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  • Memoirs and Non Fiction
  • Classics and Mashups

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Response: Wall St. Journal Bookshelf~YA Fiction "Darkness Too Visible"

On June 4, 2011, The Wall Street Journal~Bookshelf section published an article by Meghan Cox Gurdon entitled:

"Darkness Too Visible: Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity.  Why is this considered a good idea?"

I beg you to read the article by accessing the link provided here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357622592697038.html

The following is my response to her article:

Dear Meghan,

How very brave you were to write this article and submit it, knowing full-well you would be standing against a storm of abuse to come. Just let me say that there are those of us who understand the real meaning of your words and the concern you are trying to express. We want kids to know they aren't alone in dealing with bullying and other horrors of growing up, and we want them to understand that there is hope.

If we take a moment to be honest with ourselves, we all strive for the highest good in ourselves and for our lives, and we'd like to have our children experience the same; that is, to overcome the ugliness of life...like the young girl mentioned above in her note about overcoming bulimia. We want to throw off the need to cut, to hurt, to strike out, to commit suicide.

Don't we want to have hope and peace, to be clean in mind and spirit, and have better things in our lives? Don't we want our parents to love and cherish us? And, don't even children want to know that no matter how dark and awful their lives are, how afraid and lonely they feel, that there are examples of kids who have overcome, who have survived to create better lives for themselves?

Much of that hope can come through reading YA fiction..some of it seemingly dark, but with an outcome for resolving the issues. I think there's a place for YA fiction that's not "milk toast," absolutely.

I think what recent publishers of YA fiction have done in some cases, is bring a shock-value category for YAs, to those who like to court the darkness. These books don't really speak to the issues that they may face in the real world but they are books that seek to actually distort,warp, and to plant the dark images that I think you, Meghan, intended to highlight, and they don't help kids in crisis. Adults who support and pander to this type of book don't help them, either. In fact, studies like Columbine show that these type of books do quite the opposite.

Those are books that pass the point of realism, go into the physically grotesque, demonology, angelic in-dwellings, perversions of all sorts, sexual mutilation and explicity that Adult Fiction would table as X-rated. Let's be honest! Those who choose to publish such books for the YA audience, it seems to me, are stepping over some serious boundaries of morality and social values.

And there is another blooming category: A very recent book that is getting some high regard, having to do with the soft peddling of sibling incest is an example of what I think is morally corrupt in YA fiction. No matter how well a writer can tell a story. No matter how beautiful the words and the message, and no matter how gorgeous the wrapping--incest is still incest and it's still harmful to absolutely everyone involved and everyone who comes into its circle of influence.

A book for young adult readers that seeks to convince them that incest is even a point for consideration under a stressful, even excruciating family situation is just horrific at best. A book that draws an incestuous relationship as a loving and beautiful one to be struggled over is truly psychologically off-kilter. And a publisher who would send that book out to older children/young adults for reading must want to question themselves....must want to second guess themselves. Surely, they must.

Why do we so arrogantly look down our noses at the Penn State coaches?

Why do we throw stones at unfaithful Presidential candidates?

Why are some publishers of our country not taking moral responsibility for what they offer as books for young adults/teenagers?

How often do they have to serve up a dish of dung with whipped cream and a cherry on top packaged in silk wrappings before we get the message that its DUNG???

Why are we afraid to stand up for what's right for our nation's children??

Maybe we need to reread "The Emperor's New Clothes."

*Note: In addition to my comment above, and for my post here, I just want to say that we need not read every book in its entirety to understand that the material is unsuitable. Most of us can read a jacket cover or a summary or review of a book and know quite a bit about a novel without having read it through. And, it doesn't take a genius to figure out when there's something despicable in the way, you need to step over it instead of in it.


Monday, November 28, 2011

"Sleeping with Patty Hearst" by Mary Lambeth Moore~Southern Gothic in 2011

Published by:  Tigress Publishing
Pages:  304
Genre:  Fiction, General

Synopsis :

As America debates its most famous kidnapping case of the 1970s, a divided family in North Carolina copes with its own missing person.  Lily Stokes searches for her half sister with help from her mother's boyfriend, a freewheeling man who likes Lily a little too much.  While keeping secrets at home and then escaping into an odd marriage, Lily takes an imaginative look at her mother's notorious past and her sister's surprising future.  "Sleeping with Patty Hearst" is a gripping coming-of-age story with edge and heart.

Mary Lambeth Moore is a North Carolina writer and editor who has lived in Washington, D.C., Boston and in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. Her work has been published under the names of executives, CEOs, civil rights leaders and national commentators. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She grew up and lives in NC. Sleeping with Patty Hearst is her first novel.

