Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

This is her newest book since 2005's hit THE HISTORIAN, and unfortunately, I do not think she was quite as powerful this time around. Of course, I still loved it and devoured it in three days.

Andrew Marlow is the psychiatrist assigned to artist Robert Oliver, after he is arrested for attempting to stab a painting in the National Gallery of Art. Oliver refuses to speak, and so Marlow begins to contact those in his life around him for answers. We learn about the man Robert was then and is now through the voices of these people - mostly women who loved him - and watch as Marlow becomes enveloped in the life of his new patient.

THE SWAN THIEVES is full of very interesting characters, with well written mini histories as part of a larger story. Learning about Robert from the women who loved him was a bit like watching a car crash - I knew it was not going to end well and yet I could not keep from turning the pages. Mental illness is never easy to read about, but Kostova writes with grace and beauty that brings new life and even a certain amount of cleanliness to Oliver's decline.

Elizabeth Kostova proves again that she is a master at storytelling.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

Belle Tanner has been married more times than she cares to remember. So when her latest husband Anthony passes away, she swears off men forever. Unfortunately, she can't do this year's cattle drive with only the help of her hard-working daughters. She needs to find some men to aid them. When she goes into town, she meets Silas Harden, who instantly convinces her he is the help she is looking for. Still wary about all men, Belle tries to keep her distance. And yet Silas is not like the others...

In book one, MONTANA ROSE (reviewed here), I felt Belle was a fascinating character, as she was so incredibly tough-willed and strong-hearted. I could not wait to read more about her curious life. It was nice to see glimpses from Cassie and Red Dawson, and following along with Wade Sawyer was also a pleasure. I enjoyed reading about ranch life - Connealy writes with such vivid detail that it is easy to imagine yourself there.

No one else can write a story quite like Mary Connealy. She has a knack for writing harsh and frightening scenes side by side with tender, humorous ones. Look for the third book in the Montana Marriages series, THE WILDFLOWER BRIDE, due out in May 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

It might be cliche to say that this book had me hooked from page one, but it most definitely had my undivided attention at page 6.

Grace and Jude Divine haven't seen their childhood friend Daniel ever since he disappeared one mysterious night three years ago. Then he turns up one day in Grace's AP art class, and she is immediately reminded of how much she liked him. But then terrible things start happening in the neighborhood and it looks like Daniel may know more about that than he lets on. Grace will have to figure out her feelings for Daniel while she avoids the growing danger and learns the truth about what happened to her brother that fateful night.

THE DARK DIVINE is extremely gripping and engaging mystery unfolds. The characterization and dialog is so realistic and natural that it makes you believe it could really have happened, despite the paranormal elements. There is a delicious brooding man in Daniel that will appeal to all Edward Cullen fans. Despain is a debut author to watch!

Plus, the ARC came with matching nail polish, which is now on my toes!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley

Peter and Ann Brooks are married but separated when H5N1 Avian Flu hits the global human race. The virus travels and mutates so quickly that is kills 1 out of every 2 people it touches and causes communities all over the world to take drastic matters in order to survive. When their own sleepy town goes into quarantine, their two girls, Kate and Maddie, have a hard time dealing with the isolation and many deaths around them.

This is a gripping story- very sad, and all too close to home, thanks to the recent H1N1 news. The story quickly builds to the pace of a feverish thriller and keeps you on edge until the very end. The Things That Keep Us Here deals with a distinctly scary issue that makes you think about your own family and how you would react if someday this shocking situation was a reality.

Buckley will make you believe in the triumph of the human spirit through the worst of times.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Mary Anning has been a unique girl ever since she survived being struck by lightning as a baby. She has a special knack for finding rare fossils of unknown creatures on the beaches near her home. Elizabeth Philpot is a young spinster when she meets Mary, instantly taking an interest in fossils herself. From this moment, we watch the friendship grow between these two different women as they navigate family, love, society, and the male dominated world of Fossils.

Chevalier has a uncommon ability to make people from a very specific time and place come alive once more. I had to pause a few times to remind myself that these characters lived long ago, as they felt so real and tangible to me. She has a writing style full of prose so beautiful and soft, it will make the vision at the edges of your sight blur until the only thing in focus is the page in front of you.

Unusual side effect: reading this book made me want to go scour the beaches for my own fossil finds!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate lives in the boring county of Gaitlin, South Carolina, where everyone knows everyone and nothing has changed for decades. Then the arrival of Lena Ducchanes shakes up the sleepy town as she storms into Ethan's heart. From the day she starts school at Jackson High, she and Ethan realize there is more to their meeting than simple chance. Together, they set out to uncover hidden truths and mysteries of a centuries old story.

I did not really know what to expect from this one, and was surprised by the scope of the book. The thick Southern references to the Civil War were neat to see mixed with paranormal elements. The character names in the book were interesting too, especially where they overlapped To Kill A Mockingbird. Macon Ravenwood was uniquely fascinating - I would love to read a prequel about him!

An intriguing debut from Garcia and Stohl.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Lucinda (Luce) is starting at Sword & Cross reform school in Georgia after a mysterious incident at her old school got her kicked out. She makes instant friends with Arriane and Penn, two of the friendlier girls at the school. She also catches the eyes of two different boys right away - one who genuinely seems to like her and another who makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. It is the latter, named Daniel, whom she can't deny a connection to. But the deeper she digs into these curious feelings, the darker her life becomes.

I must admit: I was nervous that all the hype for FALLEN was unwarranted. That it would not live up to the exciting things I heard about it. Boy was I proven wrong! Once I had read the first few chapters, I found it very hard to put this book down. I felt the school was both romantic and gothic. I loved the secondary characters of Arriane, Penn, and Miss Sophia. I did not fall for Daniel quite as hard as Luce did, but could absolutely see what made him so alluring. The only odd piece of the story was that for a reform school of crazy/wayward kids, they don't come across any different than any other high school.

FALLEN was a fantastic start from Lauren Kate. I am looking forward to TORMENT, coming out fall 2010!

