Monday, November 29, 2010

The Snowman

Sometimes I think I'm the only person who had the joy of experiencing The Snowman when I was a child. The book, done by Raymond Briggs, has no words- but no words are needed. Each page is covered by a series of drawings depicting a little boy who wakes up on a snowy morning and builds none other than a snowman.

But it's the magic that the snowman brings which grasps a child's imagination. I would spend hours in the snow as a child and build the biggest snowman that I could possibly muster. Even in college my friends and I would still go outdoors to build snowmen around our campus. But I remember clearly being small and building snowmen, focusing on their shape, concentrating on what type of wood chips or coal I would use for their facial features. I would stand back with pride and I would wish they were real.

Raymond Briggs, in this children's picture book that was published originally in the 1970's, focuses on that dream of a child in snow. The little boys snowman does come to life! He does move and react and befriends the child. And what's better yet but the snowman, made of a substance that can float and fly through the air when in its loose form, takes to the sky with the little boy and they see the world.

Each picture is simplistic yet so interesting. As a child I would look at each photo and study it, wishing that my snowmen would wake up. There is also a cartoon movie of the book, no words (aside from an introduction), just music and artwork. Here is one of my most favorite scenes of the movie/book:

If you are considering a winter-themed book for your child do look for this book. While the movie features a Christmas tree and Santa Claus the book does not, it is entirely winter themed and can be enjoyed by anyone of any religious faith. Experience the childhood magic.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

There is nothing I love more than special book stores. You all know this, I love my hole-in-the-wall book shoppes, there are very few things that invoke such joy and a sense of calm. I went to Bethlehem this weekend with my parents to enjoy the holiday festivities, look at the shop windows, and maybe do a little sight seeing and shopping. I love this town so very much, it's definitely one of my favorite places in Pennsylvania, and somewhere I feel is worth making the trek.

So with that, I've made a small video for your viewing pleasure. I just want you to keep two things in mind when you view this: 1) My camera is not meant for making movies. It's a little camera with an option for films but not of the five minute quality. 2) I was doing a lot of guess work with iMovie, I don't like reading instructions and I fail when it comes to cool things like making movies.... so it's not of the best quality.

Allow me to continue on with my exploits of Bethlehem in a way that all of you bookworms might enjoy:

Bethlehem has The Moravian Book Shop. You've heard of my raves of the book stores in Jim Thorpe- they're little used books in little nooks and crannies. But The Moravian has so much more than just books. It's a huge store with a beautiful selection of chocolates, Christmas ornaments, Moravian Stars, a place to eat, childrens toys, house decor, and of course- books.  According to the website:

The Moravian Book Shop, the oldest bookstore in the world, was founded in 1745 when the Moravian Church appointed Samuel Powell of the Church's Crown Inn on the South Side of the Lehigh River to operate a book store.

How neat is that? So not only are you visiting a beautiful shop with some of the nicest employees I've ever had the chance to work with but you're sharing in history. Of course I can't go into that shop without buying something. Whether it's a gelato or book, I never leave empty handed. I picked up Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey and went on my merry way.

Another point of interest, if you ever get to visit Bethlehem, is Mama Nina's. It's a great place to eat if you're into Italian food. Everything is so fresh and I've always left completely stuffed. Just look at the inside decor:

As soon as we sat down we had a plate of this set before us:

I can't eat it, unfortunately, because of celiac's disease. Generally when I go out to eat somewhere I order salads but not this time! I ordered a stuffed pepper and it was so delicious. I barely finished it.

But that's how it always is when I go to Mama Nina: The food is fantastic and so filling. Prior to going gluten free I went there and had a couple of different pasta dishes, just the thought of them makes my mouth water. By the way, this place has another slew of really awesome employees who are funny and bright.

There are a ton of locations on Main Street where you can eat so if Italian isn't for you you'll certainly have your pick. I've eaten at a few of those locations (but failed to take pictures and don't recall the names- I'm so bad at remembering names!) and I've always had a pleasant experience.

Seriously, I adore this city. The stores are adorable, the people are sweet, and the buildings are just beautiful with so many objects that are easy to miss (like carvings of faces on the corners of bricks and the likes!).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Blog Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

This weeks question:

"What's your favorite book cover?"

