05 December 2013

Meet Dominic...

This is where I've been. And also why I haven't read or posted as much this year, and most especially in the last month. My little love, Dominic, was born 11-22-13 at 12:14 a.m., 7 lbs, 12 oz and at 19.49 inches. I love everything about this perfect little sweetheart. My husband and I are so very, very blessed. Happy Holidays to you all! I most assuredly will not reliably return for a few months at least. I am much too happily busy elsewhere.


10 November 2013

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

Ah, yes. I was planning to read and post on the sequel to The Shining as part of the RIP VIII Challenge, but... it's taken me well over a month since my last post and that's because I am in my final days of the trimester and any day now, I will have a little bundle of joy to celebrate. I cannot wait!

It's also taken me over a month to post because I must admit, Doctor Sleep just wasn't what I wanted. It left me a little wanting of that sheer horror and thrill The Shining encompassed, and I felt the new adventures of little Danny Torrance, now all grown up and a hospice worker, were just, well, safe.

Needless to say, when I heard Doctor Sleep was coming out this fall, I fell all over myself on the release date to buy it. I was there so early after opening that the store hadn't even taken it from their boxes, and I got a fresh copy straight from an untampered box. I rushed home, and started in. And I literally just finished it today, when normally I would have consumed a book like this within a week.

Danny Torrance is now an adult and an alcoholic carrying on the nasty hereditary habits that Jack Torrance, his father, displayed so aggressively in the Overlook Hotel in Colorado almost two decades prior. The sheer nightmare of brutal attacks by Jack on his own family, combined with the deadly hauntings of the once living were absolutely disturbing. Yet it was a book you just couldn't put down.

Fighting the bottom of the barrel and past demons, Dan ends up in New Hampshire after a self-proclaimed life-defining moment in Wilmington, North Carolina. Meeting genuinely caring new friends in New Hampshire, one who has had his own battles with the bottle, helps Danny to build a new life with AA as his guardian. As a hospice worker, he has an uncanny ability to help those dying cross over to the other side. But Danny soon learns he's not the only one in town who has this special ability. When a young girl named Abra begins communicating with him, and also knows Tony, Danny's "imaginary" friend from the past, it soon because crucial for them to join together to fight a larger, more terrifying group of people who live off of other's last moments of life.

Across the country, the True Knot gathers, made up of a motley crew of nondescript and unassuming travelers who move from spot to spot in RVs and Winnebagos, frequently taking up camp in the leftovers of the Overlook Hotel, now known as the Overlook Lodge, an established RV campground. Each member of the True Knot has a unique trait, or talent, that makes them critical to the group, led by Rose. And while they may by a forgetful bunch on the super-highways of America, they are true evil, willing to kill any and all who may have a little bit of that shining. After all, this shining is what keeps the True Knot alive, and it doesn't matter who they have to kill in order to be fed.

The book held promise and even reading my own synopsis makes me rethink it all. It does sound incredible, but when I got into the meat of the book, I found that it was a little safe, going easy on the tougher moments. Danny's downward spiral at the start of the book was depressing and tough to read, but I was ready to read more of the darkness and depravity King's books always tend to have. This one, though, felt a little tamer, at least for me. I wanted more connection to The Shining, and I even wanted less of the True Knot, even though this was where the action ultimately would end up.

Have no fear, though. Doctor Sleep is a solid standalone novel, so if you haven't read The Shining, you won't be much confused at all. More than likely you've seen the film, but remember that Stephen King was not happy with Stanley Kubrick's version, which strayed from King's story quite a bit. (King even mentions it in his afterword.)

Bear in mind that this is just my opinion. Most will really like it. I firmly believe Stephen King is a brilliant storyteller and I highly recommend all of his works to varying degrees of entertainment, no matter what. His writing is constantly surprising and shakes the very ground most "literary" enthusiasts raise their noses up at. King is amazing. Read his works, give him a chance. It's worth it.

Passages of Note:
He had lived long enough to know there was a little scumbag in everyone, but it didn't help much when you had to take out the trash. (p.515)
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: 9/24/13
Pages: 544

About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty novels, including The Stand, The Dark Tower series, It,The Shining, oh...what more can be written that one doesn't already know. So here you go, click here to visit this wicked cool author's official website.


01 October 2013

A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin

Well, count this one as definitely being on my top books read in 2013. Book 3 of the Song of Ice and Fire series knocks it out of the park with a combination of drama, war, dragons, and much, much more. While I did like Book 2 A Clash of Kings, but wasn't the most excited about it, this third installment brought me right back to the heady adventure of the Seven Kingdoms and the richness of each character that made me fall in love with it all when I first read A Game of Thrones.

Which is really where it's at. Martin does an incredible job fleshing out each character, no matter how small, and with each page packed with moments of twists and turns in this thrilling journey, it really is hard to put down. I was ecstatic to learn that there's a whole heck of a lot more to Jamie Lannister than I anticipated, and I mourned for the Stark family and their troubles as they epically pushed towards safety after their family was horrifically torn apart in the first book. Count me a fan of all of the major characters that get to tell their story from their own perspective, as each chapter alternated, pushing me to keep reading one more page to get back to another story, but obviously falling into the current tale even more. I was overwhelmed with reading adventure glee.

