Thursday, September 30, 2010

Indie Spotlight: Two Dollar Radio

Have you met The Two Dollar Radio Movement yet? No??
May I be the first to introduce you? Wonderful! Ok. Here we go. (A-hem)....

Two Dollar Radio, meet TNBBC!
TNBBC, meet Two Dollar Radio!

My own introduction to TDR was a happy accident. I was poking around on Goodreads and random blogs searching for some newer unknown novels, and I stumbled across their website. (For the life of me, I cannot recall who exactly linked me there - oh the frustrations of a too-young-to-be-senile mind!)

The books they were showcasing on their site were so quirky and odd - right up my alley! -and I emailed them for a copy of one or two in the hopes that I could review them. Eric Obenauf, the Editor in Chief and Publisher, shipped me off two novels: The People Who Watched Her Pass By and Termite Parade - which I should be starting sometime in late October.

Here's a little background:

Brian Obenauf, Eliza Jane Wood, and Eric Obenauf created Two Dollar Radio Movement in early 2005 after the group read "The Business of Books by Andre Schiffrin, which inspired (them) to start (thier) own new idealistic book publishing company, following the footprints left by the likes of John Martin and Barney Rosset".

The name came from an overly rowdy old timer at a bar, who, when he realized he was putting people off, said “Don’t mind me, I make more noise than a $2 radio.

They characterize the books they publish "as bold literary fiction: subversive, original, and highly creative".

And check this out - Two Dollar Radio Movement is giving away a free lifetime subscription to any hardcore fan willing to brand themselves with their tattoo. If you send them a photo of the tattoo while it's in progress, and once it's completely healed, you will receive a copy of every book TDR has ever or WILL ever publish!

How cool is that? And it's a cute little tattoo isn't it?

If that's not a great way to spread the word about an Indie Publisher, I don't know what is!

Stop by their website, take a look through their catalogue and you never know, you might just find yourself a Two Dollar Radio Movement fan!

*text in parentheses and italics were quoted from the Two Dollar Radio Movement Bio page*

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Dog Blood

Read 9/24/10 - 9/29/10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
Pgs:322 (Book two of the Hater trilogy)

It's war baby, and the Unchanged don't stand a chance.

In Dog Blood, the sequel to David Moody's novel Hater, No one cares about what caused the Hate anymore. Self-preservation is the priority. The world is beginning to fall apart, buildings rotting away or damaged in battle. Food and clean water is becoming harder and harder to come by. Unchanged men, women, and children slowly begin to move into the cities, cramming themselves into office buildings, and apartments, waiting for their food rations to be doled out. Soldiers take teams of volunteers out beyond the exclusion (or safe) zones to seek out people who have been surviving on their own, to bring them back to the home base. They feel safer and stronger in groups.

Haters join together and attack these rescue missions, picking off the Unchanged one by one. The war between "us" and "them" is inescapable. And it won't stop until one or the other are wiped off the face of the planet.

One Hater, our Hater, Danny, bounces from place to place, preferring to remain alone. He finds comfort in the shadows and the outskirts, believing that his ability to remain hidden, his hunger for killing, and his desire to find his 5 year old daughter Ellis is what has kept him alive this long. Yet, ironically enough, it's during his search for Ellis that Danny finds himself captured by a group of Unchanged people... who are determined to teach Danny how to hold the Hate.

Can Haters be taught to control the urge to kill? Will they ever be able to walk among the Unchanged and blend in with society again?

David Moody creates a bleak and devastating world in which man has turned against man, where trust and companionship no longer live, a world of constant turmoil and chaos. He takes us deeper inside Danny's head and introduces us to the filthy, brutal life of a Hater. Though Danny appears to be selfish and self serving, we discover that looking out for number one is the only way to ensure ones existence. It's the new way of life, and one that most people quickly adapted to.

Brilliantly narrated, violent and ferocious, unlike anything I have read before it - With his Hater Trilogy, Moody ushers in the newest fiction monster craze! Say goodbye to Zombie and Vampire Lit, shelf the wanna-be-breakout novels about Angels and Unicorns. Moody's Haters are taking the world by force, and leaving a sea of bloody corpses in their wake. And their sights are set on you!

A gigantic thank you goes out to author David Moody, who made these review copies available to me!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Read 9/18/10 - 9/24/10
5 Stars - Highly Recommended/ The Next Best Book
Pgs:281 (Book one of the Hater Trilogy)

When a book begins with a man brutally gutting a female stranger with an umbrella, I'd say "Buckle those seat belts, readers! Looks like we are in for one helluva ride!".

David Moody, author of the novel Hater, paints a grim and twisted picture of "us" against "them", a world where people have to learn to live in fear of being suddenly and violently attacked by strangers, coworkers, and loved ones. It can happen almost without warning. And no one knows for sure why it's happening. Or how to stop it.

