Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hidden Wives Giveaway Winner

Hidden Wives
And the winner is....


Yay!  Yay!

Egle, be sure to thank Michelle and Mari for the fantastic book (because you will love it!) through goodreads.  Michelle needs to start stalking your husband for awhile.

I think she might have lost interest in mine.

Maybe we need to work on getting her a husband of her very own.  Anybody know any (single) men out there?  Her resume boasts the following attributes:

Amazing writer
Adorable children
Former underwear model for JC Penney
Drop dead gorgeous
Hilarious sense of humor
Next we will find out Mari's marital status.

Deception by Lee Nichols

Deception (Haunting Emma)
From Library School Journal: Grade 8 Up—With her antiquities-dealer parents supposedly away on vacation, big brother Max somewhere abroad, and former best friend ignoring her, Emma Vaile, 17, is alone in San Francisco. Expecting freedom, she finds loneliness and trouble instead. Being abandoned and ratted out to Child Protective Services are bad enough, but there's also the return of disturbing visions she hasn't had for a decade. Then Max's ex-friend and Emma's long-standing crush, Bennett Stern, appears with guardianship papers. Taking Emma to his family's Massachusetts mansion/museum, he enrolls her in Thatcher Academy, where she experiences acute déjà vu.

Concerned for her sanity, Emma eventually admits that she sees ghosts. Aloof Bennett reveals that they both have the ability to communicate with them. Someone or something is murdering ghostkeepers and leaving behind a symbol: the design on Emma's mother's unique pendant. The whereabouts of Emma's family, whether Emma and Bennett will (should) be together, and whether he can be trusted are questions to be answered. In this first book in a series, Nichols has left threads untied for future installments. Occasionally, the dialogue is trite and the action cartoonish, but the ghostkeeper premise, lingering mystery, and Emma/Bennett relationship compel the curious to return. Magical ancestors and passed-down powers aside, the novel is not of the caliber of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's emotionally investing Beautiful Creatures (Little, Brown, 2009), but it will appeal to teens craving a quick read.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ

My take: This is a good read and starts out strong with an ending that leaves me wanting more. The middle of the story dragged me along a little bit.  Some peripheral characters were introduced but not fully developed to my expectations but that could be why they are only peripheral.  200 year old Bennett seems interesting but withdrawn, although he plays an important part in current Emma's skill development.

The author balanced teenage angst with development of paranormal abilities with finesse.  As Emma adjusts to her new social circumstances, she also discovers much more of her ghostkeeping abilities.  Her gifts far outweigh her ability to deal with her personal life yet she continues her attempts at being normal for as long as possible.

I will definitely read the next book in the series.  The last couple of chapters introduced concepts that adds enough intrigue to the story that I want to see a resolution, although I can't fathom how.  I am anxious to see how the author resolves the new conflict.

3 and half stars.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare Review

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) 
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My take:  This paranormal novel includes all the elements of a great story; vampires, werewolves (although peripherally), warlocks, Victorian England, dashing antagonist, and bizarre, strangely entertaining, gore.  I really, really liked it simply for the originality and fun factor, morbid as it may be.  Here's the cast:

Tessa:  Protagonist from America in a England without a friend.  Taken captive by the Dark Sisters, she is tormented trained to use her dormant gift, the ability to change her appearance to be like another person while holding a trinket of anybody living or dead. She can also touch on their thoughts and feelings.  Rescued by a breed of people she knows nothing of but who claim to protect the mundane (those of us without special abilities) from demons and others who may not have souls.  Saucy and intelligent.  Easy to like.

Charlotte:  Tennuously holding onto her leadership appointment, she is the heart of the Enclave.  Small, fast, and deadly.  Strangely maternal.

Henry:  The absent-minded professor is Charlotte's husband.  Accidentally very funny.

Jessamine:  Beautiful beyond words.  Just ask her.

Jem:  Short for James, he is fair, transluscent, and somehow fragile but also a fierce fighter when feeling well.

Will:  Snarky, wickedly funny and handsome, aloof and lonely.  Hiding secrets.

Vampires of all sorts:  Ambivalent of Mundanes, they are not demonic but simply infected.  It's an illness.  Like book addicts.

Thomas, Sophie, Agatha:  Mundanes with the "Sight."

Nathan:  Tessa's brother who is responsible for Tessa's arrival in England which led to her new life.

Magister:  The one who planned the scheme to get Tessa to come to him.  He is a secret until the end.

The disappointment for me is the ending.  It's a cliff hanger.  That's why it's called Book One.  Now I have to wait to see what Tessa truly is and explain mysteries regarding certain members of the Enclave.  It will be interesting to find out what Tessa can really do.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

IMM (8/29/10)

You know those famines for good books?  Every book you read is just kind of "blech"?

This week was NOT one of those weeks!  Fantastic books every time I picked one up.

