Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boneman's Daughters Giveaway...and the winners are...

Peeking Between the Pages gave away 3 copies of Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker! I took a look at this at my local bookstore this past weekend and it looks like a winner!
"A Texas serial killer is on the loose, choosing young girls as his prey..."

Congratulations to the winners! Dar of Peeking Between the Pages announced the winners Friday May 1st. Click on this link to see who won: Boneman's Daughter giveaway winners . And check back here soon for my own review of this "killer" book!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dirty Little Angels... A Review

The baby was a white fist of flesh..." From the opening line of Dirty Little Angels the prose of Chris Tusa captures your attention. Sentences drift off the page and slap you in the face..." I imagined the stitches in her stomach, tiny black mouths puckering between the folds of her belly."

Set in the slums of New Orleans, we feel the poverty and the acceptance of circumstance as 16 yr. old Hailey loses her innocence living in a world everyone is trying to save her from. From her older brother Cyrus who's pretty good with a pair of brass knuckles and knows his way around the law, to Verma the old black woman Hailey helps after school, they all want better for Hailey, but can offer nothing but empty words and little hope. Along with Cyrus and Verma there are a cast of down trodden characters that include her drunk father and selfish mother who turns to religion to try and save her dysfunctional family. Sex, drugs & violence all play a roll in Dirty Little Angels, but it's the incredible flesh and blood characters that keep you turning the pages. It's a gritty story with a raw energy and an unexpected ending. And by the time you turn the last page you are asking for more!

Visit the pages of Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa and hang out with Hailey, Cyrus and their friends in the run down, barren places they call home in a New Orleans no tourist ever gets to see.... you won't be sorry!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lovely Blog Award!

Another special award came my way this week from the wonderful Yvette Kelly! Thank you! Yvette loves true crime novels and she has a great blog called True Crime Book Reviews where she has current book reviews, but you can also search by author or type of crime to find past reviews! And along with a great blog she has a monthly giveaway! Click on her blog name above and the link will take you right to her blog!

So now onto what the award is... One Lovely Blog Award is given to new blogs and blogging friends.

The rules to follow are:
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and his or her blog link.

2.Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Now since I just listed 15 wonderful blogs earlier this week (and I would give all of them this award too!) I'm just going to list a few more great blogs I've found:

My awardees:

Jessica Marie of Books Love Jessica
Nicole of Linus's Blanket
Cecilia of The Epic Rat
Harvee Lau of Book Bird Dog
Keri Bo Beari of Fantasy Bookshelf

Happy Reading Everyone! Just click on the Blog Titles and you can visit these great blogs too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Books with Buzz...

First a question for all you girls out there! (sorry again guys... feels like my Twilight/Edward review again, huh?!) How many of you girls still have friends from your childhood? Friends that you not necessarily see all the time, but keep in regular contact? It's hard, especially while we may go away to college, get married, move away from home, become mothers and our lives become busy & complicated as we grow up. The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow is the story of 11 girls from Ames, Iowa who share a special 40 year friendship. Jeffrey Zaslow is a journalist with the Wall Street Journal, probably best known for co-authoring The Last Lecture by the Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, and writes human interest stories in a column for the WSJ called Moving On. After writing a column called The Art (and Science) of Women's Friendship he received hundreds of emails- from women telling him of their long cherished childhood friendships. One such person was Jenny from Ames... Zaslow printed all those emails out and tucked them away in a file cabinet for 3 years. He then began to think there was a story... a story he wanted to tell... about the particular kind of friendship women share. He thought it might help him understand the women in his life.... So here it is, the result of delving into the lives of 11 girls. The good, the bad, the ugly... thru sharing their diaries and scrapbooks and intimate stories, The Girls from Ames is a testament to all of us girls and how the word friendship always has a special meaning for us..... (click on the highlighted titles to read more about the book and the article that started it all.) Leave a comment and share your stories! Us girls are a special bunch!

Another book to take a peek at.. Any aspiring romance writers out there?? Well that's what Laura Rider is in Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton. Laura Hamilton has been married to Charlie for 12 years- and she's had enough! No she doesn't want a divorce she wants a....'rest'. No one would figure from the looks of him, but one of Charlies only talents is in the bedroom. But Laura & Charlie settle into married life not sharing a bedroom -they share the Prairie Wind Farm Nursery in Hartley, Wisconsin. When Charlie runs into Jenna Farioli, "the host of a popular radio show AND the single most famous person in Hartley" and starts an email correspondence with her, Laura decides she's going to try out her writing skills...using Charlie's identity! "Their project quickly spins out of control with hilarious , poignant, and memorable results" . Sounds like a fun read, I love the retro cover and will write a real review once I take it down from the shelf...

