Monday, 29 September 2014

FrightFall Read-a-thon Kickoff Post and Goals

I have had a very unproductive month of reading this past September so the FrightFall Read-a-thon hosted by Seasons of Reading is just the kick in the pants that I need.

I've found that I am far more productive if I set goals at the beginning of a read-a-thon so here are mine:

1. Finish reading The Appeal of Evil (The Road to Salvation Book 1) by Pembroke Sinclair. This was a requested review that is long overdue. The book is about demons so it fits in with the theme of the FrightFall Read-a-thon.

2. Read The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. This book received the most votes in my What's Next post.

3. I have Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn on hold at my library. I never paid much attention to the book until I saw the movie trailer (I love Ben Affleck). Since then I have been practically foaming at the mouth to read the book. I'm #2 in the library queue but I may just decide to buy it if it doesn't become available in time. 

These are some pretty ambitious goals, especially for me. But I want to get the requested review finished and make up for this unproductive month. I'll be tweeting about my progress on Twitter @magicbookreview using the hashtag #FrightFall.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

What's Next? FrightFall Read-a-thon Edition

Hi everyone! Welcome to the another week of What’s Next?! Click here to read more about the meme and be sure to link up your posts.

Next week is the FrightFall Read-a-thon and it's horror themed so I will be reading a scary book. This doesn't actually have to be a horror or supernatural book, it can also be a mystery or thiller. Here are the three choices I have narrowed it down to:

Choice #1 It by Stephen King
Welcome to Derry, Maine… It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real…. They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name.


Choice #2 The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname--Buffalo Bill--is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau's Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter--Hannibal the Cannibal--who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Dr. Lecter is a former psychiatrist with a grisly history, unusual tastes, and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs--and ingenious, masterfully written book and an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.

Choice #3 Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula is the ultimate horror story, producing one of literature’s most lasting villains: Count Dracula. A harrowing, memorable, and enduring story about the world’s most famous vampire. A true masterwork of storytelling, Dracula has transcended generation, language, and culture to become one of the most popular novels ever written. It is a quintessential tale of suspense and horror, boasting one of the most terrifying characters ever born in literature: Count Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter who feeds upon the blood of the living, and whose diabolical passions prey upon the innocent, the helpless, and the beautiful. But Dracula also stands as a bleak allegorical saga of an eternally cursed being whose nocturnal atrocities reflect the dark underside of the supremely moralistic age in which it was originally written—and the corrupt desires that continue to plague the modern human condition.

A Quick Explanation On Why There Haven't Been Any Reviews This Month
I was doing the Sugar Free September Challenge this month. For the first week and a half I did awesome. Then I fell off the wagon and had some sweets. After that I started eating cookies, cake, and candy like crazy again and it's like my brain turned to mush. I have had the worst brain fog of my entire life! I haven't been able to focus long enough to read a book all month. I'm going to try and make up for it this last week.

So which scary book should I read for the FrightFall Read-a-thon? Leave your choice in the comments.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Suicide and Mental Illness Awareness Theme Read

For the months of September and October I am participating in the Suicide and Mental Illness Awareness Theme Read. This reading challenge is being hosted by Resistance is Futile.

Here is an extensive list at Goodreads of books about suicide.

Here is an extensive list at Goodreads of books about mental illness.

Because I have BPD I will focus on reading books about borderline personality disorder. Here is a list of BPD books at Goodreads.

Here is more about the :Suicide and Mental Illness Awareness Theme Read
The time has come to start thinking about what you're going to read (or watch) for my upcoming Suicide and Mental Illness Awareness Theme! This is going to be an informal event occurring during the months of September and October. Anyone who wants to participate can hop in at any point during these two months and post a link to a review of a book or movie/show/documentary that promotes suicide and mental illness awareness. 

As I said in my post To ASIST or not to assist, I believe that it is very important for people to be open and supportive about mental illness and suicidal ideation. Stigma pollutes our culture, discouraging people who need help from speaking out - it's the people who talk who end up healing. We need more healthy people in the world, and suicide and mental illness advocacy is one way to promote this goal. 

During my event, I will have posts which collect links to reviews from participants. I will host suicide / mental illness giveaways. And, hopefully, I can find some guest bloggers who wish to share their thoughts and experiences in mental illness advocacy. Please let me know if you have something you want to share!

