Category: Friday’s Five Books


Friday’s Five Books: Five Favorites From Michelle of The True Book Addict

Posted 11 November, 2011 by Heather in Blogs, Friday's Five Books / 11 Comments

Friday's Five Books

*Friday’s Five Books is a bi-weekly post on Between the Covers that highlights book recommendations from the reading community.

Michelle & her boysThe most important thing in my life, of course, are my two sons. Running a close second are books! An avid reader, since early childhood, and book collector, my home library numbers at over 3000 books, with fiction at 2000+. A major history buff, I have a great passion for historical fiction. I’m also a huge fan of the horror and fantasy genres, but you will often find me reading just about anything, except perhaps erotica or books strong on romance. As a writer, I am working on my first novel, which may end up being a historical horror mishmash…who knows! I am a blogging addict, with 9 blogs total, two of them being book review sites: The True Book Addict and my horror blog, Castle Macabre. My writing blog is The Story Inside Me, and I also have a year-round Christmas blog, The Christmas Spirit. Yes, I am a Christmas fanatic and I am a voracious reader of Christmas literature. And, of course, no serious book lover and writer could be without a cat and so I have my faithful black cat, Alice, by my side.  You can also catch me on Twitter @truebookaddict, and Facebook.

My five:

Since I am technically an eclectic reader, my five books are quite a mix. I’ll start with my favorite book of all time.

The Queen of the DamnedThe Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

Anne Rice has been my favorite author for over twenty years and will remain so forever. Yes, I’m that loyal. The Queen of the Damned, the third book in her Chronicles of the Vampires, was the book in the series I read first. At the time, I had no idea that it was part of a series until my mom pulled Interview With the Vampire from her shelf and told me that it was, in fact, the first book in the series and that Queen of the Damned was the third book. Long before Twilight appeared in Stephenie Meyer’s dreams (I’m not hating on Twilight…honestly), Anne Rice was the quintessential ‘Queen’ of the vampire genre. Her vampires were gorgeous, evil, and complex. She wasn’t afraid to tackle themes of homosexuality or religion in her books and the central character through all the books, Lestat, struggles with being a monster and rediscovering his humanity. The Queen of the Damned is my favorite book because it reveals the history of the vampires’ existence. Give me a history and I’m hooked. I’ve read it four times and I’m sure I will crack it open again in the future.

A favorite in historical fiction…

The Pillars of the EarthThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Long before it was made a selection in Oprah’s Book Club, I was recommending this book to anyone and everyone who would listen. A piece of advice, listen to your librarian when she/he recommends a book. I owe that librarian for introducing me to one of my favorite books of all time. Ken Follett, an author known for his thrillers surrounding espionage and the like, took his interest in the history and construction of cathedrals and crafted a story surrounding the construction of a cathedral in the Middle Ages and the people who lived and worked in the surrounding town. A story full of rich historical detail and characters who endear themselves early on, The Pillars of the Earth is a book that is easily enjoyed, whether you’re a history buff or not.

A new favorite in fantasy…

A Game of ThronesA Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book I) by George R.R. Martin

I have long been a fan of the fantasy genre and over the years have read many great fantasy novels/series. But the book that took me back to the delight of my first discovery of fantasy is A Game of Thrones. I cannot believe that the book has been in existence for fifteen years and I just discovered it in 2011. It has all the elements of epic fantasy with a distinct medieval feel that appeals greatly to my interest in the historical. I am looking forward to continuing with the series.

Oh, the horror….

Hell HouseYes, I like to be scared. A lot. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many books that genuinely scare me (darn it). An exception is Hell House by Richard Matheson. Yes, he wrote I Am Legend, also an excellent book, but Hell House is a horror masterpiece, in my opinion. The book is very well-written which makes the scary elements even more surprising. I found myself getting lost in the prose and then…wham! To say I was scared is an understatement. I could not sit and read this book without having all the lights on. The sheer creepiness might have had my hair standing on end. I didn’t look in the mirror. *wink*

A timeless classic…my favorite…

Little WomenLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott

Many dismiss Little Women as a book only suitable for young girls and, true, I did first read it when I was about nine or ten years old, but I have read it several times since and it has never lost its appeal. Maybe it’s because a story surrounding the importance of sisterhood speaks to the side of me that cherishes the relationship I have with my own sister. Or perhaps it’s Jo’s tenacity in bucking the conventions of the time to become a writer. Or it could be the poignancy of a sickly and selfless sister who dies way before her time. Actually, it’s all of these things and so much more. Alcott recognized the importance of family and love, and though the book is set in the Civil War era, it’s themes are as relevant today as they were yesterday. Anyone who has not read Little Women is missing out on one of the most wonderful reading experiences a person can have.

