I have news!

I have moved!

Yes indeed, I finally did what I’ve been so longing to do for so long! I’ve moved to my own domain.  If it’s not too much trouble, please change your links, feed readers, etc, to

http://www.capriciousreader.com

I’m still working out the kinks, moving things over and setting up, but I do hope you will continue to come read me over there.  I’m so excited about it, I’d hate to leave you behind!!!

RIP IV

rip4150

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s that time.  The time for curling up with spooky, creepy, spine-tingling stories.  The time to read the macabre, the blood-thirsty, the spell-binding.  The time for pumpkins on the front porch, for trees to be riots of color, for soups and stews, for my most favorite reading challenge of all challenges!!! It’s time for RIP IV!!!

Of course, I’m joining this challenge.  I’ve done it since the first year.  I haven’t always completed it, but I’ve always had a great time.  Go to Carl’s blog to find out more.

As usual, I have a ton of books to read that fit this category. I’ve decided to do Peril the First and the Short Story challenges.  I have lots more books I could read that fit this category, but I’ve narrowed it down to these twelve. With a whole lot of luck and help from the hubby, I hope I can finish four of them!

rip4first

1. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Have a gorgeous new edition I’ve been dying to read)

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker (will THIS be the year I make it through this book?)

3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (I’ve been wanting to reread this one)

5. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

6. Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott

7. The Ghost Writer by John Harwood

8. The Seance by John Harwood

9. Thirst by Christopher Pike (My first Pike in, like, 15 years! *fangirlscream*

10. Mr. Darcy, Vampire by Amanda Grange

11. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

12. The Sister by Poppy Adams

rip4short

These are the two books I plan on reading short stories from. Keeping this a little more simple :)

1. Nocturnes by John Connolly

2. The Coyote Road ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

 From Heather to all of you 

Dear friends and blog readers,

I completed the most marvelous novel this past week.  Have you heard of it? It is called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  Isn’t that the most delicious name?  It is a story told in letters, or an epistolary novel, which is why I am writing my review in this manner.  My friends, the writing is gorgeous. Would you like a taste?

Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.  How delightful if that were true.

Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes?  You know, the times when the right book falls into your hands at the right time?  I love those moments.  I live for them.  I read for them.

That’s one thing I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight and for no other reason that shear enjoyment.

Isn’t that so true?  It is definitely one thing I love about reading too.

My most favorite quote though?

Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.

Amen sisters.  This novel is full of tasty little morsels like that. It’s a goldmine!  You can read an excerpt here.

There is so much to gush about when it comes to this book, but I promise to try to keep the gushing to a minimum.  The main reason you should read this book is this – you haven’t met the characters.  Each and every character is delightful, will become your new best friends, and you will mourn their loss when you close the book.  Is there any higher recommendation than that? I finished this book on Saturday and I am still mourning the loss of Juliet, Elizabeth, Sidney, Dawsey, Isola (especially Isola!), Amelia, Kit, Eben, Eli…does it say something that I can remember their names when I don’t have the book here, in front on me?  

Not only are the characters delightful, the story is too.  This book takes place directly after the end of World War II.  Thousands of people have been displaced by the war, either for their own protection or thanks to the bombing of the Germans on London.  Juliet is just such a person.  The author of the hugely popular Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War (truly, I am astounded by how much I remember when I don’t even have the book with me!) was forced to move when her flat in London was destroyed.  She has just completed her exhausting book tour when Dawsey Adams, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, writes her a letter.  He acquired Juliet’s copy of a Charles Lamb biography and he writes for her help in finding more books about Lamb.  Juliet is, understandably, intrigued by the society name and writes back.  What follows is a remarkable correspondence that changes Juliet’s life in amazing, life-altering ways.  

authorsTruly, I can’t recommend this book enough.   I don’t know what took me so long to read it, especially since countless book buddies told me I needed to drop everything and read it, but I dug my heels in, disbelieving the hype.  What an idiot I am.  Please don’t make the same mistake.  Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece Annie Barrows have written a remarkable book.  How sad that Mary Ann passed before seeing the joy her book brought; she sounds like a remarkable person and how lucky were are to get this small piece of her.  Trust me, you will leave the book wanting to move to Guernsey to join the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  You may not want to eat the Potato Peel Pie though.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for arranging for me to join the tour. 

And thanks to the publisher for allowing me to giveaway FIVE copies of the book!  Please leave me a comment and I’ll pick winners on August 31. 

USA and Canada only, please.

Please see these other reviews for more about Guernsey.

