The Doctor

Friday, September 30, 2011


Hello my name is Melissa and I’m a Whovian. (Insert loud chorus of “Hi Melissa.”)

When I was growing up I occasionally watched the old Doctor Who with my Dad. I heard about the reboot a few years back, but for some reason I never checked it out. Then a lovely friend prompted me to watch it and (thank goodness) I finally did.

I’m a complete addict now. I dare you to watch the entire first and second season and not fall in love with the characters. Yes, there are aliens and end of the world attacks, but the show is really about people and the complicated relationships they have (no matter what planet they are from).


The man who plays the doctor changes every few seasons and David Tennant is far and away my favorite. He’s clever and funny and yet he can break your heart with a glance. He also has companions that travel around with him, but each one never last more than a few seasons. That keeps the show interesting because the chemistry is always changing and it stays fresh. I adored Rose, but Donna is my favorite because she’s so sassy. It took me a minute to warm up to her, but once I did I was a fan for life. She’s not a love interest for the Doctor, she’s his best friend and she provides a much needed balance to his life.

The writers never shy away from difficult issues or plot twists. They are always trying new things and surprising their audience. They create such memorable characters and then continue to grow their stories even when they aren’t series regulars anymore.


A few things I didn’t realize when I started the series:

1) Doctor Who is freaking hilarious. It has that wonderful dry British sense of humor that I’m so fond of.
2) The Harry Potter movies are like a Who’s Who of the people who have guest starred on Doctor Who.
3) Even if they weren’t in HP, if they are a British actor, they’ve probably made a guest appearance.
4) The show has a fierce and faithful following, many of whom are incredibly creative and have awesome etsy shops.

Some of my favorite episodes:

1) The Empty Child
2) Love & Monsters
3) Doomsday
4) Human Nature/The Family of Blood
5) Blink
6) Silence in the Library
7) Turn Left
8) Journey's End
9) The End of Times Part 1 and 2
10) Vincent and the Doctor
11) The Big Bang
12) A Christmas Carol
13) The Day of the Moon
14) The Doctor's Wife

I may be late to the party, but I’m glad I’m finally here. Any other Whovians out there?

Awesome images from here, here and here.

Kim

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Kim
by Rudyard Kipling
★☆

You know those books that you know from the very first page, you’re going to love it… this wasn’t that. You know those other books that start out slow and it takes you awhile, but soon you find yourself hooked? Nope, this was not one of those either.

In fact, I made it through the entire book without every really feeling invested in any way, shape or form. I persevered only because I started it a few months ago and gave it up, then restarted it, convinced I’d get through it. It’s one of Kipling’s most lauded books and it’s on a million must read lists and there’s got to be something else there. But in the end it just didn’t work for me.

A young Irish boy, Kim, is orphaned in India during the 19th century. He becomes a disciple of a Tibetan Lama, Teshoo Lama, and travels with him on his quest. Eventually a British regiment takes him under their wing and enrolls him in an English school. They decide to groom him to become a spy.

I loved some of Kipling’s short stories (The Jungle Book, etc.), but this one left me feeling cold. It’s suppose to be a “spy” novel in some way, but instead of having any solid plot it meanders and muses about life. It felt both boring and tiresome and I couldn't help but wonder why we were suppose to care about what happened to Kim.

I know I should have more to say about this book, but honestly, I was just glad to be done with it. If anyone loved this book I would be thrilled to hear why.

I read this for the Victorian Literature Challenge.

Wordless Wednesday: Iowa Sign

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Sign in Iowa

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want To Reread

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I love the question from this week's Top Ten list at The Broke and the Bookish. I think blogging makes me read books differently in some ways. I take note of the things I love about a book in a more concrete way and think critically about what worked and didn't work. There are so many books I read before I started blogging and I'd love to reread them now with that new mindset.

1) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: I loved this whole series the first time I read it, but it's been almost 10 years. I'm curious to see if I'd find it as funny as a reread.


These three are just amazing and I wish I could read them for the first time again. I think I will reread them for years to come.

2) The Thirteenth Tale


3) The History of Love

4) The Shadow of the Wind


5) Gone with the Wind: I loved it when I read it back in 2003. When I started blogging I saw this one every where and people talked about how much they loved it. Then I read this book about the story behind Gone With the Wind and have been dying to read it again ever since.

6) Persuasion: I've read all of Jane Austen's major works and some of her minor works and Persuasion was my favorite. I'd love to reread it and see if I still feel that way.

