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I haven’t checked in with the Sunday Salon in a while, so today is a good time to do so!

Well, as mentioned on Friday, I was in an apathetic funk all week. I didn’t do much of anything, including blogging. I did write a Happy Birthday post for Charles Dickens, as it would’ve been wrong not to as I spent so much time getting to know him in January. Which, by the way, I did complete all of my posts for Charles Dickens month and finished Bleak House in January. Win for me!

I have been reading in my funk, and am still reading Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw and I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum. I should have both books finished this week. Yesterday, I picked up volumes 2 and 3 of Locke and Key by Joe Hill at Mysterious Galaxy Mysterious Galaxy bookstore San Diegobookstore, so I’ll be reading those this week as well.

Speaking of Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, after much debate about affiliation, I have decided to hitch my wagon to Mysterious Galaxy and IndieBound books as an affiliate. For the last month or so, I have been considering what it means to be an affiliate, and would it be like selling out or going commercial if I did so? Am I plugging in like Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival? I don’t want my blog to be a crummy commercial. After being approached by Audible and I considered Amazon, I decided that I would affiliate my blog with something that can use some attention. I realized that I could use affiliation to show my love for my favorite bookstore and help support other struggling independent bookstores. So, I applied for and was accepted as an affiliate for Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and IndieBound. Now, if, by some off-chance, a reader clicks on one of the links that is connected to MG books or IndieBound AND decides to BUY the book via the link, I will get a small commission. However, that is unlikely, although it would be very cool. But, at least I am spreading the word about independent bookstores and Mysterious Galaxy, the coolest bookstores in Southern California (there are two- one in San Diego and one in Redondo Beach).

Another blogging thing I was considering was copyright. I see all of my friends’ blogs have little copyright symbols or some sort of copyright statement at the bottom of their page. What’s the deal with this? Do I need to do this? What do I need to do to get started on this? If anyone can give me some advice on this topic, I’d appreciate it!

Meanwhile, in my outside-of-blogging life, my husband and I have a dilemma on our hands. It looks like this:

Morgan Freeman the stray cat

This is a young gentleman who we like to call Mr. Fluffers or Morgan Freeman (he’s so cool and calm around our own hissing cats that he seems to be ready to handle any job in a crisis, much like Freeman in his presidential roles). He’s been hanging out on our porch the last few days, and the collar that he wore on Wednesday is no longer there. So, there is no contact info. One of his eyes is sorta cataract-y, and he’s awfully thin and needy, so we decided to let him into the house last night. Our little lady cats are not too happy with this decision, but what are we to do? He might get eaten by a coyote or beaten up by one of those ginormous raccoons I see fishing in the sewers. Today, I will make some posters to post around the neighborhood and put a “found cat” listing on Craig’s List. Then, today or tomorrow, I will take him into a vet or the humane society to see if he has a microchip that we can scan. Poor Morgan Freeman. Is he somebody’s lost baby? Is he abandoned? Who are you Morgan Freeman?

Other mentionables before I sign off on Sunday–

I am offering four giveaways this week! I am giving away Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and And Then There Were None. These are all in very good condition (Kavalier and Clay and And Then There Were None are brand new!) and are all very popular and/or acclaimed books. I will mail them out next week, to anywhere! So, sign up people! I don’t have that many followers on my site, and not many people have signed up, so you have a very good chance of winning! Just do it! Click on the links attached to each of the titles above to be directed to the announcement post and sign-up form. All I need is your name and contact info. That’s it! You don’t have to follow my blog and you don’t need to leave a comment. I’m just trying to share the love with other book lovers!

• I should be posting my reviews of The Drawing of the Three and Locke and Key, vol. 1 this week. Be on the lookout for those!

the Stephen King Project• Obviously, January is over, and I have not yet shared my challenges progress. I will do that now!

Charles Dickens Month in January–COMPLETE, with Bleak House read and 5 Dickens- related posts written.