Monday, October 26, 2009

INTERVIEW with Marcia Gruver

I was first taken in by the beautiful cover of Diamond Duo, and then was more than delightfully surprised when I found myself unable to put it down. I was so fully enveloped in the book, I think I even skipped a meal or two because I was reading so much. Chasing Charity and Emmy's Equal were the same way. The rich history and warming characters of the series swept me up into their lives. So when Marcia Gruver agreed to be a guest on my blog today, imagine my delight!

CW: I love the characters of Bertha and Magda in this series. Are they based on anyone in real life?
MG: Not intentionally. Although, I've been accused of being the inspiration for Bertha. Hate wearing shoes. I do love down-home, quirky people, and I come from a long line of them. I have an aunt who reminds me a little of Magda. She has a hilarious sense of humor, yet a no-nonsense air about her. In retrospect, I guess it's official. . . I'm Bertha. Aunt Jackie is Magda!

CW: Readers often have a favorite character from a trilogy. Who was your favorite character in the Texas Fortunes to write?
MG: In the early days of the series, it was Bertha. She was so much fun to write! Even I didn't know what she might do next. About midway through book two, Emmy Dane stole first place in my heart. Emmy's the consummate rascal. In Chasing Charity, she gets to do all the naughty things we're tempted to do, yet don't always follow through. That little voice in your head telling you things like: "Go ahead! Take that extra slice of cheesecake. What's a few extra pounds? Honey, put those Louis Vuitton shoes on your husband's credit card! You deserve them!" Yeah. . . that voice is Emmy.

CW: What is the most challenging aspect to writing for you?
MG: Jumping off the whirlwind of life and sitting down to write. I don't do well with distraction. I'll sit at my desk for as long as it takes to get the words down, but if I get distracted for more than a minute, there goes my day.

CW: Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
MG: Who me? Of course not! I know you're not talking about my cup of green tea on one side of the desk, bowl of trail mix on the other. Or the phone turned down, not off, the blinds opened just so, and the television on in the next room- loud enough to hear but not to distract. My Internet thesaurus and dictionary of etymology always open in the background? You're not talking about any of those things, right?

CW: How do you like to spend your time when you are not writing?
MG: We travel quite a bit, though not by choice. My husband's job has him all over the country. His last assignment was in Carrizo Springs, a little town deep in South Texas (not coincidentally the setting for Emmy's Equal), and now he's in North Dakota, as far north that he can go and remain in the country. I love to jump in a car or hop on a plane and go see him. We recently bought a place in the Texas Hill Country. It's quite rugged, but breathtakingly beautiful. I like to drive up there and plan the home we hope to one day build. I'm not allowed to say "retirement" home though. My workaholic husband claims he'll never retire.

CW: And last, the question I am dying to ask: What are you currently working on? As a fan, what can I look forward to next?
MG: Thanks for asking! I'm very excited about my next project. I've contracted with Barbour Publishing to write a three-book series entitled Backwoods Buccaneers. It's the tale of three generations of land pirates-- a band of misguided crooks who make their living by raiding and stealing in the aftermath of the civil war. The story begins in Scuffletown, North Carolina, and makes its way down the Natchez Trace to Uncertain, Texas. It's quite a departure from Texas Fortunes, and I can't wait to introduce my latest cast of characters to my readers. Exciting stuff!

Exciting stuff, indeed! Thank you, Marcia, for taking the time to answer these questions!

Emmy's Equal by Marcia Gruver

Journey back to Humble, Texas one last time! When we last saw Emmy Dane, she was reconciling with her best friend Charity Bloom. Now we get to see her on her own in EMMY'S EQUAL, the third book in the Texas Fortunes series.

Emmy is on a trip with her parents and Bertha Bloom to Carrizo Springs, Texas, and she is not happy about it one bit. Then she meets ranch foreman Diego Marcelo and things start to look up. Diego is trying to run the Twisted R Ranch, despite constant disagreements with John Rawson's son Cuddy and his own mother. Having the Blooms and Danes as guests is not making this task any easier for him. When an unexpected situation arises, Diego and Emmy will have to learn to work together, or risk losing the ones they love.

EMMY'S EQUAL is a great ending to this trilogy, seamlessly returning readers to scenes from the first book, reviewed here. Emmy was the most interesting character for me, as she was so tough and selfish. Gruver has a gentle yet powerful writing style that captures the richness and simplicity of the times, as well as the dangers and ruggedness of the unfamiliar terrain.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cowboy Christmas Winner

Today is Friday, which means I get to announce the winner of the Cowboy Christmas Giveaway! So without further delay...

The winner is Hope Chastain! Congratulations.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this Giveaway, especially Mary Connealy for making it possible.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga

Warning: do not read this book without reading The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl first.

GOTH GIRL RISING picks up the story right where it left off. At least for Kyra (AKA Goth Girl). Back from her time in the mental hospital and still dealing with her mother's death, she wants nothing more than to get re-connected with Fanboy and her previous life. Unfortunately, Fanboy is not the person he used to be...

My first thought when I started this book was that it felt so good to be back in Brookdale. It was great to see the same characters again, like The Spermling and Cal, and especially great to see the new Fanboy. It was also neat to see things from Kyra's perspective, and the close ties to Neil Gaiman's Sandman series is sure to please many comic book fans.

GOTH GIRL RISING brings a harsh and brutally honest voice from a confused girl. At times she is downright unlikeable, and yet readers will find themselves wanting good things to happen to her. Though this book deals with issues like suicide and the death of a parent, it is also about hope and overcoming the things that can sometimes hold you back. A top notch follow-up from Lyga, and I would love to see more from these characters!

Monday, October 12, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award!

Wow, my first award! Thank you to Carman of A Sequence of Continuous Delights for passing this award along to me. I am honored. If you read Christian fiction, be sure to check out her blog, she writes fantastic reviews!

Here are the rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award":

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to up to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are the people that I'm sending the award to:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

INTERVIEW with Mary Connealy plus GIVEAWAY!!!

