Thursday, July 31, 2008

Review: Watches of the Night by Sally Wright

An American Army combat photographer, a Staff Sergeant named Bobby Talbot, stood in a filthy wet uniform with his back to the Saar River, as chunks of ice floated past on its cold grey skin.
[First sentence]

Watches of the Night
by Sally Wright
Severn House, 2008
Crime Fiction (S/T); 245 pgs

University archivist, Ben Reese, has been harboring a grudge of sorts for over 15 years. He served as a scout during World War II, putting himself in dangerous situations, sometimes leading teams of technicians in to obtain important documents and technology behind enemy lines. On one such mission, he encountered a colonel with a shady past and questionable methods. He had buried his suspicions for the sake of his bride and his health after the war, needing to focus on his own life and recovery from his war injuries. When his Scottish friend, Kate Lindsay, asks for his help in uncovering who mailed her the eye of her husband, who had died in the war some 16 years earlier, dark memories of Ben’s own time on the front line resurface.

Despite the fact that his job at the university is hanging by a thread, Ben sets out to reach into his past in hopes of finding the truth to what happened those many years ago. While he does what he can to uncover clues in the United States, Kate puts her own investigative skills to use in Scotland, searching out a medic who may know something about the unexpected gift. Only, someone else has other ideas, wanting the secrets of the past to remain buried. This someone will go to any length to protect those secrets, including committing murder. Kate and Ben must watch their step the closer they get to the truth.

Watches of the Night is the fifth book in Sally Wright’s Ben Reese mystery series. The novel is set in the early 1960’s, not long after the building of the Berlin Wall and Kennedy’s decision to send advisors to Vietnam. The author takes the reader back to 1945 through remembrances, which offer the reader a glimpse into Ben’s harrowing past during the Second World War, a time that was often harsh and brutal. It was also a time of great heroism, where men risked their lives for their comrades in arms, fighting with all they had to survive.

The characters are well developed, from the minor characters to the more prominent ones. Kate Lindsay, a suspense/thriller novelist herself is both intelligent and resourceful. She balances Ben Reese’s character well. He is no slouch himself, quick on his feet and in mind. His love for horses and his strong sense of doing what is right make him even more endearing. According to the acknowledgments at the end of the book, the character of Ben Reese is based on a real life person, John Reed, who also was an archivist and had been a scout during World War II.

Author Sally Wright has written a compelling mystery novel. Her writing style flows easily as she paints a beautiful picture of the landscapes her characters encounter, including Ohio, Kentucky, Scotland and Italy. She packs a lot of detail into her story; however it never feels overwhelming or too busy. It is obvious the author did her research and aimed for accuracy in even the smallest of details. It was curious that phone conversations were presented as being only one-sided although the novel is written in third person and jumps in points of view from one character to another.

Watches of the Night makes for interesting reading. It is suspenseful while at the same time maintaining a steady pace that allows readers to take in all the details and stay on top of the events as they unfold. For series readers who may wonder if this book can be read out of order, the answer is yes. It seems to stand well on its own. Sally Wright has demonstrated that she is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading the earlier books in the series as well as reading future books. Originally published at Front Street Reviews.

Rating: * (Good +)

Check out the Sally Wright's website for more information about her books.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: Tragedy in South Lebanon by Cathy Sultan

It is late afternoon in the tiny village of Qana, six kilometers southeast of Tyre in South Lebanon. The United Nation’s blue and white flag hanging over the compound usually billows in the breeze. Today, its torn scraps snap harshly at the same light wind, signaling something horribly amiss.

Tragedy in South Lebanon: The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006
by Cathy Sultan
Scarletta Press, 2008
Nonfiction; 172 pgs

When news reached the United States about the war that broke out between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, my heart sank. Stories of civilian casualties flooded the news. In today's political climate with the Middle East being a hot spot, I jumped at the chance to read Cathy Sultan's Tragedy in South Lebanon: The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006. I wanted to better understand what was happening in that area and perhaps gain insight into what was behind the war.

The author shared her experience during the Lebanese civil war that began in 1975 in her book, A Beirut Heart. She was an American who had moved to Lebanon with her children and husband several years before. She currently lives in Wisconsin and serves on the Executive Board of the National Peace Foundation. In her most recent book, Cathy Sultan takes a hard look at the events that took place in Lebanon during the summer of 2006. She spoke with civilians and soldiers on both sides of the conflict and examined the history that led up to the war. Lebanon has been a pawn throughout history, in the middle of a tug-of-war between powerful countries, each wanting their own stake.

On July 12, 2006, two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah. This was common practice along the border, both Israel and Hezbollah taking turns kidnapping and holding civilians or soldiers hostage with the expectation of making a trade. Only this time, Israel's leaders were unwilling to play along. In a show of force, Israel attacked Lebanon, hoping to wipe out Hezbollah once and for all.

Some say that the Israeli's wanted an excuse to fight and had been preparing for war for some time. Yet they sent their soldiers into Lebanon ill-prepared. Their equipment was old and many of the newer soldiers were untrained. They were thrown into battle against a guerrilla army that knew their country's homeland inside and out. Hezbollah also knew its enemy well, having studied them for decades during the Israeli occupation of its southern lands. To complicate matters, Hezbollah had a huge stockpile of weapons, armed by Iran and Syria.

Israel felt threatened by Hezbollah and their rising strength. Hezbollah was first organized as a resistance group to fight against Israeli occupation in Lebanon decades before. Hezbollah has a reputation of being a terrorist group, not to mention they had once vowed to destroy Israel in its entirety, a threat that Israel took very seriously.

The 2006 war was not all about the threat of one group on the other, however. The water sources and portions of land in Southern Lebanon would be a boon to anyone who controlled them. Israel has a desperate need for water and control over a portion of the Litani River would be quite beneficial. It runs through Lebanon, however, and it would severely hurt any chance of Lebanon getting fully back on its feet if the river was no longer considered theirs. The Shebaa Farms are another bone of contention for the Israelis and Lebanese. Syria gave the land in question to the Lebanese people; however, Israel contests the right of Syria to do such a thing. The United Nations has since proclaimed that the Sebaa Farms are in fact Lebanese land and Israel, who still has a presence there, has been ordered to pull out.

