Call Me 37 Today

October 8, 2008 at 10:43 am | Posted in LIfe, Reading | 36 Comments
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Well, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer say that I am 36.  Well, I was born at around 9:50pm, so I could wait to say I’m 37 until tonight, but that’s being a little ridiculous (although if you agree with the whole date and time thing,  you’ll make me exceedingly happy right up until 9:49pm).

Seriously, 36 was a wonderful year.  I feel that I’ve come into my own in my career and as a book blogger.  I have read 70 books since my last birthday and have reviewed 64. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite from during that time, but the books that have stood out in my 37th year are The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman, Trauma by Patrick McGrath, Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Aberrations by Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.

The best blogging experience I had personally revolved around Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.  I bought this book for my husband, but read it first.  Little did either of us know that this would have a personal connection for my husband.  He was friends with Rob’s wife Renee.  We had a great time going through his pictures from that era and we posted one of Renee.  It always irritates me when there is no pictures in memoirs because I want to know what the people look like.  In this case, Danny was able to supply that for me.  It was also really neat to listen to the tape of his band singing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song to the tune of R.E.M.’s Talk about the Passion.  That whole experience was wonderful.

Best of all, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people last year.  From authors, to publicists, to my fellow book bloggers, to my readers.  I won’t name any because I don’t want to leave anyone out.  My life is richer because of you all.

I hope that everyone has a beautiful, beautiful day!

Book Trailers for Some of My Favorites

July 19, 2008 at 10:30 am | Posted in Books | 9 Comments
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I’ve recently entered a contest to win a copy of The Questory of Root Karbunkulus by Kamilla Reid from The Friendly Book Nook. Click here for your chance to win this book. I don’t typically read fantasy, but what really caught my interest in both the post and the book was the accompanying book trailer. After I watched that, I was hooked.

This got me thinking about the concept of book trailers. It is an interesting idea to use a short video to sell a book. Trailers have been used to grab the attention of movie goers and sell films for ages. In such a competitive market, it could be just the tool needed to increase sales and readership. It’s not that much different than the blurb on the back of the book. The key is to make it compelling. If it’s not, it could turn people off just as quickly as it can get them excited.

I decided to do a little research. None of the books I have in my upcoming reads queue have book trailers, so I looked for any that might have been created for books that I absolutely loved. I wanted to see if the trailer would have sold me or not. I found book trailers for four books that I really enjoyed. Here they are with links to my book review, the book trailer and a short review of the book trailer itself:

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

For me, this book trailer was okay, but by trying to cover everything, it didn’t highlight what made the book so delightful. It would be difficult to do that in such a short clip. I did appreciate how the imagery matched the book. The actress playing Willie’s mom didn’t do much for me, but that might not have been a factor had I not already read this book. I’m not sure that I would have read it based on this book trailer alone, but it wouldn’t have turned me off, either.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

This trailer really coordinates well with the book’s website, which is awesome. Other than imagery, it doesn’t provide much actual information about the book. It’s an imaginative way to showcase complimentary blurbs about the book.

Admit One by Emmett James

This book trailer is hilarious and it very fitting for the book. I absolutely loved this one.

The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This is an interesting trailer. It shows some clips from the novel at a distance. I think the Tegan and Sarah song fits very well with the mood. I liked this trailer and I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do.


In the end, I think that book trailers are a great way to get more information on a book you are thinking of reading or purchasing. When they are good, they are really good. When they aren’t, well… Just with covers, you shouldn’t judge a book entirely by it’s trailer. Book trailers are just another tool in your informed reader’s toolbox. When the tool fits the job, great! When it doesn’t, there are many other tools available.

Have you used book trailers when researching a book? What have your experiences been?

#56 ~ The House at Riverton

February 7, 2008 at 11:16 am | Posted in Barnes & Noble, Books, Culture, Family, First Look Book Club, Historical Fiction, Secrets and Lies | 7 Comments
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The House at Riverton: A Novel by Kate Morton

When Barnes and Noble announced their second offering to the First Look Book Club I was ecstatic. Just reading the brief descriptions of the novel and its author made me excited to receive a copy of this book. When it arrived, I found that it even smelled good. The novel matched the smell and that is always a brilliant combination. B&N certainly picked a winner to follow up The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff.

The House of Riverton tells the story of Grace, a 90-year-old woman who is jolted back to the memories of her past service to the household of Lord Ashbury when she receives a letter from a woman making a film about the tragedy that happened there in her youth. Grace may be elderly, but she is a sharp and insightful woman. Her story is entertaining and somewhat sad. The fate of the Ashbury family dramatically impacts her life in so many ways; but, her personal sacrifices, like her service itself, were left seemingly unnoticed until it was too late. Still, Grace regrets nothing except that which hurt her daughter. Woven within the story of her youth is the story of her own family. Part of what makes this novel so poignant is that she retells the story of her life at Riverton and the truth of what happened the night of the poet’s suicide as a love letter to her grandson.

