Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Title: The House We Grew Up In
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publication Date: August 12th, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 400
ISBN13: 978-1476702995
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph's Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).

      There is something to be said about an author who can take a story reflecting the simplicities of every day tradition and the dysfunction of varying family dynamics and materialize it into a novel that captures your attention. The Bird family could easily be any family. Throughout the book, I found myself associating the characters with either myself or people that I know. Lisa Jewell is one of those gifted writers that can take the reality of life's messiness and turn it into a masterpiece. This is my first impression of Jewell, and I was not disappointed.

In The House We Grew Up In, we follow the Bird family, past and present, through their struggles and interactions as a family unit. Jewell does well to cover all four corners of the family dynamic with the cynicism of Megan, the traditional (and slightly insane) Lorelei, the lovely Bethan, and the troubled Rhys. We spend several Easters with the family, watching tradition dwindle as everyone grows older and separates into their own. One fateful year, everything changes when tragedy strikes the household. We journey with the family as they overcome shock, bitterness, confusion, and regret. 

This is such a good story I just couldn't put it down. It's one of those books that really makes you feel and connect to it. It is a masterful work of fiction, and I would recommend it to anyone in search for a heart-tugging journey that will leave a lasting impression on your soul.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Title: David Copperfield
Author: Charles Dickens
Publication Date: Published in monthly parts May 1849-November 1850
Publisher: Bradbury & Evans
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1,024
ISBN13: 978-0140439441
Source: Personal Library

Synopsis (from Penguin):

David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. 

Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; and the magnificently impecunious Micawber, one of literature’s great comic creations. 

In David Copperfield—the novel he described as his “favorite child”—Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure.

Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, the son of a clerk at the Navy Pay Office. His father, John Dickens, continually living beyond his means, was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea in 1824. 12-year-old Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory, 12-year-old Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory earning six shillings a week to help support the family. earning six shillings a week to help support the family. This dark experience cast a shadow over the clever, sensitive boy that became a defining experience in his life, he would later write that he wondered "how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age.”

This childhood poverty and feelings of abandonment, although unknown to his readers until after his death, would be a heavy influence on Dickens' later views on social reform and the world he would create through his fiction.

Dickens would go on to write 15 major novels and countless short stories and articles before his death on June 9, 1870. He wished to be buried, without fanfare, in a small cemetery in Rochester, but the Nation would not allow it. He was laid to rest in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, the flowers from thousands of mourners overflowing the open grave. Among the more beautiful bouquets were many simple clusters of wildflowers, wrapped in rags.

      Published in 1850, David Copperfield has often been considered Charles Dickens’s best novel and his most autobiographical.  Readers familiar with Charles Dickens’s biography will see many similarities between Dickens and Copperfield, such as being taken out of school at a young age to do labor or sharing the profession of court reporter and author. This novel is rather long – over 700 pages – and I would guess that many individuals have foregone giving it a go because of its intimidating appearance. To those individuals and to those who simply have not considered reading it, this review is for you.

The novel follows its namesake from literal birth (the first chapter is “I am Born”) through adulthood, in what most Victorian scholars would call a “bildungsroman” – which is a fancy term for a coming-of-age story. Readers will see David as he struggles with death, poverty, and the everyday struggles of life and come out of those struggles successful and content. This summary in itself cannot do the novel justice because of its simplicity. As in reality, it is not the parameters of birth and death that define “life” – it is the many moments in between that make life so much more than mere “existence.” Within David Copperfield,  the many joyful, sorrowful, or lovely moments that occur within the main character’s life make the novel worth reading again and again. 

I would not go so far as to claim that David Copperfield is the best novel that Dickens has written because I have not yet read them all! However, I think that any Dickens fan should read it because of the autobiographical potential. There are raw moments within the text that belie genuine emotion and might make even the driest eyes teary. The vivid imagery, endearing catchphrases, and unforgettable characters – anticipated with any Dickens novel – abound in David Copperfield. You will fall in love with the characters and situations that Dickens masterfully paints. 

