Friday, November 26, 2010

2010 Reading Challenges

As the new year is approaching fast I took the time to review how I've done so far on reading challenges I'm participating in. I've concluded that I've failed miserably:-( I came really close on the 2010 Audio Book Challenge...only two left to go but I doubt I'll make it since It's not really my thing. If I commuted to work I would probably listen to more audio books but my drive is a very short one. I fell really short on the 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge. I use my local library a lot I just don't read as fast as I used to. The same goes for the 2010 E-Book Reading Challenge. I'm happy to announce that I reached my goal for the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge (so I don't feel like a complete loser). I even read read 10 more than the required 12. This year when I sign up for 2011 challenges I think I'll be a little more realistic in setting my goals. What about you? How did everyone else do on their 2010 Challenges?


Book Blogger Hop: Nov. 26-29

It's Friday and time for the Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly event hosted over at Crazy-for-Books where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! This is my first hop and I'm really excited to participate.

This week's question comes from Sarah who blogs at Writer, Reader, Dreamer:
 "What is your favorite book cover?"
Recently I learned that Melissa Marr wrote her first novel for adults. It's release date is June 28, 2011 and it sounds fantastic! The cover alone makes me want to read this looks so sinister. I've watched enough Criminal Minds to know that whatever is in that barn can't be good. The story has all the elements that make up one darn good scary book!

From Goodreads:
The New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series delivers her first novel for adults, a story about the living, the dead, and a curse that binds them. 

If you would like to join in the fun, here are the rules:

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.
1.  Enter your book blog link in the Linky List below
In your link, please state the main genre that you review:  eclectic, contemp. fiction, ya, paranormal, mystery, non-fiction, etc.

Please do not list every genre you review - if you are review a variety, please put eclectic!  The Hop gets jumbled up if the title is too long, so please limit to one genre.  I will be limiting the number of characters in the title to ensure the Hop doesn't look messy!  Thank you!

Example:  Crazy-for-Books (eclectic adult fiction) 

2. Post about the Hop on your blog.  Spread the word about the book party!  The more the merrier!  In your blog post, answer the following question (new question each week!).  
3.  Visit other blogs in the Linky List!  Make new friends!  Follow new book bloggers!  Talk about books!  Rave about authors!  Take the time to make a quality visit!  Check out other posts and content, make a new friend!  Don't randomly follow someone if you never intend on actually following them!  No spamming please!  (Please do not leave your link and not visit other blogs - it's just not cool and not in the spirit of the Hop!)
Heres the Mr. Linky 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stephen King Short Stories

Stephen King's newest book is out... Full Dark, No Stars. What better way to spend my Thursday night than curled up on my couch diving into this new collection of short stories from the Master of Horror. I was surprised to learn that the e-book version is the same price as the hard back copy from Amazon and considered buying the hardback but alas I couldn't wait so I promptly downloaded. I've been reading great reviews and many reviewers are commenting that he has truly gotten back to his roots (Neil Gaiman's review). So far I would have to agree and I'm not even through the first story:-) On the subject of short stories I'm curious to know how many folks like to read them. I have mixed emotions on this subject. Short stories are good if you don't have a lot of time to invest in a novel. They're kind of like those mini Snickers bars- small but satisfying. On the other hand, if you really want to get lost in a book a short story can just leave you wanting more. In the case of Full Dark, No Stars the stories are really novellas...longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. I guess that's a happy middle:-) If you're a new Stephen King fan (or want a trip down memory lane) below are some of King's other short stories and novellas:


Never trust your heart to the New York Times bestselling master of suspense, Stephen King. Especially with an anthology that features the classic stories "Children of the Corn," "The Lawnmower Man," "Graveyard Shift," "The Mangler," and "Sometimes They Come Back"-which were all made into hit horror films.

"Unbearable suspense." (Dallas Morning News)

From the depths of darkness, where hideous rats defend their empire, to dizzying heights, where a beautiful girl hangs by a hair above a hellish fate, this chilling collection of twenty short stories will plunge readers into the subterranean labyrinth of the most spine-tingling, eerie imagination of our time.

From Goodreads
Different Seasons (1982) is a collection of four novellas, markedly different in tone & subject, each with a journey theme. The 1st is a nonhorrific tale about an innocent man who carefully nurtures hope & devises a wily scheme to escape from prison. The 2nd concerns a boy who discards his innocence by enticing an old man to travel with him into a reawakening of long-buried evil. In the 3rd, a writer looks back on the trek he took with three friends on the brink of adolescence to find another boy's corpse. The trip becomes a character-rich rite of passage from youth to maturity. These 1st three novellas have been made into movies: "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" into Frank Darabont's 1994 The Shawshank Redemption (available as a screenplay, a DVD & an audiocassette), "Apt Pupil" into Bryan Singer's 1998 film Apt Pupil (also released in 1998 on audiocassette), & "The Body" into Rob Reiner's Stand by Me (1986). The final novella, "Breathing Lessons," is a horror yarn told by a doctor, about a patient whose indomitable spirit keeps her baby alive under extraordinary circumstances. It's the tightest, most polished tale in the collection.--Fiona Webster

From Goodreads

In the introduction to Skeleton Crew (1985), his second collection of stories, King pokes fun at his penchant for "literary elephantiasis," makes scatological jokes about his muse, confesses how much money he makes (gross and net), and tells a story about getting arrested one time when he was "suffused with the sort of towering, righteous rage that only drunk undergraduates can feel." He winds up with an invitation to a scary voyage: "Grab onto my arm now. Hold tight. We are going into a number of dark places, but I think I know the way."

