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

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Living a Charmed Life by Victoria Moran (Book Review)

Title: Living a Charmed Life: Your Guide to Finding Magic in Every Moment of Every Day
Author: Victoria Moran
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Collins, April 2009

First sentence: Most of us waste a lot of time distrusting ourselves and discounting ourselves.

About the book: (from the book flap) Bestselling author Victoria Moran's Living a Charmed Life presents fifty action-inspiring essays that show us how to custom craft our very own blessed lives. Covering topics such as living richly, staying close to what makes you come alive, and being completely, utterly yourself, Moran emphasizes that this kind of happiness is possible for anyone of any age in any circumstance.

Living a charmed life is your birthright, one that you can start to claim as soon as you take to heart - and put into action - the practical and spiritual tips you'll find here. These lucky charms, honed from Victoria's own life experiences, will elevate your attitude, change the way you see yourself, and help you to improve every aspect of your life including your health, relationships, finances, and peace of mind - even in challenging times.

In this fresh, inspiring book, Victoria Moran gives you the tools and techniques you need to start living your own charmed life now.

My thoughts: Usually I don't like "self-help" books. I find them to be wordy, boring, and don't feel like I can actually use a lot of the information in them - whether it is because it doesn't apply to my season of life, something that is common sense that I already do, or just seems like a lot of drivel. This book, however, is truly a gem. There are 50 chapters-just a few pages each that - that could apply to me - my mom - my daughter - my best friend - very universal yet relevant.

My favorite was a chapter entitled "Expect the Best", where she tells a story about when she was 14 that she knew that she was going to meet the Beatles. She didn't just "want" to meet them - she "expected" to meet them - and she goes on to tell how she did (very cute story!) It reminded me of when I was a teenager and I applied to be in a Modern Miss pageant in my home state. Now, no one in my small town had ever heard of this pageant - but I just kept telling everyone - "they have to pick someone to be in it, why not me?" and that "someone has to win". Well, I was chosen and did win a trophy for Modern Miss Academic, though not the big title. I just knew that I was going to be there and win something.

The other incident I remember as a teen is applying for college. My dad had passed away my junior year of high school and the law had just been changed that SSI for dependents stopped at 18 - so I was not expecting any money from family or government for college. There was only one college that I applied to - Cornell College in Iowa. I didn't give a thought to the prospect that I would not be accepted or that I would not have the money to go. I guess you could say that I just Expected It. Not only was I accepted, but I received their top scholarship, as well as a scholarship from Pepsi Cola (my dad had worked for Frito Lay, a subsidiary) and a handful of smaller scholarships, that covered all my expenses.

This chapter in Living a Charmed Life made me wonder what happened to my expectations? Why as we grow up do we stop expecting the good things to happen to us? Why do we tend to look for the negative? The Lucky Charm at the end of this chapter is "Look at your schedule for the day ahead. For each task and appointment, hold the mental image of everything working out beautifully." I think this can be applied for both those small tasks and the life long ones (like raising children!)

This is a book that I believe I will keep on my nightstand - and when I need some positive reinforcement, I will pick it up and read a chapter and listen to those lucky charms!

About the author: Victoria Moran is an inspirational speaker, a certified life coach, and the author of ten books including The Love- Powered Diet; Lit from Within; Fat, Broke & Lonely No More; and the international bestseller Creating a Charmed Life. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including Body + Soul, Natural Health, and Yoga Journal. Her blog, "Your Charmed Life," is published daily on BeliefNet.com. She lives a charmed life in New York City.

Living a Charmed Life
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Collins, April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-164989-9
272 pages

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Winners of the giveaways ending last night - One Deadly Sin, To Beguile a Beast and Bound to Please have all been emailed. I will post later the winners - but everyone should check their email! Congrats to all! They have until Tuesday evening to get me their addresses or new winners will be chosen.

ARC Arrival: Maire

Maire by Linda Windsor

Publisher: Multnomah

I received this book for a Grab Bag tour in July from Staci at Random House.

About the book: (from the book cover) Fifth century Ireland: An ancient land of timeless mystery where the spark of Christianity spreads like wildfire among kings, scholars, and peasants alike. And nowhere is the impact greater than among the druids, as the light of Christ divides those seeking truth from those seeking power.

Against this backdrop of passion and change, two warriors stand firm: Rowan of Emrys, reformed mercenary; and Maire, warrior queen of Gleannmara.

Rowan and Maire clash on the battlefield, and Maire takes Rowan as her hostage and husband. She cannot understand his faith, his dedication to the one God, but neither can she deny the truth in his claims that meekness and humility are stronger than any blade of steel.

When they finally join together, lifting their swords against the evil druid Morlach and his corrupt forces of darkness, they discover the cost - and joy - of following the one true God and His Christ.

About the author: Linda Windsor is a native of Maryland's Easter Shore, where she lives with her family in a restored eighteenth-century farmhouse. The author of Hi Honey, I'm Home; It Had to Be You; and Along Came Jones; Linda also has a music and speaking ministry in her community.

