Category Archives: Winnings

Books I have won in draws

A Note

A quick note to my readers to say that I will be returning soon. A few things happened in RL in September that meant blogging had to take a back seat. I have been reading, so I have no shortage of material for review. 😉

Thank you for your patience!

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In My Letterbox: (15) Sunday 12 August 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Another quiet week on the book acquisition front.  I have received two Frist Reads wins and bought just one book – for 30p from a charity stall!  Read on to find out what they are 🙂

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Spin Doctor by M C Lewis

Spin DoctorSpin Doctor by M.C. Lewis

Jack Abbott is a Washington spin doctor who longs to make the big time: the White House. Once there, he’ll do almost anything to hold onto his job. Will the country re-elect his boss, President Dexter, a beloved widower with a secret, because of Jack’s skillful deception? Will Jack’s conscience finally surface and spur him to make amends? Or is it too late?

Spin Doctor has a Washington theme, a realistic story and a soul. And unlike many Washington novels, Spin Doctor is not a memoir or polemic, not a message book or a thriller. Politically neutral, it goes to deeper truths: the conflict we all have between ambition and conscience. Spin Doctor is Washington from the inside, with humor and authenticity.

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I’m looking forward to this, it sounds to be an interesting and thought-provoking read.

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2. Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne by Cody Young

Johnny Doesn't Drink ChampagneJohnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne by Cody Young

I’m seventeen and he’s twenty-one. That’s okay… isn’t it? He drives a Lamborghini. So what? He was born in 1462. Uh-oh. He seeks revenge, but there is one person standing in his way. Me.

On a high school trip to London, Madison Lambourne meets seductive stranger Johnny De Vere, who believes he knows her already, and is torn between love and revenge. Eager to learn more about this beautiful, lonely young man, Madison agrees to go with him to a re-enactment at the Tower of London. Dressed as a highborn medieval lady in a black velvet gown, she accidentally slips through a doorway that leads to the past. Knowing she will not last long on the streets of medieval London, Johnny must follow her… with devastating consequences for them both. A wild time-travel adventure full of love, lies, mystery and betrayal.

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Yay! A time-travelling love story…just what I need to escape!

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Books I have bought:

The Consul at Sunset by Gerald Hanley

I really like “The Reprint Society” books from the 50s… love the feel and the smell.

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A quiet week, as I said. Looking forward to catching up with reading and reviewing. What arrived through your letterbox this week? Do leave a note below, with a link to your post 🙂

The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay: review

The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery by Gay Hendricks

Tenzing Norbu (“Ten” for short)–ex-monk and soon-to-be ex-cop–is a protagonist unique to our times. In “The First Rule of Ten,” the first installment in a three-book detective series, readers meet this spiritual warrior who is singularly equipped, if not occasionally ill-equipped, as he takes on his first case as a private investigator in Los Angeles.

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I sent out a request to the Universe that I might be allow to win this book – and it was with much gratitude that I received this book as a First Reads prize.

I really wanted to read The First Rule of Ten when it arrived but practised a little delayed gratification as I completed some overdue reviews and read some author-gifted books I had agreed to review. Then finally, I could wait no longer. Once I started the book, I found it difficult to put down and after a couple of restrained sessions, I polished off the majority of the book in four hours one Saturday morning.

The First Rule of Ten is superbly written, peopled with detailed, well-drawn characters and has a multi-layered ‘who is the puppeteer pulling the strings?’ plot that moves along at a clip but without leaving the reader behind.

The whole concept of a Buddhist ex-monk (the term ex-Buddhist monk didn’t ring true to me, since Ten is clearly still a Buddhist at heart) who becomes an LAPD cop was so intriguing – and the explanation of his journey from one to another is gradually uncovered and expanded throughout the book. It is a delightful and realistic reveal that would happen if you actually met Ten. He is a warm and compassionate human being, who although flawed (aren’t we all?!) is aware, thanks to his monk’s training, of how these flaws are made manifest., He therefore works to guard against many of them, whilst accepting and acknowledging others, such as his love of his car.

The reader is able to learn from Ten, but the lessons are those of observation and never stray into that annoying realm where authors, via their characters, preaches at the reader. Instead, here the lessons are laid out in front of us and, like those presented by life, it is for us to choose to learn from them. It is well, in this situation, to remember, as we learn from the book, the First Rule of Ten: Don’t ignore the tickle …

This is an excellent book on all front and I am grateful to have read it. I thank the authors for making the book available through First Reads and the universe/random winner generator for picking me!

I’m claiming this book as No. 84/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge;  and No.4 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
[Links in right hand sidebar]

In My Letterbox (14): Sunday 05 August 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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A very parsimonious week this week – one win and no buys! Such self control!!