Imagine walking to work, and finding yourself a witness to a seemingly unprovoked street fight. You watch in awe as one person beats the other unconscious. And continues to beat him. You are one of many within the crowd, yet no one moves a muscle to come to the others defense.

Later that week, you and your spouse and children are eating dinner out at a restaurant. Before you can clean your plate, you watch in horror as two people at the bar suddenly engage in a violent fight that ends when one man brutally stabs the other with a steak knife. Everyone is paralyzed with fear, not sure what is going on, and urgently heads for the front doors.

When you get home, you turn on the television to see news reporters covering multiple acts of violence that have been occurring around town. They seem unrelated, though they sound so much the same - random, sudden, brutal, unexplainable. The body count is climbing.

You think that the news is playing a part in all of this - sensationalizing the murders, encouraging others to go out and instigate more of the same with little to no consequence.

A few more days pass... you can't seem to head outside without watching people attacking each other. They seem to turn on a dime. One minute they are walking by you, or having a normal conversation with each other, and then there's this blank stare and then BAM - you are fighting for your life as they thrash and slash and smash you. Now the news reporters request you do not leave the house unless absolutely necessary. They suggest creating a "safe room" for you own protection. They warn you to be wary of people who display any signs of anger or aggression. They say they have it under control. Yet no one is saying what exactly is happening. Stores and cars are being looted. It's not safe to go outside... but DON'T PANIC?!?

Written in first person narrative, David Moody sucks the reader right into the middle of the confusion and chaos that is taking place. We know only what our narrator Danny knows, which, for most of the novel, is not much. Unable to process what is going on, Danny and his family move through myriad emotions as the violence and brutality increases, and moves closer and closer to his front door.

What I find most amazing about this novel is the fact that it's author self-published it online back on 2006, and sold it's film rights to Gueillermo del Toro, all without the help of an agent! How could any publishing company have turned this away?

Packing punch after punch, chapter after chapter, Moody kept me turning the pages faster and faster, and I found myself on the edge of the seat time and time again.

You've seen vampires, zombies, and nuclear bombs that helped issue in the end the world as we all knew it. Now it's time to meet the Haters!

A brilliant kick-off novel to a trilogy that screams to be read by lovers of post apocalyptic novels with a strong stomach and a head for thrillers.

Go ahead, get your Hate on! I dare you!
To learn more about David Moody and his novel, check out these links:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When Authors Attack

Momma Said Knock You Out

It's a rough, tough world out there for authors these days. With social media sights like Goodreads, Library Thing, and Shelfari, the rise of book blogs, and the networking vehicles of Facebook and Twitter, it is nearly impossible to hide from what the world thinks of you and your novel.

Most novelists have jumped in feet first, making themselves accessible by creating their own personal accounts on these sites in an effort to update the public and remain in contact with their fans. They review the work of other authors, comment on the reviews readers have written on their books, and even participate in online group read discussions to answer whatever questions readers may have, thanking members for helping to spread the good word.

But what happens when the word that is being spread about an authors book is not so... good?

Do they have a right to initiate contact and plead their case? Should they shame the person, degrade the person, or beg the person to reconsider, to ask the reader or reviewer to put themselves in the authors shoes and see how damaging a bad review can be to their image and their livelihood? What if they created mass fake "profile" accounts to back themselves up, show support for themselves, or force reviews and votes to get their novels out to the public?

Butting Heads Is a Bad Idea

The urge to retaliate, to want to show someone the error in their thinking, leads to nothing more than a locking-of-the-horns. A head-to-head battle of ego and willpower. An unprofessional verbal catfight.

It's really boils down to a case of intent versus impact.

The authors intent, when they reach out to someone who shared negative feedback, is to persuade them to take a second look at what they wrote, or said, or decided. I believe we are all in agreement here, yes? The intent is never to harass or bully someone. The author may be seeking the persons empathy by describing how hard they worked on their book, the numerous attempts at getting someone to sign it, the years they devoted to promoting it, or by sharing a sad, heartbreaking story to get you to change your mind.

The impact, however, is quite different. It can be received by the reader/reviewer as pushy, forceful, or unprofessional. It may leave a bad taste in the persons mouth, turning them off of your future or past novels. It can be seen as an attack, and when faced with the threat of an attack, natural human reaction is "fight or flight". Do I engage this author in an attempt to further explain myself? Or do I ignore them?

I Choose To Fight

When my integrity is called out on the line, I choose to defend it, and for good reason (though not always with good outcomes!).

As creator and sole moderator of the goodreads group The Next Best Book Club, I owe my members a friendly, safe, and enjoyable experience. I love being able to share great books with them, and allowing them the opportunity to interact with their favorite authors.

