Monday, October 31, 2011

Mailbox Monday (10-31-11 edition)

 Image licensed from bigstockphoto.com
Copyright stands

Mailbox Monday is now hosted monthly by a different blog. Here is the official blog of Mailbox Monday.  Here is what I received over the last number of weeks:

Honored Dead by Joseph Braude
Won from Telly Says

The Arab Islamic world is known for religious extremism, ethnic conflicts, and, now, the overthrow of seemingly unshakable regimes—but if anything has become clear, it’s that our understanding of the region remains shrouded and incomplete. The seeds of revolution, radicalism, and—possibly—reform are buried in the individual stories of millions of people whose lives determine the fates of their societies, people whose motivations are as common, and as strange, as our own.

Here is one of those stories—and the story of how this world is being transformed, one life at a time.

Joseph Braude is the first Western journalist ever to secure embed status with an Arab security force, assigned to a hardened unit of detectives in Casablanca who handle everything from busting al-Qaeda cells to solving homicides. One day he’s given the file for a seemingly commonplace murder: a young guard at a warehouse killed in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong. Braude is intrigued by the details of the case: the sheer brutality of the murder, the identities of the accused—a soldier—and the victim, a shadowy migrant with links to a radical cleric, and the odd location: a warehouse owned by a wealthy member of one of the few thriving Jewish communities in the Arab world. After interviewing the victim’s best friend, who tearfully insists that the true story of the murder has been covered up by powerful interests, Braude commits to getting to the bottom of it.

Braude’s risky pursuit of the shocking truth behind the murder takes him from cosmopolitan Marrakesh to the proud Berber heartland, from the homes of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country to the backstreets of Casablanca, where migrants come to make fortunes, jihad, and trouble, but often end up just trying to survive with dignity. The Honored Dead is a timely and riveting mystery about a society in transition, the power of the truth, and the irrepressible human need for justice.


The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent
Won from Just Another New Blog

This novel was originally published under the title The Wolves of Andover.

In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and his mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of the role he played in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. At once a love story and a tale of courage, The Traitor's Wife confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories from the dramatic background of America's earliest days.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Won from The Scarlet Letter

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.


Thanks to all!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (10-29-11 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:

Passion for Novels is giving away your choice out of three books. Deadline is October 31. International!

Portrait of a Book is giving away your choice out of two books. Deadline is October 31. US only.

Luxury Reading is giving away The Countess. Deadline is October 31. US/Canada only.

The Reading Fish is giving away lots of books and swag for her 200 Follower giveaway! Deadline is October 31.

One a Day YA is giving away your choice out of a group of books. Deadline is October 31. International!

Lost in the View is giving away your choice out of five books. Deadline is October 31. US only.
A Book-lover's Review is giving away Beautiful Chaos. Deadline is October 31. International!
A Book-lover's Review is giving away a huge Scream Bundle! Deadline is October 31. International (although you may have to pay shipping)!
Stuck in Books is giving away your choice of several books. Deadline is October 31. International!
Amused by Books is giving away Holy Ghost Girl. Deadline is November 1. US/Canada only.

Jo-Jo Loves to Read is giving away  Everything We Ever Wanted. Deadline is November 10. US/Canada only.
Luxury Reading is giving away 2 copies of Beautiful Chaos. Deadline is November 10. US/Canada only.
Amused by Books is giving away Her Sister's Shadow. Deadline is November 11. US/Canada only.
Book Whore is giving away her 1st edition Nook! Deadline is November 14. I couldn't find a note of whether it was US or International.
Peeking Between the Pages is giving away The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. Deadline is November 26. US/Canada only.
Readaholic is giving away Children of Paranoia. I couldn't find note of a deadline. US/Canada only.
Books Like Stars is having a massive "Debut Author" giveaway! US 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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Twitter Doomed



As if I already didn't have little enough time to read thanks to 10 blogs, 5 cats, a dog, a lovebird, a turtle, a job, a house, Facebook, friends, family, and life in general...*deep breath*... I have now discovered Twitter.

