BuZZzzzz books

Saturday, May 29, 2010


There were several buzz books for the upcoming year in publishing that were discussed at BEA. I loved hearing the editors gush about the books their authors wrote because, of course, they are the most passionate about them (next to the author). I was also able to attend the panel of the authors for the young adult buzz books which was also great. I think pretty much every blogger at BEA was at that panel, lol!

There were 5 adult books and 5 young adult ones mentioned. I am going to list my favorite 3 (from a combo of both adult and YA) and then list the rest, all along with a short description in my own words. They are all linked to barnesandnoble.com.


Room by Emma Donoghue
Publish Date: September 3, 2010

Narrated by 5-year-old Jack, Room tells the story of Jack and his mother who have been held captive in a room for Jack's entire life. The captor fathered Jack 2 years into the captivity of Jack's mother. From what I understand, something happens that makes the mother realize she HAS to figure out how to get out. And so goes the rest of the book. I'm soooo excited about this one! I actually started reading it already... it's different for sure, but I'm intrigued!


The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Publish Date: September 7, 2010

Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. According to the story in this book, every group of friends has one, and the main character in this book learns that's what she is. But instead of letting it get to her, she totally stands up for herself and even throws her coke in the face of the guy who calls her that. But things change shortly thereafter, and she and this guy become "enemies-with-benefits". What will happen next?? This book sounds sooo cute! And the author is only 18-years-old!!!


Matched by Ally Condie
Publish Date: November 30, 2010

I had heard so much about this one since way before BEA, and it doesn't even come out until the end of November! Matched is a young adult dystopian and is the first in a trilogy. The government matches everyone up with their soulmates when they are 17-years-old. The character in this book is so excited to find out who she matches up with but things go awry when not only is she matched with her best friend (what? how boring, she thinks) but then she sees the flash of a second face. What does this mean? What will the government do if she tries to go against what they want for her???




The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
Publish Date: February 2, 2010

In this quirky debut novel, the first ever talking chimpanzee is living life alongside other humans. But then he murders someone and is sent to live at the zoo for the rest of his life. There, Bruno is interviewed about his life amongst humans. Watch out for the 3 page sex scene between Bruno and a woman! According to the editor (said in jest), "it's not beastiality... it's love". LOL, okay. But sounds interesting anyway.


West of Here by Jonathan Evison
Publish Date: February 15, 2011
(picture not available online)

This is, from what I understand, sort of an epic book about Irish immigrants settling in America. The editor said about this that the author tells a good story. He made it sound like there's a lot involved in the plot and it's well paced.


The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddartha Mukherjee
Publish Date: November 16, 2010

I was under the impression this was a memoir about dealing with cancer. But in looking back it looks like it might be a biography of "cancer" itself. I don't remember too much more about this one. =/

Juliet by Anne Fortier
Publish Date: August 24, 2010

I actually stepped out of the room before they talked about this one because I was in a hurry to get to the next thing I was attending and didn't want to be late. According to the back cover synopsis, a girl finds a key to a key to a safety deposit box that holds some letters and leads to a modern Romeo and Juliet... it sounds to me like the movie, Letters to Juliet, but I'm not sure if they're related. Especially since this book is just now coming out in hardcover? Not sure!

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Publish Date: September 7, 2010

If you read my blog, you may realize from the cover that this isn't my typical genre. And apparently it's not typical for the editor either. She said her first reaction was "dragon romance?!" Um, okay.... but turns out she ended up loving it. Basically this girl is half dragon half human or something like that. Or maybe she is a dragon that takes on human form. Yes, I think that's it. But then she falls in love with a dragon hunter or something. Interesting....


Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Publish Date: September 1, 2010

You may want to click over to the description on barnes and noble for this one. Somehow I don't remember it as the description there says at all. But I do remember the editor talking about what a wonderful character Kate was. Sorry, I'm not a lot of help with this one.




Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
Publish Date: August 3, 2010

A vampire tries trades in eternity to try to be human again. But wait until the other vampires find her! Because that is not okay. At least, that's what I think this is about... feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!






This last one wasn't one of the buzz books but is one I'm adding in because I'm excited about it too!

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Publish Date: February 2011
(couldn't find a picture available online)

The author of Before I Fall has written a dystopian for her second novel. In Delirium, a cure for love has been found and the government is mandating that all individuals receive this vaccine(?) because, of course, love ruins everything and good order and all that. But what happens when our main character falls in love just months before she's scheduled to receive the cure? Uh oh...


That's it for now. Stay tuned for more...

BEA and BBC

Friday, May 28, 2010


Hello everyone!! Today finished up all the festivities for Book Expo America and Book Blogger Convention so I thought I would post a mini wrap up post. I had a blast (though I'm exhausted), and I think everyone I've spoken to about it already has plans to return next year. I definitely have to say that for a booklover, especially one who loves blogging about books, this was a must-attend event! I'm going to spread out my experiences over the next few days and share some of what was discussed about upcoming books. I got some great books for review that I'm super excited about!! I met a lot of authors and tons of other bloggers. BUT, as many bloggers as I met, there are still a ton I didn't get to meet! There were so many bloggers there! And it's crazy how you can see pictures of people online but then in person when you walk by them you're still not too sure that it's them, lol!

