Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We are making some serious changes at Layers of Thought – and would appreciate your opinion


Can you believe it but Layers of Thought is almost one year old? May 21 was the date of my first awkward post. My goodness. I can’t believe what I have learned over the last year, and I still have not begun to figured it out yet.

When I got the bug to start a blog I had no idea what I would name it and what it was going to be about. In fact the name came to me in a flash as I was setting it up on Google.

Well, considering that things have changed and developed since then, we feel a need to keep up with different times. So John and I have come up with several new theme names and a few headers which we will be considering for our new blog concept.

Help us choose which one to use. The new names we are considering are on the blog logos below. We like all of them but are not sure which one that we would like to represent us. Below are the four we have created to choose from:


I'm thinking the one to the right since the blog name is black and easier to see?

Of the two below I’m thinking the top one since in the bottom one, well, there is quite a lot of bottom in the picture.



But on thinking about it further, this last one is particularly telling in that he’s reading the book upside down, which definitely fits the new blog title. So dear readers and friends, what are your thoughts?

End Note: To update this post for newer readers, when first starting Layers of Thought – our original header used the picture below. It was quite fun and our blog was remembered because of this great shot.

Hence the “April Foolery” we created with the pictures above. If you would like more fun please see the comments from this post. Needless to say we had an absolute blast the entire day and taking the above photos!


Here's to April Fools!

Review by JD: Friends Like These by Danny Wallace


Book Stats:

  • Friends Like These
  • by Danny Wallace
  • ISBN: 978-0-316-04277-2
  • Pages 400: hardback
  • Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group, 2009
  • Genre: Humor

John’s Thoughts:

After my last read – The Manufactured Identity, which was a little heavy going, I wanted something that was light, fluffy and fun. This was perfect!

Danny Wallace is approaching his thirtieth birthday, and all is not well. After some unhelpful prods by one of his mates, he can’t shake the feeling that he is suddenly plunging into a thoroughly responsible (and kind of boring) maturity, and that his entire life is about to change. Indeed, when he looks around, it is clear that much has changed already. All of a sudden, his impending birthday becomes a highly symbolic milestone, and he feels a need to do something before he gets there.

While clearing out a box of his childhood belongings, he comes across an old address book in which he’d written the names of his twelve best friends from when he was a kid. With the realization that they will all be approaching their thirtieth birthdays too, he wonders if they are going through the same confused feelings that he is. Where are they now? What are they doing? How do they feel about growing up? How did he ever lose touch with them?

And so, as the book jacket says, “he goes on a worldwide quest to find his best friends, knock on their doors, and ask them to come out and play”.

But can he find them all before his birthday? The clock is ticking and his quest takes him not just around England, but also to Scotland, Germany, America, Australia and Japan.

This book is a lot of fun. Wallace has a nice, dry, English sense of humor, and I found myself smiling a lot as I was reading it. He pokes fun at many things as he goes on his unlikely quest, but chiefly he himself is the target. One by one he finds his old friends and is amazed at how easily they pick up the threads from some twenty years previously – they reminisce about old memories and start to enjoy some new experiences together. There is a gentle message in here about the strength of friendships and the value of working to maintain or rebuild relationships, but mostly it’s just a light hearted read.

While a lot of the childhood references are very English, I don’t think that will spoil it for any non-English readers. If you are looking for a light, easy feel-good book, I’d recommend this to you. I’d rate it 3.5 stars.


For more information on the book, the author, as well as purchasing links please go to the Preview of Friends Like These.

John will be addressing any comments and enjoys your thoughts and questions contrary or otherwise.

Happy last day of March 2010!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ARC Preview: The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson


Amazon Book Data:

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805091920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805091922
  • Genre: Historical Fiction – paranormal?

    About the Book:

    Bartholomew Fortuno, the World's Thinnest Man, believes that his unusual body is a gift. Hired by none other than P. T. Barnum to work at his spectacular American Museum—a modern marvel of macabre displays, breathtaking theatrical performances, and live shows by Barnum's cast of freaks and oddities—Fortuno has reached the pinnacle of his career. But after a decade of constant work, he finds his sense of self, and his contentment within the walls of the museum, flagging. When a carriage pulls up outside the museum in the dead of night, bearing Barnum and a mysterious veiled woman—rumored to be a new performer—Fortuno's curiosity is piqued. And when Barnum asks Fortuno to follow her and report back on her whereabouts, his world is turned upside down. Why is Barnum so obsessed with this woman? Who is she, really? And why has she taken such a hold on the hearts of those around her?