When a member alerts me to a situation that is occurring within the group that revolves around the behavior of an author or the way they promote their novel, I owe it to that member to investigate and, if necessary, control it.

In my eyes, if an author is ignoring group guidelines or attacks a member (or myself, for that matter) due to negative or constructive feedback, ignoring the situation not only allows the author to believe their behavior is acceptable, it also sets a standard to anyone else who follows that that behavior is acceptable. Silence is acceptance.

In the early days of TNBBC, I used to banish the authors (and new members) who misbehaved to "The Spammers Circle in Hell" - which was a comical way to showcase those who felt they were above the rules that were created for behavior within the group. I have since grown up, and also understand I have more options than simply embarrassing people.

I am proud of the relationships I have built with authors, publishers, and lit agencies over the years and I understand the power and influence I can have in regards to them. Wasn't it spiderman's uncle who said "With great power comes great responsibility"? I choose to use my influence for good.

Putter There Pardner

Authors and reviewers/readers/moderators should not be working against one another. We should be seeking out opportunities to work with one another. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live in a world where there was no such thing as a negative review? I know I sure would!

But that is unrealistic, isn't it? So how do we find a middle ground? How can we give an author constructive feedback without turning things into a verbal beat down? How can an author remain open to feedback, and reduce the natural urge to defend themselves and their novels?

Looking for your feedback and experiences! Bloggers, reviewers, writers, authors, publishers.... What do you struggle with when it comes to interaction? What do you find helpful, hurtful, unnecessary? Let's reach out a hand and build partnerships. Let's get past the defensiveness, let's put the ego to bed, and throw away those personal barbs. Let's get better at giving each other feedback.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"The Wilding" Winner

She won the signed copy of The Wilding with this post describing an experience in the woods/camping:

Eh the woods/camping. I think nature is BEAUTIFUL but not liking bugs/snakes/dirt/my hair getting icky etc. put camping lower on my to-do list. I'm sure you could have guess that by meeting me this weekend that I'm not too outdoorsy.

Every camping/woodsy experience goes like this-- "EW! OMG! Ehh get that bug! What is that? I heard an animal! I'm going to get eaten. Are you sure a snake isn't going to get in here? NO--I refuse to poop in the woods!" Etc. Etc.

I really do love nature though..which is why I keep torturing myself :)

I sure hope this book doesn't ruin her already fragile feelings on the great outdoors!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Wilding

Read 9/11/10 - 9/18-10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

Dark and suspenseful, a bit twisted, and certainly not for the weak of stomach, The Wilding is going to make you think twice about camping out in the woods!

Graywolf Press sent me the arc for this novel quite a few months ago. The premise - grandfather, father, son, and dog head deep into Echo Canyon for one last camping trip before it's destroyed and replaced with an Indian Casino - caught my attention and something about the title and the blurb whispered "creepy read" I added it to my review pile and there it sat, patiently awaiting it's turn to be read.

About two weeks ago, Graywolf surprised me by sending me the Hardcover edition of the novel, which goes on sale next week. When I thanked them, I was informed that the author was going to be reading from the book at the Brooklyn Book Festival (which took place on Sept 12th, and of which I was already planning on attending!).

To the very top of the review pile it went!

I had the fascinating pleasure of listening to Benjamin Percy read a chapter from this novel (during the BKBF panel entitled "What Fresh Hell is This" - and what a fitting title name that is!) while I was still in the process of reading the book myself. His deep and booming voice stuck with me for the remaining days as I finished reading his novel. In my head, I could hear him narrating as the characters moved through their strange and terrifying experiences within Echo Canyon.

This novel is a tricky little devil. The suspense builds from page to page, at times creating a nail-biting urge within me to shout out loud through the pages to the characters to warn them of what I am afraid is coming. There were moments of false build up, where I felt myself release a breath that I did not realize I had been holding. And other moments where Benjamin twisted and turned me down a path I was not expecting.

A good portion of my teenage summers were spent camping out in the middle of the woods that was interestingly named Devil's Hole. Waterfalls and a decrepit water mill stood hidden, deep in the woods, in the middle of two developments. My friends and I would rough it out there - no tents, certainly no weapons, just sleeping bags, blankets, hamburger meat and hot dogs to cook over the fire, and some cheap booze to keep us warm when the stars were twinkling in the cool dark of night.

Never once did we think we were putting ourselves in danger of a bear attack, though we knew the area was crawling with wildlife, and luckily one never crossed our path out there. And I count those nights in Devil's Hole as some of my fondest memories. However, after reading The Wilding, I doubt I would ever venture out into the middle of the woods again, at least not without the proper protection. Or let my children have similar experiences as they get older, for fear of what might be waiting out there for them.

