Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey GIVEAWAY

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Do you know what I love? I mean besides German Chocolate Cupcakes with cream cheese/whipped topping filling. Great books. I'm not finished with this one but the writing style is addicting. Also, if you click on the book's image up there, you can see what other readers say about it. It is getting an average of 4.16 stars.

Do you know what else I love? Giveaways. It makes me feel benevolent even though Little, Brown Company is the benevolent ones. Humor me in my make-believe benevolence. Love the book. Enter the contest.
Fill out form below. If you can't see it, click HERE.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Darkness Falls Author Interview and GIVEAWAY

Darkness FallsRemember when I reviewed Cate Tiernan's books, Immortal Beloved and Darkness Falls? Here's what I said: {Don't be shy. Go ahead and click me.}

So I got to interview Cate. If you didn't read my review, you won't know how very funny Cate is. She is nearly as funny as me. And I find myself absolutely HILARIOUS.

It's my head. I get to choose how funny I am inside of it.

So here is Cate on her sense of humor and other Need-To-Know info:

Q: Do you know you are hilarious?
No--I didn't know I was hilarious! I think I can be pretty funny sometimes, and it's fun to put that into my books.

 Where did you buy that wicked sense of humor?
 Online. I had a gift card.
Q: I love the flashbacks of years of past. How did you do your research for those?
 I do a ton of research, mostly on the interwebz. But I also have many reference books with pictures--about clothes, weapons, ancient maps, etc. The research is so fascinating--I always get sucked into another topic.

Q: If the books were made into a movie, who would you have play Nastasya? Viking God?
Gosh, I'm just not really familiar enough with young actors/actresses these days to really say. It would have to be someone who looked young, but seemed old, if that makes sense. It's fun when readers send in their own ideas for casts.

So here's your chance to not only win a copy of the hardback edition of Darkness Falls (Book 2 but not absolutely crucial to read Book 1 - I just suggest it because it's so fun). If you are feeling saucy, you can name your favorite snarky Hollywood starlet and serious man eye-candy (Justin Beiber does not count).

But only if you are feeling snarky and saucy. I want to give my ideas but my brain is completely fried from working all day then parent teacher conferences at the grade school.

Fill out the FORM:

No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel

No One is Here Except All of UsNo One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel

Goodreads: In 1939, the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years- across oceans, deserts, and mountains-but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless. At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Destiny is unwritten. Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator-the girl, grown into a young mother-must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future. A beguiling, imaginative, inspiring story about the bigness of being alive as an individual, as a member of a tribe, and as a participant in history, No One Is Here Except All Of Us explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths. It marks the arrival of a major new literary talent.

My take: This is the most unique WWII book I have ever read. I don't even know how to review this book. I know I won't forget it.

The book opens in a remote Romanian village after a storm. The villagers collect what was brought down the river as the water recedes and finds a woman. She's alive. She doesn't remember much except that all of her people are gone. The reader assumes her village was destroyed by the Nazis and she is the lone survivor. It is through this experience that the villagers decide to start anew. There is no God but the one they invent. There is no world outside their village. They make their own rules and time becomes irrelevant.

At times the book is beautifully poetic and philosophical. At other times the ridiculousness of the people is glaring. The conclusions are not logical to a person who lives in the bigger society but could be plausible if the group-think were the way the author creates it.

World War II rages around the village but they know nothing of it. Time passes but, since time is irrelevant, the reader has no idea how long until Lena is compelled to leave the village to protect her sons, finding herself safely on the Russian side of the war. She believes she is not safe, she is hunted but being Jewish is not what makes her feel unsafe. Jewishness is no longer part of her world. She is ill-prepared for the bigger society, although her experiences in the village help through some difficult situations.

Lena misses the war. In fact, most of the villagers miss the war. They may not escape the violence at some point in the book, but they wouldn't know why there was violence against them if it were to occur.

I don't know what the point of the book was except to somehow recount a few of the experiences of the author's own ancestors. That said, I would not dismiss this book. It was unique and at times weird, but extremely compelling. I believe there is a lot of symbolism that can be gleaned and transferred to societal pressures. I found the different ways of dealing with difficulty intriguing. One village pretended to be alone in the world, discounting all the rest of civilization and history. One or two couples rewrite their own history to include and justify stealing a child. In fact, rewriting history and the rules of society are justification for a lot of questionable behavior. What one person calls a crime is another person's attempt to make things equal and right.

