So in checking my email this past week, I received some news that totally rocked my day - more like my entire week or even month for that matter. Seems I've been nominated for an award during the upcoming Book Blogger Appreciation Week for Best New Blog!! Here's their description for the category:
Best New Blog – This new blog seems to have appeared out of nowhere since September of 2008 and has jumped into the book blogging world with both feet. You love their posts and wonder how the book blogging world ever got along without them.
After reading the description online, I was more than a little pumped. Knowing the competition is super fierce to even be short-listed, I'm just more than a little pleased to have been nominated at all. So thanks again for stopping by - I'm more than a little happy you came.
The sound of the explosion sent everyone diving to the ground, looking for cover. And, at first, when - stuff - rained down, Michael wasn't sure what it was. Then, he realized who is was. Who it had been.
There's no misunderstanding the horrors of war here. That said, Michael's oh so human reaction to death reminds you that he is only 18 years old. 18! Even though he's sickened, Michael responds with a ingrained sense of loyalty and compassion for the guys around him - showing his make without a second thought. Just wait, it gets better.
Hill 568 picks up after this horrific loss with the Echo Company boys getting buttered up with a steak dinner and rumors of a coming large scale offensive attack. Michael's main rule is to never volunteer for anything and this is not his idea of keeping a low profile. He's already been asked to walk point (which involves making sure nobody walks right into an attack or booby traps) for his squad and that mind numbing responsibility has left him strung too tightly as it is. Somehow they make it through, but with long-lasting consequences that aren't just physical.
Coming off that exhausting battle, the narrative switches to follow Lt. Rebecca Phillips in 'Tis the Season. Rebecca is in Vietnam for many personal reasons, one being the army paid for her nursing degree so she's agreed to spend one year as a nurse in a field hospital in Vietnam. Full of sass herself, Rebecca impulsively jumps on a medi-vac helicopter which then crashes in the jungle and kills her friends. Bad enough right? To her horror, some of the Vietnamese rebels heard the crash which leads to one unforgettable encounter with a young solider. Later, she stumbles through the jungle on a broken ankle until coming across Michael's squad - who are just as surprised to find her as she is them. Let's just say Michael is more than a little smitten with the ballsy Lieutenant.
Switching back to Michael's perspective, Stand Down is the final installment in this fantastic series. He's still a little shocked from finding the feisty Lieutenant wandering wounded in the middle of the jungle - after all he was on point and could have shot her. But when word comes that Echo Company will be on stand down (a type of break where the guys are sent to a noncombat zone), he's hoping for a chance to meet up with Rebecca and find out not only how she's doing but to see if she feels anything for him - because he's fallen pretty hard himself.
So it was more than a stretch for me to be picking up Vietnam war novels (of all things) but after stumbling upon Ellen Emerson White's The Road Home I knew I would do just about anything to pick up these first four books. Too pricey to buy (try $40 a pop), I enlisted the aid of my local librarian who happily found them on ILL and had them delivered no less than a couple of weeks later. Cheesy covers and sappy teaser lines aside, these books are solid gold. I knew I should expect some intelligent writing, but once again I was blown away with the deep emotion and sheer wit of it all. Michael's journey from fresh off the plane cherry to experienced point man in a matter of months is just plain riveting. Throw in one fiesty field nurse and you've got yourself a page-turner.
Additionally, this isn't one of those war novels that patronizes the soldiers by making them seem overly patriotic or full of political rhetoric. Michael and his squad mates are just guys, none too happy with their current situation, who are simply trying to make it out alive with at least a bit of their sanity left. Take this quote from Hill 568 which illustrates Michael's mixed feelings about what was expected of him in the army:
One thing he was learning about the Army was that you could be tired, or sick, or in pain -- and you did the job, anyway. You might gripe and groan a little - or even a lot - but you did what had to be done. If he were at home, and had blistered his hands this badly raking leaves, say, or shoveling snow, he probably would have quit, and gone inside the house to lay down. Here, he just had to grit his teeth, and get on with it.
So, he was either building character, or else he had fallen so deep into the group mentality that he was incapable of making any sort of decision for himself.
See? He's a smart aleck, grumpy but so dang lovable. Above all, he's bascially just a teenager who has been thrust into a situation that quickly turns him into an adult. FYI, Michael and Rebecca's story is continued in The Road Home, which naturally switches back to Rebecca's pov - just be warned - have some kleenex handy and don't get attached to many of the secodary characters. But still, pick it up. I promise you won't regret a minute spent on trying to get a hold of any of these fabulous books.
Please send me your address within the next five days and I'll get this awesome book shipped out right away. Congrats!
Here's the plot in a nutshell: Arthur Dent, human, thinks he has encountered the worst day of his life: his house is about to be destroyed to make way for a bypass. What he doesn't realize is that 1. his best friend, Ford Prefect, is actually an alien masquerading as an out of work actor and 2. Earth is about to be destroyed by a Vogon ship trying to clear a path for an intergalactic expressway. Ironic isn't it? Ford however knows of the impending destruction and helps Arthur 'hitch' a ride on this Vogon ship. What follows are their adventures encountering intergalactic presidents who steal expensive spaceships, depressed robots, and centuries old world-builders all in search of the ultimate answer (or question) to Life, the Universe and Everything.
