Monday, November 30, 2009

ABANDONED: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Okay. I'm putting this one back up on the shelf for awhile. I just can't get into it right now. The clipped, abbreviated writing style drives me crazy! I will try to pick it up again at a later date and see if I do better with it the second time around. I'm so disappointed! This sounded SO like my kind of book!

GIVEAWAY: Any Minute by Joyce Meyer

Synopsis

Sarah Harper is driven, pursuing happiness in all the wrong places. She wants to do good and not hurt the people she loves, including her son, Mitchell, and her husband, Joe. But her drive to succeed overrides all else.
It's not until she faces a chance encounter with heaven and spends time with the grandmother who prayed for her every day when she was a little girl that she begins to see how her own mother's bitterness created a hole in Sarah's life—a hole she has been trying to overcome for as long as she can remember.
For the first time, Sarah sees that God created her for a special purpose. When Sarah returns to her own life, she is a woman with a mission. And the unsuspecting world around her will never be the same again.


GIVEAWAY: Win a hard copy of Any Minute by Joyce Meyer

Rules (you knew there had to be some):
  • You must be 18 years or older
  • Open to US and Canada residents only
  • To enter, just comment below. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, or have it visible in your profile.
  • For extra entries, follow my blog and/or blog about this contest. One extra entry for each. Sidebars are okay.
  • Leave a separate comment for each entry.
  • That's a total of 3 possible entries!
  • Those who don't follow the rules risk being disqualified.

Deadline is January 10, 2010

Good Luck! Ready, Set, Go!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poetry Sunday (11-29-09 edition)

In Summer's Heat
by: Ovid (43 BC-17 AD?)
      In summer's heat, and mid-time of the day,
      To rest my limbs, upon a bed I lay;
      One window shut, the other open stood,
      Which gave such light as twinkles in a wood,
      Like twilight glimpse at setting of the sun,
      Or night being past, and yet not day begun;
      Such light to shamefaced maidens must be shown
      Where they may sport, and seem to be unknown:
      Then came Corinna in her long loose gown,
      Her white neck hid with tresses hanging down,
      Resembling fair Semiramis going to bed,
      Or Lais of a thousand wooers sped.
      I snatched her gown being thin, the harm was small,
      Yet strived she to be covered therewithal,
      And striving thus as one that would be cast,
      Betrayed herself, and yielded at the last.
      Stark naked as she stood before mine eye,
      Not one wen in her body could I spy.
      What arms and shoulders did I touch and see,
      How apt her breasts were to be pressed by me,
      How smooth a belly under her waist saw I,
      How large a leg, and what a lusty thigh.
      To leave the rest, all liked me passing well;
      I clinged her naked body, down she fell:
      Judge you the rest, being tired she bade me kiss;
      Jove send me more such afternoons as this!

      Translated into English by Christopher Marlowe

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (11-28-09 edition)

NOTE: I'm still busy, and not doing many giveaways. Additionally I just have so many books already that I need to slow down the flow of books coming into this house before they take me over!

However please feel free to email me about any giveaways that you are having, if you want me to blog them, and I'll be happy to try to post them even if I am not entering them. Just include a link to the giveaway, what you are giving away, how many copies are being given away, and the deadline in order to assure being included.

Here is a list of some giveaways going on in Blogworld*. Please note that new giveaways that were added this week are indented in Blockquotes:

The Latenier Group is having a Mega Contest! They are giving away at last count 30+ books and a $200 gift card to the Apple Store. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! Deadline is November 28.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 2 copies of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Deadline is November 29.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of It Happened One Night. Deadline is November 29.

A Book Blogger's Diary and Erica Bauermeister are giving away 2 copies of The School of Essential Ingredients to one lucky winner! Deadline is November 30.

Simply Stacie is giving away 5 copies of Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish. Deadline is December 1.

At Home with Books is giving away 2 copies of The Dolphin People. Deadline is December 6.

Simply Stacie is giving away 3 copies of I Survived a House Fire...I Wish My Stuff Had. Deadline is December 14.

Wrighty's Reads is giving away 5 copies of Dear John. Deadline is December 15.

Cheli's Shelves is giving away Decoding the Lost Symbol. Deadline is December 15.

The Book Resort is giving away a copy of Witch & Wizard. Deadline is December 31.

*Courtesy Note: Please keep in mind the many, many hours of work that goes into me compiling this list each week. Please be courteous and thoughtful, and do not steal my text. Either recreate your own list, or link to this list and direct your readers here for giveaway information. Thank you so much for your consideration!

Monday, November 23, 2009

WINNER: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

The winner of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell is...

#29 JAIME of Copper Llama Studio

Congratulations, Jaime! I hope you enjoy the book! I'll be contacting you by email.

Mailbox Monday (11-23-09 edition)



Mailbox Monday is brought to us by The Printed Page. In my mailbox last week I got:

Winnings...

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly
Won from Wendy's Minding Spot


LAPD Detective Harry Bosch is off the chain in the fastest, fiercest, and highest-stakes case of his life.
Fortune Liquors is a small shop in a tough South L.A. neighborhood, a store Bosch has known for years. The murder of John Li, the store's owner, hits Bosch hard, and he promises Li's family that he'll find the killer.
The world Bosch steps into next is unknown territory. He brings in a detective from the Asian Gang Unit for help with translation--not just of languages but also of the cultural norms and expectations that guided Li's life. He uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad, a lethal and far-reaching crime ring that follows many immigrants to their new lives in the U.S.
And instantly his world explodes. The one good thing in Bosch's life, the person he holds most dear, is taken from him and Bosch travels to Hong Kong in an all-or-nothing bid to regain what he's lost. In a place known as Nine Dragons, as the city's Hungry Ghosts festival burns around him, Bosch puts aside everything he knows and risks everything he has in a desperate bid to outmatch the triad's ferocity.