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Whole Clove Diet by Mary W. Walters
The Whole Clove DietThe Whole Clove Diet by Mary W. Walters

As she breaks 200 pounds, and not in a good way, 29-year-old Rita finds herself married to a self-focused widower with two difficult kids and a mother who almost makes Rita’s own mother look like a role model—which is really saying something. Graham’s first wife, being dead, just keeps getting better and better in everyone’s memories while Rita just gets fatter and more aggravated. She’s tried every diet in the book, but it’s not until a family crisis forces her out the door that she discovers that the easiest way to thin is to get rid of the baggage on the inside. Funny and insightful, The Whole Clove Diet is sure to make readers of all shapes and sizes feel better about themselves—and ultimately maybe even about Rita. If you enjoy the fiction of Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Tama Janowitz, Fay Weldon and Wally Lamb, you’re going to love The Whole Clove Diet. A top finalist in the first-ever Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition, The Whole Clove Diet is part diary of an eating addiction, part domestic drama, part comedy and part tale of the growing awareness and independence of a young woman poised on the precipice of maturity. You will shake your head at Rita, smile at her in recognition – and, ultimately, cheer her on as she begins to clean up the quagmire of her life.

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I’m looking forward to reading this – I had a flick through, and there are recipes and diet plans included 🙂

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So there we are, a quiet book week, although I have been hitting the free kindle books again and have been approved for some NetGalley ARCs…more in future IMMs.

Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops: review

Salsa InvertebraxaSalsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shortlisted for Best Graphic Novel 2012 by the Aurealis Awards, Salsa Invertebraxa is a storybook unlike any other, an Alice in Wonderland for insects, set in an imaginary world as two tiny companions set out on an odyssey of discovery. With one antenna listening out for vast armies competing for dominance on the forest floor, the two friends encounter strange new species of insect among surreal gardens of terrestrial delights. At nightfall, their mischief takes on a mysterious and foreboding turn as they attempt to steal eggs from monstrous super-predators, disturbing the fragile tranquillity of this bizarre Eden. (Images from the book at http://www.behance.net/gallery/Salsa-Invertebraxa-(A-Graphic-Novel)/2349816).

After an incubation of 15 years, Mozchops has exquisitely crafted over 200 paintings to tell this story of a beautiful and dangerous world..

Salsa Invertebraxa is currently only available from the publisher’s website. Go to http://www.pecksniffpress.com/ordering.html for details.

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I am not a big fan of graphic novels. I wasn’t a big comic reader as a child. I feel I need to make these confessions up-front in this review.

Thus it was when I realised that I had won Salsa Invertabraxa in the Goodreads First Reads competition, I wasn’t particularly excited, rather a little curious and a tad guilty that I might not properly appreciate it.

When the book arrived, all the way from Hong Kong, expertly packaged in a box rather than an envelope, I sneaked a quick peak before I got home. The cover artwork only hints at the treasures within.

I read the whole book after dinner that night: twice. Salsa Invertabraxa is a fantastic object: a work of art; a primer in ecological systems; a treatise on the cycle of life; and the story of a pair of friends with the outlook on life of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I have nothing but admiration for Mozchops. This is patently the result of a labour of love.

Each page is 290 mm by 240 mm in size and every square millimetre is superbly illustrated. There are various frames and insets used throughout the book to bring different parts of the forest into sharper focus or juxtaposition with the main scene. I found the repeated motif of the ants and other forest floor dwellers quite apposite and somewhat disturbing. The detail in the drawings is astonishing – the amount of thought that has gone into the planning and preparation and the technical skill of execution blend perfectly. The artwork really is amazing; beautifully detailed and excellently imagined and executed.

The images are close enough to real life to be recognisable, yet different enough to be magical. The story is simple in outline, but amazingly detailed and complex in execution – just like life.

I found that I treated the book with a reverence, not wanting to crease the pages or get smudgy fingerprints across the pictures. It is a thing of beauty and wonder, all the more so to me for my lack of expectations. I am truly delighted to have received this gift.

There are few words in Salsa Invertabraxa – haven’t counted them, but I would not be surprised to find I have written more in this review. Those that do appear, serve to guide the reader’s thoughts and perceptions gently towards the tale in each picture. What I particularly liked was that Mozchops did not confine the words to a particular place on the page, nor within boundaries or bubbles. The size, font and colour of the words changed to suit the scene, as did the position; the positioning helped determine how much of the scene I looked at before reading the words.

Salsa Invertabraxa is not an action story, rather it is the story of life writ drawn large. It is a work to be savoured, upon which to reflect and to which to return.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to think. I feel that its pages could be used, mandala-like, to lead one into meditation. The illustrations contain beauty, symmetry and colour; speak of life and death, of nature red in tooth and claw, of the exuberance of youth, and the daring of friends working together.

I am so pleased that I won Salsa Invertabraxa and I thank Mozchops (and the Goodreads pixies) for the chance to enjoy his work. It has a treasured place in my collection and I shall read it again, soon.