Benjamin not only scared the camp-girl out of me, but he also played around with the human / animal element throughout his novel.

Owls can be found throughout the story - one falls down the chimney of our main character Justin's fireplace, flapping its smoking wings throughout the house until his wife ushers it out the door. Others can be heard in the woods when Justin, his father Paul, and his son Graham are sitting around the campfire in Echo Canyon. According to owl lore, they are thought to symbolize dread and death, and I do not think it is by accident that Benjamin included them in his novel, since dread and death are abundant and at the very core of this story.

While camping out in the canyon, our three men hunt for deer, and happen to shoot and track one down into a bone graveyard. As the men stand over the dying deer, preparing to gut and skin it, they realize that the walls of the cave they are standing in houses caveman-like drawings that mirror their exact situation. Some depict men holding spears, others show men attacking a bear, some are very old, while others look fairly new. Though the scene was quite gruesome and heartwrenching (the deer in his final moments, the son asking if deer know they are dying), there was something poetic and ... normal... about that moment. A history of man vs animal laid out before them, the survival of the strongest, or smartest. The thrill of the hunt, and the excitement of the kill.

The Wilding will have you locking your doors, replacing those burnt out flood lights around the house, and carrying a flashlight when you head out for your late night strolls. It will keep you huddled around the campfire, if you're brave enough to go camping at all. One thing I know for certain - It will keep you up late into the night as you refuse to put the book down, and find you pulling those covers up around you tightly.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Support Your Indies

No! I didn't mean Undies. I meant Indies! I finally jumped on the IndieBound bandwagon. I am very excited about this partnership for two reasons :


(1) 90% of what I read and review comes from self published authors and independent publishers. It simply makes sense that I promote these wonderful novels and companies through independent bookstores as well.

(2) Every time you click on the indiebound link located on my blogs sidebar, and purchase a book (whether or not it is one that I've reviewed here), I will receive a small percentage of the sale. This money will go towards bigger and better giveaways for you, my dear friends. How exciting is that?

Independent bookstores need our business. They are hard working, book loving folks, like you and me. Their shops were built on a foundation of love for the written word. Help them thrive and grow by making all of your book purchases through them.

I invite you to share your favorite independent bookshops here. Which bookstores do you shop at? Is there a story behind their shops name, or history? Do you have a favorite sales associate?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The Wilding" Giveaway

This is an extra special TNBBC book giveaway. Why you might ask? Well. Because the book I am about to give away was held in it's very own creators hands as he signed it for you, that's why!!

Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding, was part of the WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival this past Sunday. I had the pleasure of listening to him read a selection of his forthcoming release from Graywolf Press, and then followed him down to the signing area to get his 'John Hancock" on a hard covered edition of the novel.

Here is the books description from Goodreads:

"Echo Canyon is a disappearing pocket of wilderness outside of Bend, Oregon, and the site of conflicting memories for Justin Caves and his father, Paul. It’s now slated for redevelopment as a golfing resort. When Paul suggests one last hunting trip, Justin accepts, hoping to get things right with his father this time, and agrees to bring his son, Graham, along.

As the weekend unfolds, Justin is pushed to the limit by the reckless taunting of his father, the physical demands of the terrain, and the menacing evidence of the hovering presence of bear. All the while, he remembers the promise he made to his skeptical wife: to keep their son safe.

Benjamin Percy, a writer whose work Dan Chaon called “bighearted and drunk and dangerous,” shows his mastery of narrative suspense as the novel builds to its surprising climax. The Wilding shines unexpected light on our shifting relationship with nature and family in contemporary society."

In order to win a copy of this novel:

1- Simply post a comment to this thread sharing a camping or 'in the woods' experience you have had.
2- Include your email address or a way for me to contact you so we can notify you if you win.

This giveaway is available Internationally and will end on September 22nd. Upon it's close, I will choose one winner at random, emailing them and announcing them here on my blog.

Good Luck!!

BKBF Was Wet and Wonderful

Weather report: 30% chance of rain, high of 71
Actual weather: wet, windy, and chilly, high of 55 (if we were lucky)

As you can see from the photo above, the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival was a damp and soggy event. This photo was taken around the 5 o'clock hour, with one last set of panels to see, ending in one last author signing, and the crowd was visibly thinning out.

The weather, however, did nothing to damper the bookish excitement and anticipation of meeting authors, publishers, and fellow book bloggers!

The week leading up to BKBF was a stressful one for me. Constant monitoring of the weather (lots of good that did me!) and the festival's website found me attempting to create a schedule with the perfect balance of author panels, author signings, and time to wander to my favorite publishers booths. Jamie, from The Broke and the Bookish and The Perpetual Page Turner, and I were emailing each other back and forth like maniacs, figuring out when and where to meet and planning out our day together. Jamie has been a member of TNBBC for 2 years and I couldn't wait to meet her in person.

