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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Monday, February 28, 2011

Everyone Loves a Hero by Marie Force (Book Review)


Title: Everyone Loves a Hero
Author: Marie Force
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca


About the book:  Cole and Olivia meet by accident when he stops to buy some Mentos at an airport kiosk.  Olivia was working the register and the guy she was waiting on was being rude.  Cole stepped up to ask him to be a little nicer and received a punch in the face for his efforts.  When he opens his eyes he finds Olivia hovering over him trying to find out if he is okay. 

They don't find out much about each other that day, all they know is that they each received a jolt (unbeknownst to each other) when she touched his face.  He is a pilot, so she sends a note to the airline to find out how he is.  Meanwhile, he stops back by the kiosk to try to see her - only she was just filling in there for the day, it was her normal stand.  But, as Fate would see fit, he does end up finding her and he asks her out on a date.  They hit it off really well, but there are a few things standing in their way. 

He is a pilot based out of Chicago.  He shot to fame a year earlier when his copilot had a hard attack and he landed a plane in a blizzard and then gave the guy CPR until paramedics arrived. Since then  he has been on the cover of many magazines and has women throwing themselves at him. She is a 27 year old business student, still living at home and trying to work her way through school - in a major that she hates. She is really an artist at heart but doesn't have the self-confidence to pursue it.  She also has an agoraphobic mother who shops excessively online and TV.

They begin this relationship and both admit fairly quickly that it is different from anything that either has experienced before.  Olivia has a lot of doubts about Cole's feelings though, especially the way they seem to run into old girlfriends where ever they go. Cole, sensing that Olivia is a little skittish, isn't entirely truthful with her about all the women in his life and so doesn't tell her about an old girlfriend that he calls "Nutty" Natasha. Well, good intentions puts a definite crick in this relationship.

I did enjoy this book and really wish that I had a pilot with me when I flew to let me know what all the noises and bumps were about!  Olivia had never flown before, so when Cole took her on a trip he told her everything that was going on.  (I don't care for flying - so this would be great!)  Cole and Olivia were fun to get to know and I liked the way that Cole encouraged Olivia to follow her dreams and to give her the space and time to do just that. Warning - book does contain a lot of sex scenes.

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


You can find more about this author at http://www.mariesullivanforce.com/, on her blog Marie Force, on Facebook and on Twitter.


Everyone Loves a Hero: ...and that's the problem
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Feb 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4022-4574-9
416 pages

Friday, February 25, 2011

E-Publishing Benefits the Different Storyteller - Guest Post by Libby Sternberg



E-PUBLISHING BENEFITS THE DIFFERENT STORYTELLER
By Libby Sternberg

Thank you for having me as a guest! I’ve been on this site before, but as an author. Today I’m here as an editor to share some information about a new e-press I’m involved in--Istoria Books.

Istoria Books publishes only fiction but across a wide variety of genres--historical, romance, young adult, literary, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and more. About the only thing we’re not handling is erotica.

My husband, daughter and I started this publishing venture late last year with only my inventory. In the coming months, we’re poised to release six books by other authors--a wonderful literary offering by a Vietnam veteran and the backlist of a superlative romance author, whose five books had been published in print by Penguin’s NAL imprint.

These books represent why e-publishing offers so many opportunities to authors. It allows “different” stories to find readers, and it gives already-published authors a chance to expand their readership without worrying about their books being pulled from shelves and returned to the publisher. Because of the marketing limitations placed on traditional publishing, these opportunities are sometimes hard to come by in the print world.

Recently, an aspiring author shared with me a rejection note she’d received from an editor. The editor praised her book and writing style. In fact, it had taken the editor awhile to get back to the author’s agent because the editor had liked the book so much that she’d “sat on it” and let other editors read it, too. Everyone agreed--it was a marvelous book, and they loved it!

But….(you knew there was a “but” in there, didn’t you?), they couldn’t figure out how to market it. It was one of those “crossover” kinds of books, sort of in this genre and sort of in another one. Therefore, they rejected it.

Hired by their publishers to use their judgment to identify good books, these editors had done just that--identified a good book. But they were under marketing constraints--probably also put there by the publisher--that forced them to push their first judgment aside in favor of “marketability” concerns.