    Set in the New York of 1865, a time when carriages rattled down cobblestone streets, raucous bordellos near the docks thrived, and the country was mourning the death of President Lincoln, The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno is a moving novel about human appetites and longings. With pitch-perfect prose, Ellen Bryson explores what it means to be profoundly unique—and how the power of love can transcend even the greatest divisions.

    Author Bio:


    Ellen Bryson holds a BA in English from Columbia University and an MA in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. Formerly a modern dancer, she lives in Southern California. This is her first novel.

    Connect with this author at her website.



    Pre-purchasing links for Amazon are US/UK/Canada.

    This book was received from the publisher by request through Shelf Awareness. A big thanks to both. Review coming soon!

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

  • ARC Preview: The Marrowbone Marble Company by M. Glenn Taylor


    Amazon Book Stats:

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061923931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061923937
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

    Book Info:

    1941. Orphan Loyal Ledford works the swing shift tending furnace at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, WV. He courts Rachel, the boss’s daughter, a company nurse with spike straight posture and coal black hair. When Pearl Harbor is attacked, Ledford, like so many young men of his time, sets his life on a new course.

    Upon his return from service in the war and back at his old job, Ledford starts a family with Rachel, but he chafes under the authority at Mann Glass. He is a lost man, unconnected from the present and haunted by the past until he meets his cousins the Bonecutter brothers. Their land calls to Ledford, and it is there, with help from an unlikely bunch, that The Marrowbone Marble Company is slowly forged. Its grounds become a vanguard of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, a home for those intent on change. Such a home inevitably invites trouble, and Ledford must fight for his family.

    Returning to the territory of the critically acclaimed The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, Glenn Taylor recounts the transformative journey of a man and his community. Told in clean and powerful prose, The Marrowbone Marble Company takes a harrowing look at the issues of race and class throughout the tumultuous ’50s and ’60s. It is a story of struggle and loss, righteousness and redemption, and it can only be found in the hills of Marrowbone.

    Author Bio:


    Glenn Taylor was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. His first novel, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was a 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a Barnes & Noble Discover pick. His second novel,The Marrowbone Marble Company, will be published by Ecco in May. He lives in suburban Chicago with his wife and three sons.


    Pre-purchasing links for Amazon are US/UK/Canada.

    This book was received via the publisher through Shelf Awareness. A big thanks to both. Review coming soon!

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

  • ARC Preview: The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw


    Amazon Book Stats:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385531931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385531931
  • Genre: I’m thinking thriller?

    Book Info:

    Seven summers ago, Marcella Atkinson fell in love with Cecil McClatchey, a married father of two. But on the same night their romance abruptly ended, Cecil's wife was found murdered—and their lives changed forever. The case was never solved, and Cecil died soon after, an uncharged suspect.

    Now divorced and estranged from her only daughter, Marcella lives alone, mired in grief and guilt. Meanwhile, Cecil's grown son, Jed, returns to the Cape with his sister for the first time in years. One day he finds a woman's bathing suit buried in a closet—a relic, unbeknownst to him, of his father's affair—and, on a hunch, confronts Marcella. When they fall into an affair of their own, their passion temporarily masks the pain of the past, but also leads to crises and revelations they never could have imagined.
    In what is sure to be the debut of the season, The Swimming Pool delivers a sensuous narrative of such force and depth that you won't be able to put it down.

    Author Info:

    Holly LeCraw lives outside of Boston with her husband, who is a journalist, and three kids. Her short fiction and book reviews have appeared in a range of publications, including the Edge City Review and the Boston Book Review. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Though a newcomer as a novelist, she grew up in the book industry.

    Connect with this author at her website.


    Pre-purchasing links for Amazon are US/UK/Canada.

    This book was received from the publisher by request via Shelf Awareness. A big thanks to both. Review coming soon!

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

  • Monday, March 29, 2010

    Review by Shellie: Fun Home by Allison Bechdel


    Book Overview:

    This is a coming of age memoir and tribute to the author’s father, told via a graphic novel. Allison Bechdel, the author/artist, pictures and writes about growing up in a small Midwest town bordering on the Appalachian mountains. It is set during the 1970s and 80s where her intellectual parents (father is a high school English teacher and runs a funeral home, mother is an actress and writer) have a subtly cool and conflicted relationship. As she comes into her own sexual awareness she also realizes her father’s inclinations. All the while the author blends her memories with the classic literature which has defined her life, her relationship(s), and memories of her father.

