Saturday, January 31, 2015

TBR Double Dog Dare: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

This is the second book I read as part of this year's TBR Double Dog Dare, hosted by James at James Reads Books.

I received this book a few months ago as part of my Riot Read Monthly Book Club subscription (now sadly defunct -- I just got the news yesterday), and to be honest, I was fully prepared not to like it. I don't know exactly why this is, but I suspect it had a lot to do with the premise of the book. The plot concerns a British minister, Peter Leigh, who is recruited by a mysterious international company to travel to their outpost on a far-off planet, in order to serve as a missionary to the "natives" (aliens, of course) who live there. I guess I was reluctant to read it because this just sounds really weird. But -- I received it as part of the subscription, and it was just sitting there on my bookshelf when the TBR dare began, so onto the list it went.



I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The premise of the book is, of course, on one level just a vehicle to allow the author to explore much deeper and thought-provoking questions about love, marriage, faith, and humanity. And the book is so skillfully written and compelling that the reader rapidly gets sucked into the book and finds that he cannot put it down. Plus, there's a little mystery that creeps in around the edges of the plot as Peter spends time on the new planet.

Peter is excited, yet apprehensive about going to be a missionary on another planet. And his wife, Bea, is not so sure about this either, but she decides to try and carry on their ministry at home on Earth in his absence. Peter gets to the planet, named "Oasis" in a public-relations contest back on Earth, and is shocked to find out that the natives already know about Jesus (thanks to an earlier missionary, who went missing under mysterious circumstances). The Oasans are a strange, alien race and all the members of the "species" look alike -- so to tell them apart, Peter takes note of the colors of the robes that they wear, which seemingly come in every color of the rainbow and more. He calls the Oasans that profess to be Christian "Jesus Lovers" and gives them numbers. So the first Oasan he encounters takes the name "Jesus Lover One," for example.

But Peter has more problems in this new mission field than just being able to tell the members of his flock apart. Here's a passage that struck me as getting to the heart of Peter's attempts to adapt his ministry and his thinking to a new planet. He's watching the Oasans carry bricks for the church they are building, and they appear to be using fishing nets:

Fishing net? He called it that because that's what it looked like, but it must have been designed for some other purpose -- maybe even specifically for carrying bricks. There was nothing else to use nets for, here. There were no oceans on Oasis, no large bodies of water, and presumably no fish.

No fish. He wondered whether this would cause comprehension problems when it came to certain crucial fish-related Bible stories. There were so many of those: Jonah and the whale, the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, the Galilean disciples being fishermen, the whole "fishers of men" analogy... The bit in Matthew 13 about the kingdom of Heaven being like a net cast into the sea, gathering fish of every kind... Even in the opening chapter of Genesis, the first animals God made were sea creatures. How much of the Bible would he have to give up as untranslatable?

The title of the novel comes from the Oasans' name for the Bible. And they are so far removed from the language and imagery of the Bible that it must have seemed very strange and new to them the first time they encountered it. As reflected in the passage above, Peter begins to both appreciate and struggle with this strangeness as he attempts to paraphrase selected Bible passages into words that the Oasans can both pronounce and understand. What, for example, does one do with a passage like "The Lord is my Shepherd"? How do you explain a shepherd and what one does in a place where they have no sheep, or really any animal that they take care of? So Peter finally translates this into "The Lord be He that care for me," and clunky as that is, the Oasans immediately grab hold of this and his other paraphrases as something they can truly get their minds around.

However, while Peter settles quickly and easily into his new environment, growing ever fonder of the Oasans and understanding them more every day, all is not well back on Earth. He begins to get distressing messages from Bea (via the interplanetary messaging system they have nicknamed "the Shoot"), and he doesn't know quite what to do. Civilization seems to be falling apart on Earth, and Peter is not terribly supportive of Bea's worry and anguish. Plus, while he appears to be growing in his faith as he ministers to the Oasans (alas, in some ways it turns out to be a pretty shaky faith in the end), Bea is losing her faith back on Earth. It's an interesting dichotomy that is depicted solely through their written interchanges, and while only about 20% of the book is what I would call "epistolary," it turns out to be an important element of the story.