Although this novel has widespread appeal, it will be most especially enjoyed by those who enjoy reading about Edwardian England and about the lives of those who served British aristocracy. As much as I loved The Remains of the Day, there was little warmth within it. The people at Riverton, both upstairs and downstairs, live as their status dictated, but they are very human and complex. What makes this novel so special and delightful is its heart.

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To buy this novel, click here.

#41 ~ The Monsters of Templeton

October 16, 2007 at 12:49 am | Posted in Amazing Narrator, Barnes & Noble, Books, Childhood Memories, Culture, Exercise, First Look Book Club, Free, Gothic Fiction, LIfe, Margaret Mitchell, My Life with Books, Parenting Dilemmas, Pre-Release Sneak Peak, Reading, Religion, Secrets and Lies, The Monsters of Templeton | 13 Comments
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The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

There is something spectacular about a book whose first line lures you into its spell like a siphon and never lets you go. In my 36 years of reading, there has only been two books whose first lines I’ve memorized and cannot forget:

“Call me Ishmael.” ~ Moby Dick (who hasn’t had that beaten into their skulls with an ice pick?)

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” ~ Gone with the Wind

With that line, I fell in love with Scarlett and couldn’t wait to find out just what it was about her that had men panting like exercised puppies. There was no way I could not read the book after just that first sentence – and I never thought to. With the noted exception of Moby Dick, I’ve found that a compelling first sentence isn’t a fluke. It’s a sign of a gifted author and a book worthy of reading.

The fact of the matter is that most books I’ve read and even those I’ve enjoyed immensely begin forgettably. This is the 41st book I’ve read this year and prior to picking up this book, not a single first sentence has struck me this year – and I’ve read some great novels. So, when I read, re-read, and then could not stop thinking about:

“The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.”

I knew that this would be a book I would love. I finished this book as satisfied as I was with the first sentence. This is a novel that I will keep forever and re-read several times.

The Monsters of Templeton is the story of Willie Sunshine Upton, a young graduate student who unexpectedly returns to her ancestral home “steeped in disgrace” just as her home town is overcome with media upon the discovery of an as-of-yet undiscovered mammalian creature. The existence – or actually previous existence – of the monster gives this novel a Gothic feel. This along with the mystery of Willie’s famous family prove to work together well.

Willie returned to her mother, Vi, in hopes of finding a safe place to lick her wounds before facing the responsibilities and consequences of the choices she’d recently made. Vi, a single mother and former hippy, refuses to let her daughter settle, even if it is into shame. As a result of her recent radical religious conversion, Vi feels the need to come clean to Willie. She tells her that she is not the product of an orgy-istic time in San Francisco. In fact, Willie’s father is alive and well in Templeton. He never knew of her existence. When Willie asks who he is, Vi refuses to tell her. She provides only a single clue: he, just like Willie and Vi, is related to Marmaduke Temple, the father of Templeton. It was as if Vi through down the gauntlet. Willie, no matter how down her current circumstances have made her, cannot sit still having this mystery hanging around her. Her archaeological dig through her family’s past proves to be an enchanting and humorous adventure.

I don’t want to give away many details in this review. I enjoyed uncovering things along the way with Willie. I will say (that just about everything else recently in my life) that there was a strong connection for me between Vi and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Both characters hold an important truth that could very easily be given to the young woman in need: Willie needs to know who her father is and Dorothy needs to know how to get back to Kansas. If this information was simply handed over, what would have happened? Neither Willie nor Dorothy would never grasped or appreciated the importance of family in their souls. In that way, what both characters needed was the discovery as much as the truth. Given that Glinda is traditionally played by the same actress as Auntie Em, it seems that teaching a child to learn for herself is the mark of the best mother/mother figure.

The Monsters of Templeton is mainly narrated by Willie, but there are also sections narrated by The Running Buds, Templeton’s jogging protectors, and several of Willie’s ancestors. I found myself drawn into the genealogical research myself. The pictures, portraits, and family trees along the way also made me feel included. Just as with Special Topics in Calamity Physics, they enhance the experience and do not feel out of place.

One of the best things about reading this book was the humor. There were several times I found myself chuckling out loud while I was reading. I don’t do that very often. It was this humor that endeared the book and its characters to me. Perhaps it was because I am of a similar age to Willie’s character that I found the sarcasm and smack talk genuine. It is such a pleasure to read a book that is both interesting and fun.

** Thank you Barnes and Noble for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of this book. Your First Look Book Club is an incredible opportunity. **

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To buy this novel, click here.

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