Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday, Quote it Time

From the book The Recovery of Ecstasy:

I breathe-and it means, I love
I love---and it means, I live.
(Vladimir Vysotsky, Ballad of Love)

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Recovery of Ecstasy, by Sandy Krolick, Ph.D.

The Recovery of Ecstasy: Notebooks from Siberia
by Sandy Krolick, Ph.D.
Book Surge Publishing
February 2009, 162p.

As I read this book I was spellbound at times thinking the author was telepathic, since often something he said would have such personal relevance. His words reached out and touched my own life and further, the impact of this book on my thinking has been a personal journey of discovery. I am so grateful I met the ebullient author Dr. Sandy Krolick. Through his writing and subsequent email conversations I realized he has a spark of energy that is infectious. I hope after reading this review you will place The Recovery of Ecstasy on the top of your TBR pile. It is a gift from a talented author. Wisteria


The Recovery of Ecstasy is phenomenally empowering: empowering if you engage with it through introspective reflection on your own life; empowering when it succeeds in awakening your own meta-cognitions as you read. It is empowering if you remain receptive to the multi-layered journey of self-discovery offered here by Sandy Krolick. In part, the book attempts to answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?” As a result of Sandy’s personal pilgrimage, the book looks at this question from three distinct perspectives - historically, philosophically and introspectively - through a series of anecdotal Tetrads (Chapters) that are both entertaining and contemplative. In the preface, the author asks the reader to join him on a journey of self-discovery when he writes,

“My intention is that the reader examine his or her own direction in life and ask comparable questions of his or her own personal journey-how to live, and to what end!”

The book is, in key respects, a contrast between the cultures and philosophies of the people of Siberia and America. For example, there is a marked difference in what constitutes the experience of time among Siberians. Where they are more focused on the present and not obsessively planning the future, Americans plan everything from vacations to play dates, from after-school recreation to dinner parties and other appointments with calendars, personal planners and any of the latest trendy tools to ‘keep us’ organized. Krolick makes the point that Americans are not really free because they are constantly over-scheduled, ‘on-the-clock’, and tied to their plans; this in itself prevents an experience of true freedom. How often is an impromptu disruption to your routine a cause for total panic and a rush to reshuffle the schedule?

Sandy Krolick’s journey helped him realize his own key to living a life of ecstasy. Whatever you discover on your own journey from reading The Recovery of Ecstasy, I guarantee you will not regret the ride. Sandy Krolick has insight and a genuine love of life that is evident on every page; and he has the gift to communicate it passionately. This is a positive journey that examines the treadmill we are on, and will force you to question how much faster you want to go? Or, to take a phrase from the book, maybe it is time to consider “a new path in the midst of the confusion and helter-skelter of modern civilized life?” Instead of planning your retirement or your next vacation, perhaps find some time to read The Recovery of Ecstasy so that you won’t miss living life!

Highly Recommended.

Wisteria Leigh

Mailbox Monday March 30, 2009

A lucky week for me in my mailbox...

1)Two Brothers, Jones
2)Lace Makers of Glenmara by, heather Barbieri
3)The Contractor, Charles Holdefer
4)The Free Negress Elisabeth, by Cynthia Macleod
5)Eight Hours for What We Will, by Rosenweig
6)Stones Fall, Ian Pears
7)Shanghai Girls, Lisa See
8)Four Freedoms, John Crowley
9)Mysterious Magical Circus Family and Kids, R. Hawk Starkey
10)Crazy for the Storm, Norman Ollestad
11)Don't Bargain with the Devil, Sabrina Jeffries

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Salon-Review-Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow

The Sunday Salon.com

Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow
by James Rollins
Harper Collins
April 28, 2009,416 pages

James Rollins, writer and New York Times best selling author of adult books has written a young adult book of extraordinary excitement on every page. I read it this weekend in one day, a quick read although about 400 pages. It is his pacing and clever combination of writing action to drive the text. You can't stop, he won't let you. Anyway, if you have a 5th grader, middle school student who likes adventure, with some fantasy. Maybe a Macguiver meets Indiana Jones then this book is for him/her.