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I’m claiming this book as No. 55/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
[See the link in right hand sidebar]

In My Letterbox (12): Monday 25 June to 22 July 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Catching up with the books acquired during my slight life hiccup…

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

The PlazaThe Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

Plaza-in Mexican culture, a slang word describing the territory of a certain cartel.
Imagine your town the battleground for drug cartels. Imagine police being killed on a daily basis, bands of teenagers working as paid assassins, extortionists hitting every business, no matter how small it was. Imagine every time you went out to a restaurant, cut your hair, or even went to the movies your life was in danger, be it robberies or public executions. Imagine just five homicides in a twenty-four hour period being considered a “good” day. This is the description of what it is to live in Juarez, Mexico. In The Plaza, Guillermo Paxton explores the horror of what it was to see the place he called home turn into this nightmare.
Saul Saavedra is a crime reporter for the Juarez Daily newspaper. In just a year’s time he saw his city change from decent place to live and work to a crime-infested inferno. He reports the happenings in a city that is experiencing total social decay and writes against the government that at best does nothing about it. Two major drug cartels battle it out in Juarez and Saul soon finds himself in the crossfire between La Linea and the Sinaloa Cartel.
Guns for hire are a dime a dozen in a war among cartels, but Felipe stands out as one of the best. His only love is for money, or so he believes, until he meets a beautiful young prostitute named Ruby. As he rises in the ranks of La Linea his relationship with Ruby changes as well, and soon he learns that she too has a taste for blood.
Thousands of Mexicans are deported to Mexico every year, Juarez being a dumping ground for many. Some are convicts that have spent years in federal prison and now have lost their status as residents. Juan, a psychopathic killer, is given the option to return to Mexico or finish out his sentence in the federal penitentiary. For him the choice is obvious and he soon finds himself at home in violent Juarez and finds work in the Sinaloa Cartel.
Based on true events in the city of Juarez, The Plaza is about the people, the government and the cartels that make up both the innocent victims and the criminals that are the pawns in the drug war of Mexico.

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I’m not sure how I feel about winning this book…I have a feeling that reading it will not be comfortable. Then again, that’s true of a number of books that I’ve won recently!

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2. Sanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild

SanctuarySanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild

At first glance, ‘Sanctuary’ may appear to be a romantic novel, but it isn’t. Nothing is as straightforward as it seems.
‘Sanctuary’ tells the story of Ben Coverdale and his decision to start a new life in France after his love-life in England collapses. However, Ben’s life is quickly reshaped by events put in place long before his departure to France and their consequences reveal a story of suspense and intrigue. Mary, Katie and Grunge all provide Ben with more problems than he can at times cope with.
Combined with his love of France and a surprising amount of input from the characters in the book, ‘Sanctuary’ is an appealing read for fellow lovers of France with mystery and romance adding to its appeal.

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I’ve already read Sanctuary – watch out for the review!
If you’re quick, you can get a free kindle copy today…see this note from the author:
The Kindle edition of ‘Sanctuary’ is FREE this week-end. It will not be offered fro free again, so get you copy today. And if you enjoy it (and most readers seem to) please leave a review.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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3. Sand Dollar by Sebastian Cole

Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying LoveSand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love by Sebastian Cole

What if you lost your true soul mate, the one person in life you were meant to be with? Would your love ever truly die? Not if you’re Noah Hartman, who refuses to let go of Robin after she inexplicably abandons their love and disappears from his life seemingly forever, her hidden secret yet to be discovered.
And when you finally accept your fate and do your best to move on with your life, what do you say when the unthinkable happens: your true love Robin reappears as your wedding ceremony to another woman is about to commence, looks deep into your soul with her loving, tear-filled eyes, and tells you the one thing you’ve desperately longed to hear for all of these years?
But the ending to this heart-wrenching love story has yet to be written, as Noah, old and sick in a hospital bed, tells his story of love and loss to Josh, a wise orderly at Mount Sinai Hospital. As his family members arrive to bid him goodbye, Noah discovers a far greater truth about his past, present, and future. Things are definitely not as they appear as the pieces of a shattered love are put back together in the remarkable final chapter of Noah’s life.

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I’m looking forward to reading this one.

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4. Spellbound by Monique N Peterson

Spellbound Spellbound by Monique N. Peterson

Have you ever wanted someone…you couldn’t have? For almost a year, all Bea wanted was for things to go back to the way they were before her best friend left…but when Caid Knight comes into her life, everything changes. Even after Princess Jennipher returns, there is something different about the friendship they once shared as her relationships with fellow housemaids, Kerry and Lucy, begin altering and dwindling. News of a revolt against Crimson Isle’s four monarchies threatens the lives of those closest to her while her own safety becomes the most endangered as she considers leaving the only home she has ever known. As for Caid, her feelings for him are growing stronger with each passing day yet she doesn’t know how he feels about her. Before she can ask, she is told that fate will not allow them to be together, regardless of what she tries to do to be with him. Will she defy this foretelling or surrender herself to it?

