Monthly Archives: September 2014

Fall Into Reading–Book Haul

Summer has faded away. Fall has officially started here in Pennsylvania. The leaves have started to change color before they fall from the branches. Tis the season of sweater weather, pumpkin flavored everything and library book sales!

Last year I posted my findings at a local library book sale; a tiny stack of books for a small price. Two weeks ago I headed out to the old roller staking rink to spend a few hours walking through the labyrinth of used books. Armed with comfortable shoes and a reusable Target bag I combed through the hundreds of books to take home eight books for less than $10.

Listed below will be a picture of the books I found with the synopsis and the publishing date (does anyone else actively look for the publishing date just to see what year the novel was written? Or is it just a second nature for me since I had to cite so many books for essays in high school and college?). Enjoy my findings and happy reading!

the little book

The Little Book by Selden Edwards—2008

When Wheeler Burden—banking heir, rock idol, baseball hero, bestselling author—suddenly finds himself dislocated in time from 1988 San Francisco to Vienna in the year 1897, he’s arrived at a pivotal moment in history, philosophy, art, and culture. It is a time when the coming twentieth century looms before the world with great promise and peril, and when Vienna is enjoying its magnificent swan song as the epicenter of modern thought and the seat of European intellectual and political life.

But what’s most important to Wheeler from the earliest moments of his arrival are finding an appropriate set of clothes and discovering the identity of the luminous young woman he encounters early in his stay. These simple actions set in motion a series of events that will ultimately reveal the incredible truth at the heart of Wheeler’s adventure and will illuminate the eccentric Burden family’s unrivaled impact on the very course of human history.

the dante club

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl—2003

Boston 1865. A series of murders, all of them inspired by scenes in Dante’s Inferno. Only an elite group of America’s first Dante scholars—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J.T. Fields—can solve the mystery. With the police baffled, more lives endangered, and Dante’s literary future at stake, the Dante Club must shed its sheltered literary existence and find the killer.


Spells by Aprilynne Pike—2010

“I can’t just storm in and proclaim my intentions. I can’t ‘steal’ you away. I just have to wait and hope that, someday, you’ll ask.” Tamani said.

“And if I don’t?” Laurel said, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Then I guess I’ll be waiting forever.”

Although Laurel has come to accept her true identity as a faerie, she refuses to turn her back on her human like—and especially her boyfriend, David—to return to the faerie world.

But when she is summoned to Avalon, Laurel’s feelings for the charismatic faerie sentry Tamani are undeniable. She is forced to make a choice—a choice that could break her heart.

the library of shadows

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard—2007

Imagine that some people have the power to affect your thoughts and feelings through reading. They can seduce you with amazing stories, conjure up vividly imagined worlds, but also manipulate you into thinking exactly what they want you to.

When Luca Campelli dies a sudden and violent death, his son Jon inherits his second-hand bookshop, Libri di Luca, in Copenhagen. Jon has not seen his father for twenty years, since the mysterious death of his mother.

After Luca’s death is followed by an arson attempt on the shop, Jon is forced to explore his family’s past. Unbeknown to Jon, the bookshop has for years been hiding a remarkable secret. It is the meeting place of a society of booklovers and readers, who have maintained the tradition of immense power passed down from the days of the great library of ancient Alexandria. Now someone is trying to destroy them, and Jon finds he must fight to save himself and his new friends.

la cucina

La Cucina by Lily Prior—2000

Since childhood, Rosa Fiore—daughter of a sultry Sicilian matriarch and her hapless husband—found solace in her family’s kitchen. La Cucina, the heart of the family’s lush estate, was a place where generations of Fiore women prepared sumptuous feasts and where the drama of extended family life was played out around the age-old table.

When Rosa was a teenager, her own cooking become the stuff of legend in this small community that takes pride in the bounty of its landscape and the eccentricity of its inhabitants. Rosa’s infatuation with culinary arts was rivaled only by her passion for a young man, Barolomeo, who, unfortunately, belonged to another. After their love affair ended in tragedy, Rosa retreated first into her kitchen and then into solitude, as a librarian in Palermo. There she stayed for decades, growing corpulent on her succulent dishes, resigned to a loveless life.

Then, one day, she meets the mysterious chef, known only as l’Inglese, whose research on the heritage of Sicilian cuisine leads him to Rosa’s library and into her heart. They share one sublime summer of discovery, during which l’Inglese awakens the power of Rosa’s sensuality, and together they reach new heights of culinary passion. When l’Inglese suddenly vanishes, Rosa returns home to the farm to grieve for the loss of her second love. In the comfort of familiar surroundings, among her growing family, she discovers the truth about her loved ones and finds her life transformed once more by the magic of her cherished Cucina.

leonardo's swans

Leonardo’s Swans by Karen Essex—2006

Isabella d’Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black eyed blonde and an art lover and collector. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naïve Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is more than twice their age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella’s match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny; to reign over one of the world’s most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella vows that she will not rest until he wins her true fate, and the two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe.

the house of velvet and glass

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe—2012

Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball.