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Thank you for the recommendations, Michelle! I have The Pillars of the Earth on my TBR pile, and I really need to re-read Little Women (I haven’t read it since I was very young). Of course, you know that I share your love of Anne Rice’s vampires, too. Good stuff!

**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).

Amazon | Powell’s Books | IndieBound

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Friday’s Five Books: Halloween Edition

Posted 28 October, 2011 by Heather in Blogs, Friday's Five Books / 1 Comment

Friday's Five Books

*Friday’s Five Books is a bi-weekly post on Between the Covers that highlights book recommendations from the reading community.

In lieu of having a member of the reading community recommend five books for your reading pleasure this week, I am taking over Friday’s Five Books and giving you a Halloween edition. I have never been a fan of horror, at least not the ultra-violent, blood-and-gore, people-getting-ripped-apart kind. In fact, excessive violence of any kind makes me feel physically ill. Unfortunately, human beings in general are gluttons for punishment it seems, and tend to have this morbid human curiosity that gets the best of them every now and then. I am no exception. At least, I haven’t been an exception to that rule in the past. As I’ve gotten older I’ve made a conscious decision not to torture myself with things that freak me out or make me feel sick, both books and movies, but there are books I’ve read in the past that have scarred me for life. When I was a kid, my mom was a pretty big fan of Stephen King’s work, so our household library included probably every book he’d ever written. I definitely shouldn’t have read some of them. I kind of wish my mom had told me they were off-limits. But I read them. And I freaked out. Oddly enough, I read most of the books after I had already been freaked out by the movies. Go figure. Below are the five horror books (or stories) that I read as a teenager that scared me the most, and that will most likely stay with me until the day I die…

ItIt — Stephen King

Pennywise. Is. Terrifying. I don’t know why I continued to watch the movie even after it started to scare me, and I really don’t know why I read the book a couple of months later. I’m pretty sure reading the book had to do with the whole books-are-always-better-than-movies thought. I don’t remember why I thought it was necessary to terrify myself further. I do remember that I couldn’t go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, take a shower, nor go near any sort of drain for months after watching the movie and reading the book without being scared out of my wits. Those were some of the fastest showers I ever took. To this day, every once in a while, I get a nasty case of the shivers when I’m going to the bathroom or brushing my teeth at night if everyone else has already gone to bed. Oddly enough, though, Pennywise didn’t give me a lifelong fear of clowns. I’m fine with normal clowns, just not Pennywise the [OH-MY-GOD-HE-HAS-POINTY-TEETH] Freak.

Cycle of the WerewolfCycle of the Werewolf (Silver Bullet) — Stephen King

Cycle of the Werewolf is the novella, and Silver Bullet is the movie. Again, I saw the movie first and then read the novella a year or two later. I think I was in my early teens (maybe younger) when I saw the movie. I’m not going to go into the whole story here, but I was at a friend’s house, her older brother and his friend rented the movie, and we all sat down to watch it (a.k.a. he didn’t give us much choice). My friend and I were freaked out for the rest of the night (I’m pretty sure it was a full moon) and we didn’t get much sleep. Her older brother didn’t help matters when he came in through her bedroom window in the middle of the night and scared the crap out of us. I read the book a year or two later to see if the book would terrify me as much as the movie did. Uh huh. I am 35 years old and I am still scared silly by the idea of werewolves. I don’t like full moons and a sizable portion of my nightmares are about that scary, hairy beast. And why oh why did it have to be the reverend?

Pet SemataryPet Sematary — Stephen King

This time, I actually read the book first and then I freaked myself out more by watching the movie. The book was bad enough because we always buried our pets in the woods behind our house (we lived out in the country where you can still do that kind of thing). After reading the book, I started to freak myself out at night wondering if one of our cats or dogs would come wandering back to the house, looking for a little more attention…or maybe to rip us apart because they were zombies and that’s what zombies do. The part about the little boy was pretty gross, too, but it just made me sad more than anything. Then I watched the movie. I was not prepared for how scary and evil that little boy was going to be on a television screen. I cannot watch kids in roles like that–kids are supposed to be innocent and pure and cute. And sometimes I still wonder if my long, lost pets are going to come back to visit me. Scarred. For. Life.