And now a little Dan Brown news... A NEW thriller called The Lost Symbol will be published in the UK and U.S. Sept.15th of this year! It will again feature fictional professor of religious iconology & symbology Robert Langdon. All we hear about the book for now is that the story will take place over a twelve hour period, with the thrill of discovery from the opening page. If you've never read any of Dan Brown's book's Angels and Demons is the first book in the Robert Langdon series- a real page turner that is finally coming out on the big screen due for release in the U.S. on May 15th! The second book and by far the more popular in the series was The DaVinci Code. My recommendation for any new reader's to Dan Brown would be Angel's and Demons.... if you like thrillers this is a great series!

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Awards! Awards!

Bloggers are a friendly bunch! We love to write, we love to read... We appreciate the writing of other bloggers too! And I've just been awarded the Premio Dardos award! This award is for bloggers who distinguish themselves for showing cultural values, ethics, great and fun writing skills, as well as individual values, through their creative writing.

I was surprised and thrilled that I was nominated by 2 of my favorite bloggers! A Huge thank you to fantaghiro23, who's blog is called Coffeespoons. Fantaghiro23 is a Mom, teacher and avid reader from the Phillippines with a wonderful blog filled with reviews and reading tidbits.

Another Huge thank you to Book Pusher, who's blog is called The Genteel Arsenal. Book Pusher is a mom, wife and animal lover who works in a kids library in Australia and her love of reading shows thru in her blog.

The rules of the award:
1. To accept and show the distinct image
2. Show the link to the blog from which you were given the award
3. Choose 15 blogs to give the Dards Award (Premio Dardos).

My awardees:

1. Michele of A Readers Respite
2. Jo of Ink & Paper
4. Erotic Horizon of Erotic Horizon
6. Lynn of Lynnat40
7. Debbie of Debbie's World
8. BookWormz of BookWormz Reader
9. Lori of Lori's Book Den
10. Ms. Ulat Baku of Ulat Baku in the City
11. Alyce of At Home With Books

Thank you again for the nomination! And please check out these other wonderful blogs because they are all worth the time! Just click on the blog name and a link will take you right to their blog!

Happy Reading....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Housekeeper and the Professor... A Review

The beauty of numbers... For some of us numbers are a dark mystery that we know can solve the problem of man flying to the moon but we must believe this on faith. For others math is a like a series of beautiful brushstrokes on a piece of lined paper that form a glimpse into a perfect piece of artwork. In Yoko Ogawa's book The Housekeeper and the Professor the professor is the later- a brilliant mathematician that loves numbers. But he has a bit of a problem- his memory only lasts 80 minutes. And this fact is prominently pinned as a note to his suit jacket, so he can 'remember' that fact. Actually anything of importance is pinned to his suit jacket, so that he looks like a walking bulletin board. But this book isn't really about mathematics, but a story about the love shared by the virtual family of the professor, the housekeeper who is hired to take care of the professor, and the housekeepers 10 yr. old son. And it is a story of hope, where you can find meaning in your life no matter what your circumstances.

As a result of a traumatic brain injury sustained in an auto accident almost 20 years ago, the professor, who is just referred to as 'the professor' thru-out the whole story, has a memory that lasts only 80 minutes. The Housekeeper is the woman the professors sister-in-law has hired to take care of him. And every morning when the Housekeeper reports for work, they reintroduce themselves and start anew. But the professors mind is still alive with the equations of his past and lives his life by sharing his love of mathematics with the housekeeper and her 10 year old son, Root, who the professor calls Root because his head is flat on top like the square root symbol. Simple numbers like the housekeeper's birthday of Feb. 20th become a lesson in natural numbers.... " 220 ( 2 - 20 ) is divisible by 1 and 220, with nothing left over, so 1 and 220 are factors of 220. And Natural Numbers always have 1 and itself as factors... " Or The Professor's favorite baseball player's number is the number 28 - a perfect number! (what's a perfect number? You'll have to read the book to find out.....)

