Monday, June 30, 2008

My First Book Giveaway! The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

Welcome to my first Book Giveaway!

Win my copy of The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty. To enter once comment on this post. For an additional entry, blog about this contest and link back here. (US & Canada only for shipping purposes!)

The contest will end on July 14 at 11:59pm eastern time. I will notify the winner and also announce the results here. Good luck!

Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim by Tom Corwin, illustrated by Craig Frazier

In this slim volume you will find the eye opening story of Mr. Fooster's travels. He goes for walks with seemingly no purpose but to see what he will see. Along the way he has interesting and surprising encounters and makes good use of his old bottle of bubble soap.

The author has written a lovely tale that encourages adults to think outside the box and try to remember the wonder and imagination that we had as children. As we grow up we forget to stop and really look at things and we forget to ask questions. In so doing, we miss opportunities that we might have had, were we more open-minded.

The lyric prose is accompanied by Craig Frazier's lovely sepia toned pen and ink illustrations that enhance the story. You can see Mr. Fooster brought to life at the website !

Order Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim from Amazon

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

If you have been to the British Museum in London you could not have missed the Elgin Marbles, those lovely white carvings taken from the Parthenon in Athens. What you might not have done is imagined the arduous task it was to move them there. In this historical novel Karen Essex has painted the picture for us of the personal lives of the people involved.

In 1799 Lord Elgin was appointed ambassador to Constantinople. He was a newlywed and took his wife, Mary, with him to his post. He was glad to have been given the position because he was an architecture buff and believed that what the Ancient Greeks built was the pinnacle of architectural perfection. At the time, Athens was occupied by the Ottoman Turks. They were camped at the Acropolis and were smashing the marbles to use for building materials, using the core metal to make ammunition. He wanted to make moldings and have drawings done so that those historical buildings would not be lost forever.

Mary was only twenty one and pregnant at the start of this odyssey. But she was a lovely, smart and charming young woman. She won the admiration of the Sultan and other high ranking Turks. The Turks put no value on the ancient buildings in Greece and, as a favor to Mary, ended up allowing the Elgins to remove whatever ancient item they desired from the country.

Removal of the priceless ancient sculptures became an obsession for Lord Elgin. He spent an enormous amount of money extracting the artifacts, becoming deep in debt, causing transportation nightmares, ruining his health and his marriage. All the while competing with Napoleon and the French for artifacts in between the Napoleonic Wars.

While we see the destruction of the Parthenon through Mary's eyes, the author also gives us a glimpse of it's construction through the eyes of Aspasia. She was the mistress of the man behind the building of the Parthenon, Perikles, and a philosopher in her own right. Through her the reader is given a window into the society of ancient Athens and their political structure, which shows us the roots of our own.

Since that time the debate has raged: where do the marbles belong? The Greeks would like them back and have even built a new museum to house them when they return. The British Museum shows no sign of letting them go. It is questionable whether the marbles would even still exist now if they had not been removed when they were.

This is a great historical novel with it's basis in fact. The author did extensive historical research and it shows in the story line. It is a fascinating story of two strong women who had the courage to take control of their own lives.

Order Stealing Athena from Amazon

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Salon #5

It is a rainy and thunderstormy day in New England today. The perfect reading weather! I am smack in the middle of Stealing Athena by Karen Essex, a historical novel about the Elgin marbles of the British Museum. I was already a fan of this author, so I'm really enjoying reading it. Look for my review mid week.

New books this week are:

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. This is a true crime story about a Victorian murder case and it looks great!

Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim by Tom Corwin, illustrated by Craig Frazier. A very interesting little book with fantastic illustrations that I received courtesy of Rachel at Doubleday.

The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott. Sent on to me by a fellow Library Thinger...Thank you, Thank you! I loved this author's Boudica series, so I'm looking forward to trying this one.

Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller. A novel about four young army wives in the 1970s. Courtesy of the author, thank you!!!

I'm so admiring of Marie at The Boston Bibliophile , who says she reads three books simultaneously. I have to read one at a time and I have a hard time stopping in the middle even if the book is horrible. Somehow I feel like I need to finish it, no matter what. I'm never without a book, though. If I'm travelling I always have both my current book and the next one on my TBR list with me. I would be lost if I didn't have reading material!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories by Pagan Kennedy

In this interesting collection of unexpected true stories Pagan Kennedy introduces us to some eccentric characters. From Alex Comfort, the middle aged mastermind of The Joy of Sex to Vermin Supreme, fringe candidate extraordinaire, the mix is wonderful and thought provoking.

Ms. Kennedy hooked me in right away with her introduction. She talks about being read Alice in Wonderland by her Grandmother and wanting to get through the looking glass herself. After an unsuccessful attempt she decides that the secret must lie in the words on the page. A woman after my own heart. This discovery would be part of her future life as a writer. She has a warm and open way of writing that is very easy to read.