Jake Ransom and his older sister Kady receive a mysterious invitation to an opening exhibit of Mayan Treasures at The British Museum in London. Three years ago their parents disappeared on an archeology exhibition. Jake, having a penchant for studies and strong desire to follow in his parent’s footsteps is thrilled. Kady, diva and social butterfly is reluctant to go, but ultimately agrees when she realizes cameras will be everywhere. How could she possibly miss this fashion and social opportunity.

Unfortunately their trip to London takes them farther than they expected as they find themselves in another place. It’s definitely not London as they immediately face a carnivorous dinosaur. Ultimately they meet the inhabitants who are people from multiple ancient civilizations all living together in a place called Calypso.

Rollins has set the scene for the perfect action adventure story for middle grade students. They are lost in a strange place. They are alone are among strangers. They
are immediately faced with their first life or death challenge.

Your heart will beat with the cadence of his poetic prose. Fast moving drama pushes you forward with a driving beat through his use of lyrical text. Rollins is a master of momentum and tension. A barrage of sound effects will come alive as you are compelled to turn each page no just reading but hearing the story.

Students will beg to stay up late to read this book and it will fly off the library shelves. Let’s hope the sequel is not far behind. This well written series will fill the holes in many library collections. Rollins is a natural fit for the young adult fantasy adventure drama.

Wisteria Leigh
New Milford, CT

Friday, March 27, 2009

Review-Salem Witch Judge, by Eve LaPlante

SALEM WITCH JUDGE: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall, Eve LaPlante, Harper One, 2008,$14.95/C$16.25, pb, 352pp. 978-0-06-085960-2

In 1692 Samuel Sewall, 44, was one of the nine judges presiding over the Salem Witch Trials. Eve Laplante, a direct descendent of Sewall, states her purpose in writing this biography was to uncover the truths and restore Sewall to the hero she believes he was.
Her bibliography shows extensive research including Sewall’s daily journals. He was devoutly religious and struggled with his sense of right versus wrong during and after the trial. After five years he was compelled to repent for his role in condemning twenty witches to death by hanging based on spectral evidence.
Sewall was the only judge to ever take any responsibility. His admission was just the beginning of what would be a lifetime of self-mortification and praying to God for his restoration to good grace. Sewall spent his life working for the rights of women, blacks and Native Americans. His actions demonstrated his courageous nature and sense of morality. His relationship with God that would be the most important part of his life.
LaPlante tells her history in a fluid narrative style. This is a gripping account of a conflicted man; an essential biography for understanding the allure of the Salem Witch Trials.

Wisteria Leigh

Last Chance to Win at Cheryl's Book Nook

Cheryl is hosting a fabulous giveaway...but you must act fast.
Check out the detail here. Cheryl's Book Nook.

Here is a list of the books you could win!!!

1. The American Journey of Barack Obama By The Editors of Life Magazine ISBN: 0316045608
2. Fledgling By Octavia Butler ISBN: 0446696161
3. Stand the Storm By Breena Clarke ISBN: 0316007056
4. Red River By Lalita Tademy ISBN: 0446696994
5. Keep the Faith: A Memoir By Faith Evans ISBN: 0446199508
6. Say You're One of ThemBy Uwem Akpan ISBN: 0316113786
7. The Shack By William Young ISBN: 0964729237
8. The Bishop's Daughter By Tiffany Warren ISBN: 0446195146

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review-Crown in Candlelight

CROWN IN CANDLELIGHT, Rosemary Hawley Jarman, Trafalgar Square Publishing, 2008, $12.95/C$13.95/ £6.99, pb, 414pp,