End of the World Challenge: have read 2952 pages toward my goal of 3500 pages (really? only 3500 pages? that’s the end of the world? someone has to have won by now. I’ll be done with this challenge by the end of the week! oh, I just read the rules. it’s the person who reads the most pages by the end of the year that gets paid out a penny per page via giftcard, up to a limit of 3500 pages. I see…).

The Stephen King Project: have read two books towards my goal of 12 books. This will be a piece of cake!

The Dark Tower Challenge: have read the first two books of the series. I am actually holding myself back from reading The Wastelands right now. I want to have just finished Wizard and Glass when The Wind Through the Keyhole comes out in late April. I guess I’ll read a book per month!

The Award-Winning Challenge: have read two books towards this challenge, and am currently working on the third.

Back to the Classics Challenge and A Classics Challenge: have read one book towards both of these challenges, and am working on the second. I have written one post for A Classics Challenge, and will probably put my February post out later this week.

What’s in a Name Challenge: Have read one book (Bleak House) towards the challenge. 5 more to go!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! If you have any advice regarding copyrighting blogs, please leave a comment! Well, of course, please leave a comment about whatever you want. Also, don’t forget to sign up for one of my giveaways! I want to give you a book!


A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

• Paperback: 592 pages

• Publisher: Paperback, 2011

• ISBN: 0143119680

• Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal; Adult Contemporary

• Recommended For: Anyone who enjoys fantasy in the paranormal vein, particularly vampire romance, as well as those who enjoy academia.

Quick Review: This was a good book which had a lot of interesting themes and an excellent use of setting, but was bogged down by extraneous details and a clichéd vampire love story.

Earns a 66 %, or 3.3 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment.

A Discovery of Witches Review Rubric

How I Got Here: I had heard a lot of positive things about this book, and I believe it was on a few “Best of 2011” lists. I added it on my TBR list in late 2011, and when I recently indulged myself with a trip to the local bookstore, I spotted it and bought it!

The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My Analysis and Critique:

As Jessica from Shhh Mommy’s Blogging commented, this book is not rocket science. Yet, it is somewhat long at 592 pages, mainly due to a lot of details! I’m going to say that I liked this book, it was satisfactory. Because I have almost equal amounts of praise and complaints about A Discovery of Witches, I’m going to split this review into halves–what I loved and what troubled me. Let’s start on a positive note!

What I Loved:

Image Credit: John Downing/Rex

I absolutely loved the descriptions of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. In the first third of the book, the protagonist Diana spends nearly all of her time doing research, and Harkness’ details really make the library come to life. As a library lover (especially university libraries), for me, this was wonderful, and made me realize how much I miss academic research in the stacks. Also, I really want to visit this library in the future!

Actually, I really liked all of Harkness’ descriptions of setting. The protagonist spends time in a castle in France, and her former home in upstate New York, and I really felt that these settings came to life as I read. Much appreciated.

In addition, I really enjoyed Harkness’ use of science and history in her novel. Diana is a historian and her love interest, Matthew, is a scientist, and their respective interests added a nice academic tone to the novel. I’m still not quite sure how the details of their research added to the overall plot, but I enjoyed them all the same.

Finally, I enjoyed the witchcraft in the novel. There wasn’t much, as Diana is a very reluctant witch, but the little bit that was there was fun.

Now, here’s my problems…

Harkness’ writing felt muddled and disorganized at times. Often, I’d have to double-check to see if I missed something. But, I didn’t; it was usually just an extra, unnecessary detail.

Which is truly the main flaw with this novel–too many details! Harkness includes every possible detail, even if it’s insignificant. For example, in one sentence, a character is sitting in “grandma’s recently returned rocker”. Now, I’m a careful reader, so when I see “recently returned,” I’m thinking “What? What did I miss? When was the rocker not there? When was it returned? Is this important?” It wasn’t. It wasn’t mentioned before, and it didn’t come up after, and had nothing to do with the plot. This seems small, but extraneous details like this occur again and again, while lots of loose ends in the plot never get tied up.

For example, a seemingly important plot element is that there’s been a series of murders being committed by vampires in the opening of the book. While this gets explained a bit in the middle, Harkness makes it seem as if these vampire murders are really relevant to the plot, but they’re not. There are many other examples of loose ends in the novel that I can’t even remember because they got lost in all of the details.

