few days.  Maybe it will grab me soon.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I really need to pick this one up and read it again.  It's been too long since I picked it up.  I've just been trying to get everything else read!


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What will I be picking up next?
Well, I have two review requests.  First I'll be reading Blood Calling by Joshua Grover-David Patterson.  Really looking forward to this one since I loved one of his other books so much.  The second is Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland.  This is another horror read so I'm looking forward to that one as well.  I'll also be picking up whatever my book club is going to be reading next, which looks like it's going to be The Siege of Trencher's Farm.

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What can you expect this week?
++  Tuesday:  The normal NRT post. This week will be featuring the upcoming release from Gregory McGuire and the newest release from Four Year Strong!
++  Wednesday:  This week is banned books week!  Though I'm not participating in the giveaway hops, I still want to take a minute to talk about censorship.
++ Thursday:  Featuring a review of my book club's first book, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
++  Friday:  TGIF!  To continue the trend with banned books, we'll be talking about the education system and banning books.  I'll also be posting Best of the Bunch, where I talk about my favorite book from the month of September.
++  Saturday:  In lieu of In My Mailbox, since I'm sure I won't have anything interesting to post (unless I get lucky again this week), I'll be vlogging about my October TBR list and what I plan on reading.
++ Sunday:  Of course, The Sunday Salon post.  At this point, I have no idea what it will be about, but come by to check it out anyway!

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In case you missed it....
++  New Release Tuesday, featuring the upcoming release Crossed by Ally Condie and Lights' newest album, Siberia.
++  The Great Gone With the Wind Readalong Part 3!
++ Frightful Fall Reviewers Challenge!  If you love October, read this!
++ TGIF:  Talking about book challenges.
++ In My Mailbox!  There was a vlog this week and I got some awesome FREE books!
++ The Sunday Salon.  Talking about possible changes to my blog and various other things.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sunday Salon (21)

Two weeks in a row!  Yea!  I'm really onto something!  Actually, I'm just getting smarter about the way I plan things, which is actually pretty nice.

So let's see.  Reading.  I'm really just reading some of the same things.  Gone With the Wind.  Devil in the White City.  I only finished one book last week and I loved it, but I'm not posting the review until it comes out on October 4th.  If you love horror, be on the lookout for that!
I did decide that the entire month of October is going to be devoted to reading nothing but horror and mysteries.  I have enough of them lying around that I won't have a lack of anything to read!  I'm hoping that I can use this time to get some of the Agatha Christie's that I bought lately read.  But it might be hard, because it seems like the bulk of my schoolwork has settled itself in the month of October.  We'll see how I can keep everything together.

Well, in blogging, there are a few things that I've been considering, but I'm not sure about yet.  I've been considering both buying a custom domain name and having a web designer create a layout and what not for me.  Right now I have some extra cash (since I'm not buying books) and I have time to accumulate more.  I also think that if I do that, I can increase traffic to my blog, which I would love for a few reasons: A) It would help me connect with more people, which I love to do. B) It would help increase traffic, which might mean Google Adsense would be worthwhile, and I can earn a little something for myself C) That was a lie, because things like that would probably go to giveaways and such, which I would need an increased readership to actually do.
I don't know, just some ideas that I'm throwing around.  I haven't really decided on anything yet.  Just thinking!

On a more personal note, I'm finally going to get my next tattoo!  I will (hopefully) have a friend that will be designing it sometime in the next few weeks.  If you follow me on twitter, I'm sure you'll see pictures of it there, and I'll probably stick it in a salon post after its finished :]

That's about the only interesting things going on in my life right now, what about everyone else?! :]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (27)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where you basically post your week in books.  Interested in participating?  Click the link to sign up!

I actually have another vlog this week!  I know, I'm as shocked as you are.  I'm still being good on my book buying ban, but I managed to get a few reviews requests and such in, so I didn't actually have to buy anything!  I at least was excited about it.  Check the link at the bottom for the books featured in this blog!






