Melody's Reading Corner is excited to host Christine and Ethan Rose, authors of the new, award-winning YA fantasy novel Rowan of the Wood during their Geekalicious Yuletide Blog Book Tour! The authors are stopping by here on Wednesday, December 3rd to answer some questions and post an excerpt of their new book Rowan of the Wood:

An ancient wizard possesses a young boy after a millennium of imprisonment in a magic wand. He emerges from the child in the face of danger and discovers Fiana, his new bride from the past, has somehow survived time and become something evil.

The authors are also hosting a contest on YouTube and giving away a digital camcorder just for following four simple steps. Check it out!

Come back and visit on Wednesday, read their blog, and post comments. The authors will be available all day Wednesday and Thursday to answer your questions. Every comment on this blog is an entry to win a signed, limited edition print of Christine's Green Man II painting. The authors are also giving away autographed books and over $600 in other prizes through their website.


Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

Now, you may have noticed that the global economy isn’t exactly doing well. There’s war. Starvation. All sorts of bad, scary things going on.

So–just for today–how about sharing 7 things that you’re thankful for?

This can be about books, sure–authors you appreciate, books you love, an ode to your public library–but also, how about other things, too? Because in times like these, with bills piling up and disaster seemingly lurking around every corner, it’s more important than ever to stop and take stock of the things we’re grateful for. Family. Friends. Good health (I hope). Coffee and tea. Turkey. Sunshine. Wagging tails. Curling up with a good book.

So, how about it? Spread a little positive thinking and tell the world what there is to be thankful for.

First of all, I want to wish all my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving!

Generally, I am thankful for everything I am and I have! I am happy and grateful of my family and friends (especially Jennifer T., whom I feel we are more like sisters than best friends and despite of the long distance!) who are always there for me whenever I need them. I am thankful that I have a job and that my superior is understanding and treats me as an equal.

Before I end this post, I am also thankful to my bookblogging friends for their friendship and their never-ending book recommendations (although my wallet is complaining!), and then of course to all the writers out there, without them we will not have any good books to read!

ISBN-13: 9780099502777
Publisher: Vintage Books
Published: 2007
385 pgs

The story begins with the protagonist, Evangeline Harker happily engaged to her boyfriend and is looking forward to their wedding and honeymoon. But there is other thing in her mind besides the wedding preparations, for she is requested to travel to Transylvania to cover a story on a notorious Eastern European crime boss named Ion Torgu given her job as an associate producer on a television news magazine The Hour.

Despite her wedding plans and all, she went ahead for the interview thinking this is a chance of a great story she would not missed. She met a fellow young American lady by the name of Clementine "Clemmie" Spence when she stopped over in Bucharest. Along the way, Clemmie told her she is affiliated with an organization called World Ministries Central and their work included a few exorcisms; she also told her terrifying tales about her work in Africa as they shared a rental car to Transylvania. Evangeline does not really trust Clemmie and thinks she has something to hide. Before leaving, Clemmie left a necklace with a tiny metal cross in an envelope to Evangeline but the latter thinks nothing about it and move on. She finally gets to meet the infamous Torgu and he drives her to his spooky hotel where they would negotiate about the interview and his appearance on screen.

Evangeline then realizes there is something strange about the hotel and soon, she found out the horror fact that Torgu is actually a vampire. She managed to make an escape but she became a different person with a dark, new self.

Things back in the New York offices is not going on well and Evangeline's disappearance is making everyone antsy. They have bad feelings after receiving some tapes from Romania but nothing appears on the tapes except an empty wooden chair. By now, all these unexplainable events have put on a strain on everyone in the office and some of the staff seem to be affected by a strange virus. The nightmare has just begun.

Unlike other vampire novels, Fangland is a dark, literary vampire story with a modern take. It is suspenseful and gruesome and although the characters are engaging, I did not feel connected or sympathetic towards them. Towards the middle of the novel, the story is told through various viewpoints in the forms of e-mails, diary entries and journals which I think did not really match up with the fast pace as told from Evangeline's perspective in the beginning. At some times, I was also frustrated with Evangeline and thought she should have avoided some unfortunate scenarios but yet I also admired her wits and courage during the escape. Although I was disappointed with this novel, I have to applaud the author for this intriguing and imaginative horror tale with a new twist as so often compared to Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Other blog review:
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)

Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser sentences for today [Fangland by John Marks (Pg 30)]:

High atop the wagon, on a bed of aromatic hay, rode a coffin roughly the shade of Clemmie's oxford cloth shirt and about half the size of an adult human being. This was the funeral procession of a child.


