Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso (Book Review)


Title: Brooklyn Story
Author: Suzanne Corso
Publisher: Gallery Books


My synopsis: This is the story of Samantha.  She is 15 years old, Brooklyn born and bred.  Bensonhurst to be exact.  She is different than a lot of the other kids because she is half Jewish, half Italian.  If you aren't full-blooded Italian, it is hard to fit in in the neighborhood.  Her father took off before she ever had the chance to know him, so it has been just her, her mom, and her grandma. 

Her mom isn't much as far as support goes.  She liked to have a good time when Sam was younger and many men were paraded through the apartment.  It was Sam's grandma who kept her grounded and encouraged.  Sam loved to write and with an old typewriter that her grandma gave her, she was aspiring to become an author and make it to the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Her life was really going to start when she was able to make it in Manhattan. 

Then, her best friend Janice and her boyfriend Richie, introduced her to Tony Kroon.  Sam had never really had a boyfriend before, and Tony blew into her life like a tornado.  Everybody knew the Priganti Family ran the neighborhood and Tony along with Richie, were friends with Vin Priganti.  It always seemed they had to be somewhere or there was some job they needed to go take care of.  Sam had always prided herself on her honesty, but it wasn't long before she was looking the other way and ignoring the signs that the gifts and money that Tony lavished on her were probably ill-gotten gains.  She was in love with him as any teenager is with their first love.  She imagined that once she got her publishing deal that he would join her on the other side of the bridge and then they wouldn't have to live according to Bensonhurst's rules. 

My thoughts:  This was a great coming of age story, and though I have never been anywhere Brooklyn, I definitely felt like I was there.  The only experience I have with the area is through TV, books - but the dialect and the way the guys treated their girls made me feel like I was there.  There was a lot of references to songs throughout the story - it begins in 1978 and goes through the early 80's - right when I was becoming a teenager - and those songs really brought back memories to me.  The descriptions of the women's clothes and their teased hair definitely made me picture how "Mafia" wives might have looked during this time. 

I really like Samantha and wanted to slap her upside the head when she let Tony get away with some of the stuff that he did.  It was encouraging to see her grow and really find her strength (as well as Janice).  She embraced fully who she was and never made any excuses for her own behavior.  She just knew at an early age what she wanted to do and where she wanted to end up, and though she was blown off track for awhile, she finally regained her footing and continued to move forward.   The story really pulled me in and I was able to fly through the book in just a couple of days. 

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gallery Books in exchange for my review.~

 
Brooklyn Story
Publisher/Publication Date: Gallery Books, Dec 28, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9022-7
336 pages

Monday, December 27, 2010

ARC Arrival: The Athena Project by Brad Thor


The Athena Project
by Brad Thor
Atria

The world's most elite counterterrorism unit has just taken its game to an entirely new level.  And not a moment too soon. . .

From behind the rows of razor wire, a new breed of counterterrorism operator has emerged.

Just as skilled, just as fearsome, and just as deadly as their colleagues, Delta Force's newest members have only one thing setting them apart -- their gender.  Part of a top-secret, all-female program codenamed The Athena Project, four of Delta's best and brightest women are about to undertake one of the nation's deadliest assignments.

When a terrorist attack in Rome kills more than twenty Americans, Athena Team members Gretchen Casey, Julie Ericsson, Megan Rhodes, and Alex Cooper are tasked with hunting down the Venetian arms dealer responsible for providing the explosives.  But there is more to the story than anyone knows.

In the jungles of South America, a young U.S. intelligence officer has made a grisly discovery.  Surrounded by monoliths covered with Runic symbols, one of America's greatest fears appears to have come true.  Simultaneously in Colorado, a foreign spy is close to penetrating the mysterious secret the U.S. government has hidden beneath Denver International Airport.

As Casey, Ericsson, Rhodes, and Cooper close in on their target, they will soon learn that another attack -- one of unimaginable proportions -- has already been set in motion, and the greatest threat they face may be the secrets kept by their own government.

About the author: Brad Thor is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Foreign Influence, The Apostle, The Last Patriot, The First Commandment, Takedown, Blowback (recognized by NPR as one of the "100 Best Thrillers of All Time"), State of the Union, Path of the Assassin, and The Lions of Lucerne.  Visit his website at http://www.bradthor.com/.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria.  Please watch for my review in late February.~

 
The Athena Project
Publisher/Publication Date: Atria, Nov 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9295-5
336 pages


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec 27, 2010)





What are you reading on Mondays is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey - You can hook up with the Mr. Linky there with your own post - but be sure and let me know what you are reading too! 


