Monday, August 31, 2009

Carlsbad, San Diego Vacation Info – August 2009

Finally, I have gotten together a few bits of info to post about our “mini vacation” to Southern CA. Although it was a couple of weeks ago it was still a breath of fresh air – literally!

Here is the travel book that we used:


Book Stats:

National Geographic Traveler San Diego

Published February 1st 2003 by National Geographic

Binding Paperback, 272 pages

ISDN 0792269330 (isbn13: 9780792269335)

Thoughts about this book:

This was a useful book with clear maps, directions, nice pictures, and listings for each area in San Diego County. Very helpful and recommended. It is not too big so, it is easily carried. I would give it 3 Stars.

About the Trip:

We enjoyed ourselves a lot. The temperatures in Carlsbad were lovely – high 70s low 80’s. The air was moist from the nearby ocean. This is a big deal compared to the Phoenix AZ area which has humidity level typical of less than 10%. That is dry.

Carlsbad is a city on the coast slightly North of the actual city of San Diego, and within San Diego County. We prefer to stay away from hotels whenever possible, so we rented a little apartment. It was the price of a hotel room plus the added advantages of a kitchen. Here is Coastal Casitas the actual place that we stayed with an ocean view from the bedroom and living room. Small, cute, near the beach, and a few blocks walk from a bunch of restaurants and shops. It was an ideal location. I would have to say on the negative that the bathroom had a dirty shower curtain with smelly mold and there where very loud construction workers in the neighbor’s back yard at 7:30 every morning. Lucky we are early risers. It did in no way ruin the trip. Just a smelly and noisy annoyance.

Linked here of two sites that I use when traveling. They give you info on finding condo/apartment/home rentals in the US. Vacation Rental by Owners and Home Away. I have had great luck with many sites like this.

Here is a picture I took of the access to the beach 1 block away from the triplex.


We found a beautiful park to hike that was also on seaside. It was called Torrey Pines State Park and it had a maze of trails on the bluffs, and if you chose you to you can walk down to a more private beach – there are a lot of people around. We walked for about four miles on the trails and are seen here taking a break. John and myself and our new profile pictures:

DSCN0654 DSCN0657

I cook a lot, but on vacation I get to go on hiatus. Yippee! We had several lovely meals within walking distance of the triplex where we stayed. If interested you can read my short reviews here at Yelp for a couple of restaurants which may be helpful if you ever visit the area.

Norte Mexican Restaurant ; Le Passage French Bistro ; Jay’s Gourmet Pizza and Seafood ; Branci’s Caldo Pomodoro ; The Daily News Cafe

When “the husband” was at his meeting I had the day to myself. It was very nice. There is a local used book store called Fahrenheit 451 (excellent name and linked here with Yelp.) I spent several very enjoyable hours there – absolute heaven. I purchased four books that I will list and link here under this picture. One I bought in the airport. Each book title is linked to Goodreads for more information. Purchasing info will be available in the book carousels below.


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – an award winning mystery from Canada about a little girl sleuth whom has an interest in poison. I purchased it in the Phoenix airport and it is a signed copy.

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn – a historical fantasy set in feudal Japan, which is the first in a series. I have been wanting to read this for a while and took a test “which fantasy author are you” and was told I am her. It is posted here. You can take the test too. If you do please post me the link.

Lost Horizon by James Hilton – the classic novel of Shangri-La. Gotta have some utopia reading to balance the dystopia and post apocalyptic reads on my list.

Hiroshima by John Hersey – a journalistic approach to what happened when the atomic bomb was dropped in Japan. I read it in high school and it affected me a great deal. I would like to read it again and then review it. It is only available in the US at Amazon in audio book format.

The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold – a fantasy written by a typically SF author who has written The Miles Vorkosigan series. I am really enjoying this series so thought I would give this a try.

And to end this post some more pictures of the beautiful San Diego coast.

La Jolla – a very exclusive and beautiful area.





The stereotypical Southern California shot of palm trees also in La Jolla.


Last a bird of paradise, not a native species but appropriately named for the area and growing everywhere.


Amazon links are below in the widgets with country in left hand corner.

Review by JD: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Review written by JD – the husband


Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

ISBN: 978-0-06-051519-5

Pages 384; paperback

HarperCollins, 2005

Oh dear. This seems to be a book that loads of people love, and the cover and opening pages are full of glowing reviews. I must say that I do like it; I’m just not crazy about it. I certainly see all the qualities that others refer to and I enjoyed reading it, but it just wasn’t one of those “wow” books for me. And that probably says more about me than it does about the book. If I had to use just one word to describe the book, it would be whimsical, and that’s not really my thing.