One of the best books I've read for 2013. Can't wait to get my hands on the rest. And now I can finally watch season 3 on HBO.

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Release Date: 3/4/2003
Pages: 1216

Review of Book 1: A Game of Thrones
Review of Book 2: A Clash of Kings

About the Author
George R.R. Martin is the author of eleven novels, seven novellas, two novellettes, one children's book,and a score of other writing and editing accomplishments. He was also the writer for seven episodes of the Twilight Zone and fifteen episodes of Beauty and the Beast, including three episodes of the HBO adaptation of A Game of Thrones. There's so much about this author, I don't have enough space to write it all, so I'll just ask that you:

Click here to visit the author on his website.
Click here to visit the author on his blog.

FTC Disclosure: I purchased this for my Nook app and read on my iPhone.


10 September 2013

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril - RIP VIII

Much to my chagrin, it's been a month since my last post. As many of you know, I am in my final trimester and am taking it easy in the blogging world, so please forgive me for my lack of commenting on all of your wonderful reviews. My back pain as the baby gets bigger is not very forgiving of me spending time sitting for extended periods of time.

Needless to say, it likely would have taken even longer for me to post had it not been for Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Carl has enticed us all yet again with the annual event celebrating things that go bump in the night. Can you believe it's the eighth year? This will be my third year participating and, as I do every year, I look forward to the cooler days and nights, and a creepy story or two.

I won't be reading as many as I usually do, but below are the books that I will try to dive into. I will strive for Peril the First (four or more books of any length) with the following:
  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
  • Joyland by Stephen King
  • The Talisman by Stephen King (audio) - this is in conjunction with the readalong I'm very much behind in completing for August hosted by Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity and Cavalcade of Awesomebut I thought it would fit nicely with RIP overall.
  • The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith (Um. I mean JK Rowling.) Not that this is truly "bump in the night" stuff, but I heard it was mysterious.
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - a re-read (for the third time!), see below for details of the group read.
  • The Collected Works of H.P. Lovecraft - I think that's the title of my copy? I do have a very cool edition of his work lying around in my house somewhere and I have yet to read it.
Knowing my ability to over-commit, I'll probably be better suited to watch films versus read books this year, but who knows? Whether it be mystery or horror, I'm not sure which ones at this time.

The RIP Overview and Goal
So here's the overall vision Carl has, which is to ultimately, have fun. A challenge it is not; an event it certainly is.
  • Click here for the main information and sign-up page
  • Click here for the site archiving all reviews
  • The event commenced September 1, 2013 and concludes October 31, 2013

As Carl outlines, simply read, listen, or watch:

Dark Fantasy.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above. That is what embodies the stories, written and visual, that we celebrate with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event.

And most importantly:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

Don't forget the Group Read!
If you've read this blog often enough, you know that one of my favorite books is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The ladies at The Estella Society are hosting this fall's Peril of the Group Read and they have selected The Historian!

How I love, love this dark and twisting tale. I encourage you all to read it and I will try to include it this season as it's been a few years since last I read it. I hosted a challenge in 2010 at On the Ledge Readalongs and posted several pictures of the places visited in the book; I welcome all who are participating in The Estella Society's readalong to visit On the Ledge when you have finished the book to take a peek at the sites.

Have fun! I look forward to seeing my TBR list grow exponentially as I read all of your reviews. As always, thank you, Carl!


11 August 2013

Since 2013 has truly been a year of reading and listening to whatever I want, I've felt a complete lift in the pressures of blogging daily. Not to mention that I have no commitment to read a book unless I want to read it, and that's left me time to walk the shelves of my local bookstore or library, picking whatever fits my mood. 2013 has been much better for me.

So when I decided to listen to an entire series on audio and not blog about each one upon completion, yet again, more burdens lifted, therefore making the experience of not rushing to finish, to simply enjoy the story was a result that I much prefer.

The Beautiful Creatures series is one I've eyed for a while, simply because I do like Young Adult fiction, and this one seemed like a nice step into more of that power/paranormal/spells kind of feeling that is certainly very popular lately. Book 1, Beautiful Creatures (now a movie) was available for sale on Audible.com, so I decided to download it.

I must admit, while there wasn't anything particularly groundbreaking or earth-shattering to this series, I enjoyed every second of it. There is definitely a lot of gooey romance between the two main characters, but I'm not the primary audience for this tale, so it's easy to shrug it off and just enjoy the entire journey of two kids who fall madly in love in the middle of South Carolina, who really shouldn't be together.

