Saturday, November 28, 2009 7 comments By: Suzanne

My Plan

So I know you're just dying to know what my plan is. Unfortunately it has to do with books so if you were thinking something a little more sexy, SORRY!

Here's my plan: I'm going to re-read the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan starting today. Why, you may ask, since the rest of the series is yet to be finished? Because I figure by the time I get to the book that just came out, The Gathering Storm, the next book will be out and by the time the final book is released, I won't have forgotten more of the story than I remember (as is the case right now). Why do you think I might care if you know my plan? I don't think you do. I'm only putting it on my blog so I stick to it! I want to enjoy the last few books the way I enjoyed the first few and if I don't remember the story then I won't.

This means I probably won't be participating in the read along of The Lord of the Rings. Sorry guys!


I went to see 2012 last night. I am a sucker for disaster movies or anything starring John Cusack so this movie was pretty much made for me! ;)

I went into the theater with the full knowledge that the Mayans do NOT believe the world is going to end on the winter solstice of the year 2012 so I'm glad they didn't concentrate on this too long. It was inevitable that it would make an appearance since the name of the movie comes from this misconception. For those of you who still think the Mayans did believe this simply because that is the date their calendar ends I ask you this: Do you believe the world will end when the calendar on your wall ends? The Mayans were a civilization advanced in astronomy. Their calendars (yes, they had more than the one that ends in 2012) have many astrological phenomena in it and the lining up of the planets that is supposed to happen in 2012 is just one of them.

But I get off the subject. If you have not seen the movie, I apologize for any spoilers there may be in here. I will try to keep them as vague as possible.

The science in the movie is sketchy at best. The cause is supposed to neutrinos? By their very name neutrinos are neutral. Ok, so there is one little line in the whole movie that tries to explain this by saying that the solar flares are causing the neutrinos to be a different kind of molecule. BS. Sorry, but it is.

The one other thing that really bothered me about this is the ships they all get on at the end. The one John Cusack and his family get on is not able to start it's engines because the gate is open. What??!! What kind of F***ed up design flaw is this? I know it makes for more drama and high intensity but there are better more plausible ways to do this. Ok, so the gate is jammed because something is caught in the hydraulics. Well, it would seem more reasonable to me to say that they can start the engines but the turning mechanism is also jammed because it is a part of the same hydraulic system as the gate. Same high intensity drama that we get with coming up on the Everest, but better reason. I mean, seriously, does your car's engine not start if the door is open?

But other than these two minor problems I really liked the movie. Like I said, it was pretty much made for me! It was long and I like long movies. It had lost of things getting destroyed because mother nature was going crazy and I love a badass mother nature. It had lots of great acting. It had John Cusack, need I say more?
Friday, November 27, 2009 11 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: Vampire Diaries

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


I have eager players today! Of course, I did say I was going to post early for my overseas players but I should be forgiven, given that yesterday was our national day of gluttony (not unlike the rest of the year but this is government sanctioned) also known as the US Thanksgiving. This is day we pretend we were friends with the Natives that lived here before our European ancestors and give thanks for them saving us from starvation. As there is nothing I can do as a woman in the 21st century to remedy the situation, I also cook lots of food and give thanks for my many blessings (although I cook Tofurky - which is tasty, tasty, tasty. I got lots of praise for it).

Today I have brought my laptop into my bedroom to huddle under the electric blanket while I check emails and wait for the heater to warm up the house. It's actually getting cold here finally. So the closest to me is the book sitting on my night stand that I just finished last night, The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle. I read these in high school but wanted to again since the CW has made a new show of it. Yes, as I remember, the books are much better.

"Now you, Elena," Meredith pricked Elena's thumb efficiently, and then squeezed it to get a drop of blood.
Thursday, November 26, 2009 4 comments By: Suzanne

The Wedding Date: Audio

The Wedding Date by Elizabeth Young is another book made into a movie that I haven't seen yet and now know I will be disappointed when I finally do. I should really start watching the movies first!

"Dominic" was the little white lie thirty-and-still-unwed Sophy Metcalf told to soothe her nagging mother. But now her perfect sister Belinda is tying the knot and Sophy's going to have to produce the charming, successful, ideal boyfriend she invented...Desperate, she hires a male escort sight unseen to get her through the Nuptials from Hell.

