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    This is my little corner of the world where I can do whatever I some of my favorite (and not so favorite) books, whine about yet another gray sky, or just share a little of what it means to live in the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime of living in the sun.

    Reading As you spend time on my blog, you may notice that my reading tastes are a bit eclectic. I used to be what I call a "book snob". That was before I began work on my master's degree and needed light recreational reading and discovered that while some books might not be "critically acclaimed", they could still be some great fun to read! Now I read a little bit of everything.

    Writing One of my lifelong dreams (besides meeting John Taylor from 80's Duran Duran fame) has been write the next great American novel . I'm sure many of you share this dream (you might even share my dream of meeting John Taylor, who knows). I've always been afraid to start writing. I put "writing" in the sub-title of the blog hoping that it will force me to begin writing something or else I will have to crawl away in shame...

    Living I'll also be sharing stories about my experiences living and parenting in the PNW. If you're expecting great tips on how to organize your schedule or how to prepare gourmet meals on a shoestring budget...sorry, you won't find that here. I am chronically messy, chronically disorganized, and chronically planning gourmet meals that never get prepared. It's just going to be me...sharing my trials and tribulations of not only leaving 365 days of sunshine for 350 days of gray skies but also the oh so fun adventure of parenting two "tweens" who think they know more than me.

Book Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian by Elizabeth KostovaTitle:  The Historian
Author:  Elizabeth Kostova
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Genre:  Historical Fiction/Horror
Read:  June 2012
Rating:  4 
Locate It: Amazonor  Barnes & Noble


Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known – and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself – to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed – and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answer to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign – and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions – and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vald’s ancient powers – one woman comes every closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

My Thoughts:  When I started to read this book, I had no idea it was about vampires!  I’m not sure what I thought it was about…I was drawn to the cover and the title.  With a B.A. in history, how could I not be drawn to the title of this book?

I liked this book.  Throughout the book, the narrative changes perspectives, I normally love this style but with this book, it did get a bit confusing as the author would switch narratives without any notice and I would have sit there a for a few seconds thinking  “okay, who is talking now?  what time period am I in now?”.  Not a big deal, just a little pet peeve of this book.

It’s a long book with an obvious amount of research having been put into it.  Because of that it did seem to drag at times but I still enjoyed being taken across the eastern European landscape with the characters.  I’d recommend the book if you are looking for something different.

July 2, 2012 - 12:14 pm

Cherie - This is the only vampire book I have ever read! You know me and my dislike of vampires 😉
I did really enjoy it and am just about to start reading her second book, The Swan Thieves.

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

Title:  World War Z
Author:  Max Brooks
Publisher:  Crown Publishing Group
Genre:  Science Fiction/Horror
Read: June 2012
Rating:  3
Locate It: Amazon

Synopsis: The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

My Thoughts:  I was so looking forward to reading this book! The premise (an eyewitness recounting of a fictional worldwide zombie attack) sounded fun and so interesting. Unfortunately for me, the book just seemed to drag on and on. Max Brooks wrote the novel in epistolary form, meaning that each chapter was written in the form of an actual interview with various participants/survivors of the zombie war.  The book started out interesting but then seemed to go on forever and with a different narrator every few pages it became quite disjointed for me. There was not one main character that I found myself rooting for (I suppose I was supposed to be rooting for the human race as a whole?).  It is a great premise and I commend Mr. Brooks on the ability to create so many solid characters and twist our modern political system in such a way that was believable but it just wasn’t for me.

I know that many people have loved this book so while I can’t completely recommend it, I also won’t completely warn people to stay away from it. It seems to the type of book that you have to pick up and just decide for yourself if it will be worth your time or not.  All that being said, I am looking forward to the movie coming out.  I think it if it is done well, it will make for a great movie.

Book Review: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Title:  Rainshadow Road: A Friday Harbor Novel
Author:  Lisa Kleypas
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre:  Contemporary Romance/Adult (18+)
Read: July 2012
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon

Synopsis:  Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiance Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy’s bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy’s parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to “romance” Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life–even after being broken–can be made into something new and beautiful.

My Thoughts:  I think it’s fairly appropriate that my first book review on Under a Gray Sky is set in the Pacific Northwest, don’t you?   Rainshadow Road is the second book in the “Friday Harbor” series although if you ask me, it could easily be the first in the series as I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from not having read the first.  This is my first novel by Lisa Kleypas (apparently she’s written twenty-one novels!) and I found her writing style to be light and engaging.  She was descriptive without being too descriptive leaving me with the feeling that I was right there in Friday Harbor living right alongside the characters.   While some of the characters seemed a bit predictable with their actions, I still found them to be interesting and likeable (or unlikeable as the case may be).

I received this book through the First Reads giveaway over at and am so glad that I did because I probably would not have picked this book otherwise.  I’m rating 4.5 out of 5 because I really did enjoy this book and would recommend it to any romance readers out there.

May 31, 2015 - 11:47 am

Series Review: The Wallflowers by Lisa Kleypas » Under A Gray Sky - […] that I’ll read on one hand.  Lisa Kleypas is one of those authors.   Kleypas’ Rainshadow Road was the very first ARC I reviewed on this blog.  It may even have been the first contemporary […]

I’m Back!

After a couple of years away from the blogosphere I’ve decided to jump back in….with Under a Gray Sky.

July 1, 2012 - 7:09 am

Sam - Hun, congratulations on the new Blog, I look forward to reading about your adventures in the Pacific Northwest, especially while I’m out on the road, keeping up with your busy and exciting life! I love you so much!

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