Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fill In Fun

1. My favorite food seasoning is teriyaki sauce.
2. My kitties' purring is music to my ears.
3. Lucky is the name of my neighbor's dog.
4. Taking care of my cats and dog is something I take very seriously.
5. Many people in the United States will be voting on Tuesday, November 4th.
6. A book was the last thing I bought at the store.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching a double feature: Coming to America and Lady in the Water; tomorrow my plans include setting my clock back an hour early before I head off to bed; and Sunday, I want to spend the day reading and catching up on this past week's television shows!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review: Imaginary Friends

Imaginary Friends
edited by John Marco & Martin H. Greenberg
DAW, 2008
Fiction/Fantasy (SS); 304 pgs

The title was what first captured my eye. I pulled the book off the shelf, and it did not take me long to add it to my purchases that day. My curiosity got the better of me and I began reading the introduction as I waited in line to check out.

Imaginary friends have touched many of our lives. Perhaps even you had one. They were our sidekicks and sometimes our heroes. They got us into trouble just as much as they kept us out of it. They kept us company and understood what we were going through. They were our best friends and our allies when we needed them most.

John Marco, fantasy author, had considered writing a research paper on imaginary friends for a human development class while in college. Unfortunately, he would soon discover, there was not a lot of research out there available, and so he had to put that idea aside for the time being. Years later he was asked to be a part of putting this little collection of stories together. What an interesting idea, I thought. Childhood fantasies and imaginary friends are topics that fascinate me. Perhaps in part because, like John Marco, I once had an imaginary friend too.

Imaginary Friends is an anthology of short stories by a variety of authors, each story taking the concept of the imaginary friend and weaving it into a fantastical tale—some set in far off worlds and others right here in our own. Anne Bishop’s name is the first that popped off the back cover at me when I initially picked up the book. As a fan of her Black Jewels world, I was anxious to read her contribution to the book. The twelve other authors whose stories you will find among the pages of the collection are Rick Hautala, Jean Rabe, Juliet McKenna, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kristine Britain, Donald J. Bingle, Tim Waggoner, Paul Genesse, Russell Davis, Bill Fawcett, Fiona Patton, and Jim C. Hines.

I jotted notes down for each story as I read, and one concept that repeatedly appeared with nearly every story was a variation of the phrase, “Everything is not always what it appears to be.” Each of the stories in the collection are imaginative and thoughtful. Some are funny while others more serious. There’s the boy and his dragon who slay pirates; a prisoner trapped in a tower who is only able to look out at the world through a reflection in a mirror; a beggar and his dog just looking for their next meal; a young girl with a gift who must endure a difficult trial; a bar bet gone awry; a writer whose lost her way and needs a little help from a friend to get back on the right path; the man who professed his innocence right up until the end; a grieving father’s desperation; a young boy coping with the upheaval in his family; a lonely man’s ramblings and a postal worker caught in his spell; an imaginary friend reunites with his grown child during a tense moment in time; a man whose family is caught up in illusions; and a haunting story about Death and his tie to one boy and his mother.

My favorite of the stories included the first story in the collection, Rick Hautala’s “A Good Day for Dragons.” My initial thought upon finishing the story was what a wonderful bedtime story this would make. It reminded me of my own childhood adventures as I chased down drug dealers and mobsters with my imaginary partner by my side.

I was also quite taken with Anne Bishop’s story, “Stands a God Within the Shadows.” Whenever I read anything by this author, I quickly lose myself in the world she has created and it was no different with this particular story, which, while short, still enthralled me in its spell. A lonely person is trapped in a tower, unable to look out directly on the world outside her window, with only a figure in the shadow for comfort and conversation. The protagonist’s strength and resilience are what especially make this story stand out in an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation.

Paul Genesse’s “Greg and Eli” was a story that touched my heart. It is the story of a young boy who finds his entire life uprooted when his mother and father move to a small town in Nevada after the death of his unborn baby brother. His parents are too wrapped up in their own agony and little Greg finds himself having to face the world outside on his own, including a bunch of bullies.

Another favorite of mine was the story of the young soldier in Iraq who called upon his childhood imaginary friend, Thumper, as gunfire erupted around him in Bill Fawcett’s “The Big Exit.” It was a story of courage and trust. And yes, I did get a little choked up at the end.

The imagination is an amazing thing and Imaginary Friends brings out some of the best of that. Not one story disappointed me.

Rating: * (Very Good)

John Marco has generously offered to giveaway three (3) copies of this anthology to three lucky readers! If you would like a chance to win a copy, answer the following question in the comments below:

Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

Be sure and leave your e-mail address in your comment so that I can notify you if you win. The deadline to enter will be November 7th 11:59 p.m. (PST).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Review: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff & An Interview with the Author

In the year since I renounced my Mormon faith, and set out to tell the nation the truth about American polygamy, many people have wondered why I ever agreed to become a plural wife.
[First Sentence]

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
Random House, 2008
Fiction; 514 pgs

Religion is a subject that fascinates me in general, in particular the historical evolution of various faiths. When I first heard about David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife, I knew I would read it. Although a work of fiction, the historical background of the book is probably what drew me to it the most. I had expected the personal stories that emerged from the novel, but I had not expected such an expansive history lesson too. In his acknowledgments, the author reminds readers that his book is a work of fiction. The novel is well researched, and while the author did take liberties in weaving together his story, many of the details are accurate as recorded through history. I especially love it when a novel inspires me to do further research on my own about a particular topic, and this one certainly did.

