Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Open Me Last List!~

A Good Book---the Gift that keeps on Giving!

What books did I read this year? Which ones am I giving as gifts? I enjoyed so many, having to narrow it down was difficult. In no particular order, here they are:

Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller
Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, need I say more? If you  love the songs they wrote and sang, this tells you how they came to be some of the best singers/songwriters of their day. Music lovers delight.

Zeitoun by David Eggers
Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and here Eggers tells the tale of what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American, married to an American, and their four children. One of the best novels about the events  in New Orleans after Katrina

The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley
First of all, Douglas Brinkley writes great historical books; second, Theodore Roosevelt lived a life that was never boring. What might be a surprise is that Roosevelt, being  the great hunter he was, believed in conservation and went on to make it a universal effort. Written with humor and the vitality that Roosevelt was known for, it's a great book for anyone who admires, Roosevelt, conservation, and maybe explain how someone who revered animals, could have no qualms about killing them...

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
Was there resisitence in Nazie Germany? Meet Otto and Elise Hampel who try, in their own small way, to undermine Hitler after their son is killed in the war. The Hampels print postcards denouncing the war and Hitler, leave them around Berlin hoping they will make a difference with someone. While you know there can only one way for the book to end, you keep hoping maybe........ Wonderfully written.

*Hans Fallada wrote this book in 24 days. Fallada was a bestselling novelist before the war and refused to leave Germany like some of his friends. He was brutalized psychologically by Goebbels for refusing to write a anti-Semitic book, hounded by the Gestapo, put into an asylum for the criminally insane. While Fallada died in 1947,  he did outlast the Reich.

Good Soldiers by David Finkel
True story about the 2-16 battalion, called the Rangers, and their experiences when they were sent to Baghdad in 2007. The changes that occurred within themselves, the horrors that they saw, and how war changed them, some for better and some for the worse. Did the surge in Iraq work? Do you ever recover from being in war? Finkel gives opinions from those who were there.

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
While this book reads like a fiction thriller, it is true. A small band of Special Force soldiers sneak into Afghanistan after 9/11. They went to help the Afghans fight the Taliban. They needed to take the town of Mazar-i-Sharif to put a dent in the Taliban. One of the first obstacles to overcome was the fact that the Afghans mode of travel was horses...which most of the soldiers had ever been on. As always in war, there is the horror, but Stanton somehow shares some of the humor that occurred. If you want to have a better understanding of why we are where we are with Afghanistan, read this. Stanton did a terrific job of researching and talking to those that were there.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

King Henry VIII and the one man who would do anything to ascend to political power...Thomas Cromwell. Mantel fills in the empty spaces of what transpired during eight years of Henry's reign, the Anne Boleyn years. Not afraid to get his hands dirty and achieve his ends by any means, Cromwell becomes Henry's right hand man. If someone loves the Tudors, or if you do, the history of England during their you go.

*Mantel won the Booker Award this year. for this book.

Clapton by Eric Clapton

Clapton played with some of the best in the music world, he wrote and sang songs that are considered classics. In his straight forward, honest autobiography he shares everything, how he went after his best friends wife, (George Harrison) and strangely, this didn't affect their friendship; and his anguish when his four-year-old son Connor fell to his death. I was glad when he came to realize how talented he is and what pleasure he has brought to many people. For those who love Clapton, the history of the 60's music and how most of it came to be, this is the book for them.

These are the books I am giving as gifts., hopefully one of them will make you think of someone who might enjoy it. I call this my Open Me Last list because when I open the gift of a book, I want to stop everything and start reading it. .....

I wish you a Blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year...and always...Happy Reading!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Books

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go.....
read a book read a book read a book.....
(thanks to Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne)

When you are in this situation, read a book. This time of year, when I pick up a book to read, I want it to be about Christmas, I want to be able to read it in a day or two, and I want a warm, fuzzy feeling when I'm done. With that in mind, I have a list of some of the best Christmas stories I have read over the years..that fit my criteria.

