Wednesday, June 30, 2010

CHALLENGE: Summer Break Reading Challenge


I decided that I'm not failing enough on challenges. So I'm joining another one: the Summer Break Reading Challenge hosted by KarinLibrarian. There aren't really many rules/guidelines.

1. The Challenge runs June 23, 2010 and ends toward the end of August.

2. You DO NOT have to participate in every activity - just pick and choose what you want to do.

3. Some activities will have a specific prize attached to them, but some you will be able to choose what you want from a list of available books.

4. Activity due dates will be listed in each post.

I'm a slow reader, so I don't expect to get too much done by the end of August. Especially since one of the books I plan to read is a long one. However here is my list to choose from. My goal is to read at least 4 of them:
  1. The Good Son by Michael Gruber (I just started reading this one)
  2. Rooms by James L. Rubart
  3. The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
  4. Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield
Ready, set, go!

What's Releasing (06-30-10 edition)

Available the week of July 5th:

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old realtor, had three goals — sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape — her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor. The truth doesn’t always set you free. Still Missing is that rare debut find – a shocking, visceral, brutal, and beautifully crafted novel.



Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch

Following up Finn, his much-heralded and prize-winning debut whose voice evoked “the mythic styles of his literary predecessors . . . William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy and Edward P. Jones” (San Francisco Chronicle), Jon Clinch returns with Kings of the Earth, a powerful and haunting story of life, death, and family in rural America. The edge of civilization is closer than we think. It’s as close as a primitive farm on the margins of an upstate New York town, where the three Proctor brothers live together in a kind of crumbling stasis. They linger like creatures from an older, wilder, and far less forgiving world—until one of them dies in his sleep and the other two are suspected of murder. Told in a chorus of voices that span a generation, Kings of the Earth examines the bonds of family and blood, faith and suspicion, that link not just the brothers but their entire community. Vernon, the oldest of the Proctors, is reduced by work and illness to a shambling shadow of himself. Feebleminded Audie lingers by his side, needy and unknowable. And Creed, the youngest of the three and the only one to have seen anything of the world (courtesy of the U.S. Army), struggles with impulses and accusations beyond his understanding. We also meet Del Graham, a state trooper torn between his urge to understand the brothers and his desire for justice; Preston Hatch, a kindhearted and resourceful neighbor who’s spent his life protecting the three men from themselves; the brothers’ only sister, Donna, who managed to cut herself loose from the family but is then drawn back; and a host of other living, breathing characters whose voices emerge to shape this deeply intimate saga of the human condition at its limits.


Twice Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires Series #3) by Chloe Neill

Shapeshifters from across the country are convening in the Windy City, and as a gesture of peace, Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan has offered their leader a very special bodyguard: Merit, Chicago's newest vampire. Merit is supposed to protect the Alpha, Gabriel Keene-and to spy for the vamps while she's at it. Oh, and luckily Ethan's offering some steamy, one-on-one combat training sessions to help her prepare for the mission.

Unfortunately, someone is gunning for Gabriel, and Merit soon finds herself in the line of fire. She'll need all the help she can get to track down the would-be assassin, but everywhere she turns, there are rising tensions between supernaturals-not least between her and a certain green-eyed, centuries-old master vampire.


Under the Dome by Stephen King

Shortly before noon on October 21 of an unspecified year after 2012, the small Maine town of Chester's Mill is abrubtly separated from the outside world by an invisible, semipermeable barrier of unknown origin.









Also available this week:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

REVIEW: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Synopsis

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.


About the Author

Scott Westerfeld's teen novels include the Uglies series, the Midnighters trilogy, The Last Days, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and the sequel to Peeps. Scott was born in Texas, and alternates summers between Sydney, Australia, and New York City.

Check out his blog!


My Thoughts

"In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly."

Tally is an "ugly" who is about to turn 16, and therefore about to become "pretty". This is a world where everyone receives surgery on their 16th birthday in order to achieve perfect beauty. But events unfold that she could never have predicted, causing her to betray some of those closest to her, and forcing her to turn the mirror on herself and face the fact that ugliness goes beyond skin deep, and in so doing she discovers that beauty also lies deeper.

This was a pretty good "yarn". The characters aren't thoroughly fleshed out, but well enough so that I have a connection to them. Truths about our society as it stands today are highlighted, even touching on our reliance on oil and our destruction of the environment. The environments of Ugly Town, New Pretty Town, The Ruins and The Smoke are well-described, allowing me to envision them in my mind's eye. The story leaves me hanging and wanting to get my hands on the next book in the series to see where this story is going.

