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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review and GIVEAWAY for The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes

A Devilishly Fun Read!

Lucy Burns just wants a normal life. She's gorgeous, forever young and can eat all the chocolate she wants and not get fat! What's so bad about that?! Well, those are some of the perks of the job she has, but she also can never see her family again, never have a boyfriend and must spend her entire life leading sinners to justice! (That last part isn't so bad really)... What's her job?! Lucy Burns is a Facilitator to HELL! (Hell now located behind her basement door!) And her boss is "a real devil"!

When Lucy was 11 her sister Ellen had a horrible accident and ended up in the hospital in a coma. Desperate to save her, Lucy wrote a note:

To Whom It May Concern:
...Make Ellen wake up and I'll be forever in your debt.
Lucy Burns

She went out in the middle of the night to her & Ellen's magic mailbox, that was in front of their playhouse and usually saved for Dear Santa letters, put the note in, raised the flag and crossed her fingers. By morning "a miracle" had happened and Ellen was fine! Feeling foolish, Lucy raced out to the mailbox to destroy the letter. But her letter was not there. Instead there was a new note:
Dear Lucy,
It's a deal... I'll be in touch.
"To Whom It May Concern"

And with that Lucy's fate was sealed. But after 19 years as the devil's check-out girl, she misses her family, would like some steady companionship and has become a bit bored with her routine.
She wants out! Eternity is eternity, right?! Not so fast....She may be able to retire after all!... Lucy found a loophole! But it won't be easy and she'll have to follow her heart along the way....

I liked T
he Sinful Life of Lucy Burns! It was fun, sassy and a quick read. A kind of chick-lit with a dark side. How could it not be 'dark' with a job like hers- facilitator to the devil? (Of course going to Squeaky's car wash makes her feel cleansed after a tough day at work!) But in essence Lucy is a single girl struggling to make a life for herself. She's gotten herself into this tough situation and is trying to dig her way out. Along the way, we see her frustrations with her job (it's really not so fun leading sinners to their end all the time and accidents DO happen!), and her personal life (boyfriends aren't allowed but men can still be tempting!) and her success at having a best friend even though she has to lie to her constantly about what's going on 'at work'. We begin to root for Lucy in being able to lead a normal life, and her antics in getting there are what makes this book so much fun! She is a great character! And you will be entertained! I recommend you put The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes in your beach bag this summer! A special thanks to Harrison Demchick of Bancroft Press for sending me a copy so that I could review it for my readers!

Now about the Giveaway!...

I have 1 copy of
The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns for a giveaway to my readers courtesy of Harrison Demchick of Bancroft Press. Thank you Harrison for the opportunity to share this wonderful book!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address.

*For another entry, follow my blog and leave a comment to let me know you just became a follower. (if you already are a follower you will get an extra entry!)

*For another entry, Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

*For one more entry, Lucy use to get a birthday wish granted every year from "To Whom It May Concern", if you could have any birthday wish you wanted, what would you wish for?

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publishers. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on July 18, 2009. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips .................Blog Tour.................

Want to Read a GREAT Book?
Historical Fiction Fan?
Do I have a Book for you!....

About the Book...
The Devlin Diary is a "dazzling novel of intrigue, passion and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge."
"London, 1672. The past 12 years have brought momentous changes; the restoration of the monarchy, a devastating plague and fire. Yet the city remains a teeming, thriving metropolis... 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 doctores shun: the city's poor. But Hannah has a special knowledge that Secretary of State Lord Arlington (and King Charles II) needs... when 2 influencial courtiers are found brutally murdered, their bodies inscribed with arcane symbols, Hannah is drawn into a dangerous investigation that may conceal a far-reaching conspiracy and may include Hannah's late father and the king himself.

Jump to 2008, Cambridge. Claire Donovan is "teaching history at Trinity College ,a dream come true - until one of her colleagues is found dead. The only key to the professor's unsolved murder is a 17th century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king's mistress....."

Why did Christi Phillips set the book in the place and time that she did?
In an interview she says..."The Restoration Era—which begins in 1660 and ends in 1685, essentially the reign of Charles II—can be thought of as the 1960s of the seventeenth century. Both eras ushered in sweeping social changes, a blossoming of creativity in the arts and sciences, and greater freedom for women. There was also lots of sex, drinking, drugs, and really, really bad behavior, which makes for great stories."