Currently Reading:
Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso
When No One is Watching  by Joseph Hayes
Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms by Ralph Keyes

E-Book:
Out of Time: A Paranormal Romance by Monique Martin


Bathroom Book:
Wolf Fever by Terry Spear


Audio Book:
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Books Reviewed Last Week:
The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher
The Christmas Journey by Donna VanLiere


Children's Books Reviewed Last Week:


Ready- Set- Read!

Mailbox Monday (Dec 27, 2010)




 Mailbox Monday's host for December is Lady Q at Let Them Read Books. Please visit these posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week!  Please click on the book titles to learn more about them.


ARC ARRIVALS


Wonderful Win



What books came home to you this week?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Birth of The Christmas Shoes (Guest Post by Donna VanLiere and Giveaway)

When I found out that Donna VanLiere was going to guest post on my blog, I knew that I had to ask her about her book The Christmas Shoes.  My question was how the song/book/movie came about.  The song never fails to bring tears to my eyes (as well as my teenage daughter's), and is one of my absolute favorite songs.  Just a day after requesting this topic for her guest post I was able to cry through the movie as well.  So read the post - and see if you were right as to which came first - the book or the song.

Song to Book to Movie and Back to Book and Song Again
Donna VanLiere
Latest book: The Christmas Journey
www.donnavanliere.com

Ten years ago I traveled to Knoxville, TN in the sweltering heat of July with my husband to visit our friends from NewSong, who were in concert. As we stood backstage in the arena, I could barely hear our friend Eddie because of the other band on stage. It was loud and dark and Eddie bent close to my ear. “I’m thinking of writing a Christmas song.” He gave me a short, two-sentence premise (basically: a little boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his mother who is dying but he can’t afford them so some man buys them for him) and then asked, “Do you think that would make a good song?” I said, “I think that would make a good book.”


I began to formulate an outline in my head at the concert and when I returned home I started to write. A few weeks later Eddie called and said they had the song produced and asked if my husband and I wanted to hear it. We listened on speakerphone and I cried when I heard The Christmas Shoes for the first time. The song became a favorite on radio and went to number one on the Billboard Chart, taking just three weeks to get there, faster than any song in history. I told Eddie years later that had he played the song for me in its entirety that I probably would have never been inspired because the story is all there in the song but because he gave me such little information I was able to see the entire book in my head.


The book was picked up by CBS and became a movie and when I was asked to write another Christmas book, The Christmas Blessing, CBS picked that one up, too and NewSong wrote a song of the same name for the movie. My publisher asked to write another book, The Christmas Hope and that one also became a movie with a song by NewSong. The Christmas Secret is set to be a movie for Lifetime in 2011 and I hope it will include a song by NewSong.


The journey continues with the new book, The Christmas Journey. It’s not a novel but rather a narrative filled with watercolor illustrations and still part of The Christmas Hope series of books. It’s a short read (it takes about fifteen minutes to read, which my husband says all books should be that short!) about the journey Mary and Joseph took. I hope this beautiful gift book will become a part of your Christmas Eve tradition or even a part of your celebration on Christmas Day!


Merry Christmas!
Donna


Giveaway Time!

Special thanks to Anne from Authors on the Web for providing a copy of Ms. VanLiere's latest book, The Christmas Journey, for a giveaway.



To enter the giveaway, please tell me your favorite Christmas song, book or movie.  Leave your email address so that I can get in touch with you if you are the lucky winner.

This giveaway is open to US/Canada only and will end on January 15.

Extra entries:
Follow my blog (google connect, Networked Blogs, email subscriber) - anyway you follow is fine.
Follow me on Twitter and Tweet - please leave link.
If you post about this contest anywhere else, it is good for an entry - just let me know where you left it!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Christmas Journey by Donna VanLiere (Book Review)


Title: The Christmas Journey
Author: Donna VanLiere
Illustrator: Michael Storrings
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

My synopsis: The first section of this beautiful little book tells the Luke 2:1-20 version of the Christmas story.  A story that is well-known to most people.  The author points out though, that when most people imagine the manger scene that all the hurt and pain have been removed.  We just picture a newborn baby, Mary and Joseph, and an angel - happiness and wonder.

The second section of this book tells the Christmas story as it might have happened.  It tells all the same things as the Luke version, but it adds in the human emotions that Mary and Joseph might have felt.  It lets you imagine the  physical pain and exhaustion they must have felt making the long journey to Bethlehem. The fear that must have been present when they realized that Mary was in labor and the only place they could go was a stable.  And then the absolute wonder that this little baby was the Son of God.