In this case, “marketability” meant: where in a bookstore would this book be shelved, and how would appropriate readers be drawn to it?

So, despite their raves, despite what their critical judgment of a good read told them, they rejected this manuscript.

In e-publishing, however, it’s a different story. A book can simultaneously be “shelved” in romance, mystery, young adult, sci-fi, even inspirational, if it contains elements of all of those genres. There’s no marketability problem with crossover books. The only “marketability” question is: will this book sell at all?

That means that e-publishing is open to a broader array of books. That’s why, at Istoria Books, we say in our submission guidelines, if your romance is told from the hero's POV, we'll still look at it. If your young adult novel features a college-age protagonist, we'll consider it. If your women's fiction book puts romance way on the back burner, we're open to it. If your inspirational involves a sinning protagonist, we'll still take a look.

The two questions we ask when reviewing manuscripts are: do I want to keep reading this story, and do I want to keep hearing this author tell it to me? A good story, well-told--that’s what we’re looking for.

Istoria doesn’t offer advances, but we do split royalties, and we do not ask authors to “earn out” the cost of cover art, ISBN registration, editing, formatting and more. Once the book is up for sale, the royalty splits begin.

We hope authors will check out our submission guidelines, at the “About Us” page on our website--www.IstoriaBooks.com. We hope readers will check out our offerings and get on our mailing list by signing up at our website or blog (www.IstoriaBooks.blogspot.com). Freebies and discounts will be available at various times to our subscribers.

_______________

Istoria Books is pleased to announce acquiring digital rights to Gary Alexander’s up-market/literary fiction Dragon Lady. Here’s a brief summary of this wonderful book:

In 1965 Saigon, Joe, a young draftee becomes obsessed with a Vietnam girl named Mai, his own "Dragon Lady" from his beloved Terry and the Pirates cartoon strips that his mother still sends him. As he pursues a relationship with her, Saigon churns with intrigue and rumors--will the U.S. become more involved with the Vietnamese struggle? What's going on with a special unit that's bringing in all sorts of (for the time) high tech equipment? Will the U.S. make Vietnam the 51st state and bomb aggressors to oblivion? But for Joe, the big question is--does Mai love him or will she betray more than just his heart? Gary Alexander’s intelligent voice, filled with dry wit, and his own experiences give this story a sharp sense of truth, recounting the horror and absurdity of war. Reminiscent of books such as Catch-22, Dragon Lady serves up equal measures of outrageous humor and poignant remembrance. Gary served in Vietnam in ’65. When he arrived, he joined 17,000 GIs. When he left, 75,000 were in country.

AND HERE’S A SAMPLE:

All anyone could talk about was what they hoped was wrong with them. No one was anxious for syphilis or cancer, mind you, but we were yearning for nearsightedness or farsightedness, trick knees, high or low blood pressure, flat feet, slipped disks, neuritis, neuralgia, post nasal drip, the heartbreak of psoriasis. We were praying for a backassward Lourdes, where 4-F was the miracle. I had no illusions. If you could fog a mirror, you were probably in…

AND ANOTHER…

We got back to the 803rd, gone a mere three hours. When the captain saw what we’d parked at the curb, he looked at us as if we walked on water. “Men, I’m putting in papers to immediately elevate you to private first class.”

I thanked him as humbly as I could manage. As happy as I would’ve been to be promoted, the clerk-typist slot was foremost on my mind. As PFCs, we’d be booted out of the 803rd sooner or later. It was inevitable. I did not wish to be helicoptered into the godforsaken to hunt Victor Charles and for Victor Charles to surely reciprocate.

I wanted a clerk-typist MOS on my resume. I wanted to be where Charlie would have to barge into my clean, dry office and fire a round through my Underwood to get me.

“Thank you, sir. I request that you send Private Zbitgysz and me to typing school so we can improve our skills on the job and become improved soldiers and lighten PFC Bierce’s burden.”

Bierce didn’t look up, but his clickety-clack-clack ceased.




Thanks Libby for visiting us again today!  Being a new owner of both a Kindle and a Nook, (I never thought I would say this), I am really enjoying reading books on my e-readers and being able to have a "bunch" of books with me at any time.  I also like it because it has allowed me to read some books that I would not have had the opportunity to before.  Good luck in your new venture Libby!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - Book Giveaway!!!