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Capote tale of the wonderful relationship between an orphaned boy and elderly woman gives you a warm glow. The making of the fruitcakes and the homemade gifts as they prepare for Christmas, the feelings they have for one another....eating the remains of the fruitcake and getting a little tipsy. Set in Alabama in the 1930's, it is about a time long gone when times where simpler. A little gem of a story.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Who sometimes doesn't wish to just opt out of Christmas? Funny story about Luther and Nora Krank who decide to skip Christmas when their only child tells them she isn't coming home for Christmas. They decide to go on a cruise. The neighbors are furious when the Kranks don't put up any decorations and make clear they are forgoing Christmas. Last minute shenanigans ensue when, at the last minute, their daughter calls Christmas Eve as they are sneaking out of their house and she has decided to come home and wants to celebrate their usual family holiday. The whole neighborhood springs into action to save Christmas for the Kranks.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

After being told by his doctor that this could be his last Christmas ever, 52-year old Oswald T. Campbell leaves cold wintry Chicago and heads to Lost River, Alabama. One grocery store...and the local cardinal, a redbird called Jack...and with attempts to fix him up with a widow, things are different. When Oswald and his new friends become involved with abandoned, crippled young Patsy, the tugging at the heartstrings begin. Will there be snow for Christmas? Will Oswald make it to another Christmas? Will Flagg combine sass with love, humor and charm? Will she get you get a little teary-eyed? Oh yeah.

A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor

If you enjoy Keillor like I do, give this a go. If you like audio, definitely listen to it read by Keillor. I always like an authors interpretation of their books. On his way to Hawaii for Christmas, our traveller is summoned to his sick Aunt's side and ends up spending it in his North Dakota hometown instead during a blizzard. The electricity goes out and lo' and behold our traveller is visited by friends from his past, and some historical figures pop in....he hears angles singing, the silence of the night amazes him...and it changes things for him and how he will live his life. Humor and the heartstrings pull here!

A Blue and Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott

I love Medlicott "Ladies of Covington" series, so this one I was looking forward to cozing up with. When the Ladies of Covington find an old tin box, they find letters inside written by two Civil War soldiers, one an Union soldier and one an Confederate soldier. The discovery of the contents in the box turns this into an historical saga. Another wonderful heart tugger....I was sorry to close the last page.
*Note-I love Medlicott's Ladies series. It is definitely one to cozy up with in front of the fire during the cold months.

The Christmas Letters by Lee Smith
Another author I love to read. This book is three generations of women who write a Christmas letter every year, beginning in 1944-1996. They share what the past year has brought them, both good and bad. A charmer of a read.

Christmas on Jane Street by Billy Romp
I discovered this book a few years ago. I gave it as gifts to those of my friends who had teenage daughters.

This is based on a true story about Mr. Romp, his wife, and three children who for ten years have come from Vermont to New York City to sell their Christmas trees. Romp's daughter, his right hand, the one who he counts on to make sure all is running smoothly is on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and not as interested in the tree business as in the past. Traditions are wonderful, but what happens when new traditions come around?

The Polar Express by Chis Ban Allsburg
This book brings back such happy memories for me! This was the book I read Christmas Eve to my girls, and my oldest had a bell she kept with her that she jingle during the night. I still read it, to anyone who will listen. Ah, this one makes me smile.

I hope one of one of these give you a wonderful happy holiday reading!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

The worth of a book is to be measured
by what you can carry away from it.
James Bryce

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

Jim Fergus

I love books based on "what if?" One Thousand White Women is very much a "what if" book.
While this is fiction, it is based on an historical fact. In 1875, the chief of the Cheyenne, Lone Wolf, came to Washington and met with President Grant. Knowing that the way of life of the Indian was changing, he requested "Brides for Indians," he offered one thousand horses for one thousand white women. The idea being that the white women would marry the Cheyenne, have a baby, and therefore assimilate the Indians into the white man's world and hopefully bring peace between the two. That's the fact, now we begin the fiction.