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in a elegant town house in Boston’s Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.

the mercy falls collection

The Mercy Falls Collection by Colleen Coble—2009, 2010, 2011

The Lightkeeper’s Daughter

A storm brings an injured stranger and a dark secret to Addie Sullivan’s California light house home. The man insists she is not who she thinks she is, but rather the child long lost and feared dead by the wealthy Eaton family.

Addie secures employment in the Eatons’ palatial home, keeping her identify a secret. As dusty rooms and secret compartments give up clues about her past, Addie finds faith and a forever love.

The Lightkeeper’s Bride

Working the phone lines one evening, Katie Russell overhears a chilling exchange between her friend Eliza and a familiar male voice. Katie soon learns that Eliza has disappeared, and the crime may be linked to another investigation headed by the handsome new lighthouse keeping, Will Jesperson. Katie and Will soon form and alliance—an alliance that blossoms into something more.

The Lightkeeper’s Ball

Olivia Stewart is heiress to an empire. Her family numbers among the Four Hundred-those considered the most distinguished in America. But their wealth has evaporated and now their security rests upon Olivia marrying well.

Using her family’s long-forgotten English title, Olivia travels to Mercy Falls, California, as Lady Devonworth. There she plans to marry Harrison Bennett, a wealthy bachelor. Harrison soon falls for her, but it turns out they’ve both been hiding something.


Review on The Virgin’s Lover by Phillippa Gregory

the virgin's lover


It’s the late 1500s and Queen Elizabeth has just taken the throne. She is young, she is impressionable, and she is in need of friendship. Her Royal Court consists of many people, but only two have the means to call themselves her true friends. Her advisor, William Cecil, helps her make the right decisions in order to keep the country of England prosperous. Although Elizabeth’s family have either died or deserted her, she looks to Cecil as a much needed father figure. The other friend comes from her not-too-distant childhood, Robert Dudley.

Robert Dudley comes from a family born to be on the throne. His father before him was considered to be the King of England in everything but name. The Dudleys were not much liked and were soon named traitors to the crown. Robert spent many years of his childhood locked away in the Tower where he watched one of his brothers succumb to sickness. It seemed almost impossible for the Dudley name to become clean again.

However, once young Elizabeth takes the throne, Robert sees this as an opportunity to reclaim the status for his family’s name. It doesn’t take him long to make himself the Queen’s favorite. For Robert, making women to exactly what he wants isn’t hard. With a handsome face, a seductive smile, and dark looks that have given him the nickname “Gypsy”, Elizabeth and all the women he comes in contact with obey his every word.

Soon rumors begin to floats around that Robert and Elizabeth have become lovers; a scandalous, treasonous rumor to spread since Robert is a married man. At age 16 he married Amy Robsart, a 21 year old soft spoken, loyal, and innocent woman. Neither Robert’s or Amy’s families wanted the two to marry, but young love prevailed. Understandably after hearing these rumors of Robert’s adultery Amy becomes upset. She seeks solace in the church, asking God for advice and to forgive her for her feelings of jealousy and anger. As much as she asks for forgiveness and the strength to stay a loyal wife, her husband’s lover begins to take over all aspects of Amy’s life. Elizabeth changes the entire church. As the newly appointed head of the church she takes away anything that she considers blasphemy including priests that don’t comply with her orders. Amy finds that her church must continue the old ways in private.

As Elizabeth’s and Robert’s affair become more and more serious it becomes clear to those closest to the Queen that something must be done to break these young lovers apart.

One feature that was quite despairing was the grammar mistakes throughout the novel. There were a few misspelled words and misused punctuation. This was very surprising because whoever proofread/edited the novel didn’t catch these hard to miss mistakes. Honestly, it was these mistakes that brought the overall rating low. Other than the grammar mistakes The Virgin’s Lover is another interesting addition to Gregory’s historical novels. Although it wasn’t as captivating as The Other Boleyn Girl, it is an indulgent read.



Short Story–Untitled

I entered this short story into a short story contest hosted by Gotham Writer’s Workshop. The contest was called “Tell it Strange” and had two quotes that those who entered had to respond to. The quote that I responded to was “There’s something wrong with everybody and it’s up to you to know what you can handle.”


