Archive for the ‘Fiction-Adult’ Category

Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas



Title: Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

Author: Jerramy Fine

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-1592403523

Publisher: Gotham

Date of Publication: January 10, 2008

2.5 stars: I really wanted to like this

Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

I bought this book eagerly, especially after seeing all the positive reviews on Amazon. I wish I could be giving it one, and I know this my review will probably not do well in the rating system, as I’ve seen all the semi-negative reviews get tons of negative votes and comments…. but I want to be honest.

The blurb says that when she was six, Jerramy Fine decided she would marry Windsor family member Peter Phillips.  Great, cute- but the problem is that Jerramy didn’t grow up.  I understand wanting to be a princess, pretty much all girls do. But there is reality. I mean, Jerramy is essentially a groupie. If by chance any English royalty ever struck up a friendship with her, they’d most likely be appalled and creeped out when they found out her whole life was spent obsessed with them. Many reviewers have said they believe this story is about never giving up on your dreams… but really to me it is all about a girl who was obsessed with somebody she never met and didn’t know. Jerramy really comes off like a stalker. It would have been different if she just loved England, and didn’t have such an agenda.

Perhaps if this story was fiction, and not a memoir, I’d be more accepting of it. However I could not get into it. I don’t blame all of it on Jerramy of course. I couldn’t help but be appalled when reading a part about Jerramy and her mother being in the grocery store and her mother yelled at another customer about what something was made of. Then when Jerramy complained her mother had embarrassed her, her mom replied something along the lines of: “If I’ve made one person question what they were eating, then it was worth it.” I’m sorry, but that really struck something with me. I cannot see it ever being okay to embarrass your child like that. It’s no wonder Jerramy wanted to escape from her family.

Again, perhaps if this was called fiction, and not a memoir, I’d be more accepting. As it is, although I wanted to like it, I cannot give it a positive review.  And the majority of the reviews for this one are exactly that: positive.  So am I just not getting it? I don’t know. 

Make up your own mind by buying your own copy on Amazon.

Missed my last post? It was:  BUYING BOOKS AS PRESENTS

Read Full Post »

 Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas


Title: Mistress of Mellyn

Author: Victoria Holt

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 978-0312384159

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: December 23, 2008

4 stars: There’s a reason for all those good reviews!

Mistress of Mellyn

Though many other reviewers mention this, I really do agree with the fact that this book is a cross between Rebecca and Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics). In any case, it is hard to think of a story where a governess works for a widower without thinking of “Jane Eyre”, and that is exactly what happens in this story. And it is hard to think of a story with the ghostly presence of the former wife, without thinking of “Rebecca”.  But if you like both of those, like me, you’ll like this too! 

Though this story echoed of both of those older books, I still found myself drawn into the story, and enjoying it. The main character, Marty aka Martha aka Miss Leigh, was interesting enough and had a bit more of a spine than Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I thought the twist about the little girl explained events very well, though I felt that the girl warmed to Marty a little quickly.

If I had any criticism about this book, it would be that the romance also developed a little quickly. I felt like it came out of nowhere, or just that there weren’t enough clues pointing to the fact that it was developing. Overall though, I really do recommend this book, and I am not surprised at all the glowing reviews it has received.

Also, many might not know, but Victoria Holt is also known under quite a few different names.  The most popular- or at least the one I’d heard of- is Jean Plaidy!  She was a busy, busy lady.

(Currently at ‘bargain price’ at Amazon for $6.00)

Missed my last post? It was: BOOKS IN YOUR CAR

Read Full Post »

Current giveaway: “Flight of the Goose” by Lesley Thomas

Title: The Agency

Author: Ally O’Brien

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-0312379445

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: February 3, 2009

4 stars: Way better than I expected

The Agency

“Eight thirty-seven in the morning, en route from Putney Heath to Piccadilly, first crisis of the day.  People push the crisis button in my business like a lab rat pushes a lever to get pellets of food, but this is a big one.  Lowell Bardwright was just found hanged by his Hermès tie, his fingers clenched in a death grip around his dick.”

(The Agency, page 1)

I kinda flip-flopped on how I felt about this book. It definitely caught my interest, but then again it’s hard to avoid a first page that mentions erotic asphyxiation. I guess you have to figure out whether or not you can handle a book that is in your face about certain things, among them a woman who knows what she wants and does something about it.

In our society women having sex has a negative connotation. Men who have lots of sex are applauded by their own sex, while women who have sex are considered loose. I admit, as a woman, I’ve felt that a woman was loose or slutty if she had a lot of sex, and that’s a view I think I need to overcome.

The main character in this book can be likened to Samantha from “Sex in the City”. She has sex, she isn’t ashamed of it, and she has no problem talking about it- for the most part. She’s fresh, and she’s what makes the book interesting. The bonus is that she works in publishing, which made it all the more interesting to me- someone crazy about all things books.

I ended up enjoying this book, and eagerly hoping for a sequel. That’s not to say it was all fun and games…. and sex. There are moments that I got all teary-eyed, as events unfolded that I couldn’t stop and hurt me (along with the main character). But yeah, if you think you can handle it– pick this book up asap.


Read Full Post »

Flight of the Goose by Lesley Thomas was kindly offered to me by the author herself.  She also generously sent me a second copy to give away to a lucky reader.  I’ve had this interview sitting around for awhile and am sorry to say that I never got around to posting it.  So without further ado, here’s Lesley Thomas and I discussing her book.  See the bottom of the interview for details on how to win your own copy of Flight of the Goose.



Flight of the Goose

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

Lesley Thomas was nice enough to say yes when I asked for a short interview.  So a big thank you and welcome!

Q.  My first question is about the cover art of “Flight of the Goose”.  The front is what looks like a sepia photograph depicting a beautiful landscape (my guess is tundra?) with a child running gleefully through it.  Did you have any input with the cover and are you pleased with the result?

A. That is an old family photo. It was taken in the region in which my book is set, Bering Strait. It is tundra, Inupiaq territory and the land of so many of my relatives through marriage, and their ancestors going back centuries. My Inupiaq stepfather used to be carried on his grandmothers back through those very hills as she foraged. I grew up there too and spent much time alone in those high hills, roaming.

Though a few readers, some macho men, thought the cover should have shown a shaman mask or perhaps something with guns, (saying the girl is too “domestic” and more for a woman’s novel, like that is a bad thing. Well, I am a woman and women read my book as well as men, and the book is about a woman. I love the photo and what it represents. I think showing a child is perfect. Perhaps she is the child born from the union of the two characters. And the photo shows the land, such a big part of the story. I love how the small mountain in the photo was exactly like the mountain my main character roamed upon in summer and through her childhood (picking blueberries). And the hills are of course where Gretchen has her spiritual connection to the Earth and where she spies on her birdman. The photo doesn’t show it very clearly but the little girl has blueberries on her face from gorging on them like a bear cub, from the ancient traditional freedom of “summer camp”.

