Friday, April 30, 2010

Quiz - How Rare is your Personality Type?

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Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? There is a veritable rabbit hole of information on the test and the personality types.

I have taken it a variety of times during college and this little test looks like its right on since this is one of the two types I generally get designated with. Its an interesting test and the personality descriptions for the professional version are really quite good.

This silly little quiz is actually cute and I especially like the brilliant bit (tee hee). However, it doesn’t figure my lack of memory skill and my extremely bad spelling (thank goodness for Mozilla’s browser spell check and my husband!).

So go for it – What is your personality type? Then go to this site and type in one of the words describing you, choose a picture and add it to your post. Link it here in the comments and share.

Here's me - Shellie: Goofy – I think that says it all!

Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)

Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant. Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all men. You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.

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Here's John: Spirited to the right

Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ISTP)

Your personality type is reserved, methodical, spirited, and intense. Only about 6% of all people have your personality, including 3% of all women and 8% of all men. You are Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Perceiving.

Now its your turn. Have fun and happy Friday everybody!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

“Steam Punk” Preview: The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

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Amazon Book Stats:

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312558155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312558154
  • Genre: Science Fiction – Steam Punk

    Publisher’s Blurb:

    Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.

    The tale of Harold’s life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers.. As Harold’s childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harold’s entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Miranda’s life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.

    Beautifully written, stunningly imagined, and wickedly funny, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is a heartfelt meditation on the place of love in a world dominated by technology.

    Author Bio:

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    DEXTER PALMER lives in Princeton, New Jersey. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the work of James Joyce, William Gaddis, and Thomas Pynchon (and where he also staged the first academic conference ever held at an Ivy League university on the subject of video games). Picture attributed to Bill Waldman via MacMillan.

    Here is a link to the author’s website for more information.

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    Curious about Steam Punk?

    So what is it, you ask? Here is a link to the Wikipedia definition site. There is a whole subculture around this genre and it looks like its loads of fun. You can even dress up and attend functions, it even has its own type of music, which sounds fairly brilliant in my musical taste realm.

    Here are several links from the MacMillan site to play around with – a book screen saver, wall paper, some Steam Punk art, and a number of excellent blog links.

    For another Steam Punk urban adventure here is a review of Gail Carriger’s Soulless. It was a blast so naturally I am exited about this book, unless John snags it first.

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    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada, from The Book Depository in Euro and AUD.

    This book which was already on my list via Book Browse, was sent to Layers of Thought via MacMillan/St. Martins Press. Thanks Monica!

    Also if you are interested in obtaining a free copy - Only The Best Sci Fi/Fant is giving one away – please tell Alec we sent you!

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Cool New Book and Trailer: Instructions by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess

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    Amazon Book Data:

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061960306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061960307
  • Genre: Children’s Fantasy Picture Book

     

     

    About the Book via Amazon:

    Trust Dreams.
    Trust your heart,
    and trust your story.

    A renowned storyteller whose words have transported readers to magical realms and an acclaimed illustrator of lushly imagined fairy-tale landscapes guide a traveler safely through lands unknown and yet strangely familiar . . .

    . . . and home again.

    **********************************************************************************************************

    Can you believe I have not read anything by Neil Gaiman? John has read one book by him – Anansi Boys.

    Interestingly, there's a local event coming in May held in Mesa, AZ. Its called Leprecon 2010. The guest of honor will be the artist Charles Vess, whose art graces this edition and whom I first recognized via this post on Stainless Steel Droppings where he does a lovely review for Drawing Down the Moon, with Vess’s gorgeous drawings included in the post. I then found this trailer on Vess’s site. I am sure many of you have seen it, but if not its wonderful, and well worth the 4 minutes. Highly recommended.

    From a teaching perspective it has verse sequences with illustrations which children love, where both are great for memory since youngsters remember the verse and associate it with the words, which in turn helps with leaning. It is also a wonderful introduction to fantasy, which is fun for everyone. Enjoy!

    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

    We are hoping to locate a version at our library soon. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

  • Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Review by Shellie: Inside Out by Maria Snyder

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    Basic Set Up Info: 

    Set somewhere in the future, within an enclosed world which has advanced technology, Trella lives in a crowded space where she is one of two factions - Uppers and Lowers. Trella is a Lower and because of this “lower” status she is required to clean the complex pipe systems of this metallic world and is designated a “scrub.” Trella is strong teen, slightly damaged, and prefers to keep to herself. As the story progresses and we become introduced to its dystopian society and its apparent class structure imbalance, drama and light romance ensue.

    My Thoughts:

    This is a wonderful introduction to science fiction and dystopian society for young adults and especially girls. I would have loved this as a “tween” in the 1970s. We had the Nancy Drew series, and authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Zilpha Keatley Snyder giving us mystery, historical fiction, and paranormal. Sadly, I remember no role models for girls within science fiction; goodness knows, I tried devouring the boy’s preteen section on science fiction from our local library. 