The entire book is also beautifully illustrated with pictures, that even in their simplicity, carry much feeling. It was a great book to read at Christmas and one I hope to share with my family for many Christmases to come.    It brought the Christmas story alive for me and made me really think about the faith of Mary and Joseph - and the trust that they  had in one another.   It would make a great gift anytime of year, as Christ's birth was one, that even after 2000 years is still remembered and celebrated - so why just remember it on one day.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Anne at Authors on the Web.~



The Christmas Journey
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press, Oct 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61372-3
96 pages


The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Book Review)


Title: The Waiting (Lancaster County Secrets series)
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publisher: Revell

My synopsis: This book is set in Pennsylvania in the mid-1960's in an Amish community.  It centers around Jorie King.  Jorie lives with her grandparents as the rest of her family has relocated to Canada.  She helps her grandfather raise Percheron horses and has just accepted the school teacher position at the one-room school house for her Amish neighbors.

She has been waiting for Ben Zook, a boy she has loved since she was a teenager, to come back from Vietnam, finally join the church and ask her to marry him. He is serving in the military as a conscientious objector.  Her best friend Mary Ann, is married to Ben's older brother Caleb.  They have a little girl Maggie and also take care of the two youngest Zook brothers, Matthew and Ephraim.  The Zook's parents were killed instantly when the buggy they were in was hit by a car.  Caleb took over the farm and has been running it and taking care of his brothers ever since.

Mary Ann becomes ill and is diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.  She is given just a matter of weeks to live.  Before she dies, she tells Caleb that she wants him to marry Jorie, as she doesn't believe Ben will ever be the man Jorie needs him to be.  Soon after that, word comes that Ben has been killed in Vietnam and his body cremated.  Tragedy isn't over though as Mary Ann dies about a week after Ben's funeral.

As you can imagine, the whole family is left numb and in shock.  Caleb can't seem to get back to any routine and is letting his duties as father as well as farmer slide.  (Before Mary Ann became ill, he had been chosen as the new minister of the district as well). Well, you guessed it.  Caleb soon proposes to Jorie because he knows it is what Mary Ann wanted and knows she would be good for Maggie and Ephraim.  Jorie turns him down as she is looking for a proposal from the heart. 

Jorie and Caleb continue to grow closer together and Jorie realizes she is falling in love with him.  Those closest to them realize that they are perfect for each other.  When Caleb works up the courage to ask Jorie to marry him (for the third time) she accepts.  Before they can announce their engagement, trouble surfaces that throws all their lives in turmoil.  Will Jorie end up with Caleb? or one who might need her even more?

My thoughts:  I really enjoyed reading this book and found myself picturing these characters in my mind as I was reading about them.  (This would make a great Hallmark movie.)  It was cool for me to actually be able to see the Amish in a different light.  They may live simplier lives, but have the same emotions and complications of the heart as the English.   There are still decisions to be made as to what one wants to do (or what God wants them to do) with their lives.  Shoot, I struggle with this myself even as a grown woman with 3 children!   I could relate to Jorie as a young woman finding herself falling in love and having complications and misunderstandings arise that seem to thwart her plans.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Donna at Baker Publishing.~

Waiting, The: A Novel (Lancaster County Secrets)
Publisher/Publication Date: Revell, Oct 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3386-5
311 pages


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wonderful Win: The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern


The Book of Tomorrow
by Cecelia Ahern
Harper Collins

Born into the lap of luxury, comfortable in the here and now, spoiled, tempestuous sixteen-year-old Tamara Goodwin has never had to look to tomorrow, until the abrupt death of her father irrevocably shakes her world.  Suddenly all that's left of Tamara's old life is a mountain of debt, and she and her mother are forced to move in with Tamara's uncle and aunt a million miles away from the world she knows.

In this tiny village in the Irish countryside, with no access to Facebook or Twitter, Tamara is lonely and bored -- her only diversion is a traveling library run by a cute local boy named Marcus.  There she finds a large leather-bound book with a gold clasp and padlock, but no author or name or title.  Intrigued, she pries the lock open.  And what she finds inside takes her breath away.

Tamara finds entries written in her handwriting and dated for the next day.  At first, she's skeptical.  But when the next day happens exactly as recorded, Tamara realizes she's found a way to solve mysteries that are seemingly out of her control, such as what is wrong with her mother and why her family won't let the local doctor examine her.  And why does her meek aunt Rosaleen rip the mail out of her hands, prevent her from seeing her mother, and evade questions about their mysterious neighbor?  Determined to find answers, Tamara learns that some pages are better left unturned and that, try as she might, she can't interfere with fate.