Publisher/Publication Date: Multnomah, June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-246-0
364 pages

ARC Arrival: A Promise for Breanna

A Promise for Breanna (Angel of Mercy series book 1) by Al Lacy

Publisher: Multnomah

I received this book as part of a Grab Bag Tour in July from Staci at Random House.

About the book: (from the book cover) For certified medical nurse Breanna Baylor, the course of true love never did run smoothly. First, the coldly deceptive Frank Miller jilted her to marry another, destroying her faith in all men. Then, unable to give her heart again, Breanna foolishly sent away her one true love, legendary hero John Stranger.

Now, years later, Breanna unexpectedly crosses paths with - and draws the unbridled wrath of - her former fiance, a man accused of cold-blooded murder. Will the brutal fugitive succeed in taking her life? Or does the future still hold a promise for Breanna.

About the author: Al Lacy is an evangelist and author of more than one hundred historical and western novels, including the Journeys of the Stranger, Angel of Mercy and Mail Order Bride series, with more than three million books in print.

A Promise for Breanna
Publisher/Publication Date: Multnomah, June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-244-6
320 pages

ARC Arrival: The Castaways

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

Publisher: Hachette

I received this book for a July blog tour from Miriam and Hachette Books - Thanks Miriam!

About the book: (from the book jacket)What happened between Greg MacAvoy and April Peck?

On the tiny island of Nantucket, everybody's business is everyone's business. When the charming, talented music teacher Greg MacAvoy shares a rainy Sunday night with the beautiful high school senior April Peck, rumors swarm the island like tourists on Memorial Day. The stories strain Greg's marriage, and his wife, Tess, is torn between her love for her husband and a secret of her own. With their anniversary approaching, the MacAvoys head out on their sailboat to celebrate, hoping the roughest waters are behind them.

But instead comes heartbreaking news: Greg and Tess have mysteriously drowned, leaving behind two small children. Their closest friends - the Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers - are devastated. For as long as anyone can remember, the four couples have vacationed and celebrated together, confided in and depended on one another. But tragedy brings long-simmering conflicts and emotions to the surface. The six friends, upended by grief and denial, set out to answer the question: What happened to Greg and Tess MacAvoy?

A page-turning story of passion and suspense, The Castaways is a masterful exploration of the boundaries of friendship and forgiveness, filled with the perfect details of summer life that have made Elin Hilderbrand's novels bestsellers nationwide.

About the author: Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, PA, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her seven previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

The Castaways
Publisher/Publication Date: Hachette, July 7, 2009
ISBN: 9780316043892
368 pages

Friday, June 5, 2009

ARC Arrival: Homer's Odyssey

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper

Publisher: Dell

I received this book from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.

About the book: (from Dell's website) Once in nine lives,
something extraordinary happens...

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an “underachiever,” never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and leapt five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.

But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.

About the author: Gwen Cooper is the author of the novel Diary of a South Beach Party Girl. A Miami native, she spent five years working in nonprofit administration, marketing, and fundraising. She coordinated volunteer activities on behalf of organizations including Pet Rescue, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Rescue Mission, and His House Children’s Home, and initiated Reading Pen Pals, an elementary school-based literacy program in Miami’s Little Haiti. Gwen currently lives in Manhattan with her husband, Laurence. She also lives with her three perfect cats–Scarlett, Vashti, and Homer--who aren’t impressed with any of it.

Homer's Odyssey
Publisher/Publication Date: Dell, Aug 25, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-34385-5
304 pages

ARC Arrival: The Devlin Diary

The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

Publisher: Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)

I received this book from Sarah at Pocket Books - Thanks Sarah!

About the book: (from the book flap) London, 1672. The past twelve years have brought momentous changes: the restoration of the monarchy, a devastating plague and fire. Yet the city remains a teeming, thriving metropolis, energized by the lusty decadence of Charles II's court and burgeoning scientific inquiry. Although women enjoy greater freedom, they are not allowed to practice medicine, a restriction that physician Hannah Devlin evades by treating patients that most other doctors shun: the city's poor.

But Hannah has a special knowledge that Secretary of State Lord Arlington desperately needs. At the king's Machiavellian court, Hannah attracts the attention of two men, charming courtier Ralph Montagu and anatomist Dr. Edward Strathern, as well as the attention of the powerful College of Physicians, which views her work as criminal. When two influential courtiers are found brutally murdered, their bodies inscribed with arcane symbols, Hannah is drawn into a dangerous investigation by Dr. Strathern, who believes the murders conceal a far-reaching conspiracy that may include Hannah's late father and the king himself.

Cambridge, 2008. Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan's dream come true — until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam. The only key to the professor's unsolved murder is a seventeenth century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king's mistress. With help from the eclectic collections of Cambridge's renowned libraries, Claire and historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Devlin left behind, uncovering secrets of London's dark past and Cambridge's equally murky present, and discovering that events of three hundred years ago may still have consequences today....

A suspenseful and richly satisfying tale brimming with sharply observed historical detail, The Devlin Diary brings past and present to vivid life. With wit and grace, Christi Phillips holds readers spellbound with an extraordinary novel of secrets, obsession, and the haunting power of the past.