What’s it about? A guy’s estranged old father dies, while karaoke singing no less, and through some old and odd acquaintances he gets to find out that his dad was actually a god, and a very mischievous god at that. With the “help” of those add acquaintances he also founds out for the first time that he has a brother, who mysteriously shows up on his doorstep. After that, his whole world gets turned upside down and inside out, and he embarks on an odyssey to try and return things to some form of normality.

There are lots of things to enjoy about the book. It’s a clever and very cute story, intertwining fantasy with everyday life. It’s full of humor and laced with a few dashes of scary stuff. The characters range from the engaging to the awful; actually some are both. He has a very engaging writing style and it’s an entertaining read. I blew through it quickly, often finding myself smiling as I did so. And it does have the best description of a hangover that I have ever read!

Still, for me personally it’s a three–star book, though I certainly see why many rate it more highly.

P.S. I have to mention the most amazing coincidence. Just two weeks ago I finished reading The Terror by Dan Simmons, which is a very different type of book. Something truly awful and extremely unusual happens to the lead character in The Terror, and I’ll be darned if the same thing didn’t also happen to one of the lead characters in the Anansi Boys. I can’t say anything more without spoiling it, but this was one those weird one-in-a-million coincidences that just blow you away. This will form the basis for a great question in a book quiz one day. ;)

Amazon purchasing information is linked below – US/UK/Canada respectively

Anansi Boys/ Anansi Boys/ Anansi Boys

Friday, August 28, 2009

Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy


Book Stats from Goodreads:

Published September 26th 2006 by Knopf

Binding Hardcover - 241 pages

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction (2006), The National Book Critics (2006)

ISBN: 0307265439    (isbn13: 9780307265432)

Mini Synopsis:

An unnamed man and his boy are faced with trying to survive on a post apocalyptic earth. The cause of this is alluded to but never fully explained. They are traveling on a road toward the coast in the futile hope of finding sustenance – food, clean water, life, and like minded companionship. Their world is ashen, and no other life exists except a few wandering survivors and bands of lawless thugs. Resources are scarce since it is apparently years after the actual event and most have been already used by the remaining survivors. As they struggle and travel theirs becomes a story of horror, familial love, sadness, and an almost impossible hope for survival.

My Thoughts:

I rated it unusually – it swings bluntly between 2.5 stars and 4.5 – on balance it it 3.5 stars.

For the highest rating of this swing I gave The Road, I can say It was incredible. I felt such strong emotions as I read this book. As I read I felt the loss, pain, and horror. It left an empty feeling deep in the pit of my stomach - very real. The writing flows and is broken up into small sections making it easier to digest since it has a heart wrenching effect. Most importantly, I found myself thinking about it as during the day.

The problem that I had with this book was that within the simple text and realistic dialog between son and father, there were little sections of which were impossible for me to understand. Small and short as they were - they appeared to be describing very intense emotions. I just did not “get these little bits”. Feeling a little dense - I even read them to my husband and he expressed the same perspective. (Because of this he probably will not read the book.)

In Summary I recommend this book, if you can overlook the parts that I am describing, or perhaps you will not notice them at all. I seldom give above a 4 star rating so parts of the book are exceptional.

On another positive note it is now out in paper back, should be available used at second hand stores everywhere, and not so hot off the press that  you can get it at your local library.

Amazon Purchasing information linked below respectively. US/UK/Canada

The Road (Oprah's Book Club)/ The Road/ The Road (Oprah's Book Club)

Preview: A Map of Home – A Novel by Randa Jarrar


I received this book from Penguin for review. Thank you Gabrielle!

Book Stats from Penguin:

Paperback | 8.26 x 5.23in | 304 pages | ISBN 9780143116264 | 25 Aug 2009 | Penguin | 18 - AND UP

Publishers blurb:

From America to the Middle East and back again— the sparkling story of one girl’s childhood, by an exciting new voice in literary fiction
In this fresh, funny, and fearless debut novel, Randa Jarrar chronicles the coming-of-age of Nidali, one of the most unique and irrepressible narrators in contemporary fiction. Born in 1970s Boston to an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, the rebellious Nidali—whose name is a feminization of the word “struggle”—soon moves to a very different life in Kuwait. There the family leads a mildly eccentric middle-class existence until the Iraqi invasion drives them first to Egypt and then to Texas. This critically acclaimed debut novel is set to capture the hearts of everyone who has ever wondered what their own map of home might look like.