An edge-of-your-seat suspense novel told in Cecelia Ahern's signature style, The Book of Tomorrow is an utterly unique story about grief, loss, and how sometimes it takes tomorrow to get us through today.

About the author:  Cecelia Ahern is the author of the international bestsellers P.S. I Love You, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Hilary Swant; Love, Rosie; If You Could See Me Now; There's no Place Like Here; Thanks for the Memories; and The Gift.  Her books are published in forty-six countries and have collectively sold more than 11 million copies.  The daughter of Ireland's former prime minister, she lives in Dublin, Ireland.


~I won a copy of this book from Harper Collins.  Watch for my review in late January.~

 
The Book of Tomorrow: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper, Jan 25, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-170630-1
336 pages

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ARC Arrival: The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans


The Dressmaker
by Posie Graeme-Evans
Atria

Set in 1850s London, at the height of Victoria's reign, Posie Graeme-Evans' glorious fourth historical novel tells of a woman ahead of her time. Ellen Gowan is a famous dress designer for ladies of high society and one of the very few women in England who owns her own business. But her life wasn't always one of such privilege.

The only surviving daughter of a Cambridge scholar-turned village minister and a beautiful woman who was disowned by her family for marrying for love, Ellen had a childhood plentiful in affection, if not in currency and dresses made of fine silks. Tragedy strikes on her thirteenth birthday, when her father dies suddenly, leaving Ellen and her mother penniless and dependent upon the kindness of her mother's estranged family.

Life takes Ellen down various roads of opulence and depravity until she lands in the arms of the devlishly handsome Raoul de Valentin, whom she marries. Just when Ellen realizes that she is with child, Raoul abandons her. Determined to survive, she begins her long climb to success, first by toiling at a dress factory, then opening up her own salon in the fashionable Battle Square.

Years pass, and Ellen has evolved into Madame Gowan, dress maker to royalty and the Great Six Hundred. All is truly well, until the day Raoul de Valentin unexpectedly arrives at her doorstep once more, threatening to destroy all that she has achieved.

The Dressmaker is a romantic odyssey that takes readers into the most luxurious of ballrooms and the most squalid of brothels. It is the sweeping story of a true heroine and her quest to live life fully-to find success, love, and to find herself in an era when such ideas were unheard of for a woman. Brimming with romance, social intrigue and rich, detailed illustrations of Victorian London and its varied inhabitants, he Dressmaker will captivate readers.

About the author: Posie Graeme-Evans has worked in the Australian film and television industry for the last twenty-five years as an editor, director, and producer on hundreds of prime-time television programs, including McLeod's Daughters and Hi-5. She lives in Sydney with her husband and creative partner, Andrew Blaxland.

~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Atria Galley Alley Promotion.Watch for my revie win early February.~

The Dressmaker: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: Atria, Oct 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7465-9442-3
464 pages


ARC Arrival: Book of Days by James L. Rubart


Book of Days
by James L. Rubart
B and H Fiction

"... in Your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being." - Psalm 139:16

Young Cameron Vaux's mind is slipping.  Memories of his wife, killed two years earlier in a car accident, are vanishing just as his dad predicted they would.  Memories he knows he has to remember.  His father tells Cameron that to save his mind he must find "the book with all days in it" -- the past and future record of every soul on earth.

When an obscure clue leads Cameron to a small central Oregon town, he meets enigmatic Taylor Stone, a possible guide to finding the book who seems to carry secrets far deeper than anyone imagines.  Local hotshot TV personality Ann Bannister thinks the legend of the book is a farce, but she has her reasons to join Cameron's search anyway.  Finally, there is fanatical New Age guru Jason Judah, who will stop at nothing to find the book of days before Cameron does.

About the author:  James L. Rubart is a professional marketer, speaker, and writer.  He serves on the board of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and lives with his wife and sons in Washington State.


~I received a complimentary copy of this book from JKS Communications.  Watch for my January review (and giveaway!)~


Book of Days: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: B and H Books, Jan 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4336-7151-7
400 pages

Monday, December 20, 2010

ARC Arrival: Endgame by Frank Brady


Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall -- from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness
by Frank Brady

Endgame is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady's decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent -- and confounding descent -- of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer.  Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was ten years old and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book. Drawing from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby's own e-mails, this account is unique in that it limns Fischer's entire life -- an odyssey that took the Brooklyn-raised chess champion from an impoverished childhood to the covers of Time, Life, and Newsweek to recognition as "the most famous man in the world" to notorious recluse.