The Dame Interviews:

Mary, I have to say this is one of the most pleasurable interviews I've been priviledged to do. I simply adored your book and will be reviewing it below, but first I have lots of questions.  Thanks for indulging me!

When did you decide you wanted to be an author and when did you know you were one?

I wrote for a number of years—virtually every day—before I was comfortable calling myself a writer. Because I love books so much, the claim seemed audacious, like calling myself a princess or a movie star. But the urge to write came to me very early.  When I was in the third grade, I remember finding a slim red volume in the library titled “Someday You Will Be a Writer.”  It was like I had found a genie who knew my wish before I did. Until I read that little children’s essay, I don’t think I knew it was possible for an ordinary person to create something as amazing as a book. Of course now I know that writing is mostly hard work—even writing terrible prose is difficult. When the words come out exactly right (on the very rare day), it’s magic. I don’t know how else to describe it.

In Sleeping with Patty Hearst, it seems to me that all of your main characters are hiding something.

Yes! Each of the main characters has a secret lover, but most of them are secretly longing for someone else.  So the book is based on layers of secrets. One of the key themes is how hard it can be to talk honestly to the people closest to you. This is a story with multiple love stories—not only between the men and women, but also between mother and daughters and sisters. Throughout the entire book, my main character, Lily, is looking back, trying to come to terms with all she didn’t know about her mother and her half sister.

I remember when the whole world was shocked when the heiress Patricia Hearst announced she was joining her kidnappers.  How does the Patty Hearst case relate to your book?

In the book, my characters are fascinated by Patty Hearst, as I was when I was growing up.  During the Patty Hearst trial, there was intense debate about whether Patty was forced to commit crimes or acting on her own free will. When you’re sleeping with Patty Hearst, are you sleeping with a victim or a terrorist? You could have a similar debate about Lily and also her husband, Joseph. Both Lily and Joseph lack a strong sense of themselves, so they do the bidding of others. But Lily changes over time and, by the end, begins to grow into the strong woman she can become.

You’re happily married, a working mom, and a Sunday school teacher.  Was it difficult to write a book that focuses so much on illicit sex?

Henry Miller, the great novelist, once said something like, “The best work writers do, always, is when they’re on the verge of embarrassing themselves.”  While I was writing the book, I couldn’t allow myself to think of anyone else’s reaction—I just tried to be true to my characters. Now that the book is published, sometimes I feel awkward with readers who know me as a mom or as a colleague.  But in some ways this book is about sex—the connections and boundaries we have with other people—so there was no getting around it.

You grew up in a small North Carolina town during the 1970s.  How much of this is memoir?

I’m happy to say that all of the events in the book came from my head, but not directly from memory. Of course the book reflects much of what I knew at that time, and my fictitious town Carlington is very much like my hometown.  In the South, especially, the cultural changes of the 1960s were just beginning to seep into small towns during the ‘70s.  In the book, you can see the conflict playing out as some characters want to hold on to traditions and others are ready for change.

How long did you work on this book?

It's really impossible for me to say, exactly, but a long time. This book began as a short story that I wrote in the late 1980s. During that time and through the '90s, I was working on other stories, and also working at various jobs and doing things like getting married and having a child ... but I kept coming back to these characters.

What advice would you give new authors? 

Be fearless and take risks. To write a novel or to do any kind of creative work, you have to be fearless.  Not only about sex, but about everything – because a good writer is trying to get down to the bone, to things that really matter.  When a scene seemed too easy or comfortable for me, I knew I was probably missing the mark and needed to go deeper.

Thank you for your insightful interview, Mary.  I just want to share this one more thing with my readers: 

Right now when you buy a copy of Sleeping with Patty Hearst, you get 20% off AND a chance to win $125 to spend at your favorite independent bookstore!  See details at www.sleepingwithpattyhearst.com.

Also, with my readers' indulgence, I want to let you know that this book was a such a nostalgic read for me in a couple of ways; first, I'm a NC native from a small town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and secondly, because I, too, was a teenager/young adult during the Patty Hearst trials.

The beauty, however, of Sleeping with Patty Hearst  doesn't really lie in its locale or the historical setting, necessarily, but in the characters themselves.  It's so rare to meet simple characters that are hiding the complexities of real life...like we all are.  If you search your life, and you think of the lives of those you know most intimately, you'll know exactly the type of people you'll meet in the characters that reside in Mary Lambeth Moore's book.  Lily is like each of us who wonders who her mother really is.

