Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Inspiration (1)

"In the morning, prayer is the key that opens to us the treasures of God's mercies and blessings; in the evening, it is the key that shuts us up under His protection and safeguard."
Billy Graham, Till Armageddon

Friday, July 29, 2011

Follow Friday (2)

Follow Friday is hosted by &     
For the rules, click through on the button.

Q. Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. 
What t-shirt slogan best describes you?

This was a hard question to answer.  I had a different post ready, but deleted it when I remembered a t-shirt from my past.  You can't read it very well in this photo, but the shirt says, "I think I'm allergic to morning!" 

In retrospect, I find this a funny shirt.  Let me explain.  I was, and still am, allergic to nearly everything.  Hence the artificial Christmas tree! 

Allergic or not, mornings and I have never gotten along.  Funny that I should be named Dawn, because I'm rarely up early.  I am a snooze-button addict who should probably caffeinate but doesn't. (You don't want to see what caffeine does to me!)  So nearly every morning, I slump into work and invariably respond to the receptionist's friendly "How are you?" with the same word -- "Sleepy."

While much is unchanged, I have improved.  It used to be you couldn't speak to me until I'd had my breakfast.  Well, on second thought, that's still your safest bet!



Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Time Will Come (3)

"The Time Will Come"  is a weekly feature hosted by Jodie from Books for Company.
Each Thursday, we share a book that might be sitting unread on our shelves for now, but we do intend to get to! 
(Thanks go to Jennifer @ It's Fay, Not Fey! for the graphic!) 

I know Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series was a hit before the HBO series True Blood ever began.  And while I haven't seen a single episode of the TV series, I understand that it made the books even more popular.  Still, I never got around to reading it.  Sometimes when something is all-the-rage, I check it out to see what the fuss is about (Twilight).  Other times, popularity makes me a little more hesitant.  In this case, for whatever reason, I must have had doubts, because Dead Until Dark has been sitting on my shelves for a long time! I plan to get to it, though.  Maybe another October selection?

If you have read this and loved it, please let me know.  I could use a little poking and prodding!

Got any books you've decided have gone unread for too long? Do share!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday (4)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly chance for bloggers to share books we can't wait to get our hands on.  
It's hosted by Jill from Breaking The Spine. 

Available in Hardcover August 1:

*Update! Click Through Cover Photo For Review*
Underdogs compiles three novels:  The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe,  and Getting The Girl. These three books began the publishing career of Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. For the first time, this volume gives American readers a chance to read The Underdog which was previously unavailable in the States.  If you caught my The Time Will Come post, you'll understand why The Messenger will have to wait a bit longer.  I want to start at the beginning!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love This: Goodies From Garth Nix

I'm sure you're familiar with Garth Nix, author of awesome fantasy books Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen, as well as works like The Keys to the Kingdom series, Shades Children, and The Seventh Tower sequence. Mr. Nix's latest book, a collaboration with Sean Williams, is called Troubletwisters.

US, UK, and Australian covers

* Click here for my review of Troubletwisters *
Garth recently ran a giveaway on his Facebook page asking fans to post a picture of themselves reading Troubletwisters in public. Three folks won US, UK, and Australian editions of Troubletwisers signed by both authors, as well as 10 other signed books from both authors -- 13 books in all! What we didn't know was that Garth would decide to send a prize to all of the participants! How cool is he??! So, take a look at the beyond cool package that was waiting for me yesterday when I got home!

The front of the envelope.  Check out the stamps of the Royal newlyweds.

 The back of the envelope.  I was so excited by the signature on the customs sticker! 
(And don't worry! I checked to be sure his address was public before sharing this photo!)

The awesomeness inside was wrapped in "first pass" pages from Lord Sunday.

 I carefully unwrapped these to find none other than Sabriel, my absolute favorite Garth Nix novel! 

And it was autographed!


It was amazing to come home from work and find such wonderful goodies waiting to be unwrapped! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Garth Nix!

I'm touched to see the time and care taken to make this a really special treat! This is the first time I've ever received anything like this, and I'll not forget such a kindness! Garth Nix, sir, you sure know how to make your readers feel loved.

