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

Monday, November 3, 2008

Welcome to the Book Giveaway Carnival!!

In honor of Book Giveaway Carnival I will be giving away five copies of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, courtesy of Hachette Book Group. You can read my review here. The contest will run until 11:59 pm eastern on November 9. Winners must have a mailing address in the USA or Canada (No PO Boxes). Five winners will be drawn at random.

Leave a comment here for one entry. For an additional two entries blog about this giveaway and link back here. You can earn an additional THREE entries by becoming a follower for my blog (shameless self promotion, I admit). That's a total of six possible entries!

Many thanks to Tracy at Bookroom Reviews for dreaming up the Book Giveaway Carnival! Visit Tracy's site where she will have links to all the participating book giveaways this week! You can click on this link or the graphic above to visit her.

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

My photo
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.