    Another  positive element in this book is that Maria Snyder includes some basic concepts around political dystopian concpets for a younger reader. This I feel is important, since it can be then be a basis for understanding more complex worlds, as well as world history and current events. Highly recommended for adults interested in a light read, but especially for intrigued and intelligent girls (and boys too, since it is light on the romance). I give it a 4 star rating and am also excited that it is a first in a series. I believe the next is called Outside In and will be released at the beginning of 2011.

    For more information on this newly released book, the author, as well as purchasing links and more please see Layers of Thought's preview for Inside Out.

    Here are some additional reviews from my reading list:

    1. Misty at Book Rat – includes book trailer
    2. Jennifer from Reading with Tequila

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Mini Blog Break – We Welcome the “Parental Units” from Napa to help us Celebrate

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    Unrelated to our last week’s hiatus we are welcoming Ma and Pa from Napa for the joint celebration of our birthdays. Yes John and I are are of the bull headed zodiac sign and are actually born 5 years and 8 days apart. Pleacake1000candlesse do note that we will also be having a bonfire cake since our candles combined should look something like this to the right. Truthfully the total number of candles on our cake will be 99 for our ages combined this year - you do the math.

    Posting should resume after the folks return home in a few days. But who knows, any excuse for an extended party.

    Wishing you could all be here to help blow out the candles. Goodness knows we could use the help. Until our next post here is a very cute little birthday song from our younger years, when our cakes were just bit less crowded and less of a fire hazard.

     

    Extra points if you can tell us where the phrase “parental units” originated!

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Not So Hot Off the Press – Literary Link Ups

    Happy Earth Day Everyone!

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    Click on this amazingly gorgeous snail for more incredible pictures of fauna from the Borneo rain forest – a true tribute to Earth Day!

    Interested in a few of the amazing iPad stats:

    So you are an author, or you wanna be one? Take a look at these links:

    Here are a few writing gigs:

    And for the readers and bloggers in the group:

    For the Speculative Crowd:

    A few giveaways celebrating milestones:

    • Author Laurel Rain-Snow is having her two year blogoversary give away, with a number of interesting women’s novels to celebrate. Link to the giveaway here. It ends April 28th.
    • Missy at Missy’s Book Nook is also having a 200 follower giveaway. Link here. She's giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate. It ends April 28th.

    Cheers my dears! Until the next link up post have a great day and hug your mother (earth.)

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Preview: Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky – translation by Tim Mohr

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    Amazon Stats:

    • Paperback: 366 pages
    • Publisher: Europa Editions (March 30, 2010)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1933372966
    • ISBN-13: 978-1933372969
    • Genre: Literary Thriller (?)

     

    Book Info:

    The heroine of this thoroughly contemporary novel is Sascha Naimann. Sascha was born in Moscow, but now lives in Berlin with her two younger siblings and, until recently, her mother. She is precocious, independent, street-wise, and, since her stepfather murdered her mother several months ago, an orphan. Unlike most of her companions, she doesn’t dream of escaping from the tough housing project where they live. Sascha’s dreams are different: she longs to write a novel about her beautiful but na├»ve mother and she wants to end the life of Vadim, the man who brutally murdered her. Sascha’s story, as touching as any in recent literature, is that of a young woman consumed by two competing impulses, one celebrative and redemptive, the other murderous. In a voice that is candid and self-confident, at times childlike and at others all too mature, Sascha relates the struggle between those forces that can destroy us, and those that lead us out of sorrow and pain back to life. Germany’s Freundin Magazine called Broken Glass Park “a gripping portrayal of life on the margins of society.” But Sascha’s story does not remain on the margins; it goes straight to the heart of what it means to be young, alive, and conscious in these first decades of the new century.

    Author Bio:

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    Born in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Alina Bronsky has been the subject of constant praise and debate since her debut novel, Broken Glass Park, was published in Germany in 2008. She has been hailed as a literary prodigy and her novel as “an explosive debut” (Emma Magazine) nominated for the prestigious Bachmann Prize. Now, “surprising, poetic, extremely well-crafted” (Cologne Stradtrevue) Broken Glass Park makes its first appearance in English in Tim Mohr’s masterful translation.

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    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

    This book has made the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize booklist – see article hereBook Browse has given it two thumbs up.  To the left is an image of the German cover.

    This book was sent to Layers of Thought via the publicist – Regal Literary. Thanks Amanda!

    Review coming soon.

    ARC Preview: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

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    Amazon Book Stats:

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312595670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312595678
  • Genre: Thriller/ Horror 

     

    Book Info:

    On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two year old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

    The truth doesn’t always set you free. 3163298

    Still Missing is that rare debut find--a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.