This book is safe for the whole family. There are no embarrassing moments or vulgar language. The only problem I would foresee for readers is confusion at the changes in social response. For instance, part of the novel deals with what Victorians called “fallen women” – or women who ran away with men before marriage. The climate was not very forgiving in that time, and this may  have to be explained to young adults or children. However, despite social expectations during that time period, one of the most inspiring moments in the novel occurs when the relative of one “fallen” girl chooses to search the world to redeem her rather than forsake her for her mistake. Again, these situations are not given any graphic or lingering attention, so there should be no blushes at the dinner table.

For any avid readers out there who want to pick up and devour David Copperfield because of the description but shy away at its massive bulk, you might try reading as the Victorian reader would. David Copperfield was originally printed serially – in small, manageable chunks. Try reading three chapters of the novel at a time; soon you won’t be able to keep setting it down.

Mary Anna

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: Red Sky In The Morning by Paul Lynch

Title: Red Sky in Morning
Author: Paul Lynch
Publication Date: November 5th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 288
ISBN13: 978-0316230254
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A tense, thrilling debut novel that spans two continents, from "a writer to watch out for" (Colum McCann).

It's 1832 and Coll Coyle has killed the wrong man. The dead man's father is an expert tracker and ruthless killer with a single-minded focus on vengeance. The hunt leads from the windswept bogs of County Donegal, across the Atlantic to the choleric work camps of the Pennsylvania railroad, where both men will find their fates in the hardship and rough country of the fledgling United States.

Language and landscape combine powerfully in this tense exploration of life and death, parts of which are based on historical events. With lyrical prose balancing the stark realities of the hunter and the hunted, RED SKY IN MORNING is a visceral and meditative novel that marks the debut of a stunning new talent.

Paul Lynch is the author of the critically lauded Irish novels RED SKY IN MORNING — currently nominated for France’s best foreign book prize, le Prix du meilleur livre ├ętranger — and THE BLACK SNOW, and has been hailed as a major new writer by authors such as Sebastian Barry, Colum McCann and Daniel Woodrell.
After a six-publisher bidding war, his debut novel RED SKY IN MORNING was published to critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic in 2013. It was an Amazon.com Book of the Month, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, a Huffington Post book of the week and The Daily Beast’s Hot Read. It was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, where Lynch was hailed as “a lapidary young master”. It was a book of the year in The Irish Times, The Toronto Star, the Irish Independent and the Sunday Business Post.

His second novel THE BLACK SNOW was published this spring in the UK and Ireland. It was hailed as “masterful” and “a significant achievement” by The Sunday Times, “dazzling” by The Sunday Business Post and “powerful” by the Irish Times, which praised his ability to “reinvent the English language”. It will be published in America by Little, Brown in Spring 2015. RED SKY IN MORNING was published in the French (Un ciel rouge, le matin) in March 2014 by Albin Michel to massive critical acclaim.

Paul was born in Limerick in 1977, grew up in Donegal, and is now living in Dublin. He was the chief film critic of Ireland’s Sunday Tribune newspaper from 2007 to 2011, when the newspaper folded. He has written regularly for many Irish newspapers and has written regularly for The Sunday Times on film.

      Red Sky In Morning is a very unique book. It was originally written by the author because he was inspired by a story he watched a documentary on involving an event that happened in Pennsylvania in 1832. It was about 57 Irish railroad workers who were killed (most likely murdered, it is unknown) and how their deaths were covered up. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is very bleak, and it is not necessarily an easy read.

      The book is separated into 3 parts. The first and last move pretty quickly, but the middle section slowed the pace a bit. The style of writing is definitely an acquired one. If you are well-read in the likes of Cormac McCarthy or Daniel Woodrell, then Paul Lynch's way of storytelling should not phase you. It is not an easy ready if you are not. Lynch uses a sophisticated way of writing, but also excludes quotations to separate dialogue from the rest of the text. This takes some getting used to.