    My Thoughts:

    This is a wonderful, sad, and yet darkly funny period piece. She metaphorically links many aspects of her life within the book. She also layers it with fun, interesting, and sad icons from the times. A few examples that stick out in my memory for the 1970’s are Nixon’s fall from grace, Life cereal, and Road Runner cartoons. As well as a few from the 80’s - clove cigarettes, home made bongs, and Alan Parson’s Eye in the Sky album. I imagine anyone growing up during these times, like myself, will love these referenced bits in the background of her drawings. I laughed and reminisced.

    Her drawings are in black and white and are realistic and balanced. Her language is complex and thoughtful, although, at times, obscure and esoteric. It does however make you think. A wonderful example of the former is where she aptly describes her observations of a male gay community as a “display of cosmetic masculinity” (pp 190) with a few subtle yet definable pictures.

    The “big picture” thought about this memoir and what makes is so good is that it condenses a major realization for children coming of age – regardless of sexual orientation. It is essentially that as children, our parents are gods in our little worlds. As young adults we can see them as demons. But to become adults there is a need to see our parents as they truly are – human, with all their faults and quirky foibles. It is with this reconciliation that we pass over the border from child to adult and can become emotionally whole. As Allison examines her conflicted feelings toward her father with realism, she eventually moves toward this awareness. It is here that I cried, which I rarely do.

    This is my first graphic novel. Since I am a very visually oriented person this type of literature suits me well. As well, because of the parallels with myself and the author’s life, I was immersed. I loved this book and rated it 4.5 stars. I am looking forward to reading some of her more fantastical graphic novels.

    I would recommend this book for adults, due to some light sexual referencing and pictures. And specifically to those whom came of age in the 1970’s.


    This book is linked to four challenges –  2010 GLBT Mini-challenge,  Graphic Novels Challenge, New Author Challenge, and Woman Unbound.

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    The above badges link to Layers of Thought’s original post for the above challenges.


    Purchasing links for AmazonUS/UK/Canada, for The Book Depository Euro/AUD.

    Amazon Book Stats US Paperback:

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618871713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618871711
  • Genre: Memoir


    A request for some memory help:

    Bechdel pictures herself as a child wearing a pair of shoes that have waves on the bottom, on the soles. I have been asking parents, friends, and searching the web and will be darned if I cannot figure out what they where called. I had a pair and loved them. Does anyone remember these shoes from the 70’s and what they where called?

    Happy Monday everyone!

  • Graphics Novels Challenge 2010


    (Click on the badge to access the challenge.)

    It's never too late to join!

    Give graphic novels a shot! This challenge is very flexible. First, choose a level of participation:

    *Beginner (3 comics or graphic novels) – thats me!*
    Intermediate (3-10)
    Expert (10+)

    Then just leave us a comment here saying you're joining and we'll add you to the participants list.


    Reviews will be listed and linked below:

    1. Fun Home by Allison Bechdel

    1 down 2 to go!

    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Mexican Poppies and Purple Lupine – Desert Blooms March 2010


    Although not as beautiful as in real life, here are the flower pictures from our last weekend hike. They were everywhere, huge fields of them.

    According to the local newspapers, its been an unusual year here…with quite a lot of rain but late in the season. This in turn has created a profusion of delicate flowers. Mexican poppies and lupine are what I believe these are called.

    DSCN1150What is amazing is the combination of orange and purple. They are, according to color theory,  compliment colors. If you look at the color wheel below, orange and purple as well as their various shades are directly across from one another.


    It’s very interesting if you think about it. Fun too, since you can create your own color combinations which work amazingly well if you use the color wheel. There is tons of data on color theory all over the web – just a short Google ride and you can be inundated. It can become quite complex, however complimentary colors are one of its easier and more useful concepts. DSCN1157

    Lastly, here is an up close shot of some poppies … so delicate. We can’t help but wonder how long they will last.

    More flowers to come, we can’t wait to show you those from the saguaro cactus… amazing! And the various colors of the prickly pear… And the amazing peachy shades from the buckhorn cholla.  Please stay tuned!