One more cool thing I think you'll like about this book: the title of each chapter comes from the last sentence or phrase of the chapter. This was an interesting technique I had never seen used before, and while I have no clue why Faber did it this way, it became something of an entertaining game to me. Once I picked up on the device, I would try to figure out where the chapter was going to end up, based on the final words of the chapter. It was entertaining because Faber used this as a very twisty device at times!

OK, I lied: here's another cool thing about the book: this is one of the few times I am glad I was reading a physical copy of the book instead of a digital version. The publisher put some thought into the presentation of this book, to wit: the gilded edges of the pages, which make it look exactly like a Bible:

(The photo in which the author discovers that it is pretty hard to catch the glint off gilded page edges with a phone. But he persevered, dear reader, and finally achieved his goal.)

Go read this book! You will be glad you did.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Deal Me In, Week 4: "Basil from Her Garden" by Donald Barthelme

This week the 3 of clubs took me to a story from The Best American Short Stories 1986 -- a very odd little story by Donald Barthelme.

I read this story three times and I still don't understand it any more than I did after the first time. The guest editor for this volume, Raymond Carver, admits in his introduction to the volume that this is perhaps the most experimental story in the whole book. He got that right.

The entire story is a conversation between two unnamed people. We know nothing about these people except what they reveal through their dialogue. One person is labeled "Q" because he or she seems to be asking most of the questions, which are being answered by the other person (labeled "A," not surprisingly). The "story," if one can call it that, begins with A relating an odd dream he had. Then Q asks him what he likes to do in the evenings or on weekends, and A replies with a somewhat mundane list which he finishes with "adultery." Huh?

Yes, A is a pretty much unapologetic adulterer, going so far as to say he doesn't really care for the Seventh Commandment (surprise, the one forbidding adultery) and that he thinks maybe it was mistranslated or something. Q asks if his wife knows about the adultery:

Q - Have you told your wife?
A - Yes, Grete knows.
Q - How'd she take it?
A - Well, she liked the Seventh Commandment.

The title of the story comes from A's answer to a question about who he commits adultery with. Maybe his neighbor's wife Rachel? No, A says, not her -- they have a strictly neighborly relationship. He jumps off her car when the battery's dead, she gives him basil from her garden, etc. There's another name that weaves in and out of the narrative -- Althea -- and it's clear that this is probably A's main squeeze, but we never hear from her or learn much about her or her relationship with A.

I really didn't know what to make of this story. Once I got past the weird conversational format, I still couldn't make head or tail of what was going on in the story. I have not read any other Barthelme that I know of, and I am reluctant to make any decisions about his stuff from one unfortunate story. But this one sure did stink. It makes me pretty apprehensive about what else may stink in the 1986 volume. We'll see!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TBR Double Dog Dare: Under the Dome by Stephen King

I have had this book in my library for years -- pretty much since it came out in 2009, I think -- so it was entirely fitting that it should be the first book that I read as part of the TBR Double Dog Dare, hosted by James at James Reads Books.

And what a read it was! I enjoy pretty much anything by Stephen King, with only a few minor disappointments over my years of reading him. But this novel reached new heights of page-turner-ability.

I don't know how Mr. King came up with the idea for this novel, but it struck me that it could have been the outgrowth of a popular writing trick used by many writers to get inspired: the "What If?" game. You know -- "What if an impregnable dome suddenly covered a small rural town?"

The dome is crystal clear, so what happens first is a series of predictable gruesome accidents involving planes that fly right into it and explode, cars and trucks that drive into it and crunch themselves (and their drivers) up like accordions, and people that happened to be right on the edge of the boundary when the dome came down. None of this was pretty, although I admit it was entertaining to see how King kept riffing on that conceit. Oh yeah, and water and air really don't pass through the dome to any appreciable degree, so the atmosphere inside the dome starts getting funky very fast. And then some things happen that make it SUPER funky. So think of rats trapped inside an airtight container, and you have the perfect setup for this story.

But of course the main thing that happens is that you have a bunch of people, some good and some not-so-good, all trapped together in the little town of Chester's Mill, which is the town encompassed by the dome. No one can get in or out, and this proves to be a problem when "Big Jim" Rennie, the head honcho in Chester's Mill, decides to finally control the town exactly as he pleases with no possible interference from the outside world.

