Waterfall Wednesdays #1

Okay, so I've been seeing a lot of excitement about the River of Time Series, and was intrigued, but they were just kind of "on my To Read list"...Then I saw this Read-Along and thought it'd be fun to join in - but all the local bookstores in my area were sold out. Somehow not being able to get the book made me want it more...and the very next day, after discovering this fact, I won a signed copy on twitter! Yay! It arrived in the mail yesterday, and I immediately started reading so I could dive in for Waterfall Wednesdays - a weekly discussion of set chapters, starting today. With that introduction in place, let's jump in, shall we?

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Discussion 1: Chapters 1-6
Today's questions hosted by Tinasbookreviews
Waterfall opens with the introduction of Gabi, shes depressed, a little angry and is dealing with feelings of loneliness. Are you connecting with her this soon in the novel? Do you see things you like or dislike?
I am able to relate and connect to Gabi - sure, she's got a little bit of the "typical teenager 'tude" going on, but there is some reasonable justification for it: her dad's dead and her mom's escaping into her work. So I can understand where her feelings are coming from. Do I hope she grows up a little? Of course - but that's also part of a good novel: having your character grow and develop. I also like that Gabi's so kick-ass: she's one tough chica, and I am a little in awe. Not gonna lie. If I was like that at 17, my life would be so much less complicated now, haha...

Gabi gets to time travel back to 14th Century Italy- The Dark Ages in its prime. Is there anytime in history that fascinates you and would you travel back if you could?
I was a History major in college, and there are definitely eras that pique my interest: Medieval Britain; the Renaissance; the Regency (thank you, Jane Austen)...settling the American Frontier...the Alaskan Gold Rush...and I would definitely love to go back in time and witness Queen Victoria's reign 'for real.'

Most of the men, including Marcello have a very set opinion about a woman's place. Gabi gets manhandled a bit in these first few chapters, and even gets asked if shes a witch. The men are shocked when Gabi rides a horse like a man and shimmies down the castle walls. What do you think of mens mentality back then? Gentlemanly, chauvinistic, simple-minded?
I think they're a good reflection of how their mommas and daddies raised 'em - they're polite, they're respectful of custom and tradition. But they're also respectful of Gabi's personhood too - you know, after they realize she's not a witch. She's so very different from them, they don't know what to make of her. It was definitely a two-way culture shock. They're (begrudgingly, mayhap?) respectful of her talents and abilities though, even as different and far removed as she is from their own 'norms'. They also are entirely hard-wired to keep her safe -- something she desperately needs as she's learning to navigate this new - er, old - world she's stumbled into.

When Gabi becomes a part of this era, the people are immediately intrigued but suspicious of her. Many judge her by her difference. Do you think this is fair? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like an outsider or that others were misjudging you?
Gotta think about it from their perspective: Gabi's differentness goes beyond just speaking a different language or being from another country. She's from another century - a whole different time and place. And she brought all that knowledge and influence with her - she's rocking their world. Especially considering the uneasy state of things she walked into, I don't find their caution unwarranted
I have felt like an outsider at times, and felt as if people were not fully understanding what I was doing or saying. I think it's part of our human nature to be hesitant, cautious, when we encounter something - or someone - different from us. The bigger the difference, the greater the caution. Is it right? Not necessarily. But in some respects it's a variation of the self-preservation instinct: is this dangerous, will it hurt/destroy me? Once the answers to these questions are found, people - mostly - settle into a better rhythm of interaction and acceptance.

What do think the coolest thing would be about living in the Dark Ages? What would be the worst?
Coolest? I love the clothes. Seriously. I also like the literary and artistic traditions, so it'd be neat to see them firsthand. The worst? No indoor plumbing! I can deal without electricity if I have to, but I am definitely a major fan of indoor plumbing.
Come back next Wednesday for Discussion 2: Chapters 7-11!


