In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

18 December, 2009

Patrick Rothfuss' Worldbuilders 2009

I'm a little late to the announcements with this one, but it is just to cool of a contest/fundraiser to not post about it.

Author Patrick Rothfuss of The Name of the Wind (which is one of my top 10 books read this year) is hosting Worldbuilders 2009. In his own words:

"Well today is your lucky day.

Heifer International is my favorite charity. It helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. All over the world Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry.

They don't just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear, and eggs to eat."

Every donation made will be matched by 50% by Patrick and the really cool folks helping out this year. Also there will be a lottery to win some extremely cool prizes by some fantastic authors (including Patrick). Patrick is also organizing some auctions, and selling merchandise on his page, the proceeds of which will also be donated to Heifer International.

This is a very cool contest. Last year raised over $100,000.

You can find out more info, and see what's been donated as prizes at Patrick's Blog

Or if you want to donate right now click on the duck below which will take you to Patrick's Worldbuilders team donation page.

This is a great way to help out some people who need help during this holiday season.

10 December, 2009

Book Review: Nocturne The Fourth Book of Indigo By Louise Cooper

Indigo is traveling with the entertainer troupe The Brazabon Players. When they reach the town of Bruhome to participate in the yearly festival they notice that there is something wrong. Townsfolk as falling into a coma like sleep, then disappearing from their homes. When one of the players, Chirya, suddenly falls into this sleep the players are roused to act. Indigo sets off with Grimya and Fort (One of the other players to go get a physician from a neighboring town. Only to discover that an ominous and impenetrable forest has moved into place around the town. Separating it from the influences of the outside world.

When Chirya walks off into the forest, still under the influence of the evil forces controlling her, Indigo watches as Grimya and the leader of the Brazabon Players get pulled into the forest along with the sleepwalking girl. Indigo, and two of Chirya's siblings Fort and Esty themselves follow another sleepwalker into the forest. They find themselves in a world of illusions, and together, the four unaffected players need to work together to shatter the demon's powers and return the town to its rightful state.

In this book Indigo matures a bit more and learns to control her destiny rather than have her life controlled by it. As a member of the Brabazon entertainer troupe, Indigo stumbles into the clutches of the third demon she must face and conquerer before her penance for releasing the evils of the seven demons onto the world is completed.

In this book, Indigo must face her fears of being abandoned by her companion the wolf-dog Grimya as well as face the vampire like demon before it drains the entire town of it's life force and moves elswere in the world.

03 December, 2009

Book Review: Infanta the third book of Indigo by Louise Cooper

This book takes Indigo to the Eastern Continent. There she rescues a noble woman and her infant to be captured by the warlord that they had been fleeing from. Unexpectedly, the new ruler of the kingdom of Simhara welcomes the infant with the plans of marrying her when she comes of age. Indigo is welcomed into the palace routine as the Infanta's caretaker and companion.

But not everything is as idyllic as it seems. Every year around the Infanta's birthday she and the entire palace are plagued with nightmares of being chased by something evil. Indigo suspects that the warlord is the demon in disguise and over the yearsa of living in the palace treats him cautiously.

But as the Infanta turns eleven, it is discovered that not all is as Indigo suspects. Can she find and conquer the demon before it is too late.

This is Indigo's second demon faced. The plot for this chapter in her story is much slower paced than the first two books in the series. I found myself getting a bit impatient for the story to progress and at Indigo's slothful actions as she is lured into a false sense of security by the drugs she uses to combat the bad dreams and feelings that emanate from the unknown demon. This is probably my least favorite book in the series so far.

19 November, 2009

Book Review: Inferno The Second Book of Indigo by Louise Cooper

In Inferno, Indigo and Grimya travel far North to the volcanic area where copper is mined. While visiting the town near the mine, she stumbles into the cult of Charcharad that is taking control of the townspeople. Indigo starts to investigate this cult, which leads her to the mines themselves.

There she meets the sorcerer priest Jaskar, and discovers that the cult of Charcharad is in fact controlled by one of the seven demons that she released in her past life as Princess Anghara. Indigo must find a way into the valley where the demon is housed, and with Jaskar's help unleash the power of the fire goddess Ranaya to defeat the demon Aszareel and his hold over the miners.

In this second book of Indigo, we get to see more of Indigo's struggles with her internal demons as well as the first of the seven demons that she must face to end the punishment given her by the Earth mother for releasing the demons in the Tower of Regrets.

I found the imagery in this second chapter of Indigo's story amazing. Louise Cooper shows us a fiery world of lava flows, demons and the people impacted by the beliefs of those members of the cult of Charcharad. There were still times where Indigo's nativity irked me, and a few moments where I wanted to throttle her for acting so stupidly. But all in all, it is a good step into a very intriguing story.

05 November, 2009

Book Review: Nemesis Book the First book of Indigo

Nemesis introduces the reader to Princess Anghara. Firstborn to the king and queen of the Southern Islands, she is not the heir to the throne. Headstrong and willful she starts to wonder what is contained inside the lone tower on the tundra plains - The Tower of Regrets. Envious of her brother who is going to be the holder of the forbidden knowledge, and urged on by her desires Indigo opens the forbidden tower.

Anghara's actions release the seven demons that have been imprisoned in the tower for as long as man can remember. As a result of which Indigo is sentenced to find and conquer the demons that she set free in the world. While she wanders the world searching for them she will remain immortal. Unable to die until her quest is completed. The emissary of the Earth Mother who charges Indigo, as Angharad is now known, with this task also shows her an incentive to help her progress. Her beloved Fenran has been captured by the demons. Tortured yet still alive he will be freed upon Indigo's successful completion of the quest she has been charged with.

I first read this book when I was in high school in the mid 1990's. I adored the series. It was one of those starts to a long series that sucked me in and I rushed to the library to go get the rest of the books.

But only up to book 6 was available and I got overwhelmed by other series and never finished the Indigo books.

I received a copy as part of the 2nd tiara sweeps books sent to me, and I couldn't get past a very important part of the book. I found it a bit to horrific and gorey and passed it along unread.

