THIB! Twenty Minute Book Club Challenge

THIB Challenge PolaroidThe tweeps have spoken!

One of the things that I love about Twitter is that you get to mingle with other book bloggers and fab book people, and you always have the opportunity to get involved- whether it’s in a discussion on the topic du jour or in on the planning stages of the next book event.  The latest on Twitter, it’s a mind reader.

For each That’s How I Blog! show that I do, there is a Twenty Minute Book Club.  I love having the opportunity to discuss what I’m reading with other readers- any chance I get- so I am so excited that this part of the show has been such an overwhelming success.  The idea for a challenge had scurried across my brain and then scurried right on out.  I really wasn’t sure that there would be enough interest, but this past week I logged onto Twitter and found that a challenge had been requested for Twenty Minute Book Club! Fabulous!

Yay! for people wanting to read along with me, since I have basically committed myself to potentially 52 books next year, guests willing!  Of course, you don’t have to participate at the same level.  There will be five different levels of participation for this challenge, which will run December 29, 2009 until December 29, 2010.

Why This Challenge?

The purpose of this challenge will be to read the books being discussed for the Twenty Minute Book Club portion of That’s How I Blog! It’s a great opportunity to share a reading list with your fellow readers.  In addition to the show there will be a Google Wave for each book we discuss (no cliques here, contact me for wave participation) and twitter discussion with hashtag #20minbc.

Challenge Dates

December 29, 2009 until December 29, 2010. Sign-ups to end on September 29, 2010.

Reading List

Here you will find the most up-to date Reading List for That’s How I Blog!. Check back at the beginning of each month for 4-5 new additions to the list.

Levels of Participation

Once you choose a level of participation you’re locked in- that is unless you want to read more books!- then you can go up a level. 🙂 (I borrowed that from S.Krishna’s Books, so choose carefully!)

I will post a MckLinky so that you can link to 2009 which you have read and reviewed and want to use as substitutions.  Make sure you get your links up before the end of 2009.

Aluminum Level – 4 Books (2010 Only, No Substitutions)

Silver Level – 13 Books (May substitute 1 book from 2009)

Gold Level –  26 Books (May substitute 4 books from 2009)

Diamond Level – 39 Books (May substitute 7 books from 2009)

Platinum Level – 52 Books (May substitute 10 books from 2009)

Other Stuff

You might want to:

  • Crossover with other challenges, that is perfectly fine.
  • Print and unabridged audio books are acceptable.
  • Participate even if you don’t have a blog- just leave a comment to let me know that you are playing along.
  • Post reviews on your blog, or e-mail me your thoughts on the book.
  • Re-read a book that you have read before.
  • Count a book that you have read before as long as you have a review for it.
  • Not feel obligated to read the books in any particular order.  You may complete the books at anytime during the year.
  • Call-in and participate in The Twenty Minute Book Club.
  • Watch for mini-challenges and the prizes for each category to be announced at the start of the challenge.
  • E-mail me or leave a comment saying you’d like to be a guest on the show, thereby contributing to the book list.
  • Ask me lots of questions because I am totally winging this challenge thing.

You must:

  • Have fun!

Sign Up, yes?

Link to your post or a post where you mention your intention to join this challenge and your participation level.  You may also include books you have already read and will possibly use as substitutions and/or a list of books that you are particularly looking forward to reading so far.  Easy peasy!

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THIB! Twenty Minute Book Club Reading List & Reviews

2009

  • The Story of A Marriage, by Andrew Sean Greer
  • Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
  • Hate List, by Jennifer Brown
  • Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
  • Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane
  • The Wednesday Witch, by Ruth Chew
  • What The Witch Left, by Ruth Chew
  • Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr
  • The Boneman’s Daughter, by Ted Dekker
  • 31 Hours, Masha Hamilton

2010

  • Liar, Justine Larbalestier
  • The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
  • War Child, by Emmanuel Jal
  • Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist
  • The Eye of The World, Robert Jordan
  • City of Refuge, Tom Piazza
  • Black Hills, by Dan Simmons
  • Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven, by Susan Jane Gilman
  • An Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Double Fault, by Lionel Shriver
  • Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
  • Flowers From The Storm, by Laura Kinsale
  • Your Ten Favorite Words, by Reb Livingston
  • Sense & Sensibility, by Jane Austen
  • Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead
  • American Rust, by Philip Meyer
  • The Rooftops of Tehran, by Mahbod Seraji
  • The Post Birthday World, Lionel Shriver
  • The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson
  • The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, by Ian Mortimer
  • Beatrice and Virgil, by Yann Martel
  • Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson
  • The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters
  • Things We Didn’t See Coming, Steven Amsterdam
  • Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman
  • Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  • Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow
  • The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Other Wes More, by Wes More
  • The Adventures of Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
  • Faithful Place, by Tana French

Challenge Participants, show us your stuff!  Leave a link you your reviews here!


