Tuesday, June 30, 2009

100th Review Mega Giveaway!!

Hello everyone! Just posted my 100th review and I couldn't be happier! I can't believe that I started this blog just over a year ago, time has really flown by. Want to help me celebrate...and help me clear out some of these books? I thought you might! :)

So, this is the scoop. I have quite a lot of extra books hanging around. There are several reasons for this:

1. My Mom gets a lot of the same review copies that I do and she sends them on to me when she is done. (Thanks Mom!!)

2. For some reason I frequently receive review copies twice. I've been hoarding all of Mom's books and the extra copies I have received for this giveaway.

3. I picked up quite a few books at Book Expo America to add to this giveaway.

(If you are a publisher/publicist and see a book on this list that is pending my review, don't panic! I'm not giving away any of my review copies of books that I haven't reviewed yet. These are all extra copies.)

Most of the books on this list are Advanced Review Copies (called ARCS or uncorrected proofs). This means that they are not the finished format and may have typos and other errors in them. Some of them have been read. Some books on the list are older books that I have read and don't have room to keep or accidentally bought two copies of (this happens waaaayyy too often). Most are paperback but there are a few hardcovers in the mix.

Now for the exciting news:

I will be giving away ten books to each winner. This will be a progressive giveaway, the more entries I get, the more winners there will be. One name will be drawn for the first twenty entries and for every twenty entries after that I will add another winner, up to a total of 10 winners (so, there can be an unlimited number of entries but after 200 entries there will not be any additional winners). No extra entries this time for blogging or tweeting, but it is in your best interest to spread the word, the more individual entries, the more winners there will be. So here are the rules (these are important, please read them!!):

1. USA only. I'm very sorry about this but am bearing the cost of this myself and it just is too expensive to ship heavy books outside of the US. It's a bummer, I know.

2. ONLY LEAVE ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST. If you leave a second comment, I will remove it. This is the easiest way for me to keep track of the number of entries, and multiple comments will mess up the counting. Please, one comment only. I'm begging here.

3. In your comment, include two or three titles from the list that you would most like to win as well as your favorite genre or genres. I will do my best to insure that each winner receives at least two books that they asked for or in their favorite categories. I can't make any promises, the ten books each winner gets will be a mix, but I will make every attempt to include something you really want! :) Also, please leave your email address or be sure it is available in your blogger ID, I need to be able to contact you if you win.

4. Now, I know you love to get extra entries, so this is how it will work for this giveaway. I will give you an extra entry for EACH COMMENT that you leave on any of my previous BOOK REVIEWS or GUEST POSTS between today, June 30, and the end of the giveaway on July 21st. Here's the hard part: you have to read the review or guest post and leave a thoughtful comment. I mean it, do not leave just leave "good/great/happenin'/interesting review" or "please enter me." I will not count any simplistic entries like these. A thoughtful comment, please, is all that is required. You can find a list of my 2009 reviews on the left sidebar, my 2008 reviews are here.

5. Best of luck to everyone! Many, many thanks for helping me to clear out a little space in my over crowded (with books) home and for being the wonderful followers, readers and commenters that you are!!

Okay, enough of the rules, here is the list of books:

American Rust by Philipp Meyer
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr
Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
A Trust Betrayed by Candace Robb
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors
Bones by Jonathan Kellerman
Bookends by Jane Green
Book: The Sequel (First Lines from the Classics of the Future by Inventive Impostors)
Born in Death by J.D. Robb
Bo's Cafe by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNichol & John Lynch
By a Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman
City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin
Conflict of Interest by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
Creepers by Joanne Dahme
Darling Jim by Christian Moerk
Death of a Bore by M.C. Beaton
Death of a Celebrity by M.C. Beaton
Death of an Addict by M.C. Beaton
Death of a Village by M.C. Beaton
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Eon:Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Etta by Gerald Kolpan
Farewell the Tranquil Mind by R.F. Delderfield
First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
I Had to Row Across the Ocean by Tori Murden McClure
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (THIS ONE IS SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR!)
Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth
Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon
Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper
Morning Sunshine! by Robin Meade
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
One More Year by Sana Krasikov
On the Line by Serena Williams with Daniel Paisner
Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Peter Loon by Van Reid
Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz
Smart Girls Marry Money by Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake
So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz
Something Like Beautiful by Asha Bandele
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
Spooner by Pete Dexter
Stealing Athena by Karen Essex
Sudden Death by Allison Brennan
The Appeal by John Grisham
The Christmas Shoes by Donna Van Liere
The Crimes of Paris by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler
The Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
The Gates of Hell by Paul Doherty
The General's Daughter by Nelson Demille
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
The Glister by John Burnside
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The King's Grace by Anne Easter Smith
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll
The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The Promise of Wind Energy by Postmodern Library
The Religion of Thinness by Michelle M Lelwica
The Seducer by Madeline Hunter
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
The Weight of a Mustard Seed by Wendell Steavenson
The White Mary by Kira Salak
This Christmas by Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn & Liz Ireland
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Whom the Gods Love by Kate Ross
Women are Crazy, Men are Stupid by Howard J. Morris & Jenny Lee

There are some fantastic titles here! Those of you with sharp eyes will see that there is not quite 100 books on this list. That is because I have more than one giveaway copy of some of these titles. See, I really needed to do this giveaway!

If I get less than 200 entries, I will take the remainder of the books and donate them to my local library for their yearly booksale. If you are a winner and receive a book that you have already read or already have, may I suggest that you pass it on to a friend or donate it to your local library? Share the love!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips (This is my 100th Review! YAY! Look for details of my MEGA GIVEAWAY coming soon!!)