Q.  What inspired you to write this book?  I confess to knowing little to none about Alaska’s people and/or traditions.  Did you hope to enlighten those who may be in my shoes? 

A. I didn’t really set out to enlighten others so much as to understand myself better, maybe. An identity thing. Like the first part of my novel where narrator says how you have to look back from a distance to understand. I had a very rare and complex upbringing. The Arctic is my homeland and where all my family still lives; it is where I grew up and was formed – I always feel moved very deeply in my soul when in the Arctic, more than other places on Earth. My best friends were born there and died there. In addition, I am deeply bonded with the Inupiaq culture, from my early exposure to village life, and my mother encouraged me to assimilate, then through the family marriages that meshed outsiders and Native. I was taught – nurtured in – the Inupiaq ways by many traditional mentors and then my stepfather and his mother, so it is an intrinsic part of me; I am bicultural. (I think part of it might be genetic too, since my grandfather was from the Arctic, in Norway’s Lapland. It looks exactly the same as the photo, and there are reindeer, wolverine, the same berries, the same ways of sharing and honoring spirits and elders. And I am part Sami so am descended from hunting-gathering nomads of the Arctic). I also wrote the book to honor an old childhood friend who died at a very early age – in a way the story is a eulogy for her. Her spirit visited me a lot at night in dreams while I was writing the story. She influenced me – and it – tremendously. At times I felt like was channeling the Otherworld while writing, in a shamanistic way.

That’s the mystic’s answer – Freud would say I had ‘complexes’ to work out. Whenever I write a book it always manages to get set in the Arctic, as if I am unconsciously compelled to go there. I wrote a science fiction novel and even it was on an Arctic-like planet with hunter gatherers. But I also always write about the conflicts and creative union of culture, the old and the new, outsider and indigenous, good and bad, all ambiguity you get when you combine two very different world views, and that is no doubt due to the way I was raised in my bicultural family. My next books (see bottom question) will be set in the Arctic.

All that being said, sure, I wanted to let others in on the great beauty of the Arctic, its animals and people, and to warn them that is very fragile and endangered. I did want to preserve the old ways somehow, and to honor them.

Q.  I would think your surroundings would influence your writing but I notice you now live in Seattle.  Just out of curiosity, how much of the book was written in Seattle and how much in Alaska? 

A. I don’t know – I visit family a lot and spend summer in the homeland, asking all kinds of questions and absorbing new cultural and earth lessons. I never stop learning or researching and would like to keep amending Flight of the Goose. I keep learning new things about subsistence and the Inupiaq traditions as the old people up there open up more and more. My brothers learn more from their wives, and Elders feel safer to talk about the old ways now that outsiders don’t disparage, abuse the knowledge, use it against Natives through colonization, or mock it racistly (not that I ever doubted- I always honored ancient ways. But the fact remains I have a white identity, I sure look white, and will always be an outsider). The old people also feel an urgency to pass knowledge and stories along while they are still alive.

Readers ask me a lot about why I live in Seattle when I so obviously love and know the Arctic. My living in Seattle but channeling and writing about the Far North reminds me of the Kite Runner author, writing about Afghanistan as an immigrant/refugee living in California. I have a love-hate relationship with the Arctic; it is not the land I want to get away from or feel pained by, or the bears (though I fear them as well as honor them) or mosquitoes or the cold and dark or the old culture, it is the society of Alaska I feel pained by. The dysfunction of the new Alaska. It is a frontier, a colony, a deeply ravaged land, the people in post traumatic stress and ongoing stress and I get traumatized by the emotional pain, especially as a sensitive, empathic woman.

Q.  How has your life changed since you wrote “Flight of the Goose”, and do you have plans for writing another novel sometime in the future?

A. It changed big time when I was doing a lot of author events and getting to teach at writers conferences, and took a hiatus from my day job. I got to make friends with other authors from all over the nation, and wear the hat of author for the first time and it felt great. I loved it. But now I am back to the daily grind of teaching ESL for a living, having learned the lesson that for most of us authors, we have to keep the day job. Literary fiction is not very lucrative for most of us, even if we get good reviews.

I will write another novel – probably an eco=thriller – set in the very post modern Arctic. Global warming is altering the Arctic swiftly and radically, more than any other place on Earth except the Moldaves. The renewed plans for rampant oil drilling, right off the coast of my hometown and the Chukchi Sea adds another dimension.

My other plan is to write a novel set in the ancient Arctic of Scandinavia and delve into my own genetic past.

Q.  Finally, let’s finish with my usual final bookish questions! What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Finally, what are you reading now and why?

A. I just finished a book that delighted me: Finding Nouf, a mystery set in modern Saudi Arabia. I know a lot of Saudis at the university and since I was a kid was always fascinated with both archaic Bedouin and modern Wahabi-state controlled urbanites, especially the lives of women there. This book was well written and reminded me of Martin Cruz Smith’s work (he is a favorite, especially Polar Star) I read some reviews of Finding Nouf that criticized the author for being incorrect on some of her facts, but I feel a lot sympathy for that. We can’t be perfect. Also, I know editors and marketing teams are responsible for a lot; they will override an author and change things culturally if they feel it will make American readers like the book more.

Oh, to get back to your question: I love Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, Peter Matthiesen’s At Play in the Field of the Lord, and the post-Victorians, especially Thomas Hardy. I love Dickens and Conrad, the Romantic poets (grew up on them, since we didn’t have TV). My first adult novel, which I read and loved at the age of 7 was To Kill a Mockingbird, followed quickly by Never Cry Wolf by Mowat.

This year I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction political science, economics, the rise of American Empire, and – if you will – apocalyptic science about climate change and peak oil, ecological breakdown. I am reading that “downer” stuff because I am concerned, and want to know what is happening and what is likely to happen. They are like my oracles. And I always love anything about Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell, or world mythology and anthropology.

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

Huge thanks to Lesley Thomas.  If you’d like to be entered to win this amazing book, leave a comment here telling me why you want to win a copy of this book.  For an extra chance, you can blog/tweet about this contest- but be sure to tell me you did it, and provide a link 🙂



Read Full Post »

Title: A Leap

Author: Anna Enquist

Format: Papberack

Number of Pages: 100

ISBN: 978-1592642588

Publisher: The Toby Press

Date of Publication: April 1, 2009

3 stars: Okay, but not for me


A Leap


This book of short stories is by Dutch author Anna Enquist. I had never heard of her, but the blurb says she is a “musician, a psychoanalyst, a poet, and a novelist” and also a best-selling author in other countries…. so I thought I couldn’t go wrong with picking up this book.