This was a good YA story-- good characters, good plot, good writing. Superficial yet revealing, Uglies has assured that I'll be moving on to the second story Pretties before long!



My Rating: 8 out of 10

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (06-26-10 edition)

Note: A reminder that you are 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. Email me at nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com.

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:

Libby's Library News is giving away 3 copies of The Cradle. Deadline is June 26. US/Canada only.

Seductive Musings is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 26. US/Canada only.
Heavenly Savings is giving away 5 copies of Montana Destiny. Deadline is June 26. US/Canada only.
A Journey of Books is giving away a copy of The Devlin Diary. Deadline is June 27. US only.

Radiant Light is giving away 2 copies of April & Oliver. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.

Readaholic is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.

In the Hammock is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.
Knitting and Sundries is giving away up to 3 copies of the audiobook Innocent. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.
Chick with Books is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 28. US/Canada only.

This is Not My Day Job is having a 200 Follower Contest! Giving away your choice of two book sets-- 3 books each! Deadline is June 28. US only.

Parajunkee is giving away $40 to CSN Stores! Deadline is June 28.

Radiant Light is giving away 2 copies of Into the Beautiful North. Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

The Electrical Book Cafe is giving away $40 to CSN Stores! Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

Passages to the Past is giving away $100 to CSN Stores! Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of The Age of the Unthinkable. Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

Readaholic is giving away 3 copies of the audiobook Innocent. Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

The Social Frog is giving away a copy of The Passage. Deadline is June 29. US only.

Queen of Happy Endings is giving away your choice of 1 of 3 books. Deadline is June 30. International!

A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Libby's Library News is giving away 7 gently read books for her 500 follower contest! Up to 3 winners if she gets even more followers! Stop over and wish her a Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary! Deadline is June 30. US only.

The Fiction Enthusiast is giving away 3 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Just Another New Blog is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of Wrong. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Falling Off the Shelf is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

The Book Chick is giving away 3 copies of The Castaways. Deadline is July 1. US/Canada only.

Bookhounds is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is July 1. US/Canada only.
Tutu's Two Cents is giving away 2 copies of The Nobodies Album. Deadline is July 1. US only.

Rex Robot Reviews is giving away $60 to CSN Stores. Deadline is July 1. US/Canada only.
Froggaritaville's Bookcase is giving away 2 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is July 2. US/Canada only.

Readaholic is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is July 2. US/Canada only.

Radiant Light is giving away a copy of The Nobodies Album. Deadline is July 2. US only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 2 copies of The Passage. Deadline is July 3. US only.

Readaholic is giving away a copy of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. Deadline is July 3. US only.
Eve's Fan Garden is giving away 3 copies of The Passage. Deadline is July 3.
Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away 3 copies of Unfinished Business. Deadline is July 4. US/Canada only.
Readaholic is giving away Paul is Undead. Deadline is July 4. US only.

Number One Novels is giving away an autographed copy of The Lotus Eaters. Deadline is July 4. US only.
Freda's Voice is giving away a copy of Secrets of Newberry. Deadline is July 5. US/Canada only.

Radiant Light is giving away 2 copies of The Secrets of Newberry. Deadline is July 5. US/Canada only.

The Book Chick is giving away $60 for CSN Stores! Deadline is July 5. US/Canada only.

Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf is giving away a copy of Salvaged. Deadline is July 6. International!

A Good Addiction is giving away a copy of 13 to Life. Deadline is July 6. International!
Luxury Reading is giving away Georgia's Kitchen. Deadline is July 6. US only.

In the Hammock is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is July 6. US/Canada only.
Crazy for Books is giving away Shiver and Linger to one winner. Deadline is July 7. US only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. Deadline is July 7. US only.

Fantastic Book Review is giving away 13 to Life. Deadline is July 8. US/Canada only.

Lori's Reading Corner is giving away 4 copies of Panic Zone. Deadline is July 8. US only.

Crazy for Books is also giving away 4 copies of Panic Zone. Deadline is July 8. US only.

So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is giving away up to 3 copies of the audiobook The Lion. Deadline is July 9. US/Canada only.
Jo-Jo Loves to Read is giving away up to 3 copies of April & Oliver. Deadline is July 9. US/Canada only.
The Eclectic Reader is giving away The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. Deadline is July 9. International!