A Highlander's Temptation by Sue-Ellen Welfonder Won from Pudgy Penguin Perusals

Darroc MacConacher spends sleepless nights dreaming of a raven-haired beauty who makes him ache with desire. Then his dream comes true: the lady with her lush curves and fair skin appears shipwrecked on his shores. Darroc is immediately drawn to her strength and beauty, and from the moment she lays eyes on this powerful, broad-shouldered warrior, Lady Arabella MacKenzie knows she'll never want another man. But theirs is a forbidden love. The MacKenzies drove the MacConachers from their lands and destroyed their honor. Now, Darroc can use this sapphire-eyed seductress to shatter his foes. Yet how can he deny the passion that burns between him and Arabella, and ruin the one woman who touches his very soul?


Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
Won from
Readaholic

Theodore Mead Fegley has always been the smartest person he knows. By age 12, he was in high school, and by 15 he was attending a top-ranking university. And now, at the tender age of 18, he's on the verge of proving the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that has mystified academics for almost 150 years. But only days before graduation, Mead suddenly packs his bags and flees home to rural Illinois. What has caused him to flee remains a mystery to all but Mead and a classmate whose quest for success has turned into a dangerous obession. At home, Mead finds little solace. His past ghosts haunt him; his parents don't understand the agony his genius has caused him, nor his desire to be a normal kid, and his dreams seem crushed forever. He embarks on a new life's journey -- learning the family business of selling furniture and embalming the dead--that disappoints and surprises all who knew him as "the young Fegley genius." Equal parts academic thriller and poignant coming-of-age story, LIFE AFTER GENIUS follows the remarkable journey of a young man who must discover that the heart may know what the head hasn't yet learned.

Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante
Won from Bookin' with Bingo

Victor and Jaqueline Torres imagined moving to the U.S. would bring happiness and prosperity-instead they found a world of frustration. While Victor put long hours into his restaurant business, Jaqui devoted her life to her daughters, until they grew up and moved on. Even their eldest, Victoria, is torn trying to reconcile being the perfect Argentine daughter and an independent American woman. Antonio and Lucia Orteli face the same realities, especially when their only son Eric leaves their close-knit Argentine community in pursuit of his own dreams. When Eric unexpectedly shows up at the Argentine Club-the heart of the Argentine community in southern California-he starts a series of events that will bring these two families closer than ever. New relationships are formed and old ones are put to the test, as everyone must learn how to balance different cultures-and different dreams-without hurting those they love.

Thanks so much to everyone for the giveaways!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

GIVEAWAY: The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell

Synopsis

Laurie Sandell grew up in awe (and sometimes in terror) of her larger-than-life father, who told jaw-dropping tales of a privileged childhood in Buenos Aires, academic triumphs, heroism during Vietnam, friendships with Kissinger and the Pope. As a young woman, Laurie unconsciously mirrors her dad, trying on several outsized personalities (Tokyo stripper, lesbian seductress, Ambien addict). Later, she lucks into the perfect job—interviewing celebrities for a top women's magazine. Growing up with her extraordinary father has given Laurie a knack for relating to the stars. But while researching an article on her dad's life, she makes an astonishing discovery: he's not the man he says he is—not even close. Now, Laurie begins to puzzle together three decades of lies and the splintered person that resulted from them—herself.

GIVEAWAY: Win a gently read hard copy of The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell

Read my review here.

Rules (you knew there had to be some):
  • You must be 18 years or older
  • Open to US and Canada residents only
  • To enter, just comment below. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, or have it visible in your profile.
  • For extra entries, follow my blog and/or blog about this contest. One extra entry for each. Sidebars are okay.
  • Leave a separate comment for each entry.
  • That's a total of 3 possible entries!
  • Those who don't follow the rules risk being disqualified.
Deadline is December 6, 2009

Good Luck! Ready, Set, Go!

Poetry Sunday (11-22-09 edition)

Today is one of my own poems. I haven't written poetry in over 10 years, but this one just hit me out of the "blue" the other day...

Bluebird

Just call me bluebird,
for it's a new day.

A breeze has come my way,
spreading my wings to make me fly,
until I drop from the sky,
exhausted and vulnerable.

Just give me a little shelter,

for just a day.

Then I'll be on my way again,

for spring is just around the corner.
Just call me bluebird.


-- Heather Johnson, 11/20/09

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Author Response: Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha

I recently posted my review on Amazon for the book Mother of the Believers. In my review, I expressed my difficulties reconciling the contradictions of these religious men and their actions: raping girls taken prisoner and made slaves, "justice" served by cutting off hands, etc. Following my review, I was honored to receive a comment on my review by the author Kamran Pasha, and I wanted to repost it here to give him a moment to express his side.

