Monday, January 31, 2011

#21: Me, Myself and Paris - Ruth Yunker


Synopsis & Book Info:
Me, Myself & Paris is author Ruth Yunker's droll pastiche of her days, free and unaccompanied, in Paris. Three years in a row she rents an apartment, stays for six weeks, and takes on Paris, half resident, half visitor. She is a short attention span tourist, a wide-eyed voyeur, and irreverence saves the day when the chips are down. Her stories are about bonhomie and savoir-faire, American style, while treading the hallowed and slippery cobblestones of Paris.

It's about every day errands, and sorties into dutiful sightseeing. It's about run-ins with grocery store cashiers and metro ticket agents. It's about desperately trying to speak French. It's about attempting to emulate the chic, windblown Parisian woman wearing no lipstick, while Ruth wouldn't be caught bare lipped outside the boudoir.
She conquers the metro, no mean feat for a Californian glued to a car. She hears ghosts in cathedrals, and smells bread toasting every morning across the courtyard. She learns to make correct change without her reading glasses. Comes to understand that direct eye contact is a flagrant disregard of manners, even when she most needs a hug.
Me, Myself & Paris is what Paris looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like, to an American woman, free and unfettered, sense of humor and bonhomie alive and well, alone and loving it, in the most beautiful and temperamental city in the world.

Hardcover: 206 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432757144
Purchase at Amazon


©2010


My Opinion:
I had seen this book around, and saw the rave reviews on Amazon, and thought it was going to be a funny look at one woman's journey to Paris.
It was a good story, in essay format, but it lacked in humor for me.
It was set in Paris, a city I hope to one day see. Even more so after reading this book and hearing how Ruth describes it. You really do get a feel for what it must be like there.
Just not a book I will remember a week from now. Sorry.


2/5


Recommend? No.


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

January Monthly News


Welcome to the first Monthly News of the year!
There have been some changes, but nothing too drastic!


BOOKS:
1. The Wolf of Tebron - C.S. Lakin (recommend)
2. The Potluck Club - Linda Evans Shepherd & Eva Marie Everson (recommend)
3. Smithsonian Natural History
4. John Lennon: Life Is What Happens - John M. Borack
5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
6. THR3E - Ted Dekker
7. My Immortal Assassin - Carolyn Jewel (recommend)
8. Choker - Elizabeth Woods (recommend)
9. Stuck In The Middle - Virginia Smith
10. Traveler's Rest - James Enge
11. Unexpected Comfort - Kelly Ferjutz
12. Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready (HIGHLY recommend)
13. Blue - Lou Aronica
14. Cat Calls - Cynthia Leitich Smith
15. The Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova
16. India Black - Carol K. Carr (recommend)
17. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown - Olivia deBelle Byrd
18. Lucas Taylor: The Time Traveler - Kelvin O'Ralph
19. Pilates Practice Companion - Alycea Ungaro (recommend)
20. Reaper = Rachel Vincent (recommend)
21. Me, Myself & Paris - Ruth Yunker

PRODUCTS:
1. Tshirt Printing.net (recommend)
2. Boom Boom Cards (Teen Edition)

TV:
1. Working Class


YEARLY TOTAL: 21 Books, 2 Products, 1 Tv Show



BOOK OF THE MONTH:




INTERVIEWS:
With Author Lou Aronica


AUTHOR GUEST POSTS:
With Author Carol K. Carr
With Author Graham Parke


MY GUEST POSTS:
Women's Tales Event at VVB32 Reads Blog



AWARDS:

Stylish Blogger Award from Melissa. Thanks Melissa! Go check her blog out, it rocks!
I received this award again from Bev. Thank you! Check out her blog it has great content!

I received the Memetastic Award from Kelsey! Thanks a bunch, it's new and dear to me having the 2 memes on this blog that I run. The Friday 56 and Quote It Saturday. Hope to see more of you there!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

#20: Reaper - Rachel Vincent


Synopsis & Book Info:
Tod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him--and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.
Suddenly Tod's future wasn't so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life... Death... or something Between....
An ebook exclusive Soul Screamers series novella.

Kindle Edition: 203 KB
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ASIN: B004AYD50E
Purchase for FREE at Amazon


©2010


My Opinion:
This novella is a prequel to books I have yet to read.
That didn't make a difference! I didn't feel lost at all.
Tod is a character that is so likable. I can't wait to read My Soul To Take, which I own.


5/5


Recommend? YES!


~I received a copy from Amazon. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

#19: Pilates Practice Companion - Alycea Ungaro


Synopsis & Book Info:
Accessible, authoritative, and inspiring, Pilates Practice Companion is a one-stop resource to guide people of all abilities in their practice of Pilates. Separated into exercises for beginner, intermediate, and advanced fitness levels, the book allows readers to focus on the exercises that are relevant to them and to progress at their own pace. With beautiful step-by-step photography, clear instructions on each exercise, and key features, such as annotated photographs of common faults and a list of the physical and mental benefits of each exercise, Pilates Practice Companion demonstrates how to practice Pilates without costly classes and equipment.