Books featured in this vlog:
Books Received:  Blood Calling by Joshua Grover-David Patterson
                              Baby Teeth by Joshua Grover-David Patterson
                              Mercy by Joshua Grover-David Patterson
                              Fairy Godmother-In-Law by Joshua Grover-David Patterson
                              Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland
Books Downloaded (For free!):  Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
                                                      The Ghosts of Varner Creek by Michael Weems
Books Currently Reading:  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
                                              Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
                                              A Spy at Home by Joseph Rinaldo
Books Finished:  The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

What did you get in your mailbox? :]

Friday, September 23, 2011

TGIF: Reading Challenges

TGIF is hosted by GReads.  She posts a question, you answer and then link your post.  Its an awesome way to connect with other bloggers.  Sounds like fun?  Hop on over to GReads' blog and look for the latest TGIF post. You can also find future questions :]


This Friday's Question:  
Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? 
How has your progression been?

The answer to this is yes, yes I did sign up for several challenges.  When I first started blogging, it was in November I believe, so I saw tons of bloggers posting their updates on challenges and knew that I would want to participate after the first of the year.  I may have signed up for some that I wouldn't finish, but I'm okay with that.  I signed up for 4 total, not including my yearly goal.

I thought that I wouldn't have much time to read this year, so I set the goal at 40 books.  I think I broke that by July.  So I upped it to 50.  I've already broken that too.  So I upped it 5 more and there it will say, even though right now I'm at 54 books.  Judging by my progress I think I can make it to 65 before the year is out, if not more!

I got an ereader in December, so I knew that I was going to be spending a lot of time reading ebooks, so I jumped at this challenge.  I set my goal for 20 ebooks, and I beat that a long time ago, so it is completed!

At the beginning of the year, I was reading a lot of my mother's older copies of her books, so I thought that this would be an easy one for me to finish.  Right now I'm sitting at 4 out of 7, so I may finish this or I may not.  I don't know yet.

I read Outlander at the beginning of the year and I fell in love with it and I wanted to read all of the others in the series.  Unfortunately, I started reading other things and I just never got around to it.  Seeing as those are pretty long books, and there are 6 others in the series, I think that I have just accepted defeat on this one!

Uncle Stevie is one of my favorite writers, but there's so much of his work that I haven't read yet, so I figured that this would be a great challenge to participate in.  I set my goal at 6 and I've finished 5.  I know this will be completed because his newest work is on my list for October! :]

To wrap it up, I think reading challenges are fun.  Some people feel like they put a lot of pressure on you, but to me its just to challenge myself in a fun way.  If I don't finish, I don't.  It's that simple. :]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frightful Fall Reviewers Challenge!

So since October is one of my favorite months and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays ever.  So, when I saw this challenge, I thought it looked pretty awesome. So this here are the rules and how you can sign up and what not.

This challenge is hosted by: Michelle/The True Book Addict at Castle Macabre, Kai at Fiction State of Mind, and Orchid at The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia.

The Challenge Runs October 1st - October 31st.

HOW IT WORKS
1) Create a post stating your intent to join the Challenge and add it to the linky. You MUST be registered to to be eligible for Prizes.
2) READ! The theme is Frightful Fall so any book that has thrills and chills, vamps and were's, Mystery and Suspense qualifies.
3) Starting October 1st through the 31st, link up your reviews. They must be full reviews not just a few lines.
4) That's It!

There are also all kinds of prizes that can be won throughout the month, and you can visit the sites here and here to see what kind of prizes there are!  Those are also the same places the you can go to sign up!
Though it's NOT Required, Signing up and Posting your Reviews on the other two blogs gives you more chances to win.

So I'm really excited to be participating and you should too :]

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Great Gone With the Wind Readalong - Part 3

Here we are, through part 3! I'm actually a week late on this, but being a week late really isn't that bad, right?  Anyway, these are the discussion prompts and my thoughts on them.

**WARNING.  SPOILERS AHEAD.  DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK.**


Thoughts on Part 3
I felt like everything moved very rapidly through this section.  It was rumored that Mitchell wrote this section all at once and I can see why.  This was a section that I found very hard to put down when I did start it and I loved it.

Siege
This is where Scarlett really begin changing.  As she has to flee Atlanta with sick Melly, her son who is beyond terrified, and an all but useless servant girl, she's forced to really reevaluate things.  At the very beginning of the book, I went through a love/hate thing with Scarlett because she was young and so incredibly selfish that it killed me.  Now she's at Tara again and realizes that this is one of the only things that she has left.  She has a resolve that we've never seen before, but she's bitter, she's so bitter.  She's changed, and her struggles have made her different, but I don't think she's a better person, I think she's just ruthless.  Granted, that's what it takes, but her manner with everyone isn't pleasant at all.