Originally published in 1978, Crown in Candlelight covers a tumultuous period of English and French history from 1405 to 1461. This is the story of Katherine of Valois, the strikingly beautiful, yet demure daughter of King Charles VI, told through her eyes. Parented by a father who was mentally unstable, The Mad King, and a mother, Queen Isabeau, who was more interested in her own concupiscent behavior then attending a sick child.
When the ambitious and handsome, King Henry V conquers France, he later strengthens the joining of the countries by making Katherine his wife and Queen. King Henry adores his sweet Katherine, but tragically their life together is short lived when Henry dies of sickness, not before giving life to an heir. This leaves Katherine alone, in a hostile and dangerous court where deceptive trust and treachery is teeming at every turn.
When Owen Tudor returns two of Katherine’s repaired harps, their eyes meet. With that fleeting moment Katherine feels lonely no longer. Feeling “re-baptized” she meets him clandestinely. They agree to meet in one week, leaving each of them feeling a mutual sensual sensitivity of unbearable anticipation.
Jarman has compiled extensive research to write this expertly detailed novel. I felt her strength was in the development of her main characters and the descriptive setting and ambiance of the period. I really felt close to Katherine and could empathize with her plight. This is a richly complex historical novel with a profusion of characters making it difficult to follow at times. A romantic historical fiction tale to get caught up in. With elaborate details and plot entanglements, Jarman, a master of her craft, will command your focus.

Wisteria Leigh

I'm So Excited!!! A Surprise Award Arrived This Morning.

While I was sleeping, a little fairy graced me with this beautiful award. What an awesome way to start the day. Thank you so much to my new friend at The Book Resort!! Check out her page it is really amazing!!

Award description:This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.

Here is my list....Congratulations to my friends and new friends!!

Lesa's Book Critiques

Musings by a Bookish Kitty
The Burton Review
At Home with Books
Small World Reads
Kittling: Books
The Bookworm

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mailbox Monday

This sketch is of a mail wagon from 1858. I received a lot of mail this week that would be easily carried in this coach. Some of these mail coaches were designed to carry up to 600 pounds of mail.

[The Butterfield Overland Mail transferred passengers and mail to light, durable vehicles for travel over rough roads.
From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 23, 1858.]

1) Tone Deaf in Bangkok, by Janet Brown ...all the way from Hong Kong!
2) Sally Hemings, by Barbara Chase-Riboud
3) The Calligrapher's Daughter, by Eugenia Kim
4) The Music Room, by Namita Devidayal
5) Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure, by Matthew Algeo
6) All Other Nights, by Dara Horn
7) Morning in a Different Place, by Mary Ann McGuigan
8) A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
9) Born Among the Dolphins by Patrick Lagraw

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Salon....Just a little late!

The Sunday Salon.com

Well, it's been a rough week with grad school work. I had to read Uncle Tom's Cabin in a week and prepare for class. I finished three books and reviews that were due. Fortunately, it is Spring Break this week and no grad class. I still teach the kids and do my other reading, but it's nice to breath a little.

Random thoughts~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1) The first day of Spring brought snow instead of sunshine. Darn that groundhog!!!
2) It takes a long time to get rid of smoke in your house after a fire. It lands everywhere!!
3) Do you read the Introduction in a book? I always do now. Years ago I didn't, but I find that most of the time I do, unless they are too wordy and I'm getting nothing out of it. What are your thoughts?
4) I like to smell the inside of new books, I bet you do too.
5) Pretty bookmarks are important to me, but if I have to I'll use a piece of paper or anything that won't break the binding.
6) I like talking to other reading/writing bloggers...we're special!!
7) Muffins and coffee with flavored cream on a Saturday morning reading a good book is heaven to me.

Have a great week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sweeping Up Glass, by Carolyn D. Wall

SWEEPING UP GLASS, Carolyn D. Wall, Poisened Pen Press, 2008, $24.95 US/C, £15.95 UK, hb, 278pp, 978-1-59058-512-2

After reading Sweeping Up Glass, by debut author Carolyn D. Wall I could not move. This book is terrifyingly real and haunting of racial bias imagery of the past.