The novel is divided into two stories. There is the story of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of the well-known Brigham Young, Prophet of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The novel takes us through her life, beginning before her birth, with her parents’ adoption to the Mormon faith and their eventual meeting and marriage. Ann Eliza was a strong minded woman who took her faith seriously. She was, however, opposed to polygamy, an institution that Prophet Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported in his later years. Through her parents' experiences and her own, she knew the turmoil that polygamy could cause. She would later take up the mantle opposing the practice of plural marriages, leaving behind nearly everything she knew and held dear, including her faith. Ann Eliza was a hero to some, and to others a spiteful and vengeful ex-wife. Regardless, her story is one that played a part in the passage of stronger anti-bigamy laws. The LDS Church itself underwent major changes, barring the practice as well.

The switch in practice and doctrine led to a splintering of the Church. Small groups of people who supported and believed that the practice of plural marriages was divined by God, broke off from the LDS Church, forming their own groups. Polygamy still exists today. This leads to Jordan Scott's story. He is a lost boy, abandoned by his mother on the side of the road when he was 14 years old by orders of the Prophet. He grew up in an isolated Utah community. His mother was the 19th wife of a well-respected man in the community of Mesadale. Now an adult and living in California, Jordan is sure he will never see his mother again.

However, when word reaches Jordan that his mother has been arrested for his father's murder, Jordan decides to return to the place he despises the most. He packs his bags, jumps in his van, joined by his faithful companion, Elecktra, and heads to Utah. He is not sure what he will do, but after meeting with his mother and talking with her attorney, he decides to look into the murder himself. To do this, Jordan must face his past.

The two stories run parallel throughout the book, hints of connection appearing here and there. The author brings the stories together in a creative and unexpected way. The format of the book reminded me a little of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, written in narrative, book excerpts, articles, letters and even a Wikipedia entry. In interviews, the author has stated that he wanted to allow the voices of the varying experiences and opinions to be heard on the subject of polygamy—and it worked, although the case against it is perhaps the strongest of all.

I would be hard pressed to tell you which of the two stories I was most taken with. In the beginning, I was most drawn to Jordan's story. He was a castaway who had not only endured a difficult childhood, but also had been forced to grow up too quickly. I have read and heard horror stories of real life children thrust into Jordan's situation, excommunicated by their religious leaders and left to fend for themselves. My heart went out to Jordan and for Johnny, a boy Jordan befriends along the way.

And yet, Ann Eliza's story also captivated me, especially once she took center stage in her own story. In the novel, she comes across as a strong woman who certainly had her weaknesses, but she also knew her own mind. I admire her courage in standing up for what she believed. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for her, to let go of the life and faith that made up her world--the only one she had ever known.

Jordan and Ann Eliza were just two of the amazing characters in The 19th Wife. The novel was full of interesting characters, each of them complex. I only wish I had more time to spend with some of the more minor ones. Jordan’s mother was one such character, a 19th wife who is facing charges of murder. Despite her circumstances, she stands resolute in her faith. Then there was Tom, excommunicated from the LDS church because of his homosexuality, and Kelly Dee, a college student at Brigham Young University, whose heart is not only in the right place, but is someone who is actually doing something to right the wrongs of the past.

There is so much to this book; so much I would like to say. While the subject of polygamy is perhaps the overreaching subject of the novel, it is the personal stories which truly make this novel what it is. I highly recommend David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife.

To learn more about Ann Eliza Young, check out her two autobiographies: Wife No. 19 (1875) and Life in Mormon Bondage (1908).

Rating: * (Very Good +)

Author David Ebershoff was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his book.

Literary Feline: What inspired you to write The 19th Wife?

David Ebershoff: Seven years ago I was speaking to a professor of 19th century women’s history. We were having a wide-ranging conversation, and she was telling me all these wonderful stories about 19th century American women. Then she mentioned Ann Eliza Young, who was once widely known as the 19th Wife. The 19th Wife? What a strange number in front of the word wife. And so I asked, Who was the 19th Wife? And then I began to wonder, What was it like to be the 19th Wife? And with those questions in mind I began writing this novel.

LF: I like how you linked the past narrative with the present. Can you talk a little about why you decided to follow two storylines through the book instead of telling only the historical tale?

DE: Once I started researching Ann Eliza’s life, I realized I was also researching a larger story: the history of polygamy in the United States. But that history didn’t end in 1890, when the Mormon Church changed its position on polygamy. Since then, American polygamy has had a whole second act. Polygamists today, of course, are not Mormons. (And Mormons today do not practice polygamy.) But the story continues, and I wanted to write a novel that would perhaps give a reader a sense of the entire complicated history of plural marriage in the United States.

LF: What sort of research did you do for The 19th Wife?

DE: Ann Eliza Young left an abundance of materials about herself. She wrote two memoirs, she lectured widely, she testified to Congress, and for a few years the newspapers followed her nearly everywhere. So I had access to all of that. In addition, I read many biographies about people from this time, as well as diaries, memoirs, letters, and many newspaper accounts. I also traveled to nearly all the places in the book in order to render the various settings. And I spent a few months studying the Mormon faith, reading the Book of Mormon and the other texts, attending Sunday services, and speaking with many people about their faith.

LF: One of the issues that especially touched me was that of the lost boys. How big of a problem is it today and do you have any suggestions about how it could be handled?

DE: In the past ten to twenty years, I would estimate this has happened to a few hundred boys and young men. It’s heartbreaking for many reasons, but especially because they are expelled by the people they love the most, their family. In the past several years organizations have popped up to help kids and women leave polygamous communities and families. Many people wonder what should be done about polygamy, if anything at all. No one wants to infringe on the religious freedom of others, but it’s hard not to wonder about the children in these families. It’s hard not ask, What is best for them? And, What would I want if that were me? THE 19TH WIFE doesn’t reach any final conclusions about polygamy; instead it raises the issue from many points of view and lets the reader form his or her own opinions.

LF: Are there any questions that you have not been asked that you wish someone would ask? If so, how would you answer?