While publicly Grant was aghast, secretly he gave his consent to send one thousand white women to the Cheyenne. Recruiters went to jails, mental institutions, debtors' prisons, and were sent out to find women to fill the quota. May Dodd was in the first group to head west, having been recruited from a mental institution. She joined quite a cast of characters when they were loaded on the train to take them to Indian Country.

We did this book for book discussion, and over bison stew--made by yours truly--came to the consensus that we loved this book. We agreed that we had to keep reminding ourselves that it was fiction. We were amazed that the author, Jim Fergus, could do such an amazing job from a women's point of view. May Dodd kept a journal from the beginning of the journey to the end. The deal is that the women have to stay with the Cheyenne for two years, have a child, then they are free to do what they want. All teh women had been pardoned so they didn't have to fear being returned to prison, instituions or home. The writing about the lives of the women while living with the Cheyenne is wonderful. How the women adjust to the life among a different people, a people who they have been taught to fear, does take some time but when they realize these are not the vicious savages they had heard about, life isn't awful The women learn to ride horses, eat different foods then they were used to, (choked, boiled puppy was a big favorite in the Cheyenne diet) cook, pack up and move, and live in crowded teepee's. Cheyenne braves could have more then one wife and, yes, they all lived together. The women are amazed at how accepting the Indians are of someone being different and how they hold them in high regard. Half-breeds, who the white man considered as beneath them, the Indians believed to be special and treat them with respect. When the women see the affects of liquor on the Indians they realize that not everything the white people have brought the Indians is good.

The historical writing has been well researched. The violence between the different tribes, the distrust between the Indian and the white man, and the government reneging on the "deal" that was made; the Indians had forfilled their part of the deal, delivered the one thousand horses, but no more white women were coming. When gold is discovered in the Black Hills, the Black Hills that had been given to the Sioux and Cheyenne "forver and ever" in a treaty, all hell breaks loose when the news reaches the East as the mad rush for gold begins.

One of the most interesting things about this book was that author, a male, could write with such insight about women. Fergus made his female characters strong, independent and definitely before their time. We had to keep reminding ourselves reading the book that this was fiction.

While this book is based on fact, the Cheyenne did approach the Grant administration for "brides," the Grant administration was horrified at the request...or were they?

The book came to an end that was not one any of us liked...

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction, or... even if you don't.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Always Magic in the Air!

They say the neon lights are bright
On Broadway
They say there's always magic in the air....

The Drifters

For me, one of the best things about growing up in the sixties was the music. I don't think any era had it as good as we did then...which has proven time and again by the songs that have been remade. I can remember when my daughter was a teenager, she had on her radio station in the car. We're driving along, I'm singing along with the radio and she is apalled that I am singing...but amazed that I know the song! I told her the song was one that was a hit when I was a teenager..long long ago.

In the Brill building writing songs were Carole King, Neil Sedeka, Ellie Greenwich, Hal David, Phil Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Lieber and Stoller, Burt Bacharach, Jeff Barry, Neil Diamond, Bob name some of the songwriters. Don Kirshner running the show, setting them against each other to see who would turn out the next smash hit song. Kirshner, to get the results he wanted with a song, would have them compete amongst themselves. He would push them to outdo each other, whether they collaborated together or wrote alone. I can only imagine what music was in that one building with all that talent. While reading this book I could feel the music in the air. When you think of the songs that came out of that building:

"On Broadway"
"Last Train to Clarksville"
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy"
"Be My Baby"
"Dream Lover"
"We Gotta Get Outta This Place"
"Hanky Panky"
"Leader of the Pack"
"Stand By Me"
"Only in America"
"Hey Girl"
"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"
"Anyday Now"

This is just a few, and yes, I can go on and on.... Do any of those songs bring a smile to your face when you hear them? Do they bring back a memory? Do you remember who sang these are some of the singers who were lucky enough to sing some of them:

The Monkees
Bobby Vee
The Chiffons
Ben E. King
The Drifters
The Animals
Dionne Warwick

