Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's Releasing (10-05-09 edition)

Books releasing the week of October 5th:

The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans


Dear Reader,

When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Johnson, gave our class the intriguing (if somewhat macabre) assignment of writing our own obituaries. Oddly, I don't remember much of what I wrote about my life, but I do remember how I died: in first place on the final lap of the Daytona 500. At the time, I hadn't considered writing as an occupation, a field with a remarkably low on-the-job casualty rate.

What intrigues me most about Mrs. Johnson's assignment is the opportunity she gave us to confront our own legacy. How do we want to be remembered? That question has motivated our species since the beginning of time: from building pyramids to putting our names on skyscrapers.

As I began to write this book, I had two objectives: First, I wanted to explore what could happen if someone read their obituary before they died and saw, firsthand, what the world really thought of them. Their legacy.

Second, I wanted to write a Christmas story of true redemption. One of my family's holiday traditions is to see a local production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. I don't know how many times I've seen it (perhaps a dozen), but it still thrills me to see the change that comes over Ebenezer Scrooge as he transforms from a dull, tight-fisted miser into a penitent, "giddy-as-aschoolboy" man with love in his heart. I always leave the show with a smile on my face and a resolve to be a better person. That's what I wanted to share with you, my dear readers, this Christmas — a holiday tale to warm your season, your homes, and your hearts.

Merry Christmas

New Moon: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz


Explore the making of the film New Moon in this ultimate visual companion, lavishly illustrated with full-color photos of the cast, locations, and sets. This beautiful paperback edition celebrates the onscreen creation of Stephenie Meyer's fascinating world, brought to life by Academy Award(R)-nominated director Chris Weitz.

With never-before-seen images, exclusive interviews and personal stories, renowned author Mark Cotta Vaz takes you behind the scenes with cast and crew, uncovering intimate details of the filmmaking process.

A Touch of Dead: The Complete Stories (Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series) by Charlaine Harris


Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is no typical southern belle. She can read minds. And she’s got a thing for vampires. Which, in a town like Bon Temps, Louisiana, means she’ll have to watch her back -- and neck...

New York Times–bestselling author Charlaine Harris has re-imagined the supernatural world with her “spunky” (Tampa Tribune) Southern Vampire novels starring telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. Now, for the first time, here is every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written -- together in one volume.

Stories include “Fairy Dust,” “One Word Answer,” “Dracula Night,” “Lucky,” and “Giftwrap.”

Also available:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday (09-28-09 edition)

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


So Into You by Sandra Hill Won from Just Another New Blog

Angel Sabato has been in love with best friend Grace O'Brien for 10 years—but he's only just realized it. Too bad she doesn't take him seriously when he tells her about his feelings. Reeling from the rejection, Angel hightails it out of town. Now Grace is left to wonder if her problems from the past are keeping her from opening herself to love. But she brushes these "useless" musings aside, concentrating instead on the work she's doing as an apprentice to folk healer Tante Lulu and keeping up with the old woman's good deeds. Such as starting a foundation to help families still homeless after Hurricane Katrina. One family consists of 5 children who lost their parents. The eldest, only seventeen, has been struggling to take care of her siblings and lying like heck to the state agencies in order to keep everyone together. Tante Lulu and Grace take the children under their wings and decide the foundation will build a house for them. Re-enter Angel, who helps with the construction. Unbeknownst to Grace, Tante Lulu has decided to try her hand at matchmaking again. And Tante Lulu has never failed before!

Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel Won from Luxury Reading Thirty-four-year-old Manhattan accountant Cat Connelly has always lived life on the safe side. But after her little sister gets married, Cat wonders if she has condemned herself to a life of boredom by playing by the rules. She decides to take a chance for once, accepting an invitation to spend a month with an old flame in Italy. But her reunion with the slick and gorgeous Francesco is short-lived, and she finds herself suddenly alone in Rome. Now, she must see if she has the courage to live outside the lines for the first time - and to face a past she never understood. It will take an unexpected friendship with a fiery Italian waitress, a whirlwind Vespa tour of the Eternal City with a handsome stranger, and a surprise encounter with an old acquaintance to show Cat that life doesn't always work out the way you expect, but sometimes you have to have fall in order to fly.

Daniel X: Watch the Skies by James Patterson and Ned Rust Won from Beth's Book Review Blog

All's quiet in the small town of Holliswood, the television sets a-glow in every home. But not all is as perfect as it seems. A terrifying outlaw has just arrived in town, with the goal of throwing it into chaos—and filming the pandemonium for the fellas back home. Only one person can stop him and his thugs from destroying the city and everyone living there. Daniel X assembles an all-star team of his own creation, but not even he could imagine the enormity of this made-for-TV-villain's powers.

Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets and Blood Atonement by Irene Spencer Won from Readaholic

In this shocking follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Shattered Dreams, Irene Spencer tells the full story of her brother-in-law Ervil LeBaron and his unimaginable reign of terror and violence in their polygamist community.

Summer of Two Wishes by Julia London Won from Park Avenue Princess

Macy Lockhart's life shattered in a moment with the news that her husband, Finn — serving in the military overseas — has been killed in the line of duty. Their ardent and devoted marriage is over, leaving Macy alone, empty, directionless. But while she tries to sustain herself with memories of Finn, the quiet, strong man who made her and their small Texas ranch the center of his life, it is wealthy Wyatt Clark who slowly brings joy back into her life. Her love for Wyatt may be less romantic than the breathless passion she'd once shared with Finn, but she vows to cherish him, and their marriage is happy and as solid as a rock. Until the day that Finn, miraculously spared from death, returns home to claim his bride....

Letter from Pemberley: The First Year by Jane Dawkins Won through a SourceBooks giveaway on Reading Extravaganza

In this continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself in a very different league of wealth and privilege, now as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and mistress of Pemberley.

Bought for myself...

