Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Swag #3

My latest acquisition Silencing Sam, courtesy of Pocket Books:

 From Julie Kramer's website:

Silencing SamWhen a widely despised gossip columnist is found shot to death, TV reporter Riley Spartz must secretly investigate a case in which she becomes the prime suspect. Amid murder, our heroine discovers news and gossip have more in common than she ever imagined.

Trouble begins when Riley publicly clashes with newspaper gossip writer Sam Pierce, throwing a drink in his face, after he implies in his 'Piercing Eyes' column that she cheated on her dead husband. When clues to the rumormonger's homicide lead to her, Riley is charged with the crime. The police seem unwilling to look any further for perpetrators though numerous local news makers have reason for revenge - even motive for murder.

Meanwhile, competition between journalists increases with newsrooms facing financial meltdowns. While Riley struggles to interest her boss in a story about rural wind farm bombings and dead bats, a new Channel 3 reporter spikes the station ratings with exclusive stories about the headless homicide of an unknown woman whose decapitated body is found in a city park.

Riley must fight to stay out of jail, ahead in the ratings, and even alive in a killer showdown not fit for television audiences.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday

This meme is hosted by Katy of  A Few More Pages.

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

This week, I am reading Government Girl by Stacy Parker Aab.

Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House

The door to the President's suite stood straight ahead and marked the end of my path.  Few staffers had business being inside the President's suite.  I did.

Knowing which White House (Clinton)Stacy worked for, I wondered if there was going to be some salacious tidbit. Nope, not really.  Although so far, the book is great. It's interesting to see how someone so young and essentially a Washington outsider operates and climbs the ladder.

What books are you reading?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: What Did I Do Wrong by Liz Pryor

 What Did I Do Wrong?: What to Do When You Don't Know Why the Friendship Is Over

Title: What Did I Do Wrong?: What to Do When You Don't Know Why the Friendship is Over by Liz Pryor
Publisher: Free Press
Published: May 17, 2011
ISBN: 9781451649659
Pages: 208

    Friendships between women are the thing of lore: bosom buddies, summer sisters, sisterhood of the traveling pants, and so forth.  But what happens when the fun is over?
    There are tons of books of that celebrate the greatness of the bond between two women, but none about how to fix the friendship once it starts going south.  It's relatively easy to find books or societal validation of the heartbreak caused by the end of a relationship, but none specifically about female friendships.  If your spouse/lover/partner walked out on you, everyone would understand your need for a grieving period, why should a breakup with your bff be any different?  Liz Pryor set out to find out the reasons for the failure of friendships and ways to fix or end them in a way that gives both parties closure. 
   The book is full of tips on how to recuperate from being dumped by your bff.  There are also several chapters about how to dump bffs, particularly with crazy, emotional, or otherwise unpredictable people. She has a couple situations where the friendship doesn't end, it just changes.  With a little help from her husband, she even gets reunited with one of her own former bffs.
   This is a great book from someone that just lost a friendship and is trying to come to terms with the loss.  Believe me there are some stories in the book that are so petty or so terrible, you will definitely feel better or get some guidance about your situation.  She encourages letter writing, which isn't always a good thing.  Know yourself: if you're scared you're coming across like a stalker, you probably are being stalkerish.  Also watch those emails and voicemails.  The last friendship explosion I had resulted in some really crazy emails and voicemails.  If your friend, sends you a letter, open it.  You do not want to regret what could have been.  The main thing I got is to treat your friendships like all the other major relationships in your life.  Don't negate the value of the friendship because it is a platonic, female friendship.

* This book was provided by the publisher Free Press in exchange for my honest opinion. *

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bits & Bobs

Hi to all the new followers!

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it to Book Expo America or the Book Bloggers Convention this week.  :( But I have hope for next year.

Like  Kresley Cole's Facebook page and on Tuesday at 9 am  be part of an exclusive reveal of the cover for her new book LOTHAIRE: http://www.facebook.com/KresleyCole?v=app_190322544333196

Follow me on twitter: twitter.com/bibliophagista

Has anyone read a book called the Seven Year Bitch?

Check out my giveaway of a copy of Long Drive Home by Will Allison



Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday

This meme is hosted by Katy of  A Few More Pages.

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

I am currently in the middle of The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea.

The Hummingbird's Daughter
 On the cool October morning when Cayetana Chavez brought her baby to light, it was the start of the season in Sinaloa when the humid torments of summer finally gave way to breezes and falling leaves, and small red birds skittered through the corrals, and the dogs grew new coats.