Trauma
This goes along with the siege section to me, really.  For me, as a reader, I didn't want to put it down, and I really felt myself transported into this section, the terror and all.  When Scarlett is about to deliver Melly's baby, I can't even imagine what that may have been like, knowing that she had a chance of dying with a doctor, and now having someone completely inexperienced, she really might die.  Now, Scarlett doesn't like Melly, but that doesn't change the trauma of that experience.  On their way to Tara, being in the dark, not knowing who they might run into next, knowing that all of them may be killed is traumatic as well.  And when Scarlett kills a man to save herself and her family, the trauma from that was one of the things that changed Scarlett the way that it did.
I think that above all, I felt the effects of the trauma most in little Wade.  Scarlett pretty much can't stand him, that much she has made clear.  But he is completely terrified and he receives no comfort even from his mother.  My heart breaks for the little boy.

Slavery
Prissy is of course the person who sticks out from this section.  Prissy is lazy and she's a liar, too.  When she tells Scarlett that she knows all about delivering babies from her mother, we see what a liar she is later.  Another thing that sticks with me is when they get back to Tara, of course most of the slaves have gone.  The few that have stayed are the few that were house slaves and the few that had been with their family for many years.  Though it was funny to me that when they had to divide the tasks, Peter and even Mammy grumbled about how the were house slaves and they shouldn't have to do physical labor.  So they had been slaves and they knew they had been slaves but they still felt like they were above some tasks, which I thought was interesting to see.

Sex
That scene where Rhett asks Scarlett to be his mistress was one of my favorites.  I think my favorite part about it was Scarlett's reaction.  She wasn't concerned with the sex part of it, so much as she was concerned that she may have a bunch of illegitimate children from the arrangement.  Of course she hates herself for her reaction later, but I loved that whole exchange.
I can understand Scarlett being terrified of childbirth.  I think that going through it is one thing, but having to deliver someone else's is another.  Plus, given the circumstances, and the fact that Melly's pregnancy was so high risk, I think anyone would really be terrified.

Minor Characters
My favorite minor character is Will.  I love how simple he is, and I love that he has a good head on his shoulders.  Scarlett says that she could tell that he was nothing but a cracker, but I think he's a good man especially for saying that he was going to stay and work for the fact that they nursed him back to health.

So I know I was severely late writing this up and I'm actually a pretty good ways into Part 4, but better late than never!  If you want to join in the discussion, visit The Heroine's Bookshelf!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Release Tuesday (21)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  Crossed (Matched Trilogy #2)
Author:  Ally Condie
Release Date:  November 1, 2011
book cover of Crossed by Ally CondieSummary:  In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Why I'm Excited:  I actually haven't read the first in the series, Matched, but I have read really great reviews about it in the blogosphere.  Naturally, now that there is the second in the series, people are freaking out about it all over again, as I'm sure I would if I had read the first.  I've already seen some ARC's floating around on different blogs, so I'm sure there will be some reviews up soon and some may already be up.  Anyway, in case you didn't know that this one was coming out, here it is!  Get excited!
Album Title:  Siberia
Artist:  Lights
Release Date:  October 4, 2011
Lights Siberia album coverWhy I'm Excited:  I actually started listening to Lights because of Old Navy.  There was one song that we played at work that I really liked and I looked her up on YouTube.  Anyway, I became obsessed.  Lights is a one person group, she writes and composes all of her music herself.  The girl has got a killer voice and she's so gorgeous that she makes me jealous.  I got her album The Listening and fell in love and I got her album, Lights - Acoustic as well so when I found out that there was a new album, I immediately got excited.  She's been releasing teasers on her website and her YouTube Channel and she just released a video for her single "Toes" that I'm going to post and annoy you with, because it is that fantastic.  It's pop-ish, electronic, feel good music that is basically amazing and if you like that sort of thing and you haven't checked her out, I suggest that you do IMMEDIATELY.  Oh, and buy the album when it comes out on October 4th.  I'll be pre-ordering :]



Monday, September 19, 2011

This Week's Read (14)

Alright, so I've been pretty slack with these reading updates.  But since I'm reading several new books this week, I thought it would be a good idea to bring it back.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
This is actually the first true crime book that I have ever read.  I generally tend to stay away from nonfiction, most of the time it bores me.  To give you an idea of what it is about, it's about the Chicago World Fair of 1893 and the architects that built it.  I was unaware that at that time there was a ruthless killer that was praying on the young women in town.  This book alternates between the architects that are building the fair, and the information gathered about the killer.
I won't lie, I find myself reading through the chapters about the architects very quickly and hardly retaining any of what I've read with those.  It's interesting, but I have to say that I'm much more interested in Holmes, our killer.  He is a very, very interesting man.  I think that one of the reasons I want to get to his chapters so much is that I was completely unaware that this man ever existed.  So, for that reason, this book is very interesting.