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of her family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how both she and her mother became plural wives. Yet soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death. And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love, family, and faith.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

From the New Yorker:

In 1993, when the author was twelve, rebel forces attacked his home town, in Sierra Leone, and he was separated from his parents. For months, he straggled through the war-torn countryside, starving and terrified, until he was taken under the wing of a Shakespeare-spouting lieutenant in the government army. Soon, he was being fed amphetamines and trained to shoot an AK-47 (“Ignore the safety pin, they said, it will only slow you down”). Beah’s memoir documents his transformation from a child into a hardened, brutally efficient soldier who high-fived his fellow-recruits after they slaughtered their enemies—often boys their own age—and who “felt no pity for anyone.” His honesty is exacting, and a testament to the ability of children “to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Challenge Wrap-up: Summer Reading Challenge 2009

Well it seems I've run out of time with my Summer Reading Challenge, and I didn't do so well with it. I got through 5 of the 13 books I had hoped to get through, although I have been reading a 6th book for awhile now.

My Summer Reading List:

* The 6th Seal by J.M. Emanuel (DONE)
* Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha (I've been reading this for awhile)
* Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell (DONE)
* Lori's Song by Lori Foroozandeh (DONE)
* Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank (DONE)
* The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell (DONE)
* Confessions of an Ivy League Pornographer by Sam Benjamin (e-book)
* The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etziony-Halevy
* Hunter by Campbell Jefferys
* City of the Dead by Brian Keene
* The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer
* Fire at Midnight by Lisa Marie Wilkinson
* The Road by Cormac McCarthy
* The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
* Bound to Please by Lilli Fiesty

Oh well. Better luck next time!

CHALLENGE: Fall Into Reading 2009

Katrina of Callapidder Days is hosting the Fall Into Reading 2009 Challenge, and I'm joining in.

Here’s a brief recap of how to be a part of Fall Into Reading 2009, as outlined on her blog:

* Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this fall. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)

* Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky on her site.

* Get reading! The challenge goes from September 22nd through December 20th.

* Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!

* Write a post about your challenge experience in December, telling everyone all about whether you reached your goals and how Fall Into Reading went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun.

So here is my list, which I don't really have much hope of getting through. I'm a pretty slow reader, as I spend too much time blogging. But here is a list of the books I would love to get through:
  1. Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha (DONE)
  2. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran (DONE)
  3. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (DONE)
  4. Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (DONE)
  6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (abandoned for now)
  7. City of the Dead by Brian Keene (DONE)
  8. Confessions of an Ivy League Pornographer by Sam Benjamin
  9. Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz
  10. Dark Ruby by Lisa Jackson
  11. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  12. The Shack by William P. Young (currently reading)
  13. Hunter by Campbell Jeffreys
  14. Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn
  15. Liquid Soul by Matthew Carter
  16. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (DONE)
  17. Showdown by Ted Dekker
  18. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

So that's my list. We'll see how it goes!

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


William Smithback, a New York Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Eyewitnesses claim, and the security camera confirms, that the assailant was their strange, sinister neighbor-a man who, by all reports, was already dead and buried weeks earlier. While Captain Laura Hayward leads the official investigation, Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta undertake their own private-and decidedly unorthodox-quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them to an enclave of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive, reclusive cult of Obeah and vodou which no outsiders have ever survived.

My Thoughts

The reading by Rene Auberjonois was a little distracting initially. He was a good reader, and used talented inflection to portray emotion. It was the quality of his voice that distracted me in the beginning. Where the voice of Peter Giles (who read The Scarecrow for my last audio book) had a somewhat "neutral" voice that allowed me to concentrate on the story, I found Rene's voice so distinctive that it distracted me. I'd sit there and wonder, "What is it about his voice? Is it an accent? What kind of accent is that? He reminds me of someone. Who does he remind me of?" Then I thought, "Wait! I know what it is! He reminds me of the guy that played Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life!" Henry Travers played Clarence the Angel. Do you remember his voice? That is who Rene Auberjonois reminded me of. That voice can be a little distracting initially! (You may remember him as security officer Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) However I found that after time I got used to it, and found he really did a good job, keeping the female voices soft but not cheesily "female" as some men will do when portraying the female voice. He really is a quite talented narrator, and a good choice given all of the french pronounciation required in this story.

The story was a little off-beat, what with all of the zombies and animal sacrifice. Typically zombie stories are one of my favorites, but I always find that I have a hard time of it when something fantastical like zombies is put in a modern-day story. It seems so out of place. My mind has a hard time lending any credibility to the storyline when fantasy and modern reality are blended. But, hey, that's my problem-- not the author's!

So, all that being said, what did I really think of the story? The story wasn't a bad story. It just felt like there wasn't too much substance to it. It felt a little empty. A little bit like fluff. But it was an enjoyable distraction to have while I'm at work, and it would be a good choice for listening to while in the car or doing housework. But I'm glad that I didn't "read" it, as I may have had a hard time having it hold my attention or really "filling me up". It's more like a light appetizer than a main course.

But kudos to Rene Auberjonois for being so good at what he did that he made me forget just how distinctive his voice was, and helped me to really "see" the characters of the story.

All in all, not a bad story. Not great, but not bad. It was okay.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

GIVEAWAY: Win an audiobook of Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

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

Deadline is October 11, 2009.

Good Luck! Ready, Set, Go!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (09-26-09 edition)

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:

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away a bookcase from CSN! Deadline is September 26.

J Kaye Book Blog is giving away Flowers for Elvis. Deadline is September 26.

Pudgy Penguin Perusals is giving away The Year of the Flood. Deadline is September 27.

Lori's Reading Corner is giving away an ARC of Worst Case. Deadline is September 27.

Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of The Smart One and the Pretty One. Deadline is September 28.

The Book Chick is giving away 5 copies of The Smart One and the Pretty One. Deadline is September 28.

