Friday, February 27, 2009

Review AND Giveaway: Drood by Dan Simmons

On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens--at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world--hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterranean London mere research . . . or something more terrifying?Just as he did in The Terror, Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens's life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens's friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author's last years and may provide the key to Dickens's final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.

The narrator of this spooky tale is Wilkie Collins, Victorian novelist and great friend of Charles Dickens. He has quite a story to tell. In the aftermath of a terrible train accident that he was lucky to escape, Dickens claims to have met an eerie, ugly figure by the name of Drood:

"Perhaps the unimaginable began when he was clambering down the steep embankment. Suddenly appearing next to him was a tall, thin man wearing a heavy black cape far more appropriate for a night at the opera than an afternoon's voyage to London on the tidal train. Both men were carrying their top hats in one hand while grabbing at the embankment for balance with their free hands. This figure, as Dickens later described to me in a throaty whisper during the days after the accident when his voice 'was no longer my own,' was cadaverously thin, almost shockingly pale, and stared at the writer from dark-shadowed eyes set deep under a pale, high brow that melded into a pale, bald scalp. A few strands of greying hair leapt out from the sides of this skull-like visage. Dickens's impression of a skull was reinforced, he said later, by the man's foreshortened nose - 'mere black slits opening into the grub-white face than a proper proboscis' was how Dickens described it - and by small, sharp, irregular teeth, spaced too far apart, set into gums so pale that they were whiter than the teeth themselves."

This meeting marks a great change in Dickens' life. His health begins to decline and he embarks on a series of nighttime tours through the darkest areas of underground London, called Undertown, in search of the elusive Drood. His friends and family notice his peculiar behavior and his increasing interest in the macabre.

Wilkie, who is plagued by constant pain which he attributes to rheumatic gout, has his own issues. He is addicted to opium, in the form of laudanum, to dull the pain and allow him the freedom to live his life. Charles often insists on Wilkie's presence on his midnight jaunts, which allows Wilkie to discover hidden opium dens. As a result, his addiction becomes much more severe.

Charles Dickens' obsession with Drood is contagious, Wilkie is drawn in and is soon deeply involved in the sinister occurrences that surround Drood and his minions. He tells himself that he is doing it for Charles, out of concern for his friend's mental health, but when he starts to believe in Drood himself the story takes on an entirely different aspect.

Dan Simmons has given us a dark, deliciously creepy narrative that any Victorian ghost story aficionado will savor. Indeed, I think Victorians themselves would be right at home reading this novel. The eerie atmosphere and gothic suspense strongly reminded me of that classic American writer, Edgar Allan Poe.

Drood is published by Little Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-00702-3

Miriam at Hachette Book Group has provided me with three copies of this book to give away. If you would like to enter, leave a comment here with the title of your favorite ghost story. Two extra entries for anyone who blogs about the giveaway, tweets on twitter or becomes a follower of my blog. If you do, please leave me a separate comment to let me know. Enter until midnight eastern on March 13. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes)

Here is a list of everyone participating in the Early Bird Blog Tour....stop by and read their thoughts on Drood!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: King's Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes


Will Somers grew up the impoverished son of a country schoolmaster. He had no talent for farm work but had a quick, sharp wit. In this inventive novel, originally published fifty years ago, Margaret Campbell Barnes imagines how this young man came to be the confidant, even friend, of one of history's largest men, King Henry the Eighth.

Though he comes to live at court at the King's side, as his jester, Will loves and misses his first master, merchant Richard Fermor. He particularly misses Master Fermor's daughter, Joanna, whom he is madly in love with but knows that he is far below in terms of status and wealth. He despairs of ever winning her love and devotes himself almost monastically to King Henry and his court.

Through Will's eyes, we see each of Henry's six queens from an outside, and male, point of view. Good and honest Catherine of Aragon, scheming Anne Boleyn, bland Jane Seymour, foreign and intelligent Anne of Cleves, silly and empty-headed Kathryn Howard, and motherly Kate Parr. Of course, anyone so close to a royal person will inspire jealousy in some, and power-hungry Cardinal Wolsey and Cromwell are not exceptions. Life at court is not easy, but Will is privileged to have the King's ear and hears firsthand the reasoning and soul searching that go into the history changing decisions that Henry makes during his reign.