Trapped inside the dome with all the townspeople are a number of unlucky outsiders, foremost of which is Dale Barbara ("Barbie" to his friends AND enemies). Barbie runs afoul of Big Jim's son, Junior, and it is the conflict between them (and Junior's friends AND Big Jim himself) which drives the majority of the action in the book. Barbie is an ex-soldier who wants to keep it that way. But no one is interested in letting him keep a low profile as a diner cook, especially the military commanders outside the dome. They realize that Barbie is their only way of even hoping to control the events inside the dome, and he is quickly reinstated into the military and given a promotion in rank. However, this dream of Barbie controlling the downward spiral inside the dome turns out to be a pipe dream.

I loved this book. And it completely sucked me in. The way I know this is, when the events in the book started spiraling out of control (which, honestly, is around page 2), I could feel my blood pressure rising dramatically. When Barbie was unjustly attacked and accused of all kinds of misdeeds he simply didn't do, I got so irritated and upset that I wanted to jump through the pages of the book and slap several characters upside the head.

The only thing I was truly disappointed about was the rationale behind the dome. Many of the Chester's Mill residents immediately blame the government for the dome, calling it a science experiment gone wrong. The truth behind it is much more bizarre and -- let us say -- otherwordly. And this didn't sit well with me somehow. I felt like it was the tiniest bit of a cop-out on King's part, although he did a good job of providing a rationale to why the dome was there. But the end felt vaguely unsatisfying nonetheless. However, I definitely would still read it again.

Let me tell you, though: this book is the chunkster to end all chunksters: over 1,000 pages in its dead-tree edition. I got so caught up in the story that I wanted to read it all the time, including in bed at night, and I quickly realized that trying to read a 1,000 page novel in bed just ain't the easiest thing in the world. So about a quarter of the way through the book I gave up and bought the Kindle edition and put the print edition in my give-to-the-local-library stack. And I never looked back.

Now: imagine my disappointment when I eagerly cued up the TV series version of the book. All I could stomach was two episodes, and I was done. Number one, it's awful, and number two, it has virtually NO relation to the plot of the book. I was shocked. And disgusted. But then again, I enjoyed the book so much, I should have known that the TV series would not have been able to hold a candle to it, even if they had followed the book as closely as possible.

All in all, an excellent beginning to my TBR Double Dog Dare adventure!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Deal Me In, Week 3: "Strays" by Mark Richard

This week's card: The Queen of Hearts

(Sorry, couldn't resist!)

The anthology: The Best American Short Stories 1989

The story: "Strays" by Mark Richard

I was unfamiliar with Mark Richard's work before reading this story. According to Wikipedia, he is a short story writer, novelist, screenwriter, and poet. He was born in 1955 in Lake Charles, Louisiana (kind of my neck of the woods, broadly geographically speaking) and had a childhood on which he must have drawn heavily in the writing of this story. Which was HORRIBLY depressing, but good (with occasional glimpses of humor).

The title of the story comes from the stray dogs that come up underneath the narrator's house each night to lick water from the house's leaking pipes. The narrator takes great pleasure in stomping on the floor and scaring the dogs away, but his younger brother is always thinking up plans to capture one of the dogs and make it his pet.

The story opens as the boys' mother runs off one morning. She appears to be mentally disturbed, because before she leaves, she pulls all the preserves off the kitchen shelves, and stuffs her children's drawings into her mouth. She takes off across the fields, and the boys' father calls "their nearest relative with a car," Uncle Trash. Uncle Trash loans his car to the boys' father, who takes off after their mother. It's not until the car is gone that Uncle Trash remembers the bottle of booze that was stashed under the seat of the car. So he takes off to town himself to find a drink, leaving the boys alone with a final admonition, "Don't y'all burn the house down." This becomes a constant refrain, as Uncle Trash is not the world's best babysitter, and he leaves the boys alone a lot.

Uncle Trash is a gambler, and this is one of the main sources of humor and tragedy in this story. He comes back with a mangled face after that first trip to town, and it's because he gets into a fight after betting his car in a card game -- the car he no longer has, of course. After another card game, he wins the services of the grocery store owner's wife, who grudgingly comes to the house and cleans it for the family.