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Locked In, by Marcia Muller – Book Review

Sharon McCone is a highly sucessful private investigator from humble origins who has managed to cobble together a wonderfulLocked In, by Marcia Muller family, and several loyal and dedicated employees and colleagues who will do just about anything for her.  Sharon is a vibrant member of the community and an investigative professional at the top of her game.

She is also used to being in the middle of it all – involved in every way- so when she is shot and critically injured one night after returning to her office, it is devastating for her to wake up to discover  that she is literally locked into her body, unable to either move or communicate with either the hospital staff or her loved ones.  Never a quitter, Sharon is determined to find a way to make herself heard, recover fully, and find out who is responsible for the shooting that locked her into her body.

I found this to be such a refreshing way to tell a detective/PI story.  Right away the main character is disabled and taken out of the action.  Most of the story is told through the eyes of the investigators she has working with her at the firm, and her husband Hy, a mysterious man with a quick temper and a shady past.  This is the 27th book in the series, so as you can imagine all of the players in this one have a long and tangled history with one another, that was a bit difficult for me to follow since I just jumped right into the series with this book.  A further complicating factor were the multiple characters narrating the action of the story in addition to Sharon’s perspective from her hospital bed, however, I had enough information from frequent references to the back stories that I was able to enjoy reading this and keep up with the main relationships.

Sharon is adopted and in touch with both her biological and adoptive families, and I loved the interaction that she had with both sides of her family.  I was particularly touched by the exchanges that she had with her biological father.  The suspense was very intense for me and adding to that was the seriousness of Sharon’s “locked-in” condition.  The prognosis for people living with this is usually only a few short months, and Sharon had several close-calls due to other medical emergencies stemming from the shooting. With so many books in the series I had no idea if this was the way that the author planned to finish it up, so I was on pins and needles to see what would happen.

All of the different investigators chased down leads from their cases to see what, if anything, they had to do with Sharon’s shooting, while Sharon doggedly used her eyes to communicate with her team to catch her shooter.  There were quite a few cases involved, so I don’t know if it was possible to guess the ending or figure out what was going on, but I enjoyed the story and characters enough to want to read some of the others in the series.

FTC Disclosure- Review copy provided by the publisher.  I am an Amazon Associate.

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Tonight: Don’t Miss That’s How I Blog! with My Friend Amy

Thats How I Blog!
Just a reminder that I will be interviewing Amy of  My Friend Amy tonight on Blog Talk Radio show, That’s How I Blog!, at 9:o0 pm Eastern Time.  You can listen live or to the archived version later on.  If you listen live you can join the conversation in chat room, which is usually just as lively as the show!  If you have any questions or comments, you can send them to me at: nicole AT linussblanket DOT com before the show, ask in the chat room or call 646-381-4606 to ask yourself.  Amy doesn’t bite as far as I know! At the end of the show, stick around for what I am calling the Twenty Minute Book Club.  If you’ve read the book or don’t mind spoilers, we will be discussing Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater.

And next week, Jenn from Jenn’s BookshelvesShutter Island, by Dennis Lehane!

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The House on Tradd Street, Karen White – Book Review

The House on Tradd Street, by Karen WhiteEven though Melanie Middleton is a real estate agent specializing in old houses- she hates them, and much prefers the stripped down and modern look that she sports in her own austere condo.  She has good reason to be wary, though she is loath to admit it to herself, Melanie sees ghosts- and we all know that often there is no better hang out spot than an old house for a unearthly presence.  Melanie tries to ignore them as best she can but a turn of events makes this near impossible.