Another issue with Harkness’ novel is all of the apparent mind-reading between Diana and her vampire Matthew. While mind-reading is (or will be) one of Diana’s powers, Matthew does not have this power (unless that is one detail that Harkness actually did leave out). Yet, there are a few times in the story where it seems as if he can read Diana’s mind. Diana is the first person narrator, and sometimes she will think about something in her narration, and Matthew responds to these thoughts that were only privy to the reader with dialogue. Here’s an example:

“Shall we walk the rest of the way?” he suggested. “We can take it slowly.”

He was different this morning. He wasn’t coddling me or telling me what to do.

“What’s changed?” I asked as we approached the ancient oak tree.

“I’ve seen you fight,” he said quietly. (517-518)

How did he know what she was talking about? Did Harkness leave out some dialogue? There was no context that I could find to help him understand what she was talking about, and he didn’t seem that different to me, so it wouldn’t have been obvious. If this were a single instance, I wouldn’t mention it, but this apparent mind-reading (or sloppy dialogue writing) occurs often. It really bugged me.

Finally, I didn’t care about the romance angle of this novel. I groaned when Matthew was introduced in the novel as a vampire and it became apparent that he would be Diana’s love interest. Yet, I had faith that it wouldn’t be too bad, as this book had some originality with its academic angle, and Diana seemed like a strong, intelligent woman. But, in the end, it still just felt like Bella and Edward grown up. Actually, once Diana and Matthew became romantically involved, I started scanning all of their lovey-dovey pages. Not even scanning, just skipping. Boring!

Overall, while I did enjoy the settings described in the novel, and I found the academia, history, and science themes original and interesting, and I loved the little bits of witchcraft involved, A Discovery of Witches was really bogged down by extraneous details and a “been there, done that” vampire love story. Yet, I probably will read the next novel in the trilogy, as Harkness will delve into Elizabethan England, as she did with Oxford and academia with this one.


Deborah Harkness’ Website

Goodreads Reviews

New year, new books! This month, I am endeavoring to do something that I rarely do–read two fiction books at the same time! Now, I’ve read fiction mixed with nonfiction in the past, and I have read fiction while listening to fiction via audiobook (not at the same exact time, of course!), but never switching off one good literary text for another. I’m not sure how I’m feeling about this…

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

On Monday, I began reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Right away, I was struck by the dense description and characterization, as well as the major themes being presented at the get-go. Here’s the first few lines:

London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes–gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, indistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas, in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at these points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

What Jane Austen AteWhoo! The description and wording was so good, I couldn’t stop at a few lines, but had to type the whole first paragraph! So, immediately after reading this, I had to refer to my ever faithful What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool to look up what and when Michaelmas Term was (a period during which the high courts were in session; Michaelmas: November 2-25) and who the Lord Chancellor was (the chief judge of the Chancery Court). Soon after, I realized that I would probably hit up my Pool quite often while reading. Also, after noticing the multitude of characters being introduced on each page, I decided to create a character list while I read.

Though I love research while reading, this takes a lot of time, and being that Bleak House is over 1000 pages, I know that I will take the entire month of January to finish it. This is good, since it is really a wonderful book, and there is nothing worse than flying through a book you love only to be disappointed that it’s over. However, Bleak House is too dense to read while there are distractions in the house (which is often). So, I decided to read a second book, one that I could read while my husband is watching TV or playing a video game.

A Discovery of Witches

Thus, on a visit to my local bookstore, I found a copy of the much-praised A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and decided that would be my alternate reading for this week. On Wednesday, I put down my Dickens and my three-page-long list of characters, and started Harkness’ chapter 1:

The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable. To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian library, ancient and worn. But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it.

Pretty good opening, right? It is well-written, takes place in a university library (my favorite kind!), and begins in media res. I should have been hooked. But, I wasn’t! I was still hooked on Esther and Mr. Jarndyce and the leach-like Harold Skimpole! This is why I don’t read two fiction books at once! I can’t just leave one world for the other. I’m hooked on Dickens, and why shouldn’t I be? He is the master novelist!