Lena Duchannes just moved to the tiny town of Gatlin, South Carolina and is trying her best to hide her powers. When Ethan Wate sees Lena, he realizes that she is the beautiful girl he's been dreaming of for months. As he searches for the reasons why he is drawn to her, a thrilling adventure begins as they partner to uncover Lena's family secrets and curses, with Lena learning more about her own powers. Ethan finds there is much more to the world than just the tiny town of Gatlin than he ever knew before., and with dark and surprising plot twists and character developments (loved Lena's Uncle Macon and Ethan's Ama, but I especially loved Ethan's best friend, Link), along with a labyrinth of surprising tunnels connecting towns to an underground of the paranormal, the Beautiful Creatures' series is fun to spend time with and get pulled into.

With Kevin T. Collins narrating, the story is even more engaging. He was perfect as Ethan and even though I love Khristine Hvam for her work in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, it did throw me for a loop when her voice entered onto the scene in Book 3. Not a big deal at all, but after a while, you get used to one voice so having a new one in there is strange, at first. Sort of like having a friend around for hours on end, and then someone else gets dropped into the mix of it. Not bad, just different and you have to get used to the new voice.

A fun story all around, with some sad moments that came out of nowhere, but perfectly fit into the growth of the characters. A treat to listen to while doing errands around the house and driving.

Dream Dark
Book 2.5: A fun surprise, but not required for the entire series
Not listening to this short installment won't have you wondering what's going on in Book 3, but it was nice to see things from Link's perspective and his own journey into another world.

About the Authors (from their website)
Kami Garcia is a teacher and reading specialist with an MA in education, and leads book groups for children and teenagers. Margaret Stohl has an MA in English and studied creative writing under poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. They both live in Los Angeles, California, with their families. Beautiful Creatures is their debut novel.

Visit the authors:

About the Narrators

Kevin T. Collins is an acclaimed stage and screen actor, music composer, recording artist, and professional voice-over actor located in New York City. Click here to visit his website.

Khristine Hvam is a successful narrator with an established history of performances ranging from commercials for radio, TV, and film, documentaries, video games, audiobooks, and more. Click here to visit her website.


09 August 2013

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan

It may have been the mood I was in last month, or the fact that I love the New England coastline. Or it could have just been the continuance of books that aren't normally something I would read ultimately becoming home runs for me, but Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan was a wonderful way to spend a quiet weekend.

Maine is a multi-view story from four women in one family, the Kellehers, and dysfunctional doesn't do their family relationship justice as a proper definition. With Alice as the 83-year-old matriarch and widow of loving Daniel, she has her own demons to contend with which extend much further than just a history of drinking. Kathleen is Alice's oldest daughter who will always be in recovery from her own battles with alcohol, but also maintains a chip on her shoulder that even her daughter, Maggie, cannot stand. Ann Marie, the dutiful wife of Kathleen's brother and Alice's son, Patrick, doesn't see a day go by that one couldn't roll their eyes and scream "martyr" at her. Rounding it all out is Maggie, Kathleen's daughter, who is going through her own self-discovery and growth, and the realization that she doesn't have to settle for the wrong man.

All of these characters had aspects I completely despised, but out of all of them, my biggest dislike was Kathleen. I didn't have much sensitivity for her since I felt she was just a nasty, selfish individual with her family and while her family is much bigger than these four women, Kathleen will always live in the past and will always define every comment, look, and action from others as a direct attack. She was exhausting to read through, even though I was massively interested in her story.

Maggie was one who meant the most to me, given her situation she painfully deals with, but I admit I was surprised how much I supported and liked Ann Marie. Yes, I feel she acted the martyr every now and again, but I also felt she was sorely misunderstood by everyone else and truly taken advantage of. Kindness always seems to be looked at as a weakness in our society.

Maine is a quiet and comprehensive study of a dysfunctional family whose pain stretches much deeper and longer than the current youthful generation. The Kellehers are nasty, biting, loving, devoted, but will stab you in the back just as fast.

I know many felt that not much happened in this story, but I beg to differ. This thorough approach to the family's pain and memories has a lot happening beneath the layers. Once you fit into that groove, it's hard to put down.

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Release Date: 5/9/2012
Pages: 528

About the Author (from her website)
J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement and Maine. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Men’s Vogue, and the New York Observer, among others. She is a contributor to the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love and co-editor of Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit the author:


08 August 2013

Yes, another Stephen King readalong and I'm just not apologizing.

Listen. I'm almost seven months pregnant and everything hurts. I rarely have the energy to crack open the books I'm reading right now but of course I'm not stopping. Although I am working on Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw which easily pulls you in, I was craving more Stephen King after just finishing Under the Dome. Lo and behold, Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity posts about another fantastic readalong with Cavalcade of Awesome for The Talisman and I'm in. This time, it will be a complete listen-along for me. I've downloaded the twenty-eight hours and I'm already freaked out by the opening scenes of this fantasy tale.

A while back, the Stephen King Goodreads group run by one of our Under the Dome participants, Angela's Anxious Life, discussed what you should read before you read The Dark Tower series. I plan to read this one day, and as many may already know, Uncle Stevie's books are almost all intertwined in some way, thus creating the infamous "Stephen King Universe." A fabulous flow chart creator, TessieGirl, designed the below to show the connections characters and storylines and towns, plus more, have to each other. Crazy, huh? What an incredible job she did.