Here is the author's response:
Thank you for your kind words about my novel "Mother of the Believers." I must admit that I am saddened that you came away from my book with a mixed view of Prophet Muhammad. I am a believing Muslim and I wrote the novel to explain his life in context. I think if you compare the Prophet's life and actions to those of the great biblical figures such as Moses, Joshua and King David, you will see that he exceeded the moral standards set by these leaders who lived in a similar lawless desert world. The Prophet was faced with the dual challenge of teaching about God and creating order out of a lawless society. So he had to make difficult military and legal decisions in order to end the bloodshed and create a functioning society. Jesus, on the other hand, did not have to worry about being both a spiritual teacher and a policeman, as he was preaching in a civilized world controlled by the Roman Empire. Jesus said "Render unto Caesar" because there was a Caesar. Prophet Muhammad had to create a civilization from scratch and play the role of both spiritual teacher and Caesar at once. So he should be judged in that context, and I for one believe he showed remarkable wisdom and compassion in a very barbaric world. Please contact me through my website at http://www.kamranpasha.com/ if you would like to discuss this further.
Here is also a video of the author talking about his book and why he wrote it, and why he was drawn to the main character Aisha.

Thanks so much to the author for his comments. I will take them to heart, and am always happy to share opinions and beliefs with others.

And I still recommend the book Mother of the Believers. It really is an action-packed story and very well-written.

CHALLENGE: The 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

J Kaye's Book Blog has unleashed a new challenge, and I think it's calling my name: the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge.

I have just begun reading some Young Adult books (beginning with Hunger Games and Maximum Ride), and I've found that I've really enjoy them.

Here's the rules:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:

--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

--Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.

--Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.

--Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, paper all count.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

6. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your Young Adult novels will be listed. Include the URL so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.

I'm going with the Mini YA Reading Challenge of 12 books. Here's my list to choose from so far (with links to my reviews as I finish each book):
  1. Beginner's Luck by Laura Pedersen
  2. Best Bet by Laura Pedersen
  3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  4. Vixen by Jillian Larkin
  5. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
  6. Maximum Ride: School's Out by James Patterson
  7. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  9. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  10. Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  11. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  12. Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman
  13. Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman
  14. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  15. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Wish me luck!

Introducing...The Shack by William P. Young

March unleashed a torrent of rainfall after an abnormally dry winter. A cold front out of Canada then descended and was held in place by a swirling wind that roared down the George from eastern Oregon. Although spring was surely just around the corner, the god of winter was not about to relinquish its hard-won dominion without a tussle. There was a blanket of new snow in the Cascades, and a rain was now freezing on impact with the frigid ground outside the house; enough reason for Mack to snuggle up with a book and a hot cider and wrap up in the warmth of a crackling fire.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's Releasing (11-18-09 edition)

This is what's releasing the week of 11/16/09:

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

From one of the best-loved authors of all time comes an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal.
The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses.

In this steamy climate there's a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease-or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it.
Word in port is that the galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in a nearby harbor. Heavily fortified, the impregnable harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of the Spanish king himself. With backing from a powerful ally, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy outpost and commandeer El Trinidad, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of island legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he even sets foot on foreign shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure. . . . Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton athis best: a rollicking adventure tale pulsing with relentless action, crackling atmosphere, and heart-pounding suspense.

Breathless by Dean Koontz

In the stillness of a golden September afternoon, deep in the wilderness of the Rockies, a solitary craftsman, Grady Adams, and his magnificent Irish wolfhound Merlin step from shadow into light…and into an encounter with enchantment. That night, through the trees, under the moon, a pair of singular animals will watch Grady's isolated home, waiting to make their approach. A few miles away, Camillia Rivers, a local veterinarian, begins to unravel the threads of a puzzle that will bring all the forces of a government in peril to her door. At a nearby farm, long-estranged identical twins come together to begin a descent into darkness…In Las Vegas, a specialist in chaos theory probes the boundaries of the unknowable…On a Seattle golf course, two men make matter-of-fact arrangements for murder…Along a highway by the sea, a vagrant scarred by the past begins a trek toward his destiny… In a novel that is at once wholly of our time and timeless, fearless and funny, Dean Koontz takes readers into the moment between one turn of the world and the next, across the border between knowing and mystery. It is a journey that will leave all who take it Breathless.

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

There's a saying at Hollywood station that the full moon brings out the beast--rather than the best--in the precinct's citizens. One moonlit night, LAPD veteran Dana Vaughn and "Hollywood" Nate Weiss, a struggling-actor-turned cop, get a call about a young man who's been attacking women. Meanwhile, two surfer cops known as Flotsam and Jetsam keep bumping into an odd, suspicious duo--a smooth-talking player in dreads and a crazy-eyed, tattooed biker. No one suspects that all three dubious characters might be involved in something bigger, more high-tech, and much more illegal. After a dizzying series of twists, turns, and chases, the cops will find they've stumbled upon a complex web of crime where even the criminals can't be sure who's conning whom.

Wambaugh once again masterfully gets inside the hearts and minds of the cops whose jobs have them constantly on the brink of danger. By turns heart-wrenching, exhilarating, and laugh-out-loud funny, Hollywood Moon is his most thrilling and deeply affecting ride yet through the singular streets of LA.

REVIEW: Maximum Ride by James Patterson

Synopsis

In James Patterson's blockbuster series, fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel—are just like ordinary kids—only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any time...like when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare—this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb—now her betrayed and greatest enemy—that her purpose is save the world—but can she?

About the Author

The subject of a Time magazine feature called, "The Man Who Can't Miss," James Patterson is the bestselling author of the past year, bar none, with more than 16 million books sold in North America alone. In 2007, one of every fifteen hardcover fiction books sold was a Patterson title. In the past three years, James has sold more books than any other author (according to Bookscan), and in total, James's books have sold an estimated 170 million copies worldwide. He is the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children's lists and is the only author to have five new hardcover novels debut at #1 on the list in one year—a record-breaking feat he’s accomplished every year since 2005. To date, James Patterson has had nineteen consecutive #1 New York Times bestselling novels, and holds the New York Times record for most Hardcover Fiction bestselling titles by a single author (46 total), which is also a Guinness World Record.