When I read this question I might have slipped out an expletive because I am so indecisive when it comes to picking just one thing. I can't make decisions like that!

After standing in front of my bookshelf for over five minutes staring blankly at all the books I own I decided to just pick one of my many favorites:
The Complete Novels (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

from The Complete Novels of Jane Austen.

I love the different colors and how simplistic yet bright the cover is. 
I totally judge books by their covers, I'm sorry. It's how a book will grab my attentions unless I had heard of what it contains before seeing the cover itself. I love covers, I love pretty pictures, and I love when covers have meaning also. The Penguin Classics series- LOVE IT- because all of the covers seem to relate to the novels.

I work at a college so I'm currently off for Thanksgiving break.
It's pretty wonderful.
Yesterday (Thanksgiving) we received snow. It was fantastic and I am still giddy from it.
Now that the holiday season is upon us all the houses in my community have Christmas lights on.
One house even has music that plays... which causes the lights to change and blink.
I'm hoping that I get to make a trip to The Christmas City (Bethlehem, PA) this weekend.
Also, I logged onto today and this is what came up:
I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving and are enjoying the rest of the week!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

As previously mentioned, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday (the 20th). My father will be gone for Thanksgiving and this is an easy way to celebrate the holiday together.

What is Thanksgiving though? Originally a celebration of the winter Native Americans and Pilgrims shared food together. And, well, we all know what happened to the Native Americans. I don't like Thanksgiving as a celebration of that moment, sorry. But- I do picture Thanksgiving as an opportunity to gather as a family and look over all that we have. To truly be thankful. 

Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Outside a Restaurant
November 21, 2010

I have lived through winters where we didn't have enough money to buy our own food or to purchase clothes. We depended on the generosity of others and I have always thought of that when we have our Thanksgiving spread. Even though I will break down and complain about my life it's all more or less trivial because it could always be worse. 

So my Thanksgiving dinner might not have been today... it doesn't mean anything. It was still Thanksgiving in my house because we all came together, were thankful for the bountiful harvest, and enjoyed each others company. 
Thanksgiving Dinner
Oliver, the cat, included.

Now on the day that everyone else celebrates the holiday my mother and I have the fire going WHILE IT'S SNOWING OUTSIDE!!!! and we're watching my beloved Macy's Day Parade.
Oliver does not approve. 

I'll cook shrimp and make a big dinner with glasses of wine and in the evening we'll watch Christmas movies with the cat near by. 

For all of you reading this, I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and all the luck you've had this past year. Enjoy the food and family time, there are others who aren't as lucky as we. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
By Fire, By WaterThat evening, amidst the flowers and fountains in the Garden of the Generals, the chancellor of Aragon sat with Mohammed bin Sa'ad al-Zagal, the emir of Granada. Beside the emir sat his vizier, sipping a fig liquor, eating crisp pastries stuffed with squab, cinnamon, and almonds, watching a young girl called Sariya perform a dance she had learned in the harem. 
- By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
I would include the page number but dropped the book and lost the page.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Review: It's Kind of a Funny Story

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Amanda

Hey guys! I’m honored to be posting here on Soon Remembered Tales today! My name is Amanda, and I blog over at Amanda’s Musings ( on a somewhat regular basis. I’m an English major, and read all the time. At first, I didn’t know what book I wanted to review - I had so many to choose from! Then I realized I should tell you about It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

Yes, the movie just came out. No, that’s not why I read the book. I found it sitting on a bookshelf in Borders at least a year ago. I thought “this sounds interesting” and it came home with me. Where it sat on my shelf until a couple of weeks ago when I realized I should read it.