Lily, although clearly the main character, is like each of those who inhabit this exceptional novel; a seeker of truth, a person who wants to lift the veils that keep love at arm's length so she can touch the "real" in those she loves.  As Lily and Connie ponder the Patty Hearst case and Patty's motivations, they look at their own captivity, their captors and their confusions about what love truly is.

I loved everything about this book.  Ms Moore is such an exceptional storyteller, but more than that, she has a way of couching earth-shattering events in the cotton of quiet madness; it takes us along until we feel the gut-level anxiety of it, and wonder when the roof's going to cave in!  After the dust settles, all the infinite pieces of emotion and life drift down on our heads and it's startling!   The anxiety and longing of some of her characters is palpable.

What a novel this one is.  And, I'm so glad it came into my hands.  I so urge you to get a copy.  I always try to give you an example of another author when I make a recommendation so you'll understand the similarity, not to take away from either author's individuality...  But, Mary Lambeth Moore writes in the vein of Southern storytellers.  She writes like a Carson McCullers.  She understands the mind of an adolescent and the difficulties of growing up and perhaps putting aside old dreams at any age.

5 stars for finding and keeping true love


Tribute Books Publishing: Evolving into YA Market~ An Interview with Owner, Nicole Langan

Nicole Langan
Tribute Books Publishing

An Introduction to Tribute Books:

Tribute Books celebrates its 7th year in 2011 as an independent publisher for independent writers.

It is a company proud to provide e-publication and book promotion for writers with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Nicole Langan says, "Publishing a book takes guts. An author needs to possess the courage to share his or her voice with the world. It is an investment of time, money and energy to transform a rough manuscript into a polished work. I applaud risk takers and strive to provide them with an outlet for their creations."

The Dame's Interview :

Hi, Nicole,

Thank you for granting me this interview.  I'm wondering if you'd share with us some of the reasons you're publishing for independent authors, and what your stragedy is for the future with Tribute.

1)  Tribute will be virtually a new publishing house on the horizon, why did you decide to focus on YA books in particular?

Tribute Books began in 2004 and we've published over 30 titles since that time. Some of our books have gone on to win awards such as the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year and the Mom's Choice Award while others were endorsed by PBS and The Thoreau Society. We've covered a wide range of genres from children's picture books to history to sports.

In 2012, we'll embark on a new transition becoming solely an e-publisher of young adult titles. This change is based on three factors:

On a business level, the young adult genre sells especially if it is well written and has a paranormal romance theme.

On a marketing level, the devotion of the young adult fan base is unparalleled.

On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy a good young adult novel and review many on my blog at http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com. I'm a believer in doing what you love and working with like-minded people, when it's at all possible.

2)  Are there any plans for some professional revamping of your website to capture readers and new authors?  That would be fun!  What do you envision?

At this time, I don't foresee a complete overhaul of the overall look of http://www.tribute-books.com but it will be updated in the near future outlining our new strategy.  Most likely, we will have a separate author page and online storefront for our young adult ebook division.

3)  What are your criteria for the writers you'll be choosing?

Our preference is for damn good writing, the particular YA topic is secondary in importance. However, books written with a series in mind or those that delve into the paranormal will have a slight edge.
Manuscripts that have already been professionally edited will receive greater consideration. Our preference is to work with authors who have already been published through a royalty-paying press and who know the ins and outs of book promotion. An established social media platform is a must, and we will not consider writers who do not have a well-followed blog, Facebook page or Twitter account.

Interested authors can submit their manuscripts via email to info@tribute-books.com. There will be no charge for the authors we select to work with, and they will receive 50% of the net profits of their ebook sales in quarterly royalty payments. We're looking for Microsoft Word documents with a maximum of 350 pages of text with no photos, charts, illustrations, graphs, etc.

4)  What do you expect will be the ratio of actual YA books to books about young adults from adult professionals; i. e., those written with young adults in mind for young adults, versus those written for adult professionals or parents with young adults in mind?

My guess would be that the majority of our submissions will come from adult writers in the YA genre. Will we consider submissions from teenagers? If teens can demonstrate their commitment to marketing their material and have an established fan base, we would certainly take a look at what they have to offer.

5)  What was your inspiration in choosing this new direction for Tribute, Nicole?

Over the course of 2011, we've watched our ebook sales outpace our print sales by 2 to 1 due to the explosion in popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad. The under $5 price point of most of our e-titles and the ease of purchase and delivery surely facilitated this rapid change. I can only see this trend increasing in momentum as the price of e-readers continues to lower and more and more people start using this new technology. The industry shift is similar to what occurred in terms of music buying habits when iTunes downloads became more popular that CD purchases. There will always be a market for print books, but I think the majority of book sales will soon be electronic. People want the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to obtain their reading material.