The special relationship between Will and Henry allows Will to ask special favors for those in need, and he does what he can to improve their lives by intervening with the King on their behalf. Eventually his generosity is rewarded in a way that exceeds his wildest dreams.

This historical novel is a great addition for anyone who enjoys Tudor fiction. It takes a unique and refreshing look at a well-known story. I found the male point of view and outlook very refreshing.

Margaret Campbell Barnes wrote several other novels about the Tudors, including Brief Gaudy Hour and My Lady of Cleves.

King's Fool is published by Sourcebooks, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4022-1902-3

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another FABULOUS Giveaway: Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Okay, okay, I know what you are all thinking. ANOTHER giveaway?!? Enough already! But what am I to do when fabulous people like Jason at Henry Holt say "Would you like to do a giveaway?" OF COURSE I would! Don't you all love the opportunity to win a free book? And when the book in question is Jacqueline Winspear's latest Maisie Dobbs novel, which I have been looking forward to, there is no way I could resist. And I have news for you, I have more fantastic giveaways planned for next week's Book Giveaway Carnival! It is Giveaway Madness!!

It’s Christmas Eve 1931. On the way to see a client, Maisie Dobbs witnesses a man commit suicide on a busy London street. The following day, the prime minister’s office receives a letter threatening a massive loss of life if certain demands are not met—and the writer mentions Maisie by name. After being questioned and cleared by Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane of Scotland Yard’s elite Special Branch, she is drawn into MacFarlane’s personal fiefdom as a special adviser on the case. Meanwhile, Billy Beale, Maisie’s trusted assistant, is once again facing tragedy as his wife, who has never recovered from the death of their young daughter, slips further into melancholia’s abyss. Soon Maisie becomes involved in a race against time to find a man who proves he has the knowledge and will to inflict death and destruction on thousands of innocent people. And before this harrowing case is over, Maisie must navigate a darkness not encountered since she was a nurse in wards filled with shell-shocked men.

In Among the Mad, Jacqueline Winspear combines a heart-stopping story with a rich evocation of a fascinating period to create her most compelling and satisfying novel yet.

I recently listened to the audio of An Incomplete Revenge, the previous book in this series, and now I am totally hooked and scrambling to track down the previous four books, Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, and Messenger of Truth. These are richly layered mysteries with a quick, intelligent protagonist in Maisie Dobbs. Among the Mad is the sixth in this highly recommended, award winning series.

Jason has generously given me five copies to give away! So leave a comment here for one entry. Two extra entries for anyone who blogs about the giveaway, posts a tweet on twitter or becomes a follower. If you do, please leave an extra comment letting me know. You may enter until midnight eastern time on March 9, winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address. Good luck everyone, thanks for entering! And a big thank you to Jason and Henry Holt!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

**Giveaway** The Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler


Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets--all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft of all time--the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre.

Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso....

Would you like to win a copy of this fascinating book? I have one to give away, courtesy of Valerie at Hachette Book Group. To enter, just leave a comment here. For two extra entries you can blog about this giveaway, tweet it on twitter, or become a follower of my blog. If you do, be sure to leave a separate comment to let me know. Contest will run through midnight eastern time on March 11, the winner will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good luck and thanks for visiting!!

For more information about the book, visit the authors' website.
Update: Just got an email from Valerie saying that I can give away FIVE copies! So, I'll be drawing five winners, YAY!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Suggestions

Today I am starting a new weekly post called Saturday Suggestions. Each week I will select a book, series, or author to highlight that I have read in the past, before I started blogging.

I'm so thankful to have a nice pile of review copies here that will keep me very busy bringing you reviews of upcoming and recent titles. But there are so many wonderful books that I read BB (Before Blog) that I want to share! I won't be able to do actual reviews of them because, to do that, I would have to re-read them. I would love to read them again, that's why I kept them, after all, but unfortunately I don't have the time to devote to that these days!

Hence my idea, Saturday Suggestions!

This week I want to talk about a very successful contemporary author, Joanna Trollope. Her books are wonderful and she is a terrific writer. (It's in her blood, she is a descendant of Anthony Trollope, the prolific and popular Victorian novelist.) But the books I want to highlight this week are her historical novels, which were written at the beginning of her career, under the name Caroline Harvey.

