Thursday, July 31, 2014

11/22/63 by Stephen King

  Because of my recent binge on Stephen King's work, I have observed something quite interesting about how his stories have progressed over the years. Now, this may just be my opinion, but there's an undeniable speculation that's been circulating amongst Mr. King's fans.
  Stephen King's writing has gotten better.
  Not just his writing either, his stories too. His stories have grown from, "Oh my gosh, this is creepy" to "I may never look at life the same way ever again." No joke, his new stories are pretty life-changing.
  And thanks to 11/22/63, I may never hear Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" without sobbing, ever again.
  Jake Epping has just read one of the most emotional essays in the history of his career as an English teacher. Harry, who wrote the essay, wrote about that Halloween night in '58, when his father murdered his entire family. Jake is overwrought with emotion and gives Harry's paper an A+, completely blowing off all of Harry's grammatical errors.
  That night, Jake receives a call from Al, the owner of Al's Diner, and he's told to come quickly. There's something Al needs to tell him before he dies.
  Al has found a time portal to 1958, and he's requesting Jake go back in time...
  ...and stop the American tragedy known as the Kennedy Assassination.
  This book had me intrigued, literally, from the very first page. Stephen King has outdone himself in this story. He shows his romantic side, his brilliance, and ultimately his magical way of capturing his readers' interest, luring them into an irresistible story with extremely lovable characters. He toys with your emotions as if they were nothing but old and used Lincoln Logs.
  When I read Doctor Sleep, the unofficial "sequel" to The Shining, I thought that it would remain unbeatable by Stephen King's other novels.
  I was wrong.

Book                                 ebook

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Meeting Deborah Harkness - July 20th 2014

  Not only was I lucky enough to make a trip all the way down to Books and Books in Coral Gables for Chris Colfer's The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning book signing, I was able to make a trip down there again, a week later, for a book signing with the incredible Deborah Harkness. 
  When I first read her book, A Discovery of Witches, she was not that popular. Sure, among bookworms, word of mouth was spreading that "this book is incredible!" and so on, but it was not nearly as popular as it was when its sequel, Shadow of Night, came out. 
  Like most series, as each book in the All Souls Trilogy came out, they became more and more popular. So when a huge crowd showed up at the book signing for the last book in the All Souls Trilogy, I was not surprised. Now, we're not talking Chris Colfer crowd big, but on a scale from one hundred to five hundred, the amount of people leaned towards the latter number. 

(Waiting in line to get books signed and pictures)

Due to a time constraint and the size of the crowd that showed up to the event, Books and Books decided that it would be best to first have Ms Harkness sign books and take pictures with fans, and then head over to the opposite side of the store for a talk (and then sign more books afterwards). It worked out perfectly! Each fan received special treatment and undivided attention from our star of the hour.

So I headed to the left side of the store for book signings and pictures.

(Deborah Harkness meets The Literary Connoisseur...)

(And The Little Connoisseur!)

After a quick chat with the incredibly personable and lovely Deborah Harkness, she signed all three of my All Souls Trilogy books, and a few bookmarks for the road!

And now it was time to walk back over to the right side of the store for a talk with Ms Harkness, a few readings from her third book in the trilogy, The Book of Life, a brief history of her life as an author, and a quick Q&A with the crowd! (I met some of the most incredible people while waiting to see Deborah Harkness...but of course I did, I was at a book signing, surrounded by book lovers!)

(The crowd for Deborah Harkness' talk)

I cannot even begin to say how incredible my birthday month has been so far! Once again, thank you to my parents for making it so special and for accompanying me all the way down to Coral Gables, thank you Books and Books for running such a magical event, and thank you Deborah Harkness for being so amazing, kind, compassionate, and loving! The combination of these wonderful people made this book signing one of the best EVER!

About Deborah Harkness:

I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and have lived in western Massachusetts, the Chicago area, Northern California, upstate New York, and Southern California. In other words, I’ve lived in three out of five time zones in the US! I’ve also lived in the United Kingdom in the cities of Oxford and London.
For the past twenty-eight years I’ve been a student and scholar of history, and received degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis. During that time I researched the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700. The libraries I’ve worked in include Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the All Souls College Library at Oxford, the British Library, London’s Guildhall Library, the Henry E. Huntington Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Newberry Library—proving that I know my way around a card catalogue or the computerized equivalent. These experiences have given me a deep and abiding love of libraries and a deep respect for librarians. Currently, I teach European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
My previous books include two works of non-fiction: John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature(Cambridge University Press, 1999) and The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution (Yale University Press, 2007). It has been my privilege to receive fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. And I was honored to receive accolades for my historical work from the History of Science Society, the North American Conference on British Studies, and the Longman’s/History Today Prize Committee.
In 2006, I took up my keyboard and entered the world of blogging and Twitter. My wine blog, Good Wine Under $20, is an online record of my search for the best, most affordable wines. These efforts have been applauded by the American Wine Blog Awards, Saveur.comWine & Spirits magazine, and Food & Wine magazine. My wine writing has also appeared on the website Serious Eats and in Wine & Spirits magazine.
My career in fiction began in September 2008 when I began to wonder “if there really are vampires, what do they do for a living?” A Discovery of Witches is the unexpected answer to that question. The book debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was also a bestseller in the UK, France, and Germany. Thirty-eight foreign editions and translations will be published. The story of Diana and Matthew continues in Shadow of Night(published in 2012, it debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list)  and coming on July 15, 2014, The Book of Life,  the third book of the All Souls Trilogy.