It is 1938, some say the coldest winter ever in Kentucky. Olivia Harker and her grandson Will’m discover that someone is killing silver faced wolves on their property. Olivia has an idea who is responsible, but doesn’t know why they are targeting them.
Olivia and Will'm live behind Harker’s Grocery, yet her ma’am Ida, lives in a tar paper shack out back. Olivia had her husband Saul settle her there many years ago unable to forgive her for the years of neglect and physical abuse while growing up. On the other hand she is very close to her pap, Tate Harker, a self made veterinarian.
One day with Olivia is driving with her father when they have a horrible accident. This becomes life altering for Olivia. After a long recovery she learns her pap is buried in an unmarked grave next to the outhouse, but she always yearns to move him someday.
During a time of shameless segregation, Olivia befriends Junk, Love Alice and other members of the black community. One night, Olivia stumbles upon a covert gathering of white men. Hidden from view, she listens to the conversations from community leaders who emote racial hatred and bigotry. The disappearance of young black men in the community has raised fear and an acute awareness of racial boundaries.
This significant historical mystery offers a twisted tale with a shocking secret, betrayal and mistrust with a bit of romance. Ms. Wall has a talent for shaping distinctively original southern characters with unique personality traits, some quirky, some hated, some loved, but all memorable. I guarantee they all will stand the test of time.

Wisteria Leigh

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Boy Rules, by Steve Fainaru

From Internet Review of Books:

Commuting to war

America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq
By Steve Fainaru
288 pp. Da Capo Press $26.00

Reviewed by Wisteria Leigh

The cover of Big Boy Rules displays a bald, brawny soldier, biceps bulging, wrapped in a belt of bullets clutching his weapon while standing lookout through the sunroof of an SUV. Not exactly a picture to bring tears to anyone’s eyes. When you read Big Boy Rules, keep that vision in mind, but remember, I foretold your tears.

Steve Fainaru makes clear his position that the United States government’s use of private companies to replace and support US military is “an ugly business ... perhaps the ugliest business ...” Of the mercenaries, he says, “You didn’t have to draft them, or count them, or run them through Congress. You didn’t even have to know they were there.” Read more.....

Not just another war book-far from it! Discover what you don't know about mercenaries in the Iraq War. Steve Fainaru is a courageous reporter who investigated the War in Iraq from the inside. His Pulitzer Prize winning writing shouldn't be missed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Secret Keeper, by Paul Harris

The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris
Penguin Group
ISBN 978-0-525-95102-5
$24.95 ($27.CAN)336pp

I really enjoyed this book and read it in one sitting. This novel is alive, fast paced and will move refusing to let you catch a breath. A tension thriller throughout with intricate plot twists and intrigue, you will feel greedy for more. Here is my review:

The Secret Keeper

Harris doesn’t waste any time shocking you into a compelling need to continue as the opening chapter captivates your attention to read on. The Secret Keeper is a Transcontinental consummate adventure thriller traversing between London and Sierra Leone. In London, Danny Kellerman receives a cryptic letter of desperation from his ex-lover Maria. He is a journalist who four years earlier reported on the political upheaval in Sierra Leone where he met Maria. The postmark is three weeks earlier and all sense of reality disappears when he discovers that he is too late and Maria is dead, a victim of a robbery and murder while driving in the country.
He manages to convince his boss their is a story lurking behind the letter he received and he is soon on board a plane to Freetown. As his plane takes off his thoughts are on everything but his current relationship with Rachel. Kellerman finds a vastly changed Sierra Leone, peace has won over the war torn countryside, but in its place a sea of secrets, corruption, collusion, mistrust and an endless struggle for power by a host of candidates emerges. Further, Danny uncovers distressing information that indicates Maria was keeping secrets. Faced with a soul searching decision in the first chapter, Harris revisits the scene in the end where Danny is held captive. He is forced to decide whether revealing the truth, printing the truth-is worth the potential wretched ramifications of his obdurate actions.
Harris’s poetic prose style lends itself to a one night read. You will see as I did putting this book down for even a moment is quite difficult. His prolific use of carefully placed similes, paints a vibrant palette of imagery bringing the reader into the story.
A debut novel, will cause a few white knuckle moments, you won’t want to miss it. Paul Harris is a novelist to watch and anxiously await his next book.