No matter how wealthy a person might be, life in Charles II's Restoration London is still a struggle. Hannah Devlin is the daughter of two physicians and is a talented doctor herself. But she has lost so much. Her husband, her baby girl and her father, all dead in the last couple of years. And her mother has lost her mind and requires constant care. Hannah has begun to suffer debilitating headaches. Her self treatment is having limited success but she refuses to allow her own pain to interfere with her treatment of London's poor, suffering masses.

She is alarmed when she is practically kidnapped one night by Lord Arlington, the King's Secretary of State. The last thing she wants is to be brought to the attention of the powerful men who control the government and the board of Physicians. Female doctors are not allowed to practice the male dominated medical profession. Her unease grows when she is brought to the bedside of the King's most recent mistress, Louise de Keroualle, who is very ill. Hannah determines that the young woman is suffering from venereal disease and sets out to cure her, all the while trying to decipher the swirling power currents that exist within the court.

In modern day Cambridge, Claire Donovan has landed her dream job. She is to be an associate History lecturer at prestigious Cambridge University, a position that comes complete with snug quarters, meals and keys to the oldest and most interesting areas of the college. While exploring an uncatalogued collection in one of the libraries, she comes across a coded diary from 1672. It catches her interest and she shares her discovery with a fellow teacher over dinner. Turns out he is a slimy fellow teacher, he steals her idea and pursues it as his own. Claire is furious when she finds out, of course, and can't resist punching the jerk in the nose. Unfortunately his dead body turns up shortly thereafter, and he has a copied page of the coded diary in his pocket.

With the help of Andrew Kent, whom she originally met in Venice (their adventures are the subject of the author's first book, The Rossetti Letter), Claire tries to decode the diary. What information could possibly be contained within it that could inspire murder hundreds of years later?

This is a intriguing story that weaves sections of Hannah's diary in with Claire's modern experiences, with murder mysteries being solved in both time periods. The two women are both smart and confident in their professions but both have the weakness of being misled by a charming and unscrupulous man. If they could reach out and meet across the years, it feels like they would have been friends. I love the author's treatment of the value of the written word and the importance of its conservation. Here is my favorite passage from the book:

"Although she was a logical, practical person, she believed that in books there existed a kind of magic. Between the aging covers on these shelves, contained in tiny, abstract black marks on sheets of paper, were voices from the past. Voices that reached into the future, into Claire's own life and heart and mind, to tell her what they knew, what they'd learned, what they'd seen, what they'd felt. Wasn't that magic?"

Indeed it is magic! If you love historical fiction or historical mysteries, add The Devlin Diary to your reading list!

Many thanks to Sarah at Pocket Books for sending me the review copy. For more information on the author and her books, please visit her website. This review is part of a blog tour, for a complete list of the blogs participating, please click here.

The Devlin Diary is published by Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-2739-8.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review and Giveaway: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

This novel takes place on an Earth that is radically different from our own. Different because it has been invaded by an alien parasite. The alien, a three inch long slim mass with threads or tentacles, is inserted into the human body, then the alien takes control and the human consciousness just fades away.

That's the way it is supposed to work. The aliens, or "Souls" as they call themselves, have inhabited beings on many planets. And usually the relationship works well for both parties. But for some reason, things are not working one hundred percent to plan on the human species. Some humans resist with a power that has never been seen by the Souls before.

Wanderer has lived on eight planets, she is used to inhabiting different bodies. Even among her kind, she is something of an anomaly, most Souls settle to one place after just a few worlds. For her ninth planet, Earth, Wanderer is inserted into a recently caught human. Uninhabited adult humans are so few now, most of the planet has been settled by the alien and rebel humans are fairly rare. The body Wanderer receives is twenty year old Melanie Stryder and she is NOT happy at being invaded. She resists and proves so strong that Wanderer is unable to suppress her.

Through Melanie, Wanderer (or Wanda, as she is eventually called) begins to see exactly what her kind have taken from the humans. The Souls are a peaceful and rational race, they aren't malicious in their takeover, they think they are doing great good:

"We did make whatever we took better, more peaceful and beautiful. And the humans were brutish and ungovernable. They had killed one another so frequently that murder had been an accepted part of life. The various tortures they'd devised over the few millennia they'd lasted had been too much for me; I hadn't been able to bear even the dry official overviews. Wars had raged over the face of nearly every continent. Sanctioned murder, ordered and viciously effective. Those who lived in peaceful nations had looked the other way as members of their own species starved on their doorstep. There was no equality to the distribution of the planet's bounteous resources. Most vile yet, their offspring--the next generation, which my kind nearly worshipped for their promise--had all too often been victims of heinous crimes. And not just at the hands of strangers, but at the hands of the caretakers they were entrusted to. Even the huge sphere of the planet had been put into jeopardy through their careless and greedy mistakes. No one could compare what had been and what was now and not admit that Earth was a better place thanks to us."

But what Wanda discovers, what no Soul has ever understood before, is the complex emotional makeup of a human being. Compelled by Melanie, Wanda heads into the desert to try to find Melanie's family. Though she almost dies in the attempt, she is found by the humans and taken to their underground hideout.

They know that Melanie is gone and that Wanda is using her body, and they are not about to trust her. It is a shock to Wanda to realize that it is not just Melanie's consciousness that loves her family, but her entire body. Wanda can't help but love them, too. She must convince them that she wants what is best for Melanie and all the humans there, before they kill her for being the enemy.