The role of the West in all of this is obvious but not always so direct. Further, the politics of the United States, Israel, Iran and Syria all continue to play a part in Lebanon’s future. And the people continue to be in the middle of a tug-of-war with no end in sight. The true victims on all sides are the civilians. These are people who are trying to survive as we all are. They want to work, love, raise their children and feel safe.

Lebanon still is trying to recover from the chaos left over from the war two years ago. The war caused such an upheaval that it left the Lebanese government in near shambles. The entire infrastructure of the country was nearly destroyed. Major transportation highways, hospitals, schools, and publishing houses were left in ruins. The drinking water continues to be contaminated by oil, phosphorous from munitions, and sewage as well other chemicals, all the result of the war of 2006. People's homes and businesses were completely wiped out. Cluster bombs sit like time bombs waiting for the unsuspecting child to discover it any day now--or ten to 30 years from now. The effects of the 34 day war will be felt for many years to come.

Israel says Hezbollah used civilian structures to hide both themselves and their armaments; however there has been no evidence to support such a claim when examined by independent groups. Israel has been asked for information on where the missiles carrying cluster bombs were dropped, but Israel has yet to turn over the reports despite the UN resolution ordering them to do so. Such information is vital to the deminers who are trying to clear away the threat of future deaths of innocent people due to these insidious bombs. The loss of viable farm land has hurt the economy significantly and ecologically, the country is in dire straits. This once beautiful and lush country has been deeply wounded. Just when Lebanon seems to get on its feet, it seems to be knocked down again.

Hezbollah is no less guilty in all of this. They too used cluster bombs in urban areas and killed civilians. They toyed with the Israelis despite making a promise to Lebanon that there would be peace as Lebanon entered into one of its most prosperous times in recent history. The tourist business was on the upswing and Lebanon seemed to be thriving. All that changed very quickly, however, with the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers.

The focus of the book is on Lebanon and the damaged suffered by the Lebanese people. The author went into the Israeli casualties on a smaller scale, and so the book comes across as slanted more in one direction than the other at times. The author, however, tries to make it clear both sides were at fault and that it is the politicians, the leaders, who need to be held accountable for their actions.

Cathy Sultan does not gloss over the responsibility of anyone in Lebanon’s current woes. Her information is well researched and documented. War is an ugly thing. Innocent people are caught in the middle and those in power seem only to care about strategy and winning the battle. Tragedy in South Lebanon offers an honest and much needed perspective on a war and country that is too often ignored amidst the talk of current Middle East issues. Originally published at Front Street Reviews.

Rating: * (Good +)

Check out the Cathy Sultan's website for more information about her books.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday Wanderings & Tuesday Thingers

Elizabeth over at An Adventure in Reading wants to know:

Where is reading taking you today?
It is a summer of change, and not always the kind a person would welcome. I have been laboring in the cotton fields this summer, reluctantly making new friends, and breaking the usual routines. Dad's girlfriend has wormed her way into the house and seems to be trying to erase the memories of mother. There's a college paper to write, the constant struggle to survive with a often misunderstood illness, and the boyfriend who is committed to someone else.

I currently am spending a little time in Louisiana walking in the shoes of Angel Duet, feeling her longing and sadness for what she never had and what she will never be. Or so she believes, anyway.

Unlike Angel, I will not be skipping work today and curling back into bed to sleep. Not for lack of wanting to, mind you. I was up a little too late reading Penelope Przekop's novel, Aberrations, and would more than welcome a little extra sleep. Alas, duty calls.

Today's question: Cataloging sources. What cataloging sources do you use most? Any particular reason? Any idiosyncratic choices, or foreign sources, or sources you like better than others? Are you able to find most things through LibraryThing's almost 700 sources?

For those not familiar with Library Thing: whenever I add a new book to my TBR collection (books I actually own, not to be confused with my wish list books which are the books I want to get my hands on but haven't yet), I catalog it on the Library Thing site, where I keep a record of all of the books I own. Or most of them, anyway. When cataloging a book, I do a search to locate the book on a catalog source, such as or the Library of Congress, and add it to my library based on what I find. It is really very simple: just a matter of typing in the ISBN number of the book and clicking on that search button. Using a common cataloging source is preferable to creating a new entry manually, especially in a community such as Library Thing. It keeps things nice and tidy, not to mention opens the door for making comparisons and tracking down others who also have the book in their library.

When searching for books I have just acquired and want to add to my Library Thing database, I generally use the search feature simply because it is the default catalog source. I must admit that I hardly ever pay attention to this particular feature. Occasionally, I will come across a book I cannot find on, and then I am forced to look elsewhere. What source I use at that point often depends on what country the book may have originated from. It is not unusual for me to forget to switch back to right away, and so I end up using other catalog sources without realizing it.

Here's a look at my catalog source stats for Library Thing. I had to enter one book manually because I couldn't find it in any of the cataloging sources--and believe me, I tried all sorts of them in my attempt to find the book.

3 Library of Congress
1 Manual entry

There have been a number of contests and drawings for books on line lately. I was trying to be good and not enter too many, but here are a few that caught my attention yesterday:

Lisa over at Minds Alive on the Shelves is giving away a copy of Shining City by Seth Greenland. I remember seeing the book trailer for this one not to long ago (I wish I could remember who posted about it), and got a good laugh out of it. It sounds like an entertaining novel. Check out Lisa's review for more information about the book.

Copies of The Genizah at the House of Shepher by Tamar Yellin are being given away over at She Is Too Fond of Books. This sounds like an intriguing novel, spanning 150 years and over 4 generations, set in Jerusalem.

I was so excited to discover I won Lisa's contest over at Sew What Bags and will soon be the proud owner of one of her hand sewn bags. Thank you, Lisa!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Review: Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson

I didn’t wear my gun. They had said that it was going to be easy and, like the fool I am, I believed them. They said that if things got rough to make sure I showed the pictures, of which there were only 23; I had already shown them twice. “’Long, long ago, there lived a king and queen . . .’”
[first paragraph]

Kindness Goes Unpunished
by Craig Johnson
Viking, 2007
Crime Fiction (M); 281 pgs

Craig Johnson continues to entertain and enthrall with his latest book in the Sheriff Walt Longmire mystery series. Leaving behind the beautiful and rural comfort of home, Walt joins his best friend Henry Standing Bear in Philadelphia, where Henry will be presenting old Mennonite photographs found on the reservation to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. This is the perfect opportunity for Walt to visit his only child, Cady, an up and coming attorney. He is less than thrilled about meeting his daughter's new boyfriend as any father might be.