Musing Mondays

From this week onwards, MUSING MONDAYS will be hosted by Rebecca from Just One More Page.

How do you feel about wide-spread reading phenomenons - Harry Potter, for instance, or the more current Twilight Saga? Are these books so widely read for a reason, or merely fads or crazes? Do you feel compelled to read - or NOT to read - these books because everyone else is?

I remember those moments when I walked into the bookstores and found many young children queuing to get their copies of the Harry Potter books. I was not a HP fan then, but my initial thought was it is a good thing that these children have not given up reading (given with today's electronic games and all) and that this series must be really good to generate such crazes. It was only through curiosity that I watched the first movie and thought it was interesting. Being a booklover, I always think that books are a better source of storytelling and are more descriptive so I began to seek out this series from then onwards. It was also through this series that started my passion for children/young adult books.

As for the Twilight Saga, I started reading this series before all the hypes. I have yet to watch this movie but I am definitely looking forward to watching it soon. So what do I think about these reading phenomenons? Naturally books which are most read and bestselling often make it to the big screen, which in turn may inspire some non-readers to read the books. And I think it is always a good thing to spark anyone's interest in reading.


This week, Dewey asked us to visit five other Weekly Geeks. I love visiting other bookblogs and this week's theme is a fun one because we have to find one thing in common with 5 Weekly Geeks participants.

How to:
1. Using the
Weekly Geeks category here in my blog, find 5 Weekly Geeks you don’t know. The easiest way is probably to look at the Mr Linkies in my weekly Saturday posts.
2. Visit each of your 5 new blogpals and snoop around their blogs to find at least one thing you have in common.
3. In your blog, write a post, linking to your 5 new blogpals, about what you have in common with them.
4. Come back and sign Mr Linky.
5. As you run across other Weekly Geek posts (or deliberately seek them out) if you see anyone mentioned who has something in common with you, pay them a visit.

1. Paula Marie: Switch Witch ~ I am attracted by her blog background and like her, I am a fan of manga too.

2. Sophisticated Dorkiness ~ I just love the name of this blog! One thing Kim and I have in common is we put up the list of books we read and reviewed in a monthly basis. I only started doing it this year and I think it will help my readers to find them easily and not to mention it is another great way for me to record and keep track of the books I read.

3. Belle of the Books ~ My daughter loves Belle from Beauty and the Beast! For me, I just love Heather's blog template so I have to mention it. I am also envious that she had watched the Twilight movie. I love this series so I intend to watch it although I have no idea when.

4. Reading Comes From Writing ~ Another great blog name! I noticed Lauren participated in the 2009 YA Challenge and Romance Reading Challenge too. I cannot wait for these two challenges to begin next year!

5. Words 'N Wags ~ She is a participant in this year's NaNoWrimo. Although I did not participate this year, but I did for the past two years and I really enjoyed the overall experience. Who knows? I might want to participate in this next year again!
ISBN-13: 9780679723165
Publisher: Random House, Inc.
Published: 1997
317 pgs

From the back cover:

Awe and exhilaration - along with heartbreak and mordant wit - abound in Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Most of all, it is a meditation on love - love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

Narrated by Humbert Humbert, this is a memoir of his obsession and his 'relationship' with a 12-year-old girl, Dolores Haze (Lolita).

Frankly speaking, I was not sure if I wanted to read this book from the beginning, but I read a few reviews from other bookbloggers and thought this would make a good literary read despite the shocking subject. Thus, I picked up this book. So how did I feel after reading it? I was truly taken aback and yet amazed that the author was able to write this sensitive and controversial issue and turned it into a beautiful literary masterpiece.

No matter how disturbing the story is, yet I was taken in by the prose and the language and got sucked into this story. Humbert Humbert is indeed a sick man. I have no other word to describe of him. His motive for marrying Dolores' mother to get closer to the girl further tells how perverted and obsessed he is. But the worse thing is, he does not even feel remorse about everything.

On the other hand, is Dolores as innocent as what the readers think she is? Is she the seducer instead of the seducee? Someone may argue that this could be a true love story if the readers could view it from another angle. Maybe. But still I cannot imagine or accept this 'relationship' because the girl is young enough to be his daughter! I could see no purpose of this storytelling except to admit it is a great literary fiction. Lolita is an unforgettable reading experience for me but this will not stop me from reading the rest of Vladimir Nabokov's books in future.