I was so excited to meet Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books because we have "known" each other for maybe 2 (?) years or so from playing games on paperbackswap.com. We stayed in the same hotel and were able to hang out most of the time and had dinner together a couple times. We got along in person just as well as online. =)





I was also able to meet another of my favorite bloggers, Michelle, from Red Headed Book Child. She's a fun and hilarious person and it was great meeting her! (Picture is Jen, me, and Michelle).




Those are the only pictures I got. But I met so many more people whose blogs I adore! I met Amanda from The Zen Leaf and Trisha from Ecclectic/Eccentric on Tuesday when we went to Ellis Island (cRaZy story for another time).

I met Kari and Collin from Five Borough Book Review at the Harper Collins get together and Allie from Hist Fic Chick while signing in at the BBC reception (although we never really got a chance to talk!) They both also have great blogs though, so definitely be sure to check them out if you haven't already.

I keep thinking of more and more bloggers whose blogs I love that I met, lol... don't know if I can list them all! But to attempt, I met April from Good Books and Wine and Shanyn from Chick Loves Lit who (both) I kept bumping into at BEA. I also met their roomie Monica from Bibliophilic Book Blog who it took me a second to recognize at first, lol! Of course, there's my fellow Floridian blogger, Michelle, from My Books. My Life who I saw in the bathroom but neither of us was sure enough that we each were who we thought to say anything until we talked on Twitter later and realized we were both right, LOL. I met Linda Ellen from Better with Books (previously of Bambi Reads). I know I can't possibly list everyone I met, so please don't be offended! I figure if I limit my list to people I talked with here or on twitter frequently or often or enough to recognize, then that's fair. I also met Natasha from Maw Books, Colleen from Books in the City, Trish from Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin' (and TLC book tours), and Deborah from Books, Movies, and Chinese Food who I also used to play with in a lot of paperbackswap games.

Anyway, I thought I would break up my next few posts to sort of highlight the different books mentioned during the different panels. Tentatively, tomorrow I'll talk about the buzz books for the upcoming year (adult and YA) and my brief attendance at the keynote "speech". The next day I'll talk about maybe the books highlighted in the book club books for fall panel. I may add or make a separate post the author's breakfast hosted by Jon Stewart which we (hubby an I) loved! And I may or may not write a separate post about the book blogger convention. And somewhere in one of these posts I will write about the wonderful authors I met!!


On one last note, just wanted to add that my husband, Jason, accompanied me on this trip and he was awesome because he held all my heavy bags of books so I could zip around the convention center without being weighed down! He was very much appreciated!! And he had fun too checking out stuff at Marvel and DC Comics. He even met a comic book industry idol of his, Todd McFarlane!

When You Reach Me

Title: When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead
Pages: 197
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)
Release Date: July 14, 2009

When You Reach Me is the 2010 winner of the Newbery Medal. I've read all types of great reviews for it too. But I have to say it just wasn't for me. It is the story of 12-year-old Miranda. She narrates the entire book as though the reader is the person she is speaking to by using the word "you" here and there, but it isn't necessarily the reader specifically she means. (It's as though she is writing this book to a certain person in particular). This book takes place in 1970's New York. It opens with Miranda explaining that her mom is going to be a contestant on the $20,000 pyramid and how she and her mom's boyfriend are helping her prepare. I liked this part, but it really has nothing to do with the rest of the story. Near the beginning of the book, Miranda receives an anonymous note that says some strange things. Most of the rest of the story, and the only driving force sustaining my interest, was who wrote her the notes, as she continues to receive them. So Miranda says things in the book such as "when you wrote me the first note" etc. We also know that she is supposed to be writing a narrative about everything that happened from the beginning and give it to the person writing her the notes.

My disinterest in this book may just be that I haven't read a middle grade novel, oh, probably since I was IN a middle grade. And even then I often didn't care for the award winning books. I do plan on going back and reading some of my favorites... we'll see if I still like them! But I just felt sort of confused the whole time I was reading this. I had a conversation with my sister today and I was on page 150 out of 197 and I couldn't really even tell her what the book was about. One major component of this book is discussion of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. If you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, you may actually really enjoy this book. If you have not read it but plan to, do it before reading this because there are spoilers. As it relates to ME, I had to read A Wrinkle in Time for school in 5th grade; while most kids really liked it, I could NOT get into it. That was obviously the beginning of a long trend of me not enjoying science-fiction-y type things. I couldn't really get it when I was 11-years-old. And I felt sort of dumb because there were some parts of this book that frustrated me in the same way.... made me feel dumb since I consider myself an intelligent adult and this is a middle grade book, lol! Anyway, there were a lot of references to that book that may make or break how you feel about this book.

I assumed while reading that the foreshadowed ending twist would probably make a big impact on the feel for the book. And I did find the last 10-15 pages a little more interesting for this. I can see where some people might really like it.

Ultimately, my verdict is that the book wasn't bad... it was well put together. I just felt that at times it was about nothing, and it really wasn't for my personal taste.


This is the first book I've read that works for the middle grade challenge, even though I joined in Sept. 09, lol.

