An Embarrassment of Riches

I have been terrible about acknowledging blog awards in the past.  I love to get them, and I’m always very flattered and grateful, but I don’t always follow through and post about them or hand them out to others.  (I really stink at updating my blog roll too, but that’s a subject for another day.  Let’s work on one bad habit at a time, shall we?)

So it is with much love, humility, and gratitude that I accept and pass along these beautiful blog awards!

award_lets_be_friendsFrom Lisa at Books and Cooks, and from Karen at Planet Books:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

I’d like to thank Lisa and Karen for the Friends award, and pass it on to my oldest blogging friends, the ones I’ve known from day one (and in one case- even before that!):

Stephanie from Stephanie’s Written Word

Trish from Hey, Lady!

Care from Care’s Online Book Club

Jill from Fizzy Thoughts

Patti from Displaced Beach Bums

And I’d like to give this back to the friends who gave it to me, Karen and Lisa!

you-dont-say-postFrom Sheri at A Novel Menagerie:  We give and get awards for having a great blog and being a good friend.  What I want to award is to those people whose comments have meant THE WORLD to me.  It takes time to visit a blog and leave a comment.  I wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to each and every one of you who has left a comment for me on A Novel Menagerie.  Also, I wanted to recognize some special bloggers whose comments have made such an impact on me.  The “You Don’t Say?” Award is awarded to these special bloggers in hopes that they will pass the award along to 5-10 of their best commentors! 

Thanks, Sheri!  I love this new award.  Comments are so important to me and really vital to our community.  Some bloggers who always give good comments are:

Nat at Book, Line, and Sinker

Ti from Book Chatter and Other Stuff

Char from Bloody Hell!  It’s a Book Barrage!

Les from Lesley’s Book Nook

Ladytink_534 from The Movieholic and Bibliophile Blog

Jeanne at Dog Ear Diary

loveblog

 

From Drey of Drey’s Library:  The I Love Your Blog Award.  I am so honored!  Thanks, Drey!  I love your blog, too!  

 

This is a hard one to narrow down.  There are just so many. But I think I’m supposed to limit it to five, so here goes:

 

Sher from A Novel Menagerie

Alyce from At Home with Books

Jennifer from Literate Housewife

Raych at Books I Done Read

Wendy from Caribousmom

awardFrom Seaside Book Worm:  “This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.”

These bloggers go out of their way to build relationships in our book blogging community, and they are:

Trish from Hey, Lady!

Hannah from WordLily

Ana (Nymeth) from Things Mean a Lot

Jill from Fizzy Thoughts

Natasha from Maw Books

Sheri from A Novel Menagerie

Amy from My Friend Amy

Jennifer from Literate Housewife

fabulousblogaward2

 

 

From Alyce at At Home With Books:   I think the rules said that I’m supposed to pass this to five others, or maybe it said 5 to 10.. I can’t remember!   Well here are a few blogs that are fabulous, that I love and read regularly.  Let’s not worry about the numbers..

 

 

Dar from Peeking Between the Pages

Alea from Pop Culture Junkie

Anna from Diary of an Eccentric

Wendy from Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Heather at Book Addiction

Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books

Bethany at B & B ex libris

And I also want to give a shout out to my neighbor’s daughter, Cara- a new blogger and a new reader at BOTB.  Cara and her husband Reese have 3 kids, and their sons are my daughters’ favorite playmates when they come to visit their Nana next door.  Reese is battling cancer and Cara’s blogging about their journey at Better Hands Now.  If you’d like to encourage them, stop by and tell her Lisa sent you.. they can use all the prayers and good wishes they can get!

Thanks so much to all my wonderful readers and friends.  Your comments, emails, and friendship mean the world to me.  Thank you!!

Added to the TBR

New books added to the TBR this week: 

 

9781401340933midplace_lThe Middle Place:  Stephanie’s review is so personal, because the subject matter hit home for her.  Another mother/daughter book I need to read.


booksTallgrass:  Any review that starts out “Wowie zowie, this novel is great!” gets my attention.  And when Char uses a fancy word like bildungsroman, I sit up and take notice.  

 

droodcover-7_smDrood was everywhere this week!  I didn’t get to all the reviews, but this one was great.  Amy got a special treat when she asked the author to sign her copy.  Check out the picture in her post- so cool!

 

 

What did you add to your TBR pile this week?

First 100K Celebration Winner Announced!