According to the blurb from The New York Times Book Review on the cover, “this is an important book.” And I agree with them wholeheartedly. The main character in the story, Craig Gilner is overwhelmed with school and battling depression, all while trying to convince his friends he’s completely normal. He tells himself that "depression isn't a disease. It's a pretext for being a prima donna. Everybody knows that." Unfortunately, the fa├žade shatters early one morning and after calling the suicide hotline, he checks himself into the hospital. Depression is an issue that is more prevalent than we would like to think. There is a history of depression in my family, and I’ve seen firsthand how it can affect a person’s life and the lives of those around them. It’s not easy to live with, but as Craig comes to find out, it IS doable. And not only is it doable, it’s desirable. If you read the book, I don't want to ruin the last pages, but Craig writes "Make a phone call. Open a Door. Ride your bike. Ride in a car. Ride in a subway. Talk. Talk to people. Read. Read maps" and his list just goes on. I will tell you this: the last word in the book is live, and it is entirely perfect.

This book is easy to read, and paced in a way so that it doesn't feel like you're reading a book about depression. I laughed, and I cried, but I do not regret reading this book one bit. I plan on reading the other books by this author as well, as soon as I make some progress with my "to-read" stack :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Blog Hop and NaNoWriMo Update #3

Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
"Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

I am most thankful for the opportunities that have been presented to me, for my friends, and my family. Really, to discuss all that I am thankful for would take far too long and you would grow bored. But do know that every day as I'm laying down in bed I try to think of my day. I think of all that had bothered me during the course of it and I ponder if it was really that bad. 99% of the time-it wasn't. And for that I am thankful.

This year we're celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. Yes, nearly a week ahead of schedule. My father is a truck driver and he can make decent money if he is to deliver during the holidays. You know, final shipments to stores so that they can have full stock for Black Friday. He will likely be in Canada during the official holiday so we're celebrating tomorrow instead. On the actual Thanksgiving holiday I will watch my beloved Macy's Day Parade (because it's tradition, and I've danced at Radio City Music Hall before with the Rockettes). Since the big dinner is taken out of the picture I don't really know what else we'll do with the day- which kind of saddens me. Although the prospect of Christmas excites me. Christmas begins (in my bedroom through decorations) as soon as Thanksgiving is over. Since I'm celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow- my 2 foot tall Christmas tree will be up by Sunday. I'm very excited for that. Maybe I'll go into Christmas traditions further along in the season but for now, I'll leave this with you.

NaNoWriMo Update: Week 3
In a weeks time my writing flow began to taper off and stop. It became incredibly hard to get from a thousand words to another thousand words. Then I sat back, took a deep breath, and focused on each 100 words I wrote. That was all, go from one 100 words and get to the next. Those hundred words do not take long to type and before you know it you've gained a thousand words or more.

Mondays have more or less proven to be too hectic for me to do much. I work from morning until night- literally. On most days I don't get home until at least 8:30 at night so I have slim to no energy to write. But I plucked away because gosh-darn-it I wanted to finish NaNoWriMo asap because I missed reading books.

And I did it. I made it to 50,000 words around 4pm on Thursday.
I've finished NaNoWriMo for the third time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guest Review: If I Stay

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Elyse

Hi! I'm Elyse from over at Elysie Piecie's Peace of Mind. When I heard Erica was looking for guest bloggers I jumped all over that opportunity. I thought about many books that I wanted to share with ya'll, but the one that stuck in my mind was If I Stay.

If I Stay revolves around Mia, a seventeen year old cellist, whose life is turned upside down one day when she finds herself in a coma. Confusion ensues as to the events surrounding the coma, but Mia slowly pieces it together while stuck in the world in between. Ultimately, Mia is faced with the decision of whether or not to stay and most importantly, if there is anything worth staying alive for.

If I Stay combines some of my favorite elements in life: music, teen angst, and the supernatural. It has been a while since I've had a book like this move me so deeply. Gayle Forman has beautifully lined the book with musical overtones (i.e. Mia's boyfriend, Adam, is in a band, and Mia is a classically trained cellist prodigy), which provides a haunting soundtrack to the novel. Forman also excels in making the reader question what is important in their own life. It makes you wonder for yourself, if you had the choice...what would you stay for?

PS: Just a head's up, Summit, has bought the rights to If I Stay and has teamed up with Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) to bring this movie to the silver screen 2011. So keep your eye out for it. Also the sequel to If I Stay, Where She Went, comes out in Spring of 2011 as well.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest Review: The Debt to Pleasure

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Ray

Despite that Halloween has just passed, I decided to go with a book that isn’t scary on the outside but once you get inside, is frightening.