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This sounds interesting and entertaining.

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5. Codon Zero by Jim Hendee

Codon ZeroCodon Zero by Jim Hendee

Jason Stouter, a U.S. intelligence officer forced into retirement by the Mossad, confronts an old nemesis, Kahlil Zufar, during a Middle East conflict final solution. A secret group of genetic engineers tricks Jaason into embarking upon blackmail of Israel and the Arab nations to achieve peace throughout the Middle East. The geneticists engineer a very selective virus, but Jason’s nemesis hijacks the virus for his own purposes, imperiling the mission for peace. Through the cooperative efforts of his friend in the FBI and two sexy but dangerous women he meets along the way, Jason now has to stop the spread of the virus yet allow the dream of peace to go forward. Through the Florida Keys, Jackson Hole, Boston, Israel and Jordan, Jason struggles to find out why Zufar needs to wield the deadliest weapon the Middle East has ever seen to realize his ultimate vision.

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I love a good conspiracy novel with plenty of science thrown in.

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6. Luke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood

Luke Wood presents More than a Million WordsLuke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood

More than a Million Words is a collection of many unknown authors showcasing their natural talents.  In this anthology you find many different authors with many different writing styles while each shine in their own way.
More than a Million Words was arranged by Luke Wood after receiving great literary works from unknown writers for reading and critiquing.  Luke found all of the material incredible and chose to put together an anthology featuring the great talents of these incredible writers.

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I’m most of the way through these stories and poems, and enjoying meeting new authors.

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7. Redhead by Ian Cook

RedheadRedhead by Ian Cook

A must-read for all redheads and their admirers as well as fans of science fiction and horror.
Redheads have always attracted attention: desired, envied, pitied, ridiculed, even persecuted. Now the sacrifices begin…
In 1921, in the ruined city of Carthage near Tunis, a red-haired French archaeologist hears the cries of long-dead children as he stumbles upon a legendary sacrificial site. Shortly afterwards, he is viciously attacked by a hawk.
Back in present-day London, flame-haired journalist Rebecca Burns investigates strange and macabre events which seem to be directed against redheads worldwide. Together with young astrophysicist Dr Jim Cavendish and Professor Larry Burton, an authority on ancient civilisations, she is drawn into an age-old feud…a feud that threatens the very existence of redheads everywhere.

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Read this the day it arrived…rather good 🙂 review to follow…

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8. Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Alice Parker's Metamorphosis (Alice Parker, #1)Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Feisty thirteen-year-old Alice Parker knows something isn’t right. Aches and pains have started, she hardly sleeps and her craving for fruit is out of control. Suddenly she is top of the class in every subject. Feeling at odds with the world and being bullied by the ‘coven’ at school, Alice can’t take much more. Only when she collapses and experiences a life-changing transformation does she learn why she is different. But with this new identity comes responsibility and Alice isn’t convinced she can rise to the challenge. She just wants to be normal! The fact is she’s anything but.
Forgotten tales of a magical society are catapulted into the daily life of strong, memorable female characters who readers will grow to love. An intriguing blend of realism, suspense and fantasy, a must-read for girls of 7+.

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And I’ve read this one too! It’s a really good children’s book and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.  My neice may well get my copy, if I can bear to part with it!

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BOOKS bought from the hospital charity stall:

1. Icebound by Dean Koontz

Icebound. by Dean Koontz

A stunning and suspenseful thriller, about humanity’s continuous and sometimes futile battle against nature from one of the most popular and bestselling authors in America.
Conducting a strange and urgent experiment of the Arctic icefield, a team of scientists has planted sixty powerful explosive charges that will detonate at midnight. Before they can withdraw to the safety of the base camp, a shattering tidal wave breaks loose the ice on which they are working. Now they are hopelessly marooned on an iceberg during a violent winter storm. The bombs beneath them are buried irretrievable deep . . . and ticking. And they discover that one of them is an assassin with mission of his won. This is classic Koontz.

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Goodreads don’t have the cover image for the edition I bought…yet.  I’m working on finding it for them.

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2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty.

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 I’ve wanted to read this for some time, so I snaffled this copy when I saw it.

Author gift

1. Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball

Keys to the CastleKeys to the Castle by Donna Ball

When a dashing French poet swept forty-something workaholic Sara Graves off her feet, she did something completely unexpected: She married him. Then three weeks later he died, leaving her a house she can’t afford to keep in a country she’s never been to. Traveling to France to settle the estate, Sara is shocked to discover that her husband wasn’t the impoverished poet he claimed to be- and that the estate he left her is a 400-year-old crumbling castle in the Loire Valley. Now Sara must sell Chateau Rondelais before it (not to mention her late husband’s disarmingly handsome lawyer and best friend) makes her question her decision to leave-and opens her heart to change and all its unexpected possibilities.