I haven't read any of Ms. Meyer's Twilight series yet. Everyone raves about them, but before I took time out of my schedule to read the whole series, I wanted to try this stand alone novel. I'm so glad that I did! She is a fantastic story teller, this novel almost crackles with energy and excitement. I could hardly put it down. I liked the way the themes of conflict, duty, citizenship and humanity were explored, it was extremely interesting and thought provoking. Twilight, here I come!

The Host is published by Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-06804-8.

So, now for the giveaway! I have five copies that will go to five randomly chosen lucky winners. To enter, just leave me a comment here telling me your favorite classic sci-fi or paranormal book. There is an extra entry for anyone who becomes a follower (all current followers who enter will get this automatically), blogs about the giveaway or tweets it on twitter. Please leave a separate comment with the link for a blog post or tweet if you do either of those. You can enter until midnight on July 15. Winners must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Good luck everyone and thanks for entering! Many thanks to Miriam at Hachette for sending me The Host for review and providing the books for the giveaway.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Katie Converse is a smart, beautiful, seventeen year old Senate page from Portland, Oregon. At home in Portland for Christmas, she disappears while walking the dog. Her parents immediately raise the hue and cry and a desperate search begins.

Local Portland television reporter Cassidy Shaw announces the story of Katie's disappearance on the air. The media firestorm that follows could be the making of her career, if she can keep herself at the forefront of the action. Good thing for Cassidy that her two best friends become involved in the case, as well. Federal prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI agent Nicole Hedge are Cassidy's buddies. As a group the call themselves "The Triple Threat Club" and they get together regularly to try to sort out the difficulties of their crazy lives. Cassidy is able to glean important bits of information about the case from Allison and Nicole because both women are soon sucked into the investigation that mushrooms around the case.

When Nicole discovers that Katie had a Myspace page that she posted on regularly, things really start to heat up. Turns out Katie was having a little fling with "Senator X." It isn't too hard to figure out that "Senator X" is actually Senator Fairview, who sponsored Katie's page application. Suddenly the case has taken on a whole new aspect, the well known Senator has motive and opportunity. His relationship with Katie is certainly a juicy scandal, but is he really her killer?

This fast paced, interesting suspense novel has a premise that could easily have been ripped from the headlines. All of the characters are well-rounded and their relationships feel authentic. The point of view rotates between Cassidy, Allison and Nicole so the reader gets to know the personal struggles of each woman and how they relate to each other as a group of close friends. Cassidy is a beautiful girl with a promising career, but she is stuck in an abusive relationship. Allison and her husband have been struggling with infertility, under the stress of trying to have a baby for the past several years. Nicole is a single mom, juggling parenting her child and the demands of her job. She doesn't seem to have any time left over for a personal life. Because of their unique relationship they are able to put their heads together and figure out what happened to Katie Converse. Interspersed between the chapters are Katie's Myspace pages. Through these, the reader gets to know a little about Katie's life.

The action keeps the reader guessing and turning pages in this absorbing tale. Ms. Wiehl's experience with the media and the government are apparent and lend the book a veracity that makes it seem to almost read like a non-fiction story.

Looking for an exciting contemporary mystery with strong female characters? Add Face of Betrayal to your summer reading list!

Face of Betrayal is published by Thomas Nelson, ISBN 9781595547057.

This review was originally published at Curled Up With a Good Book.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Read the book BEFORE you see the movie giveaway: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

Julie & Julia, the bestselling memoir that's "irresistible....A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef" (Philadelphia Inquirer), is now a major motion picture. Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto. The film version is written and directed by Nora Ephron and stars Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia.

I have this wonderful book sitting here and I have been meaning to read it. But you know how it goes, I just haven't gotten to it yet! I simply have to make more time to read (anyone know how to add a couple of hours to the day?). Anyway, I have a little OCD about seeing movies that started out as books. I need to read the book first. I just do. For some reason, once the book is in my imagination I have no trouble watching someone else's imagining of it. But if I see the movie first, then my imagination never gets to do the work and it ruins things for me. Soooooo....

The movie is scheduled for release on August 7. This giveaway will be open until midnight eastern time on July 5, that should give the five lucky winners time to read the book before they see it! So leave me a comment here to enter! For an extra entry you can become a follower (if you follow already, you get the extra entry automatically), blog about the giveaway or tweet it on twitter. If you blog or tweet please leave a separate comment with the link. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Many thanks to Anna at Hachette for providing the books for this giveaway! Good luck everyone and be sure to visit Julie's fantastic blog (that's how I know I am going to love this book, I already love her blog!).

Giveaway: Soul Survivor by Bruce and Andrea Leninger with Ken Gross

This is the story of James Leininger, who-- a little more than two weeks after his second birthday-- began having blood-curdling nightmares that just would not stop. When James began screaming out recurring phrases like, "Plane on fire! Little man can't get out!" the Leiningers finally admitted that they truly had to take notice.

When details of planes and war tragedies no two-year-old boy could know continued-- even in stark daylight-- Bruce and Andrea Leininger began to realize that this was an incredible situation. SOUL SURVIVOR is the story of how the Leiningers pieced together what their son was communicating and eventually discovered that he was reliving the past life of World War II fighter pilot James Huston. As Bruce Leininger struggled to understand what was happening to his son, he also uncovered details of James Huston's life-- and death-- as a pilot that will fascinate military buffs everywhere.

