The Map of True Places

There are many reasons why Zee became a psychiatrist, not the least of which is, she has her own demons to exorcise.  A motherless child with an inattentive father, Zee had a penchant for stealing boats.  Now she has a successful career, a fiancé who is good to her (but Zee isn’t sure about), and a boss who is nothing but wonderful  (if maybe a little overbearing…okay, a lot of overbearing) to her.  So when one of her current patients, Lilly Braedon, commits suicide, it’s really no surprise that Zee’s life begins to come unraveled. 

Zee’s own mother died thanks to an untreated mental illness and Lilly Braedon’s becomes mixed up with that in her mind.  She heads home to help take care of her rapidly declining father, who suffers from Parkinson’s, as well as to heal from the hurt of those losses.  It becomes a much bigger journey through her past and into her relationships and her future.  Understandably Zee is overwhelmed.  The Map of True Places is a remarkable journey through one woman’s past and present, showing just how much the past affects the choices of today and how one doesn’t have to be defined by their past. 

This was my first time reading Ms. Barry’s work, but it definitely won’t be my last*.  I really enjoyed this little gem of a novel.  I was especially taken with Zee’s father, a professor and lover of all things Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of my favorite classic writers.  The little tidbits about Hawthorne were so very interesting!  Her mother, who wrote fairytales, was also fascinating, watching her descent into mental illness in Zee’s memories was heartbreaking and I loved the inclusion of the last story she was working on.  Really, all the characters were well written.   They really made the book hard to put down.   Barry also did a tremendous amount of research into the Salem area and it’s history, astronomy, and psychiatry and it really shows. The Map of True Places is a really well written book; one you don’t want to miss. * I read half of The Lace Reader, before getting distracted by a book to review and never got back to it.  I definitely will now!  I could tell a couple of characters from TLR appeared in TMoTP and I want to go back and learn more about them.

The Map of True Places
Brunonia Barry
Category: Contemporary Fiction
Published by: Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
On Sale: May 4, 2010
ISBN: 9780007318506 
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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I admit; it seems a trifle pointless to review this book now. I am obviously the last person in the whole wide world to read it. So I’m not going to tell you what it’s about. If you don’t know by now, I know of many candidates who wrote stellar reviews and, in fact, I’ll link to some in a bit. My main intent in actually doing so is to say that if you have put off reading this book because of the hype, ignore yourself and go read it anyway. Trust me. I put it off and put it off, thinking it CAN’T be as good as everyone is saying! I’m so silly, right? So many of my favorite bloggers had told me it was good. I read their reviews, like this one, and this one, oh, and THIS one and still, I didn’t read it. Then two things happened. One, Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog, who lately is convincing me to read all kinds of interesting stuff, posted her review and she sold me. And two, Lesley at Lesley’s Book Nook and my friend on Facebook, told me that the audio was excellent. She sold me on it again. Here is her review of the audio.

So I downloaded it from Audible.

And it is absolutely the best audio production of a book I think I have ever heard.

The story is told by multiple narrators and each voice gets its own reader. The publisher obviously took great care in who was picked to read for Minny, Aibileen and Skeeter and each reader was perfect for her part. Octavia Spencer was perfect for the cheeky Minny, I loved the way she acted her part. Minny was my favorite character, even though I loved them all. Jenna Lamia, the voice of Skeeter, provided just the right hit of hesitation, of uncertainty, to a character full of both. And Bahni Turpin, the voice of Aibileen, has a voice like warm honey, which I thought fit the nurturing, loving Aibileen to a tee. The added bonus of having Cassandra Campbell narrate the one section that is told in the third person was just perfection.  She’s one of my favorite narrators ever.

As for the story itself, well. I’m Southern. I’m young, compared to the events in this book…I didn’t even exist yet. My parents didn’t even exist yet. But I have been around since 1978 and I can say I’ve seen the racism, the ridiculous persecution, and the indifference; which seems the cruelest of all. But I’ve also been a part of a Fortune 500 company that promoted its first black, woman to CEO last year. I work in the town where the sit-ins occurred and see that celebrated every year.  I am surrounded by the history of this book and I rejoice that freedoms have been, and continue to be, established, celebrated, and honored.  And The Help falls into line with the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, to further the cause of equality and the end of racism in the 21st century. 