Hardcover: 256 Pages
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
ISBN: 9780756671495
Purchase at Amazon


Author Bio:

Alycea Ungaro is one of the most recognized and influential Pilates teachers in the world. As the owner of New York City’s top studio, Real Pilates, Alycea’s celebrity clientele have included Madonna, Uma Thurman, Sarah Michelle Geller, and many more. She is the author of DK’s top-selling Pilates: Body in Motion and 15 Minute Everyday Pilates.


©2011


My Opinion:
I have a new favorite DK book!
This is an amazing book for taking care of yourself by way of exercise. It goes from beginner to advanced, and has step-by-step illustrations that are very straight-forward and clear to understand.
I was new to Pilates, but being an active person I always had a keen interest. Now I have been making it part of my daily lifestyle! I will continue to use this book too, since right now I am still using the beginner phase.
If you're looking to tone up, or just feel great, try this book! It could help you too!


5/5


Recommend? Definitely!


~I received a copy from DK Canada. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

#18: Lucas Taylor: The Time Traveler


Synopsis & Book Info:
Why follow the heart, when you've got a brain?
Lucas Taylor is an undergraduate at the university of Wolverhampton, UK. Although, he's studying Computer Science, he has a profound passion for writing and reading, and hopes to become an author one day. On his eighteenth birthday, Lucas is given a priceless gift - the ability to time travel. However, his journeys to the future interferes with his social life, causing him to misinterpret their meanings. During his quest for greatness, Lucas searches for the girl who can retrieve his stolen heart, since Carla Benton unknowingly refuses to give it back. He dates one girl after the other, hoping to find the right girl.
This book takes the reader through the life of the boy who could witness the future.



Ebook: 148 pages
Publisher: Smashwords
Purchase at Smashwords



©2011


My Opinion:
I saw this book and thought it sounded interesting, the idea of time travel. I'm glad it was as good as I thought it would be. But for different reasons than I had anticipated.
For a short story, it flowed really well, and I felt the characters come alive.
A few times I did have to go back and read the parts where he "traveled", they seemed thin. The romance got hotter as it went along, and was better written than the science fiction aspect.
It did come together well though and I enjoyed it.



3/5


Recommend? Romance lovers, yes.


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Saturday, January 29, 2011

#17: Miss Hildreth Wore Brown - Olivia deBelle Byrd


Synopsis & Book Info:
While Olivia deBelle Byrd was repeating one of her many Southern stories for the umpteenth time, her long-suffering husband looked at her with glazed over eyes and said,“Why don’t you write this stuff down?” Thus was born Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle. If the genesis for a book is to shut your wife up, I guess that’s as good as any. On top of that, Olivia’s mother had burdened her with one of those Southern middle names kids love to make fun. To see “deBelle” printed on the front of a book seemed vindication for all the childhood teasing. With storytelling written in the finest Southern tradition from the soap operas of Chandler Street in the quaint town of Gainesville, Georgia, to a country store on the Alabama state line, Oliviade Belle Byrd delves with wit and amusement into the world of the Deep South with all its unique idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms. The characters who dance across the pages range from Great-Aunt LottieMae, who is as “old-fashioned and opinionated as the day is long,” to Mrs. Brewton, who calls everyone “dahling” whether they are darling or not, to Isabella with her penchant for mint juleps and drama. Humorous anecdotes from a Christmas coffee, where one can converse with a lady who has Christmas trees with blinking lights dangling from her ears, to Sunday church,where a mink coat is mistaken for possum, will delight Southerners and baffle many a non-Southerner. There is the proverbial Southern beauty pageant, where even a six-month-old can win a tiara, to a funeral faux pas of the iron clad Southern rule—one never wears white after Labor Day and, dear gussy, most certainly not to a funeral. Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle is guaranteed to provide an afternoon of laugh-out-loud reading and hilarious enjoyment.

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
ISBN: 9781600377488
Purchase at Amazon


©2010


My Opinion:
This is exactly what I needed to make a lazy weekend afternoon go by!
It was funny, hit home at times, and just generally entertained me. There was one part that will forever stick out in my head... about adding another commandment... Thou Shall Not Sass. As a parent, I get that!
Definitely a fun book, women will love!


Recommend? Yes, for a quick read.


4/5


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Giveaway: India Black - Carol K. Carr


Synopsis:
Set in 1876, Carr's breezy, fast-paced debut introduces feisty India Black, who runs a London brothel catering to gentlemen, many of whom recognize the reference to the Tennyson poem in the brothel's name, Lotus House. When a patron turns up dead at Lotus House, India plots to dump the corpse elsewhere to preserve her business's reputation, but her efforts are interrupted by the shadowy Mr. French, who assumes responsibility for disposal of the body. In exchange, India agrees to go undercover at the behest of the prime minister himself, Benjamin Disraeli, to prevent highly sensitive documents that the victim was carrying from falling into the wrong hands. The dead man proves to have been Sir Archibald Latham, of the War Office, and the missing documents regard England's readiness to fight the Russians in the Balkans. Readers should be prepared for formulaic plot twists involving numerous escapes and gunfights.


Thank you to Carol, I have 1 copy for a lucky reader. Here is what you need to do to enter:

OPEN TO US AND CANADA



MANDATORY ENTRY:
Leave a comment about Carol's Guest Post, My review of India Black, or why you want to read this book, along with your email address.
No email, no entry.