About the author: Christi Phillips is the author of The Rossetti Letter, which has been translated into six foreign languages. Her research combines a few of her favorite things: old books, libraries, and travel. When she's not rummaging around in an archive or exploring the historic heart of a European city, she lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is at work on her next novel, set in France.

The Devlin Diary
Publisher/Publication Date: Pocket Books, May 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-2739-8
448 pages

ARC Arrival: Fragment

Fragment by Warren Fahy

Publisher: Dell

I received this book from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.

About the book: (from the back cover) In this cutting-edge science-based suspense novel - which set off a bidding war at the 2008 London Book Fair - scientists have made a startling discover: a fragment of a lost continent, an island with an ecosystem unlike any they've seen before. . .an ecosystem that could topple ours like a house of cards.

The time is now. The place is the Trident, a long-range research vessel hired by the reality show Sealife. Aboard is a cast of ambitious young scientists. With a director thirsting for drama, tiny Henders Island might be just what the show needs. Until the first scientist sets foot on Henders - and the ultimate test of survival begins.

For this is not a lost world frozen in time, an island of mutants, or a lab where science has gone mad: this is Earth as it might have looked after evolving on a separate path for half a billion years. Here scientists will stumble on something more shocking than anything humanity has ever encountered: because among the terrors of Henders Island, one life form defies any scientific theory - and must be saved at any cost.

As brilliantly imagined as Jurassic Park and The Ruins, Fragment is guaranteed to be summer '09's powerhouse suspense debut.

About the author: Warren Fahy has been a bookseller, a statistical analyst, and managing editor of a video database, where he wrote hundreds of movie reviews for a nationally syndicated column. He is currently the lead writer for Wowwee, generating creative content for their line of advanced robotic toys. He lives in San Diego, California. Delacorte will publish his next novel in 2010.

Publisher/Publication Date: Dell, June 16, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-553-8073-0
384 pages

Friday Finds: 6-5-2009

Here are my finds this week!

Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

I found this at J.Kaye's Book Blog.

About the book: (from Barnes and Noble website) If Ridley Jones had slept ten minutes later or had taken the subway instead of waiting for a cab, she would still be living the beautiful lie she used to call her life. She would still be the privileged daughter of a doting father and a loving mother. Her life would still be perfect—with only the tiny cracks of an angry junkie for a brother and a charming drunk with shady underworld connections for an uncle to mar the otherwise flawless whole.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, those inconsequential decisions lead her to perform a good deed that puts her in the right place at the right time to unleash a chain of events that brings a mysterious package to her door—a package which informs her that her entire world is a lie.

Suddenly forced to question everything she knows about herself and her family, Ridley wanders into dark territory she never knew existed, where everyone in her life seems like a stranger. She has no idea who’s on her side and who has something to hide—even, and maybe especially, her new lover, Jake, who appears to have secrets of his own.

Sexy and fast-paced, Beautiful Lies is a true literary thriller with one of the freshest voices and heroines to arrive in years. Lisa Unger takes us on a breathtaking ride in which every choice Ridley makes creates a whirlwind of consequences that are impossible to imagine . . . .

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

I found this book over at Semicolon's blog.

About the book: (from Barnes and Noble website) Another New York Times bestseller from Laurie Halse Anderson! High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn't believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father's boss's daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy— and Tyler's secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in school, in his family, and in the world.

What great books did you find this week?? Stop over at Should Be Reading and share yours!

Beautiful Lies
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House, Dec 2006
ISBN: 9780307336828
384 pages

Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin, May 2008
ISBN: 9780142411841
272 pages

The Friday 56: 6-5-2009

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

A man loomed over him, and Seward tried to signal the man to give him his watch. The man followed Seward's eyes and picked up his cherished timepiece. He said softly in French, "You won't need this where you're going."
(from Dracula, The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker, p56 - Uncorrected proof)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham (Book Review)

Title: Holly's Inbox
Author: Holly Denham (Bill Surie)
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks, June 2009

First sentence: Holly, Exciting news about your job, are you enjoying it?

About the book: (from the back cover) - Dear Holly, Are you sure you know what you're getting into...?

It's Holly Denham's first day as a receptionist at a busy corporate bank, and frankly, it's obvious she can't quite keep up.

Take a peek at her email and you'll see why: what with her crazy friends, dysfunctional family, and gossipy co-workers, Holly's inbox is a daily source of drama. Laughter, friendship, and romantic interludes keep her going, until one day, Holly's secret past begins to catch up with her. . .

Written entirely in emails, this compulsively readable UK smash hit will keep you laughing and turning the pages all the way to its surprising and deeply satisfying ending.