And it does! For historical fiction fans this is must read! But also for mystery readers! As the story sweeps between the present day & London of the 1600's, the characters from both era's are trying to solve the same murders and we are racing thru the pages to find out who will reveal the answers first!

In the'Authors Note' in the book, Christi tells us that much of the book is centered on actual history. How did she research for The Devlin Diary? "I started with general overviews of English history, so I could understand how the past lead up to the Restoration. Then I read books on the seventeenth century and the Restoration, and numerous biographies of the people of the time—Charles II, Pepys, the Cabal (Charles’s ministers), Thomas Sydenham, and many others—and books on seventeenth-century medicine. For The Devlin Diary, I relied primarily on books aimed at a general reader—popular works, not scholarly articles—many of which are listed in the author’s note. I also relied on reprints of seventeenth-century works: Aubrey’s Lives, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Culpeper’s Herbal, The London Spy. I have found that anecdotal history is usually more helpful for creating stories and characters than, say, an academic treatise. To write an historical novel, it’s essential to learn about the people: their occupations, their passions, their concerns, as well as what they wear, what they eat, what they admire, what they believe. Restoration London by Liza Picard and 1700: Scenes from London Life by Maureen Waller are two wonderful compilations of the revealing details of everyday life, and they were invaluable. "

All this research pays off! The book feels authentic! The characters seem to 'know' what they are talking about and are well rounded. The scenes from Hannah's world in the 1600's are well written and believable! The small details surrounding Hannah and her world are wonderful to read...

What did I think of the book? I loved The Devlin Diary! It was well written and the story grabbed me from the start. The characters were so believable! They were wonderful and still flawed (Claire in particular does exactly what we would want to do in a few choice situations and has us cheering her'll know what I'm talking about when you read the book!). With feelings we all share - love & desire, the need for respect & acceptance, sorrow, disappointment & joy, Claire & Hannah become fast friends to us and the other characters become more than just images on the page ... What was amazing was the way Ms. Phillips so easily lead us back and forth between era's without losing the continuity of the story. And I loved seeing how the present day characters ( Claire & Andrew) were researching what the characters from 1660's London (Hannah, Edward...) were actually experiencing.

The period details were wonderful...maidservants & courtiers, bedchambers & courtyards, damask petticoats & velvet gowns. And as I said, as the story sweeps thru the present day and London in the 1600's and the characters of both eras are trying to solves the same murders, I just couldn't turn those pages fast enough! To weave both stories together so well was an amazing accomplishment and makes this book well worth your time. Thanks Christi for a great read! And a BIG thank you to Sarah Reidy of Pocket Books for letting me share this book with my readers!

A Little About Christi...Christi is the author of The Rossetti Letter, which has been translated into six foreign languages. Her research combines a few of her favori
te 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. Want to find out more about Christi Phillips? You can go to......... Christi Phillips Website or to her "Author page" at Simon & Schuster to read more.

Be sure to check out the other stops on Christi's Blog Tour below! And remember Christi's book is now available in stores!
And a BIG thank you to Sarah Reidy of Pocket Books for letting me share this book with my readers!

** Earlier this week Beth of Beth Fish Reads reviewed Christi's first book, The Rossetti Letter, and what a great review it was! Click on the link to read Beth's review here: The Rossetti Letter

S.Krishna's Books, All About {n}, Jenn's Bookshelf, Beth Fish Reads, Booking Mama, The Literate Housewife Review, Book Soulmates, Gimme More Books, We Be Reading, Book Bird Dog, Bookin' with "BINGO", My Friend Amy, Books and Needlpoint, A Working Title, Must Read Faster, Shhh I'm Reading, Debbie's World of Books, The Tome Traveller's Weblog, Write for a Reader, A Sea of Books, I Heart Monster, Pick of the Literate, Kingdom's Book Blog, Drey's Library, The Jaydit Reader, A Book Blogger's Diary

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Audie awards 2009... or the best bedtime stories for grown-ups!

Do you remember the last time someone read a story to you? Well, these aren't bedtime stories but last Month the APA (Audio Publishers Association) announced the 2009 audie award winners! The audies is "the premier awards program in the United States recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment." There are over 30 categories- a little something for everyone!

My commute to work isn't that long, so I generally listen to either the radio or a podcast (*Books on the Nightstand podcast my fav!)... But when I do get in the car for a longer ride, and vacation time is here, I love to pop in an audiobook in the CD player....