The morning of the festival arrived, and found me driving out to the city before the sunrise. I parked at Port Authority (a pro at this now, thanks to my experience during the BEA's back in May) and walked myself over to Penn Station to await Jamie's train.

Jamie had a horrible morning, missing her original train and parking in a tow zone to boot!! But she made it! And she brought along Lenore, of Presenting Lenore, and Lenore's husband Daniel, who is an illustrator for children's books.

We took the subway from Penn Station to the Festival and got ourselves situated as best we could. By now we were starting to feel the beginning drops of what would eventually become a very damp and uncomfortable day!

We stopped off at Le Bagel restaurant for some coffee and bagels, and sat down on the steps of Borough Hall to eat as the festival began. On the main stage we watched this amazing little kid recite the Jabberwocky poem - from Alice in Wonderland - from memory. And how cool is this? I made it onto the news footage of the festival. While we were sitting there, a news crew shot some scenes and if you watch the first 3 seconds of the clip, you will see me sitting on the lower far right hand corner of the screen, chit chatting with Lenore and Daniel. Jamie had stepped away to take a phone call and missed her 3 seconds of fame!

The first panel Jamie and I attended was the 11 o'clock NEXT TEXT panel - which included Tanya Wright (Deputy Kenya from True Blood!), Ivy Pochoda, Sean Ferrell, Helen Simpson, and Teddy Wayne.

Sean pronounced himself The Leader based on his position at the center of the table and ordered each one of us to get him a root beer. "And I don't mean each of you collectively getting me one root beer. I mean each one of you get me one root beer!". Watch out for this guy! He's gonna be huge!

Teddy Wayne blew the crowd away with his very well chosen selection from Kapitoil. Every paragraph solicited laughter. I will not lie. Teddy was one of the reasons I had attended BKBF in the first place. He and I met back in May during the Book Blogger Convention Reception, I recently reviewed his novel, and he had so wonderfully participated in an interactive interview with the members of TNBBC. I went all fangirl on him when he remembered me at the signing tables, and we chatted for a minute before I asked if would take a picture with me. What a sweetheart!

At noon, Jamie and I split up. She went to see Rob Sheffield's panel while I stayed put to hear Paul Harding read from his novel Tinkers for the LIVING THROUGH DYING panel. When the readings were over, I took the opportunity to ask the authors, since all of their novels dealt with death, which way they would prefer to die -were they given the choice- and which way they were most terrified to go. My question was received well and was even turned back to me, so that I had to answer! I learned so much more about what went into the creation of Tinkers, which helped me to appreciate it,not only as an exceptionally well written piece of fiction, but also as a glimpse into the not so fictitious history of the author, of which his novel was based.

After that signing, Jamie and I met up again and wandered through the rainy and windy vendor booths. I stopped by to say hello to the friendly staff at Graywolf Press, and we chitchatted with Erica and Amy from Harper Perennial, two of the most hardworking marketing women I know!

We also got the chance to put faces to names with a few other fellow bloggers during a slight break in the weather. Nicole from Linus's Blanket, Allie from Hist-Fic Chick, Mitali from Alley of Books, and Spencer from 59th and Peach. She and Jamie know each other from Jamie's college student group on goodreads. Spencer was a ball of personality and I was so glad I got the chance to meet her! She and Jamie took off to the Youth Stoop at 2pm, and I headed over to the WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS panel to see Benjamin Percy reading from his new novel The Wilding. God does that man have the deepest, most booming voice I have ever heard! I was thrilled to have him sign both the arc and hardcover of his novel!

Jamie, Spencer, and I left the Festival at 3pm for a starbucks coffee and some horribly overcooked KFC for lunch and then said our goodbyes to Spencer as we made out way back out into the wild wet weather to see Per Petterson read during the BEING IS SCARY set. His novel, I Curse the River of Time was one of my favorites this year, and hearing him read from it was heavenly. Sadly, Per was not signing at the end of this panel so my books went home unsigned.

However I did manage to visit Salman Rushdie, Dennis Lehane, and Simon Van Booy and get their novels signed (though I did not see their panels. Choices, Choices!)

Before we left, Jamie and I headed back over to our favorite publishing lady Erika to say our farewells. We all looked like wet dogs at this point. Poor Erica and Jamie were shivering. But we survived the day, and had a wonderful time, and made promises of meeting soon in NYC to take the literature world by storm once again!

Monday, September 13, 2010

"The Good Daughters" Winners!

Congrats to Emily of Reading While Female and Susanne!
They each won a copy of The Good Daughters.