7) Ender's Game: I adore this book, but after reading it I went on to read all 8 of the sequels and companion books. I want to start from the beginning and read the book that had such a big impact on me the first time around.


8) And Then There Were None: My first and favorite Agatha Christie book. I recommend this one constantly and it's been too long since I've read it myself.

9) The Perks of Being a Wallflower: I was a freshman in college when I read this and I thought it was so beautiful. Now there's a movie coming out and I want to reread it before then.

10) American Gods: My very first Gaiman, read back in 2007. It's not a great place to start with him. Since reading this I've read almost everything else he has written and have grown to love his work and dark sense of humor. Now that I appreciate his style more, I think I would get a lot more out of his masterpiece. Plus the HBO series based on the book is coming out sometime in the next year or two.

Banned Book Week: The Chocolate War

Monday, September 26, 2011

(My satchel with my "I read banned books" pin)

It's Banned Book Week and in honor of that I've reviewed a banned book I recently read and I've listed a few of my favorite banned books that I've read in the past. As my favorite button (above) on my satchel says “I read banned books.” There’s something disturbing about a society that tries to control what people read, so of course, my first instinct is to go read it.

My top ten favorite Banned Books:

1) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
4) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
6) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
7) Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling
8) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
9) Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
10) All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

Favorites when I was a kid:

1) A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
2) James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl
3) The Giver, by Lois Lowry
4) Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
5) The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain



The Chocolate War
by Robert Cormier
★★★

This young adult book is frequently cited on banned book lists and honestly, that was the main reason I read it.
Oddly, there’s very little in this book that I can point to as a possible reason to ban it. There’s very little language, there’s some violence and the main characters are teenage boys, so there are a few sexual thoughts, but very little in the grand scheme of banned books. Regardless, this one won’t be on any favorites lists of mine.

Jerry Renault is a freshman at a private high school run by Catholic priests. One of the teachers, Brother Leon, is a power-hungry, ruthless man and he decides he’s going to make the students sell double the number of boxed chocolates than they have in previous years in order to make himself look good.

The Vigils are a secret society within the school. A meathead jock is the front man, but the true leader of the group is Archie. He is the brains of the operation and he develops the random tasks that the group forces the students to do. Things get out of hand when the Vigils decide to make Jerry refuse to sell the chocolates for 10 days.

The thing that is starling about this book is the vindictive, cruel nature of the Vigils, especially the calculating character of Archie. It was strange to me because it seemed like they had no real motivation for their actions. It’s not just physical brutality, it’s the psychological and emotional strain they put on their fellow students.

The boys’ savagery is similar to that of the characters in Lord of the Flies, but because their circumstances are not extreme, it’s even worse. It’s almost understandable in wild jungles of Lord of the Flies, because the boys are reduced to their basic natures to survive. In The Chocolate Wars, they are living in a civilized world and every decision they make is thought out and intentional, which makes it even crueler.

In the end I didn’t even feel like rooting for the main character, Jerry, because it all seemed so silly and pointless. I was glad he was standing up for himself, but at the same time, it seemed stupid that he should have to fight against something so ridiculous.

For another view, check out the great review at Your Move, Dickens.

*Photo by moi

The Forgotten Garden

Friday, September 23, 2011


The Forgotten Garden
by Kate Morton
★★★★★

When she was only four years old, Nell was put on an ocean liner traveling from London to Australia all by herself. She’s adopted by a family in Australia and isn’t told the truth about her history until she’s 21. The novel unfolds the mystery of Nell’s life, while at the same time introducing us to her granddaughter Cassandra and a young woman from her past named Eliza.

The book flips back and forth between Eliza’s story at the turn of the century (1900-1913), Nell’s story (mainly 1975), and Cassandra’s in 2005. I loved all three of the main characters because they were survivors. They each had their own tragedies that influenced the choices they made, but those back stories didn’t hijack the main plot line, they just enhanced it.

There’s also a great supporting cast of characters, both good and bad guys. Each new character made the story richer, adding layers to the mystery. The pacing is wonderful. There is just the right amount of information revealed as you go along. Each answer introduces new questions to the reader and you don’t want to stop until you know the whole story. The style reminded me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale, Fingersmith and Shadow of the Wind, which in my opinion, is high praise.

When I started they book I thought it was going to be a sweet story about an English village or something. I had no idea it was a gothic mystery. It turned out to be just my kind of novel, one I didn’t want to put down.