DE: Many people have asked about Jordan’s dog, Elektra, who is inspired by my own dog, Elektra. She’s even received fan mail (and it’s all going to her head and she was already an egomaniac). But no one has asked about Tom’s dog, Joey. He too is inspired by a real dog, Joey Brownstein, a sweet, handsome, loving Golden who passed away in 2006. We miss him.

LF: What was the first story you ever put to paper about?

DE: About being fifteen, pimply, and twisted with angst. It was impenetrable.

LF: Are you reading anything at the moment?

DE: I just re-read THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE for the seminar I’m teaching this fall on historical fiction. If you haven’t read it since grade school, do yourself a favor. I’m now re-reading Joyce Carol Oates’s BLACK WATER (also for school). It’s a short, terrifying masterpiece that will give you nightmares. And I’m reading a fantastic new novel by Pearl Abraham that will come out in early 2010. It’s loosely inspired by the story of the American Taliban. She’s fiercely intelligent and she has written a great, great book that I know many people will love and discuss.

Many thanks to David Ebershoff for taking the time to answer my questions. I also want to thank the author and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.

I am giving away a copy of The 19th Wife. If you would like to enter the giveaway, be sure and leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book. Please include your e-mail address in your comment. The deadline to enter is November 7th at 11:59 p.m. (PST).

Check out the author's website for more information about his books. Also, you can read and listen to the author answer questions about his work at the following places:
Q&A with the author
Listen to David's interview with Scott Simon on NPR Weekend Edition
Listen to David's interview on Wisconsin Public Radio
Listen to David's interview on Radio Curious

David Ebershoff’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Wednesday, Oct. 15th: Maw Books
Friday, Oct. 17th: Reading, ‘Riting, and Retirement
Monday, Oct. 20th: She Is Too Fond Of Books (An Interview with the Author)
Tuesday, Oct. 21st: Age 30 - A Year in Books
Thursday, Oct. 23rd: A High and Hidden Place
Monday, Oct. 27th: It’s All About Books (and a Guest Post)
Thursday, Oct. 30th: Books on the Brain
Monday, Nov. 3rd: The Cottage Nest
Tuesday, Nov. 4th: B&B ex libris
Wednesday, Nov. 5th: Anniegirl1138
Thursday, Nov. 6th: The Tome Traveller
Friday, Nov. 7th: Educating Petunia
Monday, Nov. 10th: The Literate Housewife
Wednesday, Nov. 12th: Diary of an Eccentric
Friday, Nov. 14th: Book Chase

Other Blog Reviews of The 19th Wife:
Medieval Bookworm
Presenting Lenore
A Reading Life
She Reads and Reads
A Writer's Pen

Monday, October 27, 2008

Review: A Jolly Good Fellow by Stephen V. Masse

"You don't mind if I stay?"

I look at him, try to figure out if he means it for real. Maybe he thinks I'm a relative, or one of his father's flunkies. "Of course you're gonna stay."

"Because I need certain things, he says. "Like for breakfast, Cap'n Crunch and Fruit Loops, and Frosted Flakes. And Hostess Doughnuts. Then for lunch, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizza, stuff like that." [pg 5]

A Jolly Good Fellow by Stephen V. Masse
Good Harbor Press, 2008
Crime Fiction (S/T); 203 pgs

Things could not have worked out better for Duncan Wagner when 11-year-old Gabriel Booker jumps in his car a week before Christmas. He was hitchhiking in an effort to run away from home. You see, Duncan had been trying to kidnap the state representative’s son, and the boy’s sudden appearance in his car made it all the more easy.

The two make an odd pair, this kidnapper and boy. While Duncan tries to play the role of the tough kidnapper, he fails miserably at it. He has too big of a heart. And his prey, Gabriel, isn’t exactly playing his part either. He sees the kidnapping as an escape from his parents; it’s an adventure of sorts. The two form a fast friendship during the week that Duncan waits for Win Booker to pay his son’s ransom.

The story is narrated by Duncan in his own vernacular, which makes for an effective mode of storytelling and keeps the book moving right along. Stephen V. Masse’s novel is both funny and charming even if predictable. It is easy to see why Duncan would fall for Gabriel, a sweet and polite boy who is looking for attention and someone to listen to him. Despite his lifestyle of crime, Duncan has a good heart and, even in the worst of situations tries to do the right thing. It makes it impossible not to like him. A Jolly Good Fellow is a lighthearted and fun holiday story.

Rating: * (Good)

Be sure and check out the author's website. If you would like to follow Stephen V. Masse's tour in progress, visit the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours blog.

Thank you to Tracee Gleichner of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the author Stephen V. Masse for the opportunity to participate in this book tour.

Read what others had to say about this book:
Bobbi's Book Nook (Interview with Author)
The Book Czar
Heidi's Books
Julie's Jewels
Keep This On the DL
Tip of the Iceberg (Interview with Author)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Salon: A Little Bit of This & A Whole Lot of the Other

I am wearing the softest, most cozy socks. I can see why they are perfect for sleeping. It is not quite cold enough to wear them to bed, but they are well suited for keeping my toes warm on this chilly Sunday morning. Give me a second to check the kettle and see if the water is ready yet for a morning mug of hot chocolate.

Okay, I'm all settled in and ready to visit for a while.

Wouldn't you know it, the week I set aside blogging, Marie from Boston Bibliophile asks a question dear to my heart and then a question I had asked this past summer ends up on Booking Through Thursday. Just my luck. Well, it's never too late to join in, is it?

Tuesday Thinger Question:
Series. Do you collect any series? Do you read series books? Fantasy? Mystery? Science fiction? Religious? Other genre? Do you use the series feature in LT to help you find new books or figure out what you might be missing from a series?
I will keep my answer short. Yes. I collect and read series books in all sorts of categories, from crime fiction, fantasy, and science fiction to good ol' general fiction. I can't say I follow a religious series, but then, that's not really a genre I gravitate towards usually. I have never used the series feature in LibraryThing (LT). Frankly, I didn't even know it existed. Instead, I get most of my series information from sites like Stop, You're Killing Me! and the authors' websites when available.