Do you see how this might be an interesting sociological study?

There is also a character who, because of the war (a very bad thing) decides to accept that something very good came out of it and recreates his life because it is far easier than doing the right thing. Lena herself recreates herself throughout the book and constantly asks, "Who am I?" She is a testament of human resilience.

It's an interesting book. I won't forget it.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows Review

Incarnate (Newsoul, #1)Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. 

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame? 

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all? 

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

My take: There are one million souls in this world that recycle over 5,000 years. Then one day one soul died and another was born. A new soul. Sometimes referred to as "no soul." Ana makes her debut to this world and few, if any are pleased. Her father abandons the family and her mother hates her. Anna reaches age 18 and goes in search of her identity. Ill-prepared (thank you, Mommy Dearest), she is attacked by the Sylph and saved by Sam, an old soul returning to Heart, the main city whose walls have a heartbeat, the city center has a temple. The temple is supposed to house Janaan, the God who created then abandoned the souls to fend for themselves against the Sylph, centaurs, trolls, dragons and the elements.

In heart, Ana is shunned, attacked, rejected, ignored and, in some cases, accepted. Theology is addressed and purpose of life questions asked. Where is Janaan since creating their world and souls? Is Ana a mistake or does she matter? Are all souls precious?

Sexual tension - high but no sex. Souls love one another and lack gender. Physical body manifests gender and is not consistent. Tastefully written.

Violence - abundant in dragon scenes

Swearing - None

Dialogue - Clean

Resolution of the first book in this trilogy was not clean. There are a lot of hanging threads that I hope will be addressed in the next books. I'm invested enough to read on.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

IMM (1/29/12)

From RJ at Book Soulmates R.A.K. 
Thank you, RJ!

Just to warn you of upcoming contests that you are going to LOVE:

And a little further in the month:

I'll keep trying to get copies for contests. We love books! If we didn't have to eat, we'd probably have more books!

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

It's a short hop so get on your hopping shoes!

Do you remember when I reviewed The Queen of Kentucky? I loved it so much I asked the publisher for review copies. She's sending me some ARCs. I expect them any day. 

Did you miss my review? Bummer.

Because I love you, I've included a link.
I know, I know. I am simply too kind. Go ahead and tell me so in the comments. Or witty, beautiful, snarky, awesome, odd, graceful... Your pick.

The Queen of Kentucky

Oh, and enter to win! 2 copies available. Ends January 31st.
Fill out the form below or click HERE.

More great blogs included in hop are right here:  

Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh

Faith: A NovelFaith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads: Set in Boston during the 2002 priest sexual abuse scandals, Faith challenges us to look beyond the crimes to examine how human interactions change after the accusations. Sheila McGann, the novel's main character and narrator, is the half-sister of Arthur Breen, a once-popular cleric now ensnared in charges of abusing a young boy. Returning to her family, with whom she has difficult relations, Sheila attempts to support her embattled sibling, but everyone, including Art himself, seems unwilling or emotionally unable to cooperate. Ultimately, this powerful novel is about how one family responds to a devastating crisis. A provocative choice for book clubs.

My take: This is the kind of book you put down and feel viscerally moved and thinking, feeling, and mulling over the book. At first blush, it appears to be a simple story. Art, part of the Boston Diocese, has been accused of sexually molesting a child. Yet the book begins with Arthur's mother, shortly after Arthur was born. She's alone in the house, waiting for her long overdue husband. Her mother-in-law, who never accepted her, is dead and her marriage is not looking much better. She shamelessly chased the man who is her husband, found herself pregnant, quickly married by an uncle priest, and now shady characters are looking for her husband.

The story is revealed by Arthur's half sister, Sheila, told through her investigations and first person. It is not simply a quest for innocence or guilt, but a quest for understanding of the family dynamics, how each person plays a part in the saga, and the historical drive. Each character is flawed but not broken. Each character is complicated and not easily summarized. Aiden, the alleged victim plays a surprisingly small part.

It is feast for a book club. So many issues are addressed. Although not Catholic, I believe one theme that could be explored is the requirement of celibacy. Also, a discussion of severity of sins. Then the purpose of love, family dynamics, societal need to demonize the accused, and, of course, a discussion on the true victim(s) of the book.