Sense & Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility
Jane Austen
Modern Library, 1940 (original copyright: 1811)

Oh, Jane...This was a 'comfort read' for me that also happened to neatly align with the Bicentennial Challenge I'm participating in over at Austenprose. It's been years since I read Sense & Sensibility (the real one, not a modern retelling), and I was very excited to see how it compared with both my memory and the film versions I watch frequently. I was not disappointed. There's so much to Jane, even though she merely writes about normal people living fairly normal lives. But there's a magic to the telling, and in Sense & Sensibility, it gains a special persuasion - perchance because I can see so much of my life, of the lives of my friends, reflected in the telling. This is a real story, about things that still happen.

For something as familiar and beloved as Austen, I don't want to write so much as 'review' as my response to the novel...As stated earlier: it was a comfort read. Familiar, cozy, you know exactly how it's going to end - but with every reading there is a new discovery of the characters, the story, yourself. I see so much of myself in Elinor - for all the 'fire & ice' hidden away inside my core, I do my very best to present a more composed front to the world (particularly those not a part of my inner circle). Do I succeed? Not always. I am not possessed of what you call a 'poker face.' But the point is: I can relate so very, very much to Elinor and her struggles. Marianne? Now her I just want to shake until her teeth rattle and her brains settle. Sense & Sensibility is a very reader-response text for me, obviously. I have very personal reactions and interactions with the characters (including falling for Edward, harder every time), I get into the story and taste that world. Personally, I find this evidence of Austen's success at writing - if you are able to draw me into the world you've written, kudos and brownie points coming your way.

I am very happy to have spent the time revisiting this classic comfort read, and while I look forward to delving into other versions and variations of the story - I am definitely going to come back to Sense & Sensibility before another ten years passes.

Book provided by my personal library.


Sisterhood Everlasting

Sisterhood Everlasting
Ann Brashares
Random House, 2011

Oh. Man. I was so excited when I found out that there was a new Sisterhood novel coming out. As I discussed Wednesday, I grew up with Carmen, Lena, Bee and Tibby - but then their story just...ended. So I was obviously very excited to pick it back up again, ten years down the road, and see where their journeys took them. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting, truthfully. Even during the rereading of the original four, I couldn't figure out just where Brashares would take me in the next, final, installment. While I didn't really have a set expectation, what I read still was wholly unexpected - if that makes sense. And yet, at the same time, it worked. It fit. Even as I sat there asking myself "Huh?" while reading, some part of my brain was nodding in agreement, knowing this really was how the story needed to play out.

I'm going to be very, very careful about spoilers for this - because it's a book you need to experience for yourself. I will say, however, don't give up. Don't lose faith. Keep reading, and you're going to see just how awesome this story really is. I promise! The journey and the ending make up for every "wth?"-moment you may have while reading. I had a note of this forewarning myself, so find it only fair to pass it along to you. There are going to be moments when you catch your breath and stare at the page. But there are also going to be moments you laugh softly to yourself, and smile quietly. The Septembers are still the Septembers - just older, maybe a different quirk is more pronounced now than it was ten years ago, but Lena is still Lena, Bee is still Bee, Carmen is still Carmen, and Tibby is still Tibby. The peripheral characters are as wonderful and 'substantial' in terms of rounding out the story as ever. For all the surprises, they're also not really so surprising, because everything rings true to form. The only truly odd part to me was finding myself suddenly a few years younger than the girls - when I'd always been their age or just a little older. And yet, I can relate just as easily to their older selves as I did the younger.

And now the story is ended. Unlike reaching the end of Forever Blue, I do feel like there's more closure - that the story really is over now. Is it hard to put down the book and know my jean-lovin' Septembers are most likely never going to reappear again? A little, yeah. I've spent ten years of my life with these girls, with this story. Literally: I turned 26 this summer, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants came out the summer I turned 16. My life and the Septembers' story is so...mirror-echo-y. But at the same time, it's okay. Because I've seen how it all turns out - and from here on out? It's gonna be good; they've learned the most important lessons 'for keeps' this time, and so have I. Our journey ends, but friendship is forever.