First, a little bit about me. I’m a 35 year old husband and father of two little boys. I’m a writer (you can find my books at our website and the co-founder of Christopher Williams Books, a publisher of fine ebooks. I’m a life-long reader and lover of music, movies, and comic books.

But enough about me...

This would be one of those books that I bought because of the cover. I’ll admit it. It has this wonderful still life painting of a bowl of fruit. I loved the picture so much I bought the book. And began to read one of the most amazing and frightening stories of my life.

Debt to Pleasure is a memoir (of sorts) told to you by a man who loves food. He actually presents the story as a cookbook, telling the reader what to make in what seasons. Lancaster begins to hint at something unseemly under the surface when the narrator starts to mention that pretty-much every person who has ever given him a recipe or was part of his life is now dead. Yeah, that was the point where this book about food became something much more interesting. And much darker.

I would highly suggest this brilliant first novel for anyone who is looking for something different than the usual fare being forced upon you by publishers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two Year Anniversary!!!!

Huzzah! Today marks two years since I wrote my first blog post on Soon Remembered Tales. I feel in some ways that I have been doing this forever and always, maybe it's because I've always been reading and always have been discussing books. But I also can't believe that it's really been two full years since I've been writing on this blog.

A lot has happened in two years. Just between this year and last a lot has changed. Reading over my first year anniversary post apparently one year ago I had just over twenty followers and now I have just over 80, wow, thank you everyone!

I was only twenty-two years old when I decided to start Soon Remembered Tales. I had only graduated from college six months prior to that and the economy had taken it's tumble. Fresh out of college, no work experience, and living in a brand new area where I knew where absolutely nothing was nor did I have any contacts I was without a job. I managed a couple of stints as a waitress (oy) and a janitor (never do it) and I was already exhausted and jaded. By November I was nearly crying in desperation for some form of education. I missed college, I missed learning, I missed being scheduled to read four 300 page books for three English classes a week.

I read a lot when I wasn't employed. I had no money so I couldn't afford to go anywhere, I was ultimately trapped in my home, and reading was a quick remedy for that. But I missed two things about school: Having the chance to discuss what I thought about books and also the opportunity to remember what the books were about through the papers I wrote.

I never really expected to gain much of a following. I was hopeful that a couple of people would follow and maybe leave comments but to have 80 viewers is something I never mentally conceived and it's wonderful- so again- thank you!

What do I hope to do with the coming year?

*I would like to bring back book of the month, remember that? You all suggested books for me to read, I'd chose a book and read it. You'd write a reason as to why I just HAD to read that book then I would write my own opinion of it. It was fun but tapered off because I didn't have the time. I'll have to remedy that. Maybe a book for every two months? We'll see.

*A wider variety of books read by yours truly.

*Banned Books Week- of course!

*Guest Posts during the month of November. I really do enjoy NaNoWriMo but it totally takes over my life and I do enjoy making other readers reviews available on my blog. I don't know if you all agree but it gives me a chance to take a break without totally leaving my blog bare and for all of you, and anyone else who happens to come across my blog, a chance to see another bloggers great writing.

*Partaking in some of these different book blogger events. They just sound like fun.

So Happy Anniversary to my blog and thank you to all of my readers, you've made this experience all the better.

Blog Hop Friday and NaNoWriMo Update Week 2

Shortly after posting last weeks blog hop I ended up curled up in a ball on my living room couch- only getting up to run to the bathroom and throw up. Yes, I was attacked by the stomach flu that is going around my area. I got it from one job and brought it to another where it's spreading currently. It was horrible and I was laid up for most of the weekend. Thursday-Monday are fuzzy in my memory. I didn't have a substantial meal until Tuesday morning. Wednesday and Thursday I was back to work which I'm still trying to decide if it was a good idea or not. We'll see.

So with that:
Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
"If you find a book that looks interesting but is part of a series, do you always start with the first title?"

Yes. Unless I have been told by people who have read the series that it is easy to go out of order. However, I think the last time I still went out of order was when I was in middle school. I need to go in order. I'm compulsive like that, things need to be in order. So if there is a book that is in the series- I must read it in order. Therefore, that first book better be pretty good if the author/publishing company wants me to continue with the series.