Douglas Adam is witty in that unfailingly deadpan British way. He is also one of the most unusually creative writers I've ever come across. Not only are his characters unusual and competely real (even if they are robots) but some of the cosmic situations he describes are down right hilarious. Occasionally, he would begin to wax poetic about some scientific topic or other and I'd sort of zone out until I caught the hubby chuckling and then demand we rewind it until I got the joke too. Over all, it was decidedly different and inventive - I just might start celebrating towel day myself...
series reading order:
~ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
~ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
~ Life, the Universe and Everything
~ So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
~ Mostly Harmless
Let me start off by saying what in the heck is going on with this cover? Is Rachel cringing? Singing? Sighing? None really match her personality so I can't really figure it out. Not to mention the odd little ball - is it supposed to be the Kiss which not only allows Jovah to track you but tells you when you've found your one and only? I thought that was supposed to be embedded in your skin? Weird. Too weird. Other than the oddness of the art, I really enjoyed this unusual story of religion mixed with politics set in a brand new world. And once again Sharon Shinn does not disappoint with her wonderfully crafted characters. A competely believable hero and heroine and some nasty villains who really are a little larger than life. The narrative switches back and forth between Rachel and Gabriel, which at times seemed a bit redundant since they would cover each situation twice, but overall served to really give a good understand of each's personality. Inventive and very readable, I can't wait to pick up the rest of this fabulous series.
series reading order:
~ Jovah's Angel
~ Alleluia Files
~ Angel Seeker
I found this to be a fun, fast-paced ride, albeit sometimes a little dark. Pete and Jack's relationship is full of angst arising from some huge misunderstandings those ten years ago and both are sure the other is lying about something. What I liked about Pete was how loyal she can be: to the missing kids, to Jack. It really made me like her even more. My only problem was how quickly Pete went from a no-nonsense detective to fist-throwing brawler ready to defend Jack. It really didn't seem in keeping with her 'toe the line of the law' persona. Other than that, the descriptions of a magical London underworld centered in Whitechapel were more than a little fun.
This being the third installment in Michelle Sagara's engrossing series, I feel like I've got a good handle on her characters and the world of Elantra itself. Sagara's world building is practically mind-blowing. Each of her five races are so distinct with rich, deep histories that the reader learns right along with Kaylin. Cast in Courtlight dealt primarily with the imperious and crafty Barrani and this book zeroed in on the mysterious Tha'alani - mortal creatures who have stalk-like appendages that can 'read' a person. Both were fascinating and I have a sneaking suspicion the next book will force Kaylin to learn about the Dragons...
Despite its thickness (over 500 pages!) I'm seriously appreciating Sagara's style: the slow buildup of action that really doesn't make much sense - even if it is interesting - until all the pieces of the puzzle neatly fall into place, leaving you basically stunned with the sheer intelligence of the entire setup. The easiest reads, they ain't - but well worth any effort you put into them.
series reading order:
~ Cast in Shadow - my review
~ Cast in Courtlight - my review
~ Cast in Secret
~ Cast in Fury
What is one summer you'll never forget - was it the people, the place, the food, the books? Did you meet someone who changed the way you saw the world or simply find out something about yourself?
So comment away my friends. This happens to be my first-ever giveaway (kind of like Anna trying to ditch her own albatross) and I need you to help make it all special-like.
You have until Monday, August 17th at midnight to enter... Please be sure to leave me an email or blog address in your comment so I can let you know if you are the Winnah. This contest is open to US of A residents only (sorry internationals).
For a couple extra entries, you can become a follower (current followers, go ahead and give yourself an extra entry); or you can post it on your blog - just be sure to let me know the link; or comment on my review of Twenty Boy Summer. Just make it easy on me and let me know how many entries you have all total, mmmkay?
Good night and good luck!
This rich narrative alternates between Vianne and pere Reyaund's point of view with devastating results: all beauty, goodness, and even evil is laid bare for the reader to see. Vianne is competely open concerning all things in her past - the good and bad - she is funny, loving, and so magical. I was constantly lost in her decadent descriptions of her many chocolates. It was just so sensual - but not overtly or oddly so - which became especially obvious any time it switched to Reynaud's narration. Sanctimonious, self righteous and proud, Reynaud was a perfect foil to Vianne brightness and beauty.
The movie itself stayed pretty true to the book, but I must say I actually like the movie better. When does that ever happen?? I constantly had an image of Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp as Vianne and Roux while reading this and their characterizations were perfect. Not even to mention the lovely Judi Dench as Armande - she's the only woman who could make Armande come alive like that. Although the book was magical and beautifully written I absolutely HATED the ending. The movie ended so much better. I don't want to spoil anything here: but what was Vianne thinking?!?
series reading order:
~ The Girl with No Shadow