Melanie meets with Nevin Vanderhorst, ostensibly to help him put his house on the market, but during their brief meeting Nevin comes to a decision of his own about Melanie.  When he dies a few short days later he leaves Melanie his house on Tradd Street with the provision that she restore it (with funds provided by the estate), not sell it for a year, and also live in it for that year (oh, is that all?). Let’s just say that someone in the house has other ideas.

I really enjoyed the quality of White’s writing and the heroine that she created in Melanie Middleton.  Melanie’s character is well defined and we get a good sense of the woman that she has become as a result of her mother’s abandoning her as a child and her father’s alcoholism. When you combine this with the fact that she has had to hide the fact that she is able to see ghosts (even from her father) just to fit in, you can see how this would lend itself to the slightly cold, hyper controlled and organized persona she adapted as protective barrier.  Thankfully she has help from best friend-  Sophie, nosy secretary- Nancy and potential love interest and writer, JacK Trenholm, to keep her from getting too staid and set in her ways.

The House on Tradd Street is a fast paced and entertaining mystery.  Melanie finds that she is indeed invested in Nevin Vanderhorst’s home and wants to get to the bottom of  why his mother mysteriously disappeared from his life when he was just a child, and at least one ghost in the house expects this from her.  The opposites attract, prickly banter and pseudo romance with Jack was entertaining even if not original,  though both characters suffered by resorting to the juvenile when new love interest Marc Longo enters the scene.

The middle meandered with more than a few moments of implausibility but nicely rebounded for the end section as the mystery wrapped up in a way that I never expected.  I like that Melanie and Jack each had issues they were working toward resolving and I was glad to see Melanie start making some progress for her own sake, if not to soothe the feelings of her errant parents. Both Melanie and Jack got under my skin and I am curious to see what progress, if any,  Melanie makes with Jack and her mother in the next book.

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Have you read any ghost stories that have kept you up at night?  I want to find a really good one.

FTC Disclosure – I am an Amazon Associate.  This book was purchased for use in my personal collection.

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Book Review Blog Carnival ~ 31st Edition

Welcome to the Thirty First Edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival. I would like to thank all of those who took the time to send in these wonderful posts. And without further ado, onto the reviews.

Book Reviews

Graphic Novels

Poetry

  • Jim Murdoch read The Wrong Miracle, by Liz Gallagher and reviewed it at  The Truth About Lies, saying, “This is book about ordinary things, getting you hair done, having breakfast, going to church and eating gobstoppers. It’s about childhood, the strain of being part of a family, the joy of sex, the question of love, the problems surrounding married life and life’s little and not-so-little losses. It is about art and music and what was on TV last night. It is about all those daily miracles and disasters that make up an ordinary life.”

Fiction

  • Siddharth Garud read 3 Mistakes of My Life and reviewed it at Indian Eagle’s Diary, saying, “While the book keeps giving hints on how the characters will pan out and mostly there are no surprises, the story is engrossing and makes you wonder what is coming on the next page.”
  • emancave read His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik reviewed it at e-ManCave.com, saying “She brought a whole new idea and style of fantasy dragon warfare and creatively wove it into the not too distant wars Napoleon raged on Europe giving the readers a sense that they knew the place and people but also an interesting twist on history if dragons were real and had made up a draconian air force during this time.”

Mystery

Young Adult

Thriller

  • Scheng read Falls the Shadow, by William Lashner and reviewed it at Rich in Every Sense, saying, “Falls the Shadow is an interesting thriller, in fact, an interesting legal thriller. However, the part I love best is to see Victor Carl sitting in the dentist chair, and suffering the various procedures done to his teeth and gums.”
  • Clark Bjorke read The Lost Symbol and reviewed it at I’ll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book!, saying, “Everybody that’s going to has already read The Lost Symbol, but here’s my review anyhow.”
  • Stas Voras presents The Murder of King Tut, by James Patterson and Martin Dugard posted at Best Book, saying, “Most people know the basics about King Tut and the discovery and following display of the items from his tomb. His golden mask is instantly recognizable. The exact circumstances surrounding his death are more misty. What is clear is that he died at a very young age. The authors of The Murder of King Tut present a probably answer to the young pharaoh’s early death.”
  • Marg read The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown and reviewed it at Reading Adventures,saying “I haven’t mentioned anything about the plot really which makes this more of a reaction than a review, but never mind. If you have read either of the previous two Robert Langdon novels, then you have a fair idea of what to expect.”
  • Nosy presents Dan Brown’s “Digital Fortress” posted at Nosy Rat’s Blog – Nosy Rat’s Blog, saying, “fun to read”