A very special treat for you this week! Mary Connealy, author of the recently released COWBOY CHRISTMAS, has graciously answered some questions for your reading pleasure. I also have one author copy of the book to give away to you! Keep reading for more info.

CW: What is a typical day of writing like for you?
MC: I'm kind of all over the board so it's hard to say typical. I have a job three days a week. Then home the rest of the time. I try to write 1,000 words a day seven days a week. I often write more but try to never write less. But sometimes I do that in one long run and sometimes I do that in five short sessions. I'm an insomniac so it's not unusual for me to write late into the night just to pass the waking hours.

CW: Of all the characters you have created, who is your favorite?
MC: Right now I am just crazy about Belle Tanner, a secondary character in Montana Rose. I had more fun with her than is legal is seven states. She is the absolute antithesis of Cassie Dawson, the sweet, overly-obedient wife in Montana Rose.

I also really loved Elijah Walker in Cowboy Christmas. For some reason I always have a lot of fun with heroes, the heroines are who give me trouble. Elijah is just more of the same. The clueless guy with the knight-in-shining-armor-against-his-will reflex. He doesn't want to get stuck taking care of Annie Talbot, but it falls to him and he can't shirk.

CW: How do you find inspiration to create the villainous characters in your novels?
MC: Giving villains a real character is often easy to forget. We tend to just make them all unflinchingly bad and that's it. But I try to not do that. A villain needs a back story to be truly interesting. And honestly, though I don't think we're that aware of it when we read, a truly three dimensional villain is often the real strength of a story. It gives the story depth. I had Claude and Blanche Leveque be nasty characters but I hope I made them the kind of villains you love to hate.

CW: Some of the action scenes in your novels are very graphic (falling down a flooded ravine in Petticoat Ranch, avalanche in Calico Canyon, etc). how close have you come to the things that have happened in your stories?
MC: Wow, Chelsea, you're talking to a woman who once tripped on her way to the mailbox and almost had to just stay there on the ground. MY KNEE HURT. I live a very sedate life. no avalanches, no floods. I hit a cow once with my car. Very upsetting. The cow wasn't real happy either. That's about the extent of drama in my life.

CW: Cowboy Christmas was recently released, and we know there are two more books coming in the Montana Marriages series. What can we look forward to after that?
MC: I already mentioned The Husband Tree. Here's a little bit about The Husband Tree:

Belle Tanner buries her third worthless husband and makes a vow over his shallow grave. She's learned her lesson. No more men.

Silas Harden just lost his second ranch because of a woman. The first deserted him when times got tough. Now he's had to quit the whole state of New Mexico to avoid a trumped-up shotgun wedding and the noose of matrimony. He's learned his lesson. No more women.

Belle Needs hired hands to move a cattle herd late in the season and there's no one around but seemingly aimless Silas. She hires him reluctantly. Silas signed on, glad for the work, though worried about a woman doing such things as hiring drovers, only to find out he's the lone man going with five women, including a baby still in diapers. After the cattle drive is over, he might as well shoot himself to speeds up the process of being embarrassed to death.

A fast approaching winter.
The toughest lady rancher you've ever seen.
A cynical cowboy who has to convince five women he's right for their ma... and then convince himself.
And one thousand head of the crankiest cattle who have ever been punched across the backbone of the Rockies.

And just a bit about book #3 of the Montana Marriages series. Wildflower Bride release next May:

Glowing Sun, a white woman raised by the Flathead tribe, has never met a man she didn't want to pull a knife on, including the man who's determined to marry her.

CW: As as member of multiple blogs, how do you feel the internet is affecting the way authors interact with their readers and fans?
MC: I love it. I can't stand to think about my life without all the great writer friends I talk to daily and all the great notes I get from people who've read my book. It can really end up taking a lot of writing time so I need to be careful. But I love the internet.

Thank you Mary, for taking the time to talk with me!

To enter to win COWBOY CHRISTMAS, you can 1) leave a comment on this post (one entry), 2) sign up to follow this blog (another entry), and 3) link to this contest on your own blog (send me a link, third possible entry). Enter to win up to three times! Winner will be drawn at random and notified by e-mail next Friday, October 16th.

Good luck!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy

Annie Talbot is on the run from an evil, terrifying man. With no one else to turn to, she goes home to her father's ranch and finds it in ruins. Elijah Walker swears never to trust women again after the last one left an enormous hurt in his life. But when he meets Annie, he knows she needs him in her life. Which she indeed does, if she wants to survive her past.

COWBOY CHRISTMAS has one of the scariest pursuits from villains as I've ever seen in a Christian fiction novel. Connealy continually surprises me with her intensely graphic scenes. They blend so seamlessly with her incredibly tender moments that reader's will find themselves feeling the gambit of emotions.

Connealy's stories demand your complete attention until the last page is turned. A welcome book for the upcoming holiday season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I am a HUGE fan of Scott Westerfeld. His worlds are fantastically imagined, his writing style doesn't talk down to you, and his stories stay in my head long after I've finished the book.

This latest book is set in a World War I alternate history, with fantasy that is not too complicated to get into. Prince Alek has lived his whole life in a Clanker society, where giant machines give man incredible fighting strength and power. After receiving awful news of his parents, he flees his country and tries to find safety amid a brewing war. Deryn Sharp longs to be an airshipman for the Darwinists, scientists who have altered the genes of wildlife to create extreme ships for transportation. The only problem is, she's a girl. When both of these brilliant kids meet aboard the Leviathan, they realize they are caught in the middle of something that is much bigger than they first thought.

LEVIATHAN is packed with action for boys and girls alike. Detailed drawings throughout reinforce just how complete the world has been created. It will also be good for bringing up discussions about the battle between animal technology and steam-powered machines. This book is bound to be a heavy hitter as the steampunk genre rises in popularity.

This is the first in a planned four-book series, and I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus

Kaye Dacus takes us back to Benneterre, this time with characters more interesting than the first book, STAND-IN GROOM. Meredith pledges that this year will finally be the year she gets a man in her life. However, when not one but TWO guys come knocking, it doesn't feel right. The only person who could possibly understand her busy lifestyle is Major O'Hara, the sweetest guy ever. (And a world-class chef!) Though there could not possibly be a couple better suited for each other, it is entertaining to watch these two come to grips with their mutual feelings.