Who made this flow chart? Why, TessieGirl did.
Anyway, The Talisman is one of those books you're supposed to read before you dive into The Dark Tower series. The suggested reading list by the Goodreads' group to prep is here in several different installments.

So, I'm in! For more details, click here and here, but there is nothing formal as far as sign-ups and links, and if you want to participate in live conversations, head to Twitter and use #TalismanAlong as your net.


27 July 2013

Under the Dome... The Final Post

Well, we're done! Now I can finally catch up on the series, which I've heard there are many a change that didn't go over so well with fans, which caused the author to deliver a fairly...snarky response.

For those who missed the Middle of the Road post in June with the other participants' links to their thoughts, click here.

Overall, a great read, although I wouldn't rank it up in the top five, I would definitely put it in the top ten for me of King books I've read. Yet again, King brings the character of a town into the spotlight, where it almost develops its own personality, and the characters within fall to either the good side or the bad. The only difference is that no one can physically leave the town, caught under a dome that can't be penetrated by even a nuclear missile.

Here are my thoughts for the last half of the book:
  • HATED Big Jim, Junior, and Carter the most. Ugh.
  • Loved Barbie, Rusty, Julia, the kids.
  • What is THE DEAL with Stephen King and his oddball, bizarre love/sex scenes? They come out of the blue and never seem to make sense. I'm glad Barbie and Julia got together since I felt they were suited for each other, but really? When they first made out? What smart and feisty woman likes to be sharing one of her most private and sad moments of her life, and then all of a sudden has the guy's hand on their chest? In the middle of the conversation? And that's okay? Huh?
  • Randolph, Randolph, Randolph... Even Big Jim told you to bring the Kevlar.
  • Usually the strong kid character saves the day, and to a certain extent this happened in the story earlier on with Joe and his friends who were important to the story. In the latter half, it felt like Joe, Benny, and Norrie were completely forgotten, which was a disappointment.
  • My heart breaks every time a dog dies in a book. I was heartbroken for each that passed in this one.
  • I loved this story, but I didn't really care for it when sections would be written as though a narrator from a play were giving us the lay of the land.
Passage of Note:
 "... Sorrow for a wrong was better than nothing, Barbie supposed, but no amount of after-the-fact sorrow could ever atone for joy taken in destruction, whether it was burning ants or shooting prisoners." (p.1072)
What did you think? Enter the link to your write-up below, and don't forget to visit other participants and comment on their thoughts. I'm planning to watch Under the Dome sometime this week/weekend and I'm still going to use #DomeAlong on Twitter to post my thoughts, so hopefully I'll see you over there!

THANK YOU for reading with all of us!


10 July 2013

Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

Don't ever say a book doesn't sound like it's right for you.

I'm going to put it all out there and tell you that this is one of the most poignant, moving, heart-wrenching and beautiful stories I've read in a long time. A very long time.

Taylor's mother left her at a 7-11 when she was eleven and Hannah came to pick her up. Now seventeen, Taylor attends the school on Jellicoe Road and every year the Cadets come to town, causing a battle of territories between the students, the Cadets, and the Townies. Hushed agreements, secret meetings, invasions over boundary lines and battles over rules first established twenty years ago by a group of five kids are a daily event. With an unexplained phone call pulling Hannah out of Taylor's life, it's up to Taylor to find her own strength with new friends and in finding out exactly who she is and where she comes from.

Taylor isn't the most likable person to others yet she's been designated the leader of their group over the battle for territory. It's an unwanted position and while Taylor regrets it, she moves forward to lead her group even though she regularly pushes away any closeness with friends, the students in her own house, and more, but there is an understanding something more is hidden behind this jaded facade. Her friendships with the others in the competing territories are compelling, pushing through her barriers and developing the solid foundation of true and meaningful trust, something she had been lacking in others when her mother dumped her at a convenience store, never to be seen again.

There are two overlapping stories happening and it can get confusing, but ease up on your expectations of what "structure" should be like in this coming-of-age tale. It's momentous and crucial and makes complete sense to the point that when you finally get it, you almost want to read it again as soon as you are done so you can experience an entirely different level of this story.

The writing is intense, lush, bountiful in its imagery of Australia, the school, and the friendships and past secrets. It is a beauty indescribable within these pages and I admit I cried, perhaps even hyperventilated through several scenes in this story. Absolutely brilliant, easy to read within one sitting or in a couple of days, but deeply profound and unshakable with its premise. It's a story I'll be thinking about for quite some time and will easily make my own personal list of the Best Books I've Read in 2013.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Release Date: 3/9/2010
Pages: 419

About the Author
Melina Marchetta is an Australian author who has been published in over eighteen countries. Her books Looking For Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road (which won the 2009 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association, recognizing that year's best book for young adults), Finnikin of the Rock, The Piper's Son, The Gorgon in the Gully, Froi of the Exiles.

Visit the author:


06 July 2013

Guess Who's Going to be Reading for Two...?