They both appear to have an idea of what the ending / plot twist might be. I hope they come back to the blog to share their thoughts and review of the book once they have read it. I would love to know if they were right!

Thanks for your interest ladies and check your email. I'll be needing your shipping addresses in order to get the books out to you.

Help Me Usher in the Fall

As I was preparing the October Nominations thread for TNBBC, I went a little twitter crazy with fall-focused tweets. The chilly rainy weather at yesterday's Brooklyn Book Festival helped me to realize that Summer is now officially a thing of the past, and while I am very sad to see it go, there are many reasons for me to celebrate the sights and smells of Autumn.

"The smell of instant coffee, irish stews, itchy sweaters, and wet leaves will soon begin permeating the walls."
"I will begin to stare out the windows, edged in morning frost, deciding if TODAY will be the day I head outside to rake."
"I will take deep breaths when I step outside, rub my arms to relieve the goosebumps, and duck back inside. Raking can wait until tomorrow."
"I will oooh and awww when the leaves change from green to fire red to electric orange, and sigh when they release themselves from the trees."
"I will conjure up dreams of wicked witches, creaky skeletons, and little monsters. I will murder pumpkins and stage their hollowed bodies upon my porch for the neighbors to see."
"I will read scary stories from beneath the blankets, and lie awake at night waiting for the stories to haunt me."

It also brings to mind all those wonderfully horrifying and creepily terrifying novels I have previously read during this time of year. Here are a few of my favorite Fall Reads:

1> The Tale of Halcyon Crane (Wendy Webb) - spooky tale of a woman uncovering old family legends; complete with haunted house, creepy encounters with otherworldly beings, and an unsolved island murder dating back 30 years.

2> Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger) - Symmetrical twin sisters inherit their aunts house in London, complete with a cemetery in the backyard and unexplainable strange things taking place in the flat.

3> Dracula (Bram Stoker) - Yes, the original vampire! Even though I wasn't able to get lost in the writing of the story, everyone can appreciate the tale of the most intriguing, romanticized, spooky transylvanian recluse to ever come out of fiction.

4> Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) - The original monster! Again, not a book I fell in love with due to the style of writing, but a story that is impossible to ignore around this time of year.

5> Come Closer (Sara Gran) - This is one teeny tiny spooky little novel about a woman who slowly and knowingly gets posessed by a demon, slowly sinking into its clutches...

6> I am Legend (Richard Matheson) - A new breed of vampires, the end of the world, and one survivor attempting to save it.

7> Pet Semetary (Stephen King) - burying the dead in a certain cemetery brings them back to life. Except... well, they don't come back quite normal. Scared the bejesus out of me!

8> Heart Shaped Box (Joe Hill) - Order a suit online, and you never know which ghost might follow it home. Some super scary moments in this rock and roll horror novel.

9> Witches of Eastwick (John Updike) - Witches and a devil only human. Not a favorite of mine, but one I think others could enjoy. Definitely perfect for halloween.

10> Scary Stories Treasury - Best collection of creepy, crawly, spooky, scary stories for all age groups. My kids and I always pull this one down the shelf once the weather get cooler and the days get shorter.

What are your favorite novels to curl up with during the fall season? Have you read any of the ones I listed above? If so, what did you think of them?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Life in Books

This was so much fun!!! I was visiting Roof Beam Reader's blog and saw this posted, and figured.. what the heck! I don't usually fill out survey's or take polls, but this one was too interesting to pass up.

Basically you just answer the questions using the book titles that you've read this year!

In high school I was: Mastering the Dream (Kelly Lydick)

People might be surprised: Everything is Wrong With Me (Jason Mulgrew)

I will never be: Immortal (Gene Doucette)

My fantasy job is: A Common Pornography (Kevin Sampsell)

At the end of a long day I need: Light Boxes (Shane Jones)

I hate it when: Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Ben Tanzer)

Wish I had: Sex Dungeon For Sale (Patrick Wensink)

My family reunions are: 99 Problems (Ben Tanzer)

At a party you’d find me with: The Book (M.Clifford)

I’ve never been to: Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane)

A happy day includes: Pain Killers (Jerry Stahl)

Motto I live by: Beat the Reaper (Josh Bazell)

On my bucket list is: Conquering Venus (Collin Kelly)

In my next life, I want to have: Horns (Joe Hill)

Go ahead, you know you want to do this for yourself! Comment here with a link to yours once you're done. I can't wait to see what you come up with!


Read 9/6/10 - 9/11/10
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended

"An old man lies dying."

This was 'the book that got away' at the BEA. By the time I made my way down to the Consortium booth, I was informed that the final three copies they had on the back shelf were not to be given away. No amount of subtle flirting or sweet talking seemed to have any effect on the booth attendant, and so I was forced to walk away empty handed.