This time around reading it, I made myself read past where I got hung up last time (and started to this time), and found myself back in that rush of feeling that this was such a good story!

So, it is a little slow at times, and I wanted to shake Anghara for being so stupid a few times. But I enjoyed rereading this book

15 October, 2009

Book Review: Have Space Suit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein

Teenager, Kip Russel has been longing to travel to the moon. Faced with the option of becoming a soldier (to be stationed at the moon base), an engineer (which requires getting accepted to a good college), or as a tourist (as part of the newly opened space travel industry). Kip's father has been pushing Kip to increase the coursework that he takes to get him ready for life in college. But Kip has not heard back from any of the schools that he has applied to. So when a slogan contest is announced with a first place prize of a trip to the moon, Kip jumps at the chance to win.

Kip ties for third place in the slogan contest and wins a genuine space suit. He names the suit Oscar, and spends the next few months restoring Oscar to space travel condition. When he does not recieve a scholarship, and is faced with working to support his way through college at the less than stellar local college Kip needs to face reality about how he can save up some money to pay for school. He finally decides that he will have to sell Oscar to help pay for his first year in college.

While taking Oscar out for one last walk, Kip answers a call for help over the space channel on his suit's radio. A space ship lands, closely followed by a second, and Kip finds himself journying out of New Jersey into space as a prisnor of the "Wormface". Wormface is a species of alien that had been hiding on the moon looking to take over Earth for their own evil purposes.

Kip and his companions, PeeWee (a twelve year old girl) , and the alien entity known as the Mother Thing travel from the moon to Pluto to try and stop Wormface's evil plans. The mother thing calls her Vegan companions, who capture the Wormface. Kip and PeeWee find themselves in an interstellar courtroom representing Earth in an interstellar courtroom. The fate of the Earth's future is balanced on the two young humans as they represent the planet to the alien judges.

This version of Have Space Suit Will Travel was the Full Cast Audio recording. I love the productions put out by Full Cast Audio. They are like listening to the radio plays. The recording features multiple cast members, music between the chapters, and the melodious bird song voice of the Mother thing and her fellow Vegans. Originally written in 1959, Have Space Suit Will Travel is on of Robert Heinlein's two books written for young readers. It stands the passage of time well, and I was transprted to a relm where space travel is possible.

01 October, 2009

Book Review: Anatham by Neil Stephenson

Fraa Erasmus is a young Avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar. The concent is a sanctuary for academics. Where mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers are able to come up with their theories while being protected from the secular world by stone towers and walls. The cities and governments around the concent have changed through the ages, and always the avout have been able to survive. However, as Fraa Erasmus and his fellow academics prepare for the upcoming rite of Apert, where the cloistered academics may leave the walls of the concent for the first time in ten years, he finds his heart torn. Erasmus is faced with seeing the family he was taken from as a young boy, and is challenged to remain a part of the academic life he has grown into.

However, unknown to Erasmus and the other members of the Concent, there are things happening outside in the secuelar world that will change the Concent and the life Erasmus knows so well. Suddenly the secuelar world calls for the help of the academics, and Erasmus and many other academics are called forth from the Concents all over the world. For there has been a sighting of a ship orbiting the planet, and it is not known if these newcomers are friends or foes. But will the academics be able to solve this problem that they are faced with? Or will they not be able to keep their world from being destroyed by an unknown race?

I've been a fan of Neal Stephenson's books since I first read Snowcrash many many years ago. However, I had a hard time with this book. It wasn't the focus on hard science rather than computers. It wasn't the fact he went from the more cyberpunk plot to a fantastical world of monastaries and cloistered academics. It had a little to do with all the alternate words used for names of places and items and events.

The biggest hindrance that I had with the book was all the length to the build-up of the setting. It felt like when the plot finally started to turn to the events driving the story that it was almost an afterthought

Once events actually started happening, I really enjoyed the book. But it seemed drawn out and overly lengthy. Also, I "read" the audio version of the book. This is a multi-cast recording, this recording also features a cameo by the author and original music inspired by the story. Unabridged, it was almost 38 hours long.

I believe that Neil Stephenson is a very gifted author, and look forwards to his future works. But I was a little dissapointed with this one.

29 September, 2009

Fall Shelf Cleaning Giveaway Winners!

I would like to announce the winners of the books that I had up for grabs in my fall shelf cleaning giveaway.

Lighthouses of the Golden State won by Jo
The Ten Year Nap won by Amanda Sue
Castaways of the Flying Dutchman(Two copies available)won by: Marie & Mel010100
The House on the Shore won by chamonix44
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz won by Avalonne83
Lake Wobegon Days won by Racheal
Leaving Home: A collection of Lake Wobegon Stories won by Popper
The Price of Pride by Donna MacQuigg (autographed copy) Stays in my giveaway box for a future giveaway as no one entered for it this time around :)

I want to thank everyone who entered the contest. I wish I had enough copies of these books to send everyone a book. Those that won, look for an email or pm from me in the next day or two regarding your win.

08 September, 2009

Shelf Clearing Contest

I’ve recently acquired a new bookshelf, and in the process of transferring some of the stored books onto it have decided to cull some of the review and other books I’ve found in the process of unpacking books. These are all read previously. Some have been more gently read than others. All are or will be registered at before passing along. I don’t mind if the books go directly into your permanent collection, just please leave the labels inside for the future travels of the books. I would also love to get a journal entry sharing what you thought about the book after you read it. But it’s up to you.

Here are the books I want to pass along. I’ve included links to reviews if I have them, or to the bookcrossing journal page for publisher synopsis information.

Lighthouses of the Golden State: Calafornia's Majestic Beacons by Kent Wymouth

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques (Two copies available)

The House on the Shore by Victoria Howard

The Price of Pride by Donna MacQuigg (autographed copy)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Centenary Edition by L. Frank Baum

Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keeler

Leaving Home: A collection of Lake Wobegon Stories by Garrison Keeler

To enter, leave a comment telling me what book you are interested in reading (or books if more than one catches your eye), why you think you might like to read the book(s) and a way of contacting you such as an email address or bookcrossing ID. Since this is such an extensive list, I’m setting the deadline for the giveaway at September 29, 2009. This gives people three weeks to enter, and tell anyone they think might be interested about the contest.