Ok, yes, this is another chick-lit audio. I'm going to stop apologizing for them because they're simply going to keep coming. They're cheap and fairly entertaining on the drive to and from work. Last time I'll say that. Everyone's tired of me justifying why I'm reviewing a chick-lit book!

And...Yes, this is predictable. I could probably have told you what would happen in the book from simply reading the blurb. And yes, Sophy is another one of those women who never speaks up for herself, especially to her mother, which is why she gets in all these ridiculous scenarios. It seems that I see this more with British writers. Is it common for British women to be spineless and never tell the people around them what they're really thinking? Anyway, I enjoyed this because it's funny even with all that or maybe because of all that. Listening to these is like having Bridget Jones playing on the tv while I drive. Comforting and funny.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 0 comments By: Suzanne

The Constant Princess: Audio

The Constant Princess is not the first audio book by Philipa Gregory that I have listened to, but it is the first I have been disappointed in. Not because it wasn't a wonderful story (It is). Not because it wasn't well written (It is). And certainly not because Katherine of Aragon led an uninteresting life (No one could say that). But simply because of all the liberties Gregory takes with the historical part of her historical fiction. I know that she often twists parts of the history to make a more interesting plot but seriously why in the world would you have to twist anything in Katherine's story?

I didn't know much about this Queen. Often when people tell stories about the Tudor Court, it is starting with Henry's obsession with Anne Boleyn and his break from Roman Papacy. But this more than 20 years after Katherine and Henry were first wed and the fact that she was first married to his brother, who was supposed to be King, is fascinating enough without adding all the silly twists that I guess romance readers like to see. After I finished the book, I decided to look a little closer at Katherine's real history and see what I was missing, because I just felt this wasn't a complete picture. What I was looking for at first was what happened to her after Henry put her aside for Anne. No one really talks of this and neither did Gregory. I was surprised to learn that she lived in poverty for the last few years of her life, with few servants. She refused to be called Princess instead of Queen, holding to the belief that she was Henry's rightful wife until she died. It may be a good thing she only lived a few more years and didn't see the craziness that came after Anne. My point is, Gregory completely passes on telling this story. She ends her book with Katherine believing she will triumph in her opposition to Henry. It just made me sad knowing this wasn't true. It could have made an even better book to leave out the inaccuracies and then end the book with the proud Queen-now-Dowager Princess. I loved the fiery-ness of this Katherine, though. It is something that is rarely told but knowing her parents are Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, it's not only believable but plausible. Is it accurate? I don't know if that is something anyone could really know.

I would like to continue reading historical fiction. I enjoy the stories, even if the view points and thoughts of the characters have to be made up. That I don't mind. I got into the genre because I have always been fascinated by the story of Jane Grey and was thrilled when I read Alison Weir's Innocent Traitor. Now I'm a little turned off. Does anyone know who the good writers are? The ones who tell a good story without taking too many liberties with the history?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3 comments By: Suzanne

The Lovely Bones

I didn't realize that The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was about to have a movie made from it and be released next month until I already had this home. Don't ask me how I possibly could have missed it, since it not only has a picture from the movie on the cover but it also says, clear as day, at the top "NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE." I have no excuse for not knowing. I was simply unobservant. I guess to be fair I have to say that Weatherford, Texas is to blame. Yes, the entire town of Weatherford, Texas. If they had a decent bookstore (if they had ANY bookstore) in town, I wouldn't have to resort to Target and WalMart when I have a break and have finished my book. And if you've ever seen the selection of books at WalMart, you know it's depressing. I was just about to despair when I picked this up, read the back and thought "hmmm, could be good."

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her - her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief stricken family unraveling.

Obviously, the story is told by Susie after she dies. She is a heaven. Not the heaven, but her heaven. A place that is perfect as she believes should be perfect. There are people there that share her vision of heaven but they also have places they go that are solely for themselves, as Susie has her Gazebo. And there are people she never sees in her heaven, because their heaven is so completely different. I thought this was a wonderful way of describing how beautiful and perfect means different things to different people.

I was caught in Susie's story and her longing for her family that kept her from being to move on without them. We get to see her little sister experience things Susie never will and Susie's grief and eventual acceptance of this. Sebold's story is sad and joyful. It is a good sign if I can both laugh out loud and cry heavy tears while reading the same book.