Deborah's Books:

Book                                ebook

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

It by Stephen King

  Children are disappearing in the town of Derry. One by one, mothers and fathers are losing their children as they vanish without a trace, and the only reasonable explanation is that they're being snatched by some mass murderer/kidnapper. But the residents of Derry don't know that this evil force is beyond their control...beyond anyone's control.
  Except for the Loser's Club. Bill, Beverly, Ben, Mike, Eddie, Richie, and Stan are all eleven to twelve years old, and it seems as if they are Derry's only saving grace. But will they defeat this evil force called It, or will It take them out one by one? After all, they're only children, and It eats children for breakfast...
  As I write this, I am currently in the middle of reading and enjoying Stephen King's 11/22/63, and just like my experience with Doctor Sleep, I am taken by Mr King's way with words.
  When I first heard that the mysterious town of Derry plays an important part in 11/22/63, I figured that Stephen King's It must be read first, so I could get a decent idea of what to expect when I delve into 11/22/63's pages. I already knew It's plot from watching the made-for-TV movie numerous times, and I entirely expected the book to have some differences, but nothing too drastic, right?
  The book It is a completely separate entity.
  In my opinion, Stephen King's It was more difficult to get immersed in, unlike his later novels which I find much easier to read. His earlier novels are more iconic, but I strongly believe that, not only has Stephen King not lost his touch with writing, he's gotten BETTER.
  But, difficulties aside, It is an incredible book. Remarkable, iconic, poetic, terrifying, wonderful, and all of the right ingredients to make even the strongest of people tremble in fear of what goes bump in the night.
  Stephen King is a truly beautiful writer.
  Of course, like every other literature lover out there, I read the book and thought, "Oh yeah, the movie doesn't even compare!" (Although I did picture the actors as I read Bill, Bev, Ben, and the rest of the Loser's Club's story. It was great casting!)
  It will have dry parts, and some detailed scenes may (did I say may? I meant definitely WILL) make you nauseated, but it (It) is well worth it.
  Read It, enjoy It, and then read 11/22/63!

Book                                 ebook

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chris Colfer Book Signing- 7/13/14

Meeting Chris Colfer

  As you all may know, I am an avid fan of reading, meeting authors, bookstores, and basically everything else that involves books. Which includes religiously checking my favorite local bookstores' websites to see if any of my favorite authors will be coming to Florida for a book signing.
  A few months ago, I checked one of my favorite bookstores' (Books and Books) website to see what new and exciting events they would be planning for the upcoming summer months.
  And I saw it. Well, I saw *him.*
  Chris Colfer, star of Glee, singer, actor, and author, was coming down to the Books and Books store in Coral Gables, for a book signing to promote his latest Land of Stories novel: A Grimm Warning.
  I've just found out that a good amount of my friends weren't aware that Chris Colfer had written and published actual, in-the-flesh, paper books, and it's true. Not only is this man incredibly talented, with the vocal cords of an angel, he is a wonder with pen and paper as well. His books are New York Times Bestsellers, and well-loved by readers across the world. 
  He is a sweetheart, an incredible role-model, and a wonderful person altogether. You can imagine my excitement when I saw that he was going to be only three hours away from my house, signing books at one of my favorite bookstores. 
  After making a three-hour trip to Coral Gables, checking into my hotel, and trying to get some sleep with a monstrous thunder storm booming outside my window, it was time. 
  I got up at 6:40 in the morning, and got in line, which DEFINITELY paid off...

  ...and we only had about twenty people in front of us! The line got so long, it wound through the bookstore, past the cafe, through the children's section and YA section, through the courtyard, and outside, where it ended about a block away from the store's entrance. 
  My party and I only had to wait about two hours inside, but that flew by like it was nothing. I had wonderful company, air conditioning, a booth to sit in, and crochet projects to work on. Everything was going by as smoothly as possible. 

(Seen in the children's section of Books and Books)

  Not long after we all sat down, it was time to get our books ready. 
  CHRIS HAD ARRIVED!!! (Although my excitement was a bit delayed based on the fact that I was temporarily deafened by the collective high-pitched, animalistic shriek of pre-teen fangirls.)
  But Chris was here and I was ready to meet him!