Friends, if you haven't checked out Garth Nix's Sabriel or his newest title, Troubletwisters,  run out and buy a copy of either -- or both -- today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Read Love Reviews: The Meaning of Night: A Confession

The Meaning of Night: A Confession by Michael Cox

Pub. Date: October 2007
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Format: Paperback, 703pp
Age Range: Adult
ISBN-13: 9780393330342

Synopsis from the book jacket:
A chance discovery convinces Edward Glyver that greatness awaits him.  His path to win back what is rightfully his leads him to Evenwood, one of England's most enchanting country houses, and a woman who will become his obsession.
My review:

It was a long time coming, but I finally finished The Meaning of Night.  I should note that when I began the novel, I had a pile of four books going at the same time.  And there were days -- well, maybe weeks -- where I felt unable to concentrate on anything challenging.  I gave my energies to easy reads or books that yielded quick rewards. Still, my bumpy start and slow progress through the novel's first half was not entirely my fault.

The story begins in medias res -- although not so much in the middle, as near the end -- so that the author may use this narrative hook as the first sentence:
"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper."
Immediately we wonder about our narrator, who is able to kill a man and matter-of-factly tell us how he sat down to dinner afterward.  We learn that he, Edward, brutally stabbed a man at random, for the sole purpose of proving to himself that he could commit murder.  Thus begins our anti-hero's confessional account of his obsessive quest for revenge and our curious desire to learn more.

The novel is divided into five parts. To my chagrin, after briefly describing events following the murder in the first part, Edward rewinds and begins his back story in the second part. This is where things get bogged down.  Rest assured, though, if the reader can persevere through this section and half of the intermezzo that follows (pp 102 - 243), the novel does find its legs.

The Meaning of Night is a potboiler for sure.  The second half moves quickly, and you'll find yourself turning the pages.  Once I devoted my time solely to this book, I plowed through the final 350 pages in two days.  So be patient; the rewards will come.  This is a 700-page novel, after all.  If you cannot give the book your attention for at least an hour at a time, I wouldn't recommend reading it.  And if you are impatient to find out the final result, I'll warn you that it is nearly 600 pages later when the timeline returns to where part one paused.  It's not so much where Edward ends up that is of interest (after all, he tells us that up front), but how and why he gets there.  And it's perversely enjoyable to watch things unfold.

As I mentioned, Edward is not our hero, but our anti-hero.  You begin dubiously and cautiously, a bit unwilling to sympathize with a man whose moral depravities -- before he adds murder to the list -- include recreational use of opium and laudanum, as well as indulgence in erotic literature and prostitutes, one of which is his lover.  He even admits that its incestuous aspect makes the prospect of a romantic relationship with his cousin all the more appealing! However, when viewed against the darker shadow cast by his even more despicable foe, Edward becomes a character you are willing and able to sympathize with.  Eventually, you even applaud some of his triumphs.

In addition to Edward and his rival, Phoebus Daunt, nearly all of the supporting cast is flawed.  Several are selfish, devious, and vengeful.  And many keep secrets out of love and loyalty, though the one might be inappropriate and the other misplaced.  Love is portrayed more often as a blinding and weakening influence than as a force of strength. Healthy relationships of any sort are not prevalent.  In short, most of these folks are neither innocent nor likeable.  But that makes for good drama.

The novel is distinctly and authentically period, though this sometimes comes at a price.  It seems the author, not unlike his protagonist, suffers from a need to display his bibliophilic knowledge and acumen for all things Victoriana through the use of footnotes peppered throughout the novel.  For the average reader, these notes add little to the story, but rather become a distraction and annoyance.  A few times, I mentally griped at the author: Enough already...I know you've done your homework!

Aside from the distracting footnotes and the extensive back story, once the novel gained momentum, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Although most of the plot twists failed to surprise me, my interest was sustained by a desire to see how Edward came upon new discoveries or uncovered betrayals.  While he is never wholly reliable, it is captivating to watch the machinations of Edward's always obsessive, occasionally paranoid, and at times, insane mind.

For the curious, there is a sequel that takes place some 20 years later: The Glass of Time. But as for me, I think I'll find respite for a while in the green pastures of Anne of Green Gables....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Don't Love This: Borders Liquidates

I visited Borders shortly after 6:00 pm on Friday, July 22.

Today's event: Liquidation! And everything's on sale!


But prepare for a bit of a wait....

Hope you don't need to look something up on the computer...

...or get a drink or snack while you shop.

Kids and Bargain sections are a mess...