But the beauty of this story is it's simplicity. The characters have no names, except for Root which is really a nickname, and the majority of the story takes place within the walls of a run down cottage that the professor lives in. The Housekeeper's empathy towards the professor slowly transforms him from a lonely 2 dimensional hermit, to a character with a bit of flesh & blood, with feelings and thoughts that you believe he's finally being able to express out loud because of the love of a hired housekeeper and her fatherless son.

This simply is a charming book. Each sentence is like a whisper of a thought, hardly detectable, but slowly builds into a touching & memorable story. Because the novel isn't a sweeping epic, we get an intimate feel for the characters and their lives in a small space of time. At only 180 pages it becomes a perfect afternoon read....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Favorite Literary Bunny...

The Easter Bunny has been up to a bit of mischief today... he's hidden all the hard boiled eggs! He can bribe us with all that chocolate we find in that cellophane wrapped basket, but we better find those eggs!

Even though he's not an Easter bunny, one of literature's favorite bunny's is Peter Rabbit. The first Peter Rabbit book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was originally written by Beatrix Potter in 1893 as a gift to a little boy she knew who had been ill for a very long time. She went on to self-publish 200 copies of the tale that quickly sold and was finally convinced in 1902 to have the publishing house Frederick Warne & Co. publish her work. They initially printed 8000 copies! And happily the book has never been out of print since. Over the next 28 years Ms. Potter wrote and published 22 more Peter Rabbit tales, so for over 100 years Peter and his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail have been entertaining children of all ages.

But Beatrix Potter was more than a children's book author & illustrator. At an early age she began to draw the plants and animals around her. Her family spent Holidays in Scotland and The Lake District, a rural area in North West England, where she began to paint the flora and fauna she closely observed. Her Uncle tried to get her admitted as a student to the Royal Botanic Gardens, a botanical research and education institute, but because she was female she was rejected. She persisted in her own studies and became widely respected thru out England as an expert mycologist (one who studies fungi). Her technical papers were never published because of her gender, but in 1997 the Linnean Society (the premier organization for the study of natural history) issued an official apology to Potter for the way she was treated.

Easter is so much more than the Easter Bunny, and for children all over the world there are all kinds of traditions that they enjoy... Peter Rabbit isn't really one of them... but he is an all time favorite literary bunny!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One Book, One Community

Imagine you are walking down Main Street in whatever town you live in.... It's a beautiful sunny day.... There are a lot of people walking along the street because it's a beautiful day.... And then you notice... while you are walking along.... Everyone is carrying a book.... the SAME book!... Isn't there something a little strange about that? Are we walking thru a George Orwell novel? Of course not! It's just the One Book, One Community program! If your community is participating in the program EVERYONE reading the same book is the goal!

One Book, One Community is a program designed to get people talking thru their shared interest in reading. It's a way for a diverse community to connect and since 1998 when the Washington Center for the Book (Washington as in Seattle, Washington) sponsored 4 days of programs and discussions about a single book, communities all over the United States have adopted similar programs. There are city, state and even countrywide programs! I recently read about a One Book, One Community nationwide read in Trinidad & Tobago!

Where I live in Danbury, Connecticut our "One Book" last year was Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, a touching story of first and second-generation Indian immigrants and their struggles to adapt to a new world. Thru grants and sponsors there were all sorts of events - lectures on Indian cuisine, various film screening of Indian movies, oodles of book discussions and even a meet the author event starring Jhumpa Lahiri! Every incoming freshman at our local University was given a copy to read, and our local library had plenty of copies on hand to borrow.

Well, I'm here to let you know what Danbury, Ct.'s 2009 "One Book" selection is! It's Michael Greenberg's memoir Hurry Down Sunshine! I'm not really letting the cat out of the bag, Random House Library Services made the announcement on their website March 26th. Hurry Down Sunshine tells the story of Greenberg's 15 yr. old daughter Sally and "her first full-blown manic episode - an event that in a 'single stroke' changed her identity and, by extension, that of her entire family. Simply told and beautifully written, Greenberg's memoir shines a stark light on mental illness". The events haven't been announced for our 2009's One Book, One Community selection, but I'll keep you posted...

In the meantime... Is your community planning a One Book, One Community program? Please leave a comment and share what book you're reading! Or what book your community has read in the past! Interested in planning a community read? Here's a link to the American Library Association's online resource center where you can download a guide, and look to see what other communities have chosen in the past:

Happy Reading! And let me know what you think about One Book, One Community!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Review... The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The first in what is to be a trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was a book I just couldn't put down - not because it was such an exciting read, but because the story just gripped me. At the start we meet disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist who is hired by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger to solve the disappearance (and possible murder) of his favorite grand niece Harriet Vanger. (btw, Blomkvist is disgraced because as an editor of a political magazine and self proclaimed crusader for justice he "was at the wrong end of a libel case" against someone who use to work for Henrik Vanger).