That's right, my friends. What our sweet Roma is trying to communicate to you all is that this chick right here is five months along and will be reading for two very soon. Actually, I'm already reading aloud to the little one (but sometimes I skip the scary parts if it's a Stephen King book). My husband and I will welcome our first baby, A BOY, in November. I cannot tell you how thrilled, nervous, and excited I am!

And here's the baby bump! This is a hockey house, and my husband just finished his game in the local league here in Virginia Beach. I'm sporting the Boston Bruins' maternity shirt he got me which has the hockey sticks shaped into a heart over the belly. Can you tell that we hope our little boy plays hockey when he gets older?

A special thank you to my incredibly talented sister for taking both photos and then doing all of her editing tricks to produce this one-of-a-kind announcement (I love the caption!). You can visit her at any of the below for her photo advice, children's portraiture, artistic shots, and more!


02 July 2013

Viral Nation, by Shaunta Grimes

When the author reached out to review her book, my first inclination was to decline it simply because I have an almost 100% decline record in the past six months (resulting in an almost 100% pressure-free blog site). After all, I like reading books I want to read, old or new. However, what convinced me to accept this new Young Adult book was not the dystopian adventure of a world in which only 20,000 survived a virus in the United States, or that these survivors now live in walled cities within each state. It wasn't that the country was now run by the Company, who provides daily vaccines to keep the virus at bay. It also wasn't because there was time travel and a revolution led by kids. What convinced me to accept this book for review immediately was that the protagonist, a young sixteen-year-old girl named Clover, was autistic.

This uniqueness, rarely ever used in stories, was enough for me to accept immediately. And while I recently picked it up in anticipation for a much later July 30th review date, I ended up flying right through it in time to post today, the release date from The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group.

I was surprised by how swept up I was in the quest of Clover and her brother, West, to exist in this walled city. I was taken by West, who has been many things for Clover over the past few years, a combination of best friend, older brother, and guardian, especially as their mother died when Clover was a baby and their father now works for the Company. The relationship between the two is genuine, and West's ability to understand Clover at all times was a special indication of the protection he feels for her. I then became indignant and outraged by the bullies in the academy and their treatment towards Clover and her service dog, Mango, before she is then "drafted" into the Time Mariner program, destined for a life of time travel two years into the future to secure crucial details that haven't yet occurred. It's the only way to maintain a controlled society, yet also a safe one, as the details brought back provide details on everything to avoid the recurrence of the virus, or to protect a citizen from a violent crime. When Clover's brother is identified as a perpetrator of one of these violent crimes, it becomes up to Clover and a band of misfits, self-titled "freaks," to begin the process of building a revolution. While there were a lot of characters and relationships left unexplained, I trust this will smooth out in the next book.

Each chapter of this thrilling journey is led by a quotation from a former U.S. President sharing a theme of freedom, the foundation to their revolution. This creative story with an unexpected and natural hero is one I'll be looking forward to reading more of as the series continues.

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group
Release Date: 7/2/2013
Pages: 315

FTC Disclosure: I received a paperback copy via the publisher, by request of the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author
Shaunta Grimes has worked as a substitute teacher, a newspaper reporter, a drug court counselor, and a vintage clothing seller. No matter which direction she strays, however, she always comes back to storytelling. She lives in Reno with her family, where she writes, teaches, and perpetually studies at the University of Nevada.

Visit the author:


01 July 2013

Under the Dome, Middle of the Road Post...

Last Monday was the big day for CBS to premiere Stephen King's Under the Dome. Apparently, this is going to be a series? I have my DVR working overtime to keep updated with it, but I have read the grumblings of fans far and wide that they are disappointed as there are a lot of changes from the book already. Stephen King responded to this via his website. Click here to digest his defense! There aren't any spoilers, really, but I feel like King was a bit miffed at fans who were upset with changes. I almost feel he was... I don't know, sort of condescending? Maybe I'm wrong, but I do know that I'd probably feel inclined to defend changes for my work if I were in his shoes (ha, I should be so lucky!), but there is always that doggone Hollywood-artistic license which gets in the way. As avid readers, we should all just automatically assume anyway any book adapted to film will have gigantic and erroneous changes. It is what it is, no matter how much of a purist we can be. Oh, well.

And yes... I'm late in posting this so that all of you can have a chance to publicize your write-up of the halfway mark. There is a good reason for that, but I'm not announcing that until this weekend...! But my apologies for the delay and please do make sure you add your link to the below.