...and the History section is being plundered.

It was a madhouse and I didn't buy anything since Kids and Teens books were only 10% off. I considered myself lucky just to get out of the overcrowded lot! Even Christmas crowds were never like this at Borders.

(Click on any photo to see a much larger size. Before using these on your site, please ask permission.
All photos are property of Read Love.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Read Love Reviews: These High, Green Hills

These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon

Pub. Date: April 1997
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Paperback, 333pp
Series: The Mitford Years #3
Age Range: Adult
ISBN-13: 9780140257939

Synopsis from the book jacket:
In These High, Green Hills we're once again in Mitford, a southern village of local characters so heartwarming and hilarious you'll wish you lived right next door.
At last, Mitford's rector and lifelong bachelor, Father Tim, has married his talented and vivacious neighbor, Cynthia. Now, of course, they must face love's challenges: new sleeping arrangements for Father Tim's sofa-sized dog, Cynthia's urge to decorate the rectory Italian-villa-style, and the growing pains of the thrown-away boy who's become like a son to the rector.
Add a life-changing camping trip, the arrival of the town's first policewoman, and a new computer that requires the patience of a saint, and you know you're in for another engrossing visit to Mitford -- the little town that readers everywhere love to call home.

 My Review:


Ah, Mitford! You are such a breath of small-town fresh air!  

If you are unfamiliar with the Mitford Years series, you need to start at the beginning, At Home in Mitford.  These books, which follow life in a sleepy North Carolina town, are told from the point of view of Father Tim, the rector of Lord's Chapel.  Much like an easy chair or an old sweater, this series is a cozy delightYou'll not find arresting intrigue, high drama, or pulse-quickening action in the pages of a Mitford Years book.  But that's not to say you won't find something of value.

What you'll find in Mitford is a loveable town with endearing characters.  With each installment, you'll feel like you're catching up with family and friends.  Jan Karon says she writes "to give readers an extended family, and to applaud the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives."  And she's true to her word.  There may be a bigger dose of minutiae than you'll encounter in a dramatic novel, but therein lies the charm.  These characters feel like ordinary people--people you'd meet in a real-life small town.  And we watch their lives unfold at a steady pace.  We watch them celebrate, grieve, love, laugh, and grow.  And hopefully we grow a little bit with them as they learn lessons from every day life.

So, if you find you need a break from whatever larger-than-life drama you might be reading and want a quiet escape to clear your mind and take a deep breath before plunging back into murder, mystery, or mayhem -- look  no farther than Mitford.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Follow Friday (1)

This is my first time participating in Follow Friday, which is hosted by &  Each week they each feature a blogger and participating folks answer a question posed by the featured blogger.  For the full rules, click through on the button.

Q:  Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or a meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from?

Okay, I'm going to assume that I can take the liberty of choosing any author, living or dead for this question.

  • Ernest Hemingway
Papa.  One of my favorite authors.  Not sure if we'd talk, hang out with the cats in Cuba, or do something bold and adventurous.  As long as he weren't drinking, I'd love to spend time with Hemingway.  I doubt he'd be very chatty, but to be in his presence would be a treat.  There is so much mystique surrounding Hemingway.  I'd love to find out if the man is what I imagine him to be.
  • Mark Twain
Samuel Clemens.  The man's recently published unexpurgated autobiography was a 2010 New York times bestseller that the stores couldn't keep on the shelf.  At Twain's request, the unedited version was not to be published until 100 years after his death.  He wanted to be frank and candid, and he knew much of what he said could hurt his reputation.  Talking with Mr. Clemens would be colorful.  Gossip, humor, sarcasm, strong opinions--they'd definitely be present.  And what a window into the world of 19th century America he would be!

  •  C.S. Lewis
I'd love to sit and wax philosophical with C.S. Lewis.  We could discuss The Screwtape Letters.  I'd love to hear what inspired him to write the work in such an interesting format.  Letters from one demon to another .  How cool is that??!  The conversation would be both enthralling and enlightening!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Time Will Come (2)

"The Time Will Come"  is a weekly feature hosted by Jodie from Books for Company.
Each Thursday, we share a book that might be sitting unread on our shelves for now, but we do intend to get to! 
(Thanks go to Jennifer @ It's Fay, Not Fey! for the graphic!) 