My hope is that we are able to recruit some talented writers of well-written, well-crafted stories in order to develop an eager fan base for the titles we publish. We want readers to be excited about the ebooks we produce. Young adult authors have the most devoted fan followings out there, and we'd like to introduce that audience to a whole new host of talent.

We'd love to have anyone who loves young adult literature to join us for the ride.

Thank you, Nicole!  I appreciate your taking the time to share your new direction with Tribute Books.  I know my readers appreciate quality in YA fiction, which I'm certain you are dedicated to bringing to their attention.
We try to keep an active online presence with our web site (
http://www.tribute-books.com/), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Archbald-PA/Tribute-Books/171628704176), Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/TributeBooks)  and blog (http://tributebooks.blogspot.com/).

We will all look forward to seeing what comes from Tribute in 2012.  I'm looking forward to reviewing for your new authors!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanks to Publishers, Authors & Followers

Because it's Thanksgiving, but actually because it gives me a good excuse to let them know, I'd like to extend my gratitude to the following very important people in my life.   Without them, I couldn't publish my blog.

I'm so thankful to:

Publicity Contacts with~

Hachette Publishing Group; Mulholland Books, Orbit, Grand Central, Little, Brown and Co., LBYR  (Miriam, Brad, Anna, Brianne, Ellen and others)  My best and brightest friends, I'll never forget your continuing support of me.

St. Martin's Press; Bridget and Hector, wonderful at what you do and spot on where I'm concerned.  Thank you for everything.

Bloomsbury;  Katy, you're awesome!  :]

Poisoned Pen ;  Maryglenn, the best, love always!

Other Press ; Thank you for your generosity and kindness. You're just amazing.

Overlook Press;  Thank you for the opportunities. I so appreciate you.

Random House; Loved the choices available, and I'm thankful to review for your great authors.

Harper Collins;  Great books this year!  It is always an honor to be among your reviewers.

Simon & Schuster;  Thank you for excellence in publishing.

Egmont USA ;  New publisher for me this year and new authors I really loved...

Dear Authors, too many to name here:

You have made my days rich in so many ways. You've taken me to worlds and places, introduced me to characters and situations, to hearts and hearths, fantacies and frights that I would never have known.  You've made me imagine, and you've shocked me.

You've made me laugh and cry.  You've given me hope and taught me life lessons.  You've read me the riot act, let me down easy, lifted my spirits when I've needed it, caused me to remember and to celebrate the moments of my life.  You've made me angry.  You've made me think.  You've made me question my ways, my prejudices, my world views and my ways of living. 

You've shared your hearts with me.  You've given of your life's blood and your creative preciousness.  You've held your gift out for those of us who may be unworthy to see it and to, even, have the chance to pick it apart. In other words, you've been vulnerable to me and to others who've seen your spirit and soul.  Thank you for being so brave and so honest. Thank you for your graciousness and tolerance when I haven't understood you and have given a less than glowing response.

Thank you for those precious moments, for entrusting  your work to me, for commenting so graciously to my humble reviews.  Thank you that you write.  Thank you that you make your work available.  And, that you work so hard to make sure it gets into my hands. 

Your books are cherished, and I'm very honored that you allowed me to share in them this past year.  Thank you that you allow me to be a part of making sure they get into the hands of readers.

Tour Companies that help promote authors' books :

Thank you for the opportunities you gave me to be a part of this means to promote authors and their books; particularly for those who are self-publishing. 

I found many wonderful examples of excellent authors this way.  I'm a supporter of those brave authors who chose to self-publish, often given no other means to get their books out to readers, otherwise.

And, I found many known authors who used this venue to get more attention to their books.  They deserved more recognition than they were getting, as well.

Thanks for allowing me to be in your families:

Pump Up the Books   Dorothy Thompson

Nurture Your Books   Bobbie

The Book Snob  Bels

Review the Book

TLC  Trish and Lisa

To My Followers and Viewers :

Some of you have chosen to make yourselves known, and many have not.  Either way, I want you to know how very much I appreciate your taking your very precious moments to stop by to read my reviews of books. 

Your visits mean so much to the authors.  They mean so much to those publishers who work to get the special words; the books of these fine authors out to us.  And, they mean the world to me as a conduit, as well.

Thank you with all my heart to friends, followers and, especially the authors who enriched my life this year.

God bless you each one!

5 perfectly brilliant stars

Deborah/TheBookish Dame

YA Dystopian: "Divergent" by Veronica Roth Recommended!