Monday, November 23, 2009 6 comments By: Suzanne

The Angel's Game: Audio

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the story of David Martin, a young writer in Barcelona, Spain in the early part of the 20th century. Growing up in poverty to a father who could not read and disdained books, David eventually finds a small group a book lovers who encourage his desire to be a writer. Through the years he is contacted by a mysterious French publisher, Andreas Corelli, who wants David to write an even more mysterious book. He life, his home, and his friends all become suspect as he discovers exactly what he is supposed to write and the writers before him who have not been able to accomplish the task....

I was completely engrossed with this story and found myself often already home from my long drive without remembering the journey. I was intrigued by the mystery David finds himself in the middle of and kept discovering that what I had predicted would happen, didn't. And that always makes me gloriously happy. When an author sets up a storyline to go in one direction and misleads you into thinking it's going another, it doesn't matter what the genre: This is a good book. If that can be done well, the author deserves many prizes and much fame, both of which Zafon has received. I don't like being able to predict a story too soon, that makes it boring. When the moment of realization came for me near the end of this story, it was so stunning I actually had to turn the cd off and take a break from the book to digest what I had just learned. It came out of nowhere but made complete sense. Zafon had been setting it up all along but so carefully, it was so hidden, that I never saw it coming. Beautiful is all I can say.

If there is one thing that I have to criticize, that would be the pace of the first part of the book. Up until right before the start of Part 2, it is fairly slow. The early years of David's life and his interactions with Christina and Pedro are sometimes redundant. But for me, this was not enough to detract from the greatness of the book. Yes, I am pouring out the love of this book shamelessly. I even decided to wait a week before writing my review so I could try to write a more objective review. Not possible. Simply put, I loved this book. The only thing that happened with time to think on it, was that I came to like the ending. At first I felt cheated but as I put more time from when I listened to it, I grow to think it is the ONLY way it could have possibly ended. In Part 1, I was beginning to wonder if it was supposed to be a modern telling of Dracula, with David playing the part of Jonathan Harker. This may and may not have some validity but I won't say anymore on that. Sadly, the truth of Corelli is never told. We are left to make our own inferences. But I have an idea and I'll guess that I'm not far off.

Saturday, November 21, 2009 0 comments By: Suzanne

Short Stories: The Guy Not Taken

Short Story Saturdays

I listened to the audio version of the The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner in my car last week. Honestly, I didn't realize it was short stories until I popped it in my cd player and heard the beginning: "The Guy Not Taken, a collection of short stories by Jennifer Weiner" (or something to that affect). Huh, I thought, how did I not realize that when I bought it. Maybe because I just saw a cheap audio book and since cheap ones are hard to find I just grabbed it!

I actually enjoyed these stories(for the most part). I think Weiner may be a better writer of short stories than full novels. The stories are complete and you're left feeling fulfilled but you don't feel like she cheated at the end to get the girl with the guy and make a happily ever after as I usually feel after listening (because I've never read one) to one of her novels . I'm not sure what the process is when short stories are placed together in a book to decide which comes first but I'm not sure the order in this case does Weiner any favors for 2 reasons: 1. The first three stories are actually all about the same character at different times in her life and could have, with a little more flushing, been a full length novel. 2. They are not even close to the best stories in the book. The main character/narrator is not all that interesting either. I get very annoyed by characters that are what I see as "weak." I mean girls who never tell their mothers to back off or let the man treat them like shit just because they want a boyfriend. This is the narrator and for some reason a common character trait of girls in these chick-lit novels. I would actually like to hear the same stories told from her sister Nikki's point of view. Now THAT would make a great novel. Here's an example of Nikki from the story Travels with Nikki

My sister's earliest childhood memories were of torture. She talked frequently, nostalgically, about the happy days of her youth when she'd give John his bath and pour alternating pitchers of hot and cold water over his back. Never hot enough to burn him, just hot enough to make him extremely uncomfortable.

Swim, the story following this trilogy, is one of her better stories and why I think Weiner is a talented writer, even if I don't normally like the genre she writes. It's the story of a Hollywood screen writer learning to be comfortable with who she is and her place in the world. It does not have a happily ever after ending but I felt hopeful at the end even so and felt it was good in the way a short story should be, a complete story with good ending that doesn't leave you feeling as if it was simply the outlines of her next novel.

