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Sunday Post/What Are You Reading?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Sunday Post












It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Autumn has finally arrived here in the mountains of North Carolina! Our temperatures hovered around 80 degrees until Friday, when they dropped into the fifties. We've warmed up a bit over the weekend but the cooler temperatures have finally brought on some spectacular fall color.

My husband and I visited Atlanta last weekend for a late anniversary getaway. We had a good time walking around Piedmont Park, checking out the Chihuly Nights exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and walking around Oakland Cemetery, where Margaret Mitchell is buried. We even saw a wedding at the cemetery! We spoke to the lady working the gift shop and she said they host about 14 weddings a year. It was a beautiful, peaceful space, but that's not my idea of a wedding venue!

Posted:
Nothing. I promise I am trying to get back into my routine.

Read:

Cover of It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King


Cover of Mr. Splitfot by Samantha Hunt


Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt, read by Cassandra Campbell and Emily Woo Zeller

Currently Reading:

A House without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox, read by Fiona Hardingham

The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

Up Next:
Confession: I consider myself to be a Harry Potter fan but I've never read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. With the movie coming out next month, I'll be picking up the book soon.

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Sunday Post/What Are You Reading?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Sunday Post












It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I made it back two Sundays in a row, so that must mean my schedule's getting back to normal. I ran a 5K yesterday morning. My time wasn't as good as I had hoped, but considering that I've had very little time for any workouts this summer either, it was better than I could have reasonably expected. My husband and I followed that up with a day of shopping at the outlet malls. Changing seasons means a changing wardrobe and after one look at my clothes for cooler weather last week, I knew a shopping trip was in order. This was a nice, rare splurge for us!

Tonight's the season finale of Fear the Walking Dead. We honestly don't care much about this show, so if something doesn't happen tonight to pique our interest, we might call it quits. We went into it thinking that any Walking Dead was better than no Walking Dead but we've slowly changed our minds.

Posted:
Cover of The Fireman by Joe Hill
Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill--3 Stars

Read:
Cover of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, read by Jayne Entwistle--4 Stars--This was a fun mystery for older MG readers! The girls of the sisterhood were an assorted, lovable bunch who nicely complemented each other.

Currently Reading:
It by Stephen King

The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

Up Next:
I just downloaded the audio version of Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt. It looks Gothic and I do love to read those sorts of books at this time of year. I've got a pretty hectic week scheduled at work, but hopefully I can check back in with all of you!

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

3 Stars

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

I try hard to avoid any blurbs or early reviews of books that I'm really anticipating, but somehow things just seep into my consciousness and I'm not even sure how they got there. So in addition to having my own ridiculously high hopes for this book, I'd come across things like "Hill's magnum opus!" and "his best work to date!" which ratcheted my expectations even higher. I was being setup for a letdown and it wasn't even Hill's fault.

This might actually be my least favorite of Hill's books. I should have reviewed this earlier so I could get more specific but here goes.

Harper, the main character, irritated the everloving crap out of me. She felt real alright--a little too real--so I do have to give the author mad props for that. She has a personality type that I come across fairly often in my line of work and I just don't handle these people well. She knows the absolute best thing for everyone. It doesn't matter what anyone else's background is, she inevitably believes that she knows more and knows better and will run right over anyone else's opinion. No, she won't even register that anyone else has an opinion. She's a nurse and ends up being the only healthcare provider that a lot of people have access to. She has tough decisions to make and impossible situations to deal with. I get that. She does her best with them. But had there been a doctor present, she still wouldn't have sat back and let him or her handle anything; she would have been in the way, doing whatever she wanted to anyway. I just wanted her to listen to other people and actually think about what they had to say. Sure, question their motives and angles; I'm not advocating mindless following. Just listen. Ugh. She hit a nerve. Can you tell? I don't even know how much of this she really did and how much of it I just projected from personal experience!

I wanted to know a lot more about the fireman, but in reality, I think his character worked so well for me precisely because he was so mysterious. He randomly appears, does miraculous things, then disappears back into the night. A burning crusader, if you will.

I liked or disliked the other characters as I was supposed to. Other characters actually did listen, evaluate, grow and change, a lot of them in good ways. There were some big old stinking surprises that caught me completely off guard as other characters showed their true colors.