Ok, the first winner from my 100K Celebration extravaganza is for the Hachette‘s Favorites- a box of 7 new titles including The Little Giant of Aberdeen County (reviewed HERE), One Perfect Day (reviewed HERE), The Bishop’s Daughter (reviewed HERE), Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, Run for Your Life by James Patterson and The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari!

So without further ado (adoo? adeaux?  adu?) here we go!!  (reaching into the hat with all the names–  who’s it gonna be??  Oooo I can barely contain my excitement!)  Ok!  Ok!  We have a winner and it is:

Janel from Janel’s Jumble!

Janel has a cool blog, so go say hi!  Congrats to Janel (you scored some great titles, girlfriend!) and thank you to everyone who entered the contest and helped me celebrate.

<——————  All the other contests and giveaways are still open, so check my left sidebar for links!  I’ll be announcing winners every day this week!

Guest Post and Giveaway: Sheri from A Novel Menagerie says, “Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!”

My book club met on Sunday and we had the great pleasure to welcome a new member, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie!  She and I met through our children last summer, who by sheer coincidence were not only in the same unit at Girl Scout camp, but in the same cabin 2 years in a row.  The chances of that are so slim- one year they went in August, the next year June, one year they were in a sampler unit, the next year a horse unit- all with hundreds of other kids.  It almost seemed that fate was pushing us together.

At first Sheri was kind of stunned that we hit it off, because she says she “never gets along with other women”.   We bonded over our children (we each have two wild preteen girls- hers are twins, mine are “Irish twins”), we both have one brother named Bill (who, by yet another coincidence, attends our church), complicated relationships with our sisters, experience with insomnia (hers, and my husbands), our OCD tendencies, and of course, BOOKS!   I showed her my blog and told her about the book blogging community.  Sheri asked a million questions.  I sent her on her way with a few extra books I had hanging around.  She went home and started her amazing new blog, A Novel Menagerie, that very day.  If you haven’t seen it, you must go check it out.  She hosts memes, challenges, contests, and reads about 5 books a week (and I’m not even exaggerating!)  She also started an online business called BookCharming.com and makes these adorable floss book marks.  She has so much drive and energy and honestly, I don’t know how she does it all!

So when she asked me about my book club, I sadly told her that it was “full”.  We had what seemed the right amount of people (12) and the club had agreed that we wouldn’t be inviting any more.  But then, in January, someone dropped out.  I mentioned it to Sheri and before the words were out of my mouth, she was saying YES!  So here she is, with impressions of her first book club meeting.  Welcome, Sheri!

Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!

My constant whining about not being in a book club was more than Lisa could bear.  Month after month, the nagging became like nails scratching on a chalkboard.  She had no choice.  Find a spot for me or listen to 11 more months of “poor me.”  I think she chose wisely…yes, she is indeed a smart girl!

So, after finagling me into the book club, I immediately purchased every book on our reading list.  I was bound and determined to know each book inside and out, be ready for any question, and be worthy of the book club.  The books arrived:

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Sarah’s Key

The Invisible Wall

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Our first meeting:  Oscar Wao.  Now, this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Of course, then it must be good.  And, it was.  But, the book was somewhat of a grueling read.  It was not an easy book to get through.  As I spewed out of my mouth in the book club meeting:  

It’s like childbirth; you are not really enjoying it when you’re going through it.  But, once it’s over with you’re glad you did it.  

That’s it.  They’re giving me das boot.  No.  Wait.  Ellen agreed.  Whew!  Let me go back in time to explain.  

So, like a little Nervous Nelly, I walked down the street with Lisa to the book club meeting.  They aren’t going to like me.  I won’t fit in.  I didn’t read the Reader’s Guide questions thoroughly enough.  I wasn’t even sure how I completely felt about the book.  I walk into Ellen’s home.  Immaculate.  Oh, I am such a sub-standard mother.  Ellen would never even sit on my couches.  I’m going to have to host my meeting at Lisa’s house.  There were a few people to meet and… (can you hear the angels singing?) WINE!  I thank God Jesus was into wine!  It’s a goodie that God makes sure is around for me!  Everything looked great.  There was food, wine, the immaculate house.  I was making conversation with whoever would talk with me.  Let’s see if I can remember all of their names (whoever I forget, please forgive me):

bc-bluebirdEllen

Diane

Elaine

Sara

Lisa

Sheri (that’s me)

Orchid

Maggie

Valerie

Tammy

So, Lisa thankfully sat by me during dinner and helped me to remember who’s who, names, etc.  The meeting soon started and Orchid (and her amazingly cool hair) led the meeting.  She read aloud.  But, she read a passage that was written in partial Spanish.  When she said the passage aloud, she said it entirely in English.  <Enter my big mouth> 

bc-sunset“Do you speak Spanish?  I mean, I can read it, but not speak it.  And, well…” (God, Sheri shut up!)