From his James Patterson Pageturner Awards (which rewarded groups and individuals for creative and effective ways to spread the joy of reading) to his website ReadKiddoRead.com (which helps adults find books that kids are sure to love) to his regular donations of thousands of books to troops overseas, Patterson is a lifelong champion of books and reading. His first foray into books for all ages was the critically acclaimed Maximum Ride series, which debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list at #1 and remained there for twelve straight weeks. The series has so far made appearances on The New York Times bestsellers lists ninety-four cumulative times, proving that kids of all ages love page turners. He captured the attention of boy readers with The Dangerous Days of Daniel X and its follow-up, Daniel X: Watch the Skies. And, his third series for readers of all ages, the highly anticipated Witch & Wizard, is coming in December, 2009.

Patterson is the creator of the #1 new detective series of the past dozen years, featuring Alex Cross and including the Hollywood-adapted "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls," starring Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. He is also the creator of the #1 new detective series of the past five years, featuring Lindsay Boxer and the other members of the Women's Murder Club, from which the ABC television drama series was adapted. He has authored books behind six films on the Hollywood fast-track, including the upcoming Maximum Ride movie forthcoming from Avi Arad, the producer of X-Men and Spiderman.

He is the author of novels—from The Thomas Berryman Number (1976) to Honeymoon (2005)—that have won awards including the Edgar, the BCA Mystery Guild's Thriller of the Year, the International Thriller of the Year award, and the Reader’s Digest Reader’s Choice Award.

One of Forbes magazine's Celebrity 100, James made a guest appearance on the popular FOX TV show "The Simpsons" in March, 2007.

Check out his official website for more information.


My Thoughts

Max is a smart and spirited 14-year-old with a few "issues". She is head of a "flock" of six kids who are on their own, and all of them just happen to be genetically-engineered progeny with wings and other special skills and talents.

You've gotta love Max. She is always trying to do the right thing, and meet everyone's needs. She is Mom to three younger ones, and the leader of the motley gang that includes two teen boys a little younger than herself. They are on the run, with dangerously evil Erasers after them at every turn.

This book is packed full of action, and is bursting with humanity. The kids are all very likable and believable. Max behaves very much like a typical 14-year-old girl. The storyline is full, appropriate for teens and adults alike, and very engaging. I look forward to reading the next book in the series!



My Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mailbox Monday (11-16-09 edition)



Mailbox Monday is brought to us by The Printed Page. In my mailbox last week I got:

Winnings...

Firstly let me say that way back in May, I won a pack of books from Nicole of Linus's Blanket. After a few months, I found that I had never received those books, nor had I received some other books. I began to be concerned that perhaps I had a problem with my mail (like someone stealing packages) or something. So I contacted a few of the people from whom I'd won the books to let them know that I'd never received them, and to double-check the mailing address that they'd sent to (as one book that made it to me almost didn't make it, since the address was put down incorrectly. Luckily a notice from UPS made it to me when the book didn't, so I was able to call them and give them the correct address). Well, Nicole was one of two people to even respond to me (the other two I contacted never responded). Not only did Nicole respond to me, but she went out of her way to track down the problem (I think it's related to there being another Heather Johnson out on the book blogs), and she got the books shipped to me, even though I told her that she didn't need to-- I just wanted to make sure that there was no problem with my mail. So I finally received my books (after five months), thanks to a very conscientious and gracious Nicole.

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She is also a natural-born storyteller, and in her first novel, she paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

In 2000, Douglas Preston and his family moved to Florence, Italy, fulfilling a long-held dream. They put their children in Italian schools and settled into a 14th century farmhouse in the green hills of Florence, where they devoted themselves to living la dolce vita while Preston wrote his best-selling suspense novels. All that changes when he discovers that the lovely olive grove in front of their house had been the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer known only as the Monster of Florence. Preston, intrigued, joins up with the crack Italian investigative journalist Mario Spezi to solve the case. THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE tells the true story of their search for—and identification of—a likely suspect, and their chilling interview with that man. And then, in a strange twist of fate, Preston and Spezi themselves become targets of the police investigation into the murders. Preston has his phone tapped and is interrogated by the police, accused of perjury, planting false evidence and being an accessory to murder—and told to leave the country. Spezi fares worse: he is thrown into Italy's grim Capanne prison, accused of being the Monster of Florence himself. THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, which reads like one of Preston's thrillers, tells a remarkable and harrowing story involving murder, mutilation, suicide, carnival trials, voyeurism, princes and palaces, body parts sent by post, séances, devil worship and Satanic sects, poisonings and exhumations, Florentine high fashion houses and drunken peasants—and at the center of it, Preston and Spezi, caught in the crossfire of a bizarre prosecutorial vendetta.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

"Admissions. Admission. Aren't there two sides to the word? And two opposing sides...It's what we let in, but it's also what we let out." For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a PrincetonUniversity admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation's brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission. Admission is at once a fascinating look at the complex college admissions process and an emotional examination of what happens when the secrets of the past return and shake a woman's life to its core.

Thanks so much to Nicole for looking into whatever happened to these books, and getting them resent to me. She went above and beyond the call of duty!


Additionally I also received:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book -- a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world. Now in an audiobook edition read by the author, with movie tie-in art.
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.
The major motion picture version of THE LOVELY BONES, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.