Yes, that's one massive sentence.  I love that the author uses such descriptive language.  What will be the future of this autumn baby?  Will she be a cool breeze bring calm after torment?  So far I am loving this book.
What are you reading?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Swag #2

Hosted by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox post where one reveals what they bought, borrowed, or got in the mail.


Sugar: A Novel
Sugar by Bernice McFadden
With her eponymous anti-heroine, debut novelist McFadden breaks the mold of a venerable stereotype. Here, the hooker with a heart of gold is instead a hooker with a past so tarnished no amount of polishing can change her fate. As a baby, Sugar is abandoned by her mother and raised by a trio of prostitutes who run an Arkansas bordello. Turning tricks at age 12, and leaving town four years later to try her luck in St. Louis and then Detroit, brings more degradation, along with an ever-hardening heart. Upon her mother's death in 1955, Sugar is willed a modest home in Bigelow, Ark., but when she moves into town, and supports herself the only way she knows, the female population rises in wrath against her. All except Pearl, Sugar's next-door neighbor, who more than a decade ago lost her beloved daughter, Jude, to a vicious rapist/murderer. Pearl is struck by Sugar's uncanny likeness to Jude, and is determined to become Sugar's friend in spite of vocal disapproval. Although the two women are opposites in nearly every way, they bring out the best in each other: Sugar convinces Pearl to loosen up and accompany her to a Saturday night juke joint, and Sugar promises to go to church for two months of Sundays.

To Be Sung Underwater: A Novel
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn't look back.

Twenty years later, Judith's marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand is what may be the phone number for the man who believed she meant it when she said she loved him. If she called, what would he say?

TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER is the epic love story of a woman trying to remember, and the man who could not even begin to forget.

I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl: A Memoir
I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl by Kelle Groom

In stirring, hypnotic prose, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl explores the most painful aspects of Kelle’s addiction and loss with unflinching honesty and bold determination. Urgent and vital, exquisite and raw, her story is as much about maternal love as it is about survival, as much about acceptance as it is about forgiveness. Kelle’s longing for her son remains twenty-five years after his death. It is an ache intensified, as she lost him twice—first to adoption and then to cancer. In this inspiring portrait of redemption, Kelle charts the journey that led her to accept her addiction and grief and to learn how to live in the world.
   Through her family’s history and the story of her son’s cancer, Kelle traces with clarity and breathtaking grace the forces that shape a life, a death, and a literary voice.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review & Giveaway: The Long Drive Home by Will Allison

Long Drive Home: A Novel 
Title: The Long Drive Home by Will Allison
Publisher: Free Press
Published: May 17, 2011
ISBN: 9781416543039
Pages: 224

From the jacket:
Life can change in an instant because of one small mistake. For Glen Bauer, all it takes is a quick jerk of the steering wheel, intended to scare a reckless driver. But the reckless driver is killed, and just like that, Glen's placid suburban existence begins to unravel. When Glen realizes no one else saw the accident, he impulsively lies about what happened--to the police, to his wife, even to his six-year-old daughter, Sara, who was in the backseat at the time of the crash. But a tenacious detective thinks Sara might have seen more than she knows, or more than her parents will let her tell. And when Glen tries to prevent the detective from interrogating Sara, he finds himself in a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game that could end in a lawsuit or prison. What he doesn't see coming is the reaction of his wife, Liz--a panicked plan that threatens to tear their family apart in the name of saving it. But what if the accident wasn't really Glen's fault? What if someone else were to blame for the turn his life has taken? It's a question Glen can't let go of. And as he struggles to understand the extent of his own guilt, he finds himself on yet another collision course, different in kind but with the potential to be equally devastating.

  O, what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive! 

    For a small book, Long Drive Home packs quite a wallop.  Two hundred plus pages of emotional turmoil.  Glen Bauer, our protagonists, deals with all the stages of grief -- guilt, anger, denial, bargaining,and  acceptance.

   While I understand that Glen was probably traumatized by the accident, some of his actions made no sense.  He lied to cover his actions but seemed unable to fully complete the ruse of his innocence.  He claims to want to protect his daughter and his family from harm yet seems utterly unable to follow through on these intentions.  He constantly seems to either blame everyone else or put himself in precarious situations.  He performs a heroic action and an equally reckless action as if to "good" deeds to contract his "bad" deed.

   As someone from the Tri-State area (New York/New Jersey/ Connecticut), I can totally understand how road rage works.  I can totally understand Glen's "not on my lawn" reaction to the reckless driving of the teenager in the car.  Most times I encourage the person who is driving to ignore bad driving unless one is put in physical danger.  The fact that Glen essentially played chicken with another driver, particularly a reckless one, gives an idea of his personality.