In SOUL SURVIVOR, readers are taken for a gripping ride as the Leiningers' belief system is shaken to the core, and both of these families come to know a little boy who, against all odds and even in the face of true skeptics, harbors the soul of this man who died long ago.

Doesn't this book sound fascinating? I can't wait to read it! I have five copies to give away to five winners, who will be drawn at random. To enter, just leave a comment here. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. For an additional entry you can become a follower of this blog (if you follow already, you automatically will get this), blog about the giveaway or tweet it on twitter. Please leave a separate comment with your blog or twitter link for either of those options. Contest will be open until midnight eastern time on July 3, winners must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes please). Many thanks to Kelly at Hachette for providing the books for this giveaway. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: Beach Trip by Cathy Holton

For the first time in twenty years, four college friends get together for a week long beach vacation, to relax, reconnect and enjoy some time together. They all went their separate ways after being roommates at North Carolina's Bedford University in the eighties. Now in their forties, they couldn't be more different, but the bonds of friendship remain strong despite the years, and the secrets, that have passed by.

Mel is the wild child of the bunch. Married and divorced twice, she never had, never wanted, any children. She lives in Manhattan and is a fairly successful mystery writer. She's a tough cookie, very independent, she has learned to take care of herself. She had to, with the difficult and overbearing father and largely absent mother she had to deal with in her childhood.

Sara is happily married with two beautiful children and is a lawyer. She and Mel have been friends since they were very small children. While Sara enjoyed the luxury and chaos of visiting Mel's home, Mel loved the simple homeliness of Sara's normal parents and family life. These two girls were as different as it is possible to be, but were friends for almost two decades, until after college. Now they barely speak and haven't seen each other in years.

Anne Louise, or Annie, married her childhood sweetheart and has two boys in college. Her hair has gone prematurely white and she lives a perfectly ordinary life. A creature of habit, she obsessively cleans and schedules, carving order out of her little corner of the world, striving to forget the one mistake that haunts her still.

Lola, sweet, pliable and beautiful, is the daughter of a wealthy politician and her mother never let her forget it. All her life has been lived for appearance's sake. Lola is aware of her own limitations, she is not strong enough to stand up to her controlling husband, Briggs or her indomitable mother. She can count on her mother to always team up with Briggs and she has no chance against the two of them. She is weary of being manipulated.

The trip will change all of them in some way. As they reminisce about their years together and talk about their lives apart, old wounds are opened up and old grievances aired. Sometimes the best medicine is friendship.

This novel is about the powerful bonds that draw us together and the value of those relationships that not only support us but help us to see ourselves more clearly. The characters come to life, they are complex and beautifully drawn and the story is very well written. It resonated with me, these women are at roughly my age and stage of life and their issues struck a chord with me and I found myself longing for a group of friends like this. There is something special about the female bond of friendship and Cathy Holton has captured that in this excellent novel.

Please visit the author's website for more information about all of her books.

I received this book as part of a blog tour for TLC Book Tours and I would like to thank TLC for sending me this book for review. Here's the schedule for the tour:

Tuesday, June 2nd: S. Krishna’s Books
Thursday, June 4th: Books & Cooks – Lisa
Tuesday, June 9th: Pop Culture Junkie
Wednesday, June 10th: Books and Needlepoint
Thursday, June 11th: Educating Petunia
Friday, June 12th: Bookworm with a View
Monday, June 15th: Caribousmom
Tuesday, June 16th: Books on the Brain - Summer Reading Series Discussion
Thursday, June 18th: Books on the Brain
Tuesday, June 23rd: The Book Faery Reviews
Wednesday, June 24th: Thoughts of Joy
Thursday, June 25th: Books and Cooks-Tara
Friday, June 26th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, June 29th: It’s All About Books
Tuesday, June 30th: Bermuda Onion

Beach Trip is published by Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-50599-6

Friday, June 12, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: Starfinder by John Marco

The city of Calio is the highest in the world, built in the mountains and home of the Aerodrome where the Skyknights train in their flying machines called dragonflies. Thirteen year old Moth has worked at the Aerodrome for three years, he dreams of being a Skyknight himself but knows that those elite pilots come from the upper reaches of their society. Moth is an poor orphan and has little chance of even becoming a squire for a Skyknight.

To the north of the city stretches the Reach, a vast bank of fog that extends farther than the eye can see. No one who enters the Reach ever comes back and there are plenty of legends about what is in and beyond it.

The novel opens on Moth's birthday. He hurries home to the small apartment that he shares with Leroux, an old man who took Moth in when his mother died, and Leroux's strange pet, a bird named Esme. When Leroux was young he was an Eldrin Knight, a legendary group of warriors who have disappeared into the mists of time. Leroux tells all sorts of strange tales but has saved the strangest one for this night, after Moth's birthday party. He wakes Moth up in the middle of the night and tells him that Esme isn't really a bird. She is from beyond the Reach and the only way to change her back to her true form is to take her back across. Leroux has never been able to do it, he charges Moth with returning Esme to the land beyond The Reach. A wizard named Merceron lives there who will help to change her back.

When Moth awakens in the morning, Leroux has died in his sleep. He is heartbroken and then scared when he finds the Governor's men ransacking their small apartment. The Governor, Rendor, is the designer of the dragonflies and airships used in their world. He is a powerful man and Leroux had something that he wants. It is a device from the land beyond the Reach called the Starfinder

Moth hides from the Governor's men with the help of some friends, one of whom is Rendor's granddaughter, Fiona. When Esme brings Moth the missing Starfinder, he knows what he has to do. He heads into the Reach, accompanied by Fiona, and into an adventure larger than either of them could ever have imagined.