This is open worldwide. Just be warned if you win and live out of North America it may take a little longer to get books sent out depending on finances :)

02 June, 2009

Book Review: Lighthouses of the Golden State: Calafornia's Majestic Beacons by Kent Wymouth

Lighthouses. Their name evokes romantic images of tall wave swept towers. Flashing beacons of intense light across stormy seas to guide tall ships to safety. But unknown to people in these days of GPS navigation, lighthouses still hold an important function for traveling ships. The state of California with it’s rocky and foggy coasts is a perfect location for lighthouses in many forms.

In 1848, with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, a rush of people flowed into California. The promise of untold riches waiting to be found drew in men from every part of the globe. During their travels, the coast of California and the waters surrounding it were unexplored and dangerous territory to travel through. But as ship travel was the quickest way to the gold fields of San Francisco many ships braved these dangerous and tricky coast lines.

In 1852 the Lighthouse Board was formed. Its goal was to protect the many ships traveling the Californian coasts. This was the start of building many magnificent structures along the coastline. An effort that would result in California having forty three lighthouses built along it’s coastline over the many years. These lighthouses, manned by brave men and women would protect the ships carrying the commerce, supplies, and people that would build the West.

Lighthouses of the Golden State is an impressive book. Author Kent Wymouth spent five years researching letters, diaries, and original documents, as well as visiting every existing structure in the state. The result is an extremely informative yet deceptively slim book. This book explores the forty three lighthouses that have been built in the state since 1852. The author shares the history of each lighthouse, along with a description of how the lighthouse ran, why each lighthouse was built and other informative points of interests such as what type of lens was placed in each lighthouse. Also, each entry has a photo of the lighthouse being discussed. Lighthouses of the Golden State is an extremely thorough chronicle of California’s waterways covering over one hundred years of history.

I’ve been interested in lighthouses since I first saw one of the lighthouses along the shores of Lake Michigan as a child. However, I am not an enthusiast, well versed in the history behind these structures. As such I found Lighthouses of the Golden State an extremely informative book that didn’t overwhelm me with unknown terms. But on the other hand, I can see this book being a great reference for the lighthouse enthusiast, as well as visitors to California’s coasts that might like to try and visit some of the structures. I very much enjoyed the book. It gave me a look at a coastline I’ve yet to visit myself, and left me wanting to see some of these magnificent structures that helped shape California’s waterways and history myself one day.

26 May, 2009

Book Review: The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

For Amy Dickinson, family is her cornerstone. After becoming a single mother to a toddler, Amy found herself moving back from London to Freeville, New York to mend her broken heart. It was with the help of her unusual family of single mothers and strong independent women that Amy was able to find a new direction for her life while officially becoming a single mother.

As she moves away from Freeville to Washington DC, Amy finds herself returning to her hometown, and the advice of her supportive family. These strong, independent women provide Amy with advice, love, and help when needed to pick up the pieces of her life and make them whole again. The book spans the years from Amy’s divorce to her daughter going away to college. Well known advice columnist Amy Dickinson shares the many triumphs and failures that she has witnessed over the past twenty years.

The book is divided into topics of interest in the author’s life. These range from subjects such as divorce, becoming a single mother with and without a support net, gaining pets, seeing your child through the teen years and dating as an older adult. Each new topic explored has a tendency to jump back to the time before/leading up to the divorce and expanding forwards through the years. I found it a little confusing at first. However I found myself drawn into Amy Dickinson’s story.

As someone who lived in Chicago when Ann Landers passed away, I remember the hype surrounding the search for her replacement. I’ve read a few of Amy’s column’s. I am more familiar with her work on the NPR programs that she participates on though. It was because of this semi-familiarity that I jumped on the chance to read this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found a wonderfully sweet memoir of the years leading up to Amy Dickinson’s jump into fame. I think that’s what endeared me most about the book. The author focuses on her family and her life at the time rather than how she became important. This is a book that I am going to pass along to my own mother. It is a book that I think she will be able to relate to, as a divorced single mother, and will hopefully enjoy.

21 May, 2009

BTT: A Second First Time

What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?

This is hard, I re-read books all the time. Especially well loved books like The Lord of the Rongs Trillogy and The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynn Jones.

But I think if I had a chance to read any book for the first time again, it would be The Historian.

I read that one for a review on Armchair Interviews and felt I ended up rushing through it. Although it's one of those books that should be savored, but pulls you into the story so completely that you end up turning pages speedily.

*shrug* I don't know.

19 May, 2009

Book Review: Kitty & the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaghn

When a late radio dj, who is also a werewolf, gets bored what do you suppose will happen? Kitty Norville accidentally turns her late night music show into "The Midnight Hour". A late night talk show for all sorts of supernatural beings (and not) with problems. However, as her show skyrockets to fame, Kitty finds herself in dire need of help. The local vampire clan has hired a werewolf hunter to kill her, Local police have asked for her help in catching a serial killer who might be a vampire, and whoops! Kitty has just revealed herself to be a werewolf on air for hundreds of listeners!

I'm a fan of a good werewolf story. However, I find them to be few and far in between as most seem to take themselves so serious and end up being pretentious. I've started and put down many paranormal erotica/romances, mystery/thrillers, and fantasy books because of that. But not Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

I loved Kitty, with her low pack status, accidental role as a radio psychologist to the supernatural elements of society, and un-looked for celebrity status. I got caught up in her struggles with her place in the pack, her interactions with the local vampire family, and her budding friendship (and more) with the good looking hunter who tried to kill her at the start of the story.

I was intrigued enough to zoom through the book, and found it an enjoyable and quick read. I'm going to very much look forward to reading the rest of the series.

14 May, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Gluttony

Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

I used to use the library regularly. Only buying books that I knew I wanted to keep in my permanent collection. But over the years I started buying and trading books more and more. In fact, when I first started getting active on I won the second RABCK tiara sweepstakes. I had over a hundred books sent my way.