This is obviously dystopian or post-Apocalyptic fiction but in addition to that, I don't know that I would necessarily call it a horror novel, although it certainly has those elements. People are spontaneously bursting into flames, for heaven's sake! What might be even more subtly horrifying is an element of going along and getting along that becomes necessary for survival. It's hard to explain without getting into spoilers. But independent thought becomes almost life-threatening, and not for the reasons you would think. I had cold chills when I realized what was going on.

The pacing was all off for me. In my mind, there are three overall sections to the book. The buildup was excellent. It set up a lot of conflict, kept me reading, and was very visual. I could just see this disease working on people. I want to say that it would make a great movie, but the effects people could never capture what I imagined. Anyway. The second part dragged on a bit too long for me. I just wanted to get on with it already. And then the final section was just over. I kept getting more worried as the number of pages left in the book kept dwindling and I still had a lot of questions. There was just no way that everything could be wrapped up to my satisfaction in that space. I was right.

I've now looked at other reviews on GoodReads and I'm in the minority. It seems that everyone agrees that this is Hill's best work. Except for me. But Hill on what I consider a mediocre try is still better than most other authors writing popular fiction/horror/suspense. Go ahead and pick this one up.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Read an excerpt.

Buy The Fireman at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Sunday Post/What Are You Reading?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Sunday Post












It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Holy moly. I'm not sure where this summer's gone. My last post was on April 7. April 7! That seems crazy. But it's also about right. That's when work just exploded on me. I haven't had time for much of anything because I've had so much going on at the office. I also decided that I hated Windows 10 right about then. It really killed my computer. I had to restart it every time I turned it on in order to connect to the internet, my connection was always unstable since I was spending more time staring a spinning loading circle than actually accomplishing anything, and I just gave up for a while. I finally sat down a couple of weeks ago and fought with it and I think I've got all the bugs ironed out. Now watch my laptop crash before I even get this posted!

I don't even know where to start with anything new in my personal life, so let's just say that we're busily catching up on season 6 of The Walking Dead. We were starting to think that Netflix was never going to get it! This is our first time watching this season, so we're trying to get it knocked out before season 7 starts on October 23. I'm not much of a binge watcher since two episodes of anything is my absolute max but we have managed to watch at least one episode a night for the past week. We're up to episode 8, almost at the halfway mark.

Posted:
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman--3 Stars

Read:
I won't even mention anything I've read since my last post since it's been so long.

Currently Reading:
It by Stephen King

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, read by Jayne Entwistle

The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd

Up Next:
These are some big books so I won't be finishing them anytime soon.

What are you reading this week? Does anyone have any big news to share since I've been away?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cover of The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.
I adore Neil Gaiman's work, so I jumped at the chance to review this new collection of his nonfiction. I've read bits and pieces of his graduation speeches and stuff like that and it always makes me stand up and cheer, "Yes! This! This man gets it!" And that should probably tell you where my expectations were.

The collection covers a ridiculous amount of ground. There are the graduation speeches, convention speeches, introductions he's written for books by other authors, articles he's written for magazines, and it goes on and on. The man sure does get around.

And while everything is written with Gaiman's own inimitable style, the book is so big and the territory so varied that there were inevitably sections I just didn't care about. I'm not a big fan of science fiction, so all of that didn't particularly interest me. I do read graphic novels but I'm not widely read in this area, so I was a little lost in that part. I was mildly interested in looking up some of the authors Gaiman raved about, but I never actually wrote any names down and now I've given the book away so I don't think I'll actually find any of them.

Even the parts that I was interested in, such as the fantasy and his articles and speeches about creativity and making art, got a bit repetitive for me when assembled like this. I do appreciate that Bradbury was a phenomenal author, and I appreciate that he was a big influence on Gaiman's work. But two or three introductions/essays in a row about him left my mind wandering, even though they did cover slightly different ground.

Still, Gaiman is such a fabulous, curious writer in his own right and so knowledgeable about so many things that I will always recommend reading any of his work, including this collection. Even though I didn't love it, I appreciated the glimpse inside his own passions and beliefs and thoughts.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Read or listen to an excerpt.

Buy The View from the Cheap Seats at

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader


I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cover of Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews
3 Stars

Cara Kryzik has struggled to get her florist shop, Bloom, to a point where it's financially stable, but she finally seems to be getting there. She's landed some huge society weddings and her clients are spreading the word about her fabulous work. Unfortunately, some stiff new competition has just moved to town, and he's determined to be the top florist in Savannah at all costs.