How to choose an audiobook is a little different than a 'paper' book - there are things to consider- abridged or unabridged (abridged is a shortened version of the original book and the plot may be altered a bit ). Who is reading the book? The narrator is important - do you like the way the person is reading the book- a bad narrator can make a good book boring.... So it's nice to hear a sample of the book being read if you can. (iTunes is one site that offers a free preview before downloading an audiobook MP3 from them) The audies reward the best audiobooks! What could be simpler than starting there to look for a good 'listen'...

Here are some of this years winners....
* Fiction - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows, Narrated by A full cast. (this actually tied with Duma Key by Stephen King)

* Mystery - Voice of the Violin, by Andrea Camilleri... Narrated by Grover Gardner

* Romance - The Dark Highlander, by Karen Marie Moning... Narrated by Phil Gigante

* Children's Titles for Ages up to 8 - The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman... Narrated by Neil Gaiman

Do you listen to audiobooks? Have any favorites? And if you do like audiobooks, what's important to you when your listening- voice, the way the narrator reads? Share your thoughts!

* Books on The Nightstand just did a post on their blog on AUDIO books! Check out their website for some great recommendations: BOTN

For the complete list go to: The Audio Publishers Association Site. And enjoy listening to someone read to you once again! (hey, why not make it a bedtime story?!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell.... GIVEAWAY!

Julie and Julia
365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
by Julie Powell

And the WINNER'S ARE: Mindy (minsthins), Budletsmom, & Diane!
CONGRATS! And thanks to EVERYone for joining in on the fun!
(stay tuned for a post with all of our favorite foods!)

About The Book:
"Julie & Julia, the bestselling memoir that's "irresistible....A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef" (Philadelphia Inquirer), is now a major motion picture. Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto. The film version is written and directed by Nora Ephron and stars Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia."

My reading group read this book when it was first published in paperback. Although this book is not a cookbook, it inspired us to cook! We followed Julie's frustrations as she tried to get thru all 524 recipes in just one year. I thought that it would be fun to try our own hands at Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking (a book that I actually owned ...) So, in the tradition of Julie Powell our reading group made the first recipe, Potage Parmentier, a fancy potato soup... we dressed the part too - I made vintage aprons, someone bought chef's hat's and we had so much fun! Who knew french cooking could be so entertaining! The movie adaptation is being released soon, so here's your chance to win a copy of Julie and Julia and read the book before going to see the movie! Like to read an excerpt? Here's the Link!

NOW for the Giveaway! I have 3 copies of Julie and Julia for a giveaway to my readers courtesy of Anna Balasi of Hachette Book Group. Thank you Anna for the opportunity to share this wonderful book!

To Enter this giveaway...

*For one entry leave me a comment with your email address AND your favorite food!

*For another entry, follow my blog and leave a comment to let me know you just became a follower. (if you already are a follower you will get an extra entry!)

*Blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.(No PO boxes). The books will be shipped to the winners directly from the publishers. Contest ends 11:59pm EST on July 11, 2009. I will randomly pick the winners the next day and email them! (please check your email.. winner must reply to me within 3 days! Thanks!) Good Luck! *Just a little note here to everyone -Anna B. of Hachette Book Group just let me know that the giveaway book will be the movie tie-in cover, so I changed the book cover to show that!

Thanks for joining in on the Julie & Julia giveaway! This giveaway is officially closed. The lucky winners will be randomly drawn Sunday 7/12 and I'll be sending out emails to notify them! Check your emails! Winners will be announced after I hear back from the lucky winners!

Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chemo KateLynn by Andrea Lynn Katz.. a Review & Giveaway...

Congratulations to kalea kane! She's the winner in the Chemo KateLynn giveaway!

Chemo KateLynn... Humorous perspectives on life Before Cancer & After Diagnosis

Cancer... the word itself is frightening - whether the word is referring to a diagnosis you receive, a loved one, or a friend... Most of us know someone who has been touched by cancer in some way. Cancer has touched me personally - I have lost family and a friend to the disease. Not to mention my family and friends that were diagnosed and are now thankfully cancer free.