I am doomed...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hunger Games movie posters released


Check out these links for the posters and accompanying articles:

Katniss (Yahoo!) – Jennifer Lawrence (This one includes some stills from the movie)
Peeta (MTV) – Josh Hutcherson
Gale (Moviefone) – Liam Hemsworth
Rue (Teen.com) – Amandla Stenberg
Haymitch (IGN) – Woody Harrelson
Cato (MSN) – Alexander Ludwig
Cinna (Fandango) – Lenny Kravitz
Effie (EW) –Elizabeth Banks

Quote of the Day


“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” 

--Fran Lebowitz

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

World Book Night 2012 Launches List of 25 Titles in U.K., U.S. Titles Coming Soon

Publisher's Weekly ran an article today about World Book Night 2012, which I had never heard of before. The UK has released their list of 25 titles for next year's "celebration of reading", and the US is finalizing their list. Here are the 25 books on the UK list:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Vintage)
The Player of Games by Iain M Banks (Little, Brown)
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson (Transworld)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Harper Collins)
The Take by Martina Cole (Headline)
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwall (Harper Collins)
Someone Like You by Roald Dahl (Penguin)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Penguin)
Room by Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Little, Brown)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
Misery by Stephen King (Hodder)
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Transworld)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (Headline)
Let the Right One In by John Ajvde Lindqvist (Quercus)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pan Macmillan)
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage)
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell (Headline)
The Damned Utd by David Peace (Faber)
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (Transworld)
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Penguin)
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (Vintage)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Vintage)
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak (Transworld)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Readathon Oct 2011: End of Event Meme

Well, the read-a-thon is over, and I did worse this year than ever! I didn't make it through a single book.

What I did do was get in a lot of hour-long naps!

And I spent time reading and editing my own book that I've been writing!

But as for really reading like I was supposed to be doing? Nope. Wasn't very good at that.

I think part of the problem was that I am currently reading four non-fiction books. And that generally means four "not fun" books. A read-a-thon really needs to have one or two fun and light fiction stories to get lost in, and I was lacking that. I've found myself currently under the obligation to read four non-fiction stories, and while they may be good books in their own right, it can be a little much to sit and just read non-fiction stories constantly. I am really craving a good fiction story right now, but I feel the pressure to get through at least two of these this week. So I am denying myself the fiction story right now. Argh!

Here's my pitiful end-of-the-readathon meme:
  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? It's always the hours after midnight that are the toughest for me.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Most of the ones I can think of would be really long books, and I think shorter books are a better option for a read-a-thon. All of my books were non-fiction, which aren't a good choice, but those are the books I'm obligated to review right now, so...
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope. You guys always do great!
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I never have any complaints about the way the read-a-thon is run, so nothing in particular stands out.
  5. How many books did you read? Zilch, but I got about halfway through one....  :(
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? That would have to be the same one, I guess.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? Uhhhh...
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? n/a
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'll read again, and I'll make promises to myself once again that I don't keep!
So we'll see how it goes at the spring read-a-thon. Perhaps I'll do better? I certainly couldn't do worse! I hope everyone enjoyed themselves this year!

Readathon Oct 2011: Zombify Mini-Challenge

Heidenkind of Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books is hosting a min-challenge for the read-a-thon.

Her challenge is to have readers "zombify" one of their read-a-thon books. This can be done either by altering the book cover, or by creating an "adaptation synopsis" for the book.

Since it is 5 AM and I am too tired to think too much, I opted to alter my book cover. Heidenkind had suggested using the spooky editing features of Picnik, which was a great idea, but unfortunately those features cost money to use. So I was limited with what features I could use.