Knitting and Sundries is giving away 3 copies of Sugar. Deadline is July 10. Anywhere the Book Depository ships!

Freda's Voice is giving away 5 copies of Barely a Lady. Deadline is July 10. US/Canada only.

Seductive Musings is giving away 5 copies of Barely a Lady. Deadline is July 10. US/Canada only.
Peeking Between the Pages is giving away both Shiver and Linger to one winner! Deadline is July 10. US/Canada only.
Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks is giving away 3 copies of Dangerous Desires. Deadline is July 10. US/Canada only.
Lori's Reading Corner is giving away 5 copies of A Killer Plot. Deadline is July 11. US only.

Crazy for Books is giving away 5 copies of A Killer Plot. Deadline is July 11. US only.
A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is July 12. US/Canada only.

A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is July 12. US/Canada only.
Bookhounds is giving away a copy of Delivering Happiness. Deadline is July 12. US/Canada only.
Reading with Tequila is having a huge 750 follower contest! Lots of books up for grabs, and lots of winners! Deadline is July 13. International
Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English. Deadline is July 13. US/Canada only.
A Sea of Books is giving away 3 copies of the audiobook Innocent. Deadline is July 14. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 3 copies of Wrong. Deadline is July 14. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 3 copies of The Castaways. Deadline is July 14. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! US/Canada only.
Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of April & Oliver. Deadline is July 15. US/Canada only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of The Barbery Pirates. Deadline is July 15. US only.

Libby's Library News is giving away 3 copies of Delivering Happiness. Deadline is July 15. US/Canada only.
A Journey of Books is giving away a copy of Masked by Moonlight. Deadline is July 17. US only.

Jo-Jo Loves to Read is giving away up to 3 copies of the audiobook Private. Deadline is July 17. US/Canada only.

A Good Addiction and La Femme Readers are holding a joint Summer Bash with six books up for grabs by 6 winners! Deadline is July 18. International!

Queen of Happy Endings is giving away your choice of three books. Deadline is July 31. International!

A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of Barely a Lady. Deadline is August 1. US/Canada only.


*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, June 24, 2010

Introducing...Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Introducing books through the first paragraph (or thereabouts)...

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.
Of course, Tally thought, you'd have to feed your cat only salmon-colored cat food for a while, to get the pinks right. The scudding clouds did look a bit fishy, rippled into scales by a high-altitude wind. As the light faded, deep blue gaps of night peered through like an upside-down ocean, bottomless and cold.

Any other summer, a sunset like this would have been beautiful. But nothing had been beautiful since Peris turned Pretty. Losing your best friend sucks, even if its only for three months and two days.

-- Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (06-19-10 edition)

Note: A reminder that you are 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. Email me at nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com.

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 Review Broads are giving away the audiobook Men and Dogs. Deadline is June 19. US/Canada only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of Alibi. Deadline is June 19. US/Canada only.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away 5 copies of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. Deadline is June 19. US/Canada only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of the audiobook Fever Dream. Deadline is June 20. US/Canada only.

Book Journey is giving away 3 copies of the audiobook Men and Dogs. Deadline is June 20. US/Canada only.

Book Journey is giving away 3 copies of The Bride Collector. She doesn't list a deadline, but since her other one expires June 20, I thought this one may also. US/Canada only.

In the Hammock is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 20. US/Canada only.

Readaholic is giving away a copy of The Art of Devotion. Deadline is June 20. US only.

Booklover Book Reviews is giving away your choice of 6 books by Australian authors! Deadline is June 20. Tell 'em that nfmgirl sent you! International!

Anne Riley is giving away your choice of 3 YA novels. Deadline is June 20.

Bella's Novella is giving away a copy of Sizzling Sixteen. Deadline is June 22. International!

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 5 copies of Montana Destiny. Deadline is June 23. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 3 copies of The Secrets of Newberry. Deadline is June 23. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 3 copies of Innocent. Deadline is June 23. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 3 copies of Fever Dream. Deadline is June 23. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 3 copies of War. Deadline is June 23. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 5 copies of Alibi. Deadline is June 23. US/Canada only.

Libby's Library News is giving away 2 copies of The Knight Life. Deadline is June 25. US/Canada only.

So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is giving away a copy of Captivity. Deadline is June 25. US/Canada only.