Of course, once the BEA was over, the 'book that got away' suddenly began appearing everywhere. I couldn't turn my head, log onto my computer, or close my eyes without seeing Tinkers. I wanted it so badly....

Thank goodness for Molly, of A Literary Light, who takes on publicity for Bellevue Literary Press. She was kind enough to answer my plea and ship off a copy of Tinkers for review.

Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize , author Paul Harding takes his readers on a journey of life and loss through the dying moments of George Crosby; an antique clock repairman, husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

As George lies on his death bed, struggling to remember the names of family members and friends who visit him in his final hours, he envelopes himself in the memories of his father and of his own long life.

Tinkers is not the bring-a-box-of-tissues tear-jerker story that I imagined it would be. Yes - It's a peek into the mind of a dying man - filled with hallucinations and sometimes unconnected thoughts. Yes - it deals with the reality of death and dying and all the fears and uncertainty that accompany it. But it is also a celebration of life and love and loss - of the things that happen, that shape us into the people we have become.

No one has a picture perfect life. I'm not sure there even IS such a thing. Married 12 years, mother of two devilish boys, daughter of divorced parents, older sister to two very different and complicated siblings, perhaps I am bit jaded and cynical. I believe very strongly that each and every one of us have our crosses to bear. Struggles that we've survived and wish we could forget. Shames that follow us, lurking around every corner and within every shadow. People we have hurt or left behind...Or people who have hurt us and left US behind...

The writing is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy - sparse and impactful, each word seemingly chosen so carefully, aching beautiful - and also a bit like Jose Saramago - written in long and winding paragraphs that span full pages at a time with run on sentences that sometimes appear to sidetrack us from the author's original thoughts.

I especially appreciated the fact that our main character was a clock repairman and the poetic descriptions of the inner workings of those tiny time keepers - the way a dying clock can be compared to a dying man.

Tinkers is a novel that I would recommend readers do not miss. It is a book to be experienced, it contains words that need to be read.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True

Read 9/3/10 - 9/6/10
3 1/2 Stars - Recommended strongly to readers familiar with genre

I was asked by the publisher if I would be interested in reviewing this novel. While I tend to steer away from war novels / novels that revolve around war time, something about this one caught my attention. And so, I agreed.

A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True is a two part story, in which both parts are told side by side, chapter by chapter. The novel begins by introducing us to Pigeon - a young man who has fallen in love with Aneilica, the most beautiful girl in town. It follows their blossoming courtship, and eventual immigration, during the reigns of Hitler and Stalin. The alternating chapters follow his granddaughter "Baba Yaga" 50 years later, in present day Krakow, and her struggles with self confidence and dating, the recent death of her mother, and abandonment of her father.

From the very start, I preferred the story of Pigeon and his fierce determination and loyalty to his family and Aneilica. He had such a strong aura, I could not help but want to read more about him and his devotion to a woman he knew so little about.

Baba Yaga's story had less impact on me, and seemed to counterbalance the fire and urgency of Pigeon's. As her chapters approached, I found myself wishing I could skip over them and just read more about her grandfather.

Then, as the war approached and the focus of Pigeon's story changed to survival, I began to favor Baba Yaga's story, as it was finally beginning to take shape and come into it's own. She now had a life of her own - shy and bashful but full of love for an awkward boy who played clarinet at the bar she waitressed at.

Needless to say, I noticed a stop-and-go sort of pace with the chapters throughout the entire novel. As one story line built momentum, the other would crawl to a near halt. As the action diminished in one, the tempo picked up in the other. While I understand the need to balance the chapters out, it frustrated me, and I found myself tossing and turning between them.

First I'm dying to get back to Pigeon. Then I'm thumbing through his chapters counting the words until I can get back to Baba and her story.

I struggled with how to rate this novel. While I enjoyed the character growth, and overall plot, I didn't handle the alternating chapters, up and down pacing, and war theme very well. I settled on 3 1/2 stars - strongly recommending this novel to people who enjoy the theme and genre.

I suppose it just goes to show that I like what I like, no matter how well the author tells a story, or how well they manipulate the written word. Though I will continue to read and review novels like this one in the hopes that somewhere, someday, I will locate one that blows all the others away. So my search still continues.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Brooklyn Book Festival is coming....

A year ago, I would never have believed that I would be planning to attend Book Festivals in NYC or Baltimore, attempting to meet virtual book-loving friends and building relationships with the authors and publishing houses that I admire.

And yet, here I am, planning and scheming and anticipating these events as a child anticipates Christmas!

This Sunday, September 12th, will be my first trip out to the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Since it is my first trip out there, I scanned and scrubbed the website, questioned the wonderful ladies at Harper Perennial and GrayWolf Press about the in's and out's and what to expect, and then I carefully studied the Festival's schedule.