When Andrea Lynn Katz, CSS (Certified Cancer Survivor), was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma her world changed. BC (Before Cancer) Andrea was working in 'Corporate America' as a busy executive with long hours and traveling quite a bit. At the same time trying to raise two children. Always exhausted from her hectic schedule. AD (After Diagnosis) Andrea began to rethink her life. Being diagnosed in 2007, suffering a relapse in 2009, and "facing the daunting physical & mental challenges associated with a stem-cell transplant" you might think that Andrea would feel defeated, but she believed that a positive outlook is important, and with that positive outlook she looked for ways to bring a smile to the faces around her. About the time of her diagnosis Andrea was going to celebrate her 50th birthday. It was "a bit awkward to celebrate a birthday so soon after her diagnosis, and she wanted to break the ice. So she roasted herself." Part of the result of that roast and the humor she chose to turn to is her book, Chemo KateLynn: Humorous Perspectives on Life Before Cancer and After Diagnosis. She found she could make people laugh with her humorous comparisons of life before cancer and life after cancer....

" I never cooked in BC years, and in my AD years, I still don't cook, but I have an excuse; my wig is flammable."

"Andrea and Chemo KateLynn invite us all to appreciate the beauty of each day, find humor in everyday living and be receptive to recognizing, cherishing, creating and sharing those moments with others. Chemo KateLynn admits that "cancer does suck," but funny things happen along the way while fighting this disease. Chemotherapy may have taken her hair, but no amount of chemo could make a dent in her sense of humor."

With cute cartoons, we face the doctor appointments, "night caps", haircare products and more with Chemo KateLynn BC and AD. And in the process we are made to "rethink" these things ourselves and what is really important in our lives.

Chemo KateLynn by Andrea Lynn Katz will be published in the fall. A book I would recommend to your friend or loved one and their care givers. Also a portion of the proceeds of the book is going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation!

** A special note to everyone- I just received word today from Andrea's publisher who tells me Andrea is back in treatment for her cancer! Unfortunately she has become chemo resistant and now needs a bone marrow/stem cell transplant in order to save her life. She has asked me to post the link for the bone marrow registry, in order to learn more about registering to be a potential bone marrow and help save a life. Read more at Marrow Registry Blogspot. And we wish you well Andrea!

Thanks to Emily Weiss of Bascom Hill Publishing Group for sharing this book with me AND letting me giveaway one copy of Chemo KateLynn ! Need to cheer someone up?! Want a copy for yourself?! Enter for your chance to win a copy of this book!

So now about the giveaway.... There are a couple of ways for you to enter to win a copy of Chemo KateLynn, each good for 1 entry...

1. leave a comment below with your email address
2. blog or tweet about this giveaway ( and leave me a link in the comment)

Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only. (No PO Boxes). Book will be shipped directly to the winner from the publisher. I will contact the winner by email for mailing address. Giveaway ends 11:59 pm EST July 11th! Winner will be chosen randomly the next day!
Good Luck! And Thank you Andrea for trying to brighten our lives a little bit when they may seem the darkest!

Giveaway has officially ended! Thanks for everyone joining in and participating! Our winner for a copy of Chemo KateLynn will be randomly drawn tomorrow and announced soon! Check your emails!.... Good Luck!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer... or what kind of books to read if your in a 'doggish' mood


Summer is typically referred to as The “Dog Days” of Summer because it’s so hot that it’s not fit for a dog. But where did the phrase really comes from? Well,the Dog Days refers to the period of July 3 through Aug. 11 when the Dog Star, Sirius, rises with the Sun. As a result, the ancients felt that the combination of the brightest luminary of the day (the Sun) and the brightest star of night (Sirius) was responsible for the extreme heat that is experienced during the middle of summer....

Well, the first day of summer finally came! Here in Connecticut I hope that it marks the beginning of some sunny days, because it seems like all we've had here is rain, rain, and more rain for the past month!

In honor of "The Dog Days of Summer" and my love for all things dog (including my adorable Keeshond BJ)... here are some great Dog Books....

The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein is a wonderful book! All told thru the eyes & nose of Enzo a dog who is part philosopher, part social worker and who on the eve of his death recalls all that he and his family have been thru. His family is Denny, the up and coming race car driver who is his master, friend & hero, Denny's wife Eve, and little Zoe their daughter. A heart wrenching and yet laugh out loud story that has Enzo learning most of his 'philosophy' from watching TV but is amazingly more human than some people. If you are a 'dog person' you will love this book! Enzo teaches us what the meaning of loyalty, love and hope is. Read more at Garth's Website! And remember that box of tissue's before you start to read!