NaNoWriMo Update- Week 2
The stomach flu did a number on my goal for the weekend and week. I had a goal to make it to 25,000 words by Friday/Saturday and on Friday I didn't even write a single word. By Saturday I didn't even write an additional 1,000 words. Somehow, by Tuesday, I made it to 30,000 words. 

And then my word count died again. As mentioned above I worked Wednesday and Thursday. Both days were exhausting since I had been so weakened from the flu and I had a list of things to do since I was sick for so long.

I hope to crank out 10,000 words this weekend. I wanted to be done with NaNo by Wednesday morning  of this upcoming week but I'm not entirely sure it will happen. Alas, getting sick was out of my control. 

I hope all of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo are finding the flow of words unending and quickly nearing your goal!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest Review: Enough

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Jon

Hi, my name is Jon, and I'm really excited that Erica invited me to write a guest post for Soon Remembered Tales. I've been an avid reader all of my life, mostly of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and I started writing book reviews to share with my friends in 1995. Just this year, I began blogging at The Steel Bookshelf about the books I'm reading, and I hope to be reading and telling folks all about it for a long time to come.

Juan Williams has been in the news recently, with his firing by NPR, and so I decided I should probably read something he's written. The full title of this book is Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movement, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America - and What We Can Do About It. The entire book is more or less a riff on the themes that Bill Cosby raised in his controversial speech at Constitution Hall on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision that forced integration of public schools in America.

Critics said that Cosby was beating up on poor black people, an easy target. But Williams, who interviewed the comedian extensively for his book, says that Cosby's charge was that black cultural and political leaders have misinformed, mismanaged, and mis-educated by failing to tell black people about what it takes to get ahead in America: strong families, a good educations, and hard work, instead focusing the spotlight constantly on alleged systemic racism as the cause of all of the black poor's woes. Williams even suggests that it's in the best interests (especially financial) of these leaders to maintain the status quo, sacrificing the well being of those they claim to champion.

Williams, and Cosby, both believe that the behavior of many of the black poor today, disgraces and dishonors the sacrifices made by the generations of black civil rights leaders who fought for the freedom they enjoy today. The popular culture that embraces thuggish behavior, encourages indiscriminate sexual behavior and bearing children out of wedlock, and discourages blacks who try to graduate from high school and go on to college as "acting white", would be incomprehensible to those like Fredrick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks.

Williams attacks the idea of reparations for slavery that has been floating around Congress for years now. He calls it a "flashy distraction" from the real work that must be done by black people to take advantages of all the opportunities in America. Like lottery winnings, the money would soon be spent, most likely frivolously, and things would continue as usual, but with whites, and the government, feeling that the "debt" had been paid and that no further effort would be needed to help the black poor.

In his speech, Cosby said "What the Hell good is Brown v Board of Education if nobody wants it?" Black people before, during, and after slavery had regarded education as their way out, a chance to succeed. " a thirty-year period, between 1880 and 1920, the percentage of black people who could read and write jumped from 30 percent to 70 percent. This ... took place despite a lack of schools, frequent denial of the right to for office, including seats on the school boards that controlled funding for black schools." In 2004 only 50 percent of black students who enter the ninth grade later graduated with a regular high school diploma. Only 43 percent of black males graduate. Even worse, the children coming out of many big-city schools are not ready to compete at the best colleges, as the quality of high school education there has declined. Cosby said in a column in the Los Angeles Times, "What we need now is parents sitting down with children, overseeing homework, sending children off to school in the morning, well-fed, clothed, rested, and ready to learn."

One quote from Williams that I found amusing. With respect to the reason a disproportionate amount of black males are prison. "The fashionable theory was that America's poor, disproportionately black and concentrated in big cities, did their drug deals and robberies on street corners where lazy, racist police had an easy time arresting them." I just get this mental picture of a couple of good ole boy cops, eating donuts in the squad car, and one says to the other, "Let's drive downtown and get our quota of arrests for this week - won't take us very long." Williams also mentions that the mayors of big cities "understand the utility of having an attractive black police chief to handle ... misconduct by officers (such as the cruel beating of Rodney King) or charges that police are inattentive to crime in black neighborhoods." Isn't it sad that appearances are all that really count? Williams believes that black Americans need to take up their own war on drugs and crime, which undermines the advances in racial justice and opportunities won by the civil rights movement, as a matter of personal responsibility.