Publicist’s thoughts:

A MAP OF HOME is a humorous, non-stereotypical story about growing up as an Arab girl both in the Middle East and in America and closely mirrors Randa’s life.  Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt – following the 1990 Iraqi invasion – and her family’s last flight to Texas.

Praise for the Novel:

“ [An] extraordinary debut . . . Jarrar’s lack of sentimentality, and her wry sense of humor, make Home a treasure.”
People (four stars)

A Map of Home will leave you laughing out loud.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Randa Jarrar takes all the sappy, beloved clichés about ‘where you hang your hat’ and blows them to smithereens in her energizing, caustically comic debut novel.”
The Christian Science Monitor

Author Bio:


Randa Jarrar was born in Chicago in 1978. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved back to the U.S. at thirteen. She is a writer and translator whose honors include the Million Writers Award, the Avery Hopwood and Jule Hopwood Award and the Geoffrey James Gosling Prize. Her fiction has appeared in Ploughshares as well as in numerous journals and anthologies. Her translations from the Arabic have appeared in Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers; recently, she translated Hassan Daoud’s novel, The Year of the Revolutionary New Bread-Making Machine. She currently lives in Austin, Texas. A Map of Home is her first novel.

Visit the author online here. Author interview at Penguin is at this link. Goodreads link here.

Amazon purchasing information linked respectively below US/UK/Canada

A Map of Home: A Novel/ A Map of Home/ A Map Of Home

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Preview: Playing House – A Novel by Fredrica Wagman

I have just received a copy of Fredrica Wagman’s Playing House – A Novel from Julie Harabedian from FSB Media. Thank you Julie!

I have recently read and reviewed another of her books linked here  The Lie – A Novel. Playing House is apparently along the same lines – dark and with incest as an underlying theme. It is also a thin novel, with a lovely cover.


Book Stats:

Playing House - A Novel
By Fredrica Wagman
Published by Zoland Books - May 2008

ISBN 978-1-58195-225-4

Publisher’s Blurb:

When Playing House appeared in 1973, Publishers Weekly hailed it, "A probing descent into madness that will fascinate the same audience that appreciated I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." This nationally bestselling story of one woman’s struggle with the lasting effects of a childhood sexual relationship with her brother shocked American readers; it remains a literary work of enduring quality and value. In his foreword Philip Roth writes, "The traumatized child; the institutionalized wife; the haunting desire; the ghastly business of getting through the day -- what is striking about Wagman's treatment of these contemporary motifs is the voice of longing in which the heroine shamelessly confesses to the incestuous need that is at once her undoing and her only hope."

Author Bio:
Fredrica Wagman is the author of six previous novels. She has four grown children and lives with her husband in New York City.

For more information about the author visit Fredrica Wagman’s website.

Amazon Purchasing Links for Playing House are below – US/UK/Canada

Playing House: A Novel/ Playing house/ Playing House: A Novel

Review and author interview coming soon.

Preview: Serena – A Novel by Ron Rash

9780061470851 9780061470844

I subscribe to a great book review site, that I recommend, called It’s not a free site but the fee is nominal. I believe it is 9 dollars every three months, which is $3.33 per month. Among other things they have in depth reviews, author interviews, and extra information and links regarding the subjects that are related to the book – historical information, subjects related to the book are given in depth explanations, and also author info; all in a box to the side of the publisher's blurb and misc reviews. They have a program where you can request books, but are required to post your thoughts to the site once they send you a copy. They have a definitive amount to give away so you are not guaranteed a book. I requested this book and they have sent me and copy of the hardback. Apparently the softbound will be released next month. The above pics are of the hardback and the soft back from left to right. I prefer the softbound cover.

I also have a reliable friend on Goodreads whom gave the book five stars, so I am looking forward to reading this book.

Hardcover Book Stats are from Goodreads:

October 1st 2008 by Ecco

Hardcover, 371 pages

ISBN 0061470856    (isbn13: 9780061470851)

Here is the Publisher's Book Description:

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Rash's masterful balance of violence and beauty yields a riveting novel that, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed.

About the Author from Harper Collins:

Ron Rash is the author of three prize-winning novels: One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and two collections of stories. A recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University.