    About the Author:

    CHEVY STEVENS grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a realtor. STILL MISSING is her first novel. For more about the author link to her site Bio, Goodreads, blog.

    Amazon pre purchasing links for US/UK/Canada

    This novel was sent to Layers of Thought by the publisher via Shelf Awareness. Thanks to both.

    Picture of author taken by Suzanne Teresa whose name links to her website.

  • Review coming soon!

    ARC Preview: The Pack by LM Preston

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    Amazon Book Stats:

  • Reading level: Target age is 14+
  • Perfect Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Phenomenal One Press (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984198970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984198979
  • Genre: Young Adult Sci Fi 

     

     

    Book Info:

    Shamira is considered an outcast by most, but little do they know that Shamira is on a mission. Kids on Mars are disappearing, but Shamira decides to use the criminals most unlikely weapons against them, the very kids of which they have captured. In order to succeed, she is forced to trust another, something she is afraid to do. However, Valens her connection to the underworld of her enemy, proves to be a useful ally. Time is slipping, and so is her control on the power that resides within her. Yet, in order to save her brother's life she is willing to risk it all.

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    Author Info:

    L. M. Preston worked in the information technology field as a techie and educator for over sixteen years. Her first published novel, Explorer X Alpha, was the beginning of her obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds.

    You can connect with the author on Goodreads, her blog, her wordpress blog, her website, twitter, facebook, and MySpace.

    Amazon pre purchasing links for US/UK/Canada

    This book was sent to Layers of Thought for review by the author. Thanks LM!

    Review coming soon.

  • Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Review by Shellie: The Cost of Dreams by Gary Stelzer

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    Basic Set Up Info:

    The Cost of Dreams is a complex story where the main character, Flora Enriques, is originally from Barrancas del Cobre – the copper mountains just south of the Mexican border in the Chihuahuan state. Of Native American Indian descent, from what I believe is a tribe called the Tarahumara, this young woman escapes her humble and horrific circumstances within these mountains and canyons. Barely leaving with her life and with her siblings, and running from bands of illicit gunmen and overlords, she crosses over the border to the United States.

    Fate has more in store for her, when she is shot and left for dead by a drug dealing thug and her brother in law. That is only the beginning of her incredible and harrowing story, which becomes even more complex as a parallel character, an American female biologist, saves her life as they embark on a journey of emotional and physical healing with some very dramatic events.

    My Thoughts:

    The Cost of Dreams is a layered and compelling story and one which I believe is the author’s first book. He calls himself an “amateur story teller” and brings to light some of the travails of what  he terms calls “the struggle of the downtrodden.” He has created an amazing story line which is harrowing, gritty, and mostly a page turner. Gary Stelzer is also a physician and brings that knowledge into the story, making it interesting and complex. I enjoy medical images and terms within a novel and the author of course does a fabulous job.

    My only grumbles are that at times I found myself a bit lost as new settings were introduced, or change back and forth, and there are complex events in the book. Additionally, I noted some extremely complex sentences – one sentence was an incredible five lines long. These elements slightly effected the page turning ability of the story. I would say that is is however a compelling and important read.

    I really enjoyed this book because of its cultural significance. I have a particular fondness and sympathy for our Mexican and South American Neighbors. They have a complex and wonderful culture with sometimes difficult circumstances. If you enjoy these elements as well as convoluted story lines, and those which revolve around the border States of the US and Mexico, it is highly recommended. I do want to warn readers that there is some intense and graphic violence which may effect some. In the end I give this novel 3.5 stars. If not for the sticky bits my rating would have been higher. I am looking forward to the next novels in this series.

    Beyond the Review: 

    Below are several links about the Tarahumara people and the Barrancas del Cobre (Canyons of Copper) area, which I thought very interesting. Apparently the area is ruggedly beautiful and very similar to the Grand Canyon in the United States only larger and more complex. Meaning it is several canyons linked together forming a complex network. Here is an overview about the area and the people, and here is what Fodors says about the natives in one of their online travel guides. Additionally Utne Reader has an interesting and pertinent article called A Day in the life of a Border Patrol Officer.

    For more information on The Cost of Dreams, the author Gary Stelzer, as well as purchasing information link to Layers of Thought’s preview for the novel.

    Disclaimer - my knowledge of the Barracas del Cobre and its people are limited to this book and my Google searches which I have linked here, and may contain errors. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Review by JD: Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji

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    (Left is softbound/right is hardbound)

    • Rooftops of Tehran
    • by Mahbod Seraji
    • ISBN: 978-0-451-22681-5
    • Pages 345: paperback
    • New American Library/Penguin Books, 2009
    • A gripping novel – a romantic story set in harsh Middle Eastern times.