Night Shift“Children of the Corn” — Stephen King

“Children of the Corn” is one of the stories included in King’s first short story collection, Night Shift. I can’t remember if I read Night Shift first, or if I saw the movie first. It was the movie that freaked me out, though. Again, it was because the children were the evil ones. EVIL CHILDREN ARE NEVER OK. Also, I’ve already mentioned that I grew up in the country. Did I also mention that it was farm country? Our house was practically surrounded by cornfields, and there were roads we drove on every day that were nothing but cornfields on either side. And when you’re a teenager, in farm country, most of the parties are in the middle of nowhere. That meant going to parties and wondering if some wacky bunch of evil kids was going to start marching out of the surrounding cornfields just to hack us all apart with scythes. Not cool. It didn’t matter that in the story it was the adults who bit the dust. I was sure that in real life those freaky kids would kill anything in their path. I still don’t like driving down those roads in the dark when I go home to visit. *shudders*

The ExorcistThe Exorcist — William Peter Blatty

Movie first, book years later. This was another case of “I’ve seen the movie, so I really should read the book.” This was also another case of being completely freaked out by a child bearing the brunt of the evilness. I am an atheist. I don’t believe in the devil, or demons, or any of that jazz. That didn’t matter. I almost couldn’t watch the whole movie, and I’m pretty sure I had my hand over my eyes for most of it, peaking through my fingers to see what was happening. I had to keep putting the book down because it was making me nauseous. Sigh. I hadn’t thought about the movie or the book in years, and then I found out that Ashley (our daughter) is a sleepwalker. The first time she went walking in her sleep after I moved in here, The Exorcist let me know that it hadn’t left my head…it was just waiting for the opportune moment to come rushing back to me. When Eric started talking to her about going back to bed, I immediately had this awful vision of her answering us with this deep, evil voice and spewing pea soup all over us. Ugh. I’ve gotten used to her sleepwalking, but that movie/book will always be in the back of my mind.

So there you have it. Those are the five books/movies that will always be terrifying to me. Have you been permanently traumatized by anything you’ve read? Are there certain times when you are reminded of those books and you feel like a scared little kid all over again? Do share. I’d love to know that I’m not the only 35-year-old who has this issue. Hahaha!

Happy Halloween, everyone! If you go out, have a good time and please be safe. Oh, and watch your back in those corn mazes, because you never know…

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**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).

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Friday’s Five Books: Check Out These Awesome Recommendations From Dean of Unleash This

Posted 14 October, 2011 by Heather in Blogs, Friday's Five Books / 0 Comments

Friday's Five Books*Friday’s Five Books is a bi-weekly post on Between the Covers that highlights book recommendations from the reading community.

Dean Goranites. Twenty-three years old. Buffalo resident. Book reviewer.

I graduated from Cansius College with a degree in English well over a year ago. Unsurprisingly, I still haven’t found a job outside of my family’s locally owned business. Who would have thought.

To keep the rust off and stay involved, I started a YouTube channel, named it “Unleash This” because I thought it sounded pretty cool, and began reviewing novels on a weekly basis.

Hopefully tomorrow, some big name newspaper will catch one of my vids while surfin’ the net, and hire me as their lead book reviewer.

Until then, you can catch my weekly discussions all over the place. Got a YouTube account? Subscribe to my videos at http://youtube.com/gnites88. Tumblr more your thing? http://unleashthis.tumblr.com. Wanna chat? I sure do. Hit me on twitter. I’m @UnleashingWords.

And now, here are my top five favorite books. Judge me accordingly.

Thank you, Dean! These are fantastic recommendations! And Infinite Jest is definitely not a 20-something book. It resonated with me and I loved it. LOVED IT.

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**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).

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Friday’s Five Books: Alex Recommends Five Great Fantasy Series

Posted 30 September, 2011 by Heather in Blogs, Fantasy, Friday's Five Books / 1 Comment

Friday's Five Books*Friday’s Five Books is a bi-weekly post on Between the Covers that highlights book recommendations from the reading community.

