Friday, August 29, 2014

Future Flash by Kita Helmetag Murdock

Laney is a young girl that knows that she is different.  Her first memory tells her so -- being left on Walt's (the father figure in her life) doorstep as a baby.  She was simply too young for this memory to be planted into her brain.  That first memory is not the only anomaly.  She can also see into the future, what she calls "future flashes."  When Lyle moves into town, she has hope for a new friend, but one of her fiery flashes may just make that impossible.  If Laney can make amends, she may find a savior in the past, present, and future.  Unfortunately, the odds are not in her favor.

Future Flash is a quick read with just enough action to keep me turning the pages.  I instantly liked Laney.  I instantly liked Lyle.  And, their relationship was instantly complicated, just like a number of other bonds throughout the story.  These complications allowed the read to not only be multidimensional, but also realistic - a combination that I enjoyed for the few hours that it took me to read from cover to cover.

Thank you to the author, Kita Murdock for a review copy of this book in exchange for my genuine thoughts on the story.

Have you had the pleasure of meeting Laney and Lyle?  What did you think of their story?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Literary Link Love: August 2014


Where has the summer gone?  I can't believe we are already at the end of August and school will be back in session very soon.  For many of you, it probably already is.  All I can say is  . . . it is crazy how fast time flies, and it only gets faster the older you get!  Before we lose this moment, let's move on to the links I shared this month in the social media stratosphere.

Are you in need of some extra reading time?  Check out this list for great ways to sneak it in.  Since I will be returning to work shortly, I have a feeling that I will be keeping many of these ideas in mind (more than I already do).

Curious what famous authors' sleeping chambers look like?  You can check out 15 of them here (even if you think it is a bit weird or creepy).

In case you are in need of an escape, imagine reading one of your books in these locations.  I tend to imagine myself lounging in the nook featured in #25.

BACK TO SCHOOL EDITION

In honor of back to school, check out these five children's books that are turning 50 this year.  Which ones have you read?

This simple summer writing activity is an easy one to expand into the school year.  In our household, we frequently send postcards, and they can be so much fun to read!

An interesting article from NPR examined why teens are not reading like they used to.  I think this one gives us lots to ponder on what we are rewarding and reinforcing both at home and at school.

We no longer need to ponder about where or when the reading should begin.  The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends reading to kids from birth . . . something that I've been saying and doing since my own children were born.

What does your favorite book from high school say about you?  When I took this little quiz, I must admit that I had to cross off books because they simply were not an option when I was in high school.  That left only one option for me ... To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  What about you?

And, in case you missed it, Scholastic has expanded their preschool readiness resources.

UPCOMING AWESOMENESS

Have you seen that Book Riot is bringing us PANELS, a site completely devoted to comics and graphic novels from beginners to experts?  I cannot wait!!

Next month, The Book Wheel is hosting 30 Authors in 30 Days.  I am one of the lucky bloggers participating in her event and I cannot wait to follow along throughout the whole month of September!!

That's it!  Another great month of fun links for your enjoyment and reference.  And, I have a feeling that they will only get better!

Which link(s) did you find to be most interesting?  What news did I miss sharing this last month?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blog Tour: Holly Schindler, Feral, and Peculiar, Missouri . . . and GIVEAWAY!


Today, I am so excited to share with you a special video in honor of the release of FERAL by Holly Schindler.  When speaking to Holly when discussing my participation in this blog tour, I wanted to try something a little unique, but also show a side of Missouri that many not be aware of.  Having lived in the state for 6 years, this state became a special place to me and though I no longer live there, it will always hold a special place in my heart.  Therefore, I decided that I wanted to hear from Holly about how she decided on her fictionalized setting of Peculiar, Missouri from her newest novel, FERAL.  Take a look and listen . . .

 

If you are unable to view the video here, you can also view it here.  

I am currently in the midst of FERAL's pages, so you can expect a full review here later this week.  In the meantime, let me leave you with a quick description of the book, a chat about the psychological thriller, a bio on the author, the book trailer, and a GIVEAWAY!!

FERAL JACKET COPY: 

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know. 

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew. 

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. 

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley.... 

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page. 

FERAL AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER: 

FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller. While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action. The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting. The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state). The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley. Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence— that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too. The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 

HOLLY SCHINDLER BIO: 

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK...This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking...This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.” 

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch. Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com

FERAL TRAILER:

  

GIVEAWAY:

Giveaway of a Signed Copy of FERAL (runs August 26-September 2, 2014): a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Maunder: Bout of Books Results & Big News!


Hello Monday!

I have so much to tell you all since last week.  It was so busy and so much happened, but first I will start with the results of my week of Bout of Books.