Here is a link to read inside the book at Harper Collins – Inside Serena

Amazon links are posted below and are -  US/UK/Canada

Serena: A Novel (P.S.)/ Serena/ Serena: A Novel

Preview: The World According to Twitter by David Pogue


When I was asked to review this book by Caitlin Price from FSB Media (thank you Caitlin!), I was hesitant. I thought I’m not sure I really like this twittering stuff.  What with my failed attempt to set it up here on Layers of Thought. With a total of 3 posts - two saying “still trying to figure twitter out”, and one with a quiz stating “which author I am” – which I found on a link from  J. Kaye’s book blog on facebook. When she tweeted me back - I lamely could not figure out how to answer. After a few tries I gave up and had a glass of wine – perhaps two.

Later, I thought how can I as a new blogger turn down an offer to review a book that is so connected to an aspect of communication which is connected to blogging? I decided to accept the book and became determined to think about my objections to Twitter and  their reasons.

These are the reasons I have came up with:

  • I believe that this mode of communication is for people who like to chat. I am not a chatter. When in a simple conversation I have to force myself to think of something to say. And often its something like “Wow, Cool, Awesome….” etc.
  • Being connected to a phone and a tiny key pad all day and being constantly interrupted  is not a good thing for a person like me. Ask my husband - I am very easily distracted and am off on another tangent in a flash, leaving what I once was doing left to be found again several days later.
  • I am so busy trying to figure this blog out that to add one more technological thing to the mix and I may just go over the figurative edge.
  • All that said and being a realistic person perhaps my block around twitter may be based in ignorance. Truly - I have a little idea of what twitter is, but perhaps that is not enough. Lets see if I can become enlightened.

Book Stats:

The World According to Twitter

 2,524 Crowd-Sourced Tweets about Life, the Universe, and Other Pertinent Stuff: First-Kiss Stories, Spam from the Future, and Proposals for the 11th Commandment

By David Pogue
Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; August 2009
ISBN 978-1-57912-827-2

Caitlin the book’s publicist describes the book here:

This one of a kind book gives the reader insight into the grand social networking experiment in which tens of thousands of voices have come together to produce a humorous, thought-provoking record of shared human experience.

Book Blurb:

David Pogue asks. The Twitterverse responds!
New York Times personal technology columnist David Pogue has tapped into the collective wit and wisdom of his half-million followers on by posing a different, thought-provoking question every night. The result of this modern social-networking experiment is a laugh-out-loud-funny, and occasionally poignant, record of shared human experience.

Finish a familiar saying in a new way.

He who is without sin . . . has a lot of catching up to do.

Make up a concept for a doomed TV show.

"Law & Order: DMV"

Change 1 letter of a familiar title.

Star Wart: The real reason Vader wears that mask.

Author Bio:
David Pogue, author of The World According to Twitter, is the weekly tech columnist for the New York Times, an Emmy-winning correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, and contributor of funny, weekly tech videos for CNBC. He’s the author or co-author of 50 books, including 6 in the For Dummies line and 25 in the Missing Manual series, which he created. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and three children.

Join Pogue's world at his website:; at Twitter: @pogue; or at his blog:

Read an excerpt here.

Purchasing information from Amazon are linked here – US/UK/Canada respectively:

The World According to Twitter/ The World According to Twitter: Crowd-sourced Wit and Wisdom from David Pogue (and His 350,000 Followers)/ The World According to Twitter

Monday, August 24, 2009

Speculative Fiction Link Up Meme – blogs that review this genre

image Grasping for the Wind – has created an amazing list of book bloggers dedicated to reading and reviewing speculative fiction. I signed up for the list and you can too. Readers can also find other blogs and their reviews. Please click the main link below to head for the page to sign up. Click on any of the links below to find some great blogs that review my favorite genre. Thanks John!
SF/F/H Reviewer Linkup Meme, 2nd Edition


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German


7 Foot Shelves
The Accidental Bard
A Boy Goes on a Journey
A Dribble Of Ink
Adventures in Reading
A Fantasy Reader
The Agony Column
A Hoyden's Look at Literature
All Booked Up
Alexia's Books and Such...
Andromeda Spaceways
The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
Ask Daphne
ask nicola
Audiobook DJ
Australia Specfic In Focus
Author 2 Author