    John’s Thoughts:

    It’s the early 1970s and in Iran the Shah is coming towards the end of his reign. For the population at large the end cannot come soon enough as they live under the tyranny of the Shah’s rule and the savage secret police that enforce his regime. Meanwhile in a reasonably affluent neighborhood in Tehran a teenage boy, Pasha, is going through adolescent growing pains, besotted by the girl next door and guilt-ridden as she is engaged to his hero, the learned and independent-minded ‘Doctor’.

    As the plot unfolds you get to experience the very strong family bonds that tie together Persian culture, and in particular Pasha’s developing relationships with the girl next door, Zari, his father, and his best friend, Ahmed. There are laughs aplenty, particularly caused by the high-spirited and rebellious Ahmed, but the whole neighborhood is dragged into misery as the secret police targets anyone who doesn’t conform to what they believe is right. It’s a downright scary portrayal of life under a brutal and heartless regime.

    For me this was a bit of an odd book. There is so much about it that is admirable, educational and enjoyable. I learned a lot about a country and a culture of which I knew little, and Seraji populates his book with rich and interesting characters. You also get an insight into the somewhat schizophrenic attitude of Persians towards the United States (I liked the interview with Seraji at the end of the book). But personally I found the romantic side of it just a bit too much, and ultimately that detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

    I really wanted to rate this book more highly, but in truth for me personally this was a 3 ½ star read (which is still a good rating). If you like a romantic novel that has a gritty and realistic setting, I‘d highly recommend Rooftops of Tehran. And my thanks to Charlie, whose review of this book led me to seek it out.

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    Here is a link for more information about the author - Mahbod Seraji at the book’s website.

    Amazon purchasing information links for US/UK/Canada.

    As usual John will be addressing the comments for this review. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    ARC Preview: Keeper by Kathi Appelt

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    Amazon Book Stats:

    • Reading level: Ages 9-12
    • Hardcover: 416 pages
    • Publisher: Atheneum (May 18, 2010)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1416950605
    • ISBN-13: 978-1416950608
    • Genre: children/tween fantasy?

     

    Book Data

    To ten-year-old Keeper, this moon is her chance to fix all that has gone wrong...and so much has gone wrong. But she knows who can make things right again: Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother who swam away when Keeper was just three. A blue moon calls the mermaids to gather at the sandbar, and that's exactly where she is headed -- in a small boat, in the middle of the night, with only her dog, BD (Best Dog), and a seagull named Captain.

    When the riptide pulls at the boat, tugging her away from the shore and deep into the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico, panic sets in, and the fairy tales that lured her out there go tumbling into the waves. Maybe the blue moon isn't magic and maybe the sandbar won't sparkle with mermaids and maybe -- Oh, no..."Maybe" is just too difficult to bear. Kathi Appelt follows up to her New York Times bestseller, The Underneath, with a tale that will pull right at your very core -- stronger than moon currents -- capturing the crash and echo of the waves and the dark magic of the ocean.

    About the Author

    Kathi Appelt, at the age of seven, stumbled and fell into an alligator pit in San Antonio, Texas, a place where there should be no alligators or alligator pits. Fortunately she was a lot bigger than the alligator, who was more scared of her than she was of it!

    She is a member of the faculty at Vermont College's Master of Fine Arts program and occasionally teaches creative writing at Texas A&M University. She has two grown children, and lives in Texas with her husband and four cats. Her debut novel, The Underneath, was a National Book Award finalist and a Newbery Honor book.  

    You can find the author on Goodreads, and her website.

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    Amazon pre-purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

    This book was sent via Shelf Awareness by the publisher Atheneum. A big thanks to both.

    Review coming soon.

    ARC Preview: The Passage by Justin Cronin

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    (US cover to left – UK cover to the right)

    Amazon Book Stats:

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345504968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345504968
  • Genre: Apocalyptic Fantasy/Horror 

     Book Data:

    "It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born."

    First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

    As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

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    Author Bio:

    Born and raised in New England, Justin Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Awards for his fiction include the Stephen Crane Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is a professor of English at Rice University and lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas.

    Justin Cronin is an American author. He has written two novels: Mary and O'Neil and The Summer Guest. Awards he's won for his fiction include the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Stephen Crane Prize, and the Whiting Writer's Award.

    Here is the link for the book’s website – you can link to information about Justin Cronin there and follow him on twitter.

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    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

    This book was sent for review via the publisher, possibly through Shelf Awareness? (Oh dear!) No complaints here, just my type of read. Review coming soon!