There's no need to formally sign up for this event, but if you'd like, it would be nice to get a headcount in the comments to this I know how many giveaways I should plan. See you all soon!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Feature and Follow

Question of the Week: Are you also a writer and what genre or did you ever consider writing?

Yes I am also a writer. I write fiction, articles, and poetry but I have been focusing on blogging for the last few years. I want to get back to writing stories. It's pretty empty right now because I'm redoing my writing section but you'll find my writing here.

The featured blog this week is The YA Buzz.

The Rules of Feature & Follow Friday:
To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
  2. (Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say "hi" in your comments and that they are now following you.
  5. If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn't have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
  6. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "HI"
  7. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
My favorite way to follow is through Bloglovin and now Feature and Follow Friday has graphics to let your readers know. Feel free to follow any way that you want (I'll take all the follows I can get) but I do favor Bloglovin. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Labor Day Read-Along: My Book Review, Discussion Questions, and Movie Review

Please note this review does contain spoilers.

Book Description from
With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry—lonely, friendless, not too good at sports—spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele—a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart. 

 But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others—especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.

Book Review
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard is part love story, part coming of age novel. I was actually surprised this novel wasn't considered Young Adult. The book description on the back of the book gives no indication whatsoever that this book is narrated by the son, Henry.. I wasn't expecting this and was expecting more of an adult romance novel. It's not that there's anything wrong with this. It's just that I've been reading a lot of YA this year and was looking for something from an adult perspective. Had I read the story description from Amazon I would have expected this.

A quote from Jane Hamilton is on the cover calling the story "sexy." Yes it had the great potential to be a sexy story but considering it is the son describing his mother having relations with Frank, to call it "sexy" is just a bit twisted in my opinion. The romance between Frank and Adele is quite sexy and thrilling when you imagine just them. There's not much appeal in listening to a child describe his mother's love affair.

I loved the character of Frank. I always fall for the misunderstood bad boys with a heart of gold so I fell in love with Frank along with Adele. Frank was surprising in so many ways. If it wasn't for the fact that he was an escaped prisoner, I would have considered him to be too good to be true (in a good way) and the ideal husband. 

However, he seemed to be in complete denial about his situation, as was Adele. I also was surprised at how well and how quickly he adapted to life outside of prison. I don't think someone who just escaped the prison he was in for 18 years would be concerned with all the little chores he helped Adele do. I know they may come pick me up anytime and I'll never see you again but let's paint the storm windows. Seriously?

Adele was a deeply complex character and I loved that about her. She appeared to have mental illness but when her back story is explained you understand why she behaves the way that she does to a point. That said, if you have suffered from miscarriage or stillbirth this story will be extremely hard for you to read.

However, as complex as she was, I felt she was a selfish mother and no amount of trauma excuses her of that. Up until meeting Frank she treats her son almost like a surrogate husband and speaks to him about things that are extremely inappropriate. She put her love for Frank (a man she had known for only a handful of days) over the needs of her son and even disregards the custody she shares with her ex husband. 

The moment that Henry reveals to his friend Eleanor that Frank is at his house, you knew what Frank's fate was going to be. It was just a matter of time. What frustrated me is that Henry is more angry at Eleanor than he is himself for being stupid enough to tell her about Frank. 

Henry's character overall frustrated me. I understand he is a teenage boy but he is basically obsessed with sex. Hearing him ramble on for the fourth time about all the girls he's attracted to and would like to have sex with got annoying. 

He also couldn't make up his mind about how he felt about Frank and his mother. I understand that is completely normal but he seemed to change his mind whenever he talked to Eleanor. Eleanor is a know it all, cynical brat and I wanted so badly for Henry to tell her to shut up because she doesn't know what she's talking about.

What completely ruined the story for me was how at the end, Adele voluntarily gave up custody of Henry to her ex husband.  I think she made the right choice but the way Maynard treated this infuriated me. Maynard wrote as if this was no big deal or at least doesn't tell us how this is traumatic for Adele. I found it impossible to believe a woman that was devastated by miscarriage and a still birth would handle giving up her only child so well.

I did like the ending of the book though. I never had considered the possibility that Frank would try to get back with Adele after he was released from prison. I thought that was unbelievably romantic. 

I have one final observation but not really a complaint. None of the dialogue has apostrophes. I didn't know writers were even allowed to do that. 

Overall I found this book to be a page turner but contrived and completely unrealistic. Maynard is extremely talented at writing complex characters but the story was just too unbelievable to me. My rating  Photobucket 

Labor Day Discussion Questions
This post has already ran quite long so I will only post my answers to the questions. You can find the list here.