Published by:  Katherine Tegan Books/Harper Collins Publishers
Pages:  487
Genre:  YA Fiction, Dystopian

The Dame's Review :

"Divergent" is arguably one of the YA novels I was most curious about this past year.  I kept holding off reading it like a gift I wanted to wait to unwrap until a special time; then I realized the year was coming to an end!  I'm glad I picked it up last weekend and read it...devoured it, is more like it.

In summary, the story centers around a teen aged protagonist, Beatrice, who is of the important age when she can choose which "faction" or lifestyle she will live and work within for the rest of her life.  Of these factions, there are these:  Abnegation, which values selflessness; Candor, which values frankness/honesty; Erudite, which values knowledge; Amity, which is a faction concerned with working for peace and compatibility; the "factionless" who have not qualified for any factions so are poor and perform the most menial of jobs, and Dauntless, the brave and bold--the fierce fighters. 

Beatrice was born into an Abnegation family but never felt at home within the confines of that restrictive environment, and looks forward to her time of reassignment, albeit with a heavy heart with concerns about hurting her parents and brother.

When the test administrators come to her school and give her a "stimulation" inoculation to determine her most appropriate faction placement, Beatrice is pulled aside and told she is something called "Divergent" ~ one who could fit in to several factions ~ and something which is never to be shared with anyone at anytime, ever.  It is a dangerous thing to be. She is told that to protect her, her test will be made unclear to those it's reported to, and that she should simply choose a faction she feels most inclined to...Abnegation and Daunting, and Erudite being where she scores.

What follows is the story about Beatrice's choice to join the Daunting faction, her initiation within that faction, her love interest, and her wisdom gained that will conclude with a surprise that will bring all the factions into play.

As a dystopian novel, I felt that "Divergent" was fairly successful. Its creation of a futuristic society that had been partitioned into different "factions" to carry on a world which had an apparent catastrophic ending, was believable.  Although the setting played at being in a destroyed, futurist Chicago, we have only a few hints to discern that; and, we are not given any knowledge as to what caused the destruction of the "world" or the United States.  I felt at a loss for that information.

The initiation section of the book was excellent in concept, but it seemed to take up too much of the story content, in my opinion.  It could have been compressed to lend as much impact; possibly more impact. It began to belabor the story, but was pulled out just in time to move on to a conclusion, thankfully.  The conclusion, however, seemed rushed in contrast.  Possibly the author was cut short by editors, but the ending of her book failed to tie things together well enough to answer questions that seemed pertinent to this particular story.  It seemed abrupt, to me.

There is no doubt that Veronica Roth can write a story that is intriguing and full-bodied.  She writes one with interest and good character building. I felt as if her characters were realistic and captivating, personal and probable within her world-setting.  They engender a caring response, and an understandable connectedness to each other within the novel.  I think these are her strong points, and very immediate ones, ultimately making "Divergent" a good book to read. Nothing better than an author who can create great characters we can attach ourselves to!

I would recommend this book to YA readers, and to many adult readers who enjoy dystopian novels. With the small exceptions I've mentioned that do not in any way take from her overall presentation of a worthy novel, this is quite the entertaining book!

While the story is left unresolved, I expect a second book to conclude it, making this a series. Personally, I'll be looking forward to reading it.

4 stars and a choice of Erudite for my faction...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway! Come See What's Up for Thanksgiving! Quickly!

Sponsored by:  I'm a Reader Not a Writer   and  All-Consuming Books

This is a "thank you" to all of you who have visited my blog over the past year.  I appreciate each of you and want to offer this Thanksgiving Giveaway to you.

I'm giving the following:
                                              After the turkey and trimmings~

A dystopian novel

Ghostly and gothic!

To enter simply:    Follow me on GFC on my sidebar  and then leave a comment with your email address so I can notify you if you win!

You can add your link, too!
<script src="http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=117560" type="text/javascript" ></script>

Thank you so much for coming by this year and visiting me...following me and leaving comments. It's so appreciated.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Proof of Heaven" by Mary Curran Hackett ~ Heartfelt and Beautiful Story

Published by:  HarperCollins Publishers/William Morrow
Pages:  291
Genre: Adult, General Fiction, Family Dynamics


A mother’s faith, a child’s courage, a doctor’s dedication—a moving and thought-provoking tale of hope, love, and family.
He might be young, but Colm already recognizes the truth: that he’s sick and not getting better. His mother, Cathleen, fiercely believes her faith will protect her ailing son, but Colm is not so sure. With a wisdom far beyond his years, Colm has come to terms with his probable fate, but he does have one special wish. He wants to meet his father who abandoned his beloved mother before Colm was born.
But the quest to find the dying boy’s missing parent soon becomes a powerful journey of emotional discovery—a test of belief and an anxious search for proof of heaven.
A magnificent debut novel, Mary Curran Hackett’s Proof of Heaven is a beautiful and unforgettable exploration of the power of love and the monumental questions of life, death, and the afterlife.