So, like I said, if you’ve been holding off on reading The Help because of the hype, because you think you won’t like it or simply because you are ornery, do yourself a favor and get a copy.  It. Is. Excellent.  It is important.  It is a must read.  Just have your hankies ready, because that last chapter?  It is a gut-wrencher.  I was totally unprepared and was crying in my car on the way home from work.

Funny story: So, as I said, I’m from the South right? And though you’ve never heard me talk, let me tell you, my accent is very obvious. Very…pronounced. And while I was listening to this book? It was thicker that molasses going up hill in winter. I was getting LOOKS, people. Like, “Why the hell are you talking that way?” looks. I was very tempted to do a vlog of this book, just so you could hear me. Reason won out, however. I am a big chicken.

The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Category: Historical Fiction, Southern

Published by: Penguin Group
Format: Audio
On Sale: February 2009
ISBN: 9780143144182

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Other opinions:

So very many…

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The Three Musketeers

Today’s post is a part of the Classics Circuit discussing Alexandre Dumas.

Somewhere around the age of thirteen, I fell in love with French classic novels.  I devoured Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo; Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables; to name a few.  I spent my summer lounging on my bed or out in the sun, immersed in the romance, the adventure, and the just downright FUN of reading these chunkster books. Just picture it.  I was a short, skinny bean-pole of a girl with knock-knees, white as a lily skin, brace-faced teeth and was painfully shy, naive, and as ungraceful as they come.  I was convinced that no boys would ever LOOK AT ME let alone want to romance me.  I was reading stories of high adventure, death-defying daring-do, revenge, and romances that were instantaneous, passionate and lasting.

Can you see how I fell in love?  Who needed BOYS? The added bonus of all the historical detail (even then, I loved history!) was just icing on the cake.  And my all time favorite of  all those French novels from long ago continues to be The Three Musketeers.

The Three Musketeers is set in the 17th century, during a fascinating time in French history.  It follows the adventures of a young man from Gascony named d’Artagnan and his three Musketeer friends; Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.  And, as you may know, they all live by the motto “All for one, and one for all!”  Or, rather, “Tous pour un, un pour tous!”

I don’t know about most people, but my favorite character isn’t d’Artagnan.  It is Athos; the Comte de la Fère.  Perhaps it was because he is more of the father figure of the group, or maybe it’s because Keifer Sutherland played him in that Disney movie.  Or maybe it’s because, at least for me, he’s such an ambivalent character.  I was never *quite* sure whose side he was on and even then I was fascinated by such unreliable characters.  It’s also likely it’s because he’s such a melancholy man, something even at thirteen I was familiar with.  Mostly likely though, I think I found his relationship with Milady to be romantic, which is probably pretty twisted, but I still think his love was unrequited, as in, he still had feelings for her, even if he did want her dead.

Upon rereading it as an adult, I was surprised at how much I still loved it, and maybe hated it a bit too.  I didn’t really notice, at 13, the horrible portrayals of women.  Indeed, if they aren’t just plain stupid, they are evil, manipulative, and petty.  I’m not sure that I liked one female character and was surprised to find myself rooting for Milady!  Despite that though, I still enjoyed the adventure of the books; it’s my favorite thing about it.  I have the rest of the the series; The Man in the Iron Mask, Twenty Years Later and The Vicomte de Braglionne: Ten Years Later but haven’t read them yet.  Perhaps I will soon; I feel about ready for some more adventures with these guys.

The Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas
Category: French Literature/Classic
Published by: Barnes & Noble
Format: Trade Paper
Pages: 720
On Sale: December 2004
ISBN: 9781593081485

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Other stops on the Classics Tour:

Paris in the Spring: Alexandre Dumas on Tour

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Weekend Cooking

Sometime around March, we all began looking forward to something.  It comes around this time of year, so that’s a pretty long time to wait, but it’s worth it.