Other blogs reviews:
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)
ISBN: 1590384814
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Published: 2005
122 pgs

From the back cover:

Hope Jensen is a young, single woman and an aspiring newspaper writer, and when she receives a much-needed but anonymous Christmas gift, she's determined to find her benefactor. That search leads her to an unusual family with a longstanding Christmas tradition. Sensing a front-page feature article, Hope desperately wants to publish their story, but doing so would be a breach of trust. What she decides to do will change her life forever.

Destined to become a classic Christmas tale, Christmas Jars is a heartwarming story that will restore your faith in mankind and make you want to start your own Christmas Jar tradition.

Louise Jensen is expecting a quiet and peaceful Christmas Eve, just like it had been for her for the previous years. However, something, or someone unusual expecting for her when she dines alone at Chuck's Chicken 'n' Biscuits, the usual place where she always spent her Christmas Eve dinner. Seeing the abandoned baby behind her booth and knowing this was no random moment, Louise reaches out to her and decides to bring her home, naming her Hope.

Hope Jensen turns out to be a cheerful and bright little girl; she has big dreams of being a newspaper writer and aimed to be the next great American journalist besides Bernstein, Woodward and Graham. Through patience and hard work, she works her way up slowly. Just when things seem bright and hopeful for her, Louise told her she has cancer. But this news does not discourage them any further as they continue to be positive and supportive of each other. Unfortunately, Louise lose the battle in the end.

Feeling loss and sad, Hope turns to her work and work even harder than before. Then it happened one night someone broke into her apartment and stole away her things. After making a report and the police collected all the evidence, she finds a brown sack sitting inside the open apartment door. It is large glass jar filled with money.

Curious and eager to find out who and why someone left the money jar with her, she decided to do a little investigation and write a story on it, and hoping that one day it will make it to the front page. It then leads her to the Maxwell family, and soon Hope gets closer to the family as they share with her stories about their Christmas Jars and how they started this tradition. But writing this story will be a breach of trust and in the end, what she did and the moral behind this little story will touch your heart and makes you think of the Christmas spirit and the power of giving.

Though the story a little short in my opinion, the message behind this story is both heartwarming and a powerful one. The Christmas Jar tradition really interests me and I might want to start one myself one day. This is a true Christmas classic which I will find myself reading again and again during the festive seasons.


Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

Suggested by JM:

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

I do not think a reviewer is obligated to put up a good review of a book if he/she does not like it, no matter if it is a free copy or not. If the reviewers are always giving good reviews, then what is the point of writing reviews in the first place? A good reviewer writes in a constructive manner, but this does not mean he/she is slamming the author in a negative way. Reading is a subjective matter and anyway, readers are entitled to their own opinions.

At this point, I do not feel a need to put up a disclaimer since I always try to make an effort to write reviews in a constructive manner. Most of the times, I will ask the authors to send me a synopsis of their books (or I visit their websites to check on them, if any) so that I can make a decision whether or not if I want to review them.

ISBN-13: 9781416534587
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: April 2008

"Love is a form of biological cooperation in which the emotions of each are necessary to the fulfillment of the other's instinctive purposes." ~ Bertrand Russell (Quoted from The Society of S - pg 104)

Ariella Montero's life is very different from the other girls her age (she is thirteen). Homeschooled by her father, she is taught in most subjects but yet when it comes to the real world, she knows not much of it and its complexities as she has been living a sheltered life since the day she was born. She has no friends except her father's assistant, Dennis and the housekeeper, Mrs McGarritts, and then there is her passion for Edgar Allan Poe's and Jack Kerouac's works which she shared with her father.

She often wonders about her mother and though she has lots of questions in her mind, her father either gives vague replies or only indulge little information whenever she asked him about her mother. She only knows her mother has gone missing after giving birth to her. Aside from this, she also has questions about her father's project in his laboratory and then, about her identity since she knew her father is a vampire.

Sensing her loneliness and feeling she is in need of friends, Mrs McG finally convinced Ariella's father to let Ariella come home with her to meet her family. This acquaintance opens a whole new world to Ariella as Kathleen introduced her to things she has not experienced. They soon became fast friends.

Alas, these happy moments do not last for long when murder took her friend away. Feeling loss and with a dozen questions in her mind, Ariella decides to leave home to search for her mother. And so this begins her journey she will not forget as she will soon learn about the secret of her family history and the answer on her real identity.