The Queen of Palmyra (Blog Tour)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Title: The Queen of Palmyra
Author: Minrose Gwin
Pages: 390
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date: April 27, 2010

I'm struggling with the review for this book. Before I go into the review, I feel like it's only fair to explain that my mind has been in other places the past couple weeks and I've had more difficulty lately focusing on my reading. So it seems when I am reading, I need something riveting or fast paced to keep my attention. Now, I'm genuinely confused whether my lackluster feelings for this book are a reflection of this frustrating, but inevitable, "reading burnout", or if it reflects more the book in itself. The reason I am hesitant to assume it's the book is that there are things about it I did like.

The Queen of Palmyra is narrated by Florence Forrest through her observations as a child growing up in the south during the 1960's. Her father's a grade A jerk (I really didn't like his character, but then I don’t think we were supposed to.) Her mother has more gumption than I expected for a woman in her situation with as horrid a husband as hers, and she was probably my favorite character. The book is about race and is lauded as the next To Kill a Mockingbird. While I can’t comment on the comparison since I haven’t read the latter, I can say that a lot of the issues in the book are similar.


What I didn’t care for about this book was the slow moving pace. I found the writing to be engaging and kept feeling the potential for the story to take off. When I realized it hadn’t, I would become frustrated. I realized I had read half the book and not a whole lot had yet happened. It was just barely starting to set up the story. So, while certain paragraphs or certain pages would start off interesting for me, I would soon find myself bored and wondering where it was going. I also really didn’t care for many of the characters. I think the author was trying to make them genuine, though, which means that they’re not perfect, lovable characters. One of the characters, in particular, was despicable.


I will say, as I mentioned earlier, I thought the writing was good – engaging and fluid. I think that if you’re in the mood for an intense, character driven book, you may still want to read this. I sometimes like character driven, and yet, this one wasn’t for me. But I feel positive enough about this book to say I’m sure many will still enjoy it. Just be aware it’s not a light, fun read. And it is not like The Help, which I also saw it marketed as.


Check out the other stops on the tour:
Tuesday, May 4th: five borough book review
Wednesday, May 5th: The Bluestocking Society
Monday, May 10th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, May 11th: Natty Michelle
Wednesday, May 12th: Pam’s Perspective
Wednesday, May 12th: My Reading Room
Wednesday, May 19th: Staircase Wit
Thursday, May 20th: Lit and Life
Monday, May 24th: Bluestalking
Tuesday, May 25th: Dolce Bellezza
Wednesday, May 26th: Take Me Away
Thursday, May 27th: Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker
Monday, May 31st: Green Jello
Tuesday, June 1st: Crazy for Books

The Red Thread

Monday, May 24, 2010

Title: The Red Thread
Author: Ann Hood
Pages: 302
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Release Date: May 3, 2010

The Red Thread tells the story of 5 American couples as they each go through the process of trying to adopt a baby girl from China. Maya is the owner of the Red Thread adoption agency in which she tries to bring babies home to hopeful parents, in an attempt to try and compensate for the past death of her own child for which she feels responsible. The 5 couples vary in their reasoning for seeking out the adoptions. Alternating in small part with their stories are the individual stories of the Chinese families who had to place their daughter for adoption. Adoption is a difficult and strenuous process both for the biological and adoptive parents. The Red Thread illustrates this briefly but convincingly.

The myriad characters provide readers a variety of situations to relate to. One of the characters has been unable to get pregnant for uncertain infertility issues, another has a spiteful stepdaughter and, yet, only a multitude of miscarriages to show for her own biological children; one mother has a daughter with an extreme cognitive delay and secretly wishes for a child without any disabilities, etc. While I appreciated the bevy of situations to relate to, it did become confusing at times to separate them. The narration alternated between a variety of these characters and required constant self-reminding about each character. Especially when the stories of the Chinese families were added in. However, the stories of the Chinese families did add a lot to the book in that it provided that often forgotten perception of the situation. How awful must it be to live in a country that governs how many children you can have and tracks you down and questions you if there is suspicion you are illegally hiding a second daughter!

In some sense, this book could have included a lot more. As it was, it seemed a simple storyline that was neatly tidied up at the end. I would have liked to read more about the actual process of waiting for the referrals and the many emotions and thoughts that I'm sure are involved. I know in real life the process can be emotionally excruciating, and it seemed to fly by in the book. It may have been easier to achieve this if the narrative had focused on one or two of the characters rather than so many of them. In such, I wasn't as intensely affected as I expected to be considering I can relate to some of these characters. I was sure reading this would elicit tears for sure, and it didn't really. That being said, this was still a good book. It was just more of a fast and less emotional read than I expected.

My Name is Mary Sutter (Review & Giveaway)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Title: My Name is Mary Sutter
Author: Robin Oliveira
Pages: 364
Genre: Historical Fiction (civil war era)
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Group)
Release Date: May 17, 2010

My Name is Mary Sutter has garnered immense buzz in the publishing industry and blogosphere alike. And it deserves it. Though this is her debut, Robin Oliveira expertly depicts the story of young and ambitious Mary Sutter who wants nothing more than to work as a surgeon. Though the war necessitates nurses and surgeons in large numbers, Mary continues to encounter obstacles, be it for her gender or even her age.