1. I didn't see Henry as being steady at all. Sure it's easy to appear steady when you follow a daily routine and remain isolated, but whenever Henry starts interacting with the outside world he doesn't seem to know what he wants or feels. Yes I felt Adele was a bad mother in some ways. I explain why earlier in this post.

2. I knew Frank was a good guy from the beginning. Why? Because this book is described as a love story. What I didn't expect was for him to be so sensitive and caring. The scenes when he is interacting with the challenge boy were particularly touching. I expected to like him but didn't expect to develop a crush on him myself.

3. We never know Adele's thoughts so I wonder if she was as trusting as she first appears. How could I be surprised though because if she hadn't there would be no story. I think Adele did it because he was hot and she craved adventure.

4. Because he loves his mother and would rather be with her than with his father where he feels like an outsider. He hides his mother's behavior to protect himself not her.

5. No it was not surprising that Frank was a good baker. The pie making technique was charming in itself but then it's later used in the story when Henry is an adult. I was more surprised how the pie making was what stuck with Henry.

6. Henry is at puberty. Frank is transitioning to freedom. But Adele wasn't transitioning to anything until Frank showed up. It's like she needed something to help her find happiness again. It's summer transitioning to fall. It's a cliche. 

7. I don't think Henry understands what family truly means until the end of the book. He realizes that all families are messed up just in different ways. There is no normal or regular family. And family doesn't always mean blood related.

8. Eleanor seemed cool at first but as my 18 yr old daughter would describe her, she was "thirsty" for sex. She appeared at first to be a misguided but cynical friend but was just using Henry in the end. I knew she would rat Frank out the second Henry told her about him. She had motivation to get the reward.

9. Eleanor was projected her own fears and experiences onto Henry. That was her experience so she expects it to be his too.

10. His conflicting feelings were completely normal. He seemed to finally reconcile them when he tests his mother and Frank by mentioning that he will get left behind and they confirm that isn't the case at all. He realizes they were just empty fears.

11. The only thing that would have definitely been different is the pie making story would not have ended up in the magazine. His mother may have kept custody of him but I doubt it. She seemed like if she hadn't had met Frank she would've had some kind of mental breakdown. 

12. There's really know way of knowing because we never read anything from Adele's point of view. But Adele knew she had some mental issues that she needed to deal with and taking care of Henry at the same time was not in his best interests. Or maybe she blamed Henry for Frank getting caught. It's hard to say. Henry returns because he loved her and understood she was mentally ill.

13. What kind of person is Eleanor? She was never developed enough to say one way or the other especially when Henry meets her again. I think the dog was named Jim because she liked Jim Morrison.

14. I think Henry's father was completely wrong in his observation that Adele was "in love with love." Women who are "in love with love" are constantly chasing after relationships. Adele was not like this as all. Although I do think she was in complete denial of how her and Frank would end up but I think her love was real and sincere especially because she was never with anyone afterwards. It's like she waited for him to get out of prison.

15. I have experiences that were life altering in bad ways but I am still grateful I met the person involved. Adele seemed to be the only women who ever truly loved Frank and Frank's baby died so Henry was his chance to be a father figure. There are things Frank may have never had otherwise. Yes love like that (at first sight) can exist. I fell in love immediately with my husband and we were inseparable from the time we met.

Movie Review
The movie was different from the book in onlya few minor ways and one major one. The major one being that there was no chemistry at all between Frank and Adele. It was impossible for me to believe that Adele had fallen in love with him and wanted to run away with him. However, I found it easy to believe Josh Brolin. I thought he did a great job in this movie.

I blame Kate Winslet's bad acting. I've always felt the woman's facial expressions never change. When she speaks emotionally her face never seem to match what she is saying unless she is smiling. I do think she has an amazing smile but the character of Adele rarely smiles.

A few minor differences from the book is that Henry doesn't tell Eleanor about Frank (she guesses). There's a horrible scene where the kid in the wheelchair gets smacked across the face by his mother. It's also never revealed who tipped off the police. I almost liked this part better than book because no one is to blame in the movie version. In the book, it was clearly Henry's fault because he couldn't keep a secret.

The flashback secnes and montages of Henry's fantasies would be confusing for someone who hadn't read the book. Lastly, the music. I don't know who chose the music for this movie but it was grating. The movie only gets Photobucket