While reading The Society of S, I was most fascinated by the gothic premise and how it breaks away from the stereotypes. Susan Hubbard has a unique voice and I really enjoyed that anticipation feeling as the story slowly unfolds and the mystery about her mother finally reveals in the last part of the story.

I was most intrigued by Ariella's parents due to their secret past; and Ariella is a likeable character whom I find her intelligent and very independent for her age. She impressed me with her vast knowledge of Edgar Allan Poe's poetries and I enjoyed reading those scenes where she recited them with her father during the lessons.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, The Year of Disappearances, where this intriguing tale shall continue.

Other blog review:
Bookgirl's Nightstand
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)

I want to thank Trish for presenting me with this Bookworm Award/meme!

Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence, as well as two to five sentences following.

From: Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

"A year before meeting Lauren and three full years before marrying her, Adam had opened a furniture restoration business. He called it Restored, Inc., and so far it provided a steady, though modest, income. Lauren managed the books and marketing; Adam did the restoring. He converted their single-car garage into a functional studio. It was filled with saws, sanders, hand tools, wood stains, brushes and brooms, and on some days the unmistakable smell of freshly cut, untreated wood."

And finally, tag five people to pass on the award: Alice, Julia, Wendy, Iliana and Nymeth!
And please feel free to play the meme if you like. :-)
Labels: 13 comments | edit post

Teaser Tuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser sentences for today [Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright (Pg 7)]:

On her last day of kindergarten, Hope Jensen announced, walking hand in hand with her mother, that she had finally made a decision about her career. "One day I will grow up to become either president of the United States or a famous newspaper reporter."


Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is a short meme:


I have just finished reading The Society of S by Susan Hubbard a while ago before writing this post. It is a coming-of-age story of a young girl in search of her missing mother. It is also a vampire story, but yet this is different from the others I read because of the writing style, the gothic feel and there are lots of intrigue and guessing in this story. I will try to post my review on it soon.

For my next reading, I choose Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright since it has been sitting on my pile for some time, and moreover I am currently in a mood for holiday-themed books.

What about you?

Naida from The Bookworm is hosting the Romance Reading Challenge. I am a huge fan of the romance genre so I could not help participating in this one!

Here are the rules:

1. Now, "Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.

2. Choose at least 5 novels read them between Jan 1st though Dec 31st 2009. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine.

3. Read them at your own pace in 2009 then come here and post the link to your review(s).

4. Link your "RRC" choices here with any of the graphics she provides here.

I gave up making a list after going through my pile a while ago as I still could not decide on the books to read for this challenge. Also, I blame it on my reading mood thus I will list the books as I go along.
ISBN-13: 9780670916382
Publisher: Fig Tree (Penguin Books)
Published: 2007
310 pgs

There is a field - a broad south-sloping field sitting astride a long hill that curves away into a secret leafy valley. It is sheltered by dense hedges of hawthorn and hazel threaded through with wild roses and evening-scented honeysuckle. In the mornings, a light breeze carries up over the Downs, just enough to kiss the air with the fresh salty tang of the English Channel. In fact so delightful is the air that, sitting up here, you might think you were in paradise. And in the field are two caravans, a men's caravan and a women's caravan. ~ An excerpt from Two Caravans

This is a story about a little group of migrant workers and their journey across England in pursuing for a better future. It does not matter that they came from various countries - Ukraine, Poland, China and Malaysia as all of them share the same dream though for different reasons.

Irina, a young Ukrainian girl wants to learn English and find her true love with an Englishman because she finds them romantic. Andriy, another Ukrainian and a miner's son does not want to follow his late father's footstep of being a coalminer. And then, there is Tomasz and Yola from Poland, and Marta who is Yola's niece. Emanuel, an eighteen-year-old boy from Malawi who come to England to look for his sister, and two Chinese girls from China and Malaysia. And then, there is Vitaly from Moldova.

They live in tiny and cramped caravans and feed very little for their meals and worst of all, they are underpaid. Mr Leapish, the field owner is a calculative man and he does not care about their welfare as long as he pays his bills and makes profits. Life goes on as usual until the farmer's wife found out that the husband has an affair with one of the workers and runs him down in her red sports car. Sensing their bleak future and to escape from this disastrous episode, the workers left the field to find other ways to support themselves.