This was truly a powerful book with a strong female lead. Like many similar characters, Mary is admirable for her ambitions and headstrong personality. But Oliveira did a wonderful job of portraying Mary as a genuine character with flaws and her own doubts as well. Mary questions her abilities at times but is always aware of her desires. Love triangle exist but they add to the characters rather than attempt to manipulate the readers' emotions.

Regarding the civil war aspect, Oliveira transported the reader there through the detailed use of her research. You'll probably read, in any review you see, about the extensive research she did. This is because the complete atmosphere of the novel revolves around the war and its events, and the author includes so much information it's astounding. BUT, and of course there's a but, though I admire the research the author did, it's probably the part that brought the book down a notch for me. Some people truly will enjoy reading this part (and did, as evidenced by their reviews), but I'm not a fan of fiction that includes much about the actual war itself. I enjoy historical fiction novels and those that take place in times of war, but reading about the actual war itself bores me. So I did somewhat glaze over during these parts. It's just a personal issue regarding my preferences.

But probably the thing that I did enjoy the most about this novel was Oliveira's skill with words. The writing itself was so beautiful; I couldn't help but feel like, if nothing else, reading this was a lesson in manipulating words. I wanted to include a couple quotes. This first quote is during a an argument betwen Mary and her mother after quite an intense moment has taken place.


Cold gripped the house, entombing them. The fire flickered, cowering before the elements. Shouting at one another was a divide across which they had never before ventured. Even so, Mary longed for Amelia to scream on. Anger was the salve, the bond, the cement. The only remedy to the unacceptable breach. (pg. 250)

This second quote is during a moment when President Lincoln is reflecting on the war.

Lincoln simply could not understand a man who could not see his own fallibility. Irony lost in the blind pursuit of cacophonous righteousness. I wish to be free, but
you may not be free. What he hated most was that they would not see the inherent cruelty in their economy. Their slaves' skin might be black, but it was not as black as the souls who might enslave them.

Contradiction the rule of the land. Right and wrong were as interchangeable these days, it seemed, as the winds, and yet here was one concrete thing he could achieve, would achieve before the end, whenever that came. (pg. 315)


My Name is Mary Sutter is a wonderful read for those enjoy historical fiction and the civil war.

Sooooo.....

I have a GIVEAWAY of one copy of this book thanks to the publisher.
To enter the giveaway, you must be a follower of this blog through google friend connect or be a subscriber. Just fill out the form below to enter. The giveaway will go through May 31, and the winner will be announced June 1, 2010.


Throwback Thursday

Thursday, May 20, 2010



Throwback Thursday – this is an event hosted by me! It used to take place weekly, but is now once a month on this blog. It is the time to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog! Also feel free to do this on as many Thursdays as you like. =)

This week's throwback is:
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Original Publish Date: 1998

From amazon.com:
What if you were a 40-year-old housepainter, horrifically abused, emotionally unavailable, and your identical twin was a paranoid schizophrenic who believed in public self-mutilation? You'd either be a guest on the Jerry Springer Show or Dominick Birdsey, the antihero, narrator, and bad-juju magnet of I Know This Much Is True. Somewhere in the recesses of this hefty 912-page tome lurks an honest, moving account of one man's search, denial, and acceptance of self. This is no easy feat considering his grandfather seemed to take parenting tips from the SS and his grandmother was a possible teenage murderess, his stepfather a latent sadist, and his brother, Thomas, a politically motivated psychopath. Not one to break with tradition, Dominick continues the dysfunctional legacy with rape, a failed marriage, a nervous breakdown, SIDS, a car crash, and a racist conspiracy against a coworker--just to name a few.

A stretch, both literally and figuratively from his Oprah-christened bestseller, She's Come Undone, Lamb's book ventures outside the confines of the tightly bound beach read and marathons through a detailed, neatly cataloged account of every familial travesty and personal failure one can endure. At its heart lies Freud's "return of the repressed": the more we try to deny who we are, the more we become what we fear. Lamb takes Freud's psychological abstraction to the realm of everyday living, packing his novel with tender, believable dialogue and thoughtful observation. --Rebekah Warren --

How good does this sound? If you haven't read this book yet, I highly recommend it! Now, I have read 3 books by Wally Lamb including this one, and this is so far the only one I've really liked -- but I loved this one! It's about twins; one suffers from Schizophrenia and the other finds himself in the situation of always having to take care of his twin. The opening paragraph will draw you in immediately by the situation you first come across. This is a long book but I remember it going fast. Definite must-read!

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Fragile by Lisa Unger
Release Date: August 3, 2010

From Lisa Unger's website:

Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on each other’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a kid, Maggie found the microscope of small town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she’s happily returned to The Hollows’ insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son Rick disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case – and also dangerous.
Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father.

"I know how a moment can spiral out of control," Jones says to a shocked Maggie, as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. "How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything".

As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret – one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, "How well do I know the people I love?" and "How far would I go to protect them?"

Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile

Monday, May 17, 2010

Title: Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrated: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton
Pages:
119
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Release Date: January 2003

Okay, this book is a graphic novel. Quick aside: I never thought I would read a graphic novel. Just wasn't my type of thing. I mean, reading what basically boils down to a comic book? Really? Well, I have recently learned that graphic novels have merits all their own. They can contain thorough and interesting plot lines (of which the telling through pictures and word bubbles is a talent in and of itself). And the illustrations are fantastic! When I started reading this, I was immediately transported back to the times, as a kid, I would beg for Archie comics at the grocery story check out lines or when I would read my weekly Spiderman in the Sunday comics. And another thing... graphic novels are a nice change of pace for when my brain is fried (which has happened a lot lately) and I need something more visual to focus on.