My thoughts: Who would have thought that you could learn so much about someone from reading their email? This book was hilarious - and very believable. Even though I have not been in the work force for 5 years - I remember how people would email me rather than just picking up the phone! I am sure that email has only gotten more prevalent since then. The entanglements and problems that Holly gets into are pretty common - but the presentation of those situations - learned entirely through email is very original! I flew through this book quicker than I ever though possible. It was very clever the way it was laid out - 5 months - week by week - day by day - mainly being Holly's inbox with the occasional detour to one of her friends. There is Trish - the other receptionist - who at first you think is going to be really tough to work with, but that soon changes. Then there are her friends Jason and Aish - Jason being more of her confidente and problem solver while Aish gets into a lot of trouble on her own that she needs help getting out of. Charlie, her brother, who is trying to open a fetish club and always seems to need Holly's help. Alice and Matt, her sister and husband, who have the interesting occupation of raising snakes. . . And then of course Holly's Mum and Dad and dear old Granny - who seems to get into as much trouble as Holly - w/o even trying! You can begin to get an idea of what the book is alike by visiting Holly's Inbox online. Warning - You will be addicted!

Holly's Inbox
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks, June 2009
ISBN: 9781402219030
668 pages

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wonderful Win: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau/Random House

I won this book at Bookworm With a View. It is for her Summer Reading Series and we will be discussing it on July 14th. This will be my first time taking part in a discussion like this and I am really looking forward to it. You should go check out her blog as she has lots of neat stuff going on!

About the book: When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting for—until she learns that her husband is leaving her and has cut her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, 400 miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers’ daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her irreverent postfeminist magazine, Snatch. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home, where her confused and lonesome teenage sister, Lizzie, is struggling with problems of her own: She’s become the school slut.

Holed up in their Georgian colonial bunker, the Miller women wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, and nasty social climbers—and in the process all illusions and artifice fall away and they must reckon with something far scarier and more consequential: their true selves.

About the author: Janelle Brown is a freelance journalist who writes for the New York Times, Vogue, Wired, Elle, and Self, among other publications, and was formerly a senior writer for Salon. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles. This is her first novel.

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
Publisher/Publication Date: Spiegel & Grau, May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-52402-5
448 pages

ARC Arrival: Viva Cisco

Viva Cisco by Patrick Shannon

Publisher: Outskirts Press

I received this book from the author through Bostick Communications.

About the book: Author Patrick Shannon has released a delightful new book in the tradition of Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Wind in the Willows, and the stories of Uncle Remus-a book that offers plenty of wholesome fun for youngsters in that "in between" age of 10 to 13. Viva Cisco is a trilogy of funny stories, with humor "cool" enough to appeal, and tales that read as if they were animated films, a winning combination for the tweener set. Parents will appreciate the subtle yet unmistakable message that urges a population of infinite variety to get along with each other.

In Viva Cisco, all three tales unfold in a mythical land called Topopootl, which lies in a hidden valley deep in the heart of Mexico. Because of its seclusion, the creatures of Topopootl have created a society without the benefit of human contact-and they don't seem to have missed out on anything important. In fact, they seem to have more merriment and boisterous excitement than any human community could conceive. Much of the credit for that, however, must be laid at the feet of Topopootl's most.uh.stimulating citizen, one Cisco las Verde Arara del Gucigalpa: aka Cisco the Parrot.

His is an ego burning brightly, and his quest is for nothing less than becoming the most notable dude in all Topopootl. In "Am I Famous Yet?" he wends his fractured way from being the Answer Man at the public library, through a public failure in "Show Biz," a humiliating defeat in Anything Goes Wrestling (at the hands of two little cockroaches), a "Mayday" attempt at a high-altitude record for parrots, and finally to opening a very weird business: The Word Man, whose motto is: "Learn a big word and impress your friends."

In "Cisco, PI," he combines the skills of Inspector Clouseau and Barney Fife, tackling Topopootl's first and only crime wave, a series of burglaries that turn out to be the work of Harry the Packrat, a creature who traveled from North America to put together a "Mexican collection." This is his plea as he is brought before the citizens of Topopootl: "It wasn't stealing. It was collecting." Cisco manages to solve this case only after committing a huge blunder-fingering the president of Topopootl as the godfather of a crime family.

Finally, in "Cisco and the Secret Room," our hero leads four of his pals on a dangerous mission to retrieve ancient evidence of Topopootl's origins. In a secret room in the heart of a mysterious pyramid, they discover the story of how Topopootl came into existence. The inscriptions on the wall tell the story of how the Aztecs and Spaniards made the lands uninhabitable for the non-human population, who were then forced to find a place of refuge and peace-Topopootl. The walls tell how the city nearly faced extinction from human invasion and how a remarkable army of little skunks saved the day-and Topopootl.

The three stories of Viva Cisco are perfectly designed to become feature-length animated films. and their message, lightly buried under adventure and dry humor, promotes individuality, eccentricity, and a wide range of points of view. The citizens of Topopootl feel free to have a good healthy spat now and then, but would never even contemplate letting things get ugly. There is a subliminal example here for humans who, when they can't find obvious differences in their own species, manufacture them. Not a bad message for youngsters only a few years from adulthood. (from publicity email)

About the author: Patrick Shannon is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Thirty-three years with a major oil company brought him rich experiences from traveling in the United States, Asia, and the Middle East. Born and raised in Southern California, Shannon attended UCLA and East Carolina and Oklahoma universities.

Viva Cisco
Publisher/Publication Date: Outskirts Press, April 16, 2009
ISBN: 978-1432730376
253 pages

ARC Arrival: The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini

Publisher: Sourcebooks

I received this book from Danielle at Sourcebooks - Thanks Danielle!