However this was what I came up with:


At this time of night, I'm pretty much feeling zombified myself! Now back to it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Readathon Oct 2011: Mid-Event Survey Mini-Challenge


Let's just get this out of the way right now: I've done terribly this read-a-thon! I've read very little. Dang technology! It just keeps distracting me!

1. What are you reading right now? Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
2. How many books have you read so far? zilch
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I just hope to finish this one!
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Sorta. Just said I'm making no plans with anyone this weekend!
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Tons of interruptions (I distract myself), and I've dealt with them very poorly!
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How little I've read. I mean, I'm always bad with read-a-thons, but this time I'm really pitiful!
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope, you guys always do a great job!
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Turn off the computer and TV!
9. Are you getting tired yet? I've already taken two naps! So I'm pretty good at the moment.
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Oh, please. I am the last person to ask for tips!

Okay. I promise to get some reading done over the next hour. Really!

Readathon Oct 2011: Book Sentences Mini-Challenge

Well, we're on Hour 9. I have no idea how we got on hour 9, considering how little reading I've actually gotten in (as usual), but here we are.

Kate over at Midnight Book Girl is hosting a mini-challenge. Use the books on your shelves to build sentences.

I decided to really challenge myself, and limit myself to my "reading next" wall shelves that are located next to my bed:

So this is what I turned up on these two shelves...

 A discovery of witches matched the weird sisters leviathan.


 The philosophical breakfast club jarred into being the homecoming of Samuel Lake.


First love the passage.

How'd I do? If I'd used all of my bookshelves to try to create sentences, I may have never returned to the read-a-thon! Here's just a few of them...



Good luck to everyone who's joining in on the read-a-thon today! Enjoy!

Readathon Oct 2011: Character Photo Mini-Challenge

Alyce of At Home with Books is hosting a mini-challenge for this year's Read-a-Thon. She has asked participants to take a photo that represents a character from a book that they are reading.

I've got a number of books that I'm reading right now. However I just realized as I type this that all four books that I'm reading are non-fiction!

One of the books that I'm reading is Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10  by Marcus Luttrell. So here is my photo:


Unfortunately my seal is at work sitting on a shelf, so his cousin the Navy Manatee is stepping in for him!

Rock on readers!

Readathon Oct 2011: Introduction


The Read-a-thon has begun, and it's time to introduce ourselves!

1)Where are you reading from today? I'm starting off in bed, but will move to the living room later.

2)Three random facts about me… I have five cats, a dog, bird and turtle. I drive a 12-year-old Jeep Cherokee that I love! I'm a pescatarian (I don't eat meat, but I do eat fish and seafood.)

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? Four, I think. (Just look on the left sidebar for the majority of them.)

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I've given up on goals, since I always let myself down. If I could just finish one book and get a good way through another (read, say, 400 pages?)

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? I'm the last person to get advice from. I'm terrible at this!

Okay. I'm off to see what's next on the list before I pick up my first book. See? Almost a half-hour into it, and I still haven't picked up a book! I'm terrible at this!

Good luck everyone!

Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon

It's that time of year-- time for the fall read-a-thon! And I am joining in once again! I think that this is my...third? fourth?...24-hour read-a-thon, and each time I get easier on myself. I used to struggle so hard to stay away 24 hours. But now I kinda figure that the point is to just enjoy reading, and if I am struggling, then I am not doing very well at this!

So I will be reading as much as possible, but when tired I will be sleeping! My biggest goal is to spend more time reading and less time doing mini-challenges. I love the challenges and think they are such fun, but they take so much of my time and I wind up with pitiful reading results!