Thanks so much to you both! You're an especially good woman, Nicole!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poetry Sunday (11-15-09 edition)

Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae
by Ernest Dowson

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara!-- In my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara!-- In my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara!-- In my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee Cynara!-- In my fashion.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (11-14-09 edition)

NOTE: Still busy and not visiting the giveaways too much. In fact, didn't do any giveaways this week, so gonna try to do a little catch-up this morning.

Here is a list of some giveaways going on in Blogworld*. Please note that new giveaways that were added this week are indented in Blockquotes:

Jeanne's Ramblings is giving away 5 copies of The Heretic's Daughter. Deadline is November 15.

A Book Blogger's Diary is giving away a copy of The Secret of Joy. Deadline is November 15.

Chocolate & Croissants is giving away White Picket Fences. Deadine is November 15.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of Show No Fear. Deadline is November 16.

The Book Resort is giving away a copy of Touch of Dead. Deadline is November 20.

http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com/2009/11/kissing-games-of-world-giveaway.html is giving away 5 copies of Kissing Games of the World. Deadline is November 22.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of Girl on Top. Deadline is November 23.
Beth's Book Review Blog is giving away 3 copies of Hope for Animals and Their World audiobooks. Deadline is November 26.

Bookluver Carol is giving away Rooftops of Tehran. Deadline is November 27.
The Latenier Group is having a Mega Contest! They are giving away at last count 30+ books and a $200 gift card to the Apple Store. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! Deadline is November 28.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of It Happened One Night. Deadline is November 29.

A Book Blogger's Diary and Erica Bauermeister are giving away 2 copies of The School of Essential Ingredients to one lucky winner! Deadline is November 30.

Alaine- Queen of Happy Endings is giving away a copy of Captive of Sin. There is no deadline. She will end the contest when she reaches a certain number of entries, but isn't announcing when that is!

*Courtesy Note: Please keep in mind the many, many hours of work that goes into me compiling this list each week. Please be courteous and thoughtful, and do not steal my text. Either recreate your own list, or link to this list and direct your readers here for giveaway information. Thank you so much for your consideration!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WINNERS: The Juror and Daniel X audiobooks

We have our winners for The Juror and Daniel X! Firstly, the winner of The Juror:

#12 lag123










And the winner of Daniel X:

#13 buzzd










Congratulations to you both! I'll be notifying you both shortly and asking for your mailing addresses.

Thanks to all who entered, and don't forget to enter my contest for my extra copy of Julie & Julia. The giveaway ends 11/22. Thanks again!

Introducing...Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

Congratulations. The fact that you're reading this means you've taken one giant step closer to surviving till your next birthday. Yes, you, standing there leafing through these pages. Do not put this book down. I'm dead serious-- your life could depend on it.

-- Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (paragraph one of the Prologue)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's Releasing? (11-16-09 edition)

What's releasing the week of 11/16/09:

Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin

One year ago, Sarah Palin burst onto the national political stage like a comet. Yet even now, few Americans know who this remarkable woman really is.

On September 3, 2008 Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave a speech at the Republican National Convention that electrified the nation and instantly made her one of the most recognizable women in the world.

As chief executive of America's largest state, she had built a record as a reformer who cast aside politics-as-usual and pushed through changes other politicians only talked about: Energy independence. Ethics reform. And the biggest private sector infrastructure project in U.S. history. While revitalizing public school funding and ensuring the state met its responsibilities to seniors and Alaska Native populations, Palin also beat the political "good ol' boys club" at their own game and brought Big Oil to heel.

Like her GOP running mate, John McCain, Palin wasn't a packaged and over-produced "candidate." She was a Main Street American woman: a working mom, wife of a blue collar union man, and mother of five children, the eldest of whom was serving his country in a yearlong deployment in Iraq and the youngest, an infant with special needs. Palin's hometown story touched a populist nerve, rallying hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans to the GOP ticket.

But as the campaign unfolded, Palin became a lightning rod for both praise and criticism. Supporters called her "refreshing," "honest," a kitchen-table public servant they felt would fight for their interests. Opponents derided her as a wide-eyed Pollyanna unprepared for national leadership. But none of them knew the real Sarah Palin.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Palin paints an intimate portrait of growing up in the wilds of Alaska; meeting her lifelong love; her decision to enter politics; the importance of faith and family; and the unique joys and trials of life as a high-profile working mother. She also opens up for the first time about the 2008 presidential race, providing a rare, mom's-eye view of high-stakes national politics - from patriots dedicated to "Country First" to slick politicos bent on winning at any cost.

Going Rogue traces one ordinary citizen's extraordinary journey, and imparts Palin's vision of a way forward for America and her unfailing hope in the greatest nation on earth.


I, Alex Cross by James Patterson
Alex Cross's niece is found brutally murdered. Overcome with grief, Alex vows to take down her killer before he strikes again. But shortly after he begins the investigation, Alex discovers that his niece had gotten mixed up with some very important, very dangerous people. And she's not the only one who has disappeared. The hunt for the murderer leads Alex and his girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, to Washington's most infamous club--a place where every fantasy is possible, if you have the credentials to get in. The killer could be one of their patrons, one of Washington's elite who will do anything to keep their secrets buried. With astonishing plot twists and electrifying revelations that will keep readers on the edge of their seat, I AM ALEX CROSS is James Patterson's most suspenseful Alex Cross novel yet.

Shadowland (The Immortals Series #3) by Alyson Noel

Enter the realm of the Immortals—the #1 New York Times bestselling series that’s been acclaimed as breathtaking, mesmerizing, flawless and extraordinary.