My Guilty Pleasures is giving away 5 copies of Simon's Cat. Deadline is September 28.

At Home with Books is giving away your choice of four books. Deadline is September 29.

A Journey of Books is giving away 2 copies of The Greatest Knight. Deadline is September 30.

The Eclectic Reader is giving away your choice of Hush, Hush, Fire, or Catching Fire. Deadline is September 30.

The Book Resort is giving away a 6-pack of books. Deadline is September 30.

Hist-Fic Chick is giving away a copy of The Constant Princess. Deadline is September 30.

Sweeps4Bloggers is giving away 3 copies of the audiobook Alibi. Deadline is September 30.

The Shady Glade
is giving away a signed copy of The King's Rose. Deadline is September 30.

A Sea of Books is giving away 2 copies of How To Rule the World from Your Couch. Deadline is October 3.

Sweeps4Bloggers is giving away 5 copies of Evenings at the Argentine Club. Deadline is October 3.

Drey's Library is giving hosting a Maximum Ride promotion. Deadline is October 4.

Falling Off the Shelf is giving away a pack of James Patterson books! Deadline is October 5.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 5 copies of Simon's Cat. Deadline is October 5.

Drey's Library is giving away 5 copies of Simon's Cat. Deadline is October 6.

At Home with Books is giving away 2 copies of How To Rule the World From Your Couch. Deadline is October 5.

Bloody Bad is giving away a copy of Benny and Shrimp. Deadline is October 5.

Yankee Romance Review is giving away 5 copies of The Highlander's Tempatation. Deadline is October 7.

Miscellaneous Matters is giving away a copy of A Black Man's Journey Through the Annals of Time. Deadline is October 7.

All About {n} is giving away a box of books for her 200 follower contest! Deadline is October 9.

Books and Needlepoint is giving away 5 copies of Beat the Reaper. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! Deadline is October 11.

The Lateiner Gange Book Review Spot is giving away your choice of an ARC or a hard copy of Catching Fire. Deadline is October 17.

The Book Resort is giving away The Lost Symbol. Deadline is October 23.

At Home with Books is cleaning off the shelves, and offering up Her Fearful Symmetry, The White Queen, Julie & Julia and Alex & Me. Deadline is October 29.

*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, September 24, 2009

Introducing...The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

I am sure that if I sat in a quiet place, away from the palace and the bustle of the court, I could remember scenes from my childhood much earlier than six years old. As it is, I have vague impressions of low tables with lion's-paw feet crouched on polished tiles. I can still smell the scents of cedar and acacia from the open chests where my nurse stored my favorite playthings. And I am sure that if I sat in the sycamore groves for a day with nothing but the wind to disturb me, I could put an image to the sound of sistrums being shaken in a courtyard where frankincense was being burned. But all those are hazy impressions, as difficult to see through as heavy linen, and my first real memory is of Ramesses weeping in the dark temple of Amun.

-- The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran, paragraph one

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays (09-22-09 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:

It was as though someone had crushed the air from my chest. I followed him into the Great Hall, and that evening, when the marriage was formally announced, I felt I was losing something I would never get back.

The Heretic Queen: A Novel by Michelle Moran, page 29

Monday, September 21, 2009

GIVEAWAY: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell


Spring 1938. After nearly two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko is a free man. While he was gone, his wife, Maria; their five children; and his sister, Anna, struggled to survive on the harsh northern Canadian prairie, but now Teodor—a man who has overcome drought, starvation, and Stalin's purges—is determined to make a better life for them. As he tirelessly clears the untamed land, Teodor begins to heal himself and his children. But the family's hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived. Anna's rogue husband, the arrogant and scheming Stefan, unexpectedly returns, stirring up rancor and discord that will end in violence and tragedy.

Under This Unbroken Sky is a mesmerizing tale of love and greed, pride and desperation, that will resonate long after the last page is turned. Shandi Mitchell has woven an unbearably suspenseful story, written in a language of luminous beauty and clarity. Rich with fiery conflict and culminating in a gut-wrenching climax, this is an unforgettably powerful novel from a passionate new voice in contemporary literature.

GIVEAWAY: Win my gently read ARC copy of Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell

I loved this book! See my review here.

Rules (you knew there had to be some):
  • You must be 18 years or older
  • This one I'm going to open up international
  • To enter, just leave a comment telling me: Have you ever joined in on a book club discussion? Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, or have it visible in your profile.
  • For extra entries, follow my blog and/or blog about this contest. One extra entry for each. Sidebars are okay.
  • Leave a separate comment for each entry.
  • That's a total of 3 possible entries!
  • Those who don't follow the rules risk being disqualified.

Deadline is 10/4/09.

Good Luck! Ready, Set, Go!

WINNER: Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

We have a winner! The winner of Secrets to Happiness is:

#20 Jo-Jo of Jo-Jo Loves to Read

Congratulations Jo-Jo! I hope that you enjoy the book. I'll be emailing you about the win. Just get me your mailing address, and I'll get this out to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and keep your eyes open for my next giveaway to be posted later!

Mailbox Monday (09-21-09 edition)

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


Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
Won from MayMays Memos

The late Georgette Heyer was a very private woman. Her historical novels have charmed and delighted millions of readers for decades, though she rarely reached out to the public to discuss her works or private life. It is known that she was born in Wimbledon in August 1902, and her first novel, The Black Moth, was published in 1921.

Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and they had one son together, Richard.

I actually won this awhile back, but never received the book (along with a number of others). In trying to figure out whether I had a problem with receiving my mail, I contacted Shawn, who said that the address it was sent to checked out. They then insisted on sending out a second copy of the book, despite my attempts to dissuade them. So I would like to thank Shawn for their kind consideration. Thank you, Shawn!