First off, the book is only 100 pages. This is something that is displayed on the product page, but I rarely pay attention to… I expect that many other customers may do the same, so therefore this is a warning that the book is short- something I was disappointed with. Also, the ‘monologues’ just weren’t very connected in my opinion. I thought these monologues would all be related, or have some interaction with each other, but this is not the case. The summary says they are connected in that they are all looking for a home, but I just didn’t get that either. There are five of these short stories, the first and last being the longest and in my opinion it is those two which are most connected. Music is the common theme. Of these, I really only enjoyed the last one.

The stories start with “Alma” followed by “Mendel Bronstein,” “Cato and Leendert,” “The Doctor,” and “… And I am Sara”. “Alma” is about a woman who loves music and composing, but gives them up because her husband (a composer himself) makes her. It’s about her struggling to deal with this loss, since music is such a part of her and gives her so much joy. “Mendel Bronstein” is about a man who wants to travel to America but really has no idea what he is getting himself into. This story is quite short, and unless you read carefully, you miss what really happens at the end. “Cato and Leendert” takes place during WW2, and most interestingly deals with the animals being kept in the zoo. “The Doctor” also takes place during the same time and deals with a doctor’s mixed thoughts about helping a German soldier. Finally, “… And I am Sara” deals with a young woman trying to find herself after college.

As with most short stories, these seem to be bleak and depressing. Again, the last one (“… And I am Sara”) which I enjoyed most of, is the only one that broke of that mold for a short time. In that story I did enjoy the writing style. The sentences were short and choppy, like thoughts flitting through Sara’s (the main character) head. It really worked for Enquist there.

Enquist’s imagery was also extremely well done, in “… And I am Sara,” and in the other stories. At times it was so well done that I was disgusted, as was probably Enquist’s goal- when discussing bloody soldiers, or unwashed immigrants. Other times it gave off a peaceful and beautiful image, like when Enquist writes of spring flowers.

There’s no doubt that Enquist is a talented writer, but I felt that this collection just wasn’t perfected. I would have liked to see those stories be more connected. Perhaps something is lost in translation? After all, they were originally published in Dutch, so maybe we’re just not getting the original meaning.

Interested?  Buy it at amazon: A Leap


Read Full Post »

Title: “Two Brothers: One North, One South”
Author: David H. Jones
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0979689857
Publisher: Staghorn Press
Date of Publication: September 1, 2008— Available now!

Two Brothers - One North, One South

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥


“Moonlight glimmered on the distant capitol dome and cast long shadows from the gothic towers and battlements of the Smithsonian Institute. To the west, the partially completed shaft of the Washington Monument appeared like a giant white chimney protruding from the dark landscape. Between these edificeswere fields filled with temporary streets and wooden buildings. Bathed in the dim light was a city transforming itself from a military bastion consumed by the business of war to a city intent on governing the once-again United States.”

(“Two Brothers: One North, One South” pg 7)


I have to say that I love the opening paragraph above.  Sometimes when I go back to reread a book and I’m looking for a few good lines to use in my review, I have to look for quite awhile.  In this case, it’s the first thing you read- and they’re perfect.  As I mentioned in one of my recent reviews about another author, this is what Creative Writing teachers strive to pull from you.  The imagery is fantastic.  You can picture the capitol!  Or perhaps it’s even those first two words- “Moonlight glimmered“– a perfect descriptive hook.

The story itself is pretty good.  The title is pretty self explanatory, it’s the story of two brothers during the American Civil War.  I’ve not read much historical fiction set during this time.  The only thing that comes to mind is Ann Rinaldi’s “The Last Silk Dress“, but that is a completely different type of book (still good though!).  “Two Brothers….” is based upon acutal historical events which is what I think really makes it work.  As you can see from my interview below with the author, he did a tremendous amount of research- and I think it really shows in the story.  (Not that I would know differently, as my knowledge in this area is lacking… but I’ll take his word for it that most of the details and dates and such are historically accurate!)

What I liked most about this book is that it didn’t read like a boring history book.  I’ve come across so many historical fiction novels that put too much emphasis on history and not enough on fiction.  They attempt to write nonfiction disguised as fiction.  In this case, “Two Brothers…” is the perfect balance.  There’s action and dialogue.  The history is there, but you can tell that you’re reading fiction.  Hopefully you understand what I mean!

I would indeed recommend this to anyone looking for historical fiction set during or around the American Civil War.  For that matter, I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good story!  Thanks to David H. Jones and Trish from TLC tours.  See below for my interview with David, and for details on how to win your own copy of this book.


♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥
David H. Jones has graciously agreed to allow me to interview him! Welcome David, and thank you for joining us today.

Q. I love the cover art, the split uniform showing the uniforms for both the North and the South. It works extremely well with the story. I’m always interested in how much influence an author has over the cover art. So my question is are you pleased with the cover, and were you directly involved in the process of choosing an image?

A. I share your delight with the “Two Brothers” cover art for its great appearance and the fact that it clearly depicts the story within. The amount of influence an author has on cover art and interior layout depends on the publisher. I was directly involved with developing the concept and working with the designer, The DesignWorksGroup, but I’m aware of other circumstances where the publisher has total control over the decision making process and the author is not consulted. After several discussions with Charles Brock, a principal of The DesignWorks Group, I received three presentations and chose the one that evolved into the final design approved by all parties. As it was important that the uniforms be absolutely correct, exact reproductions were purchased and used in the photography, then donated to Pamplin Historical Park for its interpretative program.

Q. From the jacket I can see that you’re a “lifelong student of the Civil War”. What first interested you about the civil war? What’s kept you so focused and interested on it, as opposed to say, the American Revolutionary War?

A. American history is my passion, all phases of it, from the first colonization to more recent times. However, the Civil War has special meaning to me as my father told stories during my childhood that he heard from his grandfather, personally linking me to the horrendous event that wrought our nation from a loose collection of states. My dad lived a long and good life, and I knew him well. He knew his maternal grandfather, Jacob Eckes, who served as a private in the 10th West Virginia Infantry. Thus, as a 68-year old man, I knew people, who knew people, who fought in the American Civil War, proving that it happened not so very long ago.

Q. What did you hope to accomplish by sharing “Two Brothers…” with the world?

A. Great question! I found the Prentiss brothers story while researching my ancestor’s regiments in past wars. My great great grandfather James Touchstone served in the 6th Maryland Infantry with Clifton Prentiss. Fascinated by the story, I compiled voluminous notes over three years of research and determined that it was the quintessential story of the Civil War. It was clearly a story that needed to be told! What I hope to accomplish is recognition by readers of Walt Whitman’s conclusion–that the soldiers of both sides were American patriots and that their stories must not be forgotten.