Lesley Gore
Bobby Darin
Manfred Mann
Tommy James and the Shondells
Righteous Brothers

I loved this book. I liked the background on the singers and songwriters. The fierce competition between them to not only write the next big hit, but to have the singer that they felt would make it a hit. Even the backstabbing that went on was interesting, especially between some of the songwriters who were married to each other; it was important who had the next big hit, didn't matter if you outdid your spouse. Finding out that the Monkees weren't just acting like jerks on TV.....they were worse in person. What made Neil Sedeka decide he wanted to sing his own songs? Carole King, Neil Diamond...two more hit songwriters who decided to sing the songs they wrote,  how great for them and lucky for us! The Righteous Brothers turned down "We Gotta Get Outta This Place"  and the Animals ended up doing it. What do you think, would the song still hold up the way it has if the Righteous Brothers had sang it? While reading about the history of the Brill Building, what they did for music, the talent that was there....I had to put the music on while I read the book, which made this even more fun to read.

Music and books are two of my favorite things in the world, put them together and I am in heaven! Kudos to Emerson for writing a terrific books and giving the Brill Building, and those wonderful songwriters, long overdue recognition.

If you enjoy music, like to find out who's was behind some of your favorite songs, how the songs and the singers came together, then this is a book for you. I highly recommend it ...I enjoyed it so much I bought my own copy for my bookshelf.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bad Moon Rising

Don't go round tonight                            
Well, it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise....
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Want a book that makes the back of your neck tingle? How about a movie that will make you lose sleep for a few nights? It's that time of year when you just have to read, or watch, something that leaves you with a jumpy feeling for every noise that you hear. or shadow that you see....or think you see?
Some of my favorites? Hmmmmm.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

I read the book, which gave me many a sleepless night. The branches of the trees tapping on the windows can still give me that chill down my back. A small New England town is being turned into vampires with only a handful of people left to stand up to the undead. The atmosphere is set right from the start of the book and stays with you as you read. I recommend you leave the lights on while reading. (And don't invite anybody in....) Then I watched the mini-series on TV when it came out, the original, directed by Toby Hooper, starring David Soul and James Mason. Hooper did a great job bringing a classic terror novel to the small screen. Just thinking about it makes me want to run and lock the windows, doors....get out the wooden stakes. Now I am now having flashbacks about!!!

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
It's 1960, and the question is, "What's going on in Elm Haven, Illinois ?" When five twelve year old boys decide to find out, they are horrified at what they discover. How long has this been going on, and who can they trust? You never know what evil you'll uncover when you go looking. Another great horror novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

First time I read this I couldn't put it down. Of course, reading a vampire novel into the late hours of the night is not a good idea, especially this one. This is one of the best supernatural thrillers I have ever read, with the combination of horror, longing for love, and looking for redemption done marvelously. I read it in one day, and night, because I really wanted to find out what eventually happens between the vampire and the boy. My opinion of the movie? Out of five stars, I would say....two.

The Strain
by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

What happens when the director of Pan's Labyrinth and a thriller author, Prince of Thieves, get together? You get the beginning of a new trilogy that has humans battling for their When the Boeing 777 lands in New York, stops dead on the runway, no lights are on, the shades are drawn...there's been no communication between the plane and air traffic controllers, when you get on board it seems to be full of dead, or near dead people, who you going to call?
Is this book going to scare you? One of my patrons brought it back without finishing it. He told me he wanted to read it, the writing was superb, but he likes to read at night and he couldn't go to sleep after reading this. He felt what happens was to feasible. Good stuff. I myself have looked at it numerous times, but I dare?

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Let me introduce you to one of the most diabolically and perverse murderers I have met in a long time. Gretchen Lowell is one mean serial killer, takes her time at it, and enjoys what she does. Talk about a perfect setting for her dirty deeds, can it get any better then Portland? With it's foggy, rainy, damp weather? Portland helps give this series, the "nourish" feel that will give you a spine tingle. Heartsick is the first in Cain's Gretchen Lowell series.