Dark Hunger by Rita Herron
Won from Drey's Library


Reporter Annabelle Armstrong will go to any lengths to deliver a story, even track down Quinton Valtrez, a man she believes is a coldhearted assassin. Yet the truth about the darkly sensual Quinton is even more shocking...and the overwhelming desire he ignites is one she vows to resist.


Quinton has fought his demonic powers since he was a child. Now using his gifts for the good of national security, he can't let himself be distracted by the beautiful, determined Annabelle. But his need for her is sudden, fierce—and could soon cost Annabelle her life. For a wicked enemy is out for vengeance, a demon who wants to draw Quinton into a life of pure evil and is willing to use Annabelle as bait. To save her, Quinton must achieve the near impossible: tame the sinister force that is both his inheritance and his curse before it claims him forever.

In addition to winning this book, I also won a T-shirt!

Renewable Energy for Your Home by Harvey Bryan and Brita Belli

Won from Eco-Libris

An essential how-to on powering your home with sun, wind, water, and more.

For readers wanting to save money—and the planet—by using alternative energy, this book provides everything they need to know. The five basic sources are fully covered: sun, wind, water, earth, and bio. The benefits, what is needed, and whether it will work for a particular home are all carefully laid out in this comprehensive overview:

• Solar energy for home heating, water heating, and electricity
• Wind power, hydrogen, and micro hydro power
• Heat pumps—air, geothermal, and water source
• Heating with wood and going bio

This was won from Eco-Libris. The thing that is great about Eco-Libris is that for every book that they give away, a tree is planted! Yeah for Eco-Libris!

Blue Star by Tony Earley

Won from Libby's Literary Library

Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two.

Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity. With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time—making it again even realer than our own day.

ARC received...

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Received from the Barnes and Noble First Look Club

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

On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.

The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right.

I'm looking forward to this book. This is my third First Look book, and the first two books were two of my favorite books this year.

Thanks to everyone who sent books!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Giveaways in Blogworld (09-19-09 edition)

Sorry I'm late getting this up. I really haven't done giveaways this week, so I don't have too much to add for this list, but I may add more later this week. 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:

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away a gently used copy of A Disobedient Girl. Deadline is September 19.

Presenting Lenore is giving away a Stolen One prize pack valued at over $100! Deadline is September 19.

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 5 copies of Sand Sharks. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! Deadline is September 20.

Jenn's Bookshelves is giving away any book of your choice ($20 max). Deadline is September 21.

Debbie's World of Books is celebrating her 1-year anniversary, and is letting us join her on the celebration! She is offering to one lucky winner their choice of 3 of her 16 favorite books. Deadline is September 21.

Park Avenue Princess is giving away a copy of How It Ends. Deadline is September 23.
Sweeps4Bloggers is giving away Dutch. Deadline is September 23.
Park Avenue Princess is giving away a bookcase! Deadline is September 24.

Park Avenue Princess is giving away a copy of Year of the Cock. Deadline is September 25.

A Place for Wicked Good Books is giving away a James Patterson Prize Pack to 2 winners. Deadline is September 25.
Socrates Book Reviews is giving away a copy of Simon's Cat. Deadline is September 25.

Sweeps4Bloggers is giving away 5 copies of The Boy Next Door. Deadline is September 25.
Bookin' with Bingo is giving away a bookcase from CSN! Deadline is September 26.

J Kaye Book Blog is giving away Flowers for Elvis. Deadline is September 26.
Pudgy Penguin Perusals is giving away The Year of the Flood. Deadline is September 27.

Lori's Reading Corner is giving away an ARC of Worst Case. Deadline is September 27.
Libby's Library News is giving away 5 copies of The Smart One and the Pretty One. Deadline is September 28.

The Book Chick is giving away 5 copies of The Smart One and the Pretty One. Deadline is September 28.
My Guilty Pleasures is giving away 5 copies of Simon's Cat. Deadline is September 28.
At Home with Books is giving away your choice of four books. Deadline is September 29.
A Journey of Books is giving away 2 copies of The Greatest Knight. Deadline is September 30.
The Eclectic Reader is giving away your choice of Hush, Hush, Fire, or Catching Fire. Deadline is September 30.

The Book Resort is giving away a 6-pack of books. Deadline is September 30.

Hist-Fic Chick is giving away a copy of The Constant Princess. Deadline is September 30.

Drey's Library is giving hosting a Maximum Ride promotion. Deadline is October 4.

Falling Off the Shelf is giving away a pack of James Patterson books! Deadline is October 5.

All About {n} is giving away a box of books for her 200 follower contest! Deadline is October 9.

Books and Needlepoint is giving away 5 copies of Beat the Reaper. Tell 'em nfmgirl sent you! Deadline is October 11.

The Book Resort is giving away The Lost Symbol. Deadline is October 23.

*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!

REVIEW: Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank

Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank

Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes. Unless she's with Colin, the gorgeous boy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he's older-like illegally older-and Tessa's taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it's clear that something's about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?

My Thoughts

I loved this book from the start. Even my boyfriend read a bit of it one night after I had him read the introductory quote on Chapter 1:
To open up your consciousness, you must detach yourself completely from the life you thought you knew.
He liked it well enough that he kept reading for a couple of chapters. Now keep in mind that this is a guy that does not read fiction. He reads textbooks on PHP and CSS and electronics and self-help books. In the 5 years that I've known him, he's only read a fictional story once.

So the fact that he kept reading this book after reading the quote I'd shown him was astounding to me. But that's the kind of book that this is.

This is a book of abandonment. It's a story that so many girls can identify with: Raised by a single mother with no father in the picture, seeking a father's love, the fear that everyone will abandon you as he did, and a selfish and emotionally-distant mother to boot.

Tessa's mother is totally self-absorbed. I know women like this. My best friend's mother was quite a bit like this. Her needs came first instead of that of her children. Tessa is always second-place in her mother's life (or third or fourth).