Tuesday, August 4th:  Book Club Classics
Wednesday, August 5th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Thursday, August 6th:  Maw Books
Monday, August 10th:  A Novel Menagerie
Tuesday, August 11th:  Brimful Curiousities
Wednesday, August 12th:  A Reader’s Journal
Thursday, August 13th:  As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
Monday, August 17th:  Books and Movies
Tuesday, August 18th:  Bending Bookshelf
Thursday, August 20th:  Books on the Brain
Monday, August 24th:  Bookworm’s Dinner
Wednesday, August 26th:  Bookish Ruth
Thursday, August 27th:  A Lifetime of Books
Friday, August 28th:  A Sea of Books
Monday, August 31st:  She is Too Fond of Books

With love,
Heather

About the book:

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published by: Dial Press (May 5, 2009)
Paperback: 304 pages
Category: Fiction – Literary
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385341008
ISBN-13: 978-0385341004

Book clubs can check out the Reader’s Guide HERE.

AND Enter the SWEEPSTAKES by July 31st for a chance to win a trip to Guernsey with five friends from your book club!

 

Guest Post – Annie Barrows

From Annie Barrows to all my blog readers

Annie Barrows
July 8, 2009

The most basic of all writing-class rules is: Write what you know.

To which I say HA!

When I began working on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I was in a hurry. My aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, had written a book, set on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, and sold it to The Dial Press, but just as the editor’s revisions came in, she fell ill, too ill to work on the book. When Mary Ann asked me to undertake the rewriting of her novel, I immediately agreed, because I wanted to help my aunt, but secretly, I fussed about adopting her voice and characters. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The voice, the characters, the story itself came easily. It was the island that baffled me. I was writing a novel set in a place I had never been and knew next to nothing about. Thanks to Mary Ann, the history of the Channel Islands’ Occupation by the Germans during the Second World War was more familiar to me than it probably is to most people, but the island itself was a mystery that I needed to solve—and fast. The official manuscript deadline was, bloodcurdlingly, “as soon as possible.”

So, following lifelong tradition, I turned to books and read up on Guernsey: climate, topography, population, history, language, folklore, cuisine, customs, artistic traditions, local archaeology, religion, important figures, government, relations with France and England. Okay, I thought. Got it. But I didn’t have it, not in the way I needed. In the midst of writing, I realized that the information I really needed wasn’t easily found in a book. I needed to know how far from the edge of a Guernsey cliff an apple tree was likely to grow, which beaches were accessible by trail so one of my characters could fetch saltwater when he was supposed to, if the distance between the Calais Road and the beach at La Courbière was too great for a five-year-old to walk. Most maps were uselessly vague, but I managed to find a 1932 surveyor’s map of the island at my local university, and together with a fishing map (Guernsey is a fishing destination), I pieced the answers together. I also had persnickety botanical questions, followed by even more persnickety architectural questions. By hounding the very nice people at the Guernsey Museum and the Guernsey Botanical Trust, I managed to secure the correct information.

But there was a very large missing piece, and that was the sense of what it felt like to be in Guernsey. This is close to but not precisely the same as what it looks like. The difference is this: I could read that the bushes and shrubs grew low to the cliffs and that wild morning-glory grew over them, but what’s missing from that is the sense of the relation between the two, the sense of “how it looks” that is inevitably personal and subjective. Pathetically, I logged on to the Guernsey Weather cam, hoping for scenery. It showed me the same view of the foggy harbor for days on end, which at least allowed me to understand the nature of the island’s sky. For the rest, I had to make it up.

Not surprisingly, I was terribly nervous when I finally got to visit Guernsey, long after I had turned in the manuscript, long after it was too late for me to correct errors. The ferry churned across the Channel and so did my stomach. When we arrived at St. Peter Port harbor, the first thing I did was look up to the topmost point of the city—one of the most difficult things to find out is what you can see from any given point—and heave a sigh of relief. The view from the harbor was exactly what I had hoped—and said—it was. Lucky.

The next morning, I got up early to walk to the edge of the cliffs along a twisting road that led through the very neighborhood where much of the novel is laid. I saw, now, how the road was bordered sharply by stone walls, then more lackadaisically by hedges, a fence here, and a low wall next to it. I saw blackberry bushes, and—surprise!—eucalyptus trees—and vines crawling triumphantly over everything in sight, and a field of nothing much except rabbits. Rabbits! I had never imagined rabbits. When I came to the edge of the island, the cliffs were sheared off, black and ragged, and topped with indiscriminate mixture of wildflowers, sea grasses, and cement gun emplacements left over from the war. I stood on a little point thrusting out over the Channel, took an enormous whiff of salt air and damp grass, and finally understood what Guernsey looked like.