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Donna Ball kindly sent me this book when I was drawn third in her competition for reader/reviewers.  What a lovely surprise!

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Those are all the physical books that have entered my house in the last four weeks. Next time, I’ll cover some of the electronic books.
Don’t forget to leave links to your posts so I can have a virtual nosey around your shelves!

In My Letterbox (11): Books to week ending Sunday 24 June 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors or which I buy;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Firstly, my apologies for not posting for a couple of weeks…lots of real life issues, starting with my RA being so badly exacerbated by having to stand for two days at work whilst doing some testing that I couldn’t think, let alone walk for most of the time for several days!  Mostly better now (in time for work!) so I will try to get back on track.  I did get quite a bit of reading done though, and added to my manuscript (but not posted 😦 ) reviews.  Then a few other things landed on my plate and, well, something had to give 😦 On a brighter note, I’m hoping to get back to regular posting again – thanks for sticking around 🙂  This post is the one I was working on for 24 June; my next will summarise all the books acquired in the meantime!

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Doxology by Brian Holers

DoxologyDoxology by Brian Holers

Vernon Davidson is an angry man. After a lifetime of abuse and loss the 61-year-old is ready to get back at God, his co-workers, and everyone else is in his north Louisiana hometown. He drinks too much to numb the pain, shuns his friends and embarrasses himself in the community. The once-cautious Vernon spirals into a reckless mess.

Only when he is reunited with his estranged nephew Jody is he forced to confront his situation. Jody is struggling in equal parts after inflicting a self-imposed exile upon himself by fleeing the family, and thereby himself, for a new life thousands of miles away. Now his father, Vernon’s brother, is dying and Vernon agrees to retrieve him for his brother’s sake.

Jody embarks on a reluctant journey back to his Louisiana home and the two men together embark on a journey that will ultimately change their lives.

Brian Holers’s Doxology examines an impossibly difficult question: how does a man go about forgiving a God he has grown to despise after the tragedies and endless disappointments he has faced?

Follow Vernon and Jody on their road from loss to healing in this deep and moving book that will challenge and surprise you, as it takes you deep into the backwaters of rural Louisiana.

Doxology does for small town Louisiana men what Steel Magnolias did for small-town Louisiana women, exposing flaws while showcasing their inner strengths. It is a tale of grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers, and recreates family dynamics and memories in a way that forms a doxology, a song of praise for the male family bond, the emotional ties men conceal from the world and each other.

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I think I shall need my hanky, if it really is like Steel Magnolias…

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2. The 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

The 5 Greatest Spankings of All TimeThe 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

“The 5 Greatest Spankings of all Time” invites you to step into a fifty-five year old time capsule, to a simpler time when the misadventures of three young brothers growing up on a small ranch in the 1950’s stretch their parent’s patience and sanity to the breaking point. Taking place in the shadows of World War II, this tale not only unfolds the amusing and humorous events that led up to the “5 Greatest Spankings” but it conveys a flavorful and reminiscent glimpse of a time gone by, as the tastes and smells of the 50’s come rushing back. Readers of any adult generation will be entertained by the boy’s ability to effortlessly transform relatively innocent intentions into calamity and chaos. Laced throughout the chapters is an unmistakable underlying message addressing family dynamics and relationships that will surely summon to mind events of your own childhood. May laughter and joy be your companions as you journey through the adventures with these 1950’s versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

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I just know I’m going to be so jealous about the freedom allowed these children…but not the spankings! LOL

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3. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomThe Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Debut author Christopher Healy takes us on a journey with four imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, all of whom are trying to become perfect heroes–a fast-paced, funny, and fresh introduction to a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

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It’s a glorious old-fashioned hardback, with dust jacket over a red “linen” cover with gold lettering. How absolutely perfect 😀
I have meantime read this book, the review is in manuscript and so will be appearing soon. In brief…it’s brilliant!

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4. Deadwater Lane by Stephen Barker

Deadwater LaneDeadwater Lane by Stephen Barker

Christopher Edmonds is on a mission to understand his old risk-taking, tearaway self.
There was an accident; an old man was killed one night when Christo and his mates were out racing their cars. Christo got the blame, and a head injury – that means his memory is not the best.
Soon Christo is back on the streets, without his licence and doing community service, helping out a lonely old man, Jimmy McBreen. What’s worse – his so called ‘friend’ has stolen his girl!
Inspired by a copy of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, he begins to plot revenge – it’s just that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected.
A fast-paced, gasoline soaked story with a beating heart.

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I just love face-paced thriller mysteries!