The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time -- Paris in the twenties -- and an extraordinary love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.


In Chicago in 1920, Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness -- until she meets Ernest Hemingway and finds herself captivated by his good looks, intensity, and passionate desire to write.  Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group of expatriates that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

But the hard-drinking and fast-living cafe life does not celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy.  As Hadley struggles with jealousy and self-doubt and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the great romances in literary history.



Praise for THE PARIS WIFE

THE PARIS WIFE is mesmerizing. Hadley Hemingway’s voice, lean and lyrical, kept me in my seat, unable to take my eyes and ears away from these young lovers. Paula McLain is a first-rate writer who creates a world you don’t want to leave. I loved this book.”
—Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank

“Despite all that has been written about Hemingway by others and by the man himself, the magic of THE PARIS WIFE is that this Hemingway and this Paris, as imagined by Paula McLain, ring so true I felt as if I was eavesdropping on something new. As seen by the sure and steady eye of his first wife, Hadley, here is the spectacle of the man becoming the legend set against the bright jazzed heat of Paris in the 20s. As much about life and how we try and catch it
as it is about love even as it vanishes, this is
an utterly absorbing novel.”
—Sarah Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Postmistress

“After nearly a century, there is a reason that the Lost Generation and Paris in the 1920’s still fascinate. It was a unique intersection of time and place, people and inspiration, romance and intrigue, betrayal and tragedy. THE PARIS WIFE brings that era to life through the eyes of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, who steps out of the shadows as the first wife of Ernest, and into the reader’s mind, as beautiful and as luminous as those extraordinary days in Paris after the Great War.”
—Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer and writer of the song “Mrs. Hemingway”




About the Author: PAULA MCLAIN received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry as well as a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.


By Paula McLain
A Ballantine Books Hardcover * February 22, 2011
978-0-345-52130-9 * $25.00 * 336 pp
www.ballantinebooks.com

Want to win a copy of this book?  I have 5 to giveaway, courtesy of Entertainment Marketing Group.  Please leave a comment with your email address for your first entry.

For additional entries you can do up to 4 more of these (for a total of 5 entries).  Follow my blog - tell me how (up to 2 ways)
Twitter - leave me the link
Blog about the giveaway - leave me the link
Please leave each entry in a separate comment.

This giveaway is open to US only .  It will end at midnight (CST) on March 16. 

If you absolutely must have the book now, you can purchase it here - Amazon - B&N - Other retailers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Come share your Comfort Books with Donna Burgess - and get a chance to Win!

I want to thank Kristi for having me today as I make my rounds on these wonderful blogs to pimp my dark urban fantasy/horror novel Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale. Over the past few days, I have discussed vampires until I just can’t think of anything else to say about them—some are hot; some aren’t. Some are scary and some are heroic. A lot like humans, I suppose. So, today I decided talk about some of my favorite books and why I love them.

Character is shaped by the things you are exposed to as a kid. For me, it was horror movies and horror comics. My mom and dad loved those all-night drive-in horror features. In fact, they took me to a showing of The Night of the Living Dead when I was only two weeks old. I don’t remember a thing:-D, but that was the beginning of my journey to the dark side.

My first great book was a thick book of fairy tales, which I still have. The many stories included “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Jack the Giant Killer,” “Why the Sea is Salt,” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” Dark stories, all. Plus, this particular edition had the most deliciously horrifying illustrations. I had a real fear of giants from the age three to five. The following year I was convinced Bigfoot lived in the woods behind my house, but that’s another story, entirely.

By the sixth grade, I realized reading horror was even better than watching it. Funny how the imagination can come up with much more terrifying images than you can ever get from a movie screen. The first really scary “grown-up” book I read was Night Shift by Stephen King. I snitched a copy from my aunt and read it behind my history book at school. Even the cover was intriguing—if anyone is old enough to remember the loosely bandaged hand with the eyes peering out. I cannot begin to decide which story was my favorite, but I do know “The Boogeyman” scared the living hell out of me. For months, I just knew a small devil lived inside the air ducts at my grandmother’s house because I dreamed I saw its pointy red tail poking out one night. Thanks, Stephen King. I’ve loved since.