I was referred to this series by Trisha of Eclectic/Eccentric. She gave it a fantastic review, but what initially drew me in was the cover. How cool is it!?! I immediately knew, upon seeing the cover, that I would want to read the book. And what further made me want to read it was the fact that it takes place in my favorite place ever... New York City! Basically, this was the first in the Fables series. The characters are "fairy tale legends" that have been exiled from their land and are now living in "Fabletown" in NYC. Some of the main characters in this book were Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf, Jack (the one with the beanstalk), and Rose Red. Keep in mind they are living as plain ol' regular New Yorkers, so the average person doesn't realize they are these fairy tales.

Starting off with the illustrations -- the drawings and the color were fantastic (can't really think of another way to describe it). I loved the rich detail of the colors and the detail in the drawings. It made me feel as though it were "sophisticated" in that it didn't leave anything out. The drawings reminded me very much of the Spiderman comics I mentioned from the Sunday paper with the same type of human drawings and face structures. As for the story, it starts with Snow White's sister, Rose Red, going missing. The rest of the story is mainly "The Big Bad Wolf" investigating what they determine is the murder of Rose Red. There were comedic moments for me such as whenever the pig (of the three little pigs and who is actually still a pig) keeps ending up in differen random scenes with people. The fairy tale legends are supposed to be a secret and fit in among society. Letting them know you're not a regular New Yorker is not okay! As for the mystery, I thought it was just an okay mystery. But the other elements of this book have really intrigued me and I will definitely be reading more in this series (already have the second on my TBR)! And definitely give graphic novels a chance!

In case you missed the link, check out Trisha's review at Eclectic/Eccentric.

Sunday Salon

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Good morning! It's Sunday again, and for those fellow book bloggers it is only one week until NYC/BEA/BBC!! Yay! I am still working on my schedule, so it is extremely tentative for now. In fact, I really plan on enjoying the city just as much, so we'll see what all I fit in. Here's some things I jotted down for now that I would like to do. Some of these overlap and since I'm trying to fit in other NYC things who knows if I'll actually do them. But here goes.

Tuesday

BEA Editor’s buzz 4:30 to 5:30

Barbara Streisand keynote 6-7


Wednesday

Children’s Author Breakfast 8:00 to 9:30

Hot Book Club Titles for Fall 10-11

Author: Lindsey Kelk 10-10:30

Dystopian fiction 10:30-11:30

Young Adult Editor’s buzz 10-11:15

Author: Nelson demille 11-12

Author: Lauren Oliver 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm table 30

Suspense: writer, storyteller, entertainer 4-4:50

Thursday

Adult author breakfast 8-9:30

Big name authors graphic novels 9:30 to 10:30

Thrillers 10:30 to 11:20

Debuts 11:30 to 12:20

Adult author lunch 12-2

Author reception 4-6


Friday
Book Blogger Convention all day!


I'm thinking I probably won't actually end up at the breakfasts, but otherwise I'm sort of packed! Anyway, back to blog stuff, I finished 3 books this week, though one is a middle readers book... Black Water Rising which I already reviewed, When You Reach Me, and The Red Thread. And I'm currently working on My Name is Mary Sutter. Also, I haven't posted a Throwback Thursday in a while... I'm thinking I'm going to go back to doing that but only once a month or so. So maybe the 3rd or 4th Thursday of every month... so look for that and feel free to join in.

And in big non-book related news, today is the first day of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals!!! Go Magic!!

The Postmistress

Friday, May 14, 2010

Title: The Postmistress
Author: Sarah Blake
Pages: 326 pages
Genre: Historical fiction; women's fiction
Publisher: Amy Einhorn (Putnam Sons/Penguin Group)
Release Date: February 9, 2010

Okay, the buzz for this book seemed to generate long before it came out. I read various reviews for this book; some loved this book, but some readers were disappointed. Turns out I may have chosen the wrong time to read this. I was on vacation, and though it seemed like I had plenty of reading time, the truth was I was constantly on the go. The tone of this book was heavy and just didn't go well with the mood I was in and the mini reading sessions I was able to squeeze in. My thoughts about this book are sort of confused; it was well written, I can see why some people liked it, but I just didn't care for it. And I can't quite figure out what would have made it better for me.

The Postmistress is about 3 women during the 1940's before Pearl Harbor or the U.S. entering the war. Frankie Bard is one of those exceptionally (especially for the time) independent and ambitious women. She decides to go to Europe to broadcast the war over the radio. She can't fathom knowing there is a war going on across the ocean and, yet, Americans are living their lives without a care in the world. Despite being unconventional for a woman, Frankie reports literally from the front line, bombs exploding overhead. The other two characters listen to Frankie from their radios in Massachusetts: Iris James is the town's new (and first female) postmaster. It's her job to process all the incoming and outgoing mail which in that day in time gives her an enormous responsibility. Emma Fitch is the wife of the town doctor, and she appears naive and quiet to the rest of the town. All three of these women will inextricably be connected by the end of the book.