Libby's Library News is giving away 3 copies of The Cradle. Deadline is June 26. US/Canada only.

Seductive Musings is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 26. US/Canada only.

A Journey of Books is giving away a copy of The Devlin Diary. Deadline is June 27. US only.

Radiant Light is giving away 2 copies of April & Oliver. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.
Readaholic is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.

In the Hammock is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 27. US/Canada only.
Chick with Books is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 28. US/Canada only.
This is Not My Day Job is having a 200 Follower Contest! Giving away your choice of two book sets-- 3 books each! Deadline is June 28. US only.

Parajunkee is giving away $40 to CSN Stores! Deadline is June 28.
Radiant Light is giving away 2 copies of Into the Beautiful North. Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

The Electrical Book Cafe is giving away $40 to CSN Stores! Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

Passages to the Past is giving away $100 to CSN Stores! Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.
Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of The Age of the Unthinkable. Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

Readaholic is giving away 3 copies of the audiobook Innocent. Deadline is June 29. US/Canada only.

The Social Frog is giving away a copy of The Passage. Deadline is June 29. US only.
Queen of Happy Endings is giving away your choice of 1 of 3 books. Deadline is June 30. International!

A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Libby's Library News is giving away 7 gently read books for her 500 follower contest! Up to 3 winners if she gets even more followers! Stop over and wish her a Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary! Deadline is June 30. US only.

The Fiction Enthusiast is giving away 3 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Just Another New Blog is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.
Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of Wrong. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Falling Off the Shelf is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.

Just Jennifer Reading is giving away 5 copies of Knight of Passion. Deadline is June 30. US/Canada only.
The Book Chick is giving away 3 copies of The Castaways. Deadline is July 1. US/Canada only.
Bookhounds is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is July 1. US/Canada only.
Froggaritaville's Bookcase is giving away 2 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is July 2. US/Canada only.

Readaholic is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is July 2. US/Canada only.

Radiant Light is giving away a copy of The Nobodies Album. Deadline is July 2. US only.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 2 copies of The Passage. Deadline is July 3. US only.

Readaholic is giving away a copy of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. Deadline is July 3. US only.

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away 3 copies of Unfinished Business. Deadline is July 4. US/Canada only.

Freda's Voice is giving away a copy of Secrets of Newberry. Deadline is July 5. US/Canada only.

Radiant Light is giving away 2 copies of The Secrets of Newberry. Deadline is July 5. US/Canada only.
The Book Chick is giving away $60 for CSN Stores! Deadline is July 5. US/Canada only.
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf is giving away a copy of Salvaged. Deadline is July 6. International!

A Good Addiction is giving away a copy of 13 to Life. Deadline is July 6. International!

Jo-Jo Loves to Read is giving away up to 3 copies of April & Oliver. Deadline is July 9. US/Canada only.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away both Shiver and Linger to one winner! Deadline is July 10. US/Canada only.

A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of Desire Me. Deadline is July 12. US/Canada only.

A Journey of Books is giving away 5 copies of To Surrender to a Rogue. Deadline is July 12. US/Canada only.
Reading with Tequila is having a huge 750 follower contest! Lots of books up for grabs, and lots of winners! Deadline is July 13. International!
Three's a Crowd is a new blog trying to reach 50 followers. Win Silver Borne. Contest ends when 50 followers is met.


*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, June 17, 2010

Introducing...The Saving of Aris by NovaMelia

Introducing books through the first paragraph (or thereabouts)...

Papi's house was a white painted wooden structure with drywood termites in the attic and bottles of beer and ammonia under the kitchen sink. The termites were eating their way down the kitchen studs behind the plaster and into the kitchen doorjamb. The beer, according to Gram, was eating its way through Joshua's soul and down into his game leg. Aristophanes Ball was born in Papi's house. He was born in his mother's bed in Papi's house on a steaming Florida summer evening with a white plastic sheet beneath him and the thick smell of ammonia all around him. He was born soft and shriveled and his small body kept folding back into its fetal position, making it difficult for the midwife to clean the mess off him. His head was encased in wet, black hair; his arms and legs were sticky bent twigs; his buttocks was practically nonexistent and his sexual appendages were still tucked part way inside him and had to be coaxed out with finger filled plastic gloves.

-- The Saving of Aris by NovaMelia

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

REVIEW: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Synopsis

Edward’s soft voice came from behind me.

I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, just like he had in the parking lot, and kissed me again. This kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine–like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us.