Of course, not all of my early favorites were actually “horror” books. I vividly remember reading The Outsiders for school that same year. That’s when I learned a book doesn’t have to have monsters, ghosts or ax murderers to have a profound darkness to it. The following year, brought me Lord of the Flies. That’s probably the year I realized what lies inside a person can be more ghastly than any monster.
By high school, I was devouring Stephen King books as fast as I could get them. And when I finished one, I would likely turn right around and re-read it before moving on to the next. Pet Semetery, The Shining, Carrie, Salem’s Lot. Yep, I was that weird girl who always had a book in her hand. On top of the King books, we were assigned Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.” How delightfully twisted was that one? I was also introduced to this delightfully morbid author named Poe, Thank you, Mrs. Stroud (my 10th grade English teacher).

Since then, my tastes have changed some. I suppose what gives a person a good scare develops into something else entirely when they become parents. Pet Semetery is still horrifying, but today it’s because of the loss of the child, not the reanimated corpses. I honestly cannot read that book now.

A couple of years ago, I spent a week reading first Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, followed by The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I stayed in a funk the entire time—I still think my husband chalked it up to a bad case of PMS. Funk or not, those two books will remain with me. Scary is definitely more real now than it was when I was younger. Loss is about as frightening as it gets.

Of course, I have these strange “comfort books,” also—you know the ones you love to read again and again—although you know entire passages by heart. I have three: The Stand by Mr. King, The Damnation Game by Clive Barker, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. These are not “heavy” like The Road—I doubt anyone would want to revisit that world for comfort—there's too much possibility we’ll be there soon enough, anyway.

Heavy or light, morbid or happy—everyone has books that that they carry with them. What are some of yours? Plus, a comment gets you entered for a drawing to win a copy of Darklands. Thanks and happy (or not) reading!

Thank you Donna for the great guest post!  I think you have been raiding my book shelves!  I also became a huge Stephen King fan as a teenager and devoured his books! (Had to include a snapshot of some of my Stephen King books!)  And to make it even stranger - I read The Road and The Lovely Bones and reviewed them back to back in January of 2009.   So you can bet that I am going to be looking up your other "comfort" books!

But readers, like she said - a comment gets you entered into a drawing for a copy of Darklands - if it is a U.S. winner, you will get your choice of a print copy or an ebook and if it is an International winner, you will get an ebook.  Please leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win!  This contest will end at midnight on March 7, 2011.

Here is a little something about the book Darklands: A Vampire's Tale by Donna Burgess.

Halloween night, twenty years ago, college student Susan Archer watched as her beloved twin brother was brutally murdered at the hands of a stranger she invited into their home. Still haunted by the guilt of that night, Susan is now a tough but bitter cop in a nowhere town, trying as best she can to lead a normal life. When she is nearly killed during a wild shoot-out, she realizes she is not as strong as she first thought.


Fearing a breakdown, she flees the confines of her safe boyfriend and familiar surroundings to find salvation in the arms of “Deathwalker” Devin McCree—the very man who killed her brother.

But things aren’t always what they seem and she quickly realizes Devin was not the monster she originally thought, but a kind of guardian angel instead.

On the run from a crazed Nazi vampire-hunter named Kasper, she and Devin must find a way to endure the dreary urban landscape of a dying metropolis and escape Kasper’s wrath.

For more Donna - find her at her Website - Traveling the Darklands, on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog tour.
 

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins (Book Review)

Title: The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship
Author: Lisa Verge Higgins
Publisher: 5 Spot


My synopsis: This book begins with Kate, a stay-at-home mom afraid of flying, getting ready to jump out of an airplane - to skydive.  She has been sent on this "mission" by a letter that she received from one of her dear friends Rachel.  Rachel has passed away and sent a letter to many of her friends and family with last requests.  This book focuses on three of those - Kate's, Jo's and Sarah's.  They were brought together by Rachel and the four of them had remained good friends despite their differences. 

As I stated, Kate was a SAHM then we have Jo - a single workaholic, and Sarah - a nurse who worked overseas in many unpleasant areas.  When Rachel dies, unexpectedly to them, but something she was well aware of, she sent each of them letters with one last request.  These requests led them on journeys in which they learned to let go and began to hold on.  Rachel pushed each one of them to do something they would never have done on their own, which led them to discover things about themselves that they may never have seen. 