Good Men is the only story in this collection told from a man's point of view and on the audio is voiced by a man. This was a little jarring. Maybe when you're reading it's not so strange to go from 4 stories told by a woman to 1 told by a man but when you're listening and you have a certain voice in your head, it's very distracting. Also, I wasn't impressed with the story itself. A bunch of boys out on the town during a bachelor's party trying to figure out why anyone gets married and then they decided the problem in the narrator's relationship is the dog. The dog is evil so they plan to go kidnap it. Huh?

Buyer's Market is actually a great story but I didn't think so at first. I didn't like Jess, the narrator, for the simple reason that she's selling her beloved NYC apartment just so she can get the attention of her realtor. It's obvious to everyone but Jess that this down-on-his-luck realtor is playing her so her can get the commission on her apartment ("a weak character again" is what I thought). I ended up liking the story as it has one of those rare moments when you can see the change in a character. The moment when you get to see how her whole life could have been very different if she had not had this moment. It kind of reminds me of Sliding Doors in that way, a movie I love.

The Guy Not Taken is a new look at a common theme both in movies and books: what would my life be like if I had done this ONE thing different. Our narrator is Marlie and one night while at home with her baby she stumbles onto her ex-boyfriend's wedding registry. On a lark she logs in as him, knowing his passwords are always the same, and changes the name of the bride to her own. The next moment the computer shuts down and she is not able to change it back. She wakes up the next day with no baby, in her old apartment, next to her ex and getting ready for their engagement party...
It was interesting if cliche. Though I thought it didn't feel complete at the end.

The Mother's Hour was, for me, the best story in this book. Unfortunately, being an "abridgement" there were three stories from the book not in this audio version so I can't say that for sure but it was well written and a beautiful story about the friendship between two very different women, Alice and Victoria, and their children that develops when they both go to a Mother's Hour group. The group sounds like a cross between baby's playtime and group counseling session for moms. Not sure exactly what kind of group it was supposed to be but the defining moment for the group comes when one of the mother's wrongly reports Victoria for child abuse.

Check this out. You will not be disappointed.
Friday, November 20, 2009 3 comments By: Suzanne

Thanks for the 56!

I simply want to say thanks to everyone who plays the 56 with me each week. It is this meme that has kept my blog going when I was feeling depressed recently and didn't want to do anything. For some reason I felt compelled to at least continue posting this meme since I knew people were playing. And now that I am ready to come back to my blog and post as I was before, I still have readers to come back to! I was looking at my stats for my page counter and noticed an interesting trend. Although I do have readers on my reviews there is a NOTICEABLE difference on Fridays when I post the 56. Just to show what I mean, here are the numbers for the last two weeks:

28, 5, 9, 5, 13, 11, 20, 30, 17, 15, 9, 8, 6, 7, 26

The three largest numbers are the last 3 Fridays! And I'm pretty sure the reason there were 20 views last Thursday is because I post the 56 early. I'm so glad this is such a hit and all of you who are reading and not playing: COME JOIN US! I know you're out there because I did not have 26 comments today!

What did I do to you?

In keeping with sometimes (rarely I must admit) telling my own stories on my Storytime blog instead of simply reviewing books, I wanted to share with everyone this heart wrenching video by John Schneider (if you're thinking I know that name...who? remember Bo and Luke Duke...) in which he describes his moment of awakening. It is just him and the camera for more than three minutes and it is beautiful.

Anyone who has had a similar awakening will recognize this moment. The harm our society is causing by choosing to remain ignorant is great. And I do believe these people are choosing to remain ignorant. They don't want to know how the animals are suffering because they simply want easy food. They choose to believe they are not harming anyone but I believe they are harming themselves and I feel sad for them as well as for the animal (though more sad for the animal) because they are taking that negative energy into their bodies every time they eat. Remember, we are what we eat and since vegetables will not grow in bad conditions, I know that I eat sunlight and love.

Friday 56: Dogs

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


I let down my overseas players and forgot to post yesterday! Sorry! It's been a crazy week here in Denton. My friend's dogs have been missing since Monday and they've been spotted near the square twice; once actually ON the square (which is pretty busy here in town with the courthouse and lots of bars and restaurants) playing and chasing each other. They're having grand adventure apparently and must not be ready to go home! We went out last night looking for them again with no luck. Everyone keep thinking good thoughts for Hannah that Puck and Lily will come home soon!