A few more books to keep you up at night:

Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Oh yeah, let's all spend the night in a spooky house and see what happens! One of the best horror novels ever written.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
Who are you having for dinner?
Bless the Child by Cathy Cash Spellman
What do you mean you want to take my granddaughter to join a Satanic Cult!
Mine by Robert McCammon
The '60's are over, but you never know when something that happened back then will pop up again.
Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris
Fun series about a little town in Louisiana that has an unusual population.

Movies to curl up and watch:
The above mentioned Salem's Lot (1976 version)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (!956 version)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (yes..I love this movie!)
The Lost Boys- ("Wait till I tell mom your a &%$@#(@ #* vampire!")

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Black humor abounds as Jack, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, decides to kidnap Santa and take over Christmas. This movie is also good at Christmas...

Dusk till Dawn (warning! Quentin Tarantino not only directed this movie, he stars in it. Full of violence, language and, yes, humor.)
Night of the Living Dead (1968 version)
I remember watching this with a group of friends at the drive-in, screaming, driving through a graveyard afterwards, then going for pizza. Glad it was in black and white.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
They were told at the Slaughtered Lamb pub not to get lost in the moors of Yorkshire at night, especially during a full moon! I like this movie, mainly because it has a cool soundtrack. Each song has the word "moon" in the title.
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!
It's all what you believe in, and friendship.

Enjoy your Halloween.....whatever you do. I will do my usual marathon of one of my favorite TV show, Bewitched, the Halloween episodes.

Wishing you Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wait Till Next Year

Baseball is like a poker game,
nobody wants you to quit when he's losing:

nobody wants you to quit when you're ahead.
Jackie Robinson

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir
Doris Kearns Goodwin

Baseball and growing up...are there two things that go together better? Goodwin takes us on a wonderful journey and shares her love of the Dodgers, growing up in Rockville Centre, NY during the 1940's, her neighborhood and her family. The hated, and heated, rivalry between the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants and how the neighborhood had a friendly rivalry with who they were fans of. As she explains, that team affiliation was passed on from father to child along with the history of the team.

Goodwin first trip to Ebberts Field, what she fondly remembers is the sights, sounds the players, and sitting next to her father with her scorebook....not the outcome. This was the years of Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Duke Snider, Leo Durocher and every year the Dodgers were the "bridesmaids" who came so close to winning the World Series, but they always had to "wait till next year."

Goodwin's neighborhood was the typical 1950's neighborhood, the corner drug store, butcher shops, soda shops, the butchers...who were New York Giant fans and with whom she had a friendly rivalry with. Goodwin's two older sisters, along with her parents, followed the Dodgers as religiously as they followed being Catholics.

This book was our book discussion book this week, and what a wonderful trip down memory lane we all had. There were those that vividly remembered those years of the Dodgers, and the explosion of joy in 1955 when they finally won the World Series, along with the heartache and sorrow when that "bastard" O'Malley moved them to Los Angeles, California. We also talked about the change television brought, not just to Goodwin's neighborhood, but to all of us. Any book that makes people smile and have such a look of joy on their faces when discussing it, that's a good book. One of my group, Bob turns to me during the discussion and says, "I feel like I'm at an Italian dinner table!" I nod my head and say, this was a good book. Not just for baseball fans...about growing up and change.

Highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasent facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
John F. Kennedy (20th anniversary of the Voice of America, February 26, 1962)

This is banned book week, September 26-October 3.... 
I say "Read a Banned Book!"

Whenever this week comes around I remember my experience with books that were thought improper for a school library.

When I was president of the local school board, the first Harry Potter book came out. I wasn't familar with it, but it had gotten good reviews and the kids were READING! An amazing thing, as some of us know getting some kids to read can become quite an endeavor. I had several phone calls, and a few visits from parents who were upset it was allowed in the school library, concerned it was about witchcraft. Heck, my kids were reading it..and loved it and shared what they were readng with me. I picked up the book and read it, the better to know what I was defending. I liked it: witches, magic, sorcerers, adventure, good vs. evil...what could be better for a child's imagination? It was full of so much more then...witchcraft. Some parents felt strongly that is was not a book for children, did not want their children to read the book and it shouldn't be allowed on school library shelves. Okay....simple questions, why don't you tell your kids not to read it? What about the parents who want their kids to read it? I was amazed that there was still such an uproar about certain books.