Book provided by publisher for review.


Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Okay, this is going to be slightly different - in preparation for reading Sisterhood Everlasting, I wanted to reread the 'original' Sisterhood books. It's been a while since I read them, and I wanted to refresh my memory of where things stood when the story left off. I didn't plan to write a 'real' review of them - and yet, I didn't want to leave them unmentioned either. So, this is a 'group review' of sorts: my thoughts on the books as a series, rather than each individual book. It's fitting, in a way, because I've always considered them as a single, all-encompassing unit: whenever a new one was published, I'd reread all the others before letting myself read the newest installment. In this rereading, I'm loving seamlessly going from book to book - finishing each in a few days, and picking the next one up immediately. It's the preferred method for reading through a series, and for this one it's particularly interesting. Plus, I think it makes the story - the overall story - a stronger one.

My thoughts...Oh man. Where to begin? I remember the first time I read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I was working with the Children's Librarian at my local library (since closed down, sad day), and it came in the batch of new books. I pounced, and she let me have it immediately. (There are major perks to being in the know!) I was fascinated by the concept, the characters, everything. I was even turning 16 myself that summer, so the Septembers could have been my friends. From then, I grew faster than the story was published, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing - and it certainly didn't deter me from reading the series through completion. I own a matching set of paperbacks, and my University library actually bought Girls in Pants when it was published on my recommendation. With the rereading, I'm remembering all the other times I read these novels - but I'm also rediscovering bits of them, and myself, along the way.

The story is as familiar and comfortable as a well-loved pair of jeans (permit me the phrase, it just works), and I found myself cringing and laughing alongside Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bee as they had revelations and misadventures. I saw in their stories and struggles a reflection of my own journey through life. I think that's partially why I loved these novels so well as they were written: by reading them, I was able to see myself, without having to look straight-on at things I was dealing with. And there's some seriously heavy stuff in here! As I get older, I am always a little 'startled' to find just how much "weight" there is to literature for young[er] people. Part of me cringes, and a greater part of me embraces it - because I'm a living example of reading to understand my world, myself. And life is heavy.

The Sisterhood series is definitely one I'm glad I own, happy to reread, and plan to hang on to for years to come. Maybe one day I'll have a daughter I can pass them along to. I may have out-aged them, but the Septembers are still my friends.


Folly Beach

Folly Beach
Dorothea Benton Frank
William Morrow, 2011

I have been a fan of Dorothea Benton Frank since I got to meet her at scholarship luncheon my sophomore year of college. Since then I think I have read every book she's written, and always look forward to her new offerings. Folly Beach, this year's installment in Lowcountry literature, is different from Frank's other novels. Very different. I'll admit, I almost put it down, because it took me a little bit to figure out what was going on - but I was intrigued by the story, so I persevered.So glad I did!

Folly Beach is a double-story, that - I guess - is really almost a frame story. Alternating chapters tell the story of Cate Cooper, a modern woman who finds herself seeking refuge at her beloved Folly Beach, and Dorothy Heyward, the wife of Dubois Heyward who wrote the story behind Porgy and Bess. Cate's chapters are told in prose, and you will alternately chuckle and cringe at the crazy adventure Life sends her on. But Cate's plucky, and as she comes into her own, she discovers another Lowcountry woman who beat the odds.

Enter Dorothy Heyward, whose chapters intersperse Cate's, and are presented as a one-woman play script. (This threw me for the first bit, but as I kept reading, I came to see the significance - and it gets really, really cool, I promise!) Dorothy's story could really be read separately, but paired with Cate's the way it is, both women's tales gain so much more emphasis and 'relatability'. Definitely worth muddling through the early part of the book to get to the meat. Frank has once again delivered a satisfying summer read.

Book provided by my local library.


New Books!

Okay, I haven't done one of these in several weeks...And I may or may not have forgotten something, because I'm going from memory. Just to let you know.