Barbara Martin
Babbling about Books
Bees (and Books) on the Knob
Best SF
Bewildering Stories
Bibliophile Stalker
Big Dumb Object
The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf
Bitten by Books
The Black Library Blog
Blog, Jvstin Style
Blood of the Muse
The Book Bind
Booksies Blog
The Book Smugglers
The Book Swede
Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]
Breeni Books


Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]
Charlotte's Library
Circlet 2.0
Cheryl's Musings
Club Jade
Cranking Plot
Critical Mass
The Crotchety Old Fan


Daily Dose - Fantasy and Romance
Damien G. Walter
Danger Gal
It's Dark in the Dark
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Darque Reviews
Dave Brendon's Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog
Dead Book Darling
Dear Author
The Deckled Edge
The Doctor is In...
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards
Drey's Library
The Discriminating Fangirl
Dusk Before the Dawn


Enter the Octopus
Errant Dreams Reviews
Eve's Alexandria


Falcata Times
Fan News Denmark [in English]
Fantastic Reviews
Fantastic Reviews Blog
Fantasy Book Banner
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Book Reviews and News
Fantasy Cafe
Fantasy Debut
Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings
Fantasy Magazine
Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin' Blog
Feminist SF - The Blog!
Fiction is so Overrated
The Fix
The Foghorn Review
Follow that Raven
Forbidden Planet
Frances Writes
Free SF Reader
From a Sci-Fi Standpoint
From the Heart of Europe
Fruitless Recursion
Fundamentally Alien
The Future Fire


The Galaxy Express
Game Couch
The Gamer Rat
Garbled Signals
Genre Reviews
Got Schephs
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
Grasping for the Wind
The Green Man Review
Gripping Books


Hero Complex
Highlander's Book Reviews
The Hub Magazine
Hyperpat's Hyper Day


I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending
Ink and Keys
Ink and Paper
The Internet Review of Science Fiction


Jenna's Bookshelf
Jumpdrives and Cantrips


Keeping the Door
King of the Nerds


Lair of the Undead Rat
Largehearted Boy
Layers of Thought
League of Reluctant Adults
The Lensman's Children
Library Dad
Libri Touches
Literary Escapism
Literaturely Speaking
ludis inventio
Lundblog: Beautiful


Mad Hatter's Bookshelf and Book Review
Mari's Midnight Garden
Mark Freedman's Journal
Marooned: Science Fiction Books on Mars
Michele Lee's Book Love
Missions Unknown [Author and Artist Blog Devoted to SF/F/H in San Antonio]
The Mistress of Ancient Revelry
MIT Science Fiction Society
Monster Librarian
More Words, Deeper Hole
Mostly Harmless Books
Multi-Genre Fan
Musings from the Weirdside
My Favourite Books


Neth Space
The New Book Review
Not Free SF Reader


OF Blog of the Fallen
The Old Bat's Belfry
Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy
The Ostentatious Ogre
Outside of a Dog


Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Patricia's Vampire Notes
The Persistence of Vision
Piaw's Blog
Post-Weird Thoughts
Publisher's Weekly



Random Acts of Mediocrity
Ray Gun Revival
Realms of Speculative Fiction
Reading the Leaves
Review From Here
Reviewer X
Revolution SF
The Road Not Taken
Rob's Blog o' Stuff
Robots and Vamps


Sandstorm Reviews
Satisfying the Need to Read
Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics
Science Fiction Times
Sci-Fi Blog
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
The Sci-Fi Gene
Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]
SciFi Squad
Scifi UK Reviews
Sci Fi Wire
Self-Publishing Review
The Sequential Rat
Severian's Fantastic Worlds
SF Diplomat
SF Gospel
SF Revu
SF Safari
SF Signal
SF Site
SFF World's Book Reviews
Silver Reviews
Simply Vamptastic
Slice of SciFi
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Solar Flare
Speculative Fiction
Speculative Fiction Junkie
Speculative Horizons
The Specusphere
Spiral Galaxy Reviews
Spontaneous Derivation
Sporadic Book Reviews
Stainless Steel Droppings
Starting Fresh
Stella Matutina</>
Stuff as Dreams are Made on...
The Sudden Curve
The Sword Review


Tangent Online
Tehani Wessely
Temple Library Reviews
Tez Says
things mean a lot [also a publisher]
True Science Fiction


Ubiquitous Absence
Urban Fantasy Land


Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic
Variety SF


Walker of Worlds
Wands and Worlds
The Wertzone
With Intent to Commit Horror
The Wizard of Duke Street
WJ Fantasy Reviews
The Word Nest
The World in a Satin Bag



