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.

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