Sunday, June 30, 2013

Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting


In this darkly hilarious debut collection, misfit women and girls in every strata of society are investigated through various ill-fated jobs. One is the main course of dinner, another the porn star contracted to copulate in space for a reality TV show. They become futuristic ant farms, get knocked up by the star high school quarterback and have secret abortions, use parakeets to reverse amputations, make love to garden gnomes, go into air conditioning ducts to confront their mother’s ghost, and do so in settings that range from Hell to the local white-supremacist bowling alley.(
A short story collection that packs a punch this one is a good choice for all those of you who enjoy darker fiction.

From the first sentence ("I am boiling inside a kettle with five other people”), the reader gets thrown into a strange, slightly askew world in which women have many, many odd jobs. The creativity in these stories really has to be applauded, as well as the sharp and insightful writing. The beginning stories are the best ones, with some of the middle ones losing a little bit of steam, but I suppose that is normal in most collections.

There is a certain humor in the writing and the ideas behind the stories, but what really comes across is a careful, nuances look at humanity and femininity in all its guises.

This collection is not for everyone. You have to like the bizarre, the eclectic, and the slightly grotesque, but if you want a taste of something completely different, then this one is a great choice.
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

Sweet Salt Air
Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole's coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

But what both women don't know is that they are each holding something back that may change their lives forever. For Nicole, what comes to light could destroy her marriage, but it could also save her husband. For Charlotte, the truth could cost her Nicole’s friendship, but could also free her to love again. And her chance may lie with a reclusive local man, with a heart to soothe and troubles of his own.



Romance novels are not my favorites, so I was a bit hesitant to pick this book up. It did prove to be an interesting read, overall, so I am not sorry I spent time on it.
Although it is a romance, the author does a nice job of getting us fully into the characters’ heads at all times, so that we do get to know Nicole and Charlotte pretty well. The beginning is a bit slow, I do have to say, but if you give it a few chapters, you’ll definitely get involved with the different characters’ lives.

The setting plays a huge part in the book’s ability to trap the reader inside its pages. The descriptions are lovely, as is the whole “small town” feel, though I do wish we’d gotten just a bit more on the town life and the people who live in Quinniepeague.

The protagonists are nicely written, though some of the scene changes between them were a little strange to follow. The writing itself is not anything I can gush about, but it’s functional and gets the plot through.

If you like romance novels with a bit of atmosphere, then this one might be for you.
 
 
 
 

Follow Friday


Q: What is your preferred reading format? Hardcover, eBooks, paperback etc?

Paperbacks are my preffered format, although, really, any "real" book will do, even if it's hardcover. I do read ebooks on my iPad, but I still prefer books with pages that I can physically turn. I'm not a huge fan of hardbacks because they are a bit of a pain to hold, what with their heaviness and slipping covers, but I'll choose them any day over ebooks.

























Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by

"I am boiling inside a kettle with five other people. Our limbs are bound and our intestines and mouths are stuffed with herbs and garlic , but we can still speak."

pg. 11

















Monday, June 24, 2013

Musing Mondays


Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.




I got Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by from NetGalley because it sounded intriguing. I have to say, it definitely is. It's a short story collection that is very dark, many times grotesque, but so well written, with so much meat in it that it's hard to put down. If you're looking for a really dark read, then you might want to check this one out.














Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Memory of Trees by F. G. Cottam

The Memory of Trees
Billionaire Saul Abercrombie owns a vast tract of land on the Pembrokeshire coast. His plan is to restore the ancient forest that covered the area before medieval times, and he employs young arboreal expert Tom Curtis to oversee this massively ambitious project.
Saul believes that restoring the land to its original state will rekindle those spirits that folklore insists once inhabited his domain. But the re-planting of the forest will revive an altogether darker and more dangerous entity – and Saul’s employee Tom will find himself engaging in an epic, ancient battle between good and evil. A battle in which there can be only one survivor.

What an interesting novel this was. With a wonderfully rich atmosphere that grows on the reader like the very trees in its pages, this story is a heady mix of horror and fantasy.