I have fallen sorely behind in updating my series' lists, but I do recommend you check them out if you want to know just how series crazed I am (Serial Offender: Guilty As Charged and Serial Offender: Guilty As Charged, Part Two). Hopefully I will get around to updating the lists before the year is out.

I spent two days this past week catching up on one of my favorite series thanks to the spurring on of a coworker who threatened me with great bodily harm if I didn't. You can expect my review to be posted in the near future.

Booking Through Thursday Question:
Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.
I would like to thank Monica for suggesting this question to Deb as a Booking Through Thursday question. I had originally asked the question as part of a giveaway in celebration of my 10th wedding anniversary this past July. I received a variety of responses to my question, from fictional (and nonfictional) characters to author couples. A couple of people wondered if I meant highbrow literary couples--and the answer to that question was an emphatic, "No!" I use the term "literary" in its broadest of sense. I compiled a list of the responses here. Do take a look!

Mention of my wedding anniversary reminds me that today marks another sort of special occasion. Or, at least in terms of the history of my blog. This is my 500th post. Leave a comment between now and November 2nd (along with your e-mail address) and you may be one of three lucky commenters to win a little bookish surprise from me to celebrate the occasion.

With the holidays approaching, readers all over the world are putting together their holiday reading lists and some already have started in honor of Halloween. I am not much of a seasonal reader and, while I have occasionally succumbed to holiday themed reading, it does not always work out the way I planned. A Christmas book I hoped to get to before the big day becomes a July read instead, for example. This month, however, I noticed that my reading has taken a supernatural turn--seemingly perfect for the Halloween season. It was wholly unintentional, which perhaps is the best way to go about it. At least for me.

My reading this past week especially has been full of the most fantastical of elements: vampires, fairies, witches, imaginary friends, and shape shifters. I might as well add ghosts to the mix since one of my upcoming books this week includes a few of those. Funny how sometimes these things work out the way they do.

I do hope you will drop by later in the week. Monday I will be posting my review of Stephen V. Masse's holiday crime fiction tale, A Jolly Good Fellow. On Tuesday, David Ebershoff kindly answers a few of my questions about his new book, The 19th Wife. And later in the week, I will share my thoughts about an anthology of short stories called Imaginary Friends. Keep your eye out for a couple of giveaways as well!

Until next time . . . Happy reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Read-A-Thon Well Wishes, Upcoming Events, An Orchid All My Own

It is that time again. The Read-a-thon is underway and bloggers across the web are curled up with their books, snacks close at hand and the computer not too far away so they can give us regular updates as to their progress. One of these days I may be able to join their ranks. Alas, that day is not today. I do wish every one of the participants luck in reaching their goals, but most of all, I hope they each have a fun time and enjoy their reading experience.

Musings of a Bookish Kitty is going dark this next week. It is only temporary, I assure you. Let me tell you a little about what you can expect the final week of October (to make sure you come back): I was lucky enough to snag an interview with author David Ebershoff, which I will post along with my review of his book The 19th Wife. There may even be a giveaway, so please stay tuned! You will also get to hear about my current read, A Jolly Good Fellow by Stephen V. Masse, which seems very fitting for the upcoming holidays. And for those who have ever played with an imaginary friend, you will not want to miss my review of Imaginary Friends, a collection of short stories by various authors, edited by John Marco and Martin H. Greenberg. A little kitten told me there might just be a giveaway on the horizon for this particular book too.

I will leave you with a picture. Alice is among my favorite blogger photographers and she was kind enough to make this lovely signature photo just for me. Thank you, Alice!

Now to see about waking Anjin up so we can go see the movie The Secret Life of Bees . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Review: Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino

I must have passed out because I don’t remember who put me on this gurney without a blanket.
[First Sentence]

Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino
Kunati, 2008
Fiction; 199 pgs

I almost decided against reading Linda Merlino's book, Belly of the Whale. It hits too close to home. Breast cancer has affected not only my mother and both of my grandmothers, but I lost a friend to cancer this past summer and the wound is still too fresh. Even just thinking about her now, the tears well up in my eyes. She was such a strong soul. Outwardly, she never wavered in her faith and hope, but I imagine there were times when she did doubt and feel angry at the circumstances she was in much like Linda Merlino’s protagonist, Hudson Catalina.

Hudson Catalina's mother was a victim to breast cancer, losing her battle when Hudson was 14 years old. It was very difficult on the Catalina family, and Hudson took her mother's illness and death hard. She worried, too, that one day her own fate would be similar to her mother's, and it turned out she was right. Her battle with breast cancer sapped everything out of Hudson. She was tired and angry. She woke up one morning, having lost all faith and hope. Her husband and best friend, ever the optimists, did not understand the low that Hudson had reached. They weren't ready to give up--never would be most likely. Hudson felt alone.

Hudson's new resolve that her death to cancer was on the horizon would be challenged in a way she could never have anticipated. A night visit to the local market to pick up last minute party supplies for her daughter's 5th birthday would change her life forever.

Ruby Desmond, owner of the Whales Market, is strong in her faith and has led a full life. She knows what it is like to have suffered great loss. She understands a little bit about how Hudson must be feeling and Hudson finds herself drawn to the woman and her stories about the past. Willy Wu is also working that night at the market. Willy Wu is a simple man with special needs. It is obvious he cares about Ruby immensely and takes his job seriously. With a fierce storm carrying on outside the doors of the market, the three settle in for a long night not realizing that danger was just around the corner.