Wisteria Leigh

Mailbox Monday

Before March comes to a close I wanted to draw attention to the celebration taking place during this month on Women's History. The photo is a stamp that commemorated the 1848 Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention which essentially began the women's rights social fight in the United States.

I just love stamps because they hold so much history on such a small piece of glued paper. I'm not a collector, but I do love to look at some of the history through the ages.

This week in my mailbox I received:
A series of Chris Knopf books, thanks to The Permanent Press
The Last Refuge
Two Time
Hard Stop
Head Wounds
The Obama Revolution by Alan Kennedy-Shaffer
The Dakota Cipher by William Dietrich
Fifty is Not a Four Letter Word, by Linda Kelsey
Beyond the Revolution by William H. Goetzmann
Uncle Tom's Cabin for American History Class

I hope everyone is anxiously getting ready for the spring equinox. Yippee!!!!
My bulbs are coming up and I planted over one hundred in the fall, possibly more.
Have a great week everyone.

Congratulations Winner of History of Now

Congratulations to Naida for winning the copy of The History of Now. Thank you all for entering the contest. I hope to have another giveaway in the next couple of weeks. So stay tuned. Naida, would you email your address to me? Happy Reading! Wisteria

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Salon Taking a Break

The Sunday Salon.com

Wisteria is taking a break this week, so we are taking over for her. I'm Mystery, the leader of Wisteria's pack. I have three brothers, Lion, Webster and Wizard. I'm the cute greyhound on the right next to my brother Lion in the picture above. He's a little older, and I'm the cute Alpha Princess.

You know it is hard to type with paws? It's those darn nails, they get me every time. We really hate to have our nails done, you know sometimes she gets a little too close. It's okay though because she'll give us cookies and hug us a lot to make us feel better. It gets her every time. WOL (Woofing out loud).

Anyway, we thought we would take this time to show you how we spend our retirement now that we don't race each other at the track. It is so much better than those wire kennels we used to stay in 24/7. Couches are so comfy when you have more bone than fat. I guess that's why Wisteria is always calling us her 45mph couch potatoes. It doesn't get much better than this.

It's hard keeping Wisteria off this laptop. We did manage to needle nose her out the front door to do some gardening today. After a while we started whining though....it was time for dinner. She said to say hi, and she'll be back in a few days. I hope you like our pictures.

PS....Don't forget to leave a comment for the "History of Now" book giveaway.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

He nodded, his black, brilliantined hair flashing in the light, and walked away.
Kate waited until he was out of hearing,. "You see," she said, "I'm all yours."(Paul Griner, pg122)


Monday, March 9, 2009

Mailbox Monday, March 10,2009

Yes, I'm a little behind this week, I could rattle off a bunch of reasons, but I don't want to bore everyone with my drama. In any case, I am offering you my Mailbox Monday...just a little late this week. I hope you still care to know.

I posted this image of Mrs. Morton, the first female letter carrier delivering mail taken in 1917 to recognize Women's History Month. (provided by nypl.org.

Last week I received quite a few interesting books in the mailbox and many for children.

*Fragile Eternit by Melissa Marr
*Every Human Has Rights by National Geographic
*Salvos on Backwater by Erwin Wunderlich
*Daddy's Little Spy-Isabella by Isabella Rose
*Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
*Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson
*The Kings and Queens of England by Ian Crofton...via my delivery
*Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost (IPG)
Children's Lit..............
~Princess Prissypants Wishes the World Pink by Ashley Putnam Evans(IPG)
~Ricky and Mia the Chicken gy Guido Van Genechten (IPG)
~I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll(IPG)
~The Horse Race based on a Chinese Classic Tale (IPG)
~Daddy Does the Cha Cha Cha by David Bedford and Bridget Strevens-Marzo(IPG)