Yes, she did.  And, my inappropriate outburst led into a discussion about the foreign language in the book.  (Thank God!)  The conversation continued and it seemed like we all had something to say. 

My SELF observations:

1. I am the only dumbass who didn’t know that the splotch on the cover was the face of Oscar with a wing coming out of the back of his head.

2. I am the only idiot who thought that Oscar shouldn’t have quit on Yunior when Yunior was trying to help him lose weight.  

3. I’m the only deranged person who didn’t feel sorry for Oscar.  

4. I talk too much.

5. I don’t know enough.

6. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks my thoughts are “spot-on.”  No, that’s not a maybe.  It’s a for sure!

9780312370848My GROUP observations:

1. They were lovely women who really enjoyed this opportunity to get together and discuss their love for books. 

2. These were some INTELLIGENT chicks!

3. There is a common, invisible thread that ties them together.  They appreciate this book club and each other.

4. If I bribe them with my AWESOME Key Lime Martinis, they may let me come back again.  I hope so because I’m almost done with Sarah’s Key.

5. Lisa is my friend!

If I could only talk to intelligent women about the books I read ALL DAY LONG.  It would be like Heaven.  I wonder if I should try to find a job in the book industry.  I’m turning into a one-dimensional person… BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  Maybe I need to be in 4 book clubs… one for every Sunday.  Yes, that might cure my itch!

Thank you to Lisa for letting me smuggle my way into the group and share my neurosis with her readers.  

Sheri is donating 2 beautiful BookCharming.com Book Marks to my 100K celebration.  The first one is the Bluebird design, and the 2nd one is Sunset.  Gorgeous, right?  She’s so flippin’ talented!  This chick has skills!!  I’m going to throw in our book club’s next selection, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay to go along with the beautiful book marks.  Leave a comment by Friday, February 20th for a chance to win.

To read Sheri’s review of Sarah’s Key, click HERE.  I had to skim it because I haven’t read the book yet.  Hope I finish it before next month’s meeting!!

Matrimony Giveaway

cover150x229Matrimony by Josh Henkin is a much read, reviewed, and revered book around the blogosphere. Josh is a great guy and an author that really understands and appreciates the time and effort we book bloggers put into our blogs and our reviews. He is so supportive of bloggers and has done a great job of marketing his book online. He is generous with his time, offering author chats (by phone and in person) to book clubs all over the country. He loooooves getting feedback on his book and sitting in on discussions!

Josh wrote a wonderful guest post for me last year about book clubs that really struck a nerve, judging from the dozens of comments and incoming links to that post. Josh encourages reading groups to think outside the box and choose titles that are a little different. He noticed that book clubs were making selections from the same 10 or 12 titles and missing out on some really interesting stuff by sticking to the tried and true. Josh, I want to thank you for that guest post, and for always providing a link to this blog whenever you refer to it.. whether that is with Shelf Awareness, Book Club Girl, Reading Group Guides, or various other interviews you’ve done. I really appreciate that! For more on Josh’s thoughts on book clubs, check out this article titled Author, Your Group is Calling, from The Philadelphia Enquirer.

So.. Matrimony. Have you read it? It’s about 2 couples: Julian and Mia, and Carter and Pilar. It’s about love and life and birth and death and everything in between. It was a 2007 New York Times Notable Book. A Book Sense Highlight Pick of the Year. A Borders Original Voices Selection. It’s quite the celebrated book!

Josh is offering an inscribed, paperback copy of his book to one lucky commenter! Just leave a comment by Thursday, February 19th. And since we’re just a couple days away from Valentine’s Day, I’d like you to finish this sentence: “Love is … “

100K Celebration Madness Continues with Another Giveaway!

Today is Day 2 of my giant 100K Celebration, which will be going on for a week here at Books on the Brain! I am having so much fun celebrating and am so glad to share my excitement with you. It’s like I’m throwing a party (everyone’s invited), but instead of receiving gifts, I’m giving them – which to me is always way more fun!