These novels include Eliza Stanhope, The Steps of the Sun, Legacy of Love, A Second Legacy, Leaves from the Valley, Parson Harding's Daughter, and City of Gems, among others. They are set in Victorian England and usually involve travel abroad to places like India. They are all excellent historical novels and I, personally, wish that she would return to historical fiction from time to time. Her style in the early novels reminds me a bit of Jane Austen and they are full of plucky heroines and interesting narratives.

As you can see from the examples below, used copies are easily (and inexpensively) available.

So, that's my first Saturday Suggestion. What do you think? Do you have old favorites that you want to recommend? Feel free to leave your ideas here or borrow my graphic and post away!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great Spring Cleaning Giveaway...

I know I need about you??

When Thelma Meyer tells it to you, she tells it straight: Clean the kitchen daily! Don't waste anything (not even the water leftover from those potatoes you just boiled)! Always work hard!

Now for the first time, Thelma's sage advice is being made available in this revolutionary cleaning guide chock full of practical tips and secrets based on the premise that life is hectic and messy -- and so keeping your house clean and nice is the only sensible thing to do. With shortcuts and tips for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room, MRS MEYER'S CLEAN HOME contains unexpected advice such as:

--Never use vinegar and water on wood floors. One part dish soap and four parts water is the only way to truly get them clean. And remember to buff with a terrycloth towel.

--Always clean out the fridge before grocery shopping. Serve the kids "Musko" ("must go") for dinner, using the items that were fast approaching expiration.

--Wash windows on a cloudy day to avoid the nasty streaking that happens when the sun's out and glass dry too fast.

MRS MEYER'S CLEAN HOME is two parts common sense and one part inspiration. Read it and learn how to clean like the dickens.

"Our lives are so filled with junk from the past-from dried up tubes of glue to old grudges-that it's a wonder we can get up in the morning," exclaims motivator, best-selling author, columnist, and life coach Gail Blanke.

"If you want to grow, you gotta let go," is Blanke's mantra; and that means eliminating all the clutter-physical and emotional-that holds you back, weighs you down, or just makes you feel bad about yourself.

In THROW OUT FIFTY THINGS she takes us through each room of the house-from the attic to the garage-and even to the far reaches of our minds. Through poignant and humorous stories, she inspires us to get rid of the "life plaque" we've allowed to build-up there.

-That junk drawer (you know that drawer) in the kitchen? Empty it!

-Those old regrets? Throw 'em out!-That make-up from your "old" look? Toss it!

-That relationship that depresses you? Dump it!

Once you've hit fifty-you'll be surprised how easy it is to get there-and once you've thrown out that too-tight belt and too-small view of yourself, you'll be ready to step out into the clearing and into the next, and greatest, segment of your life.

So, does one of these look like something you need? I know I could use some help! Anna at Hachette Book Group has graciously provided five copies of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home by Mrs. Thelma A. Meyer and five copies of Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke. To enter just leave me a note with which book you would like to win and your most hated spring cleaning chore. You can enter until midnight eastern time on March 8. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada street address (no P.O. Boxes). Good luck everyone and thanks for entering!


I know you are awaiting the giveaway here they are!

Winners of The Terror:

Olympian Lady
Cheryl S.
Lenore at Presenting Lenore
Shel at Auntie Thesis

Winners of The Italian Lover:

avisannschild at She Reads and Reads
Nely at All About {n}
Bridget at West of Mars
Lisa at Minds Alive on the Shelves

Congratulations to all of the winners, I have emailed everyone and will forward all of the shipping information to Valerie at Hachette Book Group once I have heard back from everyone. Thanks so much for entering!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

I love books of all kinds. But especially OLD books. I don't mean beautiful, pristine, don't they look lovely sitting on the shelf, old books (though those are nice, too) but worn, used, LOVED old books. Writing in the margins? Even better. What could be nicer than to see what some long-ago person thought about this passage or that paragraph? To me, this is the best part of an old book, the tingle of previous hands and minds that have enjoyed it before me. They are HISTORY in your hand. Oh, if only they could speak, what they could tell you about their previous owners and the times they lived in....

Obviously, Geraldine Brooks gets this about old books, because she has written a wonderful novel about exactly that idea. People of the Book is the tale of one book's journey (inspired by a true story).