The novel depends wholly on the setting. All of it takes place on a vast tract of wild land on the British coastline, where the protagonists are gathered to fulfill a rich man’s dream: to build the land back to what it was. Like any good Gothic horror novel, the setting becomes a character, in this case a terrifying one that starts hunting down our heroes and heroines. The mood is very important in this genre, and the author truly does a great job in setting it for us to maximize our fright.

The characters, especially Saul and Tom, are nicely written, though not as fully-fledged as I would have liked. We do get some background into their lives, but not quite enough to be rooting for them as we probably should be. Amelia, our villain, is just the right amounts sinister and intriguing to keep us wanting to know more about her. Like I said before, though, the land itself is the strongest character, and the one that lingers in the reader’s mind.

If you are looking for a horror story that is truly unique, I highly recommend this moody novel.
 
 
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Follow Friday

Q: Share your favorite literary quote!

As a writer, this quote resonates strongly:

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King















Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A Fine and Private Place
From A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle


"'Now what? Do I just lie here, on top of the blankets, as it were, or can I get back into my coffin?'” 




















Monday, June 17, 2013

Musing Mondays


Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.


A Fine and Private Place
My sister recommended A Fine and Private Place by  a while ago. He's the author of The Last Unicorn, and my sister really loved the book so I started it last week. It's a very interesting read so far. His writing is gorgeous and incredibly perceptive. I'm amazed at the skill he has with dialogue and with descriptions. Definitely enjoying it.















Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List
For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.


A thriller with lots of edge, this was a fun read that seems to fly by.

Thrillers like this one are so difficult to write. The author has to really have a hold of the pacing and the story he or she wants to tell, otherwise the plot screeches to a stop. This is one of the more successful ones I’ve read this year, so kudos to the author. The story grabs our attention from the very beginning, from the first sentence, and it holds it almost all the way through. There are some patches here and there in the middle, in particular one section in which the main character goes into a BDSM club that drags just a bit (what a strange sentence to type, by the way) but for the most part the action stays at edge-of-your-seat-level.

The protagonist, Sarah, is an interesting one. We slowly start learning about her as the pages pass although we do get the sense she is still hiding something. I would have liked her to have been more of an unreliable narrator; that, I think, would have taken this book to a whole other level. As she is, we do know she is keeping stuff from us, but it’s not enough to earn her the “unreliable narrator” title.

The story is obviously well thought out, with lots of twists and turns that I won’t reveal. This is a great addition to the genre.
 
 
 
 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Follow Friday


Q: Activity: Spine Poetry. Create a line of poetry with your book spines (take a picture). Not feeling creative? Tell us about your favorite poem.

My favorite poem is "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy. It is a poem about a man who is walking through a winter scene both externally and internally and hears a thrush singing in a tree. He asks himself what the bird could possibly be singing about with such joy when everything is so bleak.
I fell in love with it when I first read it, mainly because through my many bouts of depression, I've felt the same thing.

This is the poem:


  The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate

    When Frost was spectre-gray,

And Winter's dregs made desolate

    The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

    Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

    Had sought their household fires.

 

The land's sharp features seemed to be

    The Century's corpse outleant,

His crypt the cloudy canopy,

    The wind his death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

    Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

    Seemed fervourless as I.

 

At once a voice arose among

    The bleak twigs overhead

In a full-hearted evensong

    Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,

    In blast-beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

    Upon the growing gloom.

 

So little cause for carolings

    Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

    Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

    His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

    And I was unaware.




























Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A Fine and Private Place
From A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle


“There are people,' he said, 'who give, and there are people who take. There are people who create, people who destroy, and people who don't do anything and drive the other two kinds crazy."














Flat Water Tuesday: A Novel by Ron Irwin

Flat Water Tuesday: A Novel
When documentary filmmaker Rob Carrey flies back to New York from a shoot in South Africa to salvage his relationship with his lover Caroline Smythe, he unexpectedly finds himself called back to his former boarding school following a heartbreaking tragedy. Despite having long ago buried the memories of the brutal year he spent at the elite Fenton School in Connecticut as a postgraduate rower, Carrey finds that those days now return to haunt him.The Fenton School Boat Club’s top rowing team, called the God Four, is legendary. But the price that they pay for a shot at glory will scar each member of Carrey’s team far into adulthood.