About the book: Judge Fitzwilliam Darcy is terribly bored - ready to hang up his black robe and return to the life of a country gentleman - until he meets Elizabeth Bennet, a fresh-faced attorney with a hectic schedule and no time for the sexy but haughty judge. Sparks fly as the two match wits and battle their overwhelming attraction.

When Darcy and Elizabeth are unexpectedly thrown together at an international conference, things heat up, and Lizzy starts to discover the man beneath those swirling black judicial robes. But when ethical considerations intrude, neither wants to give up their career, and it seems nothing will ever be able to bring Darcy and Lizzy back together. . .

About the author: Sara Angelini is an attorney living in the San Francisco Bay area. After earning an MS in Animal Sciences, she decided against becoming a veterinarian when she realized she only liked her own pets and moved to California with her husband to pursue law school. She is working on her third novel.

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks, October 2009
ISBN-13: 9781402221101
352 pages

Tome Traveler: Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Publisher: Penguin

I received this title through Paperbackswap. I am probably the only one left that hasn't read one of the Sookie Stackhouse books. I am so excited to get the chance to read this!

About the book: Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life. . .

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of - big surprise - murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next. . .

About the author: A native of the Mississippi Delta, Charlaine Harris grew up in a family of avid readers (her father was a teacher; her mother a librarian). She attended Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, graduating in 1973 with a degree in English and Communication Arts. Although she penned poetry and plays in school, her first serious foray into fiction was with two standalone novels, Sweet and Deadly and A Secret Rage, published (effortlessly!) in the early 1980s.

After her early success, Harris released the first installment in a series of lighthearted mysteries starring spunky, small-town Georgia librarian, true crime enthusiast, and amateur sleuth Aurora Teagarden. When Aurora debuted in Real Murders (1990), Publishers Weekly welcomed "a heroine as capable and potentially complex as P. D. James's Cordelia Gray." The book went on to receive an Agatha Award nomination.

Anxious for another challenge, Harris began a second series in 1996. Darker and edgier than the Teagarden novels, these mysteries featured taciturn, 30-something housecleaner Lily Bard, a woman with a complicated past who has moved to the small town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, to find peace and solitude. The first novel, Shakespeare's Landlord, was well-received. BookList raved: "Harris has created an intriguing new character in this solidly plotted story." [Much to the disappointment of her fans, Harris concluded the Lilly Bard sequence in 2001 with Shakespeare's Counselor.]

Although Harris achieved moderate success with these two series (which she laughingly describes as "cozies with teeth"), she would hit the jackpot in 2001 with Dead Until Dark, a sly, spoofy paranormal mystery starring a telepathic Louisiana cocktail waitress named Sookie Stackhouse, who falls in love with a vampire named Bill. The novel, a delightful hybrid of mystery, science fiction, and romance, was an instant hit with critics. ("Harris' Sookie has the potential to attract more readers than Hamilton's Anita Blake," raved the dark fantasy magazine Cemetery Dance.) Readers, too, adored the Southern Vampire Series and have rewarded the author with bestseller after bestseller. (In 2008, the Sookie saga came to HBO in a top-rated television adaptation, True Blood, starring Anna Paquin.)

With 2006's Grave Sight, Harris added yet another fascinating character to her stable -- a young woman named Harper Connelly whose youthful encounter with a lightning bolt has left her with the ability to find corpses and determine how they died. In addition to juggling characters and plots for her popular series, Harris has also contributed short stories and novellas to several anthologies of paranormal fantasy fiction.

Dead Until Dark
Publisher/Publication Date: Penguin, 2001
304 pages

Waiting on Wednesday: The Weight of Silence

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher/Publication Date: Mira, August 2009

While looking for a Waiting on Wednesday book this morning - I didn't have to go far, when this one jumped up at me from the beginnning of the Shelf Awareness e-mail!

About the book: Masterfully written and beautifully told, Heather Gudenkauf's debut is a stunning novel of family devotion, honesty and regret that will linger long after the last page is turned.

It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn’s shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by a tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler. Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra or Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets. (from the MIRA website)

About the author: Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent the past sixteen years working with students of all ages and is currently an instructional coach, and educator who provides curricular and professional development support to teachers.

Heather lives in Dubuque, Iowa, with her husband, three children and a very spoiled German shorthaired pointer named Maxine. When she's not working, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking and running.

The Weight of Silence is her first novel.

Click on The Weight of Silence for a link to preview this book.

The Weight of Silence
Publisher/Publication Date: Mira, August 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2740-0
384 pages

What book are you waiting for?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ARC Arrival: The Unit

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Publisher: Other Press

I received this book from Tony at Blue Dot Literary, LLC - Thanks Tony!

In this hauntingly familiar Western society, select groups of men and women are routinely checked into “The Unit;” an elite facility where members are housed in finely furnished apartments, fed healthy, even gourmet fare, and allowed to enjoy state-of-the-art recreational facilities for the rest of their lives. More importantly, however, they can finally make “meaningful” contributions to society.