One of the pleasures of reading this series is that it deals with real people, real jobs, and real life concerns. Readers from all walks of life will be able to identify with loving someone close to you and/or dealing with a family secret. Her writing style is easy and lightweight.

I am looking forward to the third book, where we finally get to learn more about Forbes!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Micah is a liar. She tells you that on the first page. But not anymore. She wants to tell you the truth about what happened to her friend Zach. As an investigation progresses, Micah navigates the rumors and harsh High School teenagers, while mourning her loss on her own terms. However, all is not as it seems.

Switching from Before to After the death makes for very tense reading, with details coming out slowly. It is cliche to hear that the story will keep you guessing right up until the last page, but LIAR takes it to the next level and makes you wonder if what you read was really there at all. The reader will find themselves in an unusual place - unsure whether the narrator is reliable.

This is an absolutely fantastic book that will make you want to tell all your friends about it, to get their opinion, to discuss with them the events and circumstances. Larbalestier has proven once again to be a top-notch writer for young adults.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Percy Parker has been treated differently since the day she was born. With her ghostly white skin and curious ability to speak all languages, others around her are typically frightened. Until she enrolled at Athens Academy, where she was introduced to Professor Alexi Rychman. He accepts her for who she is and encourages her to blossom into her talents. Which may be needed, as unknown dark forces are on the rise.

This book is a haunting, gothic tale with gorgeous, atmospheric writing. Hieber knows how to tell a tantalizing story- letting the plot unwrap itself in a cinematic fashion, and giving the reader slightly more knowledge than the main characters to keep the tension high.

A sequel is already scheduled for future release, and I look forward to furthering this adventure. Other members of the Guard who would thrive in a book for themselves, especially artist Josephine and Headmistress Rebecca Thompson.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Ahhh, Gena Showalter. This is not the first teen book I have read by her- Oh My Goth was fantastic. Having also read her popular adult novels too, I personally think she excels at writing the younger teenage character.

This book starts with a crazy chapter that will immediately pull you to the edge of your seat. We meet troubled teen Aden and learn about the four souls trapped inside him, each with their own unique power, and Mary Ann, the only girl who can silence them. Aden enrolls at Mary Ann's high school, bringing with him non-stop action and adventure. Friends are quickly made, alliances are formed. Layers of the story peel away as Aden and Mary Ann learned just how twisted together their lives are.

Showalter has created a very complicated world and pulls it off effortlessly. Still, readers have to pay close attention to detail if they want to be able to understand what, why, and how everything is happening. If you are picky about your super-natural beings, have no fear. INTERTWINED has a little bit of everything paranormal- from vampires, werewolves, and undead, to possession, time-travel, and of course, romance. Keep your eyes peeled for a sequel next year!

Don't forget to check out the story behind the sexy cover:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

INTERVIEW with Jason Quinn Malott

Taking a break from reviewing, Jason Quinn Malott, author of THE EVOLUTION OF SHADOWS has graciously answered a few questions for us.

CW: When did you start writing Evolution of Shadows?
JQM: Usually, I mark the beginning of The Evolution of Shadows as a short story called “Curse Softly to Me” that I wrote in the spring of 2000. That was the first appearance of Gray and Lian; however, I’d wanted to write a story set in Bosnia since 1995. The two parts didn’t meld together until maybe mid summer during the Naropa Summer Writing Program. Once the two parts were fused I had the rough draft finished just after Christmas of 2000.

CW: What is a typical day of writing like for you?
JQM: I wish I could say that I am able to support myself with writing or a part-time job thus allowing me the luxury of writing for hours at a time several days a week, but that’s not the way it is. Except for a few bouts of unemployment over the years, I’ve worked full-time jobs since I finished my undergraduate degree. So, I squeeze in an hour, maybe an hour and a half every Monday through Friday starting between 5 or 5:30 am then go to my day-job for 8 hours. If I’m not too tired or running around taking care of errands, I try to spend my evenings revising, or reading, or just sitting around thinking (the most underrated and misunderstood part of being a writer). On the weekends I try to spend two or three hours a day before errands, laundry, chores, family over take everything. It makes for some tough going and slow progress.

CW: Do you think travel is a critical element to being a good writer?
JQM: My first summer at Naropa there was a panel discussion with Robin Blaser, Robert Creeley, and Michael Ondaatje and one of them (maybe Ondaatje) said “you have to travel to find your home.” I’m looking forward to finding my home someday. But if travel were a critical element to being a good writer then we’re immediately narrowing our literary gene pool to those people who have the freedom and/or money to travel. Every person I know who “travels” comes from a family with more money than my family ever had, somehow managed to avoid massive student loan debt, or landed a job right out of college that paid them well enough that they could live like a grown up. But that’s the long answer.

The short answer is that even if you stay in one place you only have to open your eyes, your ears, and your heart, and the world will come to visit you.

CW: As a member of mySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, how do you think social networks are changing the way writers connect with their readers?
JQM: In some ways, I think it’s breaking down that shroud of mystery and shaman-like wisdom that used to surround great writers. I think that’s both good and bad. A book is a pretty personal thing to put in your head. Sometimes, it’s comforting to feel like you have a personal connection with the creator of the book that enters you. Social media provides that. However, it means the writer has to have that internal editor turned on a lot more and that, I fear, might damage the writing. Most good writers will tell you that the key to getting the truth down in a story comes from killing your internal editor/critic, that nagging super ego that keeps telling you it’s not nice to say such things about people even if it is true.

The great writers of the past were able isolate themselves pretty deeply and to put down that mental filter everyone has to manufacture in order function appropriately in civilized society. By shutting themselves away and shedding the cloak of civility writers could dredge up those deep truths we’re afraid to admit to in public. To do that a writer sometimes has to have a bad day where he is a complete ass to everyone around him, rude to children, and mean to dogs. In isolation the number of people who see that is limited. But have a bad day like that on Facebook or on Twitter - like Alice Hoffman did recently - and that whole shroud of mystery and awe around the writer is lost and they become nothing more mysterious than a guest on the Jerry Springer show.