A couple of nuggets:

"The adult who preys on children is, to the rest of us, a frightening enigma. Of their inner lives we know little, and a little knowledge is more dangerous than none. While it is true that most pedophiles were themselves victims, it turns out that the correlation is weaker in the other direction. Not all victims grow up to be predators." p. 316

"...each new love is built from the wreckage of the loves that came before... We love those who fit the peculiar voids within us, our hollow wounds. We love to fill the spaces the old loves left behind." p. 314

A deeply moving and articulate book.

And here's your chance to win a copy! Fill out form HERE. Contest ends 2/9/12

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home Front by Kristin Hannah Review

Home FrontHome Front by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads: In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war. 
All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life---children, careers, bills, chores---even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own---for everything that matters to his family.
At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope. 
My take: Jolene had a tragic childhood which ended far too soon. Because of the tragedy at the end of her childhood, she takes control of her life and enlists in the army where she becomes a Black Hawk pilot. It is in the army that she meets her best friend, Tami, her rock and the one who calls her on her crap.

Now she's 41 years old and the past is put behind her. She lives in the now and she chooses happiness with all of its platitudes. She's switched over to the Guard and is a full-time mother to 4 year old Lucy and 12 year old Betsy. She is married to Michael, a criminal defense lawyer and shares a close relationship with her mother-in-law. All is going well until one day, Michael announces that he doesn't love her anymore and wants to separate.

Before this can be addressed, she is deployed. Michael seethes in resentment. He's always hated the military and her career. He's a rather selfish man, actually. Jolene prepares her daughters and her husband by saying all the right things like she'll be in safe places, yada, yada and then she flies away.

From the book description, the reader knows that something happens to Jolene in Iraq. Her helicopter is shot down, some of her crew die and/or are seriously injured. Jolene is seriously injured and loses some of her physical capabilities. Hannah details how Michael is told about the accident and how the Army, media, and Tami's husband, Carl, respond. Michael is still carrying resentment for Jolene's choices, although he has changed a great deal in the past few months. He flies to Jolene's side.

In Hannah style, there is not a happy little reunion where all is forgotten like a Disney channel movie. In fact, we're only halfway through the book. Hannah juxtaposes Jolene's recovery and all of the losses she has experienced, along with her guilt, anxiety and depression, to Michael and Jolene's resolution. It's not neat or pretty.

With raw honesty, Jolene's injuries are described as is Michael's reaction to it, Michael's coping mechanism, and Jolene's fury and resentment to both her injuries and her perceived death of the marriage.

Speaking of honesty, Hannah's description of the middle age marriage hit far too close to home. I kept having to put the book down to have a good cry. It was painful yet liberating to not feel alone. I wish I had this book a few years ago, although it is better late than never.

This book is for anybody who loves Kristin Hannah's books. It's for the middle age woman (35-55). It's for every mother and wife. It's for anybody who has ever heard the words, "I don't love you, anymore." If you haven't heard them, you're too young or your spouse isn't being completely open with you. It's for anybody who needs a good dose of hope.

Best line might be a spoiler, but here it is: People change.

5 + stars

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forbidden by Syrie James Review

ForbiddenForbidden by Syrie James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads: Syrie joined forces with her talented son Ryan to co-write her next novel, Forbidden. The book is about a 16-year-old girl who comes into unusual powers, only to discover that she's half-angel... and her entire existence is forbidden. 

Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson Academy as the ideal hiding place where he could escape and be normal for once. He hadn't factored Claire Brennan into his plans... 

Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the threat to Claire's life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?

My take: Syrie James and her son team up on this book. Perhaps they take turns telling the story from the point of views of Claire and Alec. Alec is a Grigori tasked with hunting down the dangerous half bloods or Nephil. But Alec is tired of his job so he squirrels away savings and goes to hide out in a prestigious academy where, lo and behold, there is an emerging half-blood and he's falling in love with her.

Of course, Alec needs to hide her so she isn't discovered but it might already be too late.

I have no complaints about the story, book or writing. I simply didn't connect with the characters and the story has been hashed and rehashed by different authors for the past few years. The angel or Fallen Angel falling in love with the regular girl or girl who happens to be part angel is told and retold. I didn't find anything about this story to differentiate with the other books except that I didn't care about the protagonists which actually makes them less likely to be remembered.

It's a good story. If you like angels and part angels engaging in a forbidden love story, this is it. I'm already invested in a few other series and trilogies.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

IMM (1/22/12)

Go ahead and just try to copy, paste and post IMM on a tablet computer without saying a few swear words. Ummkay~ I'm off to church now.