Reality Check - won from Jen Calonita in her Summer Paperback Giveaway series

For Review:
The Cheshire Cheese Cat is for for a blog tour in October,
and Chasing the Nightbird -- both from Peachtree Books
This stash of happy from my NYC-BigSis who is moving and thought of me while packing. Yay for a new slew of chick lit!


Freedom's Stand

Freedom's Stand
J.M. Windle
Tyndale, 2011

I received this through Tyndale's book review program, and was really looking forward to it -- I've always had a general interest in the Middle East, and since 9/11 have had an interest in keeping up with things pertaining to our troops and their endeavors. When I saw Freedom's Stand listed, and read the first chapter, I knew this was a title I wanted to review. What I wasn't counting on was how difficult it'd be to do the actual reading.

My difficulty stems from two things: the very real subject matter covered, as well as the way the book is written. I really should have expected the subject to be harder to read than initially thought; hindsight is twenty-twenty once more. That said, it really is a very compelling read - there is a very real sense to it. I felt like I could be reading truth instead of fiction. There's conflict and resolution, there's inner struggles and real world situations and scenarios. This stuff could actually be happening, right now. I have friends who've been in Afghanistan, so I made a personal connection to aspects of this story. In theory, I think the fact that it was hard to read in terms of subject matter means that Windle did a good job creating her story - it has a feel of truth to it, which is not always easy to come by.

The writing itself - the point of view changes a lot, and there's not always a clear transition. A few times I had to stop and back up a little bit to figure out who was now talking, what part of the story I was now reading. Personally, this bugs me. Also, there were a ton of references to 'history' among the characters that felt very significant but were utterly mystifying. Then I visited Amazon and realized: Freedom's Stand is the 'sequel' to Veiled Freedom. Oops. I have a feeling that would make the whole reading experience much less confusing. Note to future self and other readers: Make sure you're reading not reading a sequel first!

Book provided by publisher for review.


Summer Rental

Summer Rental
Mary Kay Andrews
St Martin's Press, 2011

I was super looking forward to this one - I've thoroughly enjoyed the two other Mary Kay Andrews novels I've read (The Fixer Upper and Deep Dish, links to Goodreads), and Summer Rental is set at the Outer Banks. I love the OBX, and they're one of the natural highlights of my homestate. The cover is fun, the premise was interesting, and it just seemed like the perfect summer read. But once I got into it, I just had a hard time - so I flipped ahead, skip-reading, to see if everything went the way I thought it was, and then just called it done. Here's some more review-y things to think about if you want to give it a go yourself ...

There are a lot of characters, and each gets to tell their own story. Perspective changes a lot because of this, and sometimes it's not a clear transition from person to person. (I think that's what bugged me most, actually). Another aspect of the every-character-gets-their-story is that there are a lot of storylines to keep straight, which is actually less confusing than you'd expect. Also, there's a darker thread to the story - it's not just straight-up fun, beach read, chick lit. Since I was expecting a fun, light read, I was surprised.

Fans of Andrews should give it a go - I just have a hard time finishing books that are not what I thought I was reading, whether it's a timing-of-the-read-thing or what-have-you.

Book provided by my local library.


Blog Tour: Under a Fairy Moon

Under a Fairy Moon
TM Wallace
Brownridge, 2011

Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book! for letting me join the blog tour for this new novel! Not only is the cover beautiful, but the story is engrossing and unpredictable. Under a Fairy Moon is a YA fantasy that doesn't quite go where you think it will, but the adventure is all the better for the unexpectedness.