Sheriff Walt Longmire faces a parent's worst nightmare when his daughter is assaulted and left near dead the night of his arrival. The circumstances of the assault and the resulting rescue raise more questions than answers. A voice mail message from Devon, Cady's boyfriend, leads Walt to believe Devon has more than his share of a bad temper. To make matters worse, Devon is not being completely truthful with the police. Walt, not used to sitting back and waiting, decides to take matters into his own hands and question Devon.

Walt did not expect his trip to turn into a full fledge murder investigation with him as one of the possible prime suspects when his daughter's boyfriend turns up dead. Walt joins in on the investigation just the same, determined to get to the bottom of Cady's assault and her boyfriend's death. With his trademark cowboy hat and charm, Walt, as always, has a way of getting the information he needs. The good guys are almost always willing to chat with the good sheriff, but the bad guys are never quite so easy. In typical Longmire fashion, Walt has the bruises, cuts and scrapes to prove it.

A rural county sheriff from Wyoming, Walt is a bit out of his element, stuck in a big urban city. Both he and his friend, Henry, are hard to miss in the city, the Cowboy and the Indian straight out of the west. Craig Johnson brings out the contrasts through both humor and the more serious moments. In one instance, Henry Standing Bear performs a healing ritual in Cady's hospital room to help guide her back home. In another a little girl asks Henry if he is an Indian, and decides to ham it up by seriously responding with a "How." Despite any cultural differences there may be between city and rural life, Walt knows how to hold his own. His manner, experience and knowledge earn him the respect he deserves, and it is not hard to see why he makes so many friends.

Walt never seems to be without his friends, both old and new. Henry is his pillar and deputy Victoria Moretti balances him out. They both are his strength when he needs it most, especially as his daughter lies comatose and his anger bubbles up inside him. Officer Michael Moretti and his and Victoria's mother, Lena, lend their own mix of strength and comfort to Walt--keeping him focused and moving in the right direction. Craig Johnson's novels are character driven. His characters are complex and relatable. Their relationships with each other play an important part in the series, both in the individual books and in the series as a whole.

The author aims to make readers laugh and cry, and he succeeds with Kindness Goes Unpunished. He takes a chance by taking his characters outside of their usual setting, and while I missed spending time in Walt's Wyoming, it was an opportunity for the author to shake things up a bit and offer a new perspective on the various characters. Craig Johnson continues to raise the bar in the mystery writing arena. Kindness Goes Unpunished is yet another not-to -miss novel in what is fast becoming one of my favorite series.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Wendy Runyon, 2008.

Rating: * (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by Craig Johnson's website for more information about his books.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Salon: The Mary Sue Effect

I learned a new term yesterday. I was discussing with my husband the book I was reading and mentioned that one of the supporting characters, who seemed to dominate the story at times, shared the same profession as the author and was nominated for a similar award. It worked very effectively in the book and did not seem at all out of place in the sense of pulling me out of the story. I liked the character quite a bit actually--favored her over the main character, in fact. It didn't even cross my mind that this could be the author's way of inserting herself in her own book. I am not sure that she did, mind you. It is just that the coincidences seemed many.

Self-insertion and author surrogacy are not new to fiction. Both are literary techniques in which an author inserts a bit of themselves into their own story. In the case of an author surrogate, an author creates a character that is a reflection of the author by way of personality, ideas, and beliefs. It is not always a conscious effort, however. Self-insertion is much more direct in that the author writes him or herself into the story, more often as a minor character although this is not always the case. Sometimes it is obvious and other times it is more covert. Both can be quite effective if used appropriately.

I wonder how much of the old adage "write what you know" comes into play in situations like this, if at all. I imagine it would be difficult to divorce oneself completely from the story that is being written. I inject a little bit of me in everything I write, even when I am not consciously doing so. However, that is not quite the same thing as self-insertion or author surrogacy. That would be an entirely different topic.

The term my husband introduced me to is the Mary Sue Effect, which is most often relegated to describing an effect that occurs in fan fiction. It is a pejorative expression really, and encompasses the idea of self-insertion and author surrogacy in an extreme way. It is a brand of wishful thinking on the author's part that stands out, is often over the top and pushes the envelope when it comes to suspension of disbelief. That's a generic definition anyway.

The author of the book I was reading yesterday may have inserted herself in her own book (she bases her main character on a real life person and so it would not be too much of a stretch to believe), but I would not go so far as to call it a case of the Mary Sue Effect. It was not over the top in any way and did not seem out of place or forced, despite the fact that the character did take a leading role in the the story as it unfolded. And, not knowing the author, I cannot say whether she is anything like her character or not other than in occupation.

I had never given much thought before to such things as self-insertion and author surrogacy. It was just one of those things that came up in casual conversation. Isn't it interesting, the directions are thoughts and discussions can take us?

I have just began reading Penelope Przekop's novel, Aberrations, about a young woman who suffers from narcolepsy. Angel longs to know the truth about her deceased mother and what she discovers is much different than she ever imagined. I am already entranced. Here's a sample to whet your appetite:
My father is a liar. He claimed to name me Angel the day my mother died. He said it was because God sent me to save him, but as the years passed he shriveled up anyway into a wad of sadness and self-pity. The likes he told about her death became my foundation--they were the kind that anchor little girls when they don't have a mother. [pg 1]
I am also starting a suspense/thriller novel called Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah and Joel Shlian. This particular novel is taking me to China, where Dr. Lili Quan returns at the insistence of her dying mother. Touching on the cultural revolution during the late 20th century and the search for the secret to long life, Rabbit in the Moon promises to be an intriguing tale. I am looking forward to reading more.

Week in Review:
Review of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen
Review of Death Without Company by Craig Johnson
Booking Through Thursday: Beginnings. It's all in the first line.
Off Topic Chatter
General Bookish Talk: Saturday Randomness

New Additions to the TBR Collection:
Good-Bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon
The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey
The Boat by Nam Le
Stream of Death by Bill Stackhouse

I hope everyone has a great week. It is hard to believe August is just around the corner. Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Randomness

I am terribly behind in visiting my favorite blogs and so am getting this link out late. There's only one more day to enter, but please do if you are interested! Lisa over at Books. Lists. Life. is giving away copies of Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree and Janet Evanovich's Plum Lucky. She is also giving away a lovely bag over at her blog Sew What Bags. So hurry over before it's too late!