He stared into the mirror. His pale skin was almost translucent in the harsh, bathroom light. He turned his thin, long face to one side. The mirror reflected back his hollow cheeks, his sharp cheekbones, and the profile of his long nose. A strand of jet black hair fell in front of his dark, chocolate eyes. With a long finger he flicked the strand back into place. The sight of an angry looking pimple rising from the center of his cheek made him frown. With a thumb and forefinger he gave the growing blemish a hard squeeze. A gasp escaped his thin lips. A searing pain cut under the skin. Defeated, he dropped his hand.

            “Christopher?” a woman’s voice floated through the bathroom door. “Are you in the bathroom?” Natalie called.

            He sighed, his mother had returned home from work.

            “Yeah,” he answered slowly opening the bathroom door.

            His mother walked down the short hallway leading from the doorway around one side of the staircase. Her tall, slim figure was fitted in a sleek dark gray business suit. Her dark black hair was swept up in a loose bun; a few stray ringlets framed her ebony face. Her high heels clicked a soft melody on the wooden floor until she stopped in front of the bathroom.

            “What’s wrong? Do you have a stomach ache?” she questioned placing the back of her hand on his forehead.            

            “I’m fine, Mom.” He groaned backing away from her reach.

            Natalie crossed her arms, “Pull up your shirt.”


            “Pull up your shirt. Now.” She ordered.

            Christopher begrudgingly obeyed. A wide bruise was spread over his thin abdomen. Its redness had already begun to fade into a purplish blue with a tinge of sickly yellowish green around the edges.

            “Who did this?” she demanded.

            He remained silent, his eyes glued to the floor.

            “Christopher Daniel Smith, I want to know the names of those who did this to you. I will not stand idle while a bunch of punks assault my son.”

            Her rage peaked when he still refused to answer her. Try as she might she couldn’t help, but be angered at Christopher. Ever since she had become a mother on that rainy October night almost fifteen years ago, she had promised herself that she would love and protect her precious little sunshine. She knew that the older he became, the more struggles would emerge. The two of them had successfully hurdled through the preteen years, but she had been mentally preparing herself for the rebellious teen years since the day he entered the world as a tiny, perfect being. He was only through the first half of his freshman year and was already coming home with bruises, black eyes, and scrapes almost weekly. With each injury came the same argument. She would urge him to stand up for himself.

            “No one can push you around if you stand up for yourself.” She had told him time after time. When he would nod meekly she would attempt another approach by demanding the names and numbers of the boys who beat him up.

            “I would like to give their parents a piece of my mind.” Natalie would always snarl.

            In actuality, she wanted to give those boys a taste of their own medicine. Let their parents feel the horror she had felt the first time Christopher came home with a black eye. Let them lie awake at night worrying about what might happen to their son if the punching and kicking got old. Would weapons be next?   Christopher finally tore his gaze from the floor. Slowly, his eyes rose to meet hers. Her heart broke when she saw the tears glistening in his eyes.

            “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so different from you?” he begged.

            “Nothing is wrong—“

            “Yes there is!” Christopher shouted, his tears started to roll down his pale cheeks; “Look at me!” he gestured to his tall, lanky, body, “I’m skinny, ugly…”

            “You are not—“

            “Do you know what the biggest problem is? I’m white! You’re black and I’m white. How is that even possible?” he sank to the floor, his back against the wall, knees pulled up to his chest. He rested his head on his knees and began to sob.

            Natalie lowed herself beside him, wrapping her arms around his shaking body.

            “You’re white because your father was white. Life works in mysterious ways, sometimes the best things in life don’t make sense.” She smoothed his hair behind his ears.

            “The things they say about us…” Christopher sniffed, but trailed off to sob harder.

            “I know it’s hard for you to understand right know, but people’s opinions about you don’t matter; not in this world. You’ll drive yourself bat-shit insane if you try to make everyone like you.”

            Christopher gave a small chuckle at the sound of her swearing. Natalie smiled as her son lifted his head to look at her. His eyes were rimmed with red, his face blotchy and wet. Even in his moment of devastation, Natalie noted as she wiped his tears away with her thumbs, he was perfect.

            “What do I always tell you? There is no question that you are my son. Look at your eyes, look at your hair!” she gave his shoulder length hair a light tug, “You also have my fire. Right now it’s glowing faintly in your belly. Oh, right about here.” She tickled his ribs, the spot where he had been the most ticklish since he was a baby.

            “S-stop, Mom! Quit i-it!” he laughed gasping for breath.

            Natalie brought her hands back to their position around him. “You are a strong you man, strong enough to light the fire in your belly. There’s something wrong with everybody and it’s up to you to know what you can handle. When that line is crossed and you can’t handle things, come to me. I’ll always be there to help you through everything life throws at you.”