Colin Payne, the Massachusetts blue-blood; Jumbo, the good natured giant; John Wadsworth the preppy lawyer-to-be; Ruth Anderson, the Yale-bound coxswain; and Rob Carrey, the scholarship athlete from Niccalsetti, New York — all of them are forever bound to one another by the terrible cost of victory. Over one tumultuous week, Rob Carrey will learn that he cannot leave the past in his wake.


This was a lovely literary novel about a boarding school rowing team who are struck by a tragedy just as they are turning into adults.

The story jumps back and forth from the present to the past as we follow Rob through his life as a documentary film maker. Slowly, we get flashes of the year he spent at boarding school, the author allowing tension to build at a nice pace as we get more and more clues about the impending tragedy. As with any literary novel, character development is the most important thing. Rob is a carefully written narrator, with enough flaws to keep his internal monologue interesting. The other characters, especially Ruth and Connor are also well done. I do wish we’d learned a bit more about the other two, Perry and Wads.

Something that really made this book stand apart from others was the rowing. The author gives such a detailed look at this particular sport, that those sections are some of the more interesting ones. Although it can get a little technical, he makes the rowing experience come alive for the reader, even for someone who knows nothing about the sport.

This is a good choice if you want to read something a bit different.
 
 
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Musing Mondays


Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.


The Memory of Trees
I just started reading The Memory of Trees by It has a great Gothic feel to it that I'm really enjoying so far. I haven't gotten that far into it yet, but it promises to be an interesting read.













Saturday, June 8, 2013

Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader

Escape from EdenSince the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s fa├žade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?


Most of the young adult titles that I’ve recently read have pretty much been the same: girl meets boy, girls falls head over heels in love with boy, etc. We all know the formula, and we also know that a lot of the YA fiction out there right now has a very thin plot line surrounding the romance.  Which is why I was so surprised with this book. I can honestly say the plot twists in the novel were some that were completely unexpected.

The main character, Mia, is a nicely developed protagonist who manages to believably mature as the book comes to an end. There is no rushed change of personality like in some other YA books when the author suddenly decides the character needs to become a bit “fiercer”. No, in this one the change is gradual and it keeps pace with the rest of the story.

The plot never dulls, and every chapter moves the story forward. This is the kind of writing that grabs and hold your attention from the beginning. The plot makes sense and there are no major loose ends. I’m sure it is the first book in the series, but it has a pretty substantial conclusion.

This is one I really do recommend for all lovers of the YA genre.
 
 
 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Follow Friday


Q: Have you broken up with a series? If so which one and why?


Yes. I broke up with the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton a while ago. I really enjoyed the first few books, but then the story got too diluted and the series felt more like a collection of sex scenes than an actual story. I don't have anything against a well-placed sex scene, but when the entire book is one, I lose interest.




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WWW Wednesdays






To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Escape from Eden
Currently, I'm reading Escape from Eden by















A Fine and Private Place

And A Fine and Private Place by















Flight Behavior

I just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. You can read my review here.













Flat Water Tuesday: A Novel
Next, I'll probably read Flat Water Tuesday: A Novel by







Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior
Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.


Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and since previous book hadn’t really done too much for me, I was really anxious to see how this one would be. My verdict: she is a writing goddess.

The premise seems simple enough: a colony of monarch butterflies lands in the woods surrounding our protagonist’s house, upending the entire town’s life when scientists come to study them. But there is so much to this novel. There are layers and layers that even now, a day after finishing the book, I’m still discovering. What impressed me most is the way she was able to handle a topic like global warming (or climate change, pick your poison) without sounding in the least bit preachy. That’s not an easy thing to do.

When I read her books I always feel like I’m learning. She manages to infuse the prose with little science facts, making us just a bit more aware of the world around us. Her writing, as always, is phenomenal. She just has a way with words that leave the reader breathless. Her plots are carefully written, her characters fully realized. In short, there is not one thing I would change about this book.

Highly, highly recommend it.
 
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Musing Mondays


Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.


Escape from Eden
I'm reading Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader. It is a young adult book that is really making me read long into the night. There is a great tension between the protagonists which will satisfy most YA genre lovers but there is also a great storyline which takes precedene over the romance. I'm about halfway through and really enjoying it.






*For all of you Whovians out there, happy Bad Wolf day!*