After she and her mother become residents of an isolated cult, Tessa feels more abandoned than ever as her mother thrives in the new community. Tessa turns to an older man for comfort and acceptance. Her new peer group of older men causes her to deal with situations that she is not prepared to deal with.

These situations were especially interesting to me, because they sort of start out thrilling and warm and cozy and enlightening, and Tessa thinks how wonderful these experiences are, but then reality sets in. She begins to lose herself and feels her life spiraling out of control. I think that most of us can identify with the feeling of hitting bottom...
Just go home, I tell myself. Just sneak into your bed and close your eyes and crawl between the sheets. Alone and quiet I can piece myself together; the world will slow to steady and I'll find solid ground again.
I really liked this story. Warm and gentle, stirring memories of my childhood, with moments of heartbreak, I would recommend this "coming of age" story to anyone. Please be warned that, although this is young adult, there is quite a bit of vulgarity in it, so be wary if this offends you or if you are concerned with exposing your child to foul language and other "adult situations".
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
  • Pub. Date: August 2009
  • ISBN-13: 9781423117513
  • 320pp
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Referencing Friday (09-18-09 edition)

Most Loved Treats, Company's Coming by Jean Pare

Some of the sweetest recipes by Company's Coming take the spotlight in Most Loved Treats. This beautiful, full-colour cookbook invites you to enjoy the authentic taste of homemade treats and desserts, perfectly chosen for busy rush hour mornings, after-school cravings or elegant dinner affairs. Included in this time-honoured collection of more than 80 recipes are freezer-friendly recipes, holiday treats, glazes, fillings, icings and sauces. Also featured in recipe sidebars are helpful tips, informative notes, variation suggestions and decorating tips.

I bought this on clearance at B&N. I haven't had time to try out any of the recipes yet, but look forward especially to trying the Lemon Crunch bars:

Lemon Crunch
page 90

Bottom Layer

1 1/3 cups Crushed soda crackers
3/4 cup Hard margarine (or butter), softened
3/4 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 cup Medium unsweetened coconut
1 tsp Baking powder

Lemon Filling

3 Large eggs
1 cup Granulated sugar
1 Lemon, grated peel and juice
1/4 cup Hard margarine (or butter)

Bottom Layer: Combine all 6 ingredients in a medium bowl until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture firmly in ungreased 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Lemon Filling: Beat eggs in heavy medium saucepan or top of double boiler. Add remaining 3 ingredients. Heat and stir on medium until thickened. Spread evenly over crumb layer in pan. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Let stand in pan on wire rack until cool. Cut into 36 squares.

Per serving (1 square): 122 calories, 7.1g Total Fat (2.1g Sat Fat), 18 mg Cholesterol, 14g Carbohydrate, trace Fiber, 1g Protein, 120 mg Sodium.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's Releasing? (09-23-09 edition)

Books releasing the week of 9/21/09:

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander Series #7) by Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in An Echo in the Bone, the enormously anticipated seventh volume, Gabaldon continues the extraordinary story of the eighteenth-century Scotsman Jamie Fraser and his twentieth-century time-traveling wife, Claire Randall.

Jamie Fraser, former Jacobite and reluctant rebel, is already certain of three things about the American rebellion: The Americans will win, fighting on the side of victory is no guarantee of survival, and he’d rather die than have to face his illegitimate son–a young lieutenant in the British army–across the barrel of a gun.

Claire Randall knows that the Americans will win, too, but not what the ultimate price may be. That price won’t include Jamie’s life or his happiness, though–not if she has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Roger MacKenzie, have resettled in a historic Scottish home where, across a chasm of two centuries, the unfolding drama of Brianna’s parents’ story comes to life through Claire’s letters. The fragile pages reveal Claire’s love for battle-scarred Jamie Fraser and their flight from North Carolina to the high seas, where they encounter privateers and ocean battles–as Brianna and Roger search for clues not only to Claire’s fate but to their own. Because the future of the MacKenzie family in the Highlands is mysteriously, irrevocably, and intimately entwined with life and death in war-torn colonialAmerica.

With stunning cameos of historical characters from Benedict Arnold to Benjamin Franklin, An Echo in the Bone is a soaring masterpiece of imagination, insight, character, and adventure–a novel that echoes in the mind long after the last page is turned.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power.

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . . Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo'hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can't stay locked away . . . By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.

Only the Superrich Can Save Us by Ralph Nader

"In the cozy den of the large but modest house in Omaha where he has lived since he started on his first billion, Warren Buffett watched the horrors of Hurricane Katrina unfold on television in early September 2005. . . . On the fourth day, he beheld in disbelief the paralysis of local, state, and federal authorities unable to commence basic operations of rescue and sustenance, not just in New Orleans, but in towns and villages all along the Gulf Coast. . . He knew exactly what he had to do. . ."

So begins the vivid fictional account by political activist and bestselling author Ralph Nader that answers the question, "What if?" What if a cadre of superrich individuals tried to become a driving force in America to organize and institutionalize the interests of the citizens of this troubled nation? What if some of America's most powerful individuals decided it was time to fix our government and return the power to the people? What if they focused their power on unionizing Wal-Mart? What if a national political party were formed with the sole purpose of advancing clean elections? What if these seventeen superrich individuals decided to galvanize a movement for alternative forms of energy that will effectively clean up the environment? What if together they took on corporate goliaths and Congress to provide the necessities of life and advance the solutions so long left on the shelf by an avaricious oligarchy? What could happen?

This extraordinary story, written by the author who knows the most about citizen action, returns us to the literature of American social movements -- to Edward Bellamy, to Upton Sinclair, to John Steinbeck, to Stephen Crane -- reminding us in the process that changing the body politic of America starts with imagination.

Also available:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (09-15-09 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:

I've never seen pot, but when I was a really little kid I used to smell it. My dad would come and visit and they'd shut the door, tell me to stay outside and draw. I'd hear them laugh, and then it would get quiet.

-- Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank, page 204

Monday, September 14, 2009

REVIEW and Q&A: Lori's Song by Lori Foroozandeh

*sigh* My apologies to Lori Foroozandeh for taking so long to get this posted. Everything tends to happen at once, doesn't it? So I've been working late hours and just haven't had the time to devote to this, so that I could attempt to do Lori justice.

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Lori Foroozandeh's new book Lori's Song: The true story of an American woman held captive in Iran. Here is the synopsis that comes from the publishers page:

Her name is Lori Foroozandeh, and this is her true story.

Lori lived her young years as a victim of abuse. As she grew older she fell into a classic pattern of self-destructiveness. But by the time she was twenty-seven, she was doing her utmost to create a sane life.

Mohammad Foroozandeh seemed like a man she could trust, a man who would care for her and respect her. Though she knew he engaged in drug use, she ignored the warning signs and married him. Two years later, he asked her to move to Iran, promising that she could pursue her career, assuring her that the country was quite modern. For four years, Lori adjusted as best she could to the oppressive customs of the land, but as her husband grew more demanding of her, he also became more violent.

After the World Trade Center bombings, Mohammad told her they must leave Iran. He purchased bus tickets that he said would take them out of the country and eventually to America. But before they could escape, armed guards attacked and kidnapped her. Lori was blindfolded and taken to a paramilitary POW camp somewhere in the hills.

Then the nightmare began…. six weeks of horrific beatings, raping, torture, and starvation.

This was a very heavy read, but an important story that I wanted to help share and "get the word out". And Lori was kind enough to take time out to answer some questions for me.

Q&A with author Lori Foroozandeh:

Often people will try to see the "silver lining" in their trials and tribulations. Do you think that perhaps your difficult childhood helped to prepare you for your difficult time in Iran? Someone with less endurance and unprepared by the often harsh realities of life would probably have been less likely to have survived.

I don't know if this is always true or we just start reacting when we are in that situation. Believe it or not I never thought about a silver lining while in that camp, all I thought about was surviving minute to minute.

My childhood could have prepared me subconsciously that my life "sucked" so far, so this is all I have to look forward to in the future. But had this been the case I wouldn't have kept on trying to "get it right".

Q: There are some contradictions that really struck me. Mainly the biggest one was the contrast between the mother in the introduction and the mother in the rest of the memoir. For instance, while your mother in the introduction was described as somewhat uncaring, she is described elsewhere in the book as loving and you seem to have a decent relationship with her. She calls you in Iran to check on you. When you call her from the encampment, you describe how grateful you were to have her voice on the phone.

"A familiar voice from my past, someone who loved me and truly cared about my well-being."

Can you describe more your relationship with your mother? It seems very complicated, and you seem conflicted. Almost a "love-hate" sort of relationship. There does seem to have been love there, but also resentment and perhaps distrust?

A: The reason for this is when I originally wrote this as I described in the Foreword, I wrote it with no intention of mudslinging. So I just generalized what all families were like. Then the more I got into therapy about my childhood, I was not only told to change the book but felt it was necessary to
relate to others that were abused.

Originally the foreword was not even going to be in the book when I first wrote it in 2002. ( And believe it or not I am just now reading it cover to cover, I had to have my fiancé proof read it for errors, the second time around. My literary agent corrected it the first time. Still today it is too difficult to read certain chapters).

As I was saying It was just focused on my experience in Iran.

As you will note in the foreword I did say something to the effect that I was going to keep the book as it was so people could see how people like "us" i.e. sexually abused children: would go to lengths to protect those around them.

When I was a child as stated I was adopted, and as noted all the time growing up I thought that if I came forward to my mother with what my brother was doing then my mother would hate me.

Remember I thought that she approved or didn't mind that this was happening.

Eventually I tried to tell my mother and I always got the same response, "I don't have time to talk right now".

My mother was caring to a degree and lets face it she was the only mother I knew. Sometimes growing up we see only the good in our parents, or at least try to justify their actions with the intent of being good.

It's not until we reach adulthood or "enlightenment" do we truly understand the whole "gist" of things.

Yes she did call me in Iran to check on me, she was even friends with Mohammad or so I thought. I also didn't know Mohammad had been borrowing money from my mom and paying her back with big interest checks until later. Considering how much money he had I can only reason that this was
money laundering. After all why would any small town bank suspect a older lady to be laundering money. Especially considering the length of time she had that account.

When I called my mother from the camp of course I was appreciative of her voice. My mother and I had our ups and downs, mostly downs, but still there were moments. And when your being held prisoner in a camp half way around the world not knowing if you would be dead or alive the next day, any voice from your past would be welcoming and caring. Especially if they were the only one who could help you at all.

Also remember I didn't find out a lot of "truths" about my mother until I came home and after her death. She always kept us children separate from each other, by saying I will do this for you but don't tell your sister, and vice versa. She would also make statements about how your sister thinks she is too good for you and that is why she doesn't speak to you. For some reason my mother was intent on keeping our family from unity.

You can verify this with my sister Luci with whom I've come to reconcile with since returning.

Q: By the way, in regards to Faresh putting bread in your infected wounds, bread poultices have commonly been used in "folk medicine" for centuries to combat infections and gangrene. Remember that penicillin grows in bread and yeast. Evidently Faresh had probably learned this from a grandmother or some wise old woman.

A: Yes your probably right, as a nurse I just couldn't think of things to do at all, just getting water and bits of food was important to me, it seemed like that was all I could focus on. A lot of people in the middle east or for that matter people who are in less "spoiled" nations as the USA, count on their wise advice from mothers and grandmother. Unlike here we always have some shot or vaccine to prevent something so we don't have to worry about it. Our country might have hungry people but very rarely do you hear about a disease that emerged from the homeless community. At least in my view.