It all starts because Addy has one very active imagination, and she uses it to escape the uncertainty and awkwardness of her 'real world.' Her stand-offish neighbor has a mysterious, and fairly secretive, garden that Addy has claimed as her own wonderland. But it's not just any garden, there's a darker mystery to it - but not wholly dark. Together with Connor - the boy she follows into the garden one morning, trying to keep him from 'stealing' her territory - Addy discovers that there is far more to the garden than even her imagination conjured. The two find themselves embroiled in a game of 'Fairy Chess' - an elaborate and grueling "game" that tests their weaknesses and strengths, forcing them to look deep inside and come to terms with who they really are, in their heart of hearts. Along the way, they meet countless mythic and otherworldly creatures, making friends and enemies, and learning that this is no ordinary game. The stakes are high - for both the Summerland and their world.

Under a Fairy Moon is a complex story that can be read at a surface-level as an enjoyable and attention-keeping fantasy adventure. You could also look at as a story with a deeper meaning as well - as much as I dislike the whole "what is not being said while really being said" aspect of reading and literature, I couldn't help but find myself making parallels while reading: this could very easily be used as an example of the ongoing and ever-present good-versus-evil battle. My brain was getting annoyingly in the way whispering about how things could be interpreted, how this character or that idea could translate into a bigger picture/point than initial reading. I try really hard not to indulge in those trains of thought (unless the author has clearly indicated some such, and then I view it as a treasure-hunting challenge!), but it was a strong sensation, so I mention it. Overall, the story was fast-paced and very, very involving. Lots of twists and turns, and I never knew what was going to happen next.

Make sure you visit the main page (click the banner) to see the other stops along the blogtour!

Book provided by publicist for review.


The Tree That Owns Itself

The Tree That Owns Itself
Gail Langer Karwoski & Loretta Johnson Hammer
Peachtree Publishers,1996

This is a collection of short stories for late elementary and middle grades, focusing on Georgia's history. Instead of trying to present a comprehensive overview of the history of Georgia as a state, the authors picked 12 interesting stories from different eras in Georgian history to use as representative examples. The stories range from the present to colonial days, with the most 'recent' stories first - so the tales get older as you keep reading. I have always been fascinated by Georgia, but have never really learned a lot of it's history aside from St. Simon's Island/Savannah (which I've learned through compulsive historical fiction reading, begun by Eugenia Price's books). So this was a doubly-fun endeavor for me: not only was I getting to read some fun stories, but I was learning a little about Georgia. Definitely a win.

The stories are easy to read, without feeling dummied down or "babyish" - perfect for upper-elementary grades on up through middle school (though even high schoolers could find this useful, I think). At the end of each story, there's a quick note explaining what's true or not, and why that particular story has a special place in Georgian lore. My favorite story is "Max, the Paratrooping Dog," but they're all entertaining and enjoyable. I can already think of ways to implement this in a classroom or school library setting, as well as see it being a good book for "storytime" in a home.

Book provided by publisher for review.


The Seventh Blessing

The Seventh Blessing
Melissa Buell
The Little Things Publishing Co., 2011

Before I get started, did you see my interview with Melissa Buell, posted last Thursday? If not, make sure you swing by and check it out! Good stuff to be had, if I do say so myself. Now then, to get down to reviewing-business...

This is one of those books that you don't want to put down, because you've got to see what's going to happen next, what's going to be said next. I found myself alternately chuckling and cringing at the characters' antics - one minute things would be going so well, then, whoops! slip-up and it's all a muddle again. Not to mention the fact there's a lot of action going on! But wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself...

Samantha, Sam, is The Princess (and future Queen) of Mittra. When she was born, there was a slight mix-up concerning her fairy blessings - a mix-up that Sam doesn't find out about for years, but that brings all her misadventures into startling clarity when the truth is revealed. So what's a girl to do when she finds out that who she thought she was isn't who she really is, but who she always felt she was is who she really is? Join the parade and pageantry of the Tournament Circuit, of course - get a glimpse of the other countries in Gymandrol, start to see how she fits into the grand scheme of things, meet new people, and - if her mother's wishes come true - acquire a Proposal of Marriage along the way. What happens next is an adventure that kept me reading (far too late into the night, I'm afraid), and when it ended - though I was very happy with the results, I was left wanting more. ((Editorial commentary: This is the problem with reading first books a year before the second book comes out...Sigh. At least it wasn't a massive cliff-hanger like some I'm waiting for!))