Two of them are lured into the sex industry, while the others find their employment in another strawberry field, a poultry farm and kitchen helpers in a restaurant. They find themselves in woe as the jobs they end up with are either too horrific or unbearable. There are also some descriptive scenes of how chickens are being breed and are badly mauled into the cages before meeting their ends under the butchers' knives that made me shudder.

But not everything is bleak in this story as the two workers from Ukraine find their way out and ends up falling in love with each other. Two Caravans (aka Strawberry Fields) is not entirely a depressing story about the migrant workers' life in other country, but also a gritty and thought-provoking one that brims with comedy. Marina Lewycka has written this novel in a hilarious way that will make you chuckle but yet it tells the true factual life of some migrant workers that they are still facing today. I would also say this is more of a character-driven story than a plot-driven story. I really enjoyed this novel and I am looking forward to reading her other novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian in the near future.

Interview with Marina Lewycka (Loaded Questions with Kelly Hewitt)


Friday Fill-Ins

1. Please feel free to leave me a comment.

2. When I have flu I can't help sniffing it occasionally.

3. My favorite thing to cook is spaghetti with meat balls.

4. Books is something I can't get enough of.

5. That's the thing I love most about my family - they are always a joy to my life.

6. War and riots always makes me think to myself, what the heck?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to spending some time with my family, tomorrow my plans include visiting my brother-in-law's family for their baby shower and Sunday, I want to rest and relax and hopefully catch up on my reading!


Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

When I was a child, most of the books I read were either borrowed from the libraries or loaned from friends. Although I love the idea of owning the books to myself, I did not ask my parents for extra money to buy the books because I understand they had worked hard and that money does not come easily; and moreover what is the point of libraries if you do not make full use of them?

It was only during my teenaged years that I began to buy books with my own pocket money. Although these books can be easily get from libraries, it is simply the feeling and the fact of owning them that makes everything so different. I do not have to worry about returning them at a specific time, but most of all, I love the feeling of holding a new book in my hand and inhaling the crisp paper smell. Besides this, I can always re-read them as and when I like and also, share them with families and friends.

The rules are:
  • Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • Share seven random and/or weird book facts about yourself.
  • Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  • Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
    I was tagged by Alice for this meme.

    #1 - I have very few hardcovers in my pile (mainly because they are pricey and too heavy to carry around), and whenever I read them I always make sure to remove the jacket covers as I am too afraid of wrinkling them.

    #2 - I was a librarian by chance during my secondary school days. At that time, all students had to join a uniform group or a club as part of their extracurricular activities and I was a St. John Ambulance member initially. Later it then dawned on me that those first aids training was too much for me so I joined the school library since coincidentally they have an extra room for another librarian (which of course was a bonus for me since I got the privilege of borrowing an extra book!).

    #3 - I try NOT to leave a bookstore empty-handed.

    #4 - I remove the price tags from the books after buying. I get annoyed when the tags are extra sticky and leave marks on the books after peeling them off.

    #5 - I do judge a book by its cover. Here what I mean is, I will buy the same title with a different cover if it attracts me.

    #6 - I received my first ARC from author, Lori Foster when I won a contest at her forum. It is also an unedited copy.

    #7 - I only started my book collection during my secondary school days, although I started reading when I was in primary school and was hooked by Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton's books. I was a frequent patron of the school and public libraries then. When my classmate introduced me to the Sweet Dream young adult romances and Dark Forces horror series (printed in the 80s and 90s and written by several individual authors; they are currently out-of-print), I could not get enough of them so that is when I started buying them at the bookstores and used bookstores. Unfortunately I gave them away during the move and now I really regret it. It was also at that time that I began to explore other genres and the book piles just accumulate from there.

    I tag the following friends:

    ...and anyone who is keen to play! And please leave me a comment so I can read your answers. :-)

    Teaser Tuesdays

    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    My teaser sentences for today [Two Caravans (aka Strawberry Fields) by Marina Lewycka (Pg 10)]:

    The first thing I noticed was the light - the dazzling salty light dancing on the sunny field, the ripening strawberries, the little rounded caravan perched up on the hill and the oblong boxy caravan down in the corner, the woods beyond, and the long curving horizon, and I smiled to myself. So this is England.

    Musing Mondays

    Today’s MUSING MONDAYS is about the giving & keeping of books!

    If you keep your books, where do you keep them? And, if you give them away, who do you give them to? Do you participate in Bookcrossing, BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, or the like? Do you give your old books to family & friends, or donate them? Are any of your books in storage due to not having enough space for them all? Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has their own “library”? Feel free to share pictures, if you have them!

