A Love for the TBR Pile

We’ve all been there. Heck, we’re probably all still there. In the middle of reading one or two or three books, while at the same time, our to-be-read pile is growing and staring at us and waiting for us to make it part of our lives. And we just keep adding books to it, don’t we? Well, I know I do.

But you know what? I love it! I love that I have books lined up for me to read. I love that there are at least seven books on my bookshelf that I haven’t gotten to yet … because that means I have something (hopefully) awesome for me to read when I’m done with the three books I’m currently reading. And though I can’t WAIT to dive into those books, I love the fact that I’ve got reserves. It’s like making sure you won’t run out of groceries. You love indulging in those Oreos, but WHEW! you’ve got a few more packages tucked away in the cupboard waiting for you. Except it’s even better, because books don’t have any calories. *wink*

Here are a few of the books waiting for me in my to-be-read pile.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi – I know, I’m way behind on this one. Loved the first book and can’t wait to sink my eyes into the sequel.

Copper Girl by Jennifer Allis Provost – I’ve been holding on to this since BEA last year and I’m dying to get to it. One day. Soon. Very soon.

Triangles by Kimberly Ann Miller – Another BEA prize. Can’t wait to see what the Bermuda Triangle has in store for these characters.

The Doll House Asylum by Mary Gray – Yes, BEA was kind to me. This sounds like an awesome read, can’t wait to get to it.

Indelible by Dawn Metcalf – Yet another BEA win. Can I just say how cool it was to meet Dawn in person?

Okay, I could go on, because there are still a handful of books I haven’t begun yet, though I’m itching to. And this will never change. Because once I do get to Unravel Me and Triangles and Indelible, there will be another ten or so books to add to the pile. And don’t I just love that? Yes. Yes, I do!

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Literary Love Syndrome

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I have suffered from a ‘syndrome’ for years that I’ve appropriately named the ‘literary love’ syndrome. It’s what I’ve named the emotional instability I experience after reading certain books, watching certain TV shows or movies, or listening to a beautiful piece of music. When it comes to books, I know that a book has managed to win my heart when by the middle of it, I have been stricken with this aching, painful, love sick feeling. By the end, I hold onto the book, never wanting to let go. That feeling of wanting to keel over and cry over the beauty of that specific artistic piece is something that has become such a milestone in the way I pick my favorites from the hundreds of other books I read on a yearly basis (because yes, at one point in my life, there were hundreds of books read in a year. Not so much anymore, unfortunately). If the book makes me cry, laugh and genuinely feel more alive, then its done the trick. It’s a deep melancholy, almost like Ennui, but in a positive sense… It’s a metaphysical angst caused by experiencing beautiful things, by seeing, reading or hearing something that makes my heart sore and ache at the same time. It’s what I imagine love must feel like. The last book that gave me such a feeling was Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford. I read it over this past summer, and for a few days following, I was vulnerable and fragile, ready to cry at the drop of a hat. It has left a mark on my soul, and my life cannot possibly go back to being the way it was before I flipped over to the first page. The first book I experienced this feeling with was The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (I was nine, and I was sure that the protagonist had been written with me in mind). I remember every book that has left such a mark on me, every word and phrase that has taken me captive. This is what it means to love life. How is it possible to live in any other way?

In high school, it was books like The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos and The Angels Game Ruiz Zafon (which partially inspired one of the themes in Shattered Illusions, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy that unearthed this sense of pleasure, passion and pain in me. They unearthed the writer that was hiding somewhere in my spirit, the writer I wanted to become, but didn’t know how to become. Reading these books not only introduced me to the desire to live a passionate life outside of myself, but they taught me how to internalize my passion for everything it was worth, and make it my own. After reading The Book Thief, I suddenly found the courage to write with fury, lust and desire. It was something I had never done before, something I was ashamed to try for fear of not being good enough. In the weeks following my six week sit through of War and Peace, I skated on a cloud, feeling as though nothing in life could ever weigh me down. These books taught me everything about who I wanted to, and how to become that person. If that isn’t love, then what is?

I had a harder time stumbling upon such books as an adult. For a time, I thought that perhaps it was because the literary love had to die with old (‘old’) age. I believed that I would have to mature and stop looking at the world the rose colored glasses with which I read these books. The books weren’t handed to me as they were when I was seventeen, and I began to make really awful reading decisions. But then I discovered books by Roberto Bolano, Mark Danielewski and Pascal Mercier, and once again, my heart felt the flame of love. And, when all else failed, I went back and reread my favorites. There’s nothing wrong with rekindling an old flame once in a while, at least, not where books are concerned.