Q: You include a picture in your book of you and Mohammad on your wedding day. I noted how sad your eyes look in this photo. Do you know what you were thinking? What were your hopes for your future with Mohammad? Did you have any inkling of the "real" man that seemed to be hiding behind the charade?

A: I didn't notice that they were sad looking, but looking back and this wasn't on our wedding day, but on our reception day; that you bring that to my attention, I suppose I did feel confused and scared about what I got myself into. I can't say for certain what I was pondering, but I'm sure I was also on Vicodin that day and probably wondering if I would ever kick that habit as well.

Q: It seems that no one wanted to believe your story. Have you had any corroboration to support your story, to garner you some weight in the media and help get your story out there? What about medical records that show scar tissue and x-rays to prove your claims of brutal abuse? The media should be all over this story!

I would think that part of the problem with verifying your story is the fact that it occurred in Iran-- a country known for hiding behind a veil of secrecy, especially when it comes to America. They don't seem to like America to know what is going on there.

A: Yes there are medical records, I arrived home weighing 70 pounds,. there was an ambulance waiting at the airport. As far as medical records sure there are but I'm not going to get into a "pissing" contest with people over my story. It's there, I wrote it, I'm not asking for notoriety, if I were I would have been hounding every talk show I could have when I got back. Instead I just opted for a newspaper article and NOT one in the National Enquirer:).

My therapist pushed me into publishing this telling me I owed it as a testament to people that have been through what I've been through: i.e. childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, bipolar, and going to a foreign country.

I can't prove anything except "still" being in therapy for it now, and to top it off, I just went through rehab in October 2008, so this is the first time I've had to deal with it SOBER! My therapist gave me the "WONDERFUL" news that now this will be like dealing with it for the FIRST TIME.

There were a lot of memories I try to forget but which eventually come out in PTSD episodes. Including one that lasted four hours and I was taken to U of M, paralyzed and a respirator was put in me, due to them not being able to calm me down and thought I had spinal meningitis, while in the examining room they were doing the spinal tap and I woke up and could feel the needle since the paralyzation (sic) only made your muscles that way not your nerves. To top it off they had an intern doing the procedure who had to stick me THREE TIMES! He was afraid to do it after the second time and one of the doctors stated, "Oh she can't feel anything, if you can flap your arms Ms. Johnson" I told them when I finally could open my eyes and they took the respirator out everything they said. I was kept for an epileptic monitoring stay, but it was a little hard for them to analyze me when they had to keep me on Morphine for seven days due to their MISTAKE! This is when I quit going to U of M M!

What do you hope will come of your disclosure of your time in the camp? Is it merely cathartic? Or do you hope that it will somehow help or change things?

A: Of course I hope that a LOT comes from this disclosure. The first and most important point I want to make is:


  2. Second, I hope that it encourages more victims of child abuse to come forward. I truly believe the more a subject is talked about the less likely it is to happen. I.e. the perps won't be so likely to commit this act if they know people and especially children are encouraged to talk about it. And yes I'm sure it was cathartic to a degree. I can sleep a lot better now;)

  3. I hope that people will go to my website and talk about not only bi-polar disorder which is so misunderstood, but also substance abuse, and domestic violence. I am not the only one to suffer from these problems, but if more people come together, and it's sad to say but true when someone puts the issues to ink and a book becomes popular for whatever reason then usually more people will be encouraged to come forward and we can try to create public awareness about the "TRUTHS" of these issues.

  4. Finally I hope that people who are thinking about traveling to a foreign country especially as a wife of that person, I pray to GOD that they find out the laws of that country. Not only as a visitor but as the wife or child of the person they are visiting with. I never knew that you needed your husbands written permission to leave Iran. I didn't know that public executions for adultery were still being practiced. There was so much that I was ignorant to.

    I just went because I trusted my husband to tell me the truth.

Q: What was the hardest thing about your imprisonment?

A: Two events actually:

The first is being touched on the shoulder by God and being told that I was going home the next night. I will never forget that. I still get a warm feeling in my stomach when I think of that moment. And the second:

Watching what the other girls went through. Seeing that man go out and must have seen his son executed, broke my heart. Seeing Faresh's family watching her get publicly raped just killed me. I know this sounds textbook but it truly was the hardest thing. Watching what happened to other
people. I guess when you watch what happens to others, in your mind it somehow simulates what it would be like if this happened to you or your family if they were watching. And you know deep down it would kill them.

Q: You said in an email to me that you "didn't want to go with the bigger publishing companies like Simon and Schuster because they just wanted to edit the book so much and make me out to be 'Miss Perfect' thus devoid my drug addiction. I wanted to share that in the book as well as my bipolar and sexual abuse because I believe the more you talk about abuse the less it will happen." I get this. One of my favorite quotes is "The only good is knowledge, the only evil ignorance." Only through knowledge can things change.

A: So true. Also I believe that ordinary people say extraordinary things and extraordinary people say ordinary things. This is always been my rule, thus it's more important to listen to the people that are living day to day around you than it is to listen to some TV or movie star. They only say what their publicist allows them to say. This book says everything, My life is OUT OPEN BOOK:)

Q: How is Douger today?

A: Douger is doing much better. He got his parole for March of 2010, so we both are eagerly awaiting this.

Q:Why have you decided to keep your last name, at least for the purpose of the book? I realize that the events in Iran happened to "Lori Foroozandeh", and I was curious whether that is why "she" is the one telling the story? I would think that, after your ordeal, you would be eager to shed your ex-husband's name.

A: I did want to shed it at first for a lot of reasons but my thinking was not clear then. I took back the name, because your right it happened to Lori Foroozandeh, and lets face it if readers were to look at a book like this written by Lori JOHNSON, it just wouldn't fit the bill so to speak.

Q:I'm a "life is too short for regrets" kind of a gal. Do you have any regrets? Or is life too short for regrets?