Additional Entries (leave a separate comment for each one):
+1 Tweet, blog or share and leave link.
+1 Follower via GFC
+1 Email subscriber
+1 Fan Page follower


CONTEST ENDS FEBRUARY 13, 8 PM EST.


#16: India Black - Carol K. Carr


Synopsis & Book Info:
Set in 1876, Carr's breezy, fast-paced debut introduces feisty India Black, who runs a London brothel catering to gentlemen, many of whom recognize the reference to the Tennyson poem in the brothel's name, Lotus House. When a patron turns up dead at Lotus House, India plots to dump the corpse elsewhere to preserve her business's reputation, but her efforts are interrupted by the shadowy Mr. French, who assumes responsibility for disposal of the body. In exchange, India agrees to go undercover at the behest of the prime minister himself, Benjamin Disraeli, to prevent highly sensitive documents that the victim was carrying from falling into the wrong hands. The dead man proves to have been Sir Archibald Latham, of the War Office, and the missing documents regard England's readiness to fight the Russians in the Balkans. Readers should be prepared for formulaic plot twists involving numerous escapes and gunfights.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
ISBN: 9780425238660
Purchase at Amazon


©2011


My Opinion:
I loved this book!
No, I loved India! She is an amazing character! So strong and full of life. The author really brought her through in the book so beautifully, you almost forget it's fiction.
Another blogger said to me, "I want to be India." Frankly, I see why. Even though she is a "whore", you respect her.
The other plus side to this book, is that I'm not huge historical fan. I am not keen on authors changing normal dialogue to suit the times. I prefer standard writing where I can form their voices in my mind while reading, and Carol does this very well. She is a very talented writer, and I am grateful for the blogger friend that introduced us. Thank you. I can't wait to see what she writes next!


5/5


Recommend? Yes!


~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Friday, January 28, 2011

Author Guest Post With Graham Parke

Truth about Dinosaurs Finally Revealed!




There is something terribly wrong with this dinosaur picture. At first I didn’t notice it either. I must have read this picture page with my son ten times before I saw it. But when I did, my blood ran cold. How could this be? What was going on? I don’t mind telling you, there’s something very unsettling about discovering a kink in the nature of reality through a children’s book. Any other place is bad enough, but a children’s book? I just wasn’t prepared. How could I be?

Of course you didn’t need to look at the picture ten times. You noticed it right away. Before you even started reading this post. But there are some readers (not you) who didn’t. I urge them to take another look. To really give this picture the once over. As soon as your breath catches, as soon as the back of your neck gets cold and you start having nightmares, right now while you’re still awake, you know you’ve found it.

Crazy, isn’t it? At first I thought it was an honest mistake, some kind of artistic license. Draw a bunch of aquatic dinosaurs frolicking around in prehistoric oceans. Add some coral, add some reef, postulate the existence of cretaceous jellyfish, why not? There is no way to disprove that. And then, well, you give them something to play with. Like what you ask? What might one find at the bottom of an ocean? A sunken ship, maybe?

Well, no. Not really. Not when the closest estimation of the gap between dinosaurs and humans is around 60 million years. That’s not even a near miss. I’m having a hard enough time explaining to my dinosaur-obsessed four year old that there are no more living dinosaurs. That each and every one of them just happens to be dead. Never mind all the movies and picture books and merchandising. They are gone. It’s bad enough that I cannot answer his always ensuing enquiry of ‘WHY?’ with a satisfying answer. (Well, son, there are different hypotheses ranging from climate change to meteor showers and, although no definitive proof can be found to exclude any hypothesis specifically, the one thing they all have in common is that they end with the dinosaurs going extinct.) So I don’t need his favorite picture book casting doubt over my already shaky explanation.

My son doesn’t give up easily, though. What about the zoo, he wants to know. I tell him there are elephants at the zoo, which are pretty big. And there are crocodiles, which are a kind of dinosaur, but there are, and this I swear to him, no tyrannosaurus rexes. Not a single one. Not even, I add to head off his next question, a tiny little one tucked away in a forgotten corner somewhere. They are all gone.



But of course the creators of children’s books are far from stupid. They are in the business of explaining the world, the entire universe even. They have access to far more information than we laymen do. Of course they have, they are educating our future generations, after all. They have access to secret government labs, to experiments, to NASA data. And you’re not surprised to hear this, not in the least, as a species we’ve always suspected as much. So this is why my blood ran cold. They did make a mistake with this dinosaur picture, but it wasn’t an oversight, it was a leak! Scientists have apparently known for a while that society, as nature itself, is in fact cyclical. Before the human came the dinosaur, before the dinosaur came simple multi-cellular life, and before simple multi-cellular life came… yes, the human! We’ve been here before. Many times. 5 billions years of earth history is a long time. It’s long enough for over 80 cycles of dinosaurs and humans and the huge amount of time in between them! We’ve been fools for not figuring this out sooner. We’ve been popping in and out of existence like popcorn and we didn’t even know it!

Scientists are trying to work out how long each cycle of human existence lasts, and what ends up wiping us out. If we can find a common denominator, we might predict our future, adjust our cycle, hang on to life a little longer this iteration. In the mean time, though, they don’t want us to panic. Not more than we’re already doing.