Meghan from Medieval Bookworm is giving away a copy of Carina Burman's The Streets of Babylon. It's a historical mystery set in 1851 England, featuring Swedish author Euthanasia Bondeson and Inspector Owain Evans. I admit that the cover is what drew me to take a closer look at this one.

A couple of unknown-to-me books that caught my attention this week out there in the blogosphere:

Immunity by Lori Andrews - discovered at Cheryl's Book Nook
The Foreigner by Francie Lin - recommended by Lisa at Breaking the Fourth Wall.

You would think that living in Southern California, I would be more on top of the literary news in the region. My friend and fellow Sheriff Longmire aficionado, Cathy over at Kittling: Books reminded me that this is the final weekend for the L.A. Times Sunday Book Supplement. She asks us to consider, "How much responsibility do we bookaholics share in this?"

Literary License recently directed readers to GalleyCat, where Ron ponders, "What If the Blogosphere Decides to Pack It In?", as publishing and marketing professionals focus more and more attention on bloggers to get the word out about books.

If ever I am having a bad day, I know where to come. I was recently honored by several of you with blog awards, and I cannot express my gratitude enough.

I first came across Ticket to Anywhere through the Sunday Salon and her blog has become one of my favorites. I can always count on her for a great book recommendation. I wish I could write as well as she can.

Alice and Melody have been among my blogger friends for quite a while now (I almost said years, but considering I'm only on my second year of blogging, that would be a bit of an exaggeration--it feels like I've known them forever anyway). Both are always encouraging and I enjoy reading about their lives and the books they read.

I cannot speak highly enough about Chris and Amy, two bloggers who I have come to admire not only as bloggers but as people too. I've often turned to my husband after reading something they've written and exclaim, "I wish I had written that!"

Trisha's The Life of an Obsessed Reader is one my must visit blogs. She is smart and insightful. She offers readers a slice of her life via her blog, and I enjoy her stories.

So, thank you for the awards! It means a lot to me.

It is always so much fun to come across my name when awards are circulating in the blogosphere. There are so many blogs that I visit regularly, so many of you that I admire and consider to be excellent and brilliant. I am not going to single anyone out this time around. It is another case of my being unable to choose among so many qualified candidates. Just ask me what I want for dinner tonight. You'll see what I mean.

On a final note, this goes out to my animal loving readers. If you haven't seen this video yet, please do check it out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Fill In Fun

Questions 4-6 this week are courtesy of Sherry!

1. I believe whatever doesn't kill you turns into goat cheese.

2. If you're good at something, teach others how to do it well too.

3. Why so many people do not read books, I do not know.

4. Something is out there; it's casting an awfully big shadow.

5. If my life were a sitcom, it would be titled Musings of a Bookish Kitty. So unoriginal, I know.

6. Sitting on my back porch [if you don't have one, use your imagination] I see lots of dirt.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to hanging out with my husband and the animals, watching episodes of season 2 of the new Dr. Who; tomorrow my plans include a bowl of ice cream and a piece of chocolate cake; and Sunday, I want to take an early morning walk and an afternoon of reading!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Beginnings

Suggested by: Nithin:

What are your favorite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?
When I come across a book I am unfamiliar with but which sounds like something I would like to read, I sometimes will peruse the first paragraph or two to get a feel for the writing. Call it a taste test, if you will. I like to know what I am getting myself into. In that way, the first several sentences may be the determining factor in whether I decide to purchase a particular book.

I have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering quotes, much less the first sentence of books I read. That isn't to say I haven't been instantly grabbed by a first line: a particularly juicy morsel, a shocking moment, or a witty introduction. However, my brain has a tendency to remember the gist of a story, the essence of the characters, and the whole of the idea rather than in bits and pieces--quote by quote, word for word. I do find beauty in language and the intricacies of how a story is put together, don't get me wrong. Why some details stick and others do not, I cannot really say. This is why I will never good at a game like Trivial Pursuit.

I thought that keeping a reading journal would help me remember quotes and passages that especially touch me, but I often get so caught up in the story that I often forget to jot the page number down. And by the time I remember there was a passage I meant to make note of, I am too far along in the story to want to go back in search of it. Although, I have been known to scour a book looking for said passage when I just cannot shake it. There are always exceptions.

Looking through my reading journal over the past several months, I came across a few first sentences which still grab me, reading them again today:

Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. [The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes]

If Norman Lyons had known he was going to die that morning, he would have worn different clothes. [Say Goodbye by E J Rand]

As Omar Yussef came along the passage, the flies left the flooded toilets to examine him. [A Grave in Gaza by Matt Beynon Rees]

When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily. [The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold]

He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing it. [Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indriđason]

And of the ones sitting on my immediate TBR shelf that have me wanting to pick them up and read them right now:

Accidents ambush the unexpecting, often violently, just like love. [The Gargoyle by Andrew Davison]

In the beginning, I believed in second chances. [Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult]

It's not that I don't like people. [Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan]

I was a private investigator once. But then we've all been things we aren't anymore. [Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas.]
My husband actually bought the Richard Aleas' book because of the first two sentences, and I thought it would be fun to mention his recent favorite, but then after reading the first lines myself, I want to read the book too. Go figure.

When it gets right down to it, however, I have no favorites. First lines can reel me in immediately or, on the rare occasion, they can be off-putting. Regardless, it takes a lot more than a compelling first sentence to hold my interest in a book.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

He stared at the chessboard. “The Basquos have an old proverb, ‘a life without friends means death without company.’”
[excerpt from the book]

Death Without Company
by Craig Johnson
Viking; 2006
Crime Fiction (M); 271 pgs

Craig Johnson's Death Without Company is the second book in his mystery series featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire of Absaroka County in Wyoming. It does not take long to be transported right into the pages of the novel. Craig Johnson's writing evokes a strong sense of place, and you might find yourself shivering and trying to keep warm in the winter cold even on the hottest summer day.

With the holidays approaching, Walt is wondering what to get his daughter for Christmas. He has an upcoming interview scheduled with a prospective new deputy, and his protégé, Deputy Victoria Moretti, is standing outside the grocery store ordering people to go to the courthouse for jury duty. All seems normal in the county as one of the largest winter storm of the season approaches.