Young Adult Science Fiction



Cititor SF [with English Translation]



Foundation of Krantas
The SF Commonwealth Office in Taiwan [with some English essays]
Yenchin's Lair




Fernando Trevisan
Human 2.0
Life and Times of a Talkative Bookworm
Ponto De Convergencia


Fantasy Seiten
Fantasy Buch
Fantasy/SciFi Blog
Welt der fantasy
Bibliotheka Phantastika
SF Basar
Phantastick News
Phantastick Couch
Fantasy News
Fantasy Faszination
Fantasy Guide
Zwergen Reich
Fiction Fantasy


Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German

Review by JD: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornsby


A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornsby

ISBN: 1-59448-193-8

Pages 333; paperback

Riverhead Books/Penguin, 2005

This is an excellent and most enjoyable book, especially if you like a quirky and unusual read. Immediately I read the cover, the set-up drew me right in and I wanted to read the rest of the book. How’s this for an opening to a story - four very different people with different backgrounds all decide, for a variety of reasons, that life is no longer worth living and that suicide is the only way out. But this is a funny book, despite the subject matter. So all four happen to choose the same way out, which is to jump from a tall building. And they all happen to choose the same building, which is popular with suicides because of its height and easy access. And they all choose the same night to jump, which is New Year’s Eve; apparently a popular time for suicides to happen.

So of course they congregate at the same time and place with the same purpose in mind, bump into each other, and the story goes on from there. They eventually decide not to jump, or at least not on that night, and despite having absolutely nothing in common (except suicide plans!) they form an odd little group and stumble towards helping each other out.

But the way ahead certainly isn’t straightforward and the group gets into a variety of painful or funny scrapes. The characters themselves are all oddballs, and at various times you feel like reaching into the book, grabbing them by the scruffs of the necks and telling them to get real, get reasonable, and get a life. No pun intended.

It’s a book that is full of wit, wry humor and charm. It’s nicely written and very easy to read. Bearing in mind the subject matter, this is quite an achievement. “Two thumbs up” as those annoying movie reviews say. Four stars I say.

Amazon purchasing information: US/UK/Canada

A Long Way Down A Long Way Down A Long Way Down

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hot! Hot! Hot! Off the Press - Bookish Bits

hot off the press

I have come across some interesting “Bookish Bits” of information around the web that perhaps you have (or hopefully not) read about. Some may not be that “hot off the press” buy they are linked here with a short description. Enjoy!

According to Marie Claire magazine – reading reduces stress by 68%. But then we knew that already.

The New Yorker has a list of The Seven Essential Fantasy Reads.

American Book Review has a variety of quotes on The Future of Fiction.

The Second Pass has a book Black List – a recommendation of what you can skip in the when reading literature.

There is a possibility of a library themed Ben & Jerry flavored ice cream. How fun!

An interesting article about paid advertising and disclosure for blogs. Not completely bookish but it relates to book bloggers.

A link for tweets from Philippa Gregory’s main protagonist in the The White Queen.

An amazing 91 year old woman who reads 12 books a week in Scotland.

A lower priced E-Reader from Sony is on the market designed to compete with Amazon’s Kindle.

Review: Wait Until Twilight – A Novel by Sang Pak

51xUfKr p9L._SL160_

Mini Synopsis:

Samuel is in his first year of high school. He’s a good kid. He’s smart, popular, from a healthy family, and facing the normal challenges which occur for most young teens. Coupled with his adolescent angst, he just lost his mother to cancer. In addition he is also harboring feelings of guilt around her death.

In an attempt to create a video for a class assignment, he decides to record a local set of triplets whom have some unusual physical disabilities. Because of these oddities they are surround by local myth, mystery, ignorance, and sadly horror. When Samuel sees “the babies” for the first time, he has strong conflicting emotions, and an obsession develops for him to see them again, and again. This desire leads him to discover a terrifying situation involving them. As he becomes inextricably involved, he must ultimately decide what constitutes right action, and what defines men as evil. The choices he makes move him toward the beginnings of manhood.

My thoughts:

I gave this book 4 stars – I loved it.