But some renegade children’s book illustrator apparently decided that enough was enough. It was time for the truth to come out. I can picture him right now, drawing away, an evil grin on his face, putting boats and cars and discount cellular phone shops in dinosaur books for all age groups. ‘This will get the word out,’ he thinks. ‘This will stick it to the man!’


Bio:

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.


No Hope for Gomez! is his fiction debut:

Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.

#15: The Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova


Synopsis & Book Info:
Psychiatrist Andrew Marlow, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.
Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

CD: 17 CD's
Publisher: Hachette Audio
ISBN: 9780316065788
Purchase at Amazon


Author Bio:
Elizabeth Kostova is the author of the international bestseller The Historian. She graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress.


©2010


My Opinion:
Since this was an audiobook, let me start of with the narrative part of it.
There were many different narrators, for each time and character. Some I enjoyed and some I did not. It flipped around in voices quite often, maybe too much for my tastes. The French accent is distracting at times too.
Now for the story part.
It is what I liked. Marlow is an interesting character, and I found myself keenly listening when his parts were on. Though I like Kate the best. She was the character that I found easy to relate to.
There were some humorous spots in the story too.
I wasn't crazy about it as a whole in audio format, but because there were enough parts of the story I liked, I am keen to read it in a regular print book.


3/5


Recommend? Buy the hardcover, not the audiobook.


~I won my copy. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Author Guest Post With Carol K. Carr

Help me welcome Carol to the blog. She was kind enough to do a guest post, and be sure to read my review of India Black tomorrow!!



Freda, thank you for inviting me to visit your blog. I'm very happy to be here and introduce your readers to India Black.

India is the young and beautiful madam of a brothel in Victorian London. When a government minister dies in her establishment and the portfolio of War Office documents he was carrying goes missing, India finds herself blackmailed into helping the British government recover the case from the Russian agents who have stolen it. She is joined in the pursuit by a handsome British agent named French, and an odiferous street urchin called Vincent. The chase leads from the Russian embassy to one of London's grand hotels, and finally across the English Channel to France.

Writers are always instructed to "write what you know." I want to go on record that India Black is not based on personal experience. I am not now, nor ever have been, in the brothel business (although people have pointed out that as I am a lawyer, I am surely well acquainted with the ethics of prostitution, the professions being so similar). The background for India is much more mundane.

I am fascinated by the Victorian Era, and I wanted to set my story in that period. Part of that fascination is the similarities of that era to our own. There is a strong religious element in both societies, and a great divide between the rich and poor. The British had the most powerful military in the world, as the U.S. does today. Where it differs is that there was a great emphasis on public rectitude and respectable behavior during the Victorian period, but under the surface was a seething mess of poverty, crime and sexual freedom. We're a lot more open about those things today.

As to the inspiration for India, I must say that I've got a soft spot for heroes and heroines with flaws, especially if the characters are blithely ignorant of these faults, and if the authors play them for laughs. I'm thinking of Ruth Dudley Edward's heroine, Baroness Troutbeck (who takes political incorrectness to fabulous levels, and Amelia Peabody (who has the self-assurance of a runaway bulldozer). Because I'm drawn to these kinds of characters, it seemed natural to create my own.

I certainly did not want a heroine who occupied herself with needlework or drawing lessons, nor one whose credibility and access to power came through her husband, his family, or his connections. I wanted a heroine who was an outsider to conventional society, who has worked hard to make her own way in the world, and who had acquired street smarts along the way. She needed an independent source of income, and the freedom to come and go as she pleased. The notion that she should own her own brothel occurred very early to me. And I must admit, having spent a few years in the Human Resources department of a large company, the idea of "managing" a group of whores seemed full of comic possibilities.

India's personality reflects my own in some ways. We share a cynical world of view, especially of politics, politicians and do-gooders. We are both pragmatic and concentrate on the bottom line. Neither of us has much patience, and we're too impetuous for our own good. We are not romantics. We are not shocked at the depravity and hypocrisy in the world. And we both have trouble with authority. Her voice comes easily to me, and I have a lot of fun writing her. But I can tell you I'm not nearly as brave as India, and would probably be intimidated by things she finds invigorating.

I've learned quite a bit from the experience of writing India. Because she is such a strong personality, it's tempting to let her character become impossibly clever and outrageously cynical. She can literally get away from me, which sounds ridiculous, as I'm the one writing her, and your characters should just do what you tell them to do. There are many writers who can tell you this is not true. Characters do take on a life of their own and lead you in directions you hadn't intended to go, or become something you didn't intend them to become. India prides herself on her self-control, but sometimes I have to let a little of that slip so that readers can see that she does have emotions and feelings, even if she is loathe to show them.

In the next installment of India's adventures, she (and French and Vincent, of course) travel to Scotland to protect an important member of the royal family. There will be swordplay, treason, secret passages, and even some Scottish dancing to liven things up. I don't have a publication date yet, but I'd anticipate that it will be sometime in 2012.

To learn more about India and me, you can visit our website at http://www.carolkcarr.com

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Friday 56


Welcome to Week 13 with me!



Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it here.

It's that simple.


Miss Hildreth Wore Brown - Olivia deBelle Byrd

Page 56:

I am Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford.