     The story itself is incredibly well done. Lynch is definitely a budding author entering the scene with something unique and fresh to offer. Red Sky In Morning was definitely different from what I normally read, but I still found it interesting, and especially once I discovered what truly inspired the story, then my level of interest went up a couple notches.

     So why the 3 star rating? First, I think this book is potentially a great book. Do I think it could be better? Yes. But it does serve well as it is. I think the biggest thing that irked me about this book is misuse of the 'F-word.' Normally I can tolerate swearing in a book if it's strategically placed to show how a person or situation would actually be, or if it reflects the environment of a character. However, if this book takes place in 1832, then the 'F-word" would have still mostly been used for its sole purpose. However, the author uses it here as a derogatory term mixed between old language and it was incredibly unsettling. I felt jolted, because I knew right away it was misplaced. It did not become a derogatory term until the early 90s. Aside from this, I thought the book was great. This just seemed a very big deal to me while I was reading it.

     If you are a Cormac McCarthy fan, then you will love this book. It has mystery, betrayal, incest, murder, and all the other markings of a brooding historical suspense novel. It definitely is a new work of art, and I look forward to seeing more from Paul Lynch.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Shadow Swarm by D. Robert Pease

Title: Shadow Swarm
Author: D. Robert Pease
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Evolved Publishing, LLC
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 325
ISBN13: 978-1622534128
Source: ARC from Publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Aberthol Nauile doesn’t know that he once led legions in a war that had raged since the dawn of time, against an enemy that could not be killed. He doesn’t know that he rode on a dragon with his father, or that his mother died while giving birth to him. He doesn’t know that he once saved his great, great, great grandfather by defeating the black enemy on the slopes of a volcano.

Aberthol doesn’t know that he beheld the creation of the world, as his grandfather eight generations before took the planet, ravaged by a war of the gods, and began anew.

All he knows is that he awoke in a coffin deep within a tomb, and now the whole world thinks he is their savior. All he really wants to know is his name, and why he keeps hearing voices in his head.

D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. 

Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.

      Shadow Swarm is a new novel that goes beyond touching the surface of fantasy and takes the reader into a whole new level of fiction. D. Robert Pease writes a premise that is intriguing and unique to the fantasy platform. He takes several elements of story and intertwines them into a work that any fantasy fan will enjoy.

      The best part about this book is the creativity behind the plot. It was interesting and new, and the entire idea of the main character being involved in a Captain America-type awakening and self rediscovery. The protagonist knows that there's something more to the life he's living, but he just can't seem to put his finger on it. The journey to discovering the answers of his past and who he is one that will give the reader a run for their money.

     The only thing I didn't like was the fact that it moved slowly at times. There were some parts that contained a lot of unnecessary "fluff" but other than that, this was a pretty good book. Not to mention the cover art is a good interpretation and foreshadow of the contents.

     I would recommend this book for any Fantasy fan who enjoys the likes of Terry Brooks and Tolkein. 
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guest Post: Deep Down Things by Tamara Linse

Title: Deep Down Things
Author: Tamara Linse
Publication Date: July 14th, 2014
Publisher: Willow Words
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 330
Word Count: 75,000
ISBN: 9780991386734

Synopsis (from Author): Deep Down Things, Tamara Linse’s debut novel, is the emotionally riveting story of three siblings torn apart by a charismatic bullrider-turned-writer and the love that triumphs despite tragedy. 

From the death of her parents at sixteen, Maggie Jordan yearns for lost family, while sister CJ drowns in alcohol and brother Tibs withdraws. When Maggie and an idealistic young writer named Jackdaw fall in love, she is certain that she’s found what she’s looking for. As she helps him write a novel, she gets pregnant, and they marry. But after Maggie gives birth to a darling boy, Jes, she struggles to cope with Jes’s severe birth defect, while Jackdaw struggles to overcome writer’s block brought on by memories of his abusive father. 