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books bought from the hospital’s charity sale shelves:

1. Frankenstein #1 by Dean Koontz

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #1)Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic storoes of all time.  If you think you know the story, you know only half the truth.  Get ready for the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

DEAN KOONTZ’S PRODIGAL SON

Every city has its secrets.  But none as terrible as this.  His name is Deucalion, a tattoed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s travelled the centuries with a secret worse than death.  He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that it missing in himself.  Detective Carson O’Connor is coll, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks.  Her partner Michael Maddison would back her all the way to Hell itself – and that just may be where this case ends up.  Fot the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more – and less – than human.  Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous.  For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac – but his deranged maker.

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It’s a Dean Koontz book 😀

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2. Frankenstein #2 by Dean Koontz

City of Night (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #2)City of Night by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the legend, you know only half the truth. Here is the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

DEAN KOONTZ’S CITY OF NIGHT

They are stronger, heal better, and think faster than any humans ever created–and they must be destroyed. But not even Victor Helios–once Frankenstein–can stop the engineered killers he’s set loose on a reign of terror through modern-day New Orleans. Now the only hope rests in a one-time “monster” and his all-too-human partners, Detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as Victor’s first and failed attempt to build the perfect human–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first Deucalion must destroy a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have imagined–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with one purpose: to replace us.

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 More Dean Koontz…. 🙂

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3. Frankenstein #3 by Dean Koontz

Dead and Alive (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #3)Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the legend, you know only half the truth. Now the mesmerizing saga concludes. . . .

As a devastating hurricane approaches, as the benighted creations of Victor Helios begin to spin out of control, as New Orleans descends into chaos and the future of humanity hangs in the balance, the only hope rests with Victor’s first, failed attempt to build the perfect human. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as the original manifestation of a soulless vision–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first they must face a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have conceived–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with powers, and a purpose, beyond imagining.

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… and yet more…I feel a Fest coming on! I’m not sure why it says “the saga concludes” – I have Book Four, which I’ve just noticed I haven’t entered in an IML!  Maybe it will make it into a future “Owned Unread” Post…

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4. Demon Seed by by Dean Koontz

Demon SeedDemon Seed by Dean Koontz

A woman is imprisoned and tortured by her state-of-the-art computer security system — and its perverse desire…

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Variety – a Dean Koontz book not in the Frankenstein series!!

BOoks i’ve bought

1. The Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

The Secret ChamberThe Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

Conspiracies, secrets and high-octane adventure in the Congo. Another gripping thriller from the author of The Forbidden Temple.

People have been disappearing in what the explorer Stanley called the black heart of Africa — the impenetrable forests of northern Congo. But when a brilliant young English doctor vanishes, alarm bells really start to ring. Intelligence chief Jack Milton sends a message to his godson Luca Matthews (The Forbidden Temple hero) in the Himalayas asking him to go to Africa and find Joshua. Reluctantly Luca obeys, but he is no longer the man he once was, traumatised by his part in the death of his best friend, his legendary climbing nerve shot to pieces. Meanwhile in Africa, mining troubleshooter and brilliant flying pilot, Beatrice (Bear) Makuru, also wants to brave the northern wilderness. Coltan is the mineral without which no mobile phone or computer would work. Explosions have been wrecking coltan mines. Bear needs to find out why. Her journey with Luca to Africa’s black heart is the beginning of an utterly terrifying sequence of events, uncovering a secret so simple yet so startling that it could rock the foundations of the civilised world.

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I bought this in the supermarket.  Having read the blurb, I decded an uncomplicated action book was just what I needed right then.  I have already read this one…so as usual, keep a look out for the review, which will follow…eventually!

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2. Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book by Glenys O’Connell

A straightforward, no nonsense guide to writing – and finishing – your book, no matter what your experience level.
All over the world, at this very moment, thousands of writers are starting a novel, full of enthusiasm for their ideas. But the vast majority of those novels will fizzle by Chapter Three – an estimated 98 per cent! And their disappointed creators will put their work away and give up on their dream. It’s not that they aren’t talented and it’s not that they don’t have good ideas – what they lack are the basic tools.
In this book you’ll learn how to:
* Each chapter comes with assignments that help you apply what you’ve learned to your own new or work-in-progress book.
* Identify the kind of novel you want to write, and understand the elements of a good, workable idea
* Understand story structure and how to use it to make your novel flow
* Create an outline that will get you through the dry spells of Writer’s Block
* Know the important elements you must have at the start and end of each chapter
* Build characters you’ll love to work with – and readers will love to read about
* Points of View – just who’s telling this story, anyway?
* Develop plot points and sub-plots to add texture to your story
* Understand the two different types of character motivation – and how to use them
* Tap into the magic of dialogue, and learn when narrative and backstory can help, or hinder, your story
* Keep your story flowing to a satisfying ending with all the loose ends tied up.
* By the end of the book, using the assignments, you should be working on your own chapter three and ready to sail through to The End.

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Officially, this is an IMM book, but I wanted to list it early. I saw this book in Lynsey’s Letterbox Love post of 17 June over on Narratively Speaking. At 77p for the kindle version, I thought I’d give it a go. I doubt I’ll ever write a book – or even a short story – but I might pick up some tips to make my reviews more interesting. Then again…never say never!!!