  • Preview: Neverland by Douglas Clegg

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    Amazon Book Stats:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vanguard Press (April 13, 2010) – this was the paperback edition release date
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593155417
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593155414
  • Genre: Horror 

    About the Book:

    What seems to be a family vacation on Gull Island, the Jackson family’s ancestral home, soon becomes a deadly nightmare bound by a family secret. The rundown shack in the woods of the property becomes christened as “Neverland” by cousins Beau and Sumter - their secret clubhouse as a way to escape the tensions brewing at the main adult-ridden house. But what starts out as a game becomes a frightening reality, as Sumter begins to commit strange acts almost on the brink of lunacy, bringing sacrifices to a god he calls “Lucy.” All gods demand sacrifice… and the only person who can uncover the truth and stop Sumter from his most dangerous act yet is Beau, who must counteract not only his cousin but the voice of “Lucy” in his head that whispers most cruelly, “The bunny screams because it is alive.” The unrelenting terror of Neverland shakes the Jackson family to its core when the truth is finally revealed - no one will come out quite the same.

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    For more information on the author click here for his bio on his website. He is also having and amazing giveaway for an e-reader – a Kindle of a Nook.

    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

    This book was sent via a publicist – Planned TV Arts. Thanks TJ!

    This one looks great. Review coming soon.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Short Posting Hiatus

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    We have experienced an unexpected death in the family and will be taking a short time off from posting. Our world is a sadder place less a special grandma.

    Posting should resume in several days.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Short Story Review: The Goosle by Margo Lanagan - for the Once Upon a Time Challenge IV

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    • The Goosle
    • by Margo Lanagan
    • Genre: fairy tale “after telling”, dark fantasy, horror

    The Goosle is a ten page short story which is part of The Best Horror of the Year – Volume 1, edited by Ellen Datlow. I stumbled upon it in the library entry way display shelf. Because I love horror and Margo Lanagan’s name was on the cover, I picked it up hopefully. I was imagining that she would in fact be writing a fairy tale ”ish” story, as in her book Tender Morsels (my 5 star review linked.) I was happily excited.

    This short story is a very dark “afterwards” to Hansel and Gretel. It occurs after the actual tale, when Hansel is a young man instead of a boy. There is no Gretel and things have changed greatly since he was a small child lost in the woods. I would say they are a bit more complicated. He is caught up in another tangle of sorts, albeit worse than being lost in the woods. I will go no further since I do not want to include spoilers, but Lanagan brings in a number of taboo subjects making it shocking. I think to finish this short story the reader needs to truly enjoy “dark fantasy”. It is however a fantastic story, heart wrenching, thoughtful, as well as layered. One of my favorite types of reading. After reading this piece, and it is only my second by this author, I am thinking Margo Lanagan is one of the best writers of dark fantasy that I have read, and she is heading for a place at the top of all writers as well. Highly recommended, especially for those with strong stomachs, hearts, and sensibilities. Now to find more short stories which can compete *sigh*.

    This story also has GLBT elements.

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    Book Stats:

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597801615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597801614
  • Amazon Links: US/UK/Canada

    This is my first post for The Once Upon a Time Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.

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    Now off to the trails, for a “walk”. Sadly the season will be ending soon. It will be in the high 80s today in our lovely “Hotsdale”, only to reach oven like status before we know it. Happy Sunday everyone!

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Spicy Tidbits from around a very small part of the literary blogosphere

    hot off the press

    Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon is tomorrow. Although I’m not officially signed up it should be good fun lurking.

    National Library Week is coming up in the U.S. April 11-17, and April is School Libraries Month (2010 is the 25th anniversary).  We love love love our library…

    Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit is hosting a poetry blog tour event this month. Check it out since April is Poetry month. More information can also be found at Poets.org.

    We’ve got two new babies in the reader list here at Layers of Thought. Lilly from Reading Extravaganza and Marissa Farrar author of Alone (title links to preview) both have new little ones. Congratulations to both - what cuties.

    Book Girl at Mur-y-Castell has an interesting post telling readers what they do in Finland during Easter. Amazing, I love finding out about different cultures.

    Some of you may have seen this machine – The Espresso Book Machine – It makes books on demand on site at book stores. Here is a video linking its process which I thought was very interesting. It could change the industry? Very cool!

    Michael aka ediFanoB has started his own blog. He’s quirky and hilarious but writes great reviews within the genre of Speculative Fiction. His new blog is called Edi’s Book Lighthouse. Lets welcome him!  He has a link for  Science Fiction Appreciation month in April hosted at the blog Walker of Worlds.  Science Fiction… fun stuff. We love Science Fiction.

    Randa Jarrar author of A Map of Home (title links to review – I loved the book) has written an interesting tidbit here at Utne Reader.

    Books on the Nightstand has a recent podcast interview where Ann Kingman chats with Holly LeCraw author of The Swimming Pool (title links to preview.) I love their podcasts and hold them personally responsible for a third of my teetering “want to read” book pile. Here is a link to win a copy of the book at Along the Way book blog. It ends April 28.