It was then that I really learned to release books without reading them. If I had read all those books I still would have them in my To Be Read pile. As it is I sent the last book out in the world just recently over four years after wining it.

But I work around the corner from a Borders and a fantastic UBS Shake Rattle and Read. I do find myself perusing their shelves often on my lunch. But with a basket of about 60+ books waiting to be read plus another 30 - 40 still unacounted for in the books being stored I find myself limiting my purchases. Now it's books from a series we are missing to complete it, new books for the permanant collection by authors Elengil and I will reread, and books as gifts that usually get bought.

My goal for the year is to get that basket lightened. It doesn't seem to be working though as some of my unread series (Sharon Shinn's Archangal books, and some of Feist's Midkempia books among others) get added in when the basket looks a little emptier.

But I've got a commute every day which will get longer come fall. So I expect to beat the pile down a bit and hopefully have more room to buy books again.

12 May, 2009

Book Review: The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews.

For Amy, life has become slightly stale. She is a stay at home mom, living a lifestyle slightly beyond the means of her one income home. She is the mother of a ten year old, and feels looked down on for still being a stay at home mom and not having returned to the working world. But she has not always been “Mason’s mom who doesn’t work”. Once she was a lawyer in a highly known law firm. When Mason was born, she set her law degree aside to be with him temporarily. But as the years pass, Amy finds her temporary hiatus becoming more and more permanent. She finds herself chafing at the roles and compromises that she sees as becoming her only identity.

However, Amy is not alone. She has a support group of women who all find themselves in the same roles. Wife, mother, and homemaker in a city which prides itself on its diversity and fast paced living where women hold as much power in the working world as their male co-workers. During a routine safety walk for Mason’s school, Amy discovers a new friend in a woman she only vaguely knows through the parent network of Mason’s classmates. As the women witness a horrible event, they form a fledgling bond of friendship. Amy finds her life becoming filled with excitement as she steps out of her confining roles into new ones.

However Amy’s new friendship changes some of her old ones. Until a tragic event swamps her new friendship, Amy doesn’t realize how special her old group of friends really is. Can this group survive the events that it suddenly faces or will these women quickly drift apart?

The Ten Year Nap explores the ideas of motherhood. Through Amy’s story and the stories of her circle of friends we are shown how girls are taught to strive for excellence and to be all they can be, only to be bogged down with the roles of motherhood. The story is punctuated by flashbacks to their mothers and the events which shaped each of these womens young lives.

Meg Wolitzer presents a strong story filled with strong and not so strong characters. We discover two generations of mothers and their hopes and dreams for their own children. I loved how the story was split into smaller sub stories; stories that make you think they are leading away from each other then at the last moment they turn and re-join in an unexpected way. This is not a book I might have picked up if I had seen it at the library. However, I enjoyed it very much and plan on seeking out earlier books by this author.

05 May, 2009

Book Review: Castaways of the Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques

Publish Date: 2001
Publisher: Philomel Books
Binding Type: Hardcover

The Flying Dutchman.

A name that brings fear to the hearts of all who hear of the cursed ship. A name which is still known throughout the centuries. A ship that even now is reported seen sailing the waters around Cape Horn. But no one really knows how the curse began. What caused The Flying Dutchman and its crew, captained by the feared Captain Vanderdecken, to be set on its eternal voyage across the seas?

When a nameless boy is found half dead and half frozen on the back of the Flying Dutchman, no one believes he will recover. The boy, claimed by the ship’s cook as a galley boy overcomes his deadly encounter in the harbor. Mute and homeless, the boy is christened Neb. He spends his days cooking and serving the captain and his rough crew. During one of the ship’s last stopovers in Europe, Neb rescues a half-starved dog. Together, the two witness Captain Vanderdecken’s decent into madness & the curse put on the ship by a vengeful angel. The two friends are swept overboard, saved from the curse by the same angel.

The angel grants the pair immortality, and the instructions that they are to roam the earth to help those in need. The friends brave the ages, and in their travels end up in the village of Chapelvale. This sleepy English village is threatened by the industrial progress covering the country. Its location above a vast limestone deposit, makes it a target for greedy men, with a planned quarry and cement factory where the town currently stands.

Neb – now called Ben- befriends several of the villagers. With their help he discovers an ancient riddle that could save the village. But there are only seven days before the machinery arrives, and the houses are sold. Can Ben, his faithful canine companion and the villagers helping the pair unravel the riddles and discover the hidden secrets in time to save Chapelvale from its impending doom?

I’ve been reading books by this author for years. I first stumbled onto Redwall my senior year of high school over a decade ago and kept reading the books as I could find them and as they were published. I don’t know that I’ve read every single book in the series. It’s gotten quite huge over the last five or six years. But They are comfortable books that I tend to check out from the library every few years to reread. So when I say Castaways of the Flying Dutchman on the entryway bargain shelf at the Borders by my work I was instantly intrigued. I bought the book hoping to read it, and pass it onto friends of mine who collect Brian Jacques’s works. I usually pass along copies of his books that I stumble across to younger readers rather than keeping them in our limited book shelves. It took me two weeks of walking by the store during lunch before I bought it. I had finished my commute book that morning and needed something to read on the train trip home.

I was amazed with the book! I found myself drawn into a richly written story. The pages flew by and I found myself wanting more of Ben and Neb’s adventures when the pages closed. I think that in my opinion this is probably one of Brian Jacques’ best novels. It introduces a well known subject – the doomed ship The Flying Dutchman and introduces the story with a twist. It is told from the viewpoint of a pair of survivors of the curse. Through their innocence and joy the pair of friends survive the curse the rest of the ship falls under. Through the angel’s love for them they are given a chance to live long and fruitful lives. Though Ben and Neb are haunted by their experiences of the Flying Dutchman, they are able to step past the fear that ruled their lives on the doomed ship and become stewards of love and friendship throughout the ages.