Dog on It by Spencer Quinn is a kind of "dog noir".First meet Chet, the narrator of the story, who "works alongside Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator. Chet might have flunked out of police school ("I'd been the best leaper in K-9 class, which had led to all the trouble in a way I couldn't remember exactly, although blood was involved"), but he's a detective through andthrough." A Book with a lot of positive buzz! Read more about: Dog on It!

Tails of Love by Lori Foster, Stella Cameron and 8 other New York Times Best Selling Authors... "From Seeing Eye dogs to the cat who cuddles in your lap,

animals are there for us in more ways than we can count. Helping us get through the day with a wag of the tail and a tilt of the head, they let us know that someone is on our side—no matter what. They also have an amazing ability to break down barriers between people; bringing families and loved ones closer, and giving strangers an excuse to strike up a conversation. In Tails of Love, each writer draws from her own unique perspective on our loyal friends—exploring the many mysterious ways they bring love into our lives." And what is especially nice about this book is that All Author and Agent proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the AAF - Animal Adoption Foundation - a no-kill animal shelter in Hamilton, Ohio. You can find out more about this book at Lori Foster's website!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Imperfect Enjoyment, a bachelor's memoir... A Review

Ok guys, this one is for yo
u! Of course I laughed quite a bit reading this book myself...

Dewan Gibson's The Imperfect Enjoyment is a romp through the world of a 2o something single guy looking for
love... and finding more than he was looking for.

"When college instructor Dewan Gibson leaves Cleveland for California, he expects to find a world of breast implants, beer and beaches. Instead he enters a secret and ill-fated romance with a Middle Eastern undergraduate. In this vivid and humorous memoir, Gibson describes his attempts to overcome his forbidden love affair by jumping into an office fling gone wrong (Tijuana Mornings), or traveling across the world to Denmark in hopes of meeting "Ms. Booty Mama"."

This is totally "out of the box" for me as far as what I normally read, but when this arrived in my hands and I cracked the spine I found myself enjoying the writing. It's honest, funny and well written. From the girls perspective, I laughed at times asking myself "do guys really think this way?", but Dewan gives us the full story on a bachelor looking for love... but the story is also a glimpse into the frailty of modern relationships too. Dealing with the dating scene, falling in love with someone of a different ethnic background, trying to move on after a heart wrenching breakup.... Dewan tries to show us he's "a player" in The Imperfect Enjoyment, but we get glimpses into his sensitive side, especially when he thinks of Haniyah, his Middle Eastern girlfriend..."when I'm not with her, I'm waiting. I try to break the monotony by slurping 1.5-liter bottles of Carlo Rossi wine or reading magazines at the twenty-four-hour Wal-Mart before buying Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches. I suppose I should prepare a lecture or two so my classes seem less impromptu, but I'd rather think of her..."

Would you like to read a little for yourself? Here are some Sample Chapters! And you can also find out a little more about Dewan at his blog, The Imperfect Blog! And ladies it's a little explicit, but you'll probably laugh!

Thanks to Donald Beyer with Irc Books for sending this book along so I could read & share it! And of course to Dewan W. Gibson for his great writing!

A Bit of Father's Day Humor....

The Barber of Coupe De Ville

by Author Unknown

A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father who was a minister, if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said to him, "I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study the bible a little, and get your hair cut; then we'll talk about it."

A month later the boy came back and again asked his father if he could use the car. His father said, "Son, I'm really proud of you. You brought your grade up, studied the bible well, but you didn't get your hair cut!"

The young man waited a moment an then replied, "You know dad, I've been thinking about that. Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair."

His father replied gently, "Yes son, and they walked everywhere they went."

Happy Father's Day to all the men in our lives!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Chosen One Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

What could have been a simple coming of age story of Kyra Leigh Carlson becomes something much different in the hands of author Carol Lynch Williams. A casual look at a boy, reading Bridge to Terabithia or Anne of Green Gables, going into town.... all these are sinful in Kyra's world, where she has 3 mothers and 20 brothers & sisters... 13 year old Kyra is trapped in a polygamist cult... She lives in a closely guarded , extremely religious compound in the desert. And this is her story in The Chosen One...

Kyra loves her family and she's known no other life, but she's growing up and her inner feelings start to question "the rules". When her wandering takes her out of the compound and to the weekly bookmobile that stops to let her explore the 'other' world, her awareness of the outside grows and her so does her natural curiosity. She begins a secret courtship with Joshua another young cult member. Their budding romance is sweet and innocence, but forbidden...