Ambitious, but never seeming so, Deep Down Things may remind you of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong and Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.


Chapter 1


Jackdaw isn’t going to make it. I can tell by the way the first jump unseats him. The big white bull lands and then tucks and gathers underneath. Jackdaw curls forward and whips the air with his left hand, but his butt slides off-center. Thirty yards away on the metal bleachers, I involuntarily scoot sideways—as if it would do any good. The bull springs out from under Jackdaw and then arches its back, flipping its hind end. 
Jackdaw is tossed wide off the bull’s back. In the air he is all red-satin arms and shaggy-chapped legs but then somehow he grabs his black felt hat. He lands squarely on both feet, knees bent to catch his weight. Then he straightens with a grand sweep of his hat. Even from here you can see his smile burst out. There’s something about the way he opens his body to the crowd, like a dog rolling over to show its belly, that makes me feel sorry for him but drawn to him too. With him standing there, holding himself halfway between a relaxed slouch and head-high pride, I can see why my brother Tibs admires him. 
I haven’t actually met Jackdaw before, but he and Tibs hang out together a lot, and they have some English classes together. I haven’t run across him on campus.
The crowd on the bleachers goes wild. It doesn’t matter that Jackdaw didn’t stay on the full eight seconds. They holler and wolf-whistle and shake their programs. Their metallic stomping vibrates my body and brings up dust and the smell of old manure.
With Jackdaw off its back, the bull leaps into the air. It gyrates its hips and flips its head, a long ribbon of snot curling off its nostril and arcing over its back. Then it stops and turns and looks at Jackdaw. It hangs its head low. It shifts its weight onto its front hooves, butt in the air, and pauses. The clown with the black face paint and the big white circles around his eyes runs in front of the bull to distract it, but it shakes its head like it’s saying no to dessert.
The crowd hushes.
Then, I can’t believe it, Jackdaw takes a step toward the bull. The crowd yells, but not like a crowd, like a bunch of kids on a playground. Some holler encouragement. Others laugh. Some try to warn him. Some egg him on. My heart beats wild in my chest like when my sister CJ and I watch those slasher movies and Freddy’s coming after the guy and you know because he’s the best friend that he’s going to get killed and you want to warn him. “Bastard deserved it,” CJ always says, “for being stupid.” 
It’s like Jackdaw doesn’t know the bull’s right there. He starts walking, not directly to the fence but at a slant toward the loudest of the cheers, which takes him right past the bull.
I turn to Tibs. “What’s he doing?”
“He knows his stuff,” Tibs says, his voice lower than normal. The look on his face makes me want to give him a hug, but we’re not a hugging family, so I nod, even though Tibs isn’t looking at me.
Tibs is leaning forward, his eyes focused on Jackdaw, his elbows on his knees, and his shoulders hunched. Tibs is tall and thin, and he always looks a little fragile, a couple of sticks propped together. His face is our dad’s, big eyes and not much of a chin, sort of like an alien or an overgrown boy. He has the habit of playing with his fingers, which he’s doing now. It’s like he wants to reach out and grab something but he can’t quite bring himself to. It’s the same when he talks—he’ll cover his mouth with his hand like he’s holding back his words.
Tibs is the tallest of us three kids—CJ, he, and I. CJ’s the oldest. I’m the youngest and the shortest. Grandma Rose, Dad’s mom, always said I got left with the leftovers. Growing up, it seemed like CJ and Tibs got things and were told things that I was too young to have or to know. It was good though, too, because when Dad and Mom got killed when I was sixteen, I didn’t know enough to worry much about money or things. They had saved up some so we could get by. But poor CJ. She in particular had to be the parent, but she was used to babysitting us and she was older anyway—twenty-two, I think.
Like that time when we were kids when CJ was babysitting and I got so sick. Turned out to be pneumonia. I don’t know where our parents were. Most likely, they were away on business, but it could have been something else. Grandma Rose had cracked her hip—I remember that—so she couldn’t take care of us, but it was only for a couple of days and CJ was thirteen at the time. In general, CJ had started ignoring us, claiming she was a teenager now and didn’t want to play with babies any more, like kids do, which really got Tibs, though he didn’t do much besides sulk about it. But that day she was playing with us like she was a little kid too. 