And no one I know likes those people.

CW: Favorite things to do besides writing:
JQM: I love baseball. I’ve been wishing there was an amateur adult baseball league here where I live so I could play. Instead, I watch the Cubs play on WGN whenever I can. Music is my other big love. I’m always looking for new music. If I weren’t a writer, I’d want to be a drummer, or a bass player in a rock band.

CW: Could you tell us a little about your next book?
JQM: The next book is tentatively titled “By The Still, Still Water” and it’s a multi-generational family drama set during a week-long family reunion. When a stranger shows up to the Goodson family reunion looking to hear the story of how his father died during the Korean War, the stoic patriarch of the Goodson family, Ben, decides to finally tell the tragic and horrible story of the events he’s been trying to forget for 50 years. His story also begins to shift his family’s perception of him and of themselves and how they became the people they are. It’s kind of about how the mutation of memory and secret history shape us as much as the things we know (or think we know) about ourselves and our origins.

A very special thank you to Jason, for taking the time to answer these questions!

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

Kaylee Cavanaugh she is not your average teenager. When someone around her is about to die, she gets an uncontrollable urge to scream. After getting information from her Uncle and new boyfriend Nash, she realizes there is a lot more to learn about who she is and what she can do. The story takes place over a short period of time, but the plot is chock full of twists and turns, with a climactic ending that sneaks up and punches you in the gut.

MY SOUL TO TAKE is a great paranormal romance story for teen girls. Kaylee deals with the usual paranormal issues ("Where did I come from and how do I learn to control my powers?") along with the more normal teenage issues ("Does he like me and am I pretty enough for him?") Together with some uncommon paranormal myths, readers will delight in the Soul Screamers series.

This book is a great start to the new Harlequin Teen line-up. Vincent has written an engrossing and spooky tale that will leave new readers begging for more action and answers! (While waiting for more, readers can check out the prequel, MY SOUL TO LOSE, available for free download on the eHarlequin site.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott

Emil, Jack, and Lian are three very different people who come together with one thing in common: their love of a former lover and colleague named Gray. As a group, they return to Sarajevo to track him down and bring him home. The plot takes place from within war-torn land, thick with the memories of when all three were last there. This setting provides a dark and heavy feel that comes across as oddly refreshing.

Malott has written an engaging and beautiful book that is gripping and yet gentle with it's contents. Hope and charm shine through the tragedy of loss, leaving readers with a little heartache but nonetheless content.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano

When Melody Grace McCartney was a child, her family witnessed an act of unspeakable horror involving the NYC Italian Mafia. In exchange for their testimony, her family enters into a life-long relationship with the Witness Protection Program. But when her parents are found and killed, she is far from safety. Coupled with her inability to create bonds with those around her, Melody uses the Witness Protection Program to relocate and re-invent herself every few years.

Until now. During her most recent move, she meets Jonathan Bovaro, son of the mafioso murderer she met when she was young. He knows Melody better than anyone, and the allure is too much for her to stay away.

It is intriguing to learn about the not-often-spoken-about government program. Cristofano tells a gripping story about a poor girl lost in the system and trying to get out. Once I started this book, I could not put it down and stayed up late watching the back and forth between good guys and bad guys unfold.

David Cristofano is a name I will be putting on my future reading list!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

DAIRY QUEEN and THE OFF SEASON were incredible, and now Catherine Gilbert adds a third book equally as amazing.

FRONT AND CENTER is genuine sports fiction for teenage girls, but readers of all sorts would love it. DJ Schwenk has been on her high school boys football team and helped her brother back from a paralyzing sports injury, but nothing compares to the challenge she's up against in this book - finding a college. She is elligible for more than a few scholarships, thanks to her super basketball playing and coaching skills, and the pressure to find the right college is not easy. Throughout the process, DJ navigates good from bad, right from wrong, and still manages to hold it all together for a rewarding happy ending.

Teens will love the conversational tone of the writing and will identify with DJ as she grows up and becomes wise about the world around her. Family and boyfriend issues are nothing new, but Murdock makes them feel unique with her characters and writing style.

Let's see a book of DJ's first year in college!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Montana Rose by Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy is an author who truly knows how to grab your attention from the get go.

As Cassie Griffin watches her husband get buried, she feels utterly hopeless. Alone and pregnant, she has nowhere to turn. Thank God for the likes of Red Dawson, who steps up to marry her, take her back to his home, and care for her. Though this decision is sudden, it is the only way to keep Cassie safe from slimy villain Wade Sawyer.

Connealy has created two humble, innocent characters in Cassie and Red. Readers will thrill in watching them grow up together, learn together, and best of all, love together. There are some honest laugh-out-loud scenes as Cassie fumbles to learn about Ranch Life, as well as a sincerely sweet, tear-jerking moment when Cassie finally gives birth.

The focus may be on Cassie and Red, but the story is full of dynamic characters. Side characters such as the rough and tough Belle and her daughters, and the lovely Muriel round out the plot, leaving openings for future installments. There is also plenty of Connealy's signature action - fights, weather, wild animals - to keep you turning the pages late into the night. Connealy is a master of keeping solid Christian values in her books, without the message feeling too overwhelming. I am very excited to continue with this new series!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This book had me hooked right from the first sentence.

All cheesy jokes aside, I devoured this book in one sitting. Could not stop reading, had to keep turning the page. CRAZY BEAUTIFUL is an all-too-familiar lesson in cliques and high school cruelty, but it is one everyone must learn. Jealousy among girl "friends". Rumor spreading that is turned on you. Sticking up for yourself and others against a bully. The one catch? Lucius does it all with hooks for hands. It was fascinating to read (and then think) about life without hands. How normal, every-day things are completely taken for granted until you find yourself unable to perform them anymore. Plus, the super sweet relationship between Lucius and Aurora will make you say "awwwwwww".