Ever and Damen have traveled through countless past lives—and fought off the world’s darkest enemies—so they could be together forever. But just when their long-awaited destiny is finally within reach, a powerful curse falls upon Damen…one that could destroy everything. Now a single touch of their hands or a soft brush of their lips could mean sudden death—plunging Damen into the Shadowland. Desperate to break the curse and save Damen, Ever immerses herself in magick—and gets help from an unexpected source…a surfer named Jude.

Although she and Jude have only just met, he feels startlingly familiar. Despite her fierce loyalty to Damen, Ever is drawn to Jude, a green-eyed golden boy with magical talents and a mysterious past. She’s always believed Damen to be her soulmate and one true love—and she still believes it to be true. But as Damen pulls away to save them, Ever’s connection with Jude grows stronger—and tests her love for Damen like never before…

Also available:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

REVIEW: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Synopsis

Those who carry the truth sometimes bear a terrible burden...

Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter.

In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.

The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen.

The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during war-time, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right.


About the Author
Born in New York City, Sarah Blake has a BA from Yale University and a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Full Turn (Pennywhistle Press, 1989); an artist book, Runaway Girls \ (Hand Made Press, 1997) in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn; and two novels. Her first novel, Grange House, (Picador, 2000) was named a "New and Noteworthy" paperback in August, 2001 by The New York Times. Her second novel, The Postmistress, was by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam in February 2010. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Good Housekeeping, US News and World Reports, The Chicago Tribune and elsewhere.
Sarah taught high school and college English for many years in Colorado and New York. She has taught fiction workshops at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, MA, The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, the University of Maryland, and George Washington University. She lives in Washington, DC.


My Thoughts
I had a really hard time getting into this book, and in the beginning I almost gave it up. But I told myself to give it 100 pages. If I didn't "feel it" by then, I would abandon it. The writing style in beginning of the book was so manic and clipped that I had a hard time following it. It didn't "flow" for me. I have to assume that this was intentional, displaying the mania of the war and the brevity of life. I felt no connection to the characters. I couldn't even keep the characters straight, and didn't know who was who.
But around chapter four things shifted, and became more enjoyable for me. I got a handle on who I was dealing with in the story, and the dialogue flowed.

The time is 1940, and on the other side of the world a war is engaged. When the book starts out, America is relatively unaffected by the war. We see the idyllic life of a young girl Emma, freshly married and moving to be with her new husband Will in a quiet northeastern coastal town. Will is the town doctor, and he and Emma are young, naive and in love, but Will has his own ghosts to deal with.

At the same time we are introduced to the Postmistress Iris. Actually we are introduced to Iris in the opening chapters of the book before anyone else in a very odd way, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone by disclosing how we are introduced to her.

But I will say that Iris seemed symbolic to me of the US at this time-- intact and untouched. Likewise Will and Emma sort of start out this way, young and in love and warm and cozy in their little cocoon. But then the cruelties of life begin to creep in and the cocoon begins to unravel.

We are also introduced to Frankie Bard- a reporter covering the story in Europe. Tough and somewhat "untouchable" in the beginning, she softens as the story goes on, becoming much more vulnerable.

It's funny. The first 50 pages were my least favorite of the book, and the last 50 were my most enjoyable.

This book was "okay". It just wasn't consistent for me. I'd like it, then it would drag, then I'd like it, and then it'd drag. I'd connect with moments, but for the most part I felt somewhat detached from the story. It just never really did "grab" me.

However the more things change, the more that they remain the same. There is an area of the book that mentions British and Russian forces invading Iran to protect the oil supply:
Worried by reports of German "tourists", Britain and Russia today decided that Iran must accept their protection of oil supplies. British land forces advanced in two areas to secure oil near Abadan and northeast of Baghdad to take similar sites around Kermashah.
This was in 1940. Sound familiar? Sound like something you'd hear on the nightly news today?

Not a bad story, but my least favorite so far of the three First Look books that I've read.

The Postmistress is available for sale on February 9, 2010.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Sunday, November 8, 2009

GIVEAWAY: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Synopsis

With the humor of Bridget Jones and the vitality of Augusten Burroughs, Julie Powell recounts how she conquered every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and saved her soul.

Julie Powell is 30 years old, living in a tiny apartment in Queens and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life, and she invents a deranged assignment. She will take her mother's worn, dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she will cook all 524 recipes -- in the span of one year.

At first she thinks it will be easy. But as she moves from the simple Potage Parmentier (potato soup) into the more complicated realm of aspics and crepes, she realizes there's more to Mastering the Art of French Cooking than meets the eye.

And somewhere along the line she realizes she has turned her outer-borough kitchen into a miracle of creation and cuisine. She has eclipsed her life's ordinariness through spectacular humor, hysteria, and perseverance.


GIVEAWAY: Win a new copy of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Rules (you knew there had to be some):
  • You must be 18 years or older
  • Open to US and Canada residents only
  • To enter, just comment below. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, or have it visible in your profile.
  • For extra entries, follow my blog and/or blog about this contest. One extra entry for each. Sidebars are okay.
  • Leave a separate comment for each entry.
  • That's a total of 3 possible entries!
  • Those who don't follow the rules risk being disqualified.
Deadline is November 22, 2009.

Good Luck! Ready, Set, Go!