According to my goals, I had hoped to read a total of three books and listen to at least ten hours of my audiobook.  Here is what I actually did get accomplished for each day . . .

Monday:  22 pages
Tuesday:  0 pages
Wednesday:  141 pages
Thursday:  80 pages
Friday:  66 pages
Saturday:  40 pages
Sunday:  328 pages

That leaves me with a total of 677 pages read.  I was able to finish Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness and almost finished The Book of Life also by Harkness in time (though I did finish it this morning).  Unfortunately, I was not able to listen to one minute of my audiobook.  My original audiobook had expired and I was unable to renew it.  I then tried to check out a new one, but have had issues all week with getting the book loaded.  I'm really hoping to figure this one out soon because I have really missed my audiobooks!

Overall, I am going to count this a success, especially once you hear how the rest of the week went!

So, what is this big news that I keep referring to?  Well, this past week, I interviewed for a job.  Initially, I did not intend to begin searching for a new job until my kids were settled into school for the year, but an opportunity arose that I could not pass up.  Less than 24 hours after completing my 4-hour interview, I received an offer for the job . . . and I accepted it!  I think it is going to be an interesting transition heading back into the world of work after taking this last year off, but I am super excited about the opportunity.  The even better part is that I will not be starting my job for a couple of weeks, so that I can still ensure that my kids get settled into their new school.

That's not the only thing from this last week either!  I also finally was able to replace the car that was totaled earlier this month (and I love my new replacement!).  And, I participated in an all day photography workshop on Saturday, even despite the drizzly rain that would not go away.  I am feeling so lucky after all the events of this last week and am so thankful for my opportunities!

What does this mean for the blog?  Well, hopefully, nothing!  I will be working extra hard in the next couple of weeks to get caught up on the stack of reviews I need to write and plan to schedule as far in advance as possible to help with easing into the new schedule.  I really have no intention of going anywhere on a permanent basis, but we will see how well I can transition back into being a working mom with a crazy schedule!

Now, it's your turn . . . Did you participate in Bout of Books?  How did you do?  Any other exciting news in your neck of the woods?

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Walking Dead: Book Nine by Robert Kirkman

It has been a while since I picked up The Walking Dead.  Before moving, I tried to catch up on some of the paperback volumes.  After settling in, however, I thought it was best to go back to the hardcover editions.  With this route, I could refresh my memory with what I have already read as well as to get some updates on the story.  It was just what I needed to fall back into this story.

In Book Nine, a LOT is happening.  We meet new friends, new alliances, and new evils.  Relationships develop and grow.  Characters, particularly young Carl, mature.  And, we experience devastating losses, and stand by as loyalties are formed and challenged.

When the series began, we see survivors of a zombie apocalypse, fighting to survive the undead.  As the series progresses, the survivors are facing not only the evil of the undead, but also of the living.  I find the path that Kirkman writes fascinating - his views on the human race, both the good and the bad.  It leaves me pondering if the bad are more likely to survive because of their ruthlessness.  Yet, it gives me hope to know that the good still stand fighting despite the adversity faced.  Who knew zombies could result in such deep thoughts?!

All in all, I keep reading.  I have become so attached to the characters that I cannot abandon them now.

Are you a fan of The Walking Dead, either onscreen or on the page?  What does this story leave you pondering?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sookie Stackhouse #2-5 by Charlaine Harris

When it was time for me to move, I knew I needed a light, fluffy read to get me through a stressful time.  Having previously read the first in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Until Dark, I decided to continue with the next one in the series, and found myself reading more!

Sookie Stackhouse #2:  Living Dead in Dallas

Sookie and Bill return in the second installment of Harris's series, as well as many of my personal favorite characters from Dead Until Dark.  This time, Sookie's presence is requested in Dallas, courtesy of vampire Eric (essentially Bill's boss).  Sookie is required for her special gift of telepathy, but she instead finds herself in a heap of trouble.

Sookie Stackhouse #3:  Club Dead

Sookie's relationship with Bill has only grown stronger, until Club Dead.  Bill goes missing and Eric believes that Sookie can help find him.  In enters the amazing Alcide, a were with connections to help them find the missing vampire.  Sookie finds herself questioning her life that is now filled with so many creatures and being pulled in a multitude of directions.  Despite her dissonance, one thing is clear . . . things are getting exciting and I found myself loving this series even more in Club Dead.

Sookie Stackhouse #4:  Dead to the World

I thought Sookie's life was interesting in Club Dead.  In Dead to the World, it gets even more exciting.  The relationship with Bill continues to be rocky.  Yet, the friendship with Alcide is heating up.  And, to complicate matters even more, Sookie finds Eric naked and running with no memory.  The previous titles in this series had their steamy moments, but nothing compares to this installment, both in the bedroom and the tense moments among the creatures.