Why did I like this book so much? The characters and the backstory. Both added great depth and detail to a deceptively simple story. Sam is real - she gets confused, she gets her feelings hurt, she's just like any other 18 year old girl. Well, you know, if every girl could have really awesome fairy gifts and be a princess. And the other characters are just as life-like -- you're definitely going to recognize someone in at least one of them! And Nolan...Oh, Nolan. He's wonderful. I laughed at him, I cringed for him, I fell for him and cheered for him. So the characters are awesome. And the backstory? Equally so: Buell actually took the time to create a whole history that would explain the current situation/scenario. I love it when authors take the time to really 'flesh out' their worlds. It adds so much more depth and even a little mystery.

The Seventh Blessing releases on the 15th, and I definitely recommend it to fans of fairy tales, fantasy adventures, and those who don't want a 'creepy' read! Now...to sit back and wait for Book Two...

Digital copy of book provided by publisher for review.


Q&A with Melissa Buell

Hello, hello! How about something a little different today? Thanks to Caroline over at The Little Things Publishing Company, I have been privileged to not only read The Seventh Blessing (an *amazing* YA fantasy debut, review comes Monday!), but also to interview the author: Melissa Buell! It's things like this that make me love the book world even more. Just sayin'...Anywhosers, to get down to business - Melissa and I had a blast chatting, and now's the time I get to share the fun with you!

A Word's Worth: Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview -- I absolutely *loved* reading 'The Seventh Blessing', and got really excited that I'd get to pick your brain a little.

Melissa Buell:  I'm so glad that you liked it! That means a lot to me.

AWW: I think I fell in love with Nolan, I'm not gonna lie, haha

MB: Nolan was fun to write as a bit of a heartbreaker.

AWW: He reminded me of boys I've known - endearing, but devastating to the ladies (entirely unknowing, of course!) ... but he also grew, and is so totally on my Hero list now

MB: Yay for a hero list!

AWW: 'Seventh Blessing' is the *first* in the Gymandrol novels - so I've gotta ask: Will the second book be a continuation or a companion novel? And more importantly: Will there be more Sam & Nolan?!

MB: The second book is about Emma. And YES to more Sam and Nolan!

AWW: YAY! on both counts!

MB: I wanted to write a book to continue the series because I love the characters so I thought about how I could do that without being static. I came up with continuing on where the epilogue leaves off in TSB.

AWW: Very cool - it also kinda mimics Sam's own story, so there's that connecting thread too. I'm excited already! How did you come up with the backstory present in the novel? I loved the depth it added, and the mystery - and am always fascinated when authors take the time to create a 'history' for the 'world' they create.

MB: I started WAY back in the fairy days when Sansevierra was still alive and vibrant. I wanted the continent to feel old and have that separation of humans and fairies. My first versions have so much info about the fairies and the king and queen. I had to keep cutting back because it the story was supposed to be more about Sam, not the fairies.

AWW: (Sounds like amazing material for another book! Just sayin')

MB: I still have it all! I've thought about the idea of a "prequel." We'll see... I had to come up with a reason for the humans and fairies to have the current relationship they have. Working backward from that, I came up with the Fairy Rebellion, the blessings ceremonies, etc.

AWW: It definitely added a lot to the story - I loved the fairies, and the way they interacted with each other. I also appreciate that while there's "magic" in the story, it's not the overwhelming or 'creepy' kind present in a lot of current YA novels -- kind of reminds me of more traditional-type tales.

MB: Thank you! I really didn't want the magic to be overwhelming or scary. I have a lot of young friends who like to read and I didn't want to freak them out. Add to that the fact that I didn't want to freak myself out with writing creepy stuff late at night! That's the bad part of having a good imagination. Freaking yourself out.

AWW: Sort of related topic jump: As a YA fantasy writer, do you read other YA fantasy or try to steer away from it?