#14: Cat Calls - Cynthia Leitich Smith


Synopsis & Book Info:
Tiffany's grandmother sees something wild in her future -- but is 16-year-old Tiffany prepared for the powerful shape it will take? When she takes over her grandmother’s fortune telling booth for a day, some really strange things happen… CAT CALLS is a short story by New York Times Bestseller Cynthia Leitich Smith -- set in the same dark universe as her novels Tantalize, Eternal, and Blessed.

Kindle Edition: 223 KB
Publisher: Candlewick
ASIN: B004GXB3XA
Purchase at Amazon on Kindle for FREE!


©2010


My Opinion:
I was not the type of girl to read a lot of short stories, but decided recently to give them a try. For the most part, they are fun and quick to read, but none really stood out for me.
Until now.
Maybe it's the paranormal aspect, but I really liked this story.
Because of that, I will continue to read them.


5/5


Recommend? Yes, to short story fans!


~I received a copy from Amazon. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Quick & Easy Giveaway: Private - James Patterson (Audiobook)


Synopsis:
Former Marine and CIA agent Jack Morgan inherits his father's renowned security and detective business--along with a case load that tests him to the breaking point. Getting to the bottom of an NFL gambling scandal and an unsolved LAPD investigation into 18 school girl slayings would be enough. On top of all that, Morgan takes on solving the horrific murder of his best friend's wife.
As Morgan fights the urge to exact brutal revenge on that killer, he has to navigate a workplace imbroglio that could blow the roof off his elite agency. And it's an especially explosive situation . . . because the love affair is his own.


Thank you to Anna & Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies of this audiobook to giveaway.

OPEN TO US & CANADA
1 copy per household

Quick and easy giveaway, due to the fact I should have had this contest back in the summer. Unfortunately Purolator only delivered it yesterday!


Mandatory Entry:
Tell me if you have read James Patterson before, and which is your favorite?
Leave an email address too.
NO EMAIL, NO ENTRY.


CONTEST ENDS FEBRUARY 9, 8 PM EST


Q & A With Author Lou Aronica


Hello Readers!
Please give a warm welcome to author, Lou Aronica, whose book, Blue, toured yesterday.




1. Please tell readers about your current book.

Blue is a novel about a father and his largely estranged teenaged daughter and what happens when the bedtime-story fantasy world they created when the daughter was little comes alive. The three focal characters (the father, the daughter, and the young queen from the fantasy world) are all experiencing life-changing crises, and there is a very specific reason why this connection has been made at this time. Of course, explaining what that connection is would ruin the story, so I’ll refrain from doing so here.



2. Who or what inspires your writing?


The inspiration for this novel was my concerns over my daughter soon going away to college. I was worried that I was going to lose her and I decided to turn to the page to work out my issues. I didn’t realize at the time that I was starting a six-year process, which is how long it took me to finish Blue. The upside is that I have a novel I’m very proud of and I can also say that my daughter has graduated college and I didn’t lose her at all.



3. When did you know you would be a writer?


I recently reconnected with a friend who told me that I talked about being a writer in elementary school. I didn’t remember that, but I do remember beginning to take writing seriously in high school. I intended to pursue a career as a writer right out of college, but I took a job in book publishing, fell in love with that world, and put off my first book project by twenty years.



4. How long did it take you to write your first novel?


I completed a novel in college in a semester. No one will ever see that novel, however. My first published novel, The Forever Year, took me nine months to finish. My second, Flash and Dazzle took me three months. I’m sure you can imagine, then, that I had no idea my third would take me six years.


5. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Accepting the fact that the first draft is going to be awful. I do a great deal of prep before I start. With fiction, I storyboard the entire thing before I write a word. Still, I find I’m just grasping until I get a draft on the page. This causes me a great deal of stress.


6. Do you have any writing rituals?

I move around a great deal when I’m writing. I’ll write a couple of sentences and then walk around the room. I’ll add another line and go into the kitchen for a minute. When I started writing, I worried that this was a form of procrastination. As it turns out, it’s just the way I work.



7. Have you written any thing else?


Blue is my twelfth book and my third novel. I have coauthored nine works of nonfiction, including the New York Times bestseller, The Element (with Sir Ken Robinson), and the national bestseller The Culture Code (with Clotaire Rapaille).



8. Any advice to aspiring writers?

This is a tough time to be a writer, especially a novelist, because of the seismic shifts in the publishing marketplace. For the same reason, though, I think it is going to be a great age to be a writer. The key for writers, though, is to write with tremendous honesty. Readers have great respect for writers who approach their subjects with honesty. This is more important now than it has been in a very long time, because readers have more ways of learning about the quality of a book before buying it.


9. Who is your favorite Author?

I have many, but I would have to say that right near the top are Ray Bradbury and Pat Conroy. Bradbury because of his ability to make the mundane seem magical and Conroy because of his ability to make characters and relationships spring to life.



10. What is your favorite book?


Wow, that’s nearly impossible to say. I think The Catcher in the Rye probably had the most impact on me.


11. What are you currently reading?

I just finished The Hunger Games because my wife and eleven-year-old daughter couldn’t stop talking about it. It really is an extraordinary work. I suppose that means the next two things I’ll be reading are Catching Fire and Mockingjay.



