Thursday, April 30, 2009

Product Review: The Book Buddy II...(my new best friend!)



I was thrilled to receive a Book Buddy II for review from the wonderful Amanda Crawford Designs. This light and elegant pillow has ribbons attached that end in adjustable gold knobs. You slide your book covers into the vertical ribbons and hold the pages open (and mark your place) with the diagonal corner ribbons. All the ribbons can be tightened or loosened depending on the size of your book, easily holding all books from small paperbacks to large hardbacks.

There are several fantastic things about this product. It is so light that it is a joy to use. I don't know how it happens, but somehow it makes the book seem lighter than it is. The fabric is luxurious, it is so pretty to look at! (My Book Buddy is Papillon Gold, but it comes in designs to suit every taste...you can see them here.) It comes with a detachable clear desktop which makes writing notes a breeze (I KNOW I'll be using this for Christmas cards) and it makes setting your laptop on your lap much more comfortable!

The best part is that my hands don't fall asleep anymore. I used to have to switch hands and positions often, especially when reading in bed. Now my hands are free (okay, so I have to sit on them to keep from snacking....that's not my Book Buddy's fault!).

I wish I could take it with me on my travels! Unfortunately, I am a carry-on only girl and my Book Buddy is just a bit too big to take with me in my one small suitcase. It would be great if they made a travel version, maybe replacing the stuffing with an inflatable air pillow.

If you are a serious reader, I highly recommend The Book Buddy II. It makes reading (or writing, or working on your laptop) comfortable and effortless! The Book Buddy II is available for $29.95 from the website and at many bookstores. It has The Tome Traveller Seal of Approval!

Giveaway: Mix, Shake, Stir: Cocktails for the Home Bar by Danny Meyer

Summer is coming...who doesn't love to have friends and family over for cookouts and parties? Here's just the book to complete your summer get-togethers!

The bartenders at Danny Meyer's wildly popular restaurants are known for their creative concoctions. Guests at Union Square Café or Gramercy Tavern expect not only the finest cuisine but also Meyer's special brand of hospitality that often begins with a Venetian Spritz or a Cranberry Daiquiri. In MIX SHAKE STIR, Meyer offers all the tips and tools needed to become a masterful mixologist and supplements the cocktail recipes with gourmet takes on bar snacks. There are over 100 recipes of bar classics, signature favorites, and original, refreshing libations--from the Modern's elegant mojito made with champagne and rose water to Tabla's Pomegranate Gimlet. Shaken or stirred, straight up or on the rocks, these cocktails make this collection an invaluable resource for elegant entertaining.

I have three copies of Mix, Shake, Stir to give away. If you would like to enter, just leave me a comment here. Be sure to leave an email address where I can contact you if you win! Three extra entries to anyone who becomes a follower (or follows already), blogs about this contest or tweets it on Twitter (please leave me a separate comment if you do any of these). Enter until midnight eastern time on May 15. I will randomly draw three winners and notify them via email. Winners must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good luck!

Giveaway: The G-Free Diet by Elisabeth Hasselbeck


For years, Elisabeth Hasselbeck couldn't figure out what was making her sick. She asked doctors and consulted nutritionists, but no one seemed to have any answers. It wasn't until spending time in the Australian Outback, living off the land on the grueling Survivor TV show, that, ironically, her symptoms vanished. Returning home, she pinpointed the food that made her sick -- gluten, the binding element in wheat. By simply eliminating it from her diet, she was able to enjoy a completely normal, healthy life. But that wasn't all. Hasselbeck discovered the myriad benefits that anyone can enjoy from a gluten-free diet: from weight loss and increased energy to even the alleviation of the conditions of autism.

In this all-inclusive book, Hasselbeck shares her hard-earned wisdom on living life without gluten and loving it. She gives you everything you need to know to start living a gluten-free life, from defining gluten - where to find it, how to read food labels - to targeting gluten-free products, creating G-Free shopping lists, sharing recipes, and managing G-Free living with family and friends.

Read an excerpt.

I have five copies of The G-Free Diet to give away. If you would like to enter, just leave me a comment here. Be sure to leave an email address where I can contact you if you win! Three extra entries to anyone who becomes a follower (or follows already), blogs about this contest or tweets it on Twitter (please leave me a separate comment if you do any of these things). Enter until midnight eastern time on May 15. I will randomly draw five winners and notify them via email. Winners must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good luck!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Review & Blog Tour: Follow Me by Joanna Scott

Sally Werner is sixteen years old in the fall of 1946 and has spent her life working hard, her parents are farmers and evangelists. At a church picnic, her twenty three year old cousin Daniel offers her a spin on his motorcycle. Impulsive Sally is thrilled to go but after a short ride he forces himself on her. Of course, pregnancy follows. She is smart enough to resist the offered (insisted on) marriage.

But she can't stand the aftermath and when her baby boy is only two days old she leaves him in his basket on the kitchen table and runs. Following the course of the Tuskee River north from its source, not even going very far, she ends up in Fishkill Notch, Pennsylvania. There she finds caring, helpful folks who open their arms and homes to her. Then she meets a young man named Mole and she is convinced her life is just beginning.

When tragedy strikes Sally pulls herself together and moves north again, into New York and farther up the river, inventing a new name for herself. This pattern will be repeated each time bad luck or hard times come into her life.

Along the way she has another child, a daughter and eventually a granddaughter, too. The guilt Sally carries over the abandonment of her son eventually prompts her to search for him and the consequences of that search will change not only her life but the lives of those she holds dear.

This is the story of a woman who, though she is far from perfect, spends much of her life trying to redeem herself for a mistake she can't forget.

The author's writing has a lovely tone to it and the narrative just sweeps the reader along. It is a well written, thoughtful story about the decisions that must be made in life and the paths through the consequences.

Follow Me is published by Little Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-05165-1

Many thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this review copy!

Here are some of the other stops on the blogtour (I wish I could list them all, but it is a very long list!):

Medieval Bookworm
Bermuda Onion
Peeking Between the Pages
Write for a Reader
Drey's Library
Marta's Meanderings
My Friend Amy
S. Krishna's Books
Savvy Verse and Wit
Diary of an Eccentric
A Novel Menagerie

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review: What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown

Costume designer Eleanor Pottinger is thrilled to be attending The Jane Austen Society's conference at Twixton Manor where she can indulge in the world of her favorite author while promoting her line of Regency dresses.

After a long flight Eleanor arrives, weary and rumpled, only to find that there is no record of her reservation. So she is given the only room left, the haunted Tower Suite. Since she doesn't believe in ghosts and only wants a place to sleep, it seems to be the perfect solution.

Resident ghosts Mina and Deirdre have their own plans. For centuries they have been trying to figure out what has been keeping them at Twixton Manor. They have decided that they need to stop the death of their half-brother, who dies in a duel with Lord Shermont. The duel was over the girls' honor and they hope they can change the outcome by sending someone back that can intervene. And here is Eleanor, dropped into their laps and perfect for the job. She even has her own outfits!

Of course, when the ghosts wake Eleanor and outline their plan, she doesn't believe them. She thinks they are a product of her travel-weary brain and goes back to sleep. When she wakes up it is in Regency England at a very different Twixton Manor. Here she finds the real Mina and Deirdre and meets the devilishly handsome Lord Shermont, who immediately captures her interest. How is she ever going to manage to fit into the complicated world of an 1814 manor house? By asking herself the same question each time she is in doubt: What would Jane Austen do?

This is a great book for the summer and would make a perfect travel or beach read. I read it on the plane to London! It is fun and light, it made my six hour flight zip by. If you like time travel romance novels, this one is for you!

What Would Jane Austen Do? is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1831-6 (My thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me the review copy!)

You will find a great guest post by the author at Romance Junkies and Laurie's website is here.

Here are a few other reviews:

Genre Go Round
Novel Thoughts
All About Romance

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Suggestions: London!

We just got back from five days in London, it was a wonderful trip! It is easily my favorite city, I love being steeped in history. The architecture is beautiful, everywhere you look there is something interesting to see. And we were blessed with the most beautiful, sunny days! No rain at all and temps in the seventies. It was lovely, I never tire of spending time there. If you ever get the chance, GO!

The official reason for the trip was to attend the London Book Fair. I have never been to a trade show before and I had assumed that LBF would be similar to what I have heard & read about Book Expo America but I wasn't sure what to expect.

I can say that it was a very interesting experience. There were booths from all over Europe, representing every conceivable facet of the publishing industry. Most big British publishers were represented and many smaller ones, too, all with their latest and upcoming titles on display (mostly on posters or graphics, there weren't that many actual books around).

Statue of Boudicca, warrior Queen, on the banks of the Thames

Maybe it was because I didn't know anyone there, but I didn't really enjoy it much, unfortunately. There didn't seem to be much of a focus on authors or readers, I saw scheduled perhaps ten or twelve author interviews/signings/appearances over the entire three days. (The lists of author events at BEA that I have seen so far exceeds 500). My badge said "Book Reviewer/Blogger" and people were definitely looking at badges but not one person initiated a conversation with me. The people I spoke to were all very nice but it seemed to me that the focus was all on the selling (which is completely understandable) and not at all on the publicity aspects, which one would think was important, too.

So, I am very much looking forward to BEA. I am hoping that the experience will be a bit different, since I know a lot of bloggers and publicists that will be attending.



Plaque at 84 Charing Cross Rd, site of Marks & Co. Booksellers


We did quite a bit of sightseeing and then went book shopping...I can't go to London (or anywhere, actually) without shopping for books!





This is my favorite guide to book shopping in London, it is packed with every new and used bookshop in the city, plus outdoor bookstalls, libraries, book fair info and much more.

We bought some great books and had to buy and extra bag to pack them into to get them home!

Giveaway: Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts

The bestselling author of WHERE THE HEART IS returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid attachments...to people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father.

While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas. As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.

If you would like to enter to win one of five copies of Made in the U.S.A., just leave me a comment here. Three extra entries will be given to anyone who becomes a follower (or follows already), blogs about the giveaway or tweets on twitter. If you do blog or tweet please leave a separate comment letting me know. Please be sure to leave me your email address so that I can contact you if you win! Contest will run through midnight eastern time on May 12. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Thanks for entering! And many thanks to Valerie at Hachette for providing the books for both giveaways!

Giveaway: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson


Lauren Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother keep family skeletons in the closet or sewing her acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister, Thalia, is her opposite, an impoverished actress who prides herself on exposing the lurid truths lurking behind middle class niceties.

While Laurel's life seems neatly on track-- a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, a lovely suburban home-- everything she holds dear is threatened the night she is visited by the ghost of her 13-year-old neighbor Molly. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly, floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is an unseemly mystery that no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Laurel enlists Thalia's help, even though she knows it comes with a high price tag.

Together, they set out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about their family's haunted past, the true state of Laurel's marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

If you would like to enter to win one of five copies of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, just leave me a comment here. Three extra entries will be given to anyone who becomes a follower (or follows already), blogs about the giveaway or tweets on twitter. If you do blog or tweet please leave a separate comment letting me know. Please be sure to leave me your email address so that I can contact you if you win! Contest will run through midnight eastern time on May 12. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Thanks for entering!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Laurie R. King Guest Post--Welcome, Laurie!!

I got home late last night from five fantastic, sunny days in London (not one drop of rain, can you believe it?). We just about walked our feet off, did a lot of book shopping and had an interesting visit to the London Book Fair...my first trade show experience. (More about that later).

Now I would love to welcome one of my favorite authors, Laurie R. King! Laurie is the mind behind the Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell mystery series, the contemporary Kate Martinelli mystery series and several stand alone novels, as well. She is a New York Times bestselling author, read one of her books and you will immediately see why!

Her latest novel, The Language of Bees, will be released on April 29. An excerpt, schedule of appearances, contests, and lots more can be found at www.LaurieRKing.com.

Welcome Laurie! I'm thrilled about this guest post because it concerns a subject near and dear to me...travelling!

You want to know why writers set their stories in exotic places around the world? Different writers will give you different answers, but basically, they boil down to three reasons:

1. Doing so gives you an excuse to do travel that you want to do anyway. Not only are readers impressed with the effort of all that scrupulous research, if you set a book in a place you’ve travelled, you can write it off as a business expense. You don’t even have to figure out what percentage is business and what pleasure, because it’s all research. All of it. And it’s hard work. Every minute of it. I go for a drink in a pub? I’m taking notes all the while. I swear.


2. If you are getting bored with your characters, you can either begin killing them off, or you can send them somewhere. And since you only have so many characters and since people tend to get attached to them, it’s much preferable just to pile them on a plane—or, in the case of historical fiction, a boat. However, you don’t want to send them on a cruise with good champagne and a stack of new hardback fiction beside their deck chair. No, you want to give them a really rotten time of it. The kind of trip that gets written up in books with titles like "There and Survived" or "100 of the World’s Worst Journeys": fleas, disgusting local foodstuffs, awful weather, solitude and sickness, maybe a robbery or a brief arrest—all grist for the fictional mill.

After Dartmoor, the Sinai desert in January, and an English country house, I vowed that I would let my poor character, Mary Russell, go to someplace warm. So I sent her to India. Except it turned out to be January, and she was in the foothills of the Himalayas. But after that she went to California, where it’s nice and warm, right? Just not in San Francisco. And now in The Language of Bees when it’s August and she’s back in Sussex and the summer is glorious—until she has to go to the Orkneys, and she climbs into an aeroplane (this is 1924, right?) with nothing but a bit of glass between her and a storm.

Poor Russell might be happier if I did simply put her out of her misery.

3. The places themselves have some appeal for the books. Barry Eisler writes about an assassin who works a lot in southeast Asia, so clearly his books incorporate the milieu of that part of the world. Lee Child’s hero wanders across the US, coming to the rescue of a series of damsels. And in my books, particularly the Russell and Holmes series, they often set out for someplace that demands their services. O Jerusalem would only make sense in Palestine; The Game requires that they be in Twenties India. In both cases, the setting defines the book and what the characters are doing—becomes, in essence, a character itself.

And besides, it means I can write off that travel…

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Laurie! I can't wait to read the tenth installment in the Holmes/Russell series....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Review: The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

(This review will be a bit briefer than usual, I am away in London and computer time is limited! Can't wait to blog about my trip when I get home!!)

The latest (ninth) adventure for Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell, begins as they arrive at their home in Sussex after an absence of almost a year. The immediate problem of the missing bees from their farthest beehive means that they don't even get into the house before going to check on the hive.

When they get back to the house and even bigger surprise awaits. Sherlock's son Damian (his mother is Irene Adler!) is waiting on the doorstep with a problem. A big one. It seems his Chinese wife, Yolanda, and four year old daughter have gone missing from their London home.

Now, Holmes never knew he had a son until the boy was grown and his mother had died. And the one and only time that they met, Damian was hateful toward his father. They haven't spoken since. Of course, what can his father do but go and help? He is his father and the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, after all.

Mary is left home and tries to busy herself investigating the bee mystery. Eventually she is sucked into Damian's case and doing sleuthing on her own. With a mind nearly as fine as her husband's, Mary is the perfect partner for the logical Holmes.

I can't recommend this series highly enough, it has been a favorite of mine for many years. Writing does not get any better than the smart, snappy prose of Laurie R. King.

Please visit the author's excellent website where you will find all kinds of information about the books and the author's blog, too. And please visit the other stops on the Fifteen Weeks of Bees tour:

Bookish Ruth
Reading Group Guides
A Striped Armchair
Jen Robinson’s Book Page
Age 30+… A Lifetime of Books
A Work in Progress
Presenting Lenore
Jungle Red
Bitten by Books
Book Bitch
International Thriller Writers
Mystery Fanfare (May 7)
Angieville (May 13)

The Language of Bees will be released on Tuesday, April 28.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: The Lost Hours by Karen White

Piper Mills has lived a life filled with loss. Her parents were killed when she was six years old, so she went to live with her grandparents. She was very close to her Grandfather, with whom she shared her love of horses and her drive to be an Olympic class show jumper.

Her relationship with her Grandmother was not close but Piper never felt the lack of that connection. When she was twelve, her Grandmother developed Alzheimer's disease and was placed in a nursing home. Driven Piper barely noticed her absence as she piled success on top of success, becoming a champion equestrian.

Her world quite literally came crashing down with a fall off of her horse during a competition. Piper was severely injured when the horse fell on her and for the next six years she quit riding, quit trying, quit living.

Until the death of her Grandfather shakes her out of her inertia. Piper comes into possession of some papers and heirlooms of her Grandmother's that, for the first time, spark her interest in learning about her Grandmother's past and make her regret her childish lack of care for the woman who had loved and raised her.

The mystery that Piper begins to unravel will take her into the family of her Grandmother's childhood friend, Lillian. Though she meets them under false pretenses, Piper begins to find the answers that she is looking for as well as the beginnings of her way out of the pain that she has lived with for so long.

The effects of loss, of various kinds, and of the process of grief and healing are at the heart of this powerful novel. It is a story that will remind you that the older generations will not be here forever. Treasure them, learn their stories, spend time with them and value them. All hours that have passed may be lost, but might not be wasted if we spend them wisely.

The Lost Hours made me long for one more day with my own wonderful Grandmother, even one more hour or minute. And I listened to many of her stories. But I know I have forgotten much of what she told me and I would give more than I now possess to hear her voice again.

You can learn more about the author, this book and her other novels at her website.

My thanks to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me this book for review!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Suggestions: Juliet Marillier

Well, I am a bit late this Saturday but it still officially is Saturday, so I guess it counts!

This week I reviewed Axe of Iron, a historical novel about the Northmen, or Vikings, exploring and searching out new lands to settle. I was reminded of two books that I very much enjoyed by one of my favorite authors, Juliet Marillier. Her books are classified as "fantasy" but I think they are more properly "historical fantasy." I like fantasy novels but my favorites are always the ones that take place in our actual past (that is, our world as opposed to a fictional world) and then weave in fantasy elements, as these do.

Wolfskin takes place somewhere around 800, when the Vikings landed on the Orkney islands north of Scotland and settled there. There were native people living there, of course, and this novel explores the clash of the two cultures by telling the story of Nessa, a native Priestess and Eyvind, a Northman. There is a sequel, Foxmask. Both are wonderful novels. I have yet to read a book by this author that I didn't love.

I reviewed a book in a different series by this same author a few months ago, Heir to Sevenwaters.


I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review & Blog Tour: The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham

Eleanor de Clare was a privileged young woman. Born into a titled family and the grand-daughter of Edward I, she was married at an early age to a young man with whom she fell madly in love, Hugh le Despenser.

In The Traitor's Wife, Susan Higginbotham tells the complex tale of the reign of King Edward II, through the eyes of Eleanor, his niece. Edward II has a very close, rumored to be intimate, relationship with a young knight, Piers Gaveston. Once Edward takes the throne, Pier's rise in wealth and power creates great hatred and jealousy among the other lords of the realm and Edward's Queen, Isabella. Before long they retaliate against the king, insisting on Gaveston's exile and eventually his death.

During these years, Eleanor and Hugh have managed to live a remarkably happy and fruitful life. They have several children and are satisfied with their lives, or so Eleanor believes. All that begins to change when King Edward falls in love with Hugh. Though he has never before been interested in another man, here Hugh sees his path to the pinnacle of power and he leaps at it.

For years Edward and Hugh are able to hide their physical relationship from the world in general and Eleanor in particular, whom they both love deeply. But their lack of ability to deny each other anything leads them down what should be a familiar path. Hugh's ambition and naked greed foster the same loathing and jealousy that was felt for the unfortunate Piers, with the same bloody results. Queen Isabella is a dangerous enemy to have and she plans her revenge with great care.

You would think the power grabbers of history would learn from the many bodies littering the path behind them. But, alas, they all think the same thing...I can do it, for ME it will be different.
(A misconception fostered in the hearts of many, to this very day).

This is an excellent historical novel. Complex and detailed, the author skilfully brings to life the court of Edward II and the personalities that populated it. The whole point of historical fiction is to reveal the humanity behind the dry factual accounts that remain, to help us to understand the motivation and reasoning behind the actions of those long gone. Susan Higginbotham does just that and more in this riveting story of love, avarice and vengeance.

If you love historical fiction, do not miss this one. I highly recommend it!

For more information, please visit the author's website and fantastic blog.

The Traitor's Wife is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1787-6.

Here is the schedule for the blog tour, organized by Paul at Sourcebooks (thank you, Paul, for sending me the book!) Links with no dates have already been posted and the link will take you directly to the review:

Steven Till (April 13)
Savvy Verse & Wit (April 15 & 16)
Sam's Book Blog (April 16)
Diary of an Eccentric (April 17 & 20)
My Friend Amy (April 17)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Awards!!

I just want to say a great big THANK YOU for several awards I have been given recently!

Molly at My Cozy Book Nook gave me this one. I love this graphic, it makes me think of Audrey Hepburn, my favorite actress of all time.






Bobbie at Book Reviews by Bobbie gave me the Sisterhood Award and the Premio Dardos Award!



And Kristi from Books and Needlepoint gave me this beautiful mermaid, The Splash Award!

My deepest thanks to all of you, I am so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Review: Axe of Iron: The Settlers by J.A. Hunsinger

By the year 1008 the warm temperatures of the previous two hundred years had melted much of the ice in the northern seas, allowing the Vikings the opportunity to expand and explore. Their success as a people had led to overpopulation of their native lands, the oldest son would inherit the family land and no additional land was available for younger sons. The land that was available had become over-used and could not feed the large population. So groups of Northmen, or Norse, left their ancestral homes in search of new lands where they could settle.

This is the fictional account of Halfdan Ingolfsson, his second in command Gudbjartur Einarsson and their group of 315 settlers searching for a new homeland. They leave Greenland in six large wooden ships and sail south, headed for the outpost of Leifsbudir on the east coast of North America. During a ferocious storm they are blown off course and end up in the previously unexplored Hudson Bay.

They have brought with them everything they need to start life in a new place. They have livestock and provisions, tools and craftsmen. They are a hearty people well used to the hard work of daily life. And Halfdan is a leader with revolutionary ideas. Though the Northmen are renowned for their battle ability, Halfden wants to befriend the native people and live in harmony with them, avoiding the wars that have been the downfall of previous attempts at settling new lands.

This novel is extremely well researched and provides great historical detail about the daily life of the Vikings, their sources of food and methods of cooking, toolmaking, hunting and sailing. I enjoyed the story and the character development, the author did a good job of portraying the social tapestry of this hearty group of people. Packed with fascinating information about this little known time period, readers of historical fiction, nautical fiction and adventure novels would all enjoy this book.

Axe of Iron is the first book of a planned five book series. It is published by Vinland Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9801601-0-9.

For more information, please visit the author's website and blog.

Some other reviews in blogland:


Many thanks to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me Axe of Iron for review!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dishonesty in Blogland!!!!

One of my giveaways ended late last week and I emailed all of the winners. When I had heard back from all but one of them two days later, I headed over to the remaining winner's blog and posted a comment to let them know that they won and ask them to email me with their info. They did.

AND SO DID SOMEONE ELSE.

I got an email from another woman, who had obviously seen the comment I posted and decided that it would be just fine to claim to be the one who won the book. She used the real winner's blog title as her email subject! What nerve! Like I wouldn't know the email address and name of the person who did win. Really, what were the chances that I wouldn't figure this out? It would not have gotten by a bright four year old. Okay, I admit that at first I thought that I had made a mistake, but the truth dawned fairly quickly.

It's just a book, for crying out loud, go and buy it!

Now we have identity thieves in blogland. Unbelievable.

Wait, it gets better. I emailed her and she had the incredible chutzpah to reply! This is what she said: "I think you investigated well. I'll be careful in the future."

Can you believe that? Turns out this person is a follower of the real winner's blog and HAS A BLOG OF HER OWN.

I should totally out her, but I'm too nice. I hope she is ashamed of herself.

So this is a word to the wise. Sadly, there is at least one dishonest blogger out there. Beware.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Suggestions: Kate Ross


Boston trial lawyer Kate Ross wrote a lovely set of four mysteries featuring Julian Kestrel. They take place in London in the 1820s. Julian is a dandy, charming and intelligent with a gift for tracing clues. He is assisted by his valet, Dipper, who used to be a pickpocket. His expertise with the underworld and the lower classes is always helpful.

Sadly, Kate died in 1998 at the heart-breakingly young age of 41. But she left four wonderful historical mysteries. I loved them all and wish there were more of this well done series:

Cut to the Quick

A Broken Vessel

Whom the Gods Love

The Devil in Music

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A word about airplane bathrooms....


I am inspired by A Reader's Respite's recent post about drunk airline passengers on spring break and their antics while on the aircraft. I feel compelled to post a public heath announcement about those airplane bathrooms.

I have worked on commercial airplanes for twenty years. In all of that time I have never (no, not one time) seen a bathroom being truly cleaned. Folks, it does not happen. The counter might get wiped down, the floor might get swept. It does not get disinfected on a regular basis. Next time you are on a plane, check it out. Look in the cracks. You will see that it is DIRTY!

So, you will understand why one of my pet peeves is when otherwise intelligent, normal people feel that it is fine to walk into an airplane bathroom like this:

I'm sure that they would never, in a million years, walk into any other public restroom without their shoes on. But for some reason they feel that it is fine on a plane. Even with socks on, this is completely gross. And I won't start on how many people let their babies crawl on the floor in there. You wouldn't think that it would happen but it does, all the time.

Do me a favor. Wear your shoes. It is NOT clean in there. As for those people who think it would be exciting to join the mile high club, let me just say eeeewwwww. Just imagine what goes on in there: people get airsick, flights are bumpy and people have poor aim. If the floor is wet, it is generally not water. I try ridiculously hard not to let one square inch of my skin touch any surface.

There, I feel better. That's been bugging me for decades. Next time maybe I'll talk about how annoying it is when people take their reading material into the airplane bathroom. (Three bathrooms for 180 people, do they really think it is okay to settle in?)

Here Comes Summer Giveaway: Bobbi Brown Living Beauty or How Not to Look Old by Charla Krupp

Bobbi Brown began the trend toward natural-looking cosmetics with a simple philosophy: Women want to look and feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident. Today, top editors at elite fashion magazines--including In Style, Vogue, Allure, and Harpers Bazaar--revere her, and celebrities and millions of regular women throughout the world swear by her beauty advice. Now Bobbi Brown has written THE book redefining beauty for women over 40, BOBBI BROWN LIVING BEAUTY. In this refreshing look at beauty and aging, Bobbi offers specific makeup tricks for a stunning face--showing how makeup can solve most of the flaws that many women go under the knife to fix. In fact, the right makeup can create an even skin tone, lift the cheeks, plump a smile...even take years off any woman's face. The key is to use makeup to enhance each woman's best features and showcase her natural beauty. With step-by-step makeup instructions and quotes from beautiful women like Marcia Gay Harden, Vera Wang, Susan Sarandon, and Lorraine Bracco, Bobbi Browns natural, celebratory approach to aging will enlighten and inspire women everywhere.



How Not to Look Old the 15-week New York Times bestseller is now in paperback updated with over 150 new Brilliant Buys!

Charla Krupp knows that aging sucks! So she's here to help. It's every woman's dream: looking hip, sexy, fresh, and pretty--whether you're in your 30's, 40's, 50's, or 60's. Now it's every woman's necessity: looking younger will help you hold onto your job and your partner--particularly when everyone around you seems half your age. It's about making the ultimate "to-do" list of LITTLE beauty and fashion changes that pay off BIG TIME.

Charla Krupp, beauty editor and expert, known for her real woman's approach to looking fabulous, offers brutally frank and foolproof advice on how not to look old.

I have five copies of each of these fantastic books to give away! To enter just leave me a comment here telling me which one you would like to win. I will randomly draw five winners of each title. Winners must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Please leave me your email address if it is not part of your ID. Enter until midnight on April 24. Good luck everyone!

Giveaway: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch



Sarah Walters, the narrator of GIRLS IN TRUCKS, is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the rococo ways of Southern womanhood and family, and is anxious to shake the bonds of her youth. Still, she follows the traditional path laid out for her. This is Charleston, and in this beautiful, dark, segregated town, established rules and manners mean everything.

But as Sarah grows older, she finds that her Camellia lessons fail her, particularly as she goes to college, moves North, and navigates love and life in New York. There, Sarah and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, addiction, disappointing jobs and death fail to live up to the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers and sisters.

When some unexpected bumps in the road--an unplanned birth, a family death--lead Sarah back home, she's forced to take another long look at the fading empire of her youth. It takes a strange turn of events to finally ground Sarah enough to make some serious choices. And only then does she realize that as much as she tried to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. The motto of her girlhood cotillion society, "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia," may turn out to have more wisdom and pull to it than she ever could have guessed.

If you would like to win a copy of Girls in Trucks, leave me a comment here. You must have a US or Canada mailing address, no P.O. Boxes, please. I will randomly draw five winners and each will receive a copy! Please leave your email address if it is not included in your ID. Enter thru midnight eastern on April 16. Good luck!

Giveaway: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

On a hot summer afternoon in 1972, three teenagers drove into an unfamiliar neighborhood and six lives were altered forever.

Thirty five years later, one survivor of that day reaches out to another, opening a door that could lead to salvation. But another survivor is now out of prison, looking for reparation in any form he can find it.

THE TURNAROUND takes us on a journey from the rock-and-soul streets of the '70s to the changing neighborhoods of D.C. today, from the diners and auto garages of the city to the inside of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, where wounded men and women have returned to the world in a time of war. A novel of fathers and sons, wives and husbands, loss, victory and violent redemption.

If you would like to win a copy of The Turnaround, leave me a comment here. You must have a US or Canada mailing address, no P.O. Boxes, please. I will randomly draw five winners and each will receive a copy! Please leave your email address if it is not included in your ID. Enter thru midnight eastern on April 16. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Review: Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson

When Lady Anne Addison's fiance dies in the war with the American colonies, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Though rather plain, Lady Anne is smart and independent and finds that she much prefers her life as a single, wealthy spinster to a marriage foisted upon her by society's expectations.

She receives a troubling letter from her fiance's sister, Lydia, in Yorkshire, who is a good friend. Lady Anne leaves London immediately and quickly makes her way to Lydia's new home, since her recent marriage, Darkefell Castle. Unfortunately, scatterbrained Lydia has failed to have anyone meet Anne, or even tell them that she has invited her, and Anne ends up walking to the estate as evening falls.

Before she even reaches the house, she trips over the newly murdered body of a servant. Chaos ensues as she tries to explain her presence to Lydia's in laws, including her brother-in-law, Anthony, the Marquess of Darkefell.

Anne is disturbed by her attraction to Anthony, who is darkly good looking and confident. But she is more intrigued by the mystery of the body and recent sightings in the area of a creature that sounds remarkably like a werewolf. She is compelled to investigate, incurring the displeasure of the family, the taciturn villagers, and of course, the Marquess.

I so enjoyed this mystery introducing Lady Anne. The author does a wonderful job of expressing the consternation of logical, serious Anne when she encounters the sizzle of passion for the first time in her life. Her feelings leave her bewildered and unsure, her practical mind has trouble reconciling with her wild emotions.

The ending leaves loose ends. While the mystery is successfully solved, the relationship with Anthony is not. There are two more Lady Anne mysteries that will be published this fall. I'll be tuning in to see what happens next!

Many thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending this book to me for review.

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1791-3

Check out some other reviews of this book:

Medieval Bookworm
Peeking Between the Pages
Marta's Meanderings

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.