MB: I read EVERYTHING! I love YA fantasy books. I'm looking at my bookshelf closest to me right now and I have Robin McKinley, the Eragon series, Gail Carson Levine, and Harry Potter on it. Plus, I go to the library weekly and check out more books. I like to know what is out there in the same genre as an author but I also love it as a reader.

AWW: If you had to name your all-time favorite YA fantasy, what would it be?

MB: Oh! Now it's time for the hard questions! I really loved Spindle's End by Robin McKinley but I think my favorite is Beauty, also by McKinley. It was the first YA fantasy book that I read in high school and it really stuck with me as a great way to retell such a classic tale.

AWW: Do you think your intro to YA fantasy was what got you hooked/led you to write YA fantasy of your own?

MB: I've always loved fairy tales so that was part of it. I remember when I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe I pushed on the back of my closet to get to Narnia. It was very disappointing to me to not be able to get there. Reading YA has always been something I've liked, even as an adult. I like it when character development is important, not just finding the next person to "date."

AWW: Do you think you'll always write YA fantasy, or only YA-some-other-genre, or would you venture into "Adult territory"?

MB: I'll probably stick with YA, Middle Grade, or even some books for little kids. I want to be able to write books that my kids can read and not blush. Too much.

AWW: Okay, another jump, and a hard question: 5 books that you think everyone MUST read.

MB: Oh, you're killing me! Okay, shooting from the hip: The Bible, "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, Shakespeare's plays (does that count?).

AWW: Yeah, Shakespeare's Canon's got to count as one (so sayeth the Lit Major)

MB: Oh! "Farenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury. Farenheit is SO sad to me but it's a great cautionary tale.

AWW: Okay, to wrap things up...the Promised Easy Question! (I hope it's easy): Favorite place to read AND favorite snackage?

MB: Favorite place to read is on the couch with a blanket. Favorite snack is milk (with a cube of ice in it to keep it cold) and Milanos cookies.

I had so much fun chatting with Melissa -- we also spent a good 15 minutes talking about Anne of Green Gables and L.M. Montgomery -- kindred spirits, I tell you, kindred spirits. Many thanks again to Caroline for setting it up, and to Melissa for taking the time to have a chat.

Be sure to swing by Monday for my review of The Seventh Blessing! And if you want to know more about Melissa, mosey over and check out her blog: Have Imagination, Will Write!


The Little Women Letters

The Little Women Letters
Gabrielle Donnelly
Simon & Schuster, 2011

As a life-long lover of Little Women, there was no way I could pass this one up. Emma, Sophie and Lulu Atwater are the great-great-granddaughters of Jo March. Yes, that Jo March - the one who cut her hair and had all sorts of scrapes and misadventures, declined Laurie's proposal and ended up marrying a German professor named Bhaer. See what I mean? There is no not-reading this one!

Lulu is the middle sister, flanked by elder sister Emma who has everything smoothly under control and is planning her wedding, and little sister Sophie who is energetically pursuing her creative career on the stage. Lulu is...well, she's not sure what she's doing or where she's going. A brilliant academic, she has no desire to continue following science - people-skills are not necessarily her forte - and the idea of trying to find a 'real' job is just too, too much. Lulu's 'escape' is cooking. And then, she stumbles across a stash of old letters - Grandma Jo's letters, to be exact. In the words shared between sisters, generations ago, Lulu finds a kindred spirit, and starts discovering things about herself - and what family, sisterhood, means.

The Little Women Letters is a good read. A solid read. Poignant, real, familiar. The characters, especially Lulu, are easy to relate to - I'm pretty sure I've had some of the exact same thoughts as Lulu. This is what I would consider a 'genuine' novel: you could swap out the characters with real people, and it'd be a believable story (well, if it were possible to truly be related to a fictional character - but you catch my drift). I thoroughly enjoyed it, and now dearly want to revisit Little Women.

Book provided by my local library.