Linda Merlino captures the emotions of the characters in such a way that had me feeling what they were feeling as the story unfolded. What stood out the most to me was Hudson’s feeling of despair and complete loss of hope. Similarly, there is the character of Buddy Baker, who was in an even darker place for he had given up long ago. Buddy has had a difficult life. He is a product of his environment and as a result is full of anger and pain. He is in a downward spiral with no end in sight, and I felt that with every turn of the page.

Belly of the Whale is a moving story about one woman's internal struggle with the fate she has been dealt. And yet it is also a story about family and friendship as well as one of courage and hope even in the most tragic of circumstances. The story builds bit by bit, humor suffused with very serious situations. Linda Merlino is a talented writer who has written a heart wrenching story that had me in tears by the end.

Rating: * (Good +)

Be sure and check out the author's blog and her website. If you would like to follow Linda's tour in progress, visit the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours blog in October.

Thank you to Tracee Gleichner of Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to participate in this book tour.

Read what others had to say about this book:
The Book Czar
Bookish Ruth
Cafe of Dreams

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Salon: A Minor Rant

I used to be able to stay up all night reading a book. These days I am lucky if I can stay up past 11:30 p.m. It is never the book's fault. The book can have me on the edge of my seat, but my eyes will not stay open no matter what I try to do to make that happen. The joys of growing old.

Today I was lucky enough to have most of the morning to myself, the house still quiet, my husband and visiting brother-in-law fast asleep. I used the opportunity to dive right back into my book, immerse myself in its pages. What better way to greet the day? I am reading David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife at the moment. It is an intriguing tale--two actually; one from the past and another set in present day times.

A friend of mine recently had an experience which many of us can relate to, especially if you read genre fiction of any kind. She was sitting on a bench outside of a restaurant one afternoon, waiting for her lunch date to arrive. She figured she would use her early arrival to catch up on a little reading. Out came the novel she had tucked away in her purse.

The woman who sat down next to her made a visible effort to see the cover of the book my friend was holding. "Oh. It's one of those novels," the woman said. The woman must have been feeling rather talkative because she went on to say that she only read books that challenged her and added to her personal growth.

My friend jokingly asked, "You prefer reading self-help books then?"

The woman shook her head vigorously. No, she meant that she reads the classics and literary fiction. Too much of that other stuff, "mysteries, romance and, oh, those horrid fantasy novels," would most certainly dull the mind. There's no value in books like that, the woman said.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are readers who have commented that they "only read for pleasure" when asked if they have read a classic or a book that would more generally be classified as "literary" - as if the person reading those types of books do not read for pleasure.

I am of the mind that reading is a very individual experience, and, as a result, it can be different for all of us. Our reading tastes vary. Our reasons for reading what we do are not always the same. Where we are in our lives, our moods and experiences all can play a part in what we get out of what we are reading at any given time. While the academics and scholars may argue over the value of one type of book over another--for me, the average reader, they stand on equal ground. I know not everyone agrees with me on that point. And that's okay. For them. I just want them to respect my choices, not snub their noses at them.

Week in Review:
Review of The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller
Review of First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader
Guest Appearance by Publisher Lou Aronica
Bookish Chatter

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Shots

Parker caught a little shut eye before Anya came home from the veterinarian's.

Anya is home from her surgery. She is stuck wearing a collar for the next several days. She is none too happy about it. Parker isn't too thrilled either. It's going to be an interesting next few days if he doesn't get acclimated to seeing his baby sister with it on. (When I take the collar off, Parker has no problem with Anya or the collar, for that matter--so it's definitely her wearing the collar that's the problem.)

Riley is mommy's little helper today.

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Week Wrapped Up On Friday

Mailbox Monday

I got a big surprise in the mail not too long ago when a big box of books arrived on my doorstep. You can bet it did not take me long to rip open that box and see what was inside. I have also been fortunate to find a package here and there dropped off for me as well. A booklover can never have too many books! If you have read any of the listed books, let me know what you thought!

Testimony by Anita Shreve (thanks to Amy of The Sleepy Reader)
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill
The Glass Devil by Helen Tursten
A Deadly Paradise by Grace Brophy
The Ruffian on the Stair by Gary Newman
Sun and the Shadow by Åke Edwardson
The Devil's Footprints by Amanda Stevens
Zoo Station by David Downing
Red Sea by E.A. Benedek (TLC Book Tour)
The Believers by Zoe Heller (Barnes and Noble First Look Program)
Hell Bent by William G. Tapply (LT Early Review Program)
Anathem by Neal Stephenson (gift for my husband--which, of course, I want to read too)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Wednesday Whine

Anything but secks, poloticks, and religin. How about spelling?

I was parked by the sign telling you how far to Mesadale, but buckshot had chewed it up so bad you couldn't read it. Every time the sign went up the Prophet sent out an apostle to shoot it up. [excerpt from The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff]

What was the last book you bought?

Imaginary Friends edited by John Marco and Martin H. Greenberg

Name a book you have read MORE than once:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

No. Books have enhanced my life and taught me many things over the years. However, I cannot say one book has made a fundamental change in my life.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

My decision to read a book always comes down to what the book is about. If the subject matter does not interest me, it isn't likely I will bother with it despite any praise or pretty cover the book may have. I often learn about books through reviews and recommendations and sometimes a review or two will sway me from my position on the fence when I'm not sure about a particular book. An attractive cover will certainly catch my eye, but it's what is inside that will determine whether I linger or pass it by.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

I read and enjoy both, but my leaning has always been more towards fiction.

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I think they are both important. It also depends on the type of book it is. Some books are purposefully more plot oriented while others are more about the language. I enjoy both types of books--and those that combine those characteristics even better!