Can something that feels this good have such a painful quality at the same time, I wonder. I’ve experienced this ‘syndrome’ with so many things besides for reading: writing, music, and art, to name a few. The act of creating, understanding and absorbing is, for me, the act of love, or, at least, part of it. There’s a sense of peace in this syndrome.  I want to feel like this forever, yet, I wish, sometimes, that it would disappear for good. Do I want to feel content yet furious and anxious at all times? Is that what love is? That feeling of safety and absolute insecurity at the same time. Is this what other people equate with love and meaning? Safety in insecurity, like walking on a sheet of ice over a river, feeling completely at ease, all the while knowing that at any moment the ice could break open up and swallow you into the cold darkness. That’s what writing feels like. It feels so safe, yet there is no safety in it. There is no safety in being a writer and yet I never feel more secure than when I am doing it. The whole world could be falling to pieces, but as long as I have my ability to write, whether the writing is fantastic or absolutely dreadful, then I’ll feel safe. As long as I have these things to call my own, I will never feel alone. That is what love means to me.

That is what it means to be alive.

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Literary Love

This month’s topic is Literary Love. I think this topic is awesome because I get to talk about new books, authors and covers that I’m currently obsessed with. I had a long list of potential winners. They were all so awesome, the only fair way I could narrow it down was to do a bracket system like the Sweet Sixteen. And the winners are….

Best Cover:
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Blurb: Cíbola, the city of gold, is just a myth—or is it? As Huber and his friends search for a magical golden staff, they must believe in the legends and follow the clues that will lead them to this fabled city. But with a madman and a deadly secret society right on their trail, it quickly becomes a race for their lives! Huber’s final installment will keep any adventurer captivated.

Seriously, look at that cover.  How could you not want to read it? Huber Hill and the Golden Staff can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Best Book

17406847Blurb: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect.

I had such a fun time reading Defy.  It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. Larson does a amazing job at world building, you’ll lose yourself in this book. Defy is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Aaaannddd, last but certainly not least, newest author I’m excited about is…..

Jonathan Ryan!

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His latest novel, 3 Gates of The Dead released this fall.  I found his writing style unique and intriguing.  While I normally stick to the YA genre I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried 3 Gates of The Dead.  I don’t have a ton of time to read, but I found myself completely losing track of time when I read it.  I couldn’t wait to unravel the mystery and was shocked at the ending.  Find out more about Jonathan Ryan on his Website. 3 Gates of The Dead is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Bookcase Love

ImageWith a topic of literary love for February, and whatever it is about Spring that makes a person want to reorganize the entire house, I’ve got my heart set on some pretty fantastic bookcase ideas for my paper darlings. It almost makes me want to start a pinterest account just so I can keep up on the inspiration!

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I grew up with bookcases and I have them in every room of the house, on just about every wall. Most of them are crammed full of books and games and bins of toys. I keep telling myself more bookcases will give me space to spread things out…but I know I’m just kidding myself. Still, it would be nice if I could unpack all the record albums I have stored in the garage. 🙂

ImageI don’t seem to have a problem with purging the toys the kids have outgrown, but I have a hard time parting with books.

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However, as much as I want to keep them all, this Spring I think I might have to pass a few along with hopes that someone will enjoy them for more than just their good looks. And then I can play with turning my bookcases into a beautiful feature of the home, rather than the crammed, cluttered storage space they seem to be now.

One thing is certain: there’s an endless supply of ideas out there. Do you display your books with pride, or pass them along to others?

New Love Born of the Old—breathing new life into an old series

In some ways, maybe most ways, this isn’t a new love.  I’ve been a huge fan of Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco mysteries for some years.  I like historical, and I like wise-cracking P.I.s, so how could I resist a wise-cracking detective who’s also an ancient roman?  I really liked all those books…but after a while, though she kept the quality high, I could tell that Ms. Davis was beginning to wear out Falco and his wife Helena, as characters.  She took them through their first meeting, through romance, marriage, childbirth and the raising of a young family.  They went from poor and struggling to prosperous.  And while the mysteries were always good, I could tell that Davis was hitting the wall that most series hit—she was beginning to run out of things to do with those characters.