I also really liked that the story isn’t steered by a romance. It is, first and foremost, the women’s stories. Their three lives are intertwined and as the book goes along we get to discover how. It doesn’t hurt that much of it is set in England. I’m a fan of the spooky, but gorgeous English countryside as a setting.

In addition to the mystery itself, the book addresses a few other issues. It questions how important your identity is. Does knowing who you are and where you come from matter? It also looks closely at the relationship between mothers and daughters.

All-in-all I loved the book. For me, it had the perfect balance of character driven story, mystery, and historical fiction, with a splash of fairy tale thrown in for good measure.

“Did those with passage booked on death’s silent ship always scan the dock for faces of the long departed?”

“That, my dear, is what makes a character interesting, their secrets.”

“I sometimes feel my entire life is a series of accidents and chances – not that I’m complaining. One can be very happy having relinquished all expectation of control.”

“You make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing."

“Cassandra always hid when she read, though she never quite knew why. It was as if she couldn’t quite shake the guilty suspicion that she was being lazy, that surrendering herself so completely to something so enjoyable must surely be wrong.”

Ode to a bookstore death

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A Border's employee created this awesome list as the bookstore where they worked met its demise. Most of the things they say are both sad and really true. I particularly love the bit about not being a daycare. Wouldn't it be great to be able to vent the stuff that frustrates you at your job? But I suppose if that meant you had to lose your job, it wouldn't be worth it.

Also, did you all know Kindles could officially download ebooks from libraries? When I got a Kindle for Christmas this wasn't an option and I was so bummed. I can't tell you how excited I am.

The photo and original story can be found on Entertainment Weekly's site here.

Wordless Wednesday: Indiana Sand Dunes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Indiana Sand Dunes

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Monday, September 19, 2011


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
★★★★


That cover, which as first catches your eye, then makes you do a double take, is what hooked me and so many other readers. The little girl, creepily staring back at you and ... floating?

The novel begins with Jacob, a 16-year-old boy, witnessing a murder. That horrifying event shakes him to the core and makes him begin to question the "fairy tales" his grandfather used to tell him. What follows is a fascinating journey with unexpected turns, but the less said about the plot, the better. The true pleasure of the book is being able to follow Jacob on his quest without knowing where it will take you. I loved discovering his grandfather's secrets along side him.


(Photos from the book)

My one complaint about the book is actually my favorite part about it as well. I know, not really fair is it? The bizarre photographs that pop up every few pages are both enchanting and at times distracting. Occasionally it felt like the author was crafting the story around the photos instead of using them only to enhance the plot. It seemed like there were multiple characters and plot points that he included purely to use one more cool photograph.

Don't get me wrong, the story is still infinitely entertaining and absolutely worth reading, but I do wish he had depended just a bit less on the images to avoid making it feel like a gimmick. The story was strong enough to stand on its own and I hope he scales back the photos in the sequel.

Final word, if you're looking for a good story which blends a bit of fantasy, coming-of-age and adventure, and throws in a few scares for good measure, this is a perfect choice. Pick up a copy in October to get in the mood for Halloween. I know I'll definitely be reading Riggs' next book when it comes out.

I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings here.

For more R.I.P reviews visit here.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Friday, September 16, 2011


Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg
★★★★☆

This novel, made famous by the 1991 movie, tells the story of two pairs of women. The first is Evelyn Couch, a chubby, middle-aged woman with self-esteem issues and an elderly lady, Ninny Threadgoode, who Evelyn meets while visiting her mother-in-law in a nursing home. Mrs. Threadgoode quickly befriends Evelyn and enthralls her with stories of her life in the small Alabama town of Whistle Stop.

The second story is that of Ruth and Idgie, the two women who run the town’s well-loved cafĂ©. Ruth is a sweet-natured, beautiful lady with a young son named Stump. Idgie is a wild tomboy who drinks, shoots and swears with the men. Their love and friendship defies labels and stereotypes and binds them together for life.

I’ve loved this movie for years, but I somehow missed the book until now. I’m so glad I finally read it. The movie really did a wonderful job with the adaptation, but I think it missed some of the major issues from the novel. I was surprised by how many stories about race relations were in the book.

I loved watching Evelyn transform from a meek doormat to a happy, confident woman. At the beginning, Idgie is the polar opposite character, she’s just bursting at the seams with life. You just can’t beat her passion and spunk. I loved her relationship with Stump. She could talk to him in a way no one else could. She was the same way with the kind hobo, Smokey. She had a way of knowing exactly what people needed and giving it to them while asking for nothing in return.