Possessing a 181 IQ and remarkable powers of concentration, Bobby was only thirteen when he became the youngest chess master in U.S. history.  But his strange behavior nearly halted his Cold War championship match with Soviet star Boris Spassky, he turned down millions of dollars in sponshorship offers, and by 1992 he was an international fugitive, wanted by American law enforcement for having violated U.S. sanctions.

Woven into Fischer's late-life odyssey are bizarre flirtations with apocalyptic religions, Nazis, and mafiosi, and bouts of paranoia that had him traveling with gun-toting bodyquards and railing against perceived conspiracies.

Who was Bobby Fischer, and what does his life say about the flowering of genius and the distorting effects of fame?  In Endgame, Frank Brady gives us the fascinating answer.

About the author:  Frank Brady is internationlly recognized as the person most knowledgeable about the life and career of Bobby Fischer.  He is the author of numerous critically acclaimed biographies, including Citizen Wells; Onassis: An Extravagant Life; and Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy (the first edition of which appeard in the mid-1960s and focuses on the young Bobby).


~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House.  Watch for my review in February 2011.~

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness
Publisher/Publication Date: Crown, Feb 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-46390-6
416 pages


ARC Arrival: A Stitch Before Dying by Anne Canadeo


A Stitch Before Dying
by Anne Canadeo

When Maggie Messina, owner of the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, is invited to give knitting workshops at a Berkshires spa resort, she manages to negotiate a cottage that fits all five of the Black Sheep for what promises to be a weekend of knitting bliss. But while the friends are expert at counting stitches, they haven't counted on murder.

Guests and staff at the Crystal Lake Inn are as varied as a mixed bag of yarn, but most colorful is certainly the owner, charismatic self-help guru and former psychiatrist Dr. Max Flemming.  The doctor may have told all in a revealing autobiography, but from his ex-wife to the widow of his former business partner -- both employees at the inn -- Max seems mired in shadows from his past.  And when a killer strikes during a mountaintop retreat, the Black Sheep wonder what the good doctor might be hiding.

The police seem to be following the wrong thread.  But while Maggie's workshops have given the knitters a unique view of the tensions at the little inn, can they make sense of a crime that is as complexly stranded as a Fair Isle sweater?  When the killer murders a second time, the Black Sheep wonder if they've dropped a stitch and put themselves in mortal danger.

About the author:  Anne Canadeo began her Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series with While My Pretty One Knits.  She is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestselling Cape Light series, which she writes as Katherine Spencer.  A novice with needles, she finds many similarities between knitting and writing -- inspiration, persistence, and good things happening by accident.  Anne lives in Northport, New York.  You can contact her at anne@annecanadeo.com.

~I received a copy of this book for review from Gallery Books.  Watch for my review in early January.~

 
A Stitch Before Dying
Publisher/Publication Date: Gallery, Dec 28, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9139-2
288 pages





Express Yourself - Guest Post by Monica Brinkman

I don’t know many authors who have not ventured into joining a writers group of some sort. In fact, the publishing world, its agents, authors and editors highly recommend an aspiring writer join such groups.

When I began my journey down the serious writing road, I joined three such writers groups. Great…doing what I am supposed to do, perfecting the craft.

Little did I know that it would bring out the best and the worst in the members of these groups. There I was, submitting my blood, sweat and tears, my hours of anguish and joy, eagerly awaiting a mere suggestion or helpful hint or, dare I dream, a compliment or word of encouragement.

The e-mails poured in, one by one, and in anticipation of guidance, I clicked on the messages. Instead of encouragement, I found my wonderful, inspiring story ripped to shreds…word by word…line-by-line… chapter by submitted chapter. “It doesn’t grab me.” “No one would ever want to read a story about some stupid country man.” “The first rule is never to mix point of view.” Show, don’t tell.” Don’t ever mix genre’s” “Give up writing, you #%@”.

These were examples of critiques I am able to repeat with the foul, arrogant adjectives omitted. With tears flowing down my face, I wondered why they did not see my vision. How could they not understand the purpose of my characters? In addition, was it necessary to be so cruel? What had I ever done to deserve such ridicule? I was stupid to attempt such an endeavor.

I was also very confused. One author would say they loved the story and give helpful advice, another would vehemently suggest I put up the pen and find another hobby, of course quoting their own published works with a reputable agent. Then the people who commented on my work would argue among themselves about the critiques of my story. So heated were the arguments… so confusing to my ears…so uncertain which avenue to take, I threw my hands up in total frustration, vowing never again to write a single word.