I think I'd better start planning my October reading soon! Chances are a lot of y'all read Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" in high school.  I know I did.  It was disturbing.  I've also read The Haunting of Hill House and loved it.  It was a psychological narrative.  I just know more spine-tingling creepiness awaits in We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  If you enjoyed DuMaurier's Rebecca, you'd probably like the Gothic tales written by Shirley Jackson.

Synopsis from
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday (3)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly chance for bloggers to share books we can't wait to get our hands on.  
It's hosted by Jill from Breaking The Spine.

Available in Hardcover September 13:

The Isle of Blood is third in The Monstrumologist series. The series opener, The Monstrumologist, was named a Printz Honor book in 2010.  These books are so much fun! A monster hunter and his apprentice! What makes these special is that they really feel like period books (19th century Gothic). Not for the faint of heart, but they make perfect Halloween/October reading! When I finally have this in my hands, I'll keep it aside and begin on October 1st! Of course, this is assuming makes good on my pre-order that I've had placed since June! And it's also assuming I don't decide to get an early start on my Halloween reading!

If you're interested, definitely start at the beginning!

Book One
Book Two

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don't Love This: Borders: The Final Chapter

(Photo Source: Getty Images)

What a sad day! Soon, this picture will be a familiar sight. Borders will be closing all of their stores!  If you've got gift cards, my advice is to spend them NOW.  Don't delay.  Spend them before Friday when they start liquidating stores and they may all be closed as early as September.

My husband was at our local store today and noticed that they've pulled the gift cards off the sale floor.  So we checked the website tonight, too.  You can't purchase a gift card at now either. 

I've got existing orders at for pre-orders due out mid-September and late October.  I called the customer service number this afternoon, got frustrated with the clearly outsourced employee who talked of the "reorganization" but didn't seem to know the latest news.  Then, when I spoke with a manager, I asked, "Are you local? Are you in the States?" She replied, "Our headquarters is in Ann Arbor, Michigan."  I said, "But where are you?" She continued, "Your call was directed to Borders Customer Service in the Philippines."  She told me that existing orders at will be fulfilled.  I sure hope so.  I didn't use a credit card, I used a gift card, and therefore, I could lose money.  She assured me that would continue to do business.  She made it sound like Borders would remain as an online-only book retailer.  After seeing that you can't purchase a gift card online, however, I have my doubts about that!

Excuse me while I now run off to try to spend over $100.00 in gift cards I just purchased last month.  Sure, I could look at this as "Christmas in July" and look forward to seeing piles of boxes delivered by Tom the mail carrier, but this is no happy day.  While I shop at both Borders and Barnes & Noble, I've always found Borders easier to browse.  And they generally have a better, bigger selection.

Hope this isn't the beginning of the end for brick-and-mortar bookstores! 

What do you think? Will you miss Borders?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Read Love Reviews: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Pub. Date: March 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Format: Hardcover, 344pp
Age Range: Young Adult
ISBN-13: 9780399254123

Synopsis From
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

My review:

Right now in YA Fiction, dystopia is all the rage.  Stories that you can't bear to watch, but from which you just can’t look away.  Sometimes, though, in order to inhabit a horrific landscape where individual freedom is at risk or strangled, hatred and brutality are all-too present, and survival seems against all odds, you need not use your imagination. You'll find that these places exist in our reality, in the not-so-distant past (or even in the present).  And sometimes the truth is more disturbing than any nightmare you could ever dream.
"He threw his burning cigarette onto our clean living room floor and ground it into the wood with his boot.  We were about to become cigarettes."
By the time I read these final sentences of the opening chapter, Between Shades of Gray had transported me to another place and time:  Lithuania, June 14, 1941 -- the day that Lina's real-life terror begins.

Between Shades of Gray is a lean book, with direct prose, short chapters, and quick pacing.  Straight from the start, the reader is carried along at a breakneck pace, and you find yourself gripping tightly to Lina in the midst of the chaos and confusion.  This is not the kind of book you can take lightly.  It is not to be read at your leisure.  If you like to read multiple things at the same time, alternating between them, you'll find that you can't do that here.  The subject matter is engrossing and the story will demand your complete attention. More than that, it will demand your entire being.