  All that being said, Will Allison writes marvelously and is willing to go "there".  Glen is able to evaluate whether the victim's race and expensive car played some part in his actions. Did  his earlier altercation carry into the accident?  We feel every ounce of turmoil Glen suffers for the year depicted in the novel.  This book was like a contemporary version of Edgar Allen Poe's Telltale Heart.  The novel includes an excerpt of his previous book What You Have Left I will definitely be looking for the full novel.

*This book was offered by the publisher Free Press in exchange for my honest opinion.                  *

Would you like to win this book?  Leave your name and email address in the comments below.  Nothing else required.  Winner will be picked at random and announced on June 1st.  Any information supplied will be destroyed once the contest is done.

Will Allison on Long Drive Home

Will Allison talks about his new novel Long Drive Home, out today.
 More from Will behind the jump

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: In Stitches by Anthony Youn, M.D.

In Stitches

Title: In Stitches by Anthony Youn, M.D.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: April 26, 2011
ISBN: 9781451608441
Pages: 288

    Growing up Anthony Youn was one of two Asian kids in his small Michigan town.  He struggles to fit in and be one of the cool kids -- a mission not made any easier by his immigrant father's commands for him to study to be a doctor (surgeon, not family practitioner), to practice tennis, and to do the yard work.  Even brief periods of coolness by association can't help Anthony in his mission to be a "cool" kid.  He buckles down and works hard to follow his father's directions or at least appear to.  Then, in high school, it happens.  His underbite becomes more and more massive as his jaw refuses to stop growing.  He undergoes surgery to correct his jaw problem and a spark for his eventual career is born.
    Youn goes to college convinced that he will become a doctor and that he will finally get a girl.  He aces his classes and makes friends, but still has trouble meeting girls.  No matter what advice his friends give; he always seems to strike out.  After four years of college, he's ready for medical school but his social life is in an even worse condition.  Not until medical school does Youn finally starts to see being a doctor as a career and not a job where he can make money.  He begins to have more success with the ladies, not without hilarious incidents along the way.  Eventually, he meets his eventual wife.  During his pediatric rotation, he answers a call of a baby that was mauled by its mothers pet raccoon (yeah I know).  Seeing the plastic surgeon planning how to piece the baby's face back together and remembering his own jaw surgery, he feels called to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon.  He begins a mad scramble to become accepted into a plastic surgery program.  He is accepted to his first choice and is on his way to being a plastic surgeon.

In Stitches is a reference both to Dr. Youn's career as a plastic surgeon and the humor in the memoir.  He takes us back through his life detailing his victories and his defeats.  He is self-deprecating, especially in his accounts of his failed "relationships" and dates.  We can see the growth in his relationship with his father.  He realizes that his father is trying to instill a work ethic in him.  The same unfailing work ethic is what took his father from being a poor farm boy in Korea to being a Michigan OB/GYN married to a woman from a higher social class.  His father is able to relax and accept him being any type of doctor and his having a white girlfriend.  After being part of a humiliating verbal attack on his gay roommate, Youn also reevaluates his religion and chooses to practice a Christianity that accepts gay people and encourages tolerance to all of mankind.  The biggest change might be that being a doctor becomes his calling rather than a job that pleases daddy.  He realizes the responsibility he owes to his future patients to help them the same way he was helped.

There is cursing, crude humor, and other foul language in the book.  Something that detracted from the book was the fact that every woman he found intimidating was described as manly.  In addition, any woman that weren't "hot" (blond sorority girls, his eventual wife, and a couple of fiery Latinas) seemed to have been treated as wastes of space.  He routinely critiques his friend's dating choices as less than attractive because they didn't fit the Playboy/Penthouse standard.  It's just a very crude, immature point of view and hopefully he grew out of it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday

This meme is hosted by Katy of  A Few More Pages.

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

I just finished The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow this morning.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
"You my lucky piece," Grandma says.