As I stared at my empty computer screen, fearing my own abilities, a light bulb went off. It was all so clear now. Why hadn’t I seen it before? These were not the groups for me to be a part of and I would search until I found an honest, helpful, blunt-speaking group of writers, no matter how long it would take. I did just that and welcomed the feedback of punctuation assistance, suggestions of rewording or omission of sentences or paragraphs. These were my kind of writers-tactful, knowledgeable and truly supportive of one another. Instead of attempting to change my story or ridicule its concept, they would embrace its essence and encourage my vision.

In ending, I urge each ‘wanna-be-writer’ to search until they find a group of writers who belong to the group because they love the art of writing, not because they need to show superiority or have an ego the size of California. You will learn much, hone your craft and in the course make some long-term friendships.

More important, be true to yourself and the passion of your voice and vision. How very boring it would be if every single writer chose to follow the exact same format or never break a rule.

After all, without the courage to be different, creativity would die.

by Monica M. Brinkman, 2010
Author, Poet


Thank you Monica for visiting us at Books and Needlepoint today!  Pick up her book - available in paperback or on Kindle - The Turn of the Karmic Wheel.

The Turn of the Karmic Wheel
Publisher/Publication Date: All Things That Matter Press, Aug 13, 2010
ISBN: 978-0984615469
214 pages


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec 20, 2010)





What are you reading on Mondays is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey - You can hook up with the Mr. Linky there with your own post - but be sure and let me know what you are reading too! 


Currently Reading:
The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher
When No One is Watching  by Joseph Hayes
Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms by Ralph Keyes

E-Book:
Out of Time: A Paranormal Romance by Monique Martin


Bathroom Book:
Wolf Feverby Terry Spear


Audio Book:
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

Books Reviewed Last Week:
Honky Tonk Christmas by Carolyn Brown
Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros



Children's Books Reviewed Last Week:


Ready- Set- Read!

Mailbox Monday (Dec 20, 2010)




 Mailbox Monday's host for December is Lady Q at Let Them Read Books. Please visit this posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week!  Please click on the book titles to learn more about them.

ARC Arrivals





What books came home to you this week?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros (Book Review)

Title: Goodnight Tweetheart
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Publisher: Gallery Books

My synopsis: Abby is currently an author struggling to finish her second novel.  Her first one was picked as one of Oprah's book club books and ALMOST won a Pulitzer.  She is beginning to think that she has no other stories in her.

Her publicist thinks that she needs some exposure with her fans and so signs her up with a Twitter account.  Abby knows nothing about Twitter, but gives it a shot anyway.  She is amazed to see that she already has "followers." 

Another tweeter (?) recognizes that she is new to this world and so takes her under his wing (haha).  His name is Mark and he is a college  professor on sabbatical, traveling the world in search of the story for his great novel.  But how can either of them know if the other is telling them the truth? 

They get closer, learning more about each other through tweets.  Abby, who has trust issues, thinks that maybe this is someone she could trust.  Or she wonders, as does her friend Margo, if this is just another way for her to avoid living life. 

My thoughts:  I found this book to be very witty and often caught myself laughing out loud.  (Don't read in bed if your spouse is sleeping next to you!)  A lot of the book is told in tweets, and I didn't double check to see that they were 140 characters, but I am sure that they are. That would have been very tough!  It definitely had a twist that I didn't see and surprisingly I liked the ending.  Any more than that and I am afraid that I would give too much away.  Definitely a romance for the technological age!

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gallery Books in exchange for my review.~


Goodnight Tweetheart
Publisher/Publication Date: Gallery Books, Dec 14, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8815-6
240 pages

Jane Austen's Freebies extended!

I received this message today from Sourcebooks:

First off let me sincerely apologize for all the confusion regarding the free offer of Jane Austen special edition titles as well as the 10 Austen inspired novels. Please extend this apology to your readers and followers as well.



We have been trying to fix the problem all morning. It takes a lot of cooperation from different parties to make the offer happen and it unfortunately it took some extra time to iron out the kinks.

Let me tell you know that iBooks and Google books currently has everything correct.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony are currently working to get their prices adjusted. They should be correct shortly. Sourcebooks.com will also have our books and the illustrated versions available for free within the next hour!


Because of this confusion we want to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday an extra day! This offer will be good tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday Jane!

For all you Jane Austen fans out there I have some terrific information!  In honor of her 235th birthday on Dec 16, 2010, Sourcebooks has a deal too good to pass up!  For one day only (Thursday, Dec 16, 2010 - of course) you can get FOR FREE - special e-book editions of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. These celebratory editions include the full novels, plus the legendary color illustrations of the Brock brothers, originally created to accompany the books in 1898.