One minor inaccuracy, in my opinion, appears in this section. Williams repeats the slander that William Bennett said on his radio show that the crime rate in America could be reduced if all black babies were aborted. I believe Bennett was actually discussing a statement made by the authors of Freakonomics. The authors claimed as a result of their studies that the decrease in crime in the inner cities that was seen at a particular time came about as a result of Roe v. Wade. When abortion on demand became readily available after the Supreme Court decision, it reduced the number of children born significantly in the following decade. Most of those children would have been teenagers or young adults during the decade studied for its reduction in crime. Statistically, young males are more likely to commit crimes, and again, statistically, black males are more likely to be arrested for crimes, therefore the reduction in crime rates during that period could be attributed to the increase in abortions of inner city (black) babies.

Williams talks quite a bit about the effect of gangster rap music. He says that "it leaves young black people, especially poor kids searching for identity, with the poisonous idea that middle-class normalcy and achievement are 'white' while 'authentically black' behavior is tied to violence, illiteracy, and drug dealing." The misogynistic lyrics of rap music also destroy the self esteem of young black women, who are referred to often as "bitches and hos", and encourages them to believe that their only value is as sexual objects. "In the world of rap, only suckers believe that America is a land of opportunity..."

In Chapter 7, Williams gives a detailed history of what civil rights workers did after Brown to force the issues of integration in the public schools, and voting rights for blacks. Martin Luther King, in a speech in 1958, even criticized blacks for some of the same types of behavior that Cosby would criticize nearly fifty years later. He said that black crime rates were too high and that drinking too much and spending money on luxury items (can you say "bling"?) was wasting black potential for creating positive change, and he criticized sloppiness and personal hygiene. "Even the most poverty-stricken among us can purchase a ten-cent bar of soap. even the most uneducated among us can have high morals."

Williams and Cosby both believe that the poor black community cannot wait for the issues of systemic racism, which modern black leaders decry, to go away. It will be far too late for young blacks by then. The way out of poverty is available to all, and the formula is simple. It begins with finishing high school, though finishing college is better. Next, get a job and keep it. Third, get married after finishing school and getting a job. Finally, avoid having children until you are over 21 and married. This formula applies to black and white poor alike.

This is a great read, really. I felt in some ways like Williams was "preaching to the choir" with me as an audience, as I firmly believe in the value of a good education, a strong work ethic, and supportive family. I've seen friends and family struggle in their lives when any one of those foundations were not in place, and I've seen other people with those qualities present succeed like gangbusters.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Guest Review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Ray

So I wanted to get a review of this done before Aidan beat me to it. He loves Kavalier and Clay as much as I do and he’s a much better reviewer. Ha, I got here first!

So, a little bit about me. I’m a 35 year old husband and father of two little boys. I’m a writer (you can find my books at our website and the co-founder of Christopher Williams Books, a publisher of fine ebooks. I’m a life-long reader and lover of music, movies, and comic books.

But enough about me...

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay won the Pulitzer. But don’t hold that against it.

This is a fantastic novel about two cousins in the late 1930s who start writing and drawing comic books in the infancy of the medium. One is a Jewish refugee who has recently escaped the Nazis and the other is a Brooklyn kid dreaming big dreams. They start creating a comic book about The Escapist and using this infant medium to fight the Nazis in their own way.

While presenting a plot that seems fantastical at parts, Chabon’s writing keeps it grounded and realistic as these two young men take out their frustrations with the world in the funny pages, meet real-life icons like Salvador Dali and Stan Lee, and find out that life is infinitely more difficult and complex than the world of comic books.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blog Hop Friday and NaNoWriMo Update

Book Blogger Hop

Question of the week: "What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?"

My feelings with losing followers are mixed. They'll range from disappointment, confusion, to paranoia. If I see a drop in followers after I make a specific post I wonder, why? Is it something I said? But if I see it happening when I'm not making posts over a couple of days I just figure the person has grown bored and moved on.