With alternating chapters between Lucius and Aurora's point-of-view, the plot is able to go deeper and show you the thoughts and emotions from both important characters. Lauren Baratz-Logsted will have you believing in the power of love at first sight.

Friday, May 8, 2009

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

31 Hours offers disturbing insight into a world few people know much about.

Right from the start, this quick read creates a fantastic sense of urgency - Carol's son Jonas is missing and she senses something is not right with him. Her intuition proves true, although she does not know it yet, as Jonas is preparing himself to carry out an extreme mission for the Islam faith. The chapters rotate through points of view from a number of characters, most of which we learn deeply care for Jonas. Among the many voices are Jonas' parents, his long-time friend Victoria, his mentor Masoud, even the homeless man working the same subway morning after morning. With so many different people involved in the story, the reader can sometimes tend to feel a little overwhelmed. I did not find that to be the case with 31 Hours- instead finding an engaging beauty in how the separate stories were more intertwined than could be known at the time.

Hamilton has taken a scary, sensitive topic and written a stunning book about it. Her prose flows off the page with ease, pulling you along with it's immediacy. I could barely take a breath until the last page was turned.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

This book literally made me lose my appetite. Could hardly eat anything until I had finished it. Good thing I had a hard time putting it down and finished it quickly!

Peeps is about parasitic vampirism, an intriguing concept. The central plot is invigorating. The reader is as clueless as Cal, and therefor just as shocked as Cal is when he learns more about what is going on. The slight horror elements provide a high level of spookiness, but nothing too terrifying that I couldn't read it at night by myself.

My favorite part of this book were the interstitials between chapters that talked about various parasites and their circle of life. Absolutely fascinating. And revolting. But oh so good. I found I could not control myself after reading some of them, and had to read them alound to my Better Half to share. To which he promptly put down his folk and muttered" this is why we don't read at the dinner table".

Scott Westerfeld is a genius. His writing is easy and gripping and entertaining and funny and interesting and.... I could go on and on. But rather than do that, perhaps I should just go pick up the second book. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Miralee Ferrell

As a resident of California, this is the first book I've read from Summerside fiction, and I already look forward to reading more!

LAST CHANCE, CALIFORNIA is Classic Christian Fiction: broken people who get their happy ending (except the villain, naturally). That having been said, each story tends to be a little different. Ferrell's book stand's out from the others in that it has a stronger central female character than most. Alex is not only head strong and independent, butshe also thinks things through and does a lot of her own investigating. She isn't afraid to speak her mind and doesn't care what those around her will think of her actions. Quite refreshing! Justin, the central male character, is so genuine you can't help but love how he has taken to caring for Toby and Alex. I also found myself curious about Christy's situation and her back ground story - how did she get to where she is? What is truly in her heart? How will her new future change her?

Ferrell's writing style is easy and gripping. Her words come off the page, making you feel happy and warm when the characters are smiling and nervous when the action gets super tense. Ferrell is an author to keep your eye on.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

I was a little reluctant to read this sequel, and I'm not really sure why. The first book was good enough. Perhaps I only needed to know the setup. The title gives away the plot anyway, right? But Better Half was going through the whole series at an alarming rate - devouring each book one after another. So eventually I picked it up. Yup, there sure is a burning bridge.

As far as second books go, this one was just mediocre. All action before the title scene is excellent, including the very tense, hold-your-breath moments right before. After the bridge burns isn't nearly as tense and exciting unfortunately, and then leads up to a cliffhanger at the end of the book.

What is fun about this book is the race of Skandians - their devoted loyalty unto themselves first is amusing. Morgarath's army of Wargals and Kalkara is downright terrifying. We also see growth from the main characters of Will and Halt, as they endure more tests of their skill and faith. I was also pleased to see the inclusion of girls to this plot more than in the first book.

I do not feel I NEED a cliffhanger to get me to pick up the next book, but I suppose it does help to grab and keep readers. Will have to see how long it takes me to pick up the third.

Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

This book was another one I would look at in the store - pick it up, feel it's cover, smell the pages, then put down again. Just wasn't sure if I wanted to read it or if it would be worth the effort. Finally, with my Better Half standing next to me "That book looks AWESOME, I would totally read it," I purchased a copy to read on an upcoming long drive. What I got in return was my Better Half reading it in the passenger seat, all but hissing at me when I would quietly ask if he wanted to take over driving for a little bit.

Bottom line: These books are a fantastic boys adventure/fantasy series.

This first one does a fantastic job of setting up the world - characters, location, skills, enemies, adventure, impending conflict. It was nice to see the main character not get what he wants right off the bat (to be a warrior). Instead, after a fun scene, he is chosen to be a Ranger with the ever-elusive, super wise Halt. The action scenes are easy to read without getting too boring - as action scenes often drag on too long and are too bogged down with description. The monsters are frightening, the clues as to who this feared enemy Morgarath are welcomed.

And though there is hardly a female presence, The Ruins of Gorlan will leave both male and female readers wanting to put on the cloak and join the Rangers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

One word: Terrifying.

Kyra is a 13-year-old girl living on a Religious Compound, who is Chosen to marry her uncle, a man over 50 years older than her. She immediately knows this is wrong, mainly from the books she has borrowed without the Prophet's consent. She has seen the fierce discipline around her, the mysterious deaths, the unnecessary losses and knows there is a life that is better than this for her. What she goes through and what she endures in pursuit of that other life is disturbing and heart-breaking.

The Chosen one plays out like a gory car crash that is so terrible to see and yet you can't for the life of you look away. An important book, much in the same vein as Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. These are the topics writers have to write about and readers have to read about to keep our children safe.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ruby's Slippers by Leanna Ellis

While I would consider myself a strong fan of Leanna Ellis, it took me a little longer to get into the flow of RUBY'S SLIPPERS.

