Saturday, April 21, 2012


This is how I'm spending part of today. I'm terrible at putting too much pressure on myself when I sign up to read for the Readathon, so I figure getting in some cheerleading time is the next best thing. If you're readathonning today, good luck, hopefully I'll be by to cheer you on "in person." Even if you're not planning on reading for 24 hours, I hope you get to spend some quality time with a great book today anyway! =)

What are YOU up to this fine Saturday?

Friday, April 20, 2012

White Horse by Alex Adams

The apocalypse, for Zoe Marshall, starts very mysteriously. One day, when she returns from her job as a janitor at Pope Pharmaceuticals, a jar waits inside her locked apartment. While it looks innocuous enough, the terrible sense of foreboding it inspires drives her to therapy where she discusses the possible opening of the jar as if it were a dream with a therapist who, if things weren't going downhill fast, she could have a relationship with that goes beyond the professional.  Unfortunately, romance is the last thing on Zoe's mind because people are dying, and the ones who aren't are changing in disturbing ways.  Even as the human race dwindles, Zoe discovers a hope inside herself that sends her on a perilous journey across the world. 
White Horse is a promising debut and start to a post-apocalyptic trilogy that has a winning main character fighting against all but impossible odds who is determined to maintain the goodness in her humanity despite its near extinction around her. Zoe's first-person narration features a distinctive voice that is seasoned with unexpected dark humor born of desperation. Despite the constant danger and struggle, Adams' novel doesn't give way to the soul-sucking hopelessness that runs rampant in books like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but it doesn't shy away from the terrifying realities of a world that is coming apart at the seams. Zoe's narration alternates between the past, revealing the slow downward spiral of civilization through sickness and war, and present, as she navigates the post-apocalyptic nightmare in search of the lover she has to believe is still alive. 
White Horse is packed with vivid characters, disturbing visions of a planet in the throes of a slow apocalypse, and twists that readers won't see coming.  Having the "stories" converge as Zoe's past meets up with her present is a perfect plot device for keeping the pages turning.  Best of all, White Horse tempts you to read its sequels without the cruel ploy of a major cliffhanger on the last page. The ending manages to walk the very fine line of being fully satisfying while also keeping readers hungry for more.
If there's any downside to White Horse, it's the occasional overblown description. Sometimes it's a little over the top to say, "Smoke is a voluminous, billowing, high-fashion cloak framing the fire, enhancing its dangerous beauty," when a simple, "the smoke billowed" would more than suffice.  Adams' propensity for dramatic metaphors might take some getting used to, but once the story picks up, they become considerably less glaring and often seems to be called for in a world where nothing is like it was, and everything seems dramatic. Ultimately, White Horse is a page turning thriller of a book that paints a terrifying picture of the future but leaves room for the hopeful possibility that goodness in humanity can still win out. 
Thanks to Atria Books for sending me a copy for review.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for New Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event at The Broke and the Bookish where we make top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  This week's topic is all about offering advice to the brand new book blogger.  I'm coming up on my 5th bloggiversary this year, but I still feel ill-equipped to offer sage advice, but I'm going to try just the same. 
1. Comment! - This is a no-brainer. Every blogger loves a good comment, and to get them you've got to give them. I can't find you if I don't know you're here!
2. Bring something new to the table - Admittedly, I don't think that I'm all that gifted at this, but in this day and age of sooo many book bloggers, you have to find something that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd and makes readers want to keep up with you.  Find a clever format for your book reviews like Unabridged Chick, for example.  If you've got a great sense of humor, write funny reviews.  If you're having trouble with clever content, then it never hurts to be that person who leaves good comments for, like, everyone.  Tap into some aspect of your personality that not everybody has and find a way to publish it. 
3. Do memes - but not too many - A great way to get some new visitors to come your way is to link up to a meme, like, for example the one you see here or Waiting on Wednesday or Mailbox Monday, the options are endless. Whenever I do a meme, I always make an effort to get out and visit at least some of the other participants that are new to me. I know others that do the same, so it's a great way to find new blogs to follow, and get followed.  My advice?  Pick ones that have some substance to them that will generate discussion, and please, please, please, don't do one every day of the week.  It looks like you can't think of anything to write on your own.  In fact, personally, I'd rather you didn't post at all, if all you have to post are memes for every day of the week.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!
4. Don't expect too much too soon - Push through the early days where it sometimes feels like you're talking to yourself. It gets much better. Also, don't fall into the trap that just because you've set up a blog and posted a few reviews that review copies are going to fall into the sky into your lap. If you're starting a blog for that reason/with that hope, you might want to reconsider because it takes quite a bit of time and effort invested before a good review copy will be sent your way. And then you may well long for the old days when you didn't have so much obligation at the same time that you're thinking, "Sweet, I got this book before *anybody*!"
5. Meet 'em in person - Bloggers are smart, fun, interesting, and easy to talk to. If you have an opportunity to meet a few at an event like BEA, don't miss it!
6. Write your own summaries - I know this is a controversial one, but I love it when other bloggers write their own summaries in their book reviews and can't imagine not doing it myself. No offense to those that don't (I read your blogs and enjoy them just the same!), but I just love it when someone goes the extra mile and their thoughts are well-combined with a summary of their own making.
7. Be honest - Don't be scared of a negative review - It doesn't matter whether the book you're reviewing was purchased with your own cash or came free from the author herself in exchange for your review, give your readers your honest response to that book. Don't be needlessly cruel, but also don't hold back your real thoughts about a book even if they weren't all that glowing. Be fair, be balanced, but mostly be honest. If you write a well thought out negative review, I'll respect you all the more for it, because, hey not every book is for every reader and who really loves every book they read? Be real.
8. Be a joiner! - challenges, readalongs, reading projects, Readathon.  You name it, if it interests you, join up or even create something that others might join you in.  It's a great way to get plugged into the community!
9. Twitter - I was so against Twitter until I wasn't. Twitter's a great way to get your posts and other bloggers' posts that you find particularly excellent out into the world. Plus, you can strengthen your relationships with other bloggers by striking up a conversation there bookish or otherwise.
10. Be consistent - I struggle terribly with this one, but it's probably important. I don't think it's necessary to have a post every day, though I admire those who are capable of it, but it's good to have a few a week that your readers can count on.
What words of wisdom would you offer to a blogger just starting out?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Midwife of Hope River