The author portrays Kyra and her secret desires & fears in such a sensitive way that we are drawn to her plight. Especially when the leader of the sect, Prophet Childs, visits Kyra's family to tell them the wonderful news that Kyra has been chosen to become the seventh wife of her father's brother who is 60 yrs. old! Kyra is horrified, her dreams of marrying Joshua are flashing before her eyes, she is torn between all that she loves, her family and home, and marrying a man who's older than her father, who's her father's BROTHER.

The opening line of the novel, "If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low," ... shows us how Kyra is desperate to save herself. And we become desperate too. Kyra struggles with the thoughts of leaving in order to save herself against giving up the love and comfort of the family she loves dearly. Will she have the courage to free herself? Will she have the courage to enter a world that is so unlike hers she may never adjust? Her journey takes some incredible twists and turns.

What a wonderful story this was! Carol Lynch Williams writes with such care and insight that you almost feel that Kyra is not fictional. Kyra has such depth and feelings that you also become invested in her well being. You are holding your breathe waiting to see what happens all the way to the end! And it is time well spent! I couldn't put the book down until I found out what happens to Kyra! Promoted as YA Teen Fiction, I would say it is worth reading even if you aren't in the YA catagory!

Would you like to read The First Chapter?! Here's the link: Chapter One .

A special thank you to Susannah Greenberg Public Relations & St. Martin's Griffin for allowing me to share this book with my readers! Thanks Susannah! And The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is now available at your local bookstore!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Guest Post & Giveaway with Lawrence Kaplan, author of House of Ghosts

Please join me in welcoming to Chick with Books, author Lawrence Kaplan! His novel House of Ghosts is an important historical mystery which "grew out of his interest in World War II and the Holocaust, but was also shaped by a personal connection- his mother-in-law, Irene Lederer, was deported from Hungary along with nearly 1 million other Hungarian Jews and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944." And now onto our guest....

The Truth Within The Fiction of House of Ghosts

House of Ghosts is an historical mystery novel. It was originally planned as a non-fiction book about an event that didn’t happen in World War II history. By that I mean that I set out to discover the reasons why U.S. Air Force bombers who flew over Auschwitz on a series of missions in 1944 never once let loose their bombs.

Deine freunde sind droben haute was the phrase that drove me. It was the taunt made at my mother-in-law, Irene Lederer, by an SS guard when she was an inmate in the hell of that camp. It means, “Your friends are overhead today.” And yes, they were overhead. Often. In 1944, American bombers flew directly over the camp on their way to bomb the I.G. Farben synthetic rubber and oil plant that was being constructed -- by the inmates at Auschwitz -- only four miles away.

By this time, the world knew of the murders taking place. Why didn’t those bombers attack to stop the genocide? The question haunted my mother-in-law, who was one of the lucky few to survive. It haunted me. So, I set out to find out why.

I spent thousands of hours researching at the Firestone Library at Princeton University. I conducted personal interviews. I learned that the bombers who flew over Auschwitz were members of the 15th U.S. Air Force based in Italy. They flew an astonishing forty plus missions in that same section of Poland. No attack was ever made; no attempt mounted to save the 700,000 Hungarian Jews who suffered there, awaiting the ultimate outcome - death, either from gassing, beatings, hanging or starvation.

The official story that I found again and again in my research was that neither the U.S. brass nor the pilots knew what lay beneath them as they flew to their bombing destination. But, then I read Sir Martin Gilbert's Auschwitz and the Allies. An inscription under one photograph claimed that it was taken at 22,000 feet by a B-17 bomber on one of the runs against the I.G. Farben plant. I was stunned. Surely, that was a mistake. I began contacting veterans' groups in an attempt to interview some of the men who flew these missions.

Pilots and crew were either deceased or wouldn't talk. Only one retired Air Force general was willing to share information. As a young captain, he flew a B-17 in the 15th Air Force during the war. His group was the 2nd Heavy Bombardment, based in Foggia, Italy. They flew missions over Germany, France and Poland. And yes, he said, the Poland runs took him over the death camp. The bombardier used the chimneys of the crematoria in Berkanau as landmarks to begin the bomb run. They flew as low as 12,000 feet and could see the trains unloading prisoners at the camp. He confirmed my worst suspicions, stating in no uncertain terms that they knew what they flew over. The massive complex with the crematoria stacks which belched smoke and ash into the sky was no amusement park, and everyone knew it.

But pilots follow orders. And no orders were ever given to drop a bomb -- not one -- on the camp. One 500-lb bomb would have been enough to stop the murder.

How could this be? I wanted to understand the United States and its social and political climate during this time. What influenced America's reactions? Why didn't the United States lift a finger -- not only to bomb the camp, but to help the helpless gain entry into the country? Why, instead, was immigration stifled, specifically that of European Jews? And where were the voices of American Jews?

In the U.S., organizations like the America First Committee, with a membership that peaked at 800,000, were stridently non-interventionist. They pressured legislators not to become involved in another war. One of its most prominent members was the aviation hero, Charles Lindbergh. Established in 1940 by a Yale University law student, AFC members included fellow students future President Gerald Ford, Sargent Shriver and future Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart. The AFC merged with another more left-wing group, Keep America Out of the War Committee whose donors and contributors included many of the current-day captains of industry. One donation was sent by future President John F. Kennedy with a note saying, "What you are doing is vital." And, just in case you think that this sort of thinking, in retrospect, would be reviled, I can tell you that in 2004 conservative commentator Pat Buchanan praised America First, saying, "By keeping America out of World War II until Hitler attacked Stalin in June of 1941, Soviet Russia, not America, bore the brunt of the fighting, bleeding and dying to defeat Nazi Germany." (Pat Buchanan (October 13, 2004), HYPERLINK ""The Resurrection of 'America First!', The American Cause, retrieved on 2008-02-03)

And what of the American Jewish community? My research entailed interviews with Jewish NYU alumni from the class of 1942, the same class in which my character, Paul Rothstein, would have graduated. Their words were riveting, revealing a detachment from the horrendous news coming from Europe concerning their Jewish brethren being systematically reduced to ghettos and resettlement to parts unknown. Adding to that sense of detachment was the American Jewish community's concerned with an effuse anti-Semitic climate. Another overriding focus was to avoid being labeled communist, or a communist sympathizer. Lindbergh’s anti-interventionist speech in Des Moines, Iowa in 1941 where he threatened Jewish Americans with reprisals for advocating action against Hitler did move the NYU Jewish students to action. They held with a massive counter demonstration outside Madison Square Garden where Lindbergh brought his souring act. But much more, certainly, could have been done.

Finally, who was the person who did not, and I venture to say, would not, authorize the bombing of the gas chambers? It was Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, the most powerful person never elected in the U.S. government.

He was privy to the building of the atomic bomb, instrumental in the construction of the Pentagon, served as Governor General of the American sector in Germany, served every president including Jimmy Carter, and was second in command of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of JFK. As Governor General, he pardoned up to 40,000 Nazis.

Many might call him an anti-semite. I think he saw himself as a pragmatist. By August 1944, the war in Europe appeared to be weeks away from an Allied victory. But McCloy believed that the next conflict would be between the U.S. and Russia, and that they would face each other in the Middle East. If that occurred, the U.S. would need aviation gas; and, the only source of that was Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were militantly against the Jewish immigration into Palestine prior to 1939. It is my belief that McCloy didn't want any survivors of the camps flooding into Palestine to drive a wedge between the U.S. and the Saudis. And, to put it bluntly, the fewer survivors, the less risk of that happening.

This is the story that unfolded through my research. But I felt that my lack of a PhD in History would make it hard for me to move a non-fiction version of the book into publication. Besides, fiction would give me more latitude to present my findings to a broader potential readership. Putting these horrifying pieces of information into a form that made it more available to the general reading public had its benefits. I hope, however, that the power behind the story I tell in House of Ghosts holds the believability of truth -- because truth is what it's made of.

About the Author

Lawrence Kaplan is a 1979 graduate of New York University School of Dentistry, runs a dental practice in New Jersey, and lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and menagerie. House of Ghosts is his first novel.

If you'd like to find out more about House of Ghosts, you can follow this link to Lawrence Kaplan's website. The author also did a 2 part interview on Radio WDIY in Bethlehem,Pa. If you'd like to listen, here's the link : Radio Interview .

Larry Kaplan is giving away a signed copy of his book, House of Ghosts, to one lucky tour visitor! Go to: Larry's book tour page, enter your name, e-mail address, and this unique pin, 3613, for your chance to win. Entries from Chick with Books will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. Giveaway open to US Residents ONLY! No purchase is required to enter or win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Larry's book tour page next week. Good luck!

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