This is my highest form of praise. The copy I bought will go into my permanent collection of young adult books. Two days after I bought my copy, I found myself walking into Borders and buying three more copies. One to pass on to the friends I originally planned on sharing the book with, and two to pass along in a book giveaway here in the near future. I was reminded why I fell in love with the author’s writing the first time I picked up Redwall and Mossflower, and why I continue to return to re-read his books even now many years since then.

I’ve learned this is the first book in a trilogy. The second and third books in the series, The Angel's Command and Voyage of Slaves, were published in 2003 and 2006 respectively. I look forwards to finding and reading these titles as well.

02 May, 2009

Joy Nash's Countdown to Summer

Author Joy Nash sent me an e-mail letting me know about her celebration for her upcoming book release. She will be holding a Countdown to Summer.

To celebrate the May 26th release of her Jersey Shore romance A Little Light Magic, Joy’s hosting a month-long blog and Facebook party dedicated to everything wonderful about summer - summer fun, summer memories, summer vacations, summer food, summer entertainment, and - most importantly - the boys (and men!) of summer. Lots of chances to win goodies, including books by Joy and other authors such as Angie Fox, Emily Bryan, Gerri Russell and more. Starting May 1 and continuing through Memorial Day! Details at

30 April, 2009

Book Review: The House on the Shore by Victoria Howard

Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews

Anna MacDonald has been betrayed! The coveted teaching position she has been waiting to get has been given to the other woman that her boss, and boyfriend, has been sleeping with. In anger, Anna quits her job, gives up her flat in Edinburgh, and takes off for the only place that she has ever felt truly happy. Anna’s late grandmother’s croft, located on the shores of Loch Hourn, in the Scottish Highlands.

The croft is isolated. Anna has no phone, no close neighbors, and only her two border collies for company. Her plan for the summer is to nurse her broken heart and pride back to normal while working on the novel she has been yearning to write for years. She doesn’t plan for company during this time. Especially not the unexpectedly handsome company offered in the form of the slightly rude American who knocks at her door one morning.

Luke Tallantyre is a well known artist from Cape Cod Massachusetts. Faced with an artistic dry spell, he has set sail for the unknown wilds of Scotland. He has braved the Atlantic Ocean alone, and has come to Loch Hourn. When his yacht develops a navigational problem, he ends up knocking on Anna’s door for help.

Anna is more than a little resentful of Luke’s intrusion. Faced with an attraction she doesn’t know how to handle after her last rejection, she finds him an unwelcome distraction into her hermetic life. However, when an unknown assassin tries several times to kill both Anna and Luke, they find themselves thrown together in an attempt to find out why.

Will Anna and Luke find out who is trying to kill them and why? Will either of them realize the opportunity for true love that arises during the time they spend together?

I really enjoyed this book. The story drew me in quickly. I found myself having to pace my reading speed in order not to rush through the book. I enjoyed Victoria Howard’s descriptions of the Scottish Highlands, and Loch Hourn. They made me even more convinced that this is a part of the world that I want to someday visit. This was a very compelling story, and I totally enjoyed it despite it being a very quick read. It was one of those rare books that left me thinking "I can't be done yet!" when I turned the last page.

28 April, 2009

I need to stop this

I need to stop letting so much time fly by between posts. I have some very good books that have been reviewed to share soon. As well as a giveaway or two in the works. And lastly, I would like to start taking part in the Booking through Thursday questions on a regular basis again.

Those are a bit of a stretch for me right now with the spring semester winding down, and the work schedule about to get fluctuated around. Plus, I'm trying to shake a horrible chest cold.

So We will see if I can get on here once a week again. It would be nice if I can. I've missed this blog.

It's time to shake the dust off of it again.

31 March, 2009

Winners Shapeshifter The Demo Tapes Year 1 Drawing

I am proud to announce the winners of the drawing for ShapeShifter The Demo Tapes Year 1. The lucky people are:


Look for emails from me later today to find out where to send your book.

11 March, 2009

Book Review: ShapeShifter The Demo Tapes: Year 1 by Susan Helene Gottfried

Have you ever wondered what goes on backstage at a concert? Have you ever wanted to see the inner workings of a well known band? Did you ever wonder what forces shape a band into a powerhouse of music? Well, with The Demo Tapes: Year 1 you can find answers to these questions and more.

The Demo Tapes: Year 1 is a collection aimed at introducing readers into the fictional world of the band ShapeShifter. All of the short fiction pieces in this collection were first published online in the author’s blog between April 2006 and March 2007. The stories all parallel Susan’s currently unpublished novel Trevor’s Song. The Demo Tapes came into existence because author Susan Helene Gottfried was tired of people not being able to read the intense story that she had created starring the band ShapeShifter. The West of Mars Blog was born through these frustrations.

Along the way, her short fiction and musings on her blog Susan gained a following of loyal readers. Her groupies (as they call themselves) stared clamoring for her writing to be published. Because of their push, Susan took matters into her own hands, and self published The Demo Tapes: Year 1 using the services of The collection cleans up the quickly written outtakes from the blog, and arranges them chronologically.

I’ve been reading the West of Mars blog from its conception. I read each of these pieces when they were originally first published on the blog. I found ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes: Year 1 a fantastic and fun way of revisiting these older stories. I’m hoping that Susan publishes The Demo Tapes: Year 2 in the near future. I look forward to reading more adventures of Trevor, Mitchell, Keri, and the other band members and fans. I also hope that the Demo Tapes becomes a stepping stone for Susan’s debut novel Trevor’s Song to make it through the gamut of the publishing industry and be available for purchase in bookstores worldwide. Susan has created a wonderful collection of characters in a full fleshed world, and it would be a shame if it was never published.

Places you can find The Demo Tapes: Year 1:
Author Susan Helene Gottfried’s web site: West of Mars the Meet & Greet


As well, I have two autographed copies of The Demo Tapes: Year 1 to send out into the world.

Leave me a comment saying something about why music is important in your life, and a way to contact you and I'll add your name to the drawing.

The deadline for submissions will be 11:59 PM on Monday March 30, 2009.

If you leave a link showing that you are helping spread the word about this giveaway, I'll give you an extra entry in the drawing.