The Dame's Review:

Mary Curran Hackett has written a novel that is utterly exceptional. And, it is relentlessly heart-wrenching in beauty.  Through her ability to convey the troubles of womens' hearts, we understand how profoundly blessed and, yet, somehow bereft we've been not to have known the mind of a child with recurrent dying episodes. If you are a mother who has experienced this heart-crushing thing, I can only shake my head and cry for you.

This story is profound in the content, and it's moving in the story-telling.  I loved the book and urge you to take the time to travel the road discovering eloquent, but sometimes simple answers to the deepest questions and wounds of our hearts.  Is there proof of heaven?

Colm Magee, like many children who live with life-threatening illnesses, has the mind and emotions far beyond his age.  His mother, Cathleen, bears the larger burdens of feeling her child's pain/illness, helping him carry the unknown rejection of his abandoning father, and the consistent questions Colm has about "proof" of heaven. If you're a mother, you know exactly what bearing your child's pain means, so Ms Hackett digs deep in the telling...

It's through their emotions that "Proof of Heaven" takes us along with these beautiful characters: learning how to cope (or trying to) with Colm's near death experiences and the aftermaths, learning to bridge love, losses and friendships with doctors, learning to "come home" to rejecting husband and lost family, and healing the hurts that come with all of that; then, ultimately having Colm's knowledge that only comes at the end of life.

I was very moved, yet stricken with the magnitude of Ms Hackett's ability to express the feelings of her characters that I had to sit back and catch my breath.  I cried and I was introspective. It was a wonder to me that this is her first book.

This book is what I'm talking about when I ask, "Where are some authors taking us these days in their writing?"  Here was where I found some goodness and truth about living and dying. Here is where you'll find some honesty and reality about life and souls reaching out for each other.

I highly recommend this unforgettable novel to you.  It's the other side of "Room"...it's the answer that some children and parents may have questions about.  And, it's a story that will inspire you to think about the proof of heaven.

At the end of her book, Mary Curran Hackett has a section kindly giving more answers with special dedications for her book, why she wrote it, an interview and a book group guide.  I rarely take the time to go over these sections in other books, frankly.  In this book...I took the time.  You should, too.

Have any of you read a similar book lately??

5 stars wrapped in love


I'm grateful to have been able to bring you this review by permission of: 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The 2012 TBR Challenge~ More Information

For those of you who'd like to follow along with this Challenge, please click on the links below.  I failed to mention that you can link up~there are giveaways~and you'll find some interesting books listed that you haven't heard of (for your new "I haven't read these" pile).  So much fun!

Good luck to everyone!

Evie from Bookish – http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com/ @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read – http://www.nicoleabouttown.com// @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home – http://www.handsandhome.ca// @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life – http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com// @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading – http://whatchyareading.net/ @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read – http://missiontoread.com// @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea -http://booksbiscuitsandtea.blogspot.com// @alouetteuette
Christa from Hooked On Books – http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com/ @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction – http://fansoffiction.blogspot.com// @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision – http://mermaidvision.wordpress.com/ @mermaidvisions

You Said You'd Read Me~ So You Lied~ TBR 2012 Reading Challenge

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You'll have to just follow that horrible linkything above because God knows I don't know how else to get it to you in a more presentable way.  Perhaps one of my good friends can tell me how in the comments below?

At any rate, if you do follow the link you'll find that this is a challenge other devout bloggers and I have imposed upon ourselves because of the wonderful, worthwhile and gorgeous books we have that we weren't able to get read this year....but wanted desperately to read.  We were off reading and writing reviews and didn't  have enough time to get these books listed read, too.

Like fine china and silver sitting on the shelves of my china cabinet and side board, these perfectly delicious books below have been killing me with dagger-eyed stares every time I pick up a book I need to read for a review!   I go to bed worrying myself to death about not having a chance to read them.  I try not to feel guilty about taking time away from them that I give to others.   It's not unlike a working mother, who has to provide food for the table, must feel about the children she only gets to kiss goodnight when she comes home late, I guess.

I love my books, even those I haven't had a chance to read, yet! I chose them, I bought them and I love them.