Literary

  • Stephanie read I Captured the Castle, Dodie Smith and reviewed it at Stephanie’s Confessions of a Bppk-a-holic saying, “I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Wonderful book…Literary Fiction.”
  • Serena Trowbridge read The Little Stranger reviewed it at Culture and Anarchy, saying “Sarah Waters’ latest novel, The Little Stranger, is a considerable departure from her earlier novels, and in its simplified structure (compared to The Night Watch, for example) and its fast-moving but considered prose, it feels like a more mature work.”
  • Jim Murdoch read The Search, by Maureen Myant and reviewed it ay The Truth About Lies, saying, “During WW2 the Czech village of Lidice was completely destroyed per orders directly from Heinrich Himmler, the men were executed on the spot, the women sent to Nazi concentration camps and the younger children conditioned to think and act like Germans and then sent to German families looking to adopt. In the midst of this ten year-old Jan escapes and determines to find his family. But how? A fascinating insight into an aspect of the war many will know nothing about.”
  • Surbhi Bhatia read A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey and reviewed it at The Viewspaper, saying “The in-your-face attitude of the author is rather amusing and novel, the liberal use of profanity is scandalous at first but looks extremely apt for the situation.”
  • Stas Voras read  Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving and reviewed it at Best Book, saying, “John Irving’s, who is author of “The World According to Garp” and “The Cider House Rules”, recent novel Last Night in Twisted River is frequently as turbulent as the river that supplies its name. It involves dog fights, drowning, shotgun blasts, lethal car accidents, severed limbs, babies in danger, and the risk of bear attacks.

Non-Fiction

Environment

Finance

Faith

  • Mandy Van Deven read Compelled by Faith: When Prayer is Not Good For You and reviewed it at Religion Dispatches, saying “Amen, Amen, Amen is a painful yet revelatory read that had this nonbeliever sending a healing mantra into the universe for Sher and others like her who live with a form of obsessive compulsive disorder masked by religion.”
  • Kathy read Angels and reviewed it at Bermudaonion’s Weblog, saying “This book is more than brilliant illustrations and pop-up work, though.  The text, written by Curtis Flowers, is chock full of information about angels of all kinds.”

Social Science & Politics

  • Albie read The End of Poverty, by Jeffrey D. Sachs and reviewed it at iDevelopWorld, saying “Sachs introduces his idea of clinical economics. Very interesting. He mixes ideas of medical treatment to that of treatment for whole economies. I think his wife (a doctor) may have influenced him in this creative perspective.”
  • Scott Mills did a Malcolm Gladwell Review and posted it  at Wisdom Lion, saying, “This is a general review over 3 writings by Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, Outliers, and Blink.”
  • Susan Gaissert read Why I?m a Democrat and reviewed it at My Political Side, saying “Why I’m a Democrat is easy to read, and you can open it to any page if you care to read just an essay at a time.’

Health and Family

  • DeputyHeadmistress read That Went Well, Adventures in Caring for My Sister and reviewed it at The Common Room, “Through her family’s story we also see some of the ways America’s treatment of and acceptance for the disabled community has changed over the years (and some of the ways it hasn’t), how kindly meant words can be demoralizing and burdensome, how exhausting care-giving can be, and how important family support is, and more.”
  • Lovelyn read TMJ No More and reviewed at The Art of Balanced Living, saying “TMJ No More was written by nutritionist and medical researcher, Sandra Carter. Carter struggle with TMJ for 12 years and searched every possible way from conventional medical treatment to holistic therapies to get relieve.”
  • Alex Roe read Never Trust a Thin Cook, by Eric Dregni and reviewed it at Blog from Italy, saying, “I liked the book a lot, but then I do live in Italy. Great book for someone thinking about coming to live or work in Italy.”