We had been playing in an irrigation ditch making a dam. I pretended to be a beaver, and Tibs pretended to be an engineer on the Hoover Dam. I don’t remember CJ pretending to be anything, just helping us arrange sticks and slop mud and then flopping in the water to cool down. I started feeling pretty bad. Over the course of the day, I had a cough that got worse and then I got really hot and then really cold and my body ached. My lungs started wheezing when I breathed. I remember thinking someone had punched a hole in me, like a balloon, and all my air was leaking out. CJ felt my head and then felt it again and then grabbed my arm and dragged me to the house, Tibs trailing behind. All I wanted to do was lie down, but she bundled me in a blanket and put me in a wagon, and between them she and Tibs pulled me down the driveway and out onto the highway. We lived twelve miles from town, in the house where I live now. I don’t know why CJ didn’t just call 911. But here we were, rattling down the middle of the highway. A woman in a truck stopped and gave us a ride to the hospital here in Loveland. Can you imagine it? A skinny muddy thirteen-year-old girl in her brown bikini and her skinny nine-year-old brother, taller than her but no bigger around than a stick and wearing red, white, and blue swim trunks, hauling their six-year-old sister through the sliding doors of the emergency room in a little red wagon. What those nurses must’ve thought.
On the bleachers, I glance from Tibs back out to Jackdaw. The bull doesn’t know what’s going on either. It shakes its lowered head and snorts, blowing up dust from the ground. Jackdaw bows his head and slips on his hat. Then the bull decides and launches itself at Jackdaw. Just as the bull charges down on Jackdaw, the white-eyed clown runs between him and the bull and slaps the bull’s nose. Jackdaw turns toward them just as the bull plants its front feet, turns, and charges after the running clown.
Pure foolishness and bravery. My hands are shaking. I want to go down and take Jackdaw’s hand and lead him out of the arena. A thought like a little alarm bell—who’d want to care about somebody who’d walk a nose-length from an angry bull? But something about the awkward hang of his arms and the flip of his chaps and the way his hat sets cockeyed on his head makes me want to be with him.
The clown runs toward a padded barrel in the center of the arena, his white-stockinged calves flipping the split legs of his suspendered oversized jeans. He jumps into the barrel feet-first and ducks his head below the rim. The crowd gasps and murmurs as the charging bull hooks the barrel over onto its side and bats it this way and that for twenty yards. The bull stops and turns and faces the crowd, head high, tail cocked and twitching. He tips his snout up once, twice, and snorts.
While the bull chases the clown, Jackdaw walks to the fence and climbs the boards.
The clown pops his head out of the sideways barrel where he can see the bull from the rear. He pushes himself out and then scrambles crabwise around behind. He turns to face the bull, his hands braced on the barrel. The bull’s anger still bubbling, it turns back toward the clown and charges. As the bull hooks at the barrel and butts it forward, the clown scoots backwards, keeping the barrel between him and the bull, something I’m sure he’s done many times. He keeps scooting as the bull bats at the barrel. But then something happens—the clown trips and falls over backwards. The barrel rolls half over him as he turns sideways and tries to push himself up. The bull stops for a split second, as if to gloat, and then stomps on the clown’s franticly scrambling body and hooks the horns on its tilted head into the clown’s side, flipping the clown over onto his back.
Why do rodeo clowns do it? Put their lives on the line for other people? I don’t understand it.
The pickup men on the horses are there, but a second too late. They charge the bull, their horses shouldering into it. They yell and whip with quirts and kick with stirrupped boots. Tail still cocked, the reluctant bull is hazed away and into the gathering pen at the end of the arena. The metal gate clangs shut behind it.
Head thrown back and arms splayed, the clown isn’t moving. Men jump off the rails and run toward him, and the huge doors at the end of the arena open and an ambulance comes in. It stops beside the clown. The EMTs jump out, pull out a gurney, and then huddle around the prone body. One goes back to the vehicle and brings some equipment. There’s frantic activity, and with the help of the other men, they place him on the gurney and slide him into the ambulance. It pulls out the doors and disappears, and the siren wails and recedes.