Here are my thoughts so far:
  • I was hooked into the story so quickly that within the first week, I only had 300 pages left and needed to slow down and eded up taking a break. Slow intro, but once it picked up, it really got going. The usual formula from Uncle Stevie, and I can always count on it.
  • Yet again, the town becomes its own character, one divided from the rest of the world, left to its own devices. Stephen King is the master when doing this, whether it's the scary town of Derry in Maine, Castle Rock, or this quiet township trapped under an invisible dome, it's the same effective method of truly isolating an entire area. Freaky stuff.
  • Not to mention, Stephen King always brings an infuriating injustice into the mix of it all. The fact that Barbie was ganged up on in the Dippers' parking lot and no one except the Chief (who is now dead) can appreciate that Barbie wasn't the antagonizer? I mean, it was four against one, for cryin' out loud.
  • Who doesn't love Dale Barbara, aka Barbie? The strong drifter who has incredible ethics, love him.
  • While I don't know if I'd classify this as strictly horror, there is such an intensity of fear at the idea of a dome falling over a town and imprisoning everyone within it with no indication of why it fell, and how to destroy it, that I can sense the attempt at the same build up of tension felt in The Stand.
  • SICK Characters. Big Jim Rennie?! The image of true evil led by greed and need for power. The guy is a whack job who has the successful snake-like charming abilities to lead those who aren't bright, but mostly who are just downright afraid. Seeking solace in anyone who takes ownership of a bad situation always makes one feel safer, and Big Jim certainly is up to task for it. And his son?? Sick, sick, sick, not to mention the Chef. Twisted.
  • When the kids started to have the same visions, I started to get this goosebump, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling. It was the first time I felt that it really could be horror. The Great Pumpkin? Who knew that could be so frightening?
  • I'm getting flashbacks of The Stand. Anyone else? Trashcan Man=the Chef? Big Jim Rennie=Randall Flagg?
  • I have decided that this is my new tradition: For the start of summer each year, I will always read Stephen King to kick it off. It's the only way to do it right.
Have you all seen this picture for the CBS show? So sad.

And let's hear it from you! Link your post to Mr. Linky below. Readalong participants, please make sure to visit each other's posts.


24 June 2013

World War Z Readalong... The Final Post

Literary Feline and I were the only two participating in this readalong and I couldn't even achieve my own deadline. Argh. However, I finished. And while I didn't fall madly in love with it, I enjoyed it immensely. And for those who think a book about zombies isn't up your alley, please do read on. This might be the one that sways you to give it a try.

This is an extremely entertaining book to read. It is an apocalyptic horror novel about zombies that sort of isn't about zombies at times, but instead is an oral history of eyewitness accounts of those who relay the initial breakdown, the Great Panic as people fought back or got bitten, and as people trusted the modern-day snake oil salesman who provided the "cure all" vaccine. World War Z is a successful sociological representation of how societies, countries, people, fall completely apart and what they do to survive, and what they ultimately do to rebuild it. Can you have a "smart" zombie story? Yes, and this is it. Max Brooks has done more homework than most scientists and sociologists (this is my opinion) to get a clear view of each piece of technology, survival skill, and social recovery than most. It is a fascinating approach to taking the natural and instinctive responses people have and applying it to a war with zombies, an ultimate enemy who has no limits, no need for air, no capacity to "take a break." It is the total war that countries have prepared for, knowing that it's more than likely that our enemies have some sort of humanity. But what if they have zero humanity? No ability to reason, to think, to have compassion? How do you fight against that?

Some stories in this second half captured me: The realization that it would be virtually impossible to eradicate the world completely of zombies, the Redekker plan (which was first presented in the first half, but the second half solidified the fear of a program which sacrificed healthy humans to divert zombies in order to preserve the overall masses), the changes in our environment and the loss of ecological systems, the "traitors" of China and what they went through, the Russian priest, the "quislings" who were human but who identified with the zombies and became wild and acted like zombies. I wish Max Brooks had included what an interview with a rehabilitated quisling might have been like. That would have been interesting.

Each interview of a subject includes a brief one paragraph intro at the start on who that person is, where they are now located, etc. Invariably, because every few pages included a new documented eyewitness account, it was difficult to absorb who the character was, or get into the story too much because it would end shortly thereafter and move onto a new character. Most of these stories were not linked at all, but occasionally, one interviewee provided a slight detail that reminded me of another story. It did feel like I had a collection of government files I had surreptitiously received. Bear in mind that, as I mentioned before, (in one way or another) this book is a complete dissection of what a societal breakdown could result in, and that was simultaneously frightening and fascinating.

So the bottom line is that I liked it a lot, but I didn't love it as so many others have. I wish I had, I do feel like I'm missing out. I have heard that the movie has been somewhat well-received, and that it's very different than the book. That's not necessarily surprising, considering the fact that the book is just a collection of three- to five-page interviews, or collections of eyewitness accounts, so I was intrigued to hear how they were planning to adapt it to film. I plan to see it this weekend, hopefully, so we shall see!

Favorite passage:
The monsters that rose from the dead, they are nothing compared to the ones we carry in our hearts. (p.252)
Did you participate? Enter the link to your final write-up here:


12 June 2013

World War Z Readalong... Midway Post

I've made it to the halfway mark of World War Z and am ready to go for the last half. This is one of the most unique formats of a book I've ever read. I must say I now understand that it is not a book about zombies, but instead a book detailing the frightening breakdown of a safe and civilized society. Which is why the book is such a success. Had it just been about moaning, arm-stretching zombies then it would have fit into the same bucket as all the other stories out there that are hit and miss.