So, it's off to reading. At last count there were about 442 of us reading today. Good luck to everyone else joining in!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (10-21-11 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:

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Salvage the Bones. Deadline is October 22. US/Canada only.
Amused by Books is having a blogoversary celebration! Deadline is October 27. International!
Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away Her Sister's Shadow. Deadline is October 28. US/Canada only.
Amused by Books is giving away Night Circus. Deadline is October 28. US/Canada only.
Passion for Novels is giving away your choice out of three books. Deadline is October 31. International!
 Portrait of a Book is giving away your choice out of two books. Deadline is October 31. US only.
Luxury Reading is giving away The Countess. Deadline is October 31. US/Canada only.
The Reading Fish is giving away lots of books and swag for her 200 Follower giveaway! Deadline is October 31.
One a Day YA is giving away your choice out of a group of books. Deadline is October 31. International!
Lost in the View is giving away your choice out of five books. Deadline is October 31. US only.
Amused by Books is giving away Holy Ghost Girl. Deadline is November 1. US/Canada only.
Jo-Jo Loves to Read is giving away  Everything We Ever Wanted. Deadline is November 10. US/Canada only.
Book Whore is giving away her 1st edition Nook! Deadline is November 14. I couldn't find a note of whether it was US or International.

Readaholic is giving away Children of Paranoia. I couldn't find note of a deadline. 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.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (10-15-11 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:

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away The Legacy. Deadline is October 15. International!

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Salvage the Bones. Deadline is October 22. US/Canada only.

Book Whore is giving away her 1st edition Nook! Deadline is November 14. I couldn't find a note of whether it was US or International.
Readaholic is giving away Children of Paranoia. I couldn't find note of a deadline. 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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Awesome Stacks of Books

I saw this today, and was fascinated with looking at all of the stacks of books.

I figured while I was at it, I would drop my pants and show my own shelves. These two cases are simply some of my TBR books that I've acquired over the last couple of years. This doesn't include books read, my 30 or 40 "reading next" books, or any of the books that I brought with me from my last place (most of which are still packed in boxes).



I've always had a problem with my eyes being bigger than my stomach. At least that's what my mother was always telling me growing up, when I'd pile my plate up with food and wind up eating only about half of it. I'm getting better as I get older, but from the look of these bookcases, I still have some work to do!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

NPR's list of your Top 100 Science-Fiction/Fantasy Books

NPR has released Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books. Listed among them are a few of my favorite reads, and a dozen or more of the books are sitting on my shelves waiting To Be Read. Here are my favorites from the list:

1984 by George Orwell

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Huxley's vision of the future in his astonishing 1931 novel Brave New World -- a world of tomorrow in which capitalist civilization has been reconstituted through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, where the people are genetically designed to be passive, consistently useful to the ruling class.

The Stand by Stephen King

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after; a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers; Randall Flagg, the dark man.

In 1978 Stephen King published The Stand, the novel that is now considered to be one of his finest works. But as it was first published, The Stand was incomplete, since more than 150,000 words had been cut from the original manuscript.

Now Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil has been restored to its entirety. The Stand ; The Complete And Uncut Edition includes more than five hundred pages of material previously deleted, along with new material that King added as he reworked the manuscript for a new generation. It gives us new characters and endows familiar ones with new depths. It has a new beginning and a new ending. What emerges is a gripping work with the scope and moral complexity of a true epic.

For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are reading The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (10-08-11 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:

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Primacy. Deadline is October 8. US/Canada only.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Falling Together. Deadline is October 8. US/Canada only.

Addicted 2 Novels is giving away 2 boxes of ARCs. Deadline is October 10. US only.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away The Legacy. Deadline is October 15. International!

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Salvage the Bones. Deadline is October 22. US/Canada only.

Book Whore is giving away her 1st edition Nook! Deadline is November 14. I couldn't find a note of whether it was US or International.

*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, October 3, 2011

Mailbox Monday (10-3-11 edition)

 Image licensed from bigstockphoto.com
Copyright stands

Mailbox Monday is now hosted monthly by a different blog. Here is the official blog of Mailbox Monday.  Here is what I received over the last number of weeks:

The Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham
Won from Sara's Organized Chaos

In this charming fiction debut, a young woman moves to Manhattan in search of romance and excitement—only to find that her apartment is haunted by the ghost of a cantankerous Beat Generation writer in need of a rather huge favor.