Strawberry season!

Which in this house means, Strawberry Cake!

Last year I made my mama’s recipe, which is really good.  But this year, I’m going to try something different.

Strawberry Rosemary Scones!

I will report back soon with the results.  What, did you think I’d get that cooked today? Ha!  You’re funny.

Photo Credit - Pioneer Woman, because I'm too lazy to take my own

For supper tonight, we’re grilling hot dogs, and Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingys from Pioneer Woman!  But I’m going to throw them on the grill with the hot dogs!


20 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 Inches In Size
2 cubes Cream Cheese, softened
1 pound Thin(regular) Bacon, Sliced Into Thirds

Preparation Instructions

If you have them, slip on some latex gloves for the pepper prep… Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things HOT). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. (At this point, you can freeze them, uncooked, in a Ziploc bag for later use).

Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to the squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it.

Serve immediately, or they’re also great at room temperature.

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Read, Remember, Recommend by Rachelle Rogers Knight

Reading and recommending books are the life’s blood for most readers.  At least it is for me!  I also passionately love lists of books.  And I love Young Adult literature.  So this book is a gold mine for me as a reader, a blogger, and a recommender of books!   I have kept a paper journal for the last 10 years.  At first, I tried different reading/book journals on the market, and a few even came close to meeting my needs, but eventually I resorted to using blank journals so I could note everything I wanted to note.

Read, Remember, and Recommend for Teens takes it all one step further.

RRR offers up more than 2,400 reading suggestions in all kinds of different categories.  Award winners, recommended reading lists in fiction, historical fiction, manga, romance, western, crime, poetry, and on and on.  Knight even covers nonfictional reads like autobiographies.  Most any reader would find this an invaluable resource.  If only I’d had a copy of this when I was in college!  The journal has so much!  It even provides a section to record the books you read and your own thoughts on them.  You can keep track of recommendations you get from other areas like friends, teachers, blogs and more.   And, for when you get older, like me, and can’t remember who you loaned what book to, you can make a note of it in the section for loaned books. 🙂  This is a great tool for anyone with a reading addiction and I have really enjoyed looking through it and checking off what I have read…and adding to the mile long list of what I want to read next.

I am so lucky to be able to welcome Rachelle to my blog today.  Thank you Rachelle, for taking the time to answer my questions!

Capricious Reader: How does it feel to go from self-publishing to being picked up by a publishing house?

Rachelle Rogers Knight: It feels great! My journey from publishing my book myself to traditional publication with Sourcebooks has been an amazing, exciting experience. The journals were previously published by my company, Bibliopages, where I wore all the hats of a small business, including shipping clerk, marketing manager, web master and author. I wanted to continue on with journals for other genres, but the pressures of all of these tasks didn’t allow time to do what I was best at – creating. So, I found a wonderful agent who in turn found me a wonderful publisher. Now, I can concentrate on the task I started and most enjoy; researching great books to read!

CR: What methods did you use to find books for all these different categories?

RRK: I researched through the internet almost exclusively. There are a few sites available that have fairly comprehensive lists of lists, but for the most part each of these were found individually. I became an expert at Google search! I do have to say I am thankful to the institutions and organizations that have created the awards and notable lists for young adults. So much work has gone into each of their choices and their websites have been invaluable.

CR: Is there anything that felt left out to you, that may show up in new editions? Or were you able to get in everything you wanted?

RRK: Sourcebooks has been wonderful to work with – and allowed me to create the journals with my original ideas intact. The extended Resources section was a result of a meeting with my editor at Sourcebooks and their sales team. It has proven to be a huge success. I am gathering information from reviews and may alter the journals in the future a bit, including changes to the journaling pages, more lists, additional pages in each section and even more information in the Resources section. I appreciate feedback – and welcome any suggestions. If you have suggestions for the any part of the journal, please email me at:

Thanks to Sourcebooks and Rachelle, I able to giveaway a copy of this book to one of my lucky readers! Please visit Bibliobabe’s special page for MY giveaway. And thank you to Traveling to Teens and Rachelle for this opportunity to read and review this book and for the interview!  The contest ends May 14th, so hurry up and enter!