  I don't know what to say about the incredible Chris Colfer besides saying that he was beyond sweet and personable, he made sure that all of his fans got to say a quick, few, but meaningful words to him, and he ensured that every single fan of his got the remarkable experience they deserved. He was amazing. He was an absolute angel and the sweetest. He and I instantly clicked with our mutual love for Harry Potter, and we talked about our tendencies to fangirl/fanboy whenever the Wizarding World was mentioned. I will cherish the meeting with him forever!

My books! <3

I want to thank Books and Books for hosting such a remarkable event! This whole experience would not have been possible without your wonderful store. I want to thank Chris Colfer for coming to Florida and making my dream of meeting you come true. I'd like to thank my parents for keeping me company and making the hike all the way down to Miami, and I'd especially like to thank Zachary D. for swooping in at the last minute to snap a picture of me in front of Chris' table, and providing some of the best pictures from the event! You rock!

About Chris Colfer:

Christopher Paul "ChrisColfer is an American actor, singer, author and producer best known for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the television series Glee. Colfer's portrayal of Kurt has received much critical praise, and he has been the recipient of several awards, including Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards and two consecutive People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Comedic TV Actor in 2013 and 2014. He has also garnered many award nominations, which include the 2010 and 2011 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. In April 2011, Colfer was named one of the 2011 Time 100Time's list of the 100 most influential people. He wrote, starred in, produced, and novelized his first film,Struck by Lightning, which debuted at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. He is also a New York Times number-one bestselling author of The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, the first novel in his middle-grade reader trilogy.

Chris' Books:

The Land of Stories Series

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Chris' Novel, Struck by Lightning

Book                                  ebook

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Czarina of Florida by Tami Lynne

  Ida Alice Shourds is a simple woman. She has lived a simple life, she lives in a simple town, and she wears simple (beyond simple) clothing. She is positively plain, though she does have a red-hot temper which flares up occasionally.
  Her simple life takes a turn when she decides to apply for a job caring for Mrs. Flagler, wealthy Henry Flagler's wife. Mrs. Flagler's health is failing, and she needs a nurse to dress her, take her for short walks, prepare her for dinners, and even care for Mr. Flagler when it is needed.
  Not far into the book, Mrs. Flagler's illness starts wreaking havoc with her body, and Ida starts to realize that soon it may just be her...and the enigmatic Henry Flagler.
  Talk about book hangovers! Not only did The Czarina of Florida have me rubbing my bleary eyes from an unsuccessful night's sleep, it had me waking up the next morning thinking, "What in the heck just happened in that book?!"
  And to this day, about two weeks after I finished the book, I am STILL thinking about how mind-boggling the story is. Living somewhat near where the story takes place doesn't help, either. I can't help but cringe every time I see a railroad track.
  My dear readers, this book is GOOD.
  Tami Lynne's exceptional writing has reached new heights in The Czarina of Florida. In this book, she shows off her true talent of story-telling. Her impeccable way of describing scenery, her character progression, and her plot growth are just remarkable. I don't understand why this book hasn't been read and enjoyed by more people. It was five stars in my book!
  Every time I read one of Tami Lynne's novels, I think, "Oh, no way. THIS one is my favorite!" (Which is how I'm currently feeling about The Czarina of Florida.)
  Without going into too many details, I do have to say this... There is a certain character (and plot) progression that slowly shows its head at the beginning of the book, which then rapidly slews into a downward spiral of chaos that made me shout, "OH MY GOSH."
  It was that good.
  It should be required that all Floridians read this book, and it should be a strong suggestion for all others. The Czarina of Florida is a gem.

Book                                 ebook

Saturday, July 5, 2014

For Atancia by Wren Figueiro

  There are many different opinions when it comes to watching a sequel to a movie, or reading a sequel to a book. Many times, opinions with be split in half. Half will say that sequels don't even come close to being as good as the first (book or movie) in the series, and half will say they're better.
  When it comes to Wren Figueiro's For Atancia, I am proud to say that I am a part of the latter half.
  When I first read Wren Figueiro's Atancia, I was sucked in instantly. It was nicely written, Atancia (her main character as the title implies) was entirely normal and not even close to being irritating, and the story was fast-paced enough to keep its reader (me) intrigued the whole way through.
  I started For Atancia expecting it to have the same effect on me as the first book, and was pleasantly surprised.
  For Atancia is told in Matt's perspective, unlike Atancia, which is told in her perspective. We come to unexpectedly fall in love with Matt at the end of Atancia, when we are surprised by a shocking turn of events that leave us breathless. But I won't go into that, I'll leave that part up to your imagination. Unless you plan on reading Atancia, which I strongly suggest! You'll find many incredible tidbits in Atancia, but even more so in For Atancia.
  I loved the sequel even more than I loved the first book.
  When I started it, I was reminded of all of the wonderful feelings Atancia (the book) first gave me. The sweat that beaded on my brow when I started to panic for my favorite characters' safety only intensified when I got deeper into the story. And in addition to that, Wren Figueiro has supplied a whole new cast of characters for her readers to fall in love with.
  I hope and pray that I will be the lucky recipient of more Wren Figueiro books in the future.

Book One                              Book Two