Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review-Ugly To Start With

By John Michael Cummings
168 Pages

Goodreads description:
Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away. Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.
Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.
My Thoughts:
This collection of short stories are told from main character Jason's point of view. Jason is growing up in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. A quaint, historical tourist town divided between locals and rangers. Jason comes from a poor family whose house is sandwiched between restored, historical homes and tourist shops. To say that Jason is ashamed of his dilapidated, run down house is an understatement. The reader gets glimpses of Jason's life and relationships with each short story. Jason's father is an angry racist who tells Jason that he was his mother's idea and a mistake. His mother is civil to her family and town folk but bullied by her husband. Their relationship is complicated and dysfunctional, as is their family. We are witnesses to Jason's growth and journey while being introduced to a variety of characters that make up his family, neighbors and towns people. Most stories had me longing for more while a couple were disturbing. All the stories were raw, gritty and honest. I didn't always like Jason but I felt connected and I cared. It's hard not to get emotionally invested in Jason and his life. Jason is a character I won't soon forget or stop cheering for.
Cummings uses language and descriptions beautifully. There are times that I smelled the smoke and felt the floors creak. The short story approach was different but in a way that I liked. I would like to read more from Cummings and his life experiences in West Virginia. 
A big thanks to Cumming for sending me a copy of his book to read and review. I will be donating this book to my local public library.

About the Author:
John Michael Cummings (born 1963 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia) is an American short story writer and novelist. His short stories have appeared in more than seventy-five literary journals, including North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Chattahoochee Review, The Kenyon Review, and The Iowa Review. Twice he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His short story "The Scratchboard Project" received an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2007. Cummings lives in Orlando, Florida, with his cat Sentry. * * *

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Satisfaction

I'm sure you have already heard this song by Gotye but have a look at the same song being performed by cover band Walk Off The Earth on one guitar. Genius! This is my favorite version. What do you think?

Friday, February 24, 2012


Announcing the Follower Love Giveaway winner......
                                       An email has been sent and the winner is confirmed.
                            I will be mailing EMILY 3 Amazing ARCs AND CHOCOLATE!
A GIANT thank you to I'm a Reader, Not a Writer and Rachael Renee Anderson for hosting this hop-
                               HUGS to all who participated, hopped, joined and followed.
                                                           Next giveaway will be:
                                                              March 8th-13th
                                                   LUNAR LOVE Giveaway Hop

Thursday, February 23, 2012



I will be mailing out her book to her right away.
Thanks for entering!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Follower Love Giveaway Hop


Do I have your attention now?
I'm a Reader, Not a Writer and Rachael Renee Anderson is hosting this hop-
Follower Love Giveaway Hop February 7-14
More than 300 blogs will be participating-which mean more than 300 giveaways!
Mug of Moxie is sharing the love by giving away 3 amazing ARCs
Here are the books:

Also included is a box of Andes Mint Chocolates. Yum!
This contest is international.
To enter the Mug of Moxie giveaway you must be a follower. Then simply leave your GFC name and contact information in the comment section -That's it!
Good luck and have fun!

My Favorite Super Bowl Commercials

The BEST Commercials of 2012 Super Bowl
I'm Sexy and I Know It!

The Bark Side

Chevy Truck
The End of the World

What was some of your favorites??

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway-Antiquitas Lost

Antiquitas Lost
Book 1-The Last of the Shamalans
By Robert Louis Smith
Illustrations By Geof Isherwood

From the Back Cover:
This epic fantasy tells the story of a 15 year old boy named Elliott, a bullied kid with deformities on his hands and feet who is uprooted from his home after his mom falls gravely ill. When they move to New Orleans so his grandfather can help care for her, Elliott learns that the old man's eighteenth century mansion hides an ancient secret. From a dungeon-like basement far beneath the estate, Elliott strays through an ancient doorway into Pangrelor, a tumultuous parallel world full of bizarre creatures and warring races. Unable to return home, he discovers wondrous abilities he never dreamed he possessed, and an abiding connection to the primitive, alien world that will change him forever.
But he must proceed carefully. For he soon learns that his actions in the ancient world will impact the upcoming battle for Harwelden, Pangrelor's mightiest civilization, and will resonate all the way back to New Orleans, perhaps deciding whether his mother lives or dies.
My Thoughts:
I'm not usually a reader of the fantasy genre-only because I lack the imagination it requires to get through a story.
When I was approached to review this book the big seller for me was the illustrations-I liked the fact that this fantasy novel had pictures. When I got it in the mail I was a little surprised by the length of 600 plus pages. But the story included 70 plus pages of black and white art work by the famous comic book illustratorr Geof Isherwood who has worked with Marvel Comics for years.
The story of Elliot grabbed me right away. He is a kid that is struggling with a move to a different city, a mom is is very sick and bully issues. I was on his side immediately as he tried to sort out his sadness and the situation he was in.
After exploring his grandfather's basement Elliott discovers a doorway to a different world called Pangrelor. A world that was very easy for me to picture thanks to the awesome illustrations.  Pangrelor included creatures called greyfarers, serpans gimlets, susquatanians and darfoyles. I easily tell that some characters were inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and well as C.S. Lewis. 
But the story is not carried by Elliott alone. It also tells of a princess desperate to hold together a corrupt and crumbling kingdom, a susquatanian looking for redemption, and a serpan hell bent on revenge.
And then there's Elliott who brings them all together in a battle of the ages as he discovers that he has the powers to make or break a kingdom and possibly a world.
If I had to choose a favorite character from Antiquitas Lost I would have to say Elliott-and here's why. I loved Elliott through out the story simply because he didn't become a hero over night. He came into Pangrelor with fear and doubt. He struggles with the fact that he is a shamalan and what his role is suppose to be in this new, strange world. In a battle faced with roaring, fire breathing monsters and serpans welding deadly weapons-Elliott runs. I loved that about him!! 
Elliott does grow and mature through out the story but it's not at a break neck speed. As the story came to an end I found that I didn't want to say goodbye to Elliott or this amazing new world called Pangrelor. I really enjoyed Antiquitas Lost and look forward to more written by Robert Louis Smith.
This book was sent to me by FSB Associates for an honest review.
This book is now going to be used as a giveaway prize and sent to one lucky Mug of Moxie follower.
***To enter this GIVEAWAY-
Please leave your follower name and contact information.
This contest is international.
You must be 13 years old to enter.
Winner will be drawn by
Contest runs from today Feb.2 thru Feb. 20
Good Luck!!