The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
I got this book from NetGalley and started it the day I got it.  This is a young adult book, but it isn't paranormal romance or urban fantasy or anything like this, from the reviews that I have read, this is more of a straight up horror type book, which I LOVE, because I love horror.  Quite honestly I already get that vibe from it and I'm not even that far into it yet.
One thing that I like about it is that the main character is male, and in most of the young adult I've read lately, the main characters have been females.  That's not to say that there aren't plenty of male leads in books, I just haven't read those yet, so this is nice and refreshing for me.  Anyway, I'm enjoying it thusfar.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I won't post my thoughts on this here.  I'm in the middle of Chapter 36 right now, which means I have about 10 more chapters until I'm finished with Part 4.  When I start reading this I tend to get sucked in so hopefully I can get it finished BEFORE the discussion date and actually post my discussion on time!  We shall see!

So that's all I'm reading right now.


Have you read any of these books or are you reading any of them now? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on them/discuss them with you. :]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Sunday Salon (20)

I've been pretty spotty with my Sunday Salon posts lately.  Sunday has been the day that I use to sort of catch up on a little bit of everything, so I just haven't posted lately, so sorry for that :[  But I have been reading everyone else's posts, even if I haven't been doing much commenting.

On the reading front, I'm currently trying to read 3 books at once.  I'm working my way through Gone With the Wind still, and I can do that at a relatively slow pace, so that's not really a problem for me.  However, I did request a book from NetGalley.com and I was approved, which was exciting because a lot of publishers are really picky about who they approve.  Some of the publishers, you have to be a 'big time' blogger in order to be approved.  Anyway, I started reading it then day I was approved.  Not very far on that one though because I have another one that I have a deadline for.
One of my friends invited me to a book club on Facebook and I though, okay, this is neat because most of the people that I talk to about books are on Twitter and different blogs.  We're reading Devil in the White City this month, and we're meeting tonight at this place in downtown Augusta for desserts and discussion.  I'm pretty excited about it.  But I was way behind as of yesterday and I had to be at page 205, and I have about 40 pages to get there, which I can easily do before tonight.  But that's about all I'm reading.

Other things about reading, I'm putting myself on a book ban.  I've gotten really bad about buying books and waiting forever to read them and I have 34 books on my shelves right now that have to be read and that is not counting all of the ebooks that I have.  If I added in that number, it would be terrible.  So, I'm going to spend the rest of the year working my way through my own books.  I'll probably allow some review requests in there and I'll probably request a few things from NetGalley, to kind build myself up there.  Other than that I'm not going to be buying books.  When I get through 10 books on my shelf, I'll allow myself to buy TWO, until I'm finished with all 34, then I'll take myself off the ban.  This will probably last until next year and this also means that my In My Mailbox posts are going to suck hardcore, but I can live with that.

A cold front is moving through the south and it is beautiful!  We've had the windows open and its felt amazing.  It was 63 degrees yesterday and as awful as this summer was, this is so welcome.  It's supposed to be nice this coming week too, so I might spend some time outside if I'm not backed up with schoolwork.  But I've been doing a pretty good job of staying on top of things, so I think I'll be okay.

On a much more serious note, I need to ask a favor of my blog followers.  I got a phone call from my very best friend yesterday afternoon.  She was on her way back from the doctor.  She is 20 years old and she just had a baby, he's not even 2 months old yet.  When she was pregnant, they discovered she had the beginnings of cervical cancer, and started treatment after the baby was born.  However, they discovered at her treatment that she has progressed into stage 2.  She goes in Tuesday for a biopsy and from there they will decide what her options are.
Please add her to your prayer lists!  If you don't pray, just send positive vibes her way.  This is devastating for her, because the possibility is very real that she may have to have a hysterectomy at 20 years old.  My heart breaks for her, she's like family and we've been close since high school.  So please keep her in your thoughts, the more thoughts the better!