If there is ONE thing that attending the 2010 BEA has taught me - It's come prepared with an agenda. And so here is what I have designated as my Must See's for BKBF:

Vendor Booths:

Author Forums:
Ben Greenman, Dennis Lehane, Sam Lipsyte, Arthur Nersesian, Per Petterson, Salman Rushdie, Simon Van Booy, and Teddy Wayne
(among others)

I am also attempting to make as many face to face connections with other bloggers and tweeters as possible, so DM me or Goodreads PM me, or post a comment here if you are interested in meeting me at BKBF next Sunday!

For those of you who are too shy to speak up, aren't sure if you are going to attend yet, or are afraid that I might be a freak/nerd/bizarro and want to check me out from a distance before committing to anything, keep an eye out for me. I will be wearing my white ringer-style TNBBC T-shirt. It will have this logo on it...
So please feel free to run up to me, tap me on the shoulder, or scream "LORI" from across the crowd!! I really really want to meet you!

"The Good Daughters" Giveaway

That's right!
TNBBC is proud to announce that William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishing has given me the opportunity to give away 2 copies of Joyce Maynard's new novel "The Good Daughters".

Here is the Goodread's description of the book:

"They were born on the same day, in the same hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike. Ruth is an artist and a romantic, with a rich and passionate imaginative life. Dana is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in what she can see or hear or touch. Yet these two very different women share the same struggle to make sense of their place in a world in which neither of them has ever truly felt she belonged. Told in the alternating voices of Ruth and Dana, "The Good Daughters" follows these birthday sisters as they make their way through the decades, from the 1950s to the present. Master storyteller Joyce Maynard chronicles the unlikely ways the two women's lives intersect - from childhood and adolescence to first loves, first sex, marriage, and parenthood; from the deaths of parents to divorce, the loss of home, and the loss of a beloved partner - until an unavoidable moment when a long-held secret from the past alters everything."

In order to win a copy of this novel:

1- Simply post a comment to this thread telling me why you want to read this book.
2- Include your email address or a way for me to contact you so we can notify you if you win.

This giveaway is available to residents of the US and Canada only(Sorry folks, the books are not being shipped by me)and will end on September 13th. Upon it's close, I will choose two winners at random, emailing the winners and announcing them here on my blog.

Good Luck!!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Read 8/31/10 - 9/1/10
5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Book

Every once and awhile you come across a book that takes your breath away. A book that you fall in love with from the very first sentence of the very first page. A book that you never want to put down because you want to know what happens next, but that you're afraid to pick back up because you don't ever want it to end. A book that you know is going to haunt you long after you have closed it's cover and placed it back on the shelf.

Room is that book. The story is narrated by Jack, a 5 year old boy who was born into an 11 x 11 room that he is unable to leave. Room is the only world he knows. It is the only life he knows. As far as Jack knows, Room is the only thing that is real.

His mother, to whom Room is a prison, is determined to shelter Jack from Old Nick - the man who has held her captive for 7 years - and the life outside of Room that he cannot experience.

As Jack becomes more inquisitive, his mother finds it increasingly more difficult to hide the outside world from her son. And so she hatches a plan that could set them free, or make their lives within Room that much more difficult.

An amazing story of survival and love captured through the eyes of an innocent child, Room forces you to face the horrible, horrifying reality of a desperate mother struggling to give her child a normal life in the most abysmal situation.

I look out my window as I write this, at the shed in my backyard. I imagine this shed as an unescapable prison in which I must raise my children - a bed, a toilet, a stove, a wardrobe, and a table all squished inside, in which the only light I see sneaks in through the skylight, in which I am forced to prioritize my needs (food, clothing, soap) into "sunday treats" - a handful of things that I request of my captor to be delivered weekly so my children and I can continue living. I imagine the only toys my children have to play with are the things I can make out of left over garbage - eggs that I string together to create a snake, forts and castles that we make out of used toilet paper rolls. I imagine trying not to break down and give up. I imagine trying to pretend that the life we are living is normal, trying to build an entire world for my kids out of that room.

It breaks my heart just thinking about it.

Room is reminiscent of other novels I have read and loved that are narrated by little boys (The Book of Lost Things, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Dead Father's Club), and yet manages to blow them all away! His endearing voice, and unique terminology will capture your heart and invade your dreams. His curiosity and persistence will infect you.

Jack has a story to share. And it's a story I don't want you to miss.

Watch the trailer - and then run out to the stores to grab yourself a copy of Room when it hits the shelves on September 13th!

A super duper thank you goes out to Little, Brown for making this arc available at the 2010 BEA in New York City!