In the world of The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, men over sixty years old and women over fifty—who are not engaged in “useful” professions, or are childless—are categorized as “dispensable,” and will enter a “Reserve Bank Unit” for biological material. Once inside, childless dispensables like fifty-year-old Dorritt Weger can live out their days in comfort, while they contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and donate their healthy organs, little by little, until making their final donation. Despite its undercurrent of ruthlessness however, the prevailing ethos of the Unit—and the society beyond—is to take care of others.

Resigned to her fate, Dorritt lives out her days in the Unit with peace and consolation. But when she meets a man inside and falls in love, Dorritt is faced with questions that challenge her at the very core of her identity; with the overtones leading to her ultimate decision: Escape or comply.

The Unit is a painfully gripping exploration of a society geared toward marginalizing and eliminating those who do not contribute by conventional means. A powerful and savvy indictment on achievement-based, utilitarian cultures, The Unit paints the portrait of a believable world where people—even the dispensables themselves—are gently coerced by group think to believe in the nobility of sacrifice for the sake of the necessary class.

Based on her own experiences, Swedish author Ninni Holmqvist delves into the nature of the female psyche, exploring its struggle to find an identity in the face of culturally-defined relevance, ageism, and gender roles based on child-bearing. Holmqvist has achieved a debut novel of humor, sorrow and tenderness, while exploring the bonds of love and friendship in a utilitarian existence, cynically disguised as compassion.

The Unit raises poignant questions that may finally receive their fair share of the spotlight as the Baby Boom Generation faces retirement en masse. Submitted for your review or profile feature consideration.

Ninni Holmqvist was born in 1958 and lives in Skåne, Sweden. She made her debut in 1995 with the short story collection Suit [Kostym] and has published two further collections of short stories since then. She also works as a translator. The Unit marks Holmqvist’s debut as a novelist.

Marlaine Delargy works as a translator and adult learning support tutor. She has translated novels by Åsa Larsson and Johan Theorin, among others, and serves on the editorial board of the Swedish Book Review. She lives in Shropshire, England.

The Unit
Publisher/Publication date: Other Press, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-59051-313-2
272 pages

ARC Arrival: Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received this book from Audra at TBB Media - Thanks Audra!

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World

Author Tom Davis explores today’s most vital social issues in his new international saga

Scared bk cover for emailThe United Nations estimates the world orphan population to be over 143 million children. Poverty, war, disease, and AIDS are the primary enemies of children across the globe, leaving those who are robbed of their parents at-risk for criminal behavior, prostitution, drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide.

In his debut novel, accomplished author and speaker Tom Davis offers readers a sweeping narrative that explores these most critical social concerns. Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World (June 2009/David C Cook) delves into the lives of a photojournalist struggling to redeem his past and an African orphan fighting for survival.

Once a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist, Stuart Daniels is reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and crippling depression. The source of Stuart’s grief is his most famous photo, a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo. This haunting image indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice.

Stuart is given one last chance to redeem his career: A make-or-break assignment covering the AIDS crisis in a small African country. It is here that Stuart meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for her life in a community ravaged by tragedy and disease. But in the face of overwhelming odds, Adanna finds hope in a special dream, where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a precious gift. Now what seemed like a chance encounter will forever change their lives.

In Scared, Tom Davis, also the author of Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless, weaves a beautiful story of redemption that takes place in a world far away from our own. Readers will discover, along with Stuart, that, “Sorrow is a part of life, but our tears can leave us with clearer sight, if we look to God.

True “fiction with a conscience,” Davis’ novel is the first in a planned series of three. Narrated in the first person by both Stuart and Adanna, Scared offers a unique perspective on the tragedies taking place in Africa today and encourages readers to step out and help the “least of these.”

Click here to view the book trailer!

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World
Publisher/Publication date: David C. Cook, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-589191-02-0
288 pages

ARC Arrival: You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received this for a First Wild Card Tour on June 16th.

Where Life Is a Dance and Disco Is a State of Mind

In Her Latest Novel, Queen of Boomer Lit Allison Bottke

Offers Mature Women Contemporary Fiction with an Attitude!

This summer, Allison will launch her new Va-Va-Va Boom series, published by David C Cook, where vibrant, successful fifty-somethings share laughter, tears, and advice as they pop into each others’ lives via the Internet—and the airlines! Brought together in an online community known as Boomer Babes Rock, Susan, Patricia, and Mary form a fast friendship, even though they live in different parts of the country and lead completely different lives.

“My boomer babe characters are fun, fashionable, funky, and faithful women who are following the dreams of their hearts,” Allison says. “I want to provide readers with enjoyable fiction about sassy and seasoned women achieving dreams, not complaining about their aches and pains. I also want to provide an honest but positive look at long-term marriage.”

In You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, the first book in the Va-Va-Va Boom series, Susan Anderson owns and operates a hip hair salon on the Las Vegas strip, decorated with her collection of disco memorabilia accumulated decades ago when she was one of the beautiful people on New York’s disco scene. Now happily married, Susan is known for her business savvy, her fabulous vintage ensembles, her faith, her big heart—and the impromptu disco dance numbers salon staff and clients join in when the spirit moves. If life is a dance, Susan’s mastered all the moves.