    I keep most of my books because I love them too much! I keep my TBR books in the bookshelves in our study room, but as they are currently filled to the brim, I stack the others (together with my current ones) at a corner of our storage room (I also put some of my read books on a built-in shelf here). Since our storage room is not that big, you can imagine how much this pile of books took up the space. As for most of my read books, I pack them into boxes and stack them above my bookshelves (some on the shelf in the storage room as mentioned).

    As much as I love my books, I do weed them once in a while if I do not have the interest of reading them anymore (it is a little tricky here because there are times I regretted my choice due to my ever changing reading moods and reading preferences). Also, sometimes I will buy the same book due to my short memory and I will keep them with the books to be given away. It is a great thing I participated in BookMooch because I can always exchange these with other BookMoochers for the books I want.

    So where do you keep and give away your books?

    This week’s theme is: fun facts about authors.

    How to:
    1. Choose a writer you like.
    2. Using resources such as Wikipedia, the author’s website, whatever you can find, make a list of interesting facts about the author.
    3. Post your fun facts list in your blog, maybe with a photo of the writer, a collage of his or her books, whatever you want.
    4. Come sign the Mr Linky below with the url to your fun facts post.
    5. As you run into (or deliberately seek out) other Weekly Geeks’ lists, add links to your post for authors you like or authors you think your readers are interested in.

    I have a hard time deciding on one author, but since I had read and enjoyed so much about Mo Hayder's crime thrillers, I decided to do this post about her.

    1. Mo Hayder left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, film-maker, hostess in a Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She has an MA in film from The American University in Washington DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University UK.

    2. Her debut, BIRDMAN, published in January 2000, was an international bestseller. Her second novel, THE TREATMENT, also a Sunday Times bestseller, won the 2002 WH Smith Thumping Good Read award. Her third novel Sunday Times bestseller TOKYO, which was published in May 2004 in the UK, won the Elle magazine crime fiction prize, the SNCF Prix Polar, and was nominated for three CWA dagger awards. Tokyo was published as THE DEVIL OF NANKING in the US March 2005. PIG ISLAND her fourth best seller was published in April 2006 and was nominated for both a Barry Award for best british crime novel and a CWA dagger. Her fifth book, RITUAL, the first of THE WALKING MAN series, has been nominated for The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award and is currently available.

    3. Hayder lives in Bath with her daughter Lotte-Genevieve.

    ISBN-10: 0441014569
    Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
    Published: December 2006
    293 pgs

    My name is Anna Strong. I was thirty on my last birthday, and I will be thirty when you read this. In fact, physically I will never be older than thirty no matter how many mortal years I have on this earth. I am vampire. How I became, and what is the nature of my existence, is the reason for this story. I tell it the way it happened so you will learn the truth as I did. It may not be what you expect. ~ Foreword from The Becoming

    Anna Strong is a bounty hunter; in other words she is known as a bail enforcement agent. Together with her work partner, David, they are to look for a man who called himself John Donaldson who had skipped out on his bail bond. Unfortunately, the race turned out badly when David is hurt during the search and Anna ends up being attacked by Donaldson unexpectedly when she went out to look for David and Donaldson as she is getting too impatient waiting for David to bring Donaldson while waiting in the car.

    The next thing she knew she is lying in the hospital bed with an attractive doctor by her side. Dr Grant Avery is concerned of her overall well being, but that is because he knew she had been turned into a vampire, and in fact he is one of them actually. When Anna came to know about it, she is shocked but she overcame this and took it quite well under the guidance of Dr Avery. With her newly telepathic skills and night vision, Anna vows to find Donaldson for revenge not only for personal reason but he is a threat to others as well.

    During this time, Anna is also attracted by Dr Avery despite she is into a relationship with Max, who is mortal and a DEA agent. Their relationship is rather discreet due to his deep undercover operation, and most of the times there is no telling when she will hear from him until he gets in touch with her.

    And when her house is burnt to ashes and David has gone missing, naturally her first thought goes to Donaldson but it turns out there is someone behind who is out to get her. To add on to this intrigue, there is also someone whom she dubs 'Casper' who has been helping her in several dangerous situations through telepathic ways, and she will do anything to find out everything by all means.