***

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Book Review Blog Carnival using the carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

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Black Mirror, by Nancy Werlin – Book Review

Black Mirror, by Nancy WerlinFrances and her brother Daniel are scholarship students at the prestigious Pettengill School.  Both have gladly escaped their deteriorating home life with their broken father, crotchety grandmother and memories of their absentee mother, who has left the family to find herself in a Buddhist colony.  Upon boarding at school Daniel immediately associates himself with Unity, an organization on campus which dedicates itself to running a food bank that organizes and distributes boxes of food for needy families.  All of the scholarship students attending the school have associated themselves with the charity with the sole exception of Frances who is not a joiner and prefers to delve and lose herself in the depths of her art.

When Daniel commits suicide, Frances is shocked, but starts looking for ways to honor him and to connect with him in a way that she never had in life.  To that end Frances makes attempts to join Unity after resisting for most of her high school career. Never really believing that her brother would be the type to commit suicide, Frances feels that something must have gone terribly wrong.  Daniel’s girlfriend Saskia attempts to warn her off from joining the group right from the start, and Frances doesn’t feel entirely comfortable with the mega wealthy mentor who plays a prominent part of the organization.  Making this time in her life even more complicated are her burgeoning feelings for post-grad bad boy and resident drug dealer, James Drussian.  Will Frances be able to figure everything out before she gets into serious trouble?

Frances is a very internal character.  She doesn’t interact with a lot of people and chooses to focus on her art as a means of expression.  Her closest “friends” on campus are her art teacher and a developmentally disabled groundskeeper.  A lot of who she has become is driven by the relationship (or lack thereof) that she has with her family, but I couldn’t really get a clear idea of who they were to judge how and why they they had affected her so deeply.  We know that her father has some unnamed issues, her grandmother is vile, and her mother absent, but I would love to have had that aspect of her life explored a bit more in detail.

I wondered why her relationship with her father was so troubled, and how things became so tense between her parents that her mother left.  Daniel only appears in the story as a voice in her head, maliciously repeating the Buddhist aphorisms of which their mother is so fond, and through Frances tries to find meaning in their relationship after his death, it’s hard to imagine that their was any warmth from Daniel when he was alive.

Frances’ feelings of isolation are palpable and well expressed though their origins are vague.  I felt for her as she tried to open up to people who may or may have not been the right choices for her or able to offer the support that she needed.  The mystery in this novel proved to be elusive for me.  I had just enough to form some speculations that I almost could have made a case for, but in the end it all came together to quickly for me to be full satisfied with the resolution.

FTC Disclosure-  This book is from my personal collection.  I am an Amazon Associate.

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Seven, by Jacqueline Leo – Book Review

Seven, Jacqueline LeoPart self help book, part meditation on the number seven and the way that it has popped up time and again throughout the course of history, Jacqueline Leo’s new book is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Leo covers a wide range of topics that try as I might to summarize leave my powers of summary in the dust.  There is a wide variety of information that is offered in this book.  Luckily I can share that she  has divided the chapters among seven principles which she explores in a little more detail and offers fascinating cultural and historical information as well as informative lists pertaining to each principle and the number 7.  The principles Leo explores are simplicity, happiness, love, learning, winning, life and wonder.

Leo had a lot of thoughts to offer on how much we are always on information overload, and the way that our brains are changing and adapting as we get used to the massive amounts of data that we encounter, and the new ways in which we process that information.  I was particularly interested in her thoughts on multi-tasking and its influence on the functioning of our memories or the lack thereof.

It seems that people young and old are having more issues with short-term memory than ever before and information overload, overcommitment and multi-tasking are the likely culprits. The recommendation, which I took to heart, was simplifying our schedules and committing to “to-do” lists containing a maximum of seven items each day.

The book is interspersed with articles by other notable figures on how the number seven has played an integral part of their lives in some way, and I read with interest as Jerry Seinfeld, Kristin van Ogtrop (the editor of Real Simple), author Derek Bok, and others shared their connection to this mystical number.  I also enjoyed the number seven based lists which were scattered throughout the book- like The Seven Keys To Good Luck, The Seven-Day Get Smarter Guide, and Confucius’ Seven Ways To The Good Life.

This book grabbed me and I was inspired and fascinated by a lot that I read.  As I was reading through this book I thought of friends I knew who would enjoy certain parts.  The section on winning was tailor made for one of my guy friends.  I called my mother to share a few key passages with her and already she wants to read it. Though I’m willing to share my copy with her, at some point, if she likes, she will have to get her own because I need a copy of this to refer back to from time to time.