Skimpole, Esther, Richard, and Coavinses, the debt collector, Bleak House

From right to left: Esther, Richard, Skimpole, and Coavinses, who has come to collect Skimpole's debt.

Alas, I have a goal of reading one book per week, and I was intrigued by the witchiness of Harkness’ novel. Plus, it would definitely come in handy when Modern Warfare 3 is blaring in the background or when Jamie and Adam are blowing something up on Mythbusters. So, I am continuing my reading, with a goal of 100 pages of Harkness a day. And 250 pages of Dickens a week.

I must share that while I am enjoying all of the paranormal stuff in A Discovery of Witches, I am more seduced by all the descriptions of the Bodleian library at Oxford, where the protagonist spends most of her time. I googled this library (more research!) for pictures and was stunned at the beauty of this ancient library! Now, I want to go! Whenever I end up taking my literary vacation in England, the library at Oxford University will be high up on my destination list! It is breathtaking!

Exterior of Bodleian Library

I wish I could read my book in here! Image Credit: John Downing/Rex

Anyways, that is my week in reading. Hope you all are enjoying your books and don’t have to deal with the same dilemma that I am dealing with. Although, I’m pretty lucky–who wouldn’t want two excellent books competing for their attention? I’m like Bella, and Dickens is a sparkly vampire and Harkness is the persistent werewolf. Analogy of the day! Check please, I’m out!

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…

~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

On Friday, my sister Erika and I got together to kick off Veteran’s Day weekend. We haven’t spent a day together in a long time, so it was long overdue. We’re both very busy with teaching (I work as an English teacher, she works as a Special Education teacher) and we’re both newlyweds, so we sort of lose track of each other. It’s rather sad that we were in better contact before she moved down to San Diego. Now she lives in the same neighborhood, and we’re lucky if we see each other once a month!

Erika came over early, around 8:00 in the morning, and we both grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on the couch and gabbed. As always, we shared stories from work, married life, and then moved on to the more emotional topic: family.

We are planning our trip up to Sacramento for Christmas, and it might be kind of awkward as I haven’t spoken to my dad in a few months. Make that six months. He doesn’t call me and I don’t call him. This happens every year and then we see each other at Christmas, catch up on each other’s life (well, my life), and act like there’s nothing wrong. I am sick of this sham.

I’m not even sure I want to see him. Maybe I’ll just spend the whole time at my mom’s house. But, that’ s just silliness, I know–what I need to do is be a grown-up, put my big girl pants on, and talk to him about our fractured relationship. Something’s got to change. It’s been weighing on me, not just for months, but for years, not speaking to Dad.

Erika nodded her head knowingly when I explained this to her:

Me: Have you ever noticed that when we’re fighting with Mom or each other or haven’t talked to Dad in a while, that even if we get on with life, it’s always there. Always in the background of our life. It’s like, being so close as a unit growing up, we developed into this one being–each of us is a part of a whole. When one piece is missing, we don’t feel whole anymore. I’m not 100% without you guys in my life. It’s always been that way.

Well, things almost got sobby there, so, after that discussion, we decided we were hungry and wanted to check out some used book stores. Erika was looking for a copy of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. I advised her against Rosemary’s Baby as the book is exactly the same as the movie. Waste of time if you’ve already seen the movie! Unfortunately, neither used bookstore we visited had a copy of either. So, we returned home after lunch.

We still had lots of time to enjoy each other’s company, so we decided to talk a walk down to a local independent bookstore, The Grove, to see if I could find myself a journal. It was a 20-minute walk, and though we started off chilly, by the time we arrived at the store we were both sweating. I was wearing boots with ill-fitting socks and could feel little blisters forming on the balls of my feet.