Like I said, I can see why some people liked this book, but for me it was just 'eh'. First off, I felt a real disconnect from the characters. Some books make me feel like I know the characters, and this just made me feel like I was reading about them. Maybe this sense of disconnect was from my being "on the go" with little reading time? I'm not sure. It also didn't help that the overall mood of the book was depressing and heavy. I found little about it uplifting. I get that the point of the book was the irony in that atrocious events were happening in one part of the world while the other part of the world was living normal lives. But at times I felt like, for me, it was a little too preachy. I had difficulty finding any other themes in the book.

Two other things bothered me: I had difficulty understanding everything about the postmaster's job. There were lots of descriptions about using the "canceling machine" and whatnot, and I couldn't for the life of me picture it. The other thing was there were a few instances where the narrator would all of a sudden speak directly (in second person) to the reader. See, the very beginning of the book opens up with a woman talking to guests at a dinner party.. she asks a question that leads into the story of The Postmistress. This didn't work for me, though I liked the style at first, because it never returns to this scene. Even though she started the narration off, it wasn't obviously continued so when the narrative turned to second person I got so confused!

Now, it sounds like I had a lot of bad things to say about this book. I do feel torn saying anything bad because in some sense this book was powerful and important. There have been times when I've wondered how people could know of something awful happening on the other side of the world (especially during the holacaust) and live such normal lives without helping. (I do realize this kind of thing is happening all the time). The topic was important, and the author is a good writer. I just didn't find myself nearly as enthralled with this as I'd hoped to be.

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

Scout, Atticus & Bob by Mary McDonagh Murphy
Release date: June 8, 2010


From bn.com:
Murphy—an Emmy-winning writer, director, and producer—celebrates Harper Lee's only novel with a documentary, Hey, Boo, and this book, a collection of mostly venerating interviews with writers and celebrities, black and white, from Oprah Winfrey to Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, and Richard Russo. A few incisive remarks emerge. James McBride, for example, takes issue with calling Harper Lee brave—doing so “absolve[s] yourself of your own racism.” Wally Lamb and Allan Gurganus, among others, reveal Lee's influence on their writing. Unfortunately, in Part I, Murphy summarizes the most interesting of her subjects' comments, creating a sense of déjà-vu when the reader gets to the actual interviews. Racism, smalltown America, Lee's 50-year silence since the book's publication, her relationship with Truman Capote, and the appeal of the book's principal characters are touched on by most of the interviewees; such shared themes and opinions result in redundancy. Readers should turn (or return) to To Kill a Mockingbird before bothering to dip into this disappointing collection. 11 b&w photos.

I have never actually read all of To Kill a Mockingbird but have been wanting to. I wonder if I read this about how it affected all these people if it will make me want to read it even more!

Giveaway winners: The Ocean Between Us

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Winners of The Ocean Between Us by Susan Wiggs



The two winners of a copy of this book are:

Charlotte T.
Debbie F.


And the GRAND PRIZE winner for both a copy of the book and a $25 VISA gift card is:


TRACY H.!!

E-mails are being sent to the winners. I need a response within 48 hours with your addresses or I will pick new winners. Congrats!

Black Water Rising (Blog Tour)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Title: Black Water Rising
Author: Attica Locke
Pages: 427
Genre: mystery/thriller, literary
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Release Date: (hardcover) June 9, 2009
(paperback) April 20, 2010


The New York Times was quoted as saying that the story was "akin" to those by George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane. I haven't read books by either of those authors but have heard great things. What I do think of when I hear those names, however, are thrillers that are mature and have thorough storylines -- not just a simple whodunit.

I found that to be the case with Black Water Rising. It tells the story of Jay Porter and is set in 1981 Texas. He's an attorney barely scraping by. The book starts out with him trying to do something special for his pregnant wife's birthday. During this nice effort, they are accosted by a situation they can't ignore but that leads to more of an involvement in the said situation than they would prefer and they can safely remain a part of.

Despite having his life and that of his wife's threatened, or maybe because of it, Jay sets out to track down the involved individuals and find out the truth about what's happening. Meanwhile, Jay's time is also being consumed in dealing with a labor union strike of the oil workers. His father-in-law, the reverend, put him up to representing one of the families of the strike because of his connections to the white female mayor, Cynthia Maddox. Juxtaposed with these storylines is the one of Jay's past which he shared with Cynthia. As a member of various "radical" groups such as the Black Panthers, Jay was once in the position of being criminally charged in relation to his involvement in these groups and activities. In fact, he can't even rule out that maybe his past has more to do with the current situation than he realizes.

As I said earlier, I found this debut to be thorough and full of plot points that made it a more mature mystery/thriller. The pacing was good -- there weren't thrilling cliff hangers at the end of the chapters like some books in the genre, but there were various moments like these throughout the book where something would be discovered and I'd want to know more. It took me a while to really understand what Jay's past had to do with everything in the current situation, but I still never questioned it because it was such an interesting facet to the book. There is very little I've read about the radical groups so I liked this look into it. The core mystery at the center of Black Water Rising is involved and more satisfying than a simple "who did it with what" type of mystery.