In the spring of 1996, book conservator Hanna Heath is sent to Sarajevo to stabilize and conserve their museum's famous Haggadah, a Jewish prayer book traditionally used in family prayers. This particular Haggadah is special. It contains brilliantly executed illuminations that are extremely rare in early Jewish books. The book has been hidden away by the Muslim museum director during the recent war and its condition needs specialist care.

The real Sarajevo Haggadah

When she inspects the Haggadah, Hanna finds several clues that will help her to uncover some of the book's volatile history: an insect's wing, mounting marks for clasps which are missing, a stain that looks like wine, salt crystals and a single white hair.

"It was as if I was up against some genie who lived within the pages of old books. Sometimes, if you were lucky, you got to release him for an instant or two, and he would reward you with a misty glimpse into the past. Other times, pouf-he'd blow it all away before you could make sense of it, and stand there, arms crossed: Thus far, and no farther."

Behind each of these clues there lies a story, a piece of the history of the book and these short tales are woven into Hanna's search and her own personal journey.

Considering the tumultuous eras that this book has survived, its existence today is something of a miracle and a testament to the myriad people who came in contact with it. People who, whatever their religion, had the respect and strength of character to preserve something precious.

In People of the Book Geraldine Brooks has given us a peek into what the Sarajevo Haggadah's history might have been like. I loved this excellent and beautifully written story. It was hard to put down and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in well-written historical fiction, contemporary fiction or mysteries.

FYI: The film rights have been acquired by Catherine Zeta Jones. You can find more information on Geraldine Brooks and all of her novels at her website.

Here are some reviews from fellow bloggers:

The Carnival is Coming....

Get ready for the Book Giveaway Carnival coming up March 2 - March 8. The Carnival was created and is hosted by Tracy at Book Room Reviews . This is an exciting event and there are many great giveaways during that week. Whether you are a blogger with a great book to give away or a book-lover who wants to win some new reads, you will find all of the details here. I'll be participating again, plan on joining in the fun!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day Blogland!!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Happy Valentine's Day! Hug your loved ones close and tell them what they mean to you....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review: Roanoke by Margaret Lawrence

"Gold is more than greed. It is magic, perhaps the last magic. Alchemists summon it from stone, from scarabs, from bats' wings and the blood of black cats. It is an acid that eats away the will to create and to make instead of to acquire and command and conquer.....Gold is the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever discovered."

When Queen Elizabeth I was in her fifties and had held the throne of England for over twenty five years, her country was a vast web of spies. The Queen was past the age of childbirth and all pretense of a political marriage was fading away. Plots against her life were thick on the ground and war with Spain was imminent. And the Queen needed what monarchs of that age were always short of...MONEY. So, an expedition to the New World is undertaken to harvest the gold and wealth rumored to be found there.

The Queen's advisor, William Cecil, is not the only spymaster in England but he is by far the greatest. Dubbed "The Spider," his huge spy network has protected the Queen from the hundreds of attempts on her life that have been made over the years from various quarters. Two spies, Robert Mowbray and Gabriel North were in the right place at the right time to thwart one such attack. As a result, they are selected to accompany the expedition and to take part in the colonization of Roanoke.

Gabriel is assigned the task of doing whatever is necessary to coax the treasure out of the beautiful Princess of the native Indians, Naia, and bring it back to fill England's coffers. The fact that there is no gold on Roanoke means little to the leaders of the expedition. They are convinced that the gold is being hidden from them and are ruthless in their pursuit of their goal.

It soon becomes clear that the colonists have been dropped on Roanoke completely unprepared and woefully under supplied for life in America. Though part of the spy network, Robert and Gabriel have no idea of the extent to which their own lives and the lives of the colonists have been used in a political game of cat and mouse.

The novelist's answer to the old mystery of what happened to the vanished English colony on Roanoke Island is skilfully woven into this fascinating story. I would recommend Roanoke to anyone who likes historical fiction or mysteries. Margaret Lawrence has a lovely, lyrical way of structuring sentences that I find particularly unique and enjoyable to read:

"There are fragments of living that slip beyond time and lodge themselves permanently in the present, that bring you suddenly out of hiding and drench you with a precious mortality."

The author's earlier historical mystery trilogy set in Colonial America were also excellent and recommended: Hearts and Bones, Blood Red Roses, and The Burning Bride.