First, I finished "Breaking Night" by Liz Murray.  Really amazing.
Then there was "Girl, Stolen" by April Henry.  Pretty good for the age group.
Then I was completely swept up in "Mockingjay"
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)In case you haven't caught on, I LOVED it!  I had absolutely no idea what would happen on the next page.  The imagination for torture, love, war, murder is incredible. The ending was appropriately anti-climactic. A lot like life.  I mean the ending, ending.  The ending of the Capitol's reign is NOT anti-climactic.  Suzanne Collins is brilliant.

So then I had refresh my memory by re-reading "Catching Fire."
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)And now I want to read "Mockingjay" again.  But I didn't.  I was obsessing and I knew it.

And so I made myself refocus on a completely different genre.
Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal"Little Princes" is currently in ARC form and I took it with me to church today.  I was paying attention during Sunday School.  Really, I was.  I'm still working on it but think of John Krakauer and the work he did with the Lost Boys in southern Utah except replace southern Utah boys with Nepalese orphans.  Or "Three Cups of Tea" only with hilarious anecdotes and dialogue and a little bit of romance.  This author is a fantastic story teller, precisely describing the political unrest in Nepal with a wonderful sense of humor.  I'm still laughing about the Jablo.

This week I am going to finish Little Princes.  I will also read
Deception (Haunting Emma)
and probably
Everything Hurts: A Novel
Maybe I will read "Mockingjay" again.  But that just might be too weird.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

ARC Giveaway

Here's my sad story.  My books are taking over my living space.  I have to give them away. So I'm having a book contest.

I really, really want you to win. 

Here are the books...
Think of a Number: A NovelRevenge Served ColdA Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second ChancesDisplaced Persons: A NovelThe Eternal OnesLive to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren NovelRoom: A Novel

Contest ends September 14th

I'd love it if you'd add a comment. It makes me feel worthwhile.

Also, if you twittered, blogged, facebooked, or anything else to promote this giveaway, give yourself a big hug and then make sure you let me know in a comment.

My husband thanks you for your support in my endeavor to clean out books.

The Recessionistas Winners!

The Recessionistas



(Really must get a new name, especially if you are going to keep winning like this)

Off Season Winners Announced!

Off Season
(oh, pmernick. You must change your name to something I can pronounce)

Rules of Betrayal Winners Announced

Rules of Betrayal
Cheryl B.



I'm jazzed!  Aren't you?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet

At high noon on a cold November day in 1974, sixty-seven-year-old John Wayne faced off with the staff of the Harvard Lampoon on the famous campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The students had issued their challenge by calling the beloved American icon a fraud. Wayne, who had his new movie McQ to promote, responded by saying he would be happy to show his film in the pseudo-intellectual swamps of Harvard Square. After the screening, without writers, the former USC footballer delivered a classic performance. When one smart young man asked where he got his phony toupee, Wayne insisted the hair was real. It wasn t his, but it was real. The appreciative underclassmen loved him and after the Q and A session, they all sat down to dinner. Later Wayne, who was suffering greatly from both gout and the after effects of lung cancer (sadly the Duke only had five years to live), said that day at Harvard was the best time he ever had.

Just when you thought you've heard everything about Hollywood comes a totally original new book. Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies! by Stephen Schochet contains a timeless treasure trove of colorful vignettes featuring an amazing all-star cast of icons including John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn and many others both past and contemporary.

A special blend of biography, history and lore Hollywood Stories is full of humorous tales often with unexpected endings. What makes the book unique is that the reader can go to any page and find a completely engaging and illuminating yarn. Sometimes people won't realize that they are reading about The Three Stooges or Popeye the Sailor until they come to the end of the story.

A professional tour guide in Hollywood, Stephen Schochet has researched and told thousands of entertaining anecdotes for over twenty years. He is also the author and narrator of two audiobooks Tales of Hollywood and Fascinating Walt Disney. Tim Sika, host of the radio show Celluloid Dreams on KSJS in San Jose has called Stephen, "The best storyteller about Hollywood we have ever heard."

My take: This book is filled with all kinds of gossip and trivia that is sheer entertainment. I've no doubt the author was an incredible tour guide. True or not, they are fun to read.  Like a Reader's Digest, I would place this book in the category of "Squat and Chuckle."  In other words, perfect bathroom book.

The Glamour of Grammar

The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

From the book jacket: Early in the history of English, glamour and grammar were the same word, linked to enchantment and magical spells. Now grammar brings to mind language bullies and bored-out-of-their-skulls students. Roy Peter Clark, one of America's most influential writing teachers, wants to change that by putting the glamour back into grammar. Whether you are composing a novel, a memo, an e-mail, or a blog post, you can immediately apply any of the lessons Clark lays out in fifty short chapters. The Glamour of Grammar prepares you to captivate with every word.