Sang Pak has given the young adult reader “a modern rites of passage” story, with many of the current day conflicts which boys and teens face. Samuel, the main character, is an excellent and important role model for growing men as they struggle with the inevitable tobacco, drug and alcohol exposure, and sexual introduction. What is important is that Samuel’s character immerses himself in these situations without loosing his sensibilities and balance. The character provides an example of neither abstinence nor abuse when confronted with these issues, which although not the only option is a sensible one.

Speaking from the perspective of an adult with a background in childhood education I have been led to look at books for their “learning/teaching opportunities”. Waiting for Twilight has them. Because of the content in the story I do recommend this book for a mature teen, as well as their parents, or adults interested in issues around young adults. The book contains smoking, drugs and alcohol usage, safe sex, and violence. These examples can be used as a starting place to begin “conversations”, since as adults, we cannot prevent an exposure to them.

For more information on the author – web site, contact information for Sang Pak, publisher’s reviews, and Amazon purchasing information please see the preview for Wait Until Twilight.

Please stay tuned for my first author’s interview at Layers of Thought with Sang Pak!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gotta Love Give Aways – August 21, 2009

The miracle is this - the more we share, the more we have. -- Leonard Nimoy


Here are my (Shellie’s) most recent entries for books that I would like to win and read in this fun and wonderful realm of book lovers and give aways. A big thanks to the bloggers offering these books and good luck to all that enter them. Let me know if you win from my posting here at Layers of Thought - it will make it so much more fun!

Ink and Paper is offering a copy of Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin. It end August 22. International

Bibliophile By the Sea is offering an ARC copy of The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan. It ends August 23. International

Scifi is giving away a copy of Bleak History by John Shirley. It ends August 24. US, Canada

Fantasy Book News & Reviews Is offering the first 3 Crossroads Books by Kate Elliot. It ends August 24. US, Canada

Booksie’s Blog is offering The Blue Star by Tony Earley. It ends August 26. US, Canada

Pure Imagination is giving away Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink. It ends August 25. Area not stated.

Take Me Away is offering Evil at Heart – A Thriller by Chelsea Cain. It ends August 25. Area not given.

Fantasy Dreamer is offering two books from one of her favorite series the Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles by Jeanne C.Stein. It end August 25. International

Darque Reviews is giving away The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber. It end August 25. Area not given.

The Eclectic Reader is giving away a copy of Frantic by Katherine Howell. It end August 28. International

Patricia’s Vampire Notes is giving away 2 copies of The Calling by David Mack. It ends August 31. US, Canada

Shooting Stars Mag is offering a copy of undiscovered gyrl – a novel by Allison Burnett. It ends August 31. US, Canada

Carrie’s YA Bookshelf is offering an ARC copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike and Intertwined by Gena Showalter. It ends August 31. US

The Book Butterfly is offering Meridian by Amber Kizer. It ends September 1. US

Blood of the Muse is offering a copy of Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko. It ends September 1. International

Libby’s Library News is offering a copy of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. It ends September 2. US, Canada

The Story Siren is offering 4 ARCs – The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Snap by Carol Snow, Secret Society by Tom Dolby, and Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis. It ends September 5. US, Canada

Reading Rocks is giving away 2 copies of A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray. It ends September 22. US

Its interesting seeing the differences in the covers between the countries. Not all books are available in each countries with these widgets. I believe some are pre-releas ARCs. Amazon links’ backgrounds are white for US, green for Canada, blue for UK:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

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Mini Synopsis:
Benny is a thirty something, single, hard working, Swedish dairy farmer living on his failing family farm. His mother whom worked diligently with him to keep the farm running has just passed away. “Shrimp” is a librarian whose intellectually based life is in the near by city. She has just lost her husband of several years.
Although opposites, the two cross paths numerous times with one another in the local cemetery when visiting their dead loved one’s graves. While both note their extreme differences and apparent incompatibility with the other, they soon cannot deny their physical chemistry. An unlikely and complicated relationship develops ending with unexpected and unconventional results.
My short thoughts:
I gave it 4 stars – I loved it.
It was a short, slightly sad, funny, and refreshing romantic story which did not end with everyone living happily ever after. I highly recommend this to any one who wants to easily step away from the conventional romance and who enjoys reading novels with a taste from another culture – or in this case two. I say this because the story was originally written in Swedish and then translated into “British English”. The text reflects this and makes the writing charming and quirky having idioms from both cultures which are interesting and enjoyable.
For further information on the book regarding the author, publishing data, book stats, and Amazon purchasing information for the US/UK/and Canada please see the preview of Benny & Shrimp.
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