This story does not end well, of course, as the boys accidentally do exactly what Uncle Trash has been telling them NOT to do for weeks. And the mother is retrieved from her long journey, only to run away again. There's not much redemption or resolution here. So even though this story has quite a bit of humor in it, it is not a humorous story. All the characters are clearly trapped in their meager, tragic existences, and it becomes clear by the end of the story that there are more strays here than just the dogs under the house.

However, in spite of the depressing outcome, this WAS an excellent story, and I highly recommend it!

The Deal Me In short story challenge is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Deal Me In, Week 2: "The Broomstick on the Porch" by Frieda Arkin

This week's story, thanks to the four of spades, comes from The Best American Short Stories 1964 -- a strange little tale of a young woman's influence on the family she works for.

First, though: I was unfamiliar with the author of this story, Frieda Arkin, so I decided to do some background research. She has not written very much fiction -- her works are more along the lines of non-fiction books on gardening and cooking. Her first novel was published in 1969 and then she did not publish another novel for 35 more years.

Louella has just turned 18 and she travels in from the country to work for the Austin family as a nanny for their two children, Robbie and Cynthia. She is kind-hearted and means well, but she has a decidedly dark look on life, and unwittingly transmits this to Robbie in particular, mainly by telling him horrible stories about people that have died and lost legs and things like that. In fact, the title of the story comes from a spooky tale she tells Robbie on the very day she's interviewing for the position.

Not surprisingly, Robbie begins to have nightmares, and his mother wonders if it's something that Louella is doing to him, or telling him. It IS, of course, but Louella seems genuinely perplexed about why he would be having all this trouble, and puts it down to his age.

One day Louella gets a letter about a friend back home, Charlie Ryder, who has died. She's saddest about missing his funeral (another piece of evidence showing her dark mindset) but for some reason she begins to think that Charlie is affecting the family from beyond the grave, especially Mr. Austin. He reminds Louella of Charlie, and when he suddenly gets sick, she begins telling Charlie to knock it off, basically. However, she also begins preparing for his death. She does this in a caring way, which is what makes me think she doesn't really realize how much her psyche turns naturally towards the dark side -- after all, as she tells Robbie on one occasion, "I got seven aunts dead." She's a girl well-acquainted with death.

This is one of the stranger little stories I have read recently, and I ended up reading it a couple of times to get all the nuances out of it. However, it was a good story, and the resolution of the story was genuine and satisfying.

The Deal Me In short story challenge is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Deal Me In 2015, Week 1: "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie

Even though this was a weird half-week to begin the Deal Me In adventure for 2015, I decided to go ahead and read my story and start off with a bang. The two of diamonds led me to a story from The Best American Short Stories 1994: "This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona" by the famous Native American writer, Sherman Alexie.

I am not that familiar with Alexie's work, although I did read his novel Reservation Blues many years ago when it first came out. It didn't make a huge impression on me at the time, so I may have read it at the wrong time of my life or something. I really should go back and read it now, however, since it involves some of the same characters that show up in this story. As a side note, this story first appeared in Esquire, and was later incorporated into his collection entitled The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (one of my all-time favorite titles for a book!).

Victor, who lives in Spokane, has just learned that his father has passed away in Phoenix. He just lost his job, so although he can get $100 from the tribal council to help with his father's arrangements, he doesn't have nearly enough money to get to Phoenix and back. His former friend from his childhood, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, offers to lend him the rest of the money to travel to Phoenix, but on one condition: Victor must take Thomas with him. No one likes Thomas because he is a storyteller and tells the same stories over and over to people, or even to himself. He's just weird:

While Victor stood in line, he watched Thomas Builds-the-Fire standing near the magazine rack talking to himself. Like he always did. Thomas was a storyteller whom nobody wanted to listen to. That's like being a dentist in a town where everybody has false teeth.

They travel by plane to Phoenix, and then travel back to Spokane in Victor's father's pickup. Along the way, Victor has flashbacks about his relationship through the years with Thomas. He finds out that, when Thomas was 13, he had run away to Spokane because of a dream he had had. There, Victor's father found him and rescued him, helping him get back to the reservation. But he never told anyone about it, in return for Thomas' promise to watch out for Victor and help him when he most needed it.