In addition to the classics, you can also get these bestselling Austen-inspired novels.  These e-books will also be  FREE for one day only - Thursday, Dec 16!

Eliza’s Daughter by Joan Aiken
The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown
The Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

So what are you waiting for?  Go get yourself some Austen or Austen-inspired e-books!  Available wherever e-books are sold. 

THANKS SOURCEBOOKS!

To Kindle or Not to Kindle?

A while back I left a post asking for any opinions over the Kindle, Nook, Sony e-reader or any of the various ones that are out there.  I am very grateful to all the responses that I received and all of the information.  There were a lot of good points brought up that I had not even considered.  So after much thought I decided to ask Santa for a Nook this year - as I feel that I would be utilizing the library option quite often.


And then - this morning - I open my email and discover that I WON A KINDLE 3G FROM BITTEN BY BOOKS!!!!    I was bouncing off the ceiling and when I told my son what I had won - he said "Is it a toy?"  I told him it was a toy for mommy.  Of course, when I called "Santa" to tell him that I had won - in a very monotone voice he says - "That's just great. . . "  But called later to tell me that it really was pretty cool.

So, since I am pretty sure that the Nook was already purchased - given my husband's less than enthusiastic response - I guess I didn't need to make up my mind after all!     Maybe I can get my electronically motivated daughters to read now, too!

So thank you Bitten by Books!  If you are a fan of paranormal books you must check out this website - they are ALWAYS having great giveaways and have many many many author visits all the time! 

ARC Arrival: The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean


The Secret Lives of Dresses
by Erin McKean
5 Spot

Dora has always taken the path of least resistance.  She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt.  She falls into a job at the campus coffee shop and a crush on her cute boss. . . and has no idea what she's going to do next.

But when Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke, Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running Mimi's vintage dress shop.  The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life, though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl. Before Dora even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit.  While there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad.  Is he after Dora, or is he working from a different blueprint?  She also makes a curious discovery: Mimi has been writing down -- and giving away -- the stories of the dresses in her shop.

Battling building codes and selfish relatives, Dora ultimately finds herself willing to face whatever may stand in the way of her staying in Forsyth.  She can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?

About the author: Erin McKean is the blogger behind A Dress A Day, the inspiration for this novel. Her writing has been featured in many media outlets from The NY Times Magazine to Foreign Affairs. She currently works as the editor of VERBATIM, and was previously at OUP.

Follow Erin at her blog A Dress a Day or on Twitter.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hachette Books.  Watch for my review in February.~

The Secret Lives of Dresses
Publisher/Publication Date: 5 Spot, Feb 10, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-446-55572-2
304 pages

ARC Arrival: Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress


Georgia Bottoms
by Mark Childress
Little, Brown and Company

From the author of Crazy in Alabama and One Mississippi comes a hilarious and heartfelt story about an Alabama socialite with an unusual secret.

Georgia Bottoms is known in her small community of Six Points, Alabama, as a beautiful, well-to-do, and devoutly Baptist Southern belle.

Nobody realizes that the family fortune has long since disappeared, and a determinedly single woman like Georgia needs an alternative, and discreet, means of income.  In Georgia's case it is six well-heeled lovers -- one for each day of the week, with Mondays off -- none of whom knows about the others.

But when the married preacher who has been coming to call (Saturdays) decides to confess their affair in front of the whole congregation, Georgia must take drastic measures to stop him.  What ensues is a hearty stew of hilarity, absurdity, and wholehearted mischief such as only Mark Childress can cook up.

About the author: Mark Childress was born in Monroeville, Alabama.  He is the author of six previous novels and three books for children.  He has lived in Ohio, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, California, and Costa Rica, and currently lives in Key West, Florida.  Visit his website at www.crazyinalabama.com. 

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hachette Books. Watch for my February review.~

Georgia Bottoms: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: Little, Brown and Company, Feb 23, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-03304-6
288 pages

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Honky Tonk Christmas by Carolyn Brown (Book Review)


Title: Honky Tonk Christmas
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

My synopsis:  Once again we are back in Mingus, Texas at the Honky Tonk bar, which is now owned by Sharlene Waverly.  She inherited the bar and the "Bahamas" house (painted like it belongs in the Bahamas - not actually there) when Larissa fell under the Honky Tonk charm and married her cowboy Hank.  Sharlene has vowed that she will not fall under the charm and will not be marrying any cowboy.  Instead, she decides to expand the Honky Tonk so that the crowds that gather in the parking lot will now be able to come in and enjoy the Tonk's atmosphere, too.