Highly Recommended.

FTC Disclosure- Review copy provided by the publisher.

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Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Shiver, by Maggie StiefvaterAs a young girl, Grace Brisbane is attacked and dragged from her tire swing by a pack of wolves. Though she is bitten, she is saved from from serious injury and death when a wolf with odd yellow eyes steps in to save her from the others.

Over the next six years Grace avidly follows “her wolf” and he returns the favor and becomes a constant presence in the woods just beyond her home, and in her life as well. Each of them honors the strange and unexplained affinity for the other over their shared winters and through the wolf’s mysterious disappearances in the warm weather.

Sam Roth emerges from his wolf skin with the warming of the spring and summer months.  It is only then that he is able to savor the experience of being human.  When a wealthy high school student is killed by a pack of wolves, it’s open season and the men of the Mercy Falls go after the wolves with guns.  Shot in the ensuing chaos, Sam ends up, quite literally, at Grace’s back door.

No one was more skeptical than me about reading a story where a teenage girl has basically been pining away after a wolf for the last six years of her life, nor was I sold in the beginning stage of Grace’s romance with “her wolf”- Sam Roth, when we later learn his name. I was drawn in as the novel progressed and the characters were more fully defined.  I loved the mythology of the wolves and the lives that they led and the challenges they faced as both humans and adults.

Sam and Grace’s romance is touching as they can reach each other through the pain and isolation that the other has experienced. Living the existence that he has led has caused a painful and violent rift between Sam and his family, and Grace, though she tries to keep it all together suffers from her parents cheerful neglect and inattention.

A good amount of Shiver is told through flashbacks via Sam’s wolf memory  while Grace and Sam struggle to keep Sam from turning back into a wolf.  I  really enjoyed the stories of the time that Sam spent with his pack, and the different ways that each of them reacted to being a wolf.  His relationship with Beck was particularly special and I liked that Stiefvater explored their bond and tested it as Sam discovered critical new information about his  “family”.

Shiver is at its heart a sweet romance but combined with a solid exploration of darker issues such as neglect , abuse, and betrayed trust it takes that next step and offers something more to the reader.  It definitely has me eager to read its companion and revisit these characters in Linger when it comes out next year.

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FTC Disclosure- I am an Amazon Associate.  Shiver was purchased for use in my personal collection.

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Literary Feasts: Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater

Literary FeastsIt’s rare that I will read acknowledgements in a book.  Most times I feel a little guilty about not reading about all the people who went into the monumental task of creating the book, but I figure that they’re not really there for me anyway and I move on.  I did read them in Shiver, however, because they were right opposite the end page of the book and my eyes had moved onto them before I realized that they were not more of the story.  So, as a note, if you want your acknowldgement read, try that.

Anyway, long story short, I read the acknowledgments and found of that the author is a fan of Iron Chef, which makes a lot of sense to me being that Shiver had food references galore.  Let’s take a look at some of the literary feasts in this book, shall we?

Grace has her friend Olivia over after school and makes scones for her.  Wait, really?  I want to be Grace’s friend.  I may have been in danger of being served a store bought muffin, but never a homemade scone.

Back at my house I made coffee and cranberry scones for us, and we sat at the kitchen table looking at a stack of Olivia’s latest photos under the yellow ceiling light.

Then Grace and Sam have a friend over to Grace’s place and they make quiche.  Can I just say that I love Grace, and that if Sam ever does her wrong she should look me up?

Grace was already involved with cutting shortening and flour in a bowl by the time I’d finished cracking the eggs and whisking in some mayonnaise.  The kitchen was suddenly full of activity, as if we were legion.

I don’t really know if Grace liked to cook.  It seems more that she might have developed the habit because she had so often been called upon to fend for herself.  Like when her mom tells her to have leftovers for dinner.

So we won’t be back until late tonight,” Mom’s message concluded.  “Remember there’s leftovers in the fridge, and of course we have the phone if you need us.

My leftovers.  From the casserole I’d made.

Now Grace doesn’t specify what type of casserole she had made, but I took the liberty of deciding that it was a chicken casserole because I really like chicken casserole. I also made it a Burmese Chicken Casserole because it looks so yummy!

I would tell you about when Grace and Sam decide to take a trip out on the town one night, but I have to save something for the book!

Grace…call me!

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