I started a new column on Wednesday called Wednesday's Child where I am posting reviews of children's literature. If anyone would like to join this group please use my logo and sign up. I will have a statement you can add to your blog that I will post this week on Wednesday. The books can be from primary through young adult. Whatever you feel like posting. I hope you join me as our group Wednesday's Child grows.
Here is last week's post of Wednesday's Child to get an idea.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Salon, March 8, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

Daylight Savings..Did you all remember to Spring Forward? I hope everyone enjoyed the shorter time to rest last night. I would have done much better if my dogs were able to tell time and understand the time change. Did anyone feel like this?

I know for me it is never an easy transition, but the benefits are well worth it.
*I get an extra hour of daylight tonight and each night until I have to set my clocks back in the fall.
*I love that. According to the energy department, I will save money on electricity-always a good thing. Maybe I'll buy another book.
*I feel better having the sun's rays shining on me just a little bit more each day.
*I'm happy the warmer days of the year are beginning to wrap their arms around me.

This is a picture of the statue of Clio, the Goddess of History. Her clock reminds me of the time gone by, the time I have alive and how each day is precious time.

Clio, the Muse of History, stands in a winged chariot representing the passage of time and records events as they occur. The car rests on a marble globe on which signs of the Zodiac are carved in relief. The chariot wheel is the face of the clock; its works are by Simon Willard.
From: http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/car_of_history.cfm

If you want to read a book about Daylight Saving Time, the book Seize the Daylight, The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau is a captivating and fun history lesson. The Seize the Daylight Website has more information.

After having a fire in my house this week and my garage door breaking with the car in it, I know timing is very important. As I look back, a little time saved my fur babies and I from a serious situation. I'm ok...just suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.

Vasily reminded me that I did read..actually quite a bit. I finished Little Women, Big Boy Rules and The Sacred Well. Of course everyone knows Little Women and it's always great to read a classic again. What classic have you re-read lately?

From the 19th century, I turned to the mercenaries in Iraq. Big Boy Rules by Steve Fainaru is contemporary non-fiction written by a reporter who witnessed carnage and the daily danger these hired men encountered. It is not for the faint of heart.

Then a historical fiction book I absolutely loved called, The Sacred Well by Antoinnette May. It was so passionate I cried. I will review BBR and The Sacred Well in a future post. My next read is The German by Paul Griner.

Have a great week everyone. Tell me how did you spend your precious time this week? Don't forget to leave a comment for the book giveaway.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday's Child-Poppy and Ereth by Avi

Wednesday's Child is going to be the day I review my tike to teen literature.This week I have a book by Avi, the sixth and final book in his Poppy series. This book is an awesome read-a-loud as my 3rd graders will tell you. It is written for grades 3-7 and about an age range of 8-12. It is sad to see the Poppy series end after so many wonderfully years. Avi's website is www.avi-writer.com

My Review

Harper Collins

Poppy and Ereth demonstrate once again Avi’s writing genius in his genre. His personified world is humanized through his artfully delivered dialogue. Fantasy overlaps non-fiction with his quick facts about animals written into the story text. Avi is a superb storyteller who will open doors to a new world if you acquiesce.

My students were saddened when they heard Poppy and Ereth, the latest book, would also be the final book in the delightfully sunny series by Avi. This last book centers around the relationship between Poppy, the deer mouse and Ereth the peevishly prickly porcupine. When Poppy takes an unexpected flight and can’t be found, an unsettled air takes over Dimwood Forest and her friends. Most unusual is the bizarre behavior of Ereth, who assumes a smiling face of fright, atypical of him, in the hopes of becoming more sociable.

Poppy and Ereth like others in the series, is uplifting and humorous with lessons of friendship, family, caring and love that will make you laugh, giggle and cry. With profuse sadness, I don’t want to say goodbye to this series. Perhaps the introduction of a certain new character, with a certain new home leaves room for a new series to come. Whatever Avi writes next, I know it will surprise and satisfy his audience.