REVIEW: City of the Dead by Brian Keene

City of the Dead by Brian Keene

Synopsis

Where can you go when the dead are everywhere? Cities have become overrun with legions of the dead, all of them intent on destroying what's left of the living. Trapped inside a fortified skyscraper, a handful of survivors prepare to make their last stand against an unstoppable, undying enemy. With every hour their chances diminish and their numbers dwindle, while the numbers of the dead can only rise. Because sooner or later, everything dies. And then it comes back, ready to kill.

About the Author

Brian Keene is the author of over twenty horror, crime, and dark fantasy novels and short story collections, including Castaways, Dead Sea, Unhappy Endings, Dark Hollow, Urban Gothic, and many more. He also writes comic books for Marvel, DC and others. The winner of two Bram Stoker Awards, as well as several other literary awards, Keene’s work has been translated into German, Polish, French, Spanish, and Taiwanese. His novel, The Rising (published in early 2003), is often credited (along with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later) as ushering in the current resurgence of zombies in pop culture. Several of his works have been optioned for film and other media. His short story The Ties That Bind was released on DVD in July 2009 as a short independent film. Also in 2009, his novel Terminal debuted as a limited release stage play.

Keene also operates the successful Books For Troops program, which provides free, unlimited books to members of the U.S. Armed Forces. He was honored for this in 2006 by the 509th Logistics Fuels Flight group from Whitman Air Force Base, home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Keene is also a prolific public speaker, and spends much of the year addressing schools, libraries, writer’s groups and civic organizations. The Central Intelligence Agency frequently has him speak at their headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Keene’s work has been featured/praised in such diverse places as The New York Times, The History Channel, CNN, The Howard Stern Show, Fangoria, and Rue Morgue Magazine.

Keene lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, two sons, two cats, and dog.

Check out Brian's blog here.

My Thoughts

This book was a powerhouse of action. You hardly had a moment to catch your breath in between the attacks and battles. As fun as the first one, The Rising, but even more brutal and graphic. Full of good characters fighting the good fight, and with a healthy dose of unscrupulous and mentally unstable characters alike, you never know what's going to happen next.

This book picks up where The Rising left off. Jim has just made it to his son's home, and the zombies are closing in outside. The book opens at the home of his ex-wife, while you wait to learn whether or not Danny is found alive and whether they make it out alive, and it ends at the Ramsey Towers in New York, where survivors are holed up against the zombies milling around outside.

One thing I should note: This book is not suitable for children. It is extremely violent, vulgar and there are many moments of graphic sexuality, including zombie sex and multiple accounts of genital mutilation. Please be forewarned.

Overall a fun story, but a little sad and depressing at times.



My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Poetry Sunday (11-08-09 edition)

And wilt thou leave me thus?
by Sir Thomas Wyatt

And wilt thou leave me thus ?
Say nay ! say nay ! for shame
To save thee from the blame
Of all my grief and grame.
And wilt thou leave me thus ?
Say nay ! Say nay !

And wilt thou leave me thus ?
That hath lov'd thee so long ?
In wealth and woe among :
And is thy heart so strong
As for to leave me thus ?
Say nay ! Say nay !

And wilt thou leave me thus ?
That hath given thee my heart
Never for to depart ;
Neither for pain nor smart :
And wilt thou leave me thus ?
Say nay ! Say nay !

And wilt thou leave me thus ?
And have no more pity,
Of him that loveth thee ?
Alas ! thy cruelty !
And wilt thou leave me thus ?
Say nay ! Say nay !

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Holiday Swap

I've joined in on the Book Bloggers Holiday Swap. This is my first year, although the site says that it has been going on for 3 years now.

The swap is a sort of "Secret Santa" swap. If you want to join in too, just head over to Holiday Swap for the details and to sign up. But hurry up! The deadline for signing up is November 12th. Ho ho ho! Come join the fun!

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (11-07-09 edition)

NOTE: Still busy and not visiting the giveaways too much...

Here is a list of some giveaways going on in Blogworld*. Please note that new giveaways that were added this week are indented in Blockquotes:

My Own Little Corner of the World is giving away 5 copies of The Heretic's Daughter. Deadline is November 7.
Drey's Library is giving away Tell Me Something True. Deadline is November 8.
One Person's Journey Through a World of Books is giving away 5 copies of The Heretic's Daughter. Deadline is November 11.

The Book Vixen is giving away a copy of Catching Fire. Deadline is November 13.

Jeanne's Ramblings is giving away 5 copies of The Heretic's Daughter. Deadline is November 15.
Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of Show No Fear. Deadline is November 16.

The Book Resort is giving away a copy of Touch of Dead. Deadline is November 20.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of Girl on Top. Deadline is November 23.

The Latenier Group is having a Mega Contest! They are giving away at last count 30+ books and a $200 gift card to the Apple Store. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! Deadline is November 28.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of It Happened One Night. Deadline is November 29.
Alaine- Queen of Happy Endings is giving away a copy of Captive of Sin. There is no deadline. She will end the contest when she reaches a certain number of entries, but isn't announcing when that is!

*Courtesy Note: Please keep in mind the many, many hours of work that goes into me compiling this list each week. Please be courteous and thoughtful, and do not steal my text. Either recreate your own list, or link to this list and direct your readers here for giveaway information. Thank you so much for your consideration!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Referencing Friday: The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond

Synopsis

Paula Deen meets Erma Bombeck in The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond’s spirited, homespun cookbook. Drummond colorfully traces her transition from city life to ranch wife through recipes, photos, and pithy commentary based on her popular, award-winning blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, and whips up delicious, satisfying meals for cowboys and cowgirls alike made from simple, widely available ingredients. The Pioneer Woman Cooks—and with these "Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl," she pleases the palate and tickles the funny bone at the same time.