The story bounces back and forth through the decades starting in the 1920s and finishing in the 1980s. The short chapters introduce us to dozens of southern characters, all of which manage to steal our hearts.

The author deals with serious issues, domestic abuse, racism, murder and more, but she does so while maintaining her sense of humor. One example is the sporadic “The Weems Weekly” which appears every few chapters. One Whistle Stop resident, Dot Weems, writes the bulletin on the small town news. She gives her personal commentary on the events and talks about “her other half (husband)” in a hilarious way.

I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. I can see this becoming a comfort read in the future. It was also a perfect book to read before my upcoming road trip to Alabama.

Shakespeare and The Merry Wives of Windsor

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I adore Shakespeare. I’ve read at least half of his works. I’ve seen dozens of his plays performed. In college I took a class completely devoted to learning how to read and interpret his writing. I’ve visited the Globe in England and every time I read a new play of his I find a new reason to love his work.

His writing isn’t perfect. He ripped story lines from others and his plays can be repetitive. He can be long-winded when he wants to, but all-in-all, there’s more brilliance than hot air there. When Shakespeare ran out of words to express what he was feeling, he invented them! That’s just amazing. Not only did he invent words, but they are ones that stuck and that we still use today.

I love his wit. He was incredibly funny. Many of his jokes were topical, so they aren’t nearly as amusing to us as they were to audiences that lived during his lifespan. It’s like someone watching an episode of Saturday Night Live from 30 years ago and expecting to catch every joke from the weekend update.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
by William Shakespeare
★★★★

On to the The Merry Wives of Windsor. This isn’t my favorite play, it isn’t even my favorite comedy by the Bard, but it is entertaining. It’s well-known purely because it brought back a fan-favorite, Sir John Falstaff (from the Henry IV history plays).


The basic plot is as follows, that well-loved pompous old fool, Falstaff, decides to seduce two of the married ladies in the town of Windsor. The confusion that ensues is almost like a French farce. People run in, doors slam, identities are mistaken, etc. In other words, good times.

Always the idiot, Falstaff makes the mistake of wooing two women who happen to be best friends. Mistress Ford and Mistress Page both receive love letter from the fat knight and devise a plan to trap and mock him. Mistress Ford’s husband ends up as collateral damage when he’s led to believe his wife is actually cheating on him.


What sets this play apart from his many others is the fact that it’s the only one set in contemporary (for Shakespeare) England. Most of his other plays either took place in the past or in another country. The subplot involves a husband and wife (the Pages) who are trying to marry their daughter off to men she doesn't love. The clever daughter evades her parents' wishes by coming up with a tricky solution of her own to get the man she truly loves.


If you're new to Shakespeare, see it live first! It's a play, it was meant to be seen and not just read. Once you've done that, explore the beauty of his writing. Much Ado About Nothing is a great place to start in the comedies and Hamlet remains my favorite tragedy... so far.


---One side note, if you’re looking for a definitive edition of Shakespeare, I would highly recommend the The Riverside Shakespeare. It is massive (like five inches thick), but I love it.


*Photo from the 2010 Globe performance

Wordless Wednesday: Hallstatt

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Hallstatt, Austria

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

The Woman in Black

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
★★★★★

Now this is my kind of ghost story. In the past I've enjoyed books like The Turning of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House, but have always been left feeling just a little bit frustrated. You aren't quite sure if they are ghosts stories or tales of madness. You can't trust the narrator, which makes them both wonderful and infuriating.

The Woman is Black doesn't take that approach. It is absolutely a ghost story and it scared me more than I'd like to admit (but in a good way!)

A young solicitor, Arthur Kipps, is dispatched to a remote corner of England to resolve the affairs of a recently deceased client, Mrs. Drablow. She had lived alone in a huge, old mansion, Eel Marsh House, on the outskirts of town. Kipps quickly realizes that things won't be as simple as he'd hoped, but every attempt he makes to get more information is thwarted. The townspeople's furtive glances and refusal to talk about Eel Marsh House heighten his suspicions that there's something very wrong with the house.

I think if I could sum up the book in one word it would be: satisfying. It perfectly fulfilled my own personal taste for a ghost story. I don't like graphic scenes of horror, but I love a good scare. I also want good characters and a believable plot. This one had the perfect balance of all of those factors and on top of that, the writing was excellent.

It has the best and most disturbing description of fog that I've ever read...