    As you may have noted, we are trying to “unplug on weekends” since both JD and I are at  computers for hours and hours each day (flat expanding bottoms are not attractive) and the weather is so wonderful here in the desert right now. We intend to make the most of it since, sadly, it will not last for long.

    Have a fun weekend everyone!

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Review by JD: Seven Deadly Wonders by Matthew Reilly

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    • 7 Deadly Wonders
    • by Matthew Reilly
    • ISBN: 978-0-7432-7053-3
    • Pages: 392, hardback
    • Simon & Schuster, 2006
    • Genre: Sci Fi “ish”, Action

    John’s Thoughts:

    It’s personal challenge time – I have to try and review this book without mentioning a certain best-selling author whose initials are D.B. Here goes.

    4,500 years ago those clever ancient Egyptians placed a golden capstone on top of the Great Pyramid at Giza, which mystically helped avert a disaster caused by a rare solar event. The trouble is that the superhot sunspot aligns itself with Earth on a regular cycle and it’s about to happen again. Catastrophic flooding and scorching will ensue unless someone can find the lost capstone and replace it on the pyramid. The legend also says that the country whose people successfully carry out that feat will be all powerful for a thousand years. Consequently, various factions are trying to locate the golden capstone.

    It turns out that the capstone is actually made up of seven pieces, and they disappeared over two thousand years ago. Each piece is somehow associated with one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and in order to collect the pieces someone has to locate those seven wonders, or the resting place of their remnants. But the people who hid them did not intend for them to be found. Seekers have to first unlock a series of devilishly difficult clues in order to find the locations, and then navigate loads of fiendish and deadly traps intended to kill anyone trying to find or remove the pieces. So begins a quest, and we follow a team made up from a handful of small countries, as they compete against superpowers and dark forces that are pitted against them.

    As you now imagine that small team racing against the clock to decipher ancient clues, perhaps you can see why I have to try really hard not to mention that other author’s name. 

    There were many things about this book that I did like. It is fast paced and pulls you along, and it’s an easy read. There are a lot of little maps and illustrations to help portray the locations, layouts and traps for each scene, which is pretty neat. The story is, of course, fantastic, but I was expecting that. It is well-constructed and well-written. What I had a hard time with was the action scenes - they are just so over the top and so unbelievable that I found them a bit silly. They make an Indianan Jones movie seem like a stroll in the park. And there are a lot of action scenes.

    I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fast-paced action stories and mysterious quests. It didn’t quite hit the mark for me; I’d rate the book two and a half stars.


    This books was borrowed from the local library.

    For more information about the book, author, the other two books in the series, and purchasing links, please see the giveaway/preview post for the trilogy.

    As always comments are encouraged and welcome and will be addressed by JD.

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    Loads of Links - Giveaways and Fun Stuff to Share

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    Link, Links, and More Links

    Logan at Rememorandom is giving away a signed copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This contest ends on March 27th so hurry. It is only available in the US.

    E. J. Stevens is having a 150 follower and book launch giveaway at her blog From the Shadows. The book will be signed and is called Shadows of Myth and Legend and is a collection of dark fairy tales told in a lyrical format. It ends April 11. *this would be perfect for the Once Upon a Time IV challenge!*

    500 Follower Giveaway at Reading with Tequila – she has a stack of books you can win - mostly speculative fiction. It ends April 20 and there will be multiple winners. It is international.

    300 Follower Contest by Lisa at Book Blab. She has a huge list of books which she is offering. Contest ends May 4 and is international.

    Free download for Nicole Hadaway’s companion short story to her vampire novel RELEASE at her blog – All Things Smart and Scary.

    Mel u at The Reading Life – is hosting a reader’s sharing experience based around the WWI novel called Parade’s End. It starts on April 1. Mel welcomes and encourages anyone to join in.

    Here is a fun and creative contest which was found at Andrea’s blog The Little Book Worm. Its called Another Remake a Book Cover Contest.  Check out her entry.. its adorable, then create your own.

    Award announcement for one of Layers of Thought’s first book reviews and first interview – Sang Pak author of Waiting for Twilight (links to interview and review.) The novel is a finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and Sang has also been nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in the New Fiction category. Way to go Sang! He’s a talented new writer and I can’t wait to read his next novel… how exciting.

    If you have other info, links, or fun stuff you would like to share please feel free to do so in the comments. So check the comments if your interested. Good luck and enjoy!