The story was written in present tense, which I didn't really care for (but that's just a personal preference). I didn't always notice it, but it bothered me when I did. But I did realize later that this may have been used for the purpose of separating its narrative from that of Jay's past which was written in past tense. Once I realized that it made more sense to me and didn't bother me as much.

This was a very well written and good debut. While it wasn't my absolute favorite, I did enjoy this read and think that others will too!

Visit Attica Locke at her website, http://www.atticalocke.com/.


Follow the rest of the tour:

Tuesday, May 4th: Book Reviews by Bookluvr81
Monday, May 10th: Take Me Away
Tuesday, May 11th: Rundpinne
Wednesday, May 12th: nomadreader
Thursday, May 13th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, May 18th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, May 19th: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, May 20th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, May 26th: My Two Blessings
Thursday, May 27th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, May 31st: Regular Rumination

Date TBD: Apooo Book Club

Sunday Salon

Saturday, May 8, 2010


First things first, I want to say Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who are reading this! Also, I just wanted to acknowledge all the women out there who want children but are unable to have them and to those who are still trying, etc. Mother's Day can be rough for some people in this situation and I just wanted you all to know I'm thinking of you too!!

As for reading, mine has been going very slowly lately. The last book I finished was The Postmistress which I will hopefully review soon. That was 5 days ago and I still haven't finished another book. That's frustrating for me! I'm currently reading a book that I have a blog tour for tomorrow so I need to finish it today. I think the main reason I haven't read much is since we got back from Chicago I've been having to catch up on a ton of schoolwork. I spent a couple nights staying up until about 2:00 am putting together a presentation for my human sexuality class on sexual trauma. (Well, the second night I was only up that late because I chose to go to the magic playoff game... but it was worth it). Anyway, I'm really proud of how it turned out! Since I work in the field, I feel really comfortable with all the information I have. But then I didn't even get to present this last week so I have to wait until next week. And I'm back to my crazy busy schedule so I just need to get used to it and get back into reading. I've received a ton of books lately, and tonight we went to Barnes and Noble and I bought The Carrie Diaries so I'm excited about that!!

Okay, there are two quick subjects I want to bring up. I could probably write an entire post on each of these, but I'll just mention them briefly here instead.

Integrity of Reviews
This is sort of geared towards authors and publicists, and I will be adding something about this to my review policy since I just realized I don't say anything about this. I am honest with my reviews. I think that as bloggers we have to be. While I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings, I will be honest in my reviews even if I don't like a book. Readers read this blog and need to know that they are reading my true opinion. I lose respect for bloggers when I start to suspect (by what they say or what they fail to say) that they are not being honest in their reviews because I use people's reviews to determine if I should read a book or not. If another blogger is not going to be honest, I will have to stop reading their reviews. (I am not saying that someone who has mostly positive reviews is dishonest... most of mine are usually positive too!) But along the same line, I also lose respect for authors who get snarky etc. when they read a bad review of their book. I understand it doesn't feel good, but when an author writes a book it's out there for others to read and like or not like. I have one particular author whose books I stopped reading after she left me a rude comment on my review of her book. And recently, I was informed about something that was said by an author, though she didn't leave a comment here. And in all honesty, because I (and most people) say why I don't like a book, I've still had people who say they planned on reading the book anyway. And I feel the same when other people write bad reviews if there reason for disliking the book isn't one that bothers me. So there's that.

Spoilers
The other issue that has bothered me lately is reviews with spoilers. There are a couple reviews I read recently that were laden with spoilers and that *immediately* turned me off from reading any more of their reviews. One of these books was one I've already read so it didn't ruin anything for me, but I would have been upset if I had read it prior. The other review I read was for a book I have on my TBR, and that review spoiled some major plot points/information learned late in the book. When I write reviews, I may babble on for a while about the book, but I try to really not give away much more, if any, of the synopsis than the publisher does. Some people put *spoiler alerts* in their reviews and these are good, although again, I won't read the review so they have to realize that they may be losing a large amount of potential readers for that review. Does this bother anyone else as much as it bothers me??

That's it for today!

Hannah's List Winner


Hannah's List Winners!!




Two winners of the book Hannah's List:

Mary (Bookfan)
Sue H.


And our grand prize winner winning both a copy of the book and a $25 gift card is:

Tina!!!

The winners each have 48 hours to reply to the e-mails I am sending with your addresses. If I don't receive responses I will choose a new winner.

Congrats to the winners!

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:



Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

Release date: July 13, 2010


From bn.com:

As lyrical as a sonata, Ayelet Waldman's follow-up novel to Love and Other Impossible Pursuits explores the aftermath of a family tragedy. Set on the coast of Maine over the course of four summers, Red Hook Road tells the story of two families, the Tetherlys and the Copakens, and of the ways in which their lives are unraveled and stitched together by misfortune, by good intentions and failure, and by love and calamity. A marriage collapses under the strain of a daughter's death; two bereaved siblings find comfort in one another; and an adopted young girl breathes new life into her family with her prodigious talent for the violin. As she writes with obvious affection for these unforgettable characters, Ayelet Waldman skillfully interweaves life's finer pleasures--music and literature--with the more mundane joys of living. Within these resonant pages, a vase filled with wildflowers or a cold beer on a hot summer day serve as constant reminders...