When Walt arrives at the assisted living home to play a weekly game of chess with the former sheriff, Lucian Connally, he soon finds himself knee deep in a possible murder investigation. Despite the fact that the elderly woman's death appears to be of natural causes, Lucian insists that foul play was involved. He demands that an autopsy be completed and her room be sealed off. As the investigation unfolds, Walt uncovers dark family secrets and a possible murder from over fifty years before. He also learns more about the former sheriff, the man he calls mentor and friend. Lucian has secrets of his own that he has kept locked away; secrets that involved the once beautiful and now dead Mari Baroja.

Mari's abusive husband disappeared over 50 years ago, believed to have walked out on his family. However, there are those who tell a different tale, one in which he walked straight into his grave. She was the mother of three children, a son who died in the Vietnam War and two twin daughters who went on to practice law. Lana Baroja, Mari's granddaughter, owns and runs a bakery in Durant. Any of them could stand to inherit a fortune from the newly deceased Mari, depending on the terms of Mari’s will. The deeper Walt digs, the closer to the truth he gets. Several murder attempts on others involved with the case only raise the stakes. While the motive becomes clearer as the novel progresses, the identity of the person behind it all remains a mystery right up until the very end.

Craig Johnson knows just how to set up a story and hold the reader's attention from page one right to the very end. He has created characters who are not only real but interesting. Deputy Vic Moretti is one tough cookie, and Ruby, the dispatcher/receptionist has never been more on the ball. Lucian offers a bit of comic relief at times and yet his story is a sad one that is sure to strike at the heart.

The middle aged sheriff, Walt Longmire, is as sharp and intelligent as ever. He manages to keep a level head even when his own life is on the line. Very little gets past him when he is on the job. While no one would want to cross him when he is angry, Walt has a big heart. He is surrounded by friends and colleagues who respect and care about him, and he always seems to pick up a straggler or two along the way that adds to the menagerie of his official and unofficial investigative team.

The author captures the rural atmosphere--the simplicity of life and the complex layers of the people he writes about. Sprinkled with the author’s dry wit, a bit of action, and an engaging mystery, Death Without Company is an entertaining and suspense-filled novel.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Wendy Runyon, 2008.

Rating: * (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by Craig Johnson's website for more information about his books.

Read what Cathy had to say about this book:
Kittling Books

Monday, July 21, 2008

Review: Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen

I slept with close to forty boys and men before I figured out doing so was not serving me well.
[pg 1]

Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity
by Kerry Cohen
Hyperion, 2008
Nonfiction (Memoir); 210 pgs

Kerry Cohen was nothing like me; or was she? While she was vying for men’s affections and slipping under the covers with boys and men she barely knew, I kept to myself, lost myself in my studies, and sought approval and attention in other ways. Sex, drugs and alcohol were never a part of my scene like they were for Kerry. Despite our different approaches to achieve a similar goal, I was really no different than the author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity.

Kerry Cohen came to realize early in her life that as a woman, she had a power over men. With a certain tilt of her head, the widening of her eyes, and a swing of her hip, men would take notice. Amidst her parents’ divorce, her mother’s favoritism of her sister and eventual abandonment, and her father’s easy going and unrestrictive mode of parenting where he sought to be more friend than parent figure, Kerry was left feeling invisible and hungry for attention most of her young life. Each of her parents harbored their own insecurities, which influenced Kerry and her sister, Tyler, both in different and yet similar ways.

Kerry wanted to be noticed. She wanted to be loved. She thought she could find what she was looking for by latching onto men. She thought she could not live without them—that they were the answer to her loneliness and lack of control over her life. And for a short while, it may have seemed satisfying to her—enough to keep her going back for more. She lost herself in the process, forgetting who she was, striving only to please the many men in her life, wanting them to want her. And yet, her constant need and wanting, even when she had what she had sought after, was never enough because she never quite felt secure in herself.

She eventually came to realize that the dangerous path she was traveling down would not give her what she truly needed most. Her life was spiraling out of control and like the alcoholic or drug addict, Kerry needed to hit rock bottom before she would be able to turn her life around. She did not like who she had become and realized that she had to do something to change that. She started to take back her life. She discovered her love for writing, which gave her a direction to go, and began to accept that she did not need a man to survive. Only then was she able to develop a healthy relationship with someone, and even then, it was not always so easy.

While I did not turn to sex and men the way Kerry did, I had my own vices, my own way of filling that void in my life. I too have felt what it is like to want to be noticed, to be needed and wanted. I could relate to Kerry on that deeper level even having never shared her life experiences. I think most of us can relate to her story in that way. We all at some point feel like the outsider, like we do not fit in. We may feel invisible or alone in this world. We seek approval. We want to be loved and feel needed.

Kerry Cohen’s Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity was a moving and heartfelt story of one girl’s struggle with her own desires and needs. She sought to be loved not really understanding what love was, mistaking it for sex. The more she gave of herself physically, the more of herself she held back, unable to truly let herself be loved and to love fully. The author’s writing style flows smoothly, and I found it impossible not to form an attachment to the author the more of her story I read. She writes from the perspective of where she was at the time the story was taking place, with occasional bits of hindsight added on. I felt this was an effective manner of telling her story.

The author offers no "cure" or big "aha!" moment in the end. She is not looking to offer anyone a boiler plate solution because there is none. Kerry's own story and struggles are ongoing. There is no quick fix. I liked that about this book. It is real and honest. After finishing the book, I rushed to her website to see what she is doing now, to see if her story had a happy ending.

Rating: * (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by Kerry Cohen's website for more information about the author and her writing.

Read what others had to say about this book:
Book Zombie
Books on the Brain
Breaking the Fourth Wall
Canadian Bookworm
Pop Culture Junkie

Friday, July 18, 2008

Catch Up Friday

All questions this week are courtesy of Sherry.

1. If I could be a fly on the wall I would stay up high where I am out of reach.

2. Jealousy is dangerous in the extreme.

3. When I see a shooting star my wish would be that people would get along and respect one another.

4. I'd rather be reading than shoe shopping any day!

5. Certain songs when I hear them make me wanna sing along. (Okay, so most songs.)

6. If time were in a bottle there wouldn't be much of it.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to cuddling with my husband and animals, tomorrow my plans include seeing Batman: The Dark Knight and Sunday, I want to see Mamma Mia!