There is much more to this story than I am telling you, of course, because I think you need to go find it and read it for yourself. It's an affecting story of friendship (the good and the bad parts of it) and also about the nature of stories in our lives. And it's really just flat-out funny, to boot:

All through Nevada, Thomas and Victor had been amazed at the lack of animal life, at the absence of water, of movement.

"Where is everything?" Victor had asked more than once.

Now, when Thomas was finally driving, they saw the first animal, maybe the only animal in Nevada. It was a long-eared jackrabbit.

"Look," Victor yelled. "It's alive."

Thomas and Victor were busy congratulating themselves on their discovery when the jackrabbit darted out into the road and under the wheels of the pickup.

"Stop the car," Victor yelled, and Thomas did stop and backed the pickup to the dead jackrabbit.

"Oh man, he's dead," Victor said as he looked at the squashed animal.

"Really dead."

"The only thing alive in this whole state and we just killed it."

"I don't know," Thomas said. "I think it was suicide."

Victor looked around the desert, sniffed the air, felt the emptiness and loneliness, and nodded his head.

"Yeah," Victor said. "It had to be suicide."

"I can't believe this," Thomas said. "You drive for a thousand miles and there ain't even any bugs smashed on the windshield. I drive for ten seconds and kill the only living thing in Nevada."

This is a great story by a great author, and a fantastic way to begin the new year of Deal Me In!

Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

TBR Double Dog Dare

James over at James Reads Books hosts a yearly "dare" (not a challenge, as he emphasizes) called (this year) the TBR Double Dog Dare (TBRDDD).

It's pretty simple, really: for the first three months of the year, you can only read books you already own. Exceptions can be made for book clubs, ARCs, etc. Pretty much anything can be an exception, and James encourages people to make any kind of modification to the program that they need to make. So basically you will not find a lower-stress event out there in Book Blogging Land. But it DOES help you accomplish the goal of getting through that ever-growing (in my case, and I suspect in yours too) TBR pile.

I thought I should make a plan of the books I want to read during the dare. I figure I MIGHT be able to read 3 books a month, so rounding that up to a nice round number means I needed 10 books on my list. And here they are, posing for their beginning-of-the-dare portrait:

In top-down order from this picture, the 10 books I am going to be reading during the TBRDDD are as follows:
  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  • Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Pandora by Anne Rice (this is one of the highlights of my TBR list -- it's a signed first edition that I got many moons ago)
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (in the Penguin Drop Caps edition; I am gradually adding these to my collection because I think they're mighty cool little books, and I am going to read this first one in the collection although I have ZERO interest in reading Austen)
  • Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe
  • Inferno by Dan Brown (on my list despite some of its reviews)
  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
  • Under the Dome by Stephen King
  • Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  • Skylight by Jose Saramago
(You may have noticed that more than one of these books is what is known as a "chunkster." Maybe I should have taken that into consideration before I made my final choices....)

Now the sad news: this does not even begin to scratch the surface of the books in my physical library that I need to read. And it does not even begin to touch the number of Kindle books I have to read. Sigh. I could probably NEVER EVER buy another book and have enough reading material for the rest of my life, if you want to know the truth. But then the global publishing industry would probably come crashing down without me putting money into it, and we can't have that, can we?

The TBRDDD begins today and runs through April 1. First up on my reading list (chosen by pulling the title at random from a box -- Deal Me In has spoiled me for any kind of rational choosing, I fear) is Under the Dome by Stephen King.

I have been wanting to watch the TV adaptation of this book for some time now, but was reluctant to do so before I had read the book. I started it first thing this morning, and it certainly comes roaring out of the gate!

Deal Me In 2015: Roster of Stories and Giveaway Results

Happy 2015!

Hope you've got your eyes in this morning, because there's reading to be done!

Here is my 2015 Deal Me In roster of short stories for your perusal, and my personal record-keeping. By the way, in case you don't know, the person whom we have to blame thank for this adventure each year is Jay, over at Bibliophilopolis -- check out his blog if you don't have it on your blogroll already!