Read, Remember, Recommend
Author: Rachelle Rogers Knight

Published by: Sourcebooks
Age Range: 12 and above
Pages: 343
On Sale: April 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781402237195

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Here are the rest of the stops on the TtT tour:

Sun., 4/18 Bookmac (
Mon., 4/19 Claire (
Tues., 4/20 Cinnamon (
Wed., 4/21 Liviania (
Sat., 4/24 GreenBeanTeenQueen (
Mon., 4/26 Yan (
Tues., 4/27 Wdebo (
Thurs., 4/29 Steph Su (
Fri., 4/30 Lenore (
Sat., 5/1 Amy J (

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Beatrice and Virgil

This is not one of those rare instances where I can’t think of what to say about a book.  That actually happens quite frequently and when it does, I usually don’t bother reviewing it.  This one completely baffled me folks.  I honestly don’t know what to say about it.  I loved the first 50, no, maybe even 150 pages, no, it was the first 194 pages.  The last 30 gave me the worst case of Reader’s Whiplash I’ve ever had.  It was very what-the-heck just happened? I was very, very, very lost.

You see, there are these two Henrys, both of whom are writers, one of novels and one of a play, and I got that.  The one who is writing the novel has a raging case of writers block because all his people (publishers, etc) didn’t GET IT.  Which I totally understood.  And the Henry of the playwriting (who is also an Extreme Taxidermist) asked the novelist Henry to help him with his play, which is about a Donkey and a Howler Monkey and the Holocaust and I’m reasonably sure I even got THAT!  But then something Extremely Out of Left Field happens and whoa.  Just whoa!

My neck still hurts.

Okay, so, I figure I’m not the best one to ask about this book.  I’m going to direct you to some people who I think maybe Got It a little bit better than I did.  Firstly, I think you should go to Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog because her review comes closest to what I think about the book.  She nails it folks.  She helped me understand what Martel was trying to say and where it went all wrong.  She made me realize that maybe it wasn’t just me.  Which is quite a feat, let me tell you.  When she said:

Then, there is a twist that comes like a punch in the gut and recasts everything that precedes it. (Sort of like that twist at the end of Life of Pi, but with the opposite effect.)

That was what really made me feel better.  The twist punched her in the gut where it gave me whiplash!  Really, if you want to know anything about this book, Read Her Review.

Then there is Ron Charles’s review in the Washington Post.  I’ll warn you now, I’d wait to read this one until after you’ve read the book, if you still want to.  He kinda rips it apart.

For a contrast opinion, USA Today calls the book “dark but divine.” They also think “This novel just might be a masterpiece about the Holocaust.”

Huh. Ookkaayy….

Suey at It’s All About Books is much kinder in her review.  She says about the shocking twist:

Still, when I finished it last night, once again, my chin was on the floor, but for completely different reasons than with Life of Pi. Which basically means, the ability this author has to shock a reader is definitely one of his trademarks!

She also says “It was a unique reading experience!” Which I completely agree with actually.  It is unique!

There are tons of other book blogger reviews going up, if you want to do more research. While I suspect I’m still just not getting it, I did find it immensely readable, to be so difficult (for me!) to understand.  Maybe you’ll have a better time of it.  I do think it would make for some great discussions.  Maybe read it with your book club?  It does have 4 1/2 stars on Amazon.    But really, my bottom line?  Stick to Life of Pi.

Beatrice and Virgil
Author: Yann Martel
Canadian Literature
Published by: Spiegel & Grau
Format: Hardback
On Sale: April 13, 2010
ISBN: 978-1400069262

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Radiant Shadows

A brief recap; in case you haven’t read the first three in this series.  The first book, Wicked Lovely, introduces us to the invisible world of the faeries.  We learn the rules of being a faery, about the faery courts, and what happens when the mortal and faery worlds mix.  The second book, Ink Exchange, brings the Dark Court and its players into sharper focus.  Fragile Eternity shifts back to the Summer and Winter Courts and bring the threat of war between the all the courts; Summer, Winter, Dark and the all powerful High Court.