Most loved/memorable character (character/book):

Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte's novel with the same title.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Actually none at the moment. I do not keep books on my nightstand unless it's the book I set there after I do a little bedtime reading. Once morning comes, the book accompanies me to work, on any errands I may make or around the house. Tonight the book on my nightstand will be The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

First Daughter by Eric Lustbader. I read it over the weekend.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

I imagine that I have at some point. I am not the kind of person who stops reading at a set page number, and so it is not something I pay close attention to. I probably give up on books a lot sooner than half way though more often than not though, if I do decide the book is not worth my time.

1. One of the best concerts I ever saw that I really didn't think I'd like was Queensrÿche. (My husband's a big fan and so I treated him to a concert for Christmas one year.)

2. Orange peel chicken with jasmine rice is a meal I recently ordered that was delicious!

3. It's time for Anya to be spayed and have that little umbilical hernia fixed. (I dropped her off at the veterinarian's this morning.)

4. A day off from work is quite refreshing.

5. If I never hear the word perky again, it'll be too soon. (Someone asked me if I was having a bad day yesterday because I wasn't my usual "perky" self. I am not perky. Ever. I can't believe she thinks that. Ugh.)

6. To one side of the curving road was an empty bottle of booze, and on the other was a half circle of freshly picked flowers and prayer candles. (Don't drink and drive.)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my brother-in-law coming into town for a visit, tomorrow my plans include picking up Anya from the vet and sorting the closests and Sunday, I want to catch up on this past week's TV shows and fit in some reading time!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Guest Appearance: Lou Aronica, Publisher

If you are anything like me, you sometimes wonder how it is someone ends up landing such a great job as being a publisher. So, I thought it was finally time to pose that very question to someone in the profession.

I was thrilled that I was able to snag a moment with Lou Aronica who has worked with such authors as J.A. Jance, Peter Robinson, Dennis Lehane, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Neil Gaiman. Even my husband's eyes lit up at the idea. Lou Aronica has recently branched out on his own, setting up a new publishing company called Story Plant, which publishes commercial fiction.

Many thanks to the folks at Pump Up Your Book Promotions for letting me be a part of Lou Aronica's virtual blog tour.

Please welcome Lou Aronica to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

I came to book publishing in a roundabout way. Actually, I think most people do. I’m sure some people think about careers and immediately say, “I want to be in the book business.” For the vast majority, though, they ponder multiple options and someone suggests, “You could try book publishing.”

That’s the way it was with me. I was an English major with minors in Creative Writing and Education. My intention was to be an English teacher and spend my summers writing incisive fiction. The problem was, back in 1979 when I graduated, there were fifty applicants for every available teaching position – ironic considering the teaching shortage now. A college friend said, “You could try book publishing,” and I sent out a bunch of resumes. When Bantam hired me – for a dreadful job that involved carting cover mechanicals and copy from one executive’s office to another for approvals – I had no illusions about having embarked on my life’s work. Since I wanted to be a novelist, I figured a few years in publishing would give me plenty of “inside information” about the industry, which would help me when I started releasing my own books.

Relatively quickly, though, something started to happen. Listening to people talk about books, sitting in on cover conferences where people made plans for these books, and getting my hands on manuscripts stirred a fascination in the process in me. Some of the executives I hounded for approvals, most notably Irwyn Applebaum (who is now Publisher of Bantam Dell), actually engaged me in conversation about the books and I found that this intrigued me as well. I’d never once considered myself a businessman, but the business of publishing was proving somewhat interesting.

Then I encountered Ian Ballantine. Ian introduced the mass market paperback to America, founded Bantam, left Bantam to found Ballantine, and then returned to Bantam in an at-large position. He spoke oddly, dressed oddly, and maintained no discernable regular hours at the office. He was also a genius. And, for some reason, he seemed to like me. He’d engage me in conversation about a variety of publishing-related topics, walk me through his projects, and take me out to dinner with his equally brilliant wife, the legendary editor Betty Ballantine. What Ian showed me was that the business side of publishing was exciting, creative, and fulfilling. He inspired me to think in contrarian ways about building publishing programs. This led me to believe that I could do something with Bantam’s floundering science fiction and fantasy program. And once I got started on that, my dedication to the book business was complete.

In 2000, I finally started that writing career I thought was a central part of my career path, and I stepped away from the business side of the book industry. As much as I love writing and I love being a writer, I’ve felt that something was missing because I couldn’t see a book from the written page all the way to the market. I couldn’t build programs because that was the publisher’s job and I was no longer a publisher. An industry I’d entered very casually had become an essential part of my life. My friend, literary manager Peter Miller, and I talked about this often. These conversations led to the creation of The Story Plant, our new independent publishing house that launched this fall. I’m still writing, but I spend a good part of every day now thinking about how to develop the writers on our list and how to publish the way Ian Ballantine taught me to publish. The goal of The Story Plant is to take the business of publishing very seriously while giving our writers a true home.

It is very good to be back.

Be sure and check out the other stop along Lou Aronica's tour route:

Future Perfect Publishing


Book Marketing Buzz

The Writer's Life

American Chronicle

Scribe Vibe


Fiction Scribe

In Bed With Books

The Book Connection

Minds Alike on the Shelves

Year of Reading

Paperback Writer

The Bookworm

Breeni Books

The Real Hollywood

Bookish Ruth

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Review: First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

As long as he can create pictures from the words he reads—scenes filled with characters, conflict, good and evil—he can build a world that’s in many ways closer to the one other people inhabit. And this makes him feel less like an outsider. [pg 255]

First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader
Forge, 2008
Crime Fiction (S/T); 400 pgs

The political climate in the United States is tense right now as the presidential candidates pull out all the stops, each wanting that coveted position as leader of the U.S.A. Eric Van Lustbader’s novel, First Daughter, plays right into that, as one ultra-conservative and religious President makes way for the newly elected moderate one.