Spades: Best American Short Stories 1964
A: "Birthday Party" by Shirley Jackson (recommended by Jay) (Week 15)
2: "The German Refugee" by Bernard Malamud (recommended by Katherine and Dale) (Week 19)
3: "Mr. Iscariot" by Richard G. Brown (recommended by Dale)
4: "The Broomstick on the Porch" by Frieda Arkin (Week 2)
5: "Upon the Sweeping Flood" by Joyce Carol Oates (Week 9)
6: "Have You Seen Sukie?" by Robert Penn Warren (Week 14)
7: "The Names and Faces of Heroes" by Reynolds Price
8: "Mule No. 095" by Kimon Lolos
9: "To a Tenor Dying Old" by John Stewart Carter
10: "A Long Day's Dying" by William Eastlake
J: "Simple Arithmetic" by Virginia Moriconi
Q: "Black Snowflakes" by Paul Horgan (Week 22)
K: "A Story of Love, Etc." by Daniel Curley

Clubs: Best American Short Stories 1986
A: "Monsieur Les Deux Chapeaux" by Alice Munro (recommended by Jay)
2: "The Rich Brother" by Tobias Wolff (recommended by Katherine)
3: "Basil from Her Garden" by Donald Barthelme (recommended by Candiss) (Week 4)
4: "Janus" by Ann Beattie
5: "Telling" by Grace Paley (Week 5)
6: "Three Thousand Dollars" by David Lipsky (Week 10)
7: "Today Will Be a Quiet Day" by Amy Hempel (Week 20)
8: "Communist" by Richard Ford
9: "Gossip" by Frank Conroy (Week 13)
10: "Star Food" by Ethan Canin (Week 6)
J: "Lawns" by Mona Simpson
Q: "Invisible Life" by Kent Nelson (Week 18)
K: "The Convict" by James Lee Burke (Week 24)

Hearts: Best American Short Stories 1989
A: "The Black Hand Girl" by Blanche McCrary Boyd (recommended by Jay)
2: "Why I Decide To Kill Myself and Other Jokes" by Douglas Glover (recommended by Katherine)
3: "The Management of Grief" by Bharati Mukherjee (recommended by Candiss)
4: "Customs of the Country" by Madison Smartt Bell
5: "Disneyland" by Barbara Gowdy (Week 21)
6: "The Boy on the Train" by Arthur Robinson
7: "The Letter Writer" by M.T. Sharif
8: "Meneseteung" by Alice Munro
9: "The Concert Party" by Mavis Gallant
10: "Ralph the Duck" by Frederick Busch
J: "Living To Be a Hundred" by Robert Boswell
Q: "Strays" by Mark Richard (Week 3)
K: "Aunt Moon's Young Man" by Linda Hogan

Diamonds: Best American Short Stories 1994
A: "In the Gloaming" by Alice Elliott Dark (recommended by Jay and Dale)
2: "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona" by Sherman Alexie (recommended by James and Candiss) (Week 1)
3: "Nicodemus Bluff" by Barry Hannah (recommended by Katherine) (Week 7)
4: "We Didn't" by Stuart Dybek (Week 8)
5: "Battling Against Castro" by Jim Shepard (Week 12)
6: "Proper Library" by Carolyn Ferrell (Week 16)
7: "Cold Snap" by Thom Jones
8: "Where I Work" by Ann Cummings
9: "Samel" by Robert Olen Butler
10: "The Chasm" by John Keeble
J: "Things Left Undone" by Christopher Tilghman (Week 11)
Q: "The Mail Lady" by David Gates (Week 23)
K: "The Prophet From Jupiter" by Tony Earley (Week 17)

And associated with the production/assembly of my roster was a giveaway open to everyone who left a comment on my initial DMI 2015 post, or who helped me publicize the giveaway. So this morning I put the names into a real hat (there weren't enough entries to warrant going the digital route, and pulling a slip of paper out of a hat is WAY more fun) and the winner of the $25 Amazon gift card is:

(These people are giving me the requisite drumroll - ha)

KATHERINE at The Writerly Reader!

I'll be in touch with her to get the gift card sent in a timely fashion, and thanks to everyone who helped me put my roster together.