    Book Browse one of my favorite places to find interesting books is offering one month free to family and friends, so go for it. The site offers insight into a variety of genres, authors, and interesting information surrounding the titles. It is also very inexpensive, running only about 2.50 per month. Highly recommended.

    Adele from Unbound attended World Horror Con 2010 and has several great posts with other bloggers and authors. I am so envious - link 1, link 2, link 3.

    Vamplit/Ebooks Undead - has a new ezine and is looking for submissions. So if you write about vampires (or for vampires) this could be your gig.

    The Classics Circuit has sign ups for the May/June 2010 – The Golden Age of the Detective Tour. So if you like classic detective fiction and want to be on tour check the blog out.

    Misc Giveaways:

    • Lisa at Book Blab is giving away a copy of Mistress of Rome. It ends April 30. She is also having a huge giveaway for her 300th follower contest. It ends May 4th.
    • Book City Chic  has a great post from World Horror Con 2010 and a giveaway which ends tomorrow – April 10. So hurry!
    • Amanda at Daydreams and Wanderings is having a 100 followers contest and is offering two books – Veracity  and A Harvest of Bones. This contest ends April 17.

    Sorry if I missed your special tidbit, and or giveaway. Sadly I only made it through a quarter of my main blog list on Google Reader. You will note some of it is old news and most of the blogs titles begin with letters A through E. Now I recall why I stopped doing links ups – it’s darn fiddly. Please link your interesting tidbits/giveaways in the comments section if you wish. Until the next link up post!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Interesting Update – I will be taking over The Basics Challenge site.

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    Goodness life throws us some curve balls sometimes. I’ve caught one and the news is that I will be taking over The Basics Challenge blog site. I am kind of nervous but excited too. It is a small site so I don’t believe it will be too much work.

    Emily Cross, the owner The Basics Challenge has decided that she would like to focus on her many other projects including her PhD (this young woman is busy, busy, and highly prolific). So she has decided to let go of her smaller challenge site – The Basics Challenge. Since I love this challenge and post there regularly, I raised my hand so it would not be deleted. Just in the nick of time too.

    It is a pretty site with only a few participants and “followers” as of now. I do however have some fun ideas for growing it, and hope it can be a safe place to learn and explore. Everyone is welcome to join, follow, or lurk – yes lurking works too.

    About the Challenge:

    The Basics Challenge was designed specifically for writers and authors to help them explore interested genres/sub genres which they plan to write within. It is also a challenge site for anyone interested in exploring regardless of writing goals, just for the sake of learning. (Like me.)

    Anyone who would like to join can do so at any time. It is a rotating 5 year challenge – meaning it can be repeated and extends into infinity. It is also very flexible. The main idea is 100 books over a five year period, with a 25% forgiveness rate. So 75 books for the five year period, which gives you 15 books per year. This too is flexible and up to you. Participants can choose any books they wish for their list as well as not create a list at all, and can change their list at any time. Additionally, you do not have to own a blog to post to this site, since all participants will be welcome as a co-author of the blog.

    Here is a link to Emily’s Guidelines for the challenge.

    I would like it to be a fun and creative space for everyone - authors, writers, and those interested in learning about specific genres, to come together and share book reviews, what they have learned about specific genres of interest, as well as thoughts and insights around their process. No pressure, no challenge police, just fun.

    Please feel free to take a button and link it to the challenge site on your blog (there is an html one at the site too), as well as join the challenge, or just follow for updates and reviews. I would love to see you there and/or read your thoughts and comments.

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Review by JD: The Army of the Republic by Stuart Archer Cohen

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    • The Army of the Republic
    • by Stuart Archer Cohen
    • ISBN: 978-0-312-42905-8
    • Pages 422: paperback
    • Picador, 2009
    • Genre: Speculative Thriller

    An excellent novel – dark and dangerous and the best book I’ve read in a few months.

    The setting is America in the very near future, after an energy crisis, oil-related wars and financial collapse have left much of working America in ruins. A corrupt government is working in cahoots with major corporations to privatize everything they can in order to line their own pockets. At the same time they have slowly but surely disenfranchised the population by rigging elections and election procedures. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, they rely heavily on a huge private security firm to do their dirty work for them, backed up by a well-organized PR firm which ensures that all major media is manipulated to present a one sided version of the government and all news reporting.

    Feeling like they have no legitimate alternatives, a series of clandestine resistance groups spring up across the country. They resort to violent tactics in order to try and stop the government and to shake the general population from its blind acceptance of a bad situation. One of the groups is called the Army of the Republic, and the novel revolves around its leader, Lando, and a super-wealthy businessman whose obsession with growing his company at the expense of public rights makes him a target for the group. The story builds to a climax as the government forces and the guerilla groups head for a showdown, with peaceful civilian protest groups caught in the middle.

    This is a complex and powerful story. On one level it is a clever and engrossing thriller, but there is much more to it than that.