    The Becoming is Jeanne C. Stein's first installment of the Anna Strong series, featuring this heroine from a first person POV. Having read several vampire novels in the past, I find the plot to this story original but most of all it breaks away from the traditional belief of vampires (for example, they have telepathic ability and they are not really afraid of sunlight due to long-term immunity et cetera.) There are more surprises and intrigue as compared to the action scenes in this story; and I quite enjoyed reading Anna Strong being a strong and fearless heroine. I have the rest of the installments in my pile and I definitely look forward to reading them in the near future.


    Friday Fill-Ins

    1. My blueprint for success includes working hard and never give up.

    2. Grape flavour lollipop was the last candy I ate. (My eldest daughter insisted I ate it with her the previous day.)

    3. The best facial moisturizer I've ever used is nothing as I believe our lifestyle and what we eat will affect our complexion in a way.

    4. Have a nice break and having the day to yourself can be good therapy.

    5. I'd like to tell you about my books collection and how it all begins.

    6. Persistence is my strongest characteristic.

    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching some late night shows, tomorrow my plans include doing household chores and catching up on my reading and Sunday, I want to spend some time with my family!

    Today, I have the pleasure of having Marsha Altman, author of The Darcys and the Bingleys as a guest on my blog.

    Two days ago, I approached Marsha and asked if she is interested in making a guest appearance on my blog after receiving a reviewer copy of The Darcys and the Bingleys from her. I was thrilled when she said yes.

    Now please join me in welcoming Marsha Altman!

    Instead of going on and on, I’ve decided to invite Alternate Reality Me to interview myself, as she has not published a novel in her alternate reality.

    Alternate Reality Marsha: Also we’re ruled by crab people. First question: What’s the book about, in comparison to the other Austen sequels out there?

    The Darcys and the Bingleys” is one of those immediate sequels, that picks up at the end of Pride and Prejudice and continues on for a few years. Actually part of it takes place during Pride and Prejudice, as Jane Austen summarized the wedding and the following Christmas for Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and I start three days before the wedding and follow through that.

    As to the other sequels, there are some rewrites (in which the story takes a different course or is set in another time period) and some versions of Austen’s novel from other character’s point-of-view, mainly Darcy’s. This is not that. This is a sequel to the events in a blatant attempt to cash in on the popularity of the first book. You know, like the movies.

    Alternate Reality Marsha: You’re not coming off very altruistic here.

    Let me make this clear: I love Pride and Prejudice. I love it so much I wished the story went on. I love it so much I even bothered to imagine what would happen afterwards and then write it down, post it on a public forum, be laughed at for all my mistakes, then stake my entire career as a novelist on said story.

    Alternate Reality Marsha: Do you think Austen would appreciate your efforts?

    Hard to tell, but I did make the customary pilgrimage to Chawton (where she wrote Pride and Prejudice) and Winchester Cathedral (where she’s buried) to pay my respects. The exchange rate was a killer. Did you know no buses go to Chawton? You have to take a cab. You look at the meter and say, “Wow! Thirty bucks. Well we have been driving for a long ... wait, no that’s thirty pounds! That’s sixty bucks!”

    Alternate Reality Marsha: Your novel has been on shelves for almost three months now. How do you think it has been received?

    I knew the Austen purists were never going to completely like it, because nobody wants their interpretation of the characters from Pride and Prejudice contradicted, so you either play it safe and the characters come off kind of flat and the purists like it, or you give the characters your own spin and people have to choose whether to accept it or not. Most people seem to have accepted it. Honestly, you can stray pretty far in an Austen sequel, and if the fact that I made Darcy a lush in his University days is the biggest complaint someone has, then I’m happy with that. I want people to enjoy the book. If they think it’s a great classic of literature, great, but that unlikely anyway. I just want them to laugh at the jokes and care about the characters, and I’m wiling to settle with only the former.

    Alternate Reality Marsha: It says on the Sourcebook website that a series is in development. What can readers expect in the future?

    I’m very excited about book 2, which I think is a solid storyline. The first book, which is split into two parts, was getting my feet wet in the world of Austen, and introducing the reader to my interpretation of the characters. I didn’t go out to wildly contradict anyone’s worldview. In the second book there’s a bit more intrigue, and I start introducing some ancient Darcy family history that becomes relevant to the current cast. The third book goes deeper into that, and since it takes place during 1812 and Napoleon’s Russian campaign and some of the characters are stuck on the Continent, there’s a bit more foray into historical fiction. In my opinion, just marrying off the cast to one another can only be so interesting. Jane Austen could make it really interesting. Jane Austen could make a story that was essentially about dating into a classic of Western literature. I’m not Jane Austen.