Along with Harry Potter, here is a small list of books that were banned, or have been challenged:

Winnie the Pooh--A.A. Milne

James and the Giant Peach-Roald Dahl                                                     
Separate Peace--John Knowles
The Bastard--John Jakes
Beloved--Toni Morrison
Andersonville--MacKinlay Kantor
Daddy's Roomate--Michael Willhoite
Fahrenheit 451--Ray Bradbury (This one is ironic)
American Psycho--Bret Easton Ellis
Bridge to Terabithia--Katherine Patterson
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings--Maya Angelou
The Color Purple--Alice Walker
In Cold Blood--Truman Capote
A Light in the Attic--Shel Silverstein
Captain Underpants--Dav Pilkey
Valachi Papers--Peter Maas
Carrie--Stephen King

Stephen King, Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Judy Blume have several books on this very long list. Pick up any one of these books, see if you can figure out what caused an uproar about a certain book. 

While I do believe that parents should pay attention to what their children are reading, they shouldn't be allowed to decide what other children should be allowed to read. Nobody should make the decision about what I, or anybody else, can read. It's a simple freedom, freedom of choice.

Harry Potter, and the rest of the books in the series, stayed on the school library shelves. Hard to believe, with the popularity of the books and the movies, this series remains banned in parts of the country and continues to be one of the most challenged books today.

As was said so well:

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
Ralph Waldo Emerson                   

Happy Reading!  

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Circle Trilogy

Books are the chloroform of the mind.
Robert Chambers

Nora Roberts--

The Circle Trilogy

Morrigan's Cross

Dance of the Gods

Valley of Silence

In my last post I mentioned that I had been a lazy summer reader...reading trashy novels. I would like to go on record that I meant that with the utmost respect. I love nothing more then a good novel that you can read in a weekend.

I am not a big Nora Roberts fan. I don't dislike her books, she is just an author I grab when I am in the mood for some lazy reading. However! Having read her Circle Trilogy I may have to change my thinking about her. These are just the books you want when you want to escape without thinking. We have time-travel, magic, humor, paranormal occurrences, evil, and it's Nora Roberts, we have romance.

Morrigan's Cross--Book I

A group of children are gathered around an elderly gentleman as he tells them a story about a sorcerer who, with the help of his circle of six, saved the world from evil....

We meet Hoyt Mac Cionaith, a sorcerer in 1128 Ireland. The Goddess Morrigan has chosen Hoyt to battle Lilith, the queen of the vampires, who is...well, she's the queen of the vampires, she's evil. Hoyt is more then ready to go after Lilith because she turned his brother, Cian, into a vampire. It seems that Lilith has decided it's time to take over the world and is gathering her hoards to prepare for battle. Morrigan explains all this to Hoyt and informs him that she is placing the fate of the world in his hands. Yes, he will have help, he is to complete a circle of six. Morrigan tells him "some will seek him, some he will have to find." Hoyt needs to find a witch, a warrior, a scholar, one who has many forms, and the one lost to him to complete the circle. He also doesn't have much time, he has a month to find his circle, a month to "learn," and a month to "know," and be ready to save the world.