AlexHi, I’m Alex, and I’m a bookaholic.  It started with just a few books read to me here and there when I was little, and has since spiraled into a full-blown addiction.  Suffice it to say I enjoy reading books.  A lot.  When other people have free time, they watch TV or movies; I read at night, on the way to school, on the bus, and during my study breaks.  I’m not sure what the cure is.  I’m not sure if I want to know.  Come join in my obsession on my book blog (Ristea’s Reads) and on Twitter (@ristea).

I love immersing myself in new worlds and discovering characters who feel so real it’s as if I’ve known them my whole life.  You know that emotional reaction at the end of a book where you have to leave everything behind?  That’s a chronic problem for me.  Let me show you some of my favourite fantasy series that have become so much more than just a pastime or idle distraction.  If you have any sort of stigma against the genre, I encourage you to try out one of these books and see what you’re missing.

Luck in the ShadowsThe Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling

Now, I enjoy my epic fantasy as much as the next guy, but every now and then I need a break from appendices of characters and large-scale maps.  Nightrunner provides the perfect fix.  Some have complained that the pace is too slow, but I thought that brought the characters alive.  Following Seregil and Alec almost exclusively through five books, even as they do mundane tasks such as set up camp or settle in to their mansion in Rhiminee, shows how the characters are truly organic, whose actions spring from the story and are plausible.  The author didn’t just think of a few key traits and blow through a massive plot-line, changing it to “work” with what she had in mind.  Seregil and Alec are loosed upon the world, and actively engage with the story and other characters, resulting in slightly flawed partners that anyone can relate to in some way.

Game of ThronesA Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

A gritty, realistic world where the typical ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys are replaced with characters that have their own motivations and desires, resulting in a maelstrom of intrigue and emotion.  Martin is such a master of bringing the medieval-like world of knights and castles to life that I’m pretty sure he has a time machine hidden away in his garage.  Add plots within plots and an author that isn’t pulling any punches, and you get one of the most outstandingly written fantasy series of all time.

Gardens of the MoonThe Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Erikson is a true genius of world-building; dare I say that he approaches Tolkien-esque levels?  He drops you right into the action, without any cheesy info dumps, and you are left scrambling to figure out exactly what’s going on.  A fair warning that this is not a light read, but the rewards are well worth the effort.  I think I could devour this series over and over again and learn something new every time.  When was the last time you were in the middle of a book and immediately knew that you wanted to re-read it right away?

Assassin's ApprenticeThe Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This novel is told entirely from the first-person perspective, but Hobb’s talent shines through here as you fall in love with Fitz, his life, and the other characters that interact with him.  By the time I finished this trilogy, I was so feverishly engrossed in the novel, that I could hardly put it down for friends, food, or fodder.  It’s simply amazing how you end up living and breathing as if you were actually Fitz, and start feeling emotions in real life to match his.  This book had me giddy with delight at Fitz’s exploits, crying at his hardships, laughing with him and his friends, and finding in him a parallel to my own life.  Honest and original, despite having many of the stereotypical traits of the fantasy genre, this is a true story of a boy’s travels through life and everything it entails.

The Name of the WindThe Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

Rothfuss doesn’t try to re-invent the fantasy genre wheel, he sticks with a classic form to tell the extraordinary tale of Kvothe.  I don’t usually fall for the fluff written on the back cover, but this one had me hooked:

My name is Kvothe.  I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings.  I burned down the town of Trebon.  I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life.  I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in.  I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day.  I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

I do not recommend The Name of the Wind if you have any deadlines coming up, plan on getting a good night’s rest, or have any friends that would get mad if you dropped off the radar for a week or so.

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Thank you for the recommendations, Alex!  I’m reading the Kingkiller Chronicle books right now and I’m really enjoying them.  I’m definitely going to look into the rest of these the next time I’m in the mood for a good fantasy series.

**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).

Amazon | Powell’s Books | IndieBound

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Friday’s Five Books: Recommendations From Richard Wade II

Posted 16 September, 2011 by Heather in Blogs, Friday's Five Books / 0 Comments

Friday's Five Books*Friday’s Five Books is a bi-weekly post on Between the Covers that highlights book recommendations from the reading community.

My name is Richard N. Wade II.  I am a twenty-five year old writer from Sanborn, New York.  I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Buffalo State College in May 2009.  My hobbies include reading, writing, and collecting sports cards.  I buy a lot of books, and I have way too many magazine subscriptions, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I also have two different newspaper subscriptions, so I’m never at a loss for reading material.  If you want to reach me, my Twitter handle is @Suede_Wade.

Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang MemberMonster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member by Sanyika Shakur, aka Monster Kody Scott

I picked this book up on a whim.  I’ve always enjoyed reading autobiographies, especially those so opposite of me.  Kody Scott grew up on the rough street of Los Angeles, succumbing to gang life at a very early age.  He joined the Crips gang at age 11.  He performed brutal acts of violence, often just to survive to the next day.  It was common day to sell drugs, shoot a rival, then go home to plan the next attack.  After years of gangbanging, a lengthy stay in jail led Scott to convert to Islam.

Much like an action thriller, this book was very fast paced.  Each page offered a glimpse into the vicious life led by Scott.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.  You will be shocked and drawn into a world like no other.

LifeLife by Keith Richards

When I first heard that legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was writing an autobiography, I knew I had to read it.  The Rolling Stones are one of the most famous bands in history.  Their hits include “Jumpin Jack Flash”, “Brown Sugar”, and “Start Me Up.”  Richards was right alongside lead singer Mick Jagger the whole way, despite almost coming to blows more than once.  All of the drug binges Richards endured would have killed the normal person.  A saying goes that if an atomic bomb were dropped, the only things that would survive are cockroaches and Keith Richards.  This book is an excellent read not only for Rolling Stones fans, but rock fans in general.  After reading this book, I wished I had lived during that time period.  You might feel the same way when you are done.

Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball ForeverTip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever by Filip Bondy

My dream as a young boy was to become an NBA player.  I had a portable hoop in my driveway, occasionally inviting friends over to stage pickup games.  When I stopped growing at just over six feet tall, I knew my future as an NBA player was finished.  I heard about this book after writing for a sports blog.  I was doing a little research, and stumbled upon this.  As a lifelong basketball fan, the 1984 draft is very important.  This is the draft in which Michael Jordan was selected third overall.  The first two picks were Akeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie respectively.  Olajuwon became a hall of famer with Houston, leading them to consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.  Bowie played ten seasons, averaging 10.9 points per game.  Jordan is generally regarded as the best player in NBA history.

The book does an excellent job of providing behind the scenes details on how teams prepared leading up to the draft.  Some teams were accused of purposely losing, just to gain one of the top picks.  I would only recommend this book to NBA fans.  If you’re not familiar with the NBA, then stay away from this book.  The onslaught of statistics might bore the casual fan.

MoneyballMoneyball by Michael Lewis

Billy Beane was a first round draft pick of the New York Mets in 1980.  After compiling a .219 average over six seasons from 1984 to 1989, Beane became an advanced scout with the Oakland Athletics in 1990.  After serving under General Manager Sandy Alderson for seven years, Beane became Athletics GM in 1998.  He used the Sabermetrics principle to make the A’s into winners, despite a payroll that was consistently a quarter of typical Major League Baseball salaries.  Beane didn’t have the financial freedom to spend like the Yankees and Red Sox, so he used statistics to find undervalued players.

The book is a classic in the sense of making you feel like you are in the moment.  The pressure Beane endured on a daily basis is unlike any other.  A movie adaptation is set to release later this month.  I would recommend this book to any baseball fan.  If you aren’t a serious fan, then you may find the tedious player evaluation process rather boring.

The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

This is by far my favorite work of fiction I’ve ever read.  Murakami has a way of getting the reader emotionally and physically attached to his stories.  The novel revolves around a young man named Toru Okada.  He is searching the streets for his wife’s missing cat.  Shortly after beginning his search, his wife too goes missing.  The search leads Okada to a murky world unknown to most people.  He reluctantly gets involved with a host of interesting characters, including a psychic prostitute, a morbid and troubled sixteen-year-old-girl, and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by hideous war experiences.

I can honestly anoint this book as a must read to all fans of fiction.  The plot is a little hard to follow at times due to the wide variety of characters, but excellent once you get entrenched in the story.  I liken Murakami to a painter painting a masterpiece.  One of the very best books I’ve ever read.

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Thank you for the recommendations, Richard.  I’m looking forward to checking a few of these out!

**If you choose to purchase any of these titles using the links below, I will receive a small percentage of the sale (to be used toward site maintenance and buying more books).

Amazon | Powell’s Books | IndieBound

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