Wisteria Leigh

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday's Tablet-Debut Novel by M.F.Bloxam

Welcome to my first issue of Tuesday's Tablet. I will post reviews here that are the new releases, upcoming releases, debut novels and less familiar titles out on store bookshelves. Books falling below the rating scale will not be featured on this blog, rather in my Library Thing collection. I really like your comments, whether you have read the book or not. If you agree or disagree, please add your thoughts. Thanks for reading....Wisteria

The Night Battles

by M.F. Bloxam

A brief note about the author from the jacket of the book:
M.F. Bloxam has lived in Sicily and on both US coasts. She is the author of prize-winning short fiction and creative non-fiction. A background in anthropology and museum work informs her writing. She lives with her husband and two cats on New Hampshire's seacoast. This is her first novel."

My Review

The Night Battles by M.F. Bloxam
The Permanent Press
260 pages,hc

Reading The Night Battles, evokes dark forgotten memories from the past when monsters lived under beds and in closets. Psychologically awakening this book will stimulate your neurons to that time long ago when fantasy fogged reality.

Joan Severance, an anthropology professor at Brown University has reached an impasse in her career, her future in academia tenuous. Granted a sabbatical, she accepts a position in Valparuta, Sicily, to work as an archivist under the tutelage of Signor Chiesa. She soon becomes engrossed in her work, unearthing historical records. She begins reading about Piero Quagliata his life and then his untimely, unnatural death in 1552. Abruptly the files she sifts through lead no where, something is missing.

Joan becomes attracted to Chiesa. As their relationship deepens, she comes to know his horror with the night battles. In Valpurata you are either benandanti or malandanti, the workers of evil. The benedanti spend four times a year battling the witches. One morning she witnesses the leftover carnage from one of these night battles. Joan senses her appearance in Sicily is not coincidental.

The thrill of The Night Battles is reading the book and imagining the fantasy. It is illusion, mystical, magical and personal to the reader. Valpurata becomes Joan's rabbit hole, with fantasy and reality obscured as she learns the history of Piero and his relationship with the benandanti.

The author’s strength is her beautiful poetic phrasing. For example:

“Outside, the wind saws against the building like a train taking a curve.(103)
“I miss him so terribly that it seems he must have only set like a moon, gone below a certain horizon. I still feel the pull of his body.” (238)

The Night Battles commands your attention with mesmerizing intrigue and alluring appeal. M. F. Bloxam's novel is distinctly unusual, a thriller, tightly taut with tension. Bloxam is a sensualist with an acute sensory awareness that makes this book live.

Wisteria Leigh

Thanks to The Permanent Press for the ARC of this novel.
This review was first published on Blogcritics.org

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mailbox Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Mailbox Monday

Looking out my window this morning was like an invitation to dive into clouds of marshmallow fluff. Undoubtedly colder, not as sweet but certainly as inviting. Before going to bed, the forecast was all but certain that the storm was imminent, but teachers never count on that. So with eight inches or more accumulation, I said, SNOW DAY!!! After all, teachers are just like students who never grew up.

Snow days are great, but many people don't realize they do have to be made up at the end of the year. Even still, during the cold, dark, bear sleeping days of winter they are welcomed.

So for Mailbox Monday, the above picture is of a woman from 1910 delivering mail by horse drawn carriage. She must have loved the cold and snow to do this job. Most of the time, in rural areas they even had to buy their own vehicles (some still do).
Courtesy of the National Postal Museum

In my mailbox this week

... delivered by move conventional means I received:

*The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
*Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
*The Secret Life of Transformation by Julie Chrystyn
*The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
*Outcasts United by Warren St. John
*Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick
*Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

Monday Thoughts

1. Little Women's "women" seem so much older than our "little women" today.
2. One of my four greyhounds will trim his own nails. Lucky me.
3. I have to go shovel snow and now it doesn't seem like fluff.
4. Will mail come today with another ARC? Postal carriers, overnight carriers are amazing...they have to walk and drive in some of the worst conditions...Thank you.
5. Banana Split ice cream is irresistible..not fair.
6. My cat Owen Beanie thinks he is a dog and plays fetch.
7. My dog Webster thinks he is a hamster and will make a burrow out of blankets.