12. How do readers find out more about you?

They can go to my site, www.fictionstudio.com and they can e-mail me at laronica@fictionstudio.com.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#13: Blue - Lou Aronica (TOUR)


Synopsis & Book Info:
Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life. Becky is Chris's fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who overcame enormous challenges to become a vibrant, vital young woman - and now faces her greatest obstacle yet. Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little, a fantasy land that has developed a life of its own and now finds itself in terrible, maybe fatal trouble. Together, Chris, Becky, and Miea need to uncover a secret. The secret to why their worlds have joined at this moment. The secret to their purpose. The secret to the future. It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them. Blue is a novel of trial and hope, invention and rediscovery. It might very well take you someplace you never knew existed.

Paperback: 440 pages
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
ISBN-13: 9781936558001
Purchase at Amazon


Author Bio:
Lou Aronica is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction, including the New York Times bestseller, The Element (written with Ken Robinson) and the national bestseller, The Culture Code (written with Clotaire Rapaille). He lives in Southern Connecticut with his wife and four children.






©2010


My Opinion:
Grab the tissues!!!
This book had a tearjerker moment!
Good or bad, I'll leave that up to you.
For me, about halfway through the book I thought I had it all figured out. I was totally wrong, along with the main characters parents, and anyone else who heard of the details. It was easy to form a picture of what you thought was going on, and hard to believe in what was happening.
That to me is creativity at its finest.
This book is going to be loved by many, of that I am sure!


4/5


Recommend? Yes


~I received a copy from Pump Up Your Book. I was not compensated for my opinion.~


*WATCH FOR Q & A TOMORROW!*

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday




* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall open to a random page.
* Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
* You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.
* Please avoid spoilers!


My Teaser:


French snarled something inarticulate that I took to be an affirmative answer, and he staggered to his feet. I took his arm, but he shook my hand off with another of his patented growls and stalked off through the fallen snow.

~Page 174, India Black - Carol K. Carr (TOURS Jan 29, Author Guest post Jan 28, and Giveaway coming too!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

#12: Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready


Synopsis & Book Info:
Aura and her boyfriend are anticipating a special evening: it's Logan's 17th birthday, his band is playing an important gig, and they have intimate plans for the after party. However, things go horribly wrong when Logan drinks heavily, takes the cocaine that a record label rep gave to him, and dies. Logan is gone, but not really. Aura, like everyone else aged 16 and younger, was born after the Shift and can see and talk to ghosts. This ability has long annoyed her, and she has yearned to find out why the phenomenon happened so that she can end it. Now, still very much in love, Aura is ecstatic to see and hear Logan's spirit, though they can't touch. Then Zachary, a new boy, enters the picture and he and Aura discover that they share a mysterious bond: they were born one minute apart (he the last one pre-Shift and she the first after). Meanwhile, Logan's parents decide to sue the record label for providing their son with drugs, hoping that Logan will pass on if they win. If he doesn't find peace, he risks becoming a shade, a violent emanation considered a public-safety threat. This complex novel has numerous subplots. Occasionally, the chapters seem to take sudden turns from one story line to another, making the first-person narrative somewhat confusing. Nevertheless, the characters are interesting, and so is the clearly developed alternative world. Filled with romance and featuring a strong protagonist, Shade is sure to attract teens.

Paperback: 309 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781416994060
Purchase at Amazon


©2010


My Opinion:
The last word in this book pretty much sums up exactly how I feel after reading it. WOW!
I felt so many emotions while reading this story, happiness, excitement, fear, anger and even some sadness. The end almost made me cry, even though it was happy for the most part. You just feel so much for the characters that you can't help feeling like crying.
I'm so glad I read this book. It made me think differently about ghosts. Plus I secretly wish I had Aura's powers... LOL... Read the book and you will feel the same!


5/5


Recommend? Most definitely, yes!


~I received a copy from Simon & Schuster. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Sunday, January 23, 2011

#11: Unexpected Comfort - Kelly Ferjutz


Synopsis & Book Info:
Homesteading in the American West isn’t easy. Emilia and Sam Hubbard had made some progress in carving a homestead for themselves out of the isolated prairie country. Then renegade Indians attack, killing Sam and forging an unlikely partnership between Emmy and a wanderer, Ben Murphy. In the midst of all the turmoil, she discovers unexpected comfort from the one man she should avoid.

Kindle Edition - 113 KB
Publisher: Cerridwen Press
ASIN: B003SX121C
Purchase at Amazon for FREE


©2009


My Opinion:
After reading this one I wonder if I got the whole story or just the first little bit.
Even if it was all, it left a bitter taste in my mouth with the main characters actions. Just not what I want to read.


2/5


Recommend? No.