Still, that's not to say this book didn't hold me in it's grip. The beginning throws you right there into the tornado with Dottie and her little dog Otto. The chapters are short, the language is jumpy, Dottie is fading in and out of consciousness. Through her recovery, I felt very tied to Dottie's emotions. Her sense of confusion, her desire to be back where life was normal, her growing love for the friends and security the home provides. Because of this, I felt just as wary as Dottie to step outside and follow through with the rest of her trials and travels.

Ellis writes with a simple, clean, light style the pulls you along. However, the bits with Dottie's sister felt way too rushed, the relationship not as fleshed out as it could have been to convey a finer sense of what each sister's motivations were for the family. The theme of The Wizard of Oz, while very prevalent, was not overly forced in. Ellis skillfully weaves elements and icons from the famous movie into her own plot-lines, managing to create a finely woven bond rather than a straight up comparison between the two. The major themes felt similar to the previous two books by Ellis, but the situations and voices were much more stark.

I look forward to what Ellis has in store for us next!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chasing Charity by Marcia Gruver

A remarkable second novel in the Texas Fortunes Series - this one centering around Bertha's daughter, Charity. I personally loved the change in generation with the characters, as it is rare with a series to get to see characters in vastly different times in their lives.

Charity has recently been left at the alter by Daniel Clark and is trying to move on with her life. Buddy Pierce is new to Humble, Texas, having joined the Oil Boom. Daniel is absolutely terrible in his manipulation of both Charity and her best friend Emmy. The words and thoughts that come from his mind gave me shivers. Additional greed from another local family add to the villains out to get what they want no matter the cost. I was thrilled to see the relationship between Bertha and Magda still going strong, as they provide some of the funnier and more heart-warming scenes in the story. And ultimately, true love prevails in the end, though not without a page-turning, nail-biting climax.

Historical fact mixing with light-hearted fiction makes for a delightful read. The third in the series, Emmy's Equal, is sure to bring just as must history, tension, and fun as the first two. Gruver is one of the best Christian Fiction writers out there today.

Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver

Diamond Duo was quite the delightful surprise.

My ever excellent better half picked up this book and read the end Dear Reader before I had started reading myself. His exclamation "Oh man, are you going to like this book- it's right up your alley. Quite interesting," had me fascinated to see what was in store for me.

It did not disappoint. Marcia Gruver has a real knack for re-creating the historical time period of Texas, mixing fact with beautifully written fiction. The scenes of racism were powerful. It is easy to forget there were places in our nation where the people behaved and thought like that. And Diamond Bessie was a fun character, despite her personal troubles. The chemistry between her and the strongly independent Bertha is where the real romance in this story was. Thad was a mere side side character, but redeeming in the end anyway.

I am looking forward to more from this great author. I love her writing, her story lines, the real history behind her fiction. Can't wait to dive into Chasing Charity!

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

You should be warned ahead of time- this book is gory. Yet the graphic parts are necessary to a novel about the plague. The details never get overbearing, but if you are the type of person who gets squeamish at the puss and skin abrasions, then you might want to pass on this one.

The main character is Anna Frith, a young maid who seems to be at the center of the village. It is her who takes care of the ill throughout, but she also has ties to the leaders of the village, and therefore makes a great observer to the events in the story. Brooks made Anna a very powerful woman, and did so without being cliché at all. There is no man in Anna’s life that she towers over. Instead, she deals with loved ones all around her falling victim to the plague, yet she stays strong and continues to do what is needed to survive, while others give in to sadness and grief. When the village makes the decision to quarantine themselves, she follows along and believes in the new duties she takes on for the greater good.

Quarantining an entire village does not seem like something that would soon happen in today’s day and age, yet Brooks writes as if she were there back in 1666 alongside the other villagers. She writes with beautiful, flowing sentences. There is significantly more description than dialogue, yet you will find yourself reading every single word for the magic of their impact alone.

The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa

Writing a book about a book has never been an easy feat. Often the reader will enjoy one book over the other, and excerpts will be overlooked so that they can get back to the more interesting plot at hand. THE WONDER SINGER does not suffer from this affliction.

From the very first chapter, Rabasa throws you head first into the story and does not lose momentum through to the end. Perhaps what makes THE WONDER SINGER so interesting, however, is not the late Diva herself, but rather the small cluster of adoring followers that are so intent to produce a book about her life. The #1 fan, the devoted housekeeper, and the hired ghostwriter provide real chemistry and often funny scenes throughout the book. And by the time you reach the last chapter, you may find yourself rooting for the good guys, booing the bad guys, and mourning the loss of a great voice in opera.

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall

The premise of THE RED SIREN is an instant formula for fun: Faith is a proper lady by day and a feared pirate by night.

We quickly learn it is not all fun and games for Faith though, as she is maintaining these charades in order to support and protect herself and her two sisters, Grace and Hope, in her father's absence. Captain Dajon Waite is the only man who can put a kink in her plans. He is charged with looking after the three girls, which includes protecting them from some truly slimy, villainous men. His own baggage and personal plans create humorous and nerve-wracking situations for the girls. With all of these elements the story twists and turns, building to a satisfying resolution.

Fans can look forward to the next two books in the series, sure to bring more of the action and romance that seems to come naturally to M.L. Tyndall. All in all, this is a book that is sure to please both Christian Fiction and general readers alike.

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

Kaye Dacus premieres her Brides of Bonneterre series with a story about Anne, a wedding planner charged with putting together the biggest wedding of the year. The good news is that there is no budget. The bad news, however, is that she finds herself attracted to the groom! George Laurence discovers he is in a similar predicament - as a stand-in for the real groom, he is forbidden to reveal his job to anyone, ESPECIALLY the wedding planner, whom he just can't seem to stay away from. George gets to know Anne's whole family, creating some situations that will make you blush! Humorous dialog and fast-moving scenes keep the momentum going strong from beginning to end. Besides a few plot twists that seem out of character, the reader will be rewarded with a timeless, fairy-tale ending.

There were a few scenes that took a little more effort to push through, but otherwise, an easy read!