....(Literary Feline writes Random Thoughts on her blog and I got this idea from her. LT I hope you don't mind)

Look at the positive in yourself and...have a great day!! Wisteria

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Salon, History of Now--- Book Giveaway

The Sunday Salon.com

Our area is getting ready for the "big" snowstorm due on our doorstep tonight and tomorrow. If so I might be shoveling 8-10 inches tomorrow. In any event, sorry I am late posting my Sunday Salon, my grad course has me busy, busy, busy. This week I've been reading Little Women, from a historical context. I have a presentation on Wednesday, so my Sunday Salon time got bumped this week. I have to work when I'm most alert...mornings:)

Giveaway for The History of Now by Daniel Klein

A while ago I wrote a review about this awesome novel. I am pretty sure many of you would really like it. Today was the release date for the book. To celebrate this event I am raffling off a new ARC copy of the book.(USA Residents only) The review is below for those who have not had a chance to read it.

Rules: Please leave a comment on today's post about the review and I will enter your name in the raffle. If you blog about the raffle on your site, I will give you two additional raffle chances. That would be THREE chances.Woo Hoo!!! Anytime you visit my blog until March 15th and leave a comment you will get another chance to win. When my package comes to your mailbox you will smile. The contest will run through March 15th midnight. Good Luck.
ARC compliments of Permanent Press.

The History of Now by Daniel Klein

March 1, 2009, HC, 296 pages
ISBN 1579621813

Have you ever thought your life was so average that no one would want to read about it? Daniel Klein dispels that myth in his new book,The History of Now as he tells the story of a somewhat typical family living in Grandville, Massachusetts. The town is the quintessential image of bucolic New England. As the story unfolds you quickly become enmeshed in the ordinary yet extraordinary sequence of events that are destined to become Now.

Wendel deVries is a 65 year old divorcee who runs the projector at the local Phoenix theater. Before his divorce he had a daughter Franny. His daughter Franny, suffers from a lack of self-esteem and confidence. Her daughter Lila, is a recalcitrant pot smoking lazy high school teen coupled with a strained mother daughter relationship. Since Lila has never known her father, grandfather Wendel is the closest to a father she has had. Wendel moves on with his life and surprisingly one day meets someone and they fall in love.

Meanwhile, somewhere in South America a young boy named Hector flees to Miami with hopes of starting a new life. One day in class, Lila learns that years ago, nineteenth century, there were deVries in Grandville who were African American. With impish amusement she questions her grandfather hoping to discover the validity of her teacher’s historical findings. Were there slaves in her family tree? Could she have black relatives and possibly relatives who owned slaves?

Klein’s novel is the story of the lives of these people and how they will ultimately connect. Philosophically, who cares? Well, the story would be no story if the lives of many people did not happen before those who live now. Sound confusing? It is a cause and effect model shaped in the beliefs of David Hume. Now is now because it was destined to happen because of the history that came before it.

The orchestral piece Bolero comes to mind as I read this book. The novel begins with a diminutive and simple opening and as each person, each layer, each cause to the effect is added the pulse slowly builds, gradually increasing in complexity. Discord and a cacophony of drama comes together toward the middle as each person becomes more conscious of their life and their actions. The past is revealed through a series of flashbacks, but still, like the composer Ravel, the author Klein, carefully scaffolds the story to a perfect climax and then conclusion.

What I enjoyed about this book was that it is so ordinary, so believable, that anyone wanting to write their story can visualize their own chronology of history a book. It is also idiosyncratic as you reflect upon the author’s philosophical dogma, making this a noteworthy novel of Now. Let’s hope there is a short wait for book two in this trilogy.

Wisteria Leigh

Permanent Press Website