I was completely enchanted by this book. It took me back to when I was nine and spent an entire day on the couch reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe from cover to cover. I was also reminded a bit of Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. John Marco is in good company! He has written an excellent adventure story, created a complete fantasy world and filled it with complex creatures and mythical beasts that will delight readers from nine to ninety. I absolutely loved this book and can't recommend it highly enough!

For more information on this book and the author's other works, visit his website.

I received this book as part of a TLC Book Tour. Here are the other stops:

Wednesday, May 20th: Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ News & Reviews
Saturday, May 23rd: Fantasy Book Critic
Tuesday, May 26th: Steph Su Reads
Wednesday, May 27th: Shooting Stars Mag
Thursday, May 28th: Becky’s Book Reviews
Monday, June 1st: Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Wednesday, June 3rd: Juiciliciousss Reviews
Friday, June 5th: Beth Fish Reads
Monday, June 8th: Books By Their Cover
Wednesday, June 10th: In Search of Giants
Monday, June 15th: At Home With Books
Wednesday, June 17th: The Written World
Friday, June 19th: Medieval Bookworm
Tuesday, June 23rd: The Magic of Ink
Thursday, June 25th: Reader’s Respite
Monday, June 29th: Drey’s Library

Starfinder: Book One of the Skylords is published by DAW, ISBN 978-0-7564-0551-9

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

"Holly Frick had had the worst kind of divorce: the kind where you're still in love with the person who is divorcing you. Not "fond of," not "still attached to," not "building a life together" - hopelessly in love with. And it was a year ago exactly that Alex had left her, a fact that had somehow slipped her notice up until earlier that evening, when she went to hail a cab and saw the dried-out Christmas trees heaped in sad piles on the sidewalk. Alex had left her on January third. Kind of like a benevolent CEO who holds off on the pink slips until after the holidays."

Poor Holly. She can't seem to get over Alex, her novel was a flop and her career as a television writer is not going that well, either. For support she leans on friends. Unfortunately, those friends have a whole host of their own problems. Amanda and Mark are married and have a one year old son but Amanda is dissatisfied and considering an affair. Leonard, Holly's drug addicted television writing partner, can't get over the fact that he used to be a huge success and isn't anymore. Spence Samuelson, Holly's ex boyfriend from before she got married (and inspiration of the central character in her failed novel) is commitment-phobic with a ton of girlfriend troubles and an overbearing mother. How is this bunch ever going to help her?

Throughout the novel, Holly struggles with the difference between people doing what they want and what is right. What will make you happy? Doing exactly what you want, regardless of the effect on others? Doing the right thing and consoling yourself with your own goodness? I don't think those questions ever get answered.

I really enjoyed the author's writing style, she is witty and fresh and the book was a fast read. And I thought the premise behind the story was a good one. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a very good fit for me. I didn't understand why Holly was friends with someone like Amanda, though I thought Spence was a great portrait of a bachelor in his thirties who is just realizing that it isn't a great idea to live the rest of his life the way he did his twenties. His growing pains were the best part of the book, in my opinion. The whole story reminded me quite a bit of Sex in the City, a show which I seriously dislike, and that probably contributed to my feelings about it.

For a complete list of blogs participating in this tour, click here. The tour is actually on June 12, so you will find the reviews up then. You can find out more about Sarah Dunn and her books on her website. Thanks to Miriam at Hachette for sending this to me for review!

Secrets to Happiness is published by Little Brown, ISBN 978-0-316-01358-1

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Review: The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins

For eighteen year old Anne Peabody, May 20, 1766 was far from the happiest day of her life. It was her wedding day. Her father was thrilled with the match that he had arranged with old Peter Merrick, a printer like himself, though Anne felt more than a little like she had been traded in a deal. As soon as the ceremony was over, the city seemed to erupt and a couple of printer's apprentices brought the news that the hated Stamp Act had been repealed. One of them, Jack Hampton, swung Anne around and kissed her soundly. A sharp contrast to the cabbagey-smelling old man's kiss that she had received only minutes before. It made quite an impression on her.

Nine years later, New York City is a different and dangerous place. The Continental Army is massing to attempt to expel the ruling English, the city is deeply divided and Anne is recently widowed. She continues to run her late husband's press with the help of her maid, Sally, and her freed slave Titus. She is walking a fine line, trying to make enough money to keep food on their table while not offending either side. Opening a coffee house in the front of the print shop deflects attention from some of her printing jobs, but the Sons of Liberty raid her establishment anyway, looking for Tory materials that she is rumored to have printed. To Anne's astonishment, the leader of the destructive little band is none other than Jack Hampton. She has never forgotten him.

Nor has he forgotten her, it seems. There is an undeniable attraction between them and the sparks fly almost immediately, especially when Jack suspects that Anne might not be a whole-hearted patriot. Events overtake them quickly and Jack, along with his new friend Titus, are swept deep into spying on the Redcoats in the early days of the Revolutionary War. Anne and Sally do their best to bend in the prevailing political wind, changing the name of their shop according to who has control of the city.

It is a dangerous game they play, but Anne is doing something that is important to her, maintaining her own independence while doing what she can to contribute to the future independence of an entire nation.

One of my favorite things about this novel are the chapter headings. Each one begins with a quote from Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which serve to remind the reader of the deep feelings of the American citizens in the 1770s and their longing to be free of Britain.

"Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more of less affected, even to the end of time, by the proceedings now."
Thomas Paine, Common Sense

I was struck by how timely these quotes still are today, hundreds of years in a future that Mr. Paine could never have imagined but somehow managed to grasp anyway.

The author has painted what feels like a realistic portrait of New York City and its divided residents during the beginnings of the American Revolution. I loved the characters, they are all depicted with positive attributes as well as flaws whether they are American or English. There are gentlemen (or gentlewomen) and villains on both sides and I appreciated the author's even handed depiction of them. She brings colonial New York to life and I thought the passages concerning the great fire that destroyed a huge part of the city were particularly well done.

I read and reviewed Ms. Blevins' first book, Midwife of the Blue Ridge , last year. It was a wonderful historical fiction novel and I eagerly awaited this second book. I thought this one was excellent, too. It is the first in a trilogy, so there will be more great Historical Fiction to come from Christine Blevins!

You can visit the author's website here and if you are reading either of her books for a reading group, you can find Reader Guides here.

The Tory Widow is published by Berkley. ISBN 978-0-425-22601-8

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: In Over Her Head by Judi Fennell

Ever since she was eight years old, Erica Peck has been terrified of the ocean. Something scary happened to her when she was swimming (she can't quite remember what) and she hasn't been near the water since. Which is a bit of a difficulty because her family runs a marina in New Jersey. Since her brothers are away on military service, the running of the place falls upon her shoulders. And she was doing okay, really. She even got up the gumption to take the urn with Grandpa's ashes out and scatter them. Overcoming her demons. Way to go, Erica.

Except. Ex-fiance Joey, skirt chaser and cheater (hence the ex) apparently hid some diamonds in Grandpa's urn and he's not too happy that Erica has dumped them in the sea. So not happy that he drags her out to the site at gunpoint and forces her into shark infested waters to retrieve them. When she is unable to find them an infuriated Joey shoots at her, grazing her temple and knocking her out. Then he takes off (what a charmer), leaving Erica to be eaten by a circling shark.

Named Vincent. Fortunately for Erica she has been admired from afar for years. Well, since the aforementioned incident when she was eight, at least. Reel Tritone, second son of the under sea's version of the royal family, fell for her that day and has been hoping she would return ever since. And here she is, about to be eaten by Vincent the shark or drowned, dead either way. He talks Vincent out of eating her and then saves her the only way he can, by kissing her to turn her into a water-breather. Never mind that it breaks every rule of the Mer-people and could lead to the punishment of death for both of them. He'll tackle that later.

You see, Reel is the only mer-person to not have a tail. He has legs, just like humans. In the Mer world the oldest royal son is born with a tail and younger sons are born with legs to dissuade them from trying to grab the top spot. Makes sense, but also means that Reel has felt like an outcast for much of his life and is fascinated with humans, who look more like him.

So, Erica wakes up in Reel's bottom-of-the-sea home, breathing water, talking fish everywhere and a beautiful naked merman in front of her. It is a lot for a girl to take in all at once. Especially when they are almost immediately commanded to appear before the High Council to defend themselves. Reel has an ace up his non-existent sleeve, though. The council wants those diamonds, too. And he knows where they are. Better not to tell Erica that a sea monster, the mother of all sea monsters, actually, is hoarding them. If they can get those diamonds back the council will agree to cancel the death sentence. That's a BIG if.

This was my first paranormal romance and I read it because I loved the premise, it just sounded like so much fun. What mom who has been forced to see Disney's The Little Mermaid a hundred and fifty times wouldn't want an adult version to spice things up? (I'm not a mom, but I have seven nieces and nephews...my poor sister and sisters-in-law know the dialogue of those Disney movies by heart, they have heard them so many times). And this story is fun! The author has taken her unique idea and created a whole underwater society where the fish talk (where a human would say "Oh, man!" they say "Oh, fish!"), work (marlins are the equivalent of a team of horses pulling a stagecoach) and generally get up to the same kinds of mischief that humans do. There is action and excitement (especially the sexual kind) and quite a bit of humor, too. This one takes romance to a new height, er, depth. (Note that there is some rather explicit hot sex, rather well done, I thought, but needs to be mentioned). Take this one to the beach this summer, you will have a whole new appreciation for the waves lapping at your toes.

With a cast of such fun and interesting characters, it would be a shame to stop with just one book! Thankfully the author has sequels in the works already. Wild Blue Under and Catch of a Lifetime will be published soon by Sourcebooks. Many thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for sending me this one and to Judi for her fabulous guest post yesterday! Remember to stop by the author's website, she has a great Romantic Getaway contest going on right now!

In Over Her Head is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-4022-2001-2

How about some other reviews?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Guest Post: Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head

Today I would like to welcome Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head. Check back tomorrow for my review of her book. Welcome, Judi and thanks so much for joining us today!