    The Winner for the Three Book Series by Mathew Reilly - Finally


    Nonnie B. says “its good to be fashionably late”… well that's not the case here with posting this contest winner – 5 days late (Yikes!)  But “better late than never”… so they say.



    Now for the fun stuff - Lets all congratulate our winner… drum rolls please… fire works in the back ground as well, and can’t forget the fizzy…  we love fizzy…


    The winner of the Mathew Reilly 3 book series giveaway is…

     Raelena from Througthehaze Reads

    Congrats Raelena!



    Raelena I will contact you by email. Please respond within 72 hours and comment on this post.

    To see the original information for this contest with all the data about all three books, the author, and purchasing links - click here.

    Once again thanks to all for entering this contest. A new one will be coming up here shortly - so please stay tuned!

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Preview: Anastasia’s Secret by Susanne Dunlap


    Book Stats from Amazon:

  • Reading level: Young Adult – ages 9 and up
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599904209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599904207
  • Genre: YA Historical Fiction

    Book Blurb from Bloomsbury:

    In Susanne Dunlap's dramatic new novel, the fate of Russian tsarina Anastasia Romanov-long thought to have perished with her family during the Russian revolution-takes a different turn.

    "Will I never see you again either?" I asked, feeling as though I was about to jump off a high mountain peak and hope to land without hurting myself. That's how impossible everything seemed at that moment, no matter what I did.

    "Perhaps we will meet again," Sasha said, softening his voice. "But you must see that it does not matter. You have so much ahead of you. It's your choice now. Choose the future! Choose life!"

    For Anastasia Romanov, life as the privileged daughter of Russia's last tsar is about to be torn apart by the bloodshed of revolution. Ousted from the imperial palace when the Bolsheviks seize control of the government, Anastasia and her family are exiled to Siberia. But even while the rebels debate the family's future with agonizing slowness and the threat to their lives grows more menacing, romance quietly blooms between Anastasia and Sasha, a sympathetic young guard she has known since childhood. But will the strength of their love be enough to save Anastasia from a violent death?

    Inspired by the mysteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap's new novel is a haunting vision of the life—and love story—of Russia's last princess.

    Author Bio:


    Susanne Dunlap graduated from Smith College and later earned a PhD in music history from Yale University. She has taught music history at the college level, and is the author of two historical novels for adults. The Musician's Daughter was her first novel for young readers.

    Find out more about the author at her website which also links to her blog.

    Purchasing links for Amazon are US/UK/Canada The Book Depository Euro/AUD.

    This book was received from Bloomsbury for review. Thanks Anna!

    I love historical fiction because I get history via a novel. Being so bad at history,  within a fiction format its so much easier for me to digest. Review coming soon!

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

  • Preview: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder


    Amazon Book Stats:

    • Reading level: Ages 9-12
    • Paperback: 320 pages
    • Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (April 1, 2010)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 037321006X
    • ISBN-13: 978-0373210060
    • Genre: YA, Science Fiction/Dystopian Fantasy

    Book Blurb:

    Keep Your Head Down. Don't Get Noticed. Or Else.

    I'm Trella. I'm a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I've got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

    Author Mini Bio:


    Maria V. Snyder earned an MA in Popular Fiction Writing from Seton Hill University. Her freelance articles appear in magazines and newspapers, and she enjoys teaching fiction writing classes at the local college.

    Connect with the author at her website, and Goodreads.

    Purchasing links for Amazon are US/UK/Canada The Book Depository Euro/AUD.

    This book was received from the publisher by my request through Net Galley. A big thanks to both.

    I love YA (tween) dystopian/science fiction. Review coming soon!

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    The Better Basket Blog Hop - A chance to Help Children with Serious illnesses

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    I have been inducted into a charity blog hop sponsored by Hershey’s. The wonderful author Laurel-Rain from one of her multiple blogs – Rainy Days and Mondays has included me in her hop.

    I am not going to pick any specific bloggers but encourage anyone who would like to participate to do so. It is for a good cause (Children’s Miracle Network – check out this little cutie…) and for each blog post Hershey’s will donate $10.  So post away!

    Click on the center badge to access the Hershey site for more information. Its kinda like an award, here are the rules:


    • Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
    • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
    • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
    • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
    • Leave your link at comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
    • Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
    • Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.


    At the time of publishing this post there are 95 blogs associated with the hop. To reach 5,000 dollars they need 500 blogs to participate. 405 blog posts to go!