And now to get away from that serious note, because it makes me sad, and I will say that I hope that everyone is having a fantastic Sunday.  But to backtrack a little, answer me this, have you ever participated in a book ban and if you have, how well did you stick to it?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (26)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where you basically post your week in books.  Interested in participating?  Click the link to sign up!

Another vlog!  I didn't get a whole lot actually in my mailbox this week, so this is a pretty short video and you'll have to excuse how non enthusiastic I was, I was completely exhausted, but I really wanted to do a vlog, so I did :]  This will probably be my last IMM vlog for a while, I'm going on a book buying ban (you'll be able to read more about that in my Sunday Salon post tomorrow) but I think I'm going to be participating in Misty @ The Book Rat's book chat vlogs, so expect that.  Anyway, back to my mailbox!




Books featured in this vlog:
           (Click the titles to be taken to Amazon.com to read reviews or purchase!)
Bought:  The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
               The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Received for Review:  The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

Currently Reading:  The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
                                  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
                                   The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Books Finished:  The Undertaker by William Brown (My Review

What did everyone get in their mailboxes? :]

Friday, September 16, 2011

REVIEW: The Undertaker by William Brown

book cover of The Undertake by William Brown
Title: The Undertaker
Author: William Brown
Date Published: February 2011
Genre: Action/Thriller
Page Count: 322 pages
Challenge: E-Book Challenge
Rating: 4 our of 5 stars

**I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.**

Imagine having someone holding a gun in your face and reading your own obituary.  That's exactly where Peter Talbott found himself at the beginning of this book and it sends him on a crazy ride to several east coast cities, all while trying to keep himself from getting killed.

Pete's a computer nerd who works in Boston.  His wife passed away a year ago from cancer so since then he's just been living a quiet life in Boston, working and wallowing in his memories of his beloved wife.  So when someone hijacks his memories of his wife by using her name in an obituary, as well as his, Pete just has to get to the bottom of it.

This book grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let you go until the end.  As Pete tries to get to the bottom of the obituary business, he learns that there is something seriously wrong and more innocent people's names are being hijacked as well.  This sets off a chain reaction that sends him running, trying to keep himself and Sandy, another innocent dragged into this mess, alive.
Once Pete ends up in Chicago, he meets Sandy, and she was by far one of my favorite parts of the book.  Young, funny, and a total smartass, it seems like she and I would get along just fine.  She also has a knack for keeping her head above water, and so does Pete and that comes in handy, big time.

Sometimes I'm not a fan of action thrillers like this, but this one I definitely enjoyed.  I loved the characters, they were believable and you could really relate to Pete's grief over his wife and his struggle to move on.  I also liked that there was a touch of romance, but it wasn't very heavy.  Not being a fan of romance myself, I really liked that.

This was a great action/thriller novel.  If you're looking for something fast paced, this is definitely a book that you want to pick up.  I give it a 4 out of 5 stars!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  The Undertaker

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

REVIEW: Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker

book cover of Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker
Title: Mister B. Gone
Author: Clive Barker
Date Published: October 2007
Genre: Horror
Page Count: 248 pages
Challenge: None
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Burn This Book.
These are the opening words to this book, one that the narrator repeats over and over again.

Jakabok Botch is a demon from the 9th gate of hell.  One who has been entrapped in the book that you're reading.  He begs you to put him out of his misery and burn the book or you will regret the consequences.  Of course you don't, and you go on reading, and in the process, you learn a lot about Jakabok, also called Mister B.  The book is a memoir of sorts that was supposedly penned in the year 1438.

We learn how Mister B. came to walk in our world, how he escaped the 9th gate.  He confesses all sort of things to us that he swears he's never told another living soul.  At intervals he stops and begs us to burn the book again, which of course, we don't.  So he tells us more about his dealings with humans and how he met another demon along the way.  And we get to know Mister B, who really isn't that bad of a demon based on many of his actions.