But an exciting business opportunity, her husband’s impending retirement, and her fiftieth birthday rock her world, shaking Susan’s foundation and revealing regrets and painful memories she thought she’d dealt with. Will Susan be able to face her past, reinvent her marriage, launch a new dream . . . and keep on dancing?

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, June 2009
437 pages

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan - Blog Tour

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

Publisher: Multnomah

About the book: Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.

When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.

About the author: River Jordan is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright whose unique mixture of southern and mystic writing has drawn comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen, Leif Enger, and Flannery O’Connor. Her previous works include The Messenger of Magnolia Street, lauded by Kirkus Reviews as “a beautifully written, atmospheric tale.” She speaks around the country and makes her home in Nashville.

Saints in Limbo
Publisher/Publication Date: Multnomah, May 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0-307-44670-1
352 pages

Monday, June 1, 2009

ARC Arrival: The King's Legacy

The King's Legacy: A Story of Wisdom for the Ages by Jim Stovall

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received this from Audra at TBB Media - Thanks Audra!

About the book: In a land and time far from our own, there was an enchanted kingdom ruled by a benevolent and much-loved king. He had led his people through times of uncertainty and turmoil into a golden age of prosperity and peace.

Now nearing the end of his storied reign, the king longs to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. He considers soaring monuments, precious coins bearing his likeness, larger-than-life statues. But then the king's most trusted advisor steps forth with a remarkable idea: To discover the wisdom of the ages, the greatest secret of the known world to benefit the entire human race.

So the king invites citizens from all walks of life and all corners of the realm to share with him the best of their life lessons. Yet as the king encounters a wealth of wisdom from his subjects, he faces a new dilemma, just how to determine the single greatest truth in life. Little does he know that the profound answer will come from the most unexpected and unassuming of places.(from Barnes and Noble)

About the author:

Jim Stovall has been a national champion Olympic weightlifter, a successful investment broker and entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder and President of the Narrative Television Network, which makes movies and television accessible for our nation's 13 million blind and visually impaired people and their families. Although originally designed for the blind and visually impaired, over 60% of NTN's nationwide audience is made up of fully-sighted people who simply enjoy the programming.

Jim Stovall hosts the Network's talk show, "NTN Showcase." His guests have included Katharine Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, Carol Channing, Steve Allen, and Eddie Albert, as well as many others. The Narrative Television Network has received an Emmy Award and an International Film and Video Award among its many industry honors.

NTN has grown to include over 1,200 cable systems and broadcast stations, reaching over 35 million homes in the United States, and NTN is shown in 11 foreign countries.

Jim Stovall joined the ranks of Walt Disney, Orson Welles, and four United States presidents when he was selected as one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Americans" by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. He has appeared on "Good Morning America" and CNN, and has been featured in Reader's Digest, TV Guide and Time magazine. He is the author of a previous book entitled You Don't Have To Be Blind To See, as well as his new book Success Secrets of Super Achievers. The President's Committee on Equal Opportunity selected Jim Stovall as the 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year.

The King's Legacy
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4347-6593-2
156 pages

ARC Arrival: Talking to the Dead

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received this from Audra at TBB Media - Thanks Audra!

About the book: Twentysomething Kate Davis can't seem to get this grieving widow thing down. She's supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Inst4eadshe's camped out onh her living-room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep - because her husband, Kevin, keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind?

Kate's attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an "eclectically spiritual" counselor, then to a shrink with a bad toupee, a mean-spirited exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate's fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past . . . and Kevin begins to shout.

Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on in this tender, quirky story about second chances.

About the author: Bonnie Grove developed and wrote social programs for families at risk before landing her first publishing deal for Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You. Talking to the Dead is her first novel. Grove and her pastor husband, Steve, have two children; they live in Saskatchewan.

Talking to the Dead
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4347-6641-0
368 pages

ARC Arrivals: Live Deeply and Live Relationally

Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables of Jesus by Lenya Heitzig & Penny Rose
Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women of Genesis by Lenya Heitzig & Penny Rose

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received these books for a First Wild Card Tour on June 26th.

About Live Deeply: Twenty minutes a day to a better understanding of Jesus' parables. Have you ever read one of Jesus' parables and asked, "What is He talking about?" If so, you're not alone. Jesus' own disciples were also perplexed by the enigmatic stories Christ told.

Now you - alone or with your small group - can dig deeper into the meaning of these parables in lessons that conjure vivid imagery of the sights and sounds of ancient Israel. You will begin to uncover the parables' important meanings for your walk with Christ.

Gain a lifetime of valuable insights in this Fresh Life Bible study by authors Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose. Each day's lesson is structured in five parts:
  1. Lift up (prayer)
  2. Look at (God's Word)
  3. Learn about (new insights)
  4. Live out (application)
  5. Listen to (quotes from other believers)
The Fresh Life series was created by women, for women - women who crave a profound experience of God's Word without an overwhelming commitment of time. With each lesson, you will come to a deeper understanding of the truths of the Bible and develop a deeper intimacy with God.