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob–knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?


About the Author

According to Stephenie Meyer, the idea for her sensational debut novel, Twilight, came to her in a vividly detailed dream in 2003. Over the course of three months, writing at night when her children were in bed, the young Mormon mother of three developed that dream into the spellbinding story of 17-year-old Bella Swan, who moves from Phoenix, Arizona, to the tiny town of Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a beautiful, mysterious vampire named Edward Cullen. After feverish writing, painstaking editing, and a brief but frustrating round of queries, submissions, and rejections, Meyer finally connected with an editor at Little, Brown who fell in love with the manuscript and signed her to a three-book deal.

Twilight debuted in October, 2005. An immediate sensation, it appeared on several year-end best books lists and earned its author a rabid cult following among teenage girls. Since then, Meyer has continued Bella and Edward's story in bestselling sequels that have proved equally successful. Young readers cannot get enough of these riveting novels -- a captivating blend of vampires, romance, and suspense -- and parents rest easy knowing the books do not contain the graphic language and sexually provocative material that pervades some YA series.

Whether or not the Twilight Saga proves to have "Harry Potter legs" remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Meyer continues writing. She forayed into adult fiction with 2008's The Host, a chilling science fiction tale about the end of humanity, told from the perspective of an alien invader. And she makes it clear the door is open for further installments in her vampire romance. Clearly, this talented author has many more stories to tell.


My Thoughts

As the Twilight saga continues, Edward and Bella revel in being together once again. Edward has committed to never leave Bella again, unless it is her choice. Bella is trying to find a balance that will allow her to share her life with both her beloved Edward and her best friend Jacob, when they become aware of a growing coven of vampires ravaging Seattle, all the while continuing to contend with the vengeful vampire Victoria who still seeks revenge against Bella for the death of her lover.

I think that this is probably my favorite book so far in the Twilight series. Bella isn't quite such a pitiful excuse for a human female. She displays a little more strength and humor than in the last book. Edward is a little more selfless, kind and patient. Jacob is still immature, but he is good-humored and selfless in his own right, and even Bella can't stay mad at him.

Eclipse really moved me in the end. I spent the last 30 pages or so boo-hooing non-stop! This book, the third in the series, has left me hungering for the final book Breaking Dawn. Bring it on!

What's Releasing (06-16-10 edition)

Available the week of June 22nd:

Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum Series #16) by Janet Evanovich

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a lucky bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn't specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck. . . .

BAD LUCK:

Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced. Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs.

GOOD LUCK:

Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie have an advantage in finding Vinnie. If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the cash.

BAD LUCK:

Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Vinnie's messing up Mooner's vibe, running up pay-per-view porn charges in Ranger's apartment, and making Stephanie question genetics.

GOOD LUCK:

Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, Mooner's Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip's lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save the business, and Vinnie, from ruin.

BAD LUCK:

Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter. In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.

GOOD LUCK:

The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip's lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky---the only question is . . . with whom?

Sizzling Sixteen . . . so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust!


Family Ties by Danielle Steel

Annie Ferguson was a bright young Manhattan architect. Talented, beautiful, just starting out with her first job, new apartment and boyfriend, she had the world in the palm of her hand—until a single phone call altered the course of her life forever. Overnight, she became the mother to her sister’s three orphaned children, keeping a promise she never regretted making, even if it meant putting her own life indefinitely on hold.

Now, at forty-two, as independent as ever, with a satisfying career and a family that means everything to her, Annie is comfortable being single and staying that way. She appears to have no time for anything else. With her nephew and nieces now young adults and confronting major challenges of their own, Annie is navigating a parent’s difficult passage between lending them a hand and letting go, and suddenly facing an empty nest. The eldest, twenty-eight-year-old Liz, an overworked, struggling editor in a high-powered job at Vogue, has never allowed any man to come close enough to hurt her. Ted, at twenty-four a serious and hardworking law student, is captivated by a much older, much more experienced woman with children, who is leading him much further than he wants to go. And the youngest, twenty-one-year-old Katie—impulsive, artistic, rebellious—is an art student about to make a choice that will lead her to an entirely different world she is in no way prepared for but determined to embrace.

Then, just when least expected, a chance encounter changes Annie’s life yet again in the most unexpected direction of all.

From Manhattan to Paris and all the way to Tehran, Family Ties is a novel that reminds us how challenging and unpredictable life can be, and that the powerful bonds of family are the strongest of all.