This week's selection comes from The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

"Backwards? I asked.
"No, just listen to it the right way. I'll tell you when to stop."

Ok, it's been awhile since my 56 was boring. I added the line before and after to make it HALFWAY interesting. Have fun!
Sunday, November 15, 2009 1 comments By: Suzanne

City Of Ashes

This is the second installment of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. I have to say that I was not as impressed with the second book as I was the first. I enjoyed it well enough but I felt it was lacking the passion of the first book.

In this book we see a newly eyes-open Clary trying desperately to hold on to her old world while learning how to be a part of the one she has been thrust into. Now that she knows the truth of her family's past and how she is more a part of the Shadowhunter world than she ever would have imagined, she is simply more confused than ever. She is also finding that her relationship with her long time best friend Simon is becoming something more while her heart still belongs to Jace, even though she knows it is impossible.

I think what bothered me about this book (besides it's lack of passion) is that it was so damned predictable.

WARNING! SPOILERS! Except for the whole Simon becoming a vampire thing, everything that happens was not only predictable but kind of dull. Yeah, yeah Valentine is the bad guy. Got it. Yeah, yeah Jace is torn between wanting to be close to his father and wanting to do the right thing. But is he really? It would have been more interesting if Jace actually did turn to Valentine's side, even if briefly. And we're supposed to believe that Valentine just let him leave after revealing all his plans to Jace and Jace turned down his offer? Valentine didn't do a thing to stop him? He's simply so confident that his plan can't fail that he tells his son everything and when Jace basically says "Go to hell," Valentine says, "Sorry you feel that way, have a nice life." Ok, whatever. Of course, none of this is told in the book. We see Jace giving Valentine his answer and then next time we see him he's fine and dandy coming back through the door. And never does he seem to have a crisis of belief. If it is because what I believe will be the big reveal (think Star Wars in reverse) that Jace is NOT Valentine's son, then it really doesn't make sense. If Jace is his son, then Valentine has every reason to either keep him there until he chages his mind or make sure he isn't able to even try to stop his plan from happening. If he's not his son, then why bother with the charade in the first place?

Even so I did enjoy the story. I think Clare is a talented writer but she needs more practice. Maybe more time between books to iron out some kinks. Make it a little more interesting. Why is it in all these newer YA books the line between good and evil is so easily defined? Maybe I remember wrong but I remember the Christopher Pike and L.J. Smith books I read as a teenager being much more conflicting. Sometimes good turned out to be the last person you expected and evil wore the face of good. People are not so black and white. I think part of the problem is that the books are being churned out so fast no one is giving them the time they need.

I feel a little invested in the story now and I do enjoy Clare's writing so I will read the next book. I do think I know what's going to happen, at least part of it. I'll go ahead and place my predictions here:

1. Jace and Clary are in fact NOT related and all the secret "I want you but it's forbidden" talk will not be so disgusting on a second read through.

2. Maia and Simon will develop a relationship and bring together their two species in love. OR they will both be ostracized for breaking the centuries old feud between vampires and werewolves (more likely, the first was sarcasm if you couldn't tell)

3. The big reveal will be that the reason Simon is able to go into the sunlight is because he drank Jace's blood, which leads to the next...

4. Jace really is Wayland's son as he was raised to believe, bred under the direction of Valentine to make sure he has more Angel blood than most Shadowhunters. OR he is Stephen's son (the son of the Inquisitor who saved Jace's life) and the real reason Valentine wanted Stephen to remarry was to bring together two Shadowhunters who would make a child with more Angel blood than most Shadowhunters. Or something like that. I'm thinking some kind breeding program like the one from Dark Angel that we never got to see the conclusion of.

5. Clary really is Valentine's daughter and she also has special powers due to the same breeding program.

6. And of course there is some new Mortal Instrument passed down from the angels that the Clave is not strong enough to protect from 1 man. (What good are these people?) It will give Valentine unlimited power but he will be prevented at the very last minute from using it to it's full potential.
Saturday, November 14, 2009 1 comments By: Suzanne

Short Stories: Dreams

Short Story Saturdays

Hey look, I got stories up two Saturdays in a row! Let's see if I can keep this up!