However, I was revived as soon as we entered the shop. I was delighted to find so many wonderful bookish items to add to my Christmas wish list! They had some lovely candles that were inspired by classic authors–Whitman is scented of grass, Poe is scented with absinthe, Austen with tuberose. I loved them! If you’re looking for a bookish gift like this, click the above picture for a link to the Paddywax Library Candles website. I also found a 5-year journal called Jane-a-Day, where each page has 5 short entry spaces for the writer to record a sentence or two about the day, each page accompanied by a Jane Austen quote. The idea is that you go through the book once every year until at five years you have an entry filled in each space, having chronicled every day for five years. Very cool! I ended up buying a small journal for recording blog ideas and a copy of Olive Kitteridge to read for the Award-Winning Challenge (it’s a Pullitzer winner).

We walked back home. My feet were killing me and Erika was wishing she hadn’t brought a heavy coat. Despite my discomfort, Erika told me a few things that gave me a thrill. First, she told me that my blog has inspired her to read again (she’s been in a dry spell for a while); that I have made reading sound so pleasurable. The best compliment ever! Also, she confided that she and her husband are considering writing their own blog as well. So, I gave her some ideas, and once we got home, I shared some of my favorite blogs of varying types with her. It sounds like she is deciding between a photography blog, a movie blog, a music blog, or an all-of-the-above blog. I’m very excited for them and hope they pursue this!

Shortly after our return, she went to her own home, and I felt wonderfully giddy. I greeted my husband with a warm smile when he got home from work, happily volunteered to pick up some take-out for dinner, and simply felt content for the rest of the evening.

I am so lucky to have my sister. I’m only a fraction without her and I can’t wait until our next get-together so I can fill myself up all over again!

Erika won't let me post a new picture. Boo.

Well, I really wanted to write this yesterday, but I was so exhausted from sensory overload that I passed out an hour or two upon getting home. So, consider this my belated Saturday post. Prepare yourself…there’s a lot of pictures!

Yesterday, my husband Jesse took part in a mountain biking race in Julian, CA, a little mountain town about an hour or so outside of San Diego. I decided to tag along, so I jumped in the car at 6:30 a.m. with plans of hanging out, reading and writing, in a Julian coffee shop all day. While I did get some of that done, the majority of the time was spent exploring!

Entering Julian in the morning, we were pleased to find that we had dressed accordingly–we wore heavy coats and long underwear under our jeans–as it had snowed a wee bit the night before, and it was still very cold (the visiting Wisconsinites confirmed this; I wasn’t being a typical San Diego weather wuss). Here is the view from the climb into the mountains:

Once in Julian, Jesse and his dad (also participating in the race) got their riding gear on, tweaked their bikes (I don’t really understand the logistics of all of their tweaking, but they tweak obsessively), and grouped up with the rest of the cyclists before taking off at 9:

Jesse's the one in the pink "tuxedo" t-shirt...

Once they took off, I took off to explore…First, I passed the cute little fire station next to the park that the race started from:

Next, I checked out the old pioneer cemetery across the road:

I wandered for a little while, snapping shots of old gravestones:

Then, I decided to go back down to the center of town to get some breakfast. Julian is known for their apples, as well as their amazing apple pies. I ended up getting an apple turnover and hot apple cider at a little bakery. After breakfast, I walked down the street to the Julian Book House:

This was a really well-stocked used bookstore run by a nice older man. I found a couple of books I wanted, but then put them all back in exchange for a very nice pair of hard cover copies of Bleak House by Charles Dickens (getting ready for a few classics reading challenges).

Almost immediately after purchasing my books, I received a text message from Jesse’s mom alerting me that she and Jesse’s Aunt Cindy and Uncle Skip from Wisconsin were in Julian also. So I met up with them at Julian Town Hall and thus ended my solitary photography exploration and began family time!

We continued to tour Julian, shopping in the boutiques and marveling at the large crowds lined up for Julian pies fresh out of the oven. Then, Jesse and his dad finished up the race, and we all joined in eating some family style Italian food at a local restaurant. It was here that I discovered my new favorite liqueur–Sambuca. This, I proclaim, will be my spirit of choice throughout Winter, until, of course, I indulge a bit too much and end up getting sick into a trashcan with Jesse holding back my hair and mocking my heaving noises. But, I didn’t drink too much yesterday, so it was a good day. We left Julian right after lunch at 3:00 p.m., all exhausted and full of yummy ragu and pasta. Good day. Got to spend time with Jesse’s family, nuclear and extended, enjoying the crisp air in a quaint mountain town.