Good luck!

Just a note: Since bookcrossing is a site that both Susan and I love to use on our traveling books, I'm registering these two copies before sending them out to the winners. As usual, you don't need to pass the book along if you don't want to when you finish reading it. I'd love if the winners would use the information on the label to share what they think of the book after you reading it but don't feel like you absolutely have to if you don't want to."

27 February, 2009

Winner's Drawn!

I drew the names for the five book giveaway a little earlier this morning, and just had to share who they are right away.

Congratulations! Look for an email from me shortly asking for where to send your book(s) to. If I don't hear back in a week, I will redraw names for that particular title.

So, on to the winner's list:

Near Death in the Arctic goes to Bison 61

The Thief Lord goes to FatalisFortuna

The Courtier’s Secret goes to Victoria

Inwards to the Bones goes to guru

Rusty Son of Tall Elk goes to Becky

Once again congratulations to the winners, there was a lot of competition for titles. I wish I had more copies of each to pass along.

I'll probably be doing another giveaway in March and another book box cleaning giveaway later this spring, as I had alot of fun writing these reviews and doing such a big drawing. So keep visiting, and happy reading!

14 February, 2009

Book Review: The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

Two orphaned brothers, Bo and Prosper, have run away from their grandfather’s house and their aunt Esther after their mother’s death. Esther plans on splitting the boys up, keeping Bo with her and their uncle and sending Prosper away to boarding school. The boys go to the magical city their mother told them many stories about, Venice Italy. Once there, they join up with a group of children who are led by a mysterious boy Scipio, also known as the “Thief Lord”.

But unknown to the boys, their aunt Esther has followed them to Venice and hired a private detective to find the boys. Suddenly, they and their friends are having to find ways to avoid the persistent detective, while trying to plan their most daring and dangerous break-in yet. Plus, when Prosper and his friends find out a shocking secret about Scipio, the group falls apart due to their new mistrust of the Thief Lord. Will the children make up their differences and finish their planned theft? Or will Bo and Prosper be caught and taken back to their horrible Aunt Esther without resolving their problems with the friend who took them in when they first came to Venice?

I was exited when I first received this book. I had heard good things about Cornelia Funke’s writing in regards to Inkheart from other book reading friends. It took me a couple of tries to get into this book. The first two times I picked it up I read the first three or four pages and set it down again. However, this was one of the first books that I read in 2009, and I found myself quickly entranced by the story. I really enjoyed this story with its hints of magic in an otherwise normal world. Also its recurring theme about the strength of friendships, and how they can help overcome many problems was a nice message. I still have not read Inkheart, though I do have Dragon Rider Sitting in my to be read basket right now. I’m looking forwards to reading more of this author’s writing in the near future

Publisher: Scholastic
Publish Date: September 2003
Author's Web Page:

12 February, 2009

Book Giveaway: Five books for new homes!

I don't keep a lot of the books that I review. If a book really strikes my fancy, I'll shelve it in the pc, or buy a copy when the book comes out and pass along the ARC/review copy I read. I've done this for maybe ten books in the last four years. I usually prefer to share them with other readers. Most get labeled with bookcrossing labels and stuck in the bin of books to pass along. That poor bin holds books I plan on wild releasing in the future - Like some coffee table art books I plan on leaving in/around the Art Institute of Chicago at some point in the near future. As well as book I plan on passing along to other book reading friends.

My bin has gotten a bit packed recently, and as I am in the process of trying to get my to be read pile down in size (not an easy thing when there is a huge Borders and several really nice used book stores close to both my work, and home). I'm trying to pass along the older read books so I have room for the newer read books in the bin. I'm thinking of checking with a local hostel to see if they would take some book donations for their entertainment area, but I would love to pass on a few of the books I've reviewed here to someone who wants to read them.

To enter, leave a comment telling me which title you are interested in reading, and a way to contact you (can be an e-mail address, or a bookcrossing member name). I'll do a drawing on books that have multiple people interested in them and send them out to their new homes.

All of the books will be registered on, and while I would love to see what you think of the book when you read it, you are not obligated to visit the site, or to pass the book on when you finish it. If you end up loving it so much you want to keep it forever, feel free to do so!

The books are a mix of ARC's and regular published titles. All have been gently read, some show more wear than others as not all started their lives with me in pristine unread condition.

Here's the books I'm going to pass along. Click on the title, and it will take you to the review I wrote, or a bookcrossing page for the book.

1. Inward to the Bones: Georgia O'Keefe's Journey with Emily Carr by Kate Braid
2. Near Death in the Arctic by Cecil Kuhne
3. Rusty Son of Tall Elk by Charles H. Bertram
4. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
5. The Courtier's Secret By Donna Russo Morin

I'll close the acceptance of comments on the 26th, and will draw names and let folks know who gets which book by the 28th of February.

07 February, 2009

Book Review: Near Death in the Arctic: True Stories of Disaster and Survival Edited by Cecil Kuhne

Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews

The Arctic. The very name pulls images of snowy landscapes, harsh weather, and intense travel conditions out of our imagination. Many men and women have raced against the elements to reach the North and South poles.

Near Death in the Arctic is a collection of writings concerning these journeys. Editor Cecil Kuhne has collected previous published writings by explorers such as Captain Roald Fram, Richard E. Byrd, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, David Lewis, and Robert Falcon Scott, as well as second hand writings of expeditions. This collection showcases both first hand experiences in exploring the North Pole, the race to reach the South Pole first, and exploration of the largely unknown continent of Antarctica.

Near Death in the Arctic, transports readers to a time where the world was not fully known, and exploration an important thing. We can learn more about the struggles these explorers faced from the weather, from lack of supplies, and unexpected situations such as their ships being frozen into the pack ice.

Reading this book during the recent extreme cold weather here in the Midwest gave me an appreciation for what these explorers went through. They braved the unknown to bring the world an idea of what was out there. They went to advance our knowledge of the geography of these harsh areas of the world. They went to advance scientific knowledge of the Arctic regions. They went for the glory of exploring. I really enjoyed reading this book because it expanded my knowledge of the explorers who looked for a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. I had been aware of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton’s trips to the Antarctic, but I had not known that Scott was the second team to the South Pole.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the exploration of the planet’s North and South Poles from the turn of the twentieth century onwards.