Rachel Morse's grandmother says this to her as they are leaving a hospital where Rachel was recuperating after a violent family event.  Knowing the family tragedy that precedes the events of the novel,  I wanted to read to the end of the book to see why her grandmother considers her a lucky piece.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: Bossy Pants by Tina Fey


Title: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Published: April 5, 2011
ISBN: 9780316056861
Pages: 288

       Bossypants is the memoir of Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live, Mean Girls, and 30 Rock fame.
We get to learn about her childhood, teenage shenanigans, and personal and professional path that lead to SNL.  Fey talks about her feelings regarding women as comics, motherhood, beauty, and breastfeeding.
Where she talks about breastfeeding, her inability to ask her nanny not to clip her kid's nails close, or her dad, you get to see real Tina.  Many of the other stories feel like they have been massaged for comedic effect.  I rarely watch SNL; lately, it has been so not funny.  I very much enjoyed Mean Girls, for which she wrote the screenplay.  There were definitely parts that were laugh till you choke funny.That said Tina's writing can seem like one long gag the entire book. 
      While Fey give us glimpses into her family and behind the scenes work life, the almost nonstop jokey feel to the book keeps a wall between her and her reader.  You learn some interesting things about her as a person but you are definitely not getting a true feel of her as a person just a facsimile.  I guess it's hard to write a memoir when you are still in the thick of things and trying to avoid offending anyone or saying anything that can bite you in the butt later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: The Keepers of the Rose

 The Keepers of the Rose

Title: The Keepers of the Rose by D. J. Dalasta
Available via Amazon Kindle Store

    Hidden for three centuries on Oak Island off the Canadian coast, Captain Kidd's bounty has taunted treasure evaded treasure seekers.  Captain Kidd failed to hide the treasure prior to his capture for piracy.  He was able to pass the mission on to his son Captain Robert Ryder.  Ryder assembled a crew of architects and workmen to build a enclosure to ensure the treasure remained hidden from humans until the year 2012.  Why  2012?  Part of the treasure is vital to humanity's fate.  Several organization -- the CIA, Delega Corporation, and the Keepers of the Rose -- would love to be people with the knowledge and thus the most powerful on earth.  A path of bloodshed, betrayals, and clues that span centuries lead to the point where we begin to understand the secrets of the rose.
    I'm sure you've heard of the ancient Mayan predictions regarding the year 2012.  Rock and his crew realize that the bounty has clues to what the Mayans really meant with their 2012 predictions.  The immense power of the knowledge is further reinforced by the lengths the three groups go to secure the knowledge for themselves.  Who should possess the information that decides the future of humanity?
     If you like suspense and mystery with a touch of  Mayan prophesy lore, this is the book for you.  The book delves into Mayan prophesy and origins and gives an interesting idea of what could be if we were able to understand and harness the Mayan prophesy.  Makes you think.
*This book was provided by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.  *

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Swag

First, I had a couple of posts that didn't post. The review for The Keepers of the Rose will be up for tomorrow. 

Look what I got.  I belong to one of those mail order book clubs and they had a big sale.  And to be perfectly honest, I chose all these books based on the covers.  Intriguing artwork lures me in.

Also, you might have noticed the POC reading challenge on my sidebar.  I joined because I support their goal of spreading the word about books by and about people of color.  I'll link later to the main site.  Yesterday's post will be my first submission for POC.

As always, any suggestions, comments, or requests feel free to contact me at bibliophagista at gmail.com.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blog Tour: The Buterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

 The Butterfly's Daughter

Title: The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: May 2011
ISBN: 9781439170618
Pages: 400

           Abuela (Grandma) Esperanza raises Luz after her mother dies.  She spends many years in cold Wisconsin far from her Mexican home working to give Luz a good life.  After receiving some news  from her daughter Maria, Esperanza plans a road trip to San Antonio to see her daughter Maria and then to Mexico to take Luz to visit family, see winter home of the monarch butterfly, and complete a family tradition.  Abuela dies before she can complete her mission.
           Truly alone for the first time in her life, Luz decides to go on the trip Abuela planned for them.   Leaving her home and her boyfriend Sully, she drives southward to fulfill this commitment to herself and her Abuela.  Her cross-country trip becomes a journey of self-discovery; she meets people along the way that seem to appear at the perfect time for their mutual growth and progress.
           In San Antonio at her aunt's house, she finds out the real reason for Abuela's urgency in making this "pilgrimage".  The life-altering secret cause her to rethink her Abuela and her upbringing.  Continuing southward to Abuela's birthplace and the winter home of the monarch butterfly, Luz meets family and participates in cultural traditions for the first time. Eventually Luz has to make a decision whether to embrace the future or cling to her past ideas about her life.
            Each chapter of the novel is preceded with a fact about monarch butterfly's life that correlates with the events of that chapter.  The butterflys are the ties that bind all the characters in the book together.   Just like later generations complete the original butterfly's pilgrimage, Luz completes the path set by her ancestors.  Despite all the obstacles, she emerges from her chrysalis (comfort zone) and sees the long, daunting journey through.
*This book was provided by the publisher Gallery Books in exchange for my honest opinion.*