Since I love the series, I was saddened when the Falco books became fewer and farther apart, but as  writer I understand that after a while a character might not have much new to offer, and Falco and Helena had had a great run…

So I was absolutely thrilled when the first Flavia Albia mystery came out.  Flavia Albia was the adopted daughter that Falco and Helena picked up on one of their trips to

Britannia, a tough as nails slum brat with all kinds of hidden flaws and insecurities.  And what could be more natural than for the child to take over the father’s business when he retires?  The fact that the business is Falco’s ratty, disreputable work as an informer (ancient Roman version of a P.I.) and the child who takes it over is female just makes it all the more intriguing.  The first book also introduced a wonderful hero for Albia to fall for over the course of many books…and the next book, Enemies at Home, is coming out in April!  But best of all, is that Albia shares her father’s lovely, wry P.I. voice.

“There are rules for private informers accepting a new case. Never take on clients who cannot pay you. Never do favors for friends. Don’t work with relatives. If, like me, you are a woman, keep clear of men you find attractive.

“Will I never learn?” 

I can’t wait.

Bell_Thief_cover-12-16Hilari’s other love is her fantasy version of a buddy cop show, in which the 4th book, Thief’s War, is coming out at the end of the month!

Literary Addictions…

February is the month of love and this month we are sharing new literary loves. I have 18369048many but I’m going to keep my list short and list one series that I fell in love with. “The Addicted Series” by Becca and Krista Ritchie just grabbed me and sucked me in.

The first book in the series, “Addicted To You,” is a Raw. Gritty. Dirty. A nasty story of the secret side of the upper echelon of society. It’s surely going to be one of those books that people either love or hate. In my case, I loved it.

“Addicted To You” is a down and dirty account of two people—one addicted to sex and the other to booze. The twin Ritchie duo didn’t pretty it up. It was gritty and showed the nastier side of addiction…the side that most people want to ignore. And it made a great book, in my opinion. But it’s more than a tale of two people fighting their separate addictions. They are fighting their attraction to each other, for reasons I won’t go into (read the book, I say!). They are scared and ashamed to go to their families because they’ll “embarrass” them. Huh. I know no family is perfect, but the family dynamics in this story are just heartbreaking. So very sad and touching at the same time.

But continue with caution, this is not a book that glosses over the world of addiction. You’re gonna get it like it is. And that’s what makes the book so awesomely great!

17969317The dynamic Ritchie duo followed up “Addicted To You” with “Addicted For Now.” It’s another book that just grabbed me right away. The characters from the first book in the series have different issues to deal with, harder in some ways, definitely healthier, but then a devastating betrayal sends them into a tailspin and threatens the precarious relationship with their addictions. I cried. Literally. Not just a few tears. Nope. Like, give me the box of tissues, snot nosed, fat tears, crying. I felt the pain, embarrassment and the feeling that they let everyone down. I could feel the weight of the world crashing on their shoulders—the inability to do or say anything to take it back, make it better, make it go away. I felt all that and more. It was an emotional, gut punch. It’s an emotionally gripping book and, whereas some sequels don’t stand-up to their predecessors, this book is just as incredible. Poignant…gripping…raw…clear your schedule…you’re in for a ride.

I’m not going to keep writing about the series…although I could, but I’m going to give you the deets on the full series.  And my advice? Run… I mean Run…to your computer and download your copy of “Addicted Series.” It’s an outstanding series.

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#1.5

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#2.5

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5

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Happy Reading Everyone!
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Voracious Genre Reader Seeks….

This month, we’re supposed to discuss our new literary loves. However, I tend to be a read-’em-and-leave-’em kind of reader. Perhaps that’s why lately I’ve felt more “eh” than “wow” after finishing a book. So, since I’m feeling so booklorn, I decided I ought to take out an ad:

Voracious Genre Reader seeks a five-star book. Science fiction and fantasy genres preferred, although willing to try other genres for the right story. Publishing method irrelevant. Must show strong craftsmanship in everything from word choice to world-building and display impeccable spelling and grammar. An intriguing plot is a must. Characters are lifelike and worth rooting for. If romance is part of the story (not the whole story), it should develop gradually and not be abusive or misogynistic, and those involved must complement each other’s needs. Above all, must show me something to wonder about, something to make me feel awe or see the world differently. In return, I can offer a five-star rating on Goodreads, word-of-mouth recommendations, and a promise to seek out other works by your author.

How does your ad for a five-star book read?