For more info on Julian, click here.

Yesterday, I indulged myself quite a bit on a book shopping trip! Originally inspired by a tweet by @BookPensieve (A Reader’s Pensieve), who had picked up a cheap copy of The Eyre Affair at a library sale in the morning, I set out to do some yard sale shopping! Unfortunately, there weren’t too many readers unloading their gently used paperbacks on their lawns, but I did score a copy of The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This book was recommended to me by Priya at Tabula Rasa.

Well, I hadn’t satisfied my craving yet, so I jumped on the freeway to my favorite independent bookstore Mysterious Galaxy (click here for my description of this amazing store). Once there, I made a beeline to some of the fantasy and horror books at the top of my TBR list. My first grab was Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. This new find soared to the top of my must-reads after a recommendation was given to me by a friend at a birthday party on Friday night. This is the same woman who, last year, had recommended the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. She is certainly knowledgeable in the fantasy genre, and so when she recommended The Farseer Trilogy by Hobb and The Memory of Flames series by Stephen Deas, I knew I had to check them out!

Next, I really indulged myself with a hardback copy of the fantasy novel The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I was supposed to read this back in September, but, at the time, I was still overwhelmed by all of the characters and sprawling locations of Outlander, so I returned it unread to the library. Now, I have my own copy with full-sized maps to boot! Score!

Then, I made it over to the horror section, which has been foremost in my focus this month. I picked up a copy of Horns by Joe Hill, as recommended by Amy at Lucy’s Football, and a hardback copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The former is by one of my favorite authors on twitter (@joe_hill) and the latter has been on my TBR list ever since I saw the spectacularly creepy cover. I’m so excited! More books for the R.I.P. challenge!

So, I got my fix. I may be walking around in worn-out, scuffed flats and wearing bedraggled hair in desperate need of a trim, but at least I have my books! Who needs fashion when you have a hardback book with full-sized maps?!?

Are you like me? Compulsively buying books the way some women buy shoes or purses?

Today, I took myself out on an Artist Date! An Artist Date is when you spend an hour or so, on your own, doing something that you love or that might inspire creativity in you. It’s part of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program, in which I am nearing the end of my third week. I will go into more details about that on a future date, but if you’re interested in the program, click the above link.

So, this week’s Date was a visit to my favorite indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy! This bookstore specializes in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal Romance, and Horror. It also has an awesome collection of Young Adult novels as well as a decent selection of graphic novels. I love this place!

I browsed for awhile, admiring their fun book-related gifts and novelties. Next, I discovered that there is a new release of some of Ray Bradbury’s stories called A Pleasure to Burn.  Apparently, this is a collection of short stories that Bradbury wrote pre-Fahrenheit 451 that relate to the themes in his classic novel. I coveted this book, but I had barely gotten there, so I moved on.

I browsed the George R.R. Martin area, looking for one of his anthologies, but instead had a happy accident! I found some PR foldout posters for the Game of Thrones HBO series (of which I am a big fan). According to the very helpful gentleman who works at the store, these were free, so I grabbed two–one for me and one for my Game of Thrones buddy!

After a lot of browsing, I settled on two paperbacks–the newly released Pay Me in Flesh by K.Bennett (pseudonym for James Scott Bell, author of the best book on writing–Plot & Structure) and Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris. I’m very excited because                                                                                                                                        A. I’ve never read any of Bell’s fiction and I love zombie fiction!                              B. I love Charlaine Harris’s writing style and can’t wait to meet one of her other characters!                                                                                                                             C. I am addicted to buying books and I am still riding high on the rush!

I was also pleased to find a card for my friend who loves cats–it’s some sort of fairy-cat with a dragon on the card! Love it! Overall, it was a great Artist Date and I highly recommend anyone who lives in Southern California to visit one of their stores in San Diego or Redondo Beach. If not, they sell books online as well. Visit them at!