This is a great story about the strength of women's friendships and the bonds that they share.  If you are looking for a book for your book club, this would be a good one.  There is also a reading group guide available.


You can find the author at her website, Lisa Verge Higgins and on Facebook.
~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for my review.~


The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship
Publisher/Publication Date: 5 Spot, Jan 26, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-446-56351-2
352 pages

The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlyn Chase (Book Review)


Title: The Werewolf Upstairs
Author: Ashlyn Chase
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

My synopsis: This is the second book by Ashlyn Chase involving the residents of a Boston apartment building inhabited by mostly paranormals.  I first met them in Strange Neighbors.  In this book, Roz Wells (cute pun), a lawyer, moves into the building to be close to her best friend Merry.  She knows that Merry's husband is a shapeshifter, but doesn't know about the other residents.  She meets Konrad Wolfensen waiting for her moving truck and sparks fly.

Before long Konrad and Roz are an item, but Konrad has yet to confess to Roz that he is a werewolf.  He knows that Roz is supposed to be his mate, as they have a weird telepathic link, but doesn't know how she will react to his true identity.  Together they decide that they both would like new careers, so they set off to try to find their "bliss" in a new job.  They share some hilarious as well as harrowing mishaps together on this journey. 

Morgaine, one of their neighbors, trying to pump up her income as well, has accepted a job with the police department, trying to get information out of a ghost at a local museum that had a theft 20 years earlier. She has the ability to communicate with ghosts. Konrad goes along as a witness and for some reason the ghost takes a dislike to him.  He tries to set Konrad up for the theft.  Will Roz be able to prove him innocent? Or will he have to figure out a way to "change" while in jail?

This was another humorous book and while you don't have to read Strange Neighbors first, I found it helpful to know some of the other characters before reading this one.  Warning though - there are some pretty explicit sex scenes.

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

Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, Feb 1, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4022-3662-4
352 pages

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? (Feb 21, 2011)





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:  
 Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
Everyone Loves a Hero: ...and that's the problem by Marie Force


Next Up:
Letters From Home by Kristina McMorris
Sudden Moves: A Young Adult Mystery by Kelli Sue Landon

E-Book:
Redeemer - A Novel by Jeffrey S. Williams

Darklands: A Vampire's Tale (Volume 1) by Donna Burgess

Bathroom Book:
Magel's Daughter by Nancy Baker

Reviewed Last Week: The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn


Children's Books Reviewed Last Week:

Waiting for Reviews:
Food and Live Well: Lose Weight, Get Fit, and Taste Life at Its Very Best by Chantal Hobbs

The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins
The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlynn Chase

GIVEAWAYS:

READY - SET - READ!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mailbox Time! (Feb 21, 2011)


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!  My Mailbox was feeling the love last week. The storm delayed mail finally came through!

 Mailbox Monday's host for February is Library of Clean Reads. In My Mailbox is hosted Sundays at The Story Siren. Please visit these posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week! 


So Close the Hand of Death
by J.T. Ellison

It's a hideous echo of a violent past.  Across America, murders are being committed with all the twisted hallmarks of the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam.  The media frenzy explodes and Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson knows instantly that the Pretender is back. . . and he's got helpers.

As the Pretender's disciples perpetrate their sick homages -- stretching police and the FBI dangerously thin -- Taylor tries desperately to prepare for their inevitable showdown.  And she must do it alone.  To be close to her is to be in mortal danger, and she won't risk losing anyone she loves.  But the isolation, the self-doubt and the rising body count are taking their toll -- she's tripwire tense and ready to snap.

The brilliant psychopath who both adores and despises her is drawing close.  Close enough to touch. . .


Radio Shangri-La
by Lisa Napoli

Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a midlife crisis, cynical about work and depressed about her love life, when a chance encounter with a handsome stranger led to the adventure of a lifetime.  Leaving behind her job in public radio and her cosmopolitan life in Los Angeles, she moved to Bhutan, the happiest place on earth, to volunteer at the country's first radio station for the youth of Bhutan.  In a country just beginning to open its doors to the modern world and that measures its success in Gross National Happiness rather than GDP, she finds that the world is a beautiful and complicated place and comes to appreciate her life for the adventure it is.