Roanoke: A Novel of Elizabethan Intrigue by Margaret Lawrence is published by Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-0-385-34237-7.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Review: French Letters, Book One--Virginia's War: Tierra, Texas 1944 by Jack Woodville London

By 1944 the small town of Tierra, Texas was used to the war. The young boys played war games, arguing over who would be on the side of the Allies and who would be the Nazis for the day. The nearby air base added some excitement with their frequent air training exercises. And above all, Tierra, like every small town around the world, gossiped.

In early 1944 the gossip was all about Virginia Sullivan. In the seven years that she has been the sweetheart of Will Hastings, she has never made him any promises. Not to marry him, not even to wait for him while he was off at medical school. Now Will is a doctor, overseas with the Army, and Virginia is home in Tierra. And pregnant.

Now, Virginia's Dad just happens to run the town newspaper. Poppy Sullivan is a big man in town and he usually gets what he wants. He was able to fix his son Bart's medical records so that he was exempt from service. Then he managed to set Bart up in the cushy job of United States Postmaster. When he finds out Virginia is expecting, he solves the problem his own way and never stops to consult his daughter. The very next day he announces in the paper that the couple had eloped the previous Thanksgiving, when Will was home on leave.

Poor Virginia. Now she is trapped in her father's lie that she is a married woman. Her nasty brother, Bart, is hiding all of her mail from Will and she is becoming frantic as the months go by and she hears nothing from him. She doesn't know where he is and she watches the casualty lists carefully for any mention of his name.

Meanwhile, something else in Tierra is unravelling. Some folks in town have been doing rather well for themselves and don't seem to be suffering under the rationing program, as most of their neighbors are. When Government cars start to turn up in town it sure stirs up the talk. Changes are on the way in Tierra, many people will be affected and the town will have something to talk about for years to come.

I really enjoyed this novel about the homefront during World War II and the dynamics of a small town. There are many well-developed characters that together form the social and political nucleus of this community and I was fascinated with the way the author wove their stories together. Tierra felt like a real place to me and I was absorbed with the lives of its inhabitants. I will be eagerly awaiting the second installment in this interesting trilogy.

This book's website is: and it will be published on February 13, 2009 by Vire Press, ISBN 978-0-9815975-0-8.

French Letters Book One: Virginia's War at Amazon

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Books for the Heart...In Honor of John

You may have noticed that I have not been posting for the last couple of weeks. On January 23rd my Stepdad, John, died suddenly in his sleep. He was only 65. He did have a history of heart trouble but this was completely unexpected. He was a kind and loving man who was part of our lives for twenty seven years, and he will be greatly missed.

I was so happy to see this event being hosted at 1 More Chapter to raise money for the American Heart Association. I will be participating in John's honor and will be pledging $10 per book up to a total of $100.

Many thanks to Michele at A Reader's Respite, where I first read about this event. To me, it is so timely and appropriate. I am glad to be able to do something tangible at this sad time.

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States? I hope you will join me in support for this worthy cause.

February Giveaways: The Italian Lover and The Terror

In honor of Valentine's Day, I am hosting a giveaway of five copies of The Italian Lover by Robert Hellenga.

An exhilarating novel of romance, art, and food in Florence, featuring the beloved Margot Harrington, who graced Robert Hellenga's The Sixteen Pleasures. Margot Harrington's memoir about her discovery in Florence of a priceless masterwork of Renaissance erotica - and the misguided love affair it inspired - is now, 25 years later, being made into a movie.

Margot, with the help of her lover, Woody, writes a script that she thinks will validate her life. Of course their script is not used, but never mind - happy endings are the best endings for movies, as Margot eventually comes to see.

At the former convent in Florence where "The Sixteen Pleasures" - now called "The Italian Lover," - is being filmed, Margot enters into a drama she never imagined, where her ideas of home, love, art, and aging collide with the imperatives of commerce and the unknowability of other cultures and other people.

For those of you who would prefer a no-romance V-Day, I am giving away five copies of The Terror by Dan Simmons.

The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice.

But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the Terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear there is no escape.

A haunting, gripping story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core.

In order to enter you must leave a comment here telling me which book you would like to win. You may enter for both but please leave a separate comment for each one. Winners must live in the US or Canada and must have a street address (not a P.O. Box). Entries will be accepted until midnight eastern time on February 18th. I will randomly draw five winners for each title and notify them via email. Many, many thanks to Valerie at Hachette for generously providing the books for this giveaway!

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

My photo
New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.