Thank you so much for having me, Carey!
Since this is the Tome Traveller's blog, I figured I'd talk about traveling. Whether to actual places, or through books, traveling is, indeed the spice of life.
All the books I read growing up took me to wonderful places. Starting with the fairy tales and their castles, then I zipped through all of the Oz books - you want to talk about traveling! - then on to the Doctor Doolittle books... ah, to go to the moon on the back of a lunar moth, or travel under the sea in the great pink sea snail!
Then there were the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Bobbsey Twins books which took you to secret staircases or old mills.
Books are such great (and inexpensive) ways to travel!
So, when it came time for me to place my story, In Over Her Head, I chose the Jersey Shore. Not exotic. It doesn't have white sand beaches, or crystalline blue water, but it's close to home, we go there every year on vacation and it's the shore. For those of us who grew up in this area, the Jersey Shore combines the great memories of our childhood, the traditional fare of funnel cake and pizza and donuts and popcorn on the boardwalk, as well as the wonderfully relaxing atmosphere of living at the beach. And I got to take a couple of research trips while I was working on my Mer stories - can't complain about that.
I also had to come up with a place to put Atlantis. Now, if you've ever studied the North Atlantic on Google earth, you'll notice that there's not much there off the coast of the US. Until you hit Bermuda.
I've never been to Bermuda. I'd like to go to Bermuda, but have never been, and, sadly, we couldn't work that into our budget for my research. So I did the next best thing and traveled there via the internet. I am so thankful for the people who take underwater videos when they're scuba diving or snorkeling - all the beauty and fun of actually doing that without the expense or fear of sharks (which is a big fear for me...). There are so many photos of the caves beneath Bermuda, and a lot of video that I could build my Atlantis sitting in my office chair.
Then I had to build a castle in the Caribbean. Now, I've been to the Caribbean, but, I got to tell ya, I've never seen an underwater castle. :) So, once again, I went back to the internet (memory doesn't serve as well once you get past a certain age...). Again, thank you to all the people who post their scuba experiences so I could get the descriptions down and create the pink castle that's there...now.
They followed Carlos around a half-submerged, rusting plane fuselage to Ceto's home. Or should she say, palace? Erica almost forgot they were heading into the depths of a figurative Hell because Ceto's home was every bit as gorgeous as Atlantis.

Sunlight filtered through the water, twinkling on the pink conch shells lining the walls. Slabs of black-veined white marble supported an abalone portico roof, all its iridescent colors sparkling through the wakes of hundreds of neon fish darting to and fro in an even prettier garden than the one by the gates.

Midnight parrot fish tended manicured coral topiaries. Floating overhead like vines on an invisible pergola, swaths of sea grasses provided the perfect hide-and-seek locale for schools of tropical fish. Octopi draped over ionic columns like living statues, their colors changing with every shoal of fish that swam by. Black, double volcanic-rock doors loomed twenty feet high in front of them.

"That's it?" Why was she whispering?
Reel nodded and gripped her arms. "Listen. Whatever I say, just go with it, okay? This isn't the time to try to work things out for yourself. Don't be a hero. Just follow my lead. Got it? Oh, and whatever you do, don't take that actinia off your ear."

"Why?" She crossed her arms.
"Because I lied to my mother."

Freakin' great. Just what she needed right now. "You? Lied? Hard to believe. So, what's the big secret and what does your mother have to do with this?"

"Let's just say that Ceto has tried for more than friendly neighbor status between us, and it's been a bit dicey to keep her at arms' length."

"And you're telling me this now because...?"

The black doors swung open toward them. "Look, just whatever you do, don't take off the actinia." He dropped one of her arms and turned back to face the doorway as the barracudas fanned out behind them. "Let's do this."

© Judi Fennell, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009

Someday, hopefully, I'll get to Bermuda. I'm also playing with ideas for more Mer stories - if there is a book 4 it will take place in the South Pacific. Again, I've been to Hawaii (close), but it was a while ago, so I'll be relying on the internet.
I have to tell you, though, that while the travel through books was enough when I was younger, nowadays I want to see these places. Preferably before I write about them.
Hmmm... maybe I could set one in Spain, since I did live there in college. I'll have to work on it.
And in keeping with the travel theme, I'd like to let everyone know that I'm having a giveaway on my website, www.JudiFennell.com for 3 readers to win a romantic beach getaway. Two in Ocean City NJ at the Atlantis Inn (www.AtlantisInn.com) Bed & Breakfast, and the other at the Hibiscus House (www.HibiscusHouse.com) Bed & Breakfast in West Palm Beach, FL.
About The Author:
Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did--right into Dad's hammock with her Nancy Drew books.
These days she's more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she's still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends' books.
A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she's received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at www.JudiFennell.com for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to "dive in" to her stories.

I spent years curled up on the couch with every book I could get my hands on, so I knew Judi would be a kindred spirit when I read that her Mom used to holler "Go outside," just like my Mom! And she just proved it by totally understanding that the name of my blog is a combination of the joy of visiting anytime/anywhere through the book in your hand and the excitement of actual travel to see the fantastic places you have read about (the real ones, anyway).

Thank you so much for that wonderful post, Judi! It was a pleasure having you here!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Need more George Pelecanos Giveaway: The Night Gardener

From Publishers Weekly Starred Review:

Pelecanos (Drama City) delivers a dignified, character-driven epic that succeeds as both literary novel and page-turner. In 1985, the body of a 14-year-old girl turns up in a Washington, D.C., park, the latest in a series of murders by a killer the media dub "The Night Gardener." T.C. Cook, the aging detective on the case, works with a quiet, almost monomaniacal, focus. Also involved are two young uniformed cops, Gus Ramone, who's diligent, conscientious and unimpressed by heroics, and Dan "Doc" Holiday, an adrenaline junkie who's decidedly less straight.

Fast forward 20 years. Detective Ramone, now married with kids of his own, investigates the murder of one of his teenage son's friends. The homicide closely resembles the earlier unsolved Night Gardener murders. Holiday, now an alcoholic chauffeur and bodyguard, follows the case on his own and tracks down Cook, long retired but still obsessed with the original murders. While the three work together toward a suspenseful ending, Pelecanos emphasizes the fallacy of "solving" a murder and explores the ripple effects of violent crime on society.