There are a lot of gruesome scenes throughout this book, starting from the beginning, really.  Nothing do bad as The Hellbound Heart (my review), but still gruesome.  Typical Barker I would assume.  But there are also more poignant passages speckled throughout that really talk about human nature.  That was one of the things that I loved about this.  One of my favorites was from page 79 in my copy:
     "... I've told you enough.  Nor do you need to hear about the Archbishop and the bonfires on Joshua's Field.  Believe me, it wouldn't please you.  Why not?  Because it's a very unflattering picture of your kind.
     " On the other hand...maybe that's exactly why I should tell you.  Yes, why not?  You've obliged me to uncover the flaws in
my soul.  Maybe you should hear the naked truth about your own people.  And before you protest and tell me that I'm talking about distant days, when your species was far cruder and crueler that it is now, think.
     "Consider how many genocides are under way as you sit reading this, how many villages, tribes, even nations, are being erased.  Good.  So listen and I'll tell you about the glorious horrors of Joshua's Field.  This one's on me."
There are a lot of passages like that, which was one of the things that I liked.  There are no chapters, just stopping points between stories and Mister B's ceaseless begging.  If you have a hard copy of the book, the pages are an old coffee color, lending to the idea that the book was made in the 15th century, which I thought was pretty neat.

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I had read several bad reviews on Goodreads and various other places, but that just goes to show you that every person differs in their opinions!  If you're a horror fan, I would definitely recommend this book!  I'm actually passing it off to a friend in a few days.  I give this book a 3.5 out of 5!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Mister B. Gone

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Release Tuesday (20)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  The Lady of the River
Author:  Philippa Gregory
Release Date:  October 18, 2011
Summary:  Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.

book cover of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.
The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty.
Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.
A sweeping, powerful story rich in passion and legend and drawing on years of research, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother of the white queen.

Why I'm Excited:  I've only read one Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl, but I absolutely loved it.  I imagine that I won't be reading this particular book anytime soon since I believe it is part of the Cousins' War Series (The White Queen and The Red Queen are part of this series as well) but I would love to read more of her work and I know that she is a very popular author, so I thought I would share with everyone else.
Album Title:  Night of Hunters
Artist:  Tori Amos
Release Date:  September 20, 2011
Tori Amos Night of Hunters album coverWhy I'm Excited:  I've been on a really big kick for female vocalists lately.  I've been listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine and Lights especially.  I'm also a big sucker for things like Sarah Mclachlan.  Anyway, I discovered Tori Amos several years ago and I haven't listened to too much of her music, but I have really liked the things that I have listened to.  I didn't know she had a new album, but I think I would actually like to pick this one up and listen to it.  Assuming that the samples that I listen to seem like they're going to be good.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

REVIEW: That Day in September by Artie Van Why

book cover of That Day in September by Artie Van Why
Title: That Day in September
Author: Artie Van Way
Date Published: June 2006
Genre: Memoir
Page Count: 108 pages
Challenge: E-Book Challenge
Rating: 5 out of 5. A Must Read.
**I recieved this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.**




"And to honor those that are gone, I will not forget to live."

Memoirs and non-fiction are genres that I typically don't read.  However, when this review request came into my inbox, I knew that it was something that I wanted to accept.  It has been over a week since I've finished this book and I'm just now sitting to wrote down this review.  I still don't have the right words to describe how this made me feel.  I'm going to try, so just bear with me.

Everyone remembers where they were September 11, 2001 when so many American's lost their lives.  It was one of the greatest tragedies our country has ever seen, and we continue to mourn for those that were lost, even as the 10th anniversary approaches.
Van Why's book is about his personal experiences on that day and the days that followed  He worked in the building right across the street.  He was there during the tragedy and during the rebuild.

I don't usually get emotional about things, or about books.  But this book hit me so very hard.  When these attacks happened, I was in 8th grade.  I didn't fully understand the loss that our country had suffered and it wasn't until I got older that I began to.  I have avoided watching footage, reading things about it, because it makes me so very sad.  This book really helped me to understand what people went through that day.  Never before had I read a first hand account of a survivor of that day, and never before have I cried so much while I was reading a book.
When you're reading a work of fiction, you can sympathize with the characters, you can get to like or love them and you can think "Wow, that would be crazy if that happened to someone."  This did happen to someone.  And reading Artie's personal experiences just made it super emotional for me.

As I sit back and read what I've written thus far, I know I can't do it justice.  I can just tell you that you should read it.  It's a short read, you could probably read it in one sitting, but I promise that you won't forget it that quickly.  I think this is a must read.  I'd like to thank Artie again for contacting me to review this book, and thank him for having the courage to write it.