    Alternate Reality Marsha: What else do you write?

    Before I got involved in Austen fanfic (and I will not hesitate to call it fanfic, because it’s fiction written by a fan), I mainly wrote urban fantasy and cyberpunk, which is a much harder market to break into than historical romance or general fiction - however you want to categorize The Darcys and the Bingleys. Eventually I hope to be published in some other genres, but having a series of historical fiction based on Austen is pretty all-consuming at the moment.

    Alternate Reality Marsha: If Jane Austen was alive today, how do you think she would feel?

    Much better, because her disease is now treatable with cortisone.

    More about Marsha Altman
    More about the book The Darcys and the Bingleys

    Labels: 13 comments | edit post

    Booking Through ThursdayCheck Spelling

    Today is Deb's birthday, and she asked this question:

    What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”

    I love receiving book(s) on any occasion. I think my most memorable present would be Black Beauty by Anna Sewell given by my aunt during my primary school days. What made it so special is, this is the first book I received as a birthday present. I remember she had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, so I told her I wanted a book. Just a book, it is that simple. I did not even tell her what book I want because I love reading and any book would make me very happy. I still have this book in my bookshelf, and everytime I look at it it always bring me fond memories of that day.

    Side note: I invited Marsha Altman, author of The Darcys and the Bingleys to be my guest at my blog today. Click here to read more about her and her book.


    Teaser Tuesdays

    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    My teaser sentences for today:

    I am vampire. How I became, and what is the nature of my existence, is the reason for this story.

    ~ The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein (Pg 1)

    ISBN-13: 9780340923740
    Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
    Published: 2007
    340 pgs

    To you I shall say, as I have often said before,
    'Do not be in a hurry, the right man will come at last.'
    ~ Jane Austen

    (Extracted from Me and Mr Darcy)

    I am sure fans of Jane Austen will know of this literary well-known couple, Elizabeth Benneth and Mr Darcy, in one of her novels Pride and Prejudice. In this book, author Alexandra Potter featured the famous Mr Darcy into her story and cleverly weaves a humorous yet romantic story of Emily Albright and her other self.

    Emily is in her late twenties and works as a bookstore manager in New York. Being a true romantic and a big fan of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, she yearns for a relationship with a gentleman like Mr Darcy but alas, most of the men she met are either losers or are too self-centered.

    Her subordinate, Stella, could not stand her losing faith in men and herself, thus she asked her along to a trip in Mexico so both of them could let their hair down and perhaps meet someone along the way. No doubt both women are good friends, she however does not share her younger subordinate's enthusiasm in fashion and views when it comes to men and relationship so she told her she had booked a Austen's literary tour to England as an escape. But the tour turns out to be a disappointment for her as the participants who signed up for the tour are mostly older ladies except a young, arrogant journalist who never fails to infuriate her throughout the whole trip.

    Spike Hargreaves, on the other hand is perplexed over why Mr Darcy is being viewed as every woman's fantasy, thus he joined this literary tour as a chance to interview these participants for an article he writes for The Daily Times. Although the tour group fascinates him in a way, he is finding a hard time getting along well with Emily as it seems both of them are at loggerheads over some opinions they had for each other the moment their tour begins. Like a scene taken straight out from Pride and Prejudice, Spike thinks Emily is dull and average-looking, while Emily thinks Spike is nothing but an arrogant man who thinks he knows it all; and to complicate matters, it seems to Emily that Spike is also incorrigible and an unreasonable man based on an incident that involved one of their tour mates and the coach driver.

    But as the tour continues and when Emily gets to meet the real Mr Darcy in a subconsciously manner, she could not help but compare him with Spike and towards the end, she will come to a conclusion that pride and prejudice are the factors that ruined her judgement on Spike and what she would do to overcome their differences.

    Being a reader and fan of Pride of Prejudice, I find Me and Mr Darcy original and what's more, the bookstore setting and the tour the author described in this story made it a real pleasurable read (especially the museum visit). The subplot story of Stella and her so-called husband is another fun and delightful read. However, one of the things I find most enjoyable about this story is that the author had taken a different scenario and meaning of pride and prejudice and recreated it into a modern day love story. The author has also written another book, Be Careful What You Wish For and I will be looking forward to reading this in the near future.

    Other blog review:
    Hello, My Name Is Alice
    Stephanie's Written Word
    (Let me know if I have missed your review.)