My take: This book includes 50 short chapters covering different aspects of words, points (punctuation), standards, meaning (keeping tenses, when to use fragments) and purpose (being unconventional). Well written book and excellent resource for the aspiring writer HOWEVER, be aware of profanity use. Children ought to use other resources for their writing development. In fact, if the author had kept it cleaner, I would suggest it be used in creative writing courses in jr. and sr. high schools.

Excellent book.  I just wanted to warn you.

Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman Review and GIVEAWAY!

Ah-Choo!: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold
Some colds are like mice, timid and annoying; others like dragons, accompanied by body aches and deep misery. In AH-CHOO!, Jennifer Ackerman explains what, exactly, a cold is, how it works, and whether it's really possible to "fight one off."

Scientists call this the Golden Age of the Common Cold because Americans suffer up to a billion colds each year, resulting in 40 million days of missed work and school and 100 million doctor visits. They've also learned over the past decade much more about what cold viruses are, what they do to the human body, and how symptoms can be addressed. In this ode to the odious cold, Ackerman sifts through the chatter about treatments-what works, what doesn't, and what can't hurt. She dispels myths, such as susceptibility to colds reflects a weakened immune system. And she tracks current research, including work at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, a world-renowned center of cold research studies, where the search for a cure continues.

My comments:  This book has fascinating information, wry sense of humor, and a pretty good dose of disgusting factor.  The author subjects herself to be a willing victim of the most common cold all in the name of science.  So scientists could look in her nose and throat, etc.  Apparently, there is money in this study, although not enough to convince me to enlist.

The book addresses how the viruses are transmitted, how they work their way into the body to replicate itself, what it looks like, myths, and a whole discussion on nose picking. The television show, "Mythbusters" replicated a study using florescent dye (mentioned in book) to see where and how these germs traveled.

Fortunately, I am not a germaphobe.

If you want it, let me know with a comment including your email address.

2 copies up for grabs.  Contest ends September 9th
U.S. and Canada only.

My thanks to Hatchette Book Group for sponsoring this giveaway and providing me with a review copy.

Rules of Betrayal Winners!

Rules of Betrayal

You guys are fantastic! Choosing appropriate actors and actresses to play you and your hottie in your own Lifetime Movie!  Many of you made me rethink my choice of Brad Pitt.  In fact, I've changed my mind.  Can I take Peeta even though he's fictional, too?

In the meantime, winners for this book are. . . . . . .

Lora and Adrian

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

The End.

(P.S. Reread "Catching Fire" before embarking on "Mockingjay." If you read one book in your lifetime, don't choose this one. You'll be confused. If you read three books in your lifetime, this is the trilogy to consider. I'm sure there is a deeper message like "Get up every day and do what needs to be done and someday you will define a new normal" or something more catchy but it is simply a strangely satisfying trilogy that keeps the most ADHD person mesmerized. Short sentences. Sometimes incomplete. Like these. Not complaining, just observing.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

She's Gone Country GIVEAWAY

From Publisher: Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons.

Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. Add to the mix Shey's ex-crush, Dane Kelly, a national bullriding champ and she's got her hands full. It doesn't take long before Shey realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, to find happiness--and maybe love--in the present.

*This book arrived yesterday so I haven't had a chance to review it, yet.  I will post my review shortly.  Since it was released two days ago, I wanted to get this contest posted so you can be the "cool chick" at the check-out line with the book sticking out of your purse.  I want you to be the woman that owns something that others covet. I mean, impress your neighbors.  Three of you will be lucky winners.

Same rules as usual.  Leave me a comment with email.  If you are a follower, leave a separate comment telling me so.  If you aren't a follower and you say you are, I will send Katniss to your house with her bow and new arrows. 

Maybe I am bordering or dramatic.  I can't tell.  I've been immersed in Panem.

Contest ends September 15, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Disappearing Spoon Contest Winners

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements 
Sheila and Jolee!

I know!  It's like you can hardly breathe from all the excitement.  That's called Oxygen or, in Chemistry speak, "O."  

Wow.  I just got shivers go down my spine for sounding so darn smart.  I deserve a Diet Coke.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

IMM (8/22/10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, and it is hosted by The Story Siren. Go here for a full description of IMM.

This week I was a slacker.  First of all, I'd like to give a shout out to my sister, Jene Marie.  Not because she ran a half marathon this morning but I want to thank her, from the bottom of my heart and gut for sharing the stomach bug with my family.  With school starting this week, I think she deserves a round a applause.

Three down, three to go.  Funny, three seems to be the magic number today.

This week I finished

I plan to read:

Girl, StolenBreaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to HarvardRunning Around (And Such) (Lizzie Searches for Love, Book 1)

I also intend on reading A LOT of disclosure documents.

By the way, free public education fees for my 10th grade student?