About Live Relationally: Twenty minutes a day to a fresh look at the women of Genesis. Quick - name your favorite Bible character! Is it a woman? Chances are it's not, even though women are central to God's story - and His plan. Genesis alone is peopled with women who experience death, marriage, divorce, rape and family tragedy. And if that sounds like something out of last night's prime-time TV, it just goes to show that the Bible has a message for you - today.

From the complicated Tamar to the often oversimplified Eve, Genesis is full of wives and mothers, slaves and owners, sinners and saints. . . and each woman's story will touch your heart.

Discover the vivid lessons and rich wisdom of Israel's founding mothers in this Fresh Life Bible study by authors Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose. Lessons are structured as above.

About the authors: Lenya Heitzig is an ECPA Gold Medallion-winning author and a popular Bible teacher. Lenya and her husband Skip, started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fastest-growing churches in the country. She is the author of Holy Moments: Recognizing God's Fingerprints on Your Life and coauthor of the four Bible studies in the Fresh Life series. She also contributed to the best-selling New Women's Devotional Bible. Lenya serves as the director of Women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Rose is an award-winning author of several Bible studies, including the four books in the Fresh Life series. She was the general editor of the New Women's Devotional Bible, a finalist for the Christian Book Awards and contributed to True Identity: The Bible for Women. Penny thrives on teaching at conferences and retreats nationwide. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Kerry, a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque. They have two daughters, Erin and Ryan and one son, Kristian.

Live Deeply
Publisher/Publication date: David C. Cook, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4347-9986-6
288 pages

Live Relationally
Publisher/Publication date: David C. Cook, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4347-6748-6
288 pages

ARC Arrival: How To Raise a Modern Day Joseph

How to Raise a Modern Day Joseph by Linda Massey Weddle

Publisher: David C. Cook

I received this book for a First Wild Card Tour June 29th.

About the book: As parents, we strive to help our kids grow into their full potential. We help them with their homework, enroll them in activities, and invest for their college education. But while we may plan for their success, we can overlook a vital part of their personal development: nurturing and encouraging a solid foundation of faith.

We can easily assume our children are growing spiritually in church youth groups and programs, but the Bible calls us to guide them in their relationship with Jesus.

The life of Joseph offers parents a biblical standard for building children of character. Drawing from his story, this book will help you do just that. Inside, you'll find a unique guide for creating a personalized plan for your child's spiritual growth, from preschool through high school. This practical guide will help your child:
  • Respect the awesomeness of God
  • Acquire wisdom from the Bible
  • Understand God's grace
  • Gain a sense of destiny and purpose
  • Develop a life perspective based on God's perfect plan
The result: children and teenagers who know, love, and serve the Lord. So invest in their spiritual development. And create a legacy of faith that will last a lifetime. (from the back cover)

About the author: Linda Massey Weddle is a children's author, and her more than two thousand articles and short stories have been published by publications such as Women's Day and Christian Parenting Today. She develops Bible-based curriculum for young people and has been involved in children's and youth ministry for the past forty years. She has two grown children and six grandchildren and resides in suburban Chicago.

How to Raise a Modern Day Joseph
Publisher/Publication Date: David C. Cook, June 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4347-6531-4
220 pages

New Giveaway - Stealing Home by Allison K. Pittman

Stealing Home by Allison K. Pittman

Publisher: Multnomah

Thanks to Elizabeth and Random House I have one copy of Stealing Home to giveaway to a lucky commenter. Full rules are below.

About the book: It’s 1905 and the Chicago Cubs are banking on superstar Donald “Duke” Dennison’s golden arm to help them win the pennant. Only one thing stands between Duke and an unprecedented ten thousand dollar contract: alcohol.

That’s when sportswriter David Voyant whisks Duke to the one-horse town of Picksville, Missouri, so he can sober up in anonymity. He bides his time flirting with Ellie Jane Voyant, his unofficial chaperone, who would rather hide herself in the railway station ticket booth than face the echoes of childhood taunts.

Ned Clovis, the feed store clerk, has secretly loved Ellie Jane since childhood, but he loves baseball and the Duke almost as much–until he notices Ellie Jane may be succumbing to the star’s charm.

Then there’s Morris, a twelve-year-old Negro boy, whose only dream is to break away from Picksville. When Duke discovers his innate talent for throwing a baseball, Morris might just have found his way out.

Four individuals, each living in haunted isolation, each harboring a secret passion. Providence brings them together. Tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Will love be enough to bring them home?

About the author: Allison Pittman spent seventeen years as a high school English teacher, and then shunned the advice of “experts,” quit her day job and set out to write novels that bring glory to God. She relishes inspiring other writers and leading the theater arts group at her church. She and her husband and three sons live in Universal City, Texas.

1. Must have U.S. Address/no P.O. Boxes.
2. Since baseball is an American pastime - to enter, please leave a comment relating ANY experience that you have ever had with baseball/softball/t-ball, etc - you get the picture.
3. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE leave your email in the comment!
4. One entry per person.
5. Giveaway runs from June 1 - June 22.

Stealing Home
Publisher/Publication Date: Multnomah, April 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-60142-136-4
352 pages


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