21 January, 2009

Book Review: Amelia's War by Ann Rinaldi

Another book set in the American Civil War. I'm loving the fact that my "to be read soon" basket had a second book from the same time-frame as the Halifax Connection (which I reviewed last week) from another viewpoint of the war, in a totally different setting. I was wanting to read more historical fiction from this era of history after finishing The Halifax Connection

Scholastic Press
Publish Date 1999

Amelia Grafton’s life is changing in ways she didn’t expect. She and her family live in the Pro-Union state of Maryland. Her family supports the Union. But as the Civil War progresses and comes closer to her hometown it seems like everyone is slowly choosing sides with the Union or the Confederates. Everyone, it seems except her good friend Josh. Who is determined to keep a neutral outlook on the war in order to write well informed and truthful stories about the battles being fought around them for his father’s paper the Hagerstown Mail.

The War moves closer, with Lee’s forces invading Hagerstown three times. The final time there is even fighting in the town square! Amelia and her family struggle to keep their lives going as they had before the war. Her older brother Wes runs off to join the Union forces and Amelia is faced with the fact that he may not survive the battles being fought. Through it all, Amelia must decide how she can stay true to her own belief’s and figure out what she can do to help the war effort when the right time comes.

Amelia’s War is written by Ann Rinaldi, who has written many historical fiction stories. She based her story on the ransom of Hagerstown, Maryland, which happened the first week of July in 1864. She writes an informative story that sets a fictitious family into a well documented part of the American Civil War. This is the second book written by Ann Rinaldi that I have read, and I enjoyed it a lot. She has a way of writing that puts the reader right into the lives of her characters. I enjoyed seeing the war through the eyes of a young girl. It gave me a different insight to what was happening during that time frame. This is a fantastic look into how the Civil War affected the everyday life of the people who lived in the areas being fought on. I would recommend this book for any older child who is wanting to learn about the American Civil War.

15 January, 2009

Book Review: The Halifax Connection by Marie Jakober

Publishe: andom House Canada
Publish Date: 2007

Canada in 1862 was not the proud country we know today. It was still collection of colonies run by the British crown. To the south of Canada in the United States, the Civil War is becoming more volatile. As the fighting gets hotter, people from both sides, Yankee and Confederate alike cross the border into the British Colonies for many reasons. Among the southern gentry flooding into the cities of Halifax and Montreal, there are many spies and military personages. These men and women have ulterior motives to put into action secret plans against the Yankees. Secret plans that may or may not start a war between England and the United States. If a war is started between the two countries, the Confederacy would have an ally in fighting against the Yankees.

Former theater manager and ex-British aristocrat Erryn Shaw finds himself recruited as a spy for the British crown. His job is to befriend the Southern rebels and learn their secret plans. While on a mission to Montreal, he hears about an exceptionally sinister plot being planned by the Confederates. A plan, which the men in charge believe with all their hearts will win them the war.

While in Montreal, Erryn meets and courts a woman he finds intriguing and charming named Sylvie Bowen. Sylvie has recently emigrated to Canada, escaping life of drudgery working in the cotton mills of England. Sylvie also stands firm in her hatred of the Southern rebels. Because of their piracy, she and her aunt Franny were forced to land on Nassau. Only Sylvie would then travel onto Halifax. Her aunt left behind to be buried in a mass grave, for the victims of a Yellow Fever epidemic that was raging through the island when the women were forced ashore by the sinking of the English trader they were traveling on by the confederate ship the Alabama.

Erryn finds himself drawn deeper into the intrigue surrounding the plot he has uncovered. Meanwhile his feelings for Sylvie deepen as he spends more time with her. He finds himself in a race against time. Can Erryn Shaw find a way to stop the Rebel’s plans and keep England from starting a war with the United States? Can he do so and pull out of the spy game before his beloved Sylvie discovers he is a “Grey Tory” siding with those she despises? Or will he run out of time and loose both Sylvie and the hope of defeating the plan that the Rebels believe will end the war.

The Halifax Connection draws its story from actual events in Canada’s history. I was fascinated by the story, as much of my Civil War knowledge had ended with Canada being one of the end points of the underground railroad. This book is a fantastic example of historical fiction. It is superbly written and transports readers back in time to an exiting time in Canada’s colonial history. Author Marie Jakober takes us into the ballrooms and parlors of the bustling city of Montreal to the dirty, military garrisoned port town of Halifax. I originally won this book as a part of the first Hidden Treasures contest held by West of Mars back in the summer of 2007. I’m finding myself sorry for letting this book languish for so long in my “to be read soon" basket. This is one of the best examples of fiction set during the Civil War that I have read in a very long time. Author Marie Jakober has a love and passion for the Civil War and her own country’s involvement in it. This passion shows through in an extremely well crafted and exiting adventure of a story.

06 January, 2009

Poem: Rainy Night by Dorthy Parker

I stumbled across this saved in another place, and remembered how much I loved the poem. I first stumbled onto it in a fiction book, and was inspired to find out what the whole poem was from the two stanza's that were there in the book.


Ghosts of all my lovely sins,
Who attend too well my pillow,
Gay the wanton rain begins;
Hide the limp and tearful willow.

Turn aside your eyes and ears,
Trail away your robes of sorrow,
You shall have my further years-
You shall walk with me tomorrow.

I am sister to the rain;
Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at the windowpane,
Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

I have lived with shades, a shade;
I am hung with graveyard flowers.
Let me be tonight arrayed
In the silver of the showers.

Every fragile thing shall rust;
When another April passes
I may be a furry dust,
Sifting through the brittle grasses.

All sweet sins shall be forgot;
Who will live to tell their siring?
Hear me now, nor let me rot
Wistful still, and still aspiring.

Ghosts of dear temptations, heed;
I am frail, be you forgiving.
See you not that I have need
To be living with the living?