Mr. Chartwell
by Rebecca Hunt

July 1964. London. Esther Hammerhans, a young librarian in the House of Commons, goes to answer the door to her new lodger.  Through the windowpane she sees a vast silhouette.  Meanwhile, in Chartwell, Kent, on the eve of his retirement from Parliament, Sir Winston Churchill has just woken up.  There's someone in the room with him, someone he's known for a long time, but it's not a friend.  A dark, mute presence is watching him with rapt concentration.  Both the humble librarian and the eminent statesman have just been visited by Black Pat.  For the man who saved Western civilization, this "black dog" is all too familiar. For Esther, he's a weirdly charming, deeply unnerving stranger just come to rent a room.  Or is he here to stay?  In this completely original, inspiring debut, Rebecca Hunt illuminates the strange point of connection between two very different people -- and shows how the strength to persevere can pull a person from darkness to light.


The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
by Elizabeth Stuckey-French

Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs, come hell or high water.  In 1953, he gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent as part of a secret government study that had horrible consequences.  Fifty years later, she is still ticked off, and now that she has recently discovered where he lives, she's on a mission.  Taking a cue from her favorite fifties flick Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, Marylou changes her name to Nancy Archer and moves to hot and humid Tallahassee, where she begins the tricky work of insinuating herself into the lives of the Spriggs family.  Little does she know what a nest of yellow jackets she is stumbling into.

Told from the varied perspectives of an incredible cast of endearing oddball characters, this lively, intricately plotted, laugh-out-loud funny novel beats with the heart of a genuinely affecting family drama.


Emily and Einstein
by Linda Francis Lee

Emily and her husband, Sandy Portman, seemed to live a gracious if busy life in an old-world, Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan's famous Dakota building.  Then one night on the way to meet Emily, Sandy dies in a tragic accident.  The funeral isn't even over before Emily learns she's on the verge of being evicted from their apartment.  Even worse than the possibility of losing her home, Emily is stunned when she discovers that her marriage was made up of lies.

Suddenly Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was. . . all the while feeling that somehow he isn't really gone.  Angry, hurt, and sometimes betrayed by loving memories of the man she lost, Emily finds comfort in a scruffy dog named Einstein.  But will Einstein's seemingly odd determination that Emily save herself be enough to make her confront her own past?  Can he help her find a future -- even after she meets a new man?


Murder on the Down Low
by Pamela Samuels Young

Savvy L.A. attorney Vernetta Henderson takes center stage in another fast-paced legal thriller that erupts into a scandalous tale of vengeance. 

Prominent African-American men are being gunned down on the streets of Los Angeles, leaving police completely baffled.  The victims are all quintessential family men.  Well-educated. Attractive. Successful.  But appearances can be deceiving.

At the same time, Vernetta and her outrageous sidekick, Special, lead the charge for revenge against a young lawyer whose deception caused his fiancee's death.  For Special, hauling the man into court and suing him for wrongful death just isn't good enough.  While she exacts her own brand of justice, a shocking revelation connects the contentious lawsuit and the puzzling murders.

Soon, Special's quest for payback goes way too far, and this time. . . it appears that not even Vernetta can save her.


Daddy's Little Squirrel
by Kayla Shurley Davidson

A young girl cherishes the time spent with her father.  Kallie is no exception.  Daddy's Little Squirrel, pays tribute to the special relationship between a father and daughter.  The duo's adventures are never dull, and are always made possible from the help of Kallie, her father's special helper.

Highland Master
by Amanda Scott

Known as the Mackintosh "Wildcat," Lady Catriona would do anything to defend her clan.  But when she discovers a wounded warrior on her family's land, Catriona's devotion is tested.  Igniting her passions with the softest touch, this powerful stranger tempts her in the most intimate way -- and keeps a dangerous secret. . .

In the midst of war, Sir Finlagh Cameron swore an oath of vengeance against the Mackintosh chieftain.  Now face-to-face with his enemy's daughter, Fin of the Battles falters.  Her wild beauty and spirit arouse a hunger the battle-weary warrior can't conquer and provoke a terrifying choice.  Surrendering to desire would break his vow.  Revenge would threaten Catriona's life.  For their love to triumph, the two must do the unthinkable: challenge the fierce loyalties that rule the knights and clans of Scotland.