Next thing you know, Hoyt is in New York City, the 21th century! Not only that, he is in Cian's very popular nightclub. Hoyt is a little worried because Cian being a vampire, is this how he feels his blood lust? He also has to convince Cian to join his circle to stop Lilith, as Cian is the "one lost to him." There could be a problem with this, as Lilith is Cian's "maker." The good news is that Cian takes blood from the bottle, not humans, and the fact he's been around for some 900 years...he is a very wealthy guy, which will come in very handy. While in New York, Hoyt meets Glenna, who is a witch. Seems Glenna has been dreaming about an "ancient sorcerer" so she isn't to surprised to find Hoyt and join the group.
Hoyt has a reluctant Cian, and Glenna, and himself so he has half of his circle--the witch, and the "one who was lost to him." Off they head to Ireland, in Cian's private plane, since Hoyt doesn't have a passport or identification, is a good thing to have. They go to the Mac Cionaoith ancestral home, which is for sale so Cian buys it. Soon they are joined by Moira, a princess from the mystical kingdom of Geall, who is also a scholar, and Larkin, her cousin, who is the "one with many forms," a shape-shifter. The circle is up to five.

Hoyt and Glenna try to resist the sparks between them, but even when faced with the saving of the world, and the 900 year age difference, romance can always find a way.

The final person to complete the circle shows up toward the end of the book one, Blair, the warrior...the vampire slayer.

With the circle of six complete, the month to "learn" begins.

We get to know Hoyt and Glenna very well in this book, the others are on the fringes of the story...but there are two more books to come.

Dance of the Gods--Book II

The circle of six are getting to know each other, but learning to trust each other is a little harder. When you have a vampire among as an ally, that makes it a little hard. You have the past and present colliding to save the future, and each one has there own idea on how to do things. Training together, adjusting to each other and continually fighting off the vampires that Lilith keeps sending to battle them puts them all on edge. Interestingly, Blair turns out to be Hoyt and Cian many times removed niece..which adds more of a family affair to the upcoming battle.

While Hoyt and Glenna practice the magic that will be needed for the battle, Larkin uses his shape-shafting abilities to enter the vampire nests and report back to the others. Larkin is also trying to impress Blair with his talents, but it doesn't work. Blair is used to working alone, it seems being a vampire slayer doesn't make it easy to make friends, or have boyfriends. Learning to trust the others, work with them, train them how to fight vampires and how to become friends in two months, doesn't come easy to her.

Lilith, the vampire queen, meanwhile, is adding more vampires to her army, and the six, to their shock, learn they can't take some of their friends at face value. As a little side note, Larkin, in his undercover shape-shifting operations, discovers that there are people in cages for the vampires to feast on, or play with. We are in modern day Ireland right now, how come nobody is noticing that these people are missing? Heaven sakes, some of these captured people are tourists!

We also meet queen Lilith's favorite, little Davy. He looks like a ten year old angel, but he is the devil in disguise.......

As the month and book two draws to a close, Larkin and Blair realize that being a shape shifter and a vampire slayer makes for having a lot in common. Ah, romance hits again in the mist of danger!

I did laugh out loud reading the part where Cian is muttering to himself about being " I'm a vampire for God's sake. Creature of the night, drinker of blood. And here I am playing butler to some erstwhile Geallian queen. Mortifying is what it is....." as he takes a tray of tea and cookies to Moira in the library. Love it!

At the end of book two, the six are ready to enter the "circle" that will take them to Geall, where the battle for mankind will take place. As they get ready to enter the "circle" Lilith tries once again to prevent them from fulfilling their distention by having the vampires attack. Will they make it to Geall? Will it work when the magic words are said? Where will they be when the smoke clears?
Poof...onto book three.

Valley of Silence-Book III

The circle of six have arrived in Geall! First, Moira ascends the throne as the new queen. The first order of business is to mold an army made out of farmers, craftsmen and housewives. Explaining to the people of Geall that they are in for not only the fight of their lives but that they stand between the vampires and the fate of the world takes time they don't have. Convincing them that an army of vampires is heading their way and has been increasing steadily as Lilith "recuits," that they must be behind the castle gates or in their homes by nightfall with their doors locked...and don't invite anybody inside, even if you think you know them. (With Lilith and her army making more vampires, you can never be sure of who you think it is, or what it is.) Unfortunately, one family didn't get the message, and young Davy shows up at their door crying that the vampires killed his family, and remember I told you Davy looks like an angel.......