Tibs stands up, looks at me, and jerks his head, saying come on, let’s go. I stand and follow him. 

 Like the characters in Deep Down Things, the author Tamara Linse and her husband have lost babies. They had five miscarriages before their twins were born through the help of a wonderful woman who acted as a gestational carrier. Tamara is also the author of the short story collection How to Be a Man and earned her master’s in English from the University of Wyoming, where she taught writing. 

Her work appears in the Georgetown Review, South Dakota Review, and Talking River, among others, and she was a finalist for Arts & Letters and Glimmer Train contests, as well as the Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize for a book of short stories. She works as an editor for a foundation and a freelancer. 
Libraries Are Life

I love it that Lis Ann, proprietor of the Indigo Quill, is such a great library supporter. That’s so great, L!

Libraries saved my (emotional) life.  

I’m from a small town in northern Wyoming. Our county library branch was an unimpressive, squat brick building surrounded by cottonwoods.  It had glass doors and smelled of books (of course) and had a kids’ reading area and once computers came along there was a busy computer center of two computers.  When I say it like that, it sounds so ugly, but in my mind it’s surrounded by a halo of warmth and goodness.  

Down the street was a laundromat where my mom would sometimes do our truckload of laundry (if the pipes were frozen at home or the washing machine was broken).  I can’t tell you how excited I was for these trips.  At six or eight or ten I would trudge purposefully down the block, butterflies of excitement in my stomach: I get to spend two or three solid hours at the library!!  Oh. My. God.  The ravishment of it! I would open the doors and smile at the nice librarian and she would greet me.  Sometimes there would be a number of patrons, but as I remember it I was most often alone, or nearly so.

The day I discovered the Oz books, I was in heaven! I’d read The Wizard of Oz, and it was the librarian, I think, who said, “There are eleven others in the series, you know?  Right over here.” She led me to the shelf and I grabbed every single one of them I could find and took them over to the short table ~ or was it the bean bag? ~ and flipped through them all, savoring the illustrations.  Pumpkinhead with his wide smile, the threatening Wheelies, the Gump who was a nice flying contraption with a moose head, the round TikTok, and so much more. Oh the imagination.  And then I check out five or six, I’m sure, and read them straight through. What an amazing collection of books!

And as I got older, I read books that opened my eyes to the world around me.  I think I checked Marilyn French’s A Woman’s Room out from the library.  I read Joan Aiken’s The Weeping Ash, a wonderfully dark gothic tale about people trying to drive a young woman mad.  Dreadfully romantic. At some point I decided that I wanted to read from the As on, but that did not last long as I wandered the shelves and happened upon fascinating books.  

I had an hour bus ride to school and an hour bus ride home, and all these books weighing in my backpack were devoured on these long trips. I would read late into the night and get in trouble during class for reading.

We also had a grade school library and a middle school library and a high school library, which I made full use of.  I remember being thrilled to go to middle school ~ not because of the new teachers or anything but because I had a whole new library to ravage!

Ben Franklin may be known for kite and key, but I personally will be forever in his debt for inventing the American library. 

 Now, let's celebrate!  Tell the world about this great title below and enter to win a $100 GC:
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review: Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold by Various Authors

Title: Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold 
Authors: Brinda Berry, Cate Dean, Jayne A. Knolls, Karen Y. Bynam, Laura Diamond, Theresa DaLayne
Publication Date: March, 2014
Publisher: Sweet Biscuit Publishing LLC.
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 283
ISBN13: 978-0991632015
Source: ARC from Publisher


Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A collection of six folklore retellings that will twist your mind and claim your heart.