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  That Day on September

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (25)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where you basically post your week in books.  Interested in participating?  Click the link to sign up!

So this week, of course I stopped and got more Agatha Christie.  As I've said, she's a genius.  I downloaded Bright Young Things because it was part of Free Fridays at BarnesandNoble.com and I downloaded Devil in the White City for an actual book club.  I'm going to try and get started on it pretty soon.  I got one book for review, which honestly is a good thing with everything else I have going on right now.  I'm still trucking my way through Gone With the Wind and I love it.  I hope that I can get it finished soon, and the book I finished actually already has its review up on the blog.  So, here's what's in my mailbox this week, show me what's in yours :]



Books I Bought
Appointment With Death A Murder is Announced The Mysterious Affair at Styles 
NookBooks I Downloaded
Devil in the White City Bright Young Things 
Books/Galleys Received for Review 
A Spy at Home 
Books I'm Currently Reading
The Undertaker Gone With the Wind 
Books I Finished
Blackstone: Drawing the Circle

Friday, September 9, 2011

REVIEW: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

book cover of Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Title: Death on the Nile
Author: Agatha Christie
Date Published: First published in 1937
Genre: Mystery
Page Count: 352 pages
Challenge: None
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Like I've said many time, Agatha Christie was a genius, and this book is no exception.

In the beginning, we meet Linnet, one of the richest women is England, and is also very young.  Her friend Jackie comes to her, wanting a favor for her fiance, Simon, who is struggling to find a job.  Linnet agrees to help Jackie, but then things don't really go Jackie's way when Simon falls in love with Linnet and they are to be married.
Fast forward, and Simon and Linnet are on their honeymoon in Egypt.  Jackie, in a jealous rage has been following the couple around the world.  Hercule Poirot is also on vacation in Egypt, as well as an entire cast of characters.
Then, when Linnet turns up dead, it becomes the Belgian detective's job to find the murderer before they can strike again.

This mystery is much like Murder on the Orient Express. (my review)  Only this time, everyone is on a boat instead of a train.  There is a cast of characters, none of which are above suspicion and Christie does a fantastic job throwing the suspicion from one person to the next, then back to the first person and then to someone new.  You never know what piece of evidence they are going to discover next or how it will impact the case.
One thing that I liked was that this is a more human side to Poirot.  He spends some time talking with Jackie and practically begs her to reconsider the actions that she is making, by following this couple around abroad.  He seems to genuinely care for this woman's mental health.  In most of the other mysteries I have read of his, he is just the detective, figuring out 'whodunnit.'

Anyway, loved this book and the end you won't see coming.  Great and different cast of characters as well.  I give this book a 4 out of 5 and say read it!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Death on the Nile

Thursday, September 8, 2011

REVIEW: Blackstone: Drawing the Circle by Jason Beineke

book cover of Blackstone: Drawing the Circle by Jason Beineke
Title: Blackstone: Drawing the Circle
Author: Jason Beineke
Date Published: January 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Page Count: 320 pages
Challenge: E-Book Challenge
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

**I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review**

Summary (From Goodreads):  Blackstone is a mercenary sorcerer who does not rule any valleys and has yet to be bound to another sorcerer. Undertaking work for the sorceress queen, Spiral, he finds himself the expendable pawn in an assassination mission. Turning against the queen he fights Spiral’s loyal sorcerers and finds himself tasked with the guardianship of the marked man’s son. As the two flee from Spiral they have to work through their mutual bitterness and distrust of each other. A new tangle is thrown into their relationship when Blackstone frees a werewolf from her cage set in a town square and reverts the werewolf back to a young woman, cursed since childhood with lycanthropy. 
Fleeing from the townsfolk who had previously kept the young werewolf, Loralune, captive, the three person band must confront Loralune’s transformation under the full moon, the posse that runs them to ground and a sorceress looking for revenge against Hiroe and Blackstone. Survival against these threats leaves them vulnerable to other, more insidious dangers.


My Thoughts:  I'm a fantasy lover and this seemed like it was just up my alley.  Plus there's werewolves and all kinds of neat things, right?  It's a lot more than that.
As Blackstone and Hiroe set out on their journey you really get a sense of their bitterness towards each other and the distrust that Hiroe has towards all sorcerers.  However, as the journey keeps going, you really see that relationship evolve, which was one of the things that I loved about this book.  