    While the “America” in the novel may sound far-fetched, it is rather too believable for comfort. You can directly extrapolate from some of the events of the past ten years, and see how this could actually have unfolded. And as the story unfolds, it makes you ask yourself some tough questions. In a world where genuine democracy has been taken away and corrupt leaders answer to no-one, how far would you go to try and put things right?  What is right and moral when all of your rights are being trampled on? How do you differentiate between a freedom fighter and a terrorist?

    You ponder those things as you read a great story filled with some rich characters. I had no idea how it was all going to end until I got to the last few pages – and I finally got to those pages in the early hours of the morning, as I’d been unable to put the book down.

    If you like a thought-provoking, dark, complex thriller, I’d highly recommend this book. An excellent read; I’d rate this 4.5 stars.

    ****************************************************************************************

    For more information on this book, the author, as well purchasing links see Layers of Thought’s Preview for The Army of the Republic.

    As always John will be taking all comments for this review, which he enjoys immensely. Please stay tuned since we have been offered an author interview/guest post as well as a giveaway.

    Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Trilogy Review: Life As We Knew It; The Dead and The Gone; and This World We Live In ~ by Susan Beth Pfeffer

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    Moon Series ~ by Susan Beth Pfeffer (reviewed by Shellie)

    Synopsis:  This is a young adult series with This World We Live In being the last of the trilogy. It is set within the present day where an apocalyptic event has occurred. The moon has been knocked off its orbit causing a plethora of environmental disasters all over the planet. Tsunamis destroy coastal cities and that is just the beginning.

    As all normal life deteriorates the 17 year old main character, Miranda, in the first book tells us through her diary the events and her feelings as her life completely changes. It occurs within a Pennsylvania suburb setting. The second book is a parallel book where the main character, Alex, lives in New York City. In the third book the two main characters’ lives come together.

    This World We Live In,  was released on April 1, 2010.

    My Thoughts:  The books all have a realistic feeling for what could happen if the world’s food, communication services, and other vital systems were to break down and gradually collapse and disappear. The author does a nice job of giving the reader a feel for this type of event and doesn’t skirt painful happenings such as death, which she does tastefully for a younger audience.

    It’s a page turning series for young men and women which I would “safely” recommend for my nieces, grandchildren, and/or students. The behaviors of the main characters in the books show strong character; I would almost say an unrealistic sense of self and behavior (I think I would have gone bonkers under the circumstances). Nevertheless, it’s what I believe to be exemplary behavior for young adults, which I support. I also liked the fact that the two character’s belief systems, atheism and Catholicism, are non-judgmentally contrasted.

    Susan Beth Pfeffer has a strong and easy to follow writing style, which sucks you in and keeps you reading while caring about the characters. I completely devoured this series. I would rate the first two books in the series as 3.5 stars. I would say I liked the latest book the best due to its incredible and heartbreaking ending. This, I think, takes the book over the 4 star edge with its deeper internal conflict. Highly recommended for adults and teens alike. I  also recommend that they are read in order, don’t be tempted to skip the second book – I almost did.


    Other examples of reviews/interviews for these books are:

    Other books that I have read and reviewed which are similar and appocalyptic but written for adults are:


    For more information on all three books, the author, as well as purchasing links please see Layers of Thought’s preview combo for all three. These three books will be included in several challenges where badges link to the designated posts for each challenge below:   

    Speculatice Fiction Challenge 3basics-1challenge422010sf_chall24023982391_7a3d1b0979_o

    Thanks for reading!

    An Apocalyptic Book Challenge: March 17 – October 31, 2010

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    (Badge links to challenge site.)

    Name: It's The End of the World III
    Host: Becky of Becky's Book Reviews
    Dates: March 17, 2010 - October 31, 2010
    Books Required: Four

    Becky defines apocalyptic fiction on the post and how it differs from dystopian fiction, and also mentions that they sometimes overlap. Very interesting. Come join!

    I have completed 3:

    One more to go.

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Author Guest Post some Questions and Book Giveaway for: Vacation by ~ Jeremy C. Shipp a nominee for the Bram Stoker Award

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    When I first connected with Jeremy Shipp, through a twitter trip while adding horror related tweeters, I had this sense that he is a special person. After reading about him and a sample of his work below I think you will agree.

    Jeremy writes within a sub genre called Bizarro, which is unusual itself. Having recently finished his latest book Cursed (links to book preview) I have yet to define it, but suffice to say that his work is psychologically insightful, quite twisted and quirky, hilarious, and thought provoking.

    But before the giveaway, below are a few questions, and a bit of his work to entice you into wanting to read more. Welcome Jeremy!


    Why write horror? Why read horror?