There isn’t a Goodreads entry for this book (yet), so the image is from Glenys O’Connell’s blog; if you click on it, it will take you to her blog.

free books from Mills & boon

1. The Spy’s Secret Family (Top Secret Deliveries #2) by Cindy Dees

The Spy's Secret FamilyThe Spy’s Secret Family by Cindy Dees

“Nobody’s messing with my baby”
Nick Cass wakes up in a hospital room with a case of amnesia–and a beautiful woman at his bedside. He only remembers that he was held captive for five grueling years. Surely he wouldn’t forget someone as easy on the eyes as Laura Delaney. But Laura assures him that she and their son are very real.
Laura never forgot the man who stole her heart six years ago–even after he disappeared. She knows Nick will someday have to face his demons. But that day is suddenly upon them when Nick’s past catches up to him and their son is kidnapped. Now he and Laura must rescue their child–and their last chance for a future together.

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Sent to me free by Mills and Boon

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2. Operation Baby Rescue (Top Secret Deliveries #3) by Beth Cornelison

Operation Baby RescueOperation Baby Rescue by Beth Cornelison

Elise Norris wants nothing more than to be a mother. Her joy turns to agony when newborn baby girl Grace dies mysteriously—before the single mom could even say goodbye. But grief-stricken Elise can’t shake the feeling that the final chapter of Grace’s story isn’t yet written….

As he works through his own tragic loss, widower Jared Coleman and his one-year-old daughter become captivated by Elise. But while investigating the strange circumstances behind Grace’s death, their new friend teeters close to an explosive secret. Can Jared protect her—or is he in over his head in a desperate life-or-death struggle?

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Sent ot me free by Mills and Boon

……………..

Rereading this post, I had quite a haul that week! I’m going to need to take a long hard look at my TBR list when choosing what to read next, though they may have to wait until I get a few more reviews posted! It’s surprising how much time it takes to write and format a post. I thought this one was pretty much finished bar a few formatting tweaks; I’ve been sat here for about an hour and a half! I also realised that one of the things that stopped me posting was that I’ve been getting a number of these books onto or updated on Goodreads.
I hope that you all have been reading and acquiring in a similar fashion – leave me a link in the comments section and I’ll pop by and and have a look, and gain more inspiration!

Sunburnt by M. D. Keating: review

SunburntSunburnt by M.D. Keating

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An unemployed alcoholic writer, coping with the death of his father, is unwittingly drawn into a scandal of EPIC proportions, when his estranged childhood best friend, now a very successful offshore banker, disappears with BILLIONS of dollars that don’t belong to him … Follow our unlikely hero through a collage of rogue characters into a dangerous world of CORRUPTION, GREED, DRUGS, ARMS, and WAR …

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Sunburnt is nicely printed and bound, with easy-on-the-eye text. When I flicked through the book after opening my package at work, my first thought was “Oh heck, it’s a play!”, but I started at the beginning on page 5 (I’ve wondered since I was small why some books start numbering the story pages by counting the leaves in the book…) and by the time I got to page 7, I was hooked!

I had to stop to cook tea, feed the cats and so on, but I finished the book in around 24 hours elapsed time.  It is an excellent fast-paced book. I found the layout easy to read; the centre justification was different without being distracting.  Being a very visual person, this novel way of laying out a book really appealed to me.

The story itself was interesting; I found the change of viewpoint that came from the introduction of different interleaved characters refreshing. I enjoyed the twists of the plot and I really cared about the characters and wanted the best for them. The ending tied up all loose ends to my satisfaction.

All in all, a great read and one I would recommend to anyone.

Thank you M.D. and Goodreads for picking me to receive Sunburnt in the Goodreads Giveaway.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
[Link in right hand sidebar]

Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens: review

Horses of the Sun (Outback Riders, #1)Horses of the Sun by Leanne Owens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sunhaven Downs, a drought ravaged cattle station in outback Australia, is the home of Dane, Lani and Matthew Winter, three young outback riders whose lives revolve around their horses. When their city cousin, Amy King, comes to live with them for a year and declares she hates horses, they know their year will be ruined. What they don’t know is that Amy has a secret – a secret she is desperate to keep from her outback family, something that will ultimately save their lives on the night the drought breaks.

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I read this delightful book in an afternoon. I thought it was well written, although the “she didn’t realise that she would need this when disater struck” comments at the end of each of the early chapters were a little annoying. The plot moved along nicely with most of the actions staying within the bounds of reality. I found some of the “epilogue” actions a little unlikely, but hey, it all felt good!

I enjoyed reading this book although it is aimed mostly at the 10-14 year old market.  It is well written, with a clear plot and good characterisation.  The plot is outside the ordinary but is close enough to most people’s “real life” that it will be understood by the target audience (and they’ll all want to be Amy!).