Dark Flame (Immortals Series #4) by Alyson Noel

In Alyson Noel's most darkly seductive Immortals novel yet, Ever fights for control of her body, her soul - and the timeless true love she's been chasing for centuries.

Ever is trying to help Haven transition into life as an immortal. But with Haven drunk on her new powers and acting recklessly, she poses the ultimate threat - exposing their secret world to the outside. As Ever struggles to keep the Immortals hidden, it only propels Haven closer to the enemy - Roman and his evil companions

At the same time, Ever delves deeper into dark magick to free Damen from Roman's power. But when her spell backfires, it binds her to the one guy who's hell-bent on her destruction. Now there's a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, and no matter what she does, she can't stop thinking about Roman - and longing for his touch. As she struggles to resist the fiery attraction threatening to consume her, Roman is more than willing to take advantage of her weakened state?and Ever edges closer and closer to surrender.

Frantic to break the spell before its too late, Ever turns to Jude for help, risking everything she knows and loves to save herself - and her future with Damen. . .


Also available this week:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (06-15-10 edition)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Today's Teaser:

They said that Aris' mother kept rats in an old shed in back of their house. They said that every day, before he came to school, Aris went out there and fed them chicken's eggs, that sometimes he even fed them live baby chicks. They said that his grandfather was buried in that shed under the floorboards and they said that Aris' mother chopped his father's head off with an axe and that Aris had watched her do it.
-- The Saving of Aris by NovaMelia (page 71)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mailbox Monday (06-14-10 edition)



Mailbox Monday is brought to us by The Printed Page. Haven't done this for a few months. Some of the books I've received over the last couple of months:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Won from Wise Owl Book Review

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town...

(This one was on my Wish List, so I am especially excited to have won it!)


Forbidden Passion by Rita Herron
Won from My Book Views


SHE SEES HIM IN HER DREAMS...
Fueled by her family's murder years ago, Dr. Marlena Bender has devoted her life to understanding violent criminals. But when a serial killer in this small Southern town starts taking the lives of women in diabolical ways--leaving trophies of his kills on Marlena's doorstep--it all hits too close to home. Terrified, Marlena turns to the only man she can trust...the man who saved her life. BUT HIS SECRET IS HER WORST NIGHTMARE. Sheriff Dante Valtrez would move heaven and earth to keep Marlena safe, but he's not the savior she thinks he is. A dark legacy runs through his blood and a dangerous secret lies within him. Now a fierce, hot, ruthless desire draws Dante and Marlena together--as a demonic force from his past threatens to rip them apart, destroying everything they hold dear.


The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
Won from
Luxury Reading

Brunonia Barry, the New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader, offers an emotionally compelling novel about finding your true place in the world.

Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats—a talent that earned her the nickname Trouble. She's now a respected psychotherapist working with the world-famous Dr. Liz Mattei. She's also about to marry one of Boston's most eligible bachelors. But the suicide of Zee's patient Lilly Braedon throws Zee into emotional chaos and takes her back to places she though she'd left behind.

What starts as a brief visit home to Salem after Lilly's funeral becomes the beginning of a larger journey for Zee. Her father, Finch, long ago diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, has been hiding how sick he really is. His longtime companion, Melville, has moved out, and it now falls to Zee to help her father through this difficult time. Their relationship, marked by half-truths and the untimely death of her mother, is strained and awkward.

Overwhelmed by her new role, and uncertain about her future, Zee destroys the existing map of her life and begins a new journey, one that will take her not only into her future but into her past as well. Like the sailors of old Salem who navigated by looking at the stars, Zee has to learn to find her way through uncharted waters to the place she will ultimately call home.


I won the big 200 follower contest at Along the Way. Along with four great bracelets I won:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
audiobook


When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.


The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon

From a fresh and exciting new voice in women's fiction, The Language of Secrets unflinchingly examines the lifelong repercussions of a father's betrayal.

Justin Fisher has a successful career as the manager of a luxury hotel, a lovely wife, and a charming young son. While all signs point to a bright future, Justin can no longer ignore the hole in his life left by his estranged family. When he finally gathers the courage to reconnect with his troubled past, Justin is devastated to learn that his parents have passed away. And a visit to the cemetery brings the greatest shock of all--next to the graves of his father and mother sits a smaller tombstone for a three-year-old boy: a boy named Thomas Justin Fisher.
What follows is an extraordinary journey as Justin struggles with issues of his own identity and pieces together the complex and heartbreaking truth about his family. With great skill and care, Dianne Dixon explores the toll that...


Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden

Synopsis from Publishers Weekly:

McFadden, in her powerful seventh novel, tells the story of Easter Bartlett as she journeys from the violent Jim Crow South to the promise of the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. Along the way, Easter forms relationships with both products of McFadden's imagination and actual historical figures: Rain, the sensuous and passionate dancer in Slocum's Traveling Brigade, a troupe that traveled the backwoods “entertaining negroes”; Colin, Easter's husband, who is provoked by a duplicitous friend into assassinating the Universal Negro Improvement Association leader, Marcus Garvey; Meredith, Easter's untrustworthy benefactor; and many more, including poet Langston Hughes, pianist Fats Waller, and shipping heiress Nancy Cunard. McFadden (Sugar) weaves rich historical detail with Easter's struggle to find peace in a racially polarized country, and she brings Harlem to astounding life: “The air up there, up south, up in Harlem, was sticky sweet and peppered with perfume, sweat, sex, curry, salt meat, sautéed chicken livers, and fresh baked breads.” Easter's hope for love to overthrow hate—and her intense exposure to both—cogently stands for America's potential, and McFadden's novel is a triumphant portrayal of the ongoing quest.


Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell
audiobook


Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child's
Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she'd ever do--until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING. Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer's, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs--tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts. The camaraderie at Fleischer's leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world--from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.


And I was lucky enough to receive last week some really great books from Jason with Henry Holt and Company:

The Good Son by Michael Gruber
Hardcover
Publish Date: May 2010

New York Times bestselling author Michael Gruber, a member of "the elite ranks of those who can both chill the blood and challenge the mind" (The Denver Post), delivers a taut, multilayered, riveting novel of suspense

Somewhere in Pakistan, Sonia Laghari and eight fellow members of a symposium on peace are being held captive by armed terrorists. Sonia, a deeply religious woman as well as a Jungian psychologist, has become the de facto leader of the kidnapped group. While her son Theo, an ex-Delta soldier, uses his military connections to find and free the victims, Sonia tries to keep them all alive by working her way into the kidnappers' psyches and interpreting their dreams. With her knowledge of their language, her familiarity with their religion, and her Jungian training, Sonia confounds her captors with her insights and beliefs. Meanwhile, when the kidnappers decide to kill their captives, one by one, in retaliation for perceived crimes against their country, Theo races against the clock to try and save their lives.

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
Paperback

Publish Date: August 3, 2010

Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.


Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield Paperback
Publish Date: February 2010

A moving tale of the triumph of the human spirit amidst heartbreaking tragedy, told through the eyes of a charming, impish, and wickedly observant Afghan boy

The Taliban have withdrawn from Kabul’s streets, but the long shadows of their regime remain. In his short life, eleven-year-old Fawad has known more grief than most: his father and brother have been killed, his sister has been abducted, and Fawad and his mother, Mariya, must rely on the charity of parsimonious relatives to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence.

Ever the optimist, Fawad hopes for a better life, and his dream is realized when Mariya finds a position as a housekeeper for a charismatic Western woman, Georgie, and her two foreign friends. The world of aid workers and journalists is a new one for Fawad, and living with the trio offers endless curiosities—including Georgie’s destructive relationship with the powerful Afghan warlord Haji Khan, whose exploits are legendary. Fawad grows resentful and worried, until he comes to learn that love can move a man to act in surprisingly good ways. But life, especially in Kabul, is never without peril, and the next calamity Fawad must face is so devastating that it threatens to destroy the one thing he thought he could never lose: his love for his country.

A big-hearted novel infused with crackling wit, Andrea Busfield’s brilliant debut captures the hope and humanity of the Afghan people and the foreigners who live among them.


Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
Paperback
Publish Date: March 2010

A modern gothic novel of suspense that reveals, through their diaries, the story of sisters who fall in love with a beguiling stranger and of the town that turns a blind eye to his murderous ways.

(This one was on my Wish List!)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

REVIEW: Hearts on a String by Kris Radish

Synopsis

Bestselling author Kris Radish delves deeply into the emotions of five very different women who are thrown together by chance—only to discover that they have more in common than they ever could have imagined.