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday? Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip? What/Where are they?
Much depends on whether I am traveling someplace new or going to visit the folks. If I am going to visit my in-laws or my own parents then a trip to the bookstore is not a top priority. I often come home with books, but they are usually ones that the parents have loaned or given us.

However, when going on an actual vacation that doesn't include visiting family--when it's just my husband and I--then, yes, bookstore stops are a must. In most of these cases, the bookstores are completely new to me, and so I cannot claim a favorite. I do like to stop in nearly every bookstore I come across if I get the chance. I feel obligated to make at least a small purchase to show my support to the local community. I mean, they are putting up with having me in town after all.

My husband is actually worse than I am on this subject. Whereas I tend to go with the flow, he comes prepared with a list of area comic book stores that we must check out. I do not think he's yet made his list for Hawaii, but I imagine this time will not be any different.

Tuesday's topic: Book-swapping. Do you do it? What site(s) do you use? How did you find out about them? What do you think of them? Do you use LT's book-swapping column feature for information on what to swap? Do you participate in any of the LT communities that discuss bookswapping, like the Bookmooch group for example?
I trade individual books now and then. Sometimes I give books away. I loan books to family and friends and borrow others in return. As for participating in an actual book swapping group or community, no, I never have nor am I interested in doing so at this time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Coward by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

But the way I see it . . . If you aren’t scared, in our line of work, then you just aren’t thinking. And I won’t work with people who don’t use their brains before their bullets . . .

Criminal Vol. 1: Coward
by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Icon, 2007
Crime Fiction (Graphic Novel) ; 128 pgs

My husband recommended that I try the Criminal series, sure I would like it. He's usually always right when it comes to what I will like and not like and this time was no different.

Leo is good at what he does. He is a criminal who believes in following the rules. He has his own code which has kept him out of jail and alive all of his life. His father had gotten caught after breaking one of his own rules, and Leo did not want to follow his father's fate.

One of his rules is not to trust dirty cops, and so when Seymour and a fellow officer, Jeff, interrupt his evening of picking pockets and ask him for a favor, he turns them down. Jeff claims he has inside information on a diamond transport, evidence for a case that will soon be coming to trial. Leo is still not interested. Seymour, however, knows which buttons to push, calling on one of Leo’s friends to play the sympathy card. Against his better judgment, Leo finally relents. He should have gone with his instincts. Nothing is quite what it seems, and the heist goes terribly wrong. Leo finds himself on the run and wondering how to set things right.

Leo is one of those characters I like instantly. He is intelligent and thinks before he acts. He is careful and detailed. He also has a good heart. He has been a loner most of his life with the exception of caring for his father's friend, Ivan. Ivan is a bit of comic relief in the story. He has a way with women, and, despite the fact that he suffers from Alzheimer's, some of his actions had me chuckling in spite of myself.

Sean Phillips art work is an integral part of the story. It sets the mood and gives life to Ed Brubaker's words. It is impossible to think of one without the other. The story is both compelling and suspenseful. Coward takes the reader into the seedy underbelly of the city and is full of complex characters that I look forward to learning more about in later issues.

Rating:* (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by A Criminal Blog for more information about Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker and their Criminal series.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Humble Beginnings & A Book Giveaway

It was a dark and stormy day. The date was July 23, 2006; the time was 3:17 p.m. I finally relented and took my husband's advice to start a blog. I was procrastinating. Although I was enjoying the book I was reading at the time (Bombay Time by Thrity Umrigar), I was more in the mood for something else. And so, I turned to blogging.

On that day two years ago, I wrote:
I began keeping a reading journal about three years ago, jotting down my thoughts and feelings about the various books I read. I don't pretend to be any good at reviewing the books I read, mind you, which is probably why it's taken me so long to get up the courage to start a blog. Still, there is a part of me that wants to share my thoughts with others out there and this is one opportunity to do that.

Along with my book reviews, I hope to share some of my other musings with you, whether it be about books, sometimes movies or television, and on the rare occasion something outside of those topics completely. I hope you will enjoy visiting my blog!
Sarah Durant's The Birth of Venus was the first review posted on Musings of a Bookish Kitty. My friend Linda Sheehan was the first to post a comment on July 29, 2006, under my review of Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard. (Thank you, Linda!) I was not even a blip on the radar back then. My reviews mostly went unnoticed, with an occasional visitor stopping in now and then.

I have grown as a reader through blogging in more ways than I can imagine. I am reading books I might not have read otherwise and interacting with a community of readers and writers who have expanded not only my reading, but my thinking as well. My review writing still needs work, I admit, but it is an ever evolving process.

Reading has always been a passion of mine. I cannot imagine life without it. I am grateful that I have had this opportunity to share it with all of you.

This past week, I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary by hosting a book giveaway. I could not let my 2 year blog anniversary go without a similar celebration, could I?

Hachette Book Group USA is doing a Summer Reads Giveaway and wants to give away 14 books to up to FIVE people. Can you believe it? It is like Christmas in July! Five lucky winners will receive all fourteen books. Yes, you read right. Fourteen books per winner!

Note: The giveaway is only open to people in the U.S. and Canada. Apologies to my friends in other countries.

Listed below you will find the 14 books being given away and links providing information about each book. Following the list are instructions on how to sign up.

Hachette Book Group USA Summer Reads Giveaway:

Fact over Fiction:
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston, $25.99
(ISBN: 0446581194 Read an Excerpt Listen to an Excerpt
View the Video Author Website * Audio Book Available)

The Preacher and the Presidents by Nancy Gibbs , Michael Duffy, $14.99
(ISBN: 1599951045 Read an Excerpt * Audio Book Available)

Swine Not? by Jimmy Buffett , Helen Bransford, $21.99
(ISBN: 0316035599 Author Website Listen to an Excerpt)

Historical Fiction:
Miscarriage of Justice by "Kip" Gayden, $22.99
(ISBN: 159995687X Chapter Excerpt)

Trespassers Will Be Baptized by Elizabeth Hancock, $21.99
(ISBN: 1599957086 Author Website Reading Group Guide)

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan, $19.99
(ISBN: 1599957132 Author Website Reading Group Guide )

Reading Group Recommendations:
A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand, $24.99
(ISBN: 0316018600 * Audio Book Available)

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand, $13.99
(ISBN: 0316018597 Chapter Excerpt Reading Guide 1 * Audio Book Available)

Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts, $24.99
(ISBN: 044652901X Read an Excerpt * Audio Book Available)

Off Season by Anne Siddons, $24.99
(ISBN: 0446527874 Listen to an Excerpt * Audio Book Available)

A Rose by the Door by Deborah Bedford, $6.99
(ISBN: 0446677892 Chapter Excerpt)

Remember Me by Deborah Bedford, $6.99
(ISBN: 0446690430 Chapter Excerpt Reading Guide 1)

Child 44 by Tom Smith, $16.00
(ISBN: 0446402389 Chapter Excerpt
* Audio Book Available)

Close by Martina Cole, $24.99
(ISBN: 0446179965 * Audio Book Available)

How to Enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post along with the following:
a) A recommendation of a book I have not yet read or reviewed here on my blog
b) The title of a book you have read
or want to read based in part on a review I posted on my blog
c) Include an e-mail address where I can reach you if you do not have one listed on your blog or profile page
2. For every comment you leave on any post on this blog between now and the giveaway deadline, you will receive one (1) extra entry. You must first leave a comment in this post to officially enter.
3. If you would like three (3) more entries, post about this contest on your blog and be sure to let me know in the comment section here.
4. Deadline to enter the drawing is Saturday, August 2, 2008, 11:59 PM PDT
5. You must have a valid mailing address. No P.O. Box addresses please.
6. The Giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canada.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Salon: War, Pulp Fiction, Book Clubs

When I sat down this past week to begin reading Cathy Sultan's book, I filled two and a half pages of my reading notebook before I had even read the first sentence. The notebook is where I keep my running thoughts about a book as I read. I write down questions, feelings and thoughts as I go. Books like Tragedy in South Lebanon sometimes inspire me before I open the book.

My thoughts are coming out faster than I can write them, and it is slowing down my reading. I am in no way complaining. I love books that make me think and question. I am ignorant to much in the way of politics and the Middle East. I have been trying to remedy that, but it is a slow going process. This book is not so much about the government or the politics, but of the general public, the civilians impacted by the war of 2006. The history and political situation are significant to their story, however. It explains the why--at least as much as it ever does.

I am barely into Cathy Sultan's book, but I imagine I will have many more full notebook pages by the time I am finished with it. Whenever I read a book like this, I always find myself wondering why I do not read more nonfiction.

I have been completely remiss in doing any reading in regards to the Graphic Novels Challenge since I first signed up for it. This may be a great time to get started. In between the more serious reading about war, I can entertain myself with a little something else as well. Coward by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is looking mighty appetizing at the moment. It is a part of the Criminal series, which my husband recommended I might like. He is rarely wrong when it comes to knowing what I will enjoy reading. But then, I am pretty easy to please. Sometimes.

Speaking of Criminal, Anjin came across mention of the Hard Case Crime book club which offers one pulp crime novel every month at relatively low cost, lower than what you'd spend in the store anyway. He received a copy of Steve Fisher's No House Limit in the mail last week and gobbled it right up. I've been eying it myself.

Frankly, I am still in shock that my husband joined a book club. I thought I was the only one in our family who did silly things like that. I have tried a few over the years but currently only belong to one, BOMC2 (formerly known as Zooba). Do you belong to any book clubs? Have you ever? Do you think they are worth it or a waste of money?

Week in Review:
Review of Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake
See what magazines I have been reading: Weekly Geeks: Magazines
Review of The Servants by Michael Marshall Smith
General book talk: Tuesday Thingers and Booking Through Thursday
I asked; you answered. Your list of Favorite Literary Couples
Off Topic Chatter

If you have the time, please tell me what you have been reading lately. Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Thank you for all the anniversary wishes! It is hard to believe Anjin and I have been married for ten years. It seems like just yesterday that I was preparing to take my wedding vows. I was lucky enough to marry my best friend, and I still am madly in love with him all these years later.

Thank you, too, for all who participated in my anniversary drawings! I was not sure what kind of response I would get when I asked participants to list their favorite literary couples. While some of the couple listed are ones I am familiar with, others were completely new to me, and, as a result, my wish list has grown just from this challenge.

I went ahead and compiled a list of all the couples mentioned, along with the number of people who nominated them. Anne and Gilbert and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy tied for first place with 9 votes each. I especially liked that a few people listed author couples--those, too, count as literary couples, perhaps even in the truer sense.

(photograph of the top layer of Literary Feline and Anjin's wedding cake)

Author Couples

Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller
Robert Jordan (real name John Rigby) and his wife Harriet
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt

Fictional Couples (receiving more than one nomination)

Jane Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (9 votes)
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe (9 votes)
- Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen (6 votes)
- Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester (5 votes)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth (4 votes)
- Persuasion by Jane Austen

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder (4 votes)
- Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley (3 votes)
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Claire Randall and James (Jamie) Fraser (2 votes)
- Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Clare Absire and Henry DeTamble (2 votes)
- The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun (2 votes)
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler (2 votes)
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff (2 votes)
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley (2 votes)
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Romeo and Juliet (2 votes)
- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Fictional Couples (receiving a single nomination)

Melanie Hamilton and Ashley Wilkes
- - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Beatrice and Benedick
- Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Tom Sawyer and Rebecca Thatcher
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Aragorn and Arwen
- Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Whitney Stone & Clayton Westmoreland
- Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney
- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Kerewin Holmes and Joe Gillayley
- The Bone People by Keri Hulme

Thomas (Tommy) Beresford and Prudence (Tuppence) Cowley
- Tommy and Tuppence series by Agatha Christie

Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy
- Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Eve Dallas and Roarke
- In Death series by J.D. Robb

Dr. Yuri Zhivago and Lara Guishar
- Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Lan & Nyneave
- The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Perrin & Faile
- The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Mrs. Frisby and Justin
- The Secret of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Laura Ingalls and Mary Ingalls
- Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

James (Jim) diGriz and Angelina diGriz
- Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison

Archibald Hunter and Marjory
- The Mystery of the Sea by Bram Stoker

Greensleeves and Sherry
- Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Robbie Turner and Cecilia Tallis
- Atonement by Ian McEwan

Gen Watanabe and Carmen
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley
- A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Katharine Clifton and Almasy
- The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson
- Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

Goldy and Tom
- Goldy Bear Catering series by Diane Mott Davidson

Ash and Anjuli
- The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

Katherine and John of Gaunt
- Katherine by Anya Seton

Honour (Beauty) Huston and the Beast
- Beauty by Robin McKinley

Jane Calhoun and Wilson Lewis
- The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

Abagail and John Adams
- John Adams by David McCullough

Enough of the mushy stuff! Let's get to the winners of the drawings! Again, thank you to all who took the time to participate. I wish I had prizes to give out to each of you.