Now, I'll go ahead and say that normally, I can predict plot twists.  I can predict them in movies and I can predict them in books, but I did not see the plot twist that happens in this one.  It was a great twist, not one of those twists that you don't see coming because they don't make any sense.  The twist at the end really makes you connect with the characters more as well and it gets pretty intense.
Beineke also does a fantastic job on describing the settings and the characters so I was really transported into the setting and the story.


Overall, it was a great book.  It's supposed to be the first in a series, so Jason, get crackin on the sequel!  I want to see what happens to my trio next!  4 out of 5 stars!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Blackstone: Drawing the Circle

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

REVIEW: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

book cover of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Date Published: Originally published in 1934
Genre: Mystery
Page Count: 266 pages
Challenge: None

I know that way back in the day, in middle school, I read a lot of Christie.  Some of my favorites were always the Hercule Poirot books.  I thought I had actually read this one, but I don't think I ever did.  I think this was one of her best known as well.

Hercule Poirot is on his way back to somewhere on the Orient Express when the train is stopped in the middle of the night by a snowdrift.  Upon waking in the morning, a passenger is found dead and it is up to Poirot to find out who the killer is before they can kill anyone else.

The way this mystery was presented was all of the evidence and then the solution.  Poirot individually interviews every occupant on the train and it is presented in chapters.  I can't really say much about it, because if I do, it will give everything away.  I will say though, I loved the ending to this.  I never saw it coming, but it all made sense once it was presented.  Christie truly is a genius when it comes to mysteries.  This one was phenomenal and I can see why it is highly praised and one of her most memorable.

Loved it, read it, I give it a 4.5 our of 5!

Think you might want to give this book a try? Read other reviews or order from Amazon.com  Murder on the Orient Express

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Release Tuesday (19)

New Release Tuesday is a weekly feature where I share what I'm excited about in both books and music. Sometimes its release day is close, other times it can be several weeks or months in advance. I only feature one for each category, but there a LOADS of new and upcoming releases and you can find them by visiting B&N.com or FYE.com!
Title:  Abarat: Absolute Midnight
Author:  Clive Barker
Release Date:  September 27, 2011
Summary:  “I know that many of you here have waited years for this Hour,” Mater Motley said, using that voice that, though it was barely conversational in volume, was somehow heard everywhere. “The waiting is over. Tomorrow there will be no dawn. Only midnight, absolute and eternal.”

book cover of Abarat: Absolute Midnight by Clive BarkerAnd so begins a new chapter in the epic story of sixteen-year-old Candy Quackenbush and her journeys through the world of the Abarat, where every hour is an island in one eternal day, and nothing is as it seems.
Candy travels through the Abarat from island to island and across the sea with an unlikely band of friends: the escaped prisoner Malingo the Geshrat, the quarrelsome John Brothers, who all share the same body but never the same opinion, and the many other colorful characters they meet along the way.
The problem is that trouble finds Candy wherever she goes. And soon she discovers a secret plot, masterminded by the diabolical Mater Motley, who is obsessed with becoming Empress of the Islands. Her method is simple. She will darken the skies, putting out the suns, moons, and stars. She will bring absolute midnight.

Why I'm Excited:  I've only read a handful of Clive Barker works, but the things that I have read, I have definitely enjoyed.  This is actually the long awaited, third installment in the Abarat series.  I have the first, but I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet.  I do love Clive Barker though, so I can't wait to read more of his work, including this series!
Album Title: IV
Artist:  Maylene and the Sons of Disaster
Release Date:  September 27, 2011
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster IV album coverWhy I'm Excited:  Just looking at the release date makes me so excited for this!  I first discovered Maylene at Warped Tour several years ago.  We had heard of them, but when we saw them and saw how fantastic they were live, we went over and picked up their CD from their tent.  You all know I'm from the south, and I will always love southern rock.  They have a very southern element to their music and they're incredibly talented musicians.  Well, actually, the only original member left of the group is Dallas, the vocalist, so I'm very interested to see how this album is going to turn out.  Regardless, I can't wait for its release and I hope its fantastic!  If you like southern rock and good music is general, check out this band!  Their album III is amazing!
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