For Eve Weldon, moving to Greenwich Village is a dream come true. She’s following in the bohemian footsteps of her mother, who lived there during the early sixties among a lively community of Beat artists and writers. But when Eve arrives, the only scribe she meets is a grumpy ghost named Donald, and the only writing she manages to do is for chirpy segments on a morning news program, Smell the Coffee. The hypercompetitive network environment is a far cry from the genial camaraderie of her mother’s literary scene, and Eve begins to wonder if the world she sought has faded from existence. But as she struggles to balance her new job, demands from Donald to help him complete his life’s work, a budding friendship with a legendary fashion designer, and a search for clues to her mother’s past, Eve begins to realize that community comes in many forms—and that the true magic of the Village is very much alive, though it may reveal itself in surprising ways.

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
Won from Stilleto Storytime

This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.

Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.

First Love by Violeta Barrett
This book was received from the author for review. It turns out she is a local author here in town!

By 1956 Violeta Barrett had been working for a Wall Street investment firm more than a decade. Recently separated from her husband and feeling overworked, Violeta decided to vacation in Mexico. After her plane landed in Mexico City, a stranger with a deep, accented voice introduced himself as her tour guide. Violeta and Jorge had no idea they were about to begin a four-year romance that would endure the test of time and distance.

In her compelling memoir, Violeta shares a nostalgic and emotional journey where principles, love, and obligations collide and force unexpected decisions. Energized by the Mexican culture and Jorge's charm, Violeta is soon caught up in the joy of being loved. But before long she must return to her obligations, leaving Jorge behind. Through the more than seventy love letters she would receive from Jorge for the next few years, the two share a forbidden passion-until the forces of morality prevail.

Nearly fifty years ago, Violeta and Jorge fell in love, changing their lives forever. Their heartfelt story proves that true love is not affected by time. It is ageless. It is eternal.

I've also purchased a number of books lately:

People of the Longhouse by W. Michael and Kathleen O'Neal Gear

Born in a time of violent upheaval, young Odion and his little sister, Tutelo, live in fear that one day Yellowtail Village will be attacked. When that day comes and Odion and Tutelo are marched away as slaves, Odion's only hope is that his parents are tracking them, coming to rescue them.

They are. But War Chief Koracoo and Deputy Gonda think they are tracking an ordinary war party herding captive women and children to an enemy village. Instead, they are following close on the heels of legendary evil, an old witch-woman named Gannajero, who captures children for her own purposes.

Lucy by Laurence Gonzales

Primatologist Jenny Lowe is studying bonobo chimpanzees deep in the Congo when she is caught in a deadly civil war that leaves a fellow researcher dead and his daughter, Lucy, orphaned. Realizing that the child has no living relatives, Jenny begins to care for Lucy as her own. But as she reads the late scientist’s notebooks, she discovers that Lucy is the result of a shocking experiment, and that the adorable, magical, wonderful girl she has come to love is an entirely new hybrid species—half human, half bonobo.


Assegai by Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith has won acclaim worldwide as the master of the historical novel. Now, in Assegai he takes readers on an unforgettable African adventure set against the gathering clouds of war.

It is 1913 and Leon Courtney, an ex-soldier turned professional hunter in British East Africa, guides the rich and powerful from America and Europe on big-game safaris. Leon had never sought fame, but an expedition alongside U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt has made him one of the most sought-after hunters on the continent. Soon, he finds that with celebrity comes not just wealth—but also danger.

Leon is recruited by his uncle Penrod Ballantyne, commander of the British forces in East Africa, to gather information on one of his clients: Count Otto von Meerbach, a German industrialist whose company builds aircraft and vehicles for the Kaiser’s burgeoning army. While spying, Leon falls desperately in love with von Meerbach’s beautiful and enigmatic mistress, Eva von Wellberg.