She hires Holt Jackson who is the best carpenter in the area.  He is also a single dad, having taken in his six-year-old twin niece and nephew when his sister is killed by a drunk driver.  Sharlene makes him a deal that allows him, Judd, and Waylon to live in the Bahamas house rent free as long as the addition gets done on deadline.  She settles into a routine of bartender at night, daycare for the 2 kids after school and working on her second book in between.  Her first book, Honky Tonk Charm is due out in December.  What doesn't figure into her routine is the attraction that is growing between her and Holt. 

She finally agrees to a visit with her family in Corn, Oklahoma and drags Holt and the twins with her.  She has been avoiding going home as her family knows nothing about her owning a bar or writing a book.  They think she lives and works in Dallas. She tells herself that she is taking Holt as a buffer, but I think that she just wants him to be with her. Could she be falling under the Honky Tonk charm too?

My thoughts: This is the fourth and last :( book in this series and I have enjoyed them all.  Even if you haven't read the first three - this one gives you all the background to catch you up to speed. I love that even though all the books are centered around the Honky Tonk - the main characters of each are very diverse and the routes the stories take are driven by the characters. There are characters that carry over from story to story to keep them connected, but they each have a different conflict. The books are quick reads and the series would be a great gift for the booklover on your Christmas list!



Ms. Brown will be back in 2011 with a new series called Spikes & Spurs.  The first book, Love Drunk Cowboy is due out in May, 2011.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange for my review.~

Honky Tonk Christmas
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Nov 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4022-4201-4
368 pages

ARC Arrival: THR3E by Ted Dekker


THR3E
by Ted Dekker
Center Street

By all accounts Kevin Parsons is leading a virtuous life.  But like all people, Kevin has his secrets.  And someone wants them revealed.


While driving home from graduate school, Kevin receives a call from a deluded stranger who calls himself Slater.  Slater demands that Kevin confess his sin in the next three minutes or the car he's driving will be blown to pieces.  With the threat, he offers a riddle:  What falls but never breaks, what breaks but never falls?

Thus starts a harrowing chain of threats with progressively higher stakes.  Another riddle, another three minutes.  Confess your sin, Kevin.

The problem is Kevin has no idea what sin.  And Slater's cycle won't stop until he's dead.

Now only Samantha, the woman he once loved more than life itself, can help him uncover the secrets of a mysterious past.  But Samantha may soon be dead as well.


About the author: TED DEKKER is a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels with a total of more than 3 million books in print. He is known for thrillers that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil.



~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hachette Books and hope to have it reviewed by the end of the month.~


Thr3e
Publisher/Publication Date: Center Street, Nov 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59995-314-4
416 pages

ARC Arrival: Trapped by a Dream: When Fates Collide by Leola Butler


Trapped by a Dream: When Fates Collide (A True Account Taken From the Journals of Boots Butler)
by Leola Butler
XLibris

Trapped By a Dream: When Fates collide is the true account of a young Russian girl who is deceived and abducted.  Her rescue mission is detailed from the personal journals of Boots Butler, the team leader.  This story involves the collective abilities of Boots, working with an extraordinary group of comrades in arms, to extract a prisoner.  The rescue takes Boots and his clan to Amsterdam where their most hated enemy, the Russian Mafia, stands between them and the object of the operation.  They do this with complete selflessness and courage.  Once engaged they will not quit.  Their motto is "failure is not an option."  These are the words they live by, and will die by, if necessary.

About the author:  Leola butler is an emerging author recounting the true stories of the recovery of abducted and exploited children performed by A.E. "Boots" Butler, her husband of thirty-six years.  Since 1994 she has been the secretary/treasurer and case assignment controller for the non-profit organization,  Somewhere Out There.  The stories that she writes about tell of the bravery and perseverance of the heroic men that rescue stolen and kidnapped children.  She earned an Associate of Arts degree at Peninsula College and majored in criminal Justice at Washington State University.  Leola and Boots now reside in the scenic Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  When she is not writing, Leola enjoys spending time with her family, working as a care-giver and is a devoted mother and grandmother of four.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book - but I don't know who sent it!  I have searched my email for any reference to this title and cannot find one.  I feel so bad as I am usually more careful that that.  So if you happen to be the sender - or if someone has received a review copy themselves - please let me know who sent it to me!  Watch for my review sometime in January.~


Trapped By A Dream: When Fates Collide: A true account taken from the journals of Boots Butler
Publisher/Publication Date: Xlibris, May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4500-9129-9
346 pages

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