So, here's my list of those neglected but beloved ones that must be treated properly in 2012 to make up for the neglect of 2011: (and, as an aside from this...I see a few of them in the challenge pic above that must be on somebody else's list ...hmmm)

1.  Divergent
2.  Delirium
3.  Tiger's Curse
4.  Hush
5.  The Map of Time
6.  The Witch's Daughter
7.  Timeless
8.  The Biography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
9.  America Pacifica
10. A Question of Death: Phryne Fisher Treasury

Well, there you have it.  I feel like "True Confessions" and a sort of cleansing of the soul, but the books are still staring at me.  I'm going to segregate them and put them in a neat little pile of their own.  I may cover them with a pretty little cloth.  Ahemm 

 Then, on Sundays, I'll take one out and read it until I've done the right thing by them.  Poor slighted books, it's not their faults...they're wonderful books or they wouldn't even be in my house to begin with.  They have gorgeous stories to tell.

If you're a book slammer, or a book thrasher, or a book stacker who takes the Scarlett O'Hara way out like I have, then you may want to join us in the 2011 Challenge.  Click above if you dare.

I'm exhausted now from confessing.  This stuff might be good for the soul, but it gives you the munchies... Good-night.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Dark Eden" by Patrick Carman ~ Your Worst Nightmare, Your Worst Fears!

Published by:  Harper Collins Children's Books
Pages:  336
Genre:  YA Fiction


Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?

The Dame's Terrifying Report :

I haven't read anything written by Patrick Carman before, and I know I'm poorer for that.  He's a prolific author, and one that's greatly touted in YA fiction circles.  I plan to correct my ignorance very quickly since I found "Dark Eden" a most compelling novel.

First of all, I was drawn by the inspired concept for this novel.  I can never turn down a book about insanity or horrific phobias.  Stephen King is the man who ruined me for that.  Once I was hooked on his scary writings...it was the end for me!  Now I can't resist a novel about a creepy mental hospital, fears, strange cures and demented doctors.  Nor can I keep my bulging eyes from reading about deeply scary wooded areas, creepy-crawlies and being alone in those dark places.  Are you starting to see my "fears?"  Wheeeee  no dark edens for me, please...

All that being the preliminary to telling you that this "Dark Eden" fulfilled all my  hopes for a YA novel on the edge of asylum-unhinged scariness.  Patrick Carman had me from the first pages; I was at his mercy whether I wanted to be or not.  Poor Will Bestings...poor other teens...and poor me as we began to learn what the cures for their phobias was going to be, or what oddities might have to be endured to lose their assorted fears.

Will embodies the "best in" (no coincidence in the name) all teen aged boys who dive into a situation to help others that might call for strengths and extraordinary tasks they didn't even realize they had.  I loved this character and his willingness to understand what was happening to his "captured" group.  I loved that he embodied all those cynical boys out there, too.

What I loved most about the book were the psychological twists and turns that led us to the ending.  It had the touches of all slightly skewed minds...  What over-powering fears do you have that you'd give anything to do away with?

The problem, if I may identify one, would be that the other characters are not fully developed for my tastes.  While we understand who and what Will seems to be about, the other characters become mostly shadow figures outside of their "fears," and that causes us to be less inclined to attach ourselves to them.  That makes the conclusion less satisfying than it might have been.  But, getting there was good... Does this ruin the book?  No, but it may have made for more impact.

As for me, I'll be up late reading more books by Mr. Carman.

4 cabin creepin' stars


PS:  By going to Harper Collins  you'll see this trailer   http://bcove.me/n3c0grqq

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Jane Austen Made Me Do It..." Compiled by Laurel Ann Nattress ~ These Short Stories Are To Die For!

Published by: Ballantine Books
Pages:  464
Genre:  Fiction, General & Historical Romance

The Dame's View:

Will it be enough to say that I wish this book had gone on and on just like a Jane Austen novel? 

Laurel Ann Nattress has achieved a coup in this first of her books.  Who could have imagined that so many "mash-up" short stories would have been released about Jane Austen's novels and her characters?  I'll bet the great Jane wouldn't have. And, I'll bet she's having a delighted laugh over this one because it's by far the best of the best in concept and expression of any books like it.

Fun, luminous, entertaining, in the original sense; meaning a time when a book was meant to entertain before television and video games, "Jane Austen Made Me Do It.." is the book of this literay season that you'll want to give your best friends, your daughters, neices and mother.  I'm getting copies for Christmas gifts.

How on earth Ms Nattress ever chose from what had to have been a mountain of fabulous entries, because those that made it are the finest of the finest, I have no idea.  With writers such as Stephaine Barron, Janet Mullany, Lauren Willig, Margaret C. Sullivan...and I could go on, I just can't fathom who was left out!

These stories are about nightmares, ghostly visitations, visits from Austen characters, ideas and imaginations mixed with readings of Jane's books and more.  Short stories that lead one into another until you want to grab the orginal books and thumb through them to laugh or cry again at the characters and Jane Austen quotes.  And, Jane is quoted with such majesty here.