On the eve of the World War, Leon stumbles on a plot by Count von Meerbach that could wipe out the British forces in Africa. He finds himself left alone to frustrate von Meerbach’s plan, and in grave peril as he learns more about the enigmatic Eva.

Set amidst the tensions that will spark a war across continents, Assegai delivers the fast-paced action and vivid history that has made Wilbur Smith an internationally bestselling author.

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

Stolen from her village, sold to the highest bidder,
fifteen-year-old Amari has only one thing left of her own — hope.

 
Amari's life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present.

Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the illusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger?

Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent

Meet Denver, a man raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana in the 1960s; a man who escaped, hopping a train to wander, homeless, for eighteen years on the streets of Dallas, Texas. No longer a slave, Denver's life was still hopeless-until God moved. First came a godly woman who prayed, listened, and obeyed. And then came her husband, Ron, an international arts dealer at home in a world of Armani-suited millionaires. And then they all came together.

But slavery takes many forms. Deborah discovers that she has cancer. In the face of possible death, she charges her husband to rescue Denver. Who will be saved, and who will be lost? What is the future for these unlikely three? What is God doing?

Same Kind of Different As Me is the emotional tale of their story: a telling of pain and laughter, doubt and tears, dug out between the bondages of this earth and the free possibility of heaven. No reader or listener will ever forget it.

Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

First published in 1993, The Virgin Suicides announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters—beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys—commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

REVIEW: The Reversal by Michael Connelly

Synopsis

Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.

Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years.

With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. If Bosch is sure of anything, it is that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.


About the Author Michael Connelly
from Barnes and Noble

Best known for his dark police procedurals featuring the tough, complex and emotionally scarred LAPD detective, Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch, Michael Connelly has been called "infernally ingenious" (The New York Times), "one of those masters...who can keep driving the story forward in runaway locomotive style" (USA Today) and "the top rank of a new generation of crime writers" (The Los Angeles Times).

Consistently exquisite prose and engrossing storylines play an integral role in his swelling success. However, Connelly believes that solid character development is the most important key. As he explained to MagnaCumMurder.com, "I think books with weak or translucent plots can survive if the character being drawn along the path is rich, interesting and multi-faceted. The opposite is not true."

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Connelly attended the University of Florida; there he discovered the works of Raymond Chandler -- author of many classic Los Angeles-based noir dramas such as The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and Farewell, My Lovely. The cases of Philip Marlowe inspired Connelly to be a crime novelist -- and by studying journalism, he put himself in the perfect position. "I went into journalism to learn the craft of writing and to get close to the world I wanted to write about -- police and criminals, the criminal justice system," he told MagnaCumMurder.com.

After graduation, Connelly worked the crime beat for two Florida newspapers. When a story he and a colleague wrote about the disastrous 1985 crash of Delta Flight 191 was short-listed for the Pulitzer, Connelly landed a gig in Marlowe's backyard, covering crime for one of the nation's largest newspapers -- The Los Angeles Times. Three years later, Harry Bosch was introduced in The Black Echo, which earned Connelly the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Connelly has since won every major mystery honor, including the Anthony (The Poet, Blood Work) and the Macavity Award (Blood Work).

While Connelly has written stand-alone novels that don't feature his tragic protagonist Harry Bosch, he is best identified by his rigid, contentious and fiery -- but also immensely skilled and compassionate -- detective. According to The Boston Globe, the Bosch series "raises the hard-boiled detective novel to a new level...adding substance and depth to modern crime fiction."

Called "one of the most compelling, complex protagonists in recent crime fiction" (Newsweek) and "a terrific...wonderful, old-fashioned hero who isn't afraid to walk through the flames -- and suffer the pain for the rest of us" (The New York Times Book Review), Bosch faces unforgettable horrors every day -- either on the street or in his own mind. "Bosch is making up for wrongs done to him when he rights wrongs as a homicide detective," Connelly explained in an interview with his publisher. "In a way, he is an avenging angel."