Radiant Shadows brings it all to a hilt and sets up one heck of an ending for the last book.

I can tell you right now, this review is going to assume you’ve read the first three books in this series, but try very, very hard not to give much away of what happens in Radiant Shadows.  It would be impossible to review it without giving away spoilers of the first three.  So proceed at your own risk.  Also…go read the first three if you haven’t.  They are seriously excellent.  If you have, they are worth a reread and *hint, hint* the audio productions of all three are fantastic.  Okay? Thanks.

Radiant Shadows picks up pretty much where Fragile Eternity left off.  Seth is out in the mortal world as a faery.  Ashlinn is still struggling to be happy and Keenan is missing.  That’s about all you see of Ash and Keenan, Radiant Shadows follows a different set of characters.  Ani, Rabbit and Tish’s sister (from Pins & Needles?), is a halfling.  Half faery and half mortal, she has been struggling to find her place in this world.  She’s too human to participant in her father, Gabriel’s, hunt and too faery to live as a mortal as her siblings do.  She is unique to her court in that she takes nourishment from both faeries and mortals through touch and emotion.  She knows where she wants to be, part of the hunt, but her father won’t allow her to do that and to say she’s frustrated is putting it mildly.

Once Bananach, the embodiment of War becomes aware of her existence and demands that she kill Seth, Niall and give her the blood in her (Ani’s) blood, Ani’s confusion becomes unbearable.  Not knowing what to do, she chooses to run.

Devlin, Sorcha and Bananach’s brother, is sent to the mortal world to find Seth and make sure he is well.  Sorcha has become obsessed with Seth, what he is doing, and worries constantly for his safety and well-being.  Devlin finds Seth at the Crow’s Nest, but he gets an unexpected surprise.  Ani is there.  Devlin and Ani are connected, I will let you read the book to find out why, and Devlin cannot resist her.   When she is forced to fell Huntsdale, Devlin goes with her for he quickly comes to recognize that he will do anything for her.  Anything.

I’ve read where some think that Radiant Shadows is the weakest book in the series.  They miss Ashlinn and Keenan.  “Nothing happens.”   I admit, there are a few questions I want answered there, but I trust Marr implicitly to answer them in the forthcoming last book in the series. But the’ nothing happens’ comments?  Please!  So MUCH happens!  Not all books have to be a race to the finish.  I like that Marr takes her time here, building the world, establishing the characters and making everything MAKE SENSE, yet the writing is still tight.  There are twists and turns and of course, plenty of danger.  She setting so much up here for the finale, if she hadn’t done that, it would be  poor writing indeed.  I think her writing just gets stronger with each book.  Her themes of finding yourself, the of love,  friendship, loyalty and honor are brilliantly displayed.  We get to meet characters who have been behind the scenes and get to know them more, a plot that finishes up somethings yet starts up new ones that I can’t wait to learn more about.  I love Marr’s Wicked world and in my opinion, it’s one of her strongest books yet.  And wow, that ending left me will chills.  The hairs on my arm were standing straight up, I was so surprised and delighted.  All in all, I think Radiant Shadows is more than worthy to join the canon and I cannot wait for the next book.

Things you should know: There is quite a bit of violence (even death) and sexual situations.  I think they are definitely for older teenagers.

Radiant Shadows
By Melissa Marr
Published by Harper Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 352
On sale: April 20, 2010
ISBN: 9780061659225

See my reviews of Wicked Lovely, Wicked Lovely (audio), Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity

Source: the Publisher and Traveling to Teens (Thank you guys!)

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Other reviews by:

Karin’s Book Nook | Literary Escapism | Angieville |Y.A. Reads Book Reviews | | The Story Siren

I am a Book Depository, Powell’s, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.