    Can you believe it, Easter is almost here? Oh dear, another feast and candy too, and I still have to loose those Holiday pounds.

    Happy Monday Everyone!

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Challenge: Once Upon a Time IV – March 21 – June 20, 2010


    This gorgeous badge links to the challenge site and information below is taken directly from Stainless Steel Droppings.


    Carl V. States:

    What reader hasn’t recognized that “curious thrill” at one time or another? It is the opiate that we so often chase whenever we pick up the next book, that readiness to experience something, to connect on a level deeper than mere ink on the page. That chance for something “remote and strange and beautiful” is what repeatedly draws me back to fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and mythology. Tales of this ken are built upon foundations of storytelling that date back to our most ancient ancestors. There is just “something” about this kind of story.

    The fourth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge officially begins on Sunday, March 21st and ends June 20th. In addition to the usual goings on over here at Stainless Steel Droppings, the next three months will see features on art, music, film and of course literature of a fantastical, mythical nature. The purpose of the challenges that I host is always to first and foremost have fun and secondly to promote a sense of community across the blogosphere, so I encourage you to become involved in any way that feels comfortable for you. To give the challenge some structure, I offer several options.


    Please see Stainless Steel Droppings for more information about all the options.  I believe there are six.

    For my level of commitment I have chosen the following two elements of the challenge – The Journey and Short Story Weekends. Below are their descriptions taken from the challenge site - underlined text is for informational purposes:



    1.) This is really as simple as the name implies. It means you are participating, but not committing yourself to any specific number of books. All reading is a journey, perhaps none more so than reading fantastical fiction. By signing up for The Journey you are agreeing to at least read one book within one of the four categories during March 21st to June 20th period. Just one book. If you choose to read more, fantastic! If not, then we have still had the pleasure of your company during this three month reading journey and hopefully you have read a great book, met some interesting people, and enjoyed the various activities that occur during the challenge. It has always been of utmost importance to me that the challenges that I host be all about experiencing enjoyable literature and sharing it with others. I want you to participate. Hence, The Journey.



    2.) This quest involves the reading of one or more short stories that fit within at least one of the four genres during the course of the weekend. Ideally you would post about your short story readings on Sundays or Mondays, but this is not strictly necessary.


    Join the fun! Even if its for only one book and/ or a short story. And for further enticement there will be prizes! Very nice prizes!

    Here is where all the books will be posted.

    All completed reviews and links for this challenge will be posted below:

    Read at least one Fantasy, Myth, or Fairytale related book:

    1. Keeper by Kathi Appelt (young adult/tween, mythic - slipstream)
    2. The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner (slip stream, literary)

    Read any number short stories of the same:

    1. “Antickes and Frets” by Susanna Clarke
    2. “The Goosle” by Margo Lanagan

    This challenge is complete but I will keep posting till June 20th.

    24 Hour Read–a-Thon - April 10, 2010

    Its the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon time again.  This will be the second since I started Layers of Thought at the end of May 2009. It looks like a very interesting challenge. If you would like to join and/or help please see information taken from the challenge site below:


    Trish states:

    readathonbutton We’re gearing up for the read-a-thon coming up on April 10, 2010, and I need some volunteers! Here are some of the jobs I’ve got slots for:

    • Co-hosts
    • Mini-challenge team (organizing, posting on the readathon blog looking for volunteers, assigning people times, etc)
    • Cheerleader team (recruit, organize, and be available for questions)
    • Soliciting Prizes team (solicit prizes, solicit angels, and put prizes in list on Prize page)
    • Prize monitors/email monitors during the readathon
    • Prize distribution team

    Any one of these jobs can take 10-20 hours of your time. Some jobs may take less time, but it’s definitely a time commitment.

    If you’re interested in volunteering, please email me at deweyreadathon at gmail and let me know which job you’re interested in. THANK YOU!!


    The cute badge on the left links directly to the blog.

    As for our participation? I’m still trying to figure it all out.

    2010 Blog Improvement Project

    bip2010banner-400Slightly late in mention of this project - its never to late to start improving your blog. Whether you join in or just follow, you can do little bits here and there. It could make a big difference.

    Sign up at any time. You do not have to participate each week or even make a to do list. It is very flexible, and if you decide you don’t want to directly participate you can always lurk a little, or a lot.


    Here is some information about the project. The badge above links to the start post.