Instead, World War Z is uniquely constructed in a documentary-style format of three- to five-page interviews with a variety of people around the world. The interviewees are members of the military, scientists, filmmakers, bartenders, family members, and more, chronicling their part in the panic of it all. It's fascinating. I feel like I have a fat confidential file of interviews and I'm sneakily reading it.

Even more interesting is the discussion of how those who made money sitting behind a desk or brokering major deals are of absolutely no use in this new society. Instead, blue collar, skilled laborers are where the need now is, and if you don't have the ability to fend for yourself, you are classified as one who cannot contribute to society and must be trained into a new skill. Can you imagine the horror of those high-paid executives or lawyers, or members of government, who now must shovel manure to generate fuel or clean rooms? Scientifically fascinating on how it happens and the responses. Who becomes the real enemy? The zombies, that are more background based to the overall story, or ourselves and the pride and vanity that becomes such a shackle in the new world?

As with any collection of interviews, or stories, some are riveting (the family who moves further north and their experience at a lakeside campground, or the scene with the ships: disturbing) and others are dry. That's okay for me; it's a fast read and I'm enjoying it as a distraction from the fact that I was reading Under the Dome way too fast. I'm preparing for the movie release of World War Z and I can't wait.

Are you reading along, too? If so, enter your post link below and copy 


03 June 2013

World War Z Readalong, anyone? Starts..now.

CLEARLY, I cannot get enough of readalongs, especially those with movie or series adaptations right around the corner. I am also way too far ahead with the Under the Dome Readalong (40 participants!) since I'm currently at page 800 with only 200 left to go and two months left to finish. With my upcoming two-day business trip, I was faced with a dilemma with my 1,000+ page, five-pound copy: Do I bring the book with me when I know I'll finish it with nothing left to read, or do I take a break and read something else in-between?

With World War Z premiering in a few weeks, it seemed like the right thing to do to take a breather from all the awesomeness that is Stephen King, and dive into Max Brooks' bestseller to get me prepared for the upcoming movie. I've heard so much about the book that I still can't believe I've waited this long to read it.

So... do you want to join along? If so, link up below, write a post about it, and off we go!

The deets
  • Published 2006
  • Author Max Brooks
  • 342 pages
  • Readalong runs from June 5 to June 19
  • Readalong hosted here at Coffee and a Book Chick
  • Movie premiere is June 21
  • Publish a halfway post on June 12 (up through page 136, all chapters up to Turning the Tide)
  • Publish a finale post on June 19
If the movie trailer doesn't pull you in...

You in? If so, answer these questions:
  • Do you want to see the movie because of Brad Pitt? No.
  • Will you be watching the movie during the premiere weekend? Yep, but going to see a matinee on Sunday. No way will I see it on opening night!
  • What do you know about World War Z? Everyone seems to love it, I'm wicked behind and can't believe I haven't read it yet, and who can miss out on zombie stories done well?
  • What are you reading? Print, ebook, or audio? A print copy for me!

Here's the blog button. Join me!


25 May 2013

The DomeAlong Starts Today...Are You Joining?

Have no fear! While the readalong technically starts today through July 27, everyone is of course starting whenever they want to and reading at their own pace. (Which is why there aren't dates on the buttons!) If you'd like to join, click here for the sign-up post.

A few questions came up over the past forty-eight hours, and I thought a quick post might be helpful.

I read fast and know I'll finish before the deadline.

Awesome! Just put together a post to collect and save your thoughts but schedule it to be published on the final date. That way, if you have spoilers you want to talk about, it won't surprise anyone by that point!

Er...the Twitter hashtag looks weird...
Yes! #domealong could be construed in a VERY WRONG way. Hence, #DomeAlong was born! Capitalize that D and A and no weird spammy things should come our way.

Is there anything I should be prepared for with Stephen King?
Great question for the new SK reader!

Stephen King likes to tell a story. And I mean TELL A STORY. Under the Dome is over a thousand pages, and he is always criticized for having too much story and that everything should have been edited down to 200 pages less. King meanders and tells a tale and he makes no apologies for it. Just give it time and stick with it and it will all make sense.

King is not just a mass-market horror writer. It's actually unfair to lump in that category. Does he write a lot of scary stuff? Of course. But anyone who has read 11/22/63 or On Writing, or even Lisey's Story, can tell you that there is so much, much more to his work than just meets the fearful eye. Give him a chance.

He does include the bizarre s3x scene or two that sometimes make no sense and really are just out of place. Meh. I'm used to it by now. Although there were a few things in IT I would take issue with.

The most important thing is that Stephen King has created this alternate universe and most of his books are somewhat linked together. When you've read a number of his books, you'll realize that characters from one book make an appearance in others, such as Dick Halloran in The Shining, who then makes an appearance as a major character in IT. Or Richie and Bev from IT making a cameo in 11/22/63. Castle Rock and Derry are regularly featured towns in Stephen King's books, they almost take on a life of their own. I also recently learned all of these intertwining tales and characters are crucial to The Dark Tower series, which is on my list to read sometime later this year or next, and only once I've read more of his other works that contribute to that series. There are many more Stephen King tips, so once you start reading his work, don't stop!