After twelve true tales that read like fiction, she gives us three short essays about herself and her world. It is a great way to end an interesting and entertaining book.

The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories will be published by The Santa Fe Writers Project in September, 2008.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Little Book by Selden Edwards

Dilly Burden was a legend and a hero. He excelled at his Boston boys' school and at Harvard, was a star baseball player and gave his life in World War II when he was tortured and killed by the Gestapo in France. His only son, Wheeler, has no memory of his Dad but has spent his life living up to the legend.

Where Dilly was an icon, Wheeler is more eccentric. He followed in his father's footsteps to the Boston boys' school and despite guidance from a much beloved teacher, the Haze, (who had also taught his father), he was an average student. He did show talent in baseball but his real love was music. He found great success in his life and was quite a music star in the late 1980s but never stuck to anything, or anyone, for any great length of time. He was always looking for something he couldn't put his finger on.

But that's not where the story begins...

Suddenly one day Wheeler is walking along and begins to realize that he is somewhere he does not recognize. He soon discovers that he is in 1897 Vienna, in his modern clothes and with all of his memories intact. He doesn't know how he got there or how long this visit will last. But as one day stretches to two, he realizes that he is going to need some help. Thanks to the Haze, Wheeler speaks German well and knows a bit about this part of European history. After much consideration he approaches Sigmund Freud, a little known figure at the time, for help. Their discussions and the journal Wheeler starts to keep help him to begin to understand this amazing thing that has happened to him.

During his stay in Vienna, Wheeler discovers his past in a way that is entirely surprising and leaves you hoping that Selden Edwards has somehow really figured out the way the universe works.

There are many well developed characters that appear in the story. The reader gets to know them all and will realize that this book isn't just about Wheeler or even most importantly about Wheeler but about his loved ones and the patterns that life weaves.

This is an absolutely wonderful book. It has layers of meaning and an interconnectedness that make it a breath-taking read. It's a history lesson and a love story, a mystery and a psychology lesson. I can't recommend it highly enough.

The Little Book will be published in August, 2008 by Dutton

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Salon #4

Last night I finished The Little Book by Selden Edwards. It was really a wonderful book about a man in the 1980s who is swept back to 1897 Vienna. Beautiful, descriptive writing and an engaging storyline. My review will be up in the next few days.

I have just started reading The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories by Pagan Kennedy, which I received from Andrew at the Santa Fe Writers Project. I am only on page fifteen but I really like the way the author writes. The introduction hooked me in right away.

This week I have received:
Stealing Athena by Karen Essex, courtesy of Adrienne at Doubleday. I'm really looking forward to reading this one!

The White Mary by Kira Salak

Rules for Saying Goodbye by Katherine Taylor, this one courtesy of a giveaway from Marie on her blog, The Boston Bibliophile . Thanks Marie!

I'm going to have to start reading faster, at this rate I will never get through all of these wonderful books! I need a couple of good, rainy days. I always seem to get more reading done when it rains.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday Thingers....on Thursday

Today's question is about tags- do you tag? How do you tag? How do you feel about tagging- do you think it would be better to have standardized tags, like libraries have standardized subject headings, or do you like the individualized nature of tagging? What are your top 5 tags and what do they say about your collection or your reading habits?

I do tag but I am new at it and am sort of just figuring it out. I like being able to make up my own tags, I'm not sure that I would want standardized tags. I mostly separate mine by genre: fiction, memoir, etc. Adding the setting if it figures largely in the story. Plus I use ARC for advanced reading copy and "not owned" for books that I have done reviews for but don't want to keep. My top five tags so far are historical fiction, ancient egypt, arc, great britain and memoir. This just shows how heavily my library is on the historical fiction side. Reviewing books is helping me to break out of my reading habits!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Salon #3

I finished off Admit One this morning and got my review up. It was a very fun book to read. I started The Little Book by Selden Edwards later this morning but have only read the first two chapters. From the back cover: "More than thirty years in the making, The Little Book is a time- and convention-bending first novel that announces the arrival of one of the most inventive and original novelists of our time." This is an advanced reading copy that I received from Dutton and the note from the editor at the front of the book says that this is one of the five best novels he has ever read. So I am really looking forward to getting into it!

This week I received the following books:

The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin, "The story of an orphan girl's remarkable journey from poverty to film stardom."

I, Robot by Howard S. Smith, a sci-fi story along the same lines as Isaac Asimov's robot stories of the same name from the 1940s. With vastly improved technology, of course.

Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe, "An eye-opening look at aquaculture that does for seafood what Fast Food Nation did for beef."

All going in my To Be Read pile...look for reviews in the near future!