Sail, tonight, the Styx's breast;
Glide among the dim processions
Of the exquisite unblest,
Spirits of my shared transgressions,

Roam with young Persephone.
Plucking poppies for your slumber . . .
With the morrow, there shall be
One more wraith among your number.

04 January, 2009

Book Review: Inward to the Bones by Kate Braid

I received this book from bookcrosser NWPassage last summer. Over the past few months, I've picked this book up and set it down without reading it several times - not being in a poetry mood. However New Year's Day was spent just relaxing and I found myself curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a blanket and this book. I'm glad that I finally got into the right head space to read this collection.

Poet Kate Braid found her inspiration to write this collection from a brief meeting of the two painters Georgia O'Keefe and Emily Carr in February 1930 at a showing of O'Keefe's paintings in New York. It was a brief meeting, Emily Carr spent more time describing one of the painting in her journal than the actual meeting. However Kate Braid used this meeting as an inspiration to expand it into what would have happened had the two women become friends. What would happen if they were to visit each other's place of living and areas of inspiration for their paintings. O'Keefe in her New Mexican Desert, and Carr in her British Columbian forests.

The poems are told in the voice of Georgia O'Keefe, and explore the relationships an artist has with the land they paint The struggle they have with making their art, and the tenuous and often unpredicted power of friendship.

I'm a fan of O'Keefe's paintings, and have been since I was very young. One of the things I loved best about this collection was the fact that the author interspersed her poems with found poems gleaned from O'Keefe's own letters. These helped build a layer of depth on top of the wonderfully written poems to create an extremely powerful and moving collection of poetry.

There are two poems I want to save here to remeber once I share the book with someone else.


Last night I dreamed the blood
ran in my veins like skeins of thread
each thread a different colour
as my heart beat scarlet
chartreuse, cerulean blue.

I awoke knowing that when I am an old woman
I shall live on cactus and thread.


Bone to bone
I am embedded now
in this land

deep as a tick on a mangy old dog.
No matter how hard you scratch

You can't budge me now.
I shall die here, hot

and clean, finally
the faraway nearby.


Publication Date: January 2000
Publisher: Polestar Book Publishers
Binding: paperback

03 January, 2009

Book Review: The Courtier's Secret by Donna Russo Morin

This was the last book I read in 2008. I read and reviewed this book for Armchair Interviews.

In the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, courtier’s flock to Versailles for many varying reasons. For many it is the prestige and power gained by being a participating member of the court, for other’s it is for their love of the King and his Queen, for many it is a paradise. But for some courtiers like Jeanne Mas du Bois, life in the court is a pretty but unpleasant prison.

Jeanne, is recently returned to life at court after living in a convent for the past ten years. An independent and spirited young woman, Jeanne has a love for history and chafes at the restrictions placed upon her sex. Her uneasiness with her life chafes her spirit, and more than once she finds herself facing her father’s wrath over imagined and real slights to his image of noble courtier. However Jeanne’s cherished uncle, Jules Du Mas, one of the king’s fencing partner’s, encourages her spirited independence while secretly teaching her how to fence

It is during one of these secret lessons, that Jeanne and her uncle save the lives of two musketeers. Jeanne, mistaken for male, is admitted into the circle of friends who are all members of the King’s Musketeers. It is in their company, disguised as the young man Jean-Luc that Jeanne learns of a plot to kill the Queen. Jeanne soon finds herself in a precarious position as she tries to navigate the tangled web of court intrigue. As Jean-Luc she has the freedom that she yearns for, and the honor and respect of the four musketeers. But as Jeanne, female courtier, she is plagued with an impending forced marriage to a boy she care nothing for, a growing love for the musketeer Henri, and the trials of trying to help put an end to the villains trying to kill her beloved queen.

The Courtier’s Secret is Donna Russo Morin’s debut book, and it is a wonderfully spun gem of a story. I found myself transported back to 17th century France, and life in Versailles. I find myself looking forward to reading this author’s books in the future.

02 January, 2009

Winners for Resurrecting Randi Give Away!

I would like to congratulate the following people for winning a copy each of Resurrecting Randi by David P. Shephard. Watch your inbox for an e-mail/PM from me asking where to send your copy.

Amanda Sue

Happy New Year! May you have many good books come your way in 2009.

2009 Goals for Confesions of a Literary Persuasion

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone reading this.

I'm setting a few goals for the next year. I read a lot, as I am dependent on public transportation to get to and from work and school. This means I have anywhere from a 20 - 45 minute ride each way. So I read when I can, and listen to audio books when I can't (I get motion sick on some of the low ride buses because of the seat positioning, and lower windows on the bus sides). In the past, I've used this blog to post reviews and reviews in progress for the few review sites that I read & review for.

However, there have been some extremely good books that I have read over the last two years that were not new ones. my goal is to try and include reviews of the older books I read.

I'm not going to do reviews for all of them, as I also have school work to look forward to, and have been reading massive long fantasy series which I have a hard time doing reviews for. But if something really catches my attention I'll try and put up a post about it.

I've got this laundry basket of books here that I've collected over the six years that I have been a bookcrossing member (as well as about 20 that got mixed in with the books in storage), and I'm trying to set a goal to get more books read and out of the house this year as we are faced with a move in 2009. I know how many books Elengil and I have combined in our permanent collection. I'm hoping to reduce the amount on my tbr pile before we start packing.

Finally, I was updating my Goodreads list, and it looks like I read 146 books in 2008. 20 of those were review books. 18 were audio books. 102 had bookcrossing BCID's (Either mine or from another bookcrossing member), and of the bookcrossing books, 34 were wild released and 47 were controlled released to friends, bookcrossing members, and blog readers.

01 January, 2009

Winners for Signature Give Away!

I would like to congratulate the following people for winning a copy each of Signature by Ron Sanders. Watch your inbox for an email from me asking where to send your copy.

The Giveaway Diva

I will post the winners of Resurrecting Randi tomorrow, 2 January 2009. This way there is more cheer to give in the new year.

Happy New Year! May you have many good books come your way in 2009.