    For 2010, we plan to have tasks on the first and third Monday of every month. If you subscribe to the RSS feed for the blog, you’ll be in the loop each time a new task is posted. For more information you can read About the BIP or check out some of the tasks for the 2009 BIP.

    You DO NOT have to have participated in the 2009 BIP in order to join for 2010. And just because you joined in 2009 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join in 2010. We’ll be repeating some of the popular topics from last year, but have already brainstormed many new topics to cover.

    Some of the bloggers whom I know that are participating in this project:

    (Wow three Jennifers!)

    Here are the activities to date:

    1. Blogging To Do List
    2. Pumping up Post Titles
    3. Organizing Categories and/or Tags
    4. Promoting Members of your Group


    I will be participating here and there, and lurking a lot. All blog posts related to this project will be linked below:

    A Challenge Blog for Writers – “Collections from the Unpublished”

    I thought I would share this for the writers and authors who read Layers of Thought. Its a blog called Collections from the Unpublished - which has a writing theme. It looks to be a space to share and connect with other writers while expanding your skills.


    Below is what Sarah has written - taken from her site:


    1. Create your own post: Tell a little about yourself by sharing where you are in the writing process and then pose your own writing question(s) for the week. Preferably post will be made every Saturday, but feel free to choose a day that works best for you.

    2. Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's posts and leave comments! (The point is to help each other by giving out advice.)

    3. Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and DO NOT have to participate every week.

    4. Be sure to sign the Mr. Linky Widget each time so that other's can find your "Wannabe Writers" Post! You don't have to title your post "Wannabe Writers", that's just what I'm calling mine.

    Past Wannabe Writers Questions: 

    #1 How do you stay motivated?
    #2 Finishing a Novel. How to write the perfect ending?
    #3 Voice. What's that? How do you make it different for secondary characters?
    #4 Editing during the writing process. Is it bad to edit as you go?
    #5 What is age appropriate for Young Adult?
    #6 How to write characters of a different race?
    #7 How to start a story?

    (Feel free to comment on past questions.  All these problems I am continuously struggling with.  I'm always looking for more insight.)


    She is also, currently hosting a 50 day 50,000 word challenge which started several days ago. They are on day 7 so there is still time to catch up.


    THIS JUST GOT SERIOUS.  We're actually doing it.  It's already day three the 50K/50Day challenge I've given myself.  Find out more (here).  So far things are going smooth enough.  I wanted to thank all my blogger friends who are supporting me and joining me.  You all are giving me so much confidence to stick with it. 


    Two readers at Layers of Thought that are participating:

  • Robin of My Two Blessings
  • Laurel-Rain Snow
  • Both badges above have live links to the site.  As for my participation, maybe in the next year or so. Until then I shall just lurk.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Review by JD: The Manufactured Identity by Heath Sommer


    • The Manufactured Identity
    • by Heath Sommer
    • ISBN: 978-1-60969-550-4
    • Pages: 305 - paperback
    • Tate Publishing, 2009
    • Genre: Psychological Suspense

    This is a challenging book that is quite difficult to read. There is a reward at the end and I’m glad that I stuck with it and made it through, but I suspect that quite a few readers will not.

    It isn’t a particularly long novel so why is it difficult to read? Two reasons. Firstly, it’s a psychological thriller based around some deeply disturbed or damaged characters that it’s initially tough to relate to (indeed it’s tough to relate to some of them even once you finish the book). Secondly, the story is initially structured around no less than eight different story threads, and until the threads started coming together I found it tough to keep on top of the names, characters and storylines. Many times I found myself flicking back through the book to find or remind myself what had gone before.

    Sommer is himself a clinical psychologist and it shows - this novel is a psychological thriller in the truest sense of the phrase. The story is based around a group of women whose partners have disappeared. The circumstances differ but usually the men have simply vanished with no explanation, leaving the women to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Meanwhile two men are struggling to come to terms with their past; one had a totally horrific childhood that left him twisted and mentally damaged, while the other gradually realizes that everything he knows about his past is untrue and in fact his mind has blocked all real memories from him. He doesn’t even know his real name. One man seeks the help of a clinical psychologist while the other turns to a trainee pastor, who himself has a troubled past. Every main character in the book is troubled and trying to find some answers or some semblance of stability. Gradually all the pieces drop into place and the connections between the characters become clear, with some surprises at the end.