I am continuing the stories from Stephen King's Just After Sunset. I have really enjoyed these stories so I've read them fairly fast and want to share them all with you. Hopefully soon I'll get back to the Orson Scott Card book of stories.

This is from Harvey's Dream

As Janet makes deviled eggs one morning, she notices her husband Harvey sitting at the kitchen table, looking old and disheveled. He is not normally like this but it haunts her to see him this way every weekend, as if it foretells the future. Harvey begins to tell her of his dream, a nightmare really. As he talks, Janet becomes increasingly scared. He describes looking out the window to see a dent in the neighbor's car, which Janet noticed this morning. He describes opening the fridge to see a plate of deviled eggs made and ready to eat. He describes noticing his shadow in the bright sunlight, which "never looked so bright or thick," just the way Janet had thought of his shadow before he began talking. And then Harvey talks about what scared him in the dream...

From Rest Stop

John Dykstra is a famous writer but no one who knows him knows this. This is because he uses a pen name, Rick Hardin. He is contemplating just where he and his alter-ego separate as he pulls into a rest stop one night. He hears the unmistakable sounds of a woman being beat by her boyfriend in the bathroom. He is struck paralyzed by the indecision of what to do until he realizes he doesn't have to do anything as John Dykstra but he CAN do something as Rick Hardin.

I haven't made comments on these so far because to say over and over again that I liked them would be redundant. It's much more fun to describe them and let you decide, but I didn't like Rest Stop. I felt it was dull and pointless and I didn't like the "hero."
Thursday, November 12, 2009 17 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: Prophecy

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week's selection comes from Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. I first saw this book a couple months ago and was going to wait until it came out in paperback but it just looked so good I couldn't wait.

When Mr. Douglas's shop comes into sight, I see Miss Gray, standing outside and speaking harshly to James and Mrs. Bacon.

Prophecy of the Sisters

I saw this book by Michelle Zink at Barnes and Noble when it first came out in August. I was intrigued by the story but wanted to wait until it came out in paperback as there are only so many hardbacks I can afford! (Why oh why do they make them so expensive?) However, when I went to the store the other day to get a specific book and discovered they didn't have it, I picked this up instead. I was surprised to find it sitting in the Young Adult section of the store. The cover of the book didn't scream YA to me, especially since most of the stuff being put out in the YA section lately is pure manure (Twilight anyone).

From the author's website (as I gave the book to my sister and can't give you the cover's blurb):

An ancient prophecy divides two sisters.
One good.
One evil.
Only one will prevail…

Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become fierce enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in an age-old battle that could have consequences of biblical proportions.

Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust. They just know they can't trust each other.

The storyline itself is not something especially new but I was interested anyway by the book cover and the idea that these sisters are simply pawns in a prophecy that they may or may not even be aware of. Another surprise for me was the time period. I didn't expect a Victorian era setting from the blurb or the cover. When you're expecting modern and get Victorian that can be a bit of a jolt but it works for this book. I don't think a story like this could be told with the modern conveniences of Google. It would be way too easy to side step some fairly important discoveries. Also, the most interesting character in the book, Sonia, is a spiritualist. Spiritualists were a big thing in the Victorian era. People were in love with the idea of spiritualists and they were pretty much a dime a dozen (and mostly frauds). Sonia is not a fraud and she leads Lia through her strange and developing abilities.

For the most part I adored this book. I thought the writing was beautifully done and succinct. Except for one part where I felt Zink took too long letting her characters catch up with what the reader knew for awhile (i.e. the mystery of the Keys - that I am not revealing here), she doesn't talk down to her audience. Too often that is what happens in books written for children and young adults. The adults writing them forget that young people are not stupid (ah-hem, Meyer) and don't need to be led by the hand to understand a plot line. Zink wrote as one might for any mature audience, which makes me glad I found this book and anxious for the next one.

Found Just Now

So being a fan of The Wheel of Time series I should probably have known that the latest book came out a few weeks ago. I should have known that the book I've been waiting for 4 years to be published has been finally released. You would think. However, considering I was under the impression that it wasn't coming out until December of NEXT YEAR I wasn't even really thinking about it. I'm not even sure what made me think of it today but I thought, I'll see what the progress is. And BOOM there it was. Released Oct 27. You can get all the news on this series at Dragonmount, pretty much the most comprehensive site on The Wheel of Time.