Today Kim Weiss and the wonderful people at HCI Books – “The Life Issues Publisher” – have generously offered 7 amazing books to my readers. HCI is a great publisher of non-fiction whose motto is “Changing Lives One Book at a Time”. There’s a little something for everybody! Leave a comment on this post by Tuesday, February 17th, and let me know which book you’d be interested in winning. Here are the titles up for grabs:

3821The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel

Your Essential Resource to Organic and Natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup, and Fragrances

With her friendly, thorough, and helpful advice; fabulous beauty recipes; product recommendations and ratings; Toxic Ingredients List; and a complete appendix of online resources, Julie Gabriel gives you all the information you need to go green without going broke and become a more natural, healthy, and beautiful you.

3667Staging Your Comeback by Christopher Hopkins

A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45

Known as The Makeover Guy ® from his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other national television programs, Christopher Hopkins believes that as they age, women become more beautiful but often feel less attractive. He’s out to change that. For more than twenty years he’s encouraged women who often feel like they’ have taken a backseat to everything and everyone else to come out of the shadows and take center stage.

3827Richard Bandler’s Guide to Trance-Formation by Richard Bandler

More than thirty years ago, Richard Bandler set out to discover how some therapists effected startling change with their clients, while others argued about theories while their patients waited in vain for help. Now widely regarded as the world’s greatest hypnotist and one of the most brilliant minds in the field of personal change, Richard Bandler created patterns that became the bedrock of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), arguably one of the most profoundly effective approaches for self-improvement. In Richard Bandler’s Guide to Trance-formation, he returns to his roots: hypnotic phenomena, trancework, and altered states to provide a highly compelling and effective prescription for quick and lasting personal change.

3811 The Vigorous Mind by Ingrid E. Cummings

Cross-train Your Brain to Break Through Mental, Emotional, and Professional Boundaries

In The Vigorous Mind, professional ‘Renaissance woman’ Ingrid Cummings offers a social criticism and inspiring self-improvement program that details the antidote to mental undernourishment, unfulfilling careers, untapped talents, and unexplained boredom. Through the techniques and insights in The Vigorous Mind, you will build a more complex, interconnected brain and replace indifference with cognitive reengagement, a sense of optimistic gratification, and a full-to-the-brim life lived without regret.

3812You Lost Him at Hello by Jess McCann

A Saleswoman’s Secrets to Closing the Deal with Any Guy You Want

**JESS WILL BE ON GOOD MORNING AMERICA THIS FRIDAY, FEB. 13th!

Whether you’ve found yourself waiting for him to call or given up everything for a relationship that went nowhere, getting a guy to commit can be like getting him to walk over a bed of hot coals. Jess McCann’s tactics work because they make you strong, confident, and irresistible to every man you meet. Whether you’re looking for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, You Lost Him at Hello will help you find him and keep him–while having more fun and fulfilled relationships than ever before.

3848 Zig-zagging by Tom Wilson

Loving Madly, Losing Badly – How Ziggy Saved My Life

Ziggy cartoonist Tom Wilson didn’t see it coming: after losing his beloved young wife to breast cancer, it’s up to him to raise two children alone and keep the laughs coming in his cartoons worldwide—even as his own personal orbit is falling apart. In this mesmerizing and nostalgic account of a beloved artist’s life, Tom Wilson details his compelling journey from growing up in the shadow of his father’s genius to inheriting an iconic cartoon when his father falls ill, all while struggling to overcome a crippling depression.

Leave a comment on this post by Tuesday, February 17th, and let me know which HCI book you’d be interested in winning. This contest is open to residents of US and Canada only (my apologies to my overseas readers!)

Come back each day this week for more great giveaways!

We’re partying all week long!

Holy Sh*t! 100,000 Hits! And a Hachette Favorites Giveaway!

images-11It appears that I will hit a big milestone today or tomorrow. Never in a zillion years did I think this little blog of mine would reach 100,00 hits, but here it is! Unbelievable. Woo Hoo, Partay!

51ipo1fobxl_sl160_pisitb-sticker-arrow-dptopright12-18_sh30_ou01_aa115_The wildly generous Miriam at Hachette Book Group is sponsoring a Hachette Favorites Giveaway to help me celebrate! Leave a comment on this post by Monday, February 16th for a chance to win a big box of new fiction from Hachette, including The Little Giant of Aberdeen County 31bhf6sljl_sl160_aa115_(reviewed HERE), One Perfect Day (reviewed HERE), The Bishop’s Daughter (reviewed HERE), Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly, The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent, Run for Your Life by James Patterson and The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari!