    Once you get over the initial difficulties of the storyline structure, you do get drawn into the plot and you can’t help but wonder how things will work out for the various characters. Some characters you care about, some you loathe and some you puzzle over, but I was pulled along by wanting to find out how it all ended for each of them. In the end I’d say I enjoyed the read, though if you’d asked me when I was half way through the book I’d likely have given you a different answer.

    If you like complex stories based around dark and damaged characters, then this one is for you. One of the twists at the end of the book leaves a nice loose end, and apparently there will be a couple of follow-on novels published this year.

    I’d rate the book 3 Stars.

    For purchasing information, author data, and more – please link to the preview of The Manufactured Identity.

    Comments welcomed and personally addressed by John. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    A Wee Irish Wish ~ and some related readings which are a tad on dark side


    We think so. How about you?

    (Click on the icon above to link to the Wikipedia information about the Saint Patrick’s Day).

    When I was a youngster we loved the day. Running around madly pinching each other regardless of green clothing or no. All of us enjoying some sort of ill tinted confection, while hearing wonderful stories from the clergy at our Catholic grammar school.

    As for John in England, it was naught.

    Beyond that here is our wish for you:110

     May your glass be ever full. A soft pillow for your head. May you be forty years in heaven before the devil knows you're dead.

    Yes this is the picture was actually included with the saying.

    Instead of “a pinch” you too can send this free e greeting to  “loved” ones for “St Paddy’s day” from The Victorian Trading Company. There are some very sweet ones as well. But since this theme today is a bit on the dark (and green) side, we thought it more appropriate.

    Here are a few books on my tbr list which are appropriate for this celebration of St. Patrick’s day. Read one while sipping some tea, better yet some Guinness or a shot of whiskey.  It may help with the menacing theme they all seam to have.


    The Cure ~ by Carlo Gebler

    A historical novel of sexual hysteria, poisonous fantasy and the abuse of power, based on the trial in Ireland of Martin Cleary for the murder of his wife in 1895. His defense was that he was attempting to exorcise a fairy possession first by gentle means and finally by fire.

    Apparently Cleary thought his wife to be a changeling. Recommended by Dave H. from Goodreads who is in fact from Ireland.


    House of Splendid Isolation ~ by Edna O’Brien

    Josie, the ailing, elderly inhabitant of an Irish country mansion, dwells in the shadowy world of remembered pain and loneliness. McGreevy, the terrorist, reintroduces the possibility of compassion and tenderness, but there is an inevitably violent conclusion to their understanding as the police net closes.


    In the Woods ~ by Tana French

    As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

    Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox — his partner and closest friend — find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery.


    Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore

    Introduce yourself to the noble heroes and magical creatures of Irish mythology. Includes the two definitive works on the subject by the giants of the Irish Renaissance -  W.B. Yeates' Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry and Lady Gregory's Cuchulain of Muirthemne.


    Angela’s Ashes ~ by Frank McCourt

    Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood," writes Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. "Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." Welcome, then, to the pinnacle of the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.Mix in abject poverty and frequent death and illness and you have all the makings of a truly difficult early life. Fortunately, in McCourt's able hands it also has all the makings for a compelling memoir.

    I enjoyed this book, as dark as it was and gave it 4 stars.


    Tipperary ~ by Frank Delancy

    When Charles O’Brien, an itinerant Irish healer, is summoned to Paris to treat the infamous Oscar Wilde, little does he know that he will also meet the love of his life in young April Burke, who learns from Wilde that she may be the rightful heir to the great, abandoned estate of Tipperary. Smitten by her beauty—and summarily rejected—O’Brien vows to make himself worthy of her affection and returns to Ireland to restore Tipperary to its former glory.

    51z E3aqTML._SX106_

    The Yellow House ~ by Patricia Falvey

    Delving into the passion and politics of Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 20 century. Eileen O'Neill's family is torn apart by religious intolerance and secrets from the past. Determined to reclaim her ancestral home and reunite her family, Eileen begins working at the local mill, saving her money and holding fast to her dream.

    All book covers link to The Book Depository for purchasing info where you can select the correct currency for your country.

    *Have you read any of these books and/or do you have any books, reviews, or links that you would like to include in this Irish list? Please do so in the comments. We could do with some happy examples as well.*

    Here's to everyone - Have a fun, safe, sane, and not too sober St. Patrick’s Day. Cheers!

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