"It was a mist like a damp, clinging cobwebby thing, fine and yet impenetrable. It smelled and taste quite different from the yellow filthy fog of London; that was choking and thick and still, this was salty, light and pale and moving in front of my eyes all the time. I felt confused, teased by it, as though it were made up of millions of live fingers that crept over me, hung on to me and then shifted away again."



Another reason I loved this story is Kipps himself. So often ghost stories seem to contain weak lead characters that are easily frightened. I think I trusted Kipps' description of the events more because he was determined not to be easily scared off by rumors. The story scares with both the tangible and intangible, both scary in their own way. For example...

"At that moment I began to doubt my own reality."

Is anything more terrifying than that?

I absolutely recommend this one for anyone and everyone who likes a good scare.

I had the opportunity to see The Woman in Black on stage in London and it was terrifying as a play as well. It's pretty impressive when a ghost story is so good that it can scare you in multiple formats.

Bonus: This book was made into a movie starring none other than Harry Potter himself. It's release date is February 3, 2012 and I will be first in line to see it. Check out the trailer here (seriously, chills).

I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings here.

For more R.I.P reviews visit here.

It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Monday, September 12, 2011


It's the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I can't wait to check out everything that's going on and find some great new blogs.

There are so many blogs that I've come to love since I started blogging in January 2010. Many have been mentioned by dozens of you as your favorites as well. Sandy, Jenners, Ana, Trisha, Allie, Jeanne, Jillian, Iris, Enbrethiliel, Nomadreader, Bybee, Carl, Teacher/Learner and Diane.

There are a few other bloggers that I haven't seen mentioned many times and I know that can only be because you guys haven't had the chance to check them out yet. In the past year these blogs (in addition to the many mentioned above) have become a few of my favorites...

Brenna at Literary Musings - We always seem to be reading the same books or have the same reaction to books. I know I can always find good recommendations here.

Ruby at A Thousand Books With Quotes - She reminds me to savor each line, whether it's from an old favorite or new recommendation. I love it.

Kristi at Kristi Loves Books - I love the books she reads and her reviews. Just always worth stopping by.

Cori at Let's eat, Grandpa Let's eat Grandpa! - We have such similar taste in books, it's awesome.

Jillian at Random Ramblings - I love her devotion to all things Potter and the great questions she asks.


Darlyn at Your move, Dickens - Amazing taste, great reviews.

There are so many others that are just awesome. When things in my life get crazy busy, the reason I keep up with this blog is you guys. I love the book blogging community and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

For more information about Book Blogger Ap
preciation Week or to participate in the events, visit their blog here.

New Feature: States Series

Friday, September 9, 2011


I decided I’m going to start a new weekly feature soon. I’m going to highlight one state each week and talk about good books to read that are set in that state or are a good representation of the culture there. I’m also going to list well-known authors from that state.

For years I’ve compiled lists of books from each state because I love reading about the places I’m traveling to. Before I go to a new country or city in the states, I try to find books that give me a taste of the atmosphere there. So I thought that might be something you guys would appreciate too.

So here’s my question for all of you…

What are some books that you think are great representations of a state? For example, I think there’s no better book to get a feel of small town Alabama than, To Kill a Mockingbird. What books come to mind for you guys?

Also, are there any authors that you associate with a specific state?

I’d love to hear what you think before I start this project.

Map from here.

Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen series

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I read both the Christy Miller series and the Sierra Jensen series when I was in junior high and early high school. I read them and re-read them and at 13, Robin Jones Gunn was probably my favorite author. I decided to re-read the first book in each series as an adult and it was such a treat. It was like returning to my adolescence for a moment.

Summer Promise
by Robin Jones Gunn
★★★★
A sweet Wisconsin farm girl, 14-year-old Christy Miller, spends the summer with her wealthy aunt and uncle in California. She struggles with wanting to be accepted by a new group of friends and feeling like she’s not good enough.

She has a crush on Todd, a surfer she met, but is receiving mixed signals from the laid back guy. Her beautiful new friend, Alissa, seems to have it all figured out and Christy wonders if she can emulate Alissa’s style. She quickly realizes that she can’t look to others to determine her self worth.

Only You, Sierra
by Robin Jones Gunn
★★★☆
After spending time on a mission trip in Europe, the free-spirited Sierra returns home to finish high school. The only problem is that home is no longer where she left it. Her entire family moved to Portland, Oregon and now Sierra must adjust to a new town and school.

Her preppy sister is fitting in, as are her younger brothers, but after her time away she can’t seem to find her footing. To top it off, the great guy she met on the plane on the way home seems to be popping up in her new life, but always at the wrong moment.