When President-Elect Edward Carson’s daughter, Alli, is kidnapped, fingers are immediately pointed in the direction of secular revivalists whose aim is to take the growing religious fervor out of politics and the government. ATF Agent, Jack McClure, is assigned to the task force set up to find Alli and to capture the person or people behind her kidnapping. A long time friend of Mr. Carson’s, Jack is one of the few people he knows he can trust.

The investigation takes Jack deep into his past, where he relives his childhood as an abused and misunderstood boy. He was in his late teens before he was able to find help for his dyslexia, which he found through a kind pastor and rough around the edges mentor, both of whom took Jack into their hearts and lives. The current investigation seems eerily similar to crimes committed in his old neighborhood all those years ago. Despite orders to do otherwise, Jack decides to hunt down his own leads.

Jack has always been dedicated to his job, putting it first above all else, including his family. When tasked with finding the President-Elect’s daughter, Jack couldn’t be more determined. In fact, the investigation has a more personal tie to him. His daughter, Emma, had once been best friends and roommates with Alli Carson. Jack never felt he knew his own daughter and feels guilty for not being there for her when she needed him most. A car crash stole her away from him and finding Alli is, in small part, a way to redeem himself.

Best selling author Eric Van Lustbader has indeed written a suspenseful and complex novel. He takes two extremes and pits them against each other, challenging the role faith plays in government. Is faith a guiding force in creating a moral and upstanding society or has man made it a manipulative tool to spread fear and oppression, making those in control more powerful? The author himself challenges the reader to think about such questions.

Corruption, faith, false leads, secrets, redemption, prejudice, and self-discovery are all components in First Daughter. Jack McClure battles his own demons as he searches for Alli, trying to save her from whatever evil holds her captive. He is a well-drawn and well-rounded character. His own journey throughout the book is the one that touched me the most. I especially liked being drawn into his past, listening to old blues albums with him and hanging out at the library. I learned a little more about dyslexia than I had known before. For Jack, it proved to be both a disability and also a strength.

I was less certain about Alli, whose confusion and self-doubts bled through the pages. It suited the part she played in the story well, however. She made for an easy target. On the other side of the coin, was the main antagonist, a character who is both cunning and intelligent—and oh, so utterly creepy--making for one of the scariest of villains I have encountered this year.

I do wish the author had gone a little farther in regards to the faith angle, delving more deeply into the secular revivalists and drawing out the characters involved with that particular organization. There was so much going on in the novel, that the religious angle seemed to get lost in the shuffle at times.

The book started out slow for me as I got my mind around the many characters being introduced and tried to understand each of their agendas—or at least get a baseline. While some of those agendas remained shrouded in mystery until near the end, they did become clearer as the story unfolded. I enjoyed First Daughter overall.

Rating: * (Good +)

Check out the author's website for more information about his books.

Thank you to TJ Dietderich of Planned Television Arts for the opportunity to read this book!

Read what others had to say about this book:
Adventures in Never-Never Land
B&B ex Libris
Book Hangover
Bookish Ruth
Devourer of Books
Experiments in Reading
Hey Lady! Watcha Readin'?
The Literate Housewife
Lynne's Little Corner of the World
The Optimistic Bookfool
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
Traci's Book Bag
A Writer's Pen

Monday, October 06, 2008

Review: The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller

“We turn now to the issue of what constitutes an appropriate punishment for your various infractions,” said the judge in the middle, the gray-haired one whose name Jaywalker always had trouble remembering.
[First Sentence]

The Tenth Case
by Joseph Teller

Mira, 2008 (ARE)
Crime Fiction; 388 pgs

From the Publisher:
Criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, better known as Jaywalker, has just been suspended for using "creative" tactics and receiving "gratitude" in the courtroom stairwell from a client charged with prostitution. Convincing the judge that his other clients are counting on him, Jaywalker is allowed to complete ten cases. But it's the last case that truly tests his abilities—and his acquittal record. Samara Moss—young, petite and sexy as hell—stabbed her husband in the heart. Or so everyone believes. Having married the elderly billionaire when she was an eighteen-year-old former prostitute, Samara appears to be the clichéd gold digger. But Jaywalker knows all too well that appearances can be deceiving. Who else could have killed the billionaire? Has Samara been framed? Or is Jaywalker just driven by his need to win his clients' cases—and this particular client's undying gratitude?

Joseph Teller's novel, The Tenth Case, was true to life, notably with regards to the little nuances of the preparation for and the actual trial process. In one respect, it was a refreshing change from many legal thrillers I have read in the past in that, despite Jaywalker's blurring of convention, the author did not turn the story into a run for your life, action packed thrill ride with gun or fist fights. Just the same, the novel was plenty suspenseful as Jaywalker struggles to defend a woman whose innocence even he questions as the trial unfolds. There were a couple of slow spots in which I worried that the author had gone into too much detail. However, I also realize that my familiarity with the court process might have contributed to that feeling. Even then, the book would pick up again right away and not once did I lose interest in the story line or the characters.

Defense attorney Jaywalker is a bit of a maverick, not afraid of making his own rules as he goes along. It has obviously landed him in trouble, resulting in his three year suspension from practicing law. He has a conscience and a sense of fair play, however, that balances out the "bad boy" image. He’s easy to like and no doubt a good person to have on your side in a pinch. Samara Moss straddles that line as well. I never completely warmed up to her character, but it was easy to see how the past impacted the decisions she would make throughout her life.

Jaywalker is one of those complex characters that has many layers, some of which were peeled back enough to tempt the reader to want to learn more about him. I look forward to reading more by Joseph Teller and seeing what trouble Jaywalker can get out of next time.

Rating: * (Good)

Thank you to TJ Dietderich of Planned Television Arts for the opportunity to read this book!