Some of the episodes involve high drama and some difficult subjects.  These are dealt with in a straight-forward yet senstive manner.

I was particularly impressed with Leanne’s portrayal of Amy’s emotional life.  I thought Any’s reactions to events was very realistic and typical for her character.

The language of the book does not patronise its readers, and yet explains all the important parts to those who may not be familiar with them.  This is a delicate balancing act well executed.

This is exactly to sort of book I devoured as a child and I’m sure will be loved by today’s children.  It took me back to my chidhood when I hunted for new books in the “Brumby” series at my local library.  I think I may have one or two copies (bought in the library sales) stowed away in my childhood book boxes.  I may have to dig them out and read them again!

I may be persuaded to lend my copy of Horses of the Sun to my horse-mad neices! I shall look out for more books by Leanne.

I received this book after winning a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks Leanne.

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View all my Goodreads reviews

I’m claiming this book as No. TBC/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge; and No. 3 in the First in Series Reading challenge..
[All links in right hand sidebar]

Snakes by Travis Heermann: A further review and more thoughts

SnakesSnakes by Travis Heermann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Eddie, a young, pretty single mom, is trying to do the right thing by her three-year-old daughter. She really is. With no education, no job, and a string of loser boyfriends behind her, she faces hard decisions every day. Gas for the car, or food for Joy? She’s already been forced to move back into her mother’s decrepit old trailer in Shady Acres Trailer Court in rural Arkansas. Should she get a normal job working long hours for minimum wage, or should she put on her stiletto heels, bikini bra and micro-skirt and go back to exotic dancing so she can bring home fistfuls of cash for a few hours’ work? When she catches her daughter playing with handfuls of baby copperhead snakes behind the trailer, the choice gets a lot easier: get out of there by the quickest means possible. But at what cost? And is that strange man the devil or her knight in shining armor?

View all my Goodreads reviews

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I’ve been meaning to write this post since a week after I finished Snakes. I have in fact written several fantastic versions of this post in my head whilst driving; unfortunately you won’t be reading any of them! It has taken me another fortnight from writing this post by hand (I’m like that) to getting round to typing it up.

In my original review of Snakes, I said that I was unsatisfied with the ending. On further reflection, I realised that what I felt about the ending was far more complicated.

PLOT SPOILER ALERT

I WILL BE DISCUSSING WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE STORY SO STOP NOW IF YOU WANT IT TO REMAIN A SURPRISE

xxxx WARNING ENDS xxxx

I realised that what disturbed and in some ways disappointed me about the end of the story was that there was no chance for repentance and redemption. Eddie wasn’t a particularly bad person and she was doing all she could to shield her daughter, Joy, from the ‘bad’ side of life. Eddie made some bad choices and gave into some temptations, but she was aiming to get away from the seedy aspects of her life. For this reason, I still feel that her punishment came out of an entrapment and without a chance to appeal.

The way the book ends, you don’t know if Eddie lives or dies. Earlier in the book we are told that copperhead bites are rarely fatal, but Eddie suffers a bite in a very unusual place. I’m not sure which would be worse for her: to have her life ebb away knowing her daughter has been taken, or to recover and, I expect, to spend the rest of her life trying, and most likely failing, to find her daughter.

I wanted to know more about the stranger and his plans for Joy. I couldn’t decide if he really aimed to let Joy shine in the world as she was supposed to (and who was he to say that illuminating and inspiring her mother’s life wasn’t sufficient?) or whether he wanted to prevent her doing so, despite what he appeared to be saying. Was he Good or Evil, Angel or Devil? Am I reading into his looks the effects of thousands of years of accumulated symbolism?

I think that this story hit home because we all make bad choices and compromises in our lives; few of us are all we can be. Sometimes, the only motivation for going on is the hope that we will make better choices and be able to avoid those soul-sucking compromises. Snakes gave me a glimpse into a world where that hope does not exist – and I don’t like what I saw. I don’t want to live in that Hope-less world. As the tale of Pandora explains, when all the demons of pestilence are released, the tiny, fragile Hope that struggles out of the box after the demons escape is all that keeps mankind going.

Snakes challenged me to take stock of my life, and provoked me into being more honest with myself than perhaps I had been before. I didn’t like some of what I saw there either! The removal, in the story, of Hope shocked me profoundly, which is why I didn’t – and still don’t – “like” the story. In my opinion, it is not a story to like, it is one to experience.

I can not find a suitable adjective to describe this story: thought-provoking is too anodyne and rather overused. Snakes provokes a gut-wrenching emotional response, perhaps because by using snakes as a motif, it speaks to one of our most primitive fears.

I said this in my first review, and it still holds true a month later: For a 30 page story to have such a deep, powerful and abiding effect shows that Travis Heermann is a master, ranking up there with Aesop and the Greek myth writers.