Along the way to solving the mystery, Blomkvist picks up a research assistant who looks like a teenage punk rocker (with multiple tattoos). Quiet, tough, ruthless and a bit of a loner, we find out that Lisbeth Salander is so much more than her rough exterior... and I just love her! As we turn the pages to discover all the clues to the main mystery of Harriet Vanger's disappearance, we also begin to unravel the mystery behind Lisbeth, whose tough exterior begins to soften up just a little so we can see the vulnerable side of her. She is a wonderful character, who you'll find yourself rooting for every time she encounters a bump in her world, and in fact the second book of this trilogy, "The Girl Who Played with Fire", 'stars' Lisbeth.

The story takes place in Sweden, the country of origin of the author, and it would do one good to get out a map of Sweden to see where the various towns are that are referred to in the story. And a family tree helps too - but that you can find just before chapter one of the book. It gets a bit confusing because there are a LOT of Vanger family members, but if you can get over this one flaw, this book is truly worth your time! A good solid read, but Larsson does make you work a little to get thru this book because it's more like a leisurely walk in the park not a morning run. Loved the characters more and more as I kept reading. With plot twists and turns, you won't be disappointed. And the ending... well let's just say I wanted to go out and buy book 2 right then and there, but I COULDN'T! Us folks in the US will have to wait until July for it to be published here....

Friday, April 3, 2009

Do You Pod?

I'm not necessarily talking about the iPod ( but I do it with one), I'm talking about listening to podcasts! I know how we all love reading books here, but don't we all love talking about books too? I am always asking people what they are reading (yes, even strangers) and have found so many books to put on that reading list. I remember being on vacation in Cape Cod one summer and a woman was so engrossed in a book I had to interrupt her and ask what it was. The book was Bridget Jone's Diary by Helen Fielding which I absolutely loved and I would never had picked it out myself because at that point in my life it was all mysteries, mysteries, mysteries.

Thru the wonder of the internet we can sit back, relax and listen to some great author interviews and book reviews via a podcast - all for FREE! If you're new to the world of podding, a podcast is a digital media file that you can download off the web. It can be either audio or video, but let's talk about audio for now.... If you have iTunes you can check out podcasts thru their store under the heading Arts and then Literature (don't worry- still free and Downloading iTunes is free too, for your PC or Macintosh) Once you find some podcasts that interest you, you can subscribe to them and any new interviews (episodes) will automatically download for you into your iTunes podcast folder. No iTunes? That's ok, you can simply go to the websites directly and download the podcasts from there. How to find them? iTunes makes it easier, but a simple Google search under book review podcasts will give you quite a selection. So what do you do with these podcast's once you download them? I put them on my iPod and listen to them while in the car or where ever turning the page isn't convenient. You can also listen to them on your computer while your doing other work, just like listening to music....

So many podcasts, so little time... here are some of my favorites:

Books on the Nightstand
"illuminating conversations about books and reading", Michael Kindness & Ann Kingman are friends who just happen to work for Random House. Their podcast isn't related to their employer, but they have some great insights because of what they do for a living. And they always have great recommendations! They don't really review the books- they talk about the books. This really is my all time favorite podcast- if you just pick one, this is it!

Nancy Pearl Book Reviews
Nancy Pearl is a well known Seattle librarian, who has become famous not because of her radio and TV programs, but because of her book Book Lust, recommended reading for every mood, moment, and reason. A fun book arranged by what you are in the mood for. These podcasts are short, usually under 10 minutes and are reviews of current reads.

World Book Club
This is a monthly podcast presented by Harriett Gilbert, a literary editor, writer and teacher who launched the World Book Club in 2002. These are wonderful interviews usually held in a group setting where people from the audience can ask questions. Plus, YOU can write in questions for the author ahead of time thru the website and may get your question answered! People from around the world also call in during the show to ask questions. The author also reads from one of his/her recent published works.

So there you have it, other great ways to find new reads.... How do you find new reads? Leave a comment and let me know! Plus, try one of these podcast's out and let me know what you think! BTW, podding isn't just limited to podcasts, there are also Podiobooks, but that's for another posting....
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