A: I'm not sure how to answer that. I've never been one to sit around and think about regrets, it could have been due to my drug use, but there were things I've done wrong in my life, lets face it a life full of bad decision making. I've been severely depressed but not really regretful, and I'm sorry if this offends people, but my whole life I guess has been, "lets get onto the next experience or event", I'm sure it has something to do with the bipolar and the drug use or maybe not. What I have been as I said was severely depressed, and now thanks to Prozac:), my fiancé John, and my two wonderful doctors, and rehab, I am now starting to look at life and my relationships with "EXCITEMENT"...gawd did I say that. My son won't recognize my good decision making and actual optimistic outlook on life now. Yes and I thank God for that everyday.

Q: What's your favorite motto or "words to live by"?

A: I wrote this back in 2002 after returning and am still a believer in it to the utmost: This and my saying above about that ordinary people say extraordinary things....etal.

While Terrorism is a war that starts developing within the mind,
Religion is a war that antagonizes our conscience, but
Love is a war within the heart.....

Lori F. 5/2002 Share The Peace!

Q: How are you doing now?

A: I'm doing OKAY!:) My son is getting paroled, and I have a wonderful man and I now have learned how to survive in a relationship without drugs.

He has supported me all the way and I can't believe that God has blessed me with him.

When I say supported me all the way, he truly has loved me through all my terrible actions and mean behaviors to help produce the LORI OF TODAY. He doesn't drink, do drugs, hit me, or even smoke, and he doesn't have any felonies, my father would be proud:)

The first 40 years were anything but good, but I think the next 40 years will be GREAT!

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to say, or to share with my readers?

A: I just want to say thank you for asking questions that I'm sure everyone has had on their mind. Even me after I started proof reading it a little too late. But I hope I explained why in the foreword, if it is still confusing I apologize.

Thanks so much, Lori, for giving me the opportunity to read your story and for taking the time to answer a "few" questions. And now for my review of the book...

My Thoughts

Lori's Song is a very heartfelt and heart-wrenching story of Lori's imprisonment in an Iranian POW camp just after 9/11. However it is much more than that, as it also touches on her childhood, her earlier life with her Iranian husband Mohammad, and the culture of Iran, among other things.

I found that the writing-style could be a little disjointed, the thoughts a little scattered, so it didn't "flow" like a lyrically well-written novel by an experienced author. And at times it can be a little repetitive. However this is a memoir, not a novel, and it reads more like a letter from your girlfriend who is sharing her sorrows and triumphs with you. It was real. There didn't seem to be the heavy editing or guidance in the structure of the story or maintaining a good flow that can be expected with a big publishing company. The book is riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors. But it's a very personal memoir. It was Lori's conscious decision to not go with a large publishing outfit, as she didn't want them to heavily edit her story. And I understand this.

I don't want any criticisms to detract from this story, as I think that it is important to read. As I've said before, one of my favorite mottos is "The only good is knowledge and the only evil ignorance." We must not be ignorant, and Lori has graciously and bravely bared her soul and her life to us so that we may be knowledgeable of the possible dangers of being an American in a country like Iran. She hasn't sugar-coated her own past behaviour or actions. She has laid it all on the table. For that I thank her.

She mentions at one point that she heard that anyone possessing an American passport was picked up, but was unsure the reasoning behind it. My own half-baked theory is that perhaps it was in preparation of an attack by the US, to have a bargaining tool or use them to create a barrier. Lori said herself that it was believed that America would lash out at all middle eastern countries for retribution. Or perhaps it was simply fueled by a hatred of America, and there was no point other than for "fun" and revenge against "the big Satan".

The bottom line is this: Read it! It is graphically violent, disturbing and heart-breaking, but it is also important. If you are of a sensitive nature, perhaps you should stray away from reading the book, because there is some very disturbing imagery, and it is real. It isn't "just a story". I was prepared for what I read. I was aware of the atrocities that go on in other countries, I've read other accounts outlining how it is culturally acceptable in some areas for a father to kill his daughter for the merest of infractions, of a young teen girl who was raped and gave birth to the child that was conceived during the rape, and then removed from the hospital by the authorities shortly after the babies birth, only to be stoned to death for the crime of adultery. And I worked with an Iranian man who had explained to me twenty years ago that an Iranian man was legally permitted to kill his wife for adultery (he doesn't even have to prove that she is guilty. Suspicion alone is grounds enough). You, too, should be prepared before taking on this book.

And after reading it, you should be even more amazed at the strength of those middle-eastern women who have chosen to stand up and fight for their rights. I am in awe of the courage that it takes with the constant threat of death hanging over your head. I'll never forget the Saudia Arabian woman who, when asked about how women were viewed in her country, said to the interviewer, "We are shoes. When a husband tires of his wife, he throws her away like an old pair of shoes. We are like shoes." I think that this excerpt from Lori's article about Iranian women says it best:

The Iranian woman is oppressed yet rebellious. She is subjugated yet unruly. She is controlled yet defiant. She is hushed and subservient. She is a religious fanatic living a secluded life. She is a revolutionary, a fighter, yet segregated and oppressed. Willing to die for her nation, she is a mother and a wife.

I think that Lori's biggest hope is that young American girls and women will be aware of life in other countries, and enter them with full knowledge of the risks involved. Also that we will see outside of our own little worlds to understand what is going on in the rest of the world, and who these people really are that we share this planet with, and that you shouldn't allow prejudice to cloud your opinion of a whole race of people based on the actions of a few.

You can learn more on the Lori's Song website.

Read Lori's article about the Iranian Woman, available online at the Iran Politics Club.

Learn more about Lori's Song or purchase the book through Outskirt Press.

Thanks again to Lori for offering to let me review her book, and for her gracious time in answering my seemingly endless questions. I only hope that I've done her story justice!