SHIMMER: A heartbroken boy rescues a mermaid… but is it too late to save her?

BETWEEN is about a girl, a genie, and a ton of bad decisions.

SUNSET MOON: Eloise doesn’t believe in Native American magic–until the dreamcatcher spiders spin her down an unknown path.

THE MAKER: An incapacitated young man bent on revenge builds a creature to do it for him.

A BEAUTIFUL MOURNING: The story of a Maya goddess torn between duty and love, and the ultimate sacrifice she must make to achieve true happiness.

THE BARRICADES: When a human girl risks everything to save the life of an Eternal prince, will their feelings for each other change the world they know, or tear it apart?

Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She has a BSE in English and French and a MEd in Learning Systems Technology. She's terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality. She doesn't mind being called a geek or “crazy dog lady”. When she's not working the day job or writing a novel, she's guilty of surfing the internet for no good reason. 

Karen Y. Bynum is an author of young adult paranormal romance. Her novel Witch Way to Turn is published through Lyrical Press. She grew up in Hickory, North Carolina where mountains and magic surrounded her. Even as a child, she wrote her own faery tales and prattled incessantly to her imaginary friends. 

After graduating from UNC Charlotte with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Communications, she went on to become certified in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Charlotte. But it wasn’t until her aerospace engineer husband accepted a job in Virginia and they relocated that she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Karen enjoys reading, tweeting, writing and spending time with her husband and their spoiled rotten Vizsla named Rusty.

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. She’s a lucid dreamer, meaning she can direct her dreams while they’re happening. When she’s awake, she pens stories from her dreams and shares them with her readers. 

Laura has many published titles including the Pride Series (New Pride, Shifting Pride, and Tsavo Pride), the Endure Series (Endure and Evoke), The Zodiac Collector, a novella Sunset Moon in the Lore anthology, and several shorts stories. When she’s not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion.

Theresa DaLayne is a north-south-east-western kind of girl with a quirky personality to match her nomad life. Born in California, she migrated to three different cities in Washington State, a tiny island in Alaska, North Carolina, and finally to the suburbs of Ohio where she currently lives with her husband, three kids, vegetarian cat, and her ungrateful fish.

Always on the lookout for a new story, Theresa is a shameless eavesdropper and will take anyone who provides inspiration and mold them into a character without a second thought. She enjoys writing both paranormal and contemporary stories, considering her mind wanders between worlds of fantasy while she’s forced to live in the real world, very much against her will.

Hi there - thanks for checking in. My name is Cate Dean, and I write romantic suspense and paranormal, with some action packed YA paranormal and fantasy thrown in.

I am a huge history buff, and with my English/Irish heritage, I have always gravitated to English history. That love has taken me across the pond on a regular basis for the last 15 years. Now I get to combine the thrill of being in a country I love with my research addiction. :)

      Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold is a collection of short stories that all follow the theme of myths and legends. Like most anthologies, there were strong and weak stories in here. Some of them contained stories that were rounded and well-developed. They were more satisfying in terms of content. Others could probably use more work. They just weren't to my taste and I either couldn't get into the story, didn't like the characters, or the story itself was flat.

My favorite was A Beautiful Mourning. This one I would give 5 stars because it used the most mythology and I enjoyed every element of the story. It was the strongest one by far.

My least favorite was The Maker. I felt like none of the characters were likeable and I just couldn't get into the story. That doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't enjoy it, but it just didn't suit my tastes. I'd give this one two stars.

The other stories are between 3 and 4 stars. They were pretty good, other than a few flaws I made have found or elements that I disliked. But for the most part, they were good.

This was a pleasant collection of stories, and as anthologies go, I enjoyed most of it. If you have an interest in mythology and legends, then you will enjoy Lore.