What more can I say except this is a book great fun to have in your Austen collection.  And I know anyone who's read this review so far, by this lackluster blogger, has a Jane Austen collection.

5 tearoom nods


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Is Latest Trend Towards Demonology & Sexually Explicit Scenes In YA Fiction Concerning?

Current trends in YA fiction which include more specific sexual content, demonology and in dwellings of fallen angels concern me. When young adult fiction was first identified, it seemed to be separated from other genre. Its content had to do with teen aged "coming-of-age" and angst stories, friendship cliques, family dynamics, mild fantasy, syfy, and boys' sports conundrums, just to name a few fairly harmless plots. 

*It must be said up-front that I do not mean to include these series':  "Harry Potter," the "Twilight" series and lighter YA fiction in my discussion but use them only as examples of the evolution of YA fiction toward fantasy in a non-threatening way.

Upon the debut of the "Harry Potter" series, YA fiction took a greater leap into the fantasy world, drawing adult readers as well as young adults and children whose parents readily read the books to them.  While this series drew some controversay from conservative groups, it was massively received and marked a new trend toward the magical and mystical we'd not seen in children's literature in recent times.

Then came the vampire series topped by "Twilight" and its copycats. A seemingly harmless group of novels that soft-peddled beautiful, teen aged vampires who were for the greatest part, sad they had to drink blood to survive and wanted to be part of an ordinary high school. No explicit sex and no demonology with succubi and incubus's, werewolves included, at the beginning of this trend.  But, not your old-fashioned vampires in the long-run ...

Suddenly, or perhaps insidiously, I'm not sure which, some authors have turned a corner seeming to draw unwitting YAs who seek a little more darkness, and are led by gorgeous book covers. Why have writers begun to lose their sense of what is appropriate for young adults to read?  Their sense of direction has become strange.

Some books have begun to tell occult stories, easily drawing the darker sides of teen aged minds and troubled/drug-exposed lives or worse. They're writing stories featuring beautifully etched spirits and angels from the dark side, demonology, losing one's soul, humans selling one's soul forever, in dwellings of angels of darkness, fallen angels who are minions of Satan, sexually explicit scenes and the like.

What has happened to a sense of concern and awareness of young adult audiences? Where are these stories leading them, anyway?

I'm afraid, but I'm compelled to speak out and to take a stand about this trend. 

When things began to deteriorate in some countries of Europe in the 1920's, no one spoke up about the "mythologically-based" trends of the Nazi regime.  Were you aware that their symbols, their beliefs and rules of order were taken from ancient occultism and mysticism? Were you aware that Wagner's music and opera were mythologically based and were the favorites of Hitler and his staff? Beautiful stage settings..gorgeous program covers..stunning performers...

Hitler's justification for the murder of Jews and other "undesireables"  was based on mythology and beautiful gods and goddesses who came down to fraternize with humans. These stories birthed his compulsion to create the pure Aryan race, which is based on a mythological people. 

The symbol for the "SS," Hitler's most feared secret police, is from the mythological symbol for Vril or the "god" Odin.  The Swastika is also.

In an article by Dr. Danny Penman called "Hitler and the Secret Satanic Cult at the Heart of Nazi Germany," he writes:

"Historians have tended to downplay the occult foundations of Nazism for fear of trivialising its heinous war crimes, but a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel laid bare the untold story of the secretive religion at the heart of fascist Germany. And bizarrely, it is thought to have been based on a 19th Century science fiction novel that predicted flying saucers, an alien race at the centre of the earth, and a mysterious force known as Vril.

“Occult myths played a central role in Nazism,” says Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, head of the Centre for the Study of Esotericism at Exeter University. “When we look at these ideas today, we think of them as crazy, but they were central to the early Nazi Party and through them played a critical role in 20th century history.”

“The Vril society was dedicated to evil,” says historian Michael Fitzgerald. “Through their control of the Nazi party they committed the greatest acts of evil in the 20th Century.

“Vril occultists worked in complete secrecy doing anything that would promote Aryan power. This ranged from straightforward political assassinations, through to evoking the spirits of the dead, human sacrifice and summoning mysterious energies – or Vril - through sexual orgies.”

“They began by indoctrinating the Hitler Youth with Satanic ideologies,” says Michael Fitzgerald. “Children and the future leaders of the SS were taught that compassion was weakness. They were encouraged to celebrate pagan festivals and to carry out occult ceremonies..."

I'm hoping you will add your comments to this post.  I'm hoping I won't be alone in my worries about this trend.  I really don't know what else to do but share my concerns.