I have stopped following blogs before and generally my reasoning has been that I don't find myself connecting with the posts or, and this has happened, the person just does not update. There has never been a time where I've stopped following someone because of something they've specifically written upsetting/offending me.

Moving along....

Because of NaNoWriMo I've had a few special posts this week:
A CSN Stores Give Away Winner Post Here!
A Halloween Recap Post Here!
A Guest Post by Elizabeth Post Here!
and A Guest Post by Ray Post Here!

NaNoWriMo is going well for me. As of the time that I wrote this post I was at 17,280 words. My goal is to be finished with NaNoWriMo by Thanksgiving. We shall see if I can achieve it. On the shorter end of goals- I hope to get to 20,000 by the end of the weekend (maybe 25,000 if I'm really being an overachiever). None the less, I have been hard at work.

Again, if you are doing NaNoWriMo yourself and would like another NaNo buddy, please add me! I really adore NaNoWriMo when I properly prepare for it and make the time (last year, I somewhat failed at that aspect). I even have a specific NaNo meal for the event!

Mountain Dew- Code Red
and my Make-It-Your-Own Sheetz Fryz

Code Red was my weapon of choice when it came to finals during college or having to sit up for long nights of essay writing. I depended on that stuff like it was a necessity to survival. But the fries are a completely new concept and definitely something that spoils me enough that I feel determined to 'work it off' by writing a lot! Sheetz gas stations have a menu available where you can chose what you want on your fries. I pick (if you're a health freak don't read this): nacho cheese, diced onions, chopped tomatoes, and sour cream. And it is to die for. Probably literally since I'm sure my arteries are clogging as you read this.

With writing, everything else in my life has been on the back burner. Cleaning, doing other little odd jobs, my belongings are strewn everywhere. It's a mess. But it works.

Next week maybe we'll discuss the awesome fall weather we've been having and the fireplace that makes me feel whole.

Guest Review: Belong to Me

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Ray

I have a confession to make: this is yet another book I bought because of the cover. The galoshes just sitting by the door got me! I had to pick the book up... and fell in love with it.

First, a little bit about me. I’m a 35 year old husband and father of two little boys. I’m a writer (you can find my books at our website and the co-founder of Christopher Williams Books, a publisher of fine ebooks. I’m a life-long reader and lover of music, movies, and comic books.

But enough about me...

Belong to Me is actually a sequel, of sorts. I didn’t find this until I was half-way through the novel so I thought in the spirit of full disclosure, I would tell you that first. It’s a sequel in that it includes characters from her first book, Love Walked In. Now, I say of-sorts because her first book is good. But somewhere between Love Walked In and Belong to Me, she went from being a good writer to a fantastic writer. So I say, you can start with Love Walked In and get to know the gang from the start or you can leap in to Belong to Me and suss out what happened before on your own. Either way, you are going to be very happy.

Belong to Me is a wonderful collection of characters whose paths connect in a small suburb of Philadelphia. You are introduced to people you love right off the bat. And those you hate. I have never in my history of reading had a character I disliked so much as Piper be the one I loved as much in the end. De Los Santos is truly an author to learn from in the way she handles her characters. Also, in the way that she handles the relationship between teenagers and adults. The two teen main characters are handled so deftly and infused with such care and life that I was utterly amazed by this author of just two books. She could have given us the usual caricatures of a teenager but instead introduced to two fully realized teenagers that left me speechless.

I’m not one to give too much of the plot away so I’m going to leave that to you to find on the back of the book or on the Amazon page. Just know that you are in good hands if Marisa De Los Santos is behind the wheel. Sorry for the bad metaphor.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guest Review: Solomon's Oak

During the month of November I will be featuring a series of book reviews done by different writers. Aside from this introduction- everything will be written by the guest reviewer. Please enjoy and dive into some books I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on yet! - Erica

Guest Reviewer: Elizabeth

I am delighted to share one of my many reviews with everyone as a guest on Erica's website.

I ALWAYS review the books I read whether the book was one I enjoyed or one that was a difficult read.

Please stop by my blog....hopefully you will find your next read from the many reviews on my page.