And he sure does. Skeleton Crew contains a superb short novel ("The Mist") that alone is worth the price of admission, plus two forgettable poems and 20 short stories on such themes as an evil toy monkey, a human-eating water slick, a machine that avenges murder, and unnatural creatures that inhabit the thick woods near Castle Rock, Maine. The short tales range from simply enjoyable to surprisingly good.

In addition to "The Mist," the real standout is "The Reach," a beautifully subtle story about a great-grandmother who was born on a small island off the coast of Maine and has lived there her whole life. She has never been across "the Reach," the body of water between island and mainland. This is the story that King fans give to their friends who don't read horror in order to show them how literate, how charming a storyteller he can be. Don't miss it. --Fiona Webster

From Goodreads
Many people who write about horror literature maintain that mood is its most important element. Stephen King disagrees: "My deeply held conviction is that story must be paramount.... All other considerations are secondary--theme, mood, even characterization and language."
These fine stories, each written in what King calls "a burst of faith, happiness, and optimism," prove his point. The theme, mood, characters, and language vary, but throughout, a sense of story reigns supreme. Nightmares & Dreamscapes contains 20 short tales--including several never before published--plus one teleplay, one poem, and one nonfiction piece about kids and baseball that appeared in the New Yorker. The subjects include vampires, zombies, an evil toy, man-eating frogs, the burial of a Cadillac, a disembodied finger, and a wicked stepfather. The style ranges from King's well-honed horror to a Ray Bradbury-like fantasy voice to an ambitious pastiche of Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald. And like a compact disc with a bonus track, the book ends with a charming little tale not listed in the table of contents--a parable called "The Beggar and the Diamond."--Fiona Webster

From Goodreads
In his introduction to Everything's Eventual, horror author extraordinaire Stephen King describes how he used a deck of playing cards to select the order in which these 14 tales of the macabre would appear. Judging by the impact of these stories, from the first words of the darkly fascinating "Autopsy Room Four" to the haunting final pages of "Luckey Quarter," one can almost believe King truly is guided by forces from beyond.

His first collection of short stories since the release of Nightmares & Dreamscapes in 1993, Everything's Eventual represents King at his most undiluted. The short story format showcases King's ability to spook readers using the most mundane settings (a yard sale) and comfortable memories (a boyhood fishing excursion). The dark tales collected here are some of King's finest, including an O. Henry Prize winner and "Riding the Bullet," published originally as an e-book and at one time expected by some to be the death knell of the physical publishing world. True to form, each of these stories draws the reader into King's slightly off-center world from the first page, developing characters and atmosphere more fully in the span of 50 pages than many authors can in a full novel.

For most rabid King fans, chief among the tales in this volume will be "The Little Sisters of Eluria," a novella that first appeared in the fantasy collection Legends, set in King's ever-expanding Dark Tower universe. In this story, set prior to the first Dark Tower volume, the reader finds Gunslinger Roland of Gilead wounded and under the care of nurses with very dubious intentions. Also included in this collection are "That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French," the story of a woman's personal hell; "1408," in which a writer of haunted tour guides finally encounters the real thing; "Everything's Eventual," the title story, about a boy with a dream job that turns out to be more of a nightmare; and "L.T.'s Theory of Pets," a story of divorce with a bloody surprise ending.

King also includes an introductory essay on the lost art of short fiction and brief explanatory notes that give the reader background on his intentions and inspirations for each story. As with any occasion when King directly addresses his dear Constant Readers, his tone is that of a camp counselor who's almost apologetic for the scare his fireside tales are about to throw into his charges, yet unwilling to soften the blow. And any campers gathered around this author's fire would be wise to heed his warnings, for when King goes bump in the night, it's never just a branch on the window. --Benjamin Reese

From Goodreads
Stephen King-who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies-delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Esquire and other publications.

Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-a-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating-and then terrifying-journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable-and resourceful-as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark. In "Ayana," a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, "N.," which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside . . . or keep the world from falling victim to it.

Just After Sunset-call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King.

From Goodreads

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Short and Sweet Book Review: Three Little Words

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Published January 8, 2008 by Atheneum
ya memoir, Hardcover 320 Pages
"Sunshine, you're my baby and I'm your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she's not your mama." Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system.
Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative,humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed - and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.

From Goodreads

I chose this book because I thought it would be a good read-a-like for those who had read  A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. While A Child Called It spoke of the horrors of child abuse at the hands of Dave's mother, Three Little Words described the ways in which child protective services many times fails children in the system. Ashley spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes. By the time she was saved from this dismal existence, including one abusive foster home that would make the headlines, she had put up protective barriers that hardly let anyone in. She was always waiting for the next person to give up on her and send her on to places unknown. When Ashley finally found her forever home with the help of her Guardian ad Litem, Mary Miller, she describes her experience as this:

" I felt safe enough to allow sunlight to sweep the shadows from my life"

This is a book that will stick with me for a long time. It makes you want to go out and make a difference for kids who have suffered the atrocities of the foster care system. If you would like to read more about Ashley Rhodes-Courter, you can visit her website at

If you're interested in reading more books on the topic of child abuse, check out my reviews of Lessons From a Dead Girl and House Rules.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Slice of Cherry

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on....
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves (web site)
Published Jan. 4, 2011 by Simon Pulse
Hardcover 512 pages

Happiness is a bloody knife.

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities....

From Goodreads

Looks like some good stuff! Happy reading this week:-)
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