My Sister's Voice

Monday, May 3, 2010

Title: My Sister's Voice
Author: Mary Carter
Pages: 318
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: June 1, 2010

My Sister's Voice tells the story of twin sisters, Lacey and Monica, separated early in childhood and raised as though the other doesn't exist. Lacey grows up in a children's home with a strict house mother while Monica grows up with her parents and has a wealthy lifestyle. Lacey is also deaf and Monica is hearing. The book starts when they are 28-years-old and Lacey receives an anonymous letter in the mail telling her she has a sister. She initially assumes one of her friends is playing a joke on her until she sees a picture of her sister. The rest of the story deals with Lacey deciding if she wants to meet her sister and/or her parents, why they were separated, and who wrote her the notes. The book also delves thoroughly into the deaf culture through Lacey's experiences.

The writing style in My Sister's Voice was different and difficult to get used to. In some parts the narration was normal enough, but in other parts it just didn't flow right. At one point I gave it the benefit of the doubt because I realized that the narration was literally translated from American Sign Language (that does not use the same word structure/order) but there were really only a few parts where this was the case. I felt like Lacey's behaviors in most of the book, but especially the beginning, were sort of erratic and strange. Lacey's reactions to finding out she may have a twin were, just as with many other moments in the book, contrived and unrealistic... at least, I had a difficult time believing that the characters would react the way to some situations as they did in the book. For instance, after seeing a picture for an upcoming book signing by her long lost twin, Lacey rants for pages about how she has a "face thief" and decides to get back at this person with a vengeance. She acts extremely immaturely, more than I could realistically see an adult female in this situation act. On another note, there were parts where the same issue was discussed/explored/ranted over for too long. I noticed this more in the beginning of the book but I felt like a couple paragraphs could have been removed for some of the topics. Additionally, when the characters were thinking to themselves, they would have somewhat frantic thoughts and repeat the same thing over to themselves.. over, over, over, over, over, over. It was frustrating and weird, weird, weird, weird, frustrating, weird. After a while I thought "okay, I got it"... I didn't need the character to go on more. I also felt that the dialogue was stilted in many parts.

I didn't care for these things, but the thing I mainly disliked was the characters. I despised Lacey's character for the first 3/4's of the book because she was, for one, not at all a nice character and, for two, she just seemed very immature. Monica's character was okay at first, but then her behavior became strange as well. In the end, there were also some questions I felt were unanswered completely. The reason for the girls' separation was definitely not simple, as the back of the book reads, but I had a fairly adverse reaction to that part. It was again, strange, and really only answered some of the questions I had.

While I unfortunately didn't care for this book, I do want to point out one thing I thought was good. Except for the fact that it, at times, felt as though there was an agenda, My Sister's Voice, did do a good job of revealing the internal world of Deaf culture to the reader. I found it very interesting that most Deaf (refer to the Q & A in the back to find out why it's capitalized) people consider themselves part of a different culture; a culture that shares a language and a history. I had never thought of it that way. Another interesting piece of information (which my co-worker and I learned the hard way, but that's a story for another time) is that Deaf people do NOT like to be referred to as hearing impaired... because there's nothing to fix! They do not feel as though they are missing anything -- they are just different. And all this time I'm sure most of us were so caught up with being "pc" or politically correct that I guess no one thought to ask those who are deaf what they prefer. So in this sense, I did learn a lot from reading this book. (If you do read this, I want to talk to you about a statement that's made in the end of the book because it sort of bothered me... it's related to Deaf culture).

In summary (finally, right??) this book had so many elements that could have potentially made this really good, but I just didn't care for the execution of it all.


Parts of this review will also be posted at LuxuryReading.com

Sunday Salon

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Today's Sunday Salon from Take Me Away is coming to you from The Windy City! Yup, we have been vacationing in Chicago for a few days. Today's our last day, though, and we fly back tomorrow. =( Anyway, I've still managed to log in frequently and keep up with most of my sites! I've read a little too. On the plane ride here I finished reading My Sister's Voice. (I needed the escape since our pilot was playing "look what I can do" with the plane.... haha). The review for that will most likely be up tomorrow. I started The Postmistress but it hasn't quite grabbed my interest as much as I'd hoped it would. =( It's still good, though, so hopefully it will pick up for me.

My husband has been reading as much as he possibly can because our (Chicago) hotel room came with a book, The Jordan Rules, about Michael Jordan, of course. Came with the room meaning it was on the shelf of our mini desk area and it stays here... hence his reading as much as he can, lol. Jason's a huge basketball fan, so even though the book was published in 1993, he's finding it very interesting... it's all about the year that Jordan took the Bulls to the championship, so Jason is remembering things about that season as he reads. I love when my husband (and other family members, for that matter) get caught up in reading, lol.

Jason and I also made a quick stop yesterday at The Book Cellar in the Lincoln Square area of Chicago, which is an independent book store that also serves wine and beer. Unfortunately, we didn't stay for a drink as we had initially planned because all their tables and chairs were set up for their event that night (that started about 20 minutes after we got there) and we didn't want to stay for the event or get "stuck" because we were already there. I've also had to check out the local Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million too, haha.

Anywho, don't forget I still have to giveaways running for The Ocean Between Us and Hannah's List.

This week I also posted reviews for The Forest of Hands and Teeth and My Fair Lazy and I loved both!