Admit One: A Journey Into Film by Emmett James

Emmett James has been in love with movies his whole life. He grew up in a nondescript London suburb where, to him, things seemed very ordinary, even boring. He can remember his first movie at the age of about three, Walt Disney's The Jungle Book, which he largely slept through. The beginning and the end are clear, though, and he liked what he saw. Now, how to stay awake? The answer? Every child's best friend...SUGAR, of course!

In this funny and upbeat memoir Mr. James takes us on a "This is your life" kind of ride by linking his past to the films that shaped his world. The yearly television viewing of The Wizard of Oz and the terror of the Wicked Witch inevitably caused him to have a bladder accident. Plus if it looked remotely gloomy outside he was jumpy, watching the skies for a rogue tornado. Poor kid, England has gloomy weather fairly regularly.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial inspired a love for the BMX bike and eventually led to a short lived life of teen crime, causing his parents to move the whole family from London to Cambridgeshire, a fate worse than death to the author. Especially when the new home, built in about 900, turns out to be haunted. The author's room is the scene of a hair-raising ghost sighting.

Emmett's love of films inspire him to be an actor and so, at the first opportunity, he moves himself to Hollywood looking for his own piece of the American Dream. He finds it, too.

I happen to be about the same age as the author and as I was reading I was thrust back in time, back to my own movie experiences. When I had to be taken out of Walt Disney's Bambi because I cried and cried when his mother was shot. When my best friend and tough girl astonished me by crying at E.T. (I'd never seen her cry before).

This is a story to take you down your own memory lane and remind you of the wonder and magic of the movies.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Salem, Massachusetts is an unusual town. And the Whitneys are the most unusual family in Salem. Their family roots in Salem go back hundreds of years. They fit right in with the eccentric witches, most of the Whitney women have the ability to sense bits of people's thoughts and see glimpses of the future when they look through a piece of lace.

Towner Whitney is in her early thirties and she has just returned to Salem from her self imposed exile in California because her beloved Great Aunt Eva has disappeared. Towner fled to the west coast fifteen years before, running from the violence and grief that was part of her life as a teenager when she lost her twin sister, Lyndley. She is a damaged soul and Salem is the last place she wants to be. Her memories of her life in Salem are sketchy and she struggles to put the pieces of her childhood together while dealing with people from the past that she is not prepared to see.

Eva was in her eighties but still swam in the ocean every day. When her body is found out in the water it's hard to believe that she drowned on her own. The police suspect her estranged son-in-law, Cal. While married to Emma, Eva's daughter, Cal beat her so badly that Emma was left blind and mentally impaired. Somehow he managed to escape any legal penalty and now he is an Evangelist with a very warped following. Towner's return and Eva's death rip open the past and send everyone concerned reeling.

This is a book about the damage that people do to each other and the incredible lengths that the human soul will go to in order to survive. At times haunting, heartbreaking, mystical and magical, it has an ending that will surprise you and show you the healing power of love.

The Lace Reader will be published by William Morrow on July 29, 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's Tuesday Thingers question is:

Why LT? Why did you choose to open and maintain an LT account? Do you/did you use other online cataloging/social networking sites, like GoodReads or Shelfari? Do you use more than one? Are they different or do they serve different purposes?

My husband, Mark, and I have literally thousands of books. He read somewhere about Library Thing and we thought it was a great idea. We are constantly buying duplicate copies of books that we already have because we have forgotten that we have them. We're not too organized, either, so we constantly say "we have that, don't we?" and then go on a long, exhaustive search to see where it is, just to make sure we DO have it. So it's great to have a list, plus we thought that if there was ever (God forbid) a fire or flood or something we would have a record of the books we owned.

Once we signed up, though, we noticed that LT has this wonderful, active community of groups with different interests, different viewpoints. It was great to get involved and talk to people who like the same things. If it hadn't been for Library Thing I would never had started a blog. Everyone was (and is) welcoming, helpful, supportive. I can't say enough nice things about the community at LT.

We don't belong to any other cataloging sites or social sites. But I was invited by a Library Thing member to join Book Club Forum, another wonderful community where people get together to talk about the books they read. Now I spend entirely too much time on the computer but I am enjoying it so much and meeting so many nice people. If you like books, try it for yourself!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday Salon #2

I finished Songs for the Missing yesterday and posted my review. I would never have normally picked it up and I'm glad I got it as a review copy. Stewart O'Nan's writing is wonderful and I thought it was a very well written book.

Just started Brunonia Barry's The Lace Reader this morning, I'm on page 71. It's a story about an unusual family who have lived Salem, MA for hundreds of years. It's interesting so far and I'm enjoying it.

We stopped earlier today at the buffalo farm nearby to see the baby buffalo. They are adorable, tan and woolly with spindly legs. So cute! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

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.