~ I received a copy from Amazon. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

#10: Traveler's Rest - James Enge


Synopsis & Book Info:
The story you are about to read features James Enge’s wondrous character, Morlock Ambrosius. Morlock is a swordsman, an exile, a hunchback, a drunk, and a wizard, though he himself would use the term “Maker” and say he is a master of the two arts, Seeing and Making. James Enge’s tales of Morlock the Maker have appeared in Black Gate magazine, in the anthology Swords & Dark Magic, and elsewhere, and Morlock features in the novels Blood of Ambrose, This Crooked Way, and The Wolf Age. In honor of this burgeoning Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr is issuing a free, exclusive, ePub novelette called “Travellers' Rest.” Featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, “Travellers' Rest” is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. Enge describes “Traveller's Rest” as “a story that's been trying to chew its way out of my head for a while now, and this seemed like a good time to release it as an introduction to Morlock. Also, Morlock’s apprentice Wyrth has a small but discerning fan base, and ‘Traveller's Rest’ gives them a chance to encounter him again.”If you are new to Morlock, it should make a fine introduction to Enge’s creation, and if you are not, you will be pleased to see the return of at least one old friend. Either way, we hope that you enjoy it.The story you are about to read features James Enge’s wondrous character, Morlock Ambrosius. Morlock is a swordsman, an exile, a hunchback, a drunk, and a wizard, though he himself would use the term “Maker” and say he is a master of the two arts, Seeing and Making. James Enge’s tales of Morlock the Maker have appeared in Black Gate magazine, in the anthology Swords & Dark Magic, and elsewhere, and Morlock features in the novels Blood of Ambrose, This Crooked Way, and The Wolf Age. In honor of this burgeoning Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr is issuing a free, exclusive, ePub novelette called “Travellers' Rest.” Featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, “Travellers' Rest” is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. Enge describes “Traveller's Rest” as “a story that's been trying to chew its way out of my head for a while now, and this seemed like a good time to release it as an introduction to Morlock. Also, Morlock’s apprentice Wyrth has a small but discerning fan base, and ‘Traveller's Rest’ gives them a chance to encounter him again.”If you are new to Morlock, it should make a fine introduction to Enge’s creation, and if you are not, you will be pleased to see the return of at least one old friend. Either way, we hope that you enjoy it.

Kindle Edition: 405KB
Publisher: Pyr
ASIN: B004EYSWX0
Purchase at Amazon for FREE


©2010


My Opinion:
For an action-packed, exciting adventure all in a short story, this is a good pick! Fast and fun, you will really enjoy this quick read!


4/5


Recommend? Yes.


~ I received a copy from Amazon. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Friday 56


Welcome to Week 12 with me!



Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it here.

It's that simple.


Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready

PAGE 56:

"Call Aunt Jean," Siobhan said, sniffling. "Or Aunt Rosemary. They'll know what to do."


#9: Stuck In The Middle - Virginia Smith


Synopsis & Book Info:
Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut. Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800732325
Purchase at Amazon


©2008


My Opinion:
I feel like I got cut off short in the end, but for the most part this was a solid read.
The characters were easy to relate to, and structured quite well.
I look forward to reading more from this author, who was new to me.


3.5/5


Recommend? Yes, for a fast read.


~ I received a copy from Amazon. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#8: Choker - Elizabeth Woods


Synopsis & Book Info:
What if the only friend you could trust turned out to be dangerous? A new thriller from debut author Elizabeth Woods!

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1442412330
Purchase at Amazon


©2011


My Opinion:
At the end of this book I am trying to come up with all the right words to describe how I feel, but I don't want to give anything away.
I loved it!
That's the conclusion.
The writing itself flowed beautifully, and for a first time novelist, well done!
The characters were so real, you felt every emotion they had along with them.
Definitely a book that is going to be vivid in my mind for some time.


5/5


Recommend? Yes


~I received a copy from Simon & Schuster. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#7 : My Immortal Assassin - Carolyn Jewel (TOUR & WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT)


Synopsis:
TEMPTED BY REVENGE...
Grayson Spencer is hellbent on killing the dark mage who destroyed her life. But when her attempt fails, she is forced to turn to Durian, a feared demon and expert assassin. Newly armed with powerful magic she's barely able to control, she'll do whatever it takes to complete her mission--even surrender to a dangerous fiend whose eyes promise unimaginable pleasure.
BOUND BY DESIRE...
Sworn to protect all mages, Durian can't let Gray threaten the uneasy peace among demons, humans, and mages. So he proposes a deal: He'll train Gray to master her gift if she'll bind herself magically to him, submitting to his control. As Gray's powers intensify, so too does Durian's hunger for this fierce, irresistible woman. When the dark mage makes a final play for Gray, will the passion she and Durian share be the key to their survival or the seed of their destruction?

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Forever
ISBN-13: 978-0446563864
Purchase at Amazon

Five Fun Facts


Author Bio:
When not writing, Carolyn Jewel is a Database Administrator. She lives in northern California with her son, three cats, a border collie, several chickens, and some sheep.

Visit CarolynJewel.com
Carolyn on Facebook
Follow @CJewel on Twitter
Friend Carolyn on MySpace






©2010


My Opinion:
I heard recently this was part of a series. I had no idea, and frankly after reading the book, it doesn't matter. You can read it as a stand alone. I didn't feel lost at all.
I really like Durian and Gray, even if she had really bad fashion sense. I was rooting for them right off the bat. Their chemistry is pretty intense for the lack of sex in the book.
Don't go thinking there wasn't any sex, it just wasn't the focus of the story. Romance or not. It was mostly paranormal fiction for me.
The one thing I wasn't crazy about was the beginning. The very beginning, in the prologue, the author uses a 15th century term. You see more of this throughout the book. The problem is, when a chick is decked out like a punk rocker, and the demon-god man is dressing in Armani fashions, they're not likely in that time frame. Era-wise, I don't think the author had all that figured out. That's just me, and the best part is, it didn't ruin the book.
A lot of women are going to love this one!