For those of you who don't know, Robert Jordan died last year before he could finish A Memory of Light (the original title for the final novel). Shortly afterward, it was announced that Brandon Sanderson would be contracted to finish the novel using Jordan's notes. As upset as I was that someone else would be writing it, I was still pleased it would be finished. You would think knowing that it has FINALLY come out would make me ecstatic but it doesn't and this is why: it's no longer one book called A Memory of Light. It is now going to be 3 books and this The Gathering Storm is the first of that final series within the series. It's being passed as a creative decision and not a monetary one. I say BS. Why do I say BS? Not because I believe they really did it for the money but because I think it's the final F-You to Terry Goodkind. If you're not a fan of the series this will seem a little off base to you but there was a kind of rivalry between the two authors. I don't know if it was real or made up by their fans. What I do know is that Jordan's fans saw Goodkind as a cheap imitation. I like both series' but I kind of see their point. A lot of the plot points in Goodkind's series were an obvious imitation of ones from Jordan's. When Jordan announced he had a rare disease, shortly afterward Goodkind did too. Now I'm wondering who's decision it was to make the final book three instead of one. Dragonmount explains it and I'll repost for you:

Why did they split "A Memory of Light" into three parts?
As stated above, before he died, Robert Jordan frequently said that he intended to write just ONE more WoT novel, entitled A MEMORY OF LIGHT, which would conclude the series. The decision to take his remaining notes and publish them as three novels was ultimately something Harriet annd Brandon thought was best in order to properly tell the story.

Before Brandon had posted that article, we asked Harriet that same question in an interview we did with her in March 2009, right when the news about the split started to come out. Here's what she said:

The material that Jim left was very capacious, and Brandon saw after working with it for a while that he could not complete it in less than a total of 750,000 words. This is probably an impossible thing to bind - unless we sold it with a magnifying glass. 250,000 words is in fact a fat, or Rubensesque, novel. You will notice that 3 x 250,000 equals 750,000. So... part of the decision was based on making a book within the scope of binding technology. The major part of the decision was to get ALL the story that Jim left out there for us all.

On his blog, Brandon Sanderson said:

I'll be honest, this is a big, big project. I stand by one promise to you, no matter what else happens. I will NOT artificially inflate the size of this book. It doesn't matter to me how many volumes Tor decides to make it; the story is the same to me. One volume, as Robert Jordan planned it. Enormous.

Why would I not believe all these people who apparently only want what Jordan originally intended? Because Goodkind's final story was told in a trilogy of books.

And that's my story.

Added later: Ok, and that's not all. I guess I should say (because it's only fair) that all the reviews of the novel so far seem to be more than favorable. Dragonmount did theirs early (no surprise). I found a good review (objective, not completely favorable) through the blog search engine on Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. One I might start following. I don't follow enough fantasy bloggers and I definitely feel my difference in my little world!
Sunday, November 8, 2009 2 comments By: Suzanne

Best Friends Forever

Here I go reviewing another chick-lit book. They are so perfect for listening to while driving. I hate driving and they take me away and make me laugh. I have come to believe that sometimes fluff is good, even if I would be bored just sitting on my couch reading it. It's not boring listening.

Jennifer Weiner's book Best Friends Forever is the story of childhood friends Addie and Valerie who have not spoken to each other since senior year of high school. On the night of their 10 year reunion, Valerie unexpectedly drops by Addie's house in need of her help. Though suspicious and (still) angry, Addie is also secretly delighted that her best friend has come back to her.

I found Addie to whiny and Valerie to be vapid and the situation slightly unbelievable which by themselves could have made this book get an F from Miss Tonya but together made the story funny and diverting on my boring drive. I suggest if you like this genre of books go out and read right away. You will not be disappointed. Except I was. The end was a big let down. Weiner had this great story and this funny relationship between her two characters and it's obvious she spent a lot of time deciding which direction to go next: make it a little more crazy or give the reader a breather for a minute. She even came up with a great ending. The problem was she kept going after the book should have ended. I guess she wanted to have the "happily ever after" ending where everyone gets what they want and the girl gets the awesome boy and everyone kisses and is "happy." This ending just rang hollow and I wish she hadn't tried to do that. Sometimes as a reader I like a little bit of a vague future that I can picture for myself.
Saturday, November 7, 2009 0 comments By: Suzanne

Short Stories: Willa

Short Story Saturdays

I know I promised short stories every Saturday and haven't delivered. I have no excuse, really, but work and simply not feeling like it! These are from Stephen King's book of stories, Just After Sunset. So far, I'm really enjoying the stories in it, except for one that I think fell far short of Stephen King's genius. With that said, I feel like a lot of these stories were actually the first few chapters of some possibly great books but I don't think he recaptured the magic of short story telling like he thought he did. They all felt cut off and short stories might be short but they should be complete. There really isn't much to say about each of these stories without completely giving away everything so I'll give you two today.