Q. How has your life changed since you wrote “Two Brothers…”, and do you have any plans for writing another novel sometime in the future?
A. The research phase and subsequent book tours have included a number of trips back East (we live in California) to Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Petersburg–all places that are among our favorites to visit. Next week we are doing a book signing at the Museum and Visitor Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park. We have visited the graves of all of the main characters and many sites where important events in the book took place. Dian and I were honored to unveil the new Veterans Administration gravestones for the Prentiss brothers at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where they’re buried side by side. These have all been great departures from our typical routine and things that we have thoroughly enjoyed.
The next writing project–that’s another great question. A memoir of a 6th Maryland officer which describes in great detail his experiences throughout the war has recently come to light. If permission to publish can be achieved, I may write a history of the 6th Regiment of Maryland Infantry, or a new novel, based on this journal. Time will tell.

Q. This kind of goes along with the previous question, but what do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A. Dian and I enjoy travel and spending time with family and friends. I’m also still actively involved in business.

Q. Let’s finish with my usual bookish questions! What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Finally, what are you reading right now and why?

A. I like both fiction and non-fiction. On a recent trip to Florida I read the novel “Down River” by John Hart and enjoyed it very much. My favorite book of all time is “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry. Presently, I’m about one-third into the just released “Now The Drum of War: Walt Whitman and his Brothers in the Civil War” by Robert Roper. It’s excellent and provides great insight into Whitman’s Civil War experiences.


A big thank you to David for joining us. I’m sure my readers enjoyed our interview as much as I did. Don’t forget to check out David’s Blog here!

Giveaway details: David as well as Trish from TLC tours have sent me an extra copy of “Two Brothers: One North, One South” for me to giveaway to one lucky commenter. The book is even autographed! If you’d like to win it, comment on this post telling me about your favorite Civil War book. If you don’t have one, tell me why you want to read this one. You have until the end of the month, November 31rst, and like my other contests, this is open to anyone- not just the US and Canada. For an extra entry, you can blog about this contest, but make sure to tell me about it!


Read Full Post »

Current Giveaway: “Violet in Private” by Melissa Walker- ends 10/31/08


Title: The Lost Diary of Don Juan”

Author: Douglas Carlton Abrams

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 978-1416532521

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Date of Publication: (Reprint) July 1, 2008

3 stars: Okay, but not my thing


A Novel



 “I looked at her smiling face, and her black hair, disheveled by our earlier desire.  Her clear brown eyes reflected the flames of the candles that encircled the altar of her bed.  How could I refuse her?”

(The Lost Diary of Don Juan pg 3)


“The Lost Diary of Don Juan” by Douglas Carlton Abrams is the story of Don Juan, a man raised by nuns who has to flee after having an affair with one of them.  He’s guided by a Marquis who teaches him ‘swordplay and seduction’.  Don Juan is essentially a libertine or a Casanova- a lover of all women.  The story is a bit predictable, in that of course he will eventually fall in love (real love) with one woman.

It’s meant to be a diary, although there are very few moments when you will be able to tell.  Each entry is certainly not started, “Dear Diary.”  There’s plenty of dialogue along with the action, so really it just seems to be a story told in the past tense. 

I couldn’t help but think, as I read, that certain parts of the book simply made me think of Zorro.  Specifically the Marquis guiding Don Juan- it just made me picture (the somewhat-recent movie verion of) Anthony Hopkins molding Antonio Banderas into the new Zorro!  I also found little love for the womanizing Don Juan.  Despite the author’s goal to display Don Juan’s ‘love’ of all women, all I could see was Don Juan’s ‘lust’ for all women.  

Those who enjoy Spanish historical fiction may enjoy this story, or perhaps those who enjoy romance.  I couldn’t really get into it though which is why it’s only getting three stars from me.  If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, you’re in luck.  I’m giving away a copy to one commenter.  Simply leave me a comment telling me your favorite historical fiction or romance book and author.  For another entry, blog about this contest and tell me about it.  The winner will be picked randomly October 31rst (the same day my current giveaway ends).  And as usual this contest is open to anyone.

Visit the author at www.DouglasCarltonAbrams.com or www.LostDiaryofDonJuan.com.


Missed my last post?  It was SOME CONFUSION

Missed my last review?  It was REVIEW: “SWORD” BY DA CHEN

Read Full Post »

***My newest giveaway is of “First Daughter“ ***




Title: “Confessions of a Contractor

Author: Richard Murphy

Format: Hardcover

Number of Pages: 288

ISBN: 978-0399155079

Publisher: Putnam Adult

Date of Publication: August 14, 2008

4 stars: Renovating? Don’t miss this!

Confessions of a Contractor




“The first thing a woman needs to know about renovating a house or apartment is simpe: do not, under any circumstance, sleep with your contractor, no tmatter what your husband or boyfriend is doing to you, or not doing to you.” 

 (“Confessions of a Contractor” pg1*)


And before we get started, I have to say I would never sleep with my contractor…….. unless he looked like Richard Murphy.  I mean, oh my God, how did that slip out?

I wasn’t sure I was going to like “Confessions of a Contractor“.  From the cover art, to the first line- I was sure that it was going to be a book that had sex all over the place.  Lol, and in a way there was sex all over the place- in the ‘steam shower in the master bath’, on the ‘sandstone floor in the kitchen’, etc… but it was mentioned quickly and didn’t bog down the rest of the story. 

It’s told all in first person, so the audience knows only what the main character, Henry the contractor, knows.  This offers us a unique look at what your contractor is really thinking about you.  And despite the fact that, yes, he slept with some of his clients- I still liked the guy!  Besides liking the main character, I also enjoyed the others.  Perhaps my favorites were Hector and Miguel, because if they didn’t like you- they pretended to only speak Spanish.

I would very much recommend “Confessions of a Contractor” to anyone looking for a fun read.  And I’ll definitely be interested in reading anything else Richard Murphy puts out- right after I find out if there really are blind caterers…. well if you’ve read it- you know what I’m talking about!!  If not, pick you copy up today.  You can buy it here.  And don’t forget to drop by the book’s website.


*These lines may change in the final publication of the book

Want to see some other reviews?


Jenn’s Bookshelf

Minds Alive on the Shelves


Missed my last post?  It was TUESDAY THINGERS

Missed my last review?  It was REVIEW: “ONE MORE YEAR” BY SANA KRASIKOV

Read Full Post »

I’m doing things a little differently.  If you’ve visited before, you know that I when I host giveaways, I usually include my review and author interview all in one post.  Today I’m separating them a bit.  Below is my interview with Eric Van Lustbader- the author of the thriller “First Daughter“.  Later in the week I’ll be posting my review of “First Daughter” and the giveaway details.  However since the book is coming out now, I wanted to post my interview to generate a little buzz about it.  But I can tell you now that you have a chance of winning a copy of this book by leaving a comment regarding my interview with author Eric Van Lustbader! 