If I’d read them for the first time now, I’m sure I would have a completely different view. Christy is so innocent and she’s worried about all the silly things most teenagers focus on: making friends, a boy she has a crush on, fitting in, etc. Sierra’s problems also seem small in the big scheme of things. But the thing is, these books aren’t meant for adults, they’re for young teens and for that age, they’re a perfect fit. When you’re young your feelings seem like the most wonderful and awful things in the world. Reading about someone else who is going through the same things is incredibly reassuring. I’d definitely recommend these for anyone hoping to find a good series for young girls.

Wordless Wednesday: Munich

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Munich, Germany

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

Kafka was the Rage

Monday, September 5, 2011


Kafka was the Rage
A Greenwich Village Memoir
by Anatole Broyard
★★★

After World War II, Greenwich Village became the center of the bohemian revolution in America. Artistic twenty-somethings flocked to the New York neighborhood in droves. It drew them in the same way Paris had drawn their predecessors in the 1920s.

Broyard returned from serving in the war to find that the country had changed in his absence. He, like so many others, made his way to Greenwich, where he pursued his dream of opening a bookstore.

“Looking back at the late 1940s, it seems to me now that Americans were confronting their loneliness for the first time. Loneliness was like the morning after the war, like a great hangover. The war had broken the rhythm of American life, and when we tried to pick it up again, we couldn’t find it – it wasn’t there.”

The sense of loneliness the author speaks about is palpable in this book. He explores his odd relationship with a self-involved woman that seems to leave him feeling more alone when he’s with her than when he isn’t.

I liked a few passages from this memoir more than I liked it as a whole. It gave me a better picture of the history of Greenwich Village and I’m glad I read it before spending more time in the area, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a general read.

“To open a bookshop is one of the persistent romances, like living off the land or sailing around the world.”

“Books were our weather, our environment, our clothing. We didn’t simply read books; we became them. We took them into ourselves and made them into our histories. Books were to us what drugs were to young men in the sixties.”

Everything Beautiful Began After

Friday, September 2, 2011


Everything Beautiful Began After
by Simon Van Booy
★★★★☆

The paths of three strangers cross while they are living in Athens. First there’s Rebecca, an artist and former stewardess. Then there’s George, a student of ancient languages who has fallen for Rebecca, but can’t stop drinking. Finally we have Henry, an archeologist who is haunted by the guilt of his past.

Reading this book is like walking into a dream. I was immediately swept away by the beauty of Athens and intoxicating love of the characters. That same enchanting fog makes it a bit hard to find your footing at first, but once you do, hang on, because just when you think you see how the story is going to unfold, the floor falls out from beneath you.

The language in the book is just beautiful. I didn’t realize it until I’d finished it, that this is the author’s first novel. Yet despite that fact, he managed to craft a story that weaves threads of hope, despair, passion, grief and friendship so seamlessly that you’d swear he’s been doing it for decades.

This is one of those books that is impossible to talk about in detail without giving away important plot points. So instead, let me leave you with a few things.

First, I’m so glad I read this. It just felt profound and so very human.

Secondly, visit the Literate Housewife to read her lovely words about the book.

And finally, the book is filled with so many beautiful lines, here are just a few of my favorites…

"The ability to love Athens, like all love, lies not in the city but in the visitor."

"The love of a man is like a drop of color into something clear."

"Fate is for the broken, the selfish, the simple, the lost, and the forever lonely, a distant light that comes no closer, nor ever completely disappears."

Review eGalley provided by NetGalley

R.I.P. Challenge

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I have been reading about the R.I.P. Challenge since I started blogging almost two years ago. This is my first year to participate though. The challenge runs from Sept. 1 until Oct. 31, so there's plenty of time to fit in a few books.

Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the challenge for the sixth year and here are the details if you want to join in. There are lots of levels of participation, so check it out!

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Dark Fantasy/Gothic/Horror/Supernatural

I'm going to do the following challenge...

Peril the First:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (my very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be Stephen King or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming or Edgar Allan Poe…or anyone in between.

I think I'm going to try and read 4 of the following books...

1) The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
2) Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl
3) A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
4) The Stand by Stephen King
5) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
6) Wild Nights! by Joyce Carol Oates
7) The Night Watch or Affinity by Sarah Waters

Maybe Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs if I can get my hands on a copy. I also may add another book to that list if something brilliant comes along.

I can't wait to get started.