So, a little background on this blog. I started Books on the Brain at the end of September 2007 with virtually no idea about blogging, the book blogging community, html code, Google Reader, ARCs, memes, book tours, etc. No clue. None.

Laura Fitzgerald, author of Veil of Roses (who, incidentally, has a new book out and will be guest posting later this month!), had just talked to my real life book club by speaker phone. She was terrific, and when I emailed to thank her, she wrote back that I should check out her guest post at Stephanie’s blog, The Written Word. I loved the post, but was entranced by the blog. I’d never seen anything like it! I emailed Stephanie to compliment her on it and ask questions (many, many questions). She was so patient with me and so friendly. A day or two later I started Books on the Brain with this silly post, not realizing at the time how much it would change my life.

So let me throw out some stats: in about 16 months I’ve had 99,866 total views (as of this minute), 337 posts, 4,126 comments, 33 categories, and 927 tags. I don’t want to even think about the number of hours I’ve spent blogging. Or reading the blogs of others. Let’s just say it’s been substantial!

But the MOST wonderful thing about blogging, the thing that I just can’t get over, is this wonderful community. The people are so nice, so helpful, so intelligent, caring and kind. I’ve made amazing friends here and I’m so glad I found you. You’ve greatly enriched my life. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, emails, Christmas cards, and surprises (Care, you’re so cool!). Book bloggers are the greatest! Your comments and posts have made me laugh, informed me, enlightened me, given me much to think about, and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

Help me celebrate by leaving a comment to enter the contest.  The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada only (no PO Boxes).  I’ll be celebrating all week with special guests and giveaways, so stay tuned!

Deeeeeeeeez are a Few of my Favorite Things

Trish had a fun post the other day about 10 things she loved that started with the letter O. It’s a meme and to play along, I had to leave a comment and wait for Trish to bestow me with my very own letter. She bestowed me with the letter D. At first I thought, could she have picked a harder letter?? Then I thought, yeah, I guess she could have given me X or Q or U and I’d be stuck talking about x-rays or Quantum Leap or underwear. So Trish, thanks for D. It’s not so bad.

Now I get to bestow others. I’m liking the word bestow.. it makes me feel royal and powerful. Bestow, bestow, bestow. Would you like me to bestow a letter on you, my dear? If so, leave a comment and I’ll bestow you with one (Oh, crap! My tiara just fell off!)

guy-fieri_med1. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

I love this Food Network show and it’s host, Guy Fieri! He’s a blast! He’s a dude who loves good, real food and isn’t worried about calories and presentation so much as taste. Guy was the 2007 winner of The Next Food Network Star (kind of a foodie American Idol).

images-32. David Cook

Speaking of American Idol, I love last year’s winner, David Cook! I find his voice so raw and sexy- there, I said it! And I’m old enough to be his, er, um, older sister! Or aunt! (Yeah, that’s it!) Click HERE to watch his latest video for Light On, a song I’ve been enjoying a lot lately on my iPod (the embed feature is disabled or I’d show it here).

3. Diet Coke

I’ve been on and off the wagon many times over the years, but this magical elixir is what gets me moving in the morning and keeps me going all day. How many do I drink each day? Roughly a 6 pack. I know- it’s bad. I have read all the emails about how you can clean toilets with it and remove rust and etc. and yet, I still partake. My insides are probably all rotted- or perhaps iron-clad.

4. DUDE

This word has inserted itself into my everyday conversation. I blame her. And her. I realized it was bad when I caught myself oooing and ahhhing over a baby at my daughters’ school and found myself saying to his mother, “Aw, dude, he is so cute!” Last night I said to my daughter, “Dude, I can’t take anymore whining. Just finish your homework” and my daughter said, “Dude?” Ok, perhaps it’s time to remove this too-hip word from the vocabulary of my non-hip self. But dude, have you seen this T Mobile commercial? I love it.

images-15. Dunder Mifflin

I’m a HUGE fan of The Office!! HUGE! My husband is from Scranton, PA and we spend 3 weeks there every summer, so we chuckle over local references. But I watch because the writing is brilliant, and I find it hysterical. I have friends who don’t get it, but to them I say- Dude, don’t call me on Thursday nights! I completely clear my schedule to get my JimandPam fix!