Read what others had to say about this book:
2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Adventures in Never-Never Land
Medieval Bookworm
The Optimistic Bookfool
A Reader's Journal
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
Traci's Book Bag

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Salon: Bookish Ramblings

Books. My desk is overrun with books. I need to take some time out today and rearrange a bit, make things a little more tidy. The majority of my unread books are shut away in the guest bedroom (or TBR room as many of you know I like to call it), but there are a number of unread books that are shelved on my desk, which I think of as my immediate TBR pile. Only, not all the books fit on the desk shelves anymore (they might come close if I used the whole top shelf, but I have to leave room for my cat, Parker, who likes to survey the world from that particular spot on a regular basis). I have books piled on top of the shelved books and a stack right next to me (my immediate, immediate TBR pile). Oh, and there's the box of unread books sitting on the floor between my desk and the file cabinet. I am drowning in books. Thank goodness I remembered to bring the oxygen tank.

My husband made a comment yesterday that he needs to stay ahead of his book club reading so that he doesn't get behind. The last thing he wants is to have the books pile up unread. He would hate that. Having a stack of unread books (which he already does, but if I pointed it out to him, he would probably just give me a look and point out that he doesn't want an even bigger stack--and certainly nothing like mine) makes him nervous. I wonder what that is like. I am sure I once felt that way myself. Now I'm sort of numb to the whole idea.

This isn't really how I wanted to spend my Sunday Salon time, talking about my unread book stacks--or my husband's lack thereof. I often do not know what to say when I sit down to write these posts and so I begin by just typing anything. Eventually I get to where I want to go and erase the starting point. I'm not going to do that today because I still haven't decided what to write about.

I could tell you about the book I am reading: a fast paced suspense novel about the kidnapping of a young woman whose father is about to take over the Oval Office as President of the United States. I am also reading another book, a novel that crosses over from past to present, stretching across 1875 to today, and tells a most intriguing tale of murder, polygamy, love and faith. What more could this reader want? I do need to get started on that memoir, which is sitting on the top of the stack over there about a father and a son--it's been calling my name for about a week now.

If only I had three heads, a few more arms/hands and could read all three books at once. But then, really, what joy would I get out of that? Can you imagine having three brains? Some of you might be able to manage that quite well, but I am not sure I could. I have trouble with the one I have sometimes.

That reminds me, I have a few interviews of authors coming up. Or at least I will if I ever get around to writing the questions. I never know what to ask. So, I may borrow a few of your questions if I come across past interviews on some of your blogs. Think of it as a form of flattery.

Oh! I remember what was bugging me this morning as I read. There's this man in my book, a lead in the investigation of a kidnapping, who clearly has a stick up his behind. He is infuriating me no end with the way he treats Jack McClure, the ATF agent assigned to the task force to find the missing girl. Jack happens to be dyslexic. This jerk of a boss likes to make fun of and embarrass Jack constantly because of it. I want to reach into the pages and slap this man silly. There, I said it. Maybe now I can get past it.

Yes, I'm all over the place today. Don't mind me. Think of it as blog brainstorming and pretend it makes sense. If you managed to stay with me through it all, you're a brave soul.

I am off to do a little reading, although I should probably see what the animals are up to first. I heard a clatter coming from the other room. Not a good sign. Happy reading!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Six Random or Weird Things About Me

I was recently tagged by Laura, Jen and Dynamic Uno for the Six Random or Weird Things About Me memes. I always have trouble with lists like this. Some of the weirder stuff, I would rather keep you in the dark about. Here's some safe ones though:

1. Just this year, I figured out how to swallow gel capsule pills. I take a swig of water, hold my head forward so the pill floats to the back of my mouth, and swallow. (Pill swallowing of any kind has been difficult for me all my life, so this was quite an accomplishment for me who could never seem to swallow those pesky floating pills.)

2. I often tell solicitors I am not home when they ask to speak with me.

3. It is second nature for me to lock unlocked doors leading out of the house. I have locked my husband out a few times when he's just throwing away the trash or starting up the sprinklers in the yard as a result.

4. I have to put on lip balm before I go to bed at night or else I cannot go to sleep.

5. I decided the other day that I am going to give up reading. Then I came to my senses.

6. My first response when anyone asks me if he or she can ask me a question often is, "No."

I will not be tagging anyone specifically, but if you are feeling especially brave, please do play along!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Fill In Fun

1. October has yet to see summer yield to autumn weather. It was 103F just the other day, for goodness' sake!
2. Dementors scare me!
3. Leaves are falling all around; it's time to break out the rake.
4. My favorite horror movie is An Inconvenient Truth because it is scary no matter how you look at it.
5. College study rooms = good memories.
6. It was a dark and stormy night and I was craving Coconut Almond Fudge Chip ice cream.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a visit to the doctor (okay, so not something I'm especially looking forward to), tomorrow my plans include recovering from said doctor's appointment and Sunday, I want to do more of the same!

Wouldn't it be grand to be in Hawaii again . . .

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Back in a Bit

Parker and Anya will keep you company.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tuesday Teasers & Thingers on Wednesday

A little tease from what I've been reading lately:
It took Jaywalker fifteen minutes just to get a cab to stop for him. Several empty ones slowed down before speeding up and passing him by. You could get away with almost anything in the city, but wearing a blanket for an outer garment was presumptive evidence that you were either broke or dangerous.
--excerpt from The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller

* * *
I found myself awash in the old images, Paolo and Massimo and the spot under the Ponte Vecchio where we had often huddled together for warmth in the winter, games of chance and skill and begging for coins for a meal and going to the market with an empty belly . . .
--page 121 from Immortal by Traci L. Slatton

* * *
I'd ended up doubting my sanity more often than not. At fifteen, that isn't a good doubt to have.
--excerpt from Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

For this week's Tuesday Thingers, Marie copied the list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s straight from the ALA website. Instructions: Bold what you've read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier