Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Salon: A Wedding, A Meet-Up & Book Clubs

Rumors that I snuck away from my brother's wedding reception last Sunday to read are grossly exaggerated. The book stayed tucked away in my purse. The wedding turned out beautifully. My brother had just gotten out of the hospital two days before, having had his gall bladder removed early last week. Nothing was going to stop him or his bride from walking down the aisle, however.

I also was able to spend Father's Day with my father this year, something I don't often get to do because of the physical distance between us. Thank you to all who took time to answer my question last week, about your favorite or least favorite fictional father. My husband was right: Atticus Finch took the lead early and held on tight until the end. While he'd make it on my list of favorites, I think I'd personally give the top prize to Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

I am ashamed to say I did not crack open a book on the drive to and from Sacramento this vacation. Nearly sixteen hours on the road. Now, part of that I drove, but I could have at least tried to read when I wasn't driving. I don't know what I was thinking!

I did manage to get a little reading in while visiting with family and amidst all the activity. Just not very much. I spent quality time perusing my parents' bookshelves. I slept right next to my father's Louis L'Amour collection. My own book collecting proclivity comes directly from my father, I'm sure. Although, I came to the conclusion this visit that my collection surpasses my parents' in terms of the number of books now. I am not sure whether to be proud of that fact or try and whittle the books down further. At least they have shelf space for all of their books.

As some of you know, I have made efforts recently to weed my shelves of books I no longer want or need to keep around. What you don't know is that some of those books have made there way back to the shelves. I did not get them out of the house quick enough, I'm afraid. (*hanging head in shame*)

I had the honor yesterday of meeting Heather from Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books for the first time. She was in the area visiting family, and so she, Amy from My Friend Amy (who I'd met once before), my husband and I met at a local Barnes and Noble and headed off to lunch. What better place for the Literary Feline to eat than a restaurant called The Lazy Dog Cafe? Despite the noise (a World Cup game was going in in the background and there were fans cheering along), we enjoyed our food and good conversation. While Heather and Amy are both bloggers I respect and admire having known them only from their blogs, my feelings for them grew once I met them in person. They are both very active in the book blogging community and their enthusiasm about books and blogging is contagious (it makes me feel a little guilty about my recent neglect of my blog).

Amy mentioned a local face to face book club that meets in her town (the next one over from my own) that I am considering joining. I have never belonged to a face to face book club before but have always wanted to. Being as shy as I am when it comes to meeting new people, I like the idea of going into a group knowing at least one person, but the distance is something to consider (21+ minute drive, depending on traffic). The group is reading the Stieg Larsson books currently, and that in itself is appealing. I did find a group about half the distance but I don't know much about it (nothing at all, really) nor do I know anyone in it (that I know of).

Do you belong or have you ever belonged to a face to face book group/club? What has your experience been like?

Well, I have a review to write, a book to read and blog hopping to do--a relatively quiet Sunday. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Happy reading!

This Week In Reading Mews:

Reading Now:
by Adena Halpern
31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

Recent Additions to the TBR Room:
Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton (a gift from Carrie K. from Books and Movies--thanks Carrie!)
Night Prey by John Sanford (won in giveaway hosted by Lisa from Books on the Brain--thanks, Lisa!)
Storm Prey by John Sanford (won in giveaway hosted by Lisa from Books on the Brain--thanks, Lisa!)
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich (I bought for myself since it's now out in paperback)

Reviews Posted:
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney (and a giveaway!)

Note: I am taking an unexpected break from blogging this week due to unforeseen events. My review of The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst will likely go up next week.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney (& Giveaway)

She sprang from the womb and waved to the crowd. Then she smiled and took a bow. [opening. pg. 3]

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney
Random House, 2010
Fiction (historical); 448 pgs

A young man on the cusp of adulthood has led a relatively good life up until that point. His father is a well-respected farmer and seems happily married to his mother. Everything changes, however, when he attends a traveling show performance with his father one evening. His father refuses to return home, emphatic that he is joining the show. The elder MacCarthy is smitten with the show's lead act, Venetia Kelly, an interest that had begun two years before, unbeknownst to the son. Ben MacCarthy is forced to grow up very quickly after that. Tasked by his mother to go after and bring home his father, Ben must give up his own dreams of college. The year is 1932 and the story takes place in Ireland, a beautiful and yet tense backdrop. Political tensions are high with the upcoming election and subsequent battle for power. What follows is a story full of intrigue, drama, comedy and family loyalty and strength. It is also rich in history with a dash of Irish lore. I laughed. I cried. I held my breath in anticipation of and fear. What sounds like a simple story is far from it. Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show is quite complex, with many layers.

What I found most exquisite in this novel was Frank Delaney's writing. Narrated by an older Ben MacCarthy as he attempts to document the events that took place during the early 1930's. He begins by setting up the characters, introducing them and sharing a little of their background. It was almost too much, but just when I was growing tired and wondering if the book would go on like that forever, Ben's narrative moved into the story and the events that changed his life forever.

I really came to care for the characters. Ben, in his innocence and naivety, was charming and thoughtful. He does what he has to do with the confidence of the young, yet he is still unsure and scared at times. His parents seemed like good people, hardworking and persevering. There were moments I was less than sympathetic with his father, quite a few, actually, but I could see why Ben held him in such high regard. I really felt for Ben's mother. She lost so much in all of this. The Kelly family remains difficult for me to describe. King Kelly, Venetia's grandfather, is a cold man, charming in his own way, but clearly used to using people to reach his own ends. Sarah King, Venetia's mother, and Venetia herself were held at a distance for the first half or so of the book--untouchable almost--but not without reason. The author dazzled the reader with their beauty and skill, both on stage and off. Both were actresses, you see. It is only as time goes on and Ben reveals more that we are given a deeper view of the two women. Venetia, eccentric as she is, never really loses her luster.

The side characters are just as intriguing. From Mrs. Hass, the King's housekeeper, to my favorites, Miss Fay and James Clare, a smart and supportive pair who offer their help to Ben along the way. James Clare was an especially interesting character; his occupation involved traveling around Ireland collecting and telling stories. He knew just the spin to put on a story. The most ordinary of circumstances seemed like an adventure when he was through weaving his own tale.

The political undercurrent that runs through the novel plays a significant part in the novel. Just as the MacCarthy family is facing serious upheaval of their own, so seems to be the government. Violence threatens to erupt from under the surface and Ben unwittingly finds himself at the forefront of it all.

As I read Frank Delaney's novel, I couldn't help but be entranced. The art of storytelling is in high gear in the novel, both as a theme running through the novel and the way the book was written. I would love to hear this novel narrated--I imagine it would be just as wonderful in the right narrator's voice. Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show is definitely one I will be keeping around. I can see myself returning to it again and again, each time getting something new out of it.

Rating: * (Very Good +)

I am hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of Frank Delaney's book, Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. To enter, please leave a comment with your e-mail address (unless it is very easy to find on your blog or profile page) telling me why you want to read this book. The giveaway is open internationally. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Deadline to enter is July 2nd at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. The winner will be notified by e-mail.

Giveaway now closed. Congratulations to Andi from Estella's Revenge!

You can learn more about Frank Delaney and his books on his website.

Source: Book provided by Interpersonal Frequency LLC for review (giveaway copy also).

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Salon: Question of the Day - Fathers in Fiction

Today's post will be brief as it is a busy weekend for my family. My mother's retirement from teaching became official on Friday and my brother's getting married this evening. Add to that the fact that today is Father's Day. As a result, I thought I'd make you do all the work today.

Tell me, what are the most memorable fictional father figures you've come across in your reading? Is there a father you wouldn't mind having as your own? One you hate with a passion? Do tell! Anjin is betting that Atticus Finch will be the most popular choice.

This Week In Reading Mews:

Reading Now:
by Adena Halpern
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

Recent Additions to the TBR Room (All books were bought by me even though I really shouldn't have. I need a new refrigerator, but you can see where my priorities lay.):
Ireland by Frank Delaney (after reading Venetia's Traveling Show, I couldn't resist)
How to Escape From a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories by Tiphanie Yanique (I bought this one for the upcoming
Spotlight Tour Series for Graywolf Press)
Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari (a book club pick)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (So I won't have to rush to the bookstore when I actually get to the first two books in the trilogy)

Reviews Posted:
The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari
"The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" by Jhumpa Lahiri (short story)

Posts of Interest This Week:
A Page in the Life of Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading
Monday at the Movies: Rachel's Getting Married & Favorite Baby movies

Coming This Week:
Review of Venetia's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Page in the Life of Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading

I am thrilled to welcome Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading: A Blog and Book Club All In One to Musings of a Bookish Kitty today. Jennifer's blog is a fairly new one in the book blogging community, but she wasted no time settling in and making her blog a stop on my must read list. Jennifer is fun and thoughtful and it shows on her blog.

Please join me in welcoming Jennifer to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Literary Feline: I am always curious to know how others begin their day. It's like looking in a window at a moment in your life. How do you like to start off your morning?

Jennifer: I am a teacher, so soon I will be sleeping in and relaxing more. Currently, I start my mornings exercising or reading a little bit. I like to check my fb, twitter, and all that stuff, but I like to have a couple of minutes first thing that are all mine.

Literary Feline: Sleeping in for a change will be so nice! Not to mention having a little bit more time for yourself in the mornings. I know I need that time to start the day off right.

Speaking of starting off right, how did you get started blogging about books?

Jennifer: My friend Katie gave me the suggestion. I have been complaining for years about wanting to do more with my time. I love teaching, but I wanted to do something that was just fun, allowed me to write, and was creative. Katie works with the media, and she casually told me that no one had created a blog and online book club in one. I got excited immediately. Blogging about books incorporates my two main hobbies into one, and the community of book bloggers is fantastic. It has been a great fit so far.

Literary Feline: I agree, the book blogging community is fantastic. And so varied! I like that there are so many different types of blogs out there. You definitely do fit in nicely. Your blog is definitely unique in that you have taken blogging a step further and created a book club for fellow readers. I think that's a great idea! As someone who isn't able to join a face to face book club, I find that online book clubs are the next best thing, not to mention more flexible. Tell us a bit about the book club and how it works.

Jennifer: Thanks for the compliment! The book club was designed to allow women a place to talk to their friends about great books despite distance. I have so many friends that are thousands of miles away, and I miss hearing their opinion about authors, politics, issues, or even gossip. The book club is supposed to help answer this dilemma in a way that Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace cannot.

Users register with the site, and then they are free to join a book club or create a book club. If all of your friends are users of the site, then you can invite them to join a private book club where only you all discuss. Similarly, people can allow anyone to join and make new friends. It is incredibly flexible-people can log in any time and answer questions, post comments, or add links.

We have started our first book club, and it is going really well. I am the moderator, and I simply created a schedule, post a new question each Sunday, and the girls answer it when they can. I love that they are having conversations without me. As a teacher, and with the blog, I am directing the flow of the conversation. The book club is user directed. Women can take it and go with it wherever they want.

Literary Feline: It sounds like a good set up! I love to talk about the books I read with others. I haven't always had the best of luck when it comes to group reads, in terms of keeping up, but when I can, I enjoy taking part in those types of discussions. It really can be a rewarding experience. And with an online book group, the added flexibility of being able to answer questions or join in on a discussion at your leisure is a bonus.

Book blogging itself lends itself to creating a more social environment for book talk. Personally, I have found that it has affected the way I read. Has blogging impacted your reading? If so, how?

Jennifer: Whoa! Blogging has impacted my reading a lot. Ironically, it has added stress into my reading life. I now have to finish AT LEAST a book a week which is a lot with a full time job and a family. I was also recently contacted by a publisher for my first ARC. That was really exciting, but I did not love the book. Giving a bad review is/was not something I was really prepared for. As a writer myself, it is difficult for me to publicly discredit someone's hard work.

Literary Feline: Congratulations on getting your first ARC! It is exciting when suddenly publishers, authors and publicists take notice of your blog and ask you to spread the word about a book they are promoting. It isn't the reason you blog, of course,, but it brings with it its own validation of sorts.

It is hard when you don't care for the book you agreed to review. That is something I have struggled with. There are a number of ways to handle a situation like that, but I think it's most important to be honest with yourself and with your readers. I think too that it is possible to be respectful even in criticism. Even so, it doesn't make it any easier, especially when you know the author might read your review.

Do you have any reading routines, rituals or habits?

Jennifer: I read two books at a time-usually. I always have an actual book and an e-book on my Kindle. The Kindle comes with me wherever I go, and I read whenever I get a second. The hardcover book stays at home, and I read that at nights. I read every night before I go to sleep.

Literary Feline: Another bed time reader! I find I sleep better before going to sleep.

I envy you for having an e-reader. Someday I hope to have one too. It will never replace print books, of course, but it sure would be convenient! I especially like the idea of having so many book options right at my finger tips. If I'm not in the mood for one book, I may be in the mood for another. Having choices and variety helps me avoid reading slumps more often than not. Now blogging slumps . . . Those can be a little more tricky.

How do you pull yourself out of a reading or blogging slump or what steps do you take to avoid that from happening?

Jennifer: I was recently in a slump, and I decided to get some inspiration from my fellow bloggers. We talked on Twitter, and then of course I check other blogs. These women are really creative, and it helps to see what they have to say too. I also joined Book Blogging Blues, and those discussions include a lot more tips than complaints. Those tips help a lot. I created a reading schedule because of it, and I made some blogging rules for myself so I don't burn out.

Literary Feline: Getting inspiration from fellow bloggers and readers is a wonderful idea. I recently joined Book Blogging Blues and agree with you. It's been helpful and the advice is quite useful.

I know I've said it before here, but I have so much respect for teachers. You are one of the most important people in our society. And reading is so vital, I think. What has been one of the highlights for you as a high school English teacher, helping instill the love of reading in your students?

Jennifer: Great question and hard to pick! As this school year ends, I can really only think about this year. My senior English students this year did great work with their independent reading books. I decided to give them a list of books to choose from-suggestions for books to pick. A couple of the suggestions really sparked their interest, and some of my non-readers found an author/book they loved to read. Having conversations with people about writing is my passion, and seeing an 18 year old excited about a book (not a movie, a video game, or gossip) is beyond fantastic. Consequently, some of the non-readers are reading still, even after the assignment is long over. I am really proud of that.

Literary Feline: How cool is that! It's so exciting seeing a young person find enjoyment in a book, especially one who is a non-reader. And it must make you feel good, knowing you helped get that started.

Besides reading and books, what are some of your other interests, hobbies or passions?

Jennifer: Travel is a big passion of mine. I start get itchy if I don't go on a trip every six months or so. I really love photography, and I am dying to replace the professional camera I had that died. I like to do crosswords, and I also knit in my spare time. I don't do a lot of knitting, so it takes me years to complete big projects, but it is neat to create something.

Literary Feline: You recently started a new feature on your blog called Thursday Tidings in which you discuss books and movies as well as other interesting tidbits, which I have to say is a great idea. Is there something coming up that I should know about?

Jennifer: Thanks again for the compliment. This week I think I am going to talk about the new version of Little Women that is coming out. It is another adaption that includes gruesome monsters. In this one the March sisters have to take on vampires. I am, personally, getting a little tired of this idea, but I am interested to see how it pans out.

Literary Feline: Introducing vampires and monsters to the classics has become quite popular, hasn't it? I am glad to see people taking more of an interest in the classics as a result.

Now to put you on the spot (you have 20 seconds to answer each of these questions--I've got my stop watch ready!):

Book you'd most like to be trapped in a broken elevator for several hours:
Pride and Prejudice

It's storming outside, you're alone in the house, and the electricity has gone out; what book do you turn to pass the time?

The storm has passed and it's a beautiful day outside. The temperature is just right. Will you read outside or inside?
Outside-on our porch

You're picnicking by the lake and have an hour to yourself while the family is off exploring. What book did you bring with you to read?
Water for Elephants-I am dying to start it

Name one book I absolutely must read at some point in my life:
To Kill a Mockingbird-innocent but it changes lives

Literary Feline: Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today! I hope all of you who are visiting will stop by Girls Gone Reading: A Blog and Book Club All In One and check out Jennifer's blog and book club!

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From the Archives: Review of The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. Most of my reviews were short and too the point, and so I was surprised to come across this one, written in March of 2005:

The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari
Ballantine Books, 2005
Crime Fiction; 400 pgs

A serial killer is targeting Catholic teenage schoolgirls in Philadelphia and veteran homicide detective Kevin Byrne and his rookie partner Jessica Balzano are determined to stop him. The novel was well crafted and entertaining. I found the religious slant of the motive behind the killings intriguing.

My husband and I were talking recently about what I look for in a novel. The characters, plot lines, and the setting all play an important role in any novel for me. I like to lose myself in a book as I read the words on each page. I get a rush out of not being able to read fast enough to find out what happens next. And, yes, I even talk to my books sometimes, which makes my husband smirk and chuckle at my expense.

Character development is perhaps the area I am most critical. If I do not like the main characters, I have a tendency not to like the book, no matter how good the story may be. I like characters who are realistic, likable, sympathetic, and ones I can relate to on some level. I thought Mr. Montanari’s characters were well developed and interesting, both professionally and personally. In just a few hundred pages he made his characters real and brought them to life for me.

Although the least likely part to make or break a book for me, the setting plays an important role in my enjoyment of any type of book. I like to read a book that has a well-defined setting, and if the setting itself becomes a character of its own, all the better. I like to visit familiar places now and again, but always enjoy being taken to somewhere new, whether it be an exotic city, a small town, or even a neighborhood. The setting plays an important role in creating the backdrop for a story and better defines the characters within it. In the case of The Rosary Girls, Mr. Montanari has set his book in Philadelphia and chose specific settings to build his story around. His descriptions fed my imagination so that I was able to better “watch” the events as they unfolded in my mind’s eye. A setting is more than just a place; it can be the time period in which a book is set as well. In The Rosary Girls, Mr. Montanari made several references to current popular TV shows and media icons, which will most likely date the book in future years, but for now it was quite appealing.

I have read many mysteries and suspense novels over the years and it is not unusual for me to figure out the whodunit long before the end. I still love a good mystery, even if I am able to unravel the clues before the author gives it away, but it’s a real gem of a book when I find one that stumps me until the very end. Mr. Montanari demonstrated his ability to craft a story that left me guessing. Just when I thought I had it figured out, something new would come along to relieve me of my suspicions. He isn’t one of those authors that have the bad guy coming out from nowhere either, which some writers have been known to do.

Rating: * (Very Good)

An Aside: I am not sure what inspired me to go into the nuances of a story in the middle of my review, other than I really liked the novel at the time I read it. It was my first Montanari book, and I did go on to read a couple of others (The Skin Gods and Merciless), both of which I reviewed on my blog.

In April 2004 I read a novel which I
featured on my blog. It had a profound affect on me and the way I approach characterization today. And yet, reading my review of The Rosary Girls, I can see how the change in my thinking wasn't something that happened over night. Obviously, a year later, I was still stuck in the same place I had been. Or, at least, I wasn't consciously aware of the shift that had taken root. It explains why I didn't address the issue in my review of Stephen R. Donaldson's book, now that I think about it. I still believe that Lord's Foul Bane created a shift in my thinking, the idea that the main character did not necessarily have to be likable for me to enjoy a book. The idea just took time to ferment and would only become more solidified as time went on, perhaps the next time I came across another character I didn't especially like. In order for me to enjoy a book to its fullest, I do have to connect with the book on some level--but nowadays I feel it doesn't have to be with the main character necessarily. What hasn't changed is how much I value realism in the development of characters. I don't mean that they can't be werewolves or vampires or any sort of fantastical being;I just prefer that they be flawed and multi-layered.

In my review of
The Rosary Girls, I commented that setting plays an important role in my enjoyment of a book. I am not sure, however, I still can so confidently state that it generally will not "make or break a book for me." Characterization remains the most significant aspect of most of the books I read (it depends on the book, actually), but setting is not as far down on the totem pole as it once was. Settings, be it time or place, are drawing me in more than ever. Sometimes I select a book to read based on the setting, first and foremost. I've begun to think of the setting as a character in some instances. And it can make or break a book for me.

When I look back on this post five or ten years from now, I wonder how differently I will feel then, if at all.

You can learn more about Richard Montanari and his books at his official website.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Short Story Tuesday: The Treatment of Bibi Haldar by Jhumpa Lahiri

"The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
from Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner Books, 1999)

Bibi Haldar, age 29, suffers from an unknown ailment that has plagued her all her life. Her family and neighbors have all suggested possible cures, but even the medical professionals are stumped. She lives with an elder cousin in his wife who view her more as a burden than anything else. Bibi longs for a normal life, in particular a husband of her own. Once she sets her mind to it, she tries to do what she can to prepare. Her relatives want no part of it. When her cousin's wife becomes pregnant the wife becomes paranoid that Bibi's condition will harm her unborn baby. While her family pushes her away, Bibi's neighbors are left to carry the brunt.

In the Indian culture, neighbors are much closer or more involved in a person's life than they tend to be in the United States where I was born and raised. It can be both a blessing and a curse. In Bibi's case, it is definitely more of a blessing. They pick up where her family fails her.

The twist at the end of this tale is both bitter and sweet. Lahiri's Bibi is a sympathetic character and the reader cannot help but feel for her. "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" is another winner in my book.

In short, Bibi's life was an encounter with one fruitless antidote after another.
[pg 159]

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday At the Movies: Rachel's Getting Married & Favorite Baby Movies

(Disclosure: I rented the movie through Netflix.)

Rachel's Getting Married (Drama - 2008; rated R; directed by Jonathan Demme; written by Jenny Lumet)
Longstanding family conflicts resurface when drama queen Kym (Anne Hathaway, in her first Oscar-nominated role), a former model who's been in and out of rehab for 10 years, returns to her parents' home just before her sister Rachel's (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. Debra Winger co-stars as the girls' emotionally distant mother in director Jonathan Demme's critically acclaimed portrait of family angst and unrest. [Summary from Netflix]
I have had this movie sitting on the movie basket for months. So long, in fact, that I actually forgot what the movie was about. So, when my husband and I decided to sit down for a long overdue movie night, we popped it in the DVD player and hoped for the best.

If any of you have ever struggled with addiction or had a family member or close friend who has, you know how difficult a process recovery is. Addiction impacts everyone it touches, even those not drinking or using drugs. The scars it leaves are deep. What most impressed me about Rachel's Getting Married is the rawness of the emotions, of the anger and sadness. The actors did an amazing job of portraying a family not only in conflict, but of one dealing with the aftermath of tragedy, and the effort to get on with life. A movie like this can be handled in so many ways, but the writers and director chose to paint a realistic view of a family dealing with the aftermath of live changing crisis. The ending is not tied with a neat little bow.

The Monday Movie Meme is brought to you by The Bumbles.

This week's movie topic is all about babies ...
We ended our weekend celebrating our niece's Christening. She's 3 months old and so sweet, snuggly and smiling. And we get her all to ourselves next Friday - lucky Bumbles that we are. To get us through the week, here are a few movies about babies we could watch - though none could compare to her of course. Share on your blog movies featuring babies, linking back to The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!
From weddings to babies . . . It's been awhile since I last saw a movie featuring a baby. Here are a few of my favorites:

Baby Boom (1987)

Willow (1988)

Look Who's Talking (1989)

Undercover Blues (1993)

Babies (2010) ~ Okay, so I haven't actually seen this one yet. But I really want to.

What is your favorite movie featuring a baby?

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Salon: What Book Surprised You?

I love to read. I read a wide variety of books and have enjoyed books from nearly every category I have tried. In my reading, I have also discovered which types of books I like less. As a reader who reads for pleasure and has so little time to spare for reading in the first place, it's important to me to spend more time reading books I will enjoy rather than books I won't. That isn't to say I am not up for a challenge or afraid to read outside the box. Reading books I think I will like and stepping outside of my comfort zone are not mutually exclusive. I enjoy a good challenge just as much as I like stepping inside the familiar.

There is such a thing as book snobbery. There are people who look down on a particular type of book for one reason or another, judging the readers, making assumptions about an entire group of books without really trying it out. I have seen readers put down those who like genre fiction just as often as I have heard readers snub their noses at those who like to read literary fiction and classics. It irks me either way.

But just because someone doesn't care for a particular genre or book category, does not mean that the person is a book snob. Sometimes it's just a matter of taste. As I mentioned before, I have read a lot of books in my life time (although not nearly as many as some of you) and so have a good sense of which types of books I prefer over others. I have also learned that even though I may not care for a particular type of book in the general sense, there are gems to be found within each category.

In some cases, I've discovered sub-genres within the main that I have fallen in love with, opening a whole new bookish world to me. Had I not been willing to take a chance now and then, I might not have figured that out. As a result, I never say I will not read a certain type of book.

Have you run into any surprises in your reading?

I had the misfortune of falling ill last week and it impacted my reading. I was in the middle of reading Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney, and it wasn't exactly the best book to read when my attention span was that of a gnat. So, I have not made it too far in just yet, not wanting to short change the novel. The novel is set in Ireland during a time of political unrest. It's cleverly written and requires my full attention. I plan to continue reading it today and into next week.

I am a bit envious of those participating in the week long Huge TBR Readathon hosted by Kristen of Bookworming in the 21st Century this week. The festivities start tomorrow and run through Sunday, June 20th. Oh, to have that kind of time! I'm not sure my boss would appreciate my reading when I should be working though.

Also, Book Blogger Appreciation Week sign-ups are under way. BBAW is scheduled for September 13th to 17th this year. The registration form is a long one, so you might want to set aside a little extra time to fill it out. My favorite part was nominating my favorite books of the year for awards!

The Spotlight Tour Series continues next month, featuring small publisher GraywolfPress. I wasn't originally going to sign up because my July is already pretty busy, but I found two books that I am dying to read. Now to decide which one of the two to read for the tour . . .

Here's to another great week, hopefully a healthier one. Happy Reading!

This Week In Reading Mews:

Reading Now:
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show
by Frank Delaney

Reviews Posted:
Little Green by Loretta Stinson
Dead in the Family & A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris (along with Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge Wrap Up)

Posts of Interest This Week:
(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Play Time
TGIF: Next Week's Temptations and Fill In Fun

Coming This Week:
Monday at the Movies: Rachel's Getting Married
A Page in the Life of Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Friday, June 11, 2010

TGIF: Next Week's Temptations & Fill In Fun

Hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine

Do you know how many books are released into the market each week? An unbelievable number. Here is my short list of the books coming out on June 15th in the U.S. that caught my attention:

Stories: All-New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio ~ If the list of authors contributing to this anthology wasn't enough to tempt me, then surely Neil Gaiman's name alone might.
"The joy of fiction is the joy of the imagination. . . ."

The best stories pull readers in and keep them turning the pages, eager to discover more—to find the answer to the question: "And then what happened?" The true hallmark of great literature is great imagination, and as Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio prove with this outstanding collection, when it comes to great fiction, all genres are equal.

Stories is a groundbreaking anthology that reinvigorates, expands, and redefines the limits of imaginative fiction and affords some of the best writers in the world—from Peter Straub and Chuck Palahniuk to Roddy Doyle and Diana Wynne Jones, Stewart O'Nan and Joyce Carol Oates to Walter Mosley and Jodi Picoult—the opportunity to work together, defend their craft, and realign misconceptions. Gaiman, a literary magician whose acclaimed work defies easy categorization and transcends all boundaries, and "master anthologist" (Booklist) Sarrantonio personally invited, read, and selected all the stories in this collection, and their standard for this "new literature of the imagination" is high. "We wanted to read stories that used a lightning-flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it at all."

Joe Hill boldly aligns theme and form in his disturbing tale of a man's descent into evil in "Devil on the Staircase." In "Catch and Release," Lawrence Block tells of a seasoned fisherman with a talent for catching a bite of another sort. Carolyn Parkhurst adds a dark twist to sibling rivalry in "Unwell." Joanne Harris weaves a tale of ancient gods in modern New York in "Wildfire in Manhattan." Vengeance is the heart of Richard Adams's "The Knife." Jeffery Deaver introduces a dedicated psychologist whose mission in life is to save people in "The Therapist." A chilling punishment befitting an unspeakable crime is at the dark heart of Neil Gaiman's novelette "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains."

As it transforms your view of the world, this brilliant and visionary volume—sure to become a classic—will ignite a new appreciation for the limitless realm of exceptional fiction. [Description from Amazon]

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg ~ I've fallen under the spell of Scandinavian authors and am eager to read this one.
The American debut of internationally bestselling Swedish writer Camilla Lackberg’s haunting first novel. Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life.

Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past. [Description from Amazon]

Leaving the World by Douglas Kennedy ~ I haven't read anything by this author before but was quite taken with the description of this novel.
On the night of her thirteenth birthday, Jane Howard made a vow to her warring parents: she would never get married, and she would never have children.

But life, as Jane comes to discover, is a profoundly random business. Many years and many lives later, she is a professor in Boston, in love with a brilliant, erratic man named Theo. And then Jane becomes pregnant. Motherhood turns out to be a great welcome surprise—but when a devastating turn of events tears her existence apart she has no choice but to flee all she knows and leave the world.

Just when she has renounced life itself, the disappearance of a young girl pulls her back from the edge and into an obsessive search for some sort of personal redemption. Convinced that she knows more about the case than the police do, she is forced to make a decision—stay hidden or bring to light a shattering truth.

Leaving the World is a riveting portrait of a brilliant woman that reflects the way we live now, of the many routes we follow in the course of a single life, and of the arbitrary nature of destiny. A critically acclaimed international bestseller, it is also a compulsive read and one that speaks volumes about the dilemmas we face in trying to navigate our way through all that fate throws in our path. [Description from Amazon]

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim ~ I generally do not care to read books about or by celebrities, but occasionally I come across one that is hard to resist. As a long time fan of the television show, Little House on the Prairie (I still haven't read the books), a bolt of excitement ran through me when I found out this book was coming out next week.
For seven years, Alison Arngrim played a wretched, scheming, selfish, lying, manipulative brat on one of TV history's most beloved series. Though millions of Little House on the Prairie viewers hated Nellie Oleson and her evil antics, Arngrim grew to love her character—and the freedom and confidence Nellie inspired in her.

In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, Arngrim describes growing up in Hollywood with her eccentric parents: Thor Arngrim, a talent manager to Liberace and others, whose appetite for publicity was insatiable, and legendary voice actress Norma MacMillan, who played both Gumby and Casper the Friendly Ghost. She recalls her most cherished and often wickedly funny moments behind the scenes of Little House: Michael Landon's "unsaintly" habit of not wearing underwear; how she and Melissa Gilbert (who played her TV nemesis, Laura Ingalls) became best friends and accidentally got drunk on rum cakes at 7-Eleven; and the only time she and Katherine MacGregor (who played Nellie's mom) appeared in public in costume, provoking a posse of elementary schoolgirls to attack them.

Arngrim relays all this and more with biting wit, but she also bravely recounts her life's challenges: her struggle to survive a history of traumatic abuse, depression, and paralyzing shyness; the "secret" her father kept from her for twenty years; and the devastating loss of her "Little House husband" and best friend, Steve Tracy, to AIDS, which inspired her second career in social and political activism. Arngrim describes how Nellie Oleson taught her to be bold, daring, and determined, and how she is eternally grateful to have had the biggest little bitch on the prairie to show her the way. [Description from Amazon]
Will I read it? I don't know. But it sure is tempting!

What's your "waiting on" pick this week? Are there any books coming out this next week that I should know about?

Graphic courtesy of Tonya!
*Click on the image above graphic to get to the Friday Fill-In headquarters, hosted by Janet!*

1. Losing myself in a good book feels great.

2. The solution is cuddles.

3. My sleep is much more restful if I read before I fall asleep.

4. How about a side of comedy to go with that mystery?

5. Reading Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series is something I highly recommend!

6. Imagine having a day without responsibilities or commitments stretched out before you. You can do anything you want. What would you do?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to spending a quiet evening with my husband; tomorrow my plans include finding a top to go with that skirt I bought for my brother's wedding; and Sunday, I want to delve more deeply in Frank Delaney's Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show!

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reviews: Dead in the Family & A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family (Ace, 2010; 311 pgs)
& A Touch of Dead (Ace, 2009; 192 pgs)
by Charlaine Harris

Reading a book in the Southern Vampire series is like soaking in a steamy bubble bath. Or, how I imagine it would be if I actually enjoyed baths. I'm more of a shower girl myself. But I digress. Dead in the Family is the latest novel featuring my favorite mind reader, Sookie Stackhouse, by Charlaine Harris, and it did not disappoint.

Picking up after the last book in the series, Sookie is healing from the injuries she received during the fae war. She doesn't have much time to rest, however, as trouble is brewing on all fronts. Vampire Eric's maker is in town with a not-so-little problem he is hoping Eric will help him resolve, Sookie has a new roommate, and someone whose intentions are less than savory is lurking in the woods. Add to that the recent tensions caused by the coming out of shape shifters and weres to the public. And that's just for starters. Dead in the Family is chock full of fun and suspense.

I always enjoy my time in Sookie's world, hanging out with old friends and seeing what trouble everyone's getting into. Over the course of the series, I've grown to really dislike Sookie's brother Jason, but I have to admit I actually liked him this time around. He seems to be growing up, finally. I'm still not completely convinced he will stay on the right track though. Hunter, Sookie's five year old nephew, makes an appearance. I hope I get to see more of him in future books.

As much as Sookie has been through over the course of the series, in particular the last several books, it would have been impossible for her to remain unscathed. Her view of the world has shifted and she is a bit harder; however, she still maintains her sense of fairness.

I am a big fan of the television show, as different in tone and style as it is from the books. While I usually can keep the two separate in my head, I found myself getting the two mixed up in a couple of spots this time around. I think that is more from my having read the early books in the series so long ago. One of these days I might get around to rereading the series.

After reading Dead in the Family, I was not quite ready to leave Bon Temps, Louisiana and so finally dived into A Touch of Dead, a compilation of short stories featuring Sookie written by Charlaine Harris over the years. Some of the stories I had read before as they appeared in various short story anthologies, while others were new to me. I have to say, I'm glad the author and publisher decided to put the stories all in one place--it makes things easier for those of us who follow the series.