Other Notes 
  • Click here to visit the Official Stephen King page for any insights to the author and books. I'm particularly excited for one of his upcoming pulp novels entitled Joyland that he has chosen to not release as an ebook. Click here for an exclusive excerpt shared by HuffPost Books. His intent is for everyone to purchase it at an independent bookstore. Go, Indies! Not to mention that Dr. Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, will be out this fall. 
  • Click here for the Stephen King's Fans Goodreads' page, run by one of the readalong participants Angie!
  • Click here for my tiny Goodreads page for Stephen King and here for my other blog The Stephen King Project. It's been a rare posting or two on that site, but the goal is to get back into it all now that Uncle Stevie has motivated me yet again. I promise I will change the picture so it no longer reads 2012! 
  • Click here for The Stephen King Project on Facebook. 
  • And TWITTER! Don't forget to participate in the discussion on Twitter by using #DomeAlong.
And here are the official participants from Wednesday's sign up post. If you still want to sign up, please do, never too late. Click here to enter in your info and I will update the participants' list below. You can sign up at any time! And to fellow participants, please do what you can to visit each others' sites to read their kick-off post if they have one. And for those who aren't yet convinced to join the crazy train, give it time. You will...


22 May 2013

Thanks go out to...
  • Ms. Jilly Bean, aka Fizzy Thoughts, for the fabulous idea earlier this year for an Under the Dome readalong. While I won't be able to send gifts out to everyone (I am not creative like that, have no idea what to do), I hope everyone enjoys the collaboration together.
  • Thanks also go out to Trish at Love, Laughter, Insanity, Lesley at Prairie Horizons, and Lisa at Lit and Life for dealing with my last minute Twitter panic that I missed the readalong, and then thoughts on set up, all in the past twenty-four hours!
Although the mini-series will premiere in exactly one month on CBS, our summer readalong starts now and will extend past the mini-series premiere. I plan to DVR the show and watch it after the readalong has concluded. Reading and blogging has taken a backseat for many of us this year, but I can definitely attest even more so to it. I think the only thing that can bring me back into the thick of things is a combination of Stephen King and, most importantly, a summer readalong with all of you!

Notable Notes
  • Published: 2009
  • Number of Pages: 1,074 (my copy)
  • Genre: Sci-fi Horror (Keep in mind that The Stand was considered horror-ish, but only the first part as it set the stage was scary; the rest was more of an epic journey and battle than anything else.)
  • New York Daily News reviewed Under the Dome and proclaimed Stephen King "returns to his glory days of The Stand."
  • This is an Indie Next List choice from Indiebound.org.
  • A CBS mini-series premieres June 24, 2013.

The blurb on the back of my book
My copy, all 1,074 pages
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day, a small town is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and rain down flaming wreckage. A gardener's hand is severed as the dome descends. Cars explode on impact. Families are separated and panic mounts. No one can fathom what the barrier is, where it came from, and when - or if - it will go away.

Now a few intrepid citizens, led by an Iraq vet turned short-order cook, face down a ruthless politician dead set on seizing the reins of power under the dome. But their main adversary is the dome itself. Because time isn't just running short. It's running out.

The CBS mini-series trailer

You Want Structure? You Got it.
  • Do you need a blog to participate? No way. If you don't have a blog, you can either sign up in the comments below, or you can create a free account with either Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing and enter that information into the linky below. Any of those sites will make it easier for you to track your thoughts, or you can use a Twitter account to sign up. If you don't want to do any of those, but still want to participate, then you can post your thoughts in the comments for each of the mile-marker posts throughout the readalong.
  • Timeline: May 25 through July 27
  • How many posts? Who cares! It's informal. However, if you want a little structure, you can do a kick-off post now, then a middle-of-the-road post (halfway through the book) on June 24 (to celebrate the mini-series premiere even though we all probably won't watch it until we're done reading), and then a final sayonara post on July 27. Sound good?
  • Twitter-chat? Use the hashtag #domealong
  • Mini-series Twitter chat? After the readalong as we watch our DVR'd recordings of the show? Maybe?
  • And do anything you want in-between! Throw a "Stephen King, you are freakishly awesome" party, or do a screamfest movie marathon, or write a gushing post on the fall release of Dr. Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. Or, you can just post your glee on the fact that you've been a horrible blogger and reader in 2013 and this readalong is going to bring. you. back. Back, baby! Oh, maybe that's just me...
So the buttons are available below and above. Choose whichever you prefer! Then, if you want to read the book and participate in the fun, enter your details below. If you want to link to a kick-off post, go for it!

Doing a kick-off post? Then feel free to give details on:
  • Show us your copy! Audio or print?
  • Have you read Uncle Stevie before?
  • What are you familiar with about Under the Dome or Stephen King?
  • What are you looking forward to?
  • Or, just throw your hands up and screech, "HEY! I'M GOING TO READ THIS BEAST OF A BOOK NO MATTER WHAT!"
Whatever works!