First Daughter

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

So, a big welcome to Eric Van Lustbader!  His new book is called “First Daughter” and I’m thrilled that he was able to answer a few questions for me!  

Q.  I can see that this is far from being your first novel!  With over twenty five books, including three Bourne books, how do you keep coming up with ideas and story lines?

A. If I have a problem it’s that I have too many ideas to write them all! I’d like to finish my Pearl fantasy series, I’d like to write another Nicholas Linnear (“The Ninja“) novel, but I have other commitments now.

Q. There have been a couple of movies released (the most recent starring Katie Holmes) called “First Daughter”.  In addition, chick lit author Mitali Perkins has published books using the same title.  Did any of these influence your decision when it came to picking a title for your book?

A. To be honest, I don’t know about any of these. “First Daughter” was the perfect title for this novel.

Q.  Did you start writing “First Daughter” knowing exactly who the villains were, or did it come to you as you continued to write?

A. Actually, the main villain began to write himself as I got further into the book. He was only fully fleshed out in the writing. This often happens with some of my best characters. Funny, that.

Q.  You ended “First Daughter” in a way that leaves it open for a sequel.  Any chance that such a sequel is in the works?

A. Absolutely. From the beginning, I conceived of Jack McClure have many, many adventures. The next one is already in my head, and very interesting it is, too. I’m hoping that as soon as I finish the next Jason Bourne book, due out next summer, I’ll be able to get back to Jack.

Q.  Let’s end with my usual bookish questions! What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Lastly, what are you reading now and why?

A. Your readers might take a look at my Web site to see some of my favorite novels, but here are some current favorite authors: Roberto Bolano, Martin Amis, Don DeLillo, Laura Restrepo. “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson is simply astonishing. Right now, I’m reading “Theft” by an Australian writer named Peter Carey. A friend of mine recommended him. It’s about an artist and his brother. My wife and I have a good friend who’s an artist, so I thought it would be of particular interest. But the writer who has had the most powerful and lasting influence on me is Colin Wilson, especially his seminal work, “The Outsider,” in which I first began to recognize myself.


There you have it folks.  Thanks again to Eric Van Lustbader for stopping by!  I’m already excited for the sequel, and I’m sure you will be too, once you’ve read “First Daughter“.  As I mentioned above, my review of this book will be posted later this week along with more chances to win a copy of your own.  For now, leave a comment on this post about my interview with Eric and you’ll be entered to win 🙂  Good luck.

Don’t forget that “First Daughter” comes out today! Stop by and pick up your own copy here 🙂

Edit: I never got around to my review…. it’s coming sometime. But I’ll be picking a winner on October 10, so you all have a few more days to enter.


Missed my last review?  It was REVIEW: “ONE MORE YEAR” BY SANA KRASIKOV

Read Full Post »

Seen my latest giveaway?  Win a copy of “The Questory of Root Karbunkulus” by Kamilla Reid. (ENDS AUGUST 15th)

Title: “One More Year

Author: Sana Krasikov

Format: Paperback ARC

Number of Pages: 240

ISBN: 978-0385524391

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Date of Publication: August 12, 2008 (TODAY!)

5 stars: I wish there were more stories!


Stories by Sana Krasikov


“At one in the morning, Maia awakens to a deep winter chill, sits up, and pulls a scratchy wool blanket over her comforter.  In another two hours, she knows, she’ll wake up again, this time damp in her flannel gown as the radiator blasts hot air.”

(“One More Year” pg 30*)

I’ve never been a fan of short stories.  I’ve tried to read a few, including some that are praised continuously- such as those by Flannery O’Conner.  I could never get into them!  There are only a few short pages for the audience to get to know the characters, and it never seems like enough time for me.  So even before picking up this book, I was already thinking negatively about it, and I was sure I wasn’t going to like it.  This was just another collection of short stories that would leave me wondering why I read it in the first place.  Well, “One More Year” happily proved me wrong. 

Sana Krasikov’s book contains eight stories, many of which involve characters from the former Soviet Union, Russia, and/or Georgia.  It’s oddly fitting that I began to read this book at the same time that Russia invaded Georgia.  I was unable to shake that information as I read, and couldn’t help but feel an even deeper connection to Krasikov’s characters.  Krasikov herself grew up in the former of Soviet Republic of Georgia, and I’m sure she wasn’t expecting these events to unfold right as her book went on sale. 

One of my favorite stories is “Maia in Yonkers” which tells the story of a woman and her son who comes to visit her.  To me it starts slow and doesn’t really evolve until the son actually arrives, but the interaction between mother and son is fantastic.  The ending is perfect, and I wish I could write more about it, but I’ll stop now so I don’t spoil those who haven’t yet read this book.

I would definitely recommend this book.  Once a short story hater, I have now been converted!  Sana Krasikov’s stories draw you in.  You feel for her characters, which to me proves that Krasikov has succeeded where many have failed.  Pick this one up today!  You can purchase it from Amazon here.


*these lines may change in the final publication of the book

Missed my last post?  It was TUESDAY THINGERS

Missed my last review?  It was REVIEW: “THE WHITE MARY” BY KIRA SALAK

Read Full Post »

Seen my latest giveaway?  Win a copy of “The Questory of Root Karbunkulus” by Kamilla Reid.


Title: “The White Mary

Author: Kira Salak

Format: Paperback ARC

Number of Pages: 351

ISBN: 978-0805088472

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Date of Publication: August 5, 2008

4 stars: An Enthralling Jungle Adventure


A Novel


“Beauty intrudes upon her.  Flocks of red and green parrots.  Butterflies of blue and gold dancing over the black waters.  Crowned pigeons with their regal headdresses of gray plumage.  She would like to know this beauty, not just see it.” 

(“The White Mary” pg 3*)

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book, considering most of the reviews I’ve seen have either loved it or hated it.  After reading it, I find that I’m somewhere in the middle, but leaning more toward the ‘loved it’ group.  Like many of the books I’ve recently read, this book floats between the past and the present.  Marika, the main character, is a journalist who returns from the Congo and decides to write a biography about the dead journalist who inspired her to take up the profession.  “The White Mary” starts out later- when Marika is in Papua New Guinea- searching for that journalist after hearing he may still be alive.  While I found the Papua New Guinea (PNG from now on) parts to be the better parts of the book, it took me awhile to get into them.   I would have preferred to start the book with chapter 2- which takes place in Boston, and introduces us to Markia instead of jumping right into Marika’s journey through PNG. 

I felt that once everything was explained, for example why Markia was in PNG, what sent her there… etc, the book flowed nicely.  Honestly when I finished I couldn’t believe that there was so much to read about PNG without it seeming repetitive.  But everything seemed fresh and unique, and made me thank God that I was not going through it!  Besides the way the book began, there was only one thing that annoyed me.  Throughout the story, “The White Mary” is told from different points of view.  While Marika tells the majority, part of it is told by her guide Tobo.  Everything he ‘thinks’ is in English, with the exception of a few words scattered here and there which are not in English and are italicized.  I just didn’t see the need to have them. 

After finishing this book, I really did wonder if this had happened to the author, Kira Salak.  After all, she’s a journalist who traveled to PNG and many of her experiences inspired this novel.  I wonder if there was a certain journalist who inspired her to write, and if he or she disappeared.  And maybe, just maybe, she searched in PNG?  Only Salak knows the truth, but in any case her fictional account is one that I would recommend to those looking for an adventure.


*these lines may change in the final publication of the book

Missed my last post?  It was TUESDAY THINGERS


Read Full Post »

Hey guys.  I know I’m ridiculously behind on comments, visititing other blogs, challenges, and the like.  It’s been a busy week with VBS and a bunch of other stuff!  Here’s another one of those poor books that had no reviews on LT:

Title: “World Mythology” (2nd edition)
Editor: Donna Rosesnberg
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 584
ISBN: 978-0844257679
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Date of Publication: January 11, 1994
4 stars:
Mythology for beginners


World Mythology

I had to buy this for my college mythology class. It’s a nice enough text, with many stories from many different cultures. Before each culture, we learn a little about the people and how their stories came about, which I thought helped me understand the stories more. My personal favorites were the Egyptian myths and the Greek myths, of which there were many. It also includes classics like ‘King Arthur’, ‘Beowulf’, and ‘The Illiad’. It was interesting to note the similarities and differences between the cultures and their stories, many of which were being created at the same time years ago- but many miles apart.

As for the flaws this book has, there is one major one. While I’m sure the translators translated to the best of their ability, if I had to read “flooded their hearts” one more time, I think I would scream. Okay I get it, they’re happy, filled with joy, ecstatic, delighted…. but really? “Flooded”? So maybe that was the literal translation, but couldn’t the editors have changed it a few times so that the readers didn’t die from the repetition?

Overall I would recommend this book, especially if you’re interested in mythology. Just be aware that there are many different interpretations of myths, and the ones that are in this book may not be the most well known. Additionally I’m not sure if they cut out some parts because they knew this would be a school text. If you know the story of Osiris and Isis, you know that there was one piece of his body that a fish ate… that part of the myth isn’t in this book– I guess because they deemed it unappropriate? There is a newer edition out however, which isn’t exactly better than this one. At the very least, I had hoped they didn’t use the word “flooded” so much in that one… But sadly not so.  The new version is the same, with some additional stories included like: “Esfandyar”, “Chi Li”, “Jason and the Golden Fleece” among others.  (If you need the newer version for class, you could still get away with buying the cheaper 2nd edition and then just copying certain stories from a fellow classmate’s book.  The newer is $43 with this one being around $13!)


Missed my last post?  It was “ABERRATIONS” BY PENELOPE PRZEKOP.

Read Full Post »


Author: Penelope Przekop

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 978-1934572030

Publisher: Emerald Book Co

Date of Publication: July 1, 2008

4 stars:  An eyeopening look at life with narcolepsy




 “What do you really think about  it?” I asked.

“I’m not gonna judge,” she said, opening her car door.  It was time to go.

“Because you’re a virgin?”

“No, because I’m human.” ( “Aberrations” pg 10)


Every once in awhile, I think about a book’s cover art.  Some are hideous, ugly, boring and bland.  Then there are the beautiful ones.  I found myself struck by this one.  (Stephenie Meyer’s books also come to mind.)  Of course once you’re impressed by the cover, you hope that the words inside are just as wonderful.  (I’ve been disappointed in the past: see my review here for “Tantalize” by Cynthia Leitich-Smith.)  But in this case, the book lived up to it’s cover.  The blue flower is somewhat symbolic, and I just love the way the sun hits her hair.

The story itself kept me hooked.  As I mention below in my interview with Penelope Przekop, I’ve never read anything about narcolepsy.  I only knew that it was some kind of sleep disorder, and Penelope was exactly right when she mentions that narcolepsy is usually used in some humorous way.  The movie “Moulin Rouge” comes to mind.  If you’ve seen it, then you know what I’m talking about.  In “Aberrations”, Angel’s condition is far from being funny.  She’s forced to take medication in order to keep her awake, but even with it, she lives a sort of ‘half life’.

“Aberrations” isn’t solely about Angel and her narcolepsy, although I found that to be the most fascinating aspect of it.  It’s also about life, death, family and friends.  If there was anything that I disliked about this book, it was probably the Southern twang to the speech.  That said, it doesn’t take anything away from the story, and if you’re a fan of Southern fiction, then you’ll probably have no problem at all.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  See below for my interview and giveaway.

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥ 

Hello all, today I’m joined by Penelope Przekop.  Her new book “Aberrations” will be released in a few days on July 1, 2008, and I eagerly welcomed the opportunity to interview her.

Q. As I mention above in my review, I found the cover art to be very interesting.  Were you involved, or did you have any input in the final design?

A. Yes, I was able to brainstorm with the cover designer about initial ideas, images, and concepts. We were both focused on creating a unique and eye catching cover that would reflect the themes and tone of the novel.  We both liked the idea of using some type of blue flower.  It seemed unique and would reflect a specific scene in the novel as well as the aberrations of life we all must deal with in some form.  As for the hair, we started out thinking about somehow incorporating a braid, which evolved into the hair on the cover. The designer suggested that a braid may influence folks to think of the book as a young adult novel, which was not the intent.  The cover designer created numerous designs, which were circulated internally.  I was able to see the top five covers, and provide my input.  I was lucky because the cover I liked best was also their top choice.  It was a fun process and I’m extremely pleased with the outcome.  The designer loved Aberrations; she was dedicated to creating a beautiful cover that would inspire people to take a look. 

Q. Your main character, Angel, is narcoleptic.  This is the first time I’ve read about someone with this disorder, and I found it an eye-opening experience.  What inspired you to write about a woman with narcolepsy?

A. When I began planning the novel ten years ago, I threw together several unrelated ideas and concepts that interested me, including narcolepsy.  I have a degree in Biology and always found narcolepsy to be particularly interesting from a biological standpoint.  I also recognized that the media had not accurately portrayed or fully explored the topic.  Interestingly, ten years later, this is still the case. Narcolepsy continues to be commonly used as comedic relief.  I suspected that it wasn’t actually funny for those who suffered from it, and thought it might be rewarding to tell their story. The more I learned about narcolepsy and rolled it around in my head, I realized it would be a fascinating and powerful avenue for character development. It is a great metaphor for how, at times, we’re all in jeopardy of sleeping through life.  As I wrote the novel, Angel became incredibly real to me.  I felt that if I could relate so intimately to her based on my own history, surely others might as well.  Her struggle reflects many emotions that we all feel, and deal with, regardless of our specific aberration.  I hope that it will help build more compassion and understanding of narcolepsy for readers, while providing some universally thought provoking messages about life that reach far beyond a specific medical condition. 

Q.  I believe this is your first foray into writing fiction.  Did you find it difficult to switch from nonfiction to fiction? 

A. Actually, fiction is my first love.  I wrote another novel before Aberrations, which has yet to be published.  I’ve always loved fiction.  When I was five years old, I used to sleep with my favorite book, The Pokey Little Puppy.  I stuck it under my pillow every night when I went to bed.  I wrote my nonfiction book, Six Sigma for Business Excellence (McGraw-Hill) during the ten-year period I was writing Aberrations.  At the time, I was asked to speak at an industry conference, and my editor at McGraw-Hill came across the conference brochure.  I’d been plugging away on novels, trying to get an agent, a publisher, etc., for years, and out of the blue, McGraw-Hill calls to ask, “Have you ever thought of writing a book?”  It felt like a miracle!  So I put Aberrations  aside to write the McGraw-Hill book.  It took about a year.  I was also finishing a Master’s Degree during that time, which I could not put aside. In addition to that,  I was working full time as a Director at Johnson & Johnson, and raising a family.  Needless to say, it was an extremely busy time. It worked out great because by the time I finished the McGraw-Hill book, I’d worked through how I wanted Aberrations to end.  I’ve particularly enjoyed writing my blog, Aberration Nation, as it allows me to write non-fiction in the tone and voice I’ve developed while writing fiction. Business books don’t lend themselves to that quite as easily. 

Q.  I enjoyed your unique beginning, with the definition of ‘Aberration’, as well as the newspaper clipping (which I also thought was a good way to end too).   What made you decide to start and end like this?

 A. I’m one of those strange folks who actually spends time reading the dictionary; I’m a word freak. When coming up with the title for Aberrations, I scanned the Internet for a word related to photography that would miraculously relate to the underlying themes of the novel. I wasn’t sure if such a word existed, but in the end, I found it. The word aberration has several interesting definitions that are all a perfect fit for the novel. The first three definitions relate particularly well to Angel’s story, and to my own.  I decided to include the definition simply because it was so fantastically perfect and I wasn’t sure readers would fully see the connection without having the definition.  I used the beginning newspaper clipping to hopefully build some questions in readers’ minds.  Once I’d finished the book, it seemed fitting to show them some of what had become of the characters through a subsequent news clipping.

Q. Many authors find that as they write, the story goes in a different direction.  Was this the case for you, or did you always plan for the story to go the way it did?   

A. I usually create my characters and the general plot before I begin writing.  I also decide what themes I want to explore, the overall setting, and some of the settings for various scenes.  The themes I choose come from ideas, emotions, or philosophical points that I want to explore and better understand rather than things I want to preach or instruct about.  The aspects of life that I’m most sure of and confident about usually don’t creep into my writing.  I also think about the format of the novel, which I believe is a creative element that’s underutilized in novels.  Lastly, I choose symbols and recurring ideas that I want to weave into the story.  As I sort through all this, the various elements eventually begin to connect in my head.  Then I’m ready to write.  With that said, I’ve only written two novels, but I’m now in this planning phase for a third.  This process seems to work for me and so I plan to continue.  As indicated above, for Aberrations, I didn’t have the ending figured out when I began.  This eventually became a challenge for me, and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. I like the idea of creating all the various elements I mentioned above and weaving them into the story backwards and forwards, sideways, and upside down to create what feels like a self contained globe or a world rather than a linear experience.   

Q.  And now just a few bookish questions!  What kind of books do you like to read?  What is your favorite book?  Who is your favorite author?  Finally, what are you reading now and why?

A. I love to read a variety of books.  This year I’ve read Alan Greenspan’s book, books on painting, numerous novels, and also biographies.  I particularly love books that teach me about other cultures such as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and A Thousand Splendid Suns

My all time favorite is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I read it as a teenager and couldn’t get past the writing style.  Then I picked it up about twelve years ago and absolutely fell in love with it.  My added maturity and my own life experiences enabled me to relate to it in a profound way.  Its timeless relevance shocked me. Other favorites are Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Ran, Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.  As you can tell, I love books that are entertaining but also thought provoking.  This is the type of book I’ve always longed to write. I do enjoy purely entertaining books, and read many of those, but my ultimate desire is to read and write books that are highly meaningful and timeless. 

I’m just finishing The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield because it was chosen by my neighborhood book club.  They’re planning to read Aberrations soon, which will be interesting!  I included book club questions in the back of the book, so I invite book clubs everywhere to put it on their list!

 Well folks, there you have it!  You can purchase “Aberrations” here.  (Don’t forget to suggest it to your book club as your next read!) And if you want to know more about Penelope and “Aberrations“, visit her blog: ABERRATION NATION

ATTENTION:  Penelope’s people have sent me an extra copy of this book to giveaway to a lucky commenter!  (I’d give mine away, but I’m rather attatched to it lol.)  Simply comment on this post telling me why you’d like to read this book, AND something about Penelope’s interview– make sure you do both !  (Don’t just say “Pick me please!” – those will be ignored.   Make an effort!)  Link to this post (and tell me about it) for a second entry.  You have until 9:00 EST on 7/3 to do so, and I’ll randomly pick a winner that night.

Thanks to Penelope Przekop and TJ Dietderich. 

But don’t just take my word for it!  See Out of the Blue’s review here.

Missed my last post?  It was CONTESTS.

Read Full Post »

My first book in the ARC Challenge:

Title: “The New Yorkers

Author: Cathleen Schine

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-0312427832

Publisher: Picador

Date of Publication: April 29, 2008

4 stars: A realistic look at love, life, and New York


A Novel


“The street’s proximity to Central Park made it a favorite with professional dog walkers who could hardly be expected to keep track of the waste of the seven or eight dogs pulling them forward.  And so the street, not distinguished by great beauty to begin with, was not terribly clean either.  And yet, it was the loveliest street I have ever lived on.  And the most interesting.” (pg 4)


I was happy to receive “The New Yorkers” by Cathleen Schine as my LibraryThing EarlyReviewer May book.  Part of the blurb: On a quiet little block near Central Park, five lonely New Yorkers find one another, compelled to meet by their canine companions. Over the course of four seasons, they emerge from their apartments, in snow, rain, or glorious sunshine to make friends and sometimes fall in love.  I’ve never read anything by Schine, but after this, I’ll definitely be checking out some of her previous books.

While summary talks of five different New Yorkers, I was a bit confused as to who counted as one of the five.  There was Jody, who in my opinion was the main character, and the one who I rooted for the most.  Then there was Simon, and Everett, the two men she meets.  Plus Polly and George, the brother and sister who move to the neighborhood in the beginning.  However, there was also the restaurateur Jaime, and Doris, the woman determined to clean up her street (I guess these two aren’t part of the five, although I certainly enjoyed reading about them!).  The narrator tells their stories, every once in awhile interjecting “I” or “we” as if to remind us that the narrator is still there, even though he/she is behind the scenes and never actually involved in the story (which in the author interview at the end of the book Schine attributes to Trollope)– this was slightly odd, and I felt that the story would have flowed nicely without the interjections.  My only other problem with this book was that while I enjoyed hearing about every character, it was at times jarring to switch between them.  Sometimes we were being told Jody’s story for several pages, while other times the narrator would jump from a Jody paragraph to an Everett paragraph to a Simon paragraph.  This was probably what annoyed me the most about this novel.  (Thus the loss of one star.) This style of writing got easier to read as the book progressed, particularly as the characters lives began to intertwine with each other. 

Jody worries about her elderly dog Beatrice.  Simon longs for his vacation.  Everett wonders if he can date a younger woman.  Polly struggles through a breakup.  George uses his dog as a chick magnet.  Jaime thinks about his kids.  Doris vows to clean up the neighborhood.  As I got further into the book, I began to feel as if I knew the characters (and their dogs!  Although I’ve barely mentioned them in this review, they are very much a part of the story).  Schine’s New Yorkers could be any New Yorkers and I think that is what makes them so interesting.  It is for this reason that I would definitely recommend this story.  There is no doubt that Schine’s greatest strength is in developing her characters.  A pleasant story of love lost and love found, “The New Yorkers” will show you just how much life revolves around man’s best friend. 

Interested in reading Schine’s other novels? They include: Alice in Bed (1983), To The Birdhouse (1990), Rameau’s Niece (1993), The Love Letter (1995)- which was the basis for the movie of the same name, The Evolution of Jane (1998), She Is Me (1995), and her newest The New Yorkers (2007).  

Thanks to LibraryThing’s EarlyReviewer’s Program  and Picador Publishing.


Missed the post before this one?  It was CONTESTS, GIVEAWAYS, AND ARCS.

Read Full Post »

Title: “Songs for the Missing”

Author: Stewart O’Nan

Format: Paperback ARC

Number of Pages: 287

ISBN: 978-0-670-02032-4

Publisher: Viking

Date of Publication: November 2008

4 stars: What would you do if your child went missing?



                                         A Novel

“The first person her mother called was Nina.

The second was J.P.

The third was Connie at the hospital.

The fourth was the police.” (*pg 15)


I admit that I’ve been putting off reading this book.  By reading the back blurb I could tell that it would be a depressing read.  “Songs for the Missing” is the story of a girl named Kim, and what happens to her family, friends, and community when she goes missing.  Neither I, nor anyone in my family, have ever had to experience the disappearance of a friend or family member, for which I am extremely thankful- especially after reading this book.  I cannot imagine going through what Kim’s family did.

My issues with this book were few and far in between– oddly enough mainly the beginning and the ending.  I felt that we were overloaded with details in the first few pages.  It was too much at once, and I really had to push through them.  It did pick up after that, and I found it hard to put the book down.  As for the ending, I would have preferred if the book had ended without the last two chapters.  To me they felt if they had just been tacked on as an afterthought.  They weren’t bad, just different, and maybe unnecessary.  (Just my opinion of course.)  My only other problem with the book was the shift of point of view in the chapters.  It at times felt jarring, and took a minute to figure out who was telling the story.  However, it was enlightening to see through the eyes of different characters.  I particularly found J.P’s (Kim’s boyfriend) point of view the most interesting.

The story itself was hard to read at times.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for somebody who has had a disappearance of a friend or family member.  I got teary-eyed at a couple of spots.  The grief, the denial, the searches, the fliers, the volunteers… it was a lot to take in.  O’Nan’s use of details make us feel like we are there– you can feel the bushes scrape your leg as you search through the wood, your heart leaps into your throat everytime the phone rings…  But from tips to clues, to trying to guess who was guilty-if anyone- overall I felt the story flowed nicely.  Even more interesting was the metamorphosis of Kim’s sister and parents.

I think I would recommend this book, so long as the person is aware of the subject matter and believes they can handle it.  This is the first of O’Nan’s work that I’ve picked up, but I will definitely be looking for some of his others.  (From the back cover: Stewart O’Nan is the author of eleven novels, most recently Last Night at the Lobster, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction.  He lives with his family in Connecticut)

(Thanks to Barnes&Noble’s FirstLook Program, Viking, and Stewart O’Nan)

*These lines may change in the final publication of the book.


Missed my last post?  It was 6 CONTESTS.

Read Full Post »

Looking for more on Charlaine Harris?  Check out my Charlaine Harris FAQ post.

Title: “Sweet and Deadly”

Author: Charlaine Harris

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 304

ISBN: 978-0425214626

Publisher: Berkley

Date of Publication: March 6, 2007

3 stars: Left me unsatisfied

Sweet and Deadly

Charlaine Harris is my favorite author, so when I found out they were re-releasing the hard to find “Sweet and Deadly” I ordered it immediately.

Having been spoiled by fantastic characters such as Lily Bard, Aurora Teagarden, and Sookie Stackhouse, it was hard to really like Catherine Linton. Perhaps if this had been any other author, I would have been satisfied, but I expected more from Charlaine Harris. I do keep in mind that this was one of her first books, and her writing has grown in leaps and bounds since this was published. I think my biggest problem was that the ending seemed rushed to me, as if Catherine realized she only had a few more pages left to solve the mystery!

If you’re new to Charlaine Harris, I’d skip this one. If you’d like to read some great novels by Charlaine Harris, (and I recommend you do!) try the Aurora Teagarden mysteries. (Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 1, A Bone To Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Book 2, Three Bedrooms, One Corpse: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, The Julius House: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 4, Dead Over Heels: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 5, Fool And His Honey: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 6, Last Scene Alive (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries), and Poppy Done To Death: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, Bk. 8.)

Or if you’d like to try a different series by Charlaine Harris, check out the Lily Bard mysteries.(Shakespeare’s Landlord (The First Lily Bard Mystery), “Shakespeare’s Champion”, Shakespeare’s Christmas”, “Shakespeare’s Trollop”, and Shakespeare’s Counselor”)

Or her new supernatural Southern Vampire Mysteries featuring telepath Sookie Stackhouse (Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 1), “Living Dead in Dallas”, “Club Dead”, “Dead to the World”, “Dead as a Doornail”, “Definitely Dead”, and “All Together Dead”)

Read Full Post »