Some of the stories are better than others, but one thing that was clear was just how much Sookie has grown and how intricate the world Harris created has become. My favorite of the stories is "One Word Answer," which is actually among the ones I had read before. It only got better in the rereading. In this particular story, Sookie learns about the death of her cousin, who had been a consort of the vampire Queen of Louisiana. There are four other stories, one about Eric's birthday bash for Dracula, a Christmas surprise for Sookie, a request by a fairy friend to look into the murder of her sister, and an insurance caper. I enjoyed this collection of stories quite a bit.

Upon completion of Dead in the Family and A Touch of Dead, I am now officially done with the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge. I thought I was done back in July when I wrote my closing summary, but the release of these two most recent books meant I could drag it out a little longer.

The Southern Vampire series is light and entertaining. It's pure fun and I have enjoyed reading each of the novels. I sure hope Charlaine Harris is busy writing the next book in the series! Until then, I'm anxiously awaiting June 13th, the start of the third season of True Blood. I'll get my fix anyway it comes.

Ratings: * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Charlaine Harris and her books on her website.

Source: I bought both books with my own hard earned money.

The Southern Vampire Series Books:
Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead to the World
Dead as a Doornail
Definitely Dead
All Together Dead
From Dead to Worse
Dead and Gone
Dead in the Family
A Touch of Dead (short stories)

Many thanks to Beth Fish for hosting the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge!

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Play Time

Then: Anya and Parker playing in a shoebox

Now: Parker grooming Anya
(As you can see, one of the side effects of Anya's medication is an increased appetite. )

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Review: Little Green by Loretta Stinson

She lay on her side afraid to move until the silence filled the dark. She focused on a tree trunk a few feet away. She knew she should be cold. She wasn't. She knew she should hurt. She didn't.

[. . . ]

A phrase she remembered played in her head, and she let it spin as she began walking. Keep on truckin'. You got to keep on truckin'. She repeated this phrase until she reached The Habit miles away. [pg 38 & 39]

Little Green by Loretta Stinson
Hawthorne Books, 2010
Fiction; 290 pgs

A woman once told me that every couple fights. She wasn't talking about a verbal argument. She meant the kind of fighting that involved hitting, pushing and hair pulling. Her mother had been a victim of domestic violence as was she. She did not know anything different. She loved her husband, and, while leaving him crossed her mind, she was too afraid of him and worried that she wouldn't be able to support her children without his help. Alcohol and drugs played a part in her husband's violent episodes and they helped numb her to get her through.

Domestic violence is a prevalent problem in our society. It affects men and women of all ages and social classes. Author Loretta Stinson brings home one such example in her book, Little Green. Janie Marek ran away from home when she was 14 years old. Her mother and father had died early in her life, leaving her in the care of her father's second wife. Janie took to the streets hoping for a better life. What she found was hardship and strife. At sixteen, Janie has learned the rules of living on the streets, and yet she still maintains a sense of hope that life will get better. She takes a job as a topless dancer and settles in a small Washington town for a short while, at least long enough to earn a little money. It is there she meets Paul Jesse, a drug dealer ten years her senior. They feel a connection that they both fight against, but, after tragedy strikes, the two give in.

At first life seems good. Janie and Paul get along well. She dreams of a future with him. Paul, on the other hand, is less sure. He's an independent spirit and likes his easy life. But he also cannot deny the love he feels for Janie. So, when she asks him if she can move in with him, he agrees.

As the story progresses, Paul's drug use spirals out of control and his violent rages increase. Janie is sure her love and influence will change him. She puts up with his behavior because she loves him . . . and later because she is afraid of him.

Author Loretta Stinson's writing is matter of fact. I instantly liked Janie and cared about her, but I never really got that sense of walking in her shoes that I look for when reading a novel. I was always just an observer--kept at a distance. I am having a hard time putting my finger on exactly why I felt that way. Was it me? Was it the book? I'm not sure. Despite that, the author did an amazing job of capturing the attitudes, thoughts and motivations of her characters as well as the realities of how drug abuse impacts not only the abuser, but those around him too. My heart broke for Janie, and even for Paul, as he descended further into his drug addiction. Even with all Janie went through, as broken as she was, her resilience is a testament to the human spirit as are the friends who stood by her through to the end.

Janie and Paul may be fictional characters, but their story is one shared by very real people. The novel is set in the late 1970's, however, it could very well be set today. Little Green is an important novel that is well worth reading.

Rating: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Loretta Stinson and her books on her website.

Source: Book provided by the publisher for review.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sunday Salon: Sometimes Getting Started is the Hardest Part

Whew. It has been a whirlwind of a week, between work, veterinarian appointments and entertaining company. My in-laws were in town to celebrate my husband's birthday (which is actually Monday, June 7th). We had a nice visit and took in a movie, The Prince of Persia, which we all enjoyed and found entertaining, although I can't say it was anything special.

It was an exceptional reading week. I'm lucky if I can manage one book a week and this past week I read two. Hopefully I will have the reviews written and ready to post later this week. That's the plan anyway. I find that the hardest part of jotting down my thoughts about the books I read is actually the sitting down and getting started. Once I have that first couple of sentences down, it comes much easier. I have all sorts of tricks I use to motivate myself, including outlining what I want to say, discussing my thoughts with my husband so I can be clear on what it is I want to say, taking a shower, or writing in a stream of conscience fashion and hope it eventually comes together, just to name a few.

Those of you who write reviews, do you ever struggle with getting started? What do you do to help get past that initial stump? Or is there another part of review writing you find particularly difficult?

On another note, thank you to everyone who took time to answer last week's question of the day. I wondered how many of you had a book budget for buying books and how you decided what books to buy. Most of you don't have book budgets. Neither do I. But like me, many of you said that you probably should--or that your significant others thought you ought to.

I am cutting this post short as it is late, and Anjin and I are about to settle in for dinner and the latest episode of Dr. Who.

But first, If you haven't already, do check out Nymeth's Sunday Salon post entitled On Writing About Books. She says so well how I feel on the subject of sharing my thoughts about the books I read.

Happy reading!

This Week In Reading Mews:

Reading Now:
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show
by Frank Delaney

Recent Additions to the TBR Room (all books bought by me unless otherwise noted):
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Down River
by John Hart

Reviews Posted:
The Turning; What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis (along with a guest post from the author)
The Last Child by John Hart
This Blessed House by Jhumpa Lahiri

Posts of Interest This Week:
Question of the Day: Book Buying
TGIF: Bookish Fun

This Week's Upcoming Reviews:
Little Green by Loretta Stinson
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Friday, June 04, 2010

TGIF: Bookish Fun

This week MizB's Musings Monday question:
Do you ever read a word or phrase that sparks a specific place or setting in your mind and makes you crave to read a book with that type of place/setting in it?

Whenever I travel, I get an urge to read about the places I visit. Sometimes I read about a particular period of time or an event in history and I want to know more; so I'll search out other books related to that subject or time. And in these ways, my interest in a specific place or setting is sparked.

Literary references occasionally catch my attention as well. Perhaps a fictional character is reading an actual book as part of the story or mentions a title or author. My interest is immediately piqued and I just have to learn more.

More often than not, my cravings tend to be more general. It could be that I am in the mood for a mystery or urban fantasy today, and then tomorrow it will be nonfiction or a historical novel. One of the first signs a craving is coming on is my sudden interest in a book of a particular subject or type. A visit to the bookstore will find me picking up those types of books more than others or paying more attention to blogger reviews of such books. My cravings come and go, which is fortunate because I would hate to burn out on any one type of book.

Hosted by MizB Should Be Reading

A little tease from where I was:
At night when Stella was at work reading kept her mind full of someone else's stories. She had to have a book or she'd go crazy at every little noise or shadow in the night. [pg 49, Little Green by Loretta Stinson]
A little tease from where I am:
I love spring for all the obvious reasons. I love the flowers blooming (which happens early in Louisiana); I love the birds twittering; I love the squirrels scampering across my yard.

I love the sound of werewolves howling in the distance.
[pg 37, Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris]
A little tease from where I will be:
When at last this day is finally over, after I've made it through a wretched afternoon spent in faceless hotel splendor and a plane ride during which I became airsick for the first time since I was a child, a taxi lets me out in front of my house in Newton, and I discover I've been found. My yard is scoured with artificial light, and fifteen or twenty people with cameras and microphones and other technological paraphernalia are standing, waiting for me, in the drizzle. As I open the door of the taxi, they move toward me in a single clot. [pg 25, The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst]

Hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine

As I was browsing the new release list for June, I came across mention of Not Untrue and Not Unkind. One of my many reading interests is in books related to or set in Africa, and so it caught my eye.

Not Untrue and Not Unkind by Ed O'Loughlin
Overlook, 2010
Fiction; 288 pgs

Blurb from the publisher:
In Dublin, a newspaper editor called Cartwright is found dead. One of his colleagues, Owen Simmons, discovers a dossier on Cartwright’s desk containing a photograph that brings him back to a dusty road in Africa and to a woman he once loved.

Not Untrue & Not Unkind is Owen’s story—a gripping tale of friendship, rivalry, and betrayal among a group of journalists and photographers covering Africa’s wars. It is an astonishingly powerful and accomplished debut that immediately establishes Ed O’Loughlin as a mature master of the novel, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize.

Other books coming out next week that have caught my attention:

The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Lion by Nelson DeMille
Backsteat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Booking Through Thursday Question:
Which do you prefer? Short stories? Or full-length novels?

One of my favorite Bible verses goes something like this:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens . . .
There was a time when the answer to such a question came easily to me. And I suppose, in some respects, it still does. Eight times out of ten, I will pick the novel over the short story. It is because of those two times I would select a short story over a novel that I hesitate to make the blanket statement that I prefer full length novels. But there you have it.

I tend to prefer the novel for all the usual reasons. Full length novels tend to be more satisfying when everything is said and done. There is more time to lose myself in a story and get to know the characters. Reading a novel is like eating a three course meal. The short story is more of a light lunch or a snack. It curbs the appetite for awhile, but the feeling doesn't last long. Mostly.

Short stories have the advantage of being great for those in between moments, when I need something to read but do not want to settle down with a full length novel; maybe I just finished an especially wonderful novel and am not quite ready to commit to another one yet. Or I am on my lunch break and know if I break out my novel I'll forget to go back to work.

The truth is, short stories can be pretty amazing--and satisfying--if done right. I did not always believe that. A couple or so years ago I discovered a new appreciation for the art of short stories, realizing that, like with novels, some appeal to me more than others. It would be easy to lump them all into the same category; but short stories come in all shapes and sizes, genres and types. For me, it was just a matter of finding that right fit.

Even so, I am more likely to pick up that full length novel when all is said and done. Well, at least eight times out of ten.

Graphic courtesy of Tonya!
*Click on the image above graphic to get to the Friday Fill-In headquarters, hosted by Janet!*

1. The bookstore is my favorite place to travel to.

2. When I think about my childhood, I often remember those endless summer days reading in the forest.

3. A book makes for a good friend.

4. The wind in the trees, the rain on my skin, the umbrella over my book to keep it from getting wet.

5. Discovering a new favorite author is so exciting!

6. My best friend knows where all the bodies are hidden.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to welcoming my in-laws to town and sneaking off to read while my husband and his brother play games into the wee hours of the morning; tomorrow my plans include catching a movie and celebrating my husband's birthday with his family (his actual birthday is this coming Monday); and Sunday, I want to settle in for a quiet weekend once the company leaves!

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.