I suppose the moral of the story is that there’s no substitute for the reality of a place, which means that the charm of travel will never cease as long as the earth endures. The other moral of the story, for me in any case, is that being in Guernsey was a lot more fun than sitting in my office doing research.

I would like to thank Annie Barrows for gracing my blog with her presence today! Come back tomorrow for my review of The Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Forgotten Friday – Fables: Volume 9 – Sons of Empire

 

Title: Fables: Volume 9 – Sons of Empire
Written by Bill Willingham, James Jean, Mike Allred, Joelle Jones
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Vertigo (June 6, 2007)
Rating: 4/5
Bought from Amazon

It will be particularly difficult to review this book, as it is 1) Volume 9 of a series and 2) quite pivotal as well.  If you don’t know anything about the Fables graphic novels, the gist of it is that the Fables of old are real and they live in New York.  They have been forced into exile by the evil, blood-thirsty Adversary who has conquered their lands and forced them to flee into ours.  Fables like Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Rose Red, and Pinocchio as well as many, many, even obscure ones are among the refuges.

Through the previous volumes, we’ve come to know many of the Fables, popular and obscure, better through their memories, their actions, their alliances and their battles.  Now, the time approaches when the Fables will take up arms against the Adversary.  Also in this volume, we see Bigby and Snow, with their family; make the journey to the north to visit with Bigby’s father, the North Wind.

I can’t tell you how much I adore the Fables graphic novels.  Andi told me about them ages, upon AGES ago, and it was the first graphic novel I read.  I love fairy tales, folk tales, oral histories and the like, so these are right up my alley.  The adventure, the romance, the battles, revenge, retaliations, wars, peace, magic, mystery and more are not to be missed.  The art is gorgeous too.  Really, if you are thinking about trying a graphic novel; start with the Fables.

Also by Bill Willingham:

Oh, my gosh, are you kidding?  Too many to mention!  Just look at the Fables here.

Also reviewed by:

The Written World | Sophisticated Dorkiness | Fyrefly’s Book Blog |

Let’s Celebrate!

giveaway

I had a great day yesterday.  I was nominated for Best General Blog!  Eeek!   To whom ever nominated me, THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU!  You really made my day.

I had such a great day yesterday, I am loving my new blog look, and life was so generally GOOD, that I feel like giving away something.  And so, I shall!  I am going to give away a couple of books.   Please, pick one!  I’m not sure how many winners I will have, but I know I’m going to pick several!  I like to keep it loose around here :D So, tell me which of the following books you would like to read.  USA and Canada only please.  Sorry guys!

  • The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand – Hardback, finished copy
  • The Story Sisters  by Alice Hoffman – ARC
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – Paperback, finished copy
  • The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole by Stephanie Doyon – ARC
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore – ARC
  • The Luxe by Anna Godbersen – Hardback, has very small tear in spine of cover (it’s not horrible, very tiny)

To enter, leave your name and make SURE I have your email and tell me which of the following books you would like to have.  I’ll give you an extra entry, if you tweet about it and leave me another comment stating that you did so.  I’ll pick a winner on….August 28th.  Thanks and good luck!

Britten and Brülightly

Title: Britten and Brülightly
Written and illustrated by: Hannah Berry
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, March 2009
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 112
Rated: 4/5
Acquired from the library

I picked this up on a whim at the library for a quick weekend read.  The illustrations looked gorgeous and dark and spooky.  I just had to give it a try.

At the heart of this gorgeously drawn graphic-novel is private eye Fernández Britten, a hardened and disillusioned man who talks to his tea bag.  Yes, you read that right, HIS TEA BAG.  He is THAT. LONELY.  Britten has been beaten down by his life of exposing jealous lovers, destroying relationships and exposing the ugly truths his clients pay him to unearth.  Britten clings to only one hope, that someday he will reveal a truth that will do some good in someone’s life.

Then Britten and Brülightly take on the mysterious death of Berni Kudos.  The official verdict was suicide, but Berni’s fiancée thinks differently.  As Britten uncovers the many layers of lies covering the truth, the more dangerous things become for him.  Blackmail.  Revenge.  Murder.  It’s all there, in stunning black and white.  And Britten discovers that doing the right thing, may mean more than just telling the truth.

Did I mention that the illustrations in this book are stunning?  Seriously, they are STUNNING people.  It’s very film noir-ish, in my opinion.  It felt like watching an old, black and white film, with maybe James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart.  And don’t let the fact that the main character talks to a tea bag.  It works in the context of the story.  It didn’t feel weird at all.  It just made me feel even sadder for what was an obviously lonely and thoughtful man.  It was great fun and I think if you like graphic novels, or heck, film noir, you would enjoy this wonderful graphic novel.

Also reviewed by:

Nobody! :(