Bosch is clearly a product of his deadly, unforgiving environment. "The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that when you look into the darkness of the abyss the abyss looks into you. Probably no other line or thought more inspires or informs my work," said Connelly in the same interview. With each passing novel, Bosch looks deeper and deeper into the abyss; and readers continue to return to see just how far he will gaze.

Good To Know
  • Michael Connelly received a huge career boost in 1994 when then President Bill Clinton was photographed walking out of a Washington bookstore with a copy of The Concrete Blonde under his arm. Connelly remarked to USA Today, "In the six years I've been writing books, that is the biggest thrill I've had."
  • Real events have always inspired Connelly's plots. His novel Blood Work was inspired by a friend who underwent transplant surgery and was coping with survivor's guilt, knowing someone had died in order for him to live. The book was later developed into a feature film starring Clint Eastwood, Angelica Huston, and Jeff Daniels.
  • One of Connelly's writing professors at the University of Florida was cult novelist Harry Crews.
  • Connelly named his most famous character after the 15th Century Dutch painter, Hieronymous Bosch. As he told Bookends UK in an interview, Bosch "created richly detailed landscapes of debauchery and violence and human defilement. There is a world gone mad' feel to many of his works, including one called Hell' -- of which a print hangs on the wall over the computer where I write."
My Thoughts
The last time I'd eaten at the Watermark Grill I sat across the table from a client who had coldly and calculatedly murdered his wife and her lover, shooting both of them in the face.
Town/Location/Environment:


Los Angeles and Mulholland Drive. Also briefly in one of my favorite towns of Port Townsend, WA.

Jason Jessup was convicted 20+ years ago for the murder of a 12-year-old girl. Now new DNA evidence is braced to make him a free man. Michael “Mickey” Haller, normally a defense attorney, is brought in to prosecute Jessup and make sure that justice is served. Haller, an experienced defense attorney who has never worked the other side of the courtroom before, brings in his ex-wife Maggie “McFierce” McPherson, a well-respected prosecuting attorney, to play second chair for him. He also elicits the services of investigator Harry Bosch, his half-brother. The three of them make a great prosecutorial team, and they fight to make sure that Jessup stays in prison where they believe he belongs, despite new evidence.

This book plays dual roles, as #16 in the Harry Bosch series and #3 in the Mick Haller series.

I’ve dragged my feet for a few months on starting this book, and now I have no idea why! From the first few pages, it had me in its grip. Entertaining and engaging, it grabbed me and held me throughout the story, although the end was a little anti-climatic.

Mick Haller is an honest man and good at what he does, although he may at times allow himself to be caught up in the “game” that court trials have become and lose sight of what it is really supposed to be about-- justice.

Mick brings in his ex-wife Maggie to play second chair during the trial. Maggie pushes him and makes him better. The sexual tension between them adds a lot of nice energy. You feel that Mick is always trying to live up to his ex-wife’s expectations of him, and that he dreads ever letting her down. They have the quintessential love-hate relationship.

Mick also has an investigator working the case by the name of Harry Bosch. They didn’t really delve into the backstory on these guys, but it seems that perhaps Mick and Harry are half-brothers. There seems to be tension and an air of disapproval between them, but they work well together.

This is my first Connelly story, so I don’t know the history of Haller, McPherson and Bosch, but I enjoyed the familiarity that played out amongst them, and there was lots of tension-- sexual chemistry, resentment, old grudges-- along with mutual respect.

My final word: I don’t believe there was ever a moment in this story where I found myself bored, as there was plenty of suspense. It was very easy to read, with lots of dialogue, and great characters-- just the way I like it! The conclusion may have been slightly anti-climatic, but not enough to have detracted from the story at all. I normally don't read much crime fiction, but this one left me wanting to go back and read all of the others to precede it in the series.


My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Disclosure:

I received a copy of this book to review through GoodReads, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.