The ARE Winners:

The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman is going to Monica of Monniblog!

Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus is going to Bunny B.!

Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield is going to Carrie K. of Mommy Brain!

Sex Wars by Marge Piercy is going to Lisa of Books. Lists. Life!

The Last Blue Mile by Kim Ponders is going to Tracy of Bookroomview's Weblog!

Leftovers by Laura Wiess is going to Wendy of Caribousmom!

Everyone who answered the contest question was entered into the Book of Your Choice Drawing (with the exception of a couple of people who asked not to be). I enlisted my husband's help in the random drawing--might as well make it a couple's event!

Book of Your Choice Winner:

Elizabeth from An Adventure in Reading!

Four people went so far as to take me up on my offer to post their responses on their blogs. I would like to extend an extra thank you to Elizabeth, Chris, Suey, and Kailana and send them a little something special for their effort.

Please do visit their blogs if you have not already!

Thank you for celebrating with me!

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's All About Friday


When was the last time you had your hair cut/trimmed?

Three weeks ago. I tried a new hair salon that is close to home and was quite pleased with the results.


Name one thing you miss about being a child.



Pick one: butter, margarine, olive oil.


Main Course

If you could learn another language, which one would you pick, and why?

Most definitely Spanish for both practical reasons and the beauty of the language. I actually studied Spanish in high school and college, but I never was able to master it. I am so out of practice now that many of those early lessons are completely lost to me now.


Finish this sentence: In 5 years I expect to be . . .

A little further along in my TBR (To Be Read) collection than I am right now.

All questions this week are courtesy of the original founder of the Friday Fill-Ins, Megan.

1. Oh, I can't wait until I have another long weekend. That's this weekend, isn't it? Yippee!

2. Bare shelves are the first thing I see when I open my refrigerator.

3. I never leave home without my house keys.

4. If I were a condiment, I would be pepper because it adds a little spice to life.

5. People who do not know what a shift key is for is really high up on my list of pet peeves.

6. The last thing I thought of before I went to bed was thank goodness I do not have to go in to work tomorrow.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to relaxing in a sparkling clean house; tomorrow my plans include celebrating my anniversary and Sunday, I want to celebrate a little more!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tuesday Thingers and Booking Through Thursday

This week's question from Marie at The Boston Bibliophile:
Since we're past the Fourth of July and the summer season has officially started, what are your plans for the summer? Vacations, trips? Trips that involve reading? Reading plans? If you're going somewhere, do you do any reading to prepare? Do you read local literature as part of your trip? Have you thought about using the LT Local feature to help plan your book-buying?
Just as everyone is beginning to turn their thoughts to fall this year, my husband and I will be sitting on the beach in Hawaii, drinking pineapple juice and watching the sunset. Anjin and I tend to take our vacations towards the end of the summer, right after the American Labor Day holiday. Schools are back in session and the summer vacation rush has died down. It is the perfect time to get away. Not to mention it falls right around the time of my birthday.

In preparation for our trip, I have perused online websites and read through tour books as well as talked to friends and family. In this case, it is more for deciding what we want to see and do. Most likely while there, I will seek out books by local authors and my desire to read more about the state's history will grow exponentially--it always does when I travel. I am thrilled to be returning to Hawaii, visiting the place where I spent a part of my childhood. My time there is a distant memory, and I look forward to creating new memories with my husband.

I never considered using Library Thing as a resource for further research in regards to my trip, but it is not a bad idea!

What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable?Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an internet shop… what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business you would try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buying from some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?
It would not be a stretch to say that I am already prepared for such contingencies. My TBR collection is quite extensive and would keep me sufficiently entertained for the next decade or so at the very least. Add to that the books on my shelves that I have read that I can always reread. I rarely, if ever, reread books now, but there are quite a few in my collection that I keep around for that eventual day when I will do so.

With the number of book trading sites and online book clubs out there, there will always be resources for obtaining new (albeit used) books. The reading community may not be large in terms of the world population, but I imagine there are enough of us, not to mention in diversity of interests and tastes, that we could easily be able to organize book boxes and rings to ensure that books continue to be shared with others interested in reading them.

If it was just a matter of one store in town going out of business, it would not make much of a difference to me. I have no big attachment to any one store. In fact, I have a tendency to do business in quite a few, spreading my support and money around--this includes both brick and mortar stores as well as online stores. There are other bookstores in the area; the next town over is not so far away or even the town after that. It would not be worth making a big fuss over. Sure, I would moan about having to go a little farther or because of the loss of a good resource, but when it comes to books and reading, I will do what I have to do in order to keep my supply steady.

In the case of a library, if my local branch closed down, there are still several others throughout the city I can use. If the city libraries all closed down, I would then move on to the county libraries or to one in the next town or city over. As it is, I do not frequent my local library very often, and so I probably would not feel the impact of such a loss right away. That sounds terrible, perhaps, but it's true. It is hard to justify using the library when I have my own personal library at home that is full of books waiting to be read.

Even though I may not have a specific attachment to any book store or library, if I discovered that it was going out of business, I would probably make an effort to help out (donate books if appropriate and try and frequent the shop more often), but it would only be in a limited way. As one person there is not much I could do, but even those small efforts made by enough people might make a difference. It would be worth a try anyway.

Tomorrow is the last day to to enter the giveaways! For more information and to sign up visit Sunday's post titled Sunday Salon: In Between Books.

There are two separate contests and participants may enter one or both. The only catch is that participants must answer a simple question. If you answer the question, you will automatically be entered into the main drawing for a book of your choice (limit up to $25).

For a second chance at a prize, you can also enter in the drawing for one of the ARE books I am giving away. In the case of the ARE Giveaway, simply tell me which ARE books you are interested in winning, and I'll add your name into that drawing as well. Do remember to specify which ARE book you are interested in or else you might end up with something you did not want.

I took the plunge and now have my own domain name. While the old web address will redirect you to my new address, those who have me listed in their blog rolls may want to update your link to the new one: