Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman

In 1172 Henry II has been on the throne, ruling his vast kingdom that stretches from England to the Mediterranean, for eighteen years. His passionate marriage to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine is as volatile as ever and their sons are nearing adulthood.

As Henry works to extricate himself from his problems with the Church that were created by the murder of Thomas Becket, his oldest son Hal has plans of his own. Hal has been crowned king while his father still rules and he is chafing under his father's tight leash. Like any young man, Hal feels he is ready for responsibility and freedom from oversight. Unfortunately his personality is unsuited for the rigors of ruling a kingdom. He is far too easily swayed by a quiet word in his ear and is unable to make a decision and stand by it. Before long Hal has joined in with rebel lords against his father, the king.

Even worse for Henry, his other sons Richard and Geoffrey are eager to join the rebellion. It is even supported by Henry's wife, Eleanor. This is the last straw for Henry. Though the rebellion fails and his sons beg his forgiveness, Henry can never bring himself to forgive his wife. Eleanor is destined to spend the next sixteen years in confinement, imprisoned by the King her husband, who feels her betrayal acutely.

The years of Eleanor's imprisonment amount to a tragic deterioration of her family. Henry feels he can trust no one but himself and, as a result, refuses to allow his sons any power or responsibility of their own. He claims that they must earn it but he gives them precious little opportunity to do so. For their part, the sons are unable to understand their father and they are slowly poisoned by his lack of faith in them. Eventually they even seek alliances with their father's enemies, including the French king. Another sharp stab to Henry's heart.

The Princes also develop hatred against each other, fueled by intense jealousy and lust for power. Their battles and confrontations further rip apart a family already in shreds. The most touching scene in the book occurs when Henry and Eleanor together realize and mourn their failure as parents.

In Devil's Brood Sharon Kay Penman has continued her tour de force account of the Plantagenet Dynasty begun in When Christ and His Saints Slept and continued in Time and Chance. She has, once again, given us a thoroughly researched, clear-eyed appraisal of a turbulent political time, while imbuing the story with aching sympathy and sorrow for this long ago family who were unable to achieve the unity and love so necessary to a happy life.

Sharon Kay Penman is, in my opinion, one of the finest historical fiction writers and I have loved each one of her novels since I picked up Here Be Dragons many years ago. I was thrilled to read, in the Author's Note at the end of Devil's Brood, that the characters will not let her go and so she will be continuing the story of Eleanor, Richard, John and the rest in her next book. Hurray!

Visit the author's website here.

Devil's Brood is published by G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 978-0-399-15526-0

Order Devil's Brood from Amazon

Friday, December 26, 2008

And the Winner of Matrimony is....

allisonmariecat! from On My Bookshelf...

Congratualtions! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered, I hope you are all enjoying your holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris

Christmas is almost here, have you had enough of the sweetness and light? All the festivity leave you feeling ho-hum? David Sedaris has the antidote with his biting wit and snarky sense of humor in Holidays On Ice.

In this book you will find twelve short stories that poke fun at all kinds of holiday happenings. "Santaland Diaries" recounts the author's memorable employment as one of Santa's Elves:

"This afternoon I worked as an Exit Elf, telling people in a loud voice, 'THIS WAY OUT OF SANTALAND.' A woman was standing at one of the cash registers paying for her idea of a picture, while her son lay beneath her kicking and heaving, having a tantrum.

The woman said, 'Riley, if you don't start behaving yourself, Santa's not going to bring you ANY of those toys you asked for.'

The child said, 'He is too going to bring me toys, liar, he already told me.'

The woman grabbed my arm and said, 'You there, Elf, tell Riley here that if he doesn't start behaving immediately, then Santa's going to change his mind and bring him coal for Christmas.'

I said that Santa no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you're bad he comes to your house and steals things. I told Riley that if he didn't behave himself, Santa was going to take away his TV and all his electrical appliances and leave him in the dark."

The traditional family Christmas newsletter is lambasted in "Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" and the media/tv industry gets the treatment in "Based Upon a True Story." There are Halloween and Easter tales, as well. It is a very funny book. There is some adult language, this book is not appropriate for children.

Holidays on Ice is published by Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-03590-3

Order Holidays on Ice from Amazon

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Have you read the Outlander Series yet? Join the Challenge!

Come and join the challenge to read (or re-read) the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon before the seventh book, An Echo in the Bone, comes out in September, 2009.

This is one of my all-time favorite authors. I have read all of the books once and am thrilled to join this Challenge because it is a great excuse to read them all again. And if you have never read them let me just say that you are missing out!!! They are fantastic, it is no wonder the author has legions of devoted fans. Do read them in order:

* Outlander

*Dragonfly in Amber


*The Drums of Autumn

*The Fiery Cross

*A Breath of Snow and Ashes

You can find all of the Challenge information by clicking here or on the logo on my left sidebar. There are prizes folks! So come and join us.....

This Challenge was created by Michele at A Reader's Respite and Amy at Passages to the Past.

Diana Gabaldon's website is here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: Cole Family Christmas by Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle

"Christmas has always been a treasured time in my family. When I was growing up, my sister Ruble, the storyteller of our family, often spoke of a very special Christmas that took place when my father was working as a miner and our family was living in the town of Benham, Kentucky. I think back and wonder how, on a coal miner's wages and with so many mouths to feed, Papa and Mama managed to make that holiday both memorable and meaningful. The family never forgot the magic of that special Christmas." ~Hazel Cole Kendle

The Coles are a family of eleven in the winter of 1920. Mama and Papa Cole are raising nine children on a coal miner's salary. Money may be in short supply but there is plenty of love to go around. When a big catalog full of every item you can think of arrives, the children all write letters to Santa to tell him the one thing in the catalog that they would like the most. They all know that Mama & Papa can't afford fancy presents but it almost doesn't matter, the choosing and dreaming are so much fun.

As the Christmas season arrives, everyone is very excited about the big Christmas party thrown by the mining company on Christmas Eve. It is a fun and festive time, the highlight of the year, and the whole town participates. When a blizzard interrupts the event, Mama Cole and the kids head back up to their mountain cabin while Papa Cole must stay in town to work.

When the children awaken on Christmas morning they are relieved to find their Papa at home after being out in the blizzard all night. The presence of their father and the special gifts that are received that morning will show the family the true meaning of Christmas and they will cherish the memory all of their lives.

This wonderful story gives us a little glimpse into Christmas past, into a world long gone but whose values and dreams need to be remembered today. The chapter lengths are just right for reading aloud one chapter a night and the beautiful illustrations by Jenniffer Julich go perfectly with the story.

As I was reading, I was strongly reminded of The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that were a beloved favorite of mine as a child. You will find the same strength of character, the rewards for hard work, the love of family, in this book.

I especially like the last page which shows a photograph taken of the Cole family in 1919, in front of their mountain cabin in Kentucky. "There are five living generations and 165 direct descendants of Mama and Papa Cole."

This book would make a delightful holiday gift for children of all ages.

Visit the book's website!


Cole Family Christmas is published by Next Chapter Press. ISBN 978-0-9816265-0-5

Order Cole Family Christmas from Amazon

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Giveaway: Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Author Joshua Henkin is generously allowing me to give away a copy of his New York Times Notable Book Matrimony, to one lucky winner. Even better, he will personally sign and inscribe it to you!

"Julian saw her again, this time in the laundry room. He hoped she didn't notice that next to him, clearly in his possession, was a package of fabric softener. He had a book of stories by Ernest Hemingway, and he placed the book on top of the fabric softener, to balance the picture out.

Mia from Montreal sorted her clothes at her feet. There was a colors pile and a whites pile, and Julian thrust his face into his book so she wouldn't think he was staring at her laundry. Periodically, though, he glanced at Mia herself, who was even more beautiful than he remembered. She was wearing blue jeans and a gray V-neck T-shirt, and her hair was up in a bun."

This book has created quite a buzz in the book blogging world! Here are some reviews you can check out:

The Literate Housewife

The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness

She is Too Fond of Books

Bookfoolery and Babble

A Reader's Journal

B&B Ex Libris

Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

Shelf Life

The Boston Bibliophile

Trish's Reading Nook

Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Visit Joshua Henkin's website for links to his blog, author information and much more! He is very happy to participate in book group discussions and you can contact him and also download a reading group guide here. Read his fantastic guest post about book groups at Books on the Brain.

This contest is open worldwide. You can enter until 11:59 pm eastern time on December 23rd. One winner will be drawn at random and will receive a personally signed and inscribed copy.

For one entry, just leave me a comment on this post.

Let's try something different for some additional entries. You probably know that the book blogging community is encouraging everyone to buy books for the holidays. So, in that spirit, I will award up to three extra entries if you tell me what books you bought as gifts this holiday season and who will be receiving them. For each two books you purchased, I will give you an extra entry, up to three extra entries for six books. (For example, tell me: I bought **** for my best friend and **** for my nephew, fill in the ****s with the titles....easy! I am relying on your honesty, here!). Just leave the titles in your comment and I will add up your entries.

Plus there are two extra entries in it for anyone who blogs about the contest and links back here.

Winner will be drawn at random. Good luck everyone!

This book would make a wonderful holiday gift....


Monday, December 15, 2008

Audiobook Giveaway Winners...

Here are the winners of my Audiobook giveaway:

A Long Stone's Throw by Alphie McCourt goes to:

1. Valerie 2350 at Sweeps4bloggers
2. shelburns at Write for a Reader
3. ShootingStarsMag

The Camel Club Box Set by David Baldacci goes to:

1. Kalea Kane at Enroute to Life
2. Elenadc at Shoestring Theory
3. Caite at A Lovely Shore Breeze

I have emailed all of the winners and once everyone has replied with their address I will send all the info to Hachette, who provided the audiobooks. (Many, many thanks, as always!)

Congratulations everyone. Come back tomorrow to enter an exciting new giveaway!

Review: In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld

Addie and Tom Kavanagh met in the mid-sixties, when she was a student in his Biology of the Birds class with her best girlfriends, Cora & Lou. She was entranced by Tom that very first lecture, an introduction to the wonder of the world of birds.

"Hollow bones. Imagine what this means. Strength and lightness. Flight and surety. They hover too magnificently between the practical and the whimsical, the rational and the exquisitely nonsensical, for any student of their physiology and habitat and history to dare to linger too long at either pole, the strictly 'scientific' of the purely 'poetic'."

When Addie fell for Tom she also fell for the birds and birdsong that he so loved. She was an accomplished artist and in the early days of their marriage they collaborated on Tom's one and only book, "A Prosody of Birds," for which Addie did the illustrations and gained some recognition for her work.

But as the years pass, Addie finds that she can't appreciate the wonders of the natural world because she is constantly worn down by the worry that humans are destroying it at every turn. Having their only daughter, Scarlet, serves to deepen Addie's concern for the environment and she becomes involved with extremists. Her activities create a distance between her and her family and friends who are hard pressed to understand her single-minded purpose.

When Addie is dying of breast cancer, her family and friends gather at Cora's house on the Jersey shore. Cora's home has been a refuge for the whole family in the last twenty years. Cora has provided caring friendship to both Addie and Tom and has played a very maternal role in Scarlet's life. Though she loved her child very much, the kind of mothering care Cora provided to Scarlet seemed to be the thing missing in Scarlet's relationship with Addie.

In these last days of Addie's life, the complex history and relationships of these individuals will be relived. A tangled web of emotions and motivations exist between this group of people. But, just as Addie was their common denominator in life, her death brings clarity and healing in ways that none of them can imagine.

This is a beautifully written, richly layered novel. Joyce Hinnefeld has painted a realistic and powerful story about the ways that relationships change over time, between husband and wife, parent and child, even close friends. And her lovely, lyrical prose make it a book that is not to be missed.

In Hovering Flight is published by Unbridled Books. ISBN 978-1-932961-58-4


Order In Hovering Flight from Amazon

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fun, Fun Fun...The Ice Storm of '08

This is what it looks like outside my front door. We just got our power back on after a three day outage! And we are lucky, I have heard some areas will be down for up to two weeks. It has been below 10 degrees (F) the last two nights. Luckily I was able to stick everything from the 'fridge outside. Brrr! Makes you appreciate things like light and heat! Phone and internet were out, too, for two days. I'm off to take a much-needed shower.... :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Review: The Devil Can Wait: A Sam Harper Crime Mystery by Marta Stephens

It is not even Thanksgiving yet in Chandler, Massachusetts but the holiday crime surge has already begun. For the third time the body of a teen aged boy has washed up on the shore. Each time the cause of death is different but the means of disposal is the same. With half of the police force out with the flu, manpower is short and so is time. Detective Sam Harper must find the killer, a seemingly impossible task in a case that is long on questions and short on clues.

Local reporter Jennifer Blake hasn't worked for her newspaper for long, and she is out to prove herself. She has been determined to break a story on the murders and has been doggedly trying to get Sam to give her an exclusive. He continues to refuse to talk to her but she doesn't want to take no for an answer.

When Jennifer is contacted by her former Anthropology professor, who she hasn't seen in years, she can't figure out what he could possibly want from her. Turns out he wants her to pick up an ancient ring from a local pawn shop for him. The ring is a cursed object, once owned thousands of years ago by a Pope who sold his soul to the Devil. She doesn't believe a word of it, but agrees to run the errand for him.

Her visit to the pawn shop plunges her deep into the heart of not only Sam's case in Chandler but into a sinister plot that reaches as far as South America and the Vatican in Rome. And it puts her squarely in the path of a killer.

I thought this was a great read. It is well written, smartly plotted and fast paced. I found it absorbing and had a hard time putting it down. It has believable, interesting characters and the mystery has plenty of twisting turns that kept me guessing, not to the very end but CLOSE to the end! If you like a good mystery, give Marta Stephens a try! This is the second entry in the Sam Harper series, the first one is Silenced Cry.

Visit the author's Website!

Thank you to Dorothy Thompson from Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours for including me in Marta's Blog Tour!


The Devil Can Wait is published by BeWrite Books. ISBN 978-1-905202-86-7

Order The Devil Can Wait from Amazon

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winners! Look Your Best for the Holidays Giveaway

Here are the winners!

Get Positively Beautiful:

1. doozercries
2. blueviolet at A Nut in a Nutshell
3. bakersdozen
4. Crystal Adkins at Book Reviews by Crystal
5. elaine

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual

1. amber
2. shelley at Coming Home
3. Kelley Y
4. Lenore at Presenting Lenore
5. Mrs Hemphill's Online Classroom at Mrs. Hemphill's Language Arts Classroom

Congratulations to all of the winners, you have all been emailed. Please respond with your mailing address so I can forward them to the publisher. Many thanks to all of you for entering, I wish I could send all of you a book! And thanks, as always, to the wonderful folks at Hachette!

Bleak House Says Happy Holidays With Free Books!

Bleak House Books is giving away free books for the holiday season. They have over 100 mystery titles to choose from! All you do is browse their catalog and then send a request, you will find all the details here. You can send more than one request but each request must be for one book. They do ask you to pay shipping, but the book itself is completely free. If you want to send it as a gift, they will send it to your recipient instead.

Kudos to Bleak House for their holiday spirit, what a generous idea!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I did it! I joined the fun at Twitter!

I can see that this could easily be totally addictive! How I'm going to add twittering to reading, posting, google reader, commenting, not to mention work (the thing that pays for all of the above), I can't imagine. But come follow me, I'll be glad to follow you!! My profile is here.

Review: Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

"It was best to keep on the good side of the Fair Folk, whatever one's opinion of them. The forest of Sevenwaters was as much their home as it was ours. Long ago, our family had been entrusted with the task of keeping the place safe for them. This was one of the last refuges of the ancient races anywhere in Erin, for the great forests were being felled for grazing and the Christian religion had spread widely, displacing druids and wise women. The old faith was practiced only in the most protected and secret pockets of the land. Sevenwaters was one of those."

In ancient Ireland there came a time when the fairy folk, the Old Ones, could no longer inhabit the land. Clodagh's family have protected the forest of Sevenwaters for generations, it is one of the last refuges for the Fair Folk and there has always been an fragile peace. Clodagh is one of six daughters and at long, long last the baby boy that has been so hoped for is born to her parents.

Baby Finbar is only a few days old when he disappears and a doll made of twigs is left in his place. To Clodagh's dismay, she can see that the twig-baby is alive. She can see it breathe and move and hear its hungry cries. No one else can see this, only Clodagh, and she cannot bear to see the little stick baby die. It seems to her that the Fair Folk must want an exchange. While her father and his men search for a missing man that they suspect in the kidnapping, she packs a bag and the twig-baby and sets out to find her tiny brother.

Before long Clodagh meets the fugitive that her farther is looking for, Cathal, in the forest. He claims not to know anything about the baby's disappearance and Clodagh desperately wants to trust him. He becomes her companion in a quest that will require every ounce of their strength and courage if they are going to venture into the fairy realm and return home once again.

Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite authors. She takes ancient folklore tales from Ireland and Britain and breathes life into them. Her books are full of complex and interesting characters who always have a quest or task to complete or a mission to fulfill. The old landscapes and fairy realms are vividly described. This one is no exception. I'm always anxiously awaiting her latest book and have never been disappointed, they are wonderful.

This is the fourth book she has written about Sevenwaters but it is not necessary to have read the others before reading this one. Earlier characters do occur, but only peripherally, and this story stands easily on its own. If you like historical fiction with a little bit of magic thrown in, give these a try!

Visit Juliet Marillier's website here.

Heir to Sevenwaters is published by Roc. ISBN 978-0-451-46233-6


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Review: Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer

Deb Grantham is twenty five years old, beautiful, feisty and unmarried. She lives with her aunt who has opened a gambling establishment in their home in order to cover their living costs. Needless to say, polite society does not approve. Deb presides over some of the tables and is very popular with the clientele. Several men have less than honorable intentions but one young man, Lord Adrian Mablethorpe, is madly in love with her and has proposed marriage.

Adrian's mother is horrified. How can he think to marry a hussy from a gambling den? She sends Adrian's uncle, Max Ravenscar, to buy Deb off. They take an instant dislike to one another and he soon discovers that Deb is more than she seems. Not only will she not take his money, she comes up with an inventive feminine battle plan, determined to best him.

I have heard about Georgette Heyer books for years but this is the first time I have ever read one. I don't know what was keeping me away, maybe they seemed a bit old fashioned. When I first started Faro's Daughter, I wasn't sure that I was going to like it. The use of period slang does take a little getting used to but it adds such atmosphere to the book that it soon seemed a perfectly natural part of the narrative.

This is a witty, light story with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, set in a flawlessly evoked Regency London. Now I see why this author has had legions of fans for well over half a century. I'm thrilled to know that there are fifty more titles to choose from, I will be reading Georgette Heyer books for many years to come.

Faro's Daughter is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1352-6

Order Faro's Daughter from Amazon


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Awesome Audiobook Giveaway!

Have you considered listening to an audiobook? They are fantastic for car trips or any time you are busy with your hands, like when you are cooking, knitting, etc. And wouldn't they make a great gift?

Maybe you know someone who doesn't see so well anymore but misses reading great stories. Here's your chance to win one of these great audiobooks from Hachette Book Group! They have provided me with three copies each of A Long Stone's Throw by Alphie McCourt (read by the author) and The Camel Club Audio Boxed Set by David Baldacci.

Just leave me a comment telling me which one you would prefer to win. For an additional three entries you can become a follower of my blog or post about the giveaway and leave the link in the comments. I will separate the entries and randomly choose three from each. Enter until 11:59 pm eastern time on Dec. 14th. Winner must have a US or Canada mailing address (I apologize profusely to international readers, a giveaway is coming that will include you, I promise!). Good luck everyone!

Buy Books for the Holidays

Friday, December 5, 2008

Review: Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter....Read the book, watch the movie!!

It is Christmas and Jackie is having a rough time. She has been divorced for a year and is struggling to raise her two small children while watching her ex strut around with his new hot girlfriend. As if that wasn't enough, in a few short weeks she will be turning the big 4-0. It's a low point, no question.

Fortunately Jackie has friends that love her. They are all married friends from her pre-divorce days but still, they are supportive. When one of them insists on a girls weekend in Hawaii to celebrate the dreaded birthday, Jackie reluctantly agrees. It seems par for the course that her friend has to cancel at the last minute but insists that she go on alone. By herself. Fun, fun, she thinks.

But once there, it's quite nice. Warm sun, blue water. And the surprising surf instructor, Kai, who shows a flattering interest in Jackie. He's gorgeous, ten years younger, but they hit it off and soon a vacation fling has been flung. But to Jackie it feels like more than that. Now she is arranging her schedule so that she can return to Hawaii and spend more time with Kai. Never mind that she has responsibilities, that it can never work out between them. A little happiness after the difficulties that Jackie has been through is what she desperately needs.

This is the story of a woman recreating herself, breaking out of the sameness of her life and learning to reach for the happiness and joy that everyone deserves. It is a thoughtful but fun book that I greatly enjoyed. Jane Porter has a nice way of blending the serious with the playful. Thanks so much to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending it to me for review!

This book was made into a movie starring Heather Locklear. It will premiere December 6th at 9pm eastern/8pm central on Lifetime. I'll be watching with my popcorn, how about you? Click on the movie banner below for more info on the movie.

Visit Jane Porter's Blog!


Flirting With Forty is published by 5 Spot. ISBN 978-0-446-69726-2

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Review: The Alchemy of Loss: A Young Widow's Transformation by Abigail Carter

September 11, 2001 changed Abigail Carter's life forever. In the space of one morning she became a widow, the single mother of two small children and she claimed an unwanted spot at the center of a national tragedy. Though she looked for a book that would tell her that her grief and rage were a natural part of the grieving process, she never found exactly what she was searching for.

Shortly after the second anniversary of 9/11 she sat down and started to write, pouring out the changing difficulties of her emotional life. The resulting book is the one she had gone looking for so many months before. This book is her journey through the sadness, grief, rage and guilt felt when a partner is suddenly and inexplicably lost.

The effects of grief rippled out in a great wave that affected her entire family and their relationships with each other. How do you vent your own grief and anger when you are constantly concerned with everyone else's, your children, your parents, your siblings?

She tells her story in an open, honest voice and the result is a book that is touching and courageous. The roller coaster of emotions, as wrenching as they are to experience, prove to be the crucible in which the future is formed.

I am so appreciative that the author was willing to share her story in this way, it will be helpful to so many people. While I did not lose a family member on 9/11, I am a flight attendant and I lost friends and co-workers that were, as so many others, just doing their job. It could quite easily have been me at work that day and going back to work afterward was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. I am grateful for this honest story of the process of grief and loss that shows the importance of living in the moment and enjoying every day that you are given.

The Alchemy of Loss is published by Health Communications, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7573-0790-4

Visit the author's blog and website. Her complete blog tour schedule is here.

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review: The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket

Now that the holidays are officially here, the craziness has begun and we are all rush, rush, rushing everywhere. This little book is a fun break from the fray.

With his characteristic humor, Mr. Snicket has created a little leftover lump of barbeque charcoal who has been forgotten in someones backyard. Summer is over and the lump is bored, so he goes rolling out into the world. His journey is a reminder to see and appreciate the small miracles that take place every day. An appropriate message at this time of year that is delivered with the author's classic mixture of sharp wit and sweet story.

The story is accompanied by Brett Helquist's charming illustrations. He has created the cutest little grumpy-looking coal lump you have ever seen.

This book would make a wonderful gift this holiday season for anyone over the age of ten or so!

The Lump of Coal is published by Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-157428-3

Order The Lump of Coal from Amazon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Wishes...

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Practical-minded Charleston realtor Melanie Middleton hates to admit that she can see ghosts—even to herself. But now she’s going to have to accept it. Because an old man she met only days ago has died, leaving Melanie his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog—and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her something…

Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that some diamonds that went missing from the Confederate Treasury a century ago are hidden in Melanie’s new home. So he decides to turn the charm on with the new tenant, only to discover that he’s suddenly the smitten one...

But it turns out that Jack’s search has caught the attention of a possibly malevolent ghostly presence. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak, and even murder. And they must hurry, for an evil force—either dead or alive—lies in wait...

I would like to welcome Karen White and her new book The House on Tradd Street to my stop for the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tour! Unfortunately there was a little glitch and my review copy did not arrive until yesterday, so my review is not ready. But I am so excited to read this book! It looks fantastic and I have been reading some glowing reviews. Since I'm lacking a review for you today, here are some of my fellow blogger's reviews of this book:

Read the first page and an extensive author bio at The 1st Page
Plus there is a great interview with the author at Diary of an Eccentric

The House on Tradd Street is published by New American Library. ISBN 978-0-451-22509-2
Visit the author's website here

~This book would make a wonderful gift~


Order The House on Tradd Street from Amazon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winners of the Cooking/Entertaining Giveaways are...

Congratulations to the winners of The Flavor Bible! They are:

Jess Bair, Gwendolyn B. of The Book Bubble, and Linda

And also to the winners of Katie Brown Celebrates! They are:

Sue A., darbyscloset, Theresa N., Candes of The World According to Candes & Janel of Janel's Jumble

I hope you all enjoy the books or use them as a fantastic holiday gift! Once I have heard back from everyone with their mailing addresses, I will send them all in to Hachette and they will send the books out to you. They ship with UPS and it usually takes a week or so. Many thanks again to Hachette Book Group for providing the books for this giveaway! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giveaway: Look Your Best for the Holidays!

Here's another fantastic holiday giveaway from the generous people over at Hachette Book Group! To enter just leave a comment here by 11:59 pm eastern time on December 8. You must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). If there is no contact info in your blog id then please make sure you leave your email address.

When you leave your comment please tell me if you would prefer to receive Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual or Get Positively Beautiful. If either one is fine, please note that too. I have five copies of each book to give away. I will randomly draw ten names and do my best to give everyone their first choice. Either of these would make a great gift! Good Luck!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: Rogues and Rebels by Jo Field

"Book One of the Tawford Chronicles: A story of intrigue, passion and betrayal in the English Civil War"

(*****This is my One Hundredth Post!!! Yay! Wahwho!!*****)

In the autumn of 1642, Southwest England is ripped apart by civil war. Parliament has revolted against King Charles I and the populace is divided. Brothers and cousins, fathers and sons find themselves on opposing sides. Alexander Dynam leads a band of men in the service of the king. He is resourceful and courageous, an accomplished spy and a master of disguise. His men love him, he has earned their respect and they are loyal to the core. As the book opens, Alexander has been caught by Roundheads (as the forces of the Parliament are called) and is being held in a cellar. With MacGyver-like ingenuity, he escapes and in so doing makes a serious enemy of Captain James Dewett, the man held responsible for the loss of such a valuable prisoner. The consequences of his enmity will be far-reaching.

Alexander has always believed himself to be the bastard son of his guardian, Viscount Robert Westley. When he discovers that he is not Robert's son and Robert refuses to tell him the truth of his parentage it causes a bitter rift between the two. The rift is deepened by the loss of Robert's actual son, who is killed when thrown from Alexander's horse. Robert can't help but blame Alexander, who blames himself just as much. Their division is heartbreaking for Robert's sister Ellen who loves both men fiercely and can't bear to see them at odds.

Plots and intrigues hatched and carried out, skirmishes and battles, heroes and heroines who use all of their brains and courage in defense of themselves and their loved ones, cunning and sneaky villains, even a mystery satisfactorily sleuthed and solved. Jo Field brings all these and more together in this wonderful historical novel that brings alive the English past and a host of interesting and well developed characters.

I really enjoyed this engaging story. The plot was intricate and satisfying. If you are like me, you draw conclusions about a book based on the cover (Yes, I know I'm not supposed to!) But don't let the cover of this one fool you, though set against the background of war, it is far from the heart of the narrative.

The author is currently working on Book Two in this series, Secrets and Ciphers. Write faster, Jo, I can't wait to read it!

Rogues and Rebels is published by Discovered Authors. ISBN 978-1-905108-61-9

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Dead Ringer by Mary Burton

In the freezing cold of a Richmond, Virginia winter a serial killer is at work. When the second woman is found, homicide detective Jacob Warwick is struck by her resemblance to the first victim. Not only that, but both dead women bear a strong resemblance to Kendall Shaw.

Kendall is a beautiful and successful television news anchor. She met Jacob the previous summer when they were both pulled into another murder investigation. (Those events are the focus of Ms. Burton's first book, I'm Watching You). They haven't seen each other since. When Jacob warns Kendall that the killer might be interested in her, she is reluctant to believe it. The theory does sound far-fetched.

Each victim is left with a necklace around her neck that bears a charm with a woman's name on it. But it's not the victim's name. As Jacob and his partner Zack Kier investigate, an unlikely connection begins to take shape and they race to stop the killer from completing his chilling plan.

Dead Ringer is a suspenseful thriller with an unexpected, twisting tale. The numerous characters are well developed and their stories weave easily into the central plot. The fast paced action kept me turning pages late into the night and I was fascinated by the outcome of the investigation. There was just enough romance between the main characters to make it interesting without overwhelming the drama of the story.

Dead Ringer is published by Zebra. ISBN 978-1-4201-0027-3

Many thanks to Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours for sending me this book for review!

Order Dead Ringer from Amazon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Review: Red Sea by E.A. Benedek PLUS a Guest Post by the Author!

The unthinkable has happened. Again. Four airplanes in different parts of the world are blown up in mid-flight. As soon as word comes in, Israeli operatives are forming a task force. None of their aircraft were involved but it is in Israel's best interests to keep on top of what is happening in the world of terrorism.

Israeli agent Julian Granot is part of the team, called in from retirement because of his expertise and connections. He soon convinces a young American aviation reporter, Marie Peterssen, to look into one of the service locations for aircraft video equipment. Julian suspects that terrorists have been working for the equipment shop.

As Marie is drawn further into the investigation, the trail leads her to Baghdad where she meets FBI agent Morgan Ensley. Finding their interests are in common, the two investigate the terror network in Iraq and the one man who seems to be the key to it all. The plot is far bigger than it seemed at the beginning and the lives of millions of people are on the line as all three race to stop a plot whose outcome would change the world.

To me, this book was absolutely chilling. (The echo of 9/11 never fades for me, I am constantly faced with that reality because the industry I work in lies at the heart of the events of that day.) The author has painted a scarily realistic scenario that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wondering about security measures and hoping that we have sharp people on the job. It's a great read, the characters are smart and likable and the personal backgrounds are interesting.

Welcome to the author, Emily Benedek, who sent me this fascinating guest post about writing this book:

People have asked me what inspired me to write RED SEA. My inspiration was meeting a source for a Newsweek story I'd written soon after 9/11.The man was an expert in airline security, and we met several times in New York after my story had come out. Why did he want to meet me? This was a man who liked developing sources. That was his job and his habit. Also, he had some measure of trust for me because he'd made a request of me during our interview for the Newsweek story, a request I had honored.

He was a fascinating person who told amazing stories. After a few meetings, he asked me if I would consider writing a book about airline security--he was convinced at the time that Washington would not do the right thing by its air passengers. I had already written three non-fiction books and I knew what was involved. I was intrigued. So in our next meeting, I put down a tape recorder and switched it on. For the first time, he was much less open in his conversation, and I immediately snapped off the recorder. I realized right away that the kind of insider information he had would very hard to triple-verify -- what I would have to do for a non-fiction book. So I asked him if he thought it might be easier to tell his story as fiction instead. "Maybe" he said. "Maybe."

We continued to meet and I found out more about him--he had been a commando and then a commander in Israel's most elite special forces unit and an operator for Israel's security service in Europe. He was a very senior operator and a very intelligent person.

I began to create characters in my mind--of a retired Israeli commando with a heavy past, an American female journalist with something to prove,and a maverick (excuse the term) FBI agent. I had spent a year following an FBI agent for a story, so I knew something about how that agency was run. All the threats in the plot, all the operational details are correct and based on as much detailed and intensive reporting as if the book had indeed been non-fiction.

The safety of seaports has been a huge concern of American security officials--and for good reason. Millions of sea containers enter our ports every year, almost none of which get inspected. I decided to put an attempt to attack one of our seaports in the book, and then I had to find experts who could tell me what took place on ships--how they were laid out, what the threats were and how much bribery and criminality was involved in the sea trade.

I felt when I wrote RED SEA that Americans were being very naive about the threat of terrorism. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration, by using the threat for political ends, by launching a senseless war in the name of counter-terror, and by trying to abridge Americans rights, has made it much harder now to talk about terrorism. Because now Americans are frustrated, angered, and confused about it. Unfortunately, the threat remains. I tried to show how a very smart and experienced person thinks about and fights terror. And how two principled, brave people try to learn fast and help out. I also tried to show the weaknesses in the American system, which I'm afraid are accurately drawn.

I am now working on the next book--Marie, Morgan and Julian are back together again, this time trying to interfere with Iran's development of the bomb.

Thank you Emily! And my thanks, too, to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour! Here are the other stops that are scheduled:

E.A. Benedek’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Tuesday, October 21st: Jenn’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, October 22nd: Rough Edges
Monday, October 27th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Wednesday, October 29th: Michele - Only One ‘L’
Monday, November 3rd: Right Truth
Wednesday, November 5th: Dark Party Review
Monday, November 10th: The Sleepy Reader
Thursday, November 13th: Should Be Reading
Monday, November 17th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Red Sea is published by St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35492-3

Order Red Sea from Amazon

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winners, Winners and More Winners!

Here are the winners for my recent contests. Congratulations to all of you!!

Winning Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby was:

Tammy of Tammy's Book Nook!

Winning Dewey by Vicki Myron were:

Sandra of Fresh Ink Books
Meredith of Meredith's Musings
Sheri of Bookopolis

Winning Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips were:

Mamas Books
The Fickle Hand of Fate
S. Krishna of S. Krishna's Books

I have heard back from all of the Dewey and Life After Genius winners and have forwarded your info to Hachette. You should receive your books soon. As soon as I get everyones mailing info for Gods Behaving Badly, I will forward that as well. Thanks to everyone for entering! Be sure to enter my Holiday Cookbook Giveaways posted on the left sidebar!

With Honor and Thanks to Our Veterans

I love this photo of my family in their uniforms. That's my Grandpa on the left, he was a pilot in WWII and in the Air Force for years, retiring as a Colonel. Next to him is my Grandma in her Red Cross uniform. They are both gone now and I miss them every day. That's my Mom in her Girl Scouts uniform and my uncles next to her, they both were in the service as young men. My Dad went to the Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force, too.

So today I would just like to say, to all of our Veterans around the world and here at home, a heartfelt thank you for past and present service.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Giveaway: The Flavor Bible by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to creating "deliciousness" in any dish. Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements of an extraordinary meal.Seasoned with tips, anecdotes, and signature dishes from America's most imaginative chefs, THE FLAVOR BIBLE is an essential reference for every kitchen.

Another fantastic Holiday giveaway from the generous folks at Hachette Book Group! Three winners will each receive a copy of The Flavor Bible which will be perfect to help your Holiday entertaining or to give as a gift! To enter just leave a comment here. Be sure to leave your email address if your id doesn't contain contact info. For an extra two entries you can blog about this giveaway and link back here OR become a follower of my blog. Enter until 11:59 pm eastern on Monday Nov. 24. You must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good luck everyone!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Here Come the Holidays! How About a Giveaway?

In KATIE BROWN CELEBRATES, Katie gives readers a reason to host a party every month of the year. From a festive New Year's Eve dinner to a lavish Christmas brunch, from the perfect child's birthday party to a down-home family reunion, readers will delight in Katie's signature approach to making any celebration simply wonderful. With delicious recipes, straightforward craft projects, and tips for casual entertaining, Katie shows how any host can make a delicious meal and create gorgeous ambiance without the hassle. KATIE BROWN CELEBRATES is a must-have for anyone who ever gives--or has ever thought of giving--a party.

Well the holidays are just about here, how do they come around so fast? It seems like every year they sneak up on me. They shouldn't, considering the stores have had Christmas stuff out in the aisles since well before Halloween (okay, I admit it, that's a pet peeve of mine). With holiday entertaining and parties galore, you might want some new inspiration, so how about a copy of Katie Brown Celebrates? Wouldn't it make a great gift?

I am giving away a copy of this book to five lucky winners courtesy of the wonderful Anna Balasi at Hachette Book Group! To enter just leave a comment here with a little note that says what special thing you or your family do to celebrate the holidays. You can earn two extra entries by blogging about this contest & linking back here OR by becoming a follower of my blog! Enter until 11:59 pm eastern time on Sunday, November 23. Winners will be chosen at random, you must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good Luck & Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review: Kosher By Design Lightens Up by Susie Fishbein

In her beautiful new cookbook, Susie Fishbein has created a wonderful array of new, healthful recipes. There are sections that define current terms that can be confusing, such as Organic, Free Range and All-Natural. The sections defining the different types of flour, sugars, grains and oils are particularly helpful for those trying to make healthier choices. (That should be all of us, right?)

The recipes are easy and flavorful. I have made several dishes and particularly enjoyed the Kale, Sausage & White Bean Soup, the Wheat Germ Crusted Chicken Cutlets and the Chicken Skewers with Ponzu Dipping Sauce. Yum. You will find a dish for every occasion here. There are sixteen lovely appetizers that would be a great addition to any holiday party. The twenty-three desserts include twists on holiday favorites that I can't wait to try, like Frozen Pumpkin Pie. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, try something new and healthy this holiday season!

Here's a bit from Susie about her new book:

Q - In just over five years, you’re putting out your sixth cookbook. How do you do this?

A – I’m quite surprised myself, actually. But preparing foods, finding new combinations and flavors and influences, discovering new cooking techniques and more imaginative ways to entertain guests – these are all motivating passions to me. I believe in the old adage that "if you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life." I love sharing my discoveries with people.

Q – Lightens Up has taken you down a different path in kosher cooking. Why this book now?

A – It’s been a maturation process on a couple of levels, really. Since the original Kosher by Design was published in 2003, I’ve certainly grown as a home cook and my kids have grown. I was looking to do better by them and so I began investigating and experimenting with healthier foods and cooking methods. Lightens Up is the result.

Q – So how is it different?

A – I collaborated with certified nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix on this book. She’s a well-known national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. People might recognize her from her many appearances on CNN and Good Morning America and her many articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, WebMD, and others. I love Bonnie’s summary statement about Lightens Up: "This book is not about deprivation; it’s about blending an array of foods of varying colors, flavors, and textures, as well s a bouquet of nutrients that will please both you palate and your desire to feel good."

Q – One of the signature features in your previous cookbooks has been rather tasty international influences. Does that carry through in Lightens Up?

A – Most definitely. Lightens Up can take you around the world. Off the top of my head I can mention an Argentinean Bison Steak, Korean Beef Kim Chee Skewers, Merquez Sausage on Whole Wheat Couscous, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lebanese Salad, Greek Farro Salad, Mexican Citrus Salad, Thai Chicken Soup, Moroccan Spiced Vegetables, Japanese Udon Noodle Soup, a Greek Fritta Ring, and Tangy Mediterranean Vegetables. There’s a lot more and besides tasting great, it’s all very healthy.

Q – You didn’t mention any desserts on that list. Are they out?

A – You’ll be quite surprised here. There are 23 in Lightens Up and they’re all fabulous. I’m thinking now about the Apple-Blueberry Cake, the Peach-Berry Tart, Baklava Bites, a Frozen Pumpkin Pie – there’s even a Banana-Chocolate Strudel.

Q – Were there any surprises for you personally in putting Lightens Up together?

A – I was certainly delighted that my family and friends found these recipes so good. I’ve learned to enjoy some new foods that I hadn’t known much before, such as wheat berries and faro, which is a very nutritious ancient Middle Eastern grain that’s becoming popular. As I’ve incorporated more whole grains into meals and reduced the amount of fats, sugars, and oils in my recipes, I’ve found the flavors to be refreshingly pure and satisfying. Also, we discovered some really fun and unique entertaining ideas, such as an olive oil tasting party and a fruit spritzer bar.

You can order Kosher By Design Lightens Up at the website.

Kosher By Design Lightens Up will be published by Artscroll/Shaar Press on November 17, 2008. ISBN 978-1-57819-117-8.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Review: Dating Da Vinci by Malena Lott

Thirty-six year old Ramona Elise has been a widow for two years. Her husband died suddenly and she has been living in a fog of grief ever since. She goes through the motions for the sake of her two young sons, but the joy has gone from her life and she doesn't know how to get it back.

Ramona is a linguist who teaches English to immigrants who come from countries all over the world. One day a handsome young Italian man walks into her classroom with the unusual and famous name of Leonardo da Vinci. He is sweet and funny and he likes Ramona immediately, nicknaming her 'Mona Lisa', a shortened version of her own name. A happy coincidence.

Leonardo is just what Ramona needs, someone able to draw her out of the shell that she has built around herself. Her family and friends have been there for her all along, of course. But now she is just about at the point that she is able to let someone in and feel like it is okay to have fun again.

The result is a charming and funny book that is surprisingly thoughtful, as well. Though it may look like a romance novel, this book is more than that. The issues of grief and loss are respectfully dealt with and the story is richer for it.

Thank you to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me this lovely book!

Dating da Vinci is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-1393-9

Order Dating da Vinci from Amazon

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

In his new novel, David Ebershoff paints the history of the Mormon religion through the eyes of Ann Eliza Young, the so-called nineteenth wife of Brigham Young. Ann Eliza's parents were there when Joseph Smith was forming what would become the Mormon church and she grew up within it. When she was grown she was pursued by Brigham Young and eventually married him against her better judgement.

Several years later she was basically abandoned by her husband. Though she was called wife number nineteen, in reality Brigham Young likely had fifty or more wives. Of course, his time was finite and he was a busy man. He was unable (and unwilling) to spend time with all of them. So Ann Eliza famously broke with the church, left Brigham, Utah and her family. She wrote a well known book in 1874 in which she told her story and described to the world the problems that plural marriages causes. She took her story to Washington and convinced President Grant to pass laws that put pressure on the Morman church to end the practice of polygamy.

Woven in between Ann Eliza's story is the narrative of twenty year old Jordan Scott. Jordan's story highlights how the children of some of today's splinter polygamists, known as the Firsts, continue to suffer. There are cases of young men in their early teens ejected from the group, dumped on the highway in the middle of the night with no money or possessions. The reduction of the young men leaves the young women for the older men in the group to take as an additional wife. Through Jordan's eyes we see the intolerance, isolation and loneliness of some of the women and children involved.

This was an absorbing, fascinating book. I loved the historical sections and the fact that it was based on a true story. The author did a wonderful job of showing the formation of the religion from the beginning, using the characters to give the reader an inside look.

The 19th Wife is published by Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6397-0

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour! Upcoming stops are:

Friday, Nov. 7th: Educating Petunia
Monday, Nov. 10th: The Literate Housewife
Wednesday, Nov. 12th: Diary of an Eccentric
Friday, Nov. 14th: Book Chase

Order The 19th Wife from Amazon

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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.