Last Night In Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

Lilia Albert has been running away from people and places her entire life. It is a compulsion that has never had any consequences, at least until her latest boyfriend Eli takes to the road and follows her. Adding to the mix are other elements surrounding her long ago kid-napping - the private detective and his daughter, both whom have their own personal obsessions with the case. With alternating chapters between Eli's present and Lilia's past, the reader finds themselves hurtling through snippets in time towards an inevitable tragic ending. Mandel writes with refreshing sadness, the mystery and grief in her heart-wrenching story pulls you in and shows you everything in slow motion. And as you continue reading and learning what Lilia is running from and where she is running to, you will find yourself powerless to stop it. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is so full of emotion and history, it is amazing this book doesn't burst at the seams.

I felt this book was strangely addictive, like it would leave me if I left it alone for even the slightest minute. Good stuff!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr


Fragile Eternity brought back all of the passion and emotion and turmoil that was so abundant in Wicked Lovely. It took a few chapters to get back into the world, but once there, I could not put the book down.

I loved having more Seth in the story - from his point of view. There were some shocking twists in the story I didn't see coming. Additionally, I was pleased to see some strong development of Donia and Keenan as an ill-fated couple. Growth of Niall as a loyal friend to Seth. And the growing distrust between to the Faery Courts.

Marr's writing style is easy and addictive, each chapter seems to compel you to read on. Her dialog is much stronger than her action, but the blend of the two creates a complete world without holes or questions.

If the next book in the series came out tomorrow, it would not be soon enough.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

An interesting way to write a sequel - taking the attention away from the characters in the first book.

I was hesitant at first, unsure that these new characters of Leslie, Irial, and Niall would be as interesting as Ash, Seth, and Keenan. But they TOTALLY were!!! As Leslie contemplates getting a tattoo, and then finding herself thrown into a world she never could have imagined existed, I was captivated right from the start.

There have been other books written about paranormal tattoos, but Ink Exchange is the perfect version for young adults. Leslie's life is not an easier than the others we have met in this world, giving readers lots to identify with. Perhaps in future books, Marr could focus more on the relationships between Ash and her human friends. With her new position and powers, it would be interesting to see how she can continue to go to regular school.

It is also worth noting the art on the cover. BEAUTIFUL. I especially love the treatment of vines/flowers around the title, to include an "ink" theme.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

This book took my breath away.

When hearing about how great twilight is for paranormal teen fiction, I always wish to speak out that this book is better than the Twilight series. Sure, they aren't apples to apples, but when discussing YA paranormal romance, DO NOT leave this series out.

Perhaps what I loved most about this series debut was the raw teen angst spilling off the page. Aislinn (LOVE this name!) is a high school girl with a lot more on her plate than normal. She can see faeries all around her, but abides by her Grandma's strict rules in dealing with them. Seth is a teen boy who has grown up too fast and lives by himself in a converted train car. How HOT is that? Perhaps it is just my teen fantasies speaking out, but the combo of these two characters is absolutely amazing. The sexual tension was tangible, something that felt so real reading the words on the page.

It is difficult to write about Faery worlds without getting too fantastical or too mythological, but Marr pulls this off perfectly. The rules with which the Faeries have to abide by are easy to understand and play lightly into the traditional Winter and Summer Courts. With first forbidden love being a central theme, Wicked Lovely is bound to appeal to a wide range of young adult girls.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy

I heart Mary Connealy. I really do.

This book was the third in her Lassoed in Texas Series and it was just as good as the first two. (Petticoat Ranch #1 and Calico Canyon #2.)

The tension cackles and sparkles as Grant and Hannah come together to save the orphans (and themselves) in Sour Springs, Texas. The natural attraction between these two is undeniable despite their constant bickering and constant misunderstandings.

Connealy excels at pulling the reading into her stories - with sharp-witted, sensitive characters, endearing plot-lines, and addictive dialog. She has created genuinely scary, vengeful villains in Prudence and Horace, slowly building fear while they plot to get rich and rid themselves of Grant and his children. Most notable about Connealy's writing is the way she can capture the nature around these characters - snow storms so raw and real that they will make you pull the blanket up a little tighter to stay warm, cliffs so high they will make your palms get sweaty, woods so thick that you will have no choice but to keep reading and find your way out.

I look forward to the next series!

Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfield

I picked up the whole trilogy at Bookmans in Tucson and MAN did I love them.

First, it is worth noting how incredibly awesome and seductive these covers are, as the newer covers leave something to be desired, me thinks. Would have hesitated a lot more to read these if the Mass Market versions did not have such cool cover design.

That being said, the actual book was super cool, too. Is it just me who has dreamed about a world in which time can stop and you are the only one left moving? Total. Fantasy. With the added touch that these select teenagers have super-powers, EVEN BETTER.

I instantly fell in love with the five teens and their issues and powers. This is a fast moving book that held me in it's grip late into the night.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This book was a last minute buy before heading out to Tucson, AZ for a few days. The car ride is loooong, and even though I had plenty of other books with me, I started this one right away and ended up reading it for most of the trip.

Surprisingly good. Was not sure what I expected, but it is always a delight to be sucked into a good book.

The first scene really captured my attention and never let it go from there. Clare has created a neat paranormal world unlike the others out there similar to this. I especially love how the main character, Clary, is so strong and does what she knows to be right, even when she is terrified. It should be easily identifiable with the older teen crowd, with themes of first love, independence, and adventure. The pace never slowed, the characters were fascinating, and the ending left me reaching for more!

Book 2, City of Ashes, comes out in paperback THIS MONTH. My copy is already ordered. Can't wait to read it!

A Bit of a Backlog

Since I am starting this blog in 2009 and it is already March, I thought I would do a quick backlog of the books up until this point. Then nothing from this year will be lost.

An Introduction

Hello fiction fans out there! Thought it was about time to get started on an official book blog, since I am a personal fan of so many others out there.

A quick introduction: I read fiction 99% of the time, and that includes fiction across ALL genres and age groups. In any given week I can read, enjoy, and finish 3-4 books. I always have an opinion and a few words to say about every book, but every now and then a story will cross my path and require a much longer review.

I look forward to some fantastic reading and meeting you! Enjoy!