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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fairy Tale Friday: Our Lady's Child

Welcome to Fairy Tale Friday!

For this month's tale, I read Our Lady's Child, or also known as Mary's Child.  It's a quick read that I believe really has a moral to share with readers.

A young couple with a child is so poor that they are unable to even feed their child.  One day in the forest, the father meets the Virgin Mary who offers to take and provide for the child.  The father agrees, and the child enters heaven and lives a happy, fulfilled life.  The Virgin Mary must take a trip away from the child when she reaches the teenage years, and offers the child the keys to the kingdom for safe keeping.  The child is warned that she can enter 12 of the 13 kingdoms whenever she wants, but she must never enter the final kingdom for it was strictly forbidden and would bring her much unhappiness.  The child fights the urge, but falls to the temptation.  When the Virgin Mary returns, she instantly knows of the child's sin and gives her three opportunities to confess to it.  The child refuses, and is sent to earth to suffer in silence.  During her suffering, she meets a king that rescues her and ultimately falls in love.  They marry and eventually have children.  With each child, the Virgin Mary returns for the child's confession and each time, she refuses bringing more unhappiness along with it.  It is at the final moment, death upon her, that she finally chooses to confess the truth from so long ago.  At the moment of her confession, she is set free and lives happily ever after.

Our Lady's Child is a tale that is new to me and very much entrenched in religion.  I found it an interesting tale because of this religious connection, but also because of the strong moral that it is trying to relay to its readers.  The Moral:  Don't lie.  The truth shall set you free.  I do not claim to be a real religious person, but the moral and the story resonates with me.  I often have the conversation with my children that lies will only bring more harm than good, and not just to the person speaking them . . . just as the story demonstrates.

Our Lady's Child does not fall into the category of one of my favorite fairy tales, but it is definitely one that I recommend reading nonetheless.  It is a quick read, an engaging story, and one that leaves you with a good message, even despite the small amount of violence that typically accompanies Grimms' tales.

Have you previously read Our Lady's Child?  What are your thoughts on the tale?  Do you believe that there is more to the story than what I have already noted?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Maunder: July in Review

Where in the heck did July go?!?  I swear I was just writing June in Review last week, but here we are already into August.  My goodness!  Despite the fact that July seemed to have been non-existent for me, a lot did happen according to my stats.  Here's the rundown . . .

Throughout the chaos of my move, I had a number of fabulous bloggers stop by to share the books that have moved them.  One of these pieces was the TOP POST for the month of July, both in the number of comments as well as the number of hits.  Kristen of We Be Reading shared her list of books, many of which I have read or want to read.  I definitely recommend that you check out her list as well as all the other amazing pieces featured through Moving Books(es).

The TOP PIC this month was actually two.  Both of these pictures tied for the most likes via my Instagram account.  The first is a shot from a day on the largest fresh water lake in the west - Flathead Lake in Western Montana.  We ended up being rained out, but we still had fun while it lasted.

The other picture is from our first visit to our new local farmer's market.  We have only been back one time due to time restraints, but I am excited to go back again.

And, the last little statistic from the month of July was the total BOOKS READ.  This month, I was surprisingly able to finish 9 books.  Not bad at all!
  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  2. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  3. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
  4. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  5. Future Flash by Kita Murdock
  6. The Walking Dead, Book Nine by Robert Kirkman
  7. The Walking Dead, Volume 19 by Robert Kirkman
  8. The Walking Dead, Volume 20 by Robert Kirkman
  9. Fables #19:  Snow White by Bill Willingham

Last, but not least, the BIG news of the last week, though it occurred officially in August . . . 

My husband was in a car accident on Friday morning.  A large pickup truck failed to yield on a left-hand turn and my husband had no time to stop.  Thankfully, he only walked away with minor injuries, but the little car is likely going to be totaled.  We are waiting to hear more details from the insurance companies, but I can guarantee that my week will likely be spent on whatever they may say.  Wish me luck!!

How was your month of July?  Did you have anything exciting happen?  What were your favorite reads from the month?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Literary Link Love: July 2014

This last month started a little slow on the link love.  Limited internet access and a hectic schedule after moving is mostly to blame, but the love has picked up in the last couple of weeks.  Here's what I've got for you this month . . .