    I write horror because I think it’s important to shine a light on the darkness of our world. I believe that to speak about evil, to write about evil, is to take away some of its power. And so, I write about things like racism, sexism, class stratification, genocide. I write about the darkness, and I show that even in horrifying situations, love and friendship and respect can exist and can change the world for the better.

    How would you define Bizarro fiction for an uninitiated reader?

    Bizarro fiction is the literary equivalent to the cult movie section in the video store. Bizarro fiction is weird, surreal, absurd, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Much of my work is classified as Bizarro because my stories are basically my reality reflected in a funhouse mirror.

    What literature/ authors would you consider to be the most influential in your work?

    Growing up, I was deeply inspired by authors such as HG Wells, Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas. These days, I often find my muse stimulated by writers like Lois Lowry, Arundhati Roy, Haruki Murakami, Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell. I also have numerous filmmakers to thank for my desire to be a storyteller. Filmmakers such as George Lucas, Terry Gilliam, Larry Blamire, Jim Henson, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Hayao Miyazaki.

    What do you think it is about clowns that make them so scary?

    Clowns smile and frown at the same time, and thousands of them can fit in one tiny car. They scream in harmony. And worst of all, they perform unnecessary surgeries on me in my sleep.

    You can see what I mean about the funny and slightly twisted bit?


    (Picture links to the clown’s artist web site - magopaco.)

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    Here is a short sample from the author.

    Clown ~ by Jeremy C. Shipp

    Henry sat on a throne, but he didn’t think of himself as king. The kings and queens were long dead, of course. Long live the clowns.

    His minions huddled together in the center of the warehouse and cried because Henry required them to cry.

    Crying Time always meant tears and smiles. Because no matter how hard his peons wept, they couldn’t wash away their smiles, as Henry commanded them to point their noses at the floor.

    Henry enjoyed joining opposites so much that he invited the leader of the Samurai Clan for a cup of tea. The Samurai arrived during Orgy Time, and Henry didn’t force his lackeys to stop what they were doing, but he did roll some of them out of the way to clear a path for the noble warrior.

    He even allowed the Samurai to sit on his throne.

    “You are most generous, Clown. Now what is this proposal your message boy spoke of before I beheaded him?”

    “I suggest that we join forces.”

    “And what reason does either of us have for doing such a thing?”

    “Clowns and samurai have no business sitting together in the same warehouse and that’s why we should merge. The contrast is perfectly fitting, don’t you think?”

    “I think you may have something. Who would ever expect such a union?”

    While the Samurai droned on about stratagems, Henry giggled, imagining Clowns and Samurai fighting side-by-side.

    Henry stopped by the chocolate flower man on his way back to the cabin and he drove with the air conditioning spewing coolness, but a stream like blood trickled down his arm, which he licked at constantly. Faintly, he recalled a time when he could buy Melanie real flowers.

    Melanie knew nothing of this side of him. He always washed off the makeup before returning home, not because he was ashamed but because he didn’t want her to know that she wasn’t enough; that he needed to control more than he needed to cuddle. He only hoped that Melanie too had another life outside of the cabin. Perhaps she was a high-priced hooker or a serial killer.

    That would be nice.


    About the book for Giveaway:

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    Jeremy has offered a pdf copy of Vacation, nominated in the preliminary ballet for the Bram Stoker Award, to one lucky reader. Book cover links to the Layers of Thought Preview, which includes book info and purchasing links.

    As a pdf copy, there are a number of ways to read it - on a computer, on a variety of e readers (my nook supports it),  it can be printed,  and on iphones and black berries. So don’t let the e version put you off.

    More about Jeremy:  Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 50 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Pseudopod, and Rosebud. While preparing for the forthcoming collapse of civilization, Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse with his wife, Lisa, and their legion of yard gnomes. Thankfully, only one mime was killed during the making of his first short film, Egg. (links to trailer)

    Connections links for him are at his blog, website, twitter, and Goodreads.


    Now for the Giveaway:

    You do not have to be a “follower/reader” for this giveaway. Anyone can enter, and because it will be emailed to the winner you can live anywhere.

    Contest Info:

    To enter you must:

    • comment
    • include in the post your email so that I can contact you

    For optional extra points you can do any, or all of the below for 1 entry point each. All entries may be included in one single comment.

    1. Be a subscriber of Layers of Thought – google or facebook. (I need to be able to see you – and to get updates in facebook feed add me as a friend otherwise it does not count.)
    2. Blog it - side bars are great - please provide links
    3. Tweet it  – provide links please
    4. Friend on Twitter
    5. Friend on Goodreads
    6. Friend on Book Blogs
    7. Friend on Glue  - new to glue? have questions? let me know.

    As state above, this giveaway is International.

    Contest ends Sunday May 30, 2010 at 12 pm US Pacific time. Winner will be posted and notified on Friday June 4, 2010.

    Good Luck!

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