The first is Willa.

The story is told through the eyes of Willa's fiancee, David. He is looking for her and asking everyone around the train station where he is if they have seen her. It's obvious these people have gotten to know each other pretty well as he walks around the station and you begin to wonder just how long they have been waiting for their train. Nothing is immediately odd as he walks out of the station to find her except how anxious everyone seems that he stay and wait for the train even though Willa may miss it. Once he finds her, Willa convinces David to see the world as it really is, how it has been for a long time for them only and they go back to the train station to show everyone there too...

Next up is The Gingerbread Girl

This is the story of Emily, who has taken up running after the death of her baby. Not just everyday, simple jogging to clear your mind and get exercise, but full out, the monster is after me, running. And she does it several times a day. Her husband sees it as an obsession. This causes a rift in the already unstable marriage. Emily goes to her father's beach house in Florida get some space and freedom to run. While there she encounters the crazy neighbor....
Thursday, November 5, 2009 21 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: Sunset

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week I'm reading a book of short stories by Stephen King, Just After Sunset. This selection is from the story "The Gingerbread Girl," which I really liked.

There was no time to waste congratulating herself, and not just because she might hear the Pillbox's front door open anytime. She had other problems.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 2 comments By: Suzanne

Mystic River

It's been awhile since I've posted a review a book. I believe the last one was Golden City and even then I had not blogged about a many books for awhile before that. I'm going to post a few over the next few days so don't start running virus scans wondering if I was infected with a blogging virus and you will be next. This is for real.

Mystic River is probably the most widely known book by Dennis Lehane. I know I hadn't read anything by him before this and I'm not sure I would have if it wasn't for the movie that came out a few years ago with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins (two of my favorite actors ever). Oddly enough I don't really remember much about the movie, except something terrible happened to one of the boys when he was young, there's a dead girl, and maybe the two are connected somehow. You'd think a movie like this with these wonderful actors would have made a bigger impression. I do know that I liked it a lot, enough to think maybe I'd try reading the book.

Apparently, Dennis Lehane is known for writing crime dramas. I don't know why this surprised me, since that's basically what Mystic River is, but I have a vision in my head of crime drama books and it's not a good one. It usually involves some cop or private investigator with a terrible personal life, going through some horrible shit of his own while he investigates a terribly boring murder of a young girl that I solved in the first 30 pages. Except for the last part, Mystic River on the surface fits that to a tee. It's all the underlying factors and relationships that make this book so much more than that. I would have placed this book not with mysteries and crime dramas, but with general fiction. If you could categorize the large general fiction section down I might place this book with ones by Wally Lamb and Jodi Picoult. It's the relationships between people that is the draw for me and Mystic River has those relationships knocking into each other on every page.

At the heart of the novel are three boys: Jimmy, Sean, and Dave. When they are 11 years old, Dave is kidnapped by two child molesters while playing with Jimmy and Sean. This incident is a constant factor in their lives for many years, even after they are grown with children of their own. When they are in their 30s, Jimmy's daughter is brutally murdered and Sean is the lead investigator on the case. Jimmy and Dave are now related through marriage and the three men are thrust together again by this tragedy.

You could not find three more different men than Jimmy, Sean, and Dave and if circumstances had not brought them together, I doubt any of them would be friends with the other. We all have these people in our lives, people who are friends simply because they were around when we were children or because we see them everyday at work. In a different situation, we wouldn't have two words to say to each other outside of everyday stranger-small-talk (which I personally hate and don't do very well as a consequence). It seemed to me these men would have made a fascinating story without the death and search for a killer. It almost felt as if the murder investigation was the secondary story to the interaction of these childhood friends. And that makes a good book no matter what the genre.