4/5




Recommend?
Yes





~I received a copy from Hachette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~



Now for the Winners


#1. Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug}
#29. SquirrelQueen
#38. Meredith

Congratulations! Check your email!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaser Tuesday





* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall open to a random page.
* Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
* You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from…that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.
* Please avoid spoilers!


My Teaser:


Cara spotted Sarit in a group of their classmates. She smiled and nodded, but Sarit either didn't see her or didn't want to see her.

~ Page 94, Choker - Elizabeth Woods

Saturday, January 15, 2011

#6: THR3E - Ted Dekker


Synopsis & Book Info:
By all accounts seminary student Kevin Parsins is leading a good, if not virtuous, life. But like all people, Kevin has his secrets. And someone wants them revealed.
While driving home from a day at graduate school, Kevin receives a call from a mysterious stranger who calls himself Slater. Slater demands Kevin confess his sin in the next three minutes or the vehicle he is manning will be blown to pieces.
Thus starts a harrowing chain of events. After narrowly escaping his exploding car, Kevin continues to receive phone calls from Slater, each with another riddle, another consequence, and another three minutes to confess his sin.
The problem is Kevin is unsure of what that sin might be. And Slater's cycle won't stop until he figures it out.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Center Street
ISBN: 978-1599953144
Purchase at Amazon


Author Bio:
TED DEKKER is the author of twenty-two novels, with more than 3 million copies of his books sold to date, 1 million of them sold in 2007 alone. / / Known for adrenaline-laced stories packed with mind-bending plot twists, unforgettable characters and confrontations between good and evil, Dekker has earned his status as a New York Times bestselling author.


©2003


My Opinion:
I thought I was going to love this book, being a Ted Dekker fan. I was wrong and the book let me down some.
It was a story that if you mashed Speed with Saw, this is what you'd get. You'd think that would be exciting, but it fell short for me.
The only part that I liked about the whole book was the super-surprising ending. Not what I thought would happen at all, and so far from the Speed-Saw mash-up in my mind.
Too bad, I like the writing style of Dekker, so I'll still read more of his books. Just not my favorite.


2.5/5


Recommend? No


~I received a copy from Hachette Book Group. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Friday, January 14, 2011

Check out my Guest Post!


Head on over to VVB32 Reads Blog for the Women's Tales Event January 13-20.

Read my guest post, with original poetry written by yours truly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Friday 56


Welcome to Week 11 with me!



Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it here.

It's that simple.


Ted Dekker - THR3E

Page 56:
The last time he'd seen the inside of the house was five years ago, the day he'd finally worked up the courage to leave.


#5: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle


Synopsis & Book Info:
A collection of Sherlock Holmes mystery adventures, including "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Red-headed League," and "The Adventure of the Speckled Band."

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0439574280
Purchase at Amazon
Book 4: The Sign of Four


©1892


My Opinion:
Since this was a book of 12 short stories, I will break it down for you.
Most of it I liked. Only 3 of the 12 got a low rating of 2 or less. The majority was above 3 out of 5.
Some of the stories had an enormous predictability factor, and after 8 you are ready to read something else.
My favorite of them all was The Man With The Twisted Lip. It was a hoot! Literally it was a funny story! I loved the twists and turns in the mystery too.
Here is my rating of each story:
1. The Scandal in Bohemia - 3/5
2. The Red-Headed League 4/5
3. A Case of Identity 5/5
4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery 5/5
5. The Five Orange Pips 1/5
6. The Man With The Twisted Lip 5/5
7. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle 2/5
8. The Adventure of the Speckled Band 3/5
9. The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb 4/5
10. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 4/5
11. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet 5/5
12. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 2/5


Overall Rating: 3/5


Recommend? To historical mystery fans, yes.


~I received a free copy from Amazon. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

Boom Boom Cards (Teen Edition)


About Company and Products Offered:
For that teen who wants to make a difference in the world and isn't quite sure how. Boom Boom! Cards are 26 playing cards, each with actions on them like: "thank a teacher", "eat lunch with someone who's eating alone", "do a family chore without being asked", or "burn an inspirational CD for a friend who needs it". Teens can post about the experience of playing their card on the companion website as well as comment on other people's Boom Boom! actions. Then, they can give their card away for someone else to play. The website's map makes it easy to see who plays the card next and where it travels to. Teens love the like minded community of people who are being kind and tracking it online!

Website


©2011


My Opinion:
This is a great way to try to get your teens to commit to random acts of kindness. The problem is getting them to try it in the first place. The only way to get the results you want, and have them do it too, is do lead the way. So that is exactly what I did. I picked a card from the deck and made sure to perform my duty the next day. Here is a photo of what I did:

This was for my 15 year old son, and he saw it before school in the morning. He admitted to me after school yesterday, it did put a kick in his step all day, and in turn that is what made me feel good.
He, in turn, grabbed a card from the deck to perform today. He chose; Hold A Door Open For Someone All Day Long. I am sure he will hold onto his end of that task.
So yes, it's worth a try. Even if they fight in the beginning, they may conform in the end when they see how it works.



3/5


Recommend? Yes


~I received cards from PTPA. I was not compensated for my opinion.~

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Mandatory Entry:
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NO EMAIL, NO ENTRY.


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