Holly Blandeen has always cherished the story her grandmother told her about the thread that connects all women, tying them forever in sisterhood. It’s a beautiful idea, but with all the curveballs life has thrown her way, Holly has often felt isolated, different from other women. That starts to change when she meets four strangers in an airport and they agree to share a luxury hotel suite because a powerful spring storm is barreling across the country, stranding travelers from California to Florida. What begins as a spur-of-the-moment decision becomes an unlikely, unexpected, and sometimes reluctant exercise in female bonding, as these five exceptional women—each at a crossroads—swap stories, share secrets, and seek answers to the questions they’ve been asking about life, love, and the path to true happiness. A storm may have grounded them for the moment, but after this wild adventure in which anything can and does happen, they’ll never have to fly solo again.

About the Author
from the Barnes and Noble biography

Nationally syndicated columnist Kris Radish has taken a somewhat winding road to her current status as bestselling feminist novelist, although a strong love of fiction has been in her blood since childhood. "I fell in love with words when I was a little girl (and yes I was short once) and discovered the joy of reading and hanging out with Nancy Drew," she explains on her web site. "By the beginning of eighth grade I had read every book in St. Joseph's Grade School library and knew I was going to be a writer."

Radish did not start out writing the kinds of tales she loved as a girl. She began in the more practical realm of journalism, which lead her to write her first book. Run, Bambi, Run is the true story of Laurie Bombenek, an ex-cop/ex-Playboy bunny who was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Bombenek's fascinating story -- which included a daring prison break and her subsequent recapture—was adapted into an equally riveting and critically acclaimed true-crime book by Radish.

Now with her first taste of the publishing world, Radish began work on her second book. The Birth Order Effect was quite different from her debut and miles away from the fiction she would eventually pen. Instead, it is a serious but lively discussion of birth-order and how it affects human psychology and development. Ultimately, The Birth Order Effect would take ten years to see publication, putting Radish's publishing career on hold for that length of time. By the time it finally hit bookstore shelves in 2002, Radish had shifted gears again and would never suffer such a hiatus again. The same year that The Birth Order Effect saw publication, Radish published her breakthrough work of fiction The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, the mysterious, hypnotic story of eight Wisconsin women who embark upon a pilgrimage. As they travel, each woman's story is revealed and the bonds between them strengthen. The Elegant Gathering of White Snows established Radish as an important new voice in feminist fiction and there would be no turning back from there.

Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn, the story of a wife and mother who sets upon her own journey toward self-actualization after finding her husband in bed with another woman, followed. Next up was Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral, another road novel in the vein of The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. By this point, Radish had gathered quite a following of devoted readers, all of her novels having found their ways onto bestseller lists throughout the United States. The Sunday List of Dreams, her next effort, should be no different. It is a funny, moving, sometimes ribald tale of a woman who reconnects with her estranged daughter, who now runs a successful sex shop in New York City.

After the somewhat tentative journey toward her current success, Radish promises that she has many more stories to tell. "I write fulltime because I never, not once, let go of the dream I had to do this," she says. "To put all my manic words into sentences and then string the sentences into paragraphs so that they could become chapters and then a book."


My Thoughts

What happens when five women who are strangers meet in an airport bathroom, and after being stranded by a surprise storm, decide to get a suite together in a five-star hotel?

Well it could have been a fun story, full of women finding out how much they have in common, laughing at each others stories, reveling in their womanhood, motherhood and sisterhood.

Instead the majority of the story wound up being a bunch of nagging and nit-picking women constantly griping at one another, rolling their eyes, bemoaning their decisions to ever share a room with one another.

Patti was probably the most likable of the characters for me initially, although later on Holly became quite likable as well, and over time you begin to see the appeal of each woman. After all, we are all beautiful in all of our flawed glory! The characters were developed quite fully, so that I could begin to identify with them. We've all known these women in our lives. Most of us would see a little of ourselves in each of them.

It was probably the middle of this story that I enjoyed the most. My problem in the beginning was the constant nit-picking and griping by all of the women. About halfway through the story, the plotline just took a pretty preposterous turn. At that point, soon after losing my annoyance with the characters for their intolerance of one another (and soon after enjoying the turn in the characters attitudes), I became instead annoyed with the author for throwing so many different storylines into the story that it became the "Perfect Storm" of preposterousness.

I had great hopes for this story, but in the end it was just "eh".


My Rating: 6.5 out of 10