I have five copies of The Night Gardener to give away. To enter, just leave a comment here, include your email address if it is not in your blogger id. I'll give an extra entry to anyone who becomes a follower (or follows already), tweets this giveaway on twitter or blogs about it. If you do any of these please leave ONE extra comment to let me know. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address. Contest will be open until midnight eastern on June 18. Many thanks to Valerie at Hachette Book Group for providing the books for this giveaway! Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fantastic Fiction Audiobook Giveaway!

One of the highlights of BEA for me was meeting the wonderful publicists at Hachette Book Group. They are all so fun and it was great to be able to thank them in person for so generously providing fantastic books and audios for giveaways! Here's the latest group of fiction audios, I have three copies of each one:

William Smithback, a NY Times reporter, and his wife Nora Kelly, a Museum of Natural History archaeologist, are brutally attacked in their apartment on the Upper West side of Manhattan. Eyewitnesses claim and the security camera confirms the killer seen leaving the building was their strange, sinister neighbor--a man who, by all reports, was already dead.

Captain Hayward leads the official homicide investigation, while Pendergast, D'Agosta, and Nora undertake a private quest for the truth. Their serpentine journey takes them into a part of Manhattan they never imagined could exist: a secretive and deadly hotbed of Obeah, the West Indian Zombii cult of sorcery and magic. And it is here they find their true peril is just beginning.

Forced out of the Los Angeles Times amid the latest budget cuts, newspaperman Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, using his final days at the paper to write the definitive murder story of his career.

He focuses on Alonzo Winslow, a 16-year-old drug dealer in jail after confessing to a brutal murder. But as he delves into the story, Jack realizes that Winslow's so-called confession is bogus. The kid might actually be innocent.

Jack is soon running with his biggest story since The Poet made his career years ago. He is tracking a killer who operates completely below police radar--and with perfect knowledge of any move against him. Including Jack's.
Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past.

One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back.

Like Richard Price or William Kennedy, Pelecanos pushes his characters to the extremes, their redemption that much sweeter because it is so hard fought. Pelecanos has long been celebrated for his unerring ability to portray the conflicts men feel as they search and struggle for power and love in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving but can ultimately be filled with beauty.

You may enter for any or all of these great audios, just leave a comment here with the titles of the ones you would like to win. I will give an extra entry to anyone who becomes a follower (or follows already), tweets the giveaway on twitter or blogs about it. If you do any of these, please leave me ONE extra comment to let me know. Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address (no PO Boxes). Contest will end at midnight eastern on June16th, so get those comments in! Good luck, thanks for entering and thanks again to Anna at Hachette for providing the audios!

Monday, June 1, 2009

BEA 2009 Wrap-Up & 100th Review Giveaway Announcement

Got home at 2am this morning from a fantastic four day trip to NYC for Book Expo America. It was just incredible and we had a wonderful time! It was my first BEA and I was repeatedly told that it was "the smallest one ever." All I have to say to that is "Thank Goodness!" I did not sit down for three days so my back was killing me and I was completely exhausted. But also thrilled to meet bloggers and publicists who I have been talking to online and emailing for the last year. They are all so nice and such fun to talk to, I wish there had been time to say more than "hi" to most of them! But I was so happy to get to spend a little time with Kathy from Bermudaonion's Weblog, Julie from Booking Mama, Amy from My Friend Amy, Stephanie from Stephanie's Written Word, Nicole from Linus's Blanket, Beth from Beth Fish Reads and Lisa from Online Publicist.

It was also great to meet the publicists at Hachette (so much fun!), Sourcebooks, Unbridled, Five Star, Medallion and Penguin.

There are probably people that I am forgetting at the moment, but they were all a pleasure to meet. Each and every one was positive and enthusiastic. I saw no evidence of the much-hyped "death of publishing," for which I am grateful.

Friday night was the BEAtweetup party. Huge turnout and a very cool venue at Greenhouse:

There were signings with many interesting authors but the one that pleased me the most was Julie Andrews, who wrote the book that was my absolute favorite when I was a kid: Mandy. (She even signed a bookplate for me to put into my old copy of Mandy.) And so many others: Annie Barrows, Eileen Goudge, James Patterson, Alan Bradley. For a book lover, it was heaven!

I also got some great books to add to my giveaway pile, which is outgrowing my house. I've been planning a HUGE giveaway to celebrate my 100th review. I am currently at 91, so 100 will be coming up in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the details, it looks like I'm going to be giving away in excess of fifty books, you won't want to miss it!

Saturday night we went to The Strand. It is the best bookshop anywhere (in my humble opinion) and I never miss a chance to visit there when I am in NYC. For the first time ever, I did not pick up a single book! Not even one. I was so overwhelmed with great galleys at BEA, I didn't even want another book. My husband went a little crazy, though, and made up for me not buying anything!

**Edited to add that I did have one disappointment at BEA, and it was a biggie. One of my all-time favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, was there signing and I missed her because I had no idea that she was scheduled to appear. She wasn't on any of the published schedules before the show. Here's a tip for anyone going to their first BEA: Publishers Weekly puts out a daily BEA newspaper, which is distributed free all over the conference center. Pick one up first thing in the morning and read it. I grabbed one on Friday morning and then proceeded to carry it around with me for the entire day. It wasn't until I was sitting in bed Friday night that I opened it up and read it. There was the ad for Diana's appearance on Friday morning. And I missed it! I'll admit, there was some cursing in my room at that moment. My sweet hubby felt so bad for me!

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.