While Cara's professional life is hitting some rocky ground, her personal life seems to be taking off. After a messy divorce, she's finally met a truly nice guy. She has a puppy that she adores, and her assistant is her best friend and sounding board. Until that all starts to go haywire too.

I really, really want to give Save the Date four stars, and I would have, but somewhere about halfway through I got fed up with Cara. Up to that point, she'd been such a little fighter that I'd been rooting for her all along. And sure, she has a lot on her plate, but then she goes looking for--and creates!--trouble where none needs to be. She has a huge blowup with someone that felt completely unrealistic and forced. Then she starts making other questionable decisions that seemed out of character for her and I got fed up. I knew I would finish the book, but I also knew that I'd lost all respect for Cara.

Jack, the love interest, on the other hand, is wonderful. He's got a little bit of a temper, but he's sweet and thoughtful. He's also willing to admit when he's wrong and give other people second chances. What more could a girl ask for?

I do wish that "the bad guy" had gotten more of a comeuppance. I do feel that Cara handled their final conflict the best possible way, but I wish someone else had stepped in and gotten him in some serious trouble. I don't have any patience for people who like to go around starting trouble.

The story itself was pretty cute. The stressed-out bride, the identical pups, the tyrannical landlady, the messy family dynamics that everyone seemed to have, the nasty ex-girlfriend, the nasty ex-husband, all created realistic tensions that most readers will probably relate to.

Kathleen McInerney read the book wonderfully, as always.

This isn't my favorite Mary Kay Andrews book, but it is good enough. I wish Cara's character had been a bit more consistent, but otherwise the story was fun. Fans of the author should give it try. I'd recommend that new readers start with a different one though.

Read or listen to an excerpt.

Find author Mary Kay Andrews on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Save the Date at

Southern Literature Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cover of Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
4 Stars

I needed these Lunar short stories to get some closure after the emotional turmoil of Winter. (See my review. I was so angry at Levana that I almost gave up on the book. It was that torturous). When I realized that this book was happening, I jumped on it as soon as I possibly could at the library. Most of the stories are prequels to Cinder, but there is one that's simply set in the same world, and another that's a true sequel to the series.

"The Keeper" details how Michelle Benoit came to have care of both her granddaughter, Scarlet, and a young, comatose Cinder. I have always wished that we'd gotten to see more of Michelle in the actual series, so this story was a nice addition.

"Glitches" describes Cinder's trip to the Eastern Commonwealth with Garin and her reception in his household. I've read this story somewhere before. I liked reading about a young Cinder but I can't say that I felt the need to listen to it again.

"The Queen's Army" is about Wolf being torn from his loving family and transformed into an (in)human killing machine. Or not. Wolf's story has always broken my heart a little bit and this only made me feel worse for him.

"Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky"--I wish I could remember what he told us about his past with Kate because this is about his first meeting with her. I know he tells the story in one of the books but the details are long gone from my memory. Still, a young Captain Thorne is every bit as irrepressible as you would expect him to be.

"After Sunshine Passes By" left me incredibly angry at Levana again. A young, sweet, trusting Cress is chosen for a special assignment by Lady Sybil. I was almost in tears at the end.

"The Princess and the Guard" expands on one small story from Winter's life and explains why she chose to stop using her Lunar Gift. I can't make up my mind exactly how I feel about Winter or Jacin, but I did respect Winter more after listening to this story.

"The Little Android" was my second-favorite tale from the collection. None of the main characters show up in this Lunar retelling of "The Little Mermaid" but I appreciated the way that Meyer stayed so very true to the original story.

"The Mechanic" describes Cinder and Kai's first meeting from Kai's point of view. These two are so cute together that I just loved it.

"Something Old, Something New" was my absolute favorite entry. In this sequel, Scarlet and Wolf are getting married and I am finally, finally getting the happily-ever-after that I so desperately needed to read!

I would recommend reading this anthology after reading the other novels in the series, but definitely pick it up if you've enjoyed them. It was a nice way to check in with and say goodbye to characters that I've grown ridiculously attached to.

Read or listen to an excerpt.

Check out my reviews of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter, the earlier books in the series.

Find author Marissa Meyer on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Stars Above at

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

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