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

William Morrow Paperbacks, August 28, 2012


As a midwife working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience Murphy’s only solace is her gift: the chance to escort mothers through the challanges of childbirth. Just beginning, she takes on the jobs no one else wants: those most in need—and least likely to pay. Patience is willing to do what it takes to fulfill her mentor’s wishes, but starting a midwife practice means gaining trust, and Patience’s secrets are too fragile to let anyone in.

A stirring piece of Americana, The Midwife of Hope River beats with authenticity as Patience faces seemingly insurmountable conditions: disease, poverty, and prejudices threaten at every turn. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Klu Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.

What are you "waiting on" this Wednesday?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Loose Leafing: Speculative Randomness

Greetings from Chez Leafing!  It's Easter Sunday and lovely outside, and by the time this posts I'm sure I'll be on my way to church and then onward to Easter dinner where I will gorge myself with some glee on ham and my grandmother's zillion cheese mac and cheese. This week was, for the most part, lost to work and sleep. I was surely fighting of a nasty sinus cold, so even though I was never sick enough to entertain the thought of calling in sick to work, I was exhausted enough by the end of my shifts to sacrifice all of my unpaid time to sleeping copiously. Needless to say, I was not so sorry when the weekend finally came. I have accomplished next to nothing so far this weekend but for dyeing a few eggs and devouring about half of Alex Adams' forthcoming post-apocalyptic debut, White Horse. It is thrilling and suspenseful and engaging, also creepy, gory and gross and, dare I say, oh so slightly hopeful?  It's proving much more difficult to put down than anything I've read lately.

White Horse is apparently, as are many of its post-apocalyptic and dystopian counterparts, the beginning of a trilogy. I don't think I realized that it was a series starter until after I'd started reading it, and it got me to thinking.  Shouldn't we be just a leeetle concerned that all these books about the slow ending of or, at the very least, the severe messing up of the world that will probably end in the world ending (if followed through to their logical conclusion) are rarely ever stand-alone? I mean, it's nice having good things to look forward to, but wouldn't it be wildly ironic if you didn't get to read the end of the best post-apocalyptic tale since sliced bread (there's a screwy metaphor for you) because, um, like, the world ended before you got to read the sequel to the sequel of the book about the world's slow, screwy end (complete with both love triangles and the occasional bloodbath).  Just thinking about it kind of makes my head hurt just a bit.  Or maybe I just need another nap.  It has been a long week after all.

This might possibly be evidenced by the fact that when I woke up on Thursday morning, I could've sworn there was a mockingjay singing outside my window.  Last I checked, mockingjays only hang out in fictional Panem of Hunger Games fame, so perhaps I'm falling victim to book-inspired delusions now (because I'm sure I don't have quite enough actual problems to deal with).  Nonetheless, when I heard this bird singing, I couldn't help thinking that I'd never heard a bird singing quite like that before and it kind of had the tune of what would strike you more as a human song than a bird song.  So, obviously, it was a mockingjay.  They exist for reals.  Don't forget you heard it here first from Megan at Leafing Through Life not from "some brain addled blogger" like you keep telling your friends.  ;-)

In other news, I've taken up playing DrawSomething on my iPhone which is proving hazardous to my reading.  Why enjoy quality stories when I could spend my time creating abysmal drawings for all my friends that actually make me laugh with their badness?  Wanna see some bad drawings and keep me (and possibly yourself) from becoming the better blogger that lurks inside me (and you!)?  I'm pretty sure I'm toadacious1 on it, so maybe you can look me up?  I drew somebody a very cute Dracula this morning.  Sure, Dracula and cute are probably words you can't usually string together in a sentence, but you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words.