My blog can be found at

I am Elizabeth and have been enjoying blogging only for a short time....since July of this year. It has been a great deal of fun, and I have met so many talented people who share the love of reading and literature.

I have traveled to Europe to visit my son in Spain, Italy, and can see photos from Scotland on my blog header is from Portree, Scotland.

And now onto the featured read:

I chose to highlight SOLOMON'S OAK by Jo-Ann Mapson. I just finished the book last week and actually won the copy as an early reviewer on both LibraryThing and about that?


The chapel had been Dan's final project. One summer morning over his oatmeal he'd said, "I've got a bug to build myself a chapel. Nothing fancy, just a place to worship out of the rain." Page 9

Thanksgiving day, the oldest white oak tree on the Solomon property, a chapel built by Dan Solomon, a wedding, and now a foster child dealing with grief just like Glory Solomon.

Glory had to do something since Dan died...her savings was gone, and her part-time job didn't really pay the bills.

One day she was asked/begged if a wedding and a reception could be held in the chapel that Dan had built. Glory hesitated and then decided the $3,000 she would get would definitely help pay the bills that were mounting. The wedding party wanted a Thanksgiving dinner and also a reception with a pirate theme and a sword fight.

The wedding was a huge success and brought a few surprises as well.....a former policeman who happened to be photographing the oak tree and a new foster child that unknown to Glory had some connection to her family dog. The connection was too close to home, and Juniper wasn't going to be too bad to have around or so she thought, so Glory told Caroline, the social worker, she would keep the new foster child.

Joseph the policeman was also pretty interesting...his grandmother had lived a few miles down the road from Glory when Joseph was a child, and he remembered the oak trees of California and especially the one on the Solomon property.

Solomon's Oak told the life stories of the three main characters who definitely fit and worked well together even though the connection was through their misfortunes. The book was a cozy read for life, real-life situations, talents we all have hiding inside and waiting to emerge, and just plain heartfelt warmth in the book.

You will fall in love with Glory, Juniper will drive you crazy, and Joseph's patience will amaze you.

Enjoy the book....I definitely did. Solomon’s Oak was very touching….it will make you smile, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will restore your faith in mankind’s goodness.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Post Hallowen/Start of November Informative Announcement- With Pictures!

Welcome November!

I hope you all enjoyed your Halloween weekend and are recovering from your sugar highs quickly. It was chilly here for Halloween and the kids came out dressed in winter jackets. My favorite? The little girl dressed as a lady bug who said that she liked my pumpkin and that it was really cool.
I spent 3 hours carving that thing. The shell of the pumpkin was over two inches thick and it was too delicate for me to really saw into it. The fact that kids liked the pumpkin makes the tedious carving all worth while. The least favorite? We only got 7 kids. Maybe it was because of the cold (39 degrees) but really... we had a monsoon one year and got more kids then this.

Oliver was pooped from the holiday festivities. Being too cute can be tiring.

Anyway, I wanted to pop on and give you all a heads up of the festivities going on here at Soon Remembered Tales.

First, if you missed out on who the CSN Give Away winner was go HERE.

Second, I'm going on hiatus! But no worries, there will still be book reviews coming up all month by a series of guest writers and I'll still be posting on Blog Hop Friday in addition to my Blogs second year anniversary! Please check the series of posts out and the authors blogs too!

The reason for the mini hiatus? I want you all to get a taste of the different review styles that are out there, not to mention the great bloggers who write them. Also, I'm taking a small break so that I can get caught up on reading... but the main reason is so that I can partake in this years NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

If you are partaking in it as well feel free to become a nano buddy of mine!
Here's my profile:

Last night I drank lots of coffee and waited for the clock to strike midnight. I prepared beforehand and was ready to go by 11:59. I wanted to get some writing in before I started my work week again.

This will be the fifth year that I've done NaNo and hopefully the third time I'll win. I'm not entirely sure if I'll be able to pull it off though, we'll have to see. Wish me the best of luck and to those of you who are doing NaNo as well, GOOD LUCK! See you at the finishing line!

If you need to get ahold of me I'll still be active on the blog, just not posting so much. You can also email me at

Happy November! See you all (at the very latest) in December!