It's a story that must be told, by the protagonist and her author.  Some subjects and experiences are painfully difficult to talk about.  But art can facilitate both the expression and sharing of strong emotions.  Lina's drawing allows her catharsis:  Just as she washes away accumulated dirt and grime in the bathhouse, Lina sketches to move the horrific scenes from her mind to paper.  In so doing, she cleanses her spirit of the darkness in the world that threatens to break her spirit and body.  Her drawings speak the words Lina cannot express.  And they will speak for her, telling a story that she will carry in silence for the rest of her life. They document what happened to her and others like her.   They will expose the truth that man is capable of great evil.

Yet, while the art of both author and protagonist uncovers an ugly truth, beauty is revealed.  Lina learns that even in the most smothering darkness, there is always light.  It may be hiding where we least expect to find it. And sometimes, when we cannot find it in our surroundings, we need to look for in ourselves.  We need to hold on to that light -- happy memories, hope, dreams, goodness, kindness, generosity, and most importantly, love.  When love and light are present, the human spirit will endure.

Between Shades of Gray is a story that should not only be read, it should be shared -- passed from one to another like Lina's handkerchief.

So none may forget.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Read Love Reviews: The Mother-Daughter Book Club

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

Pub. Date: April 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: Paperback, 237pp
Age Range: 9 to 12
Series: Mother-Daughter Book Club #1
ISBN-13:  9781416970798

Synopsis from
The book club is about to get a makeover....
Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma's already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month.
But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can't help but wonder: What would Jo March do?
Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick will delight daughters of all ages in a novel about the fabulousness of fiction, family, and friendship.

My Review:

Overall, I enjoyed The Mother-Daughter Book Club.  The book is told in four parts, each section being a season in the 6th-grade year of the four main characters.  Quotes from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women introduce each of the novel's four parts and begin each chapter.  And Little Women permeates the tale: In book club meetings where we learn factoids about Alcott's life, in each girl's mirroring of one of the March sisters, and, most of all, in the novel's heartwarming aspect. Everything is rosy-hued.  It was a welcome treat to read a book where the kids (whose voices may not be entirely representative of 11 year-olds) are not as jaded and sarcastic as many, both real and imagined, can be today. In this story, most of the characters are essentially good people who, while they may not at first, eventually do the right thing.

The wholesome optimism that resonates throughout The Mother-Daughter Book Club is at once the book's strength and its weakness.  For all its sunny skies, even Little Women has its really stormy moments.  This tale's storms are pretty much lightning-free. While the girls do learn and grow, the conflicts in the book are too readily resolved and the happy endings come from too many happy coincidences and contrivances.  Maybe the author just couldn't bear to bring a Beth-sized amount of pain and grief to her characters.

Still, shiny-happy ending aside, I liked the book and would recommend it to folks who liked Little Women, The Penderwicks, or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. And I plan to catch up with Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan in the follow-up installment, Much Ado About Anne.  Besides, it'll give me the perfect excuse to re-read Anne of Green Gables!

The Mother-Daughter Book Club continues:


Book Two
(Click cover for review!)
Book Three
Book Five (October 2011 )

Book Four

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Time Will Come (1)

"The Time Will Come"  is a weekly feature hosted by Jodie from Books for Company.
Each Thursday, we share a book that might be sitting unread on our shelves for now, but we do intend to get to! 
(Thanks go to Jennifer @ It's Fay, Not Fey! for the graphic!)


Ah, Markus Zusak! I fell in love with The Book Thief, his masterpiece and 2006 Printz Honor book! I could gush until I'm red in the face and you're tired of listening to me about The Book Thief! I loved it so much that it joined my shortlist of favorite books, and I named my Nook Liesel after the protagonist.  So what am I waiting for?? Great expectations can doom a book if they are unmet.  I'm just afraid to be disappointed.

If you read it and loved it, please let me know! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Love This: Beginnings of Babar

Everyone loves Babar right? If he wasn't your favorite storybook elephant growing up, something is definitely wrong with you!
I found this cool online exhibit from The Morgan Library & Museum Online Exhibitions.  It shows Jean de Brunhoff's early draft or mock-up. called a maquette, of his Children's Classic, Histoire de Babar which you probably know as The Story of Babar.  

Check it out.  Histoire de Babar - Maquette  If you click on each thumbnail, you can read a bit about the history behind the maquette and compare the rough mock-up to the final published version.  Pretty cool, huh?