Way back in March, NPR asked "What are your 3 books?"  It got me thinking and I'm still not sure if I can narrow it down to just three!  What would your three be?

We have been lied to all these years ... and I'm really okay with that!  I keep hoping that my children will get their letters from Hogwarts or have the opportunity to visit Camp Halfblood.  And, I'm still hoping for the chocolate factory!

Book Riot pondered, "Are online book clubs real book clubs?"  I say YES!  They have been my constant through many a move and mean so much to me!

In honor of today's dual birthday featuring Harry Potter and his creator, I shared some wise words from J.K. Rowling herself.

Have you faced any of these dilemmas?  This last month the first one was definitely on the top of my list ... and, they all trudged with me!

Reality:  That annoying time when you're not reading.

Are you in need of a good laugh?  Try out this Harry Potter vs Twilight dance off and try NOT to laugh!

The Daily May compiled a list of top sci-fi books thanks to some feedback from book lovers and book bloggers.  My recommendation made the list.  Can you guess which one I suggested?

Earlier this week, new covers for the Harry Potter books were revealed.  I'm actually not a huge fan, mainly because of the spoilers given in some of the covers.  What do you think?

And, I leave you with the movie that I am really, really looking forward to seeing this fall.  Have you seen the latest trailer yet?!?

So many great links, so little time.

What great links did I miss this month?  Which of these do you want to chat about with me?!?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Maunder: High Summer Readathon Results

Hello on this fine Monday evening!

Last week, I shared with you that I was participating in the High Summer Readathon, a chance to read all week long.  I had high hopes for the week, digging into the All Souls Trilogy, but I sadly did not progress as I had hoped or planned.   Here's a quick peek at what I actually did get accomplished . . .

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness:  452 pages
World War Z by Max Brooks:  135 minutes

It wasn't a bad week of reading, especially considering that Harkness's novel is even BETTER on the re-read and I am savoring it so much.  I cannot wait to finish it in the next couple of days and dive into Shadow of Night and finally, my highly anticipated book of the year, The Book of Life!

I also was almost able to complete my current audiobook -- an intriguing read with a multitude of narrators, and one that is not like the movie AT ALL!!  I will share more of my thoughts in my upcoming review, but I will just say that it was nothing like I expected after seeing the movie first!

This week, I will be continuing with Harkness's novels and catching up on my reviews ... because I am desperately behind and need to catch up if I plan on having anything posted here this week and beyond!  I also really need to read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green because it is for a book club and I need to have it read in one week!

Did you participate in this latest readathon?  How did you do?  What is on your plans this week for reading and/or blogging?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Runaways: Deluxe Editions, Volume 2 & 3 by Brian K Vaughan

It is time to return to the adventures of The Runaways!  I began this series reading the individual volumes, but quickly switched over to the Deluxe Editions when I saw them sitting on the library shelves, conveniently at the volume that was next in line to be read.  The Deluxe Editions contain multiple volumes in one hardcover edition, so I could devour more at one time.

Deluxe Edition, Volume Two (Paperback Volumes 4-5)

In this edition, the runaways continue their attempts to make amends for their parents' wrong-doing.  We are introduced to a new and potentially very important character ... one that could make or break the team of teen runaways.  In addition, they all journey outside of their home state to help a fellow friend in need of solving a mystery of mistaken identity.

There are so many minor details that create this story, making it just a plain fun read.  My favorite was a few minor cameo appearances of famous Marvel superheroes.

Deluxe Edition, Volume Three (Paperback Volumes 6-7)

The third deluxe edition takes a turn to the dark side with an unexpected return of The Pride, the villainous organization previously run by their evil parents.  With the dark side comes challenged loyalties and lost team members (in a multitude of ways).  The end of the edition is ambiguous and leaves the reader wondering the fate of the remaining teens.

Overall, I think that this series gets better as it progresses, with the reader becoming more invested in the teenage characters, despite some of their normal annoying behaviors.  Upon further research, I have discovered that the end of these volumes serves as the end of Vaughan's work on the series.  From here, Joss Whedon takes the project on and I find myself intrigued to discover his take on the characters created by Vaughan.  If I can get my hands on more, I will definitely be reading!

What are your thoughts regarding this piece of Vaughan's work?  For those who have read on, what are your (spoiler-free) thoughts on the remainder of this series with different creators stepping in?