Anywho, I'm off for Easter adventures.  Have a great holiday, all!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

I forget sometimes how very much I love historical fiction.  I wander off into the world of contemporary lit and forget how great the feeling of being immersed in not only a different place but a different time can be.  I love to read about history but much more than that I love to speculate about what it was actually like to live through it.

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown is a picture perfect dark mystery set during the American Civil War.  In the opening pages, our narrator, Jennie, discovers that her cousin and fiance, Will, has joined her several month's dead twin brother, Toby, as a casualty of war.  Will's brother, Quinn, the more gifted in wit and social graces but considerably less affable of Jennie's cousins, has returned, maimed and stricken with nightmares, but alive. 

Jennie is plunged into mourning for her lost love, but, unfortunately, that is not her only problem.  Orphaned Jennie's place in her aunt and uncle's household becomes very fragile indeed once the promise of one day becoming lady of the house dies with Will on the battlefield.  She is relegated to the role of little more than a servant but for the family's trip to a medium and photographer Heinrich Geist, which the family, like many desperate mourning families of that day, was eager to try any spiritualistic means to commune with the dead that were taken from them far too abruptly.  Skeptical Jennie suspects that Geist is running a scam taylor-made to prey upon the families of the dead, but there's no mistaking it when something very unusual happens that has Jennie believing in ghosts and setting out on a journey to solve the mystery of her beloved's death.

Picture the Dead is an absorbing and richly atmospheric piece of young adult historical fiction. Between chapters are excerpts from Jennie's scrapbooks, filled with handwritten letters and pictures that mimic Civil War-era photography.  Each set of scrapbook pages sets the stage for the chapter to come and helps to unlock another small piece of the mystery.  The pictures are a welcome addition to the atmosphere of the book.  Griffin carefully strings the reader along revealing just enough that you feel as if you could solve the mystery but still end up surprised by the outcome.  I loved the mystery, enjoyed the spiritualism angle, and can definitely see Picture the Dead being a great re-read for autumn's R.I.P challenge time.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me a copy for review.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Read in a Day

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where they're always coming up with genius ideas for brain-stimulating and bookish top ten lists.  Today's list is of books that can (and should!) be read in one day.  For a slow reader like me, this is a better than average feat.  Here are a few great books I've read in a day (or close to a day)!

1. Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going - Somebody from Bookcrossing sent me this book, and I just cracked it open to read the first paragraph like I do when I get a new book...except I practically didn't put it down again until the last page was turned!

2. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - I read this on the Sunday or Monday of one Memorial Day weekend when I was so sick I shouldn't have been able to focus on anything.  Sitting on the porch devouring this book in huge gulps almost made me forget how miserable I was feeling.

3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - Say what you will about its quality, the plot to this book is kind of addicting.  I read this at Christmastime and couldn't be bothered to stop to decorate the Christmas tree, which is crazy because normally I can't wait to do Christmas-y things. 

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I was reading this one at Christmastime, too.  In fact we were in the car on the way to some Christmas festival that I'd been dying to go to for years.  I rarely even read in the car anymore because it tends to make me feel miserable after not too long, but I couldn't put it down, really, it was tough to put it down even long enough to go to the Christmas event!

5. Any Harry Potter Book by J.K. Rowling - Can I tell you how many times these books actually made me late to work?  Had I been jobless or less of a stickler for good attendance, I would have read these books in a day each!

6. The Call by Yannick Murphy - This is kind of a surprising appearance for this list.  Usually a "read it in one day" book is all about the kind of plot that makes it so you can't stop turning the pages.  I was so in love with the vet who is the main character in the story and the sort of whimsical, unique way this story was told that I couldn't put it down, and it saved me from a massive reading slump!

7. Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer - I can't believe I almost forgot this one!  I started reading it on a flight home from Florida, got home, and kept reading it.  When I finally finished it, I was so involved with it that I actually felt disoriented when I turned the last page and had to re-enter the real world.  Everything that was happening in the book felt too real!

8. Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty - When I was in college and hardly had time for all the pleasure reading I was missing, I picked this up at the local outlet stores.  It's told all in notes and letters, is hilariously funny, and I easily finished it in a day while disregarding all homework responsibilities.

9. Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger - I don't know that I did read this in a day, but I easily could have.  I used to be so against books trying to be clever written all in correspondence format.  I'm obviously a changed person since this is the second one on this list alone.  This book is the by turns hilarious and heartbreaking story of an immature baseball star and the Dennis the Menace-esque kid that, against all odds, he ends up befriending.  It's priceless!

10. Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor - Okay, maybe this is a fluke, and I read it all in one day because I read it for Readathon, but it's still a great read in one day book, especially in winter when you will totally drink up its delicious portrayal of summer.  Even after I interrupted my Readathon with a Zumbathon which was totally exhausting, this book still managed to hold my attention well into the night!

What's a book that you loved so much you read it in a day?