My Thoughts

I became a fan of Pioneer Woman some months ago when I happened upon her blog one day. I've enjoyed her humor, the glimpses into her life, her children and the handsome Marlboro Man that she married. And now I am enjoying her first book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. More than just a cookbook, this book gives you a look into daily life on a working cattle ranch. Full of photographs that she has taken of her family, cattle and bits of her homelife, and stories of how she fell in love with a rancher, her "Pesky Brother-in-Law Tim", and little bits of information like "The Difference Between Chaps and Chinks", this book is a feast, both visually and gastronomically. I can't wait to try the recipe for Pico de Gallo (I've been on a Pico de Gallo kick for months now. I don't know why!) I'm also eager to try the recipe for Spicy Pulled Pork and Sherried Tomato Soup. And the Rib-Eye Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce looks divine!

Pioneer Woman was also recently spotlighted in People magazines special Country edition. In it she shared a few recipes from her new cookbook. Here is her recipe for Sangria (great for the weekend!):

Sangria
Makes about 3 liters

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into cubes
1 cup green seedless grapes
1 cup red seedless grapes
2 cups pineapple chunks
1 small unpeeled orange, thinly sliced
2 unpeeled lemons, thinly sliced
2 unpeeled limes, thinly sliced
1.5 liter red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Pinot Noir), chilled
1.5 liter dry white wine (such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio), chilled
1 cup orange-flavored rum
1 cup orange-flavored vodka
1 cup sugar

Directions:
  1. Chop up all of the fruit you'd like. Any fruit is permissible.
  2. Place the fruit in a large container.
  3. Next, start pouring in the liquids.
  4. To add a bit of sweetness, dissolve the sugar in 1 cup water and add it to the mix.
  5. Stir well, then cover and refrigerate for several hours, giving the fruit and liquids time to meld. Serve in glasses over ice, and have tongs nearby so guests can help themselves to the fruit, which is a hugely delicious treat.
Normally I don't rate my reference books, but this one is just too good not to "rate". This book is destined to become one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the humor and warmth with which it is written, and the only drawbacks that I can see are the lack of nutritional information (which I always appreciate) and the lack of less "hearty" fare (since I'm trying to get myself eating more healthfully once again, and this book is a little heavy on the richness and fat that I need to avoid). Otherwise I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cookbook!



My Rating: 9.5 out of 10

WINNER: Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha

I know that I'm running late with this. I actually did random.org on Monday to draw the winner, but haven't gotten around to posting it. Things have been pretty crazy for me. I usually lead a quiet and leisurely life, but I've been working late and getting home late each night. To anyone waiting on a book from me: I have not forgotten you! I will try to get everything packaged up this weekend and ready to ship next week. I'm so sorry for the delay!

So without further ado, the winner of Mother of the Believers is:

#9 pixie13

Congratulations, Pixie! I will get a notice out shortly!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and don't forget the Daniel X/Juror audiobook giveaway still going on.

Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend! We have slightly cooler weather for this weekend, so that means that I get to break out my knee-high black suede boots for the coffee bar tonight! Woo hoo!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Introducing...City of the Dead by Brian Keene

Standing next to their battered Humvee, Jim, Martin and Frankie stared into the distance. A cemetery stretched off to the horizon along both sides of New Jersey's Garden State Parkway, and the highway cut right through the graveyard's center. Thousands of tombstones thrust upward to the sky, surrounded by tenements and overgrown vacant lots. Tombs and crypts also dotted the landscape, but the sheer number of gravestones almost overwhelmed them.

CHALLENGE: The Four Month Challenge Part Two

The Four Month Challenge Part Two
Hosted by Virginie Barbeau

So I've decided to go ahead and join in on this challenge, even though I'm sure I'll suck at it! :) I'm just such a slow reader that I don't do too well with most challenges. Too many books to read, and too little time!

But I'm giving it a shot. Since this is on a point system, I am not committing to reading a certain number of books-- I'm simply trying to get the highest score I can. I can handle that.

Virginie says that it would be great for people to post weekly updates regarding how the challenge is going, and how many points they acquired that week, but I think I'll shoot for monthly updates. I don't expect to be able to read enough to have an "exciting" weekly update. Here are the point challenges. I'm not sure about all the books yet, but I've but my current ideas in parentheses on each challenge:

5 Point Challenges

Read a book with a proper name in the title (Simon's Cat)

Read a book about a queen or king (The Last Queen or The Secret Bride)

Read a book by a Bronte (Jane Eyre)

Read a book about Vampires (Twilight)

Read a book by V.C. Andrews (probably Flowers in the Attic, as I haven't read it in so many years and loved it when I was a kid)


10 Point Challenges

Read a book by Canadian author (The Brutal Telling)

Read a book by Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)

Read a book set in France (French Kiss)

Read a book by Georgette Heyer (Cousin Kate)

Read an ‘art’ themed book


15 Point Challenges

Read a book with a Civil War theme (any country)

Read a book with characters inspired by King Arthur or about King Arthur/Camelot (maybe The Crystal Cave)

Read a biography/autobiography (Thinking in Pictures)

Read a book related to or something by Shakespeare (My Name is Will)

Read a book by an author born in November, December, January or February


20 Point Challenges

Read a book with a wintry theme (Christmas, snow, ice, freezing etc.) (The Shack)

Read a book that was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Road)

Read a book that begins with A and one that begins with Z (All of Me, ?)

Read a book from The Modern Library Top 100

Read a book and then write a review


And here we go!