Moira, meanwhile, besides being queen and rallying the troops, realizes she has strong feelings for Cian! Better yet, the feelings are mutual. How does a vampire have feelings when they don't have a heartbeat? How does a queen and a vampire work this out? Cian will never age while Moira will. Does he watch her grow old....or is it better to deny what they feel? What happens if they don't survive the upcoming battle with Lilith? Do they take a chance? Is it better to focus on the battle ahead, or give in to strong feelings for each other? Romance...

As the moment arrives for the battle between good and evil, I leave you here and let the elderly gentleman continue his tale to the young children.....

I enjoyed this trilogy so much, and writing about it I think I might just have to read it again! The characters, the dialogue, the interaction between all the characters, even the ones that just "pop in and out," all will keep you turning the pages. We have a fairy tale interwoven with modern fiction. By book three, all the characters have been fleshed out, you know their history, including Lilith's.

If you like paranormal, fantasy, and/or books about vampires, these are for you. Yes, you have to start with book one, and yes, you have to read all three. I strongly suggest you get all three books at once because you will want to keep going.

These are just the kind of books that the mind needs, and enjoys....the best kind of chloroform for the mind. Remember, just go with the story, you 'll be glad you did.

Keep the lights on...

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Surf into a Good Book Wrap Up!

Oh, when the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof...
And your shoes get so hot you wish your feet were fire-proof...
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea...
On a blanket with my where I'll be....

We wrapped up Surf into a Good Book with an Iced Tea Social. We spent a great time discussing what books we read, what we liked and what we didn't. Raffle prizes were given out, and the reader with the most books won a grand prize. Thank you Martha Clara Vineyard for donating our prize, a private wine tasting for ten. The winner was Roberta Kalous, who read 22 books over the summer. Congratulations Roberta!

The other raffle winners were:
Frank McNultry
Elizabeth Grohoski
Beth Dumblis
Pam Davis
Phyllis Markopoulos

They won baskets filled with mugs, summer songs CD tea, coffee, cookies and (of course) books.

Congratulations to all of you and thank you for your support of our reading club.

We had sixty readers sign up for Surf into a Good Book and received back fifty Readers Cards with lists of books that were read.

The top ten books read this summer by the book club were:
Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Sunday's at Tiffany's by James Patterson

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

Fire and Ice (Joanna Brady Series #15) by J.A. Jance

Knockout by Catherine Coulter

Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clarke

Swimsuit by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

We talked about what books we liked the most that we read, among those discussed were:

Columbine by Dave Cullen

As the title says, this is about the Columbine school shooting. Hard to believe it's been ten years since that horrible event. The main point stated that what you may believe what you read and think you understand what happened that day, you would be surprised to discover what two normal, popular, very good students were planning for their classmates...and nobody picked up on it.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
The Resistance by Anita Shreve

Both books are set during World War II. Sarah's Key is about the Vel' d'Hiv roundup of Jewish families by the French police. On the sixtieth anniversary, reporter Julia Jarmond is surprised at what she discovers and connection she has to the event.

The Resistance is about a Belgium couple who shelter refugees from the Nazi's on their farm. Things change when an American B-17 bomber is shoot down and the pilot is found severely wounded. You never know when your past might come back and collides with your present.

The Quickie by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

It's James Patterson doing what is known for. What happens when revenge goes horribly wrong--a lie always takes on a life of it's own as Lauren Stillman finds out. You would think that as a NYPD detective Stillman would know that better then anyone....

One of Patterson's many (many) co-authored books he puts out every year....sigh.

I, of course, took some vacation time, and I have been lazy, reading trashy beach books, sinking my teeth into a new vampire series (I know, I hear the groans) re-reading some old favorites, making cool music CD's and checking out what's coming in the fall..........

I will be blogging about what I have been reading...trash and all!

Happy Reading!!

One of Patterson's (many) new ones....

Columbine is strongly recommended!

Good read about World War II and the resistance in Belguim.

Continuing saga in her Brady series....

Read a good book!