A Lesson in Secrets
by Jacqueline Winspear

In the latest episode in the New York Times bestselling series, Maisie Dobbs's first assignment for the British Secret Service takes her undercover to Cambridge as a professor, and leads to the investigation of a murderous web of activities being conducted by the up-and-coming Nazi party.


The Hangman's Daughter
by Oliver Potzsch

Germany, 1659: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town.  Whispers and dark memories of witch trials and women burned at the stake just seventy years earlier still haunt the streets of Schongau.  When more children disappear and an orphan boy is found dead -- marked by the same tattoo -- the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt into chaos.

Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the very woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth.  With the help of his clever daughter, Magdalena, and Simon, the university-educated son of the town's physician, Jakob discovers that a devil is indeed loose in Schongau.  But it may be too late to prevent bloodshed.


What books came home to you this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn (Book Review)

Title: The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson
Author: Jerome Charyn
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Company


About the Book: What if the old maid of Amherst wasn’t an old maid at all? Her older brother, Austin, spoke of Emily as his “wild sister.” Jerome Charyn, continuing his exploration of American history through fiction, has written a startling novel about Emily Dickinson in her own voice, with all its characteristic modulations that he learned from her letters and poems. The poet dons a hundred veils, alternately playing wounded lover, penitent, and female devil. We meet the significant characters of her life, including her tempestuous sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert; her brooding father, Edward; and the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, who may have inspired some of her greatest letters and poems. Charyn has also invented characters, including an impoverished fellow student at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, who will betray her; and a handyman named Tom, who will obsess Emily throughout her life. Charyn has written an extraordinary adventure that will disturb and delight. (from Goodreads)

About the author: Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”


New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”


Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.


Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.


In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong."


Charyn lives in Paris and New York City. (information from Tribute Books)





You can connect with Mr. Charyn on his website, facebook and twitter.

My thoughts:  Let me start by saying that while I enjoy reading poetry, I have never taken it upon myself to learn anything about any of the great poets - so I have no point of reference to tell you whether or not this fictionalized account of Emily Dickinson's life and the characters she encounters are real or not.  Now I feel like I can tell you how I found the book. 

The book in not written in a "modern" tone, but rather in Emily's voice as it would have been in the 1800's.  This gave me a sense of being in the time and helped paint the picture of her life. From the start of the book, where she was a student at Mount Holyoke, studying to be a "bride of Christ" to the end of her life, she continued to have a fascination and secret yearning for Tom, the handyman at the school.  He turns up throughout the book in various ways and in various people. The story also includes her brother Austin, little sister Lavinia, her father (whom treats her as daughter, wife, servant, in various episodes throughout her life) her sister-in-law Sue, and school mate Zilpah - who is sometimes her friend and sometimes her nemesis.  I found it to be an engaging read, but I did have to be in the right mood to read it.  What it has done for me, is make me want to go find a "real" biography of Emily Dickinson and learn more about the real lady!

~I received this ebook from Tribute Books in exchange for my review.~

For more reviews - check out the book's blog tour site.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson also has a Facebook page and Twitter account.



The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: W.W. Norton and Company, Feb 14, 2011
ISBN: 978-0393339178
348 pages

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb 14, 2011)





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:  Thanks for the help last week with my book choice!  I started Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan.  It is really good!

Next Up:
The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland by Frank Delaney
Call Me Irresistible: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations by Jill Kargman
The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

E-Book:
Redeemer - A Novel by Jeffrey S. Williams

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel by  Jerome Charyn


Bathroom Book:

The Werewolf Upstairs by Ashlynn Chase

Reviewed Last Week:
The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
Choker by Elizabeth Woods
Anyone Can Die by James LePore


Children's Books Reviewed Last Week:

Waiting for Reviews:
Food and Live Well: Lose Weight, Get Fit, and Taste Life at Its Very Best by Chantal Hobbs

The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins

GIVEAWAYS:
The Science of Kissing - Ends 2/17

Ready- Set- Read!

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