6. Dawn

I like dawn- as in morning’s first light. It’s dark when I get up and I love to watch the sunrise. I do it almost every day from an east-facing upstairs window. It’s peaceful to spend that time alone before the rest of the family starts moving around. It calms me and makes me happy. I also like Dawn– as in awesome, well known book blogger.

Jasmine meets PorkChop the guineau pig

Jasmine meets PorkChop the guineau pig

7. Dogs

Ok, truth be told, I don’t love ALL dogs, but I do love MY dog. Jasmine is a sweet, loving golden retriever who sheds like crazy but wants nothing more out of life than to be near me. What’s not to love? Oh, and Sheri? I respect the leash laws!

8. Denim

I’m a girl who loves her jeans and can be found in them just about every day. They are so versatile. I wear them everywhere, and why not? You can dress them up or down. I’ve got my skinny jeans, my fat jeans, my baggy jeans, my dressy jeans. I’ve got jeans with a dark wash and jeans that are super faded. I’ve worn them all my life and will always and forever be on the search for the perfect pair.

9. Dark Chocolate

I have a bowl of Dove dark chocolate hearts sitting nearby, but not too close. I actually have to cross the room to get to them, otherwise they would be way too dangerous. I’d eat them all! I love all those studies that say dark chocolate is good for you. I’m sure they mean in very small doses, right? Not 10 or 12 pieces at a time?

images-210. Daisies

Of the Gerbera variety. They are my favorite.

Friday Fill-ins 1-9-09

fridayfillin.gif

1. It’s January; hot chocolate time!

2. A night out is what I crave most right now.

3. Cork and wine go together like feet and fuzzy socks.

4. Time with friends is so nourishing.

5. Let us dare to be more spontaneous.

6. All are welcome in my home.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to an evening with my sister and nephew, tomorrow my plans include cleaning the house and Sunday, I want to host my book club meeting- without any drama, hopefully!

Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

imagedbThis fantastic debut novel starts off with a handsome, reckless, drug addicted pornographer getting into a fiery crash after his car careens off a hilltop road. Within minutes he has lost everything-looks, career, money- all up in flames. The reader can almost see his skin bubble, smell his flesh burn, and feel his horror and pain.

He wakes up scorched weeks later in an ICU burn unit. Following are gruesome scenes during his burn treatment; excruciating graphic details about pain, debridement, skin grafting, and surgeries. In an ironic twist of fate, he has had a penectomy- the pornographer spilled alcohol in his lap shortly before the fire and his penis was burnt to a crisp. If not for his wry sense of humor it would have been difficult to get through these pages. His doctors, nurses, and physical therapists are committed to his recovery and work tirelessly over the course of many months to bring him back to health.

This man’s past isn’t pretty- a childhood spent with neglectful drug addicted foster parents, followed by success in a porn career, and a string of meaningless relationships has left him feeling empty. He has no family and few visitors. His production company collapses without him and goes bankrupt. The only thing that keeps our hero going are thoughts of suicide after his release. After all, his days are filled with suffering, and physically he’s a monster- who could ever care about him again?

Enter Marianne Engel- a beautiful, tatooed, passionate psychiatric patient who claims to know him (“I’ve been waiting such a long time”). Is she schizophrenic? Manic-depressive? Does it even matter? He knows she’s crazy but doesn’t care; she’s his only regular visitor, and she tells a great story.

The Gargoyle follows the man’s recovery as he leaves the hospital to move in with Marianne, who offers to finance everything (she’s made buckets of money carving gargoyles, or ‘grotesques’, from slabs of stone, and sells them in a gallery to wealthy collectors). Against the advice of his doctors, he puts his continued care into her hands. Life with Marianne proves to be quite interesting, though, as she goes through manic episodes of intense creativity, and he becomes increasingly dependant on morphine to dull his pain. The novel weaves their current story with medieval tales of romance, legend, mysticism and adventure, of courageous people sacrificing everything they have for true love. Marianne begins to tell him “their” story of when they were lovers in 14th Century Germany and for all his skepticism, in the end he’s persuaded to investigate further.

The only part of the book I wasn’t into was the narrator’s trip through the fires of hell as he withdraws from morphine and releases the “bitchsnake” from his spine. The Christian mythology is dense and confusing at that point and I found myself skimming whole pages because it goes on too long (for me). Other than that one section, which is near the end, I flew through The Gargoyle, enjoying it immensely. It’s a gripping, unique book that I would highly recommend.

Book clubs would have a lot to talk over with this one!  For perhaps the most interesting reader’s guide I’ve ever seen, click HERE.