Sookie Stackhouse #5:  Dead as a Doornail

Ever since meeting Bill Compton, Sookie has been living in an unbelievable world filled with creatures she thought only lived in storybooks.  But in Dead as a Doornail, this unlikely world hits too close to home.  A sniper is shooting the creatures around her and her brother may be considered the prime evil in some eyes.  She sets aside the steamy romances and finds herself being more of a detective than lover.

Charlaine Harris has written a fun series that has me hooked.  It has mystery, intrigue, adventure, and romance, but what keeps me reading is the fun, flawed characters that simply allow me to escape.  This is one series I will be continuing to read until the end.

Have you met Sookie Stackhouse?  What do you think of her (mis)adventures?  Do you have a favorite in the series?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Maunder: Out of the Darkness


Last week, I took the liberty of stepping away from the topic of books for a moment to share my own personal experiences with suicide.  It was completely unplanned, but it was something I felt it was time to do.  I received an amazing response of support, encouragement, and empathy from others that have experienced similar circumstances, and I cannot thank you all enough for sharing your own words and stories.  I truly cannot express how much it meant to me.

As you can imagine, last week was an emotional week for me.  It began with the death of Robin Williams and the unhealed wounds associated with suicide and it ended with a walk to raise suicide awareness and hopefully prevent future deaths.  My mind and my heart were heavy most of the week, remembering that fateful day more than two years ago that changed my life.  However, I am happy to say that despite the weight of everything, my week did end on a positive note.

The Out of the Darkness Walk took place yesterday (Sunday) morning.  A group of individuals came together, some of them representing teams honoring someone they lost and others were walking individually for the same cause.  It took place lakeside in a small community, and the response completely blew me away.  We had more than 200 registered walkers that raised more than $13,000 . . . and the money is still coming in!  For a community that has less than 1000 people in the entire county, that is beyond all expectations for the first annual event.  I loved seeing the sea of colors from everyone's personalized t-shirts.  I loved seeing everyone coming together, greeting each other with hugs, even as strangers.  I loved to see everyone band together, and begin openly talking about this very difficult topic, and leave excited for the event to occur again next year.

I may have had an emotional week, but it was completely worth it in the end.  The love that was uniting everyone as the light reflected off the lake was a beautiful scene that I will cherish.  And, I look forward to going back again next year, to continue to spread the love of my father and the life he led, to destroy the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide, and to contribute even more to this cause that is so near and dear to my heart.

I leave you with a picture that I shared on Instagram last night as I lay in bed reflecting on my day, barely able to hold my eyes open from exhaustion.


For more information on Out of the Darkness Walks and where you can find one near you, I encourage you to check out their information through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I promise to return to bookish chatter in next week's maunderings.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fables #19: Snow White by Bill Willingham

I was pleasantly welcomed to my new city by finding the treasure of Snow White at my new local library!  Snow White is Willingham's latest volume of the Fables series, one of my faves in graphic format.

In this volume, we learn the fate of Buffkin and Lily.  Bigby ventures off to find his missing children, and in his absence, Snow White is faced with a formidable opponent that brings the possibility of major changes.

Buffkin and Lily's story provides a fun little adventure, but my heart lies with Snow White and Bigby.  They are some of my favorite characters in Willingham's world, and the reason I wanted to read what happens next to their little family.  As usual, Snow White proves to be an entertaining lead.  I love the title character's spunk, determination, and independence.  I just don't know if I liked the surprises that popped up at the end of this volume.  Let's hope my library gets in the next installment when it is released.  I just gotta know what happens next, especially with the end of the series on the horizon.

Are you all caught up with Fables?  What are your thoughts on the latest installment?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bout of Books 11


It is time for another readathon, this time Bout of Books 11!  Since the last couple of weeks have not seen a lot of reading in my household, it is time to turn that around, and the timing for this one is perfect.  After a very busy weekend coming up, I will only have a couple of items on my calendar and the rest will be devoted to catching up on a little bit of reading and relaxing.  

Here's a quick blurb from the Bout of Books website with more information on this readathon:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I am still a few days away from the start of this event, so I am guessing on what my first read of the week will be.  With that in mind, here is my current list of goals for the week . . . 


Finish Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.  This is my current read, and I really do not think that I will be able to complete it before the readathon begins.


Read The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, the most anticipated book of the year for me!  It is about time that I get to it!


Read Feral by Holly Schindler.  This one is a review book, which is rare around here, so that alone says something.  I've got some fun stuff planned in a couple of weeks for this one, so I'm excited to dive into it as well.


Last, but not least, I am hoping to get a good 10 hours of listening in on my current audiobook, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriela Garcia Marquez .  I am listening to this one for a book club read, and I'm hoping that I am able to renew it before someone else grabs it!

If I can read more, I will ... but I am trying to be realistic here.  To stay up-to-date on my progress throughout the week, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.  I will only be posting updates via social media and will do a full wrap-up in my weekly wrap-up post once the event has completed.

Will you be participating in the readathon?  If so, what are your hopes and goals?  (Please feel free to share your links with me.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Maunder: Breaking My Silence


For today's Monday Maunder, I had every intention of talking about my latest life and reading updates.  I had planned to tell you that our car was declared a total loss from the accident that occurred earlier this month.  Then, I planned to chat about some of my recent reads, including a re-read of the first two books in the All Souls Trilogy.  However, after the news broke about the death of Robin Williams and his suspected suicide, I felt compelled to take my weekly ramblings in a different direction.  I do it not to capitalize on the latest chatter that is circulating around the web, but to do it for my own healing.  I do it because I can speak from first-hand experience on this topic.  And, I do it because I am finally beginning to find my voice to address my own devastating loss.

On May 3, 2012, I received the tragic news that I lost my own father.  I addressed it very briefly on the blog here a couple weeks after the incident, but did not share any details.  On this fateful day, my father decided to take his own life.  He was a man that suffered from depression as long as I can remember, and it often went untreated despite my pleas for him to seek help.  Many had no idea the battles he fought on a daily basis, but I promise that they were there.  To complicate the situation, I was one of the first family members notified about his death and the one that lived the furthest away, halfway across the country.  I had to be the one to tell my mother (my father's wife of almost 35 years) about the news.  I had to be the one to tell my uncle and grandmother (my father's brother and mother).  I had never felt so exhausted and drained at the end of that day, and I never have since.  It is not something that I wish upon anyone.

In my first days and weeks following my father's death, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions.  I swung like a pendulum between sadness, guilt, and even anger.  Today, I still swing from one end of the spectrum to another, though it does not tend to be quite in the extremes as the first weeks after his death.  For the most part, I just miss the man that raised me, for better or for worse.  When my children pass one of their major milestones or speak some invaluable words, I still wish I could share the news with my father.  Even as I write this, tears come to my eyes and I can feel the knot in my chest tighten.  

In those days since my father made that fateful decision, I have had a lot of time to think about what we could have done differently.  I have had a number of experiences where people that know the details just don't know what to say or how to act.  I have had a number of people step away, pass judgment, and ultimately, make this situation even more difficult and complicated than it originally was.  Over the past two years, I have stayed silent about these experiences and my father's death in general.  I have done it because I didn't want the looks or the silence from others.  I have decided that it is time to change.

A few months ago, I decided to break my silence to my family and friends IRL.  I did this because I discovered the Out of the Darkness Walk courtesy of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a community walk to help bring awareness to suicide and its prevention.  And, one of these walks was coming to the mountains I grew up in and the wilderness my father loved in Montana.  I knew as soon as I heard that I needed to create a team in my father's honor.  It was time to speak out and possibly help prevent losing others in this devastating way.  It was time to speak out against the stigma and remind people of the life my father led; not the death that brought his end.  

Depression hurts.  For someone struggling, it can feel like you are drowning in hopelessness and despair.  It can make you feel like you are suffocating, in pain from head to toe, and make you question your worth in every aspect of your life.  However, depression hurts those surrounded by it as well.  You want to help your loved one.  You would do just about anything to help them out of this "funk."  BUT, it's not a funk.  It's often not a stage that will pass.  It's a day-in, day-out exhaustion that often leaves you wanting out, no matter what.  I just want to let people know that there is help.   There is hope.  It can be easier to put on that fake smile than to ask for help.  In the long run though, it's worth it to ask for help.   Because suicide will take away all your future options and beauties, something as simple as a smile that you don't have to fake.

After months of planning, I will be facing my father's death head-on this Sunday at my first Out of the Darkness Walk.  I will be addressing this tragedy alongside many family and friends who have also lost a loved one in this way.  It is going to be hard.  There will likely be lots of tears shed.  I am anxious and nervous and maybe a little scared, but it is something that I have to do.  It is time to break my silence and do what I can to save future lives.

As for the incredible Robin Williams, I send my thoughts and empathy to his family, especially if the reports are true about the cause of his death.  These next days and weeks will not be easy for them.  I encourage them to express their grief, the whole roller coaster ride or pendulum that it may be.  And, I promise that